Apple Butter

apple-butter

A few weeks ago I read a book about a family that lived on an apple farm and needless to say after I finished it all I could think about it was all kinds of apple treats. So this past weekend I went and bought an assortment of apples so that I could get started. I made an apple cake the other day, which was finished pretty fast, but really the only thing I have had on my mind is apple butter. Apple Butter is a pretty traditional Southern treat that dates back to colonial days. Ladies spend all Fall making and canning for the upcoming year. I would love waking up in the mornings growing up to a plate of fresh hot buttermilk biscuits and a jar of my mommas apple butter.

In the South we always just eat apple butter with biscuits, but we also use it as stuffing inside little hand held apple pies as well. If you have never had the pleasure or trying apple butter it is thick and concentrated kind of like apple sauce yet with a more butter consistency. Back in the day apple butter was prepared in large copper kettles outside. Large paddles were used to stir the apples, and family members would take turns stirring.

I am always really proud of myself when I make something just like my momma used to. Most of you probably think I grew up cooking Southern food with my family, but the truth is that I never even cooked before I got married. So I actually learned how to cook Arabic food way before my own. I am still learning and getting to know how to cook proper Southern food.

2 green apples, peeled and cored
2 red apples, peeled and cored
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1-1/3 cup apple juice

1. In a saucepan on medium heat orange juice and slice apples into pan. Add vanilla, cinnamon and allspice, stir. Add sugar and apple juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

2. With a hand held mixer, blend apples in the pan to get a thick consistency. Serve!

Yields: 1-1/2 cups

Rakhssess

Rakhssess

I love old recipes like this because you can tell just from the ingredients how traditional they really are. When you make this bread you know that it is the same method Algerian Bedouins were using centuries ago. There is actually an old Native American bread almost exactly like this, but instead of semolina they use cornmeal. I have found that you need 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 6 tablespoons of water per cup of semolina when making these. You will also want to use an iron skillet and for me nothing is easier than a silicone baking mat when working with any type of dough. This recipe can be tricky since you have no flour and will be crumbly for sure, but that is just part of it. With the right amount of water and oil you will get a workable dough, but you still have to be careful with your touch so it does not break off while cooking.

2 cups fine semolina
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

1. In a mixing bowl add semolina, salt and oil, mix well until crumbly mixture forms. Add water a bit at a time until you get a workable dough.

2. On medium heat with a little olive oil brushed in the pan allow an iron skillet to get hot. Divide the dough into 4 for smaller rounds or 2 for large ones. And shape into circles. Prick with a fork and place into hot pan and cook until golden.

Yields: 2-4 servings

Simple Focaccia

focaccia

We really love Italian focaccia in my house so I knew right away this was what I wanted to make from Sweet as Sugar Cookie’s blog this month for The Secret Recipe Club. I pretty much stuck to the recipe and only reduced the yeast since you can use that much for about 6 plus cups of flour. Using too much yeast can give your bread an overly yeast taste so it’s good to use just as much as you need. You can also use any sort of seasoning that you would like and even work those into the dough. The seasoning that I love has sea salt in it so I chose to just sprinkle on the top so that it would not end up being too salty. This is the perfect size for a small family like mine and after I baked it I just sliced it into sticks and served with olive oil and it was delicious.

2/3 cup warm water (plus 1/4 cup warm/hot water for yeast)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 small tomato, thinly sliced and seeded

1. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm/hot water. Mix and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix well and add water a bit at a time until a dough like consistency has formed. Knead for about 5 minutes.

3. Add olive oil in hands, cover outside of dough not working into dough and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cover with a towel and place in a warm place for an hour.

4. Preheat oven to 375F. In an 8×8 inch round cake pan add dough making even and pressing fingertips all around top for indention’s. Brush remaining olive oil on top, sprinkle season and place tomato slices gently pressing into dough. Place into oven and cook about 20 minutes until bread is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Yields: 1 8inch bread