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The Unlikely Godmother of Spanish Cooking

https://www.tastecooking.com/unlikely-godmother-spanish-cooking/

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In 1979, Craig Claiborne wrote an article in the New York Times about the common Spanish tapa “angulas,” or baby eels tossed in olive oil and nestled with garlic and chile flakes. Claiborne misspelled the term as “anguilas.” Shortly afterward, he received a letter of polite correction from someone named Penelope Casas, a 36-year-old woman from Whitestone, Queens. The two went back and forth in the pages of the Times until Claiborne admitted he was wrong in the face of an extensively researched, articulate letter from Casas detailing the etymology of the word and its spelling.

Casas’s husband, Luis, was determined that she not leave this correspondence as her legacy with the newspaper of record. He encouraged her to invite Claiborne over for a proper Spanish dinner. Casas, reserved and modest, was hesitant about the idea, but she eventually obliged, and Claiborne accepted.

The multiple-course dinner that took place on a summer evening in the Casas family home in Queens consisted of a white gazpacho, a specialty of Extremadura; a Spanish tortilla; quail soaked in acidic escabeche; and, appropriately, angulas. Claiborne used the dinner as inspiration for the article titled “Homage to the Varied Cuisine of Spain,” in which he playfully described the etymology of the foods he ate and reviewed the surprising combinations of ingredients he was trying for the first time. He was so impressed by Casas after the meal that he introduced her to Knopf editor Judith Jones (a titan in cookbook publishing, famous for editing Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking), encouraging Casas to write a culinary history of Spain—something that had not yet been published in English at that point.

Under Jones’s editorial guidance, Casas published her first cookbook of many, The Foods and Wines of Spain, in 1982. In its introduction, Claiborne fondly recalls the initial dinner he shared with Casas as “one of the most memorable meals that I have experienced in nearly a quarter of a century with my newspaper.”

Claiborne fondly recalls the initial dinner he shared with Casas as “one of the most memorable meals that I have experienced in nearly a quarter of a century with my newspaper.”

Over the course of the next 30 years, Casas wrote eight cookbooks that span the entirety of Spanish cooking. A 1985 Publishers Weekly review credited her with continuing “to do for Spanish cooking what Marcella Hazan has done for Italian.” In Spain, she was awarded the National Gastronomy Prize, the Order of Civil Merit, and the title of dame of the Order of Isabel la Católica, among the highest decorations a non-Spaniard can receive. Colman Andrews, founder of Saveur magazine, called her “the American who knows all about Spanish food.”

In her many cookbooks and writings for publications such as Food & Wine, Vogue, and the New York Times, Casas revealed the intricacies of regional Spanish cuisine, which was historically neglected and misunderstood in America. Despite her work in introducing and popularizing Spanish food among American home cooks, her name has been fairly unknown after her death at age 70 in 2013.

Growing up in Queens as the daughter of Greek immigrants, Casas was an unlikely candidate for introducing the United States to Spanish cuisine. But in 1962, while studying abroad in Madrid, she fell in love with the food, and with Luis Casas, the 25-year-old son of her hosts, who was sent to pick her up from the airport when she arrived.

“I look and see this nice, beautiful girl with beautiful eyes with a nice, green summer dress next to a piece of luggage,” Luis tells me. He asked if she was Penelope. She replied, “Yes.” The two went for a drink, and soon after, they started a relationship that lasted 50 years.

Casas quickly adapted to the Spanish custom of eating lunch at 2 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m., spending long hours conversing over never-ending courses of cold fish timbale doused in homemade mayonnaise and “poor man’s potatoes” simply adorned with green peppers, garlic, and onions.

When she and Luis weren’t combing through the stretches of tascas (tapas bars) in the streets of old Madrid, staying out until 2 a.m. despite school in the morning, Casas was in the kitchen with Pilar, the chef and nanny of the Casas household, and Clara, Luis’s mother. Casas helped as they prepared lunch, scribbling notes in one of her little notebooks. Luis and his family still have her nearly 350 notebooks filled with notes on Spanish history, art, and culture.

