Saturday, October 5, 2013

Apple Love: Apple Season Continues... Cast Iron Fried Apples, Apple Sauce, and Plain-Jane Free Form Apple Tart!

Hey hey!  The excitement of apple season is still running wild around these parts.  I may or may not have just decimated 45 lbs of apples in a night into A TON of lovely delicacies.  Okay, I did.  I cannot tell a lie. :)  Without further ado, the efforts of Thursday night for your viewing, baking, eating, and adoring pleasure:

 Fried Apples-Apple Sauce-Plain Jane Free Form Apple Tart

Go ahead, explode with joy.

Moving on... Last night just so happened to turn into "breakfast for supper" night around these parts.  I had SO much to do with ALL of these apples that I needed quick and easy.  Both kids were standing in the kitchen begging for apple slices (why not, the house is full of them); of course I obliged.  Then it struck me that in their mere two, almost three, years on this earth they hadn't eaten fried apples for breakfast.  GASP, I know right, but then again I felt horrible when we went trick or treating at the zoo last year only to realize they had never had candy.  Pfft, I know, bad mom right?  Never had candy :).  Anywho, I felt certain it was going to be a HUGE win.  They just took interest in eating apples...as apples, and not in slices with the peel removed, so I took a chance.  If anything, the hubs and I would love it.  

Super Simple Fried Apples
I love our cast iron.  I'll make just about anything in there I can.  For this, perfection.  I like to use empire apples for this sort of apple concoction ( as well as pies and tarts- as you'll see later on).  Empire apples still have the very white-green flesh that has a zing of tang but has enough sweetness to make the apple completely mellow.  Anything that I'm going to add sugar to I don't want to use a sweet apple.  
3 empire apples (serves 3)

I like peels.  I like to keep the additional nutritive benefit of the fruit present whenever possible.  My children, eh, they could take it or leave it really.  Here, with fried apples, I liked the texture.
Simply core and slice
1/3 cup brown sugar lightly packed
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp nutmeg
Gently stir all ingredients around until coated
Heat on Medium- Medium low

Do not cover.  Wait for the sugar to melt and liquefy.  When it comes to a bubble (shown above) turn heat down to a simmer and stir occasionally.  Serve when apples are easily punctured with a fork.  25-30 minutes.  Serve hot.

ENJOY!

Super Yummy Homemade Apples Sauce

I could go on for days and days about the love I have for homemade applesauce.  I made it for the twins when they were babies.  It became a great add-in when introducing them to new veggies.  I use it in place of oil in lots of baked goods.  Really, it's just useful to have around.  Plus, its super easy to make. 

The apple collection for this years applesauce:  gala (above), jonagold, empire, swiss gourmet, and ginger gold.  They make a lovely mix of super sweet with soft flesh to tart with crisp flesh.  I don't sweeten our apple sauce.  I think it stands on its own merit.  No matter how you slice it (sorry, couldn't resist the pun), homemade apple sauce is better than anything you could ever buy in a store.  It's easy to make.  It's versatile.  And, depending on your packaging practice it can keep indefinitely.

Brass tacks:  core and slice your apples.  I don't peel.  Lots do.  Again, I like the texture.

I like to work with a manageable pot size. So, I use the 4 Qt soup pot and dump in a comfortable amount of apples.  Chunk the apple slices. and Pour in 3/4c - 1c water or store brand apple juice (your preference, the juice just sweetens).  If you find that after the apples have cooked down that you have TOO much liquid it can always be ladled off.  No worries.

Throw a lid on that baby! Heat on medium for 10-15 minutes.

The apples will cook down significantly.  This amount of liquid is perfect for smooth, silky applesauce blended in a food processor.  If you like chunky applesauce, pour off the juice (its yummy to drink!) and smash with a potato smasher.

Since I don't use all of the apple I don't use a sieve to separate the undesirables from the tasty.  I can just food process as is.  BAM!  Even easier than you thought, huh?

