Foodie In Training

Monday, October 20, 2008

Homemade Applesauce

Growing up I LOVED applesauce. Especially the way my mom prepared it, which is how she had it growing up, which is also how my grandma had it growing up.  We had applesauce a lot for dinner because my and my sister liked it so much (my sister was/still is a picky eater).  We called it "special" applesauce and the reason it was special is my mom added vanilla extract to the jar of Mott's.    It is so good...and whenever I have special applesauce it reminds me of my childhood.  It also reminds my mom of her childhood, my grandma used to make it that way for her and my grandma's mom would make it that way for her!   I love special recipes such as these that are passed down and loved by generations.  So, for my grandma's birthday last week I decided to make her homemade applesauce.  I've never made applesauce before but after doing some research, it didn't seem to hard, and apples are so good right now!! 

I went to Sandusky's local farm stand, Mulvin's and asked Mrs. Mulvin how she makes her applesauce and what kind of apples she recommends.  She recommended the Macintosh apples and she advised only using one type so you get the pure taste of the apple instead of a mixture.  Mrs. Mulvin and her husband have been farmers for their whole lives so I took her advice and bought about 15 gorgeous Macintosh apples to make my applesauce.  

It turns out, making applesauce is super easy.. you basically peel all the apples (I used a paring knife and Ryan used a carrot peeler), core and cut all the apples and put them in a large sauce pan.  I added about a 1/4 cup of sugar and about 1 1/2  cups of water, a pinch of salt and 3 lemon rinds (I read it brings out the flavor of the apples) to the pot and let the apples cook on medium/high heat.  The apples cooked for about 15-20 minutes while I stirred them occasionally.  Once it seems the apples were soft, I took a large slotted spoon and smashed the apple slices against the side of the pan to make it saucier but still a bit chunky (the way my grandma  prefers it).  In a lot of recipes it said to use a food mill or a food processor, but I found my slotted spoon method to be very effective and I didn't have to dirty another dish.  The applesauce turned out awesome! It was very simple and clean-tasting, it wasn't super sweet and you could really just taste the sweet/slightly tart flavor of the Macintosh apples.  Eating warm applesauce is also a treat! It would be perfect spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream..

My only goof was I forgot the vanilla!  I've always seen the vanilla added at the end once the applesauce was already prepared (after we poured it out of the Mott's jar) so I didn't know to put the vanilla in during the cooking process...Duh!   In the end I decided to leave out the vanilla and it still got glowing reviews from my family and the birthday girl.  :)

The next batch a make I'm going to use the vanilla.  

Apples are in season right now so it's a great way to try new apple recipes and new apple types. 
I'm currently OBSESSED with Honeycrisp apples.  They are similar to a Fuji in that they are tart and sweet and they are always really crunchy.  I seriously am eating at least 2 a day, sometimes 3.  They are so good.   What is your favorite kind of apple?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You asked for it!

I few people asked for some wedding photos, so here a few. Enjoy!

Ryan just had a bite of cake so his mouth is full, but I love this photo! (note the cake on my nose, Ryan had a bit of fun)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


It's no secret to the people who know me...I LOVE pizza.  I could eat it every day if I could.  I've had a lot of great pizza in Sandusky (Cameo and Chet and Matt's are my favorite) and I love to make pizzas at home.  The pizza in Italy was amazing and my favorite place was just a short drive from our villa, called Cantuccio's.  Recommended by people we met staying at our villa, it was a true local pizza joint.   There menu was huge! It had so many pizza varieties it was hard to choose.
We went there twice, but here is a photo of my pizza from our second night at Cantuccio's- 

It didn't have any marinara sauce, just olive oil and garlic and herbs.  It had fresh and melted mozzarella, shaved Parmesan cheese, fresh arugula, and warmed cherry tomatoes. This combination of ingredients was heavenly.  The melted and fresh mozzarella combined with the salty bite of the Parmesan was soooo good and the warm cherry tomatoes were a great sweet surprise (I thought they were going to be cold). Even though there was no meat on the pizza, it was hearty! I could barely finish it.  Ryan had a simple prosciutto pizza which was also really good.

Cantuccio's has a special place in my Italy food memories, it was such a warm and family place that made us feel very welcome.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Favorite Meal In Tuscany

We spent 10 days in Northern Italy and Tuscany for our honeymoon.  It was AMAZING.  We had a great time and ate so many wonderful meals.  My favorite meal of our trip was in a small hill town in the Chianti region of Tuscany.  We stopped in Montefioralle on our first day in Tuscany, arriving on a wind-y Tuscan road to the top of a hill where we parked near a vineyard and walked in to the town.  It is a small, sleepy town (we didn't really see any locals when we were walking around) with narrow stone streets with colorful doors and shutters.  So cute!  We walked around the town and noticed an open doorway with a menu displayed.  The menu looked simple and rustic so we decided to try it out.  It didn't open for another year so we walked around a bit more, took lots of photos of the amazing views and then walked back to eat.  
The restaurant was a typical enoteca in Italy.  We saw nonna (grandma) in the kitchen cooking while the rest of the family waited and served the customers.  The minute I walked down the hallway to the restaurant, I had such a warm and homey feeling from this place.  I knew it was going to be a good experience.  And our view was amazing! The open air restaurant overlooked a vineyard and the Tuscan hills were in the backdrop.  

OK- now to the food... we started with a bottle of Chianti Classico (we were in the Chianti region) and it was a great start and one of my favorite wines (and believe me, we drank ALOT of wine).  For antipasti we shared the special of the day, fresh figs from their garden and prosciutto.  The figs were juicy and sweet and worked so well with the saltiness of the prosciutto.  
For the first course I had a panzanella salad and Ryan had picci pasta with a traditional tomato sauce.  Panzanella has many different variations, but the common factor is day old bread.  My salad has bread, tomatoes, cucumber, sliced red onion and fresh basil.  They gave me olive oil and red wine vinegar to dress my salad how I wanted.  The panzanella was so fresh and light. The tomatoes were so ripe and gorgeous and the bite of the red wine vinegar brightened up the whole dish.  Ryan's picci pasta was so rustic and simple.  Picci pasta is similar to regular spaghetti, it is just a little "fatter" and I believe it is made with semolina instead of eggs, so it is a little heavier than regular spaghetti.  We had picci pasta several times in Italy and it was always cooked to perfection.   The tomato sauce that topped the picci pasta was simple and tasted amazing.  
We both chose very hearty dishes for our main course.  I chose Italian sausage with a side of Tuscan white beans and spinach and Ryan chose short ribs and a side of the beans and spinach.  My Italian sausage was amazing.   It is hard to describe but it was juicy and a little spicy.  The presentation was so rustic and authentically Italian.  The Tuscan white beans and spinach were also a lesson in simplicity.  Both perfectly cooked, they were seasoned with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and a little lemon.  
The meal was absolutely perfect, the view, the tastes, the wine, the family serving us.  Montefioralle was my favorite Tuscan town and I think this restaurant is a main reason why it holds a special place in my heart.