One of the great pleasures of winter, for me at least, is that it’s an opportunity to curl up on the couch and catch up on some TV/movie watching and general laziness. This weekend has been particularly cold, with windchills bringing the temperature down to minus 25 Celcius (around minus 8 F). Yesterday I braved the cold and got some errands done, my teeth chattering the whole way through. My bravery was rewarded with a great find at a thrift shop; for $40 I picked up a solid wood dresser that with a little love is destined to become a TV stand in my new place (I was channeling my inner Sarah Richardson).
So today I feel zero guilt in my plan to watch super hero movies all day, starting with Thor (how hot is Chris Hemsworth in that movie?) followed by Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. The fireplace is roaring, and my super cozy wool blanket is waiting for me. As I get carried away into these fantastical worlds where the good guys always win, I will be munching on this Spiced Kettle Corn. Stove top popcorn is really easy to make, and doesn’t take much more time or effort than microwave popcorn. There is also the added bonus of controlling the ingredients that go into your popcorn and knowing there are no random chemicals leaching into your food. In this recipe I added a touch of cayenne and garlic powder to give the popcorn a spicy/savoury kick. I was a little worried about the garlic and sugar together, but in the end I found the flavours really worked together. You can substitute any spices you like in this recipe.
Spiced Kettle Corn
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
- salt to taste
- Mix the sugar, garlic powder and cayenne together. Set aside.
- In a large heave bottomed pot that has a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the popcorn and cover. When you hear the oil start to sizzle, stir in the sugar mixture then cover again. Shake the pot constantly to keep the sugar from burning. When the pops slow to once every two to three seconds remove the pot from the heat, keep shaking until the popping stops completely.
- Pour the popcorn into a serving bowl and season with salt.
Last weekend I made my annual journey to St-Joseph-du-Lac, one of the apple picking hot spots in Quebec. The weather was incredible, close to 30 C with the humidity and sunny. Not at all the typical apple picking weather I was expecting. Normally the air up north is cool and crisp at this time of year, instead it was hot and sticky.
There were tons of people out there. We even got stuck in apple picking traffic, who knew there was even such a thing? The traffic was frustrating, but we eventually made it out into the orchard. We repeated last years taste test, and once again decided the Cortland was the way to go. Cortlands were originally bred from McIntosh, but they are firmer and sweeter. They’ll hold their shape in a pie, but you can also make a sauce out of them.
We got our hands on a good ladder and claimed a Cortland tree, then picked 20 lbs for each of us. Hopefully that’ll be enough for all the things I have planned!
When of my favourite things about apple picking is the cider doughnuts. Unfortunately, this years doughnuts were sub par, too greasy, not enough cinnamon sugar. I left the orchard craving something more, something better. The solution was to make them myself, but my deep frying experience has yielded mixed results and I didn’t want another disappointment. Instead I decided to make doughnut muffins with an apple cinnamon filling. The nutmeg in the batter and the cinnamon sugar coating completely satisfied my craving. They really do have the texture of a cake doughnut. The fact that they’re dipped in butter probably helps too.
Though these tasted amazing, I have to say that some of them fell apart when I took then out of muffin tin. I think it was my fault for letting the apple filling spread too much in the muffin, it basically created a complete separation between the layers of batter so the muffin top just came off. If you’re going to fill the muffins like I did make sure to make a little well in the batter for the filling.
Another thing you should know is that they are huge muffins. I adapted this from a Fine Cooking recipe, many of the commenters said they made these in mini muffin tins which I think is a great idea if you’re not using a filling.
Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 apples, peeled cored and diced
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp flour
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp yogurt
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tsps cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- Make the filling: In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook stirring often until the apples are tender and release their juices. Add the flour and stir until the juices thicken. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Make the muffin batter: In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time beating till well combined after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Add the flour into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and yogurt (you should start and finish with the flour).
- Grease a muffin tin. Scoop half the batter into the muffin tin, make a little well in each muffin and fill each with a tablespoon of the apple filling. Top with the remaining batter.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Let cool completely.
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping. Dip the tops of the muffins into the melted butter then dip them into the sugar to coat.