Amidst the turkey, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, stuffing, and rolls, the color green is often lost on the Thanksgiving table. I love this casserole as a hearty alternative to turkey for vegetarian guests, cut into small squares to serve as an appetizer, or simply served alongside a nice slice of savory bird. The fried shitake mushrooms are a wonderful touch, lending a nice kick of flavor to the mild greens. I appreciate that this dish comes together very quickly, and could even be made the day before and reheated in the oven as the turkey is finishing. Or it would be really easy to transport to another house if you've been tasked with bringing a side dish to a family gathering. Quick, simple, easily transported, filling, and delicious...what more could you ask for out of one recipe?
I have mixed feelings about swiss chard. Its fine, really, but that's about it. However, in this recipe it provides a nice earthy base from which the shitake mushrooms really shine. I think this casserole would also be lovely with lacinato kale, my favorite hearty green.
½ pound shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
½ cup panko
¾ cup parmesan cheese
10 large eggs
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2-½ pounds swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves thinly sliced (I like to stack the leaves and roll them tightly, then slice the roll crosswise to make quick work of this task)
Preheat the oven to 350℉ and butter a shallow 9x13 ceramic baking dish. (I altered quantities some and used a 9x9 square dish…it is very easy to divide or double).
In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and transfer the mushrooms to a paper towel-lined plate.
In a small bowl, toss the panko with ¼ cup of the cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the cayenne, 1 tsp of salt, and ½ cup of cheese. Stir in the swiss chard and mushrooms. Scrape the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for about 20 minutes, until the eggs are just set around the edges.
Sprinkle the panko on top of the casserole and bake for about 10-15 more minutes, until the casserole is fully set and the topping is lightly browned. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Caramel apples. The perfect Fall treat, bringing to mind images of carnivals and festivals and Halloween parties. I've made a few variations of candied apples in the past but this version is by far my favorite. This caramel is heavy and dark, laced with mollasses and dark corn syrup for an earthy undertone and not-overly-sweet flavor. If you're not a fan of molasses I'd avoid this recipe as, while not overpowering, the molasses does play a significant supporting role in the dance across the tastebuds. I loved this subtle difference from regular carnival candied apples that can sometimes make your teeth ache with sweetness. That's not to say that this particular caramel isn't sweet, because it is, it is just balanced nicely by that molasses addition.
I'm not feeling too wordy today, friends, but felt the need to get this recipe out to you while there are still some orange and yellow leaves clinging to the trees. Especially to all of you northeasterners who are facing the first nor'easter of the year. What the heck?!? I assume there will be some time spent indoors this weekend, lamenting the loss of Autumn so early. Why not spend that time making the perfect Fall treat?
note that you will need an accurate candy thermometer for this recipe
(1) 1-pound box dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
(1) 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp dark mollasses
1/4 tsp salt
12 sturdy lollipop sticks, chopsticks, or twigs (these aren't great for holding, better for apples you plan to cut into slices)
12 medium apples
Combine sugar, butter, condensed milk, corn syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, molasses and salt in a thick-bottomed 2-1/2 or 3-quart saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon on medium-low heat until all of the sugar dissolves. You can test this by rubbing a little bit of the caramel between your fingers (let it cool on a spoon a bit first!!!). There should be no grittiness. Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals that might form on the pan sides.
Attach a clip-on candy thermometer to the pan and cook the caramel at a rolling boil until the thermometer reaches 236℉, stirring constantly and slowly with a wooden spatula. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir, so that the caramel doesn't stick. Once it sticks it will burn, and you'll have to start over. Continue to occasionally brush the sides of the pan down with a pastry brush. Carefully pour the caramel into a metal bowl and allow it to cool until the temperature lowers to 200℉, at which point you are ready to dip the apples.
While the caramel is cooling, prepare a large baking sheet, covering it with parchment paper, butter aluminum foil, or a silpat. Insert your sticks into each apple core (I used a chopstick to poke the holes for the twigs).
When the caramel has cooled enough for dipping, dip the apples in, one by one, by holding on to the stick, and vertically lowering the apple into the caramel, submerging all but the very top of the apple. Pull the apple up from the caramel and let the excess caramel drip off from the bottom back into the pan, then place the apple on the prepared baking sheet. The caramel will pool a little at the bottom of each apple. Place the sheet in the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes. At this point, if you'd like to add toppings, do so. Otherwise, allow the apples to chill for at least one hour.
