Normandy Pork with Apples

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US.  I like to take this week, not only to plan the menu and shop for the big meal, but also to tackle all my fall cleaning tasks.   Replacing old blinds and washing the curtains, polishing the furniture and the silverware, scrubbing the baseboards and cleaning the ceilings in the bathrooms, changing the linens from summer to winter – it all makes the house feel cozy, bright and ready for a stream of holiday guests.  Maybe it’s weird, but I absolutely love fall cleaning, even more than spring cleaning.  There’s something so completely satisfying in making the dull and dingy shine again.   For Christmas one year I was given a book called, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House, and it’s still one of my favourite books today.  It’s like a cookbook, but with instructions on how to properly clean anything and everything in your home.   Continue reading “Normandy Pork with Apples”

Old-Fashioned Apple Cake

I call this an old-fashioned cake because anything cooked in a bundt pan feels old-school and vintage to me, but I was surprised the read, recently, that the modern rendition of the bundt pan has only been around since the 1950’s.  Of course, the traditional, tube-shaped cake, called Kugelhopf, that inspired its creation has been around for ages, originating in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until the 50’s that the design was brought to the US and the first bundt pan was cast by the founder of the Nordic Ware company in Minnesota. Continue reading “Old-Fashioned Apple Cake”

Windmill Lattice Apple Pie

There are two different approaches to making apple pie.  The first is to toss the apples with sugar and a bit of thickener (flour, cornstarch) and place them in the crust, raw, so that they cook in the oven.  The second is to cook the apples on the stove top first, before placing them in the crust.  The first method is quick and easy, and works in a pinch, but the results are a filling that doesn’t hold together quite as well and oozes out when you slice it.  Additionally, as the pie bakes, the apples shrink, releasing their juices and creating gaps between the filling and the top crust which shatter when the pie is sliced.   By cooking the apples beforehand, they are pre-shrunk, a little like a good pair of jeans, and you can count on the crust staying intact, without gaps as the pie bakes.  This is how I like to make apple pie, and because much of the liquid is reduced and boiled away while the fruit is cooking, there’s no need for a thickening agent, which preserves the clean, fresh taste of the apples. Continue reading “Windmill Lattice Apple Pie”

Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples

This weekend, the dishwasher worked overtime, as did the oven.  The kitchen bustled with holiday excitement and children sneaking tastes and dogs underfoot and enticing aromas drifting into every corner of the house…. And my camera stayed put, tucked away in its case in the closet the whole time.  I took almost no photos of any of it, aside from a few on my phone because, the truth is, there are days when I just want to cook – messily, in all directions, with flour in my hair, dishes on the counter, crumbs on the floor, towels draped over the chair, and plastic cookie cutters strewn across the table (so NOT photogenic!).  Would I be amiss to say that I think all food bloggers, photographers and recipe developers go through this at some point? Continue reading “Raisin-Stuffed Baked Apples”

Calvados Martini

Normandy is famous for many of the world’s most delicious delicacies: Camembert, apples, oysters, and the most luscious cream and butter, cidre and of course, Calvados -the apple brandy that has been distilled there for over five centuries.  Calvados, in a way, is made like a fine perfume, with producers meticulously combining upwards of 200 different varieties of apples ranging from sweet to tart to bittersweet and bitter into their eau de vie.  In one appellation, pears are also used in the formula.  Bitter and tart apples must make up the majority of the composition (70%), while the remainder is comprised Continue reading “Calvados Martini”

Rum Apple Tart

As a child we would frequently drive way out in the countryside on Sunday afternoons to visit family.  My aunt and uncle owned an apple orchard, and as soon as the car pulled into their long dirt driveway my brother and I would run out into the trees, without even so much as a “Hello!” to my aunt who was waiting at the front door.  I used to love to skip between the rows of trees, imagining I was Dorothy on the yellow brick road – and there was always a dog around to play the part of Toto. Continue reading “Rum Apple Tart”

Rum Apple Cider Punch

Everyone has a rum story.  Mine starts back when I was 18… but perhaps it’s not the best way to introduce a rum cocktail…?  You don’t mind, do you?  I married my first husband on the day after I graduated from high school.  His name was Isaac and he was barely 20.  I wish I could say we were high school sweethearts, but no, we met in a smoky pool hall.  Of course, in the US you can’t legally drink until you’re 21.  The irony of being allowed to make a such a life-changing decision without being able to think on it with a drink!  We did what any responsible 18 and 20 year olds would do; we decided to spend our honeymoon in a place where we could legally have a drink to celebrate – island hopping through the Caribbean. Continue reading “Rum Apple Cider Punch”

Brown Butter Apple Crêpes

If I threw a dinner party and invited all the seasons as guests, Spring would arrive late, flutter between the other guests like a social butterfly, disappear here and there, then run back out to her car to reapply her make up, leaving just as quickly as she’d come.  Summer would sprawl out on the couch and stretch his long legs across the coffee table with his feet in the air.  He’d very likely spill a glass or two of Rosé on the new rug, then apologize loudly, while dabbing it up with the cuff of his shirt.  Winter, no doubt, would over-stay his welcome, howling with laughter long into the night.  I would refill his mug with hot mulled wine over and over until his cheeks were rosy and he was far too drunk to make it home, so he’d stay even longer in the guest bedroom until morning when I’d serve him a hearty breakfast and send him on his way.   Autumn, however, would arrive Continue reading “Brown Butter Apple Crêpes”