Tag Archives: Apple

Rustic Radish Tart

The best thing about springtime in Texas is the long, sunny evening, when the temperature hovers in the mid-70s, the breeze rustles the live oaks, and our whole yard is bathed in golden light. (Well, the asphalt parking lot outside our apartment is bathed in golden light.) I love cooking at this time of year because it’s easy to put a meal on the table before sunset. It’s also cool enough to run the oven without making the house sweaty.

For all these reasons and more, Texas spring is the perfect time of year to make this rustic radish tart.  It’s easy and quick to toss together on a weeknight, and it travels well on a cheeseboard for a picnic in the yard.

The inspiration for this tart came from the vibrant radishes in season now from several local farms; these pink beauties came from West Austin Roots, just two miles from the capitol building. The radishes are the star of the show here, and tangy goat cheese, sweet onions, thinly-sliced apples, and a sweet thread of honey over top of the tart balance out their spice.

If you need to have dinner on the table quickly, I recommend making the pie crust for this recipe ahead of time on the weekend or, if you must, use store-bought. For tonight’s meal, I was able to roll out my pie crust, slice the onions, radishes and apples, and assemble the tarts while the oven was preheating. I got nice clean edges on my tart crust by trimming the dough into a circle with a pizza cutter after I rolled it flat.

Rustic Radish Tart (makes one, 9-inch tart)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup very cold shortening or butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

4 oz. goat cheese
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to garnish
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
6 pink beauty radishes, tops and stringy roots removed, sliced very thin
1/2 granny smith apple, cored and sliced very thin
1/2 yellow onion, sliced very thin
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt

Egg wash: 1 egg, beaten

Prepare pie crust: Put flour, salt and butter into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until mixture is crumbly and blended. (The largest pieces of butter should be about the size of green peas, completely coated in flour.)  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, continuing to blend dough, until its consistency is even. Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. The dough will keep in the fridge up to 48 hours, and in the freezer for about a month.

To make the tart: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Stir together the goat cheese, olive oil and one tablespoon of fresh ground pepper. Slice onion, radishes and apple.

After the pie crust dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface until it’s about 11-inches across. Transfer the rolled dough to the prepared cookie sheet. Spread goat cheese mixture on the pie crust to within an inch or two of the edge.  Top cheese with sliced onions, radishes and apples, then fold the edges of the crust over the toppings to create the tart shape. Sprinkle the tart with salt and fresh ground pepper. Drizzle honey over the fruits and veggies and brush crust with egg wash before baking for 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and shiny.

If you want to have a parking lot picnic like we did tonight, keep the tart on the parchment paper after cooking for easy transport.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”


Grilled Goat Cheese, Apple & Persimmon Sandwich

I did not make this gorgeous loaf of Challah.  I bought it on the West Mall of campus from UT Challah for Hunger for just $5. Challah for Hunger is a national project that empowers college students to raise funds for and bring awareness to national disaster and humanitarian issues by selling bread on campus once a week. The students make the bread themselves (for proof, check out the adorable pictures on their Facebook page) and they sell it every Wednesday from 12-3 PM.  The UT chapter sells original, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate chip challah each week for just $5 a loaf, plus a “secret flavor” announced on their Facebook page.  Past secret flavors include pumpkin, raspberry chocolate chip, and tomato and garlic. These kids are gourmet! Whoever runs the UT chapter Facebook page is also a clever photo editor.

I had originally planned to make baked sweet potatoes with apple persimmon compote for dinner tonight.  That idea went out the window as soon as I bought the challah bread.  Instead I paired the spicy compote with creamy goat cheese inside the challah for a sophisticated variation on a classic grilled cheese sandwich.  I had prepared the compote ahead, so my total hands-on time for dinner tonight was about 5 minutes.

Grilled Goat Cheese, Apple and Persimmon Sandwich (2 sandwiches)
1/4 cup apple persimmon compote
4, 1/2 inch slices challah
2 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon butter

Set out butter and goat cheese and allow to come to room temperature(ish). Slice challah. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Generously butter one side of a slice of bread and place butter-side-down on the skillet.  Break up goat cheese and distribute it across the slice of bread as evenly as you can; top with compote. Butter one side of the remaining slice of bread and place butter-side-up on sandwich.  After sandwich has cooked about 3 minutes on first side, gently flip to the other side using a spatula.  Continue grilling until cheese is melted and the second slice of bread is lightly toasted.  Repeat with remaining ingredients to make another sandwich.  Try not to eat both of them before you can take good pictures for your blog.  I showed great self restraint and at least got this one while the sandwich was still in the skillet.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Special thanks to my friend Amy for taking the challah picture at the beginning of this post and all my outfit pictures for Kendi Everyday’s 30×30 challenge. You can see more of Amy’s photography and keep up with my progress here.

