Tag Archives: apples

Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Flatbread with Chèvre

29 Oct

It may be a little early to start thinking about the holidays, but with two party invitations having come our way in the last week alone, my brain has already started to focus on celebrations, invitations, and that most oft-repeated phrase in my personal RSVP: What can I bring?

Aside from the regular offerings of wine or beer, if time is willing (which, admittedly, it isn’t always), I like to bring a little something homemade to a party. During the full-fledged holiday season, it always seems somehow easier to come up with a proper item to bring. The holidays are a time of rejoicing and unrepentant sugar consumption, so whipping up a batch of cookies or a simple cake never seems inappropriate. But, seeing as how it’s not even Halloween yet, it feels a bit premature to start plying people with sweets already.

Last week I tried out this flatbread for a party offering, and I could not have been happier with how it turned out. I’ve made a similar sort of flatbread before, cobbled together out of a leftover bit of pizza dough and a few bits of this and that, but the end product never seemed as complete as I wanted it to be. Something was missing, I thought. Spying a basket full of apples on our kitchen counter (courtesy of a backyard tree), I was inspired to go in one of my favorite directions: to the place where savory and sweet come together in one tasty package. The savory leeks and earthy rosemary are just delightful with the addition of tender bites of apple, and when combined with creamy goat cheese on top of an olive oil-crisped dough, the result is nothing short of heavenly. It’s a good thing I was only auditioning this flatbread for a future get together. The flatbread you see in these pictures never managed to make it out of the house.

Last Year: Butternut Squash and Dry-Cured Olive Pizza with Ricotta and Chèvre. Well, look at that. The San Francisco Giants just won the World Series again (it is taking all the restraint I have just to not type that in all caps), and, in keeping with my current habit of eating black and orange foods to show my support during their postseason run, here is the very first black and orange food recipe I shared, celebrating the one year anniversary of their previous (and first ever!) World Series win.

Leek, Apple, and Rosemary Flatbread with Chèvre Recipe

This flatbread’s dough is a cinch to throw together, as it requires very little in the way of kneading, and allows time to do most of the work. The dough will need at least three hours to proof at room temperature, but, to be quite honest, the dough really shines brightest when left to proof in the refrigerator overnight. If you mix everything together before you go to bed, place it in the refrigerator, then remove the dough from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you need to use it, you’ll get the most flavorful dough possible.

For the dough:

½ cup warm water

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/3 cup bread flour

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¾ teaspoon rapid-rise yeast

Stir together warm water, olive oil, and honey, then set aside. In a large bowl, combine bread flour, salt, and yeast, and stir to combine thoroughly. Using a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula, stir in water mixture until mixture comes together in a shaggy mass. With the dough still in the bowl, knead the shaggy dough for about 1 minute, until the dough comes together and starts to become smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, drizzle the bowl with a bit of olive oil, then turn the dough around in the oil to coat completely. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then leave the dough on the counter to rise for at least 3 hours (or, preferably, in the refrigerator overnight—just remember to remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

For the topping:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 large leeks, white ends only, rinsed clean, sliced lengthwise, then sliced into half moons

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼-inch chunks

½ heaping tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces chèvre

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange an oven rack in the middle position.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add leeks, and stir to coat evenly in oil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook leeks, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, wilted, and starting to turn golden brown (about 15 minutes). Add diced apples and stir to combine. Cook until apples just begin to release a bit of their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in rosemary, add salt and pepper to taste, then remove pan from heat and set aside to cool just a bit.

Coat the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Turn room temperature dough out into the oiled pan, and, taking your time so as not to rip the dough, gently coax the dough into a square shape, fitting the dough all along the bottom of the pan. If the dough resists all efforts to be shaped, set the pan aside for a minute or two to allow the dough to rest, then come back and resume your shaping.

When the dough has been shaped in the pan, spoon the leek and apple mixture on top of the dough, leaving a ¼-inch border along the edges of the dough. Evenly crumble the chèvre over the leek mixture. Bake flatbread in center of oven for 14-16 minutes, until the edges of the dough are crisp and dark brown, and the topping is golden.

Remove flatbread from the pan using a flexible spatula. Cool briefly on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cheddar, Apple, and Poppy Seed Scones

17 Oct

I don’t want it to end. I am speaking, of course, of the San Francisco Giants, and their near-miraculous performance in the postseason this year. After coming back from a two-game deficit last week, winning the division series and advancing to the pennant race, my heart was as full as it’s been in years. Okay, since 2010, when the Giants won the World Series. But still. My devotion to baseball is such that I tend to get very, very excited when things go well (and, conversely, very, very sad when things do not go well).

Plus, I am having a great time coming up with new and inventive ways to incorporate black and orange foods into our meals. Sometimes the black and orange components are front and center, but other times, like with these scones, the black and orange bits are a bit more subtle, though no less enjoyable. Actually, it just occurred to me that there might have been a more obvious scone to make when adding to my arsenal of orange and black foods: orange chocolate scones. Why did I not think of that earlier?

