Easy Puff Pastry Apple Tart

Puff pastry Apple Tart CloseupI was craving something sweet and indulgent for breakfast this morning, so I came up with this Puff Pastry Apple Tart.  I cheated and used frozen puff pastry, and it was made even simpler since I had a bag of leftover crumb topping in my freezer from some baking I did over the holidays.  I’ve made savory tarts like this many times in the past, like this one with chard and leeks, but this is my first time attempting one with a sweet topping.  It was delicious and exactly what I was craving. Continue reading

Sunday Baking: Granola x 3

We’ve stopped buying cereal in exchange for making home-made granola.  It’s an easy breakfast or snack, stirred into Greek yogurt or with milk poured onto it like cereal.  And these recipes make your house smell amazing while they cook!  It’s worth making a batch just for the smell alone.

I used some fabulous local honey, maple syrup and vanilla to make these batches of granola.  I bought raw honey at the Westboro Farmer’s Market.  The seller, A Country Garden, had several different types of honey with varied tastes, as they were harvested at different times of year when different flowers were in bloom!  I sampled each one and you could really taste the difference.  The vanilla I use is from Really Horrible Enterprises and it’s made with rum!  It’s delicious and I don’t want to ever buy store bought vanilla again.  I found him at Urban Craft, but you can also order from the website.

Here are three variations to try, but each time I make it I use a different combination of ingredients.  I love the use of apple sauce in the second and third variations as this eliminates a lot of the oil that is often used.  However, they didn’t get as clumpy as you’d expect granola to be.  They had more of a cereal texture – still delicious though!

Honey Almond

3 cups oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup Honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Walnut Cinnamon

3 cups oats
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce (about 1 individual size cup)
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried apples

Cranberry Maple Pumpkin Seed

3 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce (about 1 individual size cup)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet.

5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is golden brown. (NOTE: Make sure you stir up all the bits around the edges and in the corners – these are the parts that will burn first.)  Remove from oven, and stir in dried fruit. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container (I use mason jars).

This recipe easily doubles and keeps for quite a while in the cupboard.

Cranberrie Pumpkin Seed Granola

Recipes adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod and Simply Scratch.

What to Eat Now: Apples!

I’ve posted a couple of desserts with apples recently (Groundcherry-Apple Pie with Red Fife Crust and Strawberry Apple Crisp) but apples can be used for so much more than dessert.  For last night’s dinner, we incorporated apples into sauce for pork chops as well as in the salad.  I love fruit in salads!

Fall is a great time of year to make salads heartier and play with unexpected ingredients – this one I topped with walnuts, dried cranberries and some amazing local cheese from Back Forty Artisan Cheese.  Their cheese is made by hand using heritage cheese making methods.  The one I used for this salad was called Bonnechere (love how they even used Ottawa Valley history to name the cheese!).  It has a colourful rind, creamy texture and sightly smoky taste that I thought worked perfectly in this salad.  Another trick I use for Fall salads is to mix different varieties of greens, including heartier greens generally reserved for cooking.  Adding a couple of leaves of rainbow chard helps the body of the salad stand up to the more rugged toppings.

Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1/4 cup white wine (I used Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Gris – the flavour was perfect)
2 pork chops, bone-in (about 1 inch thick)
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Directions

1. Heat broiler to high; set rack 4 inches from heat. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Cover pan; reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until onions are soft, about 5 minutes more.

2. Add apples and wine; cover, and cook until apples are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and apples are tender, 2 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

3. While apples are cooking, season pork chops generously with salt and pepper; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 5-6 minutes per side (less if your chops are thinner).


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Harvest Salad

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground salt and pepper
6 large romaine lettuce leaves
2 large leaves of chard, spinach or other hearty green
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Macintosh apple, diced
chopped walnuts
dried cranberries
small amount of local cheese

Directions

1. Whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Tear lettuce and chard into bite size pieces in large bowl.  Add tomatoes, apple, onions. Pour in dressing and toss to combine.

Dressing from Martha Stewart

To serve:

Pile salad on serving plates and top with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled/sliced local cheese.  Spoon apple-onion mixture over pork chops.

Serves 2.

Sunday Baking: Strawberry Apple Crisp

I’ve gotten into the habit of baking something each Sunday since the weather has started to turn cold, so I’m going to see how long I can keep it up for.  I’m not an overly accomplished baker, but I would really like to be!  I’m hoping this personal challenge will get me there.

