Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranapple Pie

For something different at your Thanksgiving table, try this luscious pie in which cranberries become a purple-red mash of tartness, apples retain a touch of crunch, and a crumb topping adds another dose of sweetness.

Cranapple Pie
Makes 12-16 servings

1 ½ cups cranberries, washed and sorted
2 cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of apples, peeled and diced in one-inch pieces
½ cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup apples, peeled and diced in one-inch pieces
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 baked, deep dish pie shell


4 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

In a large, non-reactive, non-stick saucepan, combine cranberries, water, sugar and cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

Blend cornstarch thoroughly in water. Add mixture and 1½ cups of apples to cranberry mixture and combine well. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 more minutes.

Add remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer, uncovered, for 10 more minutes. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then pour in piecrust. Refrigerate while making topping.

Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in sugar and flour, cover with a lid and microwave on high for
2-2 ½ minutes, stirring twice, until slightly browned and bubbly. Spread out on foil until cool enough to handle and then crumble all over top of pie. Cool pie at least three hours before serving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Orange Walnut Pumpkin Pie

Reprinted from Visual Traveler: When you have a goal of creating a new recipe on a certain day, each week, sometimes the task is easier than others. Such was the case this week, but several days of pondering resulted in a great twist on an old classic. Give it a try and see if you agree.

Orange Walnut Pumpkin Pie
Makes 8-10 servings

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
10 ounces evaporated milk
juice of one orange, about 2 ounces
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger

juice of one orange
1/2 - 1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 cup ground walnuts

single pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, orange juice, eggs, 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger thoroughly and pour in pie crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 more minutes.

After reducing oven temperature, stir together orange juice, zest, and 1/2 cup brown sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stir in walnuts and set aside.

Remove pie from oven at end of 40 minutes and spread topping across entire pie. Broil until topping bubbles, about 3-5 minutes. Cool thoroughly before serving.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chocolate Lover's Pumpkin Pie

When I first thought of infusing pumpkin pie with a large dose of chocolate, I wanted to make a chocolate graham cracker crust. But I couldn't figure out how to combine what is typically a no-bake crust with a filling that clearly needed plenty of baking time.

That's when melted chocolate entered the picture - not once, but twice. There's also plenty of crushed chocolate in the light and fluffy filling, without totally overpowering the traditional pumpkin pie flavor. And I doubled the amount of spices in a typical pumpkin pie filling to help it stand up against the chocolate.

This Thanksgiving, there's a way to satisfy tradition and your passion for chocolate in the same luscious dessert.

Chocolate Lover's Pumpkin Pie
Makes 12-16 servings

1, 9-inch pie crust
1/2 cup dark semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted in double boiler
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can lowfat evaporated milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup dark semi-sweet chocolate chips, ground fine in food processor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust 10 minutes while melting chocolate chips. Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Using a pastry brush, spread 1/2 of melted chocolate across entire crust, including edge.
Combine all other ingredients except ground chocolate chips. Fold in chocolate chips and fill shell; it will be very full. Bake pie approximately one hour or until filling surface is slightly firm to the touch.

Cool one hour on wire rack and then for 1/2 hour in refrigerator. Reheat melted chocolate in double boiler. Use pastry brush to 'paint' the pie top with remaining chocolate. Cool at least 15 more minutes and then serve.

Sweet Cranberries

The recipe contest required that entries use at least one cranberry product from the company sponsor and my wheels began to turn. No doubt I would enter a dessert recipe, and cranberry and chocolate would make a natural pairing, but plenty of other people had already used that combo. I needed something really different.

What about cranberry and white chocolate? Hmmm – okay. Now, should I make a cake, pie, cookies or cheesecake…? I decided to create a cheesecake with whole berry cranberry sauce in the filling and also as a pureed topping. I hoped to nail it within three tries and my neighbors agreed to be guinea pigs.

Since I’ve never liked side crusts on cheesecakes mine would only have a bottom crust – with nuts. I imagined a bright red, translucent glaze atop the white filling, and maybe some curls of white chocolate too.

Three tries and several weeks later, my neighbors and I had chosen the second version. Dense yet moist, the filling showcased a big dose of cranberry flavor and a whisper of melted white chocolate. Finally, white chocolate curls peeked out from between two layers of glaze, thinned with a bit of cranberry juice cocktail.