Eventually the summer ended, but Casas returned to Spain each summer that followed. In 1965, she graduated from Vassar, eight months pregnant with her daughter, Elisa, and moved to Madrid, where she and Luis lived for five years until permanently moving back to Whitestone, Queens. Even then, they regularly enjoyed their summers traveling through the Spanish countryside by car.

Luis and his family still have her nearly 350 notebooks filled with notes on Spanish history, art, and culture.

With one of her notebooks as her companion, Casas often asked for the recipe when a particular dish appealed to her. In The Foods and Wines of Spain, she recalled the time her family stopped at El Galán in the coastal southwestern town of El Puerto de Santa María. After eating calderata de codornices (potted quail), Casas asked the waitress for the recipe.

“Consumed by giggles, the waitresses, all daughters of the cook, took us to meet their mother in the kitchen,” Casas wrote in her book. “She in turn was astounded that visitors from New York were praising her cooking and requesting her recipe.”

Back in New York, Casas tested the recipes in her own kitchen. “Every single recipe in those books she would make one or two or three times until it was right,” her daughter, Elisa, tells me. She cooked elaborate meals, experimenting into the late hours of the night, keeping with the Spanish tradition of eating dinner at 9 p.m. or later.

In the early 1980s, the United States misunderstood Spanish cuisine, recognizing it only as a handful of dishes. As R. W. Apple Jr. admitted in his 1982 New York Times article entitled “Spanish Treasure,” he had “confidently dismissed Spanish cooking as an oily mediocrity, a compound of gazpacho and paella and excessively heavy red wine.”

Casas’s work in demonstrating the breadth of regional Spanish cuisine became imperative. When The Foods and Wines of Spain was published in 1982, it was immediately met with praise by Mimi Sheraton of the New York Times, who called it “one of the best works on Spanish food ever presented to the American public.” 

Gregory León, chef of Amilinda, a Spanish and Portuguese restaurant in Milwaukee, credits the book with inspiring his renditions of croquetas, salmorejo (a classic Andalusian soup served cold, based on puréed tomatoes and bread), and vinaigrettes. “It’s still one of my main references that I go to once a week,” León says.

By the mid-2000s, the United States was growing warmer to the complexities of Spanish cuisine, but Casas’s work remained unfinished. Even with seven cookbooks under her belt, she had one final project to complete. It would be “the broadest and deepest collection of Spanish recipes ever published,” says her editor, Linda Ingroia, of the book, 1,000 Spanish Recipes, published in 2014.

“Only someone like Penelope, as experienced in cooking the cuisine, and who could conduct hundreds of interviews with local cooks, chefs, and experts throughout Spain, could collect such an expansive recipe compendium as well as the background stories and cooking secrets that keep such a comprehensive book so personal and accessible,” Ingroia says.

In the seven years it took her to compile the extensive collection, Casas became sick with leukemia, but she remained entirely dedicated to finishing the manuscript for her most encompassing work on Spanish cuisine.

“She finished the last chapter of the book on a Tuesday and she was radiant, happy, and proud of herself for having completed the most extensive book project of her career,” Luis wrote in 1,000 Spanish Recipes. “She died five days later.”

Now, six years after her death, Casas’s books remain as relevant as ever. Whether she was writing about the oldest bakery in Madrid, Antigua Pastelería del Pozo, where one could spot the bakers from the street patting and rolling dough, or about Señor Suso of Bar Suso in Galicia’s Santiago de Compostela, a man who was always eager to show off his postcard collection to guests, every recipe tells the story of a side of Spain most of us have never seen.

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Cranberry Sauce with Roasted Grapes, Apples, and Shallots

https://www.rachelcooks.com/2019/11/11/cranberry-sauce-with-roasted-grapes/

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Add this beautiful jewel toned side to your holiday menu!  Cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples, and shallots provides a burst of flavor, both sweet and savory, that is unforgettable. 

