Tag Archives: sauce

Ten Apples Up On Top

25 Sep

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While the weather is just starting to cool down out here on the Florida/Georgia border (meaning, it’s 85 degrees with a breeze and a drizzle), it is strangely starting to feel like autumn. Every once in a while the trees rustle, and the abundance of overzealous salespeople pushing the newest crop of Halloween and Thanksgiving goods is enough to make one forget that is it is, still, technically September.

However, I must admit, I’m one of those people. Our house already has decorative pumpkins perched on the dining room table, cinnamon-scented candles burning with delight, and a giant trifle dish full of apples on the counter. My autumn inspiration started when Rob and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a small town in the mountains, with farm stands, roads that wind up pine-lined cliffs, and a fabulous food-filled downtown. Really, we ate our way through the city, and still barely made a dent. One thing we did learn when our mouths weren’t stuffed with trout, or barely, or tomato bisque (but they were maybe half-full with wine from tasting at the St. Paul’s winery – we are civilized after all), was that Asheville is the 7th largest producer of apples in our nation.

What a way to welcome fall – go to a place that is inundated with the first, and one of the most prominent, symbols of the season!

Of course, I shopped. We got apples, we ate apples, I got an apple yard flag, we tasted and bought apple cider; we were, for lack of a better word, tourists.

So back to reality (aka: Kindergarten), we are starting to learn about apples this week. The kids are so excited. Apples! Is there anything more delightful? Christmas? Nah. Valentines Day? Hardly. And don’t even get me started on birthdays. The day that we “experiment” and taste and graph different colored apples is more exciting than Ronald McDonald himself delivering free chicken nuggets. When we read Dr. Seuss’ Ten Apples Up on Top, they are simply engrossed – open mouths, wide-eyed, engrossed. To Kindergarteners, apples are the crème de la crème of the new season.

To be honest, they are to me as well. All over the internet apples are springing up with cider recipes, butter recipes, pies, cakes, and roasted with pork tenderloin. So I decided to add one of my own with a simple, fresh, early autumn salad featuring, you guessed it – celery. WHAT? Ok, ok, apples are in there too, but in a different way: as the dressing.

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Similar to the cauliflower dressing I made a while ago, using a fruit or a veg to amp of the faux-creaminess of a dressing is a super simple, and none-the-wiser, trick. In this case, I used a Jonathan apple (I left the skin on because I like the little specks of red throughout the dressing), cored it, and whirred it in a blender with ¼ c apple cider vinegar, 2 heaping tsp honey, juice of ½ a lemon, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and s&p. The outcome: a non-cream, creamy dressing sweet and tangy and perfect for your favorite fall foods. Here, I was a bit mundane, trying to jazz up the humble (yet deliciousCelery, Bacon, Cheddar, and Parsley Salad (use those ingredients, add as much or as little as you want).  But this dressing would be good over chicken, pork, even as a nice addition to cranberry and walnut-laced coleslaw. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Just like my students’ excitement.

Please try the dressing and let me know how you used it! Can’t wait to hear!

Enjoy!

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And… We’re Back

5 Jun

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There are many reasons I can provide for my lack of stories, pictures, recipes, and overall blog-o-sphere absence.  Like:

  • My students took over the classroom and forced 5 hours of homework a night on me for retaliation of years of self-diagnosed assignment abuse.
  • The computer broke only when I tried to blog.  It was the weirdest thing.
  • I got a new camera and the user instructions were in Swahili.
  • My left foot hurt.
  • Oregon, just simply, ran out of food!
  • We won the lottery and spent the last 6 months in Tuscan wine caves (it was like the beer cask scene from the movie, “Strange Brew”)
  • My dog ate my computer.

Can you tell I work in a middle school?

While I could keep going (and going) with absurd excuses, to be perfectly honest, time, life, and my pre-teen educational environment have taken over.

Every morning, the baby robin’s nest next door croons beautiful give-me-worms melodies – sounding more like a scene from “Cinderella” than real-life nature – making it a struggle to put on clothes and shoes and make-up and face the day.  Even though Rob and I are generally in bed by 9:00 at night, we would much rather spend the next 2 ½ days lying in bed, listening to the birds, and enjoying the last gorgeous Spring the state of Oregon has to offer us.

