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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query apple. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query apple. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Favorite Apple Pie

 



My Absolute Favorite Spiced Apple Pie

Favorite Pie Crust

  • 10.5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz solid fat
    • Chilled butter, vegan butter substitute, cold lard, or cold coconut oil do just fine!
  • 2 oz granulated sugar
  • Vodka, as needed

Apple filling

  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp grand marnier
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/8 tsp freshly-ground Chinese Long Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground ancho chili powder
  • 9 small apples or 5 medium ones, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 oz all-purpose flour
To make the pie crust, simply combine your dry ingredients with a fork and rub the fat into the flour with your fingers. Add in some vodka until it's just moist...and mix together! How should you mix this all together, you ask? Well, lucky for you, I've discovered the joys of IGTV:




Isn't that great? I can do tutorials without having to get a youtube channel. 

Simply wrap and chill this dough for at least 30 minutes while you prepare your filling. All you really have to do is combine all the ingredients, except for the flour, toss well, and cover. Let this sit for the same amount of time you're letting your dough rest so the flavors can meld and mesh together. I like to let it all rest on the counter instead of the fridge because you tend to get a lot more juice out! A proper pie has a good dance of moisture and juicy filling, but we don't want to make our crust too soggy. When we can control the amount of moisture in our pie, we're going to have a good time.

When it comes to rolling out your dough, I prefer not to dirty up my counter with tons of excess flour, but to roll it out between two well-greased sheets of parchment paper. I do this for many reasons, but the main reason is that I don't want to mess with my perfectly-crafted ratio of fat-to-flour. After all, if we're going to be exact with our measurements, why screw it all up with more flour when rolling out? The other reason to do it this way is for easy clean-up. Simply give your counter a quick wipe and throw the parchment paper away! All you need is a good rolling pin, a good arm, and plenty of pan-spray to make this perfect. Even better, you can use the parchment paper to help you flip your flat dough into your pie dish. 

I love this glass pie dish because I can see the bottom, and therefore see when things are cooked or not. Glass is excellent at conducting heat, so for me, it is the ideal baking dish. All that must happen now is you gently line your pie dish with your dough and let it chill before adding the filling. I also like to let it chill before I trim it so that the dough has plenty of time to relax. This way, you can let any glutens that may have accidentally developed relax away. 

Your pie filling should have become quite juicy at this point, so now's the time to add your flour! You may need more than 1 oz, depending on how much juice has come out, but definitely don't use less than this amount. So long as the mixture has thickened slightly with the amount of flour but is still liquid, you should be safe. Add your flour, mix well, and fill your pie! 

Use your rolling pin to roll out a top crust and very gently let it fall over the top of the apples. You should have a nice high pile, which is exactly what you want! Don't stretch your pie dough too much, but be sure to let it sit atop your fruit for about 5 minutes before you crimp all the edges. Once the edges are crimped, with either your fingers or your fork, let it chill in the fridge until your oven comes up to 350 degrees F. Be sure to also cut some vent slits in the top. Get decorative at this point, if you like!

Line a sheet pan with tin foil and set your baking rack to the lowest possible setting so that the bottom of the pie tin is close to the bottom of the oven. Bake your pie on the lowest rack for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown and your pie filling is bubbling slightly out of the vent slits. 

This next bit is the tricky bit, but it's absolutely essential. You have to - and I'm not making this up - wait to cut open that pie for at least 4 hours, ideally overnight. 

I know, I know! It's apple pie! What is better than apple pie fresh from the oven??? Well, how about an apple pie that stays together and won't flood out into a big juicy, sticky mess, that sogs up your bottom like no other? It's imperative that you let the apples do their thing and let the pectin rest. You must do this, so when you warm up the pie again, by the slice, it'll actually stay gelled together. Apple pie really is quite easy, but the real secret ingredient is time, and time well spent. 

While we're waiting, would you like to learn a thing or two about apples? 

We've all heard that phrase "as American as apple pie", but what if I were to tell you that apples themselves were not native to America? They are, in fact, native to central Asia, and have come to Europe by way of the Silk Road, which is the same trade route that gave Italy noodles, which would eventually evolve into the modern pasta we know today.  Apples were then planted in Europe, and then were brough to the American colonies by - you guessed it - colonizers. So, really...nothing is more American than apple pie, because apples - like most of us - are immigrants that have taken hold of the land and changed it forever!

People loved apples because they're delicious, but more importantly they are incredibly prolific. They do not self-pollinate like peach or plum trees (also from central Asia), but need a partner tree to be next to in order to produce. Once they do, however, they'll give more fruit than you could likely know what to do with! I'm specifically and explicitly forbidden to have a pair of apple trees in my own garden because my husband's childhood was "ruined every late summer" because he, his brother, his sister, and his mother all had to stop everything and process every single apple into apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie, apple dumplings, and more. Now, if you ask, "why not just let the animals have it?" Well, dear friend...

Apples are naturally high in sugar. When sugar meets water, it's going to begin to chemically change, especially with time and the right bacteria. Long story short, they ferment. When you get a squirrel or a deer biting into a fermented apple and drunkenly stagger around your yard, it's likely going to be quite comical. When you get a bunch of butterflies, bees, and hornets flying around drunk, it immediately becomes less fun. Apparently, hornets are like yours truly when they've had one too many - they'll fight anything. 


Apples on the ground are not bad or rotten. In fact, apple trees are exceedingly clever in that they will tell you when an apple is perfectly ripe and ready for eating by letting them fall to the ground with only the slightest breeze to invite you to eat them. So long as they don't have a big bite out of them from a squirrel or bug, it's best to just gather them from the ground. You can store them in the cellar, if you have one, just as they are, in crates. Please keep paper between the layers, however, as they do better this way. I hear that they hold the best when not touching directly, and each apple is individually wrapped with tissue paper. This is the reason we have wax on our apples, you see. When apples touch, skin-to-skin, they'll begin to ripen and ferment. They say you should wash off the wax before you eat them, but I've eaten apples with wax on the skin for years and nothing's happened to me yet. 

