Category Archives: Winter

Potato latkes with homemade applesauce

Every year I look forward to Chanukah so I have an excuse to make latkes. They are simple and delicious, and for me, completely evocative of the holiday season.

Potato latkes
1 onion
6 medium russet potatoes
5 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt + more to taste
Pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil or other oil for frying

Grate the onion and the potatoes, drain all of the liquid from them, and add them to a bowl. The drier the better! You can use your hands to wring and press out the liquid, but a clean, non-fuzzy kitchen towel works the best. Add the flour, salt, and pepper to taste.

Heat a deep cast-iron pan with about 1/4 inch of olive oil over medium heat. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a small piece of potato. The oil is ready once the potato cooks quickly to a golden brown with out burning. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Grab a small handful of the grated potato mixture and squeeze tightly forming a disc-like patty similar to a thin burger. You will have to squeeze the liquid out or it won’t stick together. Add patties a few at a time to the hot oil. They should become golden brown fairly quickly, but still have time for the inside portion to cook.

Pull them out with a spatula and set them on a plate with a paper towel on it to drain. Adjust the heat to achieve the desired outer crispiness and inner softness.

Serve with homemade applesauce and/or sour cream.

Serves 4.

Homemade applesauce
4 cups of apples – pink ladies, gala, granny smith, other local apples
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves

Cook in a pot with a little water, the cinnamon stick, and cloves. Cook covered for 20 minutes until the apples begin to fall apart.

Apple Cake

This is one of my favorite desserts.  I love the apples, nuts, and especially the brown sugar sauce that goes over the top.

Apple Cake
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, fresh grated
3-5 cups chopped apples
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tsp. vanilla

Sauce
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour a 10″ tube pan.

Beat eggs with sugar until thick and form a ribbon when a spoonful is lifted and dribbled.

Add melted butter and beat.  When blended, stir in flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and blend.

Stir in apples, pecans, and vanilla and mix.

Put in pan. Bake 1 hr 15 min or until cooked.  When cake is done, cool 5 mins in pan and then turn over on serving platter.

Sauce
Melt butter, add brown sugar, milk and pinch of salt and boil for 3 mins.  Prick holes in top of cake and pour sauce slowly over the cake.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Plating done by Masha Rener

I would like to give credit to the person whose cake this is, but the friend I got the recipe from said she got it from a caterer in Kansas City over 15 years ago and she doesn’t know who it was.  Hopefully they won’t mind me reproducing it here, since they were willing to share it before.

White Bean, Potato and Cabbage Soup

Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
Thyme
Marjoram
Rosemary
1 bay leaf
Black pepper
Salt
2.5 lbs – 4 medium russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups great northern beans, cooked
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Water
2.5 lbs – 1 head cabbage
3/4 cup dry white wine
Parmesan

Heat a few Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large soup pot.  Dice one onion, the garlic, carrot, and celery and add them to the pot as they are ready.  Add dried thyme, marjoram, rosemary, a bay leaf, plenty of fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.  Turn heat to medium-low and cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Peel and chop the potatoes and add them to the pot along with the pre-cooked great northern beans.  Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and then enough water to make a nice soup consistency.  Bring soup to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to low.  Allow to cook for about 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes, chop the head of cabbage and add it to the pot.  Add 3/4 of a cup of dry white wine and continue cooking for approximately another 30 minutes.  Taste to make sure everything is cooked and to adjust seasonings.

Serve topped with parmesan and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

Changes:
I used dried herbs, since that was what I had, but fresh ones would be great.
I might use more beans next time and a little less cabbage.

Helpful equipment:
I determined which herbs would go well with my main ingredients by consulting the book The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
Kitchen scale: Salter Digital Scale – Extra-Precise
This kitchen scale is a rather expensive one recommended by Lynne Rossetto Kasper from The Splendid Table.

Apple Pie

Pie crust
13 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup ice water
1 3/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar

Mix together the 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Cut in 13 Tablespoons of butter. Add the 1/4 cup of ice water and quickly work together with a fork. Switch to working with hands and as quickly as possible make the dough come together and knead briefly just until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Divide dough in half and on a lightly floured surface begin rolling out the dough. Roll it out until it forms a relatively even circle. To transfer the dough to the pie plate, fold it into quarters and position the inner corner at the center of the pie plate, then open to fill the pie plate. Form an edge by folding over or removing and/or repositioning any excess and pressing down with the side of your thumb to form a ribbed edge. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Makes two crusts.

Apple pie filling
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
9 cups of peeled and chopped apples
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon of butter placed on top in pieces
Sprinkle sugar on top

Mix 9 cups of peeled and chopped apples, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon of flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp each of ground cloves, grated nutmeg, and salt. Pour the mixture into the pie plate on top of the crust. Cut up 1 Tablespoon of butter into small pieces and distribute them over the top of the apples. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake at 375 F for 1 hour or until apples are soft and cooked.

Makes one pie.

Notes:
Either the filling can be doubled to make two apple pies or a single pie can be made with both a bottom and top crust. If a top crust is placed over the apples it can be brushed with milk and sprinkled with granulated sugar.

 

Over Thanksgiving I ended up with leftover pie crust, but not enough to make a whole pie.  We came up with apple pizza.  My crust rolled out and topped with apples, cinnamon, and sugar.

Pumpkin Pie

I developed this recipe, both the crust and filling, for my undergrad honors project.  Wednesday, November 24th, I will be baking it for the listeners of Great Taste, which streams live weekly at 7 PM from http://www.kruufm.com  It is also rebroadcast Fridays at 7 AM.

