Apples

Spring fava bean, quinoa, radish, avocado, & mint salad.

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I am so excited. I'm going to visit my Athens tribe. We are approaching our Denver move date fast! We leave in about 2 weeks. Sure there is a ton to do... packing things up, cleaning, finishing projects, getting things ready for the sublease... but I'd rather go see my dear friends and family who, right now, are about 9 hours away. Come Denver we'll be 22 hours away. I feel this is an adequate reason to forsake responsibility. I'm getting some time with my family too before dipping out to the Rockies but I'm assuming my Dad will use my Denver location as a great excuse to finally come out and have some river time. 

I have lots of things waiting for me in Athens this weekend. Lets see, it is twilight weekend (an international bike race that has athens busting at the seam), there are drinks in the Georgia warmth awaiting, a dear friend who is just back in from teaching in South Korea, brunch with the best, oodles of dogs at dog park time, art school exit show (featuring one of my favorites), desserts (last time we racked up a bill of somewhere around 50 bucks on dessert between 5 of us... uhh what?), a farmers market that I have missed, my best friends and all those lovely faces that I have so dearly longed for being tucked away up here in the mountains and of course no trip to athens is complete without music.

So this week I've been being extra good. Drinking smoothes, eating raw salads, and taking my herbs. This quinoa, fava bean salad is ridiculously good. It is one of those meals that you think while eating it, "I could have this every-single-day of my life and be happy." It really is one of those meals that I think I could have every single day if I actually thought I could eat the same thing every single day. 

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Recipe (serves 4 but makes great leftovers)

Quinoa - 1 cup dried

Fava beans - fresh pods, several big handfuls. (once shelled I had a scant 2 cups)

Radish - 1 bunch

Avocado - 1, sliced into small chunks

Apple - 1/2 and apple, cut into small chunks

Red onion - 1/2 an onion, finely chopped

Olives - I had 6 kalamata olives left in my fridge, I sliced the meat off the pit into slivers.

Feta - about 1/3 cup

Mint - fresh, 3-4Tb finely chopped

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Butter - 1TB

Olive oil - a drizzle

Salt/pepper - to taste

Chop everything up so it is ready to use, except your avocado, save that until the end. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under water while shaking for a minute. Then add the quinoa into a medium pot and cover by a few inches of water. Bring the quinoa up to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Get another small or medium pot out and fill it up half-way with water, this will be to blanch your fava beans. Shell the fava beans and place the beans into a bowl, discard the pods. Once the water is boiling, add in your fava beans and let it get back up to a simmer. Once it gets back up to boiling, don't let it cook longer than 1 minute. Drain the fava beans and rinse with cold water.  Here comes the tedious part. Shell the fava beans and discard the shell, underneath will be this bright, green bean. Once you are done with the quinoa and fava beans, you can put them into a large bowl together.

Heat the oven up to 350 degrees. Chop up the radishes into thin slices. Add 1/2 the radishes into the bowl with the quinoa & favas. Add the other 1/2 the radishes into a small saucepan on the stove with the 1TB butter. Heat over medium heat and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the radishes to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the apples, mint, feta, olives, onion, lemon juice, and drizzle of olive oil to the bowl of quinoa. Stir until well combined. Slice up your avocado and set it aside. Add in your roasted radishes and season with whole thing with salt and pepper, you should not need much salt. Add in your avocado last and stir, gently, until well combined. Enjoy it, I know you will. Why? Because it is just that good.

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A simple cake of rosemary & apple

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I was listening to an This American Life (I start way too many conversations with "I was listen to The American life") rerun and there was a story about a retired man who wanted to start a cable channel from scratch in the early 90s. A channel called the puppy channel. Naturally, this is brilliance. A channel entirely donated to the cuteness and adorableness of puppies with nothing but soft instrumental music in the background. Now I don't want to hear any complaints "hey, what about kittens? Monkeys? Sloths?" All other cute animals aside, puppies alone are cute and entertaining. The man explained his inspiration came when he saw a diverse group of people in a parking lot all standing around and watching some puppies. People from all points and acts of life paused for a brief moment to smile at puppies. Why? Puppies make us feel better, they make us happy. I looked back in my car at my own fully grown puppies. They were chasing after the back windshield wipers. Yeah I have to agree, they do make us happy.