You can, of course, make this all into apple butter, or freeze the processed slices in bags. You can make candy apples. You can make it into applesauce, which - by the way - magically replaces eggs in a cake if you are in a pinch and can't go to the grocery store right that moment. You can do all sorts of things! The point is that you must absolutely know that you love apples, that you'll never get sick of apples, and that you have neighbors that love apples before you get yourself a pair of trees. That, and you have an excellent apple pie recipe in your back pocket. 

Serve this pie with ice cream, if you like, but I like it on its own with some good coffee. 

I hope you've enjoyed learning about apples, the history thereof, and the silk road. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Personal Apple Streusels


They're not technically pies, since they don't have a crust, but I won't tell if you won't. 
I'm a big fan of eating seasonally. Apple season starts in the fall, and extends into early winter. Apples don't do well when frozen on the tree, and most apple trees here in North America are prolific and will give more than enough to you should you have one of your own. Be warned, though, they are prolific to the point of problematic.

One of my husband's favorite arguments against me planting an apple tree in our garden is the childhood memory of the two apple trees he had from age 9 to 19 in a little house in Columbia. You need to have two apple trees if you have one at all, as they tend to cross pollinate with the wind. He, his brother, and sister all would be put to work during apple harvest season to peel and make apple butter, apple sauce, etc., by their mother. If they did not, the fruit would fall off, rot, and ferment. If the fruit would ferment, they would have stray animals in their yard that would essentially get krunk on these fermented fruits. Squirrels, he tells me, were the funniest, but they were never funny enough to justify the presence of the drunken hornets.

Years later, I asked him why they couldn't just pick all the apples at once and keep the ones you didn't want to process in the cellar, he said that it was too much trouble. When I asked what he meant, he told me that if apples touch each other or are stacked on top of one another, they'll go rotten. Upon further research, I find that this is true. Apples are not social fruits, so it's best to wrap them each individually in paper and store them in a cool and dry place. I read once that folks would store apples tightly in barrels and even sink them in lakes under the ice, only to retrieve them later. (I have no idea if this is true, some guy told me while I stopped for gas while driving through Ozark country. Nice guy.) There's a ton of folk knowledge for how to store apples for long periods of time, but most of us in the cities don't need to worry about that. That being said, if you buy in bulk, it's good to know that you're able to store fruit in your basement or garage, properly stored, for long periods of time.

I consider apples a winter fruit because they keep so well in the winter months. Most dried fruits are obviously considered a 'winter' fruit, but many of my 'seasonal cookbooks' use squash or apples in their baked goods because of factors like this. Squash, apples, carrots, and other root vegetables keep well in root cellars, so therefore they're ideal for the winter. I live in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that it's currently winter.

This is my 150 year old silver maple! This photo has not been edited at all. 

We got a big snow over the weekend of a 9"-12" accumulation, and we're expecting another big snow next week as well. When things snow, all I want to do is bake. I don't know if it's some kind of deep psychological reasoning that makes me associate snowfall with "MUST BAKE NOW"or if I just want my house to be warm from the oven, but when the snow falls, my oven goes on.

My husband loves apple pie, but since I didn't have enough apples for a whole pie, I did this version. I hope you like it!

Personal Apple Streusels 
yields two

  • Two apples of your favorite variety, the firmer the better. I had Sugar Bee apples, but you can check out info on varieties here
  • 3 Tbsp local honey
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c oats
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 4 Tbsp (2 oz) lard or vegan butter (or dairy butter, whatever you like/have)
  • **chopped walnuts or dried fruit, as needed
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. The flour, oats, sugar, and fat are your streusel elements. All you do is mix these items together with a spoon, pressing the fat into the dry ingredients until it's sort of crumbly. Keep this in the fridge while you work with your other stuff. 

Do you like my argyle socks? 
Slice off the top of your apple. Using a spoon or apple corer, dig out the insides and discard the tough core and seeds. Keep the rest of the insides and put it in a separate bowl along with the sugar, honey, spices, and salt. You can core out as much as you like, but I think that it's safest to leave at least 1/2" of apple in around the skin. The point is that you're tossing the insides of this apple in your sugar/filling mixture. If you like, you can add raisins, dried cranberries, or dried currants. You can also add any kind of chopped nut that you like to either the filling or the topping. My favorite nuts with apples is the noble black walnut. Either way, please taste as you go to make sure that this is the amount of sweetness that you want. If so, add more sugar! If you'd like it a little spicier, feel free to mix it up. When you're happy with the flavor profile you've created, fill your apples back up with the nice filling you've made and top it with your cold streusel topping. Please be generous! 

I had a little spillover, but that's fine. I snacked on it when it came out of the oven. 

Mine baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, but you check yours at 30 to make sure that the apples are soft and the filling is bubbling. You always want to make sure that your apple pies (be they personal or a large one) are bubbling, as that's when you know the pectin will be activated and that the internal temperature is at least 212 degrees. 

Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little more honey. You can serve this with a sour cream sauce, some vanilla nice cream (vegan ice cream) or some whipped cream. I like to eat this warm, but there's no reason you can't make a lot of these ahead of time and serve them to a large party. They're quite impressive yet nonthreatening on a plate. Something like this would be perfect for a small dinner party, and the cleanup would be a snap. After all, the dessert is self-containing. 



Thanks so much for reading! If you try this, please comment below and tell me how my recipe went for you. This is an awesomely quick dessert that's so easy and delicious. It encompasses the flavors of apple pie without having to do a big amount of dough. Let me know what you think. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Mini Apple Poptarts



I have a secret. Do you promise not to tell my friends? I hope it won't ruin me!

I love Poptarts. I really do! I know that I'm supposed to be this serious and sophisticated Chef at this point in my career. I know I'm meant to have a sophisticated palette. But what can be done when the heart wants what the heart wants? There's just something so amazing about a sugar-packed pastry filled with fruit and topped with frosting! Am I wrong for loving them? I don't know about that...but I do know that recently experienced a tiny tragedy a few weeks ago.

I bought a Poptart from a gas station. (I was in a rush and experiencing a sugar crash, so don't judge me.) I took a big bite of it while I was driving and felt like I was being kicked in the teeth by a tiny sugar monster. I was utterly heartbroken. Am I just too old for Poptarts? Have I outgrown them? But how can one 'outgrow' the perfect parcel of pastry and fruity filling, crisp and crumbly and delicious? It was just too horrible to be true. I set this experience in the back of my mind until I received my farm box from Prairie Birthday Farm and happily opened a bag of Windfall apples. 

