Tag Archives: apple

Bar Stool Fridays – Autumn Sangria

My husband and I recently visited my parents in Laredo, Texas.  Now, not to rub it in or anything, but the weather was pretty great.  Sunny.  Warm, but not hot.  Not humid.  Pretty great.

I was in the mood for a beverage with fall flavors, but I wanted to drink something refreshing that would be nice over ice…a drink for us to enjoy as we sat in the sun on the patio by the pool.

Autumn Sangria
Makes 8 servings

1 orange, sliced
1 apple, diced
1 lemon, sliced
1 bottle full-bodied and fruity red wine
1/2 cup brandy
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 – 4 Tbsp orange simple syrup (see note below)

Add fruit to pitcher.

Pour in wine and brandy.  Add cloves and cinnamon stick.  Add simple syrup and stir.

Serve over ice.

To make orange simple syrup combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan.  Add 1 Tbsp of orange zest and stir.  Simmer over medium heat until sugar dissolved and syrup is slightly thickened.  It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks.

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Game Day Eats – Apple Cider Doughnuts

Consider the doughnut.

In the words of M.F.K. Fisher does it live, “a dreadful but exciting life”?  Naw, probably more like a short and delicious life.

Who doesn’t love this fried confection?  It is one of my favorites without a doubt.  But, they are best eaten quickly after frying.  It is indeed a brief and joyous time for us.

If you are planning a brunch for your friends this weekend or your tailgating starts early, might I suggest you wow them with some apple cider doughnuts?  You won’t be sorry…

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Makes about 20 doughnuts and holes

Modified from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for  working with the dough
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
not small quantity of vegetable shortening (aka Crisco)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce apple cider to about 1/4 cup.  It took me about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is incorporated into dough.

On low speed, gradually add the apple cider and buttermilk, mixing until just combined.

Add the flour mixture, and continue to mix until dough just starts to come together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.

Turn the dough out onto one of those sheets and using your hands, flatten the dough until it is about 1/2-inch thick.

Add more flour, as necessary.  Place the baking sheet of dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until it is slightly hardened.

Pull the dough out of the freezer, and cut out doughnut shapes.  Place the cut doughnut onto the second baking sheet.  Place the cut doughnuts in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes.  If you need to re-roll the scraps, refrigerate them again for a while before cutting.

Add enough shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 2 inches.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side and heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F.  Have a plate lined with paper towels ready to receive the fried dough.

While the shortening is heating, you can make your toppings, if you like.  We made both cinnamon and sugar (self-explanatory) and a glaze of apple cider and powdered sugar.  Set them aside until the doughnuts come out of the oil.

Once your frying oil is ready, carefully add just a few doughnuts at a time.

Don’t crowd the pan to ensure even frying.  Fry until golden brown and gently flip to the other side.  Drain on paper towels for a minute or so and then dip in toppings.

They are best if served immediately.


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Snacks

She’s A Firecracker

I have a  friend.  (Yes, I have more than one friend, smarty-pants, but today’s entry is just about one in particular.)  Anyway, I have this friend.  Her name is Wendy.  I’m jealous of her long lean legs and her beautiful red hair.  And, her charmingly cute kid.  And her fierce skills at first base.  Wendy is smart and funny and one of the kindest people I know.

But, watch out…she’s a firecracker.  She uses that intelligence and humor and sparks fly out of her mouth.  Those sparks can catch some folks off guard, but I love it, even when it is directed at me.  Wendy makes life fun and she reminds me to laugh at myself and to see comedy where it is not always obvious.  And, she reminds me that someone is always watching and reading and what I am doing is not a waste of time and energy.

Thanks for being my friend and a great audience member, Wendy.  I’m glad I got to help you celebrate your birthday.  I hope you liked your cake.  Kisses.

Red-Headed Firecracker Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze
Serves 8 to 10

For cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups of peeled, cored, and diced apple

For glaze:
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

For cake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8- to 10- cup Bundt pan.

Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, ginger, and cayenne in medium bowl.

Whisk canola oil, brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.

Add dry ingredients and fold until blended.

