Posts Tagged apple

Celery Root Soup with Caramelized Apples

I find that whenever I purchase celery root at the local grocery store, the clerks always give me a funny look.

What is this?,” they ask, with incredulous looks on their faces. I explain to them at it’s a celery root – you know, the root of the celery plant – and they still don’t quite get it. “Celery root…” they repeat back to me as they frantically flip through their binder to find the appropriate produce code, “what on earth do you DO with it?!

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I’m not kidding you, I have this conversation 9 times out of 10 when I buy celery root.

It seems that celery root isn’t nearly as popular as the crunchy green stalks that grow from it. It would seem that I am in the minority, because I much prefer celery root. Here’s how I think of it: if celery stalks and potatoes got married and had a superchild, it would be celery root. It has all the starchy wonderfulness of a potato, with just a kick of crisp green celery flavor. It’s darn near perfect.

This soup shows off all the wonders of the celery root: it’s smooth, creamy, and comforting. And then when you add the caramelized apples on top, the whole thing just tastes like Thanksgiving. And that, my friends, is never a bad thing.

Celery Root Soup with Caramelized Apples

Celery Root Soup with Caramelized Apples

Serving Size: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 small celery roots, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 leeks, washed and sliced into thin rings (white and light green parts only)
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter (1 for the soup, 1 for the caramelized apples)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add in the leeks and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add in the garlic and celery and stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  2. Add in the cubed celery root and stir to coat. Add a bit more butter if necessary and cook for 2 minutes. Next, pour in the chicken (or vegetable) stock. Add in the bay leaves, thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer until celery root is tender (about 30 minutes).
  3. Remove the soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender (or a food processor), purée the soup until smooth and creamy. Return the pot to the stove and stir in the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. (If you would like to thin out the soup at this point, you can add in more half and half or a bit more stock). Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.
  4. To caramelize the apples, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet over med-high heat until it foams. Add the apples and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with brown sugar and stir to combine. Cook for 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat and set aside until use. (Optional: I added some freshly ground black pepper to my caramelized apples and it was great.)
  5. When you’re ready to eat the soup, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with caramelized apples. Enjoy!

Notes

Adapted from Letite’s Culinaria

http://rosemarried.com/2013/03/10/celery-root-soup-with-caramelized-apples/

Shaved Apple, Fennel, and Celery Salad

I love life’s simple pleasures: the colors of autumn, sipping a great cup of coffee, putzing about the house in my crappy old blue plaid pajama pants.

In my own life, I find that I am constantly striving for simplicity. I want to take the time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. And to be quite honest, I’m failing miserably.

My life isn’t simple, at all.

I’m always busy.

I’ve probably said this before, but I’ve discovered that cooking can be extremely therapeutic. When I step into the kitchen, everything feels different. I fall into a certain rhythm while chopping, slicing, and stirring. I find enjoyment and fulfillment in tweaking and adjusting, tasting and perfecting.

Maybe it’s cheesy to admit, but the kitchen is where I find my sense of simplicity. Specifically, when I cook food and share it with others, somehow everything just feels right. And sometimes, this feeling translates directly into the actual food on the plate. When life feels busy and overwhelming, I’m often compelled to make food that is remarkably simple and beautiful.

This is one of those things. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t complicated.

It’s simplicity on a plate.

It’s everything I’m striving for, and not quite achieving.

I’ll get there eventually.

SHAVED APPLE, FENNEL, AND CELERY SALAD
(Serves two.)

Note: For some reason, I really wanted a creamy dressing for this salad so I used a little mayo. But I think it would be quite nice with just oil & vinegar. Also, I tossed some dried lovage into the dressing but I didn’t include it in the recipe as it’s not a terribly common pantry item. At the last second, I tossed a few toasted pecans into salad and it was the best decision I’ve made in awhile. You should try it.

Ingredients:
1 apple (current favorite apple varietals: Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Elstar)
3 stalks of celery
1 small fennel bulb (with fronds)
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoons mayo
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

Optional:
Dried lovage
Toasted pecans

Method:

Using a mandoline (or knife or food processor or magic!), thinly shave the fennel bulb and celery stalks (reserve the fennel fronds for the dressing). With a paring knife, cut the apple into thin matchsticks. (I like to slice the apple with the mandoline and then use a knife to julienne the apple into smaller pieces.) Gently toss the apple, celery, and fennel together in a bowl.

Mince the fennel fronds until you have roughly 1 tablespoon. Stir together the olive oil, mayo, vinegar, minced fennel fronds, salt, and pepper (and lovage, if using). Taste, and adjust the portions if necessary. (I happen to like a lot of pepper.)

