A fall snack – I think this one will be sticking around

One of the very nice things about our particular CSA is the apple cider included every week. This farm really has an orchard (you may have seen the entire bushel of extra apples we bought?) and the cider changes a bit every week as the apples change with the season before getting picked. So between the apples and apple cider in the box and the old-fashioned rolled oats rattling around the pantry, we pretty much had everything to hand. I think next time I should let it go a bit longer for more crunch but I do like this snack as is.

If you’re looking for a thick granola where things stick together, this is not the one for you. This is more crumbly and individual.

Apple Cider Granola

Original found LastIngredient
Makes 3 cups
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 15; Snacks: 1 recipe left

  • 1 largish apple, preferably tart
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or other nut you like
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a couple of sheet pans with parchment.
  2. Slice the apple as thin as you can, preferably to 1/8 inch with a mandolin. Lay them out as a single layer on the sheet pans and bake until dried and brown, about 1.5 hours. Set aside to cool before roughly chopping.
  3. Increase the oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, honey, cider, and vanilla. If the apples are not completely dry, chopped them up and mix into the granola. Spread onto the mixture onto the sheet pants.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then toss and return to the oven. Continue baking until golden brown – check every 5 minutes to make sure the granola does not burn. Allow to cool, then add the apples if not already mixed in.
  5. Eat and store the excess in an air tight container.

Attempting a piece of nostalgia

So charoset is one of those things I remember from my childhood Passovers events – I remember rather liking it.

Now I thinking that was for the contrast, any contrast, to matzah. If you’ve never had matzah, think of the driest, worst cracker you’ve ever eaten. Matzah is worse. Unless you soak it in egg wash with cinnamon and fry it up into matzah brie.

Either way, I am not a fan of matzah, thus had none in the house to smear charoset onto. And apparently charoset, at least when ground smooth, is cake frosting – according to Adam anyway. So now we have almost 4 cups of the stuff left and I have no desire to eat more. I’d say next time I’ll leave some nuts and apples in chunk size. But I’ve got no real desire to try this one again.

Ah well, maybe one of y’all will enjoy it more

Medjool Date and Apple Charoset

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 4 cups
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 32; Snacks: 2 recipes left

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chunked
  • 1/3 cup apple-cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Pulse the pecans and walnuts in a food processor until coarsely ground
  2. Add the apples and pulse a few more times. Add the juice, honey, and cinnamon; blend until as smooth as you like.

Doing stuff to Honey

This isn’t really a recipe, more like a set of guidelines – every batch of honey is going to taste different based on the source of pollen the bees found/used/ate. I mean, there’s a whole cookbook (that I want) based on the different varietals of honey – Taste of Honey – and how to use them best in baking. That said, spicing or herbing a jar of honey can be a nice boost to a baked good, make whatever you drizzle it on taste better, and/or compliment or contrast with your tea. And quite personally, I wouldn’t mind if someone gave me a jar of spiced honey for a holiday present. 🙂 This does not take a lot of work on your part, but it does sit for days before use – so, you know, no whipping it up the night before.

Infused Honey

Originally from The Kitchn

Recipe Count – 15 left
Section Count – Black Binder: 9 more left, Subsection – Condiments: all done!

  • Honey – ones with a light, mild flavor work better as they allow the herb or spice to show through
  • Herbs – suggestions (as singles or in combination): Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Chamomile, Rose Petals
  • Spices – suggestions: Vanilla beans, Cinnamon Sticks, Star Anise

 

  • Use 1-2 tbsp of dried herb per cup (8 oz) of honey
  1. Place the herbs or spices in the bottom of a jar and fill it almost to the top with honey; stir to coat. Top off the jar, wipe the rim with a clean cloth and cover tightly.
  2. Allow to infuse for 5-12 days. If the herbs or spices float to the top, turn the jar over a few times.
  3. Strain the honey into a clean jar and store in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place. Honey does NOT go bad.

 

I tried this with star anise and it has given a bit of a licorice flavor (which I like) – we’ll see how well it works in the mustard I made tonight.

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

My first request! – Challah

I may have mentioned I made a round challah for the last Feastly – took pictures and everything too. 🙂 Which lead to a discussion on Sunday about learning to make (standard) challah, my offering a copy of the recipe to my guest, and his statement ‘why not post it on the blog?’. Easiest method of transmission. BRILLIANT!

