Kevin Gillespie’s Root Vegetable Soup

Last summer Top Chef Kevin Gillespie came to our co-op because he was hosting a video series sponsored by Stronger Together, being filmed for the International Year of Cooperatives.  Our co-op was chosen to take part in the series because of our involvement with our community.  He attended our summer party and visited Heritage Lane Farm, Misty Meadows Farm and Bellingham Urban Garden Syndicate (BUGS) to talk about their relationship with our co-op and our community.

Kevin Gillespie 7.31.11Before he left town, I got to go out to dinner with him and the film crew and we talked a lot about food (of course!) as well as his upcoming (and now published) cookbook Fire in my Belly.  It’s a great read – lots of photos, a fun layout, and anecdotes from the author.  He told me I could demo any of his recipes any time and with the icy fog abounding in our region, I thought his Root Vegetable Soup recipe would be just about perfect for my recipe demo this week.

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

© 2013 Community Food Co-op

This is a recipe he created based on a dish his grandma used to make.  It is very simple to make, although it does require some knife skills as all the veggies need to be cut into the same size pieces to cook correctly.  I must admit that it was my first time preparing some of the root vegetables in this dish, and it was also a great excuse to use some of the delicious local produce we still have in stock (organic Jerusalem Artichokes, aka sunchokes, from Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson).  The recipe calls for turnip greens, which we do carry occasionally but are out of currently, so I substituted collard greens.  Other than that I was pretty true to the original recipe, except for cutting it down to 4 servings (you can find the original recipe for 8 servings in Kevin’s book).

ChiffonadeOne of my favorite cutting techniques is chiffonade – you roll your leafy greens into a roll and cut thin little ribbons.  They are so pretty and you can cut through a pile of greens in no time.  As for cutting the various root vegetables into a small dice, you will have to expect some waste as you first have to square off the edges of the veggies so you are left with flat edges to cut your dice from.  If you need a little guidance for safe and effective cutting techniques, you can check out the video and photos at Stella Culinary.

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup © 2013 Community Food Co-op

Root Vegetable Soup

adapted from Fire in my Belly by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, used with permission

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz Pancetta or unsmoked bacon, diced into 1/4” pieces (vegetarian option below)
  • 1 1/4 c onion, diced 1/4”
  • 2/3 c rutabaga, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c celery, diced 1/4”
  • 1/3 c carrots, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke), peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 3/4 c turnips, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 1/2 c parsnip, peeled and diced 1/4”
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (a mandolin works great for this task)
  • 3 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1/2 pepper
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ~ 2 c Turnip greens or Collard greens, sliced into chiffonade (thin strips)
  • Juice from one lemon

GARNISH

  • ~1/8 c Italian parsley, minced
  • ~1/8 c chives, very thinly sliced
  • ~1/8 c celery leaves, minced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat a large enameled cast-iron pot or other soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the pancetta, stir, and cook until the pancetta is golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, rutabaga, celery, and carrots and cook until the vegetables start to soften and the onions become translucent, about 6 minutes, stirring now and then.
  4. Add the sunchokes, turnips, and parsnips and cook for an additional 8 minutes, stirring a few times.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the chicken stock, pepper, and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then cut the heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.  The vegetables should be just tender.
  7. Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the turnip greens and about 1 T lemon juice.  Taste and season as needed with additional salt and lemon juice.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley, chives, and celery leaves.

Tips from the Top Chef:

  • Don’t be tempted to mince the garlic here.  It should be sliced. If you mince it, the small pieces will cook faster and develop a bitter taste.  The slices also contribute to the texture of the soup.
  • If you want to make the soup ahead, prepare it up to the point of simmering the vegetables in the seasoned stock.  Cool it down, and refrigerate it for up to 2 days.  Then reheat the soup and add the greens and lemon juice just before serving and garnishing.
  • If you don’t have the root vegetables listed, then you can substitute with what you do have.  The most important thing is to dice all the vegetables the same size so they cook quickly and evenly before the liquid is added.  The vegetables retain better shape and flavor this way.

Root Vegetable Soup PDF

For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock; sauté 4-5 shiitake mushrooms (cut into thin slices about a 1/4″ wide) over medium heat in 1-2 T butter or a fatty oil until they are soft, about 7 minutes, and proceed with the rest of the recipe.  Alternately you can use vegetarian bacon, prepared and cooked just like the pancetta in the recipe.  Neither will give you the same rich flavor of the pork, but either should add some umami to the dish.

