Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Many years ago, we had a cookbook from Maine that had the most extraordinary apple pie recipe. It had a layer of crushed graham crackers and caramel sauce underneath the apples. We lost that cookbook in the move to our new kitchen, but every fall when the apples are being harvested I think back to this recipe. This year, I decided to re-create it in an apple crisp. It sure took less time than making a pie, but the flavor combination was there. 
 
For gluten-free cooking, try substituting gluten-free cookies for the graham crackers and brown rice flour for the flour. I think you might be pleased.
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Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
SERVINGS
9servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30-40mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50-60mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. ​​Lightly grease 8x8” square baking dish​
  2. Filling: Toss apples together with brown sugar, cinnamon,​ flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and the melted butter.
  3. Topping: Melt butter in a medium bowl and add all other topping ingredients. Mix until crumbly and evenly mixed.
  4. Sprinkle over apples and pat down lightly. Bake at 350º for about 30-40 minutes, until apples are soft​ and the filling bubbles and the crisp is golden.​​
  5. Meanwhile make Salted Caramel Sauce​: Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium​ saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. ​It's okay if the sugar begins to ​form clumps​-​ keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
  6. Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, it will be around 350 degrees F.​ Watch this step very carefully!​
  7. Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
  8. Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will bubble up ferociously.
  9. Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel ​or kosher salt ​and whisk to incorporate.
  10. Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour int​o jars. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
  11. ​Serve crisp warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

Garden Herb Focaccia Bread

It was 45 minutes till dinnertime, and we were in pretty good shape toward getting the meal completed and served on time (barring any unforeseen circumstances). No sooner had I had this thought, than one of our number spoke up excitedly and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to add fresh baked bread to the dinner?”

“Oh NO!” was my immediate response.

Provide fresh baked bread for 63 people in 45 minutes! I felt like one of the disciples when Jesus told them to feed the hungry multitude with one little boy’s lunch! However, knowing this sister as well as I did, I knew it was no use trying to discourage her from making this happen; once her heart was set on something, nothing was apt to change it, so no one even tried. The result? Fresh baked bread in less than 45 minutes, beautifully golden on the outside and perfectly textured and filled with fresh garden herbs inside…a miracle for all!

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Garden Herb Focaccia Bread
SERVINGS
8servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
35mins
PREP TIME
10mins
READY IN
45mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1/2 cup of the water; do not stir.
  3. Let stand 1-2 minutes or until the surface becomes bubbly.
  4. While yeast is bubbling, combine flour and table salt in a large bowl.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in yeast mixture and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  6. Stir with wooden spoon or mixer, and add remaining 1/4 cup.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes, adding small spoonfuls of flour if necessary.
  8. Spread dough into a lightly greased baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place (low oven, heating pad) 10-15 minutes.
  9. Let rise in a warm place- about 80-85 degrees - until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
  10. Using the end of a wooden spoon, indent the dough every 1-2 inches.
  11. Combine remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil and herbs until leaves are broken up and oil is fragrant.
  12. Pour over dough. Rub gently into surface. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  13. Bake 10-12 minutes, in a 375 degree oven.
  14. Let cool and cut into wedges.

Note: The speed of this bread is due to the quick rising in a warm place. I like using the oven light or a heating pad. If you don't have a warm place, no problem, just let it rise more slowly on your kitchen counter.

 

Summer Double Berry Cobbler

In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity. This week’s recipe is from a dear friend, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN TV host. She is an award-winning author of more than two dozen books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. She is the founder of the “Feeding the Body and Soul Movement.” More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.

From Donna-Marie “Ahh, summertime! A time of well-deserved rest comes with a welcome change of scenery and in-season fruits. While making our plans, let’s not forget about our prayer lives. A change in schedule and eagerness to “get away from it all” might cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We mustn’t let our prayer life go on vacation.


So that family prayer continues to happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it. Many inconveniences pop up in the heart of the family, and God knows we can’t drop to our knees to pray while taking care of pressing family needs. He also knows we are a work in progress, too. When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, we should try again to make it work. If we have done our best, He will surely reward us for persevering, and for training our children and grandchildren to develop committed relationships with Him.

Don’t miss family time in the kitchen, too. Why not make my Summer Double Berry Cobbler together? Make an extra pan and gift it to someone who might need a lift. God bless you! ”

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Summer Double Berry Cobbler
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
30 mins
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
50 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash berries (if using frozen berries, no need to wash! and mix with sugar (or honey), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, vanilla and cinnamon (if using). Place in a buttered pie dish or 4 quart baking dish.
  3. Next, make biscuit dough topping. Whisk together flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or honey), baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center and stir in the milk (or yogurt) and beaten egg.
  5. Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the berries. Bake for 30 min. or until well browned and berry mixture is bubbling and dough is cooked.

Amazingly delicious when served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or even a spoonful of greek yogurt. Enjoy!

