Thursday, October 27, 2011

Apple Pastry Squares

In the 1970s, Better Homes and Gardens published a series of cookbooks. In hardcover, the book titles included "Salads," "Cooking for Two," "Meals on a Budget," and "Homemade Cookies." My mother and my aunt had a lot of those books and I loved looking through them. When I married, I collected a few of my own, which I still have, including the last one listed, from which this recipe is taken.

I noted that I first made the recipe on April 9, 1980, and put a star beside it. I'd give it the same rating today, especially with the changes I've made. The pastry is flaky and crisp, the apple filling not too sweet, and the drizzled icing adds the last layer of flavor. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee for dessert. Some like it with ice cream, I prefer it plain.

Regarding what kind of apples to use - I tend to use whatever is in the fridge. Granny Smiths are good and tart. Today I used a couple of small apples scavenged from an abandoned tree, plus some organic Honey Crisp apples from the store. 

Apple Pastry Squares

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, separated
about 2/3 cup milk

In a food processor, combine the salt and flour. Cut the butter into chunks, place on top of the flour and pulse until fine crumbs form. Place the egg yolk in a measuring cup and add milk to make 3/4 cup. Whisk slightly, pour over the flour/butter mixture and pulse just until the dough comes together. Wrap in waxed paper and chill about 10 minutes.

1 cup granola (or Corn Flakes)
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Divide dough in half. Cut a sheet of parchment paper that will fit into a 15.5 x 10.5 x 1 inch baking sheet with some overlap. On the paper, roll one half of the dough into a rectangle, about 15 x 10 inches. The dough is quite soft and fragile, but mends easily. Add flour to the surface as needed to prevent sticking. Lift the parchment paper and dough and place into the baking pan. 

Sprinkle the granola over the pastry in the pan, leaving about 1/2 inch free around the edges. Top with the apple slices. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples. 

Roll the remaining pastry and place over the apples. Seal the edges. Cut small slits in the top of the pastry. Beat the egg white until frothy, brush over the pastry top. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. The pastry will be golden brown and the apples tender.

1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
3-4 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

While the pastry is still warm, drizzle the glaze over top. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eggplant and Kale Bake

Wow, I've been away from this blog for quite awhile. It's not that I haven't been cooking! 

This recipe is a little of this and a little of that, making it up as I went along. But the result was really good - a meatless entrée that filled our tummies with satisfying goodness. Rich tomato sauce, eggplant slices with a bit of kale from the garden and cheese in between, topped with a little more cheese - who needs meat? 

There are a few steps to this recipe, especially if you make your own tomato sauce, which I did. I won't give you a recipe for that, I'm sure everyone has their favorite. It should be a nice thick chunky sauce, whether you buy it in a jar or cook it up yourself and fill the kitchen with delectable fragrance. But the recipe can be made ahead, and even frozen for future baking.

Eggplant and Kale Bake

1 large eggplant, washed, sliced crosswise in 1/2 inch slices
olive oil
salt, pepper
2 cups of washed, coarsely chopped kale (Spinach or Swiss chard would also work)
2-3 cups of thick tomato sauce
1 cup fresh cheese (ricotta) I used a fresh cheese from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, just down the road)
1 egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (or Fontina)

Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Place them in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until tender, turning them over once. This will take 20-30 minutes in total.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the kale and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain well. Cool. Press out any remaining water.

Combine the fresh cheese, kale, egg, Parmesan cheese, oregano and basil until well mixed.

In an 8 inch square baking pan, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Place slices of eggplant over to cover. Top with 1/2 of the kale cheese mixture. Spoon 1/2 - 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce over. Repeat layers. Top with a final layer of eggplant slices and the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the grated Monterey Jack cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot throughout.

Makes four generous servings.