I recommend, after chilling, storing the apples at room temperature. Otherwise the caramel is hard as a rock.
My goodness...I should not have underestimated the powers of a beautiful salad! Thank you all for your sweet comments and enthusiasm. I won't lie, I fully expected to receive a whopping 2 comments on yesterday's post, so I appreciate all 10 of you proving me wrong. :)
As promised, here is an apple tart to kick off your weekend. It is your reward for yesterday's salad love, friends. This here tart is one of those pesky editorial assignments that I was telling you about, the completely fun and delicious and right-up-my-ally projects that cause me to eat more sweets/sushi/potato chips/wedding cake than maybe I should. This particular recipe was made and photographed for C-Ville Weekly and published in last week's issue. I'm just a little behind in getting it up here on Bella Eats. But, for all of you Charlottesville folks, Relay Foods has all of the ingredients ready to add to your cart in one click should you choose to make this apple tart this Fall. And you really should, as it is simple and lovely and delicious...three qualities I strive for in most food coming out of my kitchen.
Your tart will most likely look just a little bit different than mine because, well, I messed with the recipe a little bit. And wrongly, I might add. Your apples probably won't sit so high on the base, and the base itself won't be quite as dense. Even though I added a tad too much flour we still loved this treat. I can't wait to make it again, sticking to the recipe below.
The pattern cut into the apples is, other than pretty, very helpful to slicing the tart in any way you might wish.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter and flour a 9" or 10" cake pan, tapping to remove excess flour.
Place the egg, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse until mixture is starting to combine and then add the melted butter, continuing to pulse until smooth.
Combine the flour and yeast, and add to the mixture in the processor. Pulse until evenly distributed, add the milk and vanilla, and then process until a soft batter forms.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread across the pan until it is level.
Deeply score the 8 apple halves in a grid pattern. Place one half in the center of the cake pan and arrange the remaining halves in a circular pattern. Bake for 10 minutes, the reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake for 35-40 minutes more, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Meanwhile, combine the 2 tbsp apricot preserves with the 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until melted. When the tart comes out of the oven, brush it with the preserves and bake for an additional 3 minutes. Serve warm.
And this, friends, would be an example of an AHubb meal. Or, an AHubb meal following a couple of weeks of BHubb meals, multiple food-centered editorial assignments, and a day-long photoshoot involving roughly 800oz of potato chips. Which, yes, we kept and distributed [mostly] to friends and family. With the fast approach of the holiday season and even heavier meals for impending Winter days, I've decided to challenge myself to create an interesting salad each week. To keep me on track, grounded, and hopefully in my current jeans. Not that I'll share each of them here. I know...you all really enjoy recipes more closely aligned with orecchiette carbonara and peach cakes. Who doesn't? But I thought, maybe, some of you might appreciate a few healthier options sprinkled here and there.
We all have those days when our jeans fit just a little tighter than the last, when we are craving something complex and hearty and cheesy for lunch but know we should choose the green salad instead. This recipe is my compromise. With a healthy dose of greens and apples, and a modest sprinkling of blue cheese and candied walnuts, it satisfies without the guilt. Make it lighter by omitting the candied walnuts and just sprinkling them on raw...but gosh, they sure are tasty.
Never fear...I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe for apple torte. :)
The combination of apples, blue cheese, and candied walnuts is well-loved and known for salads. Sometimes you just need a little reminder about an old favorite.
Autumn Salad with Apples, Blue Cheese, + Candied Walnuts
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups fresh arugula
1 tart apple, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Candied Walnut Ingredients
1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
large pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups halved walnuts
Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette Ingredients
2 tbsp grain mustard
4 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar (or champagne vinegar if you can't find golden balsamic)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
First, candy the walnuts. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a heavy skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking, and allow to boil for 1 minute. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Continue tossing until the syrup forms a glaze on the nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of foil and quickly separate them with forks.
Second, make the vinaigrette. Combine the mustard, vinegar, and honey in the small bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify, processing for about 1 minute.
Toss together the spinach and arugula. Place in a shallow serving dish. Add the apples and walnuts evenly across the top of the greens, then the crumbled blue cheese. Dress the salad on individual plates.
