Apple Crisp Salad

final.salad.jpg

I am one of those writers who loves journals.  I have a million but that doesn't stop me from buying more when I see one.  I am drawn to them like bees to honey.  I love the texture. I love holding them in my hand. I love all the styles, designs and colors. I see one, and like some fiend that has been implanted with a chip that orders me to buy every time I see one, I do so willing, happily, adding to my ever growing collection.  And because I have so many journals I write in different ones at different times.  Sometimes it depends on my mood; does the cover and feel of the journal match how I'm feeling?  Sometimes it's the contents; is what I'm about to write similar to what has already been written in that journal.  Other times it's simply about the weight of the journal.  If I am traveling, I choose the lightest, thinnest one.  While other times I could be in one location but still slightly traveling slowly side to side on the hammock. For those times, I choose a weightier journal than the one intended for trains, planes and automobiles.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  But aren't they all so pretty. Wouldn't you buy them, too?!

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  But aren't they all so pretty. Wouldn't you buy them, too?!

Scribbles with no amounts.  The green notes are from me recreating it for this blog, so I could give you measurements.

Scribbles with no amounts.  The green notes are from me recreating it for this blog, so I could give you measurements.

The happy result of having started but not finishing
a journal is that I happen upon poems, writings, rantings, recipes and ideas from moments past.  There is a certain excitement upon discovering these nuggets. I can relive times in my life and feel a sense of journey and accomplishment. They also seem new and fresh to me, usually bringing me joy.  This occurs particularly when I'm thumbing through and unearth a recipe I want to try again. I can't tell you how happy I am that a few years back I started writing recipes down.  I've always written my thoughts and feelings
in journals but not recipes. So being able to recreate dishes that I made once and almost forgot is a real treat.  Like this Apple Crisp Salad.  I remember it now, and would have totally slipped my mind and fallen into the vast past of recipes lost had I not jotted it down.

It is exactly how I named it.  A salad featuring apples where the crispness comes from the way they are cut.  I believe I have mentioned this before but the cut of food, especially fruits and vegetables can make all the difference in world.  It can either enhance or overwhelm a dish.   In this recipe, the apples are cut like matchsticks, allowing them to mingle themselves throughout the entire salad providing a crisp crunch with every bite.

setup.jpg

ingredients

(4 Lunch or 6 dinner servings)
4+ c apples, sliced into matchsticks               10 c Boston, Romaine lettuce        
1 c parsley leaves
1 c cilantro leaves
1/3 c scallions, sliced
1/4 c heaping red onion, thinly sliced

 

Dressing
2 T lemon juice
2 T lime juice
1 t dijon mustard
1/4 t fresh ginger, grated
1/2 t garlic, crushed
salt, pepper to taste
1/3 c olive Oil

Instructions

Prepare all the ingredients as directed above, leaving the apples to the very last so they don't turn brown.  You can also squeeze lemon juice on them to keep them from turning.  For both the parsley and cilantro, pick the individual leaves off the stems and leave whole.  This adds so much flavor.

parsley.leaves.jpg

Arrange the lettuces on a platter or big bowl. Then mix in all the other ingredients.

lettuce.assembly.jpg
Cut 1/8" slices of the apple.

Cut 1/8" slices of the apple.

Then cut them lengthwise to create matchstick pieces.

Then cut them lengthwise to create matchstick pieces.

Using a mandolin, I also like to thinly slice some of the apple for garnish.  

apple.slices.jpg
Add it to the top of the salad in various places.

Add it to the top of the salad in various places.

 

Make the dressing and then pour over the salad right before serving.  Toss until coated.  

dressing.mix.jpg
This dressing has a nice kick provided by the dijon grain mustard, the fresh grated ginger and garlic. 

This dressing has a nice kick provided by the dijon grain mustard, the fresh grated ginger and garlic. 

This is a perfect salad for this time of year as apple picking is in season.  Go pick a few then make this salad to accompany my Apple Butter/Spicy Sausage Sandwich.  Since the weather is still warm the salad is a great sub in for the roasted tomato soup that I originally made with that sandwich.  Either way...

final.sandwich.jpg
final.plated.salad.jpg

An apple a day...

 

Orange Napkins - 2 Outdoor Tables - A Warm Summer Glow

For those of us who suffer through cold, snowy winters, the wait for warm summer nights is as anticipated as Santa and his gifts.  It's the time of year when grilling and gathering are top of mind.  Entertaining outdoors can be as easy as grab a plate and line up at the BBQ. Or it can be as elaborate as a formal sit down dinner, and every notch in between.  As we wind down the summer and head into cooler days and crisp nights, enjoying early evening dinners is still a joy.  