Yes! I thought. These apples weren't the pretty things you see in the grocery store, but the real apples that you get off the farm. I could make apple pie, of course, but what if I could take the opportunity to right the wrong of that Poptart experience I'd had some weeks prior? These apples were perfect for baking, and I was about to do just that. Here's another thing you need to know: Not every single produce item you have has to be absolutely gorgeous, especially if it's going to be put in something, versus presented to guests as is. The truth of the matter is that apples will simply jump their way off a tree when it's ready to be eaten and if it's found on the ground that doesn't mean that it is any less edible. We can talk more about that later!

Mini Apple Poptarts
yields 12 mini pop tarts

Perfect Pie Dough
  • 14 oz all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz granulated sugar
  • 8 oz vegan butter/any solid fat
  • Vodka, as needed
Apple Filling
  • 6 small apples or 2 big ones, peeled and chopped
  • 3.5 oz raw or brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon or 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese long peppercorn
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Special equipment
  • A proper rolling pin
  • A fluted square cutter
  • A Silpat mat
Start with your pie dough. I know I've talked about it plenty of times, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to start with cold ingredients. Chop your cold fat, and put it into your cold dry ingredients. Rub your fat in with your fingers - not your palms - to keep it cool. Add cold vodka. Are you curious about what the actual mixing method is? Check it out - I've actually done a video about it!




Now that that's all settled, wrap your pie dough and chill it well! I like to let it chill overnight, but an hour will do the trick just fine if you don't want to wait. Are we ready to move on to the filling? I sure am!

Protip: The trick to doing good pop tarts is to chop the apples large enough to still have a sort of bite when eaten, but small enough to fit into your tart of size. I cut my pieces into thin slices and then had those slices cut to 2 cm in length. This, of course, all depends on the size you want, so please feel free to decide what size you feel appropriate! No matter what, make sure that your slices are all the same size, so they cook evenly.

Combine your apples with the sugar, lemon juice or vinegar, salt, vanilla, and spices, and stir well. Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit for about half an hour to extract all of those delicious juices and that wonderful pectin. This is called maceration, and it's used to soften fruits for sauces or fillings, while also making the flavors more intense. Keep in mind: the longer you let the apples sit, the more juices will escape and the more your flavors will meld...so feel free to start this the day before you want these treats! While we're waiting, let's talk a little bit about apples and the perfectly imperfect fruit that they are.

Apples originated in Central Asia. The apple as we know it was brought over by the European colonizers. Although technically an invasive species, we have plenty of delicious varieties that grow better in certain climates. Apples enjoy a temperate climate and require other apple trees nearby to cross-pollinate, which makes it difficult to grow and manage if you don't have a decent amount of space. The good news: you can dwarf an apple tree! This means that they'll grow out, not up, which is much easier to manage when harvesting! Shall we talk about harvesting apples, now?





The apple tree is an exceedingly clever plant, as it'll simply boot off any apples it deems ripe enough to eat instead of waiting for someone to pick it. This results in bruising, and bruised apples never get picked to go to the grocery store. This is not so great, since bruised apples are entirely edible. Apples do ripen quickly, however, so if you don't get them off the ground as soon as you can, they risk fermenting and trust me when I tell you this: drunk squirrels are funny, drunk hornets are not. 

I could go on and on and on about food waste and the problematic practices of how we harvest produce in this country. I'm guessing, however, that you are ready to cook your apple filling...so let's get to it!


Now that your apples have macerated, you're ready to add your tapioca starch! I love tapioca starch for this because it cooks quickly, is crystal clear when set, and mimics the jelly-like texture of pectin most naturally. Cook your apple filling over medium-low heat until most of the liquid has been reduced and thickened, about ten minutes, and set aside to cool. You'll want your apple filling to be at least room temperature for this next step!

Roll out your pie dough between two greased parchment sheets or between two long sheets of plastic wrap. This prevents you from making a mess! Roll it as thin as you can, about 1/8th of an inch, and use a cutter of your choice to cut shapes of equal sizes to make your tarts. Remember, each tart is going to use two pieces of cut dough. I had this gorgeous little fluted ravioli cutter that I found at a garage sale, so I decided to use that! You can use egg wash to help 'glue' your two pieces together, but water works just fine if you want to keep it vegan. 


Use a scoop or large spoon to portion equal parts of your cooled apple filling onto the bottoms of each tart and loosely sandwich the top piece to it. Allow the top dough to relax around the filling and press gently around the edges to get rid of any air bubbles. I used a fork to crimp the edges of my tarts, but you can use your fingers and pinch them together if you like. Make sure you poke some vent holes in the top!

At this point, you can freeze them for later. Why would you do that? So you can have them to either stick in the toaster oven in the morning for a quick breakfast! Even better, if you wanted to get a little crazy, you could deep fry these beauties at 375 degrees until golden-brown for an insanely indulgent take on the apple Poptart! If you're a traditionalist like yours truly, though, and you simply cannot wait to dig in, feel free to bake these beauties at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and delicious. Let them cool completely before you handle them. You can frost these with a simple powdered sugar glaze or buttercream, but I like them plain. They're a perfect little snack to beat the mid-afternoon slump!

I adore this recipe because it's easy to make ahead, and they're just oh so cute to look at and eat. It's got all the beauty of an apple pie combined with mobility. You can wrap these in paper and take them on a picnic, or pop them in your purse for an on-the-go sugar boost. You can grab one on the way out the door. Heck, put one in your pocket while you wander the wild and windy moors, lamenting over that handsome stranger that shot partridge on your land just Sunday last. The possibilities are endless!

Thank you so much, as always, for joining me today. I hope this has inspired you to try this recipe on for size. Now please excuse me while I help myself to some apple pie a la mode with my husband. Happy cooking and happy eating!


Friday, October 1, 2021

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Cake


Fall is here and my body is ready. Going apple picking is one of my absolute favorite things in the world to do, and I'm so fortunate to live in the Midwest where apple picking orchards are a-plenty! Apples are relatively easy to grow, but the trick is that they are not self-pollinating trees so you really need at least two trees to get apples. I don't often recommend doing that if you have a smaller lot, or if you can't commit yourself to getting every apple off the ground before it ferments and gets all of your squirrels and hornets drunk...but if you do have those things covered, then by all means go for it!

