My friend John brought me some Braeburn and Fuji apples the other day, just picked from his trees. I am going to eat the Fujis with some good cheese but the Braeburns are perfect for my favorite year around dessert, fresh fruit crumble! Just about any fruit works for a crumble and this time of year apples and/or pears are a given. I was so surprised to pass by a Bartlett pear tree in downtown Murphys yesterday just full of fruit so I'm going back to pick some today to mix with the apples. Crumble topping is so easy and quick to put together, be sure to make up extra and keep it in your freezer, that way you will always have some handy when you stumble upon a tree laden with pears or when friends come calling with fruit. A crumble is comfort food at it's best!
Apple - Pear Crumble
6 cups fruit, about 3 pears, 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 c sugar
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 c light brown sugar
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the prepared fruit in a bowl and toss with the sugar, lemon juice and zest. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish, no need to butter. Combine the brown sugar, oats, flour and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. I work quickly and use my fingers to blend the butter with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until browned and bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream or room temp with yogurt or whipped cream.
Add fresh cranberries during the holidays with a 1/2 t of cinnamon instead of the lemon zest. Use juice from just 1/2 of the lemon.
Roasted Delicata Squash with Apples
I just ate a whole pan of roasted apples and yummy winter squash.......well almost. I just couldn't help myself. Creamy, sweet squash with tart apples, fresh thyme, drizzled with bit of olive oil and honey, so easy and just delicious! I am sure you have seen them, in the store or at your local farmer’s market or perhaps they came in your CSA box this month?
I am talking about those beautiful, yellowish and green striped squash called Delicata! It’s my new favorite winter squash, sorry Butternut! It doesn't take much time or energy to make these squash your ‘star’ side or main dish and best of all there’s no peeling required.
Roasted Delicata Squash with Apples
2 Delicata squash, about 1 1/2 lbs
3 small or 2 lg Gala apples, cut into 1" chunks
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Lay flat side on the cutting board and slice into 1/2" slices. Place cut squash on two rimmed baking pans along with the apples. Drizzle with the oil and honey and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure that all pieces come into contact with the pan so that they will brown well. Roast for 15 minutes and then switch the pans and roast for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the fresh thyme and serve warm.
You could also:
Roasted Baby Potato ‘Caprese’
Last Monday night I needed an hors d'oeuvre to bring to book club so I peeked into the fridge to see what odds and ends might be left over from catering a wedding on the weekend. I saw some baby potatoes that I used for an appetizer. I had hollowed them out, roasted them and then filled them with sour cream, topped them with crispy bacon, finely grated cheddar and chives. They were a big hit so I thought, perfect, I will do the same thing for book club! I began preparing the potatoes when I noticed my basket of just picked ‘snacking’ tomatoes on the counter in front of me and I got an idea. What if I placed a tomato inside the potato hollow and roasted them with the potato? I could top with some torn, fresh mozzarella while still warm and then drizzle with some basil pesto... a baby potato caprese! Easy, different and delicious. Yes, it was.
Roasted Baby Potato ‘Caprese’
24 baby potatoes, all red or mixed colors
salt & pepper
24 baby ‘sun gold’ or other small tomatoes
2 oz basil pesto (make yourself or use good store bought)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes on the counter to see where the flat side is (so they don't roll around) and then hollow out with a melon baller. Put all on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place a tomato into the hollow of each potato. Roast until done about 30-40 minutes. Test the potato by sticking a paring knife or a fork in the bottom, it should go in easily. Remove from the oven and while the potatoes are still warm, tear a piece of fresh mozzarella from a ball and place in the hollow with the tomato. Allow to melt slightly. Top with a bit of basil pesto and serve warm.
“It’s still summer” cucumber salad
A lot of the food sites that I follow are already starting to talk about crock pot cooking, stews and soups...but here in Murphys we are still experiencing summertime heat and the cucumbers are still coming in! My friend Annie planted Suyo Long cucumbers this year, a Japanese variety that is spiny, burpless and super flavorful. In an attempt to use these beauties while they are still with us, I came up with a cucumber salad that is a bit spicy, different and really refreshing.
Japanese Suyo Cucumber Salad
2 medium cucumbers, peeled & sliced
2 oranges,* peeled and supremed**
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin rounds
1/2 c mint, chopped roughly
1/2 c cilantro, chopped roughly
1 dz baby tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 red onion, cut in half & sliced thinly
1 T rice wine vinegar
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T sugar
Put the last 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Put all the other ingredients in the bowl and toss; chill.
*Feel free to substitute fresh mango cut into a 1/2" dice for the oranges for a real ‘south of the border’ flare.
**Supreming is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in slices. To supreme an orange begin by trimming off the very top and bottom of the fruit with a sharp knife. Next, set the fruit on end, and carefully cut the skin from its flesh, beginning at the top and following the curves down. Then, carefully cut out each section of the fruit by inserting the blade of the knife between the flesh and the membrane on both sides. The wedges should come out easily, leaving only the membrane intact.
Wren’s “Bird Seed” Granola
Crack. That’s what my friends call my homemade granola. They just can’t seem to get enough of it. When it comes to buying granola I always seem to have a “cheap” (cheep!) attack. I think to myself, “it’s so easy to make, yours is so much better than store bought, don’t be so lazy, it’s so expensive, just go home and make some.” It takes some coaching but boy am I happy when I listen to my inner self. It takes only a few minutes to mix up, a bit of oven time and you have a stash of pure delight (to keep or share) that lasts a week or more. Homemade granola is just the right thing to do.
Bird Seed Granola
4 c old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c unsweetened coconut (optional)
1/2 c pecans or walnuts
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 c roasted & salted sunflower seeds
1/4 millet (optional)
1 t cinnamon
1 t kosher salt
Put all of the above in a bowl and mix together. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Heat until boiling:
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
Pour over the oatmeal mixture and toss to coat. Spread out onto a couple of greased sheet pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until golden brown. Pull from the oven and cool.
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c raisins, any kind, or use currants if you like!
To me, granola is all about using what you have and trying different combinations. Use almonds, cashews or pumpkin seeds, chopped dried apricots, figs or dates. If you don’t like something, leave it out or use something else that you love. Experiment, get creative! As long as you have the oatmeal and the liquids, you should be good to go.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"