Apple Almond Crumb Pie

Apple Almond Crumb Pie

One can certainly say it is now officially fall in the Northwest! In my mind we’ve not really arrived at fall until we’ve have a least one really good, storm. This last weekend we had our first big storm of the season and as a result lost power for a few days. Living out  in the woods as we do, we lose power frequently and early on were smart enough to purchase a little generator that keeps our refrigerator running, gives us a few lights and operates the fan on the fireplace to help keep us warm. It also, and probably most importantly keeps our coffee machine running. There is nothing so delicious as a hot steaming cup of joe by candlelight, while huddled under a blanket and 2 layers of Smart Wool socks.

Last Saturday night found us out to dinner with friends in a lovely little spot in Bellevue with a tall wall of glass windows and a front row seat to the incoming storm. It was a doozy. Trees toppling, rain blowing sideways and a downed, live, in the middle of the road, power line awaited us upon arriving at home. To complicate matters, it was my son Erik’s homecoming night at the high school, and my other son Drew was out with friends heading home from driving go-carts in Redmond. It’s a bit disconcerting to be separated from your kids when things are out of whack weather-wise, so I was eventually relieved when we all arrived home safe and sound.

Apple Almond Crumb Pie 2

Now that we’ve had our requisite fall storm, it’s also time for me to fulfill the second half of the fall initiation equation. Apple pie. Specifically this apple pie. I do happen to live in the Apple State after all and in my opinion every self-respecting Washingtonian should have at least one really outstanding apple recipe up their sleeve. I’ve shared several with you this fall, but I have to say I think this one is my favorite. It’s one we’ve made for a years and somehow managed to slip underneath my blog recipe planning radar up until now and for that I apologize.

There is so much that is just right, just amazing with this recipe and truly every time I make it I get raves.  Big raves.  A thin layer of almond paste and a delicious almond crumb topping elevate this pie so far above the ordinary.  Apples and almonds feature prominently together in Scandinavian cooking and combined in this way they turn this pie in to something extraordinary. This would also make an excellent addition to the pie table at Thanksgiving as well if you are looking for something special that’s not cranberry or pumpkin.

This recipe is the latest installment for the Issaquah Press. To get it,  head on over the the Issaquah Press Recipe Box section.

Recipe adapted from Odense.

One Pumpkin Three Ways

pumpkin meringue and gingersnap pie 2

I have to admit that prior to blogging the thought of making pumpkin anything from scratch simply did nothing for me. Why on earth would you attempt to hack away at a massively unwieldy, ungainly pumpkin to only then reach inside it’s slimy innards and struggle to remove strings and seeds that stubbornly refused to budge? Memories of arm aching, afternoon pumpkin carving sessions for the boys, fleeting through my mind as I vividly recall thinking to myself “Why exactly am I doing this?”

pumpkin sage gratin

It’s so much easier to saunter to the pantry, grab a can of pumpkin puree and open that baby in 10 seconds flat. And let’s be honest, canned pumpkin is good. Really good. And way easier on the arms. Small sugar pie pumpkins have forced me to change my tune of late. Easy to cut, scoop and roast, one well placed slice with a sharp kitchen knife is all it takes to get you into pumpkin roasting goodness. It’s really no trouble at all to clean a pumpkin that’s been sliced in half anyway, and in the interest of being even more honest, there is just nothing quite like homemade pumpkin puree. It has a earthy complexity that is just lacking in the canned varieties.

The overabundant plethora of pumpkin and squash varieties in the store these days just get’s me stoked, and should provide you with perfect incentive to get yourself to the store and start roasting your own.

PUmpking Burssel Sprout Crostini

Last month Relish Magazine challenged me to come up with 3 recipes from one pumpkin, using a larger 5-6 pounder or if you prefer 3 smaller sugar pie pumpkins. I jumped at the chance and developed recipes for a Pumpkin Meringue Pie with a Brown Butter Gingersnap Crust, a Savory Sage and Pumpkin Gratin and a Roast Pumpkin, Bacon and Brussels Sprout Crostini.

The Pumpkin Meringue Pie is my new favorite pumpkin pie recipe, and that crust is so seriously good it was a challenge not to eat it straight from the bowl over the sink. Salty, sweet, spicy and the perfect foil for the creamy pumpkin puree and light as air meringue.  The Savory Sage and Pumpkin Gratin, highlights the earthy flavors of pureed pumpkin the best, with eggs, heavy cream and Gouda cheese topped with a crunchy, buttery bread crumb crust. Roast Pumpkin, Bacon and Brussels Sprout Crostini is simply my favorite side dish piled on top of a buttery, garlicky grilled slice of bread. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes doesn’t hurt here either.

