Boiled Cider

The leaves crunching beneath my shoes are shades of orange, yellow, and red. The temperature outside is steadily dropping. A bright pumpkin is sitting outside my window, waiting to be carved. It is beginning to feel like autumn should. 

At the start of a season full of cinnamon and nutmeg, I needed a new staple to liven up my baking repertoire. Since I adore apples (I eat one every day with lunch),  it felt natural to play around with the ingredient a bit further. I first heard of boiled cider last spring, when it was used to add an extra touch to an apple pie. Since then, I have been hooked on the idea, anxiously awaiting fall to try it out in my baking. Boiled cider is just as it soundsβ€”pure apple cider that has been boiled down into a rich, thick syrup.

Boiled Cider has an seemingly endless possibility of uses, which is why am I so excited to have it on hand this fall. The syrup can be added to apple dishes to brighten and intensify the apple flavor, including applesauce, apple pie, apple crisp, or apple tarts. Boiled Cider can also be heated and drizzled over pancakes, as an alternative to maple syrup. For savory dishes, a spoonful or two can be used to season pork roasts or enhance meat sauces. The list goes on. 

Boiled Cider has a single ingredient, which makes it virtually impossible to mess up. I would suggest springing for a jug of pure apple cider found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It will boil down into a richer, more flavorful syrup than a juice that has been pasteurized. I did not specify a specific amount of juice in the recipe because it is not necessary. You can boil as much or as little cider as you please. Just keep an eye on the pot and, whenever you need another lungful of the delicious scent, give it a little stir. 

Boiled Cider is a versatile ingredient and autumn kitchen staple. A spoonful can be added to sweet and savory dishes to lend a bold, welcoming apple flavor. As a bonus, while the cider boils down, it makes the whole house fragrant with the scents of the season.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Two Years Ago: Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies, Cucumber Zucchini Cream Cheese Slices, Banana Rum Bread, and Vanilla Bean Cardamom Peach Pie
Three Years Ago: Grilled Apricots with Honey Greek Yogurt, Malted Chocolate Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Filling, Coconut Pancakes, and Rocky Road Cookies
Four Years Ago: Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, and Maple Roasted Bananas with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Boiled Cider

Pure apple cider (no sugar added)

In a large pot, pour in the apple cider. Take a wooden chopstick or skewer, place it into the liquid, and mark the height of the apple juice onto the wood. Remove the chopstick and mark the wood into thirds. This will help you keep track of the progress of the cider.

Bring the apple juice to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until it is 1/3 of the original volume. Stir and check frequently with the chopstick to judge how far the juice volume has decreased. Depending on the amount of cider, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to boil down into a thick syrup. 

If fresh apple cider was used, run the syrup through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble

Around each March, when I feel as if winter will never end and the snow will never melt, I throw a package or two of berries into my basket at the market. It's an impulse buyβ€”the berries may be brightly colored, but the flavor is so faint and lacking I often feel as if I shouldn't have bothered in the first place. Yet, year after year, the berries are there, a reminder that summer is a few months away, even if the weather outdoors does not reflect it. The berries carry memories of happy moments, long afternoons, and picnics out on the porch.

And now, finally, my basket is overflowing with berries of all kinds. 

The last few days have been cold and windy. I've stayed indoors, buried in books, and enjoying the heat from the oven, a rarity in these summer months. To take advantage, I've taken out the mixing bowls and have been working on whipping up a few desserts here and there.

Lately, I've had a tendency to go a little overboard when buying berries and this week was no exception. I like to throw a handful blueberries in my breakfast each morning. I enjoy eating blackberries slowly, with a side of chocolate. But when these habits aren't enough to to make the berries disappear, I gather the rest together, cover them with a crunchy topping, and bake them up until the juices begin to sizzle.

Crumbles are one of my favorite ways to enjoy fruit. While any fruit could really be used, berries are the most reminiscent of summer to me. While I prefer to eat mine cold and plain, straight from the refrigerator, crumbles are just as nice served warm with a topping of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. With the holiday weekend coming up, the natural color scheme of this particular version seems like an apt way to celebrate. 

Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble is a wonderful way to use up summer berries. Whether fresh or frozen, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries come together with a crumble topping to create a simple dessert. With the red and blue berries, this dessert can make a great addition to your Independence Day celebrations.

One Year Ago: Dill Dinner RollsSparkling Lemon Drop, and Berry Cheesecake Tarts
Two Years Ago: Multigrain BreadBlueberry Lemon Crumble, and Vanilla Cupcakes
Three Years Ago: Baby Sugar CookiesStrawberry Smoothie, and Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade
Four Years Ago: Strawberry Panna CottaTapioca Pudding, and Blueberry & Raspberry Tartlets

Mixed Berry Quinoa Crumble

Yields 6-8 servings

24 ounces (680 grams) fresh or frozen berries
1/3 cup (75 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (85 grams) quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup (45 grams) old fashioned oats
1/4 cup (25 grams) sliced or chopped almonds
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the berries, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and lemon juice until evenly coated. Transfer the berries to a deep pie pan. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the quinoa, oats, almonds, and salt until evenly mixed. Using your fingers, tear off small pieces of dough and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the berries.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is browned and the berries have released their juices. Allow to cool before serving. When serving, top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or leave it plain. To store, cover and keep refrigerated.

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

I adore autumn weather for many reasonsβ€”the comfort foods, the colors of the trees, the days of nothing but drizzling rainβ€”but ripe, fresh apples are what truly bring this season home for me. Apples are one of the few foods I keep continually stocked in my refrigerator. I eat apples like other people enjoy bread or drink milk, daily and sometimes more than once. A few years ago, I found myself with an unquenchable apple craving. One thousand apples later, it hasn't dissipated.

When fall rolls around, and the apples become crisp and sweet, this simple fruit becomes irresistible.

Apple Crisp

When the cold sets in for the year, I surround myself with apple recipes. My grandmother's applesauce recipe is on constant rotation, popping up several times a season. Slightly bruised apples, fallen from the tree, are often the stars of this dish. Once the soft parts are cut off, the apples are salvaged in such a simple, but beautiful manner. Likewise, this Apple Cinnamon Cake has never failed to grace my autumn table. More apple than cake, the ingredients vary to accommodate the ones already in the cupboard.

A few years ago, I branched out and made my own homemade apple cider. The final result was so fresh and delicious, my roommate and I were so afraid to drink it (lest it should disappear) that the cider nearly spent too long in the refrigerator.

Apple Crisp Apple Crisp

On a phone call with my mother, she told me about an apple crisp my sister had made for her when she last visited. As I eyed the freshly picked apples boxed on my counter top, the idea seemed like the perfect plan to enact with my own apples. When the weekend rolled around, I peeled and sliced nearly a dozen of the small apples, coating them with sugar, and baking them in the oven until tender. I had plans to share the apple crisp with my coworkers, but after two greedy forks kept stealing bitefuls while it was cooling, half of the apple crisp disappeared in a day.

It is safe to say that my coworkers never saw this dish. Sometimes, I've found, some foods are just too good to be shared.

Apple Crisp

This Apple Crisp is an autumn favorite, with enough variance in texture and flavor to call itself a classic. The apples are baked in a mixture of butter and brown sugar, with a hint of rum to round out the flavor. The crisp bakes on top, sweet and spiced, providing a crunchy contrast to the tender apples. Served cold with whipped cream or hot with ice cream, this apple crisp never fails to please. You may even find yourself scraping the sticky remains from the bottom of the pan, wishing for more.

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