Margaux says…
Happy Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately, I don’t get to host Thanksgiving dinner yet. I suppose I could, but I don’t know that anyone would come besides my husband and son. And that would be a lot of food for the three of us. So until I get the pleasure, which isn’t going to be for years, I will make something ridiculously rich for breakfast (setting us up for a day of rich food, of course!).

This year I made a coffee cake from the November Bon Appetit. I heeded their advice and made it the night before, and I’m so glad I did! Not only was it ready to eat first thing in the morning, but the flavors had melded together into perfection overnight (full confession, we had some tastes last night before bed). This cake is absolutely delicious, and it will feed a crowd! I highly recommend trying it this holiday season for your overnight guests.

We had a hard time getting it out of the pan, and ended up breaking it in half, actually. It’s really hard to get it off the bottom and center tube of the pan. I was thinking that next time I may just leave it on the tube, which won’t make for a pretty presentation, but we won’t have a broken cake. My mom suggested cutting out a cardboard round that is the exact same size as the cake (or maybe an inch wider all around), sliding it onto the center tube, and inverting the cake onto it. I think that will probably work…you’ll just have to have someone help by holding the sides in place as you flip it over. If anyone tries this, let me know how it works!

Brown Butter, Ginger, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake
from Bon Appetit, November 2011 issue

Brown Butter

2 cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (possibly more)

Topping

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Cake

Unsalted butter (for pan)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (or I used sliced)

Grease a nonstick 10″ tube pan with removable bottom with butter. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Brown Butter

Simmer 2 cups plus 2 tbsp butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned bits form, about 6-8 minutes. Pour into a 2-cup heatproof liquid measuring cup. If needed, add more butter to measure 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (added butter will melt).

Topping

Whisk flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown butter (reserve remaining butter for cake). Stir until moist clumps form. Stir in ginger. Set aside.

Cake

Butter pan generously. Whisk all-purpose flour and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup browned butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and thick, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just to blend.
Spoon half of cake batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Scatter 1 cup of topping over. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over, smooth. Add almonds to remaining topping; squeeze to form 1/2″ clumps and scatter evenly over batter in pan.
Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove pan sides; let cool completely. Store at room temperature in airtight container.

Everything Muffins

November 21, 2011

Margaux says…

I made banana bread last week, and my husband said, “you should make this all the time, so we always have it on hand!”  He likes to grab a piece on his way out the door for breakfast.  Well, I can’t make the same thing over and over again, it’s just not in my nature.  So this has started me on a new trend of trying out breakfast breads, starting with this one.

(I get a LOT of help in the kitchen these days!)

This one is more of a cupcake, really, though…it would be great with cream cheese frosting!  I did cut back on the sugar a little bit from the original recipe, so it wasn’t TOO bad.  Definitely better than doughnuts!  And the are delicious!  (But I do recommend doing these as cupcakes with cream cheese frosting…REALLY delicious!!!  They have so much carrot in them, it’s sort of like a fancy carrot cake.)

Everything Muffins

2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup coconut (I used sweetened because it was what I had on hand, but unsweetened would probably be better)
1/2 cup raisins (I used the golden berry blend from Trader Joe’s)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 18 regular size muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until well blended. Add brown sugar and beat with whisk until well blended, about one minute. Add flour mixture and mix just until completely blended. Stir in carrots, apples, coconut, raisins and nuts.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and smooth tops. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, remove from pan. Cool completely before frosting, if desired.

Crunchy Granola

September 4, 2011

Margaux says…

My Aunt Judy makes the most simple and amazing granola ever.  It’s the same recipe she’s been using since the 70’s, and she always has it on hand at her house.  She was my birth doula and came to stay with us for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and the whole time she was with us (which ended up being about a month) she kept our supply stocked. It was so great to have every morning, with fresh fruit and yogurt!  It’s gotten so I can’t even eat store-bought granola anymore, I’ve become such a granola snob.  I try to keep it up, and make a batch as often as possible, but especially in the summer when fruit is in season and tastes oh-so-yummy with this salty sweet crunchy goodness.

