Baked Apple Dumplings

Baked Apple Dumpling filled with Pecan Streusal and topped with ice cream

I’d never even heard of apple dumplings until about a year ago from my friend Laurie,  who has a French-Canadian background. So naturally, I assumed it was a French recipe — with all it’s appley, sugary, buttery goodness wrapped up in pastry.  Further research has done nothing but confuse me, so varied were the theories on it’s origin.  Well, whatever, I was obsessed with recreating my girlfriend’s grandfather’s recipe, since she refused to give me any idea how they were made.  Various publications have helped me to come up with this procedure/recipe.  It involves a few steps, so I suggest making your pastry the day before. (feel free to double this recipe all the way through if you want to serve 8). 

Anyway, it’s a special offering. All the components come together to create a delicious, comforting and all around awesome dessert– pecan-streusal filled apples wrapped in a flaky pastry dough, baked and served with a sweet cider sauce, topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Um, hello.

Here’s to Grandpa Latendre. Maybe she’ll let me see the recipe now.

Good For Almost Anything Pie Dough

From Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes one 9-inch single crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Directions
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing – some pieces should be the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

2. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour, If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough does not look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface.
3. Shape the dough into a 8 x 4 square,  and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

mix ingredients in processor - do not overmix

add liquid and mix until dough forms, then knead a few times until it comes together

Apple Dumplings

adapted from Cooks Country Magazine

serves 4

2 Golden Delicious apples (large), peeled, cored and split in half horizontally (see picture)

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp cinnamon

Topping

1 egg white, beaten slightly

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 425 F.  Mix together brown sugar, butter, pecans and cinnamon. Peel and core apples, and slice horizontally (across it’s equator).

Roll out square of dough on lightly floured surface into a 12 inch square. Cut each 12 inch square into four 6 inch squares.  Brush edges of each square with egg white and place apple, cut side up in center of square. Pack butter/nut/sugar mixture into each apple half. Crimp together the edges at the top, and cut a vent hole.

Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Arrange dumplings on baking sheet, brush top with egg white and sprinkle with ‘topping’ sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Bake until dough is golden brown – 20 minutes or so.  Cool before eating (about 10 minutes, or you’ll burn your tongue). Serve with Cider Sauce and whipped cream or ice cream. See recipe below.

Cider Sauce

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup cider

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp butter

Directions

Bring all ingredients except butter to a boil in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes, or until reduced to 3/4 of  a cup. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.Pour over baked apple dumplings. Dollop with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy.

prepare pecan steusal, cinnamon sugar and egg white

after peeling, coring and slicing apples, place on dough squares

fill apples with streusal filling, brush edges of dough with egg white

wrap apples, pressing together seams and cut one or two vent holes

place dumplings on baking sheet, brush with egg white, sprinkle with sugar

bake for 20 minutes or so, until golden brown

serve with cider sauce and ice cream or whipped cream. YUM

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Old Fashioned Carrot Bread (with Gluten-Free option)

Old Fashioned Carrot Bread

When I saw this recipe in an older cookbook that was discussing the history of Nova Scotia and it’s settlers, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’ve never heard of carrot bread before but since we all love carrot cake, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. The result is a deliciously dense, moist loaf with tons of fall flavour — perfect for breakfast on the run, afternoon tea or bedtime snack. Oatmeal, raisins, carrots, nuts… it’s much healthier than any purchased breakfast cereal or snack bar.  The method of preparation is slightly different than most loaves (see instructions), but it is still a very easy recipe and I know it’ll be a favourite once you try it. Enjoy!

Carrot Bread

makes one 9 x 5 loaf

adapted from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens by Marie Nightingale

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup raisins (or craisins)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter (or coconut oil)

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger, cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup water

1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts or nut of your choice) chopped

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup large flake oats

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Directions:

Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place pan on a baking sheet. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F.