For the recipes and a brief pumpkin roasting how-to, head on over to Relish Magazine.

Roasted Pumpkin, Maple and Kale Flatbreads

Roasted pumpkin and kale crostini

Are you pumpkined out yet? I most definitely am not and seeing as how I’ve got no less than 10 pumpkins residing on my front porch and mantlepiece currently, I guess that’s a good thing. Last week along with the gorgeous bounty of apples I received from the good folks at Farmstr, I was lucky enough to get a pretty good stash of several varieties of squash and pumpkin as well so it’s safe to say, I’ll be set for squash for quite some time. I’ve been longing to try my hand at pumpkin gnocchi for a while so I think I will definitely have to give that one a go here soon.  If you have a good recipe for it that you’d like to share I’d be thrilled to have it. (I have nightmares of making gnocchi that turn into rocks.)  I’ll be pureeing, roasting, peeling and freezing much of that bounty for use later through out the year, but until I reach my pumpkin saturation point I’m all over everything pumpkin right now.

Roasted pumpkin and kale flatbreads 1

Hopefully my stash of pumpkins decorating my front porch will survive in tact for the next few weeks, but between a neighbors curious and mouthy bulldog puppy and more bear activity on our property, I have my suspicions.  We sadly woke up to more bear inflicted apple tree damage  last week. In an effort to reach the uppermost apples, a bear snapped a massive branch off one of our beloved trees one night and I’m suspecting it’s the same bear that toppled the entire tree I mentioned a few weeks ago. Depending on how hungry or desperate they get they may make a play for my pumpkins. It’s only happened once in previous years, but I wouldn’t put it past them to attempt it again. Particularly this bear. The thought of him walking and sniffing around my front porch makes my blood run cold, so I’ll likely bring the pumpkins in for good.

Roasted pumpkin and kale flatbreads 2

Roasting your own pumpkin couldn’t be easier and there are so many delicious and edible varieties out there these days you definitely should try your hand at doing so. Pumpkin is just so good and good for you and it’s versatility in sweet and savory dishes make it a staple in my kitchen not just in the fall, but year round. Each year I usually try cut up and freeze a fair amount of them to add to recipes for use later in the winter. And for those of you wanting to know how I roast, (and to help you along for this recipe) I’ve included some short and simple instructions on how to roast your own. There are many ways to skin this cat though, so you’ll likely find just as many ways to roast them if you look elsewhere.

Roasted pumpkin and kale flatbreads 3

Flatbreads like these in my opinion are super easy to prepare and can stand on their own for a meal, or serve as a starter if cut into small pieces and served with cocktails. Light on the cheese and heavy on the vegetables, I like to think of them as a virtuous pizza. I’ve prepared these on some store bought naan, but if you’d rather use some ready made pizza dough (or even better your own pizza dough recipe) that would work equally well.  If you go the pizza dough route, be sure to bake them off prior to adding the toppings. In fact I’d bake them just to the point of being done, prior to browning. Then add your toppings and allow them to crisp up and brown on the second bake.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler and it hits all the right flavor notes. Sweet and savory, I finished it with a light drizzle of maple syrup and even a generous sprinkling of chili flakes as I just can’t help myself when it comes to that kind of thing. My grocery store carries baby kale and I just can’t say how much I love that stuff. If you can’t get your hands on any of that, use baby spinach instead and be generous with it. It wilts down and becomes a perfect counterpoint to all the other goodness going on. Creamy goat, brie or Cambozola cheese sprinkled over the top makes it even more amazing.

I’ve got a few pieces of this left in my fridge as I write and I’m beginning to think this would make an awesome breakfast.. maybe with an egg on top or two. After all, I’ve got some serious eating to do if I plan to stay a step ahead of those bears..

