Category Archives: apples

Ozark Pudding, aka Huguenot Torte: Dessert in a Flash (albeit an unnecessarily belabored flash)

Not really what I think of when I think of a pie or a torte. Maybe it needs a new name? Mystery meringue? Apple-pecan pouf?

This is a rough transcript of the internal monologue that followed a semi-last-minute decision to take dessert to a friend’s house for dinner yesterday (scroll down to “results” if you just want to know what the heck Ozark pie/Huguenot Torte is and aren’t interested in the documentation of my neuroses):

The Process

“I should just buy something. I don’t have time to bake. But how do you even do that? I can’t just buy a bag of Oreos or something, can I? A grocery store bakery pie? I don’t even want to eat that. Is there anywhere else I can buy a pie? Why are there a half a dozen stores that sell cupcakes and nowhere I can buy a goatforsaken pie…

Goat in a hat from Off Base Percentage My goat, my goat, why have you forsaken me pie?

“Is it okay to show up at someone’s house with a pint of ice cream? What if they don’t have any freezer space? Is that offensive—like a suggestion that they are incapable of purchasing ice cream or perhaps that if they did have ice cream on hand it wouldn’t be as good as whatever you brought? Oh, this is so stupid. [Generous host] specifically said there was no need for me to bring anything. What is wrong with me that I don’t know how to be a dinner guest without bringing something I made “from scratch”? This is why I am not done with my dissertation and will obviously fail at everything forever. Thanks, superego, helpful as always. sigh Surely there is something I can make that won’t take very long and will make me happier than showing up empty-handed or with a bag of Oreos…

filters Delicious tags by “recipe” and “dessert” and opens these four links

“What was Huguenot Torte again? Oh, right, some kind of sunken apple-pecan meringue thing. Huh. Maria del Mar Sacasa of Serious Eats says it’s simple, ugly, and delicious, which sounds about perfect. Maria del Mar Sacasa's cherry-hazelnut Huguenot Torte--I think hers is darker because she included some of the liquid from the jarred cherries, reducedBut she also gave it a “makeover” with sour cherries and hazelnuts in place of the apples and pecans. I was not impressed with the canned sour cherries I got for NYE. Maybe I should just make the original…

opens these three links

“Egad, that sounds awfully sweet. And Amanda Hesser of the NYTimes says she likes it warm and that when it’s cold ‘you have to do battle to cut it.’ That does not sound like the best thing to make in advance and take somewhere. I wonder if I could make individual portions? Hey, the 2009 Recipe Redux by Sarah Magid is for ‘boozy apple-thyme meringue cookies’—maybe that would work?

“Curses! This recipe is so much fussier. You have to caramelize the apples separately and then use a piping bag to make individual meringues and it calls for both superfine and confectioner’s sugar…guh. The whole point of this recipe was that it was going to be simple. Hm. I wonder what the internet thinks about ‘individual Huguenot tortes’…

googles “individual Huguenot tortes,” and opens these four links

Balls. None of these are actually for individual-sized portions, although Up Chef Creek came to the same conclusion because the caramelized crust, which is the best part, sticks to the pan & becomes impossible to serve after it’s cooled. So it would probably be better to bake it in individual ramekins. But who knows how that would affect the baking time? Or how full I should fill the cups? And do I really want to cart a bunch of individual cups of ugly apple-pecan meringue business to someone’s house? That seems stupid. I should just make the original. ‘Golden oldie’ Maria del Mar Sacasa, said. ‘I cooked it fairly often,’ she said. That is not something you do with a recipe that sucks…

“Wait, didn’t Amanda Hesser say this wasn’t actually related to the Huguenots at all and actually descended from something called Ozark Pudding? I wonder what the internet thinks about Ozark Pudding…

googles “Ozark Pudding,” and opens these three links

Nostalgia Snark fom the Economical Epicurean, who got it from Amazon.com“Amen, Economical Epicurean, that Recipe Redux is the perfect example of taking something that sounds simple, easy, & relatively cheap and making it into a huge, fussy production. Although sometimes huge, fussy productions are worth it, and I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that cookies and cupcakes are ‘tearing at the fabric of society.’ I guess you did admit this was a melodramatic rant.

“Oh, Marion Cunningham, it’s actually unclear whether or not fewer Americans are sitting down to a ‘traditional home-cooked dinner these days’ or how many of them ever did and I never did get around to writing the follow-up to that post about the studies about families who eat dinner together and how the television being on doesn’t actually matter. Of course, the researchers just shrugged and decided that there must be another causal mechanism, not that the relationship isn’t causal or that the arrow might go in the opposite direction (happy, healthy families –> more likely to eat dinner together).