Add this beautiful jewel toned side to your holiday menu!  Cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples, and shallots provides a burst of flavor, both sweet and savory, that is unforgettable. 

Add this beautiful jewel toned side to your holiday menu!  Cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples, and shallots provides a burst of flavor, both sweet and savory, that is unforgettable. 

Have you ever tried roasting grapes? Maybe you’re thinking, hmmm, roasted grapes would be like raisins, right? Kind of shriveled up, chewy, and dry? Not that appealing…

I pretty much roast everything (have you tried roasted butternut squash or Brussels sprouts?) so I thought, why not give roasted grapes a try? I had a bunch of grapes in the fridge so I tossed them with olive oil and a little maple syrup, put them on a corner of a pan of roasting sweet potatoes, and was blown away by the results. The grapes do shrivel, just a bit, which looks really kind of intriguing, and the insides turn into a jammy delight. Not even remotely like raisins! 

When I saw a recipe for cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, cranberries, apples, and shallots in Cooking Light, I knew I had to try it. I adapted it quite a bit to make it my own and the results are startlingly delicious.

I almost hesitate to call it cranberry sauce because it’s a total departure from traditional cranberry sauce with ground up cranberries and oranges, or cooked cranberries with tons of sugar. The roasted fruit and shallots make this cranberry sauce a taste experience that outshines any other cranberry sauce. I’m sure you’ll agree!

P.S. Don’t wait until the holidays to try this recipe. You’re going to want to try this cranberry sauce right away now that apples are in season. It’s a great side for chicken, pork tenderloin, grilled salmon, or a vegetarian pilaf. And it’s a breeze to make. 

image of roasted cranberry sauce

image of roasted cranberry sauce

About this Cranberry Sauce with Roasted Grapes

Looking at the photos of this cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples and shallots, I can’t believe how beautiful it is! I love how the cranberries and grapes intensify in color as they roast in the oven, and how the apples and shallots absorb the color from the cranberries, turning a deep rose color. It’s a visual feast. 

And the fruit smells heavenly as it roasts in your oven! You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make this cranberry sauce. 

After preheating your oven, add shallots, apples, and grapes and a bit of mild tasting oil (I used avocado but olive oil would be fine, too) to a large rimmed roasting pan. Roast for five minutes or so, then add cranberries and stir together. Roast for twenty-five minutes or until shallots and apples are tender. 

I mix the roasted fruit and shallots with a mixture of melted butter, maple syrup, and fresh chopped thyme to enhance the flavors and give the fruit a more sauce-like consistency. Oh, so yummy! Be careful if you try a spoonful or two–you may end up eating the whole thing!

Let the mixture cool for a bit before serving. Gently spoon it into that fancy bowl that your great-grandma gave you (or that you found at a thrift shop!). Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. You’ll hardly need a centerpiece with this beautiful roasted fruit on your holiday table. 

Cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples, and shallots is great served at room temperature which makes it an ideal holiday side. You don’t have to be making it at the last minute. Make it early in the day, let it cool, cover it, and set it on your counter until dinner is served. 

If you make it a day or two ahead, I would refrigerate it in a sealable container. Take it out of the refrigerator in the morning and let it come to room temperature before serving. Give it a gentle stir before putting it into a serving bowl.

Image of unique cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples and shallots. Garnished with a sprig of thyme.

Image of unique cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples and shallots. Garnished with a sprig of thyme.

