My dad never had much of a sweet tooth. He’d take a juicy steak over a hot fudge sunday any day. It sure frustrated mom that she could never bribe him with cookies or her gooey chocolate brownies. That’s why it was a memorable occasion when she turned his head one day with a fresh made peach crisp. She finally discovered that my dad had a hidden weakness for buttery, crunchy topping crumbled over perfectly ripened sweet fruit. The great thing about fruit crisps is that once you know how to make the topping and sweeten the filling you can use just about any fruit you have laying around the kitchen. I still have a few Apples hanging around and I can’t think of a better way to put them to use then an apple crisp.
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter into mixture with a fork or using your fingers until the mixture is just past crumbly. If you squeeze some together it sticks.
For the fruit:
8 cups apples
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a buttered round baking dish spread apple mixture, pile it as high as you can as the apples will cook down. Crumble topping all over the apple filling. Cover with foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20min. Remove foil and bake an additional 40 min. For a crispier topping pop crisp in the fridge for about 20 min before you bake it.
Let cool at least 15 min. Serve along side a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Google at a garage sale…
It wouldn’t seem likely that a last minute stop at a garage sale would unearth a lost treasure. Especially when that treasure came in the form of an old, water stained, and much abused coffee table. To its credit it did have a few things going for it. One, it was made of solid wood. Two, it had a brass emblem under the top that identified it as a piece of Baker Furniture. Well, since Baker happens to be a really nice furniture company, especially back in the day, and because the lady practically gave it away I came to be the proud owner of this sad, but solid coffee table. Since Google and I are on a first name basis I whipped out my phone and typed in baker furniture coffee table. It didn’t take long before I knew the production date, guest designer, and value of my new piece of vintage Baker furniture. It turns out my table was designed for Baker by the late Michael Taylor some time in the mid 1950’s before he became famous for being the “father of the California look in modern interior design.” This is a rare piece and while it might not be worth millions (YET) its certainly more than I bargained for! After a good cleaning and a wax job its a showcase, and my living room will now be truly entertaining in its “California” style.
Pasta always ends up one of my meals when I’m raiding the cupboards in a last ditch attempt to avoid going to the grocery store. It’s not that I don’t love buying groceries, its just that I try to use up all the food that I already paid a bunch of money for, before I go and spend some more. The great thing for a pasta lover like me is that it doesn’t actually take much to make it taste like a gourmet dish. If you’re fresh out of sausage-feel free to go veg on this one- it still tastes delicious!
Rigatoni with Sausage and Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 pkg of Italian sausages sliced
1/2 jar of sun-dried tomatoes
1 jar of olive tapenade
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 anchovy fillets
Couple handfuls of Parmesan
Handful of chopped Italian parsley
Boil rigatoni in salted water bout 10 min. Save a cup of the pasta water and then drain. Never rinse pasta!
toss it back in the pan and add some of the pasta water from the reserved cup. Set aside. Meanwhile, add a couple glugs of olive oil to a large saucepan. Dice onion and add to the oil. After the onion starts softening add garlic. Stir. Add anchovy and saute. Don’t worry! The anchovy will disappear into the mix, but add great flavor. Add the sausage and cook through. Now you can add your tomatoes, paste, and olives, mix together and let simmer for a few minutes. Toss in pasta, cheese, and if needed some more of the pasta water. Top off with a handful of the chopped parsley.
Nothing gives me more satisfaction then eating a breakfast made out of ingredients that I once saw hanging on a tree with my very own eyes. Especially when it involves peeling, coring, dicing, and pressing the tiny little apples that a back yard tree grows. It makes you wonder what they do to those ones we buy in the market that make them so huge. Traditionally, Apple butter is super sweet and heavy on the spice. It’s a great topping for toast, ice cream, oatmeal, you name it. I love to mix it into my apple pies for little extra flavor, and since I don’t like a lot of spice to my pie I created a milder butter packed with sweet apple tang. If what you crave is a more intense spice just double the amount of cinnamon called for in the recipe.
Sweet Apple Butter:
3lbs of apples(peel core and dice)
1/2 a stick of butter
2 1/2 cups of apple juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of lemon juice
Melt butter into pan. Add all apples. When the apples appear to be softening just a bit add the juice. Let the apples cook away until very soft then mash with a potato masher. Add lemon and cinnamon. Let cook about 10 min on low heat. Turn oven on to 250. If the butter is not smooth enough for your taste take batches and blend in the blender as you move the butter to a baking dish. Bake in oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours stirring occasionally. The darker and thicker it is the better it will taste!
When I was in grade school my Mom used to pack the greatest lunches. They were made like Mary Meals-with whatever she had on hand. Needless to say they were not your standard pb&j’s. Classmates used to give me such a hard time for my fried egg sandwiches and homemade noodles with cabbage. I glowed as red as my strawberry shortcake lunch box when it was time for the big reveal. It never occurred to me that they might have just been jealous… Here’s to my mom who never gave me a “normal” lunch even when I begged.
Open Faced Fried Egg Sandwiches with Feta and Basil
thick sliced bread
olive oil(butter would work here if you insist)
chopped basil (2 leaves)
Brush oil onto each side of the bread slices and place under the broiler. Turn to toast up each side. After toast reaches a golden color add slices of tomatoes and let broil until very hot. While the tomatoes are working start frying up your eggs any style that you like. Remember to season eggs with S&P. TO PLATE: arrange toast on plate, place your cooked eggs on toast, and top with crumbled feta and chopped basil.
My latest venture to IKEA scored a classy way to update and reorganize my spice collection. Its my go to place for the handy dandy doodads that the swedes seem to come up with in their sleep. Sure you might find these things other places but not so affordable and easy to locate. The Grundtal shelf collection with Rajtan jars. Mary tip: These jars are airtight which is a must for keeping your spices fresh and tasting their best. Thanks IKEA for having a place for everything and everything in its place…
Fresh berries. Mascarpone cheese sweetened with a touch of powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and citrus peel. Rolled up in one thin and crispy french style crepe. Are you hungry yet?! I know that crepes seem very intimidating but they are super easy to make and require very little ingredients. Many of which I am sure you have lurking in your pantry. Crepes originate from the Brittany region of France, but are found in many different countries who each have a traditional name for theses thin little pancakes. No matter what you want to call them, I call them delicious, and they have become one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Here they are served with berries and a sweetened creme filling, but crepes are so versatile you can feel free to add any of your favorite fillings.
Mascarpone Crepes with Raspberries and Blueberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
fresh berries(frozen would work as well)
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese
zest of half a lime and half an orange
1 TBS of powdered sugar(more if you have a sweet tooth) but taste first!
1 tsp Vanilla extract
For the Crepes: whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Non stick pan works best here. (I don’t normally cook with non stick) Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.
For the Filling:
combine cheese with powdered sugar, zest and vanilla.
lay crepe on plate, spoon on filling mixture and place berries on top. fold crepe in half once and then fold that half in half again. top with a dollop of cheese and a handful of berries