Make these easy apple and honey muffins for a sweet Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah arrives Sunday night, just as it seems the world could use a critical dose of sweetness. The Jewish new year, symbolized by the sweetest of foods, is a time for renewal, for family, for matters of the soul and for rivers of honey.

And if something as simple as honey-dipped apples can beckon happiness, imagine those ingredients baked into warm, heady muffins.

If you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, here’s a recipe for some exquisite apple and honey muffins. It comes from “Our Table,” a new kosher cookbook by author and food stylist Renee Mullerpublished by Artscroll ($34.99).

Renee Muller's recipe for Apple and Honey Rosh Hashanah Muffins appears in her upcoming book, "Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals.” (Courtesy: Our Table/ Artscroll)
These Apple and Honey Rosh Hashanah Muffins appear in Renee Muller’s book, “Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals.” (Courtesy: Our Table/ Artscroll)

The recipe’s use of brewed tea exalts the apple and honey flavors. It’s a holiday winner: Fragrant with cinnamon, the apples and the muffin batter hint of fall.

APPLE AND HONEY ROSH HASHANAH MUFFINS

This recipe is reprinted with permission from “Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals,” by Renee Muller (Artscroll/October 2016). It’s freezer-friendly, dairy/pareve.

roshhashanahourtablecoverMuller writes:

“At our house, Rosh Hashanah cannot happen without honey muffins. At least, that’s the way my kids see it. It’s a family project, and by now, a family tradition, too.

“This recipe was given to me by a relative in Israel who bakes them all the time and claims that no matter how many batches she bakes, there are never enough.

“She’s absolutely right. We once baked a quadruple batch of these (sans the apples) for a bake sale on our block and we were left without a crumb!” 

Makes about 48 muffins

For the apples

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

4 Granny Smith apples, diced

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the muffins

2 cups prepared tea, lukewarm

2 cups sugar

2 cups oil

2 cups honey

12 eggs

6 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 heaping tablespoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Prepare the apples: In a saucepan, melt butter over a medium-low flame. Add apples, sugar, and cinnamon; cook until apples are fragrant and soften a bit, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Prepare the muffins: In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium speed, combine tea, sugar, oil, honey, and eggs. Mix until smooth. Reduce speed; gradually add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

4. Fill each muffin cup halfway with batter. (I like to use a cupcake pen for this; I find it very helpful.) Top with a teaspoon of prepared apples. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost dry with some moist crumbs attached.

Author’s note: “The apples are optional; I find that some children prefer the muffins plain. We add the apple for Rosh Hashanah (very loudly singing, ‘Dip the apple in the hooooneeeyy’ as we do so) but throughout the year, we bake them plain.”

Kitchen tip: I recently discovered an amazing gadget called ‘The Cupcake (or Muffin) Pen.’ It really removes the whole messy aspect of filling cupcake pans with batter. Look for it in specialty equipment stores.”

Glam up your guac: Here’s a recipe for National Guacamole Day!

Kicky mash up: Avocado Grill's ginger guacamole. (Contributed by Jennifer Martinez)
Kicky mash up: Avocado Grill’s ginger guacamole. (Contributed by Jennifer Martinez)

The unexpected can happen when National Guacamole Day falls on a Friday (which would be today). The craving for blinged out, creamy avocado dip and those unruly TGIF thoughts can build – and before you know it, you’re swigging micheladas and diving into a bowl of green goop.

Then again, the unexpected can involve something less basic. It can involve ginger, as does the Ginger Guacamole at Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach.

How does one use ginger in guac? We’ve got the recipe. TGIF, indeed!

Avocado Grill’s Ginger Guacamole

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Julien Gremaud.

3 ripe avocados

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 tablespoons diced tomato

2 tablespoons diced jalapeño

1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped ginger

1 tablespoon Sriracha

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Slice avocados in half. Discard the seed. Scoop flesh out of shell with a spoon and place in bowl.
  2. Add 1/2 of the lime juice immediately to prevent browning. Use a fork and mash to desired consistency.
  3. Add chopped onion, tomato, jalapeño, ginger, Sriracha, and cilantro. Stir gently to mix ingredients.
  4. Add remainder of lime juice, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir just slightly, until incorporated.
  5. Serve as a dip with your favorite tortilla chips, or use with your favorite dish.

Best pizza in Palm Beach County for National Pizza Party Day!

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Who doesn’t love a good pizza? And today is the day to throw a party to celebrate pie because it’s National Pizza Party Day! Every year on the third Friday in May, pizza lovers unite!

