….’today, in October sun, it’s all gold—sky and tree and water. Everything just before it changes looks to be made of gold.’ (“The Wide Net” by Eudora Welty, The Collected Stories)
This “changing-time” is apple season…days are still sunny and warm, but the evenings are cool and crisp. It is time to once again crank up the stove and do some more serious cooking. Apple Sauce is a favorite of mine, but it’s almost impossible to find any canned or jarred product that is truly satisfying. The best in the world is homemade and a bit chunky in my opinion. I enjoy a bold flavor in my sauced apples so I often make my own.
A few years ago I bought a hand crank apple peeler that clamps onto my kitchen counter and is honestly just so much fun to use that I sometimes get a bit carried away and keep on peeling ’til there is not much left but the core! For making apple sauce this is one kitchen gadget/tool that you must have.
Beautiful apple peel ribbons.
Apples from a neighbor’s tree.
I made up a simple syrup using cranberry juice, star anise seeds and brown sugar. The peeled and chopped apples simmer and cook down in this very flavorful syrup making the final product uniquely delicious.
Apple sauce put up in wee jars so each bite is fresh.
Pick some local apples and make up a batch of this recipe…any type of tart, crunchy apple works…spread finished apple sauce on toasted bread, a turkey or grilled cheese sandwich or serve with your next pork roast. These little jars make very nice fall/winter gifts as well.
October Apples, Sauced in Anise-Brown Sugar Syrup
- 3-4 lbs tart fall apples – Honey Crisp, MacIntosh, Arkansas Black or Granny Smith
- 2 cups cranberry juice
- 2 cups raw/brown sugar
- 2 whole star anise seeds
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Peel apples & rough chop. Put in a stainless steel cook pot.
- Add the Star Anise simple syrup to the pot. Turn heat to medium high. Stir mixture until a soft boil begins then turn to simmer. Stir every so often to keep apples from sticking. Cook down until mixture has thicken but is still chunky.
- Remove pot from stove and stir in lemon juice.
- Spoon apple sauce into small glass jars with tight-fitting lids and process in a water bath for 20 minutes. Remove jars from water & set on a wire rack to cool. You should hear a soft “thump” when lids seal properly and they will be concave. Cool completely and store in pantry until ready to eat. Depending on the size of your jars this recipe makes 6-8 jars.
How to make simple syrup:
- Put 2 cups cranberry juice, 2 cups raw/brown sugar & 2 whole star anise seeds in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved and turn heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. Set aside to cool. Use immediately or chill in a glass jar with a lid.
How to do a simple water bath processing:
- If you have a canner then fill with enough water to cover the size jars you are canning up to one inch above the jar tops.
- Place filled jars in wire rack that comes with the canner pan and lower it down into the water. Bring water to a rolling boil. Process jars in boiling water for 20 minutes. Turn heat off and leave jars in cooling down water for 30 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner to a wire rack and let cool completely. Jars will seal as they cool making a soft “thump” sound. Jar lids will be concave when jars are properly sealed.
Note on canning:
I have used a large stock pot with a round wire cooling rack sitting on the bottom of the pan instead of a canner kit. You just put the rack in the pot, place jars, not touching, on the rack & gently cover tops of jars with water. Continue the processing as you would when using a canner from this point on.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
Coming home with a sack of leftover vegetables is not unusual for me. At the end of many of my food styling projects there are often random vegetables left over…one red bell pepper, one onion, a few new potatoes, a lemon, a handful of beautiful okra and a box of arugula along with a half carton of heirloom baby tomatoes were the recent jewels….I just cannot bear to leave them unused and wasted.
The last thing I really want to do at the end of a long day is cook at home after cooking all day while working. But roasting vegetables isn’t really cooking…it is a technique that requires little effort and the reward is a healthy, colorful, relaxing, easy-as-this dinner.
Oven turned to 400 degrees. Longer cooking vegetables go in first after being tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper…..
….quicker cooking vegetables added to the pan halfway through cook time along with a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. Easy enough to make your own or purchase at most supermarkets or on-line.
Eat healthy and be well.
Early Fall Roasted Vegetables
- any random selection of vegetables, rinsed & roughly chopped
- suggestions: new potatoes, red bell peppers, heirloom cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, okra pods, asparagus, onions, beets, cauliflower, broccoli…whatever you have
- olive oil
- sea salt or kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasoning
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- arugula leaves or baby spinach
- Turn oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss roughly chopped vegetables in olive oil, salt & black pepper.
- Spread vegs that take longer to cook out on a baking sheet & roast for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add vegs that take less time to cook to pan. Sprinkle over all with Herbes de Provence.
- Return pan to oven and roast another 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven.
- Serve roasted vegetables with a dusting of grated Parmesan and fresh greens.
Teresa Blackburn www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com www.foodonfifth.com
West Tennessee folks have always been proud of their gardens. I have known this since a young child when everyone, rich or poor or in the middle, had a vegetable garden…some small…some very large…all very neatly planted. Rows and rows of succulent peas, beans, tomatoes, corn and squash!
