As promised

It's dark already?! The day escaped us. And now it's time to finish dinner, give the baby a bath, and settle in for the night. But first, as promised, here's that recipe for Swedish Apple Pie. I've added cranberries, and I think it would be equally nice with pears.


I found this recipe in The Apple Lover's Cookbook, a new book from W.W. Norton. They very nicely sent me a copy in the mail and I've been working my way through. I like this recipe because it's an easy alternative to pie—no crust, no fuss—tasty and quick.

3 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cranberries
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a pie plate and set it aside.

In a mixing bowl, toss the apple slices with the cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of the flour, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pie plate and smooth it into an even layer.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a standing mixer and beat until just combined. Use the back of a wooden spoon to spread the batter evenly over the apples and cranberries. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crackly. Serve warm from the pan.


Along the way

Hi! We've been on the road. I've been wanting to check in, but apparently when you travel with a two month old that is easier said than done. Sally has been very busy meeting friends and relatives in Maine and Wellesley, and we've been very busy showing her off. Here she is at her very first coffee shop stop in Portland:

We've been cooking along the way, and I have a recipe I want to share with you for Swedish Apple Cake, but I'm going to give it a few days. Between the turkey and the pie and the parties, I think we could all use a break. I'll see you Monday, everyone. Happy holidays!


Take note

I have a root vegetable recipe for you today. That seems sort of odd, I realize, given that it's currently 62 degrees outside, but let's keep in mind that it's the weather that isn't seasonal, not the recipe. (Not that I'm complaining! Weather gods take note!)

At any rate, I found the idea for the recipe in this month's Bon Appetit. It was one of those write-ins—someone from South Carolina had eaten at a restaurant in Atlanta and wanted the recipe for a roasted carrot and beet salad. I tucked it aside in my pile of To Make Soon clippings, but when I went to start cooking, I realized the page I ripped out had the ingredients, but not the directions. It didn't look like rocket science—there was a list of dressing like substances, then a pile that sounded more like salad fixings—but when I compared notes later online, it turned out we came to similar places, but via different methods.

I also decided that I wanted it to be more of a salad than just a pile of roasted vegetables, so I saved the beet greens, chopped them up, and added some arugula. I ate it with a piece of pan-seared pollock, and a few slices of grilled bread. And even though the sun was shining and I was wearing a t-shirt and feeling very far away from the root vegetable era, it really hit the spot.

I'm liking this November.


Here's my version of the Bon Appetit version which in turn was an Empire State South version of a Spotted Pig original! Confusing! But so, so good.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound carrots cut into "carrot stick size" pieces
1/2 pound beets peeled and cut into the same size pieces
1/2 cup lightly packed finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
a handful of washed and torn beet greens
a handful of washed and torn arugula
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toast the cumin seeds over medium heat in a small dry skillet, stirring often. When they start to get fragrant (3-4 minutes), they're done. Grind them up using a mortar and pestle.

Whisk together the ground cumin seeds, lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Combine the carrots and beets in a Pyrex dish. Drizzle them with olive oil and roast them in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until just tender. Transfer the roasted root vegetables to a salad bowl and toss them with the reserved dressing, parsley, mint, beet greens, and arugula. Crumble the feta over top and serve at once.

Note: I ate my salad with the vegetables hot, but they could also be roasted ahead of time and served either at room temperature or even straight from the fridge.


The Local Food Report: Nikki McClure

We don't talk enough about books around here. So today, I'd like to make a recommendation. It's a kids book:

It's the first book I bought for the baby, way back in May. It's about a little boy and his mother shopping the farmers' market—based on the experience of author Nikki McClure and her son at their farmers' market in Olympia, Washington. Everyone in the book is real—Nikki gives their real names and describes how their real growing processes work, and in the illustrations, she even shows their real tattoos.

I met Nikki this spring, when she was giving a reading at the Falmouth Farmers' Market. I asked her what inspired her to write the book, and she said mostly, she wanted to find out about what was going into the food she was buying each week. That, and she wanted to write a book that would help kids put words grown-ups were tossing around all the time—things like local and organic—into every day, normal kid terms. So she started talking with people like Michael, the apple vendor, and Steve, who sells smoked salmon, and asking them about the work they did. She learned some pretty cool stuff.

I don't want to give too much away, because it really is a good read, but I did want to show you some of the illustrations.

Nikki is actually best known for her artwork. She makes her illustrations using an X-acto knife—all those black segments up there are a single piece of paper. If she makes a mistake, she has to either work it into the picture, or start all over. Then later, she scans it and fills in some bits with color on the computer.

She says she likes to use color sparingly, so that when you see it, you know it's important.

If you have a chance, pick up a copy of the book, or head to the library and check it out. It's a kid book, but it's also the kind of book you can learn a lot from as an adult.



If you hurry, you might get one last eggplant at the farmers' markets. If you're really lucky, you might even get a looker like this:

If you do, I've got a recipe for you. It's an Asian inspired eggplant and beef stir-fry from this month's issue of Bon Appetit, and it is GOOD. I've taken to making dinner in the mornings, while Sally sleeps—she seems happiest riding around on my chest while I'm doing the laundry or taking a walk or cooking—so we've been looking for recipes that we can do ahead. Dinner time apparently is prime time for fussing and nursing, and so we mince our garlic and mint and whisk together our soy sauce and nuoc nam in the a.m.

Beyond the eggplant, all you need is some local pastured steak, a few handfuls of mint from the garden, and some Asian basics that you probably already have tucked away in the cupboard. Oh! and an appetite. Good luck with the eggplant.


Alex sells pastured Northeast Family Farms beef at his market in Truro. A wide variety of cuts will work—anything from top sirloin to skirt steak to to flank steak to beef eye round.

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 one-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce (we use nuoc nam)
juice of 1/2 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 pound steak
rice noodles

Whisk together the mint, soy sauce, ginger, nuoc nam, lime juice, garlic, and sugar in a large bowl. Set aside.

Warm the oil up in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the eggplant until golden brown. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the dressing, keeping the pan warm. Now sear the steak in the same pan and add this to the eggplant mixture. Toss well.

Finally, cook the rice noodles and drain. Let each person serve themselves a bowl of noodles topped with the eggplant and steak mixture and some of the sauce.


A do over

Did you carve a pumpkin? We meant to, but the Rouge Vif d'Etampes we bought at the farmers' market over a month ago is still sitting on the stoop. Amazingly, it's also still perfectly firm. So now that Halloween has come and gone and Sally has taken her costume off, I think we'll eat it instead.

I'm thinking I'll cut it into slices, roast it, puree it, and then make another batch of pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I made some the other day, but I gave most of them away, so I think we'll have a do over. I first discovered pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies at my friend Abbie's house sometime in junior high, and I've been a big fan ever since. They're much more moist than plain old chocolate chip cookies, with full cookie flavor but a texture that's almost like a cross between cookies and gingerbread. Last year I discovered that oats make an excellent addition, and I've been making the recipe below ever since.

Happy pumpkin season, everyone.


This recipe is adapted slightly from Abbie's original. Any variety of winter squash or pumpkin puree will work fine; I often use butternut. Be sure to use dark chocolate chips—the cookies are sweet enough as is.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 and 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup pureed pumpkin or squash
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups dark chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

In another mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugars and honey until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla, and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips and stir until just combined; do not over mix. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough using two spoons into balls; drop the balls onto two un-greased cookie sheets. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until just barely cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yields 24 cookies.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.