That is right, as the Coast Guard’s bell tolls, we are leaving this emerald wonderland and are bound for the converse of cold and dampness: Jacksonville, Florida.  Thus, our days have been filled with house hunting, house buying, paperwork, paperwork, decorating, wondering, movers, packers, plans, plans, plans, and inventory.  All on top of our current respective daily careers, of course.

Let’s take a jaunt back 3 years ago, shall we?  The belly-aching was insurmountable moving from sunny Southern California to cold, gray Oregon.  But like moss on the north side of a tree, Oregon and stuck to me and engulfed me with a soft, squidgy, comforting – albeit a bit damp – hug.  I love this place!  Now we have to leave.  Remember the berries?  Oh, so many berries?  And the fish – the cold Pacific water fish is unbelievable.  And the greens.  Grassy, earthy greens that even the freshest grocery store products can’t prove justice.  While I might not miss 30 straight days of rain in March, I will miss almost everything else.

But on to the next challenge: life in Florida.  Jacksonville, Florida, no less, close to the border of Georgia and true to traditional Southern roots.  Can this Southwest, SoCal, Pacific Northwest, Scandi of a girl be transformed into a Southern Belle, AND find roots in new agriculture?  Well, even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.

But until then, we are going through our pantry, freezer, and fridge and coming up with some great use-them-all-up dishes.  One of which was my enchilada green salad.

After a week (yes, a week) of this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebrations (seriously. good. food.), one is, shall I say (in a polite and correct oration), no longer craving the heavy, cheesy, spicy goodness that is Mexican food.  But what to do with all the extra homemade enchilada sauce?  Sweet, tangy, smoky and real, to sit in the back of the fridge it was not its fortunes fate.

So to alleviate the too-many-beans bloat, and keep the fresh enchilada sauce alive and well, the Enchilada Green Salad was born.  Light, green, crunchy, fresh, with the hint of smoke and creaminess, combined with a subtly onion brightness.  It was simply divine.

As life will continue to keep me crazy at the moment, I found it best to return to my blog roots, deeply seeded in food, fun, and stories.  But for now, please be patient with me, and revisit the last few years of Oregon recipes – as we have.  Wish us luck on the long-haul (with Siglet in tow!).  Jacksonville – and a soon-to-be sweet southern accent – or BUST!

Enchilada Sauce
(makes 1 pt)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 10 oz tomato paste
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Ancho chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp crushed, dried oregano
  • s&p

Over medium heat melt butter and add the flour to create a roux.  Mix well, stirring until the flour is golden brown and smells like popcorn.  Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano, and mix well.  Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking the whole time to ensure no lumps.  Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  The sauce should be smooth and thickly coat the back of a spoon.  Season to taste with s&p.

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Enchilada Green Salad
(serves 2)

  • 1 head chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped, or julienned, baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, packed and roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp Queso Fresco cheese
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • s&p
  • 2 tbsp Enchilada Sauce

In a large bowl, toss the romaine, spinach, cilantro, and green onions together, and set aside.  To make the dressing, mix 2 tbsp of the Enchilada Sauce with ½ tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.  The dressing should resemble the texture of a creamy dressing and have a silky feeling in the mouth.

Pour desired amount of dressing over salad, and top with a sprinkling of Queso Fresco, and a touch of s&p to taste.

Enjoy!

Bouquets of Freshly Sharpened Pencils, and Tomatoes

10 Sep

Yes, it’s that time again.  New clothes, three-ring binders, pencils, red pens, and those annoying snap-in three-hole punches that leave perfectly little round paper confetti all over the industrial carpeted floor.  The kids are back tin school, and my feet hurt.

It has been three years since I’ve been in a self-contained classroom, and while having worked as a single-subject teacher, a specialist, and then an instructional coach have all been incredible, and memorable, learning experiences, I’m so glad to be back with the kids.  Each day is different, and frankly, kids are cuter than adults (usually).