Somebody else won the contest but I gained a spectacular recipe that I'll forever enjoy sharing with friends and family.

Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes at least 12 servings

1 cup finely crushed graham crackers
1/8 cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds low-fat cream cheese, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
5 large eggs
12 ounces Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
¼ cup heavy cream
12 ounces Ocean Spray Whole Cranberry Sauce
6-8 teaspoons Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice
1 ounce shaved white chocolate

Crust: Combine crushed graham crackers, walnuts and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter. Press crust onto bottom of springform pan to just above lower lip inside pan. Refrigerate until filling is ready.

Filling: Stir cranberry sauce in a small bowl until it breaks apart and becomes slightly liquid. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and then beat in granulated and brown sugar, a little at a time, until mixture is fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg. Beat in cranberry sauce and white chocolate. Pour filling into pan and bake the cheesecake in the middle of the oven at 325 degrees, for 1 1/2 hours (times may vary with individual ovens). Allow cheesecake to cool on a wire rack
before refrigerating, covered, overnight.

Topping: Puree cranberry sauce to make a thick, smooth sauce, and the spread half on top and sides of cheesecake. Top with shaved white chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread remaining sauce over the entire cheesecake and serve.

Artichokes + Garlic = Heaven

Inspiration can strike at the oddest times. As I shopped with a friend in a culinary store, we happened upon 'Artichoke Garlic Sauce,' and I decided to create my own version the next time I played in my kitchen. That time was this afternoon, and the result was smooth and seductive with a bit of bite and chunkiness.

This combination is more of a spread, but the flavors are unmistakable. My taste testers and I tried some atop buttered bread slices that were broiled crisp, on whole wheat crackers, and right off of the spoon. We also thought it would make a good pizza 'sauce,' or a sandwich spread paired with provolone cheese and romaine. A glass of Chardonnay is a perfect complement. See what you think of this...

Artichoke Garlic Spread
Generously covers five large slices of French bread

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 can artichoke hearts, diced fine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Saute garlic in olive oil over medium high heat, until slightly browned. Add two tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Add artichoke hearts, lemon juice, and pepper. Combine thoroughly and cook uncovered, over medium heat, for 15-20 minutes or until extra liquid has evaporated. This should yield approximately 3/4 cups. Set aside.

Put half of this mixture in a food processor with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, and puree. Remove puree from processor and stir in remaining artichoke mixture. Spread and enjoy.

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad

With our girls grown and gone I sometimes try to create a meal out of whatever we have on hand. Yesterday I looked at a thawed chicken breast and wanted chicken salad - but not the same old chicken plus mayo plus celery. What I came up with included all of these ingredients, plus some special additions. Serve this chicken salad on whole wheat bread, add some chips and raw vegies, and you've got a great summertime supper.

Grilled Balsamic Chicken Salad
Makes 2 servings

1 chicken breast
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/3 cup mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

Marinate chicken breast in 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette for two hours, turning after one hour. Grill chicken over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes. While it cools to room temperature stir together mayonnaise and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette, and chop celery and red onion. When chicken is cool, cut into bite-sized pieces and combine all ingredients.

Tip: for a little extra crunch, add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts.

Jasper Mirabile Jr.'s Applecello

When Jasper Mirabile, Jr., had too many apples and too much cider from Louisburg Cider Mill in Louisburg, Kansas, seven years ago, he created Applecello. Then he introduced it to customers of his family's five-decade-old family restaurant in nearby Kansas City, Missouri (which he co-owns with his brother, Leonard) - Jasper's Ristorante.

A veteran maker of homemade limoncello (as well as mozzarella, pasta sauce, salad dressings and more), Jasper combined excess apples and cider with sugar, vodka, and grain alcohol, and then flavored the brew with cloves and cinnamon sticks - and he's been doing it ever since. This year's brew features Louisburg Cider Mill's Honey Crisp apples.

