Posts Tagged ‘crooked run orchard’

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

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Pureé

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Happy October! While I may spend my Septembers pretending summer isn’t over, October 1st is officially time to bring out the Halloween decorations, head to the apple orchards and pumpkin fields, and begin the fall baking season. And nothing says fall like pumpkin … bread, muffins, pie, cheesecake, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy my favorite fall flavor. While the recent canned pumpkin shortage is reportedly over, I still prefer to avoid BPA-contaminated canned foods and make my own pumpkin pureé. It’s really quite simple, and one good sized pumpkin will make enough to last through the fall. Naturally the best place to begin is at the farmers market, where you can find all sorts of unique and flavorful pie pumpkins — I’ve had good success with the Cushaw and Cinderella pumpkins pictured below. Just ask your farmer which variety he or she recommends for baking.

You can also likely find something labeled a pie or sugar pumpkin at the grocery store right now, which is where I picked up this little pie pumpkin.

To begin, use a sharp knife to cut off the stem and then halve the pumpkin.

Use a spoon to scrape out the pumpkin guts. Added bonus of baking your own pumpkin pureé? Pumpkin seeds, which you must save, wash and roast. We’ll come back to that.

Place your cleaned pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment-paper lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour, until pumpkin is soft to the touch.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Then scoop out the baked flesh, and divide it into one cup portions. Freeze what you’re not using right away, and just thaw a portion in the refrigerator whenever you’re ready to bake.

Now about those seeds. Once dry, toss them with a tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil and your favorite seasoning combination — cinnamon and sugar, cumin and chili pepper, smoked paprika, etc. Roast at 400 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown evenly. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!

What’s your favorite pumpkin treat?

Kids Cook: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

This is our entry for Kids Cook Book Soup — Apples! Check back later today for the full round-up.

The Story: This lovely book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman, caught my eye at the bookstore with its colorful illustrations. In it, a little girl sets out to make an apple pie but discovers her local market is closed. So naturally, she charts a course around the world to pick wheat in Italy, sugar cane in Jamaica, and apples in Vermont. I admit, on one level my locavore’s conscious felt a pang of guilt, but it was too cute a story not to buy. Besides, the point of eating local, for me, is to ensure my son knows where his food comes from. Even if it’s not always somewhere nearby.howtomakeanappliepie

The Lesson: My son knows apples grow on trees, and milk comes from cows. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always! My brother went through a phase as a kid where he insisted that milk came from the grocery store. No amount of arguing could convince him it came from a cow. (This was probably just stubbornness, we certainly were exposed to cows.) Anyway, last week I picked up the boy from daycare and headed out to do errands, and I had failed to pack snacks. I asked if he wanted to go to the drive-thru for apple slices, and he replied, “We could go to the farm and get apples!” In an ideal world, yes, but convenience won out this time.

The Recipe: I recently went to Williams-Sonoma looking for yeast. They didn’t have it, but of course I managed to come home with a bag full of new must-have kitchen tools, including these adorable apple and pumpkin pocket pie molds. The boy saw the one I was packing in my niece’s birthday present, and started to whine, “But I don’t have one of those yet!” So he was pleasantly surprised when I pulled out a second one for him. I decided to stick with the recipe on the box for the pie crusts, which I was glad to see called for butter. I halved the recipe to make 4 little pies. This really doesn’t take too much more effort than making a full-size pie, and the results are just too cute.

Spiced Apple Hand Pies
crust recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. ice water
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • maple sugar

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor to combine. Add butter chunks, and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add water, a little at a time, pulsing between each addition until dough begins to come together. I only needed 6 tablespoons. Remove and press into flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. (Or, if you’re in a hurry, 30 minutes in the freezer.)

Filling:

  • 1 apple, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients and set aside while dough is chilling.

To Assemble Pies: Prepare egg wash. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness and use the mold to cut out 8 shapes. If you don’t have the molds, use a large cookie cutter to cut shapes. Cut a leaf-shaped vent into the top crust pieces. Place the bottom in the mold (or on your parchment-lined baking sheet) and place 2 tablespoons of apple filling in the center. Brush a little egg wash around the edge, lay a second piece of dough over and gently press in the mold or together with a fork. Brush the top with more egg wash and sprinkle with maple sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat to make the remaining pies. Place in freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 22-24 minutes, until crust is golden. Cool on a cooling rack at least 10 minutes before eating. Makes 4 small pies. Enjoy!

