So, our Thanksgiving was spent with friends here in Minneapolis, one other family with four children roughly matched to our children's ages. Although each family contains one person who is a pretty good cook if we do say so ourselves, neither one of us particularly wanted to roast a beast; so when he suggested that we order alambres al pastor from the local taqueria, open till 6 on Thanksgiving, and share homemade appetizers and desserts, we said "Olé!"
our friend's homemade guacamole and fresh tomatillo salsa
alambres al pastor ... beast (porcine type) roasted on a spit, sliced thinly and broiled with onions and green peppers and bacon, served with tortillas
fellow friends who also have no family living in the state, seated at my schoolroom table turned into a "grownups table"
I made the best apple crisp I have ever made, and Mark (who loves all fruit crisps) has declared it worthy of its own blog post. The topping was filled with enough pecans so as to be practically praline. I adapted it from this recipe at Once Upon A Chef, which I found by Googling "apple pecan crisp." I doubled it to make two pans of crisp (the recipe below is for the original un-doubled recipe), toasted the nuts, and replaced the wheat flour with finely ground oats in order to accommodate our friend who lives with celiac sprue (and chooses to eat oats, which is somewhat controversial in the celiac community).
The apples I used were about fifty percent Gold Rush apples given to us by Mark's dad, and fifty percent Granny Smith for tartness and structure. Mixed apples make the best fillings, but you want to make sure that at least some of them are tart "baking" apples so you don't wind up with applesauce.
Apple Pecan Crisp (GF)
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp old fashioned rolled oats (divided)*
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (divided)
- Pinch salt
- 6 Tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" dice
- 2 and 1/2 pounds tart baking apples
- Cooking spray or butter for the pan
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a two-quart baking dish (a 12"x8"x2 oval or an 8"x8"2" square will work).
In a heavy dry skillet, toast the pecan pieces over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant, stirring constantly. Do not allow to burn. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Put 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp of the rolled oats in a food processor and process until ground to a coarse "flour." Then add the brown sugar, the salt, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and pulse till combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the oats and pecans. Set aside.
(At this point the mixture can be refrigerated overnight and the recipe can be continued the next day, which is what I did to save time on Thanksgiving.)
Peel the apples, core them, and slice them 1/4" thick. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the remaining 6 Tbsp granulated sugar. Transfer the apples to the prepared baking dish and cover with the oat topping.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven, uncovered, for 40-50 minutes or until the apples are bubbly and concentrated and the topping is toasted and brown. (In my experience, you just have to keep checking until it looks right.)
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
* If gluten is not a problem: You can replace the first 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons of oats, ground in the food processor, with an equal volume of wheat flour, simply pulsed with the sugars and salt to combine. That's what the original recipe called for.