Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter A

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Timeless Classics: Apricot-Glazed Apple Galette! It’s apple-picking time of year. Pay a visit to the nearest orchard for an afternoon of relaxation and sipping cider slushes. Local farmers encourage and invite visitors to catch a glimpse of the family farm in celebration of Harvest. Not only can you nibble on caramel-dipped apples and warm apple dumplings, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking a hayride to the corn maze or pumpkin patch. Me? I grab my French market bag and load up on Galas and Granny Smith apples!
APRICOT-GLAZED APPLE GALETTE
Ingredients for crust:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, cold

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons ice water
Ingredients for filling:

2 large gala apples, core removed, peeled, and sliced

Scant lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup apricot jam

1-2 tablespoons apricot brandy

3 tablespoons butter

1 egg yolk
Instructions:

This recipe makes two individual galettes. Preheat oven to 425°. Using a food processor, pulse cold butter, flour, and salt to the size of small peas. Sprinkle in ice water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 an hour. Remove wrap and place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each half into an 8″ circle. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Beginning in the center, spiral apple slices like a fan. Be sure to leave a border. Fold edges of dough toward the center, creating a rustic crust. Press gently to seal. Repeat for second galette. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice. Cover apples with sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Spread apricot jam over apples. Pour apricot brandy over all. Dot with butter. Whisk together egg yolk and water. Brush the egg wash along the edges of the dough. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° but do not remove the galettes. Bake an additional 45 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer the galettes from the baking sheet by lifting with the parchment paper. Cool on wire rack to keep the bottoms from getting soggy. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays: Special Edition 

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! What’s cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Home For the Holidays: Misunderstood Mincemeat Cookies! When my friend, Ray, “gifted” me with a batch of his time-honored traditional homemade mincemeat, I felt as though I had received a portion of the Holy Grail. Could this secret from the past hold special powers? Would one bite provide happiness, eternal youth, and food in infinite abundance? You tell me. Ray carefully coached me on how to “season” the mixture by adding flavored brandy (I chose apricot) over a three-week period, stirring it occasionally in a covered clay crock. I was an awestruck student following his instructions to the letter. The results were phenomenal and elegant. Don’t let anyone tell you mincemeat is awful. When prepared correctly, some things are worth the wait. 
MISUNDERSTOOD MINCEMEAT COOKIES
Ingredients for Cookies:

2/3 cup butter, softened 

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 cup mincemeat* 

2 cups flour

1 cup pecans, chopped 

Pecan halves for garnish
Ingredients for Icing:

3 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoons butter, softened 

1 tablespoon apricot brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1-2 tablespoons warm milk, as needed
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add eggs and mincemeat. Gradually stir in the flour. Fold in chopped pecans. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until tops of cookies are dry and set. Bottoms will be slightly golden. Remove from oven. Transfer to a wired rack. Frost while slightly warm. Top each cookie with a pecan half before frosting sets. 
Instructions for Icing:

In a medium bowl gently mix powdered sugar and butter until smooth. Add brandy and vanilla. Stir well. As needed, add warm milk to create a thick consistency. Place a dollop of icing on each cookie. Garnish with pecan half. 
*The “Elegant Homemade Mincemeat” recipe can be found in the 1972 Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, page 371.