Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apples. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2017

Almost No Apple

(Otherwise known as Haddock in Cider)

All right, enough with the curry and the apples. Except, well, I’m trying to wean myself from all things apple, in case I ever run out, and this is sort of a step in that direction. No, there are no apples in this recipe, but there is hard cider. One step at a time.

Haddock seems to be plentiful this year for some reason, so we’ve been eating a lot of it—fresh and local, never frozen. So I had haddock on hand, and, wonder of wonders, I also had cider (left over from a recent visit from relatives). The rest was easy! this is a quick and simple recipe that combines some interesting flavors.

Oh, and it’s adapted from an Irish cookbook. I’m getting palate in training for my next trip to West Cork, just over a month away.


HADDOCK IN CIDER 

Ingredients


2 Tblsp flour
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 haddock (or similar firm white fish) fillets

2 Tblsp minced shallots
Sprigs of fresh thyme

4 slices lemon
1-1/4 cups (hard) cider
1 Tblsp unsalted butter



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an ovenproof baking dish.

In a shallow bowl (or pie pan), combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dip the fish fillets in the mix and place in the buttered dish.



Sprinkle with the shallots and thyme. 



Place the lemon slices on top, then pour the cider over the fish and dot with butter.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fillets), or until the fish is flaky.



Remove the pan from the oven and preheat the broiler. Remove the foil from the pan and place the dish under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the fish is lightly browned. 


Serve with rice or noodles.

Just to change things up a little, here's an early sketch of what became the cover for A Late Frost. It's fun to see the process!

A Late Frost will be released on November 7th.

Available now for preorder from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

And if you happen to be at the mystery conference Boucheron in Toronto, grab me and say hello!

www.sheilaconnolly.com

Friday, October 6, 2017

Chicken Apple Curry

I’m on a roll, now that I’ve discovered how simple it is to make curry powder. But my apples keep coming (I know, I shouldn’t complain), and I just made the lamb curry, so I thought, aha! Chicken Curry. But I needed a recipe that included apples, so I went a-hunting again.



My first discovery was that chicken curry recipes are much more diverse than lamb ones (I suppose a lot of people don’t like lamb, or can’t find it in their local stores). A quick scan of Epicurious produced Thai chicken, Malaysian chicken, Siamese chicken, Javanese chicken, and coconut chicken. Actually there are a couple of good Thai restaurants around where I live, and I do like Thai food, but I was trying to compare apples to . . . you know.

I did like the last curry mix, but it seemed almost timid. (I’m never been convinced that you can taste a quarter-teaspoon of any spice in a dish that serves four or six people—unless it’s cayenne pepper.) So I dialed up the ingredients just a bit, and since I figured that apples are just a bit sweet, I added cloves. Still, you’ll notice the similarities.


Curried Chicken with Apples

Ingredients:

Note: This recipe serves four, but as usual I cut the recipe in half for the two of us, and that's what you see in the pictures.) 

1 Tblsp butter

2 Tblsp neutral oil
4 boneless chicken breasts, skinned (I happen to like the skin, but I did bone the chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
curry powder:
1 Tblsp ground coriander
1 Tblsp ground cumin
1 Tblsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cloves 
salt and pepper


2 apples, diced (or one large apple: I used one Northern Spy from my tree, and it was a big one. Here’s a description of the variety:



Northern Spy apples are a very late season, large and stout apple with carmine red skin married with streaks of yellow and pale green. Its tender-crisp flesh is creamy yellow and juicy. It imparts a bit of a tartness in its bite, but more of a cider-quality flavor with hints of pear and sweetness. Originated in New York state around 1800.

It holds its shape well in cooking too.

1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups chicken stock

Instructions:

Melt the butter with the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.




Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and brown on both sides, then set aside.



Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and sautee until translucent (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the curry powder.




Add the apples and raisins to the skillet and toss to distribute the spices, then return the chicken to the skillet. Add enough chicken broth to cover.



