Caramel Apple Pie Biscuits

When these were ready to eat, I sat munching and mulling over why I was reminded of something....something from years ago. And then it came to me: The Franklin Cider Mill in Michigan. Nothing better than fresh cider and donuts. And what donuts they made there! 

The Mill was completed in 1837, the same year in which Michigan gained its statehood. It hasn't changed much since the photo above, which going by the cars I'd say was in the 60's.

But back then, I never gave much thought to why these donuts were so much better than others we tried. Now I've figured out the difference. Nutmeg. Oh yes, these biscuits definitely have a delightful caramel apple taste, but that bit of nutmeg in the sugar on top...that's what gave them that extra oomph, reminding me of the cider mill's donuts.

Really, these were quite spectacular biscuits. They didn't rise as high as most biscuits, probably because of the weight of the apples, but who cares? Ambrosia. Fall. Cider mill memories. Homemade applesauce. A chill in the air. Homecoming. Red and gold maple leaves. All the things I remember from years ago, wrapped up in one little biscuit.

Clever girl, that Mandy from Lady and Pups.

Caramel Apple Pie Biscuits
From Lady and Pups

Makes: 7 small biscuits
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple juice
1 1/2 cups of small-diced baking apple (about 2 small apples, I used Braeburn)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspooon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup apple juice (or apple cider)
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 1/2 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, very cold and diced
2 tablepsoons melted butter for brushing
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg for sprinkling

For the apple/wet ingredient:
In a sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat.  Swirl occasionally and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar becomes a rich, dark amber color.  This will take a few minutes.  Then add the small-diced apples and continue to cook over medium heat.  The caramel will harden in contact of the cold apples, so stir with a spoon until all the caramel is melted again.  Cook until the liquid/juice from the apple has mostly evaporated, and the sauce slightly thickens again, approx 7 ~ 10 min.  You should have what looks like about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, and the apples should be almost translucent, like candied.

Stir in the sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg.  Then add another 1/4 cup of apple juice and heavy cream.  Mix evenly then chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge until cold. This last is an important step. Don't proceed if the apple mixture is not cold.

For the biscuit:  
Preheat the oven to 425ºF

Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl (or you can do it in the food-processor).  Add the diced and cold unsalted butter, then with a pastry-cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the largest bit is about the size of a small pea (or pulse the food-processor until this happens, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl).  Add the chilled caramel apple/wet ingredient, then with a spatula, fold the mixture together until a wet dough forms.  The dough should be wet and sticky. (Mine was not wet and sticky, but held together perfectly so I didn't add cream.) If yours is too dry and won't hold together, add another tablespoon of heavy cream.

Transfer to a floured surface and pat into inch and a half (or however thick you make your regular biscuits) thickness. Cut the biscuits out with a small cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Gather the scraps and cut again.  You should have about 6 ~ 8 biscuits.  Brush the top with heavy cream then baking in the oven until golden browned and puffed, approx 15 min.

Allow to cool for 20 ~ 30 min on a cooling rack.  Brush the tops with melted butter then gently press against the nutmeg-sugar until it sticks.  If you want to slice it open for ice-cream sandwich, use a serrated knife because these are quite delicate.


Mandarin Cake with Yogurt Icing

Have you ever used the entire lemon or orange in a recipe? There seem to be quite a few recipes around doing just that, using both rind and juice. It's not something I've ever done until recently, but I've been pleased with the results, so expect more posts coming your way using the whole fruit, not just juice.

However. this particular recipe was by far the most scrumptious to date. Whole mandarins are actually simmered until tender and then the entire thing 
puréed. Donna Hay of course, so what else but yummy? Moist, bright with a strong orange flavor and the yogurt frosting is to die for. If you don't have that European style cake pan (which is a tad larger and slightly deeper than ours), use your regular cake pan and then make a few muffins with the leftover batter, that's what I did. But do make this recipe. It's a dream.
Note: read directions through before making....it takes 24 hours. (Why do we never learn that lesson? LOL)

Mandarin Cake with Yogurt Icing

Donna Hay, issue 77

4 medium mandarins (360 g) (I used tangerines, clementines would be even better, weigh them for accuracy.)
175 g unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups superfine sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond meal/flour
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted

For the icing:
3 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 cup mascarpone