A bit of history: For a while, I was making this challah every weekend. And by ‘a while’, I mean about 5-6 months. And then got bored and tried something new. So weird like that – doesn’t mean I stopped liking this particular challah recipe (it’s not like I wandered off to try new challah recipes), I’d just gotten acclimated to the taste (so it wasn’t as ‘wow, that’s so good) and not the work. This one doesn’t require that much work – if you’re used to making bread. And challah was one of the first breads I learned to make. Which is like deciding to learn how to ski by going down the intermediate trail the first time you strap on skis – not really a huge risk of death, destruction, injury, and/or mortifying embarrassment, but probably not the best idea for two reasons:

An overnight rise

Braiding

Most breads have a rise time, which makes baking bread have a different rhythm than baking other tasty things. This challah involves refrigeration for 4-12 hours, which is a whole different rhythm than other breads – easiest way is to shove the bowl in the refrigerator at night and come back in the morning, which spaces baking out to two different days. I may have mentioned that I learned stir-fry first so I wouldn’t be able to walk away from what I was doing? Yeah….

Traditional challahs have a 4 strand braid, and being the stubborn ‘purist’ I can be, that’s the one I started with while learning this recipe. Whee. Speaking of tradition, challahs are usually served as part of Shabbas – Friday nights at sundown, the demarcator as to when observant Jews start performing no work, because Saturday is the day of rest. Which meant I was being a very bad Jew by starting my challah on Friday nights after work and finishing up on Saturday. Good thing I’m not very observant.

Just go with a 3 braid (done like you’d braid hair). Unless you’re bringing this to an observant family’s Shabbas dinner. Or trying to impress someone. Orrrrr just looking for a challenge. Look, what I’m saying is that the number of strands to your braid don’t affect taste, just looks and you should have fun with it. If you want to learn a 4 strand braid, check out these youtube videos: 1 from NYBakers and 1 from CookingOutsidetheBox. I’ll be trying the second one next time I make a challah.

Challah

make 1 loaf
Original from the Joy of Cooking

Used pre-long-rise

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup water – warm (105°F – 115°F)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour

Use post-long-rise

  • rye flour, optional
  • 1 egg whisked with a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp poppy or sesame seeds, optional
  1. Combine the yeast and water; allow to stand until yeast is dissolved – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the all-purpose flour, eggs, egg yolks, oil, honey, and salt. Mix until thoroughly blended, then gradually stir in the bread flour.
  3. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. It should no longer stick to your hands or the bowl. Transfer to a boil and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise, preferably in a warm  (75°F-80°F) place, until doubled in volume, 1-1.5 hours.
  4. Transfer dough to a clean work surface, punch it down, and knead briefly. Transfer back to the bowl and cover; refrigerate covered until nearly doubled again in volume, 4-12 hours (really, just stick it in the fridge overnight).
  5. Divide the dough equally into the number of strands you’re using. Roll on an unfloured work surface into balls then allow to rest, loosely covered, for 10 minutes. Roll each ball into a rope – if using 3 balls, you want the ropes about 13-14 inches long and 1.5 inches thick; if using 4 balls, 10 inches long and 1 inch thick. Dust with rye flour, if using (keeps strands more distinct after baking). Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal (makes the loaf easier to remove post baking; also taste). Braid the ropes together.
  6. Set loaf on the baking sheet and brush the egg-salt wash over the top of the loaf. Loosely cover loaf with a lightly oiled sheet of plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until not quite doubled, about 45 minutes.
  7. Heat the oven to 375°F. Brush loaf again with egg-salt wash then sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if using. Bake until crust is gold brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped – 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack before serving.

Feastly ChallahP.S. SIX strands!

Next, Tuesday? The Apple-Honey Challah I made for the last Feastly

Cookbook Reviews

Just ’cause I’ve got a backlog of recipes to try in my binders and, you know, bookmarked, doesn’t mean I don’t… covet new books. But y’all, cookbooks are expensive. Don’t get me wrong, given the time put into researching/tweaking recipes, the photography, and printing as a hardcover, I totally get why cookbooks cost as much as they do. Most of them are even worth it.