A cake can do the same thing. Especially one scented so sweetly with rosemary. Rosemary, it is like an old friend; warm and comforting. Mix that into a cake with apples? No doubt it makes you happy. This cake is perfect, moist, with the apple chunks soft and starting to infuse in the layers. It is the sort of cake I could eat everyday if you could healthfully eat cake every day. The rosemary warms up the batter and compliments the apples wonderfully. 

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Recipe (Fits in one, greased 8" springform pan.)

Whole wheat flour - 1 1/4 Cup

All purpose - 1 Cup

Sugar - 1 Cup

Heavy cream - 1/2 Cup

Baking powder - 1 1/2tsp

Baking soda - 1/2tsp

Salt - 1/2tsp

Eggs - 2

Butter - 1 stick room temperature

Rosemary - 1TB dried

Rosemary powder - heaped 1/2tsp

Apples - 2 chopped in small & medium chunks.

Confectioner's sugar to dust (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat up the heavy cream in a small pot in a low simmer with the 1TB of dried rosemary. Turn it off once warm and let it steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Once it is steeped, strain out the dried rosemary and whisk in the rosemary powder. Mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Add the butter and sugar into a mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrapping with a spatula half-way through. Add in the two eggs and mix until combined. Alternatively (3 batches each) add in the flour mixture and milk mixture. Scraping with a spatula when necessary. Last, dump in your apple chucks and stir in by hand, with the spatula. Pour the batter into the greased springform pan and tap the pan down on the counter to settle the batter. Place in the oven and bake 50-60 minutes or until a pick comes out clean and cake is puffed up. 

Let cool at least 15 minutes (if you can) and dust the top with confectioners sugar. I served mine with anise tea but served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream or apple ice cream would be delicious. 

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Chickpea & dandelion green sauté + apples & parmesan.

Dandelion greens.

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Dandelion greens are one of the most basic foods you can forage for yourself, it is a great starter foraging plant. You probably won't have to search any further than your front yard. They are very healthful and tasty if you are a bitter greens kind of human. I am. I love bitter greens. I cannot get enough of them really. Winter for me is roots and bitter greens (since I have been spoiled by good winter-long seasons of fresh greens in ungodly warm Georgia) but spring also means greens, along with lots of other tasty veggie morsels like asparagus. Oh yes, asparagus pizza will make an appearance here soon. Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamins A, K, & C, calcium and a great food to support digestion. I'm also a liberal user of lemon. Lemon makes so many dishes pop, especially ones involving sautéing greens. Lemon and greens were meant for each other like Topanga and Cory.

Speaking of Topanga and Cory, I've been having reunions with TV shows that I loved as a kid. I was a huge fan of Xena and Hercules but by far Xena was my favorite. No shame. I'm learning how amazing the sound affects were in the early 90s by re-watching some of them (thanks netflix!). The graphics too, two of my favorites are the time Xena jet-propelled herself out of the water like a dolphin and the time xena shot a tiny dagger out from between her breasts like a blowhole. It is too hilarious, but don't take my word for it, check it out yourself. Still, no shame. As a kid I was giddy to learn that my name Kelly is Irish for warrior women. Perhaps that is where my Xena kinship began? So how does all this connect back to dandelion greens? Not sure. To force a connection Xena was showed foraging from time to time on the show. Try it out and pluck some of your own dandelion greens, making sure you are gathering in areas away from spraying and popular dog potty spots. Make sure what you have is in fact dandelion or purchase them in the store. Honestly I don't forage all the time, the ones in the store are just so large and lovely they are hard to pass up! Try foraging at least once though, it is fun and rewarding. 

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Recipe (Serves 4)

Chickpeas - 3 cups cooked.

