Apple Onion & Butternut Squash Tart

And now we are at the last of our apples.  Thanks apples, you had a good run.  We made Very Lazy Fall Apple Butter, an apple crumble, Butternut Squash & Apple Soup, Apple Onion Spicy Chutney and for the finale, this Apple Onion & Butternut Squash Tart.  Serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner or cut into thin slices for a great appetizer – I bet it would go fabulously with a dry prosecco.  This is a super versatile and delicious tart.  The onions, apple and squash cook down to form a great caramelized base that contrasts nicely with the buttery/herbed crust and the salty cheese.

Apple Onion & Butternut Squash Tart

Inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe, I decided to bust out our Rosemary Tart Dough used in the Tomato Tart recipe (scroll down for the tart dough part).

Apple Onion & Butternut Squash Tart

Ingredients:

  • 5 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes and roasted (we had this leftover from the soup, you can add the cubes in when you add the apples to save you a step, I’m sure it will be fine)
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • apple cider (vegetable broth or water would do in a pinch)
  • 1 Rosemary Tart Dough
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

To Do:

  1. Make your Rosemary Tart dough and be sure to refrigerate it overnight or for at least a couple of hours.
  2. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions.  Cook until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the apples (and butternut squash if it’s not roasted) and 1/4 cup apple cider or water.  Let everything simmer with a lid on the pot until caramelized, about 30 minutes.  Give it a stir every now and then and add more cider or water so nothing gets burned.  Give it a taste.  Taste good?  Great?  Need more salt and/or pepper, season away!
  4. Heat oven to 375F.  Roll out your tart dough and press into a tart pan (f you have leftover dough roll them into twists, sprinkle with parm and bake them – extra treat!).  Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork a few times.  If you have some spicy chutney, spread it along the bottom and bake for about 10 minutes.  If you don’t, sprinkle the bottom with a bit of grated Parmesan cheese or pecorino and bake for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the tart dough from oven and pile on the onion/apple/squash mixture.  Spread evenly throughout the pan and top with some more cheese.  Your call on how much cheese – remember these are salty cheeses.
  6. Bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the tart dough and cheese are a beautiful golden brown.

 


Apple Onion Spicy Chutney

Apple Onion Chutney

I just googled “what is the difference between a jam and a chutney” because I wasn’t sure whether to call this recipe a chutney or a jam.  Turns out, a chutney incorporates sweet, spicy and sour elements and isn’t as smooth as a jam.  So, this IS a recipe for chutney!

Another recipe created out of necessity to get rid of all of the apples from apple picking.  This might be the new hit after Tomato Jam.
It’s spicy, sour and a bit sweet from the apples and caramelized onions.  Perfect with grilled cheese sandwiches, in a tart, slathered on eggs, brushed on tofu, plopped into soup….you get the idea.

After taking a sauce class with Peter Berley, I’ve really been into grinding my spices right before using them in a recipe.  I used our trusty mortar and pestle, but am a big fan of using an out-of-commissioned coffee grinder for large quantities.

spices

Apple Onion Spicy Chutney
Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 8 onions, chopped finely
  • 4-5 apples, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (you could probably use all cider, I just didn’t have enough)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons crushed peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon crushed cloves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed allspice
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt

To Do:

  1. Heat up a bit of olive oil in a large pot and add the onions.  Let them cook until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir and bring to a boil.  Stir for about 5 minutes and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover pot and walk away.  Come back and give it a stir every 15 minutes or so.  You want everything to become a lovely brown color and cook down – it can take a while.
  4. Taste it.  Do you like it?  Add more spices if you want.  Once you can run a spoon through the mixture and a path forms without liquid filling it up, you’ve got the right consistency.
  5. Pour into jars and can – process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  You could also pour into jars and put them in the fridge.  They should last for a while because of all of the sugar and acid.

Butternut Soup Accomplished

The earlier post on butternut squash soup managed to convince us of what we should have for dinner tonight.

We used the roasting method and also, we rinsed the seeds from the squash and toasted them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  They made a nice, crunchy garnish.


Fall Means Butternut Squash

With the cold weather suddenly descending on New York, it seems like a good time to swing into our fall recipes in earnest.  During our recent apple-picking trip, we also bought a butternut squash – a core piece of autumn produce.  We’ve posted a number of good butternut recipes over the lat few years, but looking back over our archives I was surprised not to find a post on what is probably our quintessential use for this gourd: butternut squash soup.  Ubiquitous, yes, but also delicious, easy, and requiring very few ingredients.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large onion, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

olive oil

salt and pepper

vegetable broth (but water works too)

Really, the hardest part of this whole recipe is preparing the squash itself.  I have yet to find a peeling method that doesn’t seem more difficult than it should be.  Once you’ve got it peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes, you can go one of two routes.  The easiest possible cooking method is to start by cooking the onions in the soup pot (with olive oil, salt and pepper, until translucent), then add several cups of broth or water, dump in the squash, bring to a boil, then cook until the squash is soft.

