Tightly woven pie tops are beautiful and I always admire when a pie is adorned with leaf crust cut-outs, but when it comes to what tastes best- I’m a crumb topping kind of gal. Apple crumble is one of the cures to rid me of the post summer blues. “Once the cold really sets in I start long for those long summer days, but when I make a warm and festive crisp it helps me embrace the autumn chill.
My mother is known for making an incredible apple pie. Whenever we get together for holidays, my cousins always request for Aunt Donna to bring her apple pie to the occasion. I have been using her recipe for years, especially when I moved to Cambridge because whenever I miss her, a slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes me smile and I thank her with each bite.
(My mother sent me a picture of this book where she found her apple pie recipe. She has been using since the age of fifteen).
I work as a private chef for a family here in Cambridge once a week, and last fall I whipped up this apple pie for them for the first time. They devoured it in two days and their teenage son would request it to be on the menu every week!
Since I was making pie for this family so often, my client asked me if I would try making it into a crumble in order to reduce some calories. At first I thought, “It’s dessert. What’s the point of trying to cut calories on this one?” The truth is that eliminating the crust cut out about 1,000 calories! WHOA! That’s nothing the snub your nose at. Thus, my version of an apple crumble was born.
If you’ve been apple picking this season, I urge you to make this crumble. After you peel the apples, make sure you slice them very thinly.
My personal opinion is that the best part of this crumble is the topping. It’s a perfect combination of sugar, butter, and flour. It takes all of my strength not to eat the topping straight out of the food processor.
If you want a way to make new friends and keep the old… bake this bad boy. It’s a sure thing. My favorite apples for pies and crisps are Cortland, Figi, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy.
- 5 cups thinly sliced pared apples, I used granny smith
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- Crumb Topping:
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose flour works too)
- ½ cup firm butter, cold and sliced
- ½ cup brown sugar (packed)
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
- Then, slice apples and mix them with your dry sugar/flour mixture.
- Place all topping ingredients in a food processor and blend.
- Put apple mixture in baking pan and then cover with topping. Place on a baking sheet that is covered with tin foil.
- Bake for 45-50 mins. If pie starts browning, use another piece of tin foil to cover pie while it's baking to prevent the top from burning.
Radish & Fiddlehead Fern Bruschetta with Goat Cheese Spread
The radish is a ingredient with great potential, but many people I come across don’t realize that those ruby red globes are surprisingly versatile. I had a plea from my cousin, who happens to be my original partner in vegetarianism after she read my post on beets and she asked me, “Can you feature radishes one week? I have a fridge full from my CSA and I can’t think of anything to do with them besides using them in a basic salad. HELP!” This post will provide the nutritional benefits, tips, and recipe ideas for working with the entire radish and not just the root. Here is the dirt on radishes:
Why should we eat radishes anyway?
Kids are usually urged to eat their broccoli or spinach at the dinner table, but rarely do we hear a parent bark the order “Eat your radishes!” Well, they should. Not only are the roots of these cruciferous vegetables nutritious, but so are their leaves. Actually, the leaves contain more Vitamin C, protein and calcium than their roots. Radish leaves have been used to treat kidney and skin disorders, fight cancer and even soothe insect bites.
Radishes are rich in folic acid, Vitamin C and anthocyanins. These nutrients make them a very effective cancer-fighting vegetable. It has been said that radishes are effective in fighting oral cancer, colon cancer and intestinal cancer as well as kidney and stomach cancers. Radishes also contain zinc, B-complex vitamins and phosphorus. All of these are very effective in treating skin disorders such as rashes and dry skin.
Want to lose some weight? Dieters should start munching on radishes since they are low in calories, cholesterol, and fat. They are high in roughage content which can make them useful in treating constipation. Radishes are great cleansers in general. They help relieve congestion and help aid in gallbladder and liver functions. Many drink radish juice to help to ease the digestive system and detoxify the body.