In medium saucepan, combine carrots, raisins, sugar, spices, butter and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes. In separate bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, nuts and salt.  Pour carrot mixture into flour mixture. Stir until well combined. Pour into loaf pan. Bake for 30 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs stuck to it. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan, slice and enjoy.

*For Gluten-Free option – replace flour with all-purpose gluten-free flour and add 1/2 tsp xantham gum.

mix carrots, sugar, butter, spices, water and vanilla in pot. Cook for 5 minutes.

mix flour, oats, nuts, baking powder and soda and salt in bowl.

mix carrot mixture into flour mixture, until well combined.

bake loaf for 30-45 mins, until tester comes out clean

Cool and slice.

Gluten free (with raisins) on right, regular flour (with craisins) on left. Both delicious.

Grilled Cubano Sandwich with Slow-cooked Peameal Bacon

Grilled Cubano Sandwich: crunchy, cheesy, tangy, savoury, delcious.

Ever wonder why those slices of fried peameal bacon are just a little too tough and unappetizing?  I did, until I tasted a peameal bacon sandwich at a motorcycle show and watched to see how they prepared it. It was so good…I noticed they had it slow-roasting in liquid… I rushed home and bought a whole peameal bacon and tried it in my slow-cooker. Mystery solved. The result is a tasty, tender piece of meat that you’ll be proud to serve company for a delicious lunch, or simply have in the fridge for the week for breakfasts and lunches.  Give it a try, then make up  these Cubano sandwiches – something different and so very tasty too.

Slow-roasted Peameal Bacon

1 uncooked Peameal Bacon Slab

1 cup of water

Directions: Pour water into slow cooker, set on high. Place peameal bacon into slowcooker. (water should come about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up the side of the slab of bacon). After 1/2 an hour, turn slow-cooker to low. Cook for 3 more hours, rotating after 1.5 hours.  Remove bacon from slow-cooker to cutting board to cool slightly. Slice thinly.

Grilled Cubano Sandwich

adapted from Chatelaine magazine

Makes 2 big sandwiches

Ingredients:

4 slices of  (good quality) white bread (a nice chewy bread works well, like sourdough)

2 tsp dijon mustard

several thin slices of peameal bacon – according to your own taste

dill pickle slices (enough to cover your sandwich)

4 slices swiss cheese

Olive oil – to brush the sides of your bread

Directions Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of dijon mustard.  Top 2 pieces of bread with peameal bacon slices, pickles and swiss cheese. Top with other 2 bread slices, brush outside of bread with olive oil. Heat large pan over medium heat. Place sandwiches in pan, cooking until golden brown, then flipping and cooking other side the same way. Remove from pan, let stand for a minute of two before slicing. Enjoy.

place whole uncooked peameal bacon in slow cooker in an inch of water

After slow cooking for 4 hours, cool slightly and slice thinly

spread dijon on bread slices, layer with peameal bacon

layer sliced dill pickles and swiss cheese, top with bread, brush with olive oil and grill

grill until golden brown

Slice and enjoy...so good. Yum.

Grilled Cubano Sandwich

Mango Chutney (quick)

Mango Chutney - an excellent condiment for curry, pork, turkey

If you’re going to be making curry regularly,  and you really should be….you should also have a quick recipe for homemade mango chutney. Mango chutney, well, kicks your curry up to the next level. The curry is awesome on it’s own, but the chutney just adds one more tangy/sweet element to your dish.  It also goes well with roast pork, turkey or as a condiment on a turkey burger.  You many not want to be making this every time you make curry – I’m more than happy to use mango chutney from a jar, but if you’re making dinner for company, it’ll be one more thing for them to ‘ooooh’ over. This recipe is easy and quick.

Mango Chutney

Makes about 1.5 cups

1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced (or 1.5 cups frozen diced)

1/4 cup onion, finely diced

1/2 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Directions:

Prepare mango and dice into small cubes. Place the mango and all ingredients in a microwave safe dish. Stir, uncovered for 4-7 minutes.

