Since Cherry Season is in full swing in Southern California it was decided that a second week of baking products with Cherries was in order. So this weeks project was Cherry/Cornmeal Upside Down Cake. The title implies that there is a lot of Cornmeal in the batter, but there was not. However, the Cornmeal was prominent in feel and in taste. Many of the participants like or loved the Cornmeal but I did not. Maybe I was the only one who didn’t like – no one else said anything negative about it. Of course, I am not a Cornbread Lover, so it figures that I would not be too found of the Cornmeal in this recipe. All that being said, it does give a little different feel and taste to the texture of the cake.
One thing that I did like about this recipe was the addition of Balsamic Vinegar. i do love the taste of Balsamic and I for one think that even a little more than the recipe called for could have been used. I do use Balsamic a lot with fruit, especially summer fruits such as berries and melon.
By the way, just because I am not fond of the Cornmeal in the recipe does not mean that I didn’t like it – I did like it – in fact I loved it, probably because of the Cherries which I can’t stop eating when they are in season. They are my ‘All-Time Favorite Fruit’ and there are many fruits which I absolutely love, especially Summer Fruit. My Husband loved the Cake – in fact we ate it for Breakfast at least two times. This cake is a 10″ cake and offers up quite a few pieces. One of my Sons had it for Dessert one night and one of my Stepdaughters also had it for Dessert one night – both on a different night. The Cake keeps well and needles to say everyone who ate it loved it!
With all that Hyperbole out of the way let’s get to the recipe and finished product itself.
The recipe can be found at the web site of Epicurious
The Ingredients that you may not have on hand are 3 cups of Cherries (most of us used Bing), Balsamic Vinegar and Cornmeal. Everything else in the recipe is pretty common in most kitchens. The recipe does say to use an ‘oven-proof skillet’ but if you don’t have one that can be used as a baking pan, just use a 10″ layer pan or other similar container which is what I did.
You will need to wash and pit your Cherries before starting the recipe but everything else in the recipe is pretty straight forward. Below are some photos of the different steps in the process:
Measure and Wash your Cherries, then remove the pits with either a Hand Cherry Pitter or a Multiple Pitter. (See last Weeks’ Post – Cherry Clafoutis)
Pitters can be found at your local Culinary Store or at Amazon.com.
Or you can do as one of our members did and use chopsticks. You can also do it the very ‘old-fashioned’ way and use a darning needle to push out the pits.
The next thing to do is to melt the Butter with the Brown Sugar and then add the Cherries and bring them to a boil. Shut off the heat after about a minute or so – just to give the Brown Sugar a chance to melt.
Now make your Batter – it is easiest to do this in a Food Processor but if you don’t have one then use whatever would be easiest for you. Then whip the Whites in a Standing Mixer or with a portable mixer. DO NOT TRY TO WHIP THE WHITES IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR – They will just get overheated and not whip properly.
Next gently fold the Whites into the Batter. You can do this in the Food Processor but only use the Pulse Button so that you do not over-mix.
After the Whites are folded into the Batter it is time to pour the Batter over the Cherries and finally to bake the cake.
The Cake is baked when a toothpick or cake tester is inserted into the cake and comes out clean.
Allow the Baked Cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before inverting onto a large plate. In the Photo above right, you can see that the Cherries gravitated towards the edges, but it still tasted good and when sliced and served with Ice Crema or Whipped Cream one cannot see that the Cherries are not completely covering the cake.
Serve warm with Ice Cream or Whipped Cream. The Cake also tastes good cold or at room temperature.
MEMBERS PHOTOS – Featured Photo this week belongs to Kristy Gobright
Cherries are a relatively expensive fruit but when you consider that their season is so short you may be a little more inclined to spend the money on them if you can. I can remember when the price was way lower than they are now but things have changed and Farm Workers are now making more of a ‘living wage’ when they were decades ago. And if you think you are paying a lot of money for Cherries just look at what Christine Rola Biskaduros had to pay for them. (Photo above right) Christine lives in Shanghai and I guess the Cherries were imported although I did think that Cherries do grow in China but I may be wrong.