Roasted pumpkin and kale flatbreads 4

  • Roasted Pumpkin, Maple and Kale Flatbreads
Prep Time Cook Time
20 minutes 15 minutes

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, while assembling the flatbreads. Brush a small amount of each flat bread with olive oil. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese evenly over the surface of the flatbreads. Lay the sliced pumpkin over the top of the cheese and set aside.
  2. In a medium cast iron skillet, sauté the onion with 1 T. butter and 1 T. additional olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onion is caramelized. Divide the onion evenly between the two flatbreads.
  3. Pile the kale or spinach over the top of each flatbread and drizzle with some additional oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the greens are wilted and the crust has turned a golden brown.
  4. Remove from the oven, garnish with the cheese and drizzle the maple syrup evenly over each. Slice and serve.
  5. To roast the pumpkin for this recipe, choose a small sugar pumpkin (even a small squash would work well) and wash thoroughly on the outside. Slice the pumpkin into quarters, and remove the seeds with a soon. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. and place the pumpkin quarters on a baking sheet. Drizzle a few tablespoons oil over each piece and poke the flesh a bit with a fork. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top and bake for 40-50 minutes until the flesh is soft but still firm enough to hold it's shape. Remove the skin from the pumpkin and slice thinly. You will have pumpkin left over from this recipe, serve it in salads or add it to your favorite creamy pasta if you like.

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Orchard Apple Cake

Orchard Apple Cake

I finally did it. I bought a Fitbit over the weekend.  After much thought and urging from my walking partner and good friend Teri, (along with some nudging from my husband) I made my way to the sporting goods store and took the plunge. This was a big deal for me. I’m staunchly opposed to jumping on every “tech” or device wagon anyway and after reading David Sedaris’s equal parts hysterical and terrifying piece in The New Yorker on the lures/horrors of  such devices, I vowed that I would never purchase one. I’ve always struggled with a bit of a guilt complex so somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that I might be getting myself into a bit of trouble, what with the constant monitoring of steps and calories burned along with my tendencies for over thinking and my general inability to keep my behavior within reason. Persuasive friends and undying curiosity finally won me over.

Orchard Apple Cake 2

Orchard Apple Cake 3

I’m four days in and so far I’ve managed to keep myself in check and not get too carried away. I’ll check back in in a week or two and let you know how things are progressing.  If I don’t check back in, it’s safe to assume I’ve gone down the Fitbit rabbit hole and you’ll need to send in reinforcments. Ideally, reinforcements with cake and a healthy dose of bourbon, please.

If you could bring me this cake specifically, I’d be eternally grateful. A riff on the traditional Swedish Apple Cake, it’s buttery, almond infused and super simple to make. Typically served with a vanilla sauce drizzled over the top, it’s safe to say this cake is iconic to all Swedes. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s on permanent rotation at Ikea. I’ve mixed up the recipe a bit, so it’s not “traditional” for those of you wondering. I was even tempted to sprinkle some crushed cardamom in there,  but I resisted the urge. Next time.

Orchard Apple Cake 4

There’s something I just love about cakes like this. Nothing fancy; perfect for breakfast or alongside a hot mug of tea in the afternoon.  It just speaks fall to me. This is cake to be eaten when it’s raining and the wind is blowing things sideways. This is cake made to lure, crazy Fitbit obsessed walkers out of rabbit holes. For sure.

 

The apples for this cake were a generous gift from the lovely folks at Farmstr

Farmstr is a local Seattle area online marketplace for local farm food that works to connect farmers to consumers directly benefitting both the consumer and the small farmer. If you live in the Seattle area, I strongly urge you to check them out and look for drop off locations near you. Beautiful produce, meat, eggs and seafood are all offered. I just adore them and their mission and I know you will too.

Recipe adapted from Kari Schoening Diehl’s  Swedish Apple Cake from The Everything Nordic Cookbook.

This post contains affiliate links.

Orchard Apple Cake 5

  • Orchard Apple Cake
Prep Time Cook Time
30 minutes 1 hour

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8" round cake pan, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit, then butter that as well.
  2. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the pan, tilting and turning until thoroughly covered with bread crumbs. Knock out the excess and set the pan aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and the sugars on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl until fully incorporated.
  4. Stir in the almond extract and the salt. Then sprinkle the baking powder over the top of the batter. Combine then add the flour in 3 additions, incorporating fully in between to prevent any lumps.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples. I use an apple peeling gadget that works wonderfully for this, but doing it the regular way works just fine too.
  6. Lay the slices in a circular pattern around the perimeter of the pan, on top of the batter. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the cake.
  7. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then carefully invert and set on a cooling rack to for the remainder.

