I am still on a bit of a sage binge, but now I have turned it's attention to dessert. Not just any dessert. One of my all-time favorite comfort deserts, one that I make over and over this time of year.
I've also been kind of obsessed with the idea of making a dessert in a jar. I've seen apple pie in a jar, and I always thought that it had a bit of a fun and wow factor rather than just serving as it normally would be.
Years ago, when we first started dating, Michael took me on a date to this fancy place that cooked and served everything in mason jars. I loved it, he totally impressed me with that one. I am a sucker for food things that are interesting and different (even if a bit gimmicky).
When they came over to serve our food, the waiter carrier over an uber-hot jar with some sort of tong holder thing (just like those ones you would use for canning) and then he spooned it from the jar onto the plate. They cooked the food low and slow in those jars, and the results were quite delicious. That place has since closed, and I have yet to find anywhere that does something similar. Such a unique idea. Things in jars are always more fun.
I’ve been brainstorming about my dessert in a jar for weeks now, and I've been craving a good apple crisp. Apple crisp is so much easier to thorw together than a pie, but it is just as satisfying … sometimes more. Alternate layers of crisp and apple is how a crisp should be. Equal part crispy goodness, equal part sweet apple yum.
Serving them in a jar is fun because adds a bit of interaction if you have guests. It also has a practical element because you can make them ahead, put a lid on them, and save them until you are ready to bake/eat. If you're having a party, I would pre-bake it, that way you can pop them in the oven shortly before you're ready to serve. Just be sure that if you are serving them to your guests in the jar that they are cool enough to touch, or else you'll need to provide some sort of oven mitt or heat proof towel for them to spoon it out. Better yet, it's probably better if you bring it over to their plate spoon it out for them. I'm sure they'd be impressed.
Before you ask, I am going to answer the question that might be burning in your brain, which is …. No, these jars are not going to explode all over your oven. I promise. I’ll admit, I was a tinge nervous putting them into the oven that I was going to have a mess of glass and crisp all over the place, but I've done it a few times, and everything was fine. You MUST use canning jars for this, because canning jars were made to take the heat. They are made to withstand boiling water which means they can easily withstand the heat of a 350º oven.
This recipe is for a basic, vegan, gluten-free crisp which you have probably seen around before. The sage mingles so well with apples, if you love sage feel free to add as much as you like. You can also experiment with different crisp combinations in these jars. I think pears with be great, or if you want to get crazy and more savory, go for some butternut squash.
The only thing I will not negotiate with you is the ice cream. It is a must. I always use a dairy-free coconut based vanilla, but any type or flavor that you like will do just fine. A crisp is not a crisp without the cold melty ice cream to go with it.
As a kid, if you would have asked me where (edible) pumpkin came from, without hesitation I would answer: from a can. The thought of chopping up a pumpkin for anything other than decoration and recreation would have baffled me. I always thought that "real" pumpkins were for carving, and canned pumpkin was for eating.
Because of this childhood confusion, I still feel a little weird about buying a pumpkin at the grocery store, chopping it into pieces, and roasting it in the oven. Not to mention, lugging it around new york city with me. Awkward.
The other day I went to the store to buy a pumpkin for cooking purposes. I was scouring the selection in Chelsea Market, trying to pick out the biggest size I could carry home comfortably. Not an easy task. I had a store employee helping me out, we were picking up pumpkins one by one until I found one that fit perfectly in my arms.
If I was going to make the effort to carry a several pound pumpkin home, I wanted to have pumpkin leftovers for days. I wanted to make multiple meals with this one large pumpkin.
I purchased my big orange pumpkin, and several small white ones (for decoration), and I was on my way home, arms stretched long around the pumpkin hoping, praying it doesn't drop and smash on the sidewalk into a million pieces.
When I got my pumpkin home, I sat it outside next to the two little ones. I was still feeling a little conflicted. He looked so happy sitting there with the other pumpkins ... was I really going to chop him up, or could he just stay there happily decorating our front stoop.
Okay, get a hold of yourself. It is just a pumpkin. It does not have feelings, and if I were a pumpkin I would so much rather be an empanada instead of being stoop decor.
It was settled, pumpkin empanadas were the winner.
As I am sure you guessed, canned pumpkin does not makes it's way into my home anymore. I'm homemade all the way here. But because I live in NYC and the whole pumpkin carrying business is less than ideal, I usual roast only one or two pumpkins over the course of the fall with the hopes of getting a few different recipes out of them. And because of their short season and the labor involved in roasting them, I am sure you probably do the same.
Originally these guys were going to be mini pumpkin hand pies, but when I posted a picture on Instagram a few people commented that they looked like empanadas. Sooo, I immediately consulted with my live-in empanada expert (Michael). He tried one and he agreed - these were totally empanadas. Really good empanadas.
Today is my birthday. I am not someone who does not like people to know it is their birthday, Obviously. I am a little like a 10 year old when it comes to my birthday, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. I don't mind getting older. Actually, I enjoy it. I like that I am slightly wiser (emphasis on slightly), but I have more energy than I did 10 years ago, and I hope that 10 years from now I will be lucky enough to say the same thing.
I don't love the spotlight aspect of birthdays (I really don't), and I don't necessarily want gifts of free things, or 15% off at Anthropology (however, I will not turn them down). I love my birthday because it is the one day all year when I get to connect with all the people in my life that I love.
I love all the phone calls, texts, facebook messages and conversations that you don't always get to have on a normal day. I love getting friends together and celebrating, eating great food, and having a good time. That's what it's all about.
So before I run off to do birthday things, I wanted to share this recipe that I have been dying to get out to you. I know you love falafel as much as I do, and tacos, I know you love tacos too ... so this is how we are going to celebrate my birthday today.
Throw some spicy harissa in there, and avocado (OF course) .... and we're having a birthday party in a warm corn tortilla.
Today is the start of one of my favorite weekends of the whole year.
I'm a huge fan of summer and this weekend signifies the start of the summer for us here in the east coast. Although summer's official start date is not until late June, this is the weekend for us that the grill get uncovered, some new plants get planted, and the flip flops get dusted off.
One of my favorite things about summer is cooking and hanging out with friends. Grabbing vegetables straight from the garden or the nearby farm stand, and having people over for a causal meal is just the best.
Backyard BBQs, beach picnics, long leisurely brunches. That's what summer is all about.
I love to have nibbly bits around whenever we are entertaining, and guacamole is always a popular snack. Sure, you can buy gaucamole in the store, but it is so much better (and impressive) when you make it at home.
I love to fanci-fy otherwise simple foods. Adding peas and fava beans is a super easy way to make a regular guacamole a little fancier. Since it is not officially summer yet, this snack is a marriage of a few great spring vegetables that you can still find right now, and one of my favorite summertime snack foods.
I am keeping this short and sweet, because I am off to cook for a big girls dinner tonight. I am so excited to kick off the summer with a huge home-cooked meal celebrating friends.