Saturday, July 12, 2014

Natural Apple Chips

I have been trying to eat better these days. Eating better means lots of fruits and veggies. Eating better means a lot less of what I really crave - crunch; the kind of crunch you can only get from a chip or thin cracker. I spent some time on Pinterest looking at lots of recipes for apple crisps but found most to be too chewy or coated with sugar/cinnamon. After much trial and error, I have come up with a plain, simple apple chip that doesn't look all the great but has a wonderful flavor and, more importantly, a good solid CRUNCH!

A lot of the recipes I found online had you dusting or dredging in sugar and spices. I don't think it is needed. The apples are great all by themselves. Most any kind of apple will work but my preference of taste and texture is a good old Red Delicious. (Note the photos were taken with Fuji - good flavor but texture not as good). If you don't have a mandolin and plan on making these often, it is a purchase I highly recommend. It is very difficult to get a slice uniformly thin using a knife, and the uniformity is important for the crunch.

I start by cutting out the bottom (the top can stay as I always have a thick piece left at the end of  the slicing).

I set the mandolin on the thinnest setting and slice about three apples (two apples if you are using a regular size cookie sheet.)

I line them on the cookie sheet overlapping just a bit as they will shrink over time.

I put them in a 250 oven for about two hours

I take them out and flip them and put them back in the oven for about 20-30 minutes

At this point I start testing them. They should be starting to turn a little brown.  I take one out and leave it to cool on the counter for ten minutes. If it is crunchy, they are ready.  If it is a little leathery, cook for another 10-15 minutes until they are to your liking (I probably like mine a little browner than most would.)

After they are done, take them out and let them cool COMPLETELY before storing in a gallon ziplock bag. They keep for several weeks. (At least I think so ... I usually eat them up in a few days!)

[Note: we tried drying pears and bananas but the results were less than satisfying.]

Friday, March 14, 2014

Orange Creamsicle Meringues

We occasionally get requests for Eggs Benedict and, I must admit, I make a mean Hollandaise Sauce.  Since the sauce uses egg yolks only, I will have three eggs whites left over.  What is perfect for using up three egg whites?


I absolutely love perfectly done meringue cookies but have seldom succeeded in creating them.  Popping one in your mouth and having the crunchy exterior give way to what can best be described as a solid foam that dissolves almost immediately is sublime.

Experiments have been done in this kitchen with numerous recipes; some plain and some with additions of cocoa, chocolate chips and Nutella.  But, I think I have finally found a good, all round site for instructions on making these little delicacies:

Never before had I been given permission to add alcohol and this has opened up so many possibilities! Since I had half of a fresh orange that needed using, I started there. It didn't take long to decide on Grand Marnier, a wonderful orange flavored liqueur.  Before starting the basic recipe, I grated my orange rind in a small bowl (maybe 1 TBLS), covered it with the liqueur (about 2 tsp) and set it aside to marry.

I would post the recipe here but really want you to go to the original site above for easy to follow meringue steps. These little guys can be tricky and this author does a great job of describing the process (and I have seen a few who did not!).  When you get to "Add flavorings," whip in the mixture above.  If you want them to be a stronger color, add more than the three drops of orange food coloring I did.

I love the fresh taste of the citrus.  I may try lemon next time.  Enjoy!