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Martha's Apple Scones, Colorado-Style

I love Fall.  Have I mentioned that before?  (I know I've mentioned it before).  I love the cool, crisp weather, the vibrant, colorful leaves on all the Aspens, and most of all... the produce!  So, in celebration of the beginning of my favorite season, here's a recipe that features one of my favorite fall fruits - apples.

While apples are really wonderful in their natural state, when you have a lot of them it's nice to incorporate them into recipes!  I had so many apples on hand from my Grant Family Farms CSA fruit share that I decided to track down this wonderful recipe from Martha Stewart.  These scones are moist but still crumbly and just sweet enough to feel like a treat.  The oats lend a little chewy texture and add a heartiness to the scones.  I tripled this recipe, brought 2 batches to Marczyk's to share with my co-workers, and the third batch I threw in a plastic bag and stuck in the freezer.  Pretty good way to get through almost a dozen apples, am I right?

Martha's Apple Scones, Colorado-Style
makes 12 scones

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups diced apple (3 small apples, peeled)
2/3 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
Raw turbinado sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, break the butter apart until a crumbly texture results and no butter pieces are larger than the size of a pea.  Add apples and buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour.  Divide the dough into two equal portions and sprinkle with flour so that the dough won't stick.  Flatten each portion into circles about 1 1/2 inches thick (about the diameter of a salad plate).  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and, using a knife or a dough scraper, score each circle of dough into six equal wedges.  Brush the tops of the scones with a little buttermilk and generously sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake until just golden, about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.  Serve warm or room temperature with jam and clotted cream.



Colorado Melon Caprese

It just wouldn't be Summer without a little caprese in my life, but who says you have to make it with tomatoes?  The Italians?  Well, probably...  but I think this version, using some of those sweet, late-summer Colorado melons that are widely available this time of year, is a delicious and beautiful alternative!

This version, pictured, was made as little hors d'oeuvres on lovely metal cocktail skewers (*see note below for skewer directions).  You can also just combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and serve it family style, just don't use all of your oil and balsamic.  I used a marvelous Etnia Spanish olive oil with merquen (a Spanish smoked chile and cumin spice mix) to make this dish more interesting and flavorful, but a basil-infused olive oil, garlic oil, or even just regular olive oil with work fine.

Colorado Melon Caprese

1 medium (or 2 small) heirloom melon, washed
1/2 a lemon, juiced
1 bunch green basil
1 bunch purple basil
1 8-oz. container fresh mozzarella ciliegine (the small, bite-sized balls)
about 1/4 cup olive oil with merquen (or your favorite infused olive oil)
about 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.  Using a melon baller, scoop out little bite-sized balls of melon until no more flesh remains.  Place melon balls in a bowl and gently toss with lemon juice.  Tear the larger basil leaves into small, 1" pieces and leave smaller leaves whole.  Add mozzarella and basil and toss ingredients to mix.  Drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Gently toss and serve immediately.

*To assemble skewers:  make individual caprese bites using reusable metal cocktail skewers.  First, spear a melon ball, followed by a purple basil leaf and then a green basil leaf.  Follow with a piece of mozarella, then drizzle each skewer with oil and balsamic and lightly season with salt and pepper, to taste. 


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Simple Peach Salsa

There's something about summertime that makes me want to eat lots of salsa.  Maybe it's because the magical condiment is such a quick and easy way to assemble lots of fresh, ripe summer ingredients into a wholesome, raw sauce that adds tons of flavor to seemingly endless ingredients.  This peach salsa is so easy to put together and so tasty that I've already made it twice this week!  Now is the time to stock up on all those perfectly beautiful Colorado peaches that are in adundance this time of year. 

This version is more on the spicy side and is wonderful in savory applications such as black bean and grilled vegetable tacos, served atop grilled fish, steak or pork chops, or just simply used as a dip for a good, salty tortilla chip.  However you decide to use the salsa, you might want to think about doubling the recipe.  You'll want to have leftovers! 

Simple Peach Salsa
makes about 3 cups

6 firm but ripe peaches, peeled and diced (3 cups)
1/4 cup lime juice (3-4 limes)
2 T jalapeno, minced (1 large pepper)
1 T garlic, minced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
large pinch of cayenne
1 tsp. ancho chile powder
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss well.  Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Purple Sunrise Cocktail

I love a good brunch cocktail.  This one reminds me of a Tequila Sunrise (hence, the name!) but perhaps a little more elegant.  I added lots of pretty little fresh plum slices and used a good-quality agave tequila.  Any type of soda that uses some real fruit juice will do the trick here.  I used an organic Italian blood orange soda made with real juice and cane sugar.  This cocktail tastes ripe, sweet and refreshing and is a fun way to put to use the beautiful, juicy plums that are perfectly in season in Colorado right now. 


Purple Sunrise
makes 1 drink

1 part 100% Agave Tequila
2 parts blood orange soda
1 plum, sliced

Pour tequila and soda over ice and stir.  Add plum slices



Apricot-Almond Flaugnarde with Brown-Butter Apricot Glaze

Growing up in the central valley of California, almost everybody we knew had a fruit-bearing tree at their house.  My parents grew pomegranates, plums and citrus (not to mention a garden lush with tomatoes, garlic, squash and a lot more) but I always looked forward to the days when we'd swap something out for a big bag of apricots.  Those sweet little gems were and still are among my favorite things to eat with their peach-like sweetness, soft texture and fuzzy skin.

We've been getting apricots by the bagful from our CSA and they are delectably ripe and sweet.  I save the firmer ones for eating by themselves.  The softer ones are better for cooking - anything from jams and chutneys to meat marinades or desserts.  Apricot adds a bright, summer sweetness to a huge diversity of recipes.

Lately I have been experimenting with different ways to make Flaugnarde.  Some of you may be more familiar with the dessert called Clafoutis, which is traditionally made with cherries (if you really want to make it authentic, un-pitted cherries).  The same method applied to any other fruit is Flaugnarde and if you are a fan of fruit-forward and only slightly sweet desserts, this recipe is definitely for you.  The egg batter puffs up like a souffle as it bakes and then sinks down again as it cools to create a firm, almost custard-like texture.  By itself, it's lightly sweet and eggy with lots of crunchy almond.  With the rich and fruity glaze it becomes a rather elegant dessert.  Have the leftovers without the glaze for breakfast the next morning, as this dish will only keep for a day or so.  But let's face it, we probably would have finished the leftovers in one day, anyway! 

Apricot-Almond Flaugnarde with Brown Butter Apricot Glaze
serves 6

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 T butter
2 1/2 cups ripe apricots, sliced into small wedges
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp almond extract

3 T salted butter
1 cup ripe apricot halves
agave or honey, to taste

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes.  Keep the oven on and set almonds aside.

Butter a 9" pie pan or square baking dish and arrange apricot slices on the bottom of the dish.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar with a whisk.  Beat in the eggs, then gradually add the half and half and almond extract, whisking until smooth.

Pour the batter over the apricots and sprinkle the almonds over the top.  Bake in the 375-degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze.  Add the butter to a small pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the butter, stirring often, until foam subsides and the butter solids get toasted and brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add apricots and cook, mashing the fruit with a wooden spoon, until they gently caramelize on the outside, about 5 minutes.  Add a splash of agave or honey and puree mixture with an immersion blender (if your apricots aren't super-ripe you may need to add a little water to thin the glaze).  Taste and add more sweetener if necessary.  If you like it on the less-sweet side it will amount to about 3 T of sweetener.