Posts Tagged 'apple'

Pumpkin, Pork, and Apple Cider Stew

The air has turned decidedly nippy, and there was snow on the ground this morning. Time to whine about unseasonable weather (when is it ever seasonable?)

This dish is quite seasonable and captures the essence of autumn – pumpkin, apples, cider – even pork seems like an autumnal selection. The original recipe, from Relish Magazine,  used Boston butt, a cut of pork that is rather fatty. Now I have been wanting to make a dish out of Boston butt (which is not the butt at all, but the upper part of the shoulder of the pig) in honor of the loss of my quite prodigious butt, but doing so would probably add to my butt, so I used pork tenderloin, my preferred cut of the pig. And by the way, it’s not as if the good people of Boston don’t know a shoulder from a butt. The name came about apparently because in pre-Revolutionary New England, less favored cuts of pork were packed into casks or barrels (also known as “butts”) for storage and shipment.

The original recipe also called for using cut up pumpkin or butternut squash, but suggested that if these were unavailable, a can of pumpkin would do. I liked the idea of a thick, rich pumpkin-y gravy, and it turned out well. It also reheats well, too, although I’ve had to add water to it when reheating..

Pumpkin, Pork and Apple Cider Stew

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (see hint)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 pounds of pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 medium onions, sliced

2¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided

1½ cups apple cider

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 cup carrots, cut into chunks (about 2 carrots)

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

6 cups red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds) (I left mine unpeeled)

1¼ cups Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cut into wedges (2 apples)

Place flour, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and pork in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal bag and shake to coat pork. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot. Add half the pork and the onions. Cook until pork is browned. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil in pan. Add remaining pork, and cook until browned. Return cooked pork to pan and add 2 cups of the broth, cider and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour.

Add pumpkin, carrots and potatoes. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, since the canned pumpkin tends to make the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add apples. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. I needed to do this since the pumpkin is a good thickener. Makes 8 large servings at 6 grams of fat/serving.

Hint. It’s easy to crush fennel or other seeds in a mortar and pestle if you mix them with the salt before crushing them.


Dutch Apple Cake

Yes, another potluck. Really, my entire social life doesn’t consist of potlucks. I go to jazz concerts and other musical performances. But it certainly does seem like I get invited to a lot of things that require food.

This particular potluck had a number of challenges. I had to run a few errands on the way, so the dessert had to travel around in my car for a few hours. I originally wanted to make an upside-down cake with a nice autumn theme.  But most upside down cakes start with a lot of butter to make the topping. So they can be a bit high in fat. They also are kind of sticky when turned out of the pan, which didn’t seem like a very good idea for traveling around in my car.

This recipe comes from an old Fannie Farmer cookbook, and is a variation on Cottage Pudding Cake, a basic yellow cake. The topping is somewhat similar to an upside-down cake, but the whole thing is served right from the baking dish, so it traveled well.

Dutch Apple Cake

1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup of sugar, divided
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
½ cup non-fat milk
¼ cup egg substitute
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each.
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons raisins

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 10 x 6 inch baking pan with cooking spray and lightly flour. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking powder, salt and ½ cup of the sugar. Melt the butter in a small bowl, and then stir in the milk, applesauce, and egg substitute, beating well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and blend well.

Spread the batter into prepared pan. Press the apple wedges into uniform rows on top of the batter. Mix the remaining ½ cup of sugar with the cinnamon and raisins. Sprinkle evenly over the apples. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Makes 8 servings with about 3 grams of fat/serving.

Creamy Cauliflower and Apple Salad

In my part of the country, it’s still rather chilly. The spring fruits and vegetables are not in the grocery, except those brought from afar, and the farmers’ markets are not yet open.  This salad takes advantage of late winter produce while creating a salad that is crisp and refreshing. It holds well in the refrigerator if you need to make it in advance. The original recipe came from Eating Well. The flavor combination of apples and cauliflower is a bit unexpected, but very good.

Creamy Cauliflower Apple Salad

5 Tablespoons reduced-fat (light) mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small shallot, finely chopped
½ teaspoon caraway seeds, (optional)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets, (about 1/2 large head)
2 cups chopped heart of romaine
1 tart-sweet red apple, chopped

Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, caraway seeds (if using) and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Add cauliflower, romaine and apple; toss to coat. Makes 6 servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.

Apple Strudel

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Naturally, after services last night there was an oneg, food for the congregation to eat. In my small congregation, this is always a potluck, and for Rosh Hashanah, it tends to be fruit and sweets, along with the traditional challah, and apples and honey so that the new year is sweet.  It is traditional to make desserts with apple, or honey cake, in keeping with the holiday. I decided on an apple strudel. Of course, since I still have mountains of plums, I also made a plum strudel – but more about that later.

This strudel uses on of my favorite techniques, phyllo dough instead of fatty pastry dough. Phyllo (or filo) is paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough used for making pastries or savory dishes with a flaky crust. When layers of phillo are baked, they become flaky, but have little fat.  The technique used is to stack the very thin sheets of phyllo, spraying each with cooking spray before adding the next sheet.  This strudel recipe came from Cooking Light.