The apple, which is not native to the Americas, is one of my favorite ingredients. I write about it a fair bit! That being said, you don't have to get apples fresh from a farm to enjoy them, even though it is recommended. Yes, you could get a bag of apples for $5 at the store instead of driving out to an orchard, paying $36 to pick your own in 88 degree heat wearing fall clothing with your kids screaming at you about being itchy and having to go potty all the time...but if you can get to a farmer's market where they're selling apples you can split the difference and get great quality produce!


These apples are from the farm. They're small but much sweeter than many I could get in the store! I don't mind the bruises at all, and neither should you, especially if you're going to eat them straight away in a pie or cake. There's a ton of perfectly good food wasted every year because it's not exactly "up to standard." You can watch this awesome documentary about it if you're so inclined! Of course, the issues are much more nuanced than just one documentary can present, but it's still interesting to think about.  The bottom line is that when you buy organic produce it will not look exactly perfect like how you see in the grocery store. Food will be in its natural state, with bites and bruises, and it won't matter a lick how it looks if you put it into a cake. 

Cinnamon Caramel Apple Cake
yields 1 9" square or round cake

Caramel

  • 200 g white sugar 
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Apples

  • 4 small apples, sliced thinly on the mandolin + 1 small apple, cut decoratively
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
Cake
  • 150 g vegan butter 
  • 220 g brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dried ginger
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 250 g all-purpose flour
  • 240 g (1 cup) almond milk
This is a cake that takes many steps, but it is worth it. Trust me.

Prepare the pan of your choice by buttering it generously with either non-dairy butter or coconut oil spray. Get all of the sides, of course, but especially get the bottom! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 




Prepare the apples by slicing them thinly on a mandolin or with a sharp knife and tossing them with the sugar, zest, and spices. You may add a tsp of good dark rum if you like, but it is not necessary. Set it aside and prepare the caramel bottom. Slice your decorating apple and arrange it in a pattern on the bottom of your pan. This will be the top!

Add the sugar, honey, vinegar, to a small saucepot along with just enough water to cover the sugar mixture. Pop a lid on top and bring it to a boil. You're going to boil it for about five minutes, or until lovely golden-brown caramel forms, and immediately pour over the apples as evenly as possible. Pop this into the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, just to set it and to ensure that the caramel is evenly distributed among the apple slices. When ready, remove from the oven and set aside.

Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whip attachment until quite light-colored and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and whip it all together until completely incorporated and the sugar looks to be mostly dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl between each addition. Make sure the eggs are entirely incorporated before going to the next step!

Add in your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla, and whip together until combined. Add in the flour, a third at a time, while alternating with the milk to make sure no big lumps occur. Scrape down the bowl and give one final stir. Remove the whip attachment and stir in the macerated apple mixture by hand with a spatula. Allow the batter to rest for about 15 minutes on the counter to let the flour soak in. 

When ready, scrape the batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan and springs back when touched. Remove from the oven and let sit on the counter for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a plate. If everything goes well, your caramel will still be warm enough to bring the cake away from the pan! Let cool for another 15 or 20 minutes before slicing into it, as molten lava has nothing on hot caramel.

This cake is incredibly soft and moist and will fill your heart with warming love. I can't think of anything more perfectly delectable than this cake for the first taste of fall. It keeps on the counter, covered, for up to four days, but it really doesn't last that long. It's quite excellent with a morning cup of coffee or warmed, after dinner, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I hope you'll give it a try with some apples you pick up from your own local farmer's market!



Thank you so much for spending some of your day or night with me. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Novel Dinner

Crispy egg, bacon hushpuppies, tripe, frisee

Last week, I had the pleasure of dining at Novel, a restaurant in Kansas City which is, frankly, still the talk of the town.

True to form of my own laziness and consideration, I don't like to visit restaurants when they're absolutely brand new. I've worked in the kitchens of opening restaurants enough to know that kitchens, like baby animals, need some time to figure out how their legs work. I try to not visit new restaurants until they've got about 6 months(at least) under their belt. This way, I know that they've gotten most of the new kinks out, such as which servers suck, which dishes need to be timed perfectly for a busy service, etc.

I honestly can't stand it when critics review restaurants right out of the gates. Sure the food is probably going to be new and exciting, but there are going to be kinks in the system, and that's just the way it is. This is the nature of the Beast, and many critics/writers(and, frankly, angry Yelp users) just don't understand that you need to give them a second. Geez, guys, can you give them a second? Let them grow a touch before you judge.

Novel boasts Ryan Brazael, New York City Chef, who came to Kansas City to start this place, who most-famously worked with David Chang. I studied David Chang in Culinary school, and am no stranger to the techniques and signatures that evolved out of Momofuku, if only by the written word and trying it myself from the book. The NYC influence is pretty apparent, and that is a great thing.

I dined on a Tuesday night in the quaint Victorain-style manor that had become the restaurant. It was cozy and tiny, and had a stairway that you need to watch your head on to get upstairs. I don't know how many people it seats, but B("B" for boyfriend), who is an architect, joked about how the single stylish door might not be up to fire code if it sat more than 80 people. He then went on to say that if a building is constructed prior to a new code or law or whatever, they technically have something called a "grandfather" clause, which lets you hang on to the historical integrity of the structure. Or something. I kind of was only half paying attention when trying to get up the stairs in a short skirt and 4-inch heels.

The view is charming, and we dined at sunset, which made it even moreso. The patio is so quaint and stylish, old and new at the same time. We aren't drinkers, but the cocktail menu looked nice and clean. I loved that the actual menu was very nice and clean, too. I honestly don't like it when menus are too big; it's bad news for restaurants, unless you're a giant corporate running a Cheesecake Factory or Chili's or something. It is this humble blogger's opinion that smaller restaurants are better off sticking to smaller menus, perfecting them, making each dish perfect every time, versus focusing on wide varieties.