Elizabeth Bernhardt Mockapetris
We have several fruit trees in our backyard and an Asian Pear is one of them. This year the branches were so laden with fruit that one of the branches actually broke forcing me to bring in the pears and use them. Some of them were rather small as this was early in the season. But since Asian Pears are usually pretty firm and even crunchy when ripe, I was able to use them. I actually let them sit in the house for about a week to ripen sufficiently. Fortunately, there are still many more pears on the tree that are reaching their potential in size and ripeness.
With this first batch I decided to make a Pear Tart. I love Pears and I love Pastry, especially that made with Puff Pastry. The Tart that I made is really fun to do in that when you place the fruit and filling on the pastry, it is flat. You place the filling on the dough and leave almost an inch of dough all the way around. When it bakes, the sides raise up to form a rim around the tart. The instructions and photos will be give below. Please be sure and try it yourself and see how good it can be.
The ingredients you will need for the Pear Tart is a sheet of Puff Pastry (or you can make your own pastry dough and fit it into a tart pan. The only kind of pastry dough that will raise up around the filling is the puff pastry. So Ingredients listed below.
Puff Pastry (This dough takes a long time to make but it can be purchased in large sheets at a restaurant supply such as Smart and Final.
Pears (peeled and quartered (Any fruit will do)
Tapioca or Corn Starch
Brown or Granulated Sugar
The Equipment you will need:
Silicon Sheet or Parchment Paper. (The Silicon Sheet works best)
Dough Docker or a fork
2 quart Saucepan to cook the Custard in
- Make your Custard and set aside.
- Peel, core and quarter the Pears. (You should have about 4 cups)
- Place in a colander; rinse and dry thoroughly. Then place in a medium size mixing bowl.
- Combine 2 Tbsp. of Tapioca (can be purchased in an Asian Market or Restaurant Supply House) or Corn Starch, 1- 2 Tbsp. Cinnamon (depending on your taste), 1/4 cup Brown or Granulated Sugar.
- Toss the quartered Pears with the Starch/Cinnamon Mixture and set aside.
- Place a sheet of Puff Pastry (about 12 inches square – or any other shape you want to use) on the prepared pan. (If frozen, allow about 5-10 minutes for it to thaw)
- Use a dull knife (such as a butter knife or pie trimmer) to mark off the edges – 1/2 to 3/4 inch.
- Use your Docker or Fork to poke holes in the dough – all over!. (This will prevent the pastry from raising up.) In the photo below are the Docker, a Pizza Cutter and an old-fashioned Pastry Trimmer.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and make sure the baking rack is at the middle position.
- Evenly spread the Custard on the Dough within the lines that you marked.
- Remove the pears from the Starch/Sugar Mixture with a slotted spoon. This will ensure that any liquid released from the Pears will stay in the bowl. (The liquid will make your pastry soggy so be sure to leave it behind!)
- Arrange the Coated Pears evenly over the Dough.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The Pastry edges that raised up should be a dark golden color when finished. You want to be sure that the pastry is well baked before removing form the oven.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving. Cut into squares and serve as is or with Whipped Cream.
This Tart make a delicious dessert or can also be eaten for breakfast!
Saturday Morning Farmer’s Markets abound in Southern California. Within the distance of approximately 33 miles, extending from the city of Ventura to Calabassas (at the far Western end of the San Fernando Valley) there are 4 markets that I know of: Ventura, Camarillo Old Town, Newbury Park and Calabassas. You can go further South and find quite a few more but of course, it would be difficult to attend all of them in one day. On my foray to Calabassas I also went to Newbury Park and could have hit Camarillo if I had so desired. The market is across the street from the most prominent and probably well-known business in Camarillo and that would be the Sage Brush Cantina. The Cantina opened years ago in a one store front location and soon took over the properties next to it, so that now the whole block (where there used to be a bakery and other businesses) is now all Sage Brush Cantina and their parking lot. It has become a gathering for locals and out of towners as well.
