Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apple gingersnap cookies: Welcome to the #SundaySupper Autumn Apple Party

Fall. My favorite time of year. Rustling leaves. Rich colors. Sunlight that breaks in at an angle. Time to turn slowly inward, to the home, to the hearth, to reading books and poetry.

And of course fall serves up some of my favorite foods: rich stews, soups, roasts, made from and with squashes, pumpkins, root vegetables, brussels sprouts, and of course apples.

Summer apples start to appear in farmers markets in mid-summer, but they don't really start to show in large quantities in the markets with their great variety until mid to late August and then there's a flood of them and apple cider for weeks. So many different varieties, names, colors, textures. So much fun to try different varieties and find new favorites.

Apples are not native to the Americas--they originated around the area of Iran--but they have taken hold well here both agriculturally and culturally. One interesting fact about apples is that they are not true breeding. In other words, you could plant the seeds of an apple you love, and not one of the trees that came from that apple would produce apples like it. Most of the apples produced would, in fact, probably be inedible.

Sadly the vast variety of apples that used to exist is declining, in part because there are very few commercially grown varieties of apples. I hate to see the many varieties of apples and their wonderful names disappearing. So I say, get thee to a farmers market and try some new varieties of apples. Or find a farm where you can spend a day picking apples. Then come home and read Robert Frost's poem, "After Apple Picking" and enjoy the satisfaction of a day in the orchard.

This week's Sunday Supper is all about apples. I wanted to try making a cookie that I imagined a few months ago at the height of summer when I absolutely did not wish to bake: Apple gingersnap cookies. Apple and ginger are fantastic flavors together, and this cookie is no exception.

The cookie dough is easy to make, but you need to plan ahead. The dough should chill for at least 12 hours to let the flavors meld. I used boiled apple cider syrup in this recipe, which I discovered last fall, but you can use maple syrup, molasses, or even honey if you prefer, although doing so will change the flavor and the texture of the cookie a bit. For this cookie, I give the ingredients in milliliters and grams because I started with a gingersnap cookie from my favorite Swedish cookbook, Bonniers Stora Kokbok, and modified the recipe from there. Just about every measuring cup will give you the option of using milliliters, just be aware of the difference.


  • 100 ml water
  • 400 ml sugar
  • 300 grams unsalted butter
  • 100 ml apple cider syrup
  • 1 Tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp ground dried ginger
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 250 ml coarsely grated apple (from about 1 peeled, cored apple)
  • 1,200 ml flour (plus more for flouring the board)
  • 2 tsps baking soda


  1. Mix half of the flour (600 ml) with the baking soda and set aside.
  2. Heat water, sugar, butter, apple cider syrup, and spices in a pan on medium heat on the stove until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Then add the grated apples.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the butter-sugar-spice-apple mixture with the flour-baking soda mixture. Then mix in the rest of the flour in bunches. (It's helpful to use a sturdy silicone spatula for this job.) If the dough starts to get too heavy to stir, feel free to get your hands in there and knead like you would a bread dough. (Your hands will smell amazing afterward, by the way.)
  4. When the flour has been completely incorporated into the dough, sprinkle some flour on top, cover the bowl with plastic, and refrigerate the dough for 12 hours. 
  5. On the day you plan to bake the cookies, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees (F). Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper (or use silicone mats if you have them). 
  6. Liberally flour a baking board and roll out slightly less than a quarter of the dough very thinly. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and fill one baking sheet.
  7. Working on one baking sheet at a time, bake the cookies for 7 minutes. (Feel free to try to vary the time a few minutes up or down to get the consistency you want.)
  8. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer them to a cooling rack and re-use the baking sheet for another batch. You will probably end making about 100 cookies, depending on the size of the cookie cutters you are using.
Sunday Supper wouldn't be complete without all the wonderful contributions from the rest of the group. This week's batch of apple goodness is particularly wonderful. Check all these out! 

Soups, Salads, Starters, and Breads

Cinnamon Apple Chips- Shockingly Delicious
Mini Apple Pumpkin Pancakes – The Daily Dish Recipes
Overnight Apple Cinnamon French Toast- In the Kitchen with KP
Curried Apple and Leek Soup-Soni’s Food for Thought
Endive Spears Topped With Apple, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad- The Hand That Rocks the Ladle
Homemade Apple Jam – My Trials in the Kitchen
Caramel Apple Butter Cheesecake Dip- Chocolate Moosey
Caramel Apple Bread – famfriendsfood
Apple Pie Bread Baker Street
Apple, Bacon & Brie Popovers- I Run for Wine
Apple and Almond Brie Puff Pastry- Family Foodie
Apple, Leek and Gruyere Tarts- There and Back Again