I was recommended the octopus by a friend, but B isn't that adventurous of an eater, so we opted to split the crispy egg instead(pictured above). This is by far one of the absolute coolest techniques I've ever seen. I don't know how they do it, but I can guess: sous vide the egg at a low temperature for about 40 minutes(I learned this technique in school; it's called "slow poaching") and then pop in a blast chiller. Remove egg from its shell, bread, and deep-fry, resulting in a warm and gooey yolk that's perfectly cooked. But, then again, I have no actual idea on how they did it. This is only my educated guess. Boy, was it delicious. I loved it. The tripe was a bit much for B, but I thought it was great.

Roasted chicken, grilled rice, egg yolk, scallion, radish
For the entree, I ordered the sea bass while B went with the roasted chicken, which featured another slow-poached egg element, but only in the form of the yolk. The chicken was also accompanied with grilled rice and scallion elements. The radishes seemed to be quick-pickled, but I didn't ask. The bite I had was delicious, and it honestly made me a little sad that I didn't order it myself. It was a good-sized portion, and I was almost disappointed when I saw the size of my own entree, the sea bass, in comparison. But let me clarify on something: size doesn't always matter.

See, I was presented with this gorgeous wild sea bass with big, juicy flakes and a super-crispy skin. It was seasoned perfectly and accompanied with excellent garnishes of celeriac puree and parsnip. The dish was gorgeous and expertly prepared. So, even though I would have liked more, I didn't necessarily because...well, I was satisfied. It takes a good chef to make you enjoy a first bite, but a great one to make you enjoy your last. And you know what? I did enjoy my last bite of that sea bass dish, because I wanted more.

I'll have dreams of the crispy skin on this sea bass...

Oh, and the crab jam pictured on the bottom? I'd like a jar of it, please.

I didn't want to skimp on dessert because I'm a.) a pastry chef and b.) a little fat girl . But I also heard that the pistachio cake was nothing to write home about. Intrigued, B and I ordered differing desserts: the roasted apple for him and the honey semifreddo for me.

Honey semifreddo, pear, chai spice cake
The honey semifreddo dessert wasn't bad. The chai spice cake tasted like an isi canister cake, which is a really cool technique. Basically, you can use one of these puppies to bake cakes in a microwave! Simply pop cake batter into your canister, nox it up with the gas, let sit in the fridge for a few, and spray into paper or plastic cups. When nuked for 30 seconds or less, you get a wonderfully airy cake. The downside that I've found, however, to using this technique is that you yield a rather dry sponge...so best stick with things like angel food style cakes versus your typical butter cake. I asked our server(this absolutely adorable blond girl)and she came back with saying that they didn't have a microwave on premises, but that the Chef knew what I was talking about and that's how they did the chocolate cake at Momofuku. Cool beans, right?

Roasted apple, puff pastry, vanilla ice cream

I had a bite of B's roasted apple and it was pretty darn good. The puff pastry was light and flaky and crunchy on a level that was almost unreal, so kudos to that. The thing was...it was just "alright." The dessert menu at Novel seemed nice, simple, but it reminded me of an old favorite analogy: "It was like a Toyota Camry--reliable, but not inspiring." The desserts honestly almost seemed like an afterthought. Oh, sure, I got it: the roasted apple was like a wonderful, elevated apple pie or apple turnover. And who doesn't like pears with honey? Simple cuisine. I get it.

Do you know what else I get? It's good. It's good food. Is it expensive? Yes. Does it deliver? Yes. Does it disappoint? No, but only if you don't get dessert and if you're a giant raging dessert snob like I am. And you know what? You don't have to get dessert. But you have to get those crispy eggs(which were unreal).

Novel on Urbanspoon When I asked who the pastry chef of Novel was, I was told that there was a lady who came in to help with the baking (probably breads, puff pastries, etc) but the Chef was their pastry chef. "Ah", I thought.

Here's the trouble with pastries and desserts in restaurants: when the Chef is the pastry chef, it(unfortunately) becomes an afterthought. The real meat of the menu should come where the meat is, rightly so. I know it sounds harsh, but I just don't think that the desserts live up to how amazing the food is. Chef Ryan has done a truly great job with the food, and that should not be overlooked. But the fact of the matter is that the dessert seemed like it was just an afterthought. It's well prepared, yes, and it's technically correct, yes. It's just...alright. I honestly left feeling a little under-whelmed(opposite of overwhelmed) by it. I almost wish that I didn't get it because the meal itself was otherwise perfect. I don't think it's a sin by any stretch of the imagination; I just think that it could be better. I don't think I'll come back for the dessert.

But I will be back for those crispy eggs and to see what else is on the menu.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Caramel Powder

I learned a new technique the other day!

I'm calling it a technique only because "recipe" doesn't seem right. A recipe, to me, implies the ingredients and method for a whole food item, ready to be consumed. This is a recipe for an ingredient, like a recipe for fish paste or curry paste! Only this isn't curry paste. This is caramel powder.

What is caramel powder? Instant caramel dust! You know how you can buy powders at the store that, when added to milk, turn into chocolate pudding? It's like that, only with pure, wonderful caramel. Add this powder to a baked good, used like/with sugar, and you add in a note of caramel. Seriously, I used them to make apple cobblers today...it was insane; it was just like biting right into a warm caramel apple. So here's how you make it!

Caramel Powder

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
Put the corn syrup on the bottom of the pan, and then add in the salt, sugar, and vinegar. I know that the vinegar seems like an odd thing, but I always add in a touch of white vinegar to my caramels/hot sugar mixtures just to "invert" the sugar, and make it harder to crystallize. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and keep it covered; the steam will help cook the sugar evenly and wash down the sides of the pan. After about three minutes, remove the lid.

The color on the side of the sugar mixture should be turning colors now. Basically, the trick to a good caramel is just having the confidence to let it become that wonderful dark golden color. Meanwhile, prepare either a silpat mat or a buttered sheet of wax paper/parchment paper on the surface of your choice, preferably a sheet tray that's been lined. Once the color you desire has been achieved, pour out your hot sugar mixture carefully and let it cool.