Peach Almond Bars (gluten-free and vegan options)

August heralds the arrival of sweet, tree-ripened, farmer direct peaches from the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative at the Co-op, and they are delicious once again this year.  These are the best peaches money can buy because not only are they organic, but they are picked and delivered by the farmer’s co-op directly to our co-ops, so at no time are they sitting in some warehouse waiting to be delivered to the consumer.  I knew I wanted to feature them this week, and I found the perfect recipe in America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts edition.

Every recipe I have ever made from Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen (one of the best shows on PBS, it you ask me!) has turned out fantastic, and they don’t disappoint with their recipe for Peach Bars.  I’ll note that both of their websites have limited free content, but I gladly pay the subscription fee because they don’t allow advertising in their magazines or their websites. Their Peach Bar recipe was easily adapted to being gluten-free (it should turn out pretty identical whether you make it with all-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend), and if you replace the butter with margarine or coconut oil you can make a vegan version as well.

This was a simple recipe because the bulk of the work is done by the food processor – you don’t even have to carefully cut the peaches.  I used a couple large and juicy white peaches and one yellow peach, as well as Nature’s Hollow Peach Preserves for a little extra peachy kick.  These bars aren’t overly sweet, and I really wish I could have taken photos of people trying them to illustrate how yummy they are – they don’t look very exciting on the plate, but the look of surprise on people’s faces once they tasted them was priceless!  I highly recommend whipping up a batch – they taste like the best part of summer and you will be exceptionally popular with those you choose to share them with!

Peach Almond Bars © Sassy Sampler 2012

Peach Almond Bars

makes 24 bars

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 c sliced almonds (6.5 oz)
  • 1 1/2 c flour—can use either all-purpose or gluten-free blend
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c packed brown sugar, plus 1 T
  • Sea salt
  • 12 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2” pieces (you can substitute margarine for a vegan version of the recipe)
  • 1 1/2 # peaches (about 3 large), peeled, halved and pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c peach preserves
  • 1/2 t grated lemon zest, plus 1t lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Make a foil sling for a 13×9 baking dish—fold 2 long sheets of foil; first sheet should be about 13” and the second should be about 9”.  Lay sheets of foil over pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges.  Smooth foil flush against the pan.  Spray with veggie oil spray.
  3. Process 1 1/4 c almonds, flour, sugar, 1/3 c brown sugar, and 1/2 t sea salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.
  4. Add butter and pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain), about 20 pulses.
  5. Transfer 1/2 c of the mixture to a bowl and set aside.  Press remaining mixture into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Mix 1T of brown sugar into reserved mixture and put it in the fridge (if your kitchen is warm).
  6. While crust is baking, remove blade from processor and wipe out your work bowl.  Pulse peaches and preserves in the processor until mixture is in 1/4” chunks, about 5 pulses.   Cook peaches in a large non-stick skillet over high heat until thickened and jam-like, about 10 minutes.
  7. Take peaches off the heat, and add a pinch of salt and the lemon zest and juice.  Stir to combine.
  8. Pour peach mixture over hot crust.
  9. Using your fingers, pinch reserved flour mixture to create dime-sized clumps and sprinkle them over the peaches.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c almonds over the top.
  10. Bake until almonds are golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, at least two hours.
  11. Using foil overhang, lift from pan and cut into 24 squares.  Enjoy!

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.

Peach Almond Bars PDF

Baked Polenta Fries

In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d share an easy recipe for a game day snack – Baked Polenta “Fries” – a nice alternative to less healthy munchies.

I was introduced to these on New Year’s Eve – a couple of co-workers co-hosted a party and had a vast array of homemade goodies to nosh (at least half of which were gluten-free), including polenta fries. After asking how they were made, I thought they would make for a great demo for this week.

There are a huge amount of recipes on the web for polenta fries, and after looking at a few I realized that you hardly need a recipe to make these – you are only limited by your imagination and time constraints.