Gently toss the salad with the dressing, just to coat. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with fennel fronds and toasted pecans.

Note: This salad keeps for about a day in the fridge, but it really tastes best the day you make it. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Apple Butter (and an Apple Recipe Roundup)

You know what’s funny about the typical grocery store Red Delicious apple? The fact that, chances are, that apple is decidedly not delicious. They are mealy, waxy, and completely devoid of flavor or nutrients.

It is for this reason that I’ve been mostly ambivalent to apples my whole life. Sure, I’d eat apples if they were smothered in caramel or baked into a pie. But, for the most part, I avoided apples like the plague. Biting into a mealy apple is one of my least favorite things on the planet.

While bad apples are really bad, I’d argue that good apples are really, really good. Biting into a crisp, juicy apple is one of life’s simple pleasures. Last weekend, I attended the Portland Nursery’s Apple Festival and was overwhelmed by the sheer apple-ness of it all. The Apple Festival boasts 30+ varieties of local apples, all picked at the height of apple season. They offer apple tastings, as well as apple cider, caramel apples, apple pastries and so much more. Oh, and did I mention that they sell all the varieties apples for .99 cents a pound (!). It was like I died and went to apple heaven.

Naturally, I bought ten pounds of apples. I could have easily bought more, but I have a whopping two people in my household (and 5 pounds a person seemed reasonable?). After perusing and tasting the countless apple options, I finally settled on 6 pounds of King David apples (for canning) and 4 pounds of Winesaps (for eating).

From the outset, my plan was to make apple butter. I’m a sucker for a good apple butter, and I happen to think that apple butter tastes like autumn. I love that apple butter isn’t butter at all, it’s just glorified apple sauce — apple sauce that has been cooked down for hours and hours, until it is thick, dark, rich, and wonderful. I’d seen a few recipes for making apple butter in the slow cooker, and I was keen on the idea of filling my slow cooker with apples in the evening and then waking up in the morning to apple butter.

Let me tell you, waking up in the morning to the aroma of slow cooked apple butter is nothing short of magical. The whole house smelled like apples, cinnamon and cloves…and it was fabulous. Sadly, the apple butter wasn’t quite as thick and rich as I wanted it to be, so I wasn’t able to slather any on my morning toast. I finished cooking the apple butter that evening (after work) and I’ve been happily eating it ever since. And while eating apple butter is much different than biting into a fresh apple – making apple butter is a fantastic way to preserve the apple harvest. I plan on devouring as many fresh apples as I can over the next few weeks, but I now have multiple jars of apple butter to get me through the winter. A few jars might even end up as Christmas gifts…

So, then, happy apple season to you all! I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. I’ve included a roundup of some of my favorite apple recipes at the bottom of this post (and feel free to include any of your favorite apple recipes in the comments).

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
(Canning instructions for this recipe taken from Simply Canning)

5 lbs* of apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices (*amount may vary, just slice enough to fill your slow cooker to the very brim)
1.5 cups sugar (I used a combination of muscovado and white sugar)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries (or ground allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Place apple slices in your slow cooker, and fill to the very brim. Pour sugar and spices over the top of the apples. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the heat to low.

Allow apples to cook down on low heat for 10 (or more*) hours, stirring occasionally. For the last two hours of cooking, remove the lid (or place the lid on partially) to allow the moisture to cook off. Once the mixture is thick and brown, turn off the slow cooker. If you desire a smooth consistency, use a potato masher, immersion blender, or food processor to ensure the apple butter is smooth. (*Note, after I pureed my apple butter I allowed it to cook down for another hour as I like my apple butter really thick & dark).

If canning, pour apple butter into hot, sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. (*Note, please can at your own risk. Some sites say to process for 10 minutes, but please refer to official canning guides for processing times).

AND NOW, AN APPLE RECIPE ROUNDUP!
A few of my own apple recipes:
Pork and Apple Pot Pie with Rosemary Gruyere Biscuits
Raw Kale and Apple Salad
Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Curried Quinoa and Apple Salad

A few apple recipes from other lovely people:
Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote
Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup with Dill
Apple and Honey Challah
Dutch Baby Apple Pancake
Apple and Carrot Shortbread
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples
Baked Apple Donuts

Happy Lent: Curried Apple Quinoa Salad

Happy Lent, everyone.

(*Yes, I know Lent started a week ago, I just hadn’t gotten around to writing about it until now!)

For those of you who know me (or those who were reading my blog during this time last year), you may remember that Nich and I participated in the Orthodox tradition of Great Lent.

Meaning: for Lent last year, we gave up meat, dairy and alcohol. At first, I was apprehensive. Really, I was terrified. I vowed to give up the things that I loved for a tradition that was not my own. I just wasn’t sure I could do it.

