"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings

A couple of months back, I asked on my facebook page what people would like to see me blog about.  My good friend, Jessica, asked for apple dumplings.  I had never made them before or eaten one or even knew what one really was. I stuck that under the category "must try one day".   Yesterday was National Apple Dumpling Day and I decided it was time to celebrate.  I have about a third of a bushel of apples leftover from making apple sauce with some ladies from church.  Experimenting with a new apple recipe would be fun.  I googled apple dumplings and came across this recipe by Micki Wood at Allrecipes.com.  I also found out that the apple dumpling is VERY Pennsylvania Dutch, this was a have-to now.

The premise of an apple dumpling is simple.  An apple is wrapped with flaky pie crust and baked in a sauce with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Kinda like an apple pie in miniature, but without the hard edge of just crust.  And then, there is the sauce.

The original recipe called for 6 large granny smith apples.  I had "seconds" from Simmons Farm which meant the slightly ugly, deformed or small fruit that wouldn't make it to the market.
Here is the recipe:

  • 1 recipe pastry for double-crust pie
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored  (I used 8 small apples)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 There is A LOT of butter and A LOT of sugar in these, so I found myself cutting back on both.  Not so much that you could tell though.

First, I peeled and cored my apples.  I don't have an apple corer (shame!) so I peeled them, cut them in half and took out the core on each side.  Once the apple halves were placed back together, they stuck well.

I rolled out my pie crust and divided it into 8 rectangles.
I placed an apple in the center of one of the rectangles, pushed about 1/2 to 3/4 T. butter in the cored section.  Added brown sugar in the middle and around the bottom of the apple.  Then dusted it with ground cinnamon and fresh nutmeg.

The next step is bringing the dough around the whole apple, sealing it around until it kinda resembles a dough wrapped baseball.  Then I placed it in a 12 inch cast iron skillet.  The original recipe called to place these in a 9x13 baking dish, but I thought the cast iron skillet might work better.
I didn't use as much butter or brown sugar as the recipe indicated.  I had just under 4 T. butter leftover and about a couple of T. of brown sugar.  Time for the sauce!

Again, modifying the recipe like I wanted, I took 2 T. butter, 3/4 c. sugar and 1 1/2 c. water and brought them to a boil for 5 minutes and added 1 t. vanilla.  The sauce appeared very watery. I wondered if it would make the dough soggy.
This was poured over the dumplings.  I was careful not to dislodge any of the crust.  My 350 degree oven gladly accepted this apple-y offering.  They cooked while the rest of our dinner was prepared and consumed, about an hour.  The dumplings came out of the oven piping hot; the sauce had reduced to a wonderful syrup-like consistency.   They smelled so good, we couldn't wait to try them.
I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream that melted all over that dumpling.  The flavor was astounding.  Very much like apple pie, but better.  I was right to use the cast iron skillet, the bottoms were a deep golden brown.  The sauce added an element that was so complimentary to the apple and to my glee, did not make the dough soggy.  The crust was super flaky and the apple had completely baked down to a soft consistency.  What a treat!  It was a little more time consuming than making apple pie, but I think I will do this again.  (But on a weekend perhaps!)  Give it a try and see what YOU think.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Indian Spiced Glazed Carrots

I have a confession to make:  I don't follow recipes, usually.  Maybe if I am doing a recipe for the first time, I may follow it to a "T" but for the most part, recipes in my opinion are guidelines.  I can't tell you how many times I have followed a recipe against my better judgement and regretted ignoring my instincts. This is especially true when it comes to making veggies and side dishes.  Normally, I just "wing" it and make our family's side dishes right out of my head.  For the vast majority of the time, they are serviceable but nothing earth shattering.  One day, I was making glazed carrots and had a burst of inspiration.  In our fridge was some leftover chutney from some Indian fare we'd enjoyed. I also had a fair amount of garam masala in the cupboard as well. As Matt tried the carrots for the first time that night, I was anxious for his reaction. They were a hit!  The best thing is that this is SIMPLE and it has a bit of the exotic to it.  Here is my recipe for what I came up with that day...feel free to follow it perfectly or use it as a suggestion.