For the best pizza in town to help celebrate, try the winner of our Reader’s Choice for ‘Best Pizzeria in PB County.’

photo best pizza palm beach county
Joseph Alfeo, (L), brother Cesare Alfeo,(C), and his son Paul Alfeo, present owner of Four Brothers Pizza in Lake Worth. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

A few months ago, through social posts, we asked our readers to comment on their favorite pizzeria. And from our poll, our readers voted, the winner was Four Brothers in Lake Worth.

It’s no wonder Palm Beach Post readers voted the Lake Worth restaurant as having the county’s best pizza. Mention it, and founder Cesare Alfeo, his brother, Joe, and Cesare’s son Paul all smile in unison.

Read the full story here on why our readers love Four Brothers.

National Empanada Day: Our favorite empanadas in Palm Beach County

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The recipe for these Argentine-style empanadas appears in the cookbook “Empanadas, ” by Sandra Gutierrez. (Photo by Tina Rupp)

A good empanada holds the flavor secrets of Latin America in its soul. Its core reveals an aromatic story that’s unique to a nation, a kitchen, a street kiosk.

So there is no such thing as your basic empanada, as each region has its own definition of basic.

Here’s a range of local hand pies to try on National Empanada Day, which is today:

Calaveras Cantina

Calaveras Cantina at Jupiter's Harbourside Place serves delicious, crispy-fried empanadas filled with duck confit and mushrooms. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

Calaveras Cantina at Jupiter’s Harbourside Place serves crispy-fried empanadas. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

The flaky duck empanadas at this Harbourside Place eatery are addictively good. They’re fried crispy with a juicy center of duck confit and mushrooms. A batch of four, served with a side of avocado ranch dipping sauce, make a great, shareable starter.

Calaveras Cantina: 125 Dockside Circle, Jupiter; 561-723-0059; CalaverasCantinas.com

Mojito

A pulled pork empanada at Mojito restaurant in CityPlace is flavored stuffed with roasted poblano chiles and topped with diced tomatoes and goat cheese. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

An empanada at Mojito restaurant in CityPlace. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)

This lively spot atop CityPlace makes empanadas with your choice of three fillings: roasted chicken, picadillo or ham and cheese.

Mojito Latin Cuisine: 700 S. Rosemary Ave. (CityPlace, second floor), West Palm Beach; 561-832-6688;MojitoCP.com

El Sabor Latino

Empanada con carne served with a mildly spicy aji at El Sabor Latino, Palm Beach Gardens. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/ The Palm Beach Post)

Empanada con carne at El Sabor Latino, Palm Beach Gardens. (Palm Beach Post)

This small, pan-Latino eatery, with locations in Palm Beach Gardens and Greenacres, serves 2-buck, homemade empanadas filled with either chicken or beef. The crust on these babies: corn masa.

El Sabor Latino: In Palm Beach Gardens at 4391 Northlake Blvd. (inside Joseph’s/ HomeGoods plaza); in Greenacres at 2202 Jog Rd.; ElSaborLatinoRestaurant.com

Buccan

Buccan's famous braised short rib empanadas are topped with aji amarillo cream and fresh salsa criolla. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/ The Palm Beach Post)

Buccan’s famous braised short rib empanadas are topped with aji amarillo cream and fresh salsa criolla. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/ The Palm Beach Post)

Chef Clay Conley makes the best empanada in town. You’ll need a reservation, valet tip cash and proper attire to savor it, but, oh, is it ever so worth it to dig into Buccan Palm Beach’s short rib empanada. Conley dresses it up with a touch of salsa criolla and Peruvian-style ají amarillo (yellow pepper sauce).

Buccan: 350 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-833-3450; BuccanPalmBeach.com 

Related: Empanadas – The soul of Latin America wrapped in a hand-held pie

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Tot-ally different St. Patrick’s Day shepherd’s pie

Farmette's Tater Tot Shepherd's Pie. (Photo credit: Imen McDonnell)
Behold Farmette’s Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie! (Photo credit: Imen McDonnell)

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a tale from the Irish countryside:

Before she was a farmer’s wife, Imen McDonnell lived the fast-paced life of an American broadcast producer in major U.S. cities.

The forces of love and Ireland changed all that. Nearly six years ago, those forces transformed McDonnell into the voice of “Farmette,” the popular lifestyle blog inspired by her daily life at an ancient, family-owned farm in County Limerick.

FarmetteCoverFood lovers and vicarious travelers everywhere have reaped the benefits of McDonnell’s lushly photographed culinary inspirations as she put her American city spin on Irish country fare.