Cover the skillet and simmer at low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Place the chicken on a platter and keep warm, and simmer the liquid/fruit mixture until the fruit it soft and the liquid thickens. Test for seasoning and add salt if needed.



Serve on white rice, with the sauce spooned over the dish.


Coming November 7th! Available for pre-order!

One reason that I decided to use the Northern Spy variety for this dish is because it is late to ripen and keeps well--so Meg could have brought her own Northern Spys to the WinterFare event in A Late Frost.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

www.sheilaconnolly.com

Friday, September 22, 2017

How We Cook and Apple Ginger Cake

So I was sitting at the kitchen table, trying to pry my eyes open and reading the paper, when I stumbled on a foodie article by Janelle Nanosin in the Boston Globe. Mainly it was about millennials and cookware, but she also commented on how millennials look at food and how they prepare it. What caught my eye was her statement, "The species [i.e., millennials] shop at Whole Foods and order meal kits from Blue Apron, scan Food52.com for recipe ideas, and then document dishes on social media." 

We here at MLK probably have well over a century of cooking experience among us. I shop at Whole Foods when I'm near one, but I've never ordered a meal kit from anywhere, nor had I ever heard of Food52.com. (Okay, we do all talk about food on social media.) I'm more likely to look for ideas on Epicurious, which in comparison to Food52 seems kind of stodgy.




So I took a peek at Food52. Oh my--they promise nearly 3,000 apple recipes. The recipes overall are a bit edgier than those on Epicurious, with a broader range of ingredients and more foreign dishes. They certainly look interesting, but . . .  What? Are we stuck in the past with our mothers' cookbooks (guilty as charged--I've been known to give you recipes here that are a couple of centuries old)? Not that I'm against trying new ingredients and ways to combine them, but there were a few examples of Food52 that kind of pushed my limits. Polenta with sausage and apples? Quinoa salad with hazelnuts, apples and cranberries? Definitely a lot of creativity here, but I'm not sure I want to make them (I might try one if I saw it on a restaurant menu, though).

But my apple crop is at its peak and we're eating as many as we can straight off the tree, so I found a cake recipe that combines apples and ginger (powdered and fresh), both favorites. And of course I changed a few things, starting with the apple varieties. The original recipe called for a hearty dose of dark rum, which I don't happen to have, so I swapped in Irish whiskey.

The result? The cake worked (came out of the pan easily), and has a nice balance of flavors. I loved the buried layer of apples which peek out. It's a little more complicated than some apple cake recipes, but it's a bit more interesting. 


Apple Ginger Cake

3 large firm apples (or four smaller ones)

4 Tblsp turbinado sugar*
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for 
     greasing the pan and sauteeing the apples

*A note about turbinado sugar: it’s raw sugar made from pure cane sugar extract. You can substitute demerara sugar, which is easier to find in markets–that's basically the same but with coarser but more uniform crystals.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (if you know yours leaks, wrap the bottom outside with foil).

Core and peel the apples and cut into thin slices. Melt about 2 Tblsp of butter in a saucepan and cook until it begins to brown. Add the apple slices to the pan and stir until all the slices are covered with butter. 




Sprinkle about 2 Tblsp of turbinado sugar over the apples and continue to saute, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.

1-1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tblsp lemon zest (1 medium lemon)
1 Tblsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 Tblsp molasses
3 Tblsp Irish whiskey
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain yoghurt

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.


Dry ingredients in my vintage sifter

In a stand mixer with the paddle blade, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the two eggs and beat. Then add the lemon zest, ground ginger, molasses, whiskey and vanilla (the mixture may look curdled, but don’t worry).




By hand, stir in the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring after each addition. When the batter is smooth, fold in the milk and the yoghurt and combine thoroughly.




Scrape half the batter into the buttered pan. Cover with the apple slices, then spread the rest of the batter over the top. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with the rest of the turbinado sugar.







Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a racks, and run a knife around the edge to loosen. The open the springform ring and remove the cake. Let it cool on the rack. 




You can serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you like.



Less than two months until the release of A Late Frost! (Yes, the cover image looks just like my apple crop--well, almost.)

Available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


www.sheilaconnolly.com




Friday, September 15, 2017

And More Apples

Yes, they keep coming. I suppose I could have planted just one perfect tree and admired it, but no, I had to try out multiple varieties, forgetting that they would all bear fruit at the same time, more or less. The squirrels are having a great time, and a few fallen apples have toothmarks on them that I don't recognize . . .

But as I said last week, since New England has always had a plentiful supply of apples, there is an equally plentiful supply of recipes. I even found one I hadn't seen before! This one's savory rather than sweet. Well, it's sort of sweet, since there's a dash of honey in it, but it pairs nicely with pork.

On the tree
Confession: I've forgotten the variety of the apples I used. I can name all the others in my small orchard, but not this one. But it's pretty, holds up well in cooking, and is remarkably resistant to both insects and squirrels. Oh, and it tastes good too.


Pork Chops with Apple Relish

Ingredients:



Relish: 

2 Tblsp butter

3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 Tblsp honey

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the apples, onion and vinegar and saute until lightly browned (about 4 minutes).



Add the cranberries and the honey and bring to a boil.



Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

Keep warm while you prepare the pork chops.


Pork Chops:

4 boneless or bone-in pork chops
Seasoning of your choice
(I recommend a little salt, because there is none in the relish.)

Season your pork chops to taste (if you want to add some kick, use a bit of chipotle powder.


Add a bit of oil to a skillet and heat. Sear the pork chops on both sides, then reduce the heat to let them cook through. Serve topped with the relish.




Coming November 7th!

A Late Frost (Orchard Mystery #11)

In the dead of winter…
  
The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town. She's a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the offseason: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts as well as entertainment.

Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies the evening after the event, in what looks like a case of food poisoning.  But after all the food served at the event has been tested, including Meg's apples, it becomes clear that there's a more sinister explanation to the older woman's sudden demise.


Available for pre-order from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

www.sheilaconnolly.com


Friday, September 8, 2017

Harvest Time Again

My apples are almost all ripe. I planted the first tree--a Northern Spy that I call Nathan, after Nathan Hale--in 2007, and seven trees after that. Two, sadly, have passed away, but the others have gone crazy this year, including Nathan. 



Last year I had a crop of two apples. Not two bushels or two baskets or even two bowls, but two. Period. There was a late frost last year (oh, look, a book plug!) which took out all the blossoms at once. This year has been a polar opposite, with enough sun and warmth and rain to produce a great crop. Even Nathan has cooperated, which is worth noting since the Northern Spy variety is usually late to bloom and late to ripen.

Hudson's Golden Gem -- small, crisp and sweet
(and a squirrel favorite!)

In past years I have featured a wide range of apple recipes on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and my creative colleagues here have added more. Sweet and savory. Slaws and slumps, buckles and grunts, crumbles and crisps--they've found their way here. So it's always a challenge to come up with a new one, but I keep collecting cookbooks. Apples have been around in this country from the beginning, so there are plenty of choices for recipes, both old and new.

This harvest offering comes from a recipe in the delightful Brass Sisters' Heirloom Cooking cookbook. Of course, the first problem I encountered with it was the choice of apples: the sisters recommended Granny Smiths. Now, there's nothing wrong with a Granny Smith apple. They're hardy, dependable, keep well, and are good in cakes and pies and such because they hold their shape in cooking. But they're boring. I don't have any in my mini-orchard, because I'm having fun trying old New England varieties, that you'll never see in a store, only at the rare farm stand on a country road in the fall. Many of them don't hold well, don't travel well, and the trees produce for a short time only. So to taste them you have to be in the right place at the right time.