Main Meals

Slow Cooker Honey Apple Pork Loin- The Meltaways
Apple-Glazed Meatballs- The Messy Baker
Apples & Buttons (Ham, Apples and Dumplings)- Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Skillet Pork with Sweet Spiced Apples- Mama Mommy Mom
Chicken Apple Meatloaf with Tarragon Tomato Sauce – Diabetic Foodie
Baked Tilapia Apple Crisp- Daddy Knows Less
Pork Tenderloin with Calvados Cream Sauce Sustainable Dad
#SundaySupper Pulled Pork Sandwich With Pickled Red Onions Kwistin’s Favorites


Harvest Rice- Webicurean
Wild Rice with Apples, Dried Cranberries, and Walnuts – Ruffles and Truffles
Apple Topped Sweet Potato Mash- Momma’s Meals
Warm Spice Pecan Raisin Apple Chutney- Sue’s Nutrition Buzz


Double Apple Pot Pie- What Smells So Good?
Apple Walnut Coffee Cake- The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Apple Streusel Cobbler- Big Bear’s Wife
Apple & Moroccan Cinnamon Gooey Sticky Buns- Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends
Spiced Caramel Apple Pie-Chelsea’s Culinary Indulgence
Apple Pear Kuchen for #SundaySupper (Apfel Birnen Kuchen)- Galactosemia in PDX
Apple Strudel - Magnolia Days
Old Fashioned Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce-Noshing with the Nolands
Apple Cheesecake- Vintage Kitchen
Caramel Apple Crumble Bars- Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting- From Fast Food to Fresh Food
Cinnamon Apple Dessert Chimichangas- Juanita’s Cocina
Nutella Apple Quesadilla- Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Apple Crisp Ice Cream- Cravings of a Lunatic
Bavarian Apple Torte- The Lovely Pantry
Streusel Apple Crumb Pie + Pie Freezer Kits- Meal Planning Magic
French Apple Cobbler with Cinnamon-Maple Whipped Cream Weekend Gourmet
Chunky Apple-Apricot Bread Pudding- Comfy Cuisine
Apple Butter Spice Cake – Home Cooking Memories
Apple Pie and Custard- Happy Baking Days
#GlutenFree Deep Dish Carmel Apple Pie- Cooking Underwriter
Country Apple Dumplings- Mom’s Test Kitchen
Apple-Gingersnap Cookies- Tora’s Real Food
Apple and Cranberry Turnovers- Flour on my Face
Applesauce Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze- Hip Foodie Mom
Caramel Frosted Apple Cookies- No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Apple and Pecans Cake- Basic N Delicious
Apple Pull Apart Monkey Bread- Gotta Get Baked


Spiced Apple Ale Small Wallet Big Appetite

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite apple recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat! We’d also love to feature your apple recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pork tacos for Mexican Independence Day and #SundaySupper

I must confess: Until a few weeks ago when the idea of a fiesta for Sunday Supper was first suggested, I had no idea today is Mexican Independence Day, the day when the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) was first sounded on September 16, 1810. Now the day is commemorated throughout Mexico with the ringing of bells, singing of the national anthem, and reading of the names of the heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.

My knowledge of Mexico is pretty weird and spotty. I love the great modern painters of Mexico, such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Rufino Tamayo. As an anthropology major in college, one of my favorite teachers specialized in Mexico, so I learned a lot about mestizo and indio cultures, as well as a rather detailed ethnography of a fishing village on the Gulf coast.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of firsthand experience of the rich culture of Mexico. I spent half a day in Juarez nearly 20 years ago. What do I have an inkling of is the richness of Mexican culinary heritage. Mexican food culture runs deep. Take something as simple and profound as a corn tortilla, which represents a legacy of transforming a simple wild grass (teosinte) into domestic corn over about ten thousand years. But that's not the whole story of corn, consider also the discovery of using slaked lime to make the nutrients of the corn available for human consumption. Another example of the brilliant, extraordinary food heritage that belongs to all humans. Because of this brilliance and the complex flavors that corn tortillas give to food, I've used corn tortillas here, but feel free to use flour tortillas if you prefer them.

Another nod this recipe makes to the deep and complex history of Mexico (and the Americas in general) is in the use of pork (and well, I just like pork). In some ways, pigs could be the poster child of the Columbian Exchange, which Charles C. Mann describes in his fascinating book, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Pigs were first brought to the Americas by Columbus himself, who had eight pigs on his ship (just in case). However, Hernando de Soto really introduced the pig into the Americas. His original 13 pigs became 700 in just a few years, not counting the escapees that became the feral pigs we still see today.* Sadly, the pigs were probably also one of the most important vectors for the diseases that decimated the Americas and distorted our perception of the level of New World civilization and the number of people who lived here before the arrival of Europeans.

