Monthly Archives: October 2008

Apple Crisp

Fall is the ultimate season for apples.  When confronted with an abundance of the crisp delight, I recommend turning them into any dessert possible.  Exhibit A: the crisp.  Start with an un-buttered, small casserole dish.  Fill the dish with 8 apples that have been peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces.  I used a relatively tart apple for this (Braeburn).  Squeeze a lemon’s worth of juice over the sliced apples to preserve color and enhance flavor.  In a separate and large bowl, combine 3/4 cup AP flour, 3/4 brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.  Mix all ingredients then add 1 stick of cold butter that has been diced into small chunks.  Blend everything together with a pastry cutter or two knives until the butter and flour mixture resembles moist breadcrumbs.  Cover the apples in the casserole dish with this topping.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until the top is brown and the juices are bubbly.  This recipe was adapted from the Joy of Cooking. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Birthday Happiness

Moules, Frites, and friends at Dr. Granville Moore’s made for a happy 23rd birthday.

Five Good Wines

I haven’t blogged about wine at all, so I want to throw this one out there for my readers.  I drink a fair amount of wine, and I always like to try new things, so it’s very rare that I buy the same wine over and over again.  Having said that, there are a few bottles that I turn to consistently in a pinch.  Whether to give as a gift, bring to a dinner party, or to kick back with a good meal, these wines are winners for me.  They are all reasonably priced as well and widely available in your local mega mart.  In no particular order:

Gabbiano, 2005 Chianti:  This wine was one of my first loves.  Its got a soft taste with just enough chianti dryness that will go over well with almost any palette.  It lends it self well to pasta and pizza.  Approximately 8$ per bottle.  Italian.

Robert Mondavi, Private Selection, Pinot Noir: I was recently introduced to this wine at the wedding of Shana and Taylor.  It’s very light.  It’s also a very versatile wine that will go over well at any dinner party or anytime you just want to have a glass while snacking on something.  Approximately 12$ per bottle.  California.

Trapiche, Oak Cask Malbec: This one is a pretty heavy wine.  It’s got a nice purple tinge to the color and a super oaky aroma and taste.  I reserve this one for heavy red meat consumption.  Great to slog down while chewing up a beefy steak or some hearty sausage.  Approximately 9$ per bottle.  South America (Chile?).

Red Guitar, Tempranillo: This might be my favorite of the five.  This wine presents a mild and pleasing taste and offers itself for a wide variety of foods.  My favorite way to enjoy this wine is with a good sandwich or juicy burger.  It would also be the perfect compliment to any southern pulled pork.  Pack this one in your picnic basket.  It’s a winner every time.  Approximately 9$ per bottle.  Spain.

Georges Dubeof, Beaujolais Nouveau: Ok.  Wine critics all pan this as a marketing ploy, but I still find merit in this very limited release.  Every November to celebrate the harvest, French wine makers release a nouveau style wine.  All this means is that the wine is made from grapes (Gamay grapes) that have been harvested and fermented right away.  The result is a crisp, fruity red wine.  It’s usually only available for about 6 weeks beginning in late November, so stock up while you can.  It makes a great Christmas present, and it always finds it way onto the Thanksgiving and other holiday dinner tables.  Approximately 10$ per bottle.  France.

Ok, so there you have it.  Notice, all of these wines are red.  I don’t know much about white wine, so I don’t really drink it.  My limited exposure to good white wines came while living in Rome, Italy.  I need to branch out, but I really don’t know where to start.  I’m also not an expert on anything wine.  I’m just recommending what I prefer.  If you want to read a blog from someone who works with wine every day, I turn you to my friend, Mr. Thomas H. Salley.  **Note, This blogger doesn’t really talk much about wine.  He just works with it**

Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those timeless comfort foods.  Everyone has some sort of family recipe for the ultimate noodle and cheese fest that is lasagna.  I bet 99% of all lasagna recipes in this country are adapted from the back of a Mueller’s pasta box.  The technique is always the same.  Layer sauce, uncooked lasagna noodles, ricotta, filler, cheese, repeat.  It’s the fillers that make everyone’s recipe unique to themselves.  For this Sunday night feast, I threw down like so:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. In a 13x9x2 pyrex baking dish, begin by putting 2 cups of tomato sauce* along the bottom.
  3. Next, layer 4-5 sheets of uncooked lasagna noodles.  I used flat lasagna sheets (no ruffles) for a more homemade look and texture.
  4. Spread a ricotta cheese mixture across the bottom of the noodles**
  5. Sprinkle on some cooked ground italian sausage and whatever else you want to use for a protein (I chose cooked cremini mushrooms)
  6. Distribute about a cup of tomato sauce or until there is a thin saucy layer.
  7. Top with generous handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. Repeat this process (minus the oven preheating of course) until you have three layers of lasagna.
  9. Bake, covered with foil, for 60 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake unconvered for 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly on top.  Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.  This should make 12 generous pieces.

* For my sauce, I used canned tomato puree in basil along with a small can of diced tomatoes.

** Ricotta cheese mixture = 1 can of ricotta cheese mixed with 1 egg and 1/2-2/3 of a cup of shredded parmesan cheese.

Serve this up with some salad or garlic bread.  Lasagna also freezes very well making it a great meal to store away for when you have no motivation to cook or wall street goes up in flames again.