Today, as evidenced in her newly released book, “The Farmette Cookbook,” she has stacks of stellar recipes to show for her kitchen experiments that include boldly hybrid dishes such as Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie. (For which she makes her own tots.)

Related: Best Irish pubs to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Palm Beach County

Dear St. Patrick’s Day revelers, what goes better with a pint of Guinness than shepherd’s pie? Perhaps a better rhetorical question is: What goes better with a big, frosty mug of green beer than shepherd’s pie topped with crispy tots?

Here’s McDonnell’s recipe. You’re welcome!

Read the full story on Farmette’s new book in The Post’s Food & Dining.

TATER TOT SHEPHERD’S PIE

“Shepherd’s pie was one of my first forays into the basics of Irish country cooking… More recently, I began experimenting with ways to reinvent this classic pie. Inspired by craving a tater-tot hotdish (a Midwestern American casserole), I lined the top of my shepherd’s pie with homemade tots, and it was much more fun than standard mash.”

Serves 4

1 tablespoon sunflower or canola oil, plus more for frying

1 large onion, chopped

2 to 3 medium carrots, chopped

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Splash of Worcestershire sauce

2 cups lamb or beef stock

For the tots:

4 large russet potatoes, baked and cooled

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons fine salt

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then cook the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes, until softened. Turn up the heat, crumble in the lamb, and brown, pouring off any excess fat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce; fry for a few more minutes until browned. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and shred them on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer to a large bowl, sprinkle in the flour and salt, and gently mix until combined.
  3. Scoop 1½ tablespoons of the potato mixture into a short cylinder, about 1½ inches long and ¾ inch wide. Press the mixture in tightly and then press the tots onto a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining potato mixture.
  4. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. Pour ¼ inch of oil into a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Fry the tots in batches of 8 to 10 pieces (do not overcrowd the pan), turning once, until light golden brown on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tots to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and season with salt. Repeat for all the tots.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Put the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish. Top with the tots to completely cover the meat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tots are starting to turn golden brown and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. Serve with a salad of crisp garden greens.

Scullery Notes: You can freeze tater tots for future use: Let the fried tots cool, then transfer them to an airtight container or ziplock bag. Arrange them in a single layer in the container or bag and place them in the freezer. You can also just pile the shredded potato on top of the filling and bake as directed.

This recipe and the author intro are reprinted from “The Farmette Cookbook,” by Imen McDonnell, with the permission of Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boulder, Colo.

Read the full story on Farmette’s new book in The Post’s Food & Dining.

Three places for a sinful bite on World Vegetarian Day

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If your idea of celebrating World Vegetarian Day is to dine on salad, you may be missing the day’s more sinful temptations. Like cashew cream.

Chef Chris Slawson, who owns the plant-based Christopher’s Kitchen in Palm Beach Gardens, is a master of this delicacy. It’s the substance that adds dreamy richness to his eatery’s ice “cream.” And wait till you try the macadamia “ricotta” that melts atop Christopher’s Kitchen’s pizzas. Like the ice cream, it’s among the stylish cafe’s more naughty options — and there are many of those.

Here’s the reality check: You don’t have to brave a mound of cold iceberg to stand in solidarity today (Thursday) with World Vegetarian Day. You can indulge. Here is a trio of good spots to do so in Palm Beach County:

Christopher's Kitchen: chocolate tart with vanilla ice "cream" made with cashew-coconut cream. (Palm Beach Post file)
Christopher’s Kitchen: chocolate tart with vanilla ice “cream” made with cashew cream. (Post file)

Christopher’s Kitchen

For all the above reasons and more.

4783 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-318-6191

Darbster's Palm Cake is a crispy favorite. (Post file)
Darbster’s Palm Cake is a crispy favorite. (Post file)

Darbster

Few places are more pooch-friendly than this waterside eatery. In fact, the restaurant’s proceeds benefit the Darbster Foundation, which helps local animal rescue and welfare efforts.

Decadent pick: the crispy hearts of palm cakes with caper remoulade and baby greens.

8020 S. Dixie Hway, West Palm Beach; 561-586-2622 

Getting crunchy at The Bee, West Palm. (LibbyVision.com)
Getting crunchy at The Bee, West Palm. (LibbyVision.com)

The Bee

This sunny spot is a good place for a fragrant cup of tea or vegan snack.

Decadent pick: the avocado toast with watermelon radish, lemon, tomato, cayenne, sea salt and sesame seeds.

123 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-651-9796

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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