You have a couple of options before you start – either make polenta from the dry grain (it only takes 10-15 minutes for this recipe, although the longer you cook it over low heat the more tender it becomes) or you can use the tubes of pre-made organic polenta that we sell at the Co-op – it comes in great flavors like chili cilantro, basil garlic, and their new quinoa polenta. Once your polenta choice is made, it’s simply a matter of slicing it into fry-like shapes, brushing them with oil, and baking for 20-40 minutes (depending on how thick you cut them). They stay crispy at room temperature, and taste great with a little marinara sauce.If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can make a healthy snack for a crowd for under $5.

I chose to make the polenta from scratch, and used the organic grain we carry in our bulk department. The recipe calls for using half milk and half water to make the polenta, but you can use all water if you want to make them dairy free (you could also use some vegetable or chicken broth for a richer flavor instead of the milk). I mixed in about a 1/2 cup of bulk Parmesan cheese once it was done cooking, spread it in a rimmed baking sheet, and let it sit overnight in the fridge to set, although they can set in as little as an hour. The next morning was simply a matter of preheating the oven, brushing the “fries” with oil and baking them for a satisfying snack.

Baked Polenta Fries © Sassy Sampler 2012

Baked Polenta Fries

makes about 100 – 120 “fries”

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 c polenta grain
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 t Spices/Seasonings, like Italian seasoning, garlic, chili powder, etc. or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Marinara sauce or sour cream for dipping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring 2 c milk and 2 c water just to a boil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.
  2. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 c polenta while stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in 1 t of salt (turn down the heat at this point if you feel the polenta is in danger of scorching).
  4. Continue stirring until the polenta thickens—this could happen very quickly or take a few minutes, depending on the heat level you are using.
  5. Stir in 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (if desired).
  6. Remove from heat and spread about a 1/2” thick in a rimmed baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  8. Cut polenta into fry-like shapes.
  9. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Arrange the “fries” on your prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Turn them gently to coat (or brush the oil on).
  11. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn them gently and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  12. Drain/cool on a paper towel lined plate.
  13. Toss with any seasonings you wish while they are warm, but be sure to put a little salt and pepper on them before serving.
  14. Serve warm or at room temperature, with warm marinara sauce or sour cream.

You can make these vegan by using all water instead of half water, half milk. You can also substitute half broth (chicken or vegetable) for the milk for a richer flavor.; If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can add any flavorings you like before you cool it – try garlic (either pan or oven roasted), sun-dried tomatoes, basil, cilantro, etc.

You can also make this using Food Merchant’s organic pre-made polenta in a tube.

  1. Remove from the tube and cut polenta in half shortways. Place cut side down on cutting board, and cut into 6 equal wedges. Repeat for other half.
  2. Proceed to step 7. Note—you will need to adjust cooking time depending on their thickness.

Baked Polenta Fries PDF

Two kinds of Pesto – tastes like summer!

The sun is finally showing its face around these parts, and that means our first delivery of organic basil from the Growing Garden in Bellingham has come in.  We also currently have local lettuce (including butter/bibb lettuce – my favorite), arugula, mustard greens, salad mix, baby spinach, shiitake, shallots, chives and Italian parsley from a variety of farms in Whatcom County.  It was the basil that caught my eye though, and I knew pesto was just a few steps away.

I wanted to make a traditional pesto, but because we have so many other local greens right now, I thought I would also look for a pesto recipe that didn’t use basil.  I ran across a spinach pesto on Yummly (a great recipe site if you haven’t checked it out, especially if you have food allergies/sensitivities) and felt I had found a winner.

For the traditional pesto, I used the local basil (2 bunches), Nova Oliva Premium extra virgin olive oil (it’s on sale right now and is one of my favorite olive oils), Earth House Foods Organic pine nuts, organic white garlic, and a blend of Italian cow and sheep Parmesan and Romano cheese.  European pine nuts are a little hard to find right now for a couple reported reasons (the strength of the Euro makes them super expensive and blight/deforestation of wild pines has decreased the yield), and the ones we have at the Co-op are from China (read here for an idea of the issue with Asian pine nuts).  I decided to risk it, since the pine nuts we carry at the Co-op are certified organic by WA state and I really wanted to make a pine nut pesto!   It turned out delicious and my taste buds rejoiced.