Thanksgiving: Mini Apple Persimmon Pies (Vegan)

This weekend was one of the few times my “real” job intersected with my food blog.  I had the distinct pleasure of making a few dishes for a Thanksgiving potluck hosted by one of my colleagues.  He hosted the party in honor of a visiting saxophone quartet from Helsinki, Finland.  This meal was the quartet’s first-ever American Thanksgiving, and I made a sweet potato pie and these adorable apple persimmon pies to share with our visiting friends.

I originally planned to make a large, double crust American apple pie. However, I just couldn’t resist the persimmons at the farmer’s market last weekend, so into the filling they went! Since this recipe was still in the testing process, I elected to make mini pies instead of one big one so that I could sample the finished product before the potluck. I’m happy to say the little pies were a big hit at the party.  The leaf-shaped top crust looked very sweet on the buffet, and the intense flavors of the pie filling worked better in small bites than they would have in a big pie slice.  After dinner, the quartet gave an impromptu performance in front of the potluck dessert spread. You can see that my mini pies were in good company: besides the musicians, there are seven pies, a noodle kugel, two kinds of vegan cupcakes, and two kinds of whipped cream around the dining room table!

Below are step by step instructions for making the mini pies.   I filled them with apple persimmon compote but any compote, jelly or jam, or prepared pie filling would work.  I do not recommend using raw fruit filling for mini pies; in the test batches I made, raw fruit cooked a little unevenly in the small pie crusts.  Also, keep in mind that the fruit pieces for this recipe need to be very small.  Any large chunks of fruit that extend above the pastry crust tend to dry out and burn.

Mini Apple Persimmon Pies (makes 36 mini pies)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup very cold vegetable shortening
8 tablespoons ice water

4 Fuyu persimmons
3 apples
1/4 c. butter or vegan margarine
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (about a 1 inch section)
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice, apple juice, or rum

First, prepare pie crust. I have the best luck making vegan pie crust in the food processor. In the food processor, pulse flour and very cold shortening until shortening pieces are about the size of walnuts.  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing in the processor, until dough comes together in a ball.  Once dough holds its shape, remove from the processor bowl and store, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for up to one month.  If you freeze dough, allow to thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before proceeding with recipe.

To prepare pie filling: peel, core, and dice apples and persimmons. Saute fruit in a large skillet in vegan margarine for about 5 minutes until fruit starts to soften. Add grated ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice and black pepper, brown sugar, and orange juice to skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Allow filling to come to room temperature before assembling pies, or better yet, store it in the fridge for up to a week. (This recipe is a good make-ahead choice for Thanksgiving.)

Finally, it’s time to assemble the mini pies. You’ll need a rolling pin, pastry brush, bench scraper, mini muffin tins, 2 1/4 inch biscuit cutter or a drinking glass with that diameter, and mini cookie cutters in the shape of your choice. (I used leaf shaped cutters.) All these supplies are available in Austin at All in One Bake Shop.

Prepare your workstation by gathering all these supplies, plus a small dish with all purpose flour for rolling and another with a few tablespoons of melted vegan margarine.  Next, divide the pie crust dough into two parts.  Rewrap one piece of dough in the plastic and put it back in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Finally, were’ ready to do this thing!! There are five basic steps to assembling these mini pies:

  1. On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.
  2. Cut 36 bottom crusts with a 2 1/4 inch biscuit cutter or glass and put the crusts in a mini muffin tin.  Use your fingers to push the crusts firmly into the bottom edges of the muffin cups. As necessary, gather up crust scraps, smoosh them together and reroll them.
  3. Fill the mini pies with 1/2 tablespoon filling each.
  4. Cut out the top crusts with a mini cookie cutter and smoosh them onto the top of the pies. Use the bench scraper as necessary to move the delicate dough shapes without stretching them.
  5. Brush each mini pie with melted vegan margarine.
  6. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until crust is lightly brown. Cool in the mini muffin tins for 10 minutes before using a thin-bladed knife to gently lift each pie out of the tin to finish cooling. Do not store in an airtight container until completely cool; pies will get soggy otherwise.

These mini pies stayed fresh overnight on my kitchen counter and tasted great at room temperature at the potluck.  No need to garnish with whipped cream, etc.  Since each pie is so tiny, it’s best as a stand-alone dessert. For easy potluck transport, place cooled pies back into muffin tins and transfer to a serving platter at the event.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Thanks to Nathan Russell Photography for taking pictures of the finished mini pies and for loaning me the tripod and light kit I used to capture the step-by-step images.

Apple Persimmon Compote

Persimmons and apples are a natural duet;  the spicy sweetness of the persimmon is complemented by the apple’s tart flavor, and the flesh of both fruits are similar enough that they cook at the same speed.  I originally conceptualized this apple-persimmon pairing as a filling for mini pies, but it has lots of other delicious uses.

