Thursday, November 24, 2011

Apple Slab

Apple Slab.  Not the most romantic name for a dessert but you won't care what it's called once you get your first bite.  I made this for the the first time at Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! It's sweet, a bit tangy and full of apple goodness. 



Pie Crust
Use your favorite pie crust recipe.  I made a double batch of Gluten Free Pie Crust and it worked out just perfect for the size of my pan. 

8 oz. gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca
3/4 cup sugar (1 cup if apples are really tart)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)
4 - 5 Tablespoons cornstarch (depending on how juicy the apples are)
8 Granny Smith or other good baking apple

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (aka powdered sugar)
1/3 cup boiled cider (which you can buy or make yourself pretty inexpensively .  I added a cinnamon stick to the cider while it cooked.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Enough milk or cream to make the mixture "drizzable".


Take your pie dough and split it into two parts about 60% and 40%.  Shape each piece of crust into a rectangle; you’re going to be rolling them into rectangles, so might as well give yourself a head start.
Take the larger piece of pastry and put it on a floured work surface (if your using a gluten dough) if it's GF place between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper to roll out.  Start to roll it into an 11” x 15” rectangle.  Lay the dough into the bottom of an ungreased 9"x13" pan. The dough should come up the sides of the pan.  Don't worry about ragged edges, they'll disappear under the top crust.
Messy, huh? That’s OK. Patch up the holes by pushing the pastry together with your fingers, or adding a pinch from the excess on the sides. Push the pastry up the sides of the pan a bit, to make a shallow pastry container for the apples.
In a separate bowl, add the tapioca to the gingersnap crumbs and mix well.  Dump the lot into your dish with the pie dough in it to make an even shallow layer. This will help to absorb the apples’ juice and keep the crust from becoming soggy. 
Put the crust in the fridge while you get the apples ready. And start preheating your oven to 350°F.

Combine in small bowl: sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. In another small bowl combine melted butter and vanilla. Mix first bowl with second now. In third bowl combine lemon juice and cornstarch until thick. Now mix with other ingredients. Set aside. Try not to eat too much of this.
Next, we’re going to peel, core, and slice about 5 large or 6 to 7 medium baking apples. An apple peeler/corer/slicer makes this task fast and EASY.  In a large bowl combine the apples with spice mixture. Mix so that all fruit is thoroughly coated.  Lay the apples over the cookie crumbs. 

Roll the remaining piece of pastry into a 9” x 13” rectangle. Flop the top crust over the apples. Yes, apples will poke through. Seal the edges of the two crusts as well as you can. There’ll be places where they don’t quite meet. That’s OK. Just before baking, slash it 6 or 8 times to allow steam to escape. You can apply an egg wash at this point or for a vegan option brush on a mix of veganaise & (soy or coconut) creamer to give the crust a beautiful golden brown color. Put the slab in the preheated 350°F oven, and bake it for an hour or until you see sugary apple gel bubble up through the venting slits. 

No beauty queen, but icing will help its looks.  Remove it from the oven; it’ll be golden brown. Cool the slab completely before glazing.

Here’s a wonderfully tasty glaze: Combine 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 1/3 cup boiled cider, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a small pinch of salt, and enough milk or cream to make the mixture “drizzlable.”

Don’t have boiled cider? Use plain milk or cream, maple syrup, honey, or thawed apple juice concentrate. Start with 1/4 cup of any of these; if you’ve made this kind of icing before, you know it’s easier to add more liquid, than to try to take it away. Add enough liquid to make the glaze pourable. Drizzle the glaze artfully atop the slab.


Cut. Serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alton Brown's Chicken Stock


  • 4 pounds chicken carcasses, including necks and backs
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 4 ribs celery, cut in 1/2
  • 1 leek, white part only, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley with stems
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 gallons cold water


Place chicken, vegetables, and herbs and spices in 12-quart stockpot. Set opened steamer basket directly on ingredients in pot and pour over water. Cook on high heat until you begin to see bubbles break through the surface of the liquid. Turn heat down to medium low so that stock maintains low, gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the stock with a spoon or fine mesh strainer every 10 to 15 minutes for the first hour of cooking and twice each hour for the next 2 hours. Add hot water as needed to keep bones and vegetables submerged. Simmer uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
Strain stock through a fine mesh strainer into another large stockpot or heatproof container discarding the solids. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Prior to use, bring to boil for 2 minutes. Use as a base for soups and sauces.

