It was a lovely, lazy Sunday. So lazy, in fact, I am having trouble recalling exactly what I did today. I spent most of the day trying to distract myself from all of the festivities happening this weekend in Gainesville. (Scott was playing host to his parents and some good friends and I desperately wanted to be down there with them). So instead, I drank nearly an entire pot of coffee while perusing my cookbooks, with Food Network playing in the background. I took a nap. I made some progress on a knitting project. I did the dishes and vacuumed the rug. I made a simple dinner and re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Then I decided to roll up my sleeves and spend some more time in the kitchen. It’s been no secret that I have been having lots of warm, fuzzy feelings for autumn. A couple of weeks ago, while my mother was in town, we went apple picking. We picked up some apple cider and a bag full of fresh, crunchy Honeycrisps. Both of which have been sitting in my refrigerator. So I did something about it. Because it was Sunday. Yes, it may have been 75 degrees outside, but the leaves have been changing color and these apples have been on my mind.
First, I made some mulled cider. I found a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh. I halved the recipe, as it was just me drinking it. It was pretty simple and suited my state of mind.
Spiced Apple Cranberry Cider********** 1 1/2 cups unfiltered apple cider 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice (I used cranberry pomegranate, and was pleased with the substitution) The juice and peel from 1/2 orange 1/4 cup brown sugar 2 cinnamon sticks 1/2 teaspoon nutmed 1/2 teaspoon cloves. **********
Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. I decided put my cider through my french press to to collect the cinnamon sticks and orange peel. You could spike it with rum or brandy if you like. That’s it. Easy as pie and just as delicious.
I thought about making an apple pie. But, as today was a lazy Sunday, I decided to do something easier than pie: Apple Brown Betty. I actually prefer this to apple pie. It has to do with the crust. I am a sucker for any sort of flour, brown sugar and butter combo (and doesn’t require a rolling pin). I think it might have been one of the first things my mom taught me to make as a kid (it was either this or macaroni and cheese, I can’t quite remember) and it’s stuck with me. I made a relatively small dish but it is pretty easy to scale up.
Mom’s Apple Brown Betty********** 3 baking apples peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 cup flour 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup butter ~1/2 teaspoon cinnamon **********
Arrange apple slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients and cut in butter. Sprinkle on top of apples and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. I prefer to use a larger baking dish with a shallow layer of apples such that my apple to crust ratio is quite high. Don’t be tempted to take it out of the oven too soon. The beauty is in the crispy crust. It’s almost like breaking the sugar on a creme brulee. Crispy, sweet with soft baked apples underneath. It makes a great dessert, but an even better breakfast (and should make Monday morning that much sweeter). My father always likes his with a thick slice of cheddar cheese (something I still can’t bring myself to try), but I prefer mine with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So not a total waste of a day. Now to sit back to reflect upon this week’s episode of Mad Men with a second helping of Apple Brown Betty…