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.
I live a little less than a mile from the Union Square Greenmarket, which, if you're not familiar, is an open-air farmers market in NYC that is open a few days out of the week. It's where I get most of my produce.
On Mondays, I strap on some comfy shoes, grab my reusable bags, and walk (or bike) over there with my list of produce for the week. I've been doing this for several months now, so I have started to know the market well, along with some of the vendors and farmers. I have my routine down and my favorite stops.
Mondays have become my favorite day because the market is slightly less crowded in the early morning, and a couple of my favorite vendors are there on that day. One place has quickly become my #1 favorite, because they're organic produce is some of the best looking, and they always have have fun things like watercress micro greens and romanesco cauliflower.
The other day, I picked up a gorgeous head of broccoli and several cauliflower heads from them, and as I was checking out I had a little conversation with a woman who runs the farm. She told me how hard it was to organically grow broccoli and cauliflower and that in order to keep them safe from little critters without spraying them, she (herself) would go around and pick off little munching caterpillars and bugs by hand.
Really? Wow. Awesome. That's some serious dedication.
I told her that there were no words to express how much I appreciated that. I thanked her and walked away feeling grateful that there are people out there, like this lady, who care so much about the quality of food that they provide for people. She rocks.
Cauliflower has been on my grocery list pretty much every week since the Fall came around. I cannot seem to get enough of it. But this soup was not originally about the cauliflower. It actually started with the sage.
Last weekend before making my market list, I had harvested the last of the herbs from my garden - half to be frozen to use in smoothies, and the other half I was going to dry. But as I was cutting my herbs, I realized I had so much sage. So much. Probably because I hardly used sage in the summer, but now the sage needed my love.
I've beena little obsessive with the sage over the past week. Sage with roasted vegetables, sage in salad, fried sage. Yes, fried sage. It sounds un-healthy, but it really is not. Lightly frying sage just makes it a crispy and flaky and mellows out the sage-ness, so it goes really well over soups and salads.
When it comes to soup and most other things, I like lots of toppings. I love the contrast in tastes and textures. Every bite is something different, so it keeps things interesting. This soup has a lot of toppings, starting with that insanely tasty fried sage. You can add more or less depending on your tastes, but I'd err on the side of more. You'll be happy you did.
Cauliflower, sage, and hazelnuts are all such signature tastes of Fall, when you put them together, it's like a Fall explosion. They were all meant to be, together, in one big bowl, especially around this time of year.