Place the yogurt in a large sieve wrapped in muslin. Set the sieve over a large bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Grease a cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and grease lightly again. Set aside.
Place the (washed) unpeeled mandarins in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cut a round piece of parchment to fit the pan and lay it over the mandarins, placing a plate on top to hold the mandarins under water. Simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove the mandarins from the water, cool slightly, then purée them in your food processor. Set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then add the vanilla, almond flour, regular flour and baking powder. Beat until just mixed. Add the puréed mandarins, mix.
Pour into your prepared baking pan, level off and bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Method for the icing:
Place the prepared yogurt in a bowl, add the mascarpone and then the sifted confectioners sugar. Mix well and using a palette knife, frost the cake. Serves 8-10.

(I refrigerated mine until ready to serve, but for some reason, that was not mentioned in the recipe.)


Corn, Spring Onion and Ricotta Tart

A lovely meatless dish....and you can serve it hot or cold. The polenta crust has a nice crunch to it and the sweetness of the corn is balanced by the scallions. Each mouthful has a creamy texture from the ricotta. Lots of flavors going on here and not only does it make a pretty presentation, but is simple to make. Your entire family will love it.

Corn, Spring Onion and Ricotta Tart

By Jade Donohoo, Eat This My Friend via Food 52

Ingredients for the tart shell:
1 cup flour, sifted
3/4 cup uncooked polenta
1/2 cup butter, cold, plus extra for greasing
pinch sea salt
tablespoon ice water

Ingredients for the filling:
ears of corn
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Scant 1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup heavy cream
few big pinches of salt
Freshly-ground pepper

Place flour, polenta, butter, and salt into a food processor and pulse until the butter is combined. Add the egg and iced water. Pulse until the mixture comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured bench and knead for a minute. Form the dough into a ball and cover with cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 395°F. 
Remove pastry from fridge and roll out until you have a circular shape thick and wide enough to fit in a large flan tin. 
Grease a flan tin with butter and lay the pastry over the top. (It will not hold together very well, that's OK, you can fix it later) Press the pastry in the pan and up the sides in with your fingers. Keep the leftover pastry in case you need to patch up any holes. 
Place foil over the top and fill it with dried beans or pastry weights. Place in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes. 
While the pastry is baking, remove the kernels from the corn cobs. Place the 4 eggs, cream, salt, and corn kernels into the food processor (no need to wash it after making the pastry!) and pulse briefly until combined. Stir in the thinly sliced spring onions. When the pastry is baked, remove the weights and pour in the corn mixture. Break the ricotta up into small chunks and dot it evenly around the mixture. Place it back into the oven and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Grind over some freshly-cracked pepper before serving.


Vermont Apple Slab Pie

Absolutely the perfect fall dessert! And while this was made in an 8 inch square pan, you could make this stretch to 16 servings if you cut the squares small enough. Which is why slab pies were invented, I should think, plus the ease of eating....sort of like a hand pie.
I really lobbed on the frosting. (As my father used to say when cutting into his birthday cake: is there cake under all this frosting?) The pie itself isn't all that sweet, but I found myself scraping off some of the frosting when I tried a square, so be more prudent than I was when slathering it on. Wouldn't this be fabulous for tailgating at a football game? No fuss, no muss.
Love the maple syrup in the frosting. I remember as a kid tapping a maple tree (and hanging a pail on it) to get the sap and eventually make syrup for a science class. Does anybody teach this anymore?

Vermont Apple Slab Pie
From Kate at Framed Cooks

2 refrigerated uncooked pie crusts
4 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 4-5 apples)
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes (I used plain bread crumbs)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375
Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with nonstick foil, using 2 pieces so you have some overlap hanging over all sides. Cooks note: The non stick foil is all well and good, but I found it still stuck in places. Next time I'll spray the foil with Pam as well.
Cut the piecrust dough into rough 9x9 inch squares. Place the first square in the baking dish, pressing the edges a little ways up the sides.
Scatter the cereal over the dough. Refrigerate while you prepare the apples. 
Put the slices apples in a layer on top of the dough.
Stir the cinnamon into the sugar and then pour the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples.
Top with the second crust and press the edges down towards the bottom crust. They don't have to be sealed. Cut a few steam slices in the top crust and bake until golden, 50-60 minutes.
Cool in the pan for about ten minutes and then carefully remove from the pan, using the foil edges as handles. Cool on a rack in the foil until completely cool. 

