When asked to do a Halloween cooking demo at the Winchester MA Farmers Market, I wanted to make something a bit more healthy and fresh then the typical candies and cupcakes and it had to be FUN. How about Crazy Apple Creatures, Apple Ghosts, and Creepy Finger Sandwiches! These are super easy to make and are fun to do with even young kids. There are many versions of similar treats online but it is fun to give them a local food twist.
For the Crazy Apple Creatures you need some nice big apples (I used Cortlands from Kimball Fruit Farm), a sharp knife, creamy peanut butter, creamy nut butter, or cream cheese, plus jam and an assortment of nuts, seeds, raisins, and dried fruit (a used a bag of Fastachi nut mix that I bought at the farmers market). You will also need a about two cups of water mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice in a small bowl.
Start by cutting the apple into quarters and then remove the core.
Cut a V-shaped piece out of the skin side of the apple as shown here.
Dip the cut apple in the lemon juice mixture and they are ready for the kids to decorate. For the Apple Ghosts just peel the apples, cut the same as for Crazy Apple Creatures and decorate nuts or currants for eyes.
The Creepy Finger Sandwiches start with a few slices of whole wheat bread, a rolling pin, local goat cheese (I used Crystal Book Farm) or cream cheese, a few sliced almonds, and a bit of red jam, such as strawberry, raspberry, or cranberry (you know we used Doves and Figs).
Cut all of the crust off of the bread and roll flat with the rolling pin.
Spread the cheese on the bread and roll up tightly as you would a jelly roll.
Cut a few shallow slashes to look like knuckles
Place a dab of cheese at one end and top with a sliced almond for the fingernail
At the other end smear a bit of jam for the super creepy blood (eeeewwww)
I love deserts that are simple to make but look wonderful and are layered with delightful surprises; ice cream bombs, trifles, parfaits, etc. When I heard Linda Wertheimer interview cookbook author Sophie Grigson on WBUR link here there was much discussion about the delights of English Summer Pudding. This was my kind of dessert and all that is needed to make it is bread, summer berries, and a bit of sugar.
I ran out and bought a big loaf of farmhouse style bread and, well, if you know me or read my blog you will know there is never a shortage of fruit around here. Instead of making one big pudding, I decided to make little ones in custard cups. I added a bit of Cointreau and a layer of jam to the basic recipe but these are optional. The tiny puddings were so easy and delicious and light that this recipe will become a summer favorite in my house.
To make Summer Pudding:
Chop up about a pound of berries-strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc. (I used a quart of fall strawberries and a handful of black raspberries and red currants from my garden.
Put all the fruit and a 1/3 cup sugar and a splash of Cointreau in a big skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until the juices run freely and the fruit begins to soften. Strain some of the juice off into a shallow bowl. Let cool slightly.
Cut 5 rounds of bread (about 1 inch thick) to fit tightly in the bottom each of the custard cups and another 5 rounds to fit the bottom.
Dip the top round in the fruit juice and place in the custard cup juice side down.
Spread a layer of raspberry jam on the bread and then spoon in about a heaping tablespoon of cooked fruit.
Dip the bottom layer in fruit juice and place in the cup juice side up this time.
Cover with plastic wrap and weight down with a can or heavy jar. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
To unmold, run a knife gently around the edge of the pudding. Invert onto a plate or shallow bowl and lift the custard cup.
Serve with whipped cream and fresh sliced berries or just plain.
Rich, warm, creamy flavors are holiday standards. This is the time of year when even Scrooge can’t resist indulging in a cheese filled or bacon-wrapped little something. Layer upon layer of indulgent foods can become tiring unless there is something simple with a bit of bite to break them up. A green salad is a classic option but some beautiful scarlet salad turnips I found at the farmers market made a unique accompaniment to a traditional holiday meal. This dish is also great for pot luck parties and buffets as it provides a nice option for raw food and vegan food fans.
1 large scarlet salad turnip
1 medium tart apple
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp raw, unfiltered honey (or more to taste)
1 tsp caraway seeds
Shred turnip and apple on mandolin or food processor
Blend in cider vinegar and honey
Sprinkle in caraway seeds and toss
Chill until ready to serve
I am afraid that I have been posting less recipes these days and that is mostly because my kitchen is filled with these magnificent treasures from local Massachusetts farms and orchards. Once the season slows down and all of the fruit has been blended into preserves and conserves and tucked into jars, there will be more everyday cooking and baking again. Even so, I can’t totally leave my jam behind and I am thinking about a mid-winter multi-course dinner with some type of jam in each course. And then there are all of those jam filled tarts and biscuits and cookies I am sure to make for the holidays. Thank you wonderful farmers for growing all the berries and fruits that are helping me spread the jam love.
To see what we are making in the jam kitchen and where we will be selling & tasting jam next, please go to Doves and Figs Kitchen
The hottest days of the summer are on the way. Now is the time to pick fresh strawberries and tuck some into the freezer for warm weather treats such as smoothies, sangria, or these delicious strawberry mint popsicles. This unusual recipe calls for cooking the berries and sugar first to bring out the sweet jammy flavor, adding some lemonade and mint and then cooling and freezing the mixure. I hope you will have fun picking berries now and enjoy a delicious popsicle cool down during the hot days this summer.
Strawberry Mint Popsicles
Strawberries (about 1 quart)
1 cup lemonade or limeade
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
Plastic popsicles molds for freezing
Hull and chop enough fresh strawberries to make 3 cups
Add 1/2 cup sugar to the berries and let stand about 5 minutes
Place in a shallow pan and cook until the berries soften and juice run freely
Add 1 cup lemonade or limeade
Allow to cool and then add mint
Place in popsicle molds and freeze
Considering that we are two months away from strawberry season in New England, I made some pretty darn delicious strawberry vanilla preserves from California berries. Oh hush my fellow local food lovers! This would not be something I would ever do when the farmers market and my garden are brimming with the scent of ripe berries but I needed to perfect a recipe for my canning class and pioneer spirited women must make do with what was available.
Early Tuesday morning I did a baking sprint, preparing muffins, brownies, honey cornbread, and chocolate chip squares for a meeting where I was also presenting. The way I viewed it, if my talk bored the folks, at least they would be able to munch on tasty treats to quell the ennui.
I started making the simple buttery muffins that I fill with lemon curd but when I finished the batter I realized that I had run out of homemade curd (someone had eaten the last bit and I am afraid it might just have been me). I spotted the strawberry jam waiting patiently to be enjoyed and I swept it from the fridge and spooned a bit into each muffin. The results were splendid!
The meeting resulted in some excellent business conversations and leads and several requests for the recipe for my strawberry jam filled muffins.
Strawberry Stuffed Muffins
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of cinnamon
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper baking cups
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl
Mix eggs, milk, cooled melted butter together
Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients, mix until combined but do not over mix
Let batter stand for five minutes and then scoop into prepared muffin tin
Tuck about a teaspoon of strawberry preserves into each muffin
Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and light brown around edges
Serve warm or cool
It was a wonderful holiday filled with family and twinkling candles and rich delicious foods. Tonight I had big plans; knishes, blintzes, or chopped liver with gribnes, perhaps. Alas, my tummy was craving something much more simple. A little something from my childhood, a classic from the Catskills of my grandparents days. Slice a banana, add a bissel (little) sour cream, sprinkle on some cinnamon & sugar and the dish is done. Serve with a steaming cup of Sweet Touch Nee Tea. Maybe a cracker or two…
Happy Hanukkah to all and to all a good night!