Crunchy Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut you prefer)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional…I do this in the winter when I eat it with milk instead of fresh fruit and yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tbsp real maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, minus the salt. Mix together honey, water, oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over cereal and mix well. Bake in large jellyroll pan at 300 F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then pour into an airtight container.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

If you read our blog, you know how much we love cooked greens!  Even as a greens enthusiast, when I saw this post on a favorite blog, Green Your Plate, I thought it sounded like an odd use for cooked greens (even if it was adapted from a Rick Bayless cookbook)!  However, the recipe showed up on the very day that my neighbor gave me a big bunch of young kale.  Plus I had a bag of turnip greens leftover from a recent batch of Turnip Risotto and a pretty large piece of  leftover cooked salmon in the fridge.  Since I had everything on hand except the tortillas, I felt the cosmos was conspiring for me to make these!   Randy and I both agreed that we would make this recipe again . . .  maybe often.  These tacos are a great weeknight meal option, taking less than 30 minutes to prepare.  You’ll see in the notes on the ingredients that there’s lots of flexibility in types of greens, tortillas and salsas, so you can utilize what’s available at the market and on hand in your pantry.  Randy had a Pilsner beer and I had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – both good matches.

If you like greens, I recommend browsing through Green Your Plate  – Amy has several recent posts about the wonderful greens that are available at our farmer’s markets throughout the season, along with a recap of a demo she did at our main farmer’s market on cooking with greens.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 bunches greens (spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens or collards)

2 medium onions, thickly sliced in half moons

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

Water, as needed, up to 1/2 cup

Zest of one lemon

1 cup crumbled feta or queso fresco

Cooked salmon, chicken, Spanish chorizo or andouille sausage, optional

6 medium flour  or 10 corn tortillas

Salsa for passing

NOTES ON THE INGREDIENTS: 

Greens – If using tender or young greens, leave them whole.  If using tougher or more mature greens, remove the center ribs and chop into 2-inch pieces.  Swiss chard stems can be cut into 1/2-inch slices and sauteed along with the onions.  Tender greens will cook in 1-2 minutes and likely not require water other than that left on the greens from washing.  Tougher greens will take longer – up to 10 minutes for mature collards – and will need more water.

Tortillas – I recommend flour tortillas for bitter greens (kale, turnips, collards) and corn tortillas for sweeter greens (spinach, beet tops, chard).

Optional Fish/Meat – The salmon was delicious with the bitter greens and I think the chorizo or andouille would work with them also.

Salsa – I recommend smokey chipotle salsa for the best match for bitter greens.  I would use a lighter, fresher salsa for sweet tender greens – maybe even a pico de gallo.

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, but are still fairly firm.  Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the greens a little at a time and stir to wilt.  Add the water if using tougher greens – I used about 1/3 cup for the kale and turnip green combo.  Turn the heat down to medium and cover to cook till tender, but not mushy.  This took about 6 minutes for the kale/turnip greens.  Remove the lid and turn up the heat to cook off the liquid.  Add the lemon zest and remove the pan from the heat.

In the meantime, warm the tortillas in foil in the oven.  To assemble the tacos, place a little of the greens/onions mixture on a tortilla.  Top with the cheese and fish or meat, if using.  Pass the salsa.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam

May 27, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . .

It’s rhubarb season and time to get busy!  This recipe comes via my friend, Sue, who got it from her cousin, Madelyn, also a friend.  I’ve never made rhubarb jam or sauce, preferring to go straight to desserts.  I’m glad I made it and am on my second batch – it’s fun to give to friends.   From search results, I saw several recipes that used fresh ginger and think I will try that next.  I also learned this recipe was published in the Washington Post in May of 2007, which acknowledged it came from Bon Appetit.  The jam can be stored in the refrigerator without having to go through a canning process.

8 cups chopped rhubarb (roughly 2 lbs.)

2-2 1/2 cups sugar (I used 2)

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely diced

zest of 1 lemon

Place all ingredients in a large pan or Dutch oven.  Stir to combine and then place over medium heat, stirring constantly (so it won’t burn) until the sugar melts.  This takes 10 minutes or so and requires some muscle – I thought it would never melt!


Once the sugar is melted, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, at a good bubble until thickened.

The recipe said it could take from 20-40 minutes to get to the desired thickness.  I cooked both batches for 20-25 minutes and was pleased with the results.  I think there’s a caution about cooking it down too much because it thickens somewhat after taking it off the heat.  Cool to room temperature, although if you’ve got some vanilla ice cream on hand, scoop some out and put the jam on it while still warm!

