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Cider: Seasonal twist on simple recipes

Oct 6th, 2012 | Category: Cooking

by Tina Hoban

They say that your senses can evoke memories, and nothing does that for me like the taste and smell of fresh apple cider. It always takes me right back to a crisp fall day spent picking apples at a local orchard with my family. As we were leaving, we bought a jug of fresh pressed apple cider. It was the first time I had tasted fresh cider. How different it was from the kind my mother used to buy from the grocery store. Delicious.

The apple cider braised brussel sprouts includes diced onion and bacon (optional). PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

It is not surprising, then, that one of the first purchases we made when we moved to our homestead was an old-fashioned apple press. It is a sturdy contraption with a hand-cranked grinder on top, which chops the apples, and a slatted wooden basket, which catches the pulverized fruit. We look forward to pulling it out each fall, when pressing apples has become a true family event. The kids rinse the apples and put them in the hopper, while my husband or I turn the crank, grinding the apples into bits. The anticipation builds as we slowly press the juice from the apples. That first sip is always so wonderful, sweet, and sometimes a bit tart and spicy. It makes me smile to think that this is the memory that my children will have when they take a sip of fresh cider!

I have many recipes that use apple cider, and my favorite is by far the easiest: Hot Spiced Cider with Ice Cream. The recipe calls for a bit of brandy, but feel free to omit it for a kid-friendly version.  Because it is so easy, it makes a great dessert to serve to a crowd.

The “Apple Pie” Oatmeal is a nice morning treat with all of the flavor of apple pie, without all of the work. It makes a nice hot breakfast on those chilly fall mornings.

Sipping on hot spiced cider with ice cream. PHOTO BY TINA HOBAN

Finally, you really have to give the Apple Cider Braised Brussel Sprouts a try.  They have become a new favorite at our house!

Hot Spiced Cider with ice cream

Ingredients

4 cups apple cider

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

3 whole allspice berries

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 pint ice cream

4 oz. brandy (optional)

Directions

Bring the cider and the spices to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Simmer for 5 minutes or more to release the flavor of the spices.   Remove the spices before serving.

Divide the cider between four mugs and add the brandy, if using. Top each with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups apple cider

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 – 3 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 1/3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the cider, milk, salt, cinnamon and maple syrup to a boil.  Stir in the oats, and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cook for 5 minutes or until oats are tender.  Stir in the pecans and serve.

Serves 4

Apple Cider Braised Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients

2 thick slices of bacon

1/2 cup diced onion

1 pound brussel sprouts

1/2 cup apple cider

Directions

Chop the bacon crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Put the bacon and the onion in a large skillet, and cook over medium heat until the bacon is crisp and the onion is browned, about 10 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and onion.  Set aside.

Leave a little of the bacon grease in the pan and turn the heat up to medium high.  Add the brussel sprouts and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cider to the pan and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the sprouts are just tender and most of the liquid is evaporated.  Add the bacon and onion back to the pan, stir and serve.

Serves 4

Published in the October 2012 issue of Grow Northwest

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