Pour the contents back into a pot to heat if you're going to can.  Heating it makes up for the disparity in heat transfer from pot to jar, and your glass wont shatter.  Also, add 4 Tbsp lemon juice for pH acid needs in canning. You can also freeze your apple sauce.  Use Ziploc freezer bags (labeling date and amount inside).  This is a super easy way to use for baking.  Plus, it freezes flat.

After their hot water bath... these bad boys are ready to go!  If you're canning be sure to check the Ball Canning website or your local agricultural website.

beautiful.

Happy Eating!

Plain-Jane Free Form Apple Tart
As any girl worth her salt, I love apple pie.  However, I feel like pie doesn't always fit the need of the event.  I was having a tea for a baby shower a year or more ago and needed a tea-party worthy treat.  I was flipping though one of my favorite magazines, Organic Gardening, when I flipped upon this lovely creation:  Plain Jane Free Form Apple Tart, original recipe in the link.  The beauty of this little treat is that its as simple and can be added to per need. Of course I couldn't let it go as is... I jazzed it up a bit.

Lets get to it.

Crust: 


1.5 c all purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
12 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (I used salted since it was in the fridge, I left out the salt)
1 egg yolk
1/4 tsp cider vinegar
4-5 Tbsp ice water
Sift your dry ingredients with a fork or your paddle attachment on a Kitchen Aid.  Mix together in a separate bowl the yolk, 4 Tbsp water, and vinegar.  Slowly drizzle in the wet ingredients as the paddle mixes.  Reserve the last Tbsp of water only if the dough is too dry in the end.  Cut the butter into dime sized chunks and drop in.  End mixing when some of the butter pieces are still pea sized.

The dough won't have the consistency of bread. It will be a bit mealy and chunky.  No worries, you're doing fine.  

Split the dough into two equally sized balls.  Wrap the dough balls in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Press the dough through the plastic into a flat round.  Lay out a piece of parchment paper to roll out the dough into a rough circle 11-12 in across.  Again, this is "free form"; no points for perfection... 'cause it doesn't need to happen :).

Filling:
4 apples (I chose Empire, but Cortland and Gravenstein are great too) cored, peeled and sliced and set in a circular formation from the center of the dough leaving an inch around the outside for folding
1 Tbsp sugar sprinkled
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon sprinkled

Fold in the excess dough, crimping it in on itself to hold.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter and brush over the folded edges


Bake at 375 degrees in the top third of the oven for 40-45 minutes until crust is golden.  Let cool briefly.  Serve warm.  Vanilla ice cream is a lovely addition.

This was also a huge hit in the "Creative Baby Food Series"... look back and check it out!  The twins loved this when they were small! Pretty cool, huh?



Happy Apple Picking!  





Thursday, October 3, 2013

While We're Waiting... An Announcement!

I know!  I promised apple sauce and more apple butter.  It's coming, I promise.  Its a cookin' right this moment.  However, while we're waiting, I have an announcement:  Pewee Valley Bread Company is open!  

In an around town we have been open since March.  We have been busy bees making a niche for ourselves here in the local area and simply took our time coming out to a more worldly group!  We are a home spun, completely e-commerce focused bakery in small town Ky!  Locally we deliver, but we ship nationally now!  This is super exciting and I just had to share!  We are a sourdough specialty bakery.  

Let me take you on a little tour of yum...




I am super proud of our yummy, hearty, special loaves.  We offer our focaccia, a jalapeno pepperoni, and a cinnamon swirl at all times on our site.  We have some new editions coming as well!  Look for, this month, pumpkin spice sourdough AND onion dill sourdough!  I can't wait for you to smell and taste!  Plus, if we look back to last year during the "Creative Baby Food Series" post on bread there is a simple sourdough recipe spotted!  CLICK on the link below to take a look at the recipe and directions!




This, of course, the classic sourdough is the brain child of the operation.  Our "mother" is a traditional family recipe.  My dad and I have been working on the perfect taste for our sourdough starter for several years now... and we got it!  