Once cooled, place in jelly jars.  Refrigerate. Alternatively you can seal the jars by placing the jam in the jars while hot. Place the lid on the jar and turn upside down to create a vacuum.  After 15-30 minutes, turn the jars upright to seal the lid.  Refrigerate after opening. The quantities in this recipe made a little under 5 cups of finished product.  I’ve had it on said ice cream and on toast, but I bet it would be good mixed with plain yogurt or served on pound cake.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This recipe showed up in my Facebook feed from Food & Wine recently as part of a Moroccan menu.  It appealed to me for many reasons – I love Moroccan food, it has fruit and nuts in it, and it stated that it’s not too sweet.  It did not disappoint!  The recipe suggested to serve these with whipped cream, but we thought they were great without.  After seeing Margaux’s comments about the honey whipped cream, we’ll try them that way next time. As with many sweets, this was great in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea.  Moroccan mint tea would make it really authentic.

Margaux says…

I made these for a Sunday dinner dessert, and they were delicious!  I served them topped with honey-whipped cream, and drizzled with honey, to give them a little extra sweetness.  But I think that they are much better suited to brunch or breakfast.  I can’t wait to eat the one we have left over for breakfast with a cup of coffee!!  I think they could also be baked in a muffin pan, if you don’t have ramekins.  However, I wouldn’t use paper muffin cups for fear that a lot of cake would be left behind on the paper when unwrapping them.  Just do the same process of buttering and sugaring the muffin tin, and it should work just fine.  Mine took less than the 30 minutes to bake…I checked at 25 minutes and they were done.  I possibly could have taken them out at 23 or 24 minutes even.

To make the honey whipped cream, just whip 1 cup of heavy cream with an electric mixer on high speed, adding honey as you’re beating, to your desired sweetness.  I added about 1 tablespoon of honey, but you may want it to be sweeter, especially if you’re serving the cakes for dessert.

Ingredients

  • Butter and granulated sugar, for coating
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and sugar six 1-cup ramekins. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the confectioners’ sugar until dissolved. Stir in the dates, walnuts and oil, then stir in the dry ingredients.  I’m including a photo of what the “batter” looks like at this stage – don’t be daunted by how stiff it is.

In a large stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites to firm peaks. Stir one-third of the whites into the batter to loosen it, then fold in another third of the whites until incorporated.  This takes some muscle!! Lastly, gently fold in the remaining whites until just a few white streaks remain. Neatly spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins.

Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides to loosen the cakes and unmold them onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Panettone Bread Pudding

December 11, 2010

Margaux says…

I have a new obsession: panettone.  I was watching the Food Network because there was nothing else on (I’d already seen every cop show that was on, and had already caught up on all my shows on On-Demand).  So I happened to catch a Barefoot Contessa episode about bread.  Thrilling, right?  That’s what I thought, until she got to the bread pudding recipe.  The panettone, the eggs, and the half-and-half had me on the edge of my seat (well, I would have been had my 2-year-old son not been sleeping on me), and I could practically smell it baking.  I’ve actually never had panettone…I always just passed over it during the holiday season when it pops up at the grocery store because I assumed it was just an Italian fruit cake, which I really don’t like.  Well, thanks Ina, for broadening my horizons!  I seriously couldn’t stop popping pieces in my mouth while I was slicing it for the pudding.  I think I’m going to buy a loaf every week!  This stuff is like candy-bread!  Just think of the possibilities!  Panettone French toast!  Panettone toast and butter!  Panettone plain, with tea, for a mid-day snack!  Panettone and almond butter sandwich!  I’m so excited about this stuff.


This recipe is great for a crowd…luckily my babysitter has a huge family and I was able to send a bunch home with her this morning.  It’s serious comfort food, and I recommend serving it after a nice, comfort-food like dinner.  It would also be great served at a brunch.  The almond topping makes it very elegant, and I could see it at a post-wedding weekend brunch for the family, or for a birthday brunch.

I didn’t trim the crust from the panettone because there wasn’t really any super dark parts, and she didn’t trim it on the show…she actually said you don’t need to bother with that.  Also, I didn’t have extra-large eggs on hand, so I used one more whole egg and one more egg yolk, and it turned out perfectly!  I was a little hesitant about the 2 teaspoons of almond extract…that’s a lot of almond…but went for it anyway, and it was just right.  Tastes great served warm with vanilla ice cream!!

Panettone Bread Pudding
from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa show, Bread Winner episode 2008

1 Italian panettone, about 1.2 pounds
Unsalted butter, for greasing the dish
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Trim the dark brown outer crust from the panettone. Cut the rest of the loaf in 1-inch cubes and place on a sheet pan in a single layer. Toast the panettone for 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

Grease a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish with the butter. Place the panettone cubes in the baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, vanilla and almond extracts and sugar. Pour this custard mixture over the panettone. Set aside for 10 minutes so the bread soaks up the custard. Scatter the sliced almonds over the top of the pudding.