For the spinach pesto, I used local baby spinach, local chives, and roasted local hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards in Lynden.  A little of the Nova Oliva olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and garlic rounded out the recipe.  The recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, but I wanted to make this a vegan pesto, so I omitted it and I have to say that nobody missed it from the recipe – it still turned out creamy, thanks to the olive oil and hazelnuts.  People really liked the spinach pesto – I would definitely give it 5 out of 5 stars.  It is a little unexpected, but the flavors really work well together.

I chose to sample the pestos with some delicious crackers – Jóvan’s Pure Nutrition whole food artisan crackers made in Blaine, WA, which is located in northern Whatcom County right by the Canadian border.  They are made out of vegetables, seeds, herbs and spices and they are naturally gluten, corn, soy, dairy, egg and nut free, so just about anyone can enjoy them.  They are not available nationally, but they are a relatively young company and I’m sure that won’t be the case for long!  These are pretty amazing crackers from a pretty amazing company who we always love to work with at the Co-op (and customers love them too!).

Pesto Photo © Sassy Sampler 2011 Served with Jóvan’s Pure Nutrition Crackers – Spicy El Paso, Garden Pesto, and Zesty Tomato

Traditional Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cups blanched basil (packed)
  • 1/2 c toasted pine nuts*
  • 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4—1/2 c extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Blanch basil and toast pine nuts.
  2. Put basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic in a food processor and pulse to blend.
  3. Slowly add oil through the feed tube until your paste reaches desired consistency.

Blanching your basil first (dunking the leaves in boiling water for about 20 seconds and then plunging them in icy water) keeps your pesto from turning brown as the basil oxidizes.  It does not affect the flavor of the basil.

Spinach-Chive Pesto

INGREDIENTS

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

  • 2 c baby spinach
  • 1/2 c toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 t fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 oz fresh chives (chopped, about 1 1/2 c)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Process until finely chopped, scraping sides as necessary.

For a vegan version of either recipe, just omit the Parmesan cheese.

Parmigiano Reggiano (from Italy) is highly recommended for either of these recipes.  You can find this imported cheese in our specialty cheese section at the Co-op.  The rinds can be kept in the freezer and added to soups for extra richness.

*You can substitute almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts for the pine nuts.

Basil Pesto and Spinach-Chive Pesto PDF

Gluten-free Granola

Last October at the Bellingham Gluten Intolerance Group’s Annual Community Awareness Event at St Luke’s Community Health Center, Seattle-area author Karen Robertson spoke.  She stopped by the Co-op’s table, introduced herself, and gave me a copy of her gluten-free granola recipe.  When I was looking for a good granola recipe to demo, I remembered I had gotten one from her and contacted her about using it.

Karen wrote a gluten-free cookbook filled with great recipes a few years ago that is available for purchase on her blog in a digital format (the books are out of print, but you can still find them on Amazon).  She teaches cooking classes at South Seattle Community College, has taught at Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC), and posts recipes and tips on her blog.  Check it out and support another great local author and cook!

Her granola recipe was very simple to make (and smelled divine as it was cooking) – simply mix all your dry ingredients (I used Bob’s gluten-free rolled oats, unsweetened shredded organic coconut, chopped organic almonds and walnuts, and organic cinnamon – you can also add ground flax seeds) and heat up the wet ingredients in a small saucepan (organic canola oil, local raspberry honey, and organic vanilla extract).  Mix them together until your dry ingredients are fully moistened, and then spread evenly in a large jelly roll pan or baking sheet with ridges.  Cook at a low temp for 1 1/2 hours (stirring every 30 minutes or so) and you are good to go!

The granola was very popular (one of my most popular demos) and would be very easy to adapt to your specific diet.  Not gluten intolerant?  Just use regular oats.  Don’t like to use canola oil?  Substitute with grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, or your favorite cooking oil.  Are you vegan?  Well, omit the honey and use agave syrup (or brown rice syrup) in its place.  A customer said they were going to make the granola and add some diced dried apricot and pineapple to it (after it had cooked) and that sounds yummy.  I’m going to make a batch for myself this weekend, and I plan on adding peanut butter to the oil and honey mixture.

I served the granola with Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy’s 2% milk (it’s on sale right now) from up the road in Lynden, and Karen recommends eating it with Greek yogurt.

Enjoy!

