Apple Strudel in Phyllo Dough

sugared strudelPhyllo (sometimes spelled filo) means leaf in Greek and the sheets of dough are as thin as leaves. I buy it frozen in Middle Eastern markets and if I’m lucky it also shows up in Berkeley Bowl and other large markets. I use it to make Spanakopita, and there’s usually enough leftover sheets to make Apple Strudel for dessert. I caramelize the apples before rolling them in the phyllo dough.

Ingredients: (makes 3 rolls)

  • 3 medium apples (Gala or other cooking apples are good)
  • 6 Tb butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tb cinnamon
  • 2 tsp lemon zest, from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tb bread crumbs or 2 slices of toast, torn into pieces
  • 1/3 – 1/2 package phyllo dough (9 sheets), defrosted
  • 1 Tb powdered sugar with a few shakes of cinnamon for topping if desired

Directions: Preheat oven to 375′

Peel and core apples and chop them finely.

If you don’t have breadcrumbs,  place the torn toast in the blender. Run on high and you will have made breadcrumbs! Divide them in half.

apples for strudel

Melt butter in a large skillet. Pour out 1/4 cup and set aside. Add apples to the skillet and stir until they are coated. Stir in cinnamon and brown sugar and cook until the liquid is thick and sticky. Stir in 1/2 the breadcrumbs, pecans, lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat.

Divide the remaining breadcrumbs into 3 groups.

breadcrumbs on phylloPlace 1 sheet of phyllo on a pastry board or clean surface. Lightly brush with melted butter. (If the butter has thickened, reheat it in the microwave.) Place another sheet and repeat, and then a third sheet. Sprinkle 1/3 of the breadcrumbs in a rectangle at about 2 inches from the sides and top.

filling in phylloScoop 1/3 of the apple mixture and spread on top of the breadcrumbs. Fold the top and sides over. Then roll it up by folding it over the apple filling.

strudel rolled up and ready for oven

Brush the butter over the sealed bottom and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Butter the top and sprinkle a little cinnamon on it.

Let bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. You can sift a little powdered sugar with a dash of cinnamon on top just before serving.

 

 

 

 

Pear Pecan Bread made from Ugly Pears

I bought a bag of sad, truly ugly looking pears for only 20 cents, but I didn’t despair, but created a new paradigm since the only thing was was to prepare some pear bread by peeling it and removing the bad spots with a paring knife. And I still had more pears, which called for a second loaf. Therefore I had a pair of pear breads. Which were  beautiful and tasted incomparable – a true paradox. I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking, but swapped finely ground whole wheat flour for half the flour, and pared down the sugar, which apparently repaired the recipe with healthier ingredients, quite a parable. (There are 11 pear puns in the above paragraph, oops one more there! Did you catch them all?)

ugly pearsWet Ingredients:

3 – 4 ripe pears, grated to make 1 1/2 cups with the juice

1 large egg

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from one medium lemon

1 Tb fresh lemon juice, squeezed from the same lemon

Dry Ingredients:

3/4 cup finely ground whole wheat flour (also known as white whole wheat flour)

3/4 cup white all purpose flour

1 Tb ground flax seeds

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans

Topping:

1 Tb Demura sugar (coarsely ground sugar)

1 tsp cinnamon

pear bread loaf

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*

Break pecans into small pieces. I used the blade of the food processor and pulsed a few times. Fill up 1 cup of broken pecans and set aside.

Peel pears and cut away the core and any bad parts. Grate to make 1 1/2 cups. I used the grater attachment for my food processor to grate the pears. measure grated pears and set aside.

Mix egg, olive oil, vanilla, lemon zest and juice with the food processor blade, Add grated pear and mix again. Sift together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Fold in dry ingredients until somewhat mixed in. Add pecans and fold until just mixed.

Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray. Pour in batter. Mix the Demura sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on the rack until you can’t wait any longer.

 

 

Steel yourself for Slow Cooked Steel Cut Oats with Caramelized Apples and Blueberries

december-4-2016-steel-cut-oats-in-bowl-with-walnuts

Breakfast in Bed? No problem. Make this nutritious apple and cinnamon scented oatmeal the evening before in your rice cooker or crock pot. It will be ready for you when you wake in the morning and your kitchen will smell like apple pie! This is the best way to wake up!