And teaching myself to cook from recipes means, for me, trying lots of different recipes. Both different types/techniques/dishes and different variations on a dish (to try and find the best one, of course). Lots and lots of recipes. From lots of books and (now) the Internets as well. I learn a lot from trying out so many recipes, but buying those lots and lots of books? In order to get one or two recipes? Cookbooks are expensive yo’.

Enter my local library.

Well, um. See I live in DC. Which has a reciprocal lending policy with library systems in the surrounding counties. And Maryland libraries, you have a card in one county, you can have a card in all the other counties. In addition to the ILL system between all the county libraries. And if the county library systems don’t have something, you can put in an ILL request and they’ll go rather far afield to try and get your book. I suppose I could try and use the reciprocal lending agreement to tap into the Virginia system(s) too, but 1) I don’t have a good way to get to a Virginia library by public transit and 2) this is a little ridiculous already, don’t you think? So, I’ve got 3 physical cards in my wallet, one of which does double duty in two systems (and if I’d been more together when getting my card, I could have gotten one number in 4 different systems and had one card), and insanely good access.

So. Enter my (4) local library(ies).

Being me, I have a list of all the books I’ve heard of and decided I want to check out with notation on which library it’s available at, if any. I’m averaging 4 or 5 books from the library a month which only works because most of them are cookbooks (despite the fact that I read quickly – when I have time to read). See, I’m not actually reading cookbooks, more the introduction, forwards, chapter info, recipe titles and the ingredients list. Not the instructions though. I’m looking to see if there’s good info and if the recipes look like something I’ll want to eat, with the weight going to the recipes. If it passes that test, the cookbook goes on my Amazon list. For when I’ve got some cash burning a hole in my pocket (HA!).

I thought y’all might find seeing what I check out and/or what I’ll end up buying interesting. So, here we are, our first cookbook review session.

Japanese Soul Cooking

by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat

end result: will NOT be purchasing

Japanese Soul Cooking is a gorgeous book – the photography is excellent and the design/typography (yes, I consciously notice those things) makes the book both distinctive and builds the ‘feel’ of it.  Unfortunately for me, I just did not get the feeling that I could do these recipes at home. Not unless I completely converted over to recipes from this book for, like, a month – both to practice the techniques so they would not take forever and to build the bases of lots (ramen and udon in particular) to stick in the freezer. Nothing quite jumped off the page, running in circles stroking the hungry receptors of my brain shrieking ‘cook me!’, which is a shame because I would like to make some ramen, donburi, and udon at some point – they have been tasty and good, the examples I’ve had in restaurants. I just didn’t feel the confidence to start trying to tackle them from these recipes. And I’m just not interested in a Japanese take on curry as brought to them by the British Navy. That’s apparently a thing.

Taste of Honey: The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals

by Marie Simmons

end result: WILL be purchasing

I am never going to be able to taste the difference between all the varietals Ms. Simmons describes, not without working olfactory nerves. But man, I have never wanted those more in my life. Adam and I were reading in bed and every 2 or 3 pages I just rolled over to show him a recipe title or pictures or just said the title out loud. It’s not just desserts, there’s recipes for breakfast and snacks, main dishes, salads and vegetables (and sweets). I’m not saying this is the healthiest cookbook out there, but honestly, substituting a bit less honey for any white or brown sugar? Not a terrible call health-wise. Also, something I wouldn’t mind doing – one less ingredient to keep in the house. And I like honey better than refined cane sugar any day, especially when I’ve got a sore throat – couple dollops in a mug of tea works great.  Things I WILL be making:

  • Honey Cornbread
  • Popover pancake with honey spiced apples
  • Crispy fish fillets in sweet and sour sauce
  • Vietnamese-style beef stew with anise, honey and fish sauce
  • Baby back ribs with honey and apple cider sauce
  • Roasted red onion wedges with honey and balsamic vinegar
  • Honey and cumin roasted sweet potato rounds
  • Chunky butternut squash and apple with honey
  • Honey and date-nut squares
  • Crinkly honey-roasted pears with vanilla

Trust me, limiting that list was difficult.

Two more to follow on Thursday.