Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome to the Big “Apple Cinnamon Citrus Crumble”!

It’s always a somewhat intimidating experience, for anyone that’s about to visit the Big Apple for the first time. You’ve heard stories from the locals about how awesome the experience will be, how the city is the center of the cyclone! “It’s so easy to navigate the city”, they say. But for someone that has never been here, it can be a mix of excitement, fear, anticipation, excitement… J

Sounds very much like how I feel about baking. I’m not a baker. I almost never measure ingredients and I have never viewed cooking as a science. Cooking for me is a fun, relaxing activity, a way to stimulate and inspire creativity; not only in myself but also in the ingredients I use.

So as I stared at the dozen red delicious apples on my kitchen counter (which were meant for juicing with a variety of veggies for a healthy meal supplement) I began to question my fear of baking. Is it really THAT intimidating to coax delicious ingredients into a making love and turning up the heat! I was about to find out….

This dessert was inspired by my best friend’s visit to New York City. Having known her since we were in diapers (well not really in diapers! Unless you count the fashion of the late 80’s to be so ridiculous that we’d rather be wearing diapers!), I was uber excited to see her so I wanted to make a warm, delicious and comforting dish to welcome her and her husband into my home and to the Big Apple!!

My creative twist and influence of my unscientific approach to cooking is seen in the citrus punch that the lemon and orange zest brings to the dish. It cuts the sweetness of the cinnamon, sugar and maple syrup just enough to make you want to come back for another slice!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it! And yes, I’m also very happy to report that I am now a little less intimidated and little closer to trying my next baked goods experiment! :)

For the Crust
2 ½ cups of All Purpose Flour
1 cup unsalted butter (Ice cold and cut in ¼ inch cubes)
1 Tsps. Salt
1 Tsps. Sugar
6-8 Tsps. Ice water
For the filling
A dozen red delicious apples (I did not use granny smith apples because I love the natural sweetness of the red delicious ones)
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsps. of All Purpose Flour
2 Tsps. Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of fresh grated Nutmeg
1 ½ Tbsps. Maple Syrup (I use Real Maple Syrup)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange

For the Crumble
½ cup All Purpose Flour
½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 ½ Tsps. cinnamon
½ Tsps. salt
4 Tbsps. of unsalted butter (Ice cold, cut into small cubes)


For the crust
1.      Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processer and pulse to mix
2.      Add  cold cubes of butter and pulse 6-8 times until butter breaks down into the size of peas
3.      Add ice cold water, one teaspoon at a time and mix until the dough begins to clump together. You don’t want to over mix or add too much water!
(Pinch the dough between your fingers, if it holds together, you are done! If not, add an extra teaspoon of water and mix again).
4.      Remove dough and place in a bowl and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes
5.      Remove dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface, then place in a pie dish.

For the filling
1.      Peel and cut apples into 1/4 inch slices and place in a large bowl
2.      Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and lemon and orange zest and mix well to combine
3.      Now add the lemon juice and mix to coat all the apples to prevent browning
4.      Finally add the maple syrup and pour the mixture into rolled our pie shell

For the Crumble
1.      With a fork, mash the cold butter until it breaks down into size of peas
2.      Now add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine
3.      Sprinkle the crumble mix over the prepared apples and make sure to cover the entire surface

Bake the apple crumble on a baking tray, at 375 for at least an hour or until center is soft. If the top browns too quickly you should cover it with foil.

After baking, let the crumble rest for 20 minutes to cool down before digging in! Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or enjoy just as is!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sammy time with Lady Marmalade....

As we continue our lunchtime 'sammy challenge..... and all these food magazines seems to think it's Spring (don't you people know it's STILL raining and cold here in the North East?!), we are going with a different ingredient this marmalade!!! Citrusy & sweet enough to give us that hint of spring, but cheap and accessible enough to find all year round :) Because, let's face it, sometimes you need to be reminded that the sun does shine somewhere!

Pair this lovely jam with slices of honey wheat bread, gobs of milky fresh ricotta cheese, and a sliced-up granny smith (the apple, not your actual grandma smith)... and you've got one refreshing afternoon pick me up! I must admitt, the next time I create this little pocket of heaven, I am adding some proscuitto for a salty/sweet bite! Now, we're talkin'! Enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rain, rain.... bring me some food!!!!

Ok folks, we know it has been a while. Our apologies--- it has been one hectic month! April showers better bring some May flowers here in NYC!

To make up for lost time, this Italian-twisted 7 layer dip speaks for itself. Well worth the time in between our last post, it will have your mouths watering before you can say "forgetabouuttiitt"!!! This recipe came about one rainy evening when I was having some friends over for movies & some drinks... because, really, what better way is there to celebrate life on a rainy cold day than to drink & eat, right??!! We originally wanted margaritas & nachos.... but long story short, the blender busted, and we were forced to resort to wine! Oh, no, what IS a girl to do?!

Wine doesn't exactly seem to mix well with tacos and chilli dip... so we put an Italian twist to our menu and this dip was the result!!! Substitute mascarpone for cream cheese, white cannelini beans for that refried garbage, and a roasted red pepper salsa and MOUNDS of shredded provolone cheese.... you won't miss the south of the border version one bit. Check it out!


1 8 oz package mascarpone cheese
1 12 oz can white cannellini beans
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 12 oz can roasted red peppers, diced
1 clove of garlic
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt & pepper
dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese

 *Tip: leave mascarpone out of the fridge for a few hours before using, to ensure it is at room temperature and spreadable!!

In a medium sized casserole dish (8x8 in the picture, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand- this is a no bake zone!), layer first with the entire tub of mascarpone cheese and spread evenly with a butter knife or spatula. Meanwhile, drain the cannellini beans and rinse thoroughly with warm water and let drain in the sink. Once drained & dried off, evenly pour the beans on top of the mascarpone layer. Set aside.
In a seperate bowl, add the diced red peppers, celery & chopped up garlic. Dress with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, oregano, parsley, basil, salt & pepper to taste. We personally like 1 tsp of each seasoning, with an extra sprinkle of basil for love! Toss the salsa, then pour evenly on top of the bean layer. Here comes the best part, shred up a serious amount of provolone cheese and sprinkle on top of your finished product. Add as much or little as you like. For an extra kick, bake it in the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese (but not too long, mascarpone does not melt in a friendly manner!). This no bake dip is easy, cheap, and will have your friends talking for days about your Italian themed Mexican meal!!! Buon Appetito!