Honey and Cinnamon Sautéed Apples with Ice Cream

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A nostalgic weekend away to visit your old college haunts should include:

-A well-loved CD played as many times as you can stand (thank you, Ingrid Michaelson)

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-Gorgeous views, foliage, natural beauty, and deep breaths of untainted air (thank you, upstate New York in general, and Saratoga Springs and Lake Luzerne specifically)

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-The obligatory visits to That Coffee Shop Where We Wrote Lots of PapersThe Bar Where We Met Boys (uh, hi mom), The Brunch Spot To Take Your Parents To, and, of course, the theater building where you spent most waking hours in college

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-The inevitable bumping into old classmates, complete with the understated but boastful (never skewed) recounting of where you live, what you do, how it fits into your goals from college, and why you’re so excited with where you are right now

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Apple pickingwine tastingbookstore wandering, thrifting, breakfast making, and maybe some salsa dancing.

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What it doesn’t need to include:

-An awkward moment where your boyfriend realizes he ordered a $30 glass of scotch while the rest of the ex theater majors sit there with their glasses of water. Oops.

-A superbly frustrating bout of misinformation from the car rental company, who claims the name on the credit card has to be the same as the primary driver. Why should they care so much where the money comes from, as long ask they get it?!?! It’s Zipcar from here on out.

-Any momentary glimpse or glimmer of a feeling approaching hunger. Every meal had an intro and a follow through. As the Rule says, upstate weekends Don’t shy away from unabashed butter consumption, Dutch cheese frenzies, or frequent pie detours. No shame, people, no shame.

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Honey and Cinnamon Sautéed Apples & Vanilla Ice Cream: The Best Thing to Do Post-Apple Picking (or, Pie Without Crust)

1-2 T salted butter (or unsalted and add more later)
2 T honey
3 apples, any crunchy variety, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1 t ground cinnamon
ground cloves, a sprinkle (or use allspice or nutmeg)
¼ t salt
vanilla ice cream (HIGHLY recommended, but use whatever makes you happy)

Melt butter in a medium pan over medium high heat. After it froths, add honey. Mix together and cook until mixture becomes bubbly, about two minutes. Add apples and stir so all pieces are covered with butter/honey mixture. This should smell amazing. Add cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Turn heat to medium-low and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until apples are softened and sweet but not falling apart, and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Serve warm atop vanilla ice cream and swoon.

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Pure joy.

 

Sweet Sesame Cauliflower, Snow Pea, and Kale Salad

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Oh, Brooklyn. You tempt me with your rooftop gardens and skyline views, live music happy hours, and street fairs. You lure me in with your brownstones, cafes, cocktails, and bike paths. You sweeten my day with homemade everythings on every corner. And you leave me shocked at the J. Crew on Wythe (holy, what now?!), the price tag on a cold-brew, and the traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.

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But I never expected you to treat me like this: to throw me into a court house, make me stay there for two week while paying me $40 a day, claiming you are more important than any of my bosses or coworkers, and claiming it is my “civic duty”.

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Brooklyn, I’m just not down with Grand Jury Duty.

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But because I love your bodegas and ethnic grocery stores and general CSA enthusiasm that made this salad possible, I’ll forgive you for today. Cauliflower, you have not wronged me yet. Today, you beat Brooklyn. Choose cauliflower, not fulfilling civic duties.

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Sweet Sesame Cauliflower, Snow Pea, and Kale Salad

adapted from Plenty by Ottolenghi

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup or so snow peas
1 small bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
½ T olive oil
1.5 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped; reserve a couple whole leaves for garnish
2 T sesame seeds

Sauce:
4 T tahini
2.5 T water
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ t soy sauce
½ T honey
¾ T apple cider vinegar
1.5 T mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
pinch of salt

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Briefly blanch the cauliflower until cooked but still firm, about 2-3 minutes. Scoop into a colander and run under cool water. Return the water to a boil. Add snow peas, and cook for just 1 minute. Add to cauliflower.

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the kale and a splash of water and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients together with a fork.

To toast sesame seeds, put in a small dry pan and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly brown and nutty-smelling. Keep a close eye on them; they like to turn too dark while you briefly answer a text message.

Combine cauliflower, snow peas, kale, and the chopped cilantro on a big plate. Drench with the sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and whole cilantro leaves. Eat cool or warm.

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Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

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…or how I managed to totally slut up an innocent and slightly aging squash.

…or How To Make You Kitchen Smell, like, the BEST it ever has (note to self: caramelized onions + apple cider vinegar + maple syrup = oniony jam kitchentime nirvana).

….or the post where we use up all the CSA veggies accumulating in the fridge. Side note: I didn’t even try to take pictures of the, shall we say, creative and somewhat gelatinous side of golden beet-tiny potato-peas-pickle-parsley salad. Trust me on this one, tastes about a zillion times better than it looks, and it looks like something you may feed someone named, say, Fido.

…or the “Daniel went salsa dancing and I have no camera so I took a million sucky iphone pictures” post. Feel free to skip the blurry awkward food pictures and RUN to the grocery store. I don’t blame you. Food heaven.

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Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

greedily and happily borrowed from Chez Catey Lou 

1 1/2 (or 2 if you don’t happen to have a half lying around) sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
½ c olive oil, divided
3 t salt, divided
¼ c REAL maple syrup
⅔ c apple cider vinegar
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices (easier said than done–just use those arm muscles, friends)
pinch red pepper flakes
½ c ricotta cheese
4 T fresh mint, chopped
4 slices hearty bread (I used thick slices of Bakeri multigrain)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a medium pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 t salt and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until tender, browned, and amazing-smelling. Then, add maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Continue cooking, stirring intermitently, until thickened and jammy, about another 25 minutes. Turn off heat.

Meanwhile, mix squash, ¼ c olive oil, 2 t salt, and red pepper flakes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip squash and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Squash is done with it’s soft, lightly browned, and sweet.

Add squash to onion pan and mash with a wooden spoon. Leave some larger chunks; you don’t want a puree but more a coarse mash.

Toast bread slices. Slather with ricotta and top with squash/onion mixture. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and finally add chopped mint. Rejoice and praise the onion jam gods.

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The cutey on the right is the kabocha

(For a delicious and unphotogenic side dish, mix chopped boiled potatoes, chopped roasted golden beets, chopped dill pickles, minced red onion, 1 small can green peas, and parsley with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dollop of mayo. Or don’t, and eat another toast!)