Your vegetable garden reflected who you were and your connection to your community. Sharing the bounty was a big part of it as well. One neighbor grew too much corn so it was shared with neighbors…another grew too many cucumbers to eat or pickle so the extra got passed on.
This beautiful cold soup was made from yellow crookneck squash grown in the West Tennessee garden of my friends, Anita & Larry Mullins. A gift from their garden is an always a very deliciously welcome gift! The sharing tradition continues all the way to my Middle Tennessee kitchen.
I combined these squash with some green peas from the Nashville Farmer’s Market I had frozen a month or so ago with an onion and some low-fat & low sodium chicken broth. Quickly simmered together until softened……
….then blended until smooth & chilled for an hour or so.
Right before eating I stirred in a dollop of cold cream. Topped off with a handful of chopped up homegrown cherry tomatoes, sea salt & cracked black pepper.
Every bite deliciously creamy and cool…every spoonful a “West Tennessee summer day! A big thanks to my garden friends!
- 4 cups of chopped Yellow Crookneck Squash
- 2 cups fresh, shelled green peas
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup chilled cream
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Add chopped squash, green peas, chopped onion, salt & pepper to a pan along with the broth. Cook just until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat.
- Blend in batches in a blender until smooth.
- Chill until ready to serve. Right before serving stir cream into soup. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top each serving with some chopped cherry tomatoes & more pepper & salt if desired.
Recipe: Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
It’s a bit cooler here in Nashville, but while it was so bloody hot I managed to get lots of indoor stuff done..homey chores…office work. I cleaned up my desk….I found this little tag I had attached to a pitcher of “Basil-Limeade Wine Spritzer” that I had taken to a potluck gathering last summer and remembered how refreshing it was…maybe it’s time to make another batch.
There are no real measurements, just gather the ingredients in the tag and mix and taste until you like it. Serve over an ice packed glass. Sip and cool down.
I also finally got to finish up my new website design and get it live…see images below and hop over for a visit when you have a second…www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com. I really love working on things like this…noodling…especially on a hot days.
August is now a lot of memories and September is before us. There is lots of turmoil as well as goodness in the world. We are soon having an election for a new President here in the United States. I support Hillary Clinton for President and I hope you will ponder this and vote for her as well. Do the most good for the most people as often as you can. Read between the lines…ask questions…think peace. Do right.
Happy Labor Day Y’all.
Basil-Limeade Wine Spritzer-Cooler
- Chill a bottle of Pinot Grigio white wine or a Rose.
- Slice 2 limes into wheels & cut these in half. Squeeze the juice from 4 more limes and add to a pitcher.
- Add some sugar…about 1/4 cup at the most… to the pitcher along with some fresh basil leaves and stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Pour chilled wine into the pitcher & stir well. Add lime slices.
- Right before serving add seltzer water to the pitcher. Pour mixture over glasses filled with ice. Garnish with basil leaves. Ahhhhhh….aren’t you cooler already?
The so-called “dog days of summer” have gotten to me and when it comes to cooking I am giving in. Salads and variations-on-the-salad will be my mainstay for a bit. Cool foods that I can quickly and easily put together with ingredients that are readily and locally available. I will make foods that do not require breaking a sweat.
This colander of fresh Crowder peas in where we start today. I quickly cooked them in a plastic bag in the microwave…no hot water steaming up the kitchen on this 90+ degree day, then I rinsed them in cold water and let them drain for a bit.
Hmmmm….homegrown tomatoes & cucumbers from the Duren-Kemp garden of earthly delights. (That’s my son-in-law and daughter’s garden.)
A splash or two or three of this fab balsamic vinegar purchased down the street from Lazzaroli’s Pasta emporium.
Easy as this Lemon Salt & freshly ground black pepper added to taste… served with glass of chilled white wine and a baguette from Dozen’s Bakery.
A late summer, no oven or stove-top dinner, healthy & fresh, cool as a cucumber meal! Keep it simple, don’t work up a sweat with this “Crowder Pea, Homegrown Tomato & Cucumber Salad”. It’s another “E.A.T. ” (easy as this) meal brought to you from my little Food on Fifth kitchen.
(Almost No Cooking) E.A.T. Late Summer Salad of Crowder Peas, Homegrown Tomatoes and Cucumbers
- 2-3 cups fresh, shelled Crowder peas, lady peas or any other summer pea
- 4 medium size home-grown tomatoes cut into bite-size chunks
- 1-2 fresh smallish size cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled, sliced or cut into chunks
- a good balsamic vinegar, as much as you like to coat
- lemon salt & freshly ground black pepper (or just regular sea salt)
- Rinse & drain peas & put in a zip-lock bag left slightly open. Cook in microwave for about 8 minutes on high. Dump into a colander and rinse with cool running water. Leave to drain for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl toss together the cooled peas, tomato chunks & cucumbers.
- Season with salt & black pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve at room temp or chilled. Delicious with a crusty baguette and, of course on a hot day, a glass of chilled white wine. Bon Appetite.
Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com foodonfifth.com
These are the last of the local summer peaches for this year. Aren’t they just beautiful? Recently while out walking I spotted a peach tree in my neighborhood with limbs heavy with ripe peaches. The tree belongs to my neighbor, Nancy Hardaway, who has moved away and has her house for sale. I did not think she would mind if I helped myself to a few which you see here that were perfectly ripe and luscious with lots of juice. Thanks Nancy!
This peach tart recipe with a shortcrust pastry is based on one I ran across while looking through some older cookbooks in my collection, Donna Hay’s “Modern Classics” Book 2 from 2003. She has for a long time been one of my culinary “Sheroes” & has always been way ahead of her time in her approach to modern cooking. She was doing things in 2003 in Australia that we had only begun to think about when it comes to cooking & food style. I made a few small tweaks but as with most of her recipes it was already close to perfect.
Do you have a favorite culinary Shero?
Good quality butter cut into small pieces and frozen…plain & almond flour…pastry quickly made in a food processor….kneaded a bit before rolling…..
…rolled out and fitted into a tart pan with a removable bottom….blind-baked (see this article for more explanation on this) using parchment & dried beans (or pie weights)…
…a simple Greek yogurt-sugar-egg filling….topped with peach slices tossed in slightly sweetened beaten egg whites….
…and baked until peaches & crust are golden brown. Missed peach season? Plums would be yummy as well.
Summer Peach Tart with an Almond Shortcrust Pastry
Ingredients for Pastry:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces & frozen
- ice water to bring the pastry together
Ingredients for Tart:
- 3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for egg white
- 6 peaches, stones removed and sliced, drained & patted dry
- 3 tablespoons raw sugar
- In a food processor blend the almond flour, all-purpose flour, sugar & butter until it looks grainy.
- With motor running drizzle in ice water by tablespoons just until a smooth dough forms. Remove dough from processor and knead gently a few times, form into a flatten ball, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for a half hour.
- Roll chilled dough out on a floured surface, lay over the top of a tart pan with a removable bottom (9 or 10 inch), fit down into the pan using your fingers and cut off excess around the top edge.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper over the pastry and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake pastry shell for 10 minutes with weights, remove and bake another 10 minutes or until crust is a light golden brown.
- Whisk together the yogurt, brown sugar & egg. Pour into warm baked pastry shell & bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Turn oven up to 400 degrees.
- While filling is cooking whip egg white with 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. Add peach slices to the whites & toss gently until coated. Pile peach slices on top of the filling, sprinkle with raw sugar and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven to a rack to cool and sprinkle with additional crunchy raw sugar or powdered sugar if desired. You can double this recipe easily and make two tarts like I did!
Note: Recipe based on a Donna Hay recipe from her book “Modern Classics” Book 2, 2003 Harper Collins Publisher.
Today’s temperature in Nashville, Tennessee as I post this at 6:34pm CST: 94 degrees and feels like 104 degrees (official report!). Let’s eat something cold, really cold like a chilled iceberg wedge with a frozen blue cheese dressing.
A cold blast-from-the-past with an updated twist.
As you know blue-cheese dressing is a must for this salad, but frozen blue-cheese ice cream dressing is even better!
I had a version of this salad while working on a photo shoot in Florida a few years ago. It was late in the day, I was hot & tired. I walked to a nearby restaurant close to my hotel for dinner at the end of the day. I lazily chose the “classic wedge salad” and when it arrived at my table the dressing was frozen….a blue-cheese ice cream dressing right on the top of my wedge slowly melting down into & between the leaves. Ingenious.
A good blue cheese with lots of veins….yogurt…hot sauce…my homemade lemon-salt and…….
….a generous grinding of my friend Jesse (Food Sheriff) Goldstein’s very own invention “Flower Pepper”. To be more exact “Uncle Daisy’s Organic Flower Pepper”. Jesse gave me a jar of his special pepper chock full of dried flowers as a gift and it added just the right flavor to this recipe. It is not available in stores but you can make your own. Go to Jesse’s blog post that tells you how.
Ingredients blended together and frozen in my ice-cream freezer but left a bit soft to scoop onto the top of the wedge!
Pancetta cooked until very crisp and most of the fat rendered in my Lodge cast iron skillet.
Updated….Neo-Classic Iceberg Wedge Salad…for hot days to cool you down.
Neo-Classic Iceberg Lettuce Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ice Cream Dressing
Ingredients & Equipment:
Electric ice cream freezer ready to make ice cream according to package directions for your particular machine.
- In a bowl mix together Greek yogurt, blue cheese crumbles, a healthy pinch of lemon salt, a generous grinding of Flower Pepper and a few shakes of hot sauce to taste. Stir until well blended.
- Scrape mixture into the ice cream freezer and freeze according to package directions or until mixture is “ice cream frozen”. Scrape blue cheese ice cream dressing in a plastic container and pop in the refrigerator freezer while you prepare the salads. Don’t let the dressing get too frozen as it will be hard to scoop.
- On four plates place one Iceberg Lettuce wedge. Sprinkle tomato halves & crisp pancetta over the wedges.
- Add a scoop (or two) of Blue Cheese Ice Cream Dressing over each wedge right before serving.
Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com