Customers at the restaurant can't seem to get enough of this luscious stuff. Each fall they consume more than seven gallons of Applecello, in everything from Applecello Martinis to Applecello & Cream. Jasper adds Applecello to fruit-based breads and cakes (including his signature Applecello cake), pours it over fruit salad, and serves it warm, beside apple strudel and vanilla bean gelato. "It reminds me of fall," Jasper says. "It tastes like mulled cider with a little kick to it."
Want to make Applecello yourself? Here's the recipe:

Jasper's Missouri Applecello
Makes 1 1/2 gallons

6 apples, seeded and crushed
8 ounces apple cider
12 cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
6 tablespoons sugar
10 ounces vodka
10 ounces grain alcohol

Tools: 2, 32-ounce Mason jars, 2-quart stockpot, 1 gallon jug with a cork or cap, very fine strainer, 1-ounce glasses
Place all ingredients, except vodka and grain alcohol, in stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let steep for 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into a sterilized 1-gallon jug and then add vodka and grain alcohol. Place cork or cap on jug and store in a cool, dry, dark room. Let the mixture sit for 14 days.
Strain mixture and place in Mason jars, let sit for 14 more days, and then refrigerate until ready to use. Serve chilled.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

White Bean and Spinach Soup

Our suburban town's farmer's market only closed for the season a little while ago. One of my favorite purchases there occurred when, for only $3, I received a full shopping bag of absolutely gorgeous fresh spinach, and learned that fall is actually the best season for this leafy green. After giving half to a friend, I started thinking about how to use the rest. This new recipe has spinach as a central ingredient, but with plenty more flavors in the mix.

White Bean and Spinach Soup
Makes 3-4 servings

1/2 pound cooked ground sausage
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cans Great Northern beans
1/4 cup sherry
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, cut in 1/2-inch ribbons
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
honey to taste

Puree 2 cans of white beans in food processor. Saute onion and garlic in oil and a large soup pot, over medium heat. Add bean puree, onion, garlic, sausage, sherry, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add third can of beans, spinach, and 1-2 teaspoons honey, stirring thoroughly. Simmer 15 additional minutes. Adjust salt, pepper, and honey, to taste. Serve with light rye or sourdough bread, and a crisp green salad.

Yukon Green Chile Soup

Ever since we first tasted Yukon gold potatoes, our family has loved their soft, buttery texture and flavor. Because our grocery store only sells them by the five-pound bag, I often have these beauties on hand.

One evening, when there was little food left in our refrigerator or cupboards, I pulled together a pretty wonderful, savory soup with just a bit of heat. We ate ours on a cold and rainy night, with some crusty garlic bread and fresh veggies on the side. It should also make a great lunch, after thinning with a little water or milk.

Yukon Green Chile Soup
Makes 4-5 large servings

3 1/2 cups Yukon gold potato chunks, skin on
2 cups water
3 teaspoons bouillon powder
1 medium onion, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of butter
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
6-8 ounces cream cheese
2-4 ounces green chiles, chopped
1/2 cup instant milk
1 tablespoon fresh Parmesan
2 tablespoons sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine potato chunks, water and bouillon powder in a large pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, approximately 40 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. While potatoes cook, saute onion and garlic in butter until onions become translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

After 40 minutes, mash potatoes in cooking water over low heat, leaving occasional small chunks. Add instant milk, bacon, cream cheese, Parmesan, sherry, chiles, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil briefly, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with crusty French bread, and a crisp salad or raw vegetables.

Rustic Turkey Soup

For me, cool weather and soup are synonymous, although our fall temperatures have been uncharacteristically warm (and wonderful :) this season. When I was growing up, my mom made soup frequently during the winter months, from minestrone to black bean and split pea. My husband, on the other hand, didn't eat homemade soups as a child so when he couldn't get enough of this one I knew I had created a winner. Serve with crackers or thick slices of crusty bread, and a salad, and you've got a hearty meal for only a few bucks.

Rustic Turkey Soup
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 large onion, minced
2 celery stalks, minced
olive oil
1 medium zucchini, diced and lightly sauteed
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 can low-sodium cream of chicken soup
2 cups cooked wild rice (may use canned)
1 pound white and dark turkey meat, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Saute zucchini in olive oil, on medium, until lightly browned. Set aside. Saute onion and celery in olive oil and large pan. Maintaining medium-high heat, add stock, soup, rice, turkey, zucchini and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for minimum of 25-30 minutes. To thicken, simmer uncovered for some or all of the cooking time.