Dandelion greens - 1 bunch

Red onion - 1/2 an onion slivered

Garlic - 3 cloves minced

Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

Apple - 1 chopped

Parmesan - 1/4 cup grated

Olive oil - 2TB

Salt and pepper - to taste

Place a medium pot of water filled halfway up with water over high heat until boiling. Chop your dandelion greens into 3. Dump the greens into boiling water and blanch for one minute. Dandelion greens can be especially bitter so this blanching helps take some of the bite away. Pour the greens out into a colander and set aside. Heat a large skillet up with 2 TB of olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for several minutes until softened. Add in the cooked chickpeas for a few minutes to heat through. Add in the dandelion greens and cook for a minute. Squeeze over the lemon juice and the season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dump out into a bowl and then add in chopped apples and grated parmesan, stir until combined. 

Enjoy with an episode of Xena... or not. 

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Apple and mascarpone dumplings

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I had gathered the ingredients for this dish prior to the snow because, I had planned on making these during the snow. Something about snow always makes me want to have something sweet and warm. A pastry or a cookie but when I saw the mascarpone on sale, I knew it had to be. Unfortunately, we lost power from Wednesday - Saturday and I had no use of my oven. By the time we got it back, the snow was pretty well melted by then. No worries, these tasted just as good without snow.

I think you could play around with these a lot, try half and apple instead of a quarter, different spices & cheeses, and I'm looking forward to replacing the apple with a peach in the summer. Eat alone or top with another dollop of mascarpone and let the warm pastry melt it, a serving of ice cream or fresh cream would do as well.  

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Recipe (Makes 8 dumplings)

Apples - 2, I used a sweet small, pink-fleshed apple

Mascarpone - About 1/3 a container (5-6 TB) 

Sugar - scant 1/2 cup

Flour - 1TB

Cinnamon - 1tsp

Cloves - 1/4tsp

Vanilla extract - 3/4tsp

Anise extract - 1/2tsp (optional or try almond) 

Pastry ingredients

Flour - about 11/4cup (I used a heaped 1cup) (I used all purp but pastry might have been better) 

Sugar - a tablespoon or two - just a small fingerful

Salt - a small pinch

Butter - 1 stick very cold cold. If you can leave this is the freezer awhile, even better. 

Water - ice cold water in a two cup measuring pyrex

Egg wash - beat together an egg white mixed with a splash of cream or milk. 

Fill a two cup measuring pyrex (or do this in a bowl) with ice and water. We want this to sit, let the ice start to melt, to get very cold water. The key to good pastry is not letting the butter melt until it is in the oven. Shift together the flour, sugar, & salt for the pastry. Cut your butter into smallish cubes. Toss in the flower and work in with your finger tips. You want the mixture to look coarse but about the sizes of peas; work quickly. Now you will start adding in the ice water (strained from the ice). Add the water slowly, mixing the water/flour together as you go. You want to keep adding water until the mixture just comes together. You don't want it too wet and sticky. You should be able to press it into a ball - it is ok if there are some dry spots. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic. Place in your fridge for half an hour at least. It will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Toss together the sugar, 1TB flour, cinnamon, & cloves. Place your marscapone in a small bowl and beat in (with the back of a spoon) the extracts. Slice you apples into quarters. Hollowing out a little bowl in the center of each apple wedge, to hold the mascarpone. Toss each wedge into the sugar/spice mixture - flipping to coat. Then take a generous teaspoon of the mascarpone/extract mixture and place into the shallow bowl on the apple wedge. Adding more mascarpone if there is leftover after all 8 wedges. 

Take out your pastry dough and cut into 8 wedges. Working quickly, roll the wedge into a ball and roll into a disc on a floured surface. You want the size to be just big enough to wrap around an apple quarter. Mine were just a bit smaller than the size of my hand. Place a apple quarter with mascarpone on the dough disc, facing down. Sprinkling with more of the sugar/spice mixture and then wrap the pastry up, kind of like a burrito. Repeat with all 8. Place, spacing evenly, on a baking sheet. Brush on eggwash, top with more sugar/spice mixture or course sugar and bake until golden - about 30 minutes. 

Serve and top with more mascarpone, cream, or ice cream. 

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