Pinwheels!  The newest member of the Pewee Valley Bread Company family on regular rotation are our Cinnamon Swirl and Pepperoni Cheddar pinwheels!  They are sweet little three bite treats with a lot of punch.  They're perfect for warm breakfasts of sweetness and appetizers with spicy pizazz!  Personally, I just think their darling... that's why I make them :)

Our baking practice is a story of simplicity.  .

We have become a Kentucky Proud label this year.  Personally, I find this to be a HUGE source of pride.  Simply, it means that our little baking shop is a creation of nothing but our fair state.  We shop for a great deal of local goods to put in our breads.  NOW, we are shopping local flower mills to make ourselves one step closer to being completely local.  Growth in community business and having a positive impact on that local business is our drive.  Our focus is bringing that same community together, perchance a little closer, with food.  --In our case, bread.   We wish to blaze the market of non-traditional fundraising for groups that don't have much time in the spot light, if any at all.  *stands for a moment on my little soapbox*  There are so many unheard, unknown worthy groups just within my small little town that I wish I could assist them all.  Hopefully, I can reach out for a great many of them in the future.  *steps down from soap box*


If I may be honest, I truly want my children to have a positive role model in business.  I worked in the food centered corporate world for a long time... and I learned a great many useful things.  Now I have taken those positive practices and turned them into wholesome and family driven.  I want them to succeed in the best way.  And I wish to be their beginning.



My little business becomes a family affair!  

Our official public launch was at our home picnic:  Annual Pewee Valley Summer Picnic 2013!


Happy Eating!



 





Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Apple Season is Upon Us: Take II

Remember how I mentioned previously that we visited two AWESOME orchards in the past two weekends?  Well, I thought I would just fill you in on the second of the two.  It was SUPER *squeals*!  The twins and I visited Boyd Orchards last weekend.  They've made that particular trip before for pumpkin picking when they were little bitty.  

...way itty bitty.  I digress.

The farm itself is 5th generation family farmers utilizing, again, non-typical fertilizing practices for the average.  contact:  boydorchards.com
The first season we went, there had been an awful frost the prior winter so the yield was not so large. This year, that was not an issue.

 
YES!
My take away from Boyd this year was scrumptious.  I have bags and bags of Jonathan, Jonagold, Stayman, and empire... AND Swiss Gourmet.  I was just tickled pink!  The fruit was amazing!  Of course, Momma went along for the fruit but these kids?  They came along for the fun!



It may not be pumpkin season, really.  (We'll wait for next month for that ball game) But that sure doesn't mean we can't have a ball anyway!  Boyd laid out their great front lawn as a veritable pumpkin cornucopia!  I thought Henry was going to explode with indecision.  Love it!  I did think it was funny that they referred to this particular weekend as the "Apple Cider Festival" when there wasn't a huge to-do with apple cider.  I mean, they had it of course (I bought apple cider donuts too... *gush*) but it just wasn't all in your face.  In any case the cider was yummy too!

 Never one to miss a photo op, is she?

 
The train ride and the potential of seeing a tractor was the true buy in for going.  Well, I accomplished the train ride almost immediately.  Again, an absolutely gleeful experience!  I don't think another experience had lived up to them riding a train.  Plus, the "engineer" acted as such.  He asked for our "tickets" and yelled out, "All aboard!".  Too much fun!

Okay, okay.  I'll stow the cuteness a moment and move on to the business at hand:  the orchard and all of those delicious apples!  Can I just say that the three of us have just as much fun running through grassy apple laden paths as we do playing on any play ground?  True story. So, lets take a short photographic tour of Boyd Orchards!
"fairy tunnel" to the patches and orchard



no boy left behind...

... on the walk to our apples!






We didn't last an incredibly long time out among the trees.  It was rather hot all day.  However, these two enjoy any sort of run... anywhere.  

Up next:  Plain-Jane Apple Tarts and apple sauce

another gratuitous tractor shot :).  Enjoy!