Monday, November 16, 2015

Spiced Apple Pie Slab

November is peak apple season here in the south.  Each year we typically trek north to the Georgia mountains and there we pay our respects to Mercier Orchards by buying our weight in bushels and pecks, and then hauling our apple loot home.

On a recent cool autumn day I peaked into the freezer and noticed a box of puff pastry and was reminded of the apples languishing in my refrigerator outside in my garage.  My approach to baking is cautious, especially, when I am preparing to bake on a whim with no instruction.

You will be glad I took the leap. What I turned out was a delicious, easy to put together apple slab pie.  A perfect addition to the fall table to share with family and friends.



Spiced Apple Pie Slab
Serves 8


Ingredients:
4 large cooking apples (it can be a combination of apples) peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
Fresh squeeze of lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 sheet puff pastry- thawed, cut in half lengthwise
1 egg, beaten
 Handful of coarse sugar (prefer raw sugar)

Directions:
Preheat oven to  400 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl toss the apples with a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add apples to skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ground cloves. Stir to combine.  Reduce heat to low.  Add cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking until apples are soft and caramelized about 5-6 minutes.

Remove apple filling from heat and cool.

Lightly flour the puff pastry sheets. Arrange the puff pastry sheets lengthwise (make sure you cut the pastry sheet lengthwise) next to each other. Spread the apple filling down the middle of one pastry sheet with 1-inch space on all sides. Place the second pastry sheet on top.  Seal all the edges.

Cut several 1-inch slits down the center to create vents.  Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle sugar.

Place the pastry on the parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!





Monday, November 9, 2015

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes

I was searching for a recipe to highlight the use of both fresh and dried herbs, and stumbled upon this great recipe from Elise at simplyrecipes .  This recipe creates a oven dish wonder.  The dish is layered with potatoes, onions, and garlic cloves, which will roast in the pan juices.  The seasoned chicken thighs will roast on top of these layers.  To bring it to the next level, a combination of fresh and dried herbs (Think fresh thyme and tarragon and a quality dried herbes de provence) will be sprinkled on, and tucked along the sides and in the crevices. To finish it off,  a basic vinaigrette to raise the level of flavor and moisture.

Simply stated herbs can lift a dish from ordinary to extraordinary. This dish makes for a fabulous Sunday Supper meal or entertaining a crowd.



Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Simply Recipes



Ingredients:

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried herbes de provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Chicken:
2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 cup peeled onions
3-4 whole garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
Several whole sprigs of fresh tarragon or thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Sprinkle all sides of chicken thighs with kosher salt and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbs de provence, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper.

Spread one tablespoon of olive oil in a 9x13 baking pan.  Cover the bottom of the dish with the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distribute the onions over the potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs, skin-side-up, on top of onions.  Wedge the garlic cloves between the pieces of chicken.  Use the sprigs of herbs to line the border or wedge in between chicken.  Whisk the vinaigrette again and pour it over the chicken, making sure it is well distributed.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes, or until the thighs are well browned and cooked through.

Enjoy!