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With the snowfall, I wasn’t eager to complete the last remaining chores in the garden; a few shrubs to wrap and clay pots to empty and store. However, remaining indoors I baked up an apple crumble, gluten-free of course. It has been far too long since I have made anything sweet to share and a better activity than spending a long afternoon in the cold weather.

 

What I love about crumbles is their simplicity and how you can use whatever fruit is in season, or a combination of them. For this crumble I added coconut to the topping and threw some almonds in, which gave it a nice crisp texture. Also, one of my favorite herb combinations, thyme and lavender; I added these to the fruit just to flavor the crumble from the usual spices.

 

If you are not used to putting lavender in your recipes, it is a great flavor, but remember that a little lavender goes a long way.

 

Sweet crumbles we all know and love, but are there any savory crumbles out there? I have seen savory cobblers that look intriguing and delicious. As a side dish for dinner they would be a nice bit of change to the table.

 

Apple Coconut Crumble w/ Lavender & Thyme Recipe

 

1 cup g/f baking mix

1/3 cup sliced almonds, chopped

¼ cup granular sugar

¼ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

 

4 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored & chopped

            -tossed with 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

2 Tablespoons granular sugar

1 teaspoon arrow root powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

3 Tablespoons honey

¼ teaspoon lavender buds

¼ teaspoon thyme leaves

 

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

 

preparing the crumb:

1. Combine the gluten-free mix, almonds, sugar, coconut and sea salt together.

2. Incorporate with chilled butter into the flour mix by grating the butter.

*To keep the butter from sticking, coat the butter with the flour mixture and grate a few times. Repeat until all of the butter is grated.

3. Rub the grated butter into the mixture until a coarse meal forms. Chill until ready to bake.

 

preparing the fruit filling:

1. Melt butter in a sauté pan and add apples, toss to coat.

2. While the apples a gently warming up, mix together granular sugar and arrowroot powder.

3. Drizzle honey and herbs over apples; fold in.

4. Add arrowroot mixture and incorporate.

 

baking the crumble:

1. Place apples in an 8×8 baking dish and top with crumble mixture.

2. Bake for approximately 25-45 minutes until filling is bubbling and top has browned.

 

*For individual dessert serving, use various oven safe baking dishes such as ramekins or single serving bowls. A nice dollop of crème fraîche is perfect for this dessert.

Serves 6-8.

 

*Gluten-Free Baking Mix Recipe

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

1 ¼ cups brown rice flour [Use superfine brown rice for a finer texture]

1 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

 

1.   Whisk together all of the ingredients well and store in sealed container.

Makes 4 ½ cups baking mix.

 

I love the winter-like months just before the snow really starts to fall. Blustery days of sun filled skies. It’s a nice transition from early fall to snowier weather. Even though a salad may not be on everyone’s dinning list, a nice salad of persimmons and Asian pears are the best picks of the season.

Enjoying this salad I guess is my way of feeling better about the holiday feasting that will begin shortly. Of course I will happily save a few calories here to have a few more pieces of dessert later. Who knows, I will probably find myself eating more than usual [as we all find ourselves doing] and eating lots of leftovers for days later. But the greatest satisfaction is family time, away from the everyday chores and enjoying food in a different way. Differently may not be the right word, but I feel we should spend more enjoyable table time with family, friends and of course, very special neighbors.

 

Are you still wondering what to make for the upcoming holiday? Check out www.pasplore.com. I recently posted an apple glazed game hen recipe that was used on the main page. The recipes all look and sound delicious. Whether you are sticking to family traditions or creating new ones, you are sure to find some inspiration from their mosaic recipe board. It is a neat take on a recipe collection from foodies like us.

 

Persimmon & Asian Pear Salad Recipe

 

4 ounces mixed field greens

2 Fuyu persimmons, sliced

2 Asian pears, sliced

¼ cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries

¼ cup roasted pumpkin seeds

 

1. Toss all ingredients together and serve with vinaigrette.

Serves 4-6.

 

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe

 

¼ cup grape seed oil

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon extra strong Dijon mustard

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon minced shallots

 

1. Whisk together all ingredients except oil until smooth.

2. Slowly whisk in grape seed oil until emulsified.

 

If anyone asks me if I like cold winter weather, I would have to say I fall somewhere in the middle. It is nice to put the garden to rest for several months and hide out in the warm comforts of home planning for next year. Shoveling and frost removal are the least favorite activities during the winter.

Fall and winter on the other end is my favorite time to cook. Stews, soups and dishes that braise away for hours are one of the many welcome aromas that fill the house this time of year. Its nicer when larger gathering of family and friends are there to help you eat the food that was cooked with care.

 

I have a tendency to always be cold; luckily the home stays quite warm, usually all year round. I guess fate would not have had a better place for me here. As long as I am tucked away in a warm place with a bowl of soup, I am happy.

I hope you will enjoy this satisfying stew as much as I have. It is rather quick to prepare and nice way to retreat from the brisk weather. If you hesitate when you get to the part in the recipe that requires shrimp stock, just read my little note at the bottom.

 

Langoustine Stew Recipe

 

1 Tablespoon safflower oil

1/3 cup shallots, minced

1 Tablespoon ginger, minced

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

 

1 cup shrimp stock -or- water*

1 ½ cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded & shopped

¾ pound langoustine tails

 

1 can coconut milk [14 ounces]

½ teaspoon sea salt

Cilantro for garnish

 

1. Sauté shallots in oil on low until translucent and tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.

2. Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes longer.

3. Add in chopped pumpkin and shrimp stock. Simmer gently until almost tender.

4. Add coconut milk and langoustine tails and finish cooking the pumpkin.

5. Season with sea salt and serve with fresh cilantro leaves.

 

*note: if you cannot find langoustine tails you can substitute shrimp. Peel the shrimp and place the shells in a cheesecloth bundle and simmer with the pumpkin. This is a quick way to make shrimp stock and you get to have the shrimp with the stew!

Apart from eating food for nourishment, food is a way of communication. We can all recall hearing the stories and recipes our grandmother used to make. It seems fitting as a way to pass on culinary traditions especially during holidays.

 

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, can one recipe stand out from the rest as being the best? I like to think that no one recipe makes a great Thanksgiving dinner. It is an orchestra, the sum of all the parts. Each dish provides the right note, right texture and the right balance making the entire meal a success.

fall love

In keeping things a little lighter, I made a simple apple juice glaze for the game hens. It worked out very well, even better the second time. Though the glaze is not sweet, it makes a wonderful golden bird with a light, crisp skin.  

Apple Glazed Game Hen Recipe

 

2-24 ounce game hens

 

½ cup apple juices concentrate

½ cup chicken stock

2” piece of cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

1 star anise

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

 

1. Truss chicken and season with salt and black pepper.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce by half and strain into a small bowl.

4. Brush glaze over game hens and roast for 20 minutes.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and baste hens with more glaze every 15 minutes until juices run clear.

6. Stop applying glaze so skin crisps just before it in finished.

 

Apple & Sage Wild Rice Recipe

 

1 cup wild rice

3 cups water

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup basmati rice

¾ cup chicken stock

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely julienne

2 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored and chopped

6 large sage leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt to taste

 

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

 

1. Cook wild rice with water and salt until tender, drain off any remaining water.

2. Place basmati, chicken stock and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook covered until water is absorbed.

3. Sauté onions in olive oil on low until translucent.

4. Add apples and continue to cook until just tender.

5. Stir in sage and season to taste with sea salt.

6. Combine rice, apple mixture, almonds, and pomegranate seeds.

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