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Rustic Applesauce with Grand Marnier

I make large batches of this applesauce several times a year, and each one disappears like a video on fast forward. It's simple, and you absolutely can't really mess it up.It's also very healthy. You can make it without the Grand Marnier, and use coconut sugar to make it paleo style. It's still good! The one essential is high quality apples. Organic apples are almost always more intense in flavor, and worth the splurge. I use a hand held blender stick but you can get great results in a food processor, making some batches very smooth and some slightly chunky, then mixing the 2. This gives a nice rustic texture. When using the blender stick, push the apple chunks towards the blade and be careful not to puree into a single baby food consistency. It tastes best when there are some chunks of apple, although no larger than pea size.

Ingredients:

6 sweet apples

3 tart apples

1t cinnamon

3/4 C sugar

1/4 C Grand Marnier

2 C apple juice or apple cider

2 T butter

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Peel and core apples, then cut into small chunks (about 1/2 " D) Put in a large 9 cup microwave safe bowl. My large flower bowls or large Arabesque bowls are the perfect size. Add cinnamon and sugar; stir to coat. Add Grand Marnier, apple juice, and butter cut into pats.

Microwave on Hi for 10 min. Remove and stir. If apples seem dry, add a bit more juice. Microwave another 10 minutes. Blend with a hand held stick blender or in batches in a food processor. Be sure to leave slightly chunky. Serve warm or cool. 

 

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Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

This was my daughter's favorite soup growing up, requested more often than mac n cheese! It's the first one emptied out at soup fundraisers, too. I make mine with skins on potatoes, and prefer Yukon Golds but you can use any potato, skinned or unskinned.

Serves 4-6

Chop up 1 1/2 cups onions and mince 1 large garlic clove. In a dutch oven or large soup pot, melt 2 T butter and saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Meanwhile, chop 2 large potatoes, skins on, and 1 large carrot, skin on. Add to the pot and saute 10 min longer. Add 3 C vegetable stock and 1 t dried dill. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.

With an immersion blender, or food processor in batches, puree the veggies, adding 4 oz cream cheese and 1 C milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently reheat, then stir in 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese.

Be sure to make enough so everyone can have seconds, especially adults, who sometimes think potato soup should be a watery pale broth with bland vegetable chunks, and forget that it is divine when creamy and cheesy!

 

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Best Pie Crust . Seriously.

I served my rustic apple tart to guests last night and a real chef complimented this pie crust. "What's in this?" he asked, wondering how I could get it so tender and flaky. "Well", I said, "It's a special kind of lard I get from a guy at the Farmer's Market.." Leaf lard!" he exclaimed. And he is right. If you can get your hands on this stuff, your pies will be over the moon amazing. If you can't, use any shortening as a substitute and it will still be better than any pie crust you generally eat.

So where do you get leaf lard? It has something to do with pigs, so not vegan friendly. Ask at the meat counter of health food stores, or, if you live in a foodie center of the world, like Asheville, where folks are raising organic, cruelty free meat, at a farmer's market. Frankly, I would not want something from the innards of any pig raised  and butchered by Big Agriculture. But that's just me. Anyway, someone is undoubtedly selling it online somewhere.

The original recipe is my grandma's. She grew up in an Indiana farm culture. They were not skinny people but they cooked some of the best food I've ever tasted!

Nana Jeffries' Flour Paste Pie Crust

makes 1 crust, top and lattice for 9" pie

Sift 2 C all purpose organic flour with 1 t salt. Measure out 1/3 cup of this and place in a smallish bowl with 1/3 c water. Stir to make a smooth paste.

Cut into the flour mixture in the first bowl 1/3 c cold butter and 1/3 c leaf lard (shortening will substitute). Use a pastry blender to work the mixture together until it resembles small peas.

Stir the flour paste into your dough and then work gently with your hands until it forms a ball. Leave some pea sized clumps of lard and butter. These will flatten out and form the flaky layers as you roll the crust out.

Use a floured rolling pin and roll the crust into a circle on a floured surface. Coax your dough from the center outward.

If you aren't able to get it into the pie plate whole, you can repair cracks by gentling overlapping using water as a glue.

Fllow instructions for any pie filling, and enjoy!

The Modern Lace platter is for sale here.