How to make this recipe your own:

This recipe is really versatile. Here are some suggestions for changing it up to make it your own:

  • Add more grapes, apples or shallots. You could add up to a cup more of each.
  • Use fresh or frozen cranberries; both kinds work well. You don’t have to thaw the frozen ones, just put them right onto the roasting pan. The cranberries add a lot of tartness so be a little careful with adding more, unless you compensate with more maple syrup. 
  • I like Honeycrisp apples but you can use any apple variety that stays somewhat firm when cooked, like Gala, Jonathan, Granny Smith, or Cortland. 
  • Red grapes are beautiful but green or purple grapes would work well, too. Just make sure they’re seedless!
  • If you can’t find shallots, use red onion or sweet onion. Or no onion!
  • Not crazy about thyme? Substitute an herb you like better, maybe chopped chives or parsley. Or just leave out the herbs. 
  • If you don’t have maple syrup, use a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, honey, or agave syrup to sweeten the sauce. Actually, the fruits are so sweet you could skip the sweetener. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe for cranberry sauce with roasted grapes, apples, and shallots as much as I do!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lF7EpUEZSQsUYznJ2rXmmSgls0kW-AUnAx9MaEh1B_w/edit

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lF7EpUEZSQsUYznJ2rXmmSgls0kW-AUnAx9MaEh1B_w/edit

More holiday sides that are just a little bit unique: 

Like to think outside of the box when it comes to holiday recipes? Looking for healthier alternatives to the traditional? Here’s a few more recipes that I think you’ll love.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, washed and stemmed
  • 2 cups chopped apple (Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, or other firm variety)
  • 1 cup shallots (3 small or 2 large), peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • extra thyme sprigs for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place grapes, apple, and shallot on baking sheet and toss with avocado oil. Bake in preheated oven until shallot starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. While fruit mixture is roasting, combine the melted butter, maple syrup, salt, and thyme in a small bowl.
  3. Remove baking sheet from oven, add cranberries, and stir to combine ingredients. Continue to cook until cranberries begin to burst, about 25 minutes.
  4. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully transfer cranberry mixture into a heat-safe bowl. Gently stir in butter, maple syrup, salt, and thyme.
  5. Cool at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme, if desired.

Notes

  • No need to thaw frozen cranberries, just use them as is.
  • This cranberry sauce would be delicious served with turkey, chicken, pork, or salmon, or vegetarian pilafs.
  • Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 8

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 121
Total Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 8mg
Sodium: 71mg
Carbohydrates: 21g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 15g
Protein: 1g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Verdict: Since I’ve been raving about it for paragraphs on end, it’s probably no surprise that I love this recipe.
Husband’s take: A little bit outside the box for Ben, but he still enjoys it and doesn’t complain.
Changes I would make: None are necessary, but have fun with some of the adaptations I mentioned.
Difficulty: Easy!

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Crispy Sweet Potato Tacos – Vegan

https://www.rachelcooks.com/2019/11/13/sweet-potato-tacos/

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Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

Image of vegan sweet potato tacos on a platter with charred corn, onions and cilantro, and avocado. A glass of beer sits next to the platter.

Image of vegan sweet potato tacos on a platter with charred corn, onions and cilantro, and avocado. A glass of beer sits next to the platter.

You’re going to love these amazing crispy sweet potato tacos. They have everything going for them, involving nearly all the senses.

Imagine the texture: buttery roasted sweet potatoes, chewy bits of corn, crisp fresh onions, creamy avocado, leafy cilantro. Then the flavorful smells: malty beer marinade as the potatoes slowly roast, the sharp bright flavor of onions and cilantro, corn tortillas toasting. The colors are so beautiful too: deep orange potatoes, lightly browned, golden yellow corn, bright avocado, fiery red hot sauce, and deep cilantro green. And you haven’t even taken a bite yet! 

The recipe comes from my friend and colleague, Jackie of The Beeroness. They’re from her third book, Lush: A Season by Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce, and let me tell you, the book is stunning!

It’s a season-by-season guide to cooking with beer, and it’s all vegetarian recipes full of amazing, seasonal produce. The photos are gorgeous, and the recipes are flavor-forward, yet still very approachable. More on the book soon. But first… let’s talk about these tacos!

