Yum, yum: Smitten Kitchen

It’s no secret that we love food, cooking and all things delicious. So when we heard that one of our favourite food bloggers, Smitten Kitchen, was writing a cookbook, we were pretty jazzed. An inspirational blogger, her recipes never fail to wow whether at a dinner party or cozy meal for two. 

For those of you who are not familiar, Smitten Kitchen is a food blog written and photographed (beautifully) by Deb Perelman. 

She creates all sorts of simple, delicious wonders in a tiny kitchen in NYC. She focuses on tweaking already existing recipes until they’re easy to re-create at home, as well as combining a bunch of techniques from other kitchen wizards (Martha Stewart and Ina Garten make frequent appearances). Deb usually sticks with familiar comfort foods, with a bit of a twist. Everything we’ve ever made from this site turns out. Impressive.

Some of our favourite recipes: 

Avocado Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing: A hearty, healthy salad with a dressing recipe from our other favourite food blogger, GOOPy. Substantial enough for a lunch or light dinner. Yum.

Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto: Made this simple pasta dish after a long day at work recently and whoa! Making pesto from broccoli is an amazing revelation, plus, this dinner is super easy. Leftovers in the office the next day elicited serious looks of envy. 

Mixed Citrus Salad with Feta and Mint: Fresh, delicious, unusual and pretty. Awesome dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ – looks like it took a ton of time when really, it doesn’t.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup: Sounds odd, tastes like a dream. For some reason, sausage in soup seems pretty strange. But whip this up and you’ll never question it again. So. Much. Flavour. 

Potato Chip Cookies: The name says it all. Salty & sweet.

There are so, so many more recipes we could post, but we recommend browsing the site and trying whatever strikes your fancy. 

Deb is coming to Toronto on Friday, November 16 at the George Brown Chef School, to chat about her book and do some signings. Tickets are almost sold out, we hear – so grab ’em while they’re hot. See you there! 

All images courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

Yum, Yum: Grandma’s Apple Pie and Apple Crisp recipes

There is nothing that says fall has arrived more than the taste of pie filled with juicy local apples. To celebrate the arrival of fashion’s favourite season, we scoured our recipe boxes to find the very best apple pie recipe. This one’s an old family recipe from Grandma, so you know it’s a goodie. Get those pretty aprons out, folks, and start kneading and chopping.

For those of you who are less ambitious or have less time (it happens to all of us!) we’ve included a simpler, easier apple crumble recipe. Just as tasty, half the work. 

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Grandma Armstrong’s Apple Pie
Makes one pie

2 cups sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups shortening, margarine, or butter
4-6 tbsp cold water

6 apples (approx., depending on size)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1 sprinkle nutmeg
1 sprinkle cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

*We’ll admit that we don’t always have time to make our own pastry so if you’re in a pinch, a store-bought frozen crust will work for this recipe.

1. You’ll need a very hot oven. Preheat to 450 F.

2. Sift flour and salt together and cut in the shortening with a pastry blender (or two knives).  Add water, using only a small portion at a time until the mixture will hold together.

3. Divide dough into two portions and roll each out on a floured board to desired size, depending on the size of your pie plate. 

4. Line the pie plate with one of the pieces of dough, being careful not to stretch the dough too much. 

5. Slash the remaining rolled out dough portion in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. We like the same design Grandma taught us, a wheat sheaf, but you can get creative with yours and try a lattice top, apple shape or anything else you can think of.

6. Peel and slice apples. We like a tart apple like McIntosh, but Granny Smith, Cortland and Empire are good choices too.

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7. Sift dry ingredients over and mix in with apple slices. 

8. Fill the pastry-lined pie plate with the apple filling and top with dots of butter.

9. After filling is placed in pastry, dampen the edges of lower crust with cold water and cover with the dough portion that was rolled, slashed, and set aside. Press edges together with prongs of a fork (or both thumbs).

10. The secret trick to a golden pie crust? Brushing the whole top crust and edges with milk.

11. Place in the oven at 450 F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to moderate (350 F) and bake for 45 minutes longer.

And there you have it, one easy recipe for one delicious apple pie, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Bake it, take it to the ‘rents, share with your neighbour, or just enjoy with friends. Bon appétit!

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Apple Crisp
If the idea of making a whole pie is too daunting or you just don’t have the time, we’ve got your fall dessert dreams covered, with this easy apple crisp recipe courtesy of Homemakers Magazine (thank you!).

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Any variety of apple will work in this recipe, but we prefer a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. For the nuts, we like walnuts or pecans. Serve this with billowy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
3/4 cups finely chopped walnut or pecans

3 lbs apple (6 to 8), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the butter and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture looks like crumbly wet sand. Add the nuts and toss to incorporate. Refrigerate the topping for at least 15 minutes before baking.

2. For the filling: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest, together and place in an 8-inch-square (2-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit.

3. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.