 

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Beef Kaldereta Recipe

This is the best beef stew I make, and it is a healthier than traditional American or Belgium beef stews, as coconut milk is the thickener. I've tweaked it from a  Philopino recipe. It takes time to prepare but your house will smell like comfort food cooking for hours as it simmers. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 T butter plus 1 T olive oil

2 lb beef stew meat, cut into small 1/2" chunks

6-8 garlic cloves, minced

2 onions, chopped

1 t salt

1 t black pepper

2 bay leaves

2 t fish sauce

1 c beef broth

1 can coconut milk, divided in half

4 medium red potatoes, small cubed

2 carrots, sliced

2 sweet red banana peppers

1 chili pepper, chopped

3 T ketchup or tomato sauce

4 T peanut butter

1 t red chili flakes

Sear beef in olive oil and butter in a skillet in batches; set aside.

Saute garlic and onions 2 minutes. Transfer everything to a dutch oven or heavy soup pot. Add salt, pepper, fish sauce, bay leaves, beef broth, and 1/2 can coconut milk. Bring to boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

You aren't done yet! Now fry the potatoes and carrots in oil in another frying pan until potatoes are softened. Add the banana and chili peppers. Set aside until stew has simmered the entire 2 hours, then add fry pan contents to the dutch oven stew meat, adding the rest of the coconut milk, peanut butter, and ketchup. Simmer until everything has blended.

Serve over steaming bowls of jasmine rice and enjoy the compliments!

 

 

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Gingerbread Cookie recipe -my favorite now gluten free

I love gingerbread cookies, and have made them every Christmas for 25 years. My recipe makes a soft cookie with delicious spices, lightly sweetened so the icing or powdered sugar won't drown out its flavor. You can roll it thin and use cookie cutters, as it doesn't lose its shape while baking. I've tweaked it slightly to go gluten free but you could use any all purpose flour and add 1 min baking time. With conventional flour you will need to chill the dough longer and flour your rolling pin and cutting board generously. It is actually easier to make roll out cookies with gluten free flour as you can't overwork the dough. You can make the dough and keep it chilled for weeks in the fridge. Your house will smell like heaven's kitchen when these are baking!

  

Gingerbread Cookies - gluten free

Ingredients:

3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp (organic butter is best)

1/2 C light brown sugar

1/2 C molasses

1 lg egg

2 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 C gluten free flour baking mix (I like Bob's Red Mill)

powdered sugar for dusting or royal icing for piped decoration

 

Beat butter with sugar and molasses until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves and salt by sprinkling and thoroughly beating or adding through the feed tube while beating in Kitchen Aid. Add flour in batches, scraping down sides of bowl to blend thoroughly. Dough will be soft. Divide into 3 balls, flatten each into discs between saran wrap or parchment paper, and chill 1 hr or longer.

Grease 2 lg cookie sheets. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness, cut into shapes, position on cookie sheet with 1/2" or more space between cookies. Gather dough scraps into a ball and roll out to reuse. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 9 min, or until bottoms are golden brown on edges. With a thin spatula, gently ease shapes with fragile edges from sheet and transfer to flat cutting board. While still warm, sift powdered sugar on top, or cool if you want to ice them.

Enjoy an old fashion treat that lets your creativity shine out!

 

 


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Cranberry Ginger Relish

This is my favorite cranberry dish, and can be used as topping over angel food cake, French toast, with cheese on crackers, and is a MUST on turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving. It's not hard to make either. Try it! 

Cranberry Ginger Relish

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

1 cup sugar

2 T peeled fresh ginger root, finely chopped.

 

All this goes in a saucepan over high heat. Stir until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring regularly. It will take around 20 minutes to thicken. Sauce should pour slowly off of a spoon. It won't be as thick as jelly, more like a milkshake. I took a pic to let you see it when its ready to take off the stove.

Transfer relish to 4 cup bowl and chill. You can make it 2 weeks ahead or the night before. The relish looks amazing in my 4 cup flower bowls! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the cooking, serving, and talking as much as the eating.

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Melon Salad with Balsamic Vinegar recipe

I made this simple and delicious salad in 20 minutes and served it on my Minimalist dinnerware. It's got a great balance of tart and sweet.
 Melon Salad with Balsamic Vinegar
Ingredients:
1 cantaloupe melon
1 honeydew melon
1 cucumber, skinned, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, cut into strips
1 T fresh mint leaves, diced
1 T fresh basil, diced
1- 2 T flavored balsamic vinegar (I used lemon balsamic but pomegranate, raspberry or other fruity Balsamic vinegars will be equally yummy)
Cut melon balls from fresh melons and add everything else. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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