Monday, October 14, 2013

Apple Crisp

October = Apple picking.
At least for every single person I know on Facebook it seems, its a time for the obligatory apple picking photo-ops: pictures of tots holding pumpkins and sitting in wagons and adults modeling their favorite fall sweaters.
But what do you do with those huge bags of apples now that you've brought them home ?
May I suggest this simple recipe for apple crisp.
Where many recipes call for multiple spices and added ingredients like nuts and oatmeal, this recipe pays respect to the apple with just a light toss with cinnamon and a simple buttery, crumb topping.
This recipe comes from a departed, family friend. My mother said she likes to make it and think of old times when many afternoons were spent at her house. So, I dedicate this post to Mrs. A.
8 medium baking apples (I used Fiji)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter
Pare and core apples. Cut into slices.
Mix apples with water and cinnamon and put into a greased 1 1/2 qt baking dish.
Crumble the rest of the ingredients together. I find it best to cut the butter into pieces and then mix together with my fingers, breaking the butter into smaller pieces.
Buttery crumble
Spread on top of the apples.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve warm.
Great with vanilla ice cream!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stir-Fried Rice Noodles

Before the Food Network, if you wanted cooking lessons you would tune into PBS to watch people like Julia Child or Jacques Pepin or if you were lucky enough to be friends with my mom, you could learn right in her kitchen.
We had Filipino neighbors who lived down the street and in the 80's my mother asked one of the ladies of the household to come do a cooking lesson for her and her friends. This stir-fry quickly began a hit in our house and still is today.
It is very versatile as you can use whatever veggies and proteins that you wish. The original recipe called for Chinese sausage that is a bit hard to find. I substituted shrimp here but tofu, pork or chicken would work well too.
3 tbsp. peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, cut into strips
2 stalks of celery, sliced (including tops)
1 pkg mushrooms, sliced
3 scallions, cut into thin strips
2 cups Chinese or napa cabbage, cut into strips
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and cut into thirds
1 pkg rice noodles
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
14 1/2 oz can of chicken broth
Begin by preparing the rice noodles as directed - by either soaking then in hot water or boiling for 3 minutes. Drain and put aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a large wok. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and scallions and stir-fry until just beginning to soften (about 3 min).
Add the mushrooms and continue to stir fry until mushrooms are soft.
Add the shrimp and cabbage and stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink (about 3 min).

Season with the soy sauce and fish sauce and mix well.
Add the chicken stock.

 Add the noodles and cook until the liquid is absorbed.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup

Nothing tastes like summer to me more than a bowl of tomato basil soup (except maybe Stuffed Zucchini). And no better tomato to make it with than Jersey's finest. Anyone from New Jersey knows that there is nothing better than late August Jersey tomatoes (and corn!). No sooner have they ripened on their vines than I make this soup...over and over and over, until alas they disappear for another year.
We grew an abundance of tomatoes in our garden growing up. I used to love eating them right off the vine or in a cold gazpacho or creamy, crunchy BLT - pleasures reserved for the way-too-short tomato season. The nice thing about this soup is that it can be frozen before adding the broth and thus enjoyed all year-round.

3 tbsp. margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup packed basil
salt to taste
3/4 tsp sugar
14 1/2 can of chicken broth
1 tbsp. Pastina

Start by preparing the tomatoes. Score the bottom of each tomato with a cross. This will make removing the skin much easier.

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water until you see the skin beginning to pull away (3-5 minutes).
Remove the tomatoes and rinse under cold water or let cool until you can handle them. Remove the skins and then coarsely chop.
In a large pot, melt the margarine and sauté the onions and carrot until the onion is limp.
Stir in the tomatoes, basil, salt and sugar.
Bring to a boil and simmer until tomatoes are mushy - about 20 min.
Cool and puree in blender.
(This is the point at which you can freeze the mixture)

To serve: boil 1 can of chicken broth, add the Pastina and cook until pasta is done.

Stir in the tomato mixture and heat (do not boil).
Eat while dreaming about summer....its only 279 days away.