my bestie emma was in town from san francisco last week. what a dream. she was around for about 2 weeks, and it felt like 2 hours. i can’t explain the pure grief i went through when it was time for her to go back to san francisco. it was a real loss for me. she brings such bright light and sweet joy to everyone’s life that she passes into. thanks for all of the time you spent with me, emma!
to make the most of our time together, the awesome friend trio, erin, emma, and myself, made a visit to the local apple orchard. in my mind, i’ll forever associate autumn with trips to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch with emily. it’s sort of her “thing”. it’s not officially autumn until you make a trip to pick apples, you know. we stuffed ourselves on apples. we bought half a bushel, and that is a lot of apples. we climbed trees, threw apples at each other, and taste tested any apple we could get our hands on.
we had a great dinner party afterward, to get rid of a few apples. we had apple and spinach stuffed pork tenderloin, which was super tasty. i love pork and apples. serious love. pork tenderloin is particularly easy to entertain with. (since we were cooking for so many, i made 3 tenderloins. i will reduce the recipe to 4 servings for practicality.) i pounded them out flat, stuffed them, tied ’em up, and let them marinate for a few hours. brian threw them on the grill for me, and they were finished in about 30 minutes. we also had butternut squash with apple smoked bacon and toasted walnuts. i am madly in love with this combination. i will make it our official fall side dish. for desert, we gobbled up an apple upside down cake, which turned out pretty great.
we had a truth or dare bonfire after dinner, so the rest of the night was a little foggy. i just know that there was wine. lots and lots of wine.
here are the recipes!
spinach and apple stuffed pork tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 cup spinach
few sprigs of trimmed rosemary, chopped (maybe a tablespoon or more)
1/4 cup or so apple cider vinegar
salt (after the pork is finished cooking!)
poultry string, 4 pieces cut into 6″ strands, to tie up the porkie
on a clean counter top or cutting board, pound the tenderloin until it is about half an inch thick. it may take 10 minutes or so of a good beating, but it is possible. try to get the entire piece of meat uniform in thickness.
careful you don’t pound through anywhere.
pour half the vinegar over the meat. sprinkle the rosemary and pepper over the meat. *don’t salt it yet. salting before you cook meat is a good way to lose juice and flavor, or make the meat really tough, unless you are brining.
spread the apple slices onto the meat, then the spinach on top of that.
roll the tenderloin long way, so you have a long tube of meat, securing with string as you go along. tuck in all of the spinach and apples that sneak out.
pour the rest of the vinegar over the pork and set aside to marinate for an hour. pork should be at room temp for half an hour before cooking. throw onto the grill, indirect heat, for half an hour or so. let it rest for 10 minutes before sprinkling with salt and pepper. cut string off and serve.
butternut squash with toasted walnuts and crisped bacon
1 medium butternut squash
few sprigs rosemary, trimmed and chopped
knob of butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup whole milk (or heavy cream for a special treat)
2 tbsp brown sugar
5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
1 cup walnuts, chopped
method: preheat oven to 450f. rinse the outer skin of the squash and dry. with a sharp knife, cut down the squash lengthwise. smear the flesh with butter. sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. place onto greased cookiesheet, flesh side down, and roast for 40 minutes or so. you’ll know it’s done when the skin is brown and papery. you should be able to pierce it easily with a dull knife. don’t be alarmed if the flesh is black around the edges. this is a special treat. the starches in the squash cook into a nice, deeply flavored sugary crust. try to include this into the puree.
while squash is cooling, over low heat, toast the walnuts until they become just fragrant. these burn easily, watch it.
set nuts aside to cool.
once squash is done, set aside to cool for half an hour or so. now scoop the flesh out from the skin into a large bowl or kitchen aid bowl. the papery skin may try to cling onto the flesh, so you should use care in doing this.
pour milk or cream over squash and add brown sugar. whip with mixer until well mixed and smooth. taste it. -here is where you can add some more cream, salt, pepper, or brown sugar.
scoop into a pretty bowl and sprinkle bacon and nuts over top. a little butter melting on top doesn’t hurt, either.
i’ll now include my recipe for apple upside down cake, though i’ve posted it before on this blog. i’ve adjusted the recipe slightly, as has the author of the original recipe over at comfy belly. the previous cake contained a lot of liquid, so i’ve cut out the butter from the cake batter and used thicker yogurt to further reduce the water content. i really like this mildly sweet cake, and it’s become a seasonal regular in our house. use tart apples for maximum flavor. i served it with maple whipped cream, but it would be great with vanilla ice cream, or maybe a small glass of bourbon. what? don’t be a square.
apple upside down cake
2 cups almond flour, packed
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey
3 tart apples, cored & sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
preheat oven to 300f. prep spring form or regular 9″ cake pan with butter and round of parchment.
in large skillet, saute thinly sliced apples in a little butter and cinnamon for 5 minutes or so, until they are just tender. -you don’t want to over cook them, remember they will cook a little while baking, too. remove from heat and place in a pretty pattern on parchment. i did spirals patterns, trying to close the gaps so the batter wouldn’t seep through much. don’t pour the tasty syrup into the pan, you’ll only have a soggy cake. sprinkle brown sugar over the apples and stick pan into the freezer while you prep the cake.
meanwhile, combine dry ingredients, breaking clumps from the almond meal.
separately, mix wet ingredients. be sure the eggs are well beaten into the batter to ensure an even and smooth batter.
combine wet and dry together.
pour the batter over the apples.
bake for 40 minutes on middle rack of oven.
you’ll know when it is done by using toothpick test, and cake is not jiggly when you give it a tap.
let it cool in the pan for at least an hour. i usually let it cool for a few hours so the syrup from the fruit sets up before i invert it.