Apple Strudel

1/3 cup golden raisins
3  Tablespoons  amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur) I lacked amaretto, so I used Fra Angelico, or hazelnut liqueur
3 cups coarsely chopped peeled Granny Smith apples
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Butter-flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan by spraying with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Combine raisins and amaretto in a bowl. Microwave at high 1½ minutes; drain well. Combine raisins, apples, sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl. Toss well, and set aside.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on a large work surface (cover remaining dough to keep from drying); lightly coat phyllo sheet with cooking spray. Place one phyllo sheet at a time atop the others, coating each with cooking spray as you stack the layers. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over stacked phyllo, pressing gently to seal sheets together; discard plastic wrap.

Spoon apple mixture along 1 long edge of phyllo, leaving a 2-inch border (it will actually cover most of the phyllo). Fold over the short edges of phyllo to cover 2 inches of apple mixture on each end.

Starting at long edge with 2-inch border, roll up jelly-roll fashion. (Do not roll tightly, or strudel may split.) Place strudel, seam side down, on the prepared pan. Score diagonal slits into top of strudel using a sharp knife. Lightly spray strudel with cooking spray.

Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. This makes 8 servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving. This tastes heavenly on its own, but whipped cream or low fat ice cream would make a nice addition. Be sure to add the extra fat grams.

apple strudel

You will note another, misshapen, strudel in the foreground beside the apple strudel. This is the ill-fated plum strudel.  I used a different recipe, and, although it tasted terrific, it fell apart. I think that the plums I used were much juicier than the plums the recipe anticipated – and unlike the apple strudel the recipe did not call for flour to thicken the filling. Mind you, both strudels disappeared from the table in minutes.  But I’m going to make the plum strudel again to perfect it – after all, it’s not like I don’t have plums.

L’ShanaTova. May you be written down for a good year.

Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews acknowledge their weaknesses, ask forgiveness, and vow to do better this year. Traditionally, people fast from sundown the night before to sundown on Yom Kippur day, and end the day with a break-the-fast feast.  Besides the feast, there are several things I love about this holiday:

  • You don’t just ask for forgiveness for sins against G-d, which you are granted, but for your transgressions against others, asking for them to forgive you also;
  • You read through a long list of sometimes humorous sins you might have committed, including being a zealot for bad causes (my favorite);
  • You ask to be forgiven for vows you have broken this past year, and, by the way, if you make vows this year and try as hard as you can and can’t fulfill them, then please forgive them too, in advance (I have a lawyer friend who says this is his favorite.);
  • You are asked not why you haven’t been as great as Moses, but why you haven’t been true to the best in yourself.

And now for the feast.  Our congregation has a potluck, and they assign either sweets or salads and side dishes by last name in the alphabet.  I got desserts, and decided to make a fruit pizza with honey and apples, traditional foods for this holiday. Remember the Wow factor of fruit pizza. (I am sure that food vanity, as well as food lust, is one of my weaknesses.) I know I said earlier that you probably couldn’t use hard fruit like apples on a fruit pizza, but I hadn’t thought of cooked apples – a revelation.

Apple-Honey Fruit Pizza

Cookie dough crust

I made the cookie dough crust the same way as before, with two exceptions: I left out the almond extract, and instead, when I mixed the dry ingredients, (flour, etc.,) I added 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.  This made a nice, autumn-tasting cookie crust.

I also tried a new technique.  I cut a big circle of parchment paper and sprayed the bottom of the pan with cooking spray to hold it down.  Then I sprayed the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray before I put down the crust.  This solved a big problem for me, which is that my pizza pans are old and reprehensible looking, and must be covered with aluminum foil.  But the cookie crust always stuck to the aluminum foil when you cut up the fruit pizza.  This way, the crust lifted fight off the parchment and cooled on a rack.  I could freshly cover the pizza pan with foil to make it publicly acceptable, and plunk the crust on it to assemble.  Parchment paper is my friend.

Cream cheese layer:  I made this the same way as usual.

Apple-honey topping

Apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Use firm apples that won’t turn to mush when you cook them.  I used Jonagold, but there are lots of good cooking apples this time of year. I needed 6 apples.  It’s going to depend on the size of your apples.  I would cook extra (you can always eat them).  Cut the apples lengthwise in about 1/2 inch wide slices. I cut mine into quarters and then each quarter into 5-6 pieces. Again, this depends on the size of your apples.  Put the apples in a large pan with the water and sugar.  Cover and cook over a low heat until they are tender, stirring gently occasionally so they cook evenly.  Watch them carefully. You don’t want them to turn into apple mush – you want them in distinct pieces.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the apples from the pan and spread on a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) to cool.

To make the honey glaze, heat the honey and cinnamon in a small bowl, stirring to incorporate the cinnamon (I didn’t stir it in well enough, and had to remove a couple of globs of cinnamon, which you can see in the photo.)  I heated the honey in the microwave. Allow to cool slightly.

Assembly: The fruit pizza can be assembled a couple of hours before you serve it, but it doesn’t hold for a long time, because the crust will get soggy. To assemble, spread the cream cheese topping over the cooled cookie crust. Gently place the apple slices in concentric rings on top of the filling.  Be careful not to squish the apples when you are handling them.  Once the apples are in place, gently spoon the honey-cinnamon glaze over the fruit pizza. Refrigerate the pizza, uncovered, for 20 minutes to allow the glaze to set. This is especially important if you are going to wrap it to take somewhere. Slice with a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. 12 servings with 6 grams of fat/serving, or 16 servings at 4.4 grams of fat/serving.

In this next year, may you be true to the best in yourself.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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