Archive for October, 2010

by Sarah Steimer

It pays to keep glass jars from store-bought dips. The amount of apple butter I made fit perfectly in one.

  • 4 pounds apples (roughly, one pound is equal to: two large apples, three medium, or two small)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoons allspice

Quarter apples without peeling or coring (I used Gala apples). Place apples in a large pot with water and vinegar, cover Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Most recipes call for a chinois sieve or food mill, but I merely peeled the softened apples (skin comes right off) and removed the cores/seeds then puréed until smooth in a blender. For each cup of soft apples, add about 1/2 cup of sugar. I halved the recipe and only used about one cup of sugar. It helps to taste as you go. Gala apples are already pretty sweet, but for a more bitter apple you may need more sugar. Add spices at this point as well.

Cook, uncovered, in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth (about 1 to 2 hours). A small bit spooned onto a chilled (in the freezer) plate will be thick, not runny. You can also cook the purée on low heat, stirring only occasionally, but this will take much longer as stirring encourages evaporation. Note: The wider the pan the better, as there is more surface for evaporation.

Store in a well-sealed container and refrigerate. Makes about 26 ounces of apple butter. Since I halved the recipe, it fit perfectly into a 13-ounce glass jar.

Recipe: Sarah Bradley, vegan foodie extraordinaire and new Boston friend

Photos: Sarah Steimer


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by Caitlin Saniga

I was afraid I’d have to hold people away to take the photo.

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup Chedder cheese
  • 2 green onions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add jalapeno and corn, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; let sit for a minute. When corn begins to brown, stir to distribute for even browning. Remove from heat.

Add remaining oil to pan. When hot, add potatoes. Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around the edges and release from the pan, about 6 minutes. Continue, at least 15 minutes, turning potatoes to brown all sides. Add oil if needed to prevent sticking, and lower heat if needed to prevent scorching. When potatoes are tender and golden, add chili powder, corn and beans.

Turn on broiler. Place rack about 4 inches below. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and run under broiler until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Garnish with green onions.

Recipe adapted from: The New York Times

Photo: Kristina Deckert

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by Caitlin Saniga

The Real Simple cookbook said this recipe would also be good, sans bread, tossed in a mixed green salad. But I did love the flavor of the toasty baguette.

  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (from one medium pomegranate)*
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small baguette, thinly sliced and toasted

This was my first pomegranate ever. I didn’t know how to even cut it open, so I watched an instructional video on YouTube.

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, mint, green onions, oil, salt and pepper. Serve with the baguette.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple Best Recipes: Easy, Delicious Meals

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*Here’s the video that taught me how to open and seed a pomegranate:

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by Sarah Steimer

Made with apples from Kent's Beckwith Orchards from my visit in October.

For cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with a mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened. Add about half of the flour to the butter. Add the sugar, brown sugar, egg, half of the apple cider, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves. Beat until thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Then beat or stir in remaining flour and apple cider. Stir in chopped apple and walnuts.

A picture of Beckwith Orchards from a card I bought my mom in their giftshop last year.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon two inches apart onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

For icing

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • apple cider

Combine powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Beat in enough of the cider to make frosting of spreading consistency (about 3 tablespoons). Ice cookies once they’ve cooled. Makes about 40.

Recipe adapted from: Cookies Cookies Cookies: Any-Day Treats, copyright 1992

Food photo: Sarah Steimer

Orchard greeting card photo: Robert Lohman

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by Caitlin Saniga

This sandwich from Natasha's Market Cafe came with a choice of house-made potato fries, Russian potato salad (vinegar-based) or traditional potato salad (mayonnaise-based). I got the traditional potato salad.

I love when I can turn $6 Snacks into a meal. Or two meals. And that’s exactly what I did with this amazing sandwich — an updated version of the traditional, homestyle fare.

The egg salad itself was a wonderful blend of hard-boiled egg pieces, mustard, mayonnaise and a few herbs (namely dill). It was topped with crumbled, crispy pancetta and various salad greens (namely butter lettuce) and nestled between two slices of house-made white bread. The sandwich was so tasty and so filling, I took my unfinished half to go and had it for dinner. At $6 for the sandwich and potato salad side, that’s a steal!