How to Store Radishes:
The Leaves- Radish greens don’t stay fresh for long. Separate them from the roots soon after harvesting or bringing them home from the market. Wash and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.
The Root- Store radishes in a plastic bag in the crisper of the refrigerator and they should keep for at least a week.
Ways to Prepare Radishes:
The challenge of working with radishes is that they have a very pungent and strong flavor. Some say that the greens are the best part of the radish with the most flavor. I bet many of you are surprised to read this because most people chop off the leafy greens and toss them in the garbage.
My lunch today: See guacamole reinvented recipe below.
Radish Green and Ricotta Gnocchi Served with Preserve Red Radishes on Top
Watermelon Radish Sorbet
Radish Leaf Pesto
Rustic Radish Leaf Soup
Radish Soup with Creme Fraiche
Chopped Salad– I use this recipe often. It is so good!
Satay Noodle Salad
Radish and Butter Sandwich
In a Facebook post last week I said that I would give my readers a vegetarian version of Sunday night meatballs, so I am here to deliver on my promise. My great grandmother used to make a huge Sunday night feast for dozens of relatives on a very small budget. She had nine children who had their own children and yet she somehow managed to prepare dinner for her visiting relatives every single Sunday. I am not just talking about any old meal, but an enormous feast composed of multiple courses. She was an Italian-American, so for her this was simply how Sunday was meant to be enjoyed. The seventh day of the week was when family had the time to catch up in conversation over course after course.
Add some spaghetti and be like these two love birds.
This all happened before my time, but I have always romanticized that Sunday kind of love and eating in my mind. Maybe some of you still enjoy your Sundays this way and I wish I did too. I picture myself at that long dinner table with a steaming bowl of spaghetti in my face and my mouth starts to water.
Meatballs are a main staple for a Sunday feast and you may be wondering right now why the recipe I am posting calls the vegetarian version “Greekballs” instead of “Italian Balls” or something like that… First of all, Greek balls just sounds better than anything else I came up with. Second of all, I am sure that the Greeks and most people of Mediteranian descent also have a similar Sunday meal experience. Thirdly, the mint, dill and cumin really take the flavors a bit out of the Italian box and work so well with the rest of the ingredients.
This recipe should not only be reserved for Sundays! I just made it last night for a pumpkin carving party and it was a big hit. The recipe makes a lot which is good because the host of the party got to keep some leftovers. I hope that all of you love this recipe as much as I did and that you take the time to enjoy your loved ones laughing, catching up, and of course, eating.
Vegetarian Greekballs in a Tomato Sauce with Feta Cheese
Author: Michele Wolfson
- Serves 12 (Makes 48 meatballs)
- Tomato Sauce
- 3 TBS. olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 30-oz. can tomato sauce
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- Veg Balls
- 3 8-oz. pkg. plain seitan, rinsed and drained
- 1 8-oz. pkg. low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint and parsley
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional
- To make Tomato Sauce:
- Pour oil in pot and place stove on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Do not let it turn brown.
- Add tomato sauce and oregano. Simmer in partially covered saucepan 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- To make Veg Balls:
- Pulse seitan in food processor until finely ground. Transfer to bowl, and add all ingredients except oil and feta. Mash mixture with hands until mixture comes together. Season with salt and pepper. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat baking dish with oil. Scoop seitan mixture into golf ball–size meatballs, and place in prepared baking dish. Bake 20 minutes.
- Pour tomato sauce over meatballs, and sprinkle with feta (if using). Bake 30 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly.
Have you ever looked in your fridge and had the daunting feeling that you have to use up at least seven things before they go bad? I was digging around in my fridge a few nights ago when I came across some produce that I had to eat soon or else they would reach the end of their vegetable lifespan, and I would essentially be throwing money away in the garbage, which I hate.
Click on pic to watch it cook!