Today’s baking was my first attempt at making apple crisp (or any sort of crisp) – and it was SO easy!  It’s like a pie, but without a bottom crust.  One less step!  It probably took me 20 minutes, max,  to put it all together while dinner was cooking, then I popped it in the oven and we had a warm, delicious dessert to savour fresh from the oven after dinner.  Amazing and so simple.

I wouldn’t have thought that strawberries were in season this time of year, but lo and behold I saw several stalls displaying them at the farmer’s market this past Saturday (and it’s a local farmers only market)!  Who knew?  I had been planning to make another apple dessert, but when I saw the strawberries, I knew I had to add them as well.  But… they were a little pricey.  So that’s why there are more apples than strawberries.

1/2 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup Red Fife flour (more on Red Fife here, but you can also use whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter, cut into cubes
2 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups sliced apples
1 tsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Directions

1. Slice apples and strawberries and mix in a 9 x 9 baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

2. In a food processor, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Pulse to combine.  Add vanilla and butter, process until a crumbly texture forms.  (If you don’t have a food processor, you can just mix them together.  Using softened butter will help.)

3. Sprinkle crumb topping over fruit.

4. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. (I accidentally left mine in for an hour… it turned out fine, but the fruit was extra mushy.  I so I suggest reducing the cooking time if you want firmer fruit, and lengthening it if you prefer the fruit to cook down more.)

Groundcherry Apple Pie with Red Fife Crust and Crumb Topping

This pie is the perfect combination of two things I love – groundcherries and Red Fife wheat.  Red Fife is a heritage wheat, which is the grain equivalent to an heirloom tomato.  Go here to read all about its awesome history and find out where to buy it in Ottawa.  Did I mention that it comes in a neat cloth bag?

Groundcherries are a recent discovery for me.  They`re a sweet member of the tomato family with a dry outer husk that you remove before eating.  I had crossed paths with them a few times in the past, usually as a cute garnish on top of a rich dessert at a chmancy restaurant.  But a couple of weeks ago we received some in our CSA so I had a find a more extensive use for them.  A quick Google search came up with two options: pie or preserves.  I didn`t have enough to make preserving worthwhile, so I went the pie route.  I don`t have much experience with pie, but this was easily the most amazing pie I`ve ever made!  It was incredibly delicious and I highly recommend baking one yourself.  Groundcherries are still in season and I saw a couple of vendors at the Westboro farmer`s market selling them last week so buy some now before it`s too late!  They keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks if you leave them in their husks.  And look how cute they are, how can you resist?

This recipe was inspired from here, here and here.  I relied on my food processor heavily – I used it to make the crust as well as the crumb topping.  I was amazed at how much time this saved!

Pie Crust

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Red Fife flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter (refrigerated and cut in cubes)
2 1/2 tbsp cold water

1. Place all ingredients except water in food processor and process until butter is evenly cut into flour (about 20 seconds).

2. With processor on, add water and continue processing until the dough forms a ball (about 20-30 seconds).

3. Remove dough and chill at least 1/2 hour before using (this makes it easier to roll out the crust).

4. Roll out dough and place in pie pan.  If your dough has “personality” like mine does (i.e. holes, cracks, etc.) don’t despair, just use pieces from the edge to patch it up and it will turn out fine.  Add a tiny bit of water to make it stick, if necessary.  Cut off any dough that hangs over the edge of the pie plate.

Oatmeal Crumb Topping

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Red Fife flour
1/4 cup oatmeal (any type except instant)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In food processor combine all ingredients except butter.  Process until combined.

2. Add butter and continue processing until mixture forms crumb texture.

Filling & Pie Assemblage

2 cups ground cherries, husked and washed
2 cups diced apples (about 2 apples – I used Ontario-grown Empire apples)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Red Fife flour
2 tbsp water

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Wash groundcherries and apples.  Dice apples to about the size of the groundcherries.  I leave the peels on, but you can peel them first if you like.  Mix apples and ground cherries and place on pie crust.

3. Mix brown sugar and flour and sprinkle over groundcherries/apples. Sprinkle water over top.

4. Sprinkle crumb topping over pie.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 375 and continue to bake for 25-30 minutes.  The filling should be bubbling and the crust browned on the edges.

6. Remove from oven and let cool at least 1/2 an hour before serving.

I love how the groundcherries peak through the crust!  Enjoy!