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Matcha Almond Spritz Cookies

Matcha Almond Spritz 4

Incredibly, somehow we are already in the midst of fall. Wasn’t it just summer? Even though I’m already missing the longer days I have to say I’m so very ready for cool nights, warm soups, cozy sweaters and football.. And I’m just loving all of the great pumpkin and fall recipes that I see everywhere.  I simply never seem to get tired of pumpkin/squash everything.

I think in large part it has to do with the fact that we are beginning to embrace the joy of food enjoyed in it’s season. The thought of pumpkin whatever in June, while really delicious I’m sure,  just isn’t gonna do it for me. So now that it’s that time, I’m working on some yummy pumpkin posts to share with you all later this month.  But for now I’m all about cookies.

Matcha Almond Spritz 8

Thank God, cookies don’t have a “season” or I’d be in trouble. These spritz have been a very long overdue addition to my cookie repertoire and I’m kind of a bit shocked at myself for not thinking of making them sooner. I love green tea; drink it everyday sometimes twice a day and I’ll find any excuse to put it in just about anything I think could benefit from it.

I love the earthy, bright flavor of it and in baked goods it just works on so many levels. If you’ve ever had a Green Tea Tiramisu you know what I’m talking about.  And then there’s it’s gorgeous color. How can color so vibrant, so amazing not make you happy?  I think it’s fair to call this recipe a fusion one, because it combines my beloved Scandinavian Spritz cookie recipe with delicious  almond flavors and marries it very happily with the delicate but complex  taste of green tea. A perfect match in my opinion.

Matcha Almond Spritz 9

I adjusted my regular spritz recipe by just adding one teaspoon of Matcha powder because I didn’t want the flavor to overwhelm the almond already in the recipe, but if you’d like more of it’s flavor you can easily add up to an additional teaspoon of Matcha without any harm. I also eliminated adding the cardamom as I felt like there’d be just too much going on. This recipe could also be a fun and  different addition to your cookie plate for that all important cookie giving season arriving soon, that for now shall remain unnamed. You’re welcome.

There are loads of great Matcha brands out there, but for this recipe, I used KissMe Organics, Organic Matcha.  Yum. What’s your favorite way to enjoy green tea?

This is an unsponsored post with affiliate links. Thanks to KissMe Organics for the gift of the Matcha!

  • Matcha Almond Spritz Cookies

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In the bowl of a mixer combine the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Add the egg, the extract and salt. Combine and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Sift the flour with the green tea powder in a small bowl. Then gradually add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Grab a handful of dough and roll it between your hands, the appropriate diameter to fit into your cookie press. Depress the handle just enough to meet resistance, then place the press flat against your cool cookie sheet, click once or (if using an old turning model, turn once).
  3. Let press rest against the pan for 5 seconds, then gently lift off. Fill the pan with cookies, spaced 1″ apart. Sprinkle with coarse sanding sugar. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the cookies just begin to brown ever so slightly around the edges.
  4. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before removing from the pan to a cooling rack. Wash pan and cool in the freezer for 2 minutes. Begin the process again.

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IFBC Sur La Table/KitchenAid Excursion

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A couple weekends ago, I was thrilled and fortunate to attend my first International Food Bloggers Conference here in Seattle. After blogging for more than four years, I decided it was time to get out, meet some of my fellow bloggers, learn some great new information and get inspired. The simple fact that IFBC is literally in my back yard made attending the event a no brainer for me and I have to say it was so, so worth it.

The weekend was jammed full of so many wonderful events, food, friends and opportunities to meet vendors it’s going to take a few posts for me to adequately share with you all that took place but I thought I’d start first with what for me was one of the highlights.

The Friday afternoon before the conference began, I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to visit the Sur La Table Corporate Headquarters in the SODO district of Seattle with 49 other very lucky bloggers. We are blessed here to be home to many wonderful companies, and Sur La Table is one such Seattle institution that has always set my baker’s hear aflutter. And truly how could it not? Unless you’ve been out of the country or living under a rock for the last 30 years, you’ve likely heard of them and their outstanding products.

 

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We were greeted at the hotel by Dorallece Dullaghan, Sur La Table, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations and after a short ride to corporate headquarters we were ushered into their new beautiful test kitchens. The excitement in the air was palpable and it was so wonderful to be in such a beautiful space. After a welcome from SLT CEO Jack Schwefel we were treated to some recipe development discussions and demonstrations by Sephi Coyle, Culinary Director and Kristina Micallef the Culinary Program Content Manager. I was experiencing serious job envy.