I had made a variation of the squash, mushroom and white bean quesadillas with sweet potatoes, and Portobello mushrooms, so I knew that those would be the star ingredients for the evening. Sometimes some of the tastiest creations are formed in the kitchen when you least expect them to and this was one of those times. The dish I created was simple to make but rich in flavor… Read more about it below!
Portobello Mushroom Reduction with Sweet Potatoes & Rigatoni
Author: Michele Wolfson
Recipe type: Pasta
- Serves 6
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in ¼-inch slices
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces (12 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
- ½ large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup full-bodied red wine
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1lb rigatoni
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
- 4 ounces semi-soft goat cheese
- Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat. Cook the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
- Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Toss the sweet potatoes, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan. Cook for 8 minutes or until nearly tender, gently stirring occasionally. Add the onion; cook about 5 minutes more or until potato and onion are tender and lightly browned, gently stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
- Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
- In 6-quart Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions; add spinach one minute before pasta is ready to drain.
- Add pasta and spinach to potato and mushroom mixture, tossing gently until spinach is just wilted. Add goat cheese and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
eat a beet
: Sometimes it seems as though autumn weekend were invented for the time spent walking through farmers markets. If you’re perusing the fresh produce and can’t choose what to sink your teeth into, let me make this decision for you: pick up some beets! These full-flavored globes have strong tops, and are smooth with either a deep, rich crimson hue or an inviting gold color. Sweet is the beet. They have a higher sugar content than most vegetables, which gives them an earthy sweetness, but they are also low in calories (they contain only 45 kcal/100 g), and contain only small amount of fat. Beets are full of cancer-fighting beta-carotene and folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects and are rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Their nutritional benefits come particularly from fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unique plant derived anti-oxidants. They are highly nutritious and a cardiovascular health-friendly root vegetables. Don’t throw away the leafy tops because they are also an excellent source of beta-carotene, iron and calcium. Cut the tall and flavorful greens to use in lieu of spinach, kale, or chard.
How to Store: Top greens should be used while they are fresh. Beetroot, however, can be kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Cut off the leaves and store the roots in an unsealed plastic bag in the fridge.
What to look for: In the store, choose fresh, bright, firm textured beets for rich flavor. Avoid those with a slump look and soft in consistency. Look for bunches of firm beets with fresh-looking greens; wilted beet greens don’t necessarily signal bad beets, but better-looking greens mean more vegetable for your money. Unless you’re planning to chop or grate them, choose a uniform-sized bunch so they’ll cook in the same amount of time. (Small to medium beets are generally more tender.)
(Beet margaritas are not the healthiest way to enjoy the vegetable, but they are fun & delicious!)
Preparing: Beets are very versatile. Juicing these red roots could help your heart, reports the journal Hypertension. Drink the juice straight or mix it with apple juice to add sweetness.Tender baby roots can be grated raw in salads. Mature beets can be boiled (better for smaller, younger beet) or wrapped in foil and baked (better for larger, older roots). To preserve the beet’s color and nutrients, rinse and brush clean but do not remove the skin or root until after cooking. Cook until a skewer easily penetrates to the core (anything from 40 minutes to 2½ hours boiling or 1½ to 3 hours baking at 350°F). You may want to wear rubber gloves when cutting and handling beet as the pigmentation leaves a pretty stubborn stain. The leaves can be cooked like spinach – steam uncovered in a pan with a small amount of boiling water (around ½” depth). They can also be sautéed with garlic and oil. Vegetables are always better with garlic and oil.
Mushrooms & squash in Mexican food? You better believe it. Add a young cheese into this quesadilla like manchego, or even a mild muenster or a spicy monterey jack, and you’ve got yourself a lovely combination. There is nothing like a home-cooked Mexican-themed meal. Don’t get me wrong, when I lived in Manhattan I loved going to Dos Caminos and Mexicana Mama, but the flavors in Mexican cuisine are especially brought to life when prepared at home and won’t leave you with the instant urge to unbutton your jeans and swear off eating for the next 9 years (I do this every time I go out to Mexican).
