As the monarch butterflies and humming birds laboriously move around the flowers during their last days in the Northern part of the country, glowing green spinach and lush fennel plants smile in the garden. This is the time of the year for gathering seeds to plant the next Spring, dig up some tasty dandelion leaves for our steamed greens, and this is the time for canning.
Canning is a precious art that is still so common in Italy among my parents’ generation, it helps us align with the rhythm of the seasons: preserving the plentiful harvest of the fall for the rest of the year when the soil is sleeping under a blanket of snow.
Once the cold arrives and the morning grass is covered by a thick layer of frost I love to think that I have just a few more days to plant more bulbs into the ground before the first snow. What a pleasure to think of those little bulbs sleeping underground and what a marvellous surprise they have in store for us once Spring blows in!
Bulbs, steaming hot tea, pumpkins, bittersweet vines, jack-o-lanterns, red maple leaves, long aftenoon shadows, apple pie, caramel apple, all this is October and all this is Halloween Season. What is Halloween this beloved American holidays so exciting to all the kids? Halloween is most likely originated from an ancient Celtic harvest Festival, with pagan roots. The atmosphere around this holiday is spooky and scary, it symbolizes the arrival of the darkness and the cold, the arrival of Winter.
When I think of Halloween, two things come into my mind: pumpkins and apples. The color of both of these gifts from Nature are typical for this time of the year, two shades of red, a color so dear to me, red like the leaves of the sugar maple, like the sumac, like the sky at sunrise, and red like the walls of my kitchen!
Autumn is the perfect time for a nice warm breakfast, as from the coziness of our homes we glance outside at the glittering, shining grass just being kissed by the first frost.
What I am proposing today are some recipe ideas that work fabulously for breakfast but also for many other occasions: brunch, dessert, a lovely gift for a friend, after school snack for children, and more. I love to receive my children home from school with the sweet smell of a freshly baked snack. Sometimes I daydream thinking that this smell will be the kind of smell that, once they grow up, will always make them think of their childhood).
What a simple delight! Apple sauce is perfect for canning: you can can small portions (in small ball jars) and it makes a perfect snack to be found in the lunch box throughout the year. In bigger jars makes for a perfect gift perhaps in a nice basket along with some dried herbs, jam and a heartfelt poem.
Plums, peaches, and raspberries all ripen in late summer, and all three of these fruits are great to make into jam and combine with applesauce.
In the eventuality that you decide not to can your apple sauce, there are many ways to use it besides just eating it all up in one sitting (which might happen, it is so good!): in muffins, bread, and over grains. One of the favorite ways to eat apple sauce at my friend’s kindergarten is over oatmeal with fresh cream. What a great idea!
Pour one inch of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Remove the peel and cut the apples in small chunks. Add the fruit to the water and simmer until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Stir it together to break up the chunks, use a potato masher if needed.
Apple sauce is spoon-licking-delicious on its own of course, but it’s good to remember that it can be sensational combined with other fruits. Some of my personal favorites are raspberry, plum, pear, and pumpkin. What you do to combine fruit to your apple sauce is: wash and cut the fruit of your preference and add it to the apples. The quantity varies on how much we like the second fruit to prevail on the flavor of the apples.
I love making fresh apple sauce in the Fall, it is so easy and so delicious. This cake recipe gives me the opportunity to use my beloved applesauce and transform it into a cake, and what a cake!
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 stick butter
2 cups chunky applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
Preheat oven to 325.
Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a large bowl stir together butter, honey, and maple syrup until creamy. Add apple sauce and vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda, mix and stir well.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 65 to 75 minutes. Check the bread 10 to 15 minutes before the minimum baking time is reached. Cover it with foil if it is browning too fast. After baking let the loaves cool completely.
Who doesn’t like a fresh muffin out of the oven, coming into the kitchen, perhaps after having been outside all afternoon planting bulbs and preparing the garden for its long winter sleep? The smell of these muffins will lure you into the kitchen and induce you to enjoy 10 relaxing minutes of well deserved rest.
2 large egg
1/2 cup butter
3/4-1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups chunk-style apple sauce
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
2 cups unbleached withe flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large bowl mix together the eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in applesauce, lemon juice, and lemon peel. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, the sugar, the cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ones, being careful not to overmix the batter. Fold in the pecans. With the help of a spoon pour the batter into buttered muffins tins and bake and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Sformatini di Mela (Apple Pancakes)
Fantastic! These simple apple treats will make you feel like a fine pastry chef, they are absolutely delicious. The crusty caramelized apples perfectly complement the soft and silky texture of the baked pancake batter. I would suggest to take these “sformatini” as a present for your friends, along with a bottle of Vin Santo, for an after dinner delight..be prepared for a glorious feedback!
2/3 cup flour
2 honey crisp apple
1/4 brown sugar
5 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
Mix together the batter: eggs, powdered sugar, milk, and flour. If you are using a food processor, mix for three minutes. Cut the apples in thin slices and place them in a non-stick pan. Add the butter, the brown sugar, the cinnamon, and the lemon juice. Sautee until caramelized. Place caramelized wedges of apple into muffin tins, previously buttered.
Pour the batter on top of the apples in the muffin tins.
Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.