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Apple Sage Fritters

About a month ago I started a new job at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, working in their education and programming departments.  It’s amazing and I love it.  And, in an effort to keep work life separate, that is all I will say about it.  Except that I love my coworkers because they are sweet and wonderful and on occasion bring sage in from home.  Which, it turns out, I use by frying it.  Because I have to stay true to my roots.

There is something about sage where, when I smell it, I can only pictured it paired with a granny smith apple.  Sometimes that means on top of a burger or a pork chop, and other times that means in pie.  When I first started dreaming up the apple/sage dessert, I was picturing something akin to a hand pie.  Something bite sized but definitely in the realm of pie.  But I kept describing it to people (Dan) as a fritter.  Not because I can’t tell the difference between a pie and a fritter, but because apple sage fritter sounded better than apple sage pie. And because I’m crazy.

So I set out to make fritters.  And they were so good.  And I was in heaven.  And for a brief, fleeting moment (a week or so), I wanted to cheat on pie with fritters.  I’ve calmed down a bit, and now I just want to be polygamous.  Also, ALSO, I fried these on the grill.  Partially because I’m obsessed with my grill and partially because frying things on the grill is THE BEST THING EVER.  Because here’s the deal, internet.  Since I turned 18 and left the comfort of my parent’s house, where there was always pickled okra and tomatoes,  I’ve lived in apartments.  And you know what is NOT fun to do in apartments?  Fry things.  But, as a southerner who requires a quotient of fried food in her diet, I fried in my apartments.  And it was smoky and hot and messy.  But not any more.  Now I will fry ON MY GRILL.

Apple Sage Fritters

2 granny smith apples

1 cup fresh sage leaves

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Oil for frying

In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, eggs, and vanilla.  In another mixing bowl combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Mince sage and add that.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Peel and dice your apples.  Fold them into the batter.

Place a large cast iron skillet directly on the grill and heat your oil to 350 degrees.  With a spoon (for a more freely shaped fritter) or an ice cream scoop (for a rounder fritter), drop your fritter into the oil.  The batter should sink and then float to the top.  Fry for 2-4 minutes and then, using a slotted spoon, turn them over.  Fry an additional 2-4 minutes or until both sides are golden brown.

Remove from oil and set on a paper towel.  Douse with powdered sugar.  Let cool, and devour.

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Burgers 101

Recently, a friend and blog reader made a request.  She asked for a how-to post on burgers, not unlike the one I did for steak or slicing an onion.  And because I really appreciate requests, and Erin is awesome (she gave Dan and I internships with her institution and is practically the reason we’re married), here it is.  i know that I’ve posted other burger recipes on this site that include a lot of pop and whiz but usually, when we eat hamburgers, we’re purists about the burger itself.  That means ground beef, usually somewhere in the 80% lean range, with sea salt and pepper.  This is enough for me, it lets the flavor of the beef and the grill speak.  And that’s the flavor I want.

First, you want to season your meat.  In a large bowl, combine ground beef with 1 tbsp of salt and 1/2 tbsp pepper.  Next, it needs to be shaped.  Shaping a burger is a two step process. Start by putting about a quarter cup to a third of a cup’s worth of meat in your palm.  Use your hands to shape the meat into a firm ball, nicely round and totally together.  Then, use both hands to flatten the patty.  The burger should be 4 or 5 inches in diameter, and 1/2″ thick.

Now, get your grill nice and hot.  Once your grill is ready, give your patties a final squish (particularly in the middle where they tend to puff), and throw them on the grill.  For a burger cooked to a medium doneness, which is slightly pink in the middle, cook it for 5-7 minutes each side.  Just like with steak, you only want to flip it once.  Stick it on the grill, put the lid down and walk away.  Resist the urge to press it down with your spatula or hover, it needs to cook.  Flip, and cook an additional 5-7 minutes.  For a burger cooked medium rare, bring the time down to 3-5 minutes per side, and for medium well, bump up to 7-9 minutes.  Let rest a few minutes and enjoy!

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Strawberry Lime Tart

This weekend was full of interesting things, such as cookouts (called “barbeques” by all our new Maryland friends (that I have now offended by correcting them, in person and on the interwebs)), and me offending even more people by stating that I think the Maryland license looks like something a 12 year old printed at home, especially compared to the glory that is the North Carolina license.  In there between offending people I photographed a three day old, played guitar hero (rock band?) for the first time, and nearly killed all my seedlings by exposing them to the July like weather.  Also, I made a strawberry tart.  For the cookout.

Let me just say that I’ve been experimenting with my doughs.  And while everyone knows you don’t mess with a good thing, I can’t help myself.  I’ve been adding sour cream, playing around with flour/shortening ratios, and changing my techniques.  The results have been hit or miss.  Sometimes they look and taste perfect, other times they look great but taste mediocre, and sometimes they taste amazing but look like something that got ran over.

This pie was the latter.  It looked just miserable, all squashed and deflated, but it tasted phenomenal.  My issue was a shortening to flour one, it just wasn’t right, so with this recipe I’ll give you my traditional, always works even when you *try* to mess it up, dough recipe.  You should try it, especially while strawberries are BIG and HUGE and full of BIG HUGE FLAVOR.  It’s pretty fail proof, unless, apparently, you’re me.

Strawberry Lime Tart

1 pint of fresh strawberries

2 limes

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp honey

Pie dough (recipe here)

1 egg

Make your dough, as instructed.

Slice your strawberries.  In a large bowl, toss in the juice from your limes.  Set aside approximately half of your strawberry slices.

To the remaining half add sugar and corn starch.  Toss, and then use a fork or pastry knife to mash.

Roll your dough out to 1/4″ thin.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer your mashed berries to the center of the dough.  Over top, arrange remaining strawberries in a circle.  Fold the edges of the dough over the berries so they are less than halfway covered.

Brush dough with egg.  Brush strawberries with honey.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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