“However, this recipe attributed to Bess Truman does sound easy and is scaled to fit in a pie pan and I have almost everything I need to make it already. I guess it’s worth a try.”

The Results

Totally easy—prep time was 15 minutes, start to finish even though I added a few extra steps. And pretty darn delicious—kind of like a cross between pavlova and pecan pie. The top was crunchy and the middle was kind of gooey and the bottom was chewy and sort of caramelized. I would totally make this again.

Brown sugar cognac cream makes the world seem lovely in spite of imminent defense datesMy modifications:

1) Instead of just greasing the pan, I greased it, dusted it with flour, and then sprayed it with cooking spray. It still stuck a little bit, but overall was pretty easy to get out of the pan, even though it sat for at least two hours before we served it.

2) I whipped the cream with some brown sugar and cognac. I would have used bourbon if I’d had any on hand because that would have been a natural pairing for the apples and pecans, but there was an unfortunate incident earlier this week involving a bottle of Bulleit and a flimsy plastic bag (yet another reason to take your own bags to the grocery store).

3) I tossed the apple pieces in a lemon-water bath to prevent oxidation while I was making the batter because I just do that automatically whenever I’m baking with apples.

This might be part of the reason my dissertation isn’t finished in a more general sense—the above doesn’t even begin to compare to the consternation and fussing about cooking I usually do when I’m not panicking about an imminent defense date—but it’s certainly not this particular recipe’s fault. I’d rank Ozark Pie near the top of my list of high reward/effort recipes. Right up there with no-knead bread and popcorn chickpeas and butternut squash soup.

The base recipe is also kind of a blank slate, so you could probably substitute just about any kind of fruit and nuts you had around…or chopped up chocolate or butterscotch or toffee bits or whatever else you thought might taste good in a meringue-type base as long as it isn’t super watery. Berries and chopped white chocolate might be good, or pear and almonds. If you wanted to fancy it up a bit, you could try any of the following: baking it in 1/2 cup ramekins filled slightly less than halfway, adding an herb or spice, or making a sabayon instead of just whipping some cream (bourbon-spiked would probably be great with the original apple-pecan).

Recipe: Ozark Pudding, aka Huguenot Torte (from Marion Cunningham’s Lost Recipes, via NPR)
serves 5-6 as written, or double and make in an 8×12 or 9×13 pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • I threw the apple pieces in some water with the juice of half a lemon while I prepared the other ingredients. probably not necessary, but so easy why not? 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup apple pieces, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 of a large Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon bourbon, rum, or cognac (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease, flour, and spray a 10” pie pan (or just grease it, but don’t be surprised if it sticks).

2. Beat the egg and sugar together until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix well until combined. Fold in the apple pieces, nuts, and vanilla.

3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. It will poof up, and then will fall when you remove it from the oven.

4. Whip the cream to soft peaks, adding the brown sugar and alcohol if desired.

It makes less than 2 cups of batter, don't be alarmed if it's just barely enough to cover the bottom of the panPouf! It isn't the prettiest thing I've ever made, but I think the Serious Eats writer was a little harsh. Even after it fell a little more, it wasn't "ugly"

Pork Chops with Cider Reduction and Greens and Why Pork Loves Apples

could be done without whole grain mustard, but it won't be as pretty

Our CSA subscription kept me so busy finding new ways to eat greens and green beans this summer that I haven’t done anything new with meat in a long time. But I recently found myself with a package of pork chops, more apple cider than I wanted to drink, and one last bunch of chard. Turns out pork chops are pretty easy—if you just season them with salt and pepper, sear them on both sides over high heat and then cook them until they’re pink inside over lower heat (~155F), they turn out pretty tasty. So this was the meal I came up with: I reduced the apple cider to a glaze along with some whole-grain mustard, cooked the pork chops as described, and then served them both over a bed of sautéed shallots and chard. Quick, easy, elegant, delicious, and perfect for Fall. 

image from sodahead.comI got the idea from a recent conversation I had about why bacon is so often smoked with applewood. The answer, as far as I can tell, is because pork loves apples. Applesauce or cooked spiced apples are a classic accompaniment for pork chops. You can buy apple-flavored pre-made sausages. Whole roasted pigs are traditionally presented with apples in their mouths. The pairing is at least as old as Apicus (a 1st Century Roman) whose writings include a recipe for minutal matianum, which was a sort of stew or ragout of pork and apples. In England, serving pork with applesauce was common by the Early Modern period, and may have started much earlier (according to The Food Timeline).