The Calabassas Market is probably the most diverse and exciting of the one that I previously mentioned. The time slot is from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. You can buy produce, flowers, artisan bread products and foods ready-made to eat on the spot.
The first thing when you walk into the market is a sign for Valet Parking and an attendant to manage it. The fee is only $3.00 which is the same that the parking lot across the street charges. There is very little street parking in Calabassas and since the Market is well-attended the lot or Valet Parking is well worth it. An alternative is to park in the shopping center on Valley Circle – it is about a one block walk but if you are carrying market produce it can be a little tireing.
There are many flower vendors and they are the ones that are most prominent in the front of the market. This is not to say there are no produce vendors there – there are plenty but the flowers are so colorful and beautiful that they do stand out. If you are planning on purchasing flowers as well as produce wait until you are finished and almost ready to leave – that way your flowers will have stayed fresh in water until you pick them and take them home. If you carry them around the market there is a strong possibility that they will start to wilt, especially if it is a hot day.
There are many produce vendors but one of my favorite has produce similar to Underwoods in Camarillo in that they have those beautiful heads of Purple and Gold Cauliflower along with Romesco which is shaped like a castle with little turrets.
One of the ways in which I like to use the Cauliflower is to prepare it with a Cheese Sauce – the simplest Cheese Sauce that you will ever make. Simply shred as much Medium or Sharp Cheddar Cheese and combine it with enough Mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture. Place the washed Cauliflower in a microwavable dish and spread the Mayo/Cheese mixture all over it. Microwave for approximately five minutes or until the Cauliflower is fork tender.
I love Mushrooms and one of the Vendors has a great variety of Mushrooms and they are locally (in the Conejo Valley just West of Calabassas) raised. Mushrooms grow best in the dark and not exactly knowing I asked the Vendor where he grew them – in a Greenhouse? The answer was no – he actually grows most of them in a warehouse building – probably in raised beds or flats. You could purchase one type of mushroom or a variety pack of different sizes and different prices. I couldn’t resist and did buy a $15 pack which did last me for several meals.
Also at the market were Citrus Vendors, Vegetable Vendors, Egg Vendors, Hot Sauce Vendors and many more. I am pictured below at the booth of a vendor from Central California – at this point in the day (about 1 hours before closing) his products were marked down to 3 for $5.00. An excellent and everything I purchase from his was of excellent quality.
This next vendor sells Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Beans at both the Calabassas Market and the Market in Thousand Oaks on Thursday afternoon. When I visit these markets her stand is always one that I stop at. The Cucumbers are of the Japanese variety and do not need to be peeled. They are always sweet and crisp and delicious.
One of the Vendors at the Calabassas Market was not selling produce but instead he had Pasta and Olives – the booth was called Zona de Italy. Lots of interesting pasta and delicious Olives of various varieties.
So take a trip out to Calabassas and check out their produce, flowers, pasta, etc.
Ev requested a Black Forest Cake for his Birthday this year. I made for past Birthdays and he loved it so much he wanted another one. So now I have decided to document the preparation of this utterly delicious, decadent cake. If you can, make it when fresh Cherries are available but if not, then frozen or canned Cherries will work. This year I used dried Cherries which I reconstituted in Cherry Liqueur along with frozen Cherries. There was an excess of frozen Cherries, so I put the leftovers on top of the cake as decoration.
The ingredients you will need for a Black Forest Cake are:
1 dozen large Eggs
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Black Cocoa Powder or a total of 1 cup regular Cocoa Powder
Vanilla & Almond Extracts
1 Qt. Whipped Cream
Note: For exact measurements and complete directions please go to Black Forest Cherry Cake
First of all, gather and measure all of your ingredients. Separate the Whites from the Yolks and allow them to come to room temperature.
Prepare three 9″layer pans by spraying with a Vegetable Spray and then fitting with Parchment or Waxed Paper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the Flour, Cocoa Powders and 1/4 cup of the Sugar.