Cool, cover and refrigerate. Will keep for one week in fridge.

*Alternatively, it can be cooked on the stovetop, in a medium sauce.an, over med-low heat, for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slice small dice pattern on both halves of mango

Slice off cubes. You can use frozen cubed as well. (works just as well)

These types of graters are best for grating ginger

Cook in pot on stovetop, or in microwave in microwavable dish

Tastes fabulous on a curry (but also on roast pork, turkey, turkey burgers)

Keeps well in fridge, covered for about a week. Enjoy.

 

Kick-Ass Chicken Curry

chicken curry with mango chutney

Are you ready to learn how to make a really good curry? I don’t mean curry like your mother used to make from her ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine….I mean a really good, authentic-tasting Indian curry. First of all, your spices are really important – at the very least, make sure they are FRESH.  Don’t be pulling that curry powder out of your cupboard that’s been there since 1993. Go out and get some fresh spices, it’s so worth it. The two spices you need (which are actually spice mixtures) are curry powder and garam masala.

Follow the steps in the recipe, taking your time especially when cooking your onions.  Remember a good curry is layered with flavour, and to achieve that, it takes time, and also care and love while you are cooking it.  After you make this a few times, you’ll become quite pro at it, and you’ll never make beef stew again.  So get your ingredients organized, and give it a whirl. You will love it.  And buy a jar of mango chutney and some fresh coriander at the grocery store while you’re at it.

A word about Garam Masala:  This is a common Indian spice mixture and is available at you grocery store in the spice department – I believe McCormack’s now distributes it. However, if you have access to a Southeast Asian market, go in and find some whole garam masala. (see picture). Dry roasting some garam masala in a pan and then grinding it in your coffee grinder will kick up your curry to another level of awesomeness. While you are there, buy a decent curry powder like Lalah’s or Bolst’s. Ask the grocer for a mild or hot curry depending what you like.  Be warned that the hot curry powder is much hotter than you think it will be.

Whole Garam Masala. (dry roast in pan until fragrant)

grind garam masala in coffee grinder and store in an airtight container.

Chicken Curry

serves 6 as a main course

1/4 cup butter (or ghee – clarified butter)

2 large onions, diced

2 tsp salt

4 cloves garlic minced

1  2 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced

1 tbsp garam masala

2.5 tbsp curry powder

1.5 cups water

1 (14oz) can coconut milk (or 35% cream)

6 chicken breasts, cut up into large chunks, or 10 boneless, skinless thighs

Directions:

In a large skillet, melt butter (or ghee) over medium heat. Add onions and salt  and cook, stirring occasionally until  onions are cooked down and quite brown and carmelized.  (about 20 minutes). Take your time.

Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle your curry powder and garam masala over your onion mixture. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in your water, stir, and let the entire thing simmer on low, and reduce to a paste-like consistency. (about 15 minutes)

Remove curry paste from pan to a bowl. Add a knob of butter to the pan (or ghee).  Salt and pepper your chicken pieces and add to the pan over medium-high heat to brown.  Once chicken is browned, add the curry paste back into the pan as well as the coconut milk. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and let chicken cook. (longer if using thighs, so they will tenderize). (approx 20-40 mins) At this point, you can also add in some vegetables to cook. I like to use 1/2 a head of cauliflower cut up and some red pepper. The cauliflower works really well with this dish.

Serve over rice or quinoa.  Serve alongside mango chutney and fresh coriander.  Enjoy.

cook onions until reduced and browned (about 20 minutes)

add garlic and ginger, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes

add curry powder and garam masala, cook another 2 minutes

add water to mixture, stir and simmer until paste-like consistency is achieved

remove curry paste and place in bowl while browning chicken

brown chicken in same pan (don't clean it), then add curry paste back into pan

add coconut milk. Simmer for additional 20-40 minutes

Serve with rice and mango chutney. Oh my. Yum.