Showing posts with label Calvados. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Calvados. Show all posts

08 March 2014

France: What's in My Suitcase on the Way Home; Easy Aioli

We use this sauce in our favorite pasta dishes, usually with sausage.

On our last trip to Paris, the woman who checked out of the suite next to ours left behind dozens of bags and boxes from some of Paris' poshest clothing shops. The housekeeper tittered as we commented on them. I've always fancied a shopping spree in Paris myself, but the truth is, I'd probably rather buy food.

I love shopping in French supermarkets. The variety, even at the smaller stores, is incredible. The prices at FranPrix and LeaderPrice are great, the variety at T.LeClerc is vast and the deli at Monoprix is always reliable.

The night before we leave for home, I am busy wrapping cans and jars and packages in bubble wrap and clean socks. Here is what the customs people generally find in our checked baggage:

11 February 2014

Baked Apples with Calvados for Two

I love apples.

I always have them on hand, and was delighted last fall to receive a huge bag of organic apples, which quickly became applesauce and apple crisp.

I love apples so much, I signed up to receive e-mails from the U.S. Apple Association, which reminded me recently that eating apples is a good way to celebrate Heart Month, which is February.

You know, the old adage so I won't repeat it.

At my house, apple-anything is the favorite dessert. Apple crisp on its own or combined with some other seasonal fruit (apples, of course, are always in season) is on the menu almost constantly.

This is another favorite:

Baked Apples with Calvados
  • two baking apples (Northern Spy, Golden Delicious or Rome Beauty)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • juice and zest from orange or lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup Calvados or apple brandy
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and core the apples. Stuff the centers with walnuts and butter. Place in buttered baking pan and set aside.

Blend the other ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the apples. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until apples are soft (but not mushy). Baste periodically while apples are baking; you really need to check them for doneness anyway, since oven vary.

Serve warm, spooning the thickened juice from the bottom of the baking dish over the apples. Ice cream or yoghurt are great toppings. I also like a hunk of cheddar with mine, to offset the sweetness.

The spices were perfect in concert with the brandy, giving the apples a complex, almost mysterious taste.

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21 December 2008

A Norman Winter: An Apple-y Drink for Dark Days of Winter

From 2008: It began snowing at 9 p.m. last night and did not let up until late morning today. My husband moved the cars, took the snowblower out of the horse barn and began lugging it up and down the hill to create a path around the house, while clearing the driveway and the sidewalk. He took the blower, new last winter, down the street, too, helping our neighbors as they have often helped us.

He needed a stiff drink when he came inside, or so I reasoned. I've been itching since October to create something made from the bottle of Calvados we bought in Paris in 2007 and the cider we always keep on hand during the last three months of the year.

I have some Norman blood, and have always had a weakness for cider, apples and anything related. I was happy to find both pear and apple cider available in the Lot during the two weeks we were there recently (was it three months ago already?) and managed to imbibe a bottle each, along with the legendary dark wine of the area.

When my husband came in from the cold, stomping the snow off his boots, I handed him a newly-concocted drink I call a Norman Winter.

Here's my recipe for a Norman Winter:
  • 5 ounces Calvados or apple brandy
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • generous splash lemon-lime soda or non-alcoholic sparkling cider
  • splash of lime juice
  • 4-5 ice cubes
Pour all the ingredients over ice. Garnish with an apple slice or slip a few slices into the drink. Marashino cherries would be a nice contrast.

18 November 2007

Winter-Fruit-and-Walnut Crisp

Each kitchen has its own unique aroma. When I was young, my mother's tiny yellow kitchen in the apartment she and my father rented near the harbor was redolent with the spicy scents of ginger and cinnamon.

It was that kitchen that came to my mind as I sampled the first bite of my walnut crisp filled with winter fruit drenched in Calvados.

The taste was rich and sweet and layered, which is what I intended. It reminded me of the inside of my mother's spice drawer, or a photograph in a shelter magazine showing a kitchen filled with pine boughs and pewter.

It is entirely my invention, in that I did not seek inspiration anywhere but my own cupboard, intent on using up what I had on hand. There is nothing extraordinary about it - except the taste!

Winter-Fruit-and-Walnut Crisp

  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 4-5 apples, chopped
  • 1-2 small red pears chopped
  • two tablespoons Calvados
  • one teaspoon vanilla
  • three tablespoons sugar
  • dash or two cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or graham flour
  • 1/2 stick or more cold butter
  • three tablespoons brown sugar

Place chopped fruit in bowl and toss. Drizzle with Calvados. Add vanilla, fructose and cinnamon and toss again. Place in greased 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

In a second bowl, mix chopped walnuts, flour and brown sugar mix. Cut in butter and blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour topping over fruit.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, until topping turns deep golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Even my husband liked it.

23 September 2007

Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Cider and Calvados

We awoke Sunday to the sound of gunshots, coming from either across the river or the swampy area to the west of our neighborhood. It is ruffed grouse and wild turkey season, and there are some of the former and plenty of the latter around wooded areas here, in and out of the city.

The day was warm and sunny, but when the chill set in at dusk I closed the doors against it. I could smell the smoke from my neighbor’s wood fire and hear honking from the Canada geese down by the river.

These are good nights to hunker down at home with a seasonal meal and a hearty wine.

Tonight, we continued the apple theme, preparing Pork with Apples, Cider and Calvados, a recipe adapted from Epicurious.

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 Golden Delicious apples, cored
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • ¼ cup Calvados
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • ¼ cup apple cider

Slice pork into ½ inch thick slices. Place between wax paper and flatten with a mallet. Wrap or cover and refrigerate.

Melt twp tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and sugar. Brown apples lightly, for about 5-6 minutes. Remove from skillet, and set aside.

Melt two more teaspoons of butter over high heat. Add the pork. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked gthrough and lightly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside, keeping the pork warm.

Melt one teaspoon butter in the same skillet. Brown shallots, adding the fresh thyme. Add Calvados and boil until reduced to glaze. Blend in half-and-half and cider and boil until entire mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Reheat apples and pork. Serve with sauce.

To round out the meal, I roasted red potatoes and Brussels sprouts in olive oil and salt and pepper. I paired the meal with a simple but robust red table wine. For dessert, there were pumpkin bars.

When I make this again, I will experiment with other tart apples, red ones this time to give the dish some color. I will likely add more shallots, too.

16 September 2007

Chicken with Cider and Calvados

In college, I devoured young women's magazines, and somewhere along the way clipped an extensive article about Normandy. The accompanying photos of lace curtained windows, baskets of apples and bottles of Calvados formed my ideas of what a French kitchen should be, and I saved them for years.

I also saved a handful of recipes from the same feature article. Tonight, for the first time, I made a chicken recipe I've saved for more than 20 years. This is the first time I've prepared it.

It seemed the perfect time for apples and chicken: A sunny but coolish Sunday with heavy overtones of autumn all around, from the honking of geese overhead to the red-tinged leaves on the many maples in our neighborhood.

Chicken with Cider
  • 1 3-to-4-pound chicken, cut up
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2 dashes fleur de sel
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Calvados or brandy
  • 1 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon parsley

Coat chicken with flour and brown in large skillet containing oil and butter. Place skin side down, and turn as needed to brown both sides. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour in Calvados and ignite, using a long match. Allow the liquid to burn until the flame extinguishes itself. Add cider and herbs. Bring to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes.

Check breasts with a meat thermometer, remove if hot enough. Legs and wings will need to cook longer. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add a bit of flour to the remaining sauce and use a whisk. Pour over the chicken.

The chicken was moist and tender. The sauce had enough apple flavor to hold my interest. But I think I will add onions and shallots to the skillet next time. The flavor was way too subtle.

I served this with green beans amandine and herbed potatoes. Wine Pairing: A white merlot.