Beat the Egg Yolks and 1/4 cup of Water with an Electric Mixer until they are thick and light colored. Gradually add the Sugar while still beating; once all the Sugar has been beaten in add the Flavorings.
Exchange the Wire Beater for the Paddle Beater. Sift the Flour Mixture over the Beaten Egg Yolks and slowly beat it in with the Paddle Beater.
Flour Mixture Blended in
Next using a clean bowl and beater use the Wire Whisk to beat the Egg Whites to a soft Peak. (Over-beating them will make the cake dry and underbeating them will cause the cake not to rise fully)
Once all the Egg Whites have been well-blended into the Chocolate Batter, pour into the prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean.
Set the pans to cool on a wire rack; once the layers are cool to the touch (about 15-20 minutes) invert onto the rack by placing the rack over the pan and turning over. Cool the layers completely before assembling.
While the layers are cooling, prepare the syrup, the filling and the Chantilly Creme. (This may also be done while the cakes are baking) See the link above for the recipes and directions.
Brush the cake layers with the Syrup.
Place the first layer, top side up on a serving plate and spread with the Chantilly Creme. Add half the Cherry Filling and the second layer of cake.
Repeat the process with the second layer and then add the third layer.
Use a pastry bag filled with the Chantilly Creme and drop Rosettes on the top of the Cake. If there is Creme left over, spread it on the sides of the cake.
Top each Rosette with a Cherry (if any leftover or use Maraschino Cherries or none at all, if preferred.
Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. When serving cut with a serrated knife and cut small to moderate pieces as this is a rich cake. Delicious, but rich!
Apple Bread & Muffins: Use the Apple Bread Recipe to make Muffins as well as Bread
Pies: Apple Pies can be made as a Double Crust Pie or as a French Apple Tart
Apple Sauce: the Apple Sauce pictured is not a true Apple Sauce. The Apples have been juliened, not pureed. This gives more texture and flavor. This version of Apple Sauce is good as a condiment with Ice Cream, Cereal or on top of cake. To make the Sauce, peel and seed the Apples and then cut into Juiien strips. If you have a food processor, use the 6 x 6 Julienne Blade to cut them. Place Julienne Apples in a saucepan that is large enough to hold them along with Brown Sugar (minimum amount), some Water or Apple Juice and cook until the Apples give up their moisture and the resulting mixture is of the viscosity that you want. If you do a large quantity pack into sterilized canning jars and seal with caps and rings. Place in a kettle and cover with water to at least 1″ over the tops of the jars and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the pot and turn upside down on a clean dish towel. Turning the jars upside down will insure that the lids will seal. If you use a pot with a rack inside that can be lifted out, this will be the safest way to remove the jars from the hot water. Let stand upside down until cool. Turn right side up and tighten the lids. Store in a cool dry place. Apple Sauce is great with Pork, Poultry and Seafood dishes.
Tarts: An easy way to make delicious, beautiful tarts is to have on hand some Puff Pastry Sheets. Peel and slice your Apples and then place on Puff Pastry that has been cut into a circle or square, whichever you prefer. Place the prepared Puff Pastry on a baking sheet – if you have Silpat, use that or just put the pastry on the ungreased baking sheet.
Layer the Apples on the Puff Pastry, being sure to leave about 1″ uncovered all the way around.
Sprinkle a little Sugar and Cinnamon on top of the Apples. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the edges have puffed up to form a rim and are a nice dark golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush the Apples with Jelly that has been heated to melt it down to make it brushable.
Once the Jelly has set up, your tarts are ready to serve.
Use your Apples for eating, baking or cooking. Have fun and enjoy!
Do you have an Apple Tree that is a mass producer? Or do you have friends with Apples that they are trying to get rid of? If the answer to either question is yes, then here is what you can do with them. If the answer is no and you need to purchase apples, you can still use the recipes below. For convenience the recipes are listed in alphabetical order.