Image by Nathan Russell

Traditionally, compotes are served as a dessert, either chilled or warmed and garnished with whipped cream.  However, you’re selling the dish short if you limit it to just desserts!  Here’s are some ideas for how to use this recipe in your meal plans:

  • Breakfast: as a topping for oatmeal or other hot cereal
  • Breakfast: in a parfait with yogurt and granola
  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
  • Breakfast: over pancakes or waffles or in crepes
  • Snack: instead of applesauce
  • Snack: as a dip for cinnamon sugar pita chips
  • Lunch: with cream cheese in a sandwich
  • Lunch: with roast turkey and Dijon mustard in a sandwich
  • Lunch: with goat cheese in a quesadilla or Panini
  • Dinner: as an appetizer, baked in Phylo dough with a round of brie
  • Dinner: heated over top of baked pork chops, chicken, or turkey
  • Dinner: over top of a baked sweet potato
  • Dessert: over ice cream or whipped cream
  • Dessert: in mini pies (the flavor is too strong for big pies)
  • Dessert: as filling in a pastry braid or sweet rolls
  • Dessert: as a filling for a spice cake with cream cheese icing

Preparing this compote is quick and easy.  The most difficult part of the process is identifying which kind of persimmon you’re working with, and then peeling and coring fruit.  There are two kinds of persimmons: Fuyu and Hachiya.  Hachiya persimmons are heart-shaped, with pointy bottoms.  Fuyus have flatter bottoms and look more like tomatoes.  This recipe calls for the firm-fleshed Fuyus.  However, you could substitute the pulp of very ripe Hachiyas if that’s what you have on hand.  Here are detailed instructions for ripening and cooking with Hachiya persimmons.  Below are instructions for coring and peeling apples and Fuyu persimmons.

Here’s the full recipe.  It doubles or triples well if you’re looking to feed a crowd, and the finished compote will last about a week in a tupperware in the fridge.

Apple Persimmon Compote (yields 2 cups)

4 Fuyu persimmons
3 apples
1/4 c. butter or vegan margarine
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (about a 1 inch section)
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice, apple juice, or rum

Peel, core, and dice persimmons and apples.  Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and saute fruit for about 5 minutes, until it starts to soften and give off a little liquid.  Meanwhile, grate ginger and measure out cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, ground pepper, brown sugar, and rum.  Add all ingredients to the skillet, cover and continue to cook over medium heat for about half an hour, until the fruit reaches desired tenderness.  Stir occasionally and add a little water if necessary to keep compote from drying out. (Shouldn’t be a problem if your skillet’s covered, but burned brown sugar and fruit is no fun to clean up later!) Serve creatively and enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

the flesh of both fruits is similar enough that they are easy to cook together, and

Austin Beer Week: Beer Crepes with Apple Ale Syrup

Beer before noon is usually against the rules, but it’s worth making an exception for these crepes, which incorporate two different beers brewed in Central Texas.  I made these for brunch yesterday with my sister and her husband.  He’s a microbrew afficianado and she’s pregnant & craving beer, so I know they would love this recipe. Mom, don’t worry– the alcohol is all cooked out in the finished product; your future grandbaby is safe and well-fed!

For the crepes,  I followed the recipe for beer pancakes from Allrecipes.com, using Shiner Hefeweizen in the batter.  The citrus and wheat in the Hefeweizen give the crepes a light texture and sweet, slightly pungent flavor.  Traditional maple syrup would be much too sweet so instead I topped them with a homemade compote of  locally grown apples and Independence Brewing Co.’s Bootlegger Brown Ale.

Beer Crepes with Apple Ale Compote (yield: 8 crepes and 1.5 c. compote)
Crepe Batter:
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Shiner Hefeweizen
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus additional butter for griddle

3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Bootlegger Brown Ale
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

First, mix crepe batter, either by combining all ingredients in a blender or whisking by hand.  Let batter rest while you prepare compote.

For compote, peel, core and dice three apples.  Melt butter in a saucepan and add apples.  Sautee until tender, then add beer and sugar to the pan.  Stir to combine.  Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Heat crepe pan and lightly grease with butter. Measure 1/4 cup batter into pan and tilt pan to spread batter evenly.  Once crepe surface is covered in pinhead-sized bubbles, it’s ready to turn.  Gently loosen crepe with a spatula and flip it over.  Cook for about a minute more, then tranfer to a plate.  Top with apple compote and serve immediately.

Pizza with Rosemary, Apples and Brie

I have been wanting to make pizza from scratch for a while now, but the whole crust process was pretty intimidating and I couldn’t find a recipe online that I really wanted to use.  Lucky for me, I went to The Essential New York Times Cookbook launch event at Rain Lily Farms this weekend, where I bought a signed copy of Amanda Hesser’s so named new cookbook.