Well, my mini-orchard is the right place, but I didn't have enough of any single variety that were ripe enough to use in this dish, so I used whatever looked good. It won't hurt your pie or cake. In fact, you kind of cover your bases by using multiple varieties, with different textures and flavors and varying amounts of sweetness. I have a couple of Northern Spies in this, and some Hudson's Golden Gems, and a few Cortlands, and what I think is a Newtown Pippin or two. They taste fine together.


Dorset Apple Cake (with a nod to the Brass Sisters)

Ingredients:

3-1/2 cups peeled, cored and 
Chopped apples

   diced apples (half-inch dice)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
grated zest of one lemon

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or more!)

1/2 cup ( 1 stick) cold butter, cut into dice

1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten

2 Tblsp Demerara (coarse) sugar


Instructions:

Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. 
Butter (or grease) a 9" square baking pan.

Toss the apples, sugar, raisins and lemon zest in a bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Work in the butter by hand.

Before

After

Mix the vanilla and the cream, then add it to the batter and mix (do not overmix!) Add the beaten eggs, half at a time. The mixture will be stiff.

Fold in the apple mixture with a large spatula.

Place the dough in the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the top.

Ready for the oven

Bake about 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leaving the cake in the pan, place on a rack to cool.

Baked



Best served warm or at room temperature, maybe with a dab of whipped cream.


By the way, I don't mind sharing my apple crop.




A Late Frost, coming in November from Berkley. 

www.sheilaconnolly.com



Friday, April 21, 2017

Patriots' Day Blondies

Because it was pouring buckets and spitting snow on our regular marketing day, we stayed inside. There’s always some sort of meal we can throw together from what’s in the fridge and pantry. But! there was nothing for dessert, a crisis of epic proportions. So I had to bake.

But I was kind of low on butter, and I didn’t feel like messing with anything fancy, so I went looking for a bar cookies. Lo and behold, the model for this recipe was the first page in the cookie section of my bursting binder of recipes—something I found online in 2008, but had never made.

One small problem: it called for dried cranberries, and I had none. But I did have dried blueberries and dried cherries, and then I realized that with the white chocolate chips (that I did have), I was making red, white and blue bars. I figured I could call it an homage to Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts.

Daniel Chester French's
Minuteman Statue, near
the bridge where the battle
took place
In case you are completely ignorant of Patriots’ Day (no surprise, because few states celebrate it), it commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775 (you could argue it started on the 18th, which is when Paul Revere’s famous ride took place, but the fighting started on the next day). Nowadays it’s held on the third Monday in April. (Yes, I had an ancestor or three there, and there was that other one, celebrated in family lore, who said “sorry, I need to get this field plowed,” and missed the whole thing.)


Patriots’ Day Bars

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped if needed
(blueberries didn’t, cherries did)


Dried blueberries

Dried cherries

One important note: dried fruit works better in a bar cookie or bread (like Irish soda bread, which is where I learned this trick) if you soak it in boiling water for a couple of minutes first. Make sure to drain the fruit well before adding to the batter.

6 oz white chocolate bits (or chunks, chopped)
Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan.

Melt the butter in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.



Transfer to a larger bowl (if you're using a stand mixer, the bowl for that will do) and let cool. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients, and add gradually to the butter mixture.



Stir in the fruit and the chocolate bits. (The batter will be stiff.)



Spread in the greased baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clear (do not overbake!). Cool in the pan on a rack.


And enjoy!



My next book will be A Late Frost, the 11th book in the Orchard Mystery series, coming from Berkley in November (yes, a long time to wait!). 


It takes place in February--you know, that month where everybody in Massachusetts is ready for spring but they know that won't happen for a couple of months yet. So the town of Granford decides to start a new tradition: the WinterFare. 

Which turns out really well--until one of the organizers dies.

I'll be telling you more about it over the next few months.

And be sure to enjoy my newly polished website!

www.sheilaconnolly.com