We’re the type of family that plans lunch while we’re eating breakfast. And an afternoon snack while we’re eating lunch. And dinner during snack. Cooking has always been central to our life here at the orchard but now that the baby of the family is nearly two, the pace in the kitchen has slowed just enough to reclaim the tiniest sense of leisure in the form of recipes: cooking from them (as opposed to slapdashery cooking out of the garden, fridge, and pantry, which is inarguably an invaluable skill), and reading new ones.
We’re getting better at bringing cider into the kitchen too — not just to the table. Since I forced my family to endure photography at the table, I thought I’d better write about a few of the cider-centric meals we’ve enjoyed recently.
Pumpkin Hand Pies
If you came to the orchard this fall, you probably noticed the beautiful small pumpkins that we used in Pumpkin Whippersnapper. The pumpkin variety we like to use is Winter Luxury and its dense flesh produces the creamiest cooked pumpkin we’ve ever come across. We had quite a few of these pumpkins left over at the end of the season and I’d also been given a copy of the Birchwood Cafe’s new cookbook. The seasonal arrangement of the book is inspiring in itself, but the first recipe that caught my eye was for Pumpkin Hand Pies. The crust couldn’t be easier: throw all of the ingredients into a stand mixer and combine. It doesn’t matter that my hand pies weren’t nearly as photogenic as the photo from MPR’s site (recipe included) because Mike gave me a free pass to make the hand pies again any time.
We served the hand pies with roasted sweet potato coins, pork chops, and cranberries. The cider came into the meal on the table, but also in the hand pies as a substitute for white wine. We used Perennial in the hand pies and served Perennial on the table, though Northern Spy would’ve been a good choice too, especially to complement the pork and cranberries.
I love spaghetti carbonara and all forms of grown-up macaroni and cheese. We served ours with pumpkin soup for an intensely cozy meal. My spaghetti carbonara recipe (based on a Cooks Illustrated recipe) substituted hard cider for the white wine. You can do the same with risotto, which is also a family favorite. We used Perennial in the carbonara and served Perennial on the table.
Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry
I didn’t use cider while I was making the stir fry, which had a sweet and sour sauce, but it struck me that hard cider would make a perfect accompaniment. I served it with Roundabout #4, which is an intensely tangy cider — practically a citrus acidity — with a little body. While it was good, Scrumpy Sweet might have been the better choice to play off the sweet-tart flavor of the vinegar and pineapple.
Of course, we’re still eating apples this year. Besides eating them fresh, we frequently peel, slice, and cook them on the stovetop with some cinnamon and allspice. Another favorite recipe is a cheddar apple scone. The recipe is an easy one-bowl mixer. Save yourself a step and use a dry apple, like a Greening, to skip the apple pre-bake. These will be our New Year’s Day breakfast.
Happy New Year!
We hope the new year brings you good food and plenty of time to enjoy it! We’ll see you on January 16 at 3:00 for wassailing!