Thank you, Donna Marie, for such a delightful summer recipe!
The Gourmet Nuns

Blackberry Balsamic Salad with Crispy Fried Goat Cheese​ and Grilled Chicken​

We continue to enjoy the harvest from our gardens over these summer months. This week we had an abundance of beautiful lettuce, so we expanded our repertoire and tried out some new combinations for our guests at Bethany. The crisp, salty, creaminess of the fried goat cheese paired with the sweet and pungent combination of the blackberry balsamic vinaigrette is the key here. Summer is a wonderful time to experiment with all sorts of combinations in a salad. “The colors of a fresh garden salad are so extraordinary, no painter’s pallet can duplicate nature’s artistry.” Have fun creating, eating, sharing, and enjoying nature’s storehouse!

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Blackberry Balsamic Salad with Crispy Fried Goat Cheese​ and Grilled Chicken​
SERVINGS
4servings
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
servings
COOK TIME
10mins
PREP TIME
10 mins(30 mins marinate)
READY IN
30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
  1. Mix everything well​ in the blender until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.​
Fried Goat Cheese
  1. ​Dredge the goat cheese slices/balls in the flour
  2. Dip in the beaten egg
  3. Dip in panko
  4. Fry in oil over medium heat until lightly golden brown before setting aside on paper towels to drain.
Salad
  1. Marinate the chicken in half of the vinaigrette for 30 minutes to over night before grilling over medium-high heat until​ golden and cooked through, about 2-5 minutes per side​. Set aside to cool and slice.
  2. Assemble the salad and enjoy!

Note: Best enjoyed while the fried goat cheese is still warm from frying!

Lemon-Almond Butter Cake

This past week, we invited artists to step away for a few days of retreat as they enjoyed renewing their vision and sharing together, in an atmosphere of Benedictine hospitality on the shores of beautiful Cape Cod Bay. Each day was punctuated by two lectures given by renowned art historian, Msgr. Timothy Verdon. He  shared his passionate love of art, with beautiful images—both familiar and unknown—in a series of seven post-Easter lectures. Art lovers had the opportunity to fellowship together, while Msgr. Verdon discussed what it means to see with artistic understanding. It was a treat for our entire community and a privilege to be behind the scenes creating meals for them to enjoy. (Read more about the retreat here!)
Oscar Wilde said, “The artist is the creator of beautiful things.” Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, I believe that you are. Every one of us wishes to create beautiful things out of nothing. Take this Lemon-Almond Butter Cake for example…
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Lemon-Almond Butter Cake
SERVINGS
19" tart
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
9" tart
COOK TIME
1hr
PREP TIME
20mins
READY IN
3hrs

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. For the curd, combine zest, juice, sugar, salt and eggs in a heatproof bowl, and beat well.
  2. Add butter, and place over a saucepan full of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until mixture thickens into curd, about 5 minutes.
  3. Strain into a bowl, and press plastic wrap onto surface to keep skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch spring-form pan with 1 tablespoon butter, and dust with 1 tablespoon flour, shaking out excess.
  5. With an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter and 1 cup sugar together until light and fluffy. Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt, and stir in.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until they start to foam. Do not overbeat or the cake will be tough. Add eggs and ground almonds to batter, and mix well.
  7. Scrape batter into the prepared pan. Drop 8 individual tablespoons lemon curd around perimeter of batter, leaving a 1-inch border, and taking care to space drops evenly.
  8. Drop 3 to 4 tablespoons curd into center of batter. Refrigerate remaining curd for another use. Sprinkle cake with toasted almonds and 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar, depending on taste.
  9. Bake until cake is toasty brown on top and a toothpick inserted into cake (not curd) comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
  10. Let cool on rack 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan, and cool completely.
  11. Whip cream with almond liqueur. Present cake at table, and offer whipped cream on the side.
(Recipe adapted from the New York Times)

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

“Who wants to take on care of the rhubarb patch?” This question went out a few days ago to the sisterhood from the sister in charge of our vegetable gardens. Before the day was over the question had been answered, the patch had been watered, and the fertilizing process begun.
We love our rhubarb patch. We love to watch it come into fruition producing its rich beautiful leaves and stems. We love to see it harvested and prepared for the many different ways we use it.

For this year’s Easter dinner various sisters volunteered to make a variety of very special desserts. There were several decadent chocolate wonders. There were tortes and trifles piled high with tantalizing toppings. There were brand new gourmet creations anyone of which could have taken a prize, and then there were a number of humble pies. So…which dessert do you think was most requested? You’re absolutely right. It was our old-fashioned, flavorful strawberry rhubarb pie. Unfortunately, some had to go without!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
SERVINGS
8 people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
45-50mins
PREP TIME
30mins
READY IN
1 hr20 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
  2. For the pie crust: Combine the salt and flour together. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until it is about pea-size pieces.
  3. Add the water to the flour a little at a time using a fork to lightly mix it. Continue to add the water until the dough just comes together – don’t over work the dough or it will become tough.
  4. Shape the dough into a flat disk, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once it is ready divide the dough in half and roll out the bottom crust and place in a pie dish.
  5. Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, and salt. Turn into the unbaked pie shell.
  6. Roll out the top crust and place over the filling. Crimp to seal edges and make a few slits along the top. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling.

Note: Rhubarb is tart. The strawberries provide sweetness but, depending on your taste, you might want to add more sugar.