To make the Apple Braid you will need Puff Pastry Sheets – Sliced Apples as prepared for Apple Turnovers, a Baking Sheet and a knife.
- Peel, slice and dress the Apples as for the Turnovers.
- Lay out a large sheet of Puff Pastry (alternatively use Pie Crust) on a pastry board.
- Arrange the prepared Apples down the middle of the Pastry leaving about 2 inches at either end.
- As pictured, cut the exposed pastry into 2″ strips.
- Lap each piece over the middle, working from side to side. Fold in the ends so that the Apples are completely covered.
- Transfer to a baking pan that has been covered with baking parchment or a silpat sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, brush the Pastry with a beaten Egg White and then sprinkle with Demarara Sugar. (Coarse, brown Sugar)
- Bake on the lower shelf of the oven for 25 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up and is a dark golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a serving platter or cutting board.
- To serve, cut into pieces at least 2 inches long. Best when eaten warm and is very good with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream.
Angel Food Cake is like it’s name implies – ‘light and heavenly’. Angel Food Cake is the perfect summer dessert. It can be eaten plain (and not make you feel too full or sugared out) or it can be topped with Strawberries and Whipped Cream or filled with Ice Cream and covered with a Baked Meringue for a faux ‘Baked Alaska’.
The main structure of an Angel Food is Egg Whites whipped full of air which in turn provides the leavening for your cake. Because it has no fat, an Angel Food Cake has fewer calories than most other shortened cakes. There are three main ingredients in Angel Food Cake – Egg Whites, Sugar & Flour. Add a little salt for balance and Vanilla for flavor and lots of air for your leavening agent.
To have your Angel Food Cake come out like it should, just follow a few important rules:
1. Separate the Egg Whites from the Yolks and make sure that not a speck of Yolk gets into the White portion. Egg Whites are mainly Protein and Egg Yolks contain a good portion of Fat. The Whites will not beat up like they should if you get even a tiny bit of yolk into them. So, when you separate your Whites from the Yolks, follow a few simple rules.
- Separate the Eggs when they are still cold from the refrigerator. There is less chance of getting the yolk into the white this way.
- Have a clean bowl for the Whites and another bowl for the Yolks. Have a second smaller bowl to separate the White into before adding to your larger bowl. This way, if some yolk gets into the white by mistake, it is only one white that you cannot use, instead of a whole bowl full of them. If you do get some yolk into the white this way, just combine the White and the Yolk and set aside for another use, such as scrambled eggs or cookies that require a whole egg.
- If you are not going to use the yolks right away, cover with a thin layer of water and then plastic wrap and refrigerate. The water will prevent the yolks from drying out. When ready to use, the water should be easy to pour off or just incorporate them into the eggs.
- Allow your Whites to come to room temperature before beating them. Cold Egg Whites will not beat up as well as the warmer ones and therefore will not be able to incorporate enough air to make a light cake.
2. Use a tube pan that is large enough to hold at least a 12 Egg White Cake. Never, ever grease the pan when making Angel Food Cake or other Sponge Cakes. The lubricant will make the batter fall down and not raise up sufficiently. The Angel Food Cake needs the ungreased walls of the pan to cling to when raising in the oven.
3. Always use Cake Flour for an Angel Food Cake. (Cake Flour is lighter than All-Purpose and will therefore give you a lighter cake. Spoon the Flour into a dry measuring cups and level off with a straight-edged spatula.
4. Sift the Flour and half the Sugar into a clean, dry mixing bowl.
5. Make sure the bowl that you are going to beat the whites into is clean and dry; any speck of grease or other residue will prevent the Whites from beating up properly.
6. Always, fold the flour into the beaten whites, DO NOT MIX – the folding process is an over and under motion. Beating will deflate the Whites and prevent the cake from raising up properly.