Note: If you make this before bed, it’s best to start it at least an hour before hitting the sack. Once the oatmeal thickens, stir well to prevent lumps.

Steel cut oats have the most nutrition and lowest glycemic index of all the oatmeal products.  I add flax seed, oat bran and chia seeds to further boost the nutrition, and sprinkle with walnuts for extra protein. My recipe uses only a tablespoon of brown sugar, unlike most of the slow cooked steel cut oats recipes you find on the web. The raisins, apples, and cinnamon bring a natural sweetness to the cereal. Of course you can add more brown sugar or maple syrup when serving, but I’m fine without that.

I use a nonstick rice cooker with a slow cook setting. I spray it with nonstick canola oil spray and cleanup is very easy. I’ve made this in the crock pot too, but be sure you spray it well. Even so, there is a bit more cleanup involved. If the oatmeal sticks, soak the crock pot with hot water and a few tablespoons baking soda.

dry-ingredientsIngredients (makes approximately 6 cups). Refrigerate leftovers for more breakfasts.

Nonstick canola spray

3 cups milk

6 cups water

1 1/2 Tb butter (or a mixture of butter and coconut oil)

4 large Gala, Jonagold, Pink Lady or other sweet cooking apples peeled and chopped (you can substitute other cooking apples)

1 Tb brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tb cinnamon

1 Tb flax seed meal

3 Tb chia seeds

1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup raisins

2 cinnamon sticks (optional)

For serving:

1 cup walnut or pecan pieces to stir in the next morning

1 cup fresh or 2 cups (16 oz) frozen blueberries to stir in the next morning (optional)

caramelized apples and dry ingredientsDirections

Spray your cooker very well. Fill with milk and water.

apples cooked in butter with cinnamon and brown sugar

Fry apples in butter and sprinkle in a few shakes of cinnamon, the vanilla and brown sugar, stirring often until they caramelize. If I have cream on hand, I stir in a tablespoon for real caramel.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour into cooker and mix well with the liquids. Mix in caramelized apples, raisins, and cinnamon sticks. Set slow cook timer for 7 hours. It’s best to make this with at least an hour before bedtime so that you can stir it while it thickens and avoid lumps.

apples-on-top-of-cooked-oats

In the morning, the apples will rise to the top.  I like to stir in a cup of fresh (or frozen) blueberries. Acai berry puree is also good to stir in. Stir oatmeal well and ladle into bowls.

frozen blueberriesIf you don’t have apples on hand or just don’t want to do all that work, stir in a 16 oz package of frozen blueberries into the cooked oatmeal.

oatmeal with frozen blueberries

Sprinkle with pecan or walnut pieces and serve with more milk if desired.

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

watermelon heirloom tomato wholeNothing says summer like watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, those oddly-shaped multicolored orbs, bursting with flavor. Cut them up and you have a veritable painting on your plate. Mix with sweet watermelon and sprinkle a little salt, maybe a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the tomatoes. Simple. That’s it!

watermelon heirloom tomato salad

Caprese Fruit Salad

Caprese Fruit Salad

This is a delicious summer fruit salad masquerading as a caprese salad.

I got the idea when I visited the SF Giants Baseball Stadium (AT &T Park) Organic Garden with our CHEFS students. After the garden tour, they gave each of us a delicious strawberry wrapped in a basil leaf.

Cut summer fruit: Strawberries, stone fruit such as plums, apricots and /or peaches. Mix in ciliegine, little balls of fresh mozzarella. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle over the fruit and mozzarella. Drizzle a little olive oil over the fruit and cheese.

caprese fruit appetizers

Make caprese salad appetizers by threading a piece of fruit, basil and half a ciliegine on a toothpick. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. I mixed in a bit of blood orange infused olive oil with the regular oil.

 

Persimmon bread

???????????????????????????????We have a Hachiya persimmon tree. These persimmons are oval shaped, and can only be eaten when very soft, unlike their flat-bottomed Fuyu cousins which I eat hard.

???????????????????????????????When you cut them open, they can look either jewel-like or very sexy, (depending on what kind of mind you have.)

???????????????????????????????I based this recipe on my banana bread, and used a couple of ripe bananas for sweetness. I add spices, brown sugar, and a tad of maple syrup. to complement the taste of the persimmon.