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

About these sweet potato tacos:

The beer marinated sweet potatoes make these tacos so outstanding! You may wonder whether marinating raw sweet potatoes really works (my mom was super skeptical) and I’m here to tell you, the flavor of these marinated sweet potatoes is outstanding. 

After cutting the peeled sweet potatoes into long narrow planks, they are submerged in a nice brown ale bath for at least three hours and up to twelve hours. They emerge from this soaking smelling of toasty caramel, kind of yeasty, and…well, like a nice brown ale. 

Note:

Jackie recommends a “winter ale” for this recipe. If you’re not a beer aficionado, she has you covered with this description:

 

“Although the idea of a ‘winter ale’ varies wildly from brewery to brewery, there are some common themes. Most often, beer that has been designated a winter ale falls into the category of a strong ale. However, they can also include anything from an IPA to a stout. Winter warmers are generally higher in ABV, have strong malt profiles, range from dark amber to inky black, and frequently contain spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.” 

 

I chose Short’s Bellaire Brown for this recipe. Short’s is a Michigan brewery, and we love drinking this beer as well as using it in recipes like this one, so it was a great choice for this recipe. 

After the sweet potatoes marinate, you’ll want to rinse them well and dry them thoroughly for maximum browning in the oven as they roast. But wait, don’t put them in the oven yet! First, you’re going to coat them with a nice even layer of olive oil, a little garlic and onion powder, and salt and pepper.

Spread them flat on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until those sweet potato planks are soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. Perfect! I like mine nice and brown so I broil them a few extra minutes. 

The crispy sweet potatoes are the base of these tacos. Next comes charred corn. I add corn to the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes to char it lightly. 

To heat the corn tortillas, set each tortilla over a gas flame for a few seconds on each side or use a hot skillet to heat them. 

Beer flavored sweet potatoes, charred corn, crisp onions, creamy avocado, fiery hot sauce, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a flavorful corn tortilla! Doesn’t get much better than that!

How to make these tacos your own:

  • As I mentioned above, the sweet potatoes are the base of these tacos. While the beer marinated, roasted sweet potatoes are a grand slam, you could also use mashed, grilled, or these spicy sweet potatoes.
  • For more protein, add black beans, refried beans, cheese, or sour cream. You could add grilled chicken or taco meat, seasoned with my homemade taco seasoning.
  • To add more spiciness, top them with this homemade restaurant style salsa, or another salsa of your choosing. Salsa verde is really, really good on these crispy sweet potato tacos! Another great ideas would be pickled red onions (which are good on almost anything!).
  • You could add shredded lettuce or kale for fresh crispiness. 

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

About LUSH: A Season by Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce

Highly recommend this book, you guys! It’s not only full of great recipes, but it’s contains a ton of super informative content about beer as well as cooking seasonly. Food tastes better when it’s in season and fresh, so this is a fantastic way to approach cooking and to prevent boredom in the kitchen. 

Here are some more recipes I can’t wait to try:

  • Salt-Roasted Golden Beets with Whipped Belgian Ale Mascarpone and Herb Gremolata
  • English Pea and Bock Risotto
  • Grilled Romain with IPA-Pickled Strawberries (YUM)
  • Beer-Sautéed Apple, Caramelized Onion, and Brie Sandwiches
  • Blueberry-Lavender Summer Ale Clafoutis
  • Roasted Cabbage Wedges with Feta-Mustard Beer Vinaigrette
  • Mexican Street Corn Beer Cakes with Chipotle Creme
  • Spiced Rutabaga and Porter Cake

Truth be told, that was a really hard list to write because I want to make so many recipes in this book! It’s definitely worth checking out if I haven’t convinced you yet!

LUSH Cover ImageLUSH Cover Image

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Dodd

Tip: This book would be great for gift giving to any beer-lover in your life! Pair it with a six-pack of their favorite beer (or even better, a custom mixed six-pack and you’re good to go!