Pie crust
13 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup ice water
1 3/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar

Mix together the 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tablespoons sugar. Cut in 13 Tablespoons of butter. Add the 1/4 cup of ice water and quickly work together with a fork. Switch to working with hands and as quickly as possible make the dough come together and knead briefly just until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Divide dough in half and on a lightly floured surface begin rolling out the dough. Roll it out until it forms a relatively even circle. To transfer the dough to the pie plate, fold it into quarters and position the inner corner at the center of the pie plate, then open to fill the pie plate. Form an edge by folding over or removing and/or repositioning any excess and pressing down with the side of your thumb to form a ribbed edge. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Makes two crusts.

Filling
20 oz. baked pumpkin or other winter squash (my favorite right now is red kabocha, because of its smooth texture)
Add to pumpkin after baking:
2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 beaten eggs

Cut 1-2 pumpkins in half and scoop out seeds. Put face down on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until tender. Approximately 45 minutes.

Scoop out the pumpkin from the skin and place in a bowl. Mash and blend with a fork. To the pumpkin add 2 (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 tsp. each of ground ginger, ground cloves, salt, and grated nutmeg, 2 tsp. cinnamon, and 2 beaten eggs. Mix well and pour half into each pie crust.

Bake the pies at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes two pies.

 

Photos from making the pie for Great Taste:

Red kabocha squash

Winter Squash Ravioli

Dinner tonight is a recipe that I created for my undergrad honors project.  I’ve copied the recipe below:

Winter squash ravioli with brown butter and sage

Pasta by Tom Torpy
3 cups semolina flour
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1 cup water

Knead all of the ingredients together until a smooth dough is formed (can be done in a food processor). Let the dough sit in a covered bowl for 1/2 hour. Prepare the filling and sauce in advance or during the 1/2 hour the dough is resting. After 1/2 hour follow the instructions on a pasta maker, or divide the dough in two and roll out two large circles by hand. The dough should be as thin as possible without it being easily torn.

Filling
4 cups baked winter squash
Zest of one lemon
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
Fresh sage
1 stick butter

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. Slice the squash into pieces and toss with olive oil and salt. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees until soft and well cooked, about 45 minutes.

Grind up European style crusty bread to form breadcrumbs. Add the breadcrumbs to a pan with olive oil and thyme. Stir often until the breadcrumbs become golden and toasted. Turn off the heat.

Scoop the soft baked squash off of the rinds. Put the squash through a ricer so that it is smooth. In a separate pan sauté the squash until dry. Add the breadcrumbs to that pan. Add the zest of almost one lemon, but save a bit to garnish, to the mixture and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and add a bit of freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt or to desired salt level.

Cut the pasta into circles using a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small amount of filling in the center of each circle. Use your finger to put a bit of water on one half of the circle. Fold the dry edge over to meet the wet edge to form a half-moon. Place the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water and cook for 3-4 minutes or until cooked to desired texture.

Brown butter and sage sauce
Heat butter in a pan over a medium-low heat until it begins to turn golden. Place the sage leaves carefully into the butter so that the leaves are resting top-side up on the butter and are not submerged. The butter should be hot enough that they begin to cook immediately. Sprinkle each leaf with salt. when the leaves are crisp, pull them out of the butter. Continue to cook the butter slowly until it turns a golden brown. Pour over the freshly made ravioli and garnish with the crispy sage, lemon zest, and parmesan.

 

Notes:
Use butternut squash, pumpkin, or banana squash.
A cream sauce is also very good with this recipe

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion minced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 medium carrots small dice
2 medium stalks celery small dice
1/4 cup dry white wine
A bit of freshly grated nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
2 large leeks
2 yukon gold potatoes diced in 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
2 russet potatoes diced in 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp. salt
Water
Whipping cream
Parsley

Put the olive oil and butter in a soup pot and turn to low heat.  Mince the onion

Soup base cooking in the pot

and add it to the pot, stirring as needed.  Then mince the garlic and add the diced carrots and celery.  Continue cooking and stirring until the onion and vegetables get soft.  Add 1/4 cup of white wine to the cooking vegetables, the nutmeg, and some black pepper.

Cut the leeks in half length-wise and then in 1/4 inch pieces in width, using only the white and light green parts.  Add the leeks to the pot.  Dice the potatoes into approximately 1/4-1/2 inch cubes and add them to the pot as well.  Add enough water to get the consistency of soup you want and 2 tsp. of salt.

Potato Leek Soup Cooking

Turn heat up until soup boils and then down to a simmer for 30-40 minutes, or

until cooked to taste.  Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings.

You can serve the soup like this, or I prefer to blend it either partially or fully.

Before serving, stir in whipping cream to taste and top with freshly chopped parsley and fresh ground black pepper.

Commentary:
This is the first time I’ve ever made this soup, so I was making it up as I went along.  I think it could have used more nutmeg than what I added and maybe more garlic and white wine than I have in the recipe.  That might depend on taste.  I think I added a bit too much water, because I would have liked a thicker soup than what I ended up with.  Also, I think blending it in the blender would have given the soup a creamier texture than the blending job by the immersion blender.  I’m thinking to try blending it in the blender before I serve it for dinner tonight, to see if I’m right about the texture.
Overall I think it has a really nice, though delicate, flavor.  I couldn’t keep myself from having seconds at lunch even though we’re having it for dinner tonight.

 

Update post-blending:
I blended the soup in the standing blender and it was a very different experience!  I liked it both ways, blended and not blended.  The blended version came out, as I had hoped, thick, smooth, and creamy.  In its blended state it was also very homogeneous, so it needed the freshness and variety that the parsley provided or it would have been too monotonous.  One option would be to remove a portion of the soup, blend it in the standing blender, and return it to the pot with the rest of the unblended soup.  I think this would probably be my choice with future soup, though I’ll have to try it to make sure.