Friday, November 13, 2009

Gran Jan's Apple Crisp

So I don't have a Gran Jan...but neither of my grandmothers make apple crisp, so I had to steal a recipe from someone else's grandma. This was delicious. I didn't use the lard, just added a bit extra butter instead. Very yummy...enjoy!

Gran Jan’s Apple Crisp from the Humble Gourmand

Gran Jan's Apple Crisp

There’s not much more comforting than warm apple crisp in the winter — a la mode after dinner, or first thing in the morning with a cup of tea.

As the title suggests, this is my grandmother’s recipe (handed down via my mother, who makes a pretty amazing version herself). You’ll want to work the topping mixture with your hands to form a nice, loose crumble that fully incorporates the butter with the brown sugar and flour. Using chilled butter and shortening cubes will go a long way toward this goal. If you prefer to skip the shortening, replace with another 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter.


  • 3 lbs. Granny Smith apples
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening, all-natural preferred, diced
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
Add butter to apple mixture
The topping in progress


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  • Butter a large casserole dish with 1 Tbsp. of the unsalted butter. Peel and slice apples into 1/2" slices -- not too thin, or they won't hold their shape when baked.

  • Place in large bowl and toss the cut apples with lemon juice, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and about 1.5 Tbsp. of the flour. Taste for proper proportion of sugar and cinnamon (they should be balanced -- not too sweet, not too spicy).

  • Transfer apple mixture to casserole dish and push down to pack them in.

  • In the large bowl used for apples, mix rest of flour, brown sugar, butter, and shortening with your fingers to form a loose crumble. Cover apples with topping.

  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until bubbling at the sides. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Two Refried Beans Recipes for Emily

May these serve you better than your last recipe



  • 2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans (about 1 lb or 450gm)
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (for vegetarian option)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)


1 Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans.

2 Cook the beans in water.
Pressure Cooker method Put beans into a 4 quart pressure cooker with a 15 lb weight. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes - until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open.
Regular method Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water - about 3 quarts for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open.

Strain the beans from the cooking water.

3 Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. (Note the onions are optional, you can skip them if you want.) Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese if you want. When beans are heated through (and optional cheese melted) the beans are ready to serve.

Note that many recipes call for soaking the beans overnight and discarding the soaking liquid. We don't. We discard the cooking liquid and just add some water back into the frying pan when we are frying the beans.


Refried beans : A Life Pursuit
1 pound of pinto beans
1/4 pound of salt pork slit with a knife
Half an onion, whole
1/4 cup of onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 slices of bacon
Salt to taste

Soak the beans overnight or quick soak by bringing to a boil and then turning off the heat and letting them sit for an hour.
Drain soaked beans and then place back in the pot. Cover beans with fresh water to cover them two inches.
Throw half an onion in the pot and add a couple of dashes of salt. Can also add 1/4 pound of salt pork (if you do this there’s no need for extra salt.)
Bring beans to a boil, cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
The time it will take to cook the beans will depend on the freshness of the beans and the hardness of your water. If they’re not completely cooked after an hour, let them simmer a while longer until they’re done.
Remove salt pork and onion and then drain the beans, keeping 1/2 cup of the bean broth.
Chop the slices of bacon and fry them in a skillet on medium until crispy and all the fat is rendered.
Remove cooked pieces (you can either nibble on them while you’re cooking or save them for something else).
Fry the diced onion in the bacon grease for a couple of minutes, and then add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the drained cooked beans into the skillet, adding 1/4 cup of the bean broth.
Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding more bean broth for desired moisture.
Keep stirring the mashed beans in the bacon fat until the texture is a chunky paste.

Notes: You can substitute 1/4 cup of lard for the bacon grease. Or you can use 1/4 cup of peanut oil. If you don’t want to cook a pot of beans, two 16 oz. cans of cooked pintos can be used instead. You can also use black beans, just be sure and throw some epazote in the pot when cooking them. I’ll write more on epazote later (now that the days are warmer I plan to go foraging for it in Central Park), but for now, check out Lydia’s wonderful post on the subject. This recipe makes 4-6 servings.