Many of us associate Mexican food with summertime. There is nothing like a cold frozen margarita and some fresh guacamole on a scorching hot day. However, September is that nice bridge between summer and fall, so you have the option of doing the usual hot-day Mexican feast, or you can enjoy some steaming quesadillas on a chilly night. Also, who am I kidding? Keep the booze and the guac coming, they are good all year long. Both go perfectly with the quesadillas and with the fall.
When Mexican cuisine is prepared correctly, the flavors come together so beautifully on the palate, such as sweet butternut squash paired with savory wild mushrooms, or tangy citrus juice in the same bite as a smoky chipotle pepper, or spicy chopped jalepenos on top of sour cream. Are you hungry yet? Well, I am. It is not even 10 a.m. yet, and I now want Mexican food in my mouth, pronto. So here is your “get ready for fall” quesadilla recipe. It is very kid friendly and a good way to get the little munchkins to eat all those healthy vegetables.
Squash, Mushroom & White Bean Quesadillas
Author: Michele Wolfson
Recipe type: Entree
- 1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, peeled and chopped
- 3 TBS vegetable oil
- 1 small/medium butternut squash, peel and small to medium dice
- 10 oz. cremini & shitaake mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
- 3 scallions, sliced thinly
- ½ cup spinach, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
- 1 cup shredded manchego cheese (or any Mexican blend you prefer)
- ½ cup salsa verde (optional for dipping)
- First, preheat broiler. Broil jalapeños on foil-lined baking sheet 15 minutes, or until blackened, turning once. Transfer to bowl, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Peel, remove seeds, and coarsely chop.
- Next, preheat the oven to 400° and lightly oil a baking sheet with 1 TBS. Peel and dice the squash and lightly toss them in 2 TBS of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Lay them on the baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until soft but not cooked to mush. (You’ll finish cooking in the pan.)
- Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom, scallions, spinach pepper, and salt and sauté 3 minutes, or until browned. Remove to a plate and set aside. Then add the butternut squash to the same pan for 10 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add squash to the jalapeño & mushroom mixture.
- Sprinkle each tortillas with 2 Tbs. cheese and then top with a layer of the vegetable mixture, and fold each over. Broil on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Cut the finished quesadilla into four triangles and top with your choice of garnishes. Eat while warm. Serve with salsa verde if using.
The first time I pitched this dish to one of my clients and told her that she and her family would fall in love with a steaming dish of farro in a fresh tomato sauce she looked at me and simply asked, “farro? Really? You’re going to use your fresh tomato sauce on FARRO?”
As I picked fresh tomatoes from my garden with my cousins over Labor Day Weekend, I knew I had to make this dish for my family that day. I told them of my plan, and right away someone responded, making eye contact with the juicy red tomatoes, “maybe wait to test this recipe when these are no longer in season and you are recipe testing with canned tomatoes.” I knew that they were being crazy and that it was time to bring this comeback grain back to my dinner table.
As a chef and a food lover, I adore farro for its roasted nutty flavor, delicate chew, and versatility. First of all, I believe that one of the reasons farro has a leg up on most grains is because it’s Italian and has more of a sexiness to it than most of the others (How can farro be sexy? Didn’t I mention that it is Italian?) It is definitely sexier than say… kasha (no disrespect to my fellow Jewish peeps… Jews are sexy too in spite of kasha varnitchkes).
After all, this is the first farro to rule the Jews since Moses led them out of Egypt. Sorry, I tried not to add that but I couldn’t help myself.
So what exactly is farro? According to Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Ten Speed Press, 2011), by Maria Speck, who writes that the term farro is “commonly used when referring to three ancient wheat varieties first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent and still grown in Italy: farro piccolo (also known by the German einkorn), farro medio (also known as emmer, the Hebrew word for mother), and farro grande (also known as spelt).” With a higher fiber and protein content than wheat that is more commonly used, farro is also especially rich in magnesium and B vitamins. Farro was actually eaten in ancient Roman times and was a grain for the poor. It’s funny that some of the healthiest and most delicious of foods were once only for the peasants.