Peach-apple crumble with vanilla ice cream

Well, the other reason I took half of the sandwich to go was because Natasha’s dessert menu is God’s gift to humankind. I ordered one of the day’s specials, an apple-peach crumble with vanilla ice cream. When the plate arrived at the table, the scoop of ice cream was already pooling around the warm fruits — the crumble was so fresh! The peaches and apples were soft and naturally sweet in their own pool of butter and cinnamon, and the crispy oat topping gave the dish a perfect balance of textures. This dessert came in over budget at $7.

Red pepper and Cheddar quiche and a side salad with pomegranate balsamic dressing

My friend Kristina made some good menu selections, too. She ordered the day’s quiche, which was red pepper and Cheddar. I made her give me a bite, and even though it was the tiniest excuse of a bite — Wow! — it had so much flavor. The slice of quiche came with a side salad and choice of dressings: ginger vinaigrette, blue cheese vinaigrette, pomegranate balsamic and buttermilk Parmesan. She tried the pomegranate balsamic and wouldn’t shut up about how good it was. For the quiche and side salad, the meal came in at $10, which definitely throws it out of the $6 Snacks range. But it was worth the $10 because it was a meal, after all.

Key lime pie

The couple sitting next to us suggested one of us order the Key lime pie for dessert, so Kristina ordered a slice. They said this was their third trip from out of town to get the Key lime pie from Natasha’s. And if their testimony wasn’t enough, the pie itself was. Again, I forced Kristina to share a bite, and what I tasted was whipped lime heaven. So soft and smooth. For $6, I’d go back just for my own slice of that pie.

When we finished lunch, we sampled lotions and cheese at the store downstairs.

What I loved most about Natasha’s was the fact that everything we tried was made fresh with local ingredients. Even the ice cream! And I definitely tasted and appreciated the difference. During our visit, it was sunny and warm enough to sit outside on the deck, so we did. And the view from our mountaintop perch was of the valley and farmlands (and the parking lot). The cafe sits on the second floor, over Harvest Moon, a food store with beer, wine, cheeses, bulk, herbs, vitamins and body products. So after lunch, we rounded off the trip with a visit downstairs, where we ogled over lotions made with goat’s milk, and lip gloss that smelled like roses. I’ll be making a trip back to Natasha’s and Harvest Moon before the holiday season, for sure.

Visit Natasha’s Market Cafe in Floyd: 227B N. Locust St., Floyd, VA 24091; www.natashasmarketcafe.com

Photos: Caitlin Saniga and Kristina Deckert (on an iPhone!)

*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.
Natasha's Market Cafe on Urbanspoon

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by Caitlin Saniga

Serving this recipe with Spanish rice makes it a complete meal. And green onions aren't included in the recipe, but, honestly, how can they hurt?

  • half of one large white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

The fresh ingredients

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small pan over medium, saute onions in oil. Remove from heat once cooked through and starting to brown.

In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, salsa, bell pepper, jalapeno, cumin, lemon juice, chili powder, garlic and black beans.

Arrange chicken pieces in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the black bean mixture over the chicken. Bake for an hour. About a half-hour into baking time, check mixture for dryness. If necessary, cover baking dish with foil for the remaining time.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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by Sarah Steimer

A vegetarian staple from my very unvegetarian family.

  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 package haluski noodles
  • 3 or 4 apples, cut into small chunks
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • paprika
  • butter

Cook haluski noodles. In a pan, melt butter and saute onions, cabbage and apples, until onions and cabbage are translucent. Add cooked noodles to the pan and add more butter if necessary. Cook for 5 or so minutes on low heat. Add salt, pepper and paprika.

This has to be one of the easiest ethnic foods to make. Granted, I’m sure most old-world grandmothers probably made their own noodles, but you can get them easily at any grocery store. This is such a fall classic and by no means gets too mushy if you want to reheat it a day later.

Recipe: dad — Jim Steimer

Photo: Sarah Steimer

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