The event was fun for lots of reasons, but the biggest takeaway of the night for me was definitely the book.  It’s 970 pages of awesome recipes. No pictures. No fluff. Just lots and lots of wonderful food, plus Amanda Hesser’s autograph on the inside cover.  (FYI, Christmas shoppers, I called BookPeople this morning and they still had signed copies available.)

The first recipe I tried from the cookbook was Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough, and boy was it a winner.  It took all of 10 minutes to put together the night before, and another 5 minutes tonight to turn into this lovely rosemary apple brie pizza.  Mark Bittman has published the full recipe, with instructions as they appear in the cookbook, on his website, so I hope you’ll try it too!

Pizza with Rosemary, Apples and Brie
1 recipe pizza dough, such as Mark Bittman’s , divided into two pieces
1 apple, cored and sliced very thin
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced very thin
6 oz. brie, sliced in pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Prepare pizza dough according to recipe the night before and allow to rise in the refrigerator during the day. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Remove cold dough from fridge and allow to come to room temperature while you prepare the toppings.  For toppings, remove rosemary needles from woody stem and chop.  Slice half an onion as thin as you can manage and separate the rings. Core the apple and slice very thin.  Slice the brie into pieces. (This will be easier if you put the cheese in the freezer for a few minutes first.)  Peel and chop 4 cloves of garlic.

Prepare two cookie sheets or pizza pans with baking parchment.  Roll out pizza crusts, one at a time, on a floured surface until they are the correct size for your pans.  Mine ended up at 14 x 10 inches, but any size and shape will work.  Transfer to the prepared pans.  Note: If you are using a pizza stone or nicer nonstick baking sheets than I own, feel free to omit the parchment and instead oil the pans. No way can I do that with my cheapo cookie sheets!

Brush each crust with a tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with a tablespoon each rosemary and garlic.  Arrange apple slices, onion pieces and brie on each crust and sprinkle with remaining rosemary.  Drizzle remaining oil over top, along with a few pinches of salt.  Bake in preheated over for 11 minutes.  This recipe makes two medium pizzas, enough for 3-4 adults as a main dish.  Cut into bite-sized pieces, this would be wonderful finger food at a cocktail party.

Here’s my pizza before baking:

And after:

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Rosemary Apple Braid

I made this easy apple danish for a friend’s baby shower at the office today.  It’s a great choice for special occasions because the pretty presentation and sophisticated rosemary apple filling will make you seem like a gourmet chef!  Local box favorites Golden Apples from Apple Country Orchards and Rosemary from Pure Luck Farms are the rock stars of this recipe.

Although the braid looks tricky, it’s actually one of the easiest pastry shapes to master. This recipe is adapted from Dorothea Ladd’s Easy Apple Danish on Allrecipes.com.  I used a food processor and chose the braid shape to save time; My grandmother might argue that this simplified pastry dough is not a true danish since it’s not laminated, but it passes  my family’s taste test for sure.

Rosemary Apple Dutch Braid

1 .25 ounce packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (no substitutes)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk (105-110 degrees)
2 eggs, beaten
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, beaten, set aside

3 cups peeled, chopped apples
3/4 cups chopped pecans
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon apple juice

Method: In a small bowl dissolve yeast in warm water.  In a food processor, cut together cold butter, flour and sugar. For most food processors, you will need to do this in two batches.  (If you don’t have a food processor, a pastry cutter or two forks will do the job.) Process flour and butter until mixture resembles crumbly, damp sand. Move flour and butter to a large bowl and add sugar. Stir in the yeast mixture, warm milk, and beaten eggs by hand. Knead the dough in the bowl with a spatula until it is elastic and well combined, about 3 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

While dough rests, prepare the filling.  Combine the apples, rosemary, sugar, melted butter, and pecan pieces; set aside.

Cover two 15-inch cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat  and set near your workstation. Punch down dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide dough in half, set one half aside.  Roll dough into an 15 by 12 inch rectangle.  Transfer dough to prepared cookie sheet by gently rolling dough onto the rolling pin, moving to cookie sheet and gently unrolling onto the parchment paper.

Place half of filling longways along the middle of the dough, to within a half inch of either end.  Use scissors to cut dough into one inch strips along either side of filling, then fold alternating strips towards the middle of the loaf to create a braid effect.  Repeat the roll/tranfer/fill/braid process with the other piece of dough.  Set both braids aside to rest for about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the braids with egg wash.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow braid to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before moving entire loaf and parchment paper to a wire rack to complete cooling.  Prepare glaze by sifting powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in milk and apple juice, and drizzle glaze over top of cooling pastries.  Each loaf yields about 15 slices.

*This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”