After all the growth of the summer, flowers are still in full bloom. Our yard is like a fairy tale garden.

The view of part of our yard as our guests dine on our patio.

The view of part of our yard as our guests dine on our patio.

The view from the other side of the patio.

The view from the other side of the patio.

full.table.jpg

With the yard so magical, I'm less inclined to just throw down some plates on the table, and more likely to toss even the most casual tablecloth down. Usually our outdoor events are daytime, but this time of year the weather is ideal for evening entertaining. Setting the mood doesn't require a great deal of effort.  I promise.

Keep in mind that you have to place out the plates, napkins, cutlery and glasses anyway. Tossing a tablecloth underneath, adding some candles and flowers takes but a few minutes more, and creates an entirely different scene.

The key to an evening setting is to create a warm glow.  

Lanterns and candles always up the ante and provide that glow that somehow makes it special.

 

 

When it comes to the flowers keep it simple.  Use what you've got.  I like going around our garden and snipping what's in bloom. 

Our giving tree.

Our giving tree.

These were from our enormous hydrangea tree.  The voluminous flower bursts are originally white when in their prime bloom but late in the season turn sage green and dusty rose. They are perfect additions, building on to that warm glow. Without any fuss, simply cut down to size to fit into a few small vintage vases.  A simple touch of botanicals that mimic the movement on the tablecloth adding to the romantic feel.   Brighter orange napkins turned up the color factor while the green vintage glasses keep the style in a whimsical feel.  

placesetting2.jpg

And since the weather is still glorious this time of year, there are those occasions when daytime events stretch lovingly into the evening.  For this day to night table setting, keep it festive for the day by adding a fun, colorful runner over a darker neutral.  Then add those same orange napkins for the color pop.  The florals for this setting mimic the boldness of the napkins and keep the eye from having too much to focus on. 

orange.napkins.jpg
The most lively color rose picking up the bold strip in the playfully colored runner.

The most lively color rose picking up the bold strip in the playfully colored runner.

(When trying to coordinate color for your table, here's a helpful tip for casual entertaining moments.  Don't make yourself crazy searching for the perfect color combo.  Work backwards by choosing from the flowers that are readily available and then figure out what linens pair well.  You can always use monochromatic or white linens and allow the flowers to make the color statement.  I came to this conclusion after being disappointed when I had the linens all planned out then went to my florist looking for a specific flower or color, only to come up short.) 

Family style serving goes a long way. Grilled steaks, rice, 3 bean salad, heirloom tomatoes and big salad bowl.

Family style serving goes a long way. Grilled steaks, rice, 3 bean salad, heirloom tomatoes and big salad bowl.

Pink grapefruit cake. This was a Better Homes & Garden recipe that I tried.  I decided to cut my layers thinner to stack them up higher.

Pink grapefruit cake. This was a Better Homes & Garden recipe that I tried.  I decided to cut my layers thinner to stack them up higher.

Light up the candles.

Turn on the warmth.

Slice the cake.  

Transform a bold daytime setting into an evening full of candlelit glow.  

Then cheer to good friends and family.

cheers.jpg
evening.glow.jpg

Enjoy the rest of the summer, and may you find time to find beauty wherever you may be.

 
DP-stirredwlove-ID1.jpg

Sequillos - An Asturian Cookie of Love

cookie.final.jpg

We love to travel, and try to do it as often as possible.  We love exploring the sights, sounds and flavors of places that are full of life.  We recently returned from a 12 day trek through the northern part of Spain. What a glorious part of the country. Mountainous and green.  Fresh air and beauty abound. The views are more spectacular than any lens can capture, but I did my best.  And in those 12 days, we saw, did and tasted a lot but there is still so much more to see, do and taste. We thoroughly enjoyed every inch of our tour through the north. However, the absolute, truly most special part of this trip was when we stayed with our dear friends, Marcos and Angelica in Marcos' hometown of Amieva, Asturias.  What an enormous treat.  An adventure like no other.   

Beauty which ever way you turn.

Beauty which ever way you turn.

This tiny town of 200 people is tucked away high in the mountains and provides picturesque views from every angle. I promise I will be writing more about our entire trip and the special time at their home and all the unbelievably delicious food we were treated to. Today I want to focus on a simple little cookie that grabbed my husband's heart.  And when something grabs hold of him that he enjoys, I do what I can to ensure he gets grabbed again.  Knowing how much he loved eating these tiny bite sized treats with his espresso, I asked Marisa, a local to the town and chef of the house, to fork over the recipe. As with everything she did, she did so with "alegria”.

Sofia looking on as Maria sifts the flour and Marisa mixes the dough.

Sofia looking on as Maria sifts the flour and Marisa mixes the dough.