7. When you are ready to begin your cake preparation, lower your oven rack to the lowest setting and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the recipe go to angel-food-cake/. This recipe is a 12 Egg White recipe – for a taller cake increase the recipe by 1/2 – use 1 1/2 cups of Whites instead of 1 cup. Increase all the other ingredients accordingly. For the increase recipe use a 12 inch tube pan. The cake pictured in the recipe was made in a 10 inch tube pan. I prefer the large one because it make a more attractive cake.
The best and easiest way to beat your Whites if to use a ‘standing electric mixer’. A hand mixer can also be used but the standing mixer will give you the best results. As an anecdote, the very first Angel Food Cake that I made was when I was a teenager and decided to make for my Mother for Mother’s Day. We did not own an electric mixer or even a hand electric mixer. All we had was a Rotary Egg Beater and this was before they put ball bearings into the wheel. It took me so long to beat those Egg Whites that I ended up with a blister on my thumb. If we had even a wire whisk, that would have been infinitely better. But the Cake turned out fine but I don’t think I made another Angel Food until I owned an electric mixer.
Sift the Flour/Sugar mixture over the Beaten Egg Whites and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the Whites. Be sure and get all the dry ingredients incorporated.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter from the mixing bowl to the baking pan. Level off the top and then place in the lower third of the pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes. The increased recipe bakes for the same time as the original one as the pan you use is larger.
There are many ways to serve Angel Food Cake – the photos below show two different ways –
At right, Angel Food Cake with Strawberries,
Vanilla Ice Cream and a Chocolate Sauce made
from Bittersweet Chocolate melted with Butter and
a little Heavy Cream, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla.
Keep it thin so it can be poured over the cake.
The photo below shows Angel Food Cake with
fresh Peaches and fresh Pitted Cherries which
have been cut in half. Add a little Whipped
Cream or just pouring Cream and you have a
delicious dessert or even breakfast.
Tuesday we lunch at a Storefront Restaurant called Coconuts Fish Cafe. Even though it was storefront restaurant, the food quality was excellent and the décor was very attractive. In the photo above, the car is reflected in the door’s windows. (Not great photography, but the only photo I have) The tables and benches were all made in the shape of Surfboards as were the recipe boards. The fish was all very fresh and prepared quite well. Ev wanted Fish and Chips; these were not your ordinary Fish & Chips that one would get Stateside. The meal consisted of Ahi and Mahi and the Fries were skinny and crispy. I ordered their signature dish which was Fish Tacos. Again these were no ordinary Fish Tacos – the Fish was not breaded, just grilled and good and was again Hawaiian Fish. Diced Mango, Lettuce and Tomato were also on the Tacos. The order consisted of two Tacos and each was served on a separate plate. This meal was so good that we visited this Restaurant again before we left for home.
Tuesday night, since lunch was sufficient to call dinner we decided just to stay in and cook a simple meal for ourselves. Dinner or Supper consisted of Bacon and Eggs, Grilled Pineapple and strips of Baby Jicama. If you have never had Baby Jicama do try it during the summer when the Farmer’s Markets Vendors are bound to have. It is tender and sweet and the skin is much thinner than in the more mature varieties.
The next day was Wednesday and we spent most of the morning at Hosmer Grove in Haleakala National Park. The object of course, was to look for Native Birds and we did see the birds we set out to see – the I`iwi, `Apapane, `Amakihi and Maui Creeper as well as the Red–billed Leiothrix. On our way back from the Mountain we stopped and picked up lunch of Roast Beef Sandwiches and Potato/Mac Salad. The Potato/Mac Salad is an Hawaiian traditional side dish. Potato/Mac Salad is as it sounds: Potato Salad with cooked Elbow Macaroni in it – in this way you get two salads at once – Potato and Macaroni.
After exerting a lot of energy on the Mountain we went back to the Condo and spent the afternoon resting. I tried out the Hot Tub at the poolside and treated myself to a Shave Ice – another favorite specialty in the Hawaiian Islands. For dinner we went to a Restaurant called Pizza Madness and had a Pepperoni/Vegie Pizza. Even though it was only a medium it was so large that we had enough to take home for lunch the next day.
