The Holt’s Apple Butter

Having now lived in NYC for almost a decade, I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself something to the effect of “I’m <insert colorful descriptor> done with this place”.  The frequency of such complaints is inversely correlated with falling temperature and positively correlated with the rising rent – which happens right about this time of year.  After such declaration, the “NYC Triple Threat” invariably happens where we meet some incredible people, walk past some amazing piece of architecture, and / or have our minds blown by some experience. It’s as if New York is telling us: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.  Stay just a little while longer”.  Rinse and repeat, the love-hate relationship continues.

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Post Birthday Detox – Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

What is life without celebrations?  Not a very fun one!  I’m an advocate of adding bows and kittens to everything and anything whenever possible.  While neither bows nor kittens (regrettably) made it to this occasion, a very manly birthday week for Preston finally concluded with #IAmAMan events as follows:

  • Bacon breakfast (aka Classic Pesek Family Brunch) + Mom Pesek’s banana bread
  • Eat like a boss at Red Hook’s Hometown BBQ. This shiz is for realz, they do not mess around with their meat. Get their brisket sandwich, cry a little because it’s so good, proceed to order everything else on their menu to go. DON’T FORGET YOUR SAUCE. I freaked out so much I didn’t even take photos
  • Win IKEA, like a boss. We passed the ultimate couples test and survived our maiden couple voyage to Red Hook IKEA. Our marriage is going to work.
  • Haul reclaimed pine joist from Big Reuse NYC (into BBQ scented ZipCar). Currently being worked (hazardously) on our window ledge / stoop. #YOLO
  • Have minds blown by Tree of Codes with Jamie xx at the Park Avenue Armory. Just because #IAmAMan doesn’t mean modern dance can’t be in the mix, gender is so passé.
  • Eat carrot cake (from Amy’s Bread) & be merry!

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Is it Fall Magic? No, it’s Apple Saucery!

This year, my husband and I finally got our act together, managed to organize an Adirondacks Fall camping trip (more on that later) and squeeze in our first apple picking experience!

Ok, so apple picking is actually quite a bit of work and is not like the calico skirt, birds chirping, pretty basket experience that I had envisioned, but it’s totally worth it!  Not only are the apples crispier and sweeter than our farmers market apples, it gave us a healthy appreciation for how hard it is to actually pick (let alone grow) the perfect apple. Here’s a quick shout out to Hicks Orchard, which despite my Manhattan food snobbery, does have the best Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cider Donuts…

To reward our hard work and as a continuation of my husband’s birthday week celebration, I decided to try my hand at making apple sauce!

Branching Owl's Homemade Apple Sauce

Branching Owl’s Homemade Sugarless Apple Sauce

I’ve never done it before, but making apple sauce like a boss isn’t as hard as it might seem. First of all, upgrade your mom’s apple corer with this, it is worth the $10, second, making apple sauce really does involve boiling the crap out of some apples.

Ingredients (Yields 12 – 15 servings, or 1 serving for my husband)

– 15 Apples

– 2 1/2 cups of water

– Juice of 1 Lemon

– 2 Tsps of Cinnamon

– 1 Pinch of Nutmeg

– 1 Pinch of Salt

Directions:

– Wash and core all your apples, cut them into chunks. We kept the skin on, since that’s where the flavah lives!

– Put apple chunks, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a big stock pot

– Bring the water the boil, the lower to a boiling simmer. Stir frequently and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until the apples are mushy (i.e. boil the crap out of the apples)

– You can use a potato masher, or an immersion blender to smooth out the consistency

Here’s the result: The Homemade Apple Saucery Tower of Power:

Homemade Apple Sauce Tower of Power

Homemade Apple Sauce Tower of Power

Apples from Hicks Orchard

Honeycrisp Apples from Hicks Orchard

Edit: As a demonstration of his gratitude, my husband contributed this helpful reference image:

apple saucery - duh

apple saucery – duh

Smokin’ Chipotle Corn Soup

Oh my cob!  I was at the farmer’s market this past weekend and was devastated by the dwindling supply of plump corn.  Folks, corn season is quickly coming to an end (and dare I say… so is summer?), gahhhhh! Naturally, we need to celebrate this quintessential summer treat and this summer’s bounty with another soup recipe (duh).

CHOW’s Chipotle Corn Soup recipe brings in just the right amount of spice and smokiness to highlight the sweetness of the star ingredient. I served this with a simple tomato, cucumber salad with sliced grilled chicken. UM UM UMMM!

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

Chipotle Corn Soup with Grilled Chicken Salad

I took out the scallions in this recipe so I can use leftover avocados to garnish the dish.  I regretted that decision.  The creaminess and taste of the avocado was lost in the soup.  So I’m posting the original recipes here with scallions, with notes and modifications. Lastly, straining the mixture made for a super silky soup, but hubby likes the grittiness of the corn puree, so we left his bowl unstrained and it was still tasty!

INGREDIENTS

– 8 ears white or yellow corn, shucked <I used 5 big ears of bi-color corn>

– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)

– 1 teaspoon minced chipotles in adobo sauce

– 2 teaspoons kosher salt

– Freshly ground black pepper

– 6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)

– 1 1/2 cups whole milk

– 1 1/2 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS:
– Remove the corn kernels from the cobs.
– Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the chipotles, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, a pinch of black pepper, and about two-thirds of the scallions. (Set aside the remaining scallions to use as a garnish.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 3 minutes.
– Add the corn kernels, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, milk, and water and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the flavors have melded and the corn kernels are crisp yet tender (not mushy), about 15 minutes.
– <Skip this step if you like the grittiness of corn> Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.
– Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels. Season with salt and pepper as needed. If serving chilled, refrigerate the soup until cold, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

Holy Crab! … and Avocado Soup

First of all, SO SORRY for my laziness over the past 9 months. Rest assured I have been cooking and feeding my now hubby, but wedding planning over the past few months really took a toll.  Hopefully, I will get to write about that journey one day, but now that the wedding is over… let’s get cookin again!

After 2 weeks of the summer’s delicious sweet corn and grilled chicken, the law of diminishing returns has set in.  To rescue us from the summer food doldrums, I browsed through the list of saved recipes I’d intended to try over the years but ended up collecting cyber dust.

The Crab & Avocado soup (easier than it sounds) is exactly what I needed to maintain my “good wife” status! This DELICIOUS cold summer soup packed with all the goodness from avocados and sweet crab meat served with some sourdough bread is the perfect light summer dinner.

Crab & Avocado Soup

Crab & Avocado Soup

I modified this Epicurious recipe to make it a bit soupier and doubled the amount of crab (hey, why not) so I can serve this as a main.  Also, if you don’t already have an immersion blender, get it, it’s da bomb!!

Yields 2 Main Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lump crab meat (I used back fin crab meat due to cost)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

– Mix crabmeat, celery, dried parsley, and lemon zest in a bowl.  Cover and chill crab salad.

– Cube and pit avocados; scoop flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add vegetable stock, crème fraîche, lime juice, kosher salt, and 1 1/4 cups water. Purée with immersion blender until smooth. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper; chill.

– Divide soup amongst 2 bowls.  Spoon crab salad into center of each bowl.