03 December 2013
You can absolutely rise to meet the challenge of the delicious fall salad. After all, with the waning of the year come two of those most amazing categories of edibles: apples and nuts. As long as you have access to some salad greens, all you really need to do is add said apples and nuts. Dress your salad with your choice of vinaigrette and you're good to go.
So that's what I've been doing. This was not only the salad I made for Thanksgiving dinner (plus pomegranate arils in that case) but also the only one I've wanted to eat for weeks.
I think a crisp texture is best in this kind of salad, especially if you're going to serve it as a counterpoint to a plate of potatoes, rolls, and gravy. So I tend to choose sturdier salad leaves, such as romaine or butter (yes, they have good texture, especially at the core), and use crisp apples, like fuji or honeycrisp. The nuts are crunchy by virtue of roasting. Put it all together and you have a mouthful of delightful & refreshing salad. Hooray!
I prefer almonds above other nuts, although I am also totally planning to use some of my leftover cashew, walnut, and almond mix from T-day in the next incarnation of this salad. Any good roasted almond presents a great counterpoint to the tartness of apple. Lately I've been going for the super-indulgent sesame-glazed almonds that Rodin Farms sells at our farmer's market. They are REALLY GOOD. I need to figure out how to replicate these guys at home, but until then, I am more than happy to eat plenty of theirs.
Fall salad with apples and almonds
Wash, dry, and chop your salad greens. Distribute them evenly among your plates.
Core an apple and cut it into appropriate chunks. Roughly chop a couple handfuls of nuts. Scatter handfuls of each over the plates of greens.
Dress with the vinaigrette of your choice, grind some black pepper over the top of each plate, and serve.
(You could, of course, dress and toss your entire salad together before serving it. I tend not to, because I am lazy. Besides, the layers makes for a much prettier presentation.)
1 tbsp champagne vinegar (or your choice)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
good grind of pepper and shake of salt
handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
Put all the ingredients in a small jar, lid, and shake until well emulsified. Shake again immediately before serving. Hooray!
Which salads are your fall favorites?
02 December 2013
Everyone needs some arts and crafts to start off the holiday right. We ate a lot of Paper Doll Parade's maple rosemary roasted nuts while searching through every shade of brown, orange, yellow, and red the Crayola 64 assortment had to offer.
This was the first Thanksgiving at which I've had meat since 2006. I made some salami tidbits (which, true to form, everyone stood around the stove and ate as soon as possible) and Veronica and Simon, who were so kind as to host, brined and roasted a chicken.
The full dinner menu: the aforementioned chicken, roasted potatoes and carrots, mashed sweet potatoes mirepoix, salad, and lots of gravy. I also made apple dumplings for dessert. Needless to say, everyone was VERY FULL.
Here's my plate before liberal application of gravy. SO MUCH GRAVY. That was by far the best part of having meat for Thanksgiving. I can totally cook and eat a gigantic vegan celebratory meal with no problem except for the lack of good gravy.
SO MANY LEFTOVERS. The chicken carcass got tossed immediately into a stockpot for stock. (I also made stock a couple days later from the few bones and skin and etc that came home with me.)
Of course you know what leftovers mean. They mean that the next morning you can cut open a bagel, toast it nicely, and layer on all the sweet potato, chicken, and salad greens in the land. Some cream cheese made an appearance as well. So did a big cup of hot black tea with the season's first big whack of eggnog.
Definitely the perfect ending to a celebratory weekend.
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
25 November 2013
I can't wait any longer, you guys, even though I haven't made these myself yet. I have to tell you about Judy's amazing apple dumplings.
I am making these for Thanksgiving and they're going to be epic.
Picture this. You get a whole apple, filled with a sweet & chewy-crunchy mixture of chopped raisins and walnuts, wrapped in its own pastry crust, smothered in cinnamon sauce, and baked until golden brown and steaming. And then you get as much pouring cream as you please. Yeah.
I first had one of these guys at Danny and Bethany's birthday party a month ago. (Yes, October is well and truly birthday month for our peer group. It is EVERYONE'S birthday.) Since these are Bethany's usual birthday dessert, her mom Judy whipped up a huge triple batch of apple dumplings for everyone. There was also a half gallon of cream on the table to serve. I'm just saying.
Of course after that I really wanted the recipe, and Judy was kind enough to oblige. Hooray! Apple dumplings for everyone!
Judy theorized that this recipe may have come originally from an old edition of Betty Crocker. Since my own early 70s copy fell by the wayside some time ago, I searched around and turned up this similar but by no means identical apple dumpling recipe. So maybe someone tweaked that version until they made it their own.
The choice of apple is important: you want to use a flavorful cooking apple that will hold its shape well, such as Mutsu, Ida Red, Honeycrisp, or Cortland. I'm going to give Honeycrisps a try and see what happens.
These can be made vegan by switching out butter and cream with the vegan butter & cream subs of your choice. Yes! You too can have an entire apple encased in pastry all to yourself! Full disclosure, however: Judy said the vegan dough she made was softer & thus more difficult to work with, so you might want to build in plenty of chilling time. Then just get some coconut cream for garnish and you should be golden.
I'm planning to make my dumplings (and maybe sauce?) Wednesday, hold them overnight in the fridge, and bake them whenever it seems most appropriate on Thursday. A dessert you can prep in advance for Thanksgiving? Yes. Let's do it.
Judy's amazing apple dumplings
(Barely paraphrased from the recipe card itself.)
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Combine sugar, water & cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes & add butter. (Note: after making this, I'm thinking you want to boil hard for 5 minutes to really reduce. This will keep you from ending up with pastry sog on the bottom of each dumpling.)
2 tbsp chopped raisins
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp honey
Peel & core your apples. Stuff with a mixture of raisins, walnuts, & honey.
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening (read: butter)
1/3 cup cream
Sift the flour and salt together. Cut in shortening & blend with pastry cutter. Add cream. Mix & shape into ball. Roll out on floured board. Cut into 6 equal squares.
Put a stuffed apple in the center of each piece of pastry. Sprinkle with extra sugar and cinnamon & dot with butter. Fold corners to center & pinch edges together. Put your completed dumplings in a greased baking pan and pour the cinnamon sauce over all. Bake at 375F for 35 minutes, or until pastry is browned and apples are cooked through.
Serve with as much cream as you like.