Over these past couple months, the real world necessitated that kitchenplay take a back seat. Honestly, I didn't have much to write about anyway. Many meals were eaten in a hospital waiting room or out of a box or skipped entirely. But as the air in Philly has morphed from a muggy heat to a brisk cool, it's time to bring my attention back to food, the making and the sharing of it. After all, fall is my favorite season, with thoughts of apples and pears, cinnamon and ginger. It's time to turn on the oven again and start baking spice cakes and maple cream pies. Soups and stews are to be shared with friends on chilly Sunday evenings.
Yesterday, I was able to both savor the spoils of my summer garden at lunchtime while creating a very autumnal dessert in the evening. It was a perfect way to say adieu to one season and welcome in another.
I can't say my first garden was a rousing success, but I have been harvesting a few things over this past month. Homemade tomato sauce made use of my first eggplant. A tomato and green pepper found their way into a hoagie. And just yesterday I savored my first (and only) cucumber. Eaten with my sole ripe tomato, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, it made for an awesomely fresh and simple salad.
And then dinner approached and I needed to create a dessert to bring to Mike's. Wholly unprepared, I threw a few boxes of raisins, a bag of nuts, butter and some spices into a bag. At the last minute, I added my bottle of orange blossom water. I knew I wanted to build something around apples and picked up a couple pounds of green ones at the market on 16th and Washington. Apple cake was what I had in mind, but sadly, Mike lacked the ingredients that I was too disorganized to procure myself. But something else worked its way into my brain, something that was a perfect use of every ingredient I had in my bag: baked apples. It also turned out to be a great accompaniment to Mike's rustic dinner of chicken with vinegar and homemade pasta.
Baked Apples with Orange Blossom Water
One small bag of chopped nuts
3 small boxes of raisins
A generous splashing of orange blossom water
Cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, ginger
A lot of brown sugar
A smidge of salt
6 tart apples, cored
6 tablespoons of butter
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Soak nuts and raisins in orange blossom water for about 10-15 minutes with spices, brown sugar and salt. Put a tablespoon of butter in each apple. Mix in the nut and raisin mixture with the butter. Let the mixture overflow just a little bit from the top of each apple. Put apples in a baking dish and bake for 3o minutes. After 3o minutes, reduce heat to 200 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve with ice cream or, if you are so lucky, calvados laced frozen yogurt made by Mike.