There seem to be three possible explanations:

1) They Are What They Eat: Wherever there are both orchards and pigs, the pigs have traditionally been allowed to graze on the windfall apples that cover the orchard floor during harvest season, which also happens to be pig-slaughtering season. Pigs like apples—especially ones that may be fermenting a bit—but that’s not the main reason they get to eat them. Instead, it’s because windfall produce is an ample source of omnivore-feed that’s generally not quite fit for human consumption. There’s a nod to both pigs’ affinity for apples and using windfall apples to keep pigs “in good health” in Orwell’s Animal Farm:

Now if there was one thing that the animals were completely certain of, it was that they did not want Jones back. When it was put to them in this light, they had no more to say. The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious. So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone. (right at the end of Chapter 3)

Most livestock animals are ruminants and thus don’t compete with humans for food (at least traditionally—the shift from grass to grain as the mainstay of cattle feed is a recent development in the history of animal agriculture). Pigs are extraordinarily efficient at converting feed into flesh, but since they can’t survive on grass and alfalfa, if there aren’t enough “slops,” pigs sometimes eat at the expense of hungry people. Anthropologist Marvin Harris suggests that that’s likely part of the reason they’re the object of religious/cultural prohibitions originating in certain regions of the world.

It’s possible—likely, even—that apple-fed pigs taste a little bit like apples, especially if that’s what they’re gorging on right before they’re killed. Fancypants Iberico ham is supposed to taste like the acorns that pampered Spanish pigs are fed. Some artisan pork producers claim their pigs are fed exclusively with apricots, which supposedly imparts a uniquely sweet and floral taste. Cooking apple-fed pigs with apples or smoking their meat with applewood might have initially become popular at least in part because they would enhance and complement the apple flavor.

2) It’s the Time of the Season for Apples & Pork: The second and probably more important reason is that both pork and apples are Fall foods. The apple harvest coincides with pig slaughtering season—Fall was traditionally the time to put up enough cured pork products to last through the long winter, especially before over-wintering the animals was common. And although much of the pig could be preserved—the legs and the belly would be salted and/or smoked for ham and bacon and much of the meat could be ground up and preserved in some kind of sausage—some of the cuts were eaten right away. Apples would have been a natural component of those meals because they were plentiful at the same time. Further evidence: duck and goose, Fall game birds, are also often paired with apples.

3) Cutting the Fat: Pork is fatty and umami. Apples are sweet, acidic, and light. Applesauce is a condiment that makes the same kind of sense with pork as mint jelly with lamb or malt vinegar with fish & chips (I’m in Ireland this week, can you tell?)—it’s just something sharp and bright to cut something rich and meaty. However, the gustatory rationale probably explains why the tradition lasted more than why it started. Ultimately, bright and acidic condiments are sort of interchangeable. If not for pig affinity/seasonal considerations, people might have as easily paired pork with mint jelly.

I suspect it’s a combination of all three. And tradition aside, the cider-mustard glaze would also be excellent on baked winter squash, chicken (I can imagine it as a great dipping sauce for wings), or anywhere you might use a sweet, mild barbeque sauce.

a bit shiny from this angle

Recipe: Pork Chops with Cider Reduction and Greens

  • clockwise from the bottom left: chops, tea, chard, & cider. not exactly a one-pot meal, but well worth the extra dishes1 pork chop per person 
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 1 bunch of cooking greens (about 4 cups raw) per person
  • 1-2 shallots per person
  • 2-3 T. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 cups apple cider
  • 2 T. butter, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • rubbed sage (optional)

1. Combine the mustard and cider in a saucepan over high heat and let cook until reduced by at least half (20-30 minutes).

boiling vigorously reduced to less than a cup, slightly thickened

2. Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of the butter in a pot large enough to hold the greens. Dice the shallot and add to the butter and let cook until golden (5-10 minutes).