We were also thrilled to meet Nikki Lockett, the Senior Marketing Manager for Kitchnaid Small Appliances, who shared with us the KitchenAid mission and introduced us to the brand new KitchenAid Food Processor attachment. Again, job envy. Majorly.  Our cooking demonstrations involved the making of homemade fettuccine, with kale, lemon and walnuts along with some meltingly delicious warm cranberry crumble tarts.

Sur La Table food shot 2

Bloggers doing what they do best, photographing and eating!

The event was seriously gorgeous and it was so wonderful to meet new bloggers and learn more about Sur La Table and their upcoming product lines. It was so wonderful in fact,  I found myself having a difficult time remembering to take photos and I completely failed to adequately document all that I learned.  Most of these photos I ended up taking with my phone. The food was as expected, so very delicious and I’m now a big fan of kale pestos. I think I’m probably the only person on the planet who had yet tried kale pesto.  I know that kale is reaching the saturation point for most people but truly I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

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Sephi and Kristina demonstrating the new KitchenAid food processor attachment

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My friend and Seattle area blogger Peabody Johanson from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Score!

We were all seriously thrilled with our gorgeous swag bags from Sur La Table and completely stunned with the gift of a the food processor attachment from KitchenAid. I’ve used it for several recipes since returning and it’s a game changer. Easy to use and all fully dishwasher safe, I’m in love with it.

This event in an of itself was a fantastic way to begin the weekend, and I felt so lucky and thankful to be a part of it. The warmth of IFBC attendees is legendary, and the conference does a fantastic job encouraging bloggers to meet, make friends and to fully enjoy the very most of their time. Stay tuned for more information on the weekend and even a little what to do, where to visit in Seattle post, if you are thinking of making it to our beautiful area in the near future.

If you are a blogger and at all on the fence about attending a conference, I strongly suggest that you should definitely put IFBC on your list. It will be hosted again in Seattle next year and registration for the event is already open.  You can register by visiting them HERE. If you’ve got questions about the conference I’d be happy to answer them too so leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out. I’d love to see you there next year!

The Applemoon

apple moonshine header

I think it’s fair to say that creating cocktails is one of my most favorite things do in the kitchen. The mixing and shaking, raiding my embarrassingly large and underused liquor stash and the sipping, tasting and reworking a drink, all float my boat in so many ways. Creating a fun, seasonal cocktail can also really make a cocktail or dinner party a very special and memorable event. One of my most favorite dinner parties began with the hostess greeting us at the door with a tray full of delicious cocktails made especially for the evening. I felt totally pampered, indulged and it’s safe to say the evening could have been a total bomb in every other way and it still would have been a success in my book. This girl loves her drink.

apple moonshine 2

Recently the lovely folks at Quady winery sent me a beautiful box full of their delicious aperitif and dessert wines to incorporate in some cocktails and I could hardly wait to get started. Quady is not your typical winery, as they produce these sweet and fortified wines exclusively. Their vermouths are like nothing I’ve tried. The sweet red Vya vermouth is infused with botanicals and has a fantastic spicy cinnamon and nutmeg aroma. Apples and apple cocktails immediately sprang to mind. I have to say it also makes the best Manhattan I’ve ever had, adding layers of flavor to the bourbon and orange bitters that make it complex without being fussy.

Awhile back I went on a moonshine kick, as it was available to us in our state only fairly recently and I bought a couple/few bottles of different brands and varieties. I’ve been slowly working my way through them but the Apple Pie moonshine has really become a favorite. Sweet and delicious on it’s own over ice, it’s a rockstar in cocktails too and this one is no exception.

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The bright apple flavors in this cocktail go so well with the Vya’s herby, spicy notes. I added some lemon juice and bitters for contrast,  a little apple brandy too (woah, be careful with that one), shook it all up and served it along with a little apple garnish. It was so delicious, and pretty potent so I would encourage you to only serve this in small glasses with lots of nibbles on the side.

This drink just says fall to me in so many ways, it’s beautiful color and light lemon and cinnamon flavors work so, so well together. I plan to serve these at our Thanksgiving dinner and for a few girls nights in. I’ll also be working on some other cocktails using Quady wines in the next few weeks so be sure to be on the lookout for more seasonal drink recipes.

You can get your own VYA Sweet Vermouth HERE.

