Matthew: I spent a beautiful fall Sunday at the apple orchard and wanted to use the apples right away for some baking. I opted for a slab pie, which is sort of like a really big turnover. And, by really big, I mean that I used 3 sticks of butter and 15 apples! The pie weighed in at about 6.5 pounds. I’ll be sharing this with all my friends and probably freezing some too. For the recipe, I followed the crust and baking instructions from this Smitten Kitchen recipe and just filled the pie with 15 thinly sliced apples, mixed with 1 cup brown sugar, a good sprinkling of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. The pie turned out really well. I think the crust-to-filling ratio is good and I like the extra glaze that goes on top.
Matthew: Now that the heat wave is over, I can once again turn on my oven and stove without worrying about spontaneously combusting my apartment. My first order of business was to make hot fudge sauce that I need for an ice cream pie that I’ll be making soon. I’ve never made hot fudge sauce before, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easy and seemingly foolproof it was to make. I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen that makes about 2 1/2 cups. I flavored my hot fudge sauce with a little Frangelico. After making it, I decided that I had some extra hot fudge, so I made an emergency run for vanilla ice cream. Now that I know how good and easy homemade hot fudge is, I’ll probably make it more often.
Matthew: As the rhubarb at the market gets bigger and more green each week, I decided that this week would be my last hurrah with rhubarb for the season. I’ve done unconventional things thus far, so I thought I would try something more familiar. I saw this recipe for rhubarb streusel muffins on Smitten Kitchen and thought it sounded good. These muffins are sort of like rhubarb crisp in muffin form. They were really quick to make and turned out very moist with the addition of sour cream. I used 1:2 ratio of whole wheat to regular flour and that seemed to work out well.
Ok, so I guess my last use of rhubarb wasn’t entirely traditional. In addition to making the muffins, I extracted some juice from the rhubarb and used it to make a really fantastic rhubarb margarita. Juicing rhubarb is a little strange, but all you need is a blender and some cheesecloth or a sieve. I followed the instructions for juicing here. For the margarita, I used approximately 3 oz of rhubarb juice, 2 oz of tequila, juice from 1/2 a lime, and 2 oz plus more to taste of triple sec. I have to say, this was the perfect summer drink! Below is a photo of the juice before I made it into the margarita.
Matthew: This weekend, I was inspired by my neighborhood bakery, Bloom Bake Shop, which specializes in cupcakes and whoopie pies made with seasonal, local ingredients. I had an amazing spiced apple whoopie pie with cream cheese filling last week and noticed that they had also added pumpkin as a fall flavor. I thought I could try to replicate this at home using a CSA pumpkin I got this week. I cut the pumpkin in half, seeded it (the seeds are now toasted with smoked paprika!), and roasted it in the oven. Since I don’t have a food processor, I had to be a little creative with my pureeing method. I used this recipe for pumpkin cupcakes from Smitten Kitchen. Instead of adding the ingredients in the order listed, I pureed the pumpkin with the eggs and buttermilk in the blender and then added that mixture alternating with the flour mixture to the butter and sugar. Then, following a recipe that my coworker, Beth, gave to me for whoopie pies, I used a ziplock bag to pipe the batter onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet and baked for ~10 minutes at 350. For the filling, I used the cream cheese and maple syrup frosting recipe that went along with the cupcakes. The cakes were a bit sticky which made filling them a bit tricky, but the end result was good and REALLY delicious!
Matthew: I’ve been getting sweet corn for several weeks now from my CSA, but this was the first week with lots of tomatoes. I immediately thought of this recipe which introduced me to the concept of vegetable pies last August when it was originally published over on Smitten Kitchen. Since then, I’ve made the original recipe and several variations with different combinations of vegetables. This time around, I didn’t have the herbs, but I did substitute them with a large jalapeño, finely diced. Next time, I would probably decrease the amount of lemon juice. I liked the flavor, but it was just a little too prominent. Overall, this was a great success and a recipe that I will continue to make.
I found this easy recipe for pizza on the Smitten Kitchen website and thought it would be a good, quick dinner. I followed the pizza dough recipe here and used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. For the toppings, I substituted Asiago cheese for the Parmesan. Overall it was great! The crust didn’t rise very well (because of the whole wheat flour?) and therefore slightly resembled cardboard, but the toppings definitely made up for it. Since the asparagus is so thin, it cooks in no time. I’d definitely try this again and experiment with another crust recipe or leave the whole wheat flour out of the recipe I used.
Matthew: It’s strawberry season here in southern Wisconsin, so I went to a nearby farm after work last week and picked a bunch of ripe berries. I knew I had to use some of them to make a dessert, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to make until I saw this post over at Smitten Kitchen. It’s a play on strawberry shortcake, substituting a tart crust for the biscuit and sweetened ricotta for the whipped cream. It’s a nice recipe, because you can make all three parts ahead of time and then just construct the dessert when you are ready to eat. The crust is supposed to have graham flour in it, but since I couldn’t find any, I just used a bit of whole wheat flour. Also, I did have a hard time rolling out the crust, so instead of cutting out circles from a rolled out crust, I formed it into one giant egg shape and then after baking it, cut it up into portions. I thought the final result was really tasty and I think my friends at work agreed. I may have to go get some more strawberries before the season is done to make it again!