Posts Tagged ‘boiled cider’

Homemade Holiday: Cider Snap Cookies

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The weather here’s been more wet and dreary than crisp and wintery of late, so comfort food in the form of holiday baking has definitely been in order. I’ve had a cider-based cookie in mind ever since I made boiled cider for those doughnuts a while back. I was envisioning something a little more crisp than your typical apple cookie, so I decided to substitute the boiled cider for molasses in a spiced cookie, resulting in a lighter, more soft and mellow ginger snap type treat.

cider snap cookies

Recipe: Cider Snap Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup boiled cider*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional cinnamon sugar/maple sugar for rolling cookies

Instructions:

*About the boiled cider: If you don’t have boiled cider prepared (or purchased), boil down 1/2 cup apple cider over medium heat until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Cool to room temperature before using.

1.  Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt together in a large bowl.

2. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Add egg, boiled cider and vanilla and mix until well combined.

3. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.

4. Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each quickly in cinnamon sugar or maple sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are firm and cookies appear set in the middle, 10-15 minutes. Cool on cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

Note: I mixed equal parts maple sugar and turbinado sugar for the coating, but a cinnamon-sugar mixture will work as well if you don’t have maple sugar on hand.

20 Minute Cider Black Beans with Bacon

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

A confession: I avoided black beans for nearly a decade, after being scarred by my mother’s frequent cooking of them during my high school years. Thanks to the open floor plan of my childhood home, the scent wafted throughout the house relentlessly. I don’t know why it was so offensive at the time, but just the mention of black beans made me nauseous for years after I left home.

Fast forward a few years, with a new baby in the house, and it became unavoidable as I researched real food options for babies that I would, in fact, have to learn to cook black beans. (Black beans are a good source of protein, iron, magnesium and folate.) It was one thing to order black beans on the side when out to eat, but I still shied away from making them at home.

cider black beans with bacon

Recently, the boy requested that we start observing “Taco Tuesday.” Now, he doesn’t eat tacos, but that didn’t deter him from the idea. He figured I’d make him a quesadilla and the rest of us would have tacos. For week one, I made these cider baked beans and pork carnitas. Week two I had less time, so used chicken breast for the meat — but the boy was so excited about the beans that he decided to try a bean and cheese “taco” (really, more like a burrito). And last night he asked for it again — so I think we have a winner on our hands. Now, I also used bacon in the beans — so it’s not a meatless recipe — but it won praise from my previously bean-adverse husband as well.

You could use dried beans and cook this the slow way — but thanks to my favorite Eden Foods canned beans (BPA-free and no added salt), this can be ready in 20 minutes flat. Just enough time to warm tortillas and prep the other taco fillings and accompaniments. (I think half the reason the boy requested taco night was for the all-important tortilla chips and salsa.) Thanks to the Washington Post, whose recipe for cider baked beans inspired me to add the sweet boiled cider here.

Recipe: Cider Black Beans with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch salt and black pepper

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add beans, stir and cook one minute. Add boiled cider and water and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring just once or twice, for about 15 minutes (until most of the liquid is absorbed). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown rice, tortillas, and thinly sliced peppers, shredded carrots or other favorite vegetables. Makes 4 servings.

[*Note: if you don't have boiled cider on hand, replace the boiled cider and water with fresh apple cider. Alternatively, you could swap it for pure maple syrup.]

Do you have a theme dinner night at your house?

Apple Cider Doughnuts {and Where to Pick Apples}

Friday, September 30th, 2011

L’Shana Tova to our Jewish readers out there. It’s customary to ring in the Jewish new year with apples dipped in honey — one tradition taken very seriously by my apple-addicted son. In fact, apples and honey comprised his and his friends’ entire meal last night at dinner — at least until hours later when they were reminded that dessert was reserved for those who had eaten the main course. My son went on a buying spree last weekend at Black Rock Orchard’s stand at the farmers market — where the hand-sized Empire apples were selected as lunch-box worthy, one jumbo honey crisp for that afternoon, Jonamac, Jonathan, and Macoun apples for snacking/baking, and several toddler-hand-sized Seckel pears included for the baby. Even though we’d already gotten bottles of apple cider with our milk delivery, we couldn’t pass up a small jug of honey crisp cider to consume in the park. (Playing Transformers Tag makes one thirsty, after all.)

empire apples black rock orchard

I recently bought a doughnut pan and, in the spirit of the season, decided to test it out with baked cider doughnuts. Now they were delicious, but I’m still on the fence about the use of the word “doughnut” to describe a baked item. Healthier, yes, but really I’d have to say they’re more like muffins in the shape of doughnuts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I just wanted to warn you in case you were going into this expecting that crisp fried crust of a traditional doughnut. On the bright side, you can enjoy these every day of the week without the guilt — and they’re safer to bake with kids who aren’t old enough to safely man the deep fryer.

baked apple cider doughnuts

Recipe: Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider*
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup  white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Instructions:

*For the boiled cider: If making your own boiled cider, reduce one gallon fresh cider in a large, non-reactive pan over medium heat (it should boil gently). It took approximately 2.5 hours for mine to reduce down to a syrup-like consistency. Stir occasionally,  particularly as you near the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom. The cider should begin to thicken and coat your spoon, looking almost like maple syrup, when it’s done. Remove from heat to cool, then pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

For the doughnuts:

Preheat oven to 400*. Butter a six-count doughnut pan.

In the mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and spices on medium speed. Add the cider and egg, continuing to mix for another minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix on low speed until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, being sure to wipe the centers clean of any stray batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes, before turning them out onto a rack.

I dipped each doughnut’s bottom into fresh apple cider, than a bowl of cinnamon sugar for a little extra oomph, but you can serve plain or top however you wish. I’m thinking of a boiled cider glaze (like maple glaze) for next time. Makes 6 doughnuts.

Notes: Making boiled cider is easy and makes your house smell fabulous. I’m glad I made a small batch (1 gallon) so I have an excuse to make it again later in the season.

Where to Pick Apples in Northern Virginia: These are some of our favorite local orchards. They are true orchards, not the “fall fest” type of farms with entertainment and hay-rides, just fyi. Pack snacks (if you require more than fresh-picked apples for sustenance), water and bug spray and wear appropriate shoes for hiking around the orchard, potentially in mud given our soggy September. And always call or check the website before heading out to make sure they’re open for picking.

1. Crooked Run Orchard, Purcellville, Va. (540-338-6642). I’m not aware of any truly organic orchards in the are, but Crooked Run is a “low spray” orchard, meaning they use alternative pest control and fewer pesticides than conventional apples found in the supermarket. They typically have pumpkins and gourds available for purchase as well. 

2. Hollin Farms, Delaplane, Va. (540-592-3574). Hollin Farms has a corn maze, pumpkins and gourds and fall greens available to purchase. 

3. Stribling Orchard, Markham, Va. (540-364-3040). Stribling has a farm store and bakery on site so be prepared to bring home extra goodies. They’ve had very tempting caramel apples in the past.


View Pick-Your-Own Apples in Northern Virginia in a larger map