When the pie is cool, make the glaze by mixing the maple syrup into the powdered sugar. If it is too thick add a little more syrup.
Carefully transfer the pie from the foil to a serving plate (I use two big spatulas for this) and then drizzle the glaze over the top. 


Mushroom Bruschetta

Everyone loves to see a plate of bruschetta passed around and there are so many delicious mixtures you can pile on top of those crusty pieces.  Blogger friend Susan from Savoring Time in the Kitchen recently posted a tomato and gouda bruschetta and they looked bright, summery and delicious.
As for me....give me mushrooms! Can't help it, I love 'em. I didn't find any morels this time, dried or otherwise, (darn it) but used shiitakes and some other wild mushrooms available at the market. The recipe calls for dried herbs, but I always use fresh.

As I recall, this recipe was originally from some Food Network show, but I've been making it so long I can't remember whose. 

Mushroom Bruschetta

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons onion, minced
2 cups mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh
Some shaves of Parmesan
Balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 baguette


In skillet heat olive oil. Cook onion until golden, add the garlic for the last minute or so. Add mushrooms, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Add a splash of vinegar. Cook until mushrooms begin to wilt. Top baguette slices with mushrooms and then finish off with some shaved Parmesan and serve.

Toasting bruschetta:
Preheat oven to 425. Slice a baguette at an angle. Brush one side lightly with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until toasted.


Orange and Maple Braised Lamb Shanks with Fresh Mint Sauce

Lamb shanks have long been one of our favorite dinners....my mother often made them just with salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven. Not quite as tender as braising them, but something I still do once in a while when I don't have time to spare or don't want to fuss. There's a more gamey flavor roasted like this; lamb naturally has a slight gamey flavor anyway and shanks have an even stronger taste than a leg or loin chop. Some people really don't like lamb at all just for that reason, but braising them makes all the difference. My favorite recipe is an old Gourmet one that uses red wine, which I posted a while back. Shanks need a long, slow cook in a braising liquid with a soft, moist ingredient like beans or veggies.

When I received my recent issue of Donna Hay magazine, there was an orange and maple braised lamb shank recipe; the photo had my mouth watering and I made them recently. The recipe calls for "frenching" the shanks and I asked a butcher to do it for me as his knives are way sharper than mine. He'd never done it before and while they didn't turn out perfectly, he did a pretty good job. (There are uTube vids that show you how to do it if you want to take the chance of slicing yourself.) 

As far as the malt vinegar ingredient is concerned, it's not something I have in my pantry, but was surprised to find it in my local supermarket. As we know, there are many kinds of vinegars, but I'd never used this one, so looked it up. Malt vinegar is a dark brown vinegar, a favorite in Britain (makes sense as Donna Hay is an Australian magazine), is 
reminiscent of deep-brown ale. Its production begins with the germination, or sprouting, of barley kernels. Germination enables enzymes to break down starch. Sugar is formed, and the resulting product is brewed into an alcohol-containing malt beverage or ale. After bacteria convert the ale to vinegar, the vinegar is aged. As its name implies, malt vinegar has a distinctive malt flavor. We learn something every day!

We really liked these shanks; they're slightly sweeter than the red wine recipe, obviously, as maple syrup and brown sugar are two of the ingredients, but the malt vinegar stops them from being too overpowering. A lovely fall supper. The mint sauce is a killer recipe....thick, glossy, tart and minty. 

Orange and Maple Braised Lamb Shanks with Fresh Mint Sauce

Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 76

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 lamb shanks, trimmed and frenched
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
8 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup malt vinegar
peel of one orange
1/2 cup orange juice
4 rosemary sprigs

For the mint sauce:
3/4 cup malt vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups mint leaves, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in large frying pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the shanks and brown on all sides. Place in a deep sided roasting pan and set aside.
In a saucepan, add the stock, garlic, maple syrup, peel, juice and rosemary. Bring to a boil and pour over the shanks. Cover with foil and roast the shanks for 2 1/2 hours, turning once.
Increase oven temp to 425.
Remove the foil and roast the shanks, turning every 15 minutes for another 45 to 50 minutes or until they are sticky and glossy.
While the shanks are cooking, make the mint sauce.
Place the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, stir until combined. bring to a boil and cook for 5-6 minutes or until just thickened. Remove from heat, allow to cool and add the fresh mint, stirring to combine.
Place the lamb shanks on a serving plate. Serve lamb with pan juices and mint sauce.