And yet, here I am, a year later…and I’m jumping headfirst into Great Lent.

Why?

I can’t really explain it. But I loved it. Mostly, I loved that Nich and I went on a journey together. It wasn’t necessarily an easy journey, but it was good one. We learned, we grew, and we did it together. It was a really fantastic experience. So much so, that I’ve been looking forward to Lent ever since.

I will say, I know that Lent isn’t for everyone. This is simply a choice my husband and I have made for ourselves. I’m not asking you to join us on this journey, but I am hoping that you can support us in ours.

Because, let’s be honest….we could all do with a little less meat and dairy in our lives. So, even if you’re not into the religious component of Lent, I think we can all agree that a little abstaining could do us some good. (On this same note, there’s a great Huffington Post article called “Ash Wednesday is For Everyone.” Very interesting read.)

So, I hope that you can bear with me for the next six weeks while I adhere to my Lenten fast. Don’t you worry, the blog isn’t going anywhere. Of course, I’ll still post new and exciting recipes, they just won’t incorporate meat or dairy! If I can get by without eating these things, you can get by without reading about them. I think that’s only fair. ;)

So, here’s to Lent and the wonderful journey that it is. I’m excited for the challenge! And, I hope that you are, too.

(And in case you’re wondering: I miss cheese the most!)

Love,
Lindsay

p.s. The following is a recipe I made up last week, using various ingredients I had around the house. This ‘salad ‘was a wonderful way to transition into my new diet – its bright, flavorful, and filling.

Curried Quinoa and Apple salad

1 Granny smith (or other tart apple), cored & diced
1 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (raisins would also work well)
4-5 green onions, diced

For the dressing:
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
The juice of 1 lime
1.5 tsps curry powder
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, smashed

Cook quinoa according to package instructions (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water). Once quinoa is fully cooked, set aside to cool.

Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Be careful not to burn. Set almonds aside.

Once the quinoa is cooled, toss with dried cranberries, diced apple, green onions, and toasted almonds.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together (or shake in an airtight container); taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Pour over cooled quinoa mixture. Stir, and add an extra squeeze of lime juice over the top of the salad. Chill before serving (the longer the salad rests, the more the flavors meld together).

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

My husband made an observation about me the other day, and I thought it was rather funny (and yet strangely true). He’d been at work all day at his new job, which happens to be on the other side of town. When he got home, he found me finishing up a bunch of projects: namely, laundry, mopping the floors, and baking a batch of whole wheat apple muffins. He took one look at me (and our sparkly house) and said: “Whenever I leave you at home alone for an extended period of time, I know one of two things are going to happen. One: you’re going to cook. Two: You’re going to clean. Honestly, you’ll probably do both.”

Its funny because he’s right. If left to my own devices, I will do one (or both) of those things. So, now I’m left to wonder: when did I get so predictable? Or, rather, when did I get so darn domestic?

You see, Nich and I share a car and I’m still getting used to being “stuck” at home when he’s at work on the other side of the city. Thankfully, with the way our work schedules overlap, I’m not stuck at home too much (and if I really wanted to go out and about, I can just walk or bus. I’m not actually stuck). And, really, I’m starting to realize that I like this new arrangement. I like having a few hours at home by myself as it gives me a chance to clean, get organized, catch up on emails, etc. More importantly: it gives me a chance to work on cooking projects!

As I mentioned in my last post, I tend to be a bit of a busy bee. So, in a weird way, this new arrangement is somewhat of a blessing. I actually really enjoy cooking and cleaning and now I have ample time to do both. Nich, bless him, places absolutely no expectations on me. Because of this, I feel a certain freedom with getting things done around the house. I’m domestic because I want to be, not because its expected of me. I cook and clean because I find it relaxing and rewarding.

So, then, getting back to the whole wheat apple muffins. I made a batch of these on a Saturday when Nich was at work. I had the day to myself, a few extra apples lying around, and I was itching for something to bake. I discovered this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and thus my Saturday plans were decided. I baked to my hearts content and the muffins turned out splendidly!

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
(Makes about 1 and a half dozen)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown or muscovado sugar
1 large egg
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Method:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare the muffin tins: Grease or line 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, white sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown/muscovado sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Gently mix in the yogurt. (Note: I found the mix to be a little thick and dry at this point. I added a couple tablespoons of water to thin the batter) Stir in the dry ingredients and then fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: These make for great on-the-go breakfasts! I froze the muffins and would grab a couple every day for breakfast at work. 30 seconds in the microwave (and with a little bit of butter) and they were as good as fresh!