Apple Cider Syrup

Apple Cider Syrup from Brittany's PantryIf they serve french toast in heaven, it is covered in this syrup.

If you only try one recipe from this blog, make it this one.  This is sooo easy, lasts long in the fridge, is impressive to guests, and packs all the goodness of the season into one, tiny pitcher of sweet and tart wonderfulness.  I am talking about apple cider syrup people.  A recipe I have been tweaking for several years now and usually make a few times a season.  We eat alot of pancakes in our house so having something a bit different than the norm is a welcome change.  The difference between this stuff and anything you will find in the grocery store?  I eat this syrup with a spoon.  Literally.  It is so fantastic you will be looking for new ways to add it to lunch and dinner, as well as snack time.

On a recent apple picking trip with my family, I was again reminded how much I love all things apple.  Rows and rows of fresh apple cider, stacks of pies, and of course, a few apple cider doughnuts for the road.  (I have a new recipe to try for apple cider doughnuts-I’ll let you know how they turn out!) I love it all!  And this syrup is one of those unexpected things that make fall so fantastic.  A few days ago I mixed equal parts apple cider syrup and real maple syrup and then glazed some roasted cornish hens with it-and I drizzled a bit of that on some baked acorn squash!  Outrageously good.  So if you make this, let me know.  I want to know what you think and if you have any new ideas for using it!  And once you make it, don’t be surprised if after a quick taste, you want to grab a spoon.  I’m right there with ya.Apple Cider Syrup from Brittany's PantryApple Cider Syrup from Brittany's Pantry Apple Cider Syrup
Inspired by Gourmet

2 c apple cider
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T butter
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil over med high heat.  Let bubble (not TOO vigorously) for about 20 minutes or until reduced and thick.  Remember, syrup will thicken as it cools.  Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
Tip: If syrup is too thick when it cools, thin it with a splash of apple cider and stir it in.

Remoulade Sauce

Remoulade Sauce | Brittany's Pantry - Great for fish and seafood or crudite!I am so full.

We have had a good three days of eatin’!  You know how sometimes you just eat to stay alive and you have no memory or interest in what you have tasted?  Well, I hate that.  I want to remember my food.  I want to love every bite sooo much that I stay awake at night thinking about it.  And, usually I do.  That is how my mind operates.  It rotates around food.  My day is centered around what I am going to make my kids for lunch and what my family will eat for dinner.  Making menus for the coming few weeks is one of my favorite chores.  I don’t think anyone I know quite comprehends this sickness of mine, with the exception of my husband.  And he tolerates it well.  Now mind you, not every meal I cook and/or eat is a euphoric experience.  That would be ridiculously time consuming, expensive, and unrealistic-no matter how I may strive for that.  But who is to say that a simple meal of grilled brats, baked beans out of a can, a pile of Doritos, and a glass of iced tea isn’t a euphoric experience?  Eating a meal like that in the middle of January can taste like the best meal you have ever had.  Why?  Because you were craving it.  Because it reminds you of summer.  Because it is a welcome deviation from the hot and heavy meals most of us eat all winter.  In a lot of ways, that is the big thing for me.  Is the meal I am eating, what I really want to be eating?  I know I have mentioned before that I go through food phases.  Well, the same thing goes for cravings.  I crave different foods everyday.  And if that craving goes unsatisfied, I usually have a hankering for that food until I get to eat it.  And when you eat the very thing that you have been sooo hungry for and it tastes exactly like you want it too…*sigh*…there are few things as satisfying.

The last three days have been a string of exactly that.  Great food just when I wanted it.  Tuesday I made grilled New York Strip steaks, sweet potato and onion hash, and crunchy iceberg salads with a zippy bleu cheese dressing.  Zucchini bread for dessert.  Last night, my husband and I went out for our wedding anniversary to Biaggis, a fine italian restaurant and I ordered my usual; black fettuccini with lobster, wild mushrooms and a light seafood cream sauce.  Words cannot express how fabulous this dish is.  The black pasta, dyed with squid ink, was perfectly al dente with just a bit of heat to the sauce.  We had a simple bruscchetta for an appetizer, drizzled with an aged balsamic vinegar.  Dessert was a classic tiramasu that was swimming in coffee liquor and canolis with toasted pistachios and shaved chocolate.  Tonight?  Well, when I opened the deep freezer this morning and saw a bag of walleye that my Dad had caught just outside the door of my parents cabin, my mouth started to water.  So for dinner, I mixed equal parts corn meal and all purpose flour, about a half a cup of each, and about 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning.  I dredged the fish and fried them in canola oil, just until they were crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.  And just as I knew it would, one bite of that fresh fish and I could smell the breeze coming off the lake.  It was just what I wanted, when I wanted it most.  And now Mike is having fish tacos for lunch tomorrow.  Win win all around.