Mom's Beef Chili

1 large onion - diced
1 red or green bell pepper - diced
2lbs of ground beef
2 cans of chopped tomatoes - 28oz ea.
2 cans of tomato sauce - 15 oz ea.
1 can of tomato paste - 6 oz
2 cans of kidney beans - 15oz ea.
+++Chili Powder
1TBL Cocoa powder

Crumble and brown ground beef (do not overcook).
Add onions, bell pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and paprika.*
Cook until onions are almost tender.
Add juice from read beans and simmer until reduced somewhat.
Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste, tomato sauce, cocoa and sugar.  Respice at this time if you didn't add enough in earlier.
Add kidney beans last to heat through. Done!

Garnish with minced onion, cheddar cheese and or corn chips.

*Because it's a "mom" recipe she doesn't actually measure.  I've put +'s above to give an idea about the ratio between spices, so more chili powder and paprika then cumin.  Start with maybe a table spoon or two and go from there.  Season to taste.

Perfect Gravy

Use your favorite oven roasted chicken or turkey recipe (See link at bottom for recipe I use). Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board with a well. Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Meanwhile, pour the pan drippings into a shallow bowl or fat separator, and leave onions in the pan. Leave any brown baked-on bits in the bottom of the roasting pan, and remove and discard any blackened bits. Using a large spoon or fat separator, skim off and discard as much fat as possible. Pour the remaining drippings and the juices that have collected under the resting chicken back into the roasting pan. Place on the stove over medium-high heat to cook, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of chicken stock, raise heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, stir up and combine the brown bits with the stock until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Strain the gravy into a small bowl, pressing on onions to extract any liquid. Discard onions, and stir in a tablespoon of cold butter or butter substitute like Earth Balance until melted and incorporated. Untie the legs, and remove and discard garlic, thyme, and lemon. Carve, and serve gravy on the side.

Source: Martha Stewart

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brisket Magic

This recipe for a dry rub and braising liquid is pure magic on a slow cooked BBQ brisket.  Thanks Alton Brown!

8 TBL light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 TBL kosher salt
1 TBL chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. jalapeno pepper seasoning
1/2 tsp. crab boil seasoning (Old Bay)*
1/2 tsp. rubbed thyme
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Not so good for brisket but lovely with the rub when added to ribs of any kind
1 cup white wine
2 TBL white wine vinegar
2 TBL worcestershire sauce
1 TBL honey
2 cloves of garlic chopped

*Seems weird to me but I can't seem to find Old Bay in the stores anymore. So if you can't either this is a good substitution:

  • 1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/ teaspoon ground cloves


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tummy Rescue Smoothie

You may have good results with the tummy rescue smoothie recipe below, which I developed in response to a “gluten emergency” of my own. The healing properties of each ingredient are also listed. Puree in blender until smooth, and slightly thickened. It is most soothing when consumed while still warm from the hot tea

1 cup hot freshly brewed nettle leaf tea (anti-histamine, anti-spasmodic)
¼ Cup Santa-Cruz pear juice (flavoring/sweetener - pears are the least allergenic of fruits)
¼ - ½ teaspoon whole fennel seed (reduces gas & bloating)
2 Tablespoons slippery elm powder (healing & soothing to mucous membranes and the gut)
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil (soothing, anti-inflammatory)
¼ - ½ cup rice milk (hypo allergenic, use to thin to desired consistency)

This smoothie is best consumed in small sips over an hour or so. Magnesium also helps with pain and relaxes muscle spasms, so taking a little extra magnesium may be of benefit. For severe symptoms, drink the smoothie while reclining in bed, with a warm castor oil pack over the abdomen, covered by a heating pad set on low. Do not leave the pack in place for more than an hour.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chicken Jumble

This is a non-traditional version of jambalaya made one night when I hadn't done any grocery shopping but seemed to have most of the ingredients on hand.

2 TBL olive oil
4-6 chicken thighs (breasts would work too)
8 chicken mango sausage with jalapeno cut in 1" slants (or a spicy sausage if you have it)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 TBL Arizona Dreamin' (Penzey's Spice Blend) or any sort of spice blend that will work with the flavor of your sausage. A Jerk blend would also be great with this dish.
14oz can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of uncooked rice
3 cups chicken broth
3 TBL lime juice

Preheat oven to 350*

Heat oil in a dutch oven on the stove top. Brown both sides of chicken thighs and remove to a plate. Add chopped sausage to oil and brown as well. Once done, remove to a separate plate.

Poor off excess oil till only about a tablespoon remains. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to pot. Scrape up browned bits as onion cooks to translucency. Add garlic and spice blend stir with onion mix until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add can of tomatoes and rice to heat, a minute or so. Then stir in chicken broth and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Turn off stove top and give the whole thing one last good stir so the rice won't stick to the bottom of the pot.

Nestle chicken down into rice mixture. Cover and put in the oven for about 35 minutes until rice and chicken are cooked.