As I sat on our deck steps last night listening to the cicadas and sipping a glass of vino verde while Brian threw toys for the dogs, their feet tearing through our bed of mint and releasing the most intoxicating smell into the air, I realized that the outside temperature was incredibly comfortable. A lovely 68 degrees, with the lightest breeze to whisk the hair out of your face and send goosebumps dancing up your arms, made for the perfect deck-sitting evening. I thought to myself “Fall...she’s almost here”, before picking myself up and moving inside because Summer’s mosquitos haven’t yet received the memo.
September. The first month of Autumn...how is it already upon us? The end of Summer is quite visible in the shriveling of our tomato plants, the slumber of our blackberries and the fully ripe figs on the public trees just down the street (of which I have enjoyed many...). I must admit, I’ve been feeling the fingers of Fall moving in to pull me through the last few weeks of Summer for awhile now and have not been unhappy about it. For Fall, with her crisp air, golden light, crunchy leaves under feet and produce fit for warm and hearty meals, is absolutely my favorite season.
That’s not to say that I won’t miss Summer. I’ll miss our garden, and bemoan the fact that I didn’t have enough forethought to plant winter squash, sweet potatoes or another round of beets. I’ll miss the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that literally burst open on the vine because they are so full of juice, and the sweet taste of a peach pulled from a tree with my very own hands. I’ll miss my effervescent white wines and fresh berry tarts topped with vanilla ice cream, and simple green salads for dinner paired with a loaf of french bread. And of course there’s the kayaking, the trips to the reservoir with the dogs and the extended daylight that allows for late evening walks and runs with girlfriends.
We’ve done our best to preserve as much of Summer’s bounty as possible. We had bigger plans for the 2009 harvest, but I’m proud that we saved so much more than last year and feel certain that we’ll do even better in 2010. We’ve made over 200 ounces of jam, in flavors ranging from strawberry rhubarb to peach lime. I’ve frozen 10 quart-bags full of blackberries and the same number full of peach slices. I’ve baked and frozen zucchini muffins and raspberry muffins to grab on the go on future rushed Autumn mornings. And I’ve slow-roasted tomatoes, 8 pounds of them, to enjoy over pasta and on sandwiches this winter when I need a little reminder of warmer days.
Slow-roasting tomatoes concentrates their flavor into single bites that seem to explode in your mouth. They will instantly transform a simple parmesan-laced pasta or crusty loaf of bread spread with St. Andres or another triple cream cheese into the most satisfying meal. That is, if you can keep your husband and other fingers away from the pan as the tomatoes cool...
If possible, I encourage you all to freeze or can as much local produce as you can this summer. I wish I'd pushed the idea earlier on, and promise that next year I'll have more comprehensive guides to canning and freezing. As I've mentioned, Brian and I try to eat as locally and seasonally as possible. Unfortunately, living in Virginia, there comes a time every winter when it is nearly impossible to get any fresh local produce. This year we decided to extend out local eating season as long as possible by preserving as much as we could. We had big plans for canned whole vegetables and fruits, salsas and tomato sauces (of which Brian did make one freezer batch). We weren't as productive as we had hoped, although the season isn't quite over yet. So, get to your local farmer's market this weekend and pick up the last of the tomatoes, peaches, berries, okra etc, and have a little canning or freezing party in your kitchen. Come winter, you'll be so happy you did.
Slow-Roasted Tomatoesrecipe from Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life, pg. 192
3-1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes, halved (about 20 tomatoes)
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 200*F.
Wash and dry tomatoes, and cut them in half length-wise. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to coat.
Arrange them on a baking sheet cut-side up, and sprinkle each with a pinch of salt and a pinch of coriander for every 4-6 tomatoes.
Bake until the tomatoes crinkle at the edges and shrink to about half their original size, 4 to 6 hours.
Cool to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or the freezer for a few months.
**I also found this slow-roasted tomato recipe that I wanted to try, but we ran out of tomatoes in the garden too soon. I may pick some up at the market this weekend to give it a try.
The winners of the last two Saucy Mama Lime Chipotle Marinade (picked by random.org) are:
#31 Melissa, of Melissa's Journey
Congratulations Ladies! I know you'll love the sauce. Please send me an email at bellaeats[at]gmail[dot]com with your full name and address.
All other winners, of Saucy Mama marinade and jam, your treats are going out this week! I promise!
Other Bella Terra posts this season: