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Honeycrisp Applesauce

Honeycrisp Applesauce

What goes better with latkes than Honeycrisp Applesauce?

Actually, sour cream does. Sour cream is THE first-place, definitive latke topping. Trick question! But this Honeycrisp Applesauce is also an absolute requirement for any latkes we make. And – bonus! – your house will smell of apples, cinnamon, and vanilla when you make it.

This recipe makes a big batch: about 2.5 quarts. This year, I used 12 honeycrisp apples, which tend to be on the large size as apples are measured. That’s a lot of peeling, but I was fortunate to have just picked up a new vegetable peeler, which was (and still is) nice and sharp. Those apples practically jumped out of their skins.

So, grab your sharpest peeler, a big bowl of apples, and turn on your favorite program to binge-watch. (Maybe The Good Place? Or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?) (Some of these are affiliate links.) Homemade applesauce is totally worth the prep. And once you have the apples chopped, the cooking is mostly hands-off.

I’ve used a variety of apples for applesauce in the past, including Braeburn, Fuji, and Pink Lady. This year, I wanted to get as much natural sweetness from the apples as I could, and use less added sugar. I ended up getting by with just one tablespoon of brown sugar for the entire recipe! That’s not a lot of added sugar at all per serving, so I’m going to continue to enjoy this applesauce as a dessert during Sugar Free January (2018.)

A lot of applesauce recipes call for softer apples because they cook down more easily. Because I prefer a chunky-textured applesauce, I tend to go for more flavorful apples, regardless of texture. More chunks make this applesauce feel more like a dessert dish and less like a sauce. But if you would like your applesauce to be smoother, you could puree it with an immersion blender a few times.

If you’re looking for the perfect latkes to go along with this Honeycrisp Applesauce (and sour cream, of course), check out my Potato Latkes recipe.

Honeycrisp Applesauce

Course Side Dish
Servings 20 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients

  • 12 honeycrisp apples peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground Vietnamese cinnamon I like Penzeys
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Peel and core apples. Chop into large chunks. (No need to be particular about the actual size, but it's a good idea to keep them all about the same size.)

  2. Add apples to a large stockpot with water, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

  3. Simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for about 20-25 minutes, or until apples are soft and can be broken up with a spoon.

  4. Add vanilla. Remove from heat. Break up large remaining chunks with the back of a large spoon until the applesauce is the consistency you like. You can also use an immersion blender if you like a smoother consistency.

  5. Serve warm, or store in refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 2.5 quarts.

 

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie

It’s Thanksgiving week, and I’m already leaning into a relaxed holiday pace. I took my time getting ready for work this morning, and had breakfast with my 2-year old, Toby, at home. As the little guy enjoyed his banana and trail mix in his jammies, I tossed some fruits and veggies into the blender for a breakfast smoothie.

My smoothies usually start with unsweetened vanilla almond milk as the liquid, and fermented vegan vanilla protein powder. Today I added vanilla almond butter for extra nuttiness. Frozen banana and avocado provide creaminess and healthy fats, rounded out by plenty of fresh raw carrots and an apple.

This smoothie reminds me of the thick, creamy consistency of a layered pumpkin dessert my mom used to make, without the pumpkin. I used apple pie spice because that’s what was handy, but you could substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a hint of cloves if you have them. Pumpkin pie spice wouldn’t be bad, either.

I use a Vitamix for smoothies, and the high-speed motor handles roughly-chopped raw carrots. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, using shredded or chopped carrots may help make it easier to blend.

Carrot Apple Spice Smoothie


Course Breakfast
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp light agave nectar
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/8 tsp Apple Pie Spice see note below
  • 1/2 frozen avocado
  • 1 frozen ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp Nathan's Vanilla Almond Butter
  • 1 cup carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 small to medium apple cored but not peeled

Instructions

  1. In a high-speed blender, add ingredients in order (almond milk first.)

  2. Blend at high speed or on smoothie setting for 50 seconds, until smooth.

  3. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Notes

I use Penzey's Apple Pie Spice. It's a blend of two types of cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. A good substitution would be 1/8 tsp cinnamon, a bit of grated nutmeg, and a dash of ground cloves.

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

We’re food people, so Thanksgiving is our holiday. Preparations begin weeks in advance. If we’re smart, a spreadsheet is involved. If we’re very smart, we prepare as much as we can in advance. (We’re usually not that smart, even with the best of intentions.)

As the turkey timer winds down, not a surface is left uncovered, not a pot left unused in the glorious ballet of kitchen chaos. All available hands are plating, mashing, whipping, and carving. The CO detector usually goes off in the middle of this madness, from using the oven and most of the burners all day. Last year, the turkey ended up resting in a hallway.

Somehow, we all land around the table, and someone says “go!” And if we’re lucky, we still have room for our plates on the table amongst the feast.

It’s not that we’re gluttonous – I just think we all want our favorites for Thanksgiving, and it’s a time when we look forward to creating all these special dishes for each other.

Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad - a recipe sketch
Spiced Persimmon Pomegranate Salad – a recipe sketch

As family Thanksgivings moved from my grandma’s house to either my parents’ or my own house, old favorites came along. There’s turkey, of course, though it’s been upgraded from frozen Butterball to fresh, Amish-raised. There must always be stuffing (a.k.a. dressing) and mashed potatoes, because where else would you put the gravy? Sweet potatoes have evolved quite a bit over the years; the marshmallows of old have been replaced by ginger and maple syrup.

This carb-fest is usually balanced out by various and rotating vegetable dishes. This is where we get the most variety. Last year, my brother-in-law, Ben and his wife, Natalie, made some delicious green beans with pecans and tarragon. The previous year, Ben hand-shaved a large amount of fresh brussels sprouts and tossed them with a lemony dressing.

This year, I was looking for a fresh fruit salad to bring to Thanksgiving at my mom and dad’s, and I created this persimmon salad. Persimmons are a fruit I only recently discovered. They’ve easy to use if you can get them at the correct state of ripeness. There are no peels or seeds to discard, just remove the stem and dice them up. They pair prefectly with apples and pomegranate seeds, two other great fall fruits. The sweet-spicy dressing with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and honey brings it all together, creating a fresh and crisp salad that pairs perfectly with your choice of Thanksgiving carbs.

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad

This salad is also a great excuse to try this technique for seeding a pomegranate in water. What’s your favorite technique?

Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad
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Spiced Persimmon-Pomegranate Salad


Course Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the salad...

  • 2 Jiro persimmons see note below
  • 1 large honeycrisp apple
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 tbsp fennel, minced

For the dressing...

  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 valencia orange, juiced
  • 1 generous pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Remove the stems from the persimmons and cut into a small dice

  2. Core the apple and dice into small pieces.

  3. Score the skin of the pomegranate in quarters. Fill a medium-sized bowl with water. Placing the pomegranate under water in the bowl, pull the quarters apart and gently loosen the seeds. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, and the pieces of white membrane will float to the top. Pour off part of the water and the membrane pieces and drain the pomegranate seeds in a colander. 

  4. In a large bowl, combine persimmons, apple, pomegranate seeds, and minced fennel.

  5. In a smaller bowl, combine ingredients for the dressing. Whisk together until brown sugar is dissolved.

  6. Pour dressing over salad, and toss gently to combine.

  7. Optional: garnish with green fennel fronds before serving.

Recipe Notes

You may find a few different kinds of persimmons in the store. I use Jiro persimmons for this salad, one of the more common varieties. They look like a slightly-flattened orange tomato. They are ripe when they feel slightly over-ripe by tomato standards, or almost gelatinous under their skin. Read more about persimmons on Wikipedia.