Reheating and Storage Tips

These are definitely best eaten right away! If you want to make the crispy sweet potato planks ahead of time, you could roast them a day or two ahead. I would store them in a large container so you can kind of spread them out. To serve, reheat on a roasting pan under the broiler for about 5 minutes so they crisp up again as they reheat.

Image of vegan tacos with sweet potatoes and corn.

Image of vegan tacos with sweet potatoes and corn.

Other vegetarian and vegan taco recipes:

If you love these as much as I do, I’m guessing you’ll love these recipes too! They have so many flavorful ingredients that even meat lovers won’t miss the meat.

 

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

Beer marinated roasted sweet potatoes, charred corn, creamy avocado, crisp onions, and fresh cilantro, wrapped in a soft corn tortilla, make these vegetarian sweet potato tacos a taste sensation! 

Ingredients

  • 2 large garnet sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups winter ale (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas, lightly browned over a gas flame or in a hot skillet
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Hot pepper sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Put the sweet potato wedges in a large, shallow bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt over them and add the beer. Add enough water to fully submerge the potato wedges. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
  2. Position a rack in the top third of the oven. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack. Preheat oven to 425ºF. 
  3. Drain the potatoes and rinse well. Pat them dry with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible to help them crisp. Transfer them to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and toss to coat.
  4. Transfer the potatoes to the preheated baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the undersides are golden brown. Remove the potatoes from the oven and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  5. Top each tortilla with 2 or 3 sweet potato wedges and some of the corn, avocado, onions, cilantro, and hot sauce. Serve.

Notes

  • Recipe used with permission from Lush: A Season by Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce, by Jacquelyn Dodd.
  • If you would like the sweet potatoes to brown a bit more, put them under the broiler for about 5 minutes after baking them.
  • To char the corn, add it to the baking sheet with sweet potatoes, spray it lightly with olive oil and broil it until lightly charred.
  • I chose a brown ale with caramel notes for this recipe.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield: 4

Serving Size: 3 tacos

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 461
Total Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fat: 13g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 633mg
Carbohydrates: 68g
Fiber: 12g
Sugar: 9g
Protein: 9g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Verdict: I absolutely love these tacos. I couldn’t believe how much you can taste the flavors of the beer…it was such a pleasant surprise!
Husband’s take: I’m not sure Ben has had the opportunity to try these yet!
Changes I would make: None are necessary, but you could definitely have some fun with the toppings!
Difficulty: Easy!

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Easy Apple Compote with Cinnamon

https://www.rachelcooks.com/2019/11/15/apple-compote/

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Apple compote with cinnamon will have tantalizing autumn scents wafting through your kitchen! This versatile compote is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

Apple compote with cinnamon will have tantalizing autumn scents wafting through your kitchen! This versatile compote is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

Apple compote with cinnamon will have tantalizing autumn scents wafting through your kitchen! This versatile compote is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

We Michiganders don’t have to travel far to find apple orchards.  I estimate there are at least four or five apple orchards within a ten mile radius of my home. In fact, we have several apple trees right in our backyard! 

So it’s only natural that I’m bringing you this delicious apple compote recipe. I always have a ready supply of crisp red apples in my fridge. They’re so good eaten fresh but I think that they’re even a little bit better cooked, especially with a healthy dash of cinnamon. Apple cinnamon, cinnamon apple, a match made in heaven, don’t you think? 

I just love this cooked apple compote with cinnamon. It’s very easy to make and you’ll see there are so many ways to use it. It’s perfect for pancakes and so much else!

Cinnamon spiced apple compote in a small cast iron skillet.

Cinnamon spiced apple compote in a small cast iron skillet.

About this Apple Compote:

So easy to prepare, you’ll have this ready to serve in 20 minutes or less, and most of that time is hands off. 

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a small skillet, add chopped apples, peeled or not peeled (your preference), brown sugar, and cinnamon and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, 15 minutes or so.

