Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Apples to apples

Somewhere between Halloween, the time change and today I realized the holidays are about to come crashing down upon me.  Scary thought, 10 days to Thanksgiving...OMG what is a girl to do?  Well this girl will start arming herself with all forms of delicious veggie sides, some kind of turkey recipe (we usually turn to a brined turkey but maybe something new) and of course a dessert.  It doesn't seem so overwhelming yet but just wait, I'm sure the stress will start getting to me.

Before pilgrims, turkeys and cornucopias come flying my way I want to share some non-turkey influenced recipes centering around my favorite fall ingredients...apples!  I have always enjoyed apples in the fall, between caramel apples, apple cider, apple baked goodies and just plain delicious apples it feels like fall when they are around.  I was super excited the last few weeks to receive apples in my Farmhouse Delivery box, who can beat local apples after all?   For those of you unfamiliar with Farmhouse Delivery, they are a very cool service from here in Austin that delivers bi-weekly or weekly produce boxes to your home or office.  While I am slightly outside their delivery zone I get a weekly box delivered to my parents house; each Thursday. I greedily look forward to the contents of that box  starting long before pickup on Thursday and then happily share it with my family.  It is a constant reminder of the diversity of products available in this area.  On top of the produce that is routine (and ever changing) in each box, you can order meats, canned goods, eggs, cheese and other extra grocery goodies to be delivered as well.  It's amazing how a $39 box has decreased my grocery store trips!  The other neat perk to this is that while they will swap out items due to dietary constraints, having that box delivered with whatever is available, fresh and seasonal means you have to work with it.  Just like other CSA-type programs I have opened up my box to find everything from pears to grapefruits and greens or even turnips (no, I don't know what I'm doing with those yet).

Running backwards after my trip down the Farmhouse Delivery rabbit hole...the main event today, apples. 

First up, a twist on a Cooking Light recipe, Savory Baked Apples.

Stuffed Savory Apples
Inspired by Cooking Light

2/3 cup chicken broth
4 large Honeycrisp apples, cored
1 lb ground pork 
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out centers of apples, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell, and chop apple flesh. Brush the inside of apples with a small amount of broth. Place apples on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until just tender.
3. Preheat broiler to high.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan; drain. Add chopped apple, onion, sage, salt and red pepper, sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add pork, onion mixture, walnuts and divide mixture evenly among apples; top with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until golden.

This year the Honeycrisp apples have been delicious, I will eat two maybe three in a day (if they aren't the massively big ones).  Apples appear in stuffings (haven't found my 'paleo' alternative to the bread yet), soups, stews, baked with cinnamon and agave nectar over the top and now as a main dish.

Apart from the stuffed apples, I also made a mean pork-apple soup a few nights back.  I don't mind soups, as a rule I used to love them as an excuse to have a nice crusty loaf of bread around, I think that's part of why I've avoided having a lot of soup since switching to my mostly-paleo diet.  Frankly this soup was delicious and would've been tasty with some crusty warm bread but being a good girl there was none to be found!

Pork & Apple Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound pork sirloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, (optional)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cups water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 pound green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 tart green apples such as Granny Smith, unpeeled, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Toss pork with 2 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add meat to the pan, and brown, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and caraway seeds, if using, and cook until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in stock, water, mustard, cabbage, pork, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add apples, and continue cooking, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Just before serving, stir in chopped parsley. Be careful not to simmer soup too long, extensive cooking will turn the pork tough.

The final recipe isn't as detailed, or even a recipe so much but instructions on making one of my favorite desserts.  It's quite simple really, core an apple (or two or three or pears or both), put it into an oven safe dish.  Put a few teaspoons of agave nectar or honey as well as flax seed granola (one of my favorite local finds - Flax Z Snacks) and then toss it in the oven (350F) until the fruit is tender.

1 comment:

Angie's Recipes said...

I have never tried a stew like this...looks extremely comforting and tasty.