I could probably go on and on about the origins, history, and heritage of the ingredients in this dish, but it would likely get tedious for anyone but the biggest food and history geeks out there. Suffice it to say that just about every food we eat has roots and history and meaning, has a story. It's easy to forget when faced with brightly colored plastic packages in the grocery store that shout "New! New! New!" and sport long lists of unpronouncable words, but not so easy to forget when faced with the dignity and simplicity of a warm tortilla, or the complexity of a mole sauce. At any rate, this recipe is a nod to Mexico and to the Columbian Exchange. I hope you enjoy it.


For the pork:

  • pork shoulder (also known as a pork butt), about five pounds
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • juice from two limes
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried and ground chipotle pepper (you could also use some chopped, canned chipotles, about a Tbsp)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the tacos:

  • shredded pork, drizzled with some of the juice from cooking
  • corn tortillas, warmed in a cast-iron pan
  • fresh tomato salsa (or just chop some good tomatoes, a little onion, a little bell pepper, and a little cilantro)
  • sour cream mixed with some milk so that you can drizzle it
  • shredded cheese, if desired


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the pork in a Dutch oven, or other heavy cast-iron pot with a lid. Place it in a 300-degree oven for three to four hours (turn over the meat at least once). This would probably also work well in a slow cooker.
  2. Let the meat cool a little and then pull it off the bone and shred it using forks. Drizzle the meat with some of the cooking liquid. (Strain the liquid and set it aside for another use.)
  3. Heat the tortillas and serve with the shredded pork, salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheese.
And now that you have some delicious, tasty tacos (if you have any leftover meat, consider making some quesadillas tomorrow, or top a salad), why don't you check out all the wonderful recipes that the Sunday Supper crew is serving up for a Mexican Independence Day fiesta. Also, please share your favorite Mexican and Mexican-inspired recipes during the #SundaySupper chat on Twitter at 7 p.m. Eastern time.

Sopas (Soups), Ensaladas (Salads), and Entremeses (Starters)

La Comida (the Food)

Postres (Desserts)

Bebidas (Beverages)

* "A History of Pigs in America" by Mick Vann, The Austin Chronicle, April 10, 2009.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Potato salad with Stilton and bacon for a Labor Day Cookout and #SundaySupper

Labor Day weekend. The last big hurrah of summer. Parties, trips to the beach, barbecues, a whole host of last-minute summer fun jam-packed into a few short days before school starts and work settles in for the long haul of fall.

For me this year, it's a final wild sprint at the end of a somewhat exhausting summer. This is the first time I've been home with my son all day since he was a newborn, while at the same time maintaining a pretty full schedule as a freelance editor and writer on weekends and evenings. I am a little worn out.

If I think about it, the end of summer is always a little tough for me. I key in to the waning of the light, my energy drags, my tolerance for the heat reaches its end, and the fun parts of summer just don't seem that fun anymore.

But in a few weeks, I will start to perk up again. The temperature will slowly come down. The angle and quality of the light will change, mellowing, growing richer, gilding nature while the leaves turn color. And I will crank up the tunes while I fly down highways, exulting in the light and adventure that fall always seems to promise. And there will be fall food: rich stews, apples, hot cider, warm soup, pumpkin caramels, cookies.

For now, though, there's Labor Day, and it is still hot here in Northern Virginia and is likely to be for several more weeks. Which is why a nice cool potato salad seems a great choice to bring to a cookout, like the one that #SundaySupper is having this week. This potato salad is salty with crunchy bacon and smooth Stilton (by far my favorite blue cheese), acidic with the tang of apple cider vinegar, and mellow with the earthiness of potatoes. I like to use a mix of small potatoes, blues, reds, yellows, but you can use any type you've got. Just make sure to cut up the potatoes into nice bite size pieces. This recipe was inspired by a recipe I read in Bon Appetit magazine about 12 years ago, which I have simplified a little. Both versions taste fantastic and really turn a simple potato salad into something special.


  • 3 lbs of potatoes (mixed colors if possible), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 Tbsps olive oil
  • 4 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 small bunch of chives, chopped finely
  • 1 cup Stilton, crumbled (you can use another blue cheese if you prefer, but make sure it's a very good quality cheese)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crispy, crumbled

  1. Whisk olive oil, apple cider vinegar, minced shallots, mustard, salt, white pepper, and chives in a large bowl. 
  2. Cook bacon until it's crispy, drain it on paper towels, and crumble it. 
  3. Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes until they are tender when you poke them with a fork, but still hold their shape.
  4. Drain the potatoes. While they are still hot, add them to the vinaigrette and combine thoroughly. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. 
  5. Just before serving the potato salad, add the bacon and the Stilton to the potatoes and combine thoroughly.
To find out what the rest of the #SundaySupper group is bringing to the Labor Day Cookout, check out all these great recipes, which we will be sharing all day long on Twitter. Also, don't forget to join the #SundaySupper live chat at7 pm ET and tweet your own cookout recipes.

Starters and Snacks

Main Dishes

Salads and Sides



Wine Pairings
  • Labor Day Cookout Food And Wine Pairings by ENOFYLZ