I Made A Video

About my favorite sandwich. Because I'm very normal and definitely do not have too much time on my hands.


Peanut Butter & Jelly!

(Starring Peanut Butter & Jelly).


Apple Betty and Me

On a beautiful Saturday in October, when sisters are readily available, it's important to go apple picking.

Not everyone can have sisters, and that's too bad, but everyone can find a few apples somewhere, and everyone should, at least once, try to make an apple betty.

If the gosh darn gee whiz wholesomeness of the name alone doesn't get you (I mean, come on - apple betty! Paging June Cleaver...), maybe the brown sugar shortbread base piled with spiced apples, gingersnap cookie crumbs and a wash of melted butter will.

If you think something like this sounds awesome, that's because it is. Awesome. The shortbread is rich and warm and, thanks to the brown sugar, tastes almost like caramel. The apples roll around in a bit of sugar, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger, get a shot of citrus juice and vanilla, and are then buried in a mess of spicy gingersnaps and doused with smooth, liquid butter, which, of course, permeates the entire betty with a round richness that's just so good you could cry. You could cry, people.

But, instead of crying, you'll probably ask yourself what the hell apple pie is even doing here anymore, and deftly cut yourself another slice. Of the easiest and most delicious apple dessert you'll make this fall: a betty.

Apple Betty
Adapted from
Gourmet Magazine, September 2000

Since I came across this recipe a week ago, I've made it twice. Two times. In one week. Apple betty and I made our debut at a fun family dinner in Philadelphia, and we were applauded so thoroughly I thought I'd bring her out again to celebrate the recent engagement (!) of my dear friends Jenny and Steve. Betty didn't disappoint on her second outing, even though I used graham cracker crumbs instead of ginger snaps.

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups homemade or store bought gingersnaps
for shortbread base:
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
for apple filling:
  • 1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 lb tart apples (I like Granny Smith, Golden Delicious or McIntosh)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

To make shortbread: Pulse the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until small lumps form (the dough will not seem to fully come together, but will look sandy). Sprinkle the dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and press evenly to form the base of the apple betty. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While the shortbread bakes, grind your gingersnaps and prepare your filling. Place gingersnaps in a food processor and pulse until they look like bread crumbs. Peel, core and slice apples into 1/4-inch slices, and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle apples with 1/3 cup of sugar, ground cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Squeeze citrus juices on top of apples and add vanilla extract. Stir apples with clean hands or a spoon to evenly coat with sugar, juice and spices. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together flour and 2/3 cup sugar.

Melt the 1 1/4 sticks butter on the stove top or in the microwave.

When the shortbread is out of the oven and still warm, sprinkle it with half of the sugar/flour mixture. Layer the apples, then the remaining sugar/flour mixture, and top with an even sprinkling of ground gingersnaps. Drizzle the melted butter on top of it all, and

bake in upper third of oven, pressing down on filling with a metal spatula halfway through baking, until apples are very tender and gingersnap crumbs are deeply golden, 50 minutes to 1 hour total. Cool 20 minutes in pan on a rack. Serve with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 10-12.


Sort of a Beautiful Place

As it turns out, I was in Seattle last weekend. I'd never been before, and it's sort of a beautiful place, if you're into amazing markets and fresh fish and misty ocean views.

I spent the weekend eating and boating and biking, walking through parks and markets, and surrounding myself with fleece-wearing, messenger-bag-toting computer geniuses. I even stumbled upon some sort of medieval sword fighting slash jousting convention in Gas Works Park (definitely a highlight of the trip - and definitely still kicking myself for not getting a photo).

I touched a starfish at the Seattle Aquarium,

and got completely overwhelmed at Pike Place Market.

I ate the best crumpet I've ever tasted at The Crumpet Shop, a little tea nook and bakery on 1st Avenue by Pike Street.

And y'know what? It barely rained a drop. All that talk about Seattle being all wet and brooding? Lies. They don't want you to know, but Seattle is actually gorgeous and flecked with sunshine (at least, it is in September). That said, I might have to go back and double check the whole weather situation. It'd be a sacrifice, but I think it's one I'm willing to make - for my readers, of course. The trip would totally be a weather-researching thing. I mean, it'd have nothing to do with crumpets, that's for sure.

Crumpets with Butter, Ricotta and Jam

Recipe from The Bread Book by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake

  • 2 cups (230g) bread flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (230g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons), plus ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups (510ml) lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons (10g) salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (140ml) lukewarm milk
  • unsalted butter
  • whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • your favorite jam (I like blackberry)

Sift together the flours and cream of tartar into a large bowl. Mix the yeast and the sugar with ¾ cup lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining lukewarm water.

Combine the yeast mixture with the flours in the bowl of an electric mixer set with the paddle attachment. Mix until you get a very thick, but smooth batter. (If you don't have an electric mixer, use a wooden spoon and beat vigorously for about two minutes). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the batter rises and then falls, about 1 hour.

Add the salt and beat the batter for about 1 minute. Then re-cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot for 15 to 20 minutes to rest.

Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm milk. Then gently stir it into the batter. If the batter seems too stiff, add a bit of lukewarm water to loosen it up a bit. (You'll know if the batter is too stiff if, when you fry up a crumpet, no holes form - crumpets are supposed to be very light and full of holes. No holes = too stiff, add water).

Heat an oiled griddle or frying pan (cast iron works best) over moderately low heat for about 3 minutes until very hot. Put a well-greased crumpet ring (who owns crumpet rings? Feel free to use a round cookie cutter) on the griddle. Spoon or pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the ring. The amount of batter will depend on the size of your crumpet ring (or cookie cutter).

As soon as the batter is poured into the ring, it should begin to form holes. If holes do not form, add a little more lukewarm water, a tablespoon at a time, to the batter in the bowl and try again. If the batter is too thin and runs out under the ring, gently work in a little more all-purpose flour and try again. Once the batter is the proper consistency, continue cooking the crumpets in batches, three or four at a time. As soon as the top surface is set and covered with holes, 7 to 8 minutes, the crumpet is ready to flip over.

To flip the crumpet, remove the ring with a towel or tongs, then turn the crumpet carefully with a spatula. The cooked side should be chestnut brown. Cook the second, holey side of the crumpet for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale golden. The crumpet should be about ¾ inch thick. Remove the crumpet from the griddle. Grease the crumpet rings well after each use.

While the crumpets are still warm, slather each with a pat of butter, a mound of ricotta and a spoonful of jam. Eat immediately, accompanied by a cup of tea and, if you can find one, a fleece-wearing computer genius.

Makes about 18 crumpets.


Writer Waiting

Oh this shiny new computer--
There just isn't nothin' cuter.
It knows everything the world ever knew.
And with this great computer
I don't need to writin' tutor,
'Cause there ain't a single thing that it can't do.
It can sort and it can spell,
It can punctuate as well.
It can find and file and underline and type.
It can edit and select,
It can copy and correct,
So I'll have a whole book written by tonight
(Just as soon as it can think of what to write).

-Shel Silverstein