Gluten-free Granola Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 New Gluten-free Granola

from Cooking Gluten-Free! by Karen Robertson (used with permission)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c unsweetened coconut
  • 2 c Bob’s GF Rolled Oats
  • 2 c finely chopped almonds
  • 1 c finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T finely ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 2 t vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 225°F.
  2. Lightly oil a jelly roll pan (12 ½” x 17 ½”) or a large, rimmed baking sheet with a bit of canola oil.
  3. Combine coconut, oats, almonds, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan combine the honey, oil and vanilla.  Heat until the honey is as thin as the oil.  While mixture is on the heat source, watch it very closely as it can bubble up and boil over.
  5. Pour honey mixture over oat/nut mixture and stir until it is mixed evenly and is thoroughly moistened.
  6. Spread mixture in an even layer on your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Gluten-Free Granola PDF

5/10/11 update – I made the granola this weekend at home, but I went for a sweeter version.  I threw a small handful of chocolate chips into the honey/oil/vanilla mixture and let them melt (once it was off the heat, stirring frequently) and then tossed in a few more chocolate chips when I mixed it all together.  It made delicious chocolate granola, much like the one from Erin Baker’s (of Baker’s Breakfast cookies fame) that we have in bulk – a granola I have missed since finding out I was gluten-intolerant!  I’m going for the peanut butter version next…

Apple Crisp (with gluten-free and vegan options)

Today has been a beautiful day in Bellingham – it has been a couple of months since we’ve had a “mostly sunny” day, and people around here are ready for blue skies, myself included.  Most of us are used to rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon in the Spring, but we have had a serious lack of that this year (especially the sun part).  It is so nice to see all the signs of Spring – cherry trees are flowering, daffodils, crocus and tulips are blooming, and you can almost watch the grass grow when the sun does come out.

The view from the Cordata Co-op Local Roots Room. Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful place to cook at the Cordata Co-op – the kitchen is really nice, and there is a fantastic view of Mt Baker and the foothills when the majestic Koma Kulshan shows its face.  Whenever the sun comes out around here, everyone remembers why they love living here, and people come out of the woodwork to go hiking, window shopping Downtown, or head up to the mountain for a little late season skiing or snowboarding (I hear they got over three feet of snow in the last week!).

With yesterday afternoon’s sunshine and the beautiful morning I woke up to today, I started craving a little taste of summer. We currently have Washington grown Pink Lady apples on special (98¢/lb for members of our co-op), I decided a little apple crisp was in order!

I love cooking with Pink Lady apples – they are tart while still being sweet, and are crisp without being mealy so late in the season.  They are my apple of choice if Honeycrisps from Bellewood Acres aren’t in season because they work well in every recipe I have tried with them.  I inherited my grandma’s apple parer/corer/slicer, so prepping a mound of apples is a piece of cake!  If you don’t have one and are an apple lover, I highly recommend going out and getting one – either at a yard sale/second-hand store or at the Co-op (we carry them seasonally).

Goldilocks’ apples – not too soft, but not too hard – just right! Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

After your apples are prepped, you want to start the cooking process.  This recipe doesn’t have a very long cooking time in the oven, so it is important to cook your apples down enough so they will be able to finish in the oven without cooking them down so much that they disintegrate when you bake them.  It’s not as hard as it sounds – and the best part is that the most reliable way to make sure they are oven-ready is to taste them!  Once they are soft enough to cut with a spoon but still hold their shape, they are good to go.

“baked” streusel topping Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I used a technique from Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe for Quick Dutch Apple Crisp (the recipe is available to subscribers of their website) – they recommend baking your streusel for a few minutes first and using melted butter rather than cutting cold butter into your flour/oat/sugar mixture, and I thought I’d give that a try.

Once it was all prepped, it went in the oven for about 12 minutes, and presto – delicious apple crisp in April!  I served it room temperature with some slightly sweetened “cream on the top” whipped cream from our local Twin Brooks Creamery (the one in the glass bottles).  I thought that since I had a 9×13 baking dish full that the sampling might last for a couple of hours, but boy, was I wrong!  64 samples and 55 minutes later, my dish was empty but I was full with the knowledge that I had a hit on my hands!