These cookies couldn't be easier to make. Much less work than any of the more labor intensive cookies I bake for Christmas. So, here it is.  From Marisa in Amieva, Asturias to me in Hartsdale, NY to you, wherever you may be.

I snapped a few shots of the lovely María and Marisa making yet another batch since every time they made them, these not too sweet but really satisfying cookies disappeared.

(That's something I loved about the style of living there.  It was no big deal to just whip up another batch of anything.  No worries...we'll make more!)

A tiny side note; another thing I loved about the original house -  the big kitchen. I loved how everyone was in it. Making stuff, prepping stuff, snacking, drinking and chatting.  Oh, if only I had a kitchen this big and ample to gather all my loved ones.  This tugged at my heart every time I stepped into it.

kitchen.table.jpg
Maxi and Sofia making fresh orange juice while the sequillos are being made further down this long kitchen work space

Maxi and Sofia making fresh orange juice while the sequillos are being made further down this long kitchen work space

A dream of a space where everyone could wander in, sit down or participate in the festivities.  I can dream, can't I?

Back to Marisa's setup and making of the cookies.

Marisa's set up in Amieva.

Marisa's set up in Amieva.

Sifting the flour.

Sifting the flour.

flour.sifting.jpg
 

And now the details of how to make them.

setup.jpg

ingredients

600 gr (2.5 c + 1 heaping T) flour
2 eggs
250 gr (1 c)  sugar
250 gr (1/2 lb) butter, melted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp heaping baking powder
5 T Anís or Anisette
(I used Vermouth because it was all I had.)

 

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and make a hole in the middle. Then add eggs, (cooled) melted butter and Anís in the middle.  Begin to combine all ingredients together until it forms a dough. Taking small pieces, form a round shape (approximately 1.5" w x 1/2" thick) and place in tiny cupcake papers to make them the traditional way.  

My dough

My dough

Marisa's cute little cookies in cupcake holders.

Marisa's cute little cookies in cupcake holders.

Since I like finding ways that are not only efficient, time saving but help make each one look consistent, I rolled the dough out and used a cookie cutter.  However, I should have made them thicker like Marisa's. So, definitely make yours at least 1/2" thickness. (Not as thin as mine below.)

cookie.cutter.jpg

If you are using the cupcake papers, just place them on a baking sheet.  If not, then line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place each cookie at least 1" apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.

on.the.tray.jpg
Mine, a bit flatter, wider but still tasty.

Mine, a bit flatter, wider but still tasty.

Marisa's, gorgeous, chunkier ones. 

Marisa's, gorgeous, chunkier ones. 

Once they cool down, place them on cute plate or stack up on cake stand.  Well, the serving device might not matter because they may not last long before you need to make another batch.  

cookies.pieplate.jpg
CU.cookie.jpg

Thanks to Marcos and Angelica for sharing the joys of their home, family, friends and traditions with us.  So I could bring this little treasure back for you from the mountain tops of Spain. The simple but delicious, simply delicious Sequillos. Que disfruten!  (Enjoy!)

mountains2.jpg

5 Quick, No Bake Desserts - In a Pinch

static1.squarespace.jpg

I realize that this title will come as a shock to those of you who know how much I love to bake, but sometimes I need a dessert in a pinch.  If I've got 5, 6 or even more appetizers to make, plus the meal; well dessert just ends up getting the short end of the stick.  With these 5 fast and easy assemble desserts, you don't have to stress about making sure there is something sweet and appealing after your meal.  Plus a few of these can easily be brought as a dessert offering when you are the one asked to bring something sweet.

 

Fresh Ricotta with Figs, Peaches & Honey

There is nothing as simple as assembling items on a board or platter.  

 

This sweet and savory offering is just that kind of dish.  Arrange seasonal fruits, like figs & peaches for the summer, on a pretty plate or a wooden board. Fill a bowl with fresh ricotta & drizzle with honey.  It's just that simple. You can toss some nuts in if you like, but for the sheer simplicity of this dish, it's not necessary.  Let the purity of these vibrant flavors speak for themselves.  The creaminess of the ricotta against the nature sweetness of the fruit with that extra sweetness from the honey is soothing combination.

 

Chocolate Dipped Fruit

chocolate.dipped.fruit2.jpg

This one might take a tad more effort but not much more.  Use the fruit of your choice or the ones in season.  I had raspberries, blackberries and bananas on hand.  Dip each piece in melted dark chocolate and let cool on parchment paper.  You can roll them in crushed nuts or coconut to ratchet it up a notch.  Then arrange on a plate and watch these fly faster than they took to make.  Believe it or not, these little 'pop in your mouth' treats are so pretty that they will make an "ohh' statement on your dessert table.  So easy enough to make, you can get your kids to help.