Fold in diced apples.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on rack for about 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto plate or rack.

For the glaze:
In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugars.

Cook the mixture, stirring, until bubbly, maybe about a minute.  Stir in the heavy cream.   Bring to a boil.   Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Then, spoon the glaze over completely cooled cake.  It is quite messy, so you may not want to glaze it on your serving dish.


Filed under Dessert

Breakfast with Marie

I am sad to say that I never knew my mother’s parents.  Fortunately, her father’s sisters worked very hard to make up for that loss, making sure we knew a lot about our grandparents and their history.  They always made our visits special, and that included as many delicious treats as my brother and I could eat.

As a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of breakfast.  I wasn’t willing to sit down and eat just anything in the morning.  I did, however, love the apple bread my great-aunt Marie made for me.  In fact, that was pretty much the only thing I would eat for breakfast during my visits.  Well, there was the Apple Jacks cereal phase, but that’s another story.

Aunt Marie worked hard to make us happy and always feed us what we wanted to eat, and there was always a loaf of apple bread waiting for me when I awoke.  I’d sit at the huge kitchen table and watch the boats in the bay and talk about life and what I wanted to do with my day.  Our aunts were both generous listeners who could make my brother and I feel like we were the only thing that mattered.  We all know we are very lucky to have them a part of our lives, and we still miss them.

I made a loaf recently and shared some with my mom.  The smell and taste of Aunt Marie’s apple bread brought back a lot of great memories for both of us.  I know Aunt Marie would be proud.

Aunt Marie’s Apple Bread
Makes 2 medium-sized loaves (or 1 large and 1 small)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups peeled and diced apples

4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.

Stir in flour, salt, and cinnamon.
Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and add to batter, mixing well.  Stir in vanilla and apples.
Spoon batter into well-greased and floured loaf pans.
To create topping, mix together all ingredients until consistency of coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle the batter in pans with topping and bake at 325 degrees F for about 70 minutes.

This bread freezes beautifully, making it a perfect treat for the holidays.  You can keep some on hand in your freezer for unexpected guests or to give as gifts.  It doesn’t keep past about 2 days at room temperature, so definitely put it away in the freezer, if you don’t eat it before then.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast

October is Texas Wine Month

In honor of Texas Wine Month, I thought I would share a few tidbits of knowledge and give you a recipe that calls for a bottle with an apple in it.

Did you know that Texas has more than 220 family-owned vineyards covering 3,700 acres?  What about the fact that the Texas wine industry contributes more than $1.35 billion a year to the state’s economy and supports more than 9,000 jobs for Texans?  Are you surprised to learn that the Texas Hill Country is  the third largest American viticultural area, dwarfing any in California?

The first vineyards in Texas were established by Spanish missionaries in the 1600s, but the modern Texas wine industry as we currently know it began in the 1970s.  Because the industry hasn’t been around very long (relatively speaking), vitners are still determining which grapes grow best in the Texas climate.  Current front runners include traditional European grapes, such as  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, and Merlot.  Texas wineries are also doing great work with grapes such as Sangiovese, Syrah, Blanc du Bois, Viognier, Malbec, and Tempranillo.  Plus, some of the cooler climate grapes such as Reisling and Pinot Noir have been successful in West Texas, where the elevation creates a cooler climate.

The major differences between the Texas growing season and that of California are that ours is much warmer with less sunshine and more heat and humidity.  Climate is the single most important factor in viticulture, and there are several grapes that are well-suited to the Texas heat, including Syrah, Tempranillo, and Viognier.

Viognier is an intense, slightly spicy white wine.  My favorite is from Becker Vineyards outside of Fredericksburg, Texas.   It has hints of floral, peach, and apricot, but still maintains a bit of crispness.

Andrea Immer Robinson, Master Sommelier and wine writer, said it is,
“One of the best viogniers made in America, so it’s worth the search.”