Melissa’s Apple Crisp

INGREDIENTS

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 c all-purpose or GF flour blend
  • 1 c GF or regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 c packed brown sugar
  • 8 T salted butter, melted and slightly cooled (use margarine for vegan option)

Apple Filling:

  • 5 # peeled, cored, and sliced apples (1/4” thick)
  • 1 T butter (or use margarine for vegan option)
  • 1 T honey or agave syrup (use for vegan option)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • Large pinch ground nutmeg
  • Whipping cream or ice cream for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Apple Filling: Heat butter over high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan large enough to hold all the apples (and still have room to stir them) until foaming subsides; Add the apples, honey/agave, vanilla, and spices, and stir to coat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook covered,  stirring periodically, until apples become tender and the spices have bloomed, about 10 minutes.  Taste the apples mid-way through to make sure that they are sweetened and spiced enough for your tastes.
  4. Pour (mostly) cooked apples into a 9×13 baking dish and distribute evenly.
  5. Streusel Topping: In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  6. Slowly pour the melted butter over the flour/oats mixture and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and it has formed pea-sized chunks throughout the mixture.
  7. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and pour streusel evenly over it.  Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  8. Cool baking sheet on wire rack until the streusel is cool enough to handle.
  9. Cover apple mixture with streusel mixture.
  10. Bake for 10-15  minutes, until apples are all the way tender and they are bubbling, and the top is golden brown and crisp.
  11. Serve warm in a bowl with ice cream, or cold on a plate with some whipped cream.

Apples:  Ideally you want a mix of sweet and tart apples.  Sometimes one apple will give that to you (like Pink Lady) and sometimes you may want to use a mix of apples (like Macintosh and Granny Smith).

* This can easily be made vegan if you substitute margarine for the butter and use agave syrup instead of honey.

Apple Crisp PDF

“Buckeyes” (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)

For this week’s demo, I wanted to make something sweet. If you notice the ratio of desserts to entrees that I tend to sample, you’ll see that I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, although I try to keep a balance of recipes. I haven’t demoed a sweet treat since late August, so I felt it was time!

Buckeye tree nut

Buckeye tree nut

I trolled the web and found numerous recipes for Buckeyes that sounded promising – who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate? Well, actually one mother daughter duo professed to me yesterday that they didn’t, but everyone else I talked to sure did! If you are not familiar with Buckeye trees (as probably many in WA state are not), here are a few facts: Buckeyes are nuts from trees of the same name, which are very closely related to Horse Chestnuts. They grow all over the world but in North America, they grow mostly in the southern half of the continent (you’ll find them in CA, TX and of course in OH, which is called the Buckeye state). Buckeyes and Horse Chestnuts were historically used to aid circulation in both humans and horses (hence the name).

Homemade buckeye treats are very easy to make, and taste like a really, really good peanut butter cup. I used Santa Cruz organic dark roasted peanut butter in my batch, as well as organic dark chocolate chips for the coating. Some organic powdered sugar, butter and vanilla rounded out the ingredients. This is a recipe that does not shy away from sugar, and believe it or not, I used less sugar than the original recipe called for (by about 2 cups!).

A customer and I chatted about substitutions for the recipe, and you can of course use margarine in place of the butter if you want a vegan version, but she was going to try using coconut oil instead and I thought that might work out pretty well. She was also going to replace the powdered sugar with Rapadura sugar (both powdered and the crystals) but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you know what Rapadura tastes like – it does have a stronger flavor than regular white sugars, but I think in this recipe it could work.

This is a great recipe to make with kids, as there is no oven involved – as long as there is supervision melting the chocolate (although that can be done in the microwave in a pinch, but I think it tastes better done on the stove). You can also easily halve this recipe and still have a decent amount of treats. Enjoy!

photo of buckeye peanut butter balls

Buckeyes © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Buckeyes

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 oz jar of peanut butter
  • 1 c butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1# powdered sugar
  • 4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar.
  2. Roll into 1” balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  3. Press a toothpick into the top of each ball (to be used later as the handle for dipping them).  Chill in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir frequently until smooth.
  5. Dip frozen peanut butter balls in chocolate holding onto the toothpick.  Leave a small portion of peanut butter showing at the top to make them look like Buckeye nuts.
  6. Place Buckeyes back on the cookie sheet and refrigerate until served.  Remove toothpicks before serving.
  7. Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls) PDF

    adapted from www.allrecipes.com