Farro comes whole/unpearled, prelato, or pearled and also semi-perlato, or semi-pearled, meaning it retains some, but not all of its bran and nutrients. Many recipes call for semi-pearled farro since it eliminates the tedious soaking process and puts your dish on the table a lot faster.
I am urging you to go out and get some locally grown tomatoes while the gettin’ is good, because it won’t be long before that window closes and you’re left with colorless, tasteless, sad tomatoes that you can inconveniently find at your grocery store.
This dish is simple to make and people may think you’re fancy (in a good way) because you made farro instead of typical, run of the mill, pasta. There are so many things you can do to this dish to add your own little twist! You can add a poached egg on top! You can add beans or even peas at the end. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with! This recipe is only slightly tweaked from thesmittenkitchen.com.
Also, a quick shout out to my little brother, Matthew who turns 23 today (and isn’t technically so little as he stands at 6’3” and has a size 15 shoe, but he will always be “little” to me). He is my greatest editor and the best gift my parents could have ever given me. This post is dedicated to you.
“Editor’s note: Thanks, Michele!”
Farro in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil & Pecorino Romano
Author: Michele Wolfson
- 2 cups semi-pearled farro + water seasoned with salt (see Note above for farro types)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large white or yellow onion thinly sliced (read below in method)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1½ to 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks (read below in method)
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
- Up to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
- Few basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- Grated pecorino romano cheese, for serving
- Soak farro for 5-7 minutes in water while you prepare your other ingredients.
- Cut onion in half and then in half again, and very thinly slice it into quarter-moons. Press or mince garlic cloves as well. Quarter tomatoes and then slice each quarter in half.
- Go back to your farro and cook it in a small pot according to package.
- In a large pot add your oil and put heat on medium. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic for one minute and watch so it doesn't brown.
- Add tomatoes and add salt, pepper flakes (to taste) and set a timer for 30 minutes. Bring uncovered pan up to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
- When the timer rings, the farro should be perfectly cooked (tender but with a delicate chew), seasoned and the cooking water should be almost completely absorbed. If needed, cook it for 5-7 additional minutes, until farro is more tender. Add farro to the fresh tomato sauce.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl. Scatter with basil and pecorino romano. Enjoy!
This recipe will make you crave Brussels sprouts. It’s true. I know it sounds like crazy talk, but this dish has taught even the biggest doubters of this oft-hated veggie that Brussels sprouts can be exciting and full of flavor. This salad is delish and tastes even better after a few days of sitting in the fridge so all of the flavors have time to blend and marinade together. Slicing the Brussels sprouts can get a bit tedious if you are making enough for a large crowd, so my greatest piece of advice is to make a trip to Trader Joe’s, (a.k.a my home away from home) and grab a bag of sliced Brussels sprouts in their fresh produce section. Trust me: doing this will make B-sprouts a tasty time-saver. If you see some large chunks that aren’t chopped thinly, just run your knife once through the pile of these cruciferous gems. That’s all it takes to get those bad boys sliced and the rest is so simple.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
Author: Michele Wolfson
- 6 cups Brussels sprouts, bottoms cut off and sliced very thin
- ½ cup whole dried cranberries (The Trader Joe's brand is the best. They are plump, moist, & flavorful)
- ¼ cup gorgonzola crumbles
- ½ cup toasted pecans, small pieces
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
- 1 tsp. of dijon mustard
- celtic salt and black pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan cheese, handful (optional)
- Slice Brussels sprouts very thin or buy bag of sliced Brussels sprouts.
- Mix slice Brussels sprouts in a bowl with dried cranberries, gorgonzola, and pecans.
- In another bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon, garlic, mustard, salt & pepper. Pour dressing on top of the salad. Top with parmesan cheese.