Place the baking dish into a larger pan and add very hot tap water to the larger pan until it’s halfway up the side of the baking dish. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes, until the custard is set and the top of the pudding is light golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Harvey Cornbread

November 21, 2010

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Aunt Suzy says . . .

I recently posted a recipe for Southern Style Greens and stated that serving them with cornbread was a must.  There are many approaches to making cornbread – some are lighter/cake-like, some are denser/chewier and some come right out of a box!  I love this old-fashioned approach that doesn’t use wheat flour or sugar and has a pure corn taste, crunchy outside and chewy texture.  This recipe is from the 1800’s and is an old family recipe my guy Randy learned from his grandmother.  So I’ve asked him tell the story of this cornbread and share the recipe.  I hope you try it!

Guest Chef Randy Tatum says . . .

This was a weekly staple at Sunday fried chicken dinners in my family’s Texas home. My grandmother, born in 1888, saw to its preparation well into her 80’s. Some of the ingredients were measured, but the liquid amount was based on her judgment of the “look” of the batter. The term she used in teaching me the recipe was “sort of blobby.” I went through many quarts of buttermilk as I tried to master this seemingly simple recipe. I wanted to achieve that wonderfully browned crust with an almost creamy but firm inside as she did effortlessly every time. When I consistently hit on the right combination of two-and-a-quarter cups, I felt I had joined the family.
This is an old recipe that came with my mother’s family as they migrated from Georgia to Texas before the Civil War. Because cornbread is such a staple of southern cooking and has a long history in the South, the genealogists in our family used this recipe to trace the origins of the Harvey family. It was known they started out from Georgia but exactly which part was unknown. This recipe, because of its simplicity, pointed to southern Georgia. Recipes containing flour indicated the northern part of the state. Those with added sugar meant they would have come from closer to or in Tennessee where these ingredients were more available and tastes more refined. I am proud to have such a tangible link to my ancestors.

Ingredients

2 cups yellow cornmeal – we use 1 cup fine grind and 1 cup coarse grind
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or solid coconut oil

Method

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Stir dry ingredients together.  Using an 8″ cast iron skillet, melt shortening over medium heat and leave on the burner.  Meanwhile, beat buttermilk and egg together and then add to dry ingredients and blend.  The mixture should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter. It is okay if it has a few lumps – be careful not to over-blend.  Aunt Suzy editorial comment: I do not think stirring with a knife would be 4H approved :-).  But Randy says this is the best way to blend the wet into the dry ingredients.


When the shortening just begins to smoke, pour into batter and stir to blend. (There should be some shortening left in the skillet making it easier to remove the cornbread once it has come from the oven.)  Pour this mixture back into the heated skillet and immediately place into oven.

Bake for 25 minutes and check as you would for a cake – the top should be nicely browned and a knife inserted should come out clean. Remove skillet from oven and let sit for five minutes before removing cornbread.


Run a knife around the edge, flip out and let rest on a wire rack for five to ten minutes before cutting into wedges.  Note the dark crust-like bottom of this cornbread, which is very different from cornbread made in a cake-pan.  Don’t be alarmed –  this is part of the deliciousness!

Best if served right away. Butter is optional.

Best Ever Banana Bread

October 17, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love banana bread and have tried many recipes over the years.  This one wins in my book!   The buttermilk creates a slight tanginess and the currants and pecans are a great match.  It’s easy, using the standard butter cake method, and takes minimal time to put together.   Enjoy plain or toasted.  My Mom/aka Granny would recommend slathering it with butter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8×4 or 9×5 bread pan (I always use 9×5) or 2 mini-loaf pans.

INGREDIENTS

 1 ¾ cups sifted all purpose flour                

1 teaspoon baking soda                               

1 teaspoon salt                                             

 1 stick butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar                               

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla, optional

 ¼ cup buttermilk 

1 cup mashed extra-ripe bananas (about 3)         

½ cup dried currants

½ cup chopped pecans  

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:    The original recipe called for walnuts and raisins, and I’ve used  dried cranberries/walnuts and chocolate chips/pecans.  All good, but the currants/pecans combo is my favorite.  If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can use sour cream, plain yogurt or milk with 1/2 tsp white vinegar.   Don’t worry if your mashed bananas don’t add up to 1 cup.  It’s moister and more banana-y with a full cup, but I’ve used anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup mashed bananas depending on how many overripe ones I have on hand.

INSTRUCTIONS

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.   Cream the butter, sugar and eggs in that order and beat on high speed till fluffy.  Add the vanilla if you are using. 