We usually eat the fish plain, letting the fresh flavor speak for itself.  However, when the mood strikes us, I make this remoulade sauce to go with it.  It is super easy to do and way better than the bottled tartar sauce.
Remoulade Sauce | Brittany's Pantry - Great for fish and seafood or crudite! Remoulade Sauce

1/2 to 3/4 c mayonnaise
1 T minced dill pickle
1 T capers, drained
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 hard boiled egg, chopped fine(optional)
1 T chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for at least 15 minutes for the flavors to marry.  This classic french sauce is fantastic with veggies too.

Apple Crisp

Classic Apple Crisp via Brittany's PantryIts that time of year when you just want to grab a sweatshirt and head outside!  I love fall and I am fortunate to live in a state where it lasts until Christmas!  We don’t have any autumn colors starting yet, but after a week of nearly 90 degree weather here (central IL) I am thrilled to finally have a high of 68 today.  WOO HOO!  I love it!  I love it!  I am sorry for the sporadic blog entries, but we are continuing to gut the main part of our house and yesterday the fireplace came down.  Needless to say, we ordered take-out last night in the interest of trying to keep sane in a very messy house.  Demolition doesn’t always leave much energy for cooking, no matter how much I love to do it.  But then…

In the middle of all the chaos, I get a text from my friend, Sara.  She wants to make an apple crisp and would I, by chance, have a good recipe for one.  By golly Sara, yes I do!  I immediately emailed her the following recipe, confident that she would love it.  My family made apple crisp all the time when I was a kid and it is one of my favorite comfort foods still today.  I love the smell that fills the house, I love the way it looks, I love it for breakfast!  It is truly a simple dessert to do, even on a weeknight.  So.  Lets get started.
Classic Apple Crisp via Brittany's Pantry This recipe is sort of pieced together.  I have made apple crisp, or any kind of crisp for that matter, without a recipe nearly my entire life.  The apple filling is super easy and when it comes to the crisp on top, I just throw ingredients together and everything turns out great.  That is the way my Mother always did it and I am a good enough cook that I can wing it.  The one bummer is that I rarely write down my recipes.  I just rely on memory to make them the same every time.  I make these grilled teryaki beef skewers and every time I make them, they turn out the same.  Even though I almost never really remember what goes in the marinade, it all seems to come together.  Unfortunately, my apple crisp never seemed to do that.  Sometimes the crisp would turn out dry and crumbly, sometimes soggy and soft.  Sometimes perfectly crunchy and toasted.  So, I decided to search for an actual recipe for the topping so that I could have it turn out perfectly every time.  Maybe I would find a recipe that contained something different that I hadn’t though of.  Anyway, my search led me to a name you might have heard me mention before.  Ina Garten.  And she did not disappoint.  Turns out, I was doing just fine on my own, I just needed more butter.  So go apple picking and whip this up.  I promise it will make you think of fall, even if it is 90 degrees outside.
Classic Apple Crisp from Brittany's PantryApple Crisp

6 c apples peeled, cored, and chopped, such as Golden Delicious-or however much it takes to fill a medium sized baking dish
1 heaping T flour
pinch of salt
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Gently mix all ing. together and spread evenly into a sprayed, 2 quart baking dish.
3/4 c flour
3/4 c oatmeal
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick of cold butter, cut into cubes

Mix all topping ingredients together until butter is completely incorporated and mixture starts to stick together.  Crumble evenly over apples.  Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden brown and center is bubbly.  Let sit for 15 minutes after removing from the oven.  If you like, add a scoop of frozen yogurt or vanilla ice cream.  Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.