I used a combination of Honeycrisp and Gala apples but any flavorful apple will work. I like apples that stay a little firm when cooked, such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonathan, Granny Smith, or  Cortland. Use your favorite variety. If you prefer a compote that is more like applesauce, use a softer apple variety. 

This apple compote with cinnamon is delicious as a topping for pancakes, warm and sweet with the slight tartness of the apples shining through. 

But don’t stop there! This versatile apple compote would elevate a humdrum bowl of oatmeal or other cooked cereal. Just swirl it on top and enjoy the extra flavor it brings. Or add it to your morning yogurt or make it part of a yogurt breakfast bowl with crunchy granola added. 

How about lunch? Spread a little apple compote on a sandwich with deli turkey, cheddar, watercress, and a hint of stoneground mustard. Or dollop it on a bowl of butternut squash soup

Imagine dinner with pork roast or pork chops, nestled on the plate with apple compote, mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted green beans. The apples and cinnamon perfectly complement the rich flavor of the pork. 

Or think of apple compote as dessert: a spoonful or two on cinnamon ice cream and a sprinkling of crunchy oat topping  (yum! just like apple crisp!) or top a plain yellow cake with apple compote and a dollop of whipped cream. Add apple compote to a bowl of homemade vanilla pudding for a simple yet elegant dessert. 
Apple cinnamon compote in a cast iron skillet, with a spoon.

Apple cinnamon compote in a cast iron skillet, with a spoon.

How to make this easy compote your own:

  • Cinnamon is a must but you could also add nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, or allspice. Try fresh grated ginger or even a splash of lemon juice.
  • If you prefer a compote that is more like applesauce, use a softer apple variety, like McIntosh, or continue to cook until it is softer. 
  • If you’re not a fan of apple peels, feel free to remove them. I like the color, texture, and nutrition they add, but this compote will be delicious with or without them.
  • You could add other fruits. I love blueberries cooked into this compote! Cherries, chopped pear, or raisins would be so delicious, too. 

Reheating and Storage Tips

If you make the apple compote ahead or simply have some left over, put it into a covered container and store it in the fridge. You can reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave. It’s delicious at room temperature, too. 

How long does apple compote keep?

Kept in the fridge in a covered container or bowl, this apple cinnamon compote should last five days. I bet it won’t hang around that long, though!

Can you freeze fruit compote?

We like to go an apple orchard and pick a bushel (or two!) of apples. Then we wonder what to do with all those apples! Making and freezing apple compote would be a great way to preserve apples to use later in the year.  Simply make the compote, cool it, and put it into small freezer containers. Thaw overnight in the fridge for best results.

Apple compote with cinnamon will have tantalizing autumn scents wafting through your kitchen! This versatile compote is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

Apple compote with cinnamon will have tantalizing autumn scents wafting through your kitchen! This versatile compote is a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert!

Love the idea of fun pancake toppings?

Me too, I’m a toppings girl through and through! Try these ideas next time you have pancakes:

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups diced apples (roughly ½ inch), unpeeled
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Melt butter In large skillet over medium high heat. 
  2. Add apples and brown sugar. Continue to cook over medium high heat for 15 minutes, or until apples are softened, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Stir in cinnamon. 
  4. Serve over pancakes, cooked oatmeal, vanilla ice cream, or pudding. 

Notes

  • This apple cinnamon compote can be made ahead and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat gently until warm, if desired.
  • To freeze, put in freezer containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight for best results. 
  • I used a combination of Honeycrisp and Gala. Other varieties that would work well are Jonagold, Jonathan, Braeburn, Granny Smith, or Cortland.
Nutrition Information:

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 123
Total Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Trans Fat: 0g
Unsaturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Sodium: 5mg
Carbohydrates: 23g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 21g
Protein: 0g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Verdict: So good. On everything. Fall in a frying pan!
Husband’s take: Ben is all about this compote, especially on pancakes.
Changes I would make: None! But have fun adding other fruits or seasonings.
Difficulty: Very easy.

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