But getting back on the horse of the day-to-day-is-completely-different expectation has limited me on some of the things I have loved doing.  Such as waking up at 7:30 and watching the Today Show.  Taking long walks, catching up on food blogs, and reading cooking magazines.  And more than anything, spending most of the day in my perfectly L-shaped kitchen, making tomato jam, blueberry sauce, and tomato sandwiches.

In the August edition of Bon Appetit magazine, Adam Rapoport did a little blurb on Hellman’s Mayonnaise – it’s tang, it’s smoothness, simply it’s perfection.  Especially paired with a still-warm-from-the-sun tomato.  Finally, to read from someone who agrees with me about eating that mayo from the jar (well, I guess I learned from the best: Mom and Uncle Tom).  That little written oration, almost so easy to miss through the early pages of the mag, speaks passion and more than anything, a real summer taste.  Tomatoes, mayo, period.

Until now.  I have been playing with tomatoes for weeks now, and refuse to let one succumb to the overripe gods of the compost pile.  During the bitter, rainy winter/spring months, there’s sans a tomato in sight in our kitchen, so now is the time for indulgence.  I’ve even brought them to school and eaten them like an apple, brushing off my colleagues’ I’m-trying-not-to-look-at-you-but-it-seems-a-little-weird stares.  But the sauce I made, not originally intended for tomatoes, has made the lycopene-laced fruit speak loudly and with force: Peach and Fig Butter.  It’s sweet, tangy, subtle, and giving tomatoes a run for their money.

A friend’s mom was visiting from NorCal (where almost every fruit, veg, and leafy green has the ability to flourish wildly), and brought some Adriatic Figs to share.  These figs were so ripe they were about to pop – their bright green skin thin and stretched, like a, well, tomato ready to pop.  Adriatic figs are milder and less holiday tasting than the common black Mission Fig, and pair well with many summer flavors.  Two of my favorites being tomatoes and peaches (which I mix often), I imagined the perfect combination of a thick, smooth fruit butter to spread on tomatoes speckled with a creamy Gorgonzola.  Paired with a crisp Oregon Pinot Gris, can’t you just taste it now?

It was fabulous.  I took a shortcut with the butter by immersion blending the fruit after it had been simmering for a bit (rather than starting with a puree), shortening the thickening process drastically.  Despite the name, fruit butters don’t actually contain butter, but get their name from the thick, smooth quality the long simmering process renders.  Thick this was, and tasty.  The figs cut the sweetness from the peaches, and the subtle “warming” spices rounded out the fullness of the flavors.  Slathered on a tomato, our taste buds sung.

I teach 6th graders this year.  They are a lot different from the 4th, or even 8th graders I’ve grown accustom to teaching.  They, unlike my 4th and 8th graders, don’t care so much about my cooking stories.  They think talking about Fig and Peach Butter on a tomato is weird.  Maybe it is.  Not much is cool, unless you have a knack for really dry, overly intended sarcasm, which I, unfortunately, remember exuding all too well.  Call it the hormones, or maybe just the “transition year,” but I’m hoping they will come around to understanding the idea of having a passion for something as much as they understand an author’s voice in writing, or variables in algebra.  Having a passion is cool.  It made Adam Rapoport write about mayo.  It made me pair unlikely ingredients.  Hopefully, they will realize the coolness, too.

Fig & Peach Butter (makes 1 pint)

  •  5 large Adriactic figs, very ripe, diced
  • 2 large yellow peaches, peeled and diced
  • ¼ + 1/8 c organic sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¾ c water

Heat all ingredients in a pot over med-high heat until bubbly and liquidy. Add the ¾ c water, and blend well using an immersion blender or spoon into a stand blender.  Cook over low heat until very thick (when running a spoon through the butter, it should leave a trail).  Note: the butter will sputter when cooking; use a deep pot unless you want your stovetop to get covered in random, sticky, Jackson Pollock looking splotches. 

Let cool (it will thicken even more), and slather over tomatoes, toast, dollop on oatmeal, or whatever your heart desires.  Enjoy! 

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