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% milk

1 tsp lemon juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 soft bananas (3/4 cup mashed)

2 very soft Hachiya persimmons

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tb canola oil

1 Tb pure maple syrup

1 ½ cup unbleached white flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

¼ tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

½ cup walnut or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift white flour, baking soda, salt, spices, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Stir in whole wheat flour and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Add bananas and persimmons to mixer and mix well, then whip on high. Add the maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Add nuts and mix slowly until they are just combined.

Spray an 8″ x 8″ pan or Bundt pan with non-stick spray. Pour in batter.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated 350º oven. Bake for 1 hr 15 min minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out dry. Dust with powdered sugar mixed with a few shakes of cinnamon.

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Steel-cut oats oatmeal with apples and nuts

???????????????????????????????This fiber-rich, creamy and crunchy oatmeal will stick to your ribs on these cold winter mornings when you need something to warm you up and keep you going.

I used the quick-cooking steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s. They cook in only 8 minutes. Nuts add crunch and protein, and apples and/ or raisins add sweetness and fiber. This recipe serves 2, but you can double or triple it to store some for those weekday mornings when you need a quick warm-up before work. It’s all-natural, so much better than those instant oatmeal packets.

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups water

a few shakes salt

1/2 cup quick-cooking steel cut oats

2 Tb ground flax seed

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 apple (I used a honey crisp apple)

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup milk

1 Tb cream (optional)

pure maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Peel and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. Bring water to a boil. Add salt, oatmeal. flax seed, cinnamon, apple and raisins. Lower heat and cover pot, and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and stir in nuts and milk for one minute. Pour into bowls and add a tablespoon of cream for a treat. If you desire added sweetness, add maple syrup or brown sugar to taste.

Peachy Pie

sliceLate summertime brings fresh peaches, the sweet juice dripping down my chin. And of course peach pie. Make your own pie crust, topping with either a full crust or a fancy lattice. You can also top with a crumb crust.
Compared to commercial pies and most recipes, I use very little sugar, letting the natural sweetness of the peaches bring out their flavor. I also don’t peel the peaches, since the peel brings a pretty red color to the pie.

cut pie

Preheat oven to 425’ Move oven rack to lowest level.

Use 6 soft medium or 5 large peaches =2 ½ lb peaches= 5 cups sliced peaches. Slice peaches ¼ inch thick on skin side and place in a large bowl.

Sprinkle over peaches:

¼ cup brown sugar

2 Tb white sugar

3 ½ Tb quick cooking tapioca

2 Tb lemon juice

¼ teaspoon almond extract

a couple of shakes of  nutmeg

a few shakes salt.

Stir gently with a large spoon. Let peaches stand 15 minutes, and stir occasionally.

???????????????????????????????Pour into bottom crust and top with 2 Tb butter cut into small pieces.

Cover with upper crust or lattice and crimp together tightly. Cut steam vents in top if using solid upper crust. Brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle about a spoonful of raw sugar evenly on top.

Immediately place on lowest rack of preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with foil. This will make clean up much easier. Slip it under the pie and lower oven to 350’.  Bake 30 -35 minutes more until thick juices bubble up through the vents and the top crust is browned. If outer crust begins to burn, cover it with a foil pie protector. If the top gets too brown before its time, tent with a sheet of foil.

If you can stand to wait until the pie cools, the juices will solidify and it will be easier to serve, but that never seems to happen in my house.

DSC02992

Peach Smoothie

???????????????????????????????Summertime means peaches, juicy and sweet. I bought a couple that were not as perfect. I popped them in the blender along with a speckled banana,  a scoop of plain non-fat yogurt and a glass of orange juice. Gave it a whirl and poured out this delicious smoothie!

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American Flag Salad

??????????????????????????????? Perfect for the Fourth of July, don’t you think?

Cut red bell pepper into 7 strips

Peel jicama and cut into rounds, then square them and cut into 7 strips. Cut one of the strips into little chunks for the stars

Wash blueberries.

Trim 4 red bell pepper strips and 3 jicama strips to fit around the star square.

Assemble the flag: Start with the red bell pepper, alternate with the jicama, so that the last stripe is red (13 altogether).

Put the blueberries in the square and sprinkle in jicama stars