Sunday, January 26, 2020

ChezCindy: Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp

I have a dear friend who makes a delicious Berry Crisp dessert.  When a group of us are coming together for a dinner gathering, she will offer to bring the dessert to which the answer is "Yes, please bring your awesome Berry Crisp!".  She does not use a recipe.  But it comes out fantastic every time.

Below is my recipe for Apple Crisp.  Like my friend, a recipe can serve as a guide, sending you in the direction of creating your own Fruit Crisp dessert.  Crisps can be made with any fruit or combination of fruit.  Frozen fruit can also be used, such as berries and cherries.  My preference is to go heavy on the amount of oatmeal used, cutting back on the flour.  I often add chopped walnuts and vary on the spices depending on what fruit is used.

Use this recipe as your starting point and then make it your own.  

Cinnamon Spiced Apple Crisp
4 pounds Golden Delicious apples
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Crisp Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter 6 small ramekins, place onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  

Peel, core and cut the apples into thin wedges.  Combine the apples with the orange zest, juices, sugar and cinnamon.  Toss together until the apples are well coated.  Spoon the apples into the prepared ramekins, dividing equally, leaving enough room for the added crisp topping, roughly 1/2-inch.  

Make the crisp topping in a food processor by adding the flour, sugars, salt and oatmeal into the bowl fitted with the blade in place.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Dice the cold butter into small 1/2-inch pieces.  Add to the processor bowl.  Pulse 2-3 times until the mixture is crumbly with the butter still showing in small bits.  Using a large spoon, evenly divide the crisp topping over the apples.  

Place the sheet tray into the hot oven.  Bake for roughly 55-60 minutes until the tops are golden and the filling is just starting to bubble on the edges.  

Serve warm with ice cream.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

ChezCindy: Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins

At the start of this new year, I gave myself a goal of trying 4 new recipes each month.  I didn't think this was too aggressive for me.  But life gets busy, so why add unneeded pressure.  Sure enough, I had made 4 new recipes by January 12 without even thinking about it.  Let's see how the rest of the year goes.

Early in the month I made a soup recipe that I had torn from a Cooking Light magazine from 2017.  The recipe was titled Immunity Soup using ingredients that help boost the immunity system.  The recipe was basically a homemade chicken soup with added ingredients to bolster the healthy factor.  You could start with my chicken soup recipe, here adding in 6-8 cloves of minced garlic - a powerful antioxidant, sliced mushrooms for vitamin D, chopped kale for vitamin C, and chickpeas for protein and zinc.

I also tried a new source for recipes going to Kelly LeVeque's web site.  Kelly is a social media wellness expert and nutritionist.  She has a really delicious Cauliflower Rice with Creamy Coconut Chicken and Broccoli recipe on her site.  I loved it.  I made brown rice for my husband who will not eat cauliflower.  Easy, healthy and super good.  You can find the recipe at here .

I did have one failed recipe from a very trusted source in one of my cookbooks.  I made baked chicken breasts with Tuscan bread crumbs.  It did not work out well.  Too heavy on the bread crumbs.  We ate it for one meal with lots of leftover chicken that the dogs enjoyed.  Lucky pups.

One of the recipes I tried was a yeast dough walnut bread.  I sought out a basic recipe knowing that I wanted to add fresh rosemary.  Inspiration came from a food memoir I was reading with the author referencing a walnut rosemary bread in one of the chapters.  Sadly, she did not include the recipe.  So I was determined to figure it out.  I started with a basic recipe from King Arthur Flour web site and added my own twists.  It came out lovely and delicious.  The recipe makes two golden brown loaves, which I shared with my nieces and their families.  Sharing was a must.  The bread is so delicious I could have eaten all of it!

Walnut Rosemary Bread with Golden Raisins
1 1/2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup agave sweetener
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5-6 cups bread flour
1 1/3 cups toasted chopped walnuts
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the bread dough hook, add the warm water to the bowl.  Add the yeast to the water to dissolve.  Mix in 1/2 cup of flour and letting the mixture stand without mixing for 10 minutes.  This will wake up the yeast to get the action started.

Stir in the agave, oil and salt.  Add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing with the dough hook running on low to medium speed for the entire time.  The dough will become formed into a shaggy mess and will be a bit difficult to stir at the end of the process.  At this point, turn off the mixer and turn out the dough onto a lightly floured counter.  Continue kneading by hand until a smooth satiny ball is formed.

Prepare a large bowl by drizzling a tablespoon of oil into the bowl.  Using a paper towel, lightly coat the inside of the bowl with the oil.  Place the ball of dough into the oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it with the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place the bowl in a warm spot so that the dough can rise until double in size.  This will take roughly 1 1/2 hours.

When the dough is puffy and double in size, remove the plastic wrap.  Using your hand, gently deflate the dough by pushing down in the center.  Add in the chopped walnuts, golden raisins and chopped rosemary.  Knead the dough to incorporate the walnuts, raisins and rosemary.  Transfer the dough to the counter to continue kneading and incorporating the chopped ingredients.  This will take 5 minutes or so.  Divide the dough in half.  Form each half into a smooth ball.  Place each ball onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I used 2 sheets that fit side by side in my oven on one rack.  Cover the loaves loosely with a damp towel.  Place the trays in a warm spot, allowing the loaves to rise.  This will take about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the towel.  Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of each loaf.  Cut 3-4 slashes across the top of each loaf, 1-inch deep.

Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.  The loaves will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Place the loaves on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.  It is very tempting to cut in sooner, but be patient before cutting to enjoy.   Serve with salted butter.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

ChezCindy: Avocado & Blueberries Winter Salad

For the first time since the "holidays", I can see bare shelf space in my refrigerator.  I searched the vegetables drawers to see what remnants remained that I could put together for a refreshing salad this early January.  I discovered several avocados buried under the parsley, carrots and other staple items.  They were too unripe to use at the time of purchase and then forgotten about.  I also had a few blueberries and my favorite sweet tiny cucumbers.  A good start, but maybe this salad would need lettuce.  Yes, I had beautiful curly frisse lettuce still in good shape.    

The salad came together quite nicely.  The avocado paired extremely well with the citrusy blueberries, tossed with my Dijon Agave Vinaigrette dressing.  Chunky bites of crisp cucumber and a bit of curly lettuce to complete the salad, all showered with  a sprinkling of flakey sea salt.

Avocado & Blueberries Winter Salad
Serves 2

1 large ripe avocado
1/3 cup fresh blueberries
2-3 small sweet cucumbers (sometimes called Persian)
1 cup frisse or curly endive lettuce, torn into small pieces
flakey sea salt to season as desired

Peel and cut the avocado into large pieces; cut the cucumbers into large pieces.  Place the avocado, cucumber, blueberries, and torn lettuce into a small mixing bowl.  Toss together with 2-3 tablespoons of Dijon Agave dressing.  Sprinkle with the flakey sea salt to season well.

Dijon Agave Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave sweetener
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Add the Dijon mustard, agave, salt and pepper to a medium size bowl.  Using a whisk, mix to combine.  Whisk in the vinegar.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking while you drizzle to emulsify the ingredients into a creamy consistency.