simplelittlespaces

Keeping things simple in a not so simple world


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extra special, extra simple

I am always looking for recipes that are nicer than your average chocolate chip cookie, nice enough to give as a gift, but are simple too. This is one of those recipes: cherry anise, chocolate-dipped biscotti.

(Note: my parents were here at Thanksgiving and gave us our Christmas gifts early. For me, that was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer – I promptly used it to make whipped cream for the Thanksgiving Dinner and have had a baking spree each weekend since. I will never use a hand blender again! This also means that I have a lot of baking recipes to share with you!)

The anise flavor here is subtle. Very light in the midst of the heavy, sweet cherry flavor. Make sure to get good dark or bittersweet chocolate – you will be able to tell the difference in the choice of chocolate. We made our own ground anise by grinding star anise in my spice grinder (coffee grinder) – it was much stronger than store-bought so I used less.

Cherry Anise, Chocolate-Dipped Biscotti

2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free is what I used)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground anise (use more or less to taste)
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries, chop finely
1/4-1/2 cup milk (of your choice)

2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate shavings
1/2 cup milk of your choice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In your mixer, blend the flour, baking powder, ground anise and brown sugar.
Add the egg and blend.
Add a small amount of milk while blending until the dough just begins to stick together and is somewhat smooth.

On a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, mold the dough into a rectangle about 1-2 inches thick.
Place in oven and bake until you see just a bit of golden brown at the edges.
Remove from oven and let cool for about ten minutes on the cookie sheet. Decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees. Then transfer the “cookie” to a wooden cutting board and slice – 1/4 to 1/2 thick.
Place each slice back on the parchment lined paper on one of the cut sides.
Bake until the bottom sides begin to crisp and turn a light golden brown color. Flip and repeat for the second side.

Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes on a rack. Do NOT discard the parchment paper!
In a saucepan on low heat, melt the chocolate in the milk. Remove from heat. Take one biscotti at a time and gently dip one long side into the chocolate and then lay chocolate side down on the parchment paper.
Place dipped biscotti in the fridge or freezer for the chocolate to harden. Eat or freeze!

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my favorite applesauce

I’m a huge fan of applesauce.  Many people no longer eat applesauce as adults, but I think you are missing out.  I love having a small bowl with my dinner…it is a bit of dessert and happiness all in one bowl.

I also use applesauce to bake.  But this recipe is not about that.  When I want applesauce for baking, I use my food mill.  Simply peel apples, quarter, boil in a small amount of water and then run through the mill – seeds and all.  The sauce is smooth and thin.

No, this is not that recipe.  This recipe actually starts in early October when we do our annual trip to an apple orchard with friends (and then an afternoon of food and fun in Princeton.)  Like most kids, mine get super enthusiastic about picking apples and we usually end up spending much more money than our friends or what is budgeted on apples.  Think: seventy-five dollars worth of apples.

Most years, we can barely make it through half the apples before I need to make sauce out of the soft apples.  This year, I only made two quart-sized jars.  My little girl loves her fruit!

The orchard we go to in Lawrenceville has a specific variety of apple that we love.  It is called Styman Winesap and is great for pretty much any which way you like apples – sauce, pies, plain eating, you name it.  But we also pick up a fair number of Granny Smiths because I love nothing better than a tart apple.

This recipe is both Granny Smiths and Winesaps.  It is tart with just a hint of sweetness.  It is rich with dark brown sugar and good Vietnamese cinnamon.  It is chunky, but with the perfect size chunks.  I do hope you will give it a try.

Applesauce

8 medium to large sized Granny Smith apples
6 medium to small sized Styman Winesap apples (substitute: golden delicious)
cinnamon
dark brown sugar

Peel the apples, remove stems and cut into large quarters.
Fill a very large stock pot (8-10 quart) with a cup and half of water.
Place the apples in the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Boil until apples are soft. This DOES NOT TAKE LONG! So keep an eye on them. If they boil too long, you will have mush!

Don’t drain, instead, use a spoon to transfer apples to a large mixing bowl. Don’t worry if you get a bit of the water in the bowl, just try not to have too much.

