Foolproof Apple Crisp for the Love of Fall

imageThere are 14-layer cakes, lattice pies, meringues and souffles. Then, there’s Apple Crisp. Labor intensive, complicated desserts have their time and place, but a dessert that’s good enough for a weeknight is good enough for me. No other delicacy screams fall and comforts the home and heart like it. What’s more, the dish is easily adaptable for large or small crowds. Dinner for two? Serve it in ramekins. Family coming for Thanksgiving? It’s time to dust off that trusty ol’ casserole dish. With its warm nutmeg and cinnamon spices, served alongside a scoop or two of cold vanilla ice cream, it’s the fall season in a nutshell (or in this case, a bowl).

wpid-IMG_20131009_210507.jpgAfter a dinner of chili, Apple Crisp hit the spot. The crunch of the granola and earthiness of the pecans, with the tart and sweet combination of apples is foolproof flavor. My home smelled just like the mountains, and made me wish I was sipping coffee in a rocking chair somewhere up in Tennessee, admiring the changing leaves.

My recipe serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Filling:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Red Delicious apple, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Teaspoons each of cinnamon and nutmeg or more to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup of granola
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice (This keeps the apples from turning brown).

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • A good handful of chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup cold butter

Directions:

Peel and slice apples. Place in a medium bowl and add the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside. In another small bowl, stir together flour, sugar and chopped pecans. Cut in cold butter with a fork or you can blend the ingredients quickly with your hands. Pour filling into a 1 1/2 quart or 8 x 8 casserole dish and top off with the brown sugar mixture. Sprinkle with granola. Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve with ice cream and coffee, preferably on the porch.

Don’t forget to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day!

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Roasted Root Vegetables Reinvented

wpid-0416141949a.jpgIt may be springtime, but let’s face it: the weather can be crazy and unpredictable. For those not-so-springlike nights this season, I’ve got a recipe for Roasted Root Vegetable Soup with Homemade Thyme Croutons that’ll give you an excuse to transform leftovers and get the most out of your farmers’ market finds.

wpid-0415141945.jpgThis recipe is a classic example of technique. Once you master it, you can substitute whatever ingredients you choose. Roma tomatoes and onions would be absolutely fantastic with a grilled cheese sandwich. I made Roasted Root Vegetable Soup using leftover carrots and turnips that I’d made for Easter dinner with my Roasted Leg of Lamb and Mint Chutney. I seasoned the vegetables with salt and pepper, then tossed them in a good quality olive oil and roasted them at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. I love reinventing leftovers. It’s ultimately fun to create something totally new with the same ingredients from another dish.

wpid-0416141858.jpgIn a food processor or a blender, puree the vegetables until fluid, adding a little chicken broth or water to help the vegetables liquefy. You can also use an immersion blender, but that’s a fancy tool I’ve yet to acquire. If you’d like your soup to have a little texture, don’t puree them totally. Just pulse your blender a few times, leaving some of the vegetables chunky. I enjoy bites of carrot here and there, rather than pure creaminess, but it’s personal preference.

wpid-0416141944.jpgTransfer the pureed vegetables to a stock pot. Then add 3 – 4 cups of chicken broth. Season to taste with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Let simmer over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes.

wpid-0416141944a.jpgI just so happened to have a french baguette on my counter top that was more than a few days old. What better way to give stale bread new life than to chop it into cubes and make crunchy croutons? I did just that. With the Holy Trinity of kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and olive oil, I added dried thyme, and roasted them in the oven, also at 425 degrees, for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and fragrant.

wpid-0416141949b.jpgIf you look closely, you can see chunks of carrot adding texture to the soup. With a pop of green color from my carrot tops for garnish and the addition of my Homemade Thyme Croutons, soup never tasted better on a cool, springtime night.

Here’s a quick look at what you’ll need:

Roasted Root Vegetable Soup featuring Carrots and Turnips

  • 1 Bunch Carrots, peeled 
  • 3 Large Turnips, chopped 
  • 3-4 cups Chicken Broth
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Oregano
  • Parsley or Green Carrot Tops for Garnish

Homemade Thyme Croutons

  • Day old bread or Stale Bread, such as a French or Italian baguette
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Dried Thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil or enough to coat bread well