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Posts Tagged ‘New England food’

A great You-Pick Farm for many seasons in Harmony, RI

It is officially apple season!  I spent some time last weekend out of the city and managed to pick some apples in a REAL apple orchard. Apple picking is so much fun–I get such a feeling of satisfaction picking the perfect apple right from the tree. One of the best things about pick-your-own apples: there are no prickly stems to avoid (only apples with worm holes). Now that I have a bag full of fresh apples…what to do with the sweet, crunchy delights? I am not a huge fan of traditional pies. Really it is the top crust I am not a fan of, it just makes a pie too heavy for my taste. So apple pie is out. On to another traditional idea…apple crisp. When looking for inspiration I found so many different versions of apples, cinnamon, sugar, and butter/flour mixture  for the topping, I stopped counting. I figured with so many recipes that combine these same ingredients…you can’t fail.

A few simple ingredients: Apple Brown Betty

I decided to pay homage to traditional American fare, not by making apple pie, but going with a version of Apple Brown Betty. The name sounds fun and the recipe is simple and includes the expected fool-proof ingredients: apples, cinnamon, butter, sugar. It felt more adventurous and historical making a “Brown Betty” rather than apple crisp. If it is notable enough for  J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, then I suppose I should give this classic dish a try. It turned out great and I highly recommend it…quite the opposite of how it is represented in the novel:

  • J. D. Salinger: The Catcher In The Rye, Penguin Books, 1958, page 39: “You always got these very lumpy mashed potatoes on steak night, and for dessert you got Brown Betty, which nobody ate, except maybe the kids in the lower school that didn’t know any better – and guys like Ackley that ate everything.”

Apple Brown Betty

5-7 slices of bread processed into soft breadcrumbs (approx 4 cups)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (can use more or less depending on your sweet-tooth, but you do want a nice layer to coat the apples)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
approx. 4 large baking apples (6 if using smaller apples), peeled and cut into approximately 1/4-inch-thick wedges*
1/2-1 cup apple cider

*Note: I used a combination of Cortland and Empire apples; but there are dozens of apple varieties to choose from that would be great for a Brown Betty–check out your local farm to see what is available near you! Here is a great link to apples and apple orchards worldwide.

To make:

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Combine breadcrumbs and melted butter in another prep bowl. Line half of a lightly greased baking dish or casserole pan with 1/2 of  the apple wedges. Sprinkle apples with half of brown sugar mixture and half of breadcrumb mixture. Repeat, with breadcrumb mixture on top. Pour apple cider evenly on top of the apples/crumbs–use more or less cider depending on how dry vs. wet you want the end result to be. This step is a bit of trial and error, but either way the flavors will be the same–delicious!  Bake at 350° for just under 1 hour or until browned and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or a dollop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy 🙂

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Yes, it is just February and I am beyond the days of enjoying winter weather. This winter has been, and continues to be, a brutal New England winter. Sliding on the ice each day, mostly avoiding falls, schlepping around in mushy snow piles, and hoping to avoid facial frostbite due to severe winds (that actually make the curtains blow INSIDE my apartment) are just a few reasons why I am devoting this post to my love of New England spring and summers–wishful thinking is the only option at this point.

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summer is to take road trips out of the city and hunt for the best clam and lobster shacks. The Boston Globe featured a nice overview of great places to get that summer seafood fix New England clam and lobster shacks – Boston.com.

I certainly have not tried them all but here are a few of my favorites:

Lobster Rolls and “Steamers”

Lobster Roll & "Steamers"

This is my favorite type of Lobster Roll–all meat, a little drawn butter, on a toasted bun. Other options include more of a lobster salad style that has a dressing (usually mayo based) which is certainly good too.  Also don’t overlook the classic “steamers” in the background. Another favorite of mine. These are usually soft shell, long-neck clams that have a wonderful sweet taste, with a subtle “sea” taste finish. The trick is to dip the clam in the water to rinse to remove some of the grit…then dip in the clarified butter. So delicious!!!!

Warmer days…..please come soon 🙂

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