Once it's cooled and hardened completely, the fun may now begin: Wrap it in a linen napkin or a super-clean tea towel to break it up in...OR just break it into manageable chunks to where you can get it in the food processor and grind it up. It's going to be loud, but worth it. The resulting powder(which might have big chunks, but that's ultimately okay) is known as caramel powder. You can add this to your hot drinks, your baked goods, your anything, really, to give it a taste of caramel. Mix it in with your tea! It will dissolve and give it a perfect new flavor. Or substitute it with half of your sugar for a cake. Or all of the sugar for your cake! Make as much or as little as you want. But I made the above amount to put into about 16 apple cobblers, that tasted just like a hot and wonderful caramel apple. 

Enjoy! Happy eating!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pear Streusel Pie

 


The fruits of summer are bountiful and sweet! There's nothing quite like the summer in the city, except when you are in your 30s and you live in the American Midwest or South. Then, it's just awful, especially if you are an *ahem* ample person of the feminine persuasion, such as myself. (Sweat happens to humans with bosoms and thick thighs in a way that I wish not on others.) Summer sucks. It's hot. It's humid. I'm going to tell you that I hate humidity, so I count the days until fall occurs. I relish the changing leaves, and I mark days off my calendar until I can go apple picking. There is, however, the wonderful fruit that ripens just before the apple does, and I can get my crisp fruit pie fix...the pear. 

Pears are wonderful fruits that don't get nearly enough love. They're crisp and cool, they have delicious varieties that are vastly varied, and they grow on trees so you can pick them while imagining your perfect life in the south of France as you do it! They are not always as sweet as the apple, so therefore you can use them in savory and sweet applications. A grated pear in a marinade for a Korean-style beef marinade will add a note of freshness and sweetness without being overwhelming. How wonderful! 

I'm sure you've seen pears with cheese plates and your parents will remember poached pears with ice cream in fancy restaurants in the late 80s to early 90s. Heck, I myself am guilty of putting the retro-classic poached pear on a modern dessert because I love it so much! There's just something about the pear that heralds in the changing of the seasons for me. It bakes in a wonderful end-of-summer pie.  Here's how to make it!



End-of-Summer Pear Pie

Pie Dough

  • 4 oz vegan butter
  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz raw sugar
  • 1 oz dark rum, more as needed
Pear Filling
  • Four medium-sized local pears, peeled and sliced thin
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3.5 oz raw or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp good Mexican vanilla
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  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese long pepper, ground
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Honey Streusel
  • 5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 1 oz local honey
  • 3 oz vegan butter, cold

This is my standard pie dough, and I absolutely love making it because it's suitable for decorating as well as tasty eating. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl along with a fat pinch of salt. Roughly chop the butter into cubes and rub into the flour-sugar mixture with your fingertips, almost as if you were snapping your fingers. You only want to combine the flour until it looks like cornmeal, and then add in the rum. Turn all of this out onto a cool, marble surface and smear together, folding all the dough back on itself over and over again until everything is smooth and combined. Scrape together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight. 

Take your pears in a large bowl and toss it with the lemon juice and zest first before adding the sugar and spices. Cover this beautiful stuff and let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. The sugar and spices will draw pear juice out, and this beautiful liquid is going to make your pie taste delicious! Why don't you go ahead and turn on your oven to 350 F while you wait?


Meanwhile, lay more plastic wrap on your counter turn your dough out onto the surface. Rolling out your dough on plastic wrap or greased parchment paper will save you a lot of cleaning time! The idea is that you want to sandwich your pie dough between the parchment or plastic wrap and roll it out this way, so you don't have to add excess flour. Roll this out nice and thin and line a glass or ceramic pie dish and press into the corners so it's well-set. Let it hang out on the counter for about five minutes so the pie dough can relax a little before you trim the edges. This will prevent excessive shrinking! Once the dough has relaxed, trim the edges with a sharp paring knife and pinch around the edges to make a pretty scalloped finish. Take this opportunity to think about what kind of decorations you'd like to have on your pie! I chose feathers. 



I have this wonderful set of teardrop-shaped cutters that I discovered at a garage sale some years ago. All you have to do to make feathers is to take the excess dough that you've cut off, roll and cut out the shapes, and then use the back of the knife to make your cuts and indents. You can get really creative with what you put on your pie, so feel free to let your imagination run wild! Remember, any sort of decorative pie crust touch you make will need some egg wash to stick.

To make the streusel simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon. You'll be chopping and stirring the fat until everything sort of comes together in a kind of loose and lumpy sand, which shouldn't take long at all. Streusel is ready once it comes together when you ball it in your fist and it keeps its shape but quickly crumbles apart when tapped with a spoon.  

When you're ready to bake, brush your pie shell, edges included, quite well with egg wash. Add the flour to your pear pie filling and stir well to coat. You can use cornstarch if you like, but flour works just fine. Scrape your pie filling into the dough shell and arrange so that the slices are generally flat. Sprinkle your streusel all over the top to cover it, and decorate your pie as you so desire to. I really love the random look of these feathers strewn here and there! You can do whatever shapes you like; this is your pie, so you choose!

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and everything's golden-brown and delicious-looking. Your house is going to smell amazing! Turn off the oven and crack the oven door, and let it cool in the oven for about half an hour. Remove from the oven and let sit on the counter for at least 3 hours. Why? Pectin!

Pectin is this wonderful stuff that's found in high amounts in apples, citrus fruits, and - you guessed it - pears! It's a natural thickener and is essential for making homemade jams and jellies. The only thing about pectin is that it needs to set on its own, so that means you shouldn't cut this pie until it's cool to room temperature and the pectin is set. This way, you'll get much cleaner slices and you'll be able to enjoy that picturesque view of a non-soggy-bottom when you go back for a second, third, or fourth slice of pie. If you cut this pie before the pectin sets, the liquid will burst out and soak up your crust from the bottom, and it'll never set again. 

But what if I want warm pie??? 

Easy! Once it's all cooled, you can reheat it by the slice in the oven or - if you must - the microwave, and serve with some ice cream or sweetened ricotta cream. My general rule is that fruit pies should be served plain with coffee, but if you absolutely must indulge in some sort of ice cream, then I simply cannot stop you. Let go and let G-d, I say!

I love this pie because it's not too sweet but satisfies my sweet tooth in a much lighter way than an apple pie does. Pears are quite fragrant in a sexy, sophisticated way. I like to think of apple pie as your cute neighbor that just loves to wear bright patterns, whereas pear pie is that sexy stranger at the end of the bar wearing just enough of that expensive cologne or perfume...but when you get to the bar you see it's your neighbor, all along, in a new light. 