Truth be told, I am glad I did not go the orange and chocolate route. These cheddar apple scones, rich and buttery, but barely sweetened, were an absolute delight. With just a hint of whole wheat pastry flour to add to their heartiness, their pure, simple flavor made for a perfect fall bite. I had a bit of an internal battle with myself before I decided to hold off on adding any pinches of fall-ish spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.), and, in the end, I am so glad I decided to reign things in. With just enough sharp cheddar folded into the dough to offset the fresh sweetness of the apples, these scones are just lovely. They served us well as both a fantastic afternoon treat and a welcome, celebratory post-game snack. The Giants won, so I am, of course, going to credit the scones. Not that I really need an excuse, but I just might have to make these again for Game 3. You know, because of the good luck they brought the team. Of course.

Last Year: Panko-Crusted Sole, a Dinner in 20 Minutes

Cheddar, Apple, and Poppy Seed Scones Recipe

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ½ cups cold buttermilk or soured milk

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups peeled apple chunks, about ¼-inch in size (from roughly 1 ½ large apples)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Whisk to combine thoroughly.

Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few large pea-sized butter bits strewn throughout. Using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, carefully stir in the buttermilk until the dough appears quite shaggy and just begins to hold together. Fold in both the grated cheese and the apple chunks.

Turned the dough out onto a floured surface. Carefully pat the dough into a long rectangle about 18 inches long and roughly 1 ½-inches thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 triangles.

Place the dough triangles on the prepared baking sheet. You might need to partake in a bit of creative arranging in order to make all 12 triangles fit on the baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the scones have turned dark golden brown. Remove scones to a wire rack to cool slightly, then serve while still warm.

Makes 12 scones.

Apple and Toasted Oat Cookies with Penuche Frosting

26 Sep

A few years ago, we were lucky enough to be gifted a beautiful Akane apple tree. Akanes are a fantastic type of apple—sharp, only lightly sweet, and boasting a fantastic crunch. Last year we ended up giving a great deal of our tree’s apple harvest to our son’s school, but this year we will be in charge of eating these crisp little fellows on our own. I have no complaints about this. Akane apples are great when plucked from the tree and eaten straight away, but they are also superb for baking. Their less-sweet flavor lends itself well to being folded into baked goods, and their firm flesh is a champ at holding its shape and resisting the urge to melt into mush when exposed to hot temperatures.

Which makes me wonder: When did the pumpkin become the official food of autumn? It seems as though the mere mention of autumn will unleash the squash recipes with full force. Summer is barely over, and yet it is impossible to walk down the street from my house without seeing coffeehouse after coffeehouse after bakery practically screaming the virtues of pumpkin. Pumpkin bread is mighty fine, I admit, but what about the other fruits of the season? Have we forgotten about the apples and pears?

Truthfully, I think I do actually understand the tendency to learn towards pumpkins when autumn makes its first appearance. Due to the fact that one is able to make year-round purchases of apples and pears at the grocery store, the pumpkin harvest is a more notable signifier of the arrival of a new season. Pumpkins signal something, whereas apples, well, apples just mean apples.

Not that they have to. Those apples you’re getting at the market in June are nothing compared to the apples that first start showing up in September and October. June apples have been sitting in storage for months, ever since the previous year’s harvest ended, but September apples have only just barely been freed from their trees. Like warm June strawberries plucked fresh from a backyard patch, fresh September apples are a revelation in apple-eating.

However, if you’re like me and you did not manage to treat your apple tree in time to ward off spring’s deluge of codling moths (note: I treat my apple tree with an organic insecticide called Spinosad, which is unfailingly effective if you treat the tree before the moths arrive to lay their eggs, which I, unfortunately, was not able to do), sometimes you have to do a bit of slicing and dicing in order to enjoy your homegrown apples. A cookie like this, with bursts of apple and the heartiness of oats and whole wheat flour, is the perfect welcome mat for autumn’s new fruit. Drizzled with a slip of caramel-tinged penuche frosting, it tastes like the arrival of autumn, all wrapped up in a tidy cookie package.

Last Year: Balsamic-Glazed Chicken and Zucchini with Grilled Limes

Apple and Toasted Oat Cookies with Penuche Frosting Recipe

1 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup milk

juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of nutmeg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups finely chopped, peeled apple

Penuche Frosting

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

¼ cup milk

pinch of sea salt

1 ½ cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread oats in a single layer on a large baking sheet, then toast in the oven until the oats are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove oats from baking sheet and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes on high speed. Add milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, egg, and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add toasted oats, all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, spices, and salt, then mix well on low speed. Stir in chopped apple.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoon-fuls, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake cookies in center of oven until lightly golden, about 10 to 13 minutes. To ensure even baking, only bake 1 sheet of cookies at a time. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

While cookies are cooling, make penuche frosting by combining butter and dark brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir to combine the two, allowing mixture to come to a light boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

After mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, add milk and beat until smooth, then add powdered sugar and beat until mixture is smooth and combined.

Using a large spoon, drizzle cooled cookies with penuche frosting.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on how generously the tablespoon-fuls of dough were portioned out.

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