Note: I skipped the second freezing step, as we were in a hurry to finish before bedtime, so my crusts browned more quickly than they should have. But they tasted great! Oh, and despite the book’s instructions, our apples and eggs came from local farms.

At Market: Apple Sausage Skillet Cornbread

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it’s officially apple season at the markets. Honeycrisps, gala, rambo, winesap, mutsu, braeburn, pink lady… — you may not find these names at the grocery store, but our local farmers markets offer an amazing variety of vintage varieties. And of course, we’ve been to orchards — picking at Crooked Run (Purcellville, Va.) and to the pumpkin patch at Butler’s Orchard (Germantown, Md.), where we picked up our most recent batch of honeycrisps.

Now that the weather is officially cold, there are few more comforting side dishes than skillet cornbread. Fortify it with (not-so-local) sausage and some of those apples, and it becomes practically a meal in itself. The base for this comes from a recipe recommended by Kristina at Tennessee Locavore. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time living “in the South,” it’s to trust a Southerner when it comes to cornbread. The recipe comes from Crescent Dragonwagon, who has authored an entire cookbook on cornbread — so if you’re looking for more ways to play with cornmeal, you might find inspiration there.

Recipe: Apple Sausage Skillet Cornbread
Adapted from Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread in Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon

Ingredients:

2 links sausage,* such as Italian or chorizo
1 cup apple, diced
1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, break the egg and add buttermilk and oil, whisking to combine. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, stirring until the dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in apples. Set batter aside.

Heat skillet over medium high heat and cook sausage, breaking apart with your spoon, until browned. Spread cooked sausage evenly around the pan, and pour batter into the hot pan over the sausage. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings. Top with a little butter and maple syrup, and enjoy!

* Note: I actually used a chunk of Soppressata di Calabria from Boccalone in San Francisco, diced small — but the husband thought the chunks were a little too chewy after being double-cooked. Next time I’ll stick with the fresh sausage.

What have you made with apples lately? Be sure to join in for Kids Cook Book Soup if you’ve made something apple-licious with your kids!

At Market: Puffy Sweet Corn Pancake

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Fall may be my favorite season, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hoard the summer produce just as long as possible. Sweet summer corn in particular, and this year my favorite has been the white corn from Three Way Farm at the Del Ray Farmers Market.

Pancakes and kids are pretty much a sure thing, and the boy was eager to help me whisk together this quick and easy batter. It’s adapted from a classic puffy apple pancake recipe that I’ve always enjoyed, turned savory to serve as a side dish to our first maple-glazed pork chops and apples of the fall. (Oh yes, we went apple picking recently too, at the ecoganic-ish Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville, Va. … they spray their apples (I’m unaware of any u-pick orchards in the region that don’t) but have a lengthy explanation of their practices on their website.) Anyway, corn and apples makes the perfect crossover pairing to mark the autumnal equinox, I’d say.

puffy sweet corn pancake

RECIPE: Puffy Sweet Corn Pancake
Adapted from Betty Crocker Puffy Oven Pancake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
  • 1 small yellow onion or spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions: Place butter in 9-inch pie pan and allow to melt while preheating oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, corn meal and salt in one bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the milk. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in corn and onion. Remove the pie pan from the oven and brush the butter around the pan, including the sides. Pour batter into pan and return to oven. Bake 25-30 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen the pancake. Place a large dinner plate over the pan and flip quickly. Garnish with parsley and enjoy! Makes 6 servings.

Note: If you’re in the area, Crooked Run will be making apple butter on the farm this weekend, Sept. 19 and 20. Elsewhere, visit pickyourown.org to locate an apple orchard near you. And if you have any favorite apple recipes, please share!

Farms of Origin:

  • corn, Three Way Farm (VA)
  • corn meal, Wye Mill (MD)
  • milk & butter, South Mountain Creamery (MD)
  • parsley & onions, Potomac Vegetable Farms CSA (VA)
  • pork chops, Smith Meadows (VA)
  • apples, Crooked Run Orchard (VA)

Shared with Real Food Wednesday — visit for round-up at Cheeseslave for more real food recipes and inspiration!