18 October 2011

Dessert or Breakfast?

Am I cheating?  Justifying?  I don't know.  I just know that it's good.  This morning, we had an apple cobbler with cranberries, complements of King Arthur Whole Grain Baking.  Over the past month, I've been haunting Marietta Farmer's Market, especially Lane's Orchard's Stand, where each week, new varieties of apples are available.  They recognize me now.

We are lucky.  We have a basement, and it has a kitchen (!) complete with a full sized refrigerator.  We don't have a root cellar, but we do have a mostly empty fridge "downstairs," so I decided to get as many apples now, while the gettin's good, and store them there to see us through part of the winter.  We have Grimes Gold, Firm Gold, Macleod, Winesap (tart!), Macs, JonGolds, you name it, we got it.  Have I mentioned that unless it's peach season, my favorite fruit is apples?

So it's apple season, and I have an overflowing refrigerator.  And I wake up at 5:00, while the rest of the household sleeps in since they stayed up late watching Oklahoma football on TV.  May as well do something good with all these apples.  Burt loves pies.  In fact, he always asks for pie for his birthday instead of cake.  I think I've made it known to him that a pie takes about two hours of labor, while a cake takes 20 minutes.  Still, he persists in pie.  I should be happy that birthdays only happen once a year.  And, truly, Burt wants nothing else.  No presents, nothing else.  Just pie.  So it's the least I can do.  But pie at any other time?  Sorry.  It's just too much of a time eater.  Counting the crust, which Burt prefers to be homemade, and we're talking 3 hours total.  But there are other options, and cobbler is one.

I stumbled upon a apple pandowdy recipe, and decided to try it.  The idea behind the pandowdy is that you put the fruit in the pan and then top it with a crust.  After it has baked, you break up the crust and integrate it with the filling, thus soaking the crust in the juice.  The thing that appealed to me was that the crust could be just a wreck, and no one would know.  And it should be a lot quicker than pie.

This particular recipe came from King Arthur, which, very nicely, gave me permission to reprint their recipes as long as I credited them and provided a link to either their store or their cookbook.  Credit and links duly noted.  Let me say right now that this pandowdy is the best apple concoction that I have ever made.  And believe me, I've made a lot, lot, lot of pies, cobblers, etc.  I'm a regular baking machine in the fall when it's apple season.  This is supreme.

The addition of dried cranberries is genius.  It adds a wonderful rosy color to the dish, and provides just the right tart.  For apples, I like to use as wide a variety as I can.  You know, some apples are eating apples, and others are cooking apples.  Some are tart, some are sweet.  I say just take a little of each, and then you don't have to worry about mushiness, tartness, oversweetness, or whatever.  Well, I pulled from six varieties, and it was a wonderful balance.  Let me add that if I only had one variety, I'd plow onward and make this.  I just don't see how  it could not come out good.

So is it a good start to the day?  Honestly, I don't see how anyone could question that.  In 7 cups of apples, only a mere half cup of sugar is used.  The crust is whole grain, so the carbs are not empty.  Yes, there are 6 tablespoons of butter, but come on.  You are getting SO MUCH fruit.  Live with it.

One thing that might be a little off-putting is that the main flour of this dish is barley flour.  I have a really hard time finding it here, and have gotten lucky occasionally at the local health food store.  However, this is a whole grain flour, and it adds a really nice taste, so it is worth taking the time to find it.  If I were determined to make this and I didn't have barley flour, I think I'd use white whole wheat flour instead.

When this baby came out of the oven, and I dug in, I just couldn't believe how good it was.  Cool Guy, who is not really a pie fan, became really hoggish with the crust parts, as in picking them out and taking them for himself, the rascal.

If I were to name a drawback, it would be that I doubt that the crust will retain its integrity over time.  Therefore, I ordered the family to consume the entire dish in one day.  It was going to breakfast, part of lunch,, snacks, and dessert for dinner, but by gosh, we were going to eat it in one day.  No protests.  If any is left, I guess I'll find out if the crust is any good on day 2, but I don't think that's going to be a problem.

*NOTE*  Day 2, there was enough of the pandowdy to make two small bowls for breakfast.  As I feared, the crust just wasn't as good, but overall, the taste was fine.  Certainly eat as much as you can on the first day, but enjoy it on the second, also.

Since eating it fresh is so important, I wouldn't recommend making this unless you have a lazy weekend planned.  Start to finish, it took 2 hours, and an hour of that was labor.  If I had thought to make the crust the night before and refrigerated it, if I had thought to peel and chop the apples ahead of time, it would have all gone together quickly, but I know me, and that doesn't happen often.  By the time dinner is over, this early riser is ready for bed, not another round in the kitchen.  Save this one for when you have time, but if you don't already have a favorite way to enjoy apple baking, be sure you carve out time for this.

Apple Cran-Dowdy
Courtesy of King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book

3/4 cup whole barley flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 TBSP. butter
2-4 TBSP. milk

Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas.  Add enough milk to make the dough hold together.  (For me, that was all 4 tablespoons.)  Shape into a disk, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

7 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces (I forgot to add this, and everything was FINE.)

Toss the apple slices with the cranberries in a large bowl.  Combine the brown sugar, spices, and salt, and add.  Pour the syrup and cider over the fruit and toss.  Put into buttered 9-inch square pan, and dot with butter.

Roll out crust to fit over the fruit.  Place it on top, and stick in a 350 degree oven.  Bake 50-55 minutes.  After it comes out of the oven, let it rest a few minutes, then cut the crust up, kindof turning it into the fruit.  Leave some large chunks, leave the edges alone, and leave some sticking up.

13 October 2011

My New Favorite Breakfast Sandwich

Sometimes I amaze myself.  I sauntered into the kitchen, knew it was oatmeal time for Cool Guy, just didn't feel like having that myself, and created something new from what I had around, and am I ever glad I did.

I'm sure I'm not the first person on earth to make this breakfast sandwich, but I've never seen it before (my wide-ranging experience -- not), and I am super thrilled with it.  I think I'm calling it something like Avocado Hamwich.  For now, it's just My New Favorite.

I'm even going to go out on a limb and say that it's healthy.  Yes, I know avocados are loaded with fat, but it's the good kind of fat, the kind that doesn't clog your arteries, and also makes you feel good and full all morning long.  And they taste soooo good and have lots of other good nutrients in them.  Not only that, avocados allow your body to more easily absorb other vitamins, like beta carotein.  If you're curious, or just want to justify the avocado fat to yourself, you can learn all about avocado nutrients here.  And please don't skip the little bit of butter.  (Yes, I know that it's saturated fat, but just tiny smear of butter is what we're talking about.)  It really makes it.  Really.

I would definitely cut this rich breakfast with some fruit.  I think the perfect match would be an orange, but it's not orange season, so I had some fresh pineapple with mine.

Avocado and Ham Breakfast Sandwich

Half an avocado, peeled and mashed
little bit of butter
diced ham
1 whole wheat English muffin, toasted

1. Spread a little butter on the muffin while warm.
2. Spread with avocado
3. Top with ham.