Thanks so much for reading along and spending some time of your day with me. It means so much to me to be able to pass on these awesome skills I've acquired over the last decade to you. I hope I inspire you to make this delicious pear pie. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Green Apple Macarons


I am not a classically-trained Pastry Chef. I am a classically-trained Chef. I never wanted to be a Pastry Chef and work with nothing but butter and sugar and chocolate all day. I wanted to get my arms burned by the oven, work on the line, feel the dinner rush, make a billion salads and sear steaks to perfection, all while making that just-right beurre blanc to go with that fish for table 9. I wanted to be a Chef, and that's what I signed up for when I went to school. I am not a classically-trained Pastry Chef, so when I get something right that's difficult for me to get right because I didn't have that pastry fundamental block...I celebrate.

I can think of few things that are more finicky than a macaron, that elusive and heavenly "cookie" of epic skill level. There are so many things that can go wrong so it's hard to land on how you can get it right, but I think I've done it. I think I've gotten my method down, and if I can help you get yours down, I am more than pleased to do it.

Green Apple Macarons
(adapted from Thomas Keller's recipe)

  • 212 grams powdered sugar
  • 212 grams almond flour/meal
  • 92 grams plus 110 grams egg whites
  • 236 grams granulated sugar
  • 8 grams kosher salt
  • Green & yellow food coloring, preferably gel(I had Kelly green and Golden yellow from the Wilton gel dye set)
  • Apple butter, as needed
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F, and turn it to high fan. If you do not have a convection oven, I've found that if you preheat your oven to 350 and then immediately drop the temperature to 300 when the macarons go in the oven, it works quite well. Set yourself up a pot of simmering water, too, that will serve as a sort of double boiler for your eggs.

Whisk/sift together the powdered sugar, salt, and almond meal. With a spatula, stir in the 92 grams of egg whites with the dyes. I used about 3 parts yellow and one part green, just to get the color I wanted...but you can play around. Like I said, use a gel dye if you can at all help it, as the moisture content in this is important. You'll want this to be a nice smooth-ish paste before continuing to the next step.

Combine your granulated sugar and the 110 grams of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer, and set your bowl over that simmering pot of water. Whisk to combine, and then start whipping by hand while the water simmers. You want the egg whites to warm up enough to sort of dissolve the sugar easily and be warm to the touch. You'll want the egg whites to be shiny, too, before you move them from the double boiler to the standing mixer...and this can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. Be patient.

Whip your egg whites until stiff-ish peaks form. This recipe has a lot of sugar in it, so you're going to get a thick, white, almost nougat-like peak out of your whites, and that's a good thing. Fold in a third of your stiff-ish whites to your almond 'paste' and don't worry so much about volume on this one...you just want to lighten the batter. Fold in your next third, scooping and letting it fall on each stroke. On the third and final addition of whipped egg whites, make sure your batter is fully incorporated, a generally uniform color, and has the consistency of hot running lava. Now comes the fun part...

Pop your mixture into a piping bag. You can fit it with a medium-sized round tip, or you can simply have a plastic, disposable piping bag that you've cut the tip out of. I chose the latter, because it's easier to just pitch than fish for a meringue-y tip out of the garbage if you toss the bag on accident. 

If you're not quite the best with a piping bag or uniform cookies, yet, don't be ashamed to break out a pencil and trace uniform circles on your parchment paper for you to fill. And, yes, you'll want to use parchment paper...or a silicone mat, if you have it. Don't bake this straight onto the pan...it'll get sticky.

They're not 100% perfect, but they're generally the same size and shape!
The resting part is crucial, but will vary in time depending on how humid it is where you are. Humidity is such a factor with these stupid things that I won't even bother if it's even a possibly rainy day. The idea of the resting, though, is to allow the cookie to form a sort of "shell" that will stay still when it's baked. The shell should not be sticky when lightly touched with a finger; this takes me anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. Be patient. 

Pop the cookies in your oven and bake for precisely 8 minutes at either 300 high fan or started at 350 and then immediately turned down to 300 if working with a conventional oven. Once baked, you'll be able to assess how many made it and how many did not. 

This cookie is incredibly finicky, but here's a troubleshooting guide that encompasses the problems I've had:

  1. The cookies crack
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Over/undermixing
      2. Oven too hot
      3. Opening/closing the oven door to check on it at the wrong time
  2. The cookies don't have "feet"
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Not enough resting time
      2. Improper technique
  3. The cookies have collapsed
    1. This could be caused by:
      1. Not enough resting time
      2. Underbaked
      3. Oven too cold
      4. Oven unevenly heated
  4. The cookies are hollow
    1. This could be caused by
      1. Improper mixing
      2. Oven's too hot
      3. Fan's too high
      4. Too long of a baking time

I'm missing a lot of things, but these are the problems and solutions found this far in my journey. 

Make sure you let the cookies cool completely before filling with your favorite apple butter. You can buy this stuff at the grocery store, or make your own. There's nothing wrong with a convenience product here and there, however, so don't be ashamed to fill these painstakingly-made cookies with a shortcut or two.

As for storage, gently wrap in plastic wrap and "buffer" with crumpled up deli papers, newspaper, or even bubblewrap, if it's lasted long enough to be useful to you. Macarons freeze absolutely perfectly, and they even will develop a nicer flavor after about a week in the freezer versus just eaten immediately. This is called "maturation" of flavor, and is oddly important to this magical cookie, that's both crunchy and chewy. 

Don't be afraid to fiddle around, too, with ratios and whatnot. If this recipe isn't working for you, please seek another. If this technique isn't working for you, then please seek another. 

This technique and this recipe work really well for me, but it may not work for you, and I'll respect and accept that. I only ask that you are not too frustrated with your previous failures that you give up entirely on your dreams of making macarons. 

These macarons that I've made are not perfect, but they are successful enough to pass, and are technically correct. While they're not necessarily the prettiest things, they're still great and I'm still proud of them. I hope that you try this recipe and report back with any tips and tricks you may have discovered along the way....I'm still not convinced that mine is the perfect method, and will happily admit that.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Butternut Squash Fruit Leather

 


Botanically speaking, squash is a fruit. This does not mean you should stick it in a fruit salad with a cool whip dressing, but I'm sure stranger things have been done to it. Bottom line that you need to know for this recipe: it's acceptable to make a winter squash fruit leather. 