Add cinnamon to taste and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar. Using a potato masher, mash the apples until you get bite-sized pieces of apples. Yes, there will also be some completely mashed apples too.

Feel free to can the finish product or place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to eight months.


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seville arroz

This is one of my favorite recipes…a simple one pot. The original recipe calls for chicken and spicy sausage, but I find the spicy sausage enough. I recently made it for my birthday party and it was a hit. A bit of sweet and spicy…

Seville Arroz

1 to 1.5 lbs spicy sausage, preferably andouille or chorizo (Trader Joe’s makes a decent andouille); half length-wise and then cut into bite-sized 1/2 moons
1 vidalia onion, chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 cups brown rice
1 8 ounce can tomato puree
1 quart chicken broth
1 zest of 1/2 orange
1 orange cut into segments and the segments halved
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a heavy bottom pot. When hot, add the sausage and cook until just starting to brown. Remove sausage, add onions, garlic and peppers and cook until glistening and onions are transparent. Add the rice and stir until coated with the oils. Add sausage, tomato sauce and broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until rice is almost cooked through and liquid almost absorbed. Add the orange zest, orange segments and almonds, mix thoroughly. Serve when broth is absorbed completely.

Sprinkle with cilantro if desired.
Serve as a main course or like a risotto appetizer.


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not an ordinary chili

Over the years, I have tried a variety of chili recipes. I make a great vegan chili – dumping all sorts of veggies in. We tried a new coconut butternut squash chili for a Holiday party this past December. A killer meat chili with organic ground beef and lots of ancho chili pepper…

The types of beans, veggies, meats – it varies every time. I’m sure yours does to.

Today, I have a chili recipe that is about flavor. Forget the veggies and meat. This is about savoring the balanced blend of smokey and sweet and bitter. The mellow with the fresh and robust.

I hope you try this. It is VERY simple. But certainly does not taste so…

not an ordinary chili

1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
sunflower oil
2 15 ounce cans of black beans (3 cups black beans)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
30 ounce can tomato puree
3 cups vegetable broth
8 ounces good quality organic dark chocolate, in smallish pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder (ancho is preferred)
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, heat the oil and add the onion and celery, cooking until just soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and golden.
Add the tomato paste, stirring until incorporated.
Add the beans and puree, mix well.
Add the broth and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
Add the chocolate, stirring frequently until melted.
The consistency should be thick and saucy. The color should be a deep brown-red.
Add more chocolate if desired.

Leave to simmer…

In the meantime, make the cilantro pesto…

1 bunch of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup walnuts
olive oil

In a food processor, add all the ingredients, drizzling with the olive oil. Pulse, adding more olive oil as needed.

Serve the chili with a dollop of pesto on top.

My kids inhaled this. It was a real hit!


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soup to go

I’ve been having trouble figuring out what I want to do for lunch at work everyday. I am not overeager to spend money, but somehow we don’t have the fixings for a salad, or leftovers don’t sound good or they are eaten for breakfast and before you know it, I’m headed to Trader Joe’s to get something for work.

But this weekend I had a minor revelation.

I love a cup of soup during the winter…and my son has gotten sick of them – so we haven’t had as many, meaning we don’t have leftovers. Also, he is on an anti-squash kick…meaning we have three squash in the basement that would go to waste otherwise….

Now the true genius to the “Soup to go” is not the recipe, which you can find below and is very good, but rather the fact that I was smart enough to put the soup in small Ball jars. We kept a few in the fridge and froze a bunch more. I can simply pull them out and bring them with me, already “packaged.”
Can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier!

Curried Triple Squash Soup
Note: You can use whatever type of squash you have on hand to make it sweeter or more savory as you like.

1 medium acorn squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
4-6 cups water
1 can coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons curry powder (depending on your taste)
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the broth and add the squash, covering with water until all the squash is covered.
Add coconut milk and spices.
Bring to a boil, simmer until squash is soft.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using a stick-blender or blender, puree the soup. Warning: if you puree with the soup while it is still hot, please be careful! I do not recommend it!

Fill as many small Ball jars or other small containers with soup. If freezing, leave enough room for expansion.