Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Perfect Fall Dinner

Welcome, November! The weather had a bit of a chill to it today, which put me in the mood for comfort food. Which was perfect, since we were expecting our spectacular friends Mr. Leamon and Ms. Kuhn over for dinner. I spent the afternoon preparing the meal so that I could fully enjoy spending time with our guests. On the menu: my favorite salad from Foster's Market in Durham, North Carolina, chicken pot pie, and my mom's apple crisp. I made the chicken pot pie and the apple crisp all the way up to the baking stage during the day, then put the pot pie into the oven about 30 minutes before our guests arrived and put the apple crisp into the oven as soon as I pulled the pot pie out. And I presliced all the ingredients for the salad, dousing the avocado and apple slices in lemon juice so that they wouldn't brown, and made the dressing, then assembled the salad just before we were ready to eat it. The meal was delicious - exactly what I had hoped for!

While I'd made the salad (which I first encountered while visiting Mr. and Mrs. Stevens in Raleigh a few years ago) and the pot pie (a Pam Anderson recipe for USA WEEKEND) many times before, this was the first time I'd ever made my mom's apple crisp. Her recipe was a little vague - she didn't specify how many apples to use or how long to leave it in the oven, and when I called to ask her, she said what all great cooks would say: "bake it till it's done." Translated: for a 9x13" pan, use 7-8 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks and bake it for around 30-40 minutes, or until the apples are nice and tender and the "crisp" is golden brown. Taking a bite of the finished product immediately transported me to my childhood, a very happy time indeed! Thanks, Mom, for the apple crisp and for always being so good to me!!

Avocado, Cucumber, Green Apple, Feta Salad
Source: Foster's Market, by way of Mrs. Stevens

Grated zest and juice of one lime
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 cups watercress, washed and trimmed of tough stems
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 onces feta, thinly sliced

1. stir the lime zest and juice and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until all in incorporated. Stir in the mint.

2. In separate medium bowl combine the apple, avocado, cucumber and watercress. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently. Arrange the salad on a platter or individual plates, top with the feta slices, and serve immediately.

Apple Crisp
Source: my sweet, amazing, talented mother

7-8 apples, cored, peeled and roughly chopped into good sized chunks
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal (the old fashioned kind, not the quick cooking)
1 stick of butter, melted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon*
1/4 tsp. nutmeg*
1/4 tsp. salt
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a 9x13" baking dish with the apples. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour mixture over the apples. Bake for 2o-30 minutes or until the apples are nice and soft and cooked through. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

*says Mom: "if you wish, you can use more or less cinnamon and nutmeg."


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