Late Summer Treat: Apple Dumpling

Be forewarned that you may find yourself eating too much of this or making it several times in a row or making lifelong friends with whomever you share it. I made this for our street’s block party last night and found myself scraping the corners of the pan in the dark to retrieve the last of the sticky caramel.

 

Gravenstein apples are ripening here and I’ve made two batches of this in the last week with more to come! It’s fun to experiment with different types of flour here so by all means use half whole wheat or whole spelt. The syrup might seem like too much but trust me, it’s not!

 

This does not take very long to prepare and bakes in 25-30 minutes. The biscuit dough comes together in a few minutes so pre-heating the oven and chopping the apples is the primary task. I’m a fast apple chopper but you’ll get faster, if you aren’t already, if you make this a few times!

 

And speaking of speed, if you have your regular meals sorted, possibly with the help of my new E-book  A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom, about which I’m very excited, you’ll have time for things like Apple Dumpling!

 

 

Apple Dumpling

Serves 6-8

 

Biscuit dough:

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour or a combination of whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup milk (preferably whole)

 

Filling:

About 4-5 medium/large apples (Gravensteins or other tart, baking apples are particularly good but use whatever you have), peeled cored and either thinly sliced or cut into small chunks (It’s important that the pieces are quite small so they cook quickly enough)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins (optional)

 

Syrup:

10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks of butter)

Scant 2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

 

Whisk the salt, baking powder and flour in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or work it into the flour with your hands, until the butter ranges in size from large peas to coarse meal. Add the milk and incorporate quickly with a fork. Stir until the dough comes together and then turn out on to a board and knead quickly to bring together into a homogenous dough. You only want to knead it for a few seconds. It doesn’t have to be completely uniform.

 

Sprinkle your counter with a little flour and roll the biscuit dough into a thin (¼-inch) rectangle, about 11 x 17.

 

Heat the syrup ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil and take off the heat.

 

Spread the chopped apples evenly over the rolled out dough. You want to pack on as many apples as you can but you will be rolling up the dough so keep that in mind. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and cinnamon and raisins, if using. Now carefully roll up the apple-filled dough starting on the short side. Roll as carefully and tightly as you can.

 

Slice the rolled up dough into 1 ½ -inch slices with a serrated knife (a bread knife works well) and arrange them, cut side up in an 8 x 13” baking pan, packing them in quite snuggly next to each other. Pour the syrup evenly over the rounds and bake until the apples are tender and the syrup is bubbling and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 400 if the dough is browning too quickly. Let cool just a bit and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or just as is!

 

 

A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom + Nicoise Salad

Hard-boiled eggs with gray rings around the yolks? There are far worse things in life. However, I am so easily pleased by simple things such as nicely cooked eggs. And a few, simple well-cooked elements, like eggs, beans and vegetables, make for lovely meals in myriad combinations.

 

I’ve been immersed in my most recent e-book–A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom–and have been practicing what I preach. When I have a spare hour, I cook a bunch of vegetables, make a vinaigrette, toast some seeds and cook beans and then come dinner time, things come together with minimal effort. Take the classic Nicoise Salad: to make it all at once is straightforward but it does involve cooking 3 different things (eggs, potatoes, beans), making a dressing, etc.  However, with the vinaigrette already done and the potatoes and eggs already cooked, it’s pretty effortless.

 

This idea of prepping a handful of building blocks is about really cooking by using your senses and preferences within whatever constraints you have. It’s kind of the antithesis to meal planning in that you prep not knowing what exactly you’ll do with these elements but that they are there for you, for any need that arises. It’s how my family eats often–different base ingredients, different sauces, same method of balancing flavor and texture! The new e-book includes a dozen recipes/templates as well as a handy guide of how to get 7 elements prepped in an hour. It embodies the cook-with-what-you-have method and makes those simple pleasures a daily reward! 

 

Happy prepping & cooking all this mid-summer goodness!

 

P.S. And here’s another favorite salad (chickpeas, arugula, tomatoes, etc.) I recently made on air using the same vinaigrette included below, in case you’d like a visual!

 

Cook-with-what-you-have Nicoise Salad

 

This classic salad is actually a wonderful template. Cooked and raw vegetables, savory dressing, tuna, chicken or just vegetables are all delicious variations. 

 

Serves 4

 

 ¾ lb cooked green beans
1 lb boiled potatoes, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
2 5-oz cans albacore tuna or fresh if you have it, seared and sliced (optional, see headnote)
Handful brined or oil-cured olives, halved or 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
4 cups lettuce, arugula, tender mustard greens, washed and torn (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme

 

Put all dressing ingredients in a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well until emulsified. Taste and adjust with more vinegar and/or salt or whatever else you think it needs. It should be bright and strongly flavored.

 

Toss the lettuce, if using, with a little of the vinaigrette and spread on a platter and arrange the eggs, beans, potatoes, olives, if using, and tuna on top. Generously drizzle the dressing over everything.