  I think it works pretty well with dishes that you might pair with a reisling,
such as these pork chops in a recipe modified from Saveur Magazine…

Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Calvados
Serves 6

10 Tbsp butter
10 small yellow onions, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp dried sage leaves
1 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 double-cut, bone-in, pork chops
6 cooking apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
3/4 cup calvados

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Melt 5 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over low heat.  Finely chop 3 of the onion halves and add to the skillet along with the celery, garlic, and sage.  Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until soft, probably no more than 5 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat, stir in breadcrumbs, and season stuffing to taste with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife, cut a deep pocket in the side of each chop.

Fill each with one-sixth of the stuffing, then close with a toothpick.  Season chops with salt and pepper.

Wipe skillet clean and return to medium-high heat.  Brown stuffed chops, 2 at a time, making sure that both sides and the edges get nicely browned.  It was about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer chops to a large roasting pan.

Reduce heat under skillet to low and melt remaining 5 Tbsp of butter.  Put melted butter, apples, calvados, and remaining onions in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Increase heat to medium high, put apples and onions in the skillet, and saute until evenly browned all over.  It took about 10 minutes.

Scatter and spread the apples and onions around the chops in the roasting pan.  Cover pan tightly with foil and roast until chops are tender, about 3 hours.  Be sure to pull out the toothpicks before serving.

NOTE: Calvados is apple brandy from the Norman region of France.  Apples are pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry cider, and then distilled into brandy or eau de vie.  After aging in oak casks for two years it can be sold as Calvados.  The longer the aging, the smoother it becomes and the more expensive the bottle.

You will notice that my bottle of Calvados Pomme d’Eve has an actual apple inside.  Cool, huh?  After the blossom, and once the apple has started to grow, carafes are attached on the apple trees, so that the fruit can grow inside.


Filed under Pork

Guest Post: Jewish Apple Cake

This guest post is from my smart, athletic, and witty friend, Wendy.  Our group of friends is always excited when Wendy brings this cake to gatherings.  It is delicious.  I made it just this week with help from my mom and husband and it made the house even smell delicious.  Enjoy.

Dear Katie,

You asked that I share with you my recipe for Jewish apple cake.  I’m really excited to participate, so … thanks for asking.

I make this apple cake every Thanksgiving for my boyfriend Dave and his family. I also tend to make an additional one that I can eat all by myself — and sometimes share with my friends Katie and Brian.

It’s a fairly simple recipe. The only trick is to pick the right kind of apples.  I usually start with at least two granny smith apples.  They’re tart and firmer than many other types of apples, so they hold up well in baking and tend not to get too mushy throughout the cooking process. Fuji, Gala, and Rome apples are also excellent options.  Many times, I’ll use two or more different types of apples in the cake to make a more interesting flavor.  In my opinion, the more apples, the more moist the cake and the more delicious the final product.  The recipe, for example, calls for 3 apples.  But I usually use four or four plus!

Here are the ingredients:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups of white sugar
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 (or 4 or maybe five!) apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (I use a bit more than 2)
5 teaspoons of white sugar (go heavy on this, too — it’s sugar!!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 10 inch bundt cake pan. 

Combine the cinnamon and the sugar together.  This creates such a wonderful smell.  Just remember … tigers love pepper.  Hate cinnamon. 

In a separate bowl, mix the slices of apple in most of the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating each slice in the mixture. Set aside.  Save a small bit of the mixture for later.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 cups of sugar. Stir in the vegetable oil, beaten eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.  Mix well.

Line the bundt pan with a layer of the cinnamon sugared apples, and then pour some of the batter on top of the apple layer.  Keep creating layers of apple slices and then pouring batter over it.  Make sure to keep some apple slices for the very top layer.  When the apple slices are gone, look in the bowl in which they were resting.  There should be some apple cinnamon-sugar juice in the bowl, which is a great addition to the cake.  Simply pour the sugary liquid on top of the cake.  

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 70 minutes.  The cake should be moist, but should not stick to a toothpick that is poked into it.  The toothpick should come out rather clean after poked into the cake.

The cake should slide out of the pan if you greased it properly.  Coat the cake with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  Or you can use powdered sugar.  Or you can use both.

This cake is a great fall treat, and a tradition for my new family.


Filed under Dessert