Super Simple Apple Tart

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We went to Ariel’s parents for dinner the other night, as we do at least once a week, which is really one of my favorite times of the week, and we usually make desert. This week I was short on time, but I still wanted to make something tasty, and it had to be quick and easy. So I thought a really simple apple tart made with frozen puff pastry would be just the ticket.

 

Ingredients:

5 apples, I used Granny Smiths

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

splash of bourbon (optional)

juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp apricot jam

 

Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. I used a shallow cast iron pan lined with parchment paper, but you can also use a cookie sheet lined with parchment. 

 

Peel and core the apples then slice them as thin as you can, if you have a mandolin, this is the time to use it. Toss the apples with the powdered sugar ( I used powdered because it has corn starch in it, and that will help keep the apples together once baked, but you can use regular sugar as well), lemon juice, salt, vanilla, and the bourbon. Let this marinate while you roll out the puff pastry.

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The puff pastry is usually workable after about 30 minutes outside the freezer, don’t let it get warm or you will have a nearly impossible time rolling it out, just let it defrost enough so you can unfold it. Roll it out on a floured surface, so it doesn’t stick, till you can cut out a 10-11 inch circle. Roll the edge back on itself to create a lip, this will hold in the juices from the apples. Move the pastry to your pan or cookie sheet.

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Drain the juice off the apples, too much juice will leak out and because this tart is baked at high temperatures, it will burn. Place the apples on the pastry. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and dot with the butter. 

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is brown and crisp. While the tart is baking, warm the apricot jam, and as soon as the tart comes out of the oven, brush the top with the jam to create a nice glaze. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Fermented Hot Sauce

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Peppers....I really love them. There are so many varieties of peppers out there with so many different flavors and levels of heat; some are floral and slightly hot, others have a nice green flavor with a good punch, and others will simply knock your socks off! Plus, they are all fun and easy to grow, but this post isn’t about the in’s and out’s of growing peppers, but the joy of fermenting them and turing them into one tasty hot sauce. 


This year we grew a few types of peppers; cayenne, jalapeno, padron, and habanero mainly. We got a lot of fruit form our plants and have been eating them all summer, as well as drying them in the attic and turing them into hot sauce. The other day we harvested the last of the peppers and ended up with quite a lot, so I decided to make two different versions of a fermented hot sauce. One is a roasted red pepper sauce and the other is a roasted green pepper sauce, both made with lots of garlic and fermented with just a bit of salt. My ratio of salt I use for ferments like this is 6 tablespoons of sea salt per 1/2 gallon of water. 

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I started by roasted the peppers till they were really dark, almost blackened. I did this in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes. After they were roasted, I let them cool and then added them to a clean 1/2 gallon mason jar along with 15 or so cloves of garlic and the brine that I had already made with sea slat and water. A light cover of cheese cloth held in place with a rubber band and onto the shelf they went.

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I let them go for two weeks, checking periodically for mold and to make sure the peppers were submerged in the brine. Once I was happy with the flavor, I pureed the peppers till smooth, put them in sanitized mason jars and processed them in a hot water bath. Now we have enough hot sauce to last till next years pepper harvest, and some to spare for friends and family.

Potato Soup

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We had a storm come through last night that brought along with it a lot of wind, rain and cooler temperatures, so we made a delicious potato soup for dinner. We wanted something warm, soothing and filling on such a cold and grey evening, and I thought I would share my recipe with you.


4 strips of your favorite bacon

1 red onion, small dice

5 cloves garlic, thin slice

salt, pepper, and chili flake

3 pounds potatoes, we used a waxy variety like yukon gold

2 cups milk

sour cream and chopped scallions to garnish

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Cut the bacon into small pieces and in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven, render over medium till brown, once brown, remove the bacon to a plate but leave all the bacon drippings. Add the onion to the pan along with a good pinch of salt, a few turns of your pepper-mill and a small pinch of chili flake and cook over medium heat till soft, being careful not to brown the onions. Add the garlic to the pan and cook a further 5 minutes. While the onions are cooking, wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into a 1 inch dice, add to the pan when the garlic has softened. Add the milk and an additional 2 cups water. Cover and cook till the potatoes are very tender. Either use a stick blender or a blender to puree the soup till smooth, if it seems really thick, add more milk or water till it is the consistency you desire. Check your seasoning and adjust if needed. Garnish with sliced scallions and the crispy bacon bits, if you you were able to keep your fingers off them while cooking....

Husk Tomatoes

Husk Tomato

Husk Tomato

One of the most interesting plants we grew this year was undoubtedly the husk tomato. Also know as a ground cherry or a cape gooseberry, husk tomatoes are very similar looking to tomatillos as they have, as the name suggest, a papery husk around them. But unlike tomatillos, they are small, orange in color, and are a very interesting combination of sweet and savory. The variety we planted is called "pineapple," yet I was having a hard time finding "pineapple" in the complex flavor of this quirky little fruit. 

This fruit is also super easy to grow, once they were well established, that is. We took great care to weed them and water them the first month or so, and after that, they took care of themselves. The little fruit start off green on the plant, and will slow turn orange, as will the husk, which will dry out, and once totally dry, the fruit will fall onto the ground and it is at this point that they are ready to eat. Early on in the season, so we would get a few hands full, which mostly ended up as snacks while we were doing other things, and would sometimes end up in a salad. 

It wasn't until late september that we really saw the plants produce, and produce they did! I believe we got about fifteen pounds. Yes, I know fifteen pounds doesn't sound like a lot, but when we are taking about a fruit the size of a penny that is encapsulated in a lacy, papery husk, fifteen pounds is a ton! 

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Thank goodness my mother was in town when we harvested all of these, otherwise I would still be husking them. I think she did about 10 pounds on her own! Thanks mom! 

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The next question was what I should do with all of these, and two things came to mind: to dry them in the oven and to make jam. So, without further ado, here are my recipes for oven dried husk tomatoes and my husk tomato jam.

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OVEN DRIED HUSK TOMATOES

1 pound Husk Tomatoes, husked and cleaned

A pinch each of salt, pepper and espelette (a dried chili that is sweet and a little spicy)

1 Tablespoon good olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Heat your oven to 175, or set it to "warm". Toss the husk tomatoes with the salt, pepper, espelette, thyme, and the olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a non stick cookie sheet and place in the oven for 8 hours, or until dried. Store in the fridge and use for snacks or in salads or wherever your imagination takes you. 



Husk Tomato Jam


4 pounds husk tomatoes

2 pounds sugar

1 package pectin

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup of water

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Put the husk tomatoes in a thick bottomed pot with the 1 cup of water and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, use a potato masher to smash the tomatoes to release all the juices, then bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes to cook off some of the water. Add all the sugar at once and return to a boil while stirring, once boiling add the pectin and the lemon juice, boil for a further 10 minutes. This jam won't set very strong with just one pack of pectin, but that's the way I like it. If you want it set more, add two packs pectin. This is great on toast, yoghurt, along side cheese, as a condiment to meats, you name it!