Thanksgiving in the United States is a family holiday that is usually celebrated with a huge Turkey Dinner. Although Thanksgiving Celebrations occurred sporadically since the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving, it wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be the official National Holiday.
In 1939 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the official Thanksgiving Holiday. Before 1939, it was on the last Thursday in November and it was suggested to him, that if it was officially on the fourth Thursday there would be more time for Holiday Shopping and thus help to improve the economy which at that time was not very good due to the Great Depression.
The history of Thanksgiving in the United States goes back to the Mayflower Pilgrims, but the actual tradition goes back to ancient times to the Druids in Ireland. Societies all over the world and back into prehistoric times have always given thanks for a good harvest. In Jewish tradition, Sukkoth is celebrated shortly after the Jewish New Year.
Our tradition of Turkey dinner goes back to the first dinner that the Pilgrims celebrated with the Indians. Wild turkeys were plentiful at that time and that was one of the many protein foods that were eaten during the first Thanksgiving. Most of us have our family traditions which include not only Turkey but Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Cranberries. Even though most of us will probably have the traditional turkey and dressing some of you may like to make it a little different this year.
This year, for the first time in 125 years (the last event like this was in 1888) the first day of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving. Because of this dual event, many families will be celebrating both holidays with food that may be somewhat untraditional for both holidays.
In our family, Sweet Potato Latkes (pancakes) are going to replace our usual Sweet Potato Casserole which is really very good. What I am going to do is take the flavors from our usual casserole and incorporate them into the Latkes. Other families will probably make the traditional Potato Latkes, but we do like our Mashed Potatoes and Gravy on Thanksgiving. Pictured below are Apple Latkes; the shape and texture are the same as Sweet Potato but the color is different. The method of making is the same.
Most of the recipes featured here are traditional, but with a slightly different twist from the original. The traditional Roast Turkey is on the menu but with a not so traditional Curried Fruit Dressing. Instead of candied yams try a Golden Squash Jubilee made with banana squash and dried apricots; for color contrast make fresh Creamed Spinach in minutes with the aid of your Food Processor and Microwave Oven. For the bread make Pumpkin Yeast Biscuits and instead of Pumpkin Pie, try a French Apple Tart made in a Pecan Crust.
You have all the traditional items in this menu, but made just a little differently for a surprising taste twist. The turkey is present with a traditional bread stuffing made not so traditional by the addition of dried fruit and curry powder. The orange vegetable in the form of squash (yams or pumpkin may be substituted) are present and so is the traditional pumpkin, but in the form of biscuits. The Thanksgiving pie is also present but made with apples, a fruit favored by more people than pumpkin. Add your own choice of appetizer and condiments and you will have a Thanksgiving feast that your family and guests will not only remember for years, but will request repeats of, over and over again.
Cinnamon/Vanilla Cranberry Sauce
Even though our normally very abundantly producing Apple Tree has had a smaller than normal crop, we still have enough Apples to more than meet our needs. Our needs are specifically baked goods to store in the freezer to be ready when an occasion arises, such as visiting family or friends or just the desire for baked goods loaded with Apples for a scrumptious breakfast. Our tree is a ‘Beverly Hills Apple’; one that was developed for the area we live in. No, not Beverly Hills but close enough to be within almost touching distance. (As the crow flies, that is)
The Apples produced by our tree are green with blushes of red stripes and are tart when picked early and much sweeter when allowed to remain on the tree until late August or early September. This year, there is no chance remaining on the tree to sweeten as they have decided to fall off before fully ripening. In order for us to have some Apples before the Rabbits get them all, I do have to pick them before they fall.
Already in the freezer is a batch of Apples, sugared with Cinnamon and thickener ready for our Thanksgiving Apple Pie. All I will have to do is to drain off the liquid (freezing makes the cell walls break down and cause them to liquefy) into a saucepan and cook it down to the desired thickness. This will prevent the pie crust from getting soggy. And of course, I will have to make the Pie Crust, roll it out and ease it into the pan. Add the Apples and top Crust, Bake and Voila there is the Apple Pie all ready to serve and eat.