3. Pull the greens from their stems, rinse them, and tear them into 2-3” pieces. Add them to the pan with the shallots with the water still clinging to them. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until tender (5 minutes for chard, more for kale or mustard greens). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

handful of diced shallots shallot caramelized and slightly obscured by apple cider steam

you can cook the chard stems too if you want, just add them to the shallots with a little water about 5-10 minutes before adding the leaves and cook until tender chard, wilting from the heat

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and season the pork chops with salt and pepper and sage (if desired). Cook the pork chops for 2-3 minutes on each side to develop a golden-brown crust and then reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes on each side, or until done but still just slightly pink in the middle.

some nice maillard browning could have been just slightly pinker--I left them on the heat a little too long, but they were plenty moist, especially with the cider reduction

5. Whisk the remaining tablespoon of butter into the cider-mustard reduction.

6. To serve, place the pork chop on a bed of the greens and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the cider reduction.

shalloty greens appley pork

Buckwheat Crepes with Fresh “Ricotta” and Cinnamon Apples

These crepes were the perfect example of how simple, humble elements can come together to make something way more impressive and tasty than the sum of its parts. The three elements, from top to bottom:

Thing 1: Cinnamon Apples

If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember the neglected apple crumble I made about a month ago, when I had so many mealy, wrinkled apples that after I’d peeled and diced them all, I realized I had more than I could possibly fit in my baking dish. I threw the extras (about a pound after coring and peeling) in a pot with a cinnamon stick, about a tablespoon of brown sugar, and about an inch of water and let them simmer while I prepped and baked the crumble. I had to add more water a few times—I think I’ve actually destroyed two pots by further neglecting already-neglected apples in my attempt to salvage them. (What did I say about my fruit-neglecting superpowers?) After 20 or 30 minutes, they were soft enough to mash with the back of a spoon.

if you care about your pots, don't leave this alone by the time it was done, it was getting dark, so the picture quality declines; you get the idea--the apples were soft

But I didn’t mash them. The apples were too sweet and mild to make a very good applesauce, although I suspect it would have been better if I’d added some lemon juice like I did in the crumble. I’m not much of a plain applesauce eater anyway, and the more I read about the health effects of sugar vs. fat, the less likely I am to substitute applesauce for fat in baked goods (I’m not actually to the point of avoiding sugar or starch, I just don’t choose them over fat). Instead, I left them chunky with the vague notion that I might use them to fill or top a breakfast or brunch-type object.

Perhaps because the apples were so lackluster, or perhaps because apples always seem more delicious when there’s cheese involved, or perhaps because an episode of Chopped inspired me to try making my own cheese (proof positive that despite what Michael Pollan claims, cooking shows do actually teach people useful skills and demonstrate recipes and techniques they can and do recreate at home), I decided that what my apple crepes needed was fresh ricotta.

Thing 2: Fresh “Ricotta”

Most cheese is made from milk curdled with rennet, acids, salt, and/or heat and aged. Rennet is found in mammals’ stomachs and contains protease enzymes like chymosin, which helps them digest their mothers’ milk.

Ricotta, on the other hand, is traditionally made from whey, which is what you get when you strain the curds out of the milk. I always assumed that making true ricotta must be more difficult, because all the “homemade ricotta” recipes I’d seen call for milk instead, but according to Instructables, it’s an almost-identical process (if you don’t feel like clicking on each of the steps, they’re : 1. heat the whey to 200 F, 2. let it cool to <140 F, 3. strain through a coffee filter).

I imagine the real reason most homemade “ricotta” recipes call for milk, which makes them closer to a traditional paneer or queso fresco, is that most people don’t tend to have whey lying around—at least not before making “ricotta.” Also, what you get when you heat milk with acid and strain it is so similar to ricotta it works for basically all the same applications.

Step 1: cook milk with acid to 165-180 F Step 2: strain...Step 3: profit?

In February, Serious Eats tested most of the primary variables—temperature, acids, and straining time. For temperature, they concluded that heating the mixture to anywhere between 165-180 F works. For acids, they report that vinegar is the most reliable, buttermilk a little fussy, and lemon juice more citrusy. And unsurprisingly, the longer you strain it, the less moist it gets. I decided to go with lemon because “citrusy” sounded just right for my insufficiently-acidic apples and let it drain for nearly 30 minutes while I was making the crepes.

It was drier than it would have been if I’d scooped it out of the paper towel earlier, but still creamy and salty and a lovely foil for the cinnamon apples. Sweetened and flavored with a vanilla bean and/or some cardamom, it would have also made a nice base for a creamy dessert, perhaps topped with fruit. Of course, it would also work as a filling for pasta or lasagna or any of the other standard ricotta applications.this is "acid whey" because the curdling agent was acid; the byproduct of rennet-curdled cheeses is called "sweet whey." both kinds, and others like "wine whey" and "cream of tartar whey" (also named for the curdling agent) were historically popular drinks in European cheese-making populations

The whey that’s left over can be substituted for the water in a bread recipe, consumed as is—usually chilled and sometimes sweetened, or apparently, used to make more ricotta.

