Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back home...let's get cookin'!

This week I have a plan mapped out to prepare dinner for several of our friends in Santa Barbara to celebrate Valentine's Day together.  Fortunately for us, today was 4-hour cooking bolognese sauce day, so we were able to enjoy a little sample for dinner tonight over pasta.  Oh, and since we watched the movie Food, Inc., we have been inspired to take a closer look at what we are eating.  So, we are proud to say that all the meat for the sauce was free-range and humanely raised!  If you are interested in knowing more about humanely raised animals and what grocery stores and restaurants carry certified humane products, check out this website.

What is dinner without a little sweet ending?  One thing you all should know about Jason
 is that he is a apple crisp/apple dessert fanatic.  So, in honor of my wonderful husband, I made a Cardamom Apple Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel.  This is not your average apple crisp.  Instead of cinnamon, there's cardamom and cloves.  Rather than lemon juice, there's vanilla extract and orange zest.  And, in lieu of oats, you'll find crunchy toasted hazelnuts.  Here's a picture, for your enjoyment of the crisp alongside some creamy Trader Joe's vanilla ice cream:

Streusel Topping

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ cup butter, very cold, cut into ½-inch pieces

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped or ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon water, cold

Fruit Filling

1¾ pounds Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, sliced (about 1 pound or 4 cups prepared)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon finely minced orange zest

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


best quality vanilla ice cream 

  1. To prepare Streusel Topping, in a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until mixture is evenly crumbly.
  3. Add the hazelnuts or walnuts and combine well.
  4. Combine the vinegar and water and sprinkle over the topping. Mix lightly with a fork, using a lifting motion rather than a stirring motion. The idea is to gently distribute the moisture throughout the topping.
  5. To prepare Fruit Filling,
    in a mixing bowl, gently combine the apples, brown sugar, vanilla, orange zest, cornstarch, and salt.
  6. To assemble and bake, butter six, individual, 1½ cup gratin or soufflé dishes.
  7. Divide the fruit filling between the six dishes.
  8. Top each dish with an equal portion of the streusel topping, and then top with an equal portion of the almonds.
  9. Arrange the gratin dishes on an edged baking sheet and lay a piece of foil loosely on top.
  10. Bake at 350º for ½ hour, remove the foil, and bake an additional 20-30 minutes, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. If necessary, broil for a minute or so or use a kitchen torch to brown the tops.
  11. Remove from the oven, let cool somewhat, and then serve while still warm, preferably with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6.

1 comment:

  1. Claude is an apple dessert fanatic, too! So when we are together next - we need to make this one in honor of the boys! But I love the idea of cardamom, vanilla, orange zest and hazelnuts!!! WOW ~ this whets my appetite. Was it as good as I imagine... how could it not be utterly amazing!