 9/11  Never Forget


Pumpkin Coffeecake

Is it too early for a pumpkin recipe? Of course not! It's never too early for a pumpkin recipe. I love pumpkin almost as much as rhubarb and unlike rhubarb, there's really no reason not to cook with it year round as far as I'm concerned. So brace yourselves, lots of pumpkin recipes coming your way this fall.
Recipe Girl Lori came up with this gem. For breakfast or with a cup of tea mid afternoon, this is a lovely coffeecake. It'd be great for your Thanksgiving brunch too. Basically, it's a coffeecake with pumpkin pie in the middle. Your family will love it. The recipe makes a big batch of it, you could easily get 15 pieces...halve it if you don't need so much.

Pumpkin Coffeecake
Adapted from Lori at Recipe Girl

For the cake:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
For the pumpkin layer:
One (16 ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 large slightly beaten egg
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
For the streusel layer:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened slightly
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle it with plain bread crumbs. (Or use a nonstick spray, but the bread crumbs work better and are a Maida Heatter suggestion for all her sweet breads.)
For the cake: In an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs and beat well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients into the butter mixture half at a time, alternating with half of the sour cream.
In another bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, 1/3 cup sugar, and pie spice. Keep separate.
Prepare streusel topping: Mix the topping ingredients together with fork or hands until crumbly. Set aside.
Spoon half of the batter mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel topping over the batter. Spread the pumpkin mixture over the streusel. Carefully spread the remaining batter over the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle remaining streusel on top.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


Ina First Fridays: Roasted Winter Vegetables

I don't mean to rush us into winter with that post title, but this month's Ina First Friday's recipe choices are soups, salads and sides and that's Ina's recipe title!  Besides, it is September and this side is a perfect addition to fall dinners. There's nothing better than roasted veggies, I make them all the time, all year round. But this combo is particularly good...I never cared for parsnips until I tasted them roasted like this. My mother used to throw parsnips in the pot when she made corned beef and cabbage. My sister and I hated them. Boiled parsnips....yuk. Roasted...yum. 

Roasted Winter Vegetables
2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

1 pound carrots, peeled
1 pound parsnips, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and butternut squash in 1 to 1 1/4-inch cubes. All the vegetables will shrink while baking, so don't cut them too small.

Place all the cut vegetables in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss well. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender and a little caramelized, turning once with a metal spatula.

Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.


Ina Fridays participants:


Fig & Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

My father would have loved these! He was crazy for figs.....a Fig Newton lover from way back. I don't think I ever saw him eat a fresh fig, but he loved them cooked in bars and desserts, you know what I mean...gooey, sticky and sweet. As for me, I'm a convert...never cared for fresh figs much, but one day someone served me some with a dab of mascarpone on top and that sweet, honeyed flavor won me over. 
The chocolate addition is interesting, isn't it? Wouldn't have thought of it myself, but that's why I love all you creative bloggers!  Crazy about the splash of port in the filling. These are chewy and divine. I still have lots of fresh figs in my market, hope you do too.

Fig & Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

From :pastry studio

16 - 18 fresh ripe figs
2 – 3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar, to taste
good dash of Port

1 cup flour 
1 and 3/4 cup old fashioned oats 
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed 
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Stem and chop the figs and place in a saucepan with the water and sugar. Cook until the figs are soft and juicy, stirring frequently so they don't burn. Add more water if necessary as the mixture cooks and taste to adjust sugar. Pull off the heat and cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease an 8” square pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along two sides of the pan.

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and both sugars in the bowl of a food processor. Process until ingredients are combined and the oats are chopped a bit but not ground completely. 

Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients along with the vanilla. Pulse until the mixture starts to clump. It might still look loose, but should hold together when pinched.

Press about 2/3 of the oatmeal mixture into the prepared pan to form the bottom layer. Distribute the chopped chocolate evenly across the surface. Pour the fig mixture over the chocolate and spread gently. Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. Press the sliced almonds gently into the surface.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Gently lift out of the pan using the parchment overhang and cut into bars.


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