I’m curious enough about the differences between milk “ricotta” and whey ricotta that the next time I go to the store I’ll probably pick up a gallon and make a big batch of “ricotta” and use the leftover whey to make non-scare-quoted ricotta and report back.

The Cat in the Hat: Buckwheat Crepes

What summons Thing 1 and Thing 2 together to wreak havoc? Crepes do!

I thought crepes were supposed to be difficult. As it turns out, buckwheat crepes—which are confusingly sometimes called galettes, just like free-form tarts—are exceptionally easy (regular ones might be too, I haven’t tried them). Mine didn’t all turn out perfectly round, but the batter was really easy to spread around the pan with an off-set spatula, and basically no matter how thin or evenly I spread it, it cooked into tender, flavorful crepes that made a perfect vehicle for Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Side 1: not perfectly smooth at all side 2: browning cooperatively regardless of the imperfect spreading

Also, since the batter isn’t sweet, they were equally delicious filled with a little sharp cheddar, soft-scrambled eggs, and chives. So that’s all there is to it. Some bad apples and curdled milk and transformed into a beautiful weekend brunch by some flimsy pancakes:

in case it's not obvious: apple-ricotta topped with cinnamon sugar; cheddar-egg topped with fresh chives; evil but delicious Big Organic strawberries

In reverse order:

Recipe: Buckwheat Crepes (adapted from the Los Angeles Times)

  • 1/2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (or 1 T. cornstarch filled to 1/2 cup with bread flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (plus up to 1/2 cup more)
  • large pinch kosher salt
  • 2 T. melted butter + more for the pan

1. Combine flours in food processor and pulse to combine. Add remaining ingredients and pulse just to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hr or overnight.

 pulse the floursyou could also do this in a blender or with an electric mixer or by hand

2. Add enough milk to make the mixture into a smooth, pourable batter (I added the entire 1/2 cup).

3. Heat a large, flat pan until water sizzles and dances when it hits the surface.

4. Add a small pat of butter and spread it around with a paper towel as it melts—so the surface just glistens with oil.

5. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into the pan and swirl it around with a spatula until it forms a thin, even circle (off-set/icing spatulas work especially well). The batter will begin to cook as soon as it hits the pan and little bubbles will around the edges and on top. That’s fine, just keep moving the spatula, spreading the uncooked batter on top of the part that’s cooking towards the edges of the circle.

6. Prepare for and accept the likelihood of an initial failure. In many cultures where skillet breads are common, there are sayings to the effect of “the first pancake goes to God.” And when there’s a canine in the house, the palindrome God-dog is realized in an uncommonly material way. The first crepe may be gummy or misshapen or burned. It happens. You want the crepes to cook through and just begin to brown after about about 3 minutes. If the first one takes longer, turn the heat up. If it cooks too fast and you struggle to get the batter spread around before it cooks through, turn the heat down.

7. Flip and cook just enough to set—less than a minute—and remove to a plate lined with wax paper. Top with another sheet of wax paper in preparation for the next crepe.

sometimes you may end up spreading a bit too thin at the edges--those thin crispy bits will break off easily do not skip the wax paper part or they will stick to each other and you will end up with one very thick crepe instead of many very thin ones

8. Repeat, occasionally brushing with the buttery paper towel or another pat of butter if the crepes begin to stick.

9. Serve immediately or keep the crepes warm in an oven on low for up to an hour. Refrigerate any leftovers—they’re not quite as tender when you reheat them, but they’re not bad.  

Recipe: Ricotta (adapted from Serious Eats)

  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. vinegar or lemon juice, or a combination

1. Combine ingredients and heat to 165-180 F in a saucepan or microwave. If using the latter or if you don’t have a thermometer, just heat until it begins to look curdled and the solids begin to separate from the liquid—perhaps checking in increments of 1 min in the microwave.

165 F is not very hot; depending on your stove, this part should only take 5-10 min after several minutes of straining

2. Strain for 5-15 minutes in a sieve lined with a coffee filter or double-layer of paper towels.

Recipe: Cinnamon Apples

  • 1 lb apples, after peeling and coring
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon (optional)

1. Dice peeled and cored apples into 1/4”-1/2” pieces.

2. Place diced apples in saucepan with cinnamon stick, brown sugar, juice of lemon if using and at least 1” water.

3. Simmer until apples are cooked through and soft.