Our hearts continue to beat whether it be for our passion to cook, snowy days, joys of motherhood or fatherhood, wagging tails and furry friends, the anticipation for the last frost and planting the garden, or the fact that if we eat healthy and add 3-4 helpings of fruit to our daily diets we can continue to be around to enjoy one of the most celebrated holidays coming up...Valentines Day!
I saw that The Alchemist is hosting a Valentine Dessert contest, and have been thinking of what creation would be in my usual form of 'Way Out Combination' of flavor and ingredients that most of you have come to see. I had thought about a wild Swahili apple bake with spun sugar, or perhaps a wacky cup cake that included raspberries and chocolate. Apples would be the main ingredient, but I thought about combination's we have had in ways that were sweet but tart and spicy.
My inspiration comes from my love of mixed green salad, apples, spicy walnuts and blue cheese...but take away the mixed greens and make some homemade fried and baked pies...and in the shape of hearts! My mom was quite the baker, and she loved her beloved southern fried pies.
Mom was cautious about letting me into the kitchen, because of my wild mixtures and ideas, so this would have been a Momma No-No in her kitchen, but in mine...
I cute up six to seven Gala apples; which are sweet nor tart, add some grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon bark, ginger, star anise, and spicy walnut pieces I have made. Pre-bake about 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts that have egg whites, powder sugar and chipotle chili powder on them for about 20 minutes; cool and crush in baggy with mallet. Cut apples into pieces and soak in lemon juice and apple cider; add 1 cup powder sugar; cook all ingredients for about 20 minutes; set aside to cool and stir in walnuts.
Raise your hands if you knew that 'Powder Sugar' is nothing but finely ground sugar with corn starch added...I use this when I want a filling thickened and it will not be too sweet with the spice added. Be careful though, because it also can contain whole wheat flour and other things to help its fluidity, and that is not Gluten Free!
Roll out pie crust (some use biscuit dough, pie crust is good for baking). Cut into 5 inch wide rectangular sheets, flour, and then fold over in half. Take a sheet of heavy weight paper and cut out a heart shape, and trace onto pie crust with a fold on one side. Fill with apple filling and add sprinkle of blue cheese. Bake 375 degrees- till golden brown, or drop in oil and fry if desired.
I have made the traditional half moon shapes with apricots soaked in brand with goat cheese, rum soaked peaches with cheddar cheese, and they all work wonderfully!
The picture is a little off kilter, but isn't love that way some times...