But "Wait!" you say, "What is garam masala? What is chutney??"  Garam masala is simply an Indian spice mix.  Much like curry powder, chili powder or cajun seasoning, it is a spice blend of several individual spices.  Garam masala is a blend of cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and other spices.  You can find it at the market or make it yourself.  I happened to buy mine.  It is at the center of many, many Indian dishes.  About chutneys....they are generally fruit, vinegar and sugar reduced down like a jam.  They normally have a savory element to them like onion or garlic.  There are lots out there and most have a bit of heat to them.  Even the mild one I used, was a bit spicy for the sensitive mouths of my children.   A mango chutney is what I used for this recipe, feel free to use whatever kind you want.

Indian Spiced Glazed Carrots
click here for a printable version
2 Tbsp. oil or butter
1 pound of carrots, sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. garam masala
3-4 Tbsp. mild chutney
Optional: raisins, black garlic , pistachios, crystallized ginger

Start out with a pound of carrots.  I prefer regular sized carrots that I peeled and sliced.  You can certainly use baby carrots, though they might take a little more time to cook.

Heat oil or butter, then add your carrots and onions. Cook until the onions have taken on some color and the carrots are beginning to soften.  8 to 12 minutes depending on how hot your stove top is.

Next, add the garlic and garam masala and cook 2 minutes.

Chutney addition is next,  add 3 to 4 Tbsp.

Cook for just a few more minutes to just make sure the chutney has come up to temperature.  Time to serve!

I added black garlic (YUM!) to this batch, but I have also used crystallized ginger.  Certainly you can add raisins or pistachios, they are often used in Indian cooking.  This a fabulous and QUICK side dish....good for you too!

Friday, September 7, 2012

What in the World is THAT??? Black Garlic

I first heard of black garlic while watching an episode of Chopped on the Food Network.  It intrigued me...I watched the contestants taste it and saw that most of them liked it.  Fast forward to a couple of months ago, I saw a package for black garlic at Giant Eagle Market District.  I picked up the package to check it out but put it down.  I just wasn't sure what to do with it.  I was at Market District again recently and found myself with the package in my hand again.  I threw caution to the wind and bought some.  The package states that black garlic is made by fermenting high quality garlic blubs for three weeks, aging it for another week and then it is sent out to for curious gastronomes to try.

Below is a picture of one of the bulbs freed from the package.  It is slightly browned compared to a regular bulb.  The outside is still papery, but a slight squeeze will reveal the garlic is much softer than a normal blub. It still smelled like garlic but with a sweet note to it.

Peeling the individual cloves was a bit tricky.  The garlic was a little sticky, it reminded me some of the inside of a gumdrop.  (Not the taste or smell though.)

Below is what the individual clove looked like after peeling it.  I'll admit, it isn't the prettiest thing at the ball, but looks are deceiving here.  I sliced it up and gave it a taste.  I was immediately a fan.  It was definitely garlicy but not overly powerful...the fermentation took the bite out and added a mild sweetness.  It reminded me of molasses, but with savory overtones as well....think chutney.  The texture was soft and smooth and definitely less pungent.
The night I used it for the first time, I sliced up a few cloves and put them on pizza.  My husband and I both agreed we'd do that again.  It was really a nice change of pace.  The black garlic package suggests not only trying this on pizza, but also BBQ, beef, potatoes, Asian food, etc.  Black garlic does differ from regular garlic since it must be stored in the fridge once it is opened.

If you find black garlic at your local grocery store, buy some and give it a whirl.  At two bulbs for $5, it isn't an expensive experiment.  I've started incorporating into my recipes......be looking for how I've used this new ingredient at The Teeny Kitchen That Could.