sweet & tart

I was inspired by my adoptive state of Wisconsin to experiment with cranberries. Wisconsin is the largest producer of cranberries in the US…did you know that? I didn’t either until I moved here. One of these days I’m going to get myself up north to see the harvesting of the cranberry bogs. I bet it’s neat.

Every year on Thanksgiving I make a cranberry chutney that inevitably gets forgotten about in the fridge until we are nearly finished with our meal. What a shame. I thought it might be nice to make cranberries into more of a featured part of the meal and what could be more featured than dessert? No one forgets about dessert.

A few years back I tore a recipe out of a magazine for a cranberry-apple crisp and decided to test it out here for you. When the apples and cranberries were cooking down on my stove it smelled like the holidays. I wish the internet had smell-o-vision so I could share the scent with you– it was heavenly.

The topping for this crisp couldn’t have been simpler– it consists of oatmeal, flour, butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.

I took this into work for a co-worker’s birthday and it was a big hit. I think it was a nice contrast to all of the overly sweet desserts that others had brought in. There is definitely a tartness to this crisp but it works. It’s even better warm with a little vanilla ice cream which I also tried. This could be the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving meal!

Cranberry-Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Streusel Topping (found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes 12 servings

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 12-ounce packages cranberries
  • 1 1/4 pounds Golden Delicious or Fuji apples (about 3 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or cider
  • Vanilla ice cream

Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and salt in large bowl; toss to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture comes together in moist clumps. Cover; chill while preparing filling. (Topping can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep chilled.)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine cranberries, apples, sugar, and apple juice in heavy large pot. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil until cranberries are tender and juices thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Transfer filling to prepared dish. Sprinkle topping over.

Bake crisp until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream.

the easiest recipe you’ll ever make

Growing up I got spoiled for life on applesauce because my Grandma Molly used to make the most awesome chunky sauce that she would freeze and share with family.  Best gift ever.  I remember fondly the mornings when my mom would thaw out a container for us to eat for breakfast.  I’ve never been able to enjoy the store-bought kind as a result…

So last fall I decided to recreate my grandma’s applesauce in my own kitchen.  As long as you don’t mind peeling, coring, and chopping apples it really could not be simpler, especially with the aid of a slow cooker.

You just throw the chunked, skinless apples into the slow cooker with some cinnamon and water and let it do its’ thing on low for a few hours and then you stir in a little brown sugar and voila.  Comfort-y heaven in your mouth.  It has seriously been motivating me out of bed on weekdays for the past week so I highly suggest you get on board and make yourself some and forget you ever once purchased that junk they sell in the grocery store…

Slow Cooker Applesauce

  • 14 apples (I used a variety of sweet and tart apples), peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Place apples in 4-quart or larger slow cooker and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Add water.

Cover.  Cook on low for 2 to 4 hours, or until apples become mushy.  Stir in brown sugar and mix well with an immersion blender or potato masher.

perfect food pairings

When I think of foods that pair together nicely the obvious answer is peanut butter and chocolate (duh!) but there are of course others: salmon and dill, beets and goat cheese, figs and bacon (but what doesn’t bacon go with?), and so on and so forth.  But I live in Wisconsin now and we all know what Wisconsin is known for: yes, I’m talking about cheese.  In Wisconsin restaurants they put a slice of cheddar cheese on apple pie… wha-wha-what???

I’ve actually had this recipe for long before I moved to Dairyland so it seems fitting that I wound up in this fine state.  However, this recipe one-ups the slice of cheese on top of the apple pie by incorporating the cheese into the crust.  It’s pure genius and must be tried immediately.

I highly recommend enjoying it heated up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  Yet another wonderful pairing!

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust (found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 3) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
  • 2 pounds (about 5) Cortland apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Cheddar Crust dough (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each to a 13-inch circle.

Fit one circle into a 10-inch pie plate; transfer plate to a baking sheet. Put other circle on another baking sheet. Refrigerate dough until cold, at least 30 minutes.

Stir together apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves.  Spoon into bottom pie crust. Dot filling with butter. Cover with top crust.  Fold edges over; crimp decoratively to seal. Cut a steam vent. Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Brush with egg. Bake pie 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Tent with foil; bake until juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes more. Let cool at least 1 1/2 hours before serving.

Cheddar Crust (found at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; pulse until pea-size lumps appear. Pulse in cheese. With processor running, add ice water; process just until dough comes together.

Turn dough out; gather into a block. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.