Enough about Apple Pie. The last batch of Apples that I picked, we decided that Apple Strudel would be in order. If you are ambitious and want to spend several hours making your own Strudel Dough, that is fine, but if not, purchased Phyllo (sometimes spelled ‘filo’) works very well. If fresh Phyllo is available in your neighborhood (usually at a Middle Easter Market) that would definitely be superior. If not, frozen work well too. Just be sure and buy a good quality frozen dough and defrost it in your refrigerator overnight.
Phyllo Dough is very thin and fragile and requires careful handling. When your filling is ready and you are ready to wrap the fruit up in it do the following:
On your work surface or a large sheet pan, place a damp clean kitchen towel. On top of the damp towel, place a clean dry kitchen towel.
Carefully unwrap and unfold the Phyllo Dough and place on the dry towel.
Place another clean dry kitchen towel on top of the Dough and then place a clean, damp kitchen towel on top of the dry towel. (This procedure will help to keep the dough from drying out and tearing – if it does tear slightly, don’t worry. Just wrap another layer of dough around it)
To make your strudel, prepare the fruit. Apples are the common fruit for strudel but other types of fruit such as Apricots or Peaches may also be used. Since we do not use pesticides on our trees, our Apples usually have worms that are attracted to the fruit. If this is the case with your homegrown Apples, do not let that deter you. If the worms are there, the Apples are probably pretty good. Just be prepared to cut away the worms (probably dead) and any debris that may be inside.
Traditional Apple Strudel usually contains Walnuts and/or Raisins in addition to the Apples. While I do like Raisins but not Nuts, I usually do not put them in. Since we like the taste of the Apples so well, I usually also leave out the Raisins. Save them for something else! So, here is the procedure that I followed in making my Apple Strudel:
Select the Apples you are going to use and then wash and dry them. Even if you plan to peel them, I always wash them first, especially if they just came off the tree.
Next peel the Apples and then cut them into quarters. Remove the seeds and any blemish portions there may be (including worms), then rinse them again with cold water and dry them well withpaper towels.
After the Apples are peeled and quartered, slice each quarter into 3 to 4 pieces.
Sauté the Apples in melted Butter along with Sugar (I use Brown Sugar) and Cinnamon. Once the liquid has been released from the Apples, cover with a lid and cook for 10-15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Our Apples contain very little moisture so it only took about 5 minutes to cook out most of the liquid. Even though I make Apple Pie with raw Apples, Apples Strudel should always be made with cooked Apples. The reason for this is that the Strudel Dough is very thin and fragile and soggy apples will just make the Strudel soggy.
Place the cooked Apples on a non-reactive tray and allow to cool. Melt your Butter (unsalted Butted – at least 1/4 lb) and place it next to your prepared Phyllo Dough. You will need a flat surface to place the Dough(a large pastry board is perfect).
Have all your ingredients and equipment close by, once you are ready to assemble your Strudel.
- Carefully place two sheets of Phyllo Dough on your work surface and gently brush with the melted Butter.
- Add two more sheets of Phyllo and brush again. (Notice that there are slight tears in the dough – these will be covered up when you wrap the Apples in the Dough.
- Spread the filling along the length of the dough about 3 inches from the edge; leave at least 3” at either end free. (DO NOT OVER-STUFF THE DOUGH – YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE ENOUGH APPLES FOR AT LEAST TWO STRUDEL. IN THE RECIPE I USED, I MADE 4 MINI-STRUDEL AND 1 FULL-SIZE ONE)
- Fold the 3” piece over the filling and then fold the whole thing over until all the dough is completely wrapped around the filling. Butter the dough as you fold. Fold the corners of the edges in and under the strudel.
- Carefully transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Bake in the middle of a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the dough is baked through and crisp. It should be a dark golden brown.
Note: The complete recipe can be found under the recipe section of this blog /pies-pastry/apple-strudel/