In an attempt to be thrifty and to bide my time while I wait on the fruits of my garden (and of the fruits of my friends' farm to come in) I've taken recently to clearing out my cellar. I do believe that it is important to note that I do not actually have a cellar, simply have an in-ground garage that may as well be a cellar, with consistently cool temperatures enough to store a ton of winter squash. These squash are from the early autumn of last year, and most of them are - miraculously - still good! Since I just have a weird thing about eating squash purees in the middle of spring, I thought I'd try something I always wanted to try: fruit leather!

When my in-laws moved from their big house to a smaller house, they gave me a lot of neat old things, including their dehydrator. It's already become my best friend when it comes to preserving my herbs! I'll certainly use it much more when it's time to start drying things for my tea garden. For now? I'm going to show you what I did with one of my last good butternut squashes, to make an absolutely delicious snack, perfect for a quick lunch for satisfying a mid-afternoon sweet tooth.

Butternut Leather
yields 16 leathers

  • 1 medium butternut squash, quartered, with seeds removed
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup local honey or maple syrup**
    • This will vary to taste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon**
  • A dash of mace**
    • The spices are optional, but nice
  • 1/4 c water
This is an incredibly simple recipe to prepare, with time as the major ingredient. First and foremost, grab your favorite steaming apparatus and prepare it to steam for a long time. I use my rice cooker's steamer function for small items, but since this is a big item I decided to use my bamboo steamer. 



Almost every Asian supermarket has a section for kitchenware and a place where you can buy a bamboo steamer of many sizes. I have a 12" that fits in my large wok. This is easily one of my favorite items to have, and if you have a wok, I highly recommend having a bamboo steamer as well to go with it! I don't recommend buying online for this if you can at all help it. Go to the store, poke around, hold the steamer in your hand, and let it speak to you. Listen for "Let me come home with you!" and that's the steamer basket for you.

To prepare your steamer, add water to your wok or chosen pot and bring to a simmer. Set your steamer basket over it. I didn't peel the squash, but I did peel the carrots and set them straight on the basket. It seemed a little easier for me to simple quarter and de-seed my squash, so that's what I did. Simply arrange on your steamer trays and steam your squash and carrots for about 30 minutes, or until unspeakably soft. Turn off your water and allow to cool long enough so you can handle it with your bare hands. Peel and chop your apple. 

Add your fruit and veg to the pitcher of a blender or bowl of a food processor along with the water, honey, vinegar, and spices Please note that you can use lemon juice for this application, but because this is going to yield a shelf-stable item in my own kitchen, I prefer something with a consistent acid level versus the juice of a fresh lemon off the shelf.

Blend your items on low, stirring every so often, and then to medium, and then high, for at least 30 seconds each. You want your puree to be as smooth as possible. Taste for acid and sweetness. If you don't like the flavor now, you certainly won't like it when it's dried and concentrated, so please take your time in perfecting the flavors.

Don't you just love this closeup?


Once your puree is blended to smooth and silky perfection, pour onto the trays of your dehydrator. My dehydrator came with four plastic trays that I was able to spread about a cup of puree each on. The goal is to make sure that they are consistently thick, so an offset spatula was my absolute best friend in this process. Take your time, okay? You don't want to see any clear or white spots in the middle of your leather, and generally it's okay if it's a little thicker versus a little thinner. 

When your trays are all set upand ready to go, assemble your food dehydrator and turn it on. Leave it to run for 4 - 6 hours, or until the leather is set enough and easy enough to pry away from the tray. Mine took about about 4 1/2 hours to fully dry, but this is highly dependent on the humidity of your kitchen. Once the time is up, I like to turn my machine off and let it cure overnight, although this step is unnecessary if you're an eager beaver like yours truly and feel like you need a snack before you keel over. 

It should be thick enough to be able to peel off in one piece, but thin enough to see through...kind of.


To store the fruit leathers, you can either roll them up in parchment paper, wax paper, or in clingfilm. Simply peel your leather away from the trays, gently, and cut the large pieces into quarters. Grab yourself an appropriate piece of clingfilm or paper, with about a quarter inch of allowance to fold up around the first edge of your leather, so that it won't stick to itself when you roll it up. Roll tightly, trim excess from the edges, and store upright in a jar. They'll keep for a whopping six months!


I'd like to note a few things about the yumminess of this, as I'm sure you're curious:

Yes, it does taste like butternut squash! Yes, it's a little tangy. No, it doesn't taste like fall...but it does taste like a sweet bit of squash along with the sweetness and freshness of the carrots and apple. Yes, the cinnamon and mace is optional, and yes, you can add whichever other spices you prefer to this. Yes, youc an use any winter squash you may have lying around, such as kobucha. No, butternut squash is not technically seasonal for spring...but let me explain!

Living seasonally doesn't necessarily always mean "I will only eat these things when they are growing naturally." In my very humble opinion, I believe living and eating seasonally means: "I will consume what is available to me." Since I never used all of these squash, of which there were plenty, I felt it would have been wrong to simply throw away perfectly good food. Why throw away something that came from the earth, and that's filled with such good nutrition? There's no reason, if you ask me!

When you choose to live a smaller and more seasonal life, you are actively choosing to defy the capitalist/consumerist ideology that's often pushed upon modern society. The carbon footprint of so much of our foods have become larger and larger throughout the years. While the majority of pollution and damage done to the climate and the planet is done by large corporations, there's no reason you can't connect with the earth and all its bounty while saving yourself a few pennies in the process. 

For me, it's been incredibly empowering to be able to grow and make my own food, grown not just from my own hands but from the hands of people I personally know. Last year I was privileged enough to connect with the KC Farm School at Gibbs Road for Let's Grow, Wyandotte, a program to help connect fellow citizens of my county to their earth, their food, their own inner heart. I'm sure that if you follow me on Instagram, you'll see me tag them in a post here and there. Check them out on Facebook, if you're into that sort of thing!

Now please excuse me while I nosh on this like a little goat. 




Happy cooking and happy eating!