Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Redfield Farm Apple Butter

I just finished reading Redfield Farm, a novel about a Quaker woman and the underground railroad, written by my mother, Judith Redline Coopey.
(Incidentally, it's wonderful!) I don't know whether I was influenced by a passage in the book or by the crispness of the autumn air outside my window but I decided I wanted to make apple butter. 

Years ago my mother gave me an ancient, crumbling, Quaker cookbook from the 1800's that belonged to her mother. It only seemed fitting to consult it for a recipe for apple butter. I adapted this recipe from that book but streamlined it by incorporating a slow cooker. It's so simple and rustic, perfect for the new crop of fall apples in the markets. And, the smell of baked, tart apples and spices will fill your kitchen with autumn warmth. 

So, in honor of Ann Redfield the heroine of Redfield Farm,
and my mother, I present
Redfield Farm Apple Butter!

Redfield Farm Apple Butter
Makes 2 pints

2 pounds of Granny Smith Apples, washed, quartered and cored
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 inch cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
4 whole allspice

In a large saucepan, combine the apples and water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the apples have softened to the consistency of applesauce.

Pass the apples through a sieve or food mill.  Stir in the sugar and spices and pour the apple puree into a slow cooker. Set the temperature on low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 hours.

At this point you can can the hot apple butter in Ball jars, or simply cool the mixture and store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. 

Try it on a grilled cheese sandwich with sharp cheddar, alongside a pork roast, or smeared on toast!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Potato Pointers - Waxy vs. Starchy

Although you can use any potato you choose, you will get the best results following the suggestions below:
  • Use starchy potatoes like Russet/Idaho or Purple Potatoes for mashed, baked, roasted, and deep-fried potato recipes.
  • Use waxy potatoes like White Rose, Yukon Gold and Red Potatoes for sautéed/pan-fried, roasted, boiled, and potato salad recipes. If you use waxy potatoes for mashed potatoes, don't over mash them or they will get gummy.

Making your own French fries is simple and you will be giving your family a healthier alternative to commercial fries loaded with modified food starches and trans fats.

French Fries with Truffle Salt & Parmesan

4 large russet or other starchy potatoes, peeled or unpeeled
and cut into 3/8 by 3/8-inch thick sticks
2 quarts canola oil
Truffle salt or garlic salt
2 tbsp parmesan cheese

Heat oil over medium-low heat in a deep heavy pot* with a candy or deep-frying thermometer, or in an electric deep fryer, until the thermometer registers 275 degrees F.

Add the fries, in small batches, to the hot oil. Fry/blanch, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft and limp and begin to turn a pale blond color, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or fry basket, carefully remove fries from the oil. Spread the fries out on a cookie sheet in a single layer so they don't stick to one another.

When ready to serve the French fries, reheat the oil to 375 degrees F. Transfer the blanched potatoes to the hot oil and fry again, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper lined platter and sprinkle with Truffle Salt and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*If you are frying in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, be sure that you have at least 3 to 5 inches of space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan so that the oil doesn't overflow when frying.

Note: Truffle salt is available at gourmet markets and specialty shops. If you don't find it in your neighborhood try substituting garlic salt instead.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blackberry Season is Here!

It's blackberry season! Chef Erin shares tips for storing fresh blackberries as well as a couple of her favorite recipes.

Savory Blackberry Sauce
for Salmon, Duck or Pork 
Serves 4

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp unsalted butter, cold
1/4 tsp red wine vinegar

Simmer the blackberries, sugar and water in a saucepan until the berries are soft and starting to fall apart (about 5 minutes).Take off the burner and put the blackberries into a sieve. Use a wooden spoon or rubber scraper to push the berries through until you have extracted all the liquid. Discard the residue.

Put the liquid back into the saucepan and bring to heat. Whisk in the lemon juice, cornstarch or arrowroot, and white pepper. Heat until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from heat and whisk in butter and a dash of red wine vinegar. Add a little salt, if desired.

Spoon over roasted or grilled salmon and it's also wonderful on duck breast or pork tenderloin.

Blackberry Brandy

2 cups fresh, crushed blackberries
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups brandy, divided

Add sugar to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Gently crush the blackberries. Using your hands is fine! Pour the sugar water over the crushed berries.

Pour the mixture into a glass jar, add 1 cup brandy and seal the jar and shake gently. Place the jar in a cool, dark cupboard for 1 week. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Add the second cup or brandy.

Sip on it's own or blend with vanilla ice cream for a decadent smoothie!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lavender & Anise Seed Crusted Rack of Lamb with Goat Cheese Custards

Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most unexpected moments. That's what happened when I was trying to develop a recipe for a Grenache for a Buscador Wine. I had been experimenting with berry infused sauces and spicy dishes but hadn't happened upon that "ah ha" moment I was looking for. With just a tiny bit of wine in the bottle and the afternoon drawing to a close, I decided to call it a day. I went to my refrigerator and pulled out a tiny wedge of Rollingstone Creamery's Anise and Lavender Goat Cheese, smeared it on a cracker, took a sip of the remaining wine and - Blamo! - discovered my muse.

The next day I created this Lavender & Anise Seed Crusted Rack of Lamb with a Goat Cheese Custard. The lavender highlighted the floral qualities in the wine while the acidity of the goat cheese balanced the dryness and tannins of the wine.

Grenache on it's own is not a common wine. It's typically used in Rhone-style blends. If you are interested in learning more about Grenache, check out my blog in the wine section of the SheSpeaks Special Edition or The Wine Pairing Chef blog.

As we creep toward Fall, I envision a dinner table with candles, a cozy autumn meal. I find myself craving roast meats and creamier side dishes. This recipe fits the bill. Trying pairing it with a Grenache or another Rhone-style dry red wine.

Lavender & Anise Seed Crusted Rack of Lamb
with Goat Cheese Custard

Lavender & Anise Seed Rack of Lamb with Goat Cheese Custards
Serves 4

4 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
2 teaspoons anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 1 1/4 -1 1/2 pound racks of lamb, trimmed

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Smear paste over meat portion of lamb.

Place lamb, paste side up, in small roasting pan or baking sheet. Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into lamb registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Transfer racks to a cutting board, lightly tent with aluminum foil and let rest 10 minutes.

Cut lamb between bones into chops and serve with Goat Cheese Custards (recipe below).

Goat Cheese Custards

3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3.5 ounces goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoons white pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Add milk, cream, salt, pepper and garlic powder to a heavy sauce pan. Crumble in goat cheese. Bring mixture to just a boil, stirring constantly. The goat cheese should be melted and smooth. Remove pan from heat.

Whisk the eggs and egg yolk in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Slowly whisk in hot milk until well combined. Strain mixture into a pitcher and then divide among 4 ramekins.

Place ramekins into a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake custards for 25 minutes until set. (To confirm, insert a sharp knife into the center of one custard. If the knife comes out clean, the custard is cooked.) Remove from roasting pan and let cool while roasting the racks of lamb.

To turn out, run a sharp knife around the edge of the ramekin to loosen the custard. Gently invert the ramekin onto the serving plate. Custard should slide out, if not, lift one edge and use a knife to coax the custard loose.