Not stuffed enough apples

Apparently farro is not a standard thing to find. I mean, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to find some in a regular grocery store. But surely, SURELY, our local hippy food co-op would have some in their bulk section. I mean the bulk section is like the main attraction (to me anyway). Who else sells 12 different types of rice in bins. Between the rice, and the lentils, and the flours, and the dried chickpeas, and the quinoa, I was SURE that there’d be farro around somewhere.

Nope.

Well… not exactly gonna completely ditch my plans and come up with something new on the spot… Just not how my brain works. Also, didn’t have internet access and the list of recipes I’m working on trying out with me. Nor my binders of power (recipes). So, I did what I’ve finally learned to do in those situations. Ask a grocery store person for their recommendation on what to substitute in. Which is how I ended up cooking wheat berries for the first time.

Also learned that 2 inches to be hollowed out from the middle of an apple is bigger than I think it is. And if you don’t make a big enough cavity in apples to stuff filling in, you end up cooking a lot filling in the bottom of your pan. Tasty that way, but definitely not the driving idea behind the recipe.

As you may have noticed from the ‘bounty!’ photos that have popped up on Saturdays, Adam and I have joined a CSA for the fall season. And boy do they have a lot of apple trees on the farm (I assume) – 5 to 6 Honey Crisp apples every week. In a half-share! I’m totally not complaining, given a) how many apples we eat around here and b) since I rather like the Honey Crisp variety. It was also nice for this recipe since the original called for honey crisps. Also for the contrast between apple, wheat berry, and chicken sausage. I’m not much of a pork sausage fan – happens when you grow up without any type of pig product in the house (yes that included bacon, yes I’m actually not a fan of bacon, yes I do speak that particular food heresy). Which makes chicken sausage my go-to substitute for ‘sausage’ in recipes. Substitute back as you choose 😀

End result for these particular stuffed apples? Too much work for the end result. Did you know you need to cook wheat berries for 50-55 minutes before mixing them in with the rest of the filling ingredients and then cook everything? Too long.

Good contrast in textures though.

Wheat berry, nuts, and sausage-stuffed baked apples

Original from OhMyVeggies
Makes 4 apples
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 22; Dinners: 4 recipes left

  • 4 Honey crisp apples, at least medium sized
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 oz sausage of your choice, crumbled or sliced
  • 1/3 cup wheat berries, soft or hard, cooked
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and almonds (what can I say, it’s what we had lying around)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray or grease it with oil or butter.
  2. Core each apple and then widen the hole in the center to 1.5″ to 2″. If you think it’s big enough, make it bigger.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the onion and sausage to a medium bowl. Stir in the wheat berries, chopped nuts, and nutmeg. Salt to taste.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the apple cavities with a spoon, packing as full as you can. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish (with the apples in it!), spray side down. Cook covered for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until apples are tender.
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Challah for Rosh Hashanah

Need more of a challenge with challah? This is not it 🙂 On the other hand, it’s a sweet dessert bread full of yum – apples and honey. So, challah is traditionally served every Friday as part of the Shabbas ritual. But for Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s in the Jewish calendar – typically sometime in October), the challah should be round – symbolize the cycle of the year(s) – and include apples (more roundness -> cycles) and honey (for the wish for the sweet beginning to the new year).

This is not a whip it up on a weeknight recipe – it’s the one I was yelping about the three rises for the Purim party. None of this rises is an overnight one, so make sure to budget enough time during the day. It is quite tasty though; worth the time. Make sure to allow it to bake through otherwise the center will be goopy.

Apple Honey Challah

9″ round loaf
Original from Cherry on My Sundae

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm (100-110°F) water – do not go too hot on the water, or you will kill the yeast and the bread will not rise.
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2/3 cup honey, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tart apples, peeled & diced
  1. Combine the yeast and water; set aside for 10 minutes. It should become frothy.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp butter in the microwave or in a sauce pan over medium-low heat and allow to cool. Combine the butter, bread flour, 1/3 cup honey, eggs, yolks, salt, and the yeast mixture. Mix until a dough forms. Knead in a stand mixer with a dough hook or transfer to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes; Or until smooth.
  3. Transfer dough to a bowl, preferable buttered or slightly oiled and turn over once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.
  4. Remove dough to a floured surface and shape into an ~8.5″ x 14″ rectangle. Top with the apples, fold over, and knead the dough to incorporate. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and let rise for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the lowest position. Butter or oil a 9″ round cake pan.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll into a 24″ long rope. Coil the dough into a circle in the cake pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
  7. Meat the remaining 4 tbsp butter and 1/3 cup honey in a sauce pan over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Brush half of this mixture over the dough. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and firm.
    Apple Honey Challah baking
    Brush the other half of the butter-honey mixture over the bread. Or just pour it over the bread; if you do, place a pan, plate, or something else to catch dripping honey under the cake pan. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan, and allow to finish cooling on the wire rack.
    Apple Honey Challah cooling

In which I learn that ‘no, really, even applesauce isn’t infinitely expandable’

So, I promised y’all an applesauce recipe back on the 10th – here it is.

I was late to the applesauce thing, not really liking it until… oh college. See, as a kid, I declined to learn to swallow pills until much later than pharmaceutical companies assume will happen, so my mom had to mix my antibiotics into applesauce up until I was … about 8 or so. But it was the completely smooth, kinda tasteless, kinda watery, utterly bland but shelf-stable Mott’s applesauce. Hey, if you like Mott’s, cool, glad you’ve got your brand. It just didn’t work for me. Probably ’cause all the good stuff is in the stuff I’m missing receptors to detect. But you know, in addition to the not tasting aspects, was all the bitterness of medical pills. So, yeah. Yech.

Homemade applesauce on the other hand is awesome – as chunky or smooth as you like (or care to put work into), you can vary the apple varieties, vary the spices, and it takes much less time than I thought before hand. The recipe I currently use expands pretty easily. BUT, not when I do this

Apple-pile

This particular attempt involved tripling the recipe, using large apples, resulting in the mound you see above. It took more time than usual to cook down and I’m still not entirely sure everything was heated through, at least to the same degree as apples from a different … strata in the pot. Lesson learned, however much I’m scaling this recipe up or down, make sure the apple pile fits properly in the pot – i.e. there’s some pot leftover!

A few notes before we start with the actual recipe though: Potato mashers will work to mash your cooked apples and are good for the building of arm muscles. Immersion blenders will make short work of all your mashing needs, but pay attention – you may end up with smoother applesauce than you wanted otherwise.

Homemade Apple Sauce

Adapted from The Craftinomicon

  • 5 medium to large apples, of any 3 varieties (proportions between the different varieties are best left as an exercise/experiment to the cook and their taste)
  • 2-4 tbsp cranberry-apple juice
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Peel, core & roughly dice the apples; add to an appropriately sized stock pot or Dutch oven. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to distribute roughly evenly.
  2. Cook over medium heat until apples are fairly soft, about 15 minutes. Mash to desired consistency with a potato masher or immersion blender; alternatively, transfer contents to a blender or food processor and process to desired smoothness. A potato masher will result in the largest chunks. Return apples to heat for an additional 5-10 minutes, or heated through. Add extra juice as it cooks, if the applesauce appears too dry.