However, if you want to go the extra mile, you can roast the squash cubes in the oven (still with olive oil, maybe even adding some rosemary or sage) until they get brown, cook the onions and broth as described above, and then add the squash to the broth already cooked.  This method will generally produce a richer-tasting soup in my experience.

In either case, you end up with cooked squash and onion in hot broth, which you then want to blend.  We have an immersion blender which is ideal for the job, but you could also transfer to a blender or food processor in batches.  Serve it with a crispy bread.

This is one of those recipes that we tend to eyeball, rather than having exact measurements.  Some trial and error will get you to a point where you know what ratios of onion, squash, and broth you want to use in order to get a blended soup with your preferred consistency.


Very Lazy Fall Apple Butter

I love apples.  I try to eat one a day, if not more.  Last weekend, we went up to Stuart’s Farm for a friend’s apple picking birthday party (genius!).  After gathering about 50 pounds of apples with friends and consuming an amazing amount of cider donuts, we came home with 18.5 pounds of apples.  What to do?  First up, Lazy Apple Butter, which used to be featured on my first food blog “Combustication” and is up on the web no longer.  This blast from the past was made by peeling, coring and chopping enough apples to completely fill a crockpot, adding about 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a freshly ground teaspoon of cloves and a cinnamon stick.  Add more or less sugar to your liking and let the crockpot do its thing for about 8 hours on low.  If the apple butter is not dark enough or is still pretty thin, take off the lid and let it cook down on low for about an hour.  Trust your judgement.  If it tastes good and sticks to a spoon, can it!

This is pretty much the recipe and canning tips I followed.  Came out with 1 half-pint, 4 pints, 1-16 oz jar and some left over!  Holiday presents here we come!

Apples in Crockpot

I love how this…

Apple Butter Transformation

Turns to this…

Apple Butter

Then into all of these!!!


Quinoa Squash Gratin

Quinoa Squash Gratin

My weird idea on a Rosh Hashannah take on kugel (I know, it has nothing to do with it, but I wasn’t about to run out for egg noodles), this Quinoa Squash Gratin is delicious and easy to make!  Looking back, the quinoa squash mixture would make excellent croquettes.  Something to think about for the future!

Here is the original recipe.  I ended up using an acorn squash and steaming it instead of the plastic bag trick…not so into using plastic in the microwave.  A mix of Monterrey jack and cheddar subbed for the Gruyere and I used 2 eggs in place of the “egg substitute”.  I also keep a jar full of toasted bits of bread in the fridge and just whirred some of that in the food processor to make bread crumbs—conventional breadcrumbs or panko would be great as well.

For croquettes, I would mix everything up to the point you’re supposed to put it in the baking dish and then form into patties, roll in breadcrumbs and bake.  They would make great appetizers with an herb dipping sauce (parsley, cilantro, garlic, cayene, paprika, salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil blended in food processor).


Saving Lettuce Seed

Saving seeds from lettuce.  Original Cracoviensis lettuce seeds came from Seed Savers Exchange.  Our crop turned out so well that I decided to try my hand at seed saving for the first time in order to have more for next year.  Lucky, as it now seems like Seed Savers is sold out of that variety.

The process for collecting the seed is pretty simple – you just let one lettuce plants bolt.  After a few weeks, the familiar lettuce plant  grew into a thick stalk about five feet tall, with flowering fronds at the top (sort of like this).  Once the flowers had started to bloom, I took the seed pods home and let them dry out over a couple of days before trying to remove the seeds.

Admittedly, I didn’t bother to do much research on harvesting the seeds, so my process was largely trial and error. After spending some time manually prying individual pods apart (easy, but slow) I decided to put the remaining pods inside a cloth bag and mash it around to open all the pods at once.  This worked fine, but left all the bits of chaff in with the seeds.  As a second step, I ran the pile of seeds and casings through a sieve, which caught most of the larger pieces of chaff and left me with a relatively clean pile of seeds.

The seeds I got were ultimately a bit smaller than the ones from the packet, which I chalk up to not waiting long enough to harvest the pods.  I may try to test a few out in a window box just to see how viable they are.

Regardless of the results, it was really amazing how many seeds I got from just one plant.  After all the care I took in raising these lettuce plants, the natural process of self-propagation automatically provides the gardener or farmer with the core supply necessary to carry on growing crops – and in bulk!

Ultimately, if I took these seeds to early and they don’t grow much lettuce next year, it’s not the end of the world – I don’t mind paying a couple extra bucks for a new packet from Seed Savers.  However, going through this process really gave me a more tangible appreciation for the impact that anti-seed saving measures on GE crops (most notably carried out by Monsanto) must have on commercial farmers.

 


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