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*This post is not sponsored by Quady Wines. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

  • The Apple Moon
Servings Prep Time
2 5

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. In a tall shaker with ice, add all ingredients except the apples. Shake until shaker frosts over, pour into glasses and garnish.

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Spicy Coconut Carrot Soup

Coconut Carrot Soup 1

The rain and cooler temperatures have finally returned to Seattle, and along with it ever darkening skies in the evenings.  A huge simmering pot of soup seems to be the only meal that suits me right now. After an amazing weekend at IFBC (stay tuned for details on this later this week), I returned home with wonderful memories, tired feet and feeling slightly under the weather.

Coconut Carrot Soup 2

The only sensible remedy? Get myself into the kitchen and make this soup. Rich in carrot and coconut flavors with a hit of sambal olek for spice, this soup provided just the right amount of comfort and heat to kick me out of my cold induced fog. Soups like this one are simple, straightforward and unfussy. They literally take minutes to prepare but the reward is infinitely disproportionate to the time involved in preparation. Garnishing it with some coconut chips and fresh cilantro help bring all those luscious creamy flavors together.

Coconut Carrot Soup 3

This recipe is my latest installation over at the ISSAQUAH PRESS,  and one that you should definitely consider adding to your weekly rotation. It also freezes exceptionally well so you can prepare it ahead of time for just those days when you can’t bring yourself to cook. I’ll be snuggled up under a blanket slurping on a bowl of this beauty for more than a few meals this week.  I can think of no better way to welcome fall.

Recipe can be found HERE.

Alsatian Apple Tart With Brown Butter Ice Cream

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We live on an old apple orchard in a small town, 30 minutes east of Seattle. All that remains of this orchard on our property are 6 ancient apple trees of indeterminate variety that are quite literally on their last legs. Each year during apple season I’m always amazed how much fruit these very neglected trees produce and while I promise myself that this will be the year to rent a cider press, or can applesauce, I’m never quite able to get ahead of the hungry animals that show up each night to feast on their bounty.

The trees have their issues, covered in moss and blight, left unpruned and largely ignored, they soldier on, despite everything. When September arrives the deer come to dine on whatever has fallen to the ground, and the bears climb on the brittle limbs breaking them in their efforts to reach the fruit highest in the tree.

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One very large and determined bear, pushed a neighbors 30+ year old tree to the ground last weekend, uprooting it cleanly and picking it clean. I could only think to myself, that that bear must be incredibly large and very, hungry.. It was a good reminder to us that while fun to look at out our window, black bears are incredibly dangerous and brutally strong animals.

The neighbor at the end of our road had an Alpaca that was horribly mauled by a bear earlier this summer. Shocking to everyone, as the woods that border our properties are thick with berries, and the streams full of fish. It is all part and parcel of living in the country, and we take it in stride. All of us in our neighborhood do our part to prevent bears from getting into garbage, or feeling too welcome near people.

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So in an effort to beat the bears, I made it my mission to pick as many apples that I could reasonably use this week, and decided that they would be a perfect addition to among other things, this Alsatian Apple Tart. This tart recipe comes from the new and beautiful cookbook, Taste of Washington: Favorite Recipes from the Evergreen State, written by  chef, and food writer Michele Morris. Last month Michele was gracious enough to send a copy of the book to me and I was thrilled to receive it.

Bursting with fantastic recipes from Washington State restaurants and chefs the book is simply outstanding. Using regional and seasonal ingredients many of the recipes highlight the unique and very best of Pacific Northwest cuisine. Gorgeous recipes, like Geoduck Saute, Baked Halibut with Morels, Ramps and Smoked Bacon Butter Sauce, Crispy Walla Walla Sweet Onions, and one particular recipe that I can’t wait to try, Pine and Spruce Smoked Salmon with Clam, Parsley and Lime Chowder.

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I’m equally thrilled to get the chance to meet Michele this weekend at the International Food Bloggers Conference  here in Seattle. This conference will be my first. After blogging for more than 3 years I’ve decided it’s time to attend a conference and I couldn’t be more happy that it’s one hosted right in my own backyard. I’m planning on wearing my comfy pants this weekend as I’m sure I’ll be eating, eating, eating.  I can hardly wait!  I’ll be sure to fill you all in on how it went next week.

