A simple dessert and an unexpected meal

One of the things I’m enjoying about my retirement, where cooking is concerned, is the freedom to find things–seasonal and fresh–at the grocery store or the market and then come home and think of yummy things to do with them.  Apples are at their peak right now, and yesterday at the grocery store I found some really tasty, small Granny Smith apples.  Now I love Granny Smiths for baking, but usually all I see are the gigantic ones.  These little ones are crisp and juicy and nicely tart.  I got a bag of them without knowing what I was going to do with them.  Then last night, when I pulled out my favorite Dorie Greenspan cookbook, Around My French Table, to refresh my memory about her wonderful beet salad (see Friday’s post) my eyes, as luck would have it, happened to land on a stunning photo of an apple tart.  I read the recipe and it looked so simple, and so pure, and yet so full of apple-y goodness, that I could not resist using it for my little apples.

So today I made this:

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake...ready to eat

Dorie Greenspan’s recipe has been included on Epicurious, so here’s the link to it.  I followed the recipe exactly, except that I didn’t have a 8-inch springform, so I used a 9-inch and baked it a little less time.  It may be a little flatter than hers, but it still tastes divine.  It was really one of the simplest baked desserts I’ve come across.

At the farmer’s market this morning at the Quarry, I found some beautiful fresh beets that I bought to make the beet salad.  When I got home, I noticed that the greens on these beets were beautiful and fresh and throwing them away seemed like some kind of sin against nature.

I had never eaten beet greens before, but I thought they looked like Swiss chard, so I decided to go ahead and cook them.  I took the tough parts of the stems off and cut the greens into pieces.  Then, working on the theory that everything is improved by the addition of bacon, I diced two pieces of bacon, fried it in a saucepan, then added some sliced onion and chopped garlic.  After those were cooked, I added about 1/2 cup of chicken broth, brought it to a boil, and added the beet greens.  I wasn’t sure if they would be more like spinach (cooked in a minute or so) or like collard greens (better cooked for longer) so I just kept tasting them.  To my surprise they cooked up really fast, like spinach, and they were super-tender and to my mind tasted even better than spinach, which I love dearly.  I had some leftover cooked white rice from the Kung Pao Chicken yesterday, so I dumped it in when the greens were done.  And that was lunch–one of the better lunches I’ve had in a long time.

Beet Greens with Bacon and Rice

I wasn’t going to even mention this meal here, because it wasn’t exactly photogenic and it didn’t include any fancy cooking techniques, but it was so good I just had to include it.  So please, if you get your hands on any pretty, fresh beet greens–don’t throw those babies away.

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