 

Cheese Course

Cheeses with strawberries, grapes, mini bread sticks and Tortas de Aceite (Sweet Olive Oil Crackers).

Cheeses with strawberries, grapes, mini bread sticks and Tortas de Aceite (Sweet Olive Oil Crackers).

Blue cheese (such as Cabrales, Valdeon, Stilton or Gorgonzola).  Add nuts, date loaf, figs in syrup, oranges.

Blue cheese (such as Cabrales, Valdeon, Stilton or Gorgonzola).  Add nuts, date loaf, figs in syrup, oranges.

Ok, this is not my idea, of course, but more of a reminder in case this option was misplaced in the memory banks. Instead of serving cheese as part of your appetizers, save it for dessert and do it the French and Italian way. Enjoy it after the meal.

Fresh Fruit Lovingly bound by Chocolate

This colorful, flavorful option is similar to but slightly different to the above chocolate dipped fruit.  Instead of individual chocolate coated fruits, this version creates a bed of chocolate for the fresh fruit, nuts and sea salt to lie gently atop.  I made this on just such an occasion when I didn't have time but wanted to serve a dessert after lunch.  It was better than I thought and served the purpose beautifully.   I already had a chocolate ganache in the fridge. (Ganache is just chocolate with a tad of cream added to it.  This keeps it from getting completely hard and makes it pourable to glaze a cake or drizzle. I liked using the ganache for this version because once I refrigerated it, it became hard enough to hold the fruit together but still had a softness that added to the yumminess. A result I didn't quite realize would occur. 

Spread the ganache on parchment.  Not too thin.

Spread the ganache on parchment.  Not too thin.

Lovingly place the fruit in a visual manner that pleases your eye and your belly.  Add nuts and sprinkle with course sea salt.

Lovingly place the fruit in a visual manner that pleases your eye and your belly.  Add nuts and sprinkle with course sea salt.

 

Chocolate Bark

If you don't happen to have fresh fruit, then go the traditional chocolate bark route.  This version does not use ganache.  It is pure chocolate melted down.  I use a combo of dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Spread the melted mixture onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Then top with whatever suits your fancy.  I like cashews, dried apricots & dried cherries plus a healthy sprinkling of course sea salt.  That really makes the chocolate sing. Refrigerate until solid, then cut or break into shards.  No brainer of sheer joy. 

 

I hope these ideas provide you a few quick, easy but delicious desserts to have in your back pocket when you are in a pinch.  I promise you, your guests will not miss the cake or pie or any other more labor intensive sweet.  

Sausage, Pepper & Onion Tart

sausage.tart.final.jpg

Oh the beauty of puff pastry.  Let me NOT count the ways, because that would be boring. But let me continue to find uses for you to try.  This one doesn't need a whole lot of intro.  This recipe is similar methodology as when making the Tarts of Summer.  Only difference, swap out the topping for this hearty, earthy and caramelized sweet combo.

I made this because I wanted something quick for an outdoor party. This is combo of sausage, peppers and onions is classic, and when also combined with cheese is a topping I love for pizza.  But I didn't want to make pizza.  I was already going to make a zucchini tart, and needed something a bit more filling for some of our guests.  Enter the sausage.  

Ingredients

setup.jpg

4-5 Italian sausage links (sweet or spicy, your choice)
3 Italian red peppers, sliced
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
1-1.5 c cheese of choice (Fontina, Goat, Mozzarella...)
Magic 3 (salt, pepper, oil)
1 Puff Pastry sheet

 

Instructions

Defrost the puff pastry sheet.  Once defrosted, roll out to approximately 12" x 17".  Transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Dot the entire pastry with a fork leaving a 1" border all the way around. Place in refrigerator while you sauté the onions and peppers in a pan with oil, season with salt and pepper.   

Slowly sauté to release the natural sugars and let them caramelize.

Slowly sauté to release the natural sugars and let them caramelize.

While that is cooking, grate the cheese and remove the sausage from the casings .  If you want to save time, use another pan to cook the sausage.  If time is no issue, then after the peppers/onion have cooked, use the same pan. Remove the pastry from the fridge and sprinkle enough cheese to cover the forked part of the pastry.  Then add the sausage, pepper and onion.  Bake in a 425 degrees oven until pastry edges puff up and become golden brown.

Puff Pastry
tarts.final.jpg

On pizza, on pasta, on an Italian roll, or puff pastry, the combo of sausage, peppers and onions is a winning one.  Add this version whenever you are making the Tarts of Summer.  The meat eaters at your party will be glad you did.

 
DP-stirredwlove-ID1.jpg