Add ½ of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat till blended.  Add the buttermilk and blend. 

Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low just till blended.  Fold in the bananas, currants and pecans. 

Turn the batter into the buttered pan or pans. 

Bake at 350 for 1 hour – check after 50 minutes if using the 9×5 pan.  Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack covered with paper towel.  Cool before serving, although it’s pretty good slightly warm.  You don’t want it too warm or it will fall apart when you attempt to slice it.

Applesauce

October 15, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

Fall is my very favorite season and one of the things that contributes is the abundance of  local apples!  I have fond memories of my Mom, Barb,  making homemade applesauce and homemade bread.  This was especially delightful if it was around as an after school treat.  I remember that she would usually get a bushel of apples – Jonathan only!! – and make pies and applesauce.  She would make sure that there was enough applesauce to freeze so we could enjoy it through the early winter.  I have carried on this tradition, making varying amounts in the fall and freezing it.  No matter how much I make, it seems it never lasts into the new year.

Margaux says . . .

Granny (“Mom” to Aunt Suzy) was still making applesauce when I was growing up, and she always had applesauce on toast for her 10:00 a.m. snack…every single day, while doing the crossword puzzle.  When I was younger, she had a parakeet named Carla, who would sit on a napkin holder at the table with her waiting for her little bites of toast.  There were always dogs underfoot (Teesa and Sissy when I was really little, then Pepper later, now Rex) who got the last bite (or bites).

I’ve carried on the tradition as well, making applesauce pretty much every fall (and more…in the off-season I use Golden Delicious, and add cinnamon for more flavor).  Applesauce has been a staple for Desi since he first started eating solid food…I highly recommend it for babies!  We eat it on toast for breakfast and snacks all the time.  You can also do pear sauce the same way, which is another of Desi’s favorites!  I make it the same way as Aunt Suzy, and usually use Jonathan or Golden Delicious. 

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I am a purist when it comes to applesauce.  I like the fresh taste of apples, so I don’t add cinnamon or other spices.  I also am a believer in Jonathan apples for sauce and pies, although they aren’t readily available where I live now.  I got some on a recent trip to Central Illinois, where I’m from.  A local Minnesota grower talked me into a variety called Dutchess last year and it made really good sauce.  Here’s a handy resource for choosing apple varieties for different uses.  I also like chunky applesauce rather than smooth, so I take the time to peel, core and quarter the apples before cooking.  This takes a lot more time than the alternative of quartering, cooking with skins and cores and then pressing through an apple mill.  You can find complete instructions for making applesauce using a mill on this post on My Sister’s Kitchen, where I got this photo of an apple mill.  I’m curious – how do you like to make sauce?

Barb’s Applesauce

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  I now use an OXO peeler, even though for years I used a paring knife having learned this method from my Mom.  The peeler is so much easier on the hands and does as good a job as a knife!  (who would have thought? :-))

Add the apples to a large pot – I use either a 5 or 6 quart pot.  As you are peeling and adding the apples, squeeze a little lemon juice over them every once-in-a-while to keep them from getting too brown.  Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot about 1/2 inch.  There is nothing worse than watery applesauce, and if this is not enough water, you can always add later.  Today, I used 16 cups of quartered apples and 2/3 cup of water, which made 2 quarts of finished applesauce.  Cook at a bubble for 20 minutes as follows:  Start on high heat.  When it starts to bubble, stir and turn heat down to medium high.  Stir every 3-4 minutes, turning down the heat to medium when the bubbling gets too furious.  You want everything to be at a good bubble the entire time you are cooking the sauce.  When you are not stirring and mashing down, you want the pot to be covered.  You might think “these apples are never going to break down” because they don’t actually start mushing down until after about 10 minutes.  You will want to stir constantly for the last 5 minutes, working to mash down and break up the apples to your desired consistency.  Here’s a picture of the consistency of sauce we like in my family.   

Remove the pot from the heat so the sauce can settle down.  At this time add a little sugar to your taste.  I added 1/8 cup of sugar for this amount of sauce.  NOTE:  Don’t add the sugar until after the sauce is cooked because the sauce will taste mainly of cooked sugar, overpowering the delicate apple flavor.  If you like spices, these should be added after cooking also.

You might have noticed that there are a lot of  traditions related to applesauce in our family!  Margaux mentioned that we love applesauce on toast for breakfast or a snack.  I  have embelished this a little by adding almond or peanut butter to the equation.  If you’ve never had applesauce on toast, please do try it – it’s delish!!