I must say the apples from my trees tasted especially fantastic in this tart. Made all the better due to the fact that I was able to beat the bears to get them. Tart, firm and the perfect foil for the deliciously flaky crust and can I just say, Brown Butter Ice Cream?? Smokes.. Buttery, slightly lemony and definitely made to go with this tart.

 I received a free copy of this cookbook but no compensation for this post.  All opinions stated are my own.

  • Alsatian Apple Tart with Brown Butter Ice Cream
  • Recipe used with permission from Farcountry Press and Michele Morris
Servings
8

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

For the Tart:
  1. For the Tart: Cream the butter, cheese, and salt together in a mixer or food processor. Add the flour and mix or pulse just until the dough comes together into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a thin round disk.
  2. Press the dough into an 11 " tart pan with a removable bottom, carefully pressing the dough evenly up the edges. Trim off any excess dough and place the tart on a baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Peel, core and quarter the apples. Place the apples into the tart shell, overlapping as you go, as the apples with shrink while they bake. Sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp. sugar and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon and pour over the apples in the tart. Return the tart to the oven and cook until the custard is set, 45-50 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing and serving. Top tart with brown butter ice cream and garnish with salted caramel sauce. * I brushed the tart with 3 T. apricot jam, heated for 1 minute in the microwave, to provide extra shine.
For the Ice Cream
  1. Heat a small pan of medium-high heat, melt the butter, and continue cooking until browned, about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the milk solids. Cool the butter slightly, and then strain and discard the solids.
  2. Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and heat to scalding. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together, and then add the butter, salt, and lemon juice and mix until incorporated. Whisk the hot milk into the yolks a little at a time until fully mixed. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon about 5 minutes. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
  3. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions, and then transfer to a covered container and freeze completely in the freezer.

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Caramelized Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

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To say I have a thing for grain and vegetable salads is an understatement. I’ve always been a fan salads that combine grains of any kind with your typical salad fare. Recently, as part of my Oxbow Farms CSA box I received the most beautiful bunch of Lacinto Kale, along with some other equally gorgeous veg and knew that a salad of some sort would definitely be in the making.

Massaged kale salads have been getting a lot of attention lately, for good reason and while lately I’ve been craving a big ole bowl of  kale and white bean soup, I wanted to try my hand at something a bit different. In an effort to be better at using what food I have on hand I began rummaging through my cupboards and the freezer for items I could incorporate in the salad.

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The wealth of riches I unearthed while hunting, was a bit embarrassing. A packet of beautiful Idaho grown wild rice, frozen Jarradale squash from last fall, creamy blue cheese and dried cranberries and a ridiculously expensive bottle of maple syrup, all found their way into this salad. In the process I realized how I’ve completely failed at the art of making do. I’m vowing now to do better and waste less.  No small feat for a food blogger, I know but something to strive for anyway. So into the oven went squash, oil and maple syrup. It emerged crisped, caramelized and begging me to shove my face in it. But I persevered.

The kale, I massaged with oil and a clove of garlic, something I wouldn’t recommend if you have to be anywhere or impress anyone afterward. Despite a thorough hand washing I had this lingering aroma of garlic hovering around me for the remainder of the day, and well I’m sure an apology is in order if I ran into you that day.  So, sorry..  Definitely add some garlic, just not BEFORE you massage the kale. After. Absolutely after.

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The rest of the salad assembly is super easy. Make the wild rice, crumble the cheese and throw it all on a plate. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, vow to do more cooking just like this and enjoy.

No compensation was provided for this post. *Oxbow Farm graciously provided me with a box of beautiful produce. All opinions are my own. This post is part of the ongoing #theoxbowboxproject which links local Seattle bloggers and Oxbow Farm, to create recipes using seasonal and sustainable ingredients. More information on Oxbow Farm can be found HERE.

  • Caramelized Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4 30 minutes 45 minutes

Ingredients

Servings:

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the diced squash on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with 1 T. of the oil. Stir with your hands to cover the squash completely. Drizzle over the maple syrup, stir again and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until squash is golden brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a piece of parchment paper to cool. Set aside.
  2. While the squash bakes, prepare the rice. Place the rice and the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.
  3. After you get the rice going, add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle on the remaining 1 T. olive oil. Begin by massaging the kale for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic clove and stir. Set aside and let the oil and garlic do their magic.
  4. Once the rice is cooked, divide it evenly amongst 4 plates, top with the kale, squash, cheese and dried cranberries. Sprinkle over additional salt and pepper if desired.

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