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Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce


Hello, folks. I was supposed to drop in here before I left for New York, but one thing led to another and suddenly I was on the airplane, belly a-bumping, aimed for that sunny, bloom-filled city. I got back to Berlin yesterday morning, which, in a cruel metereological twist, was cold and gray and wet when I arrived, mirroring how I felt after leaving New York.

It took me much longer to acclimate to New York than usual this time. The first two days, I was just overwhelmed by the colors, the people, the noise, the constant barrage of gorgeous sights. I didn't know how to process any of it. Someone told me recently that when you're pregnant, you're much more vulnerable than usual because you have to be open to this mind-bending experience taking place within your own body, to all the changes that are to come. So as a result, you're like an open wound, far more sensitive than usual to any kind of stimulation, good or bad. By the time Friday evening rolled around, I was in tears. I couldn't really explain them except for the fatigue, jet lag, dehydration. Luckily, my friends picked me up and brushed me off, like a sensible mother with an overstimulated toddler at the playground. And the next morning, I was on New York time.

The rest of the week sped by in warp speed, a blur of happy moments: my baby shower, takeout Momofuku with my friend Teri on her couch, burly firemen in a blaring truck grinning and waving at my friend Jenny's son as he waved at them, the cover of my book on my publisher's fall catalogue, sitting in Stuyvesant Square in the sun with my father and stepmother, walking the full length of Houston Street at nightfall like I used to, but this time feeling the baby wiggle.

Leaving gutted me. Sitting in the departure lounge at JFK on Wednesday was actually sort of physically painful. I just wanted to bolt, just wanted a few more days among my friends and all the friendly New York strangers who made me smile on the streets. I didn't want to go back to Berlin just yet, to the quiet apartment that feels like a treehouse sometimes, to the emptier streets, the solemn-faced people. Not quite yet. So, yes, last night, I found myself in tears again, set off as I unpacked the pale blue WubbaNub my friend Andrea had given me at the shower. Max listened and soothed me over the phone and then, in the gentlest tones possible, told me to get some sleep.


And today things are better.


While I wait for the markets to flood with berries and pink stalks of rhubarb, I can't help still compulsively buying apples when I see them. But they're last fall's apples and no longer the crisp, juicy specimens they once were. One way to get around a mouthful of mealy apple after dinner (the worst, no?) is to turn those apples into applesauce. And better yet is to roast the apples into applesauce. The recipe comes from The Zuni Café Cookbook via Food52 and is a new favorite of mine.

All you do is roughly peel, core and quarter the apples and then stick them in a baking dish with a little sugar, a pinch of salt and the merest bit of butter (I use more sugar and less butter than the original recipe - it's up to you to calibrate that stuff.) Tightly covered with aluminum foil, the apples roast in the oven until they're tender and melting. Then you take off the aluminum foil and let them dry out and take on some color, giving them a deeper richness than a regular baked or stewed apple would get. All that's left, then, for you to do is to scrape them into a bowl and stir them into a loose purée with a fork.

You can, if you like, add a splash of cider vinegar at the end, just to sort of sharpen the flavors. I love this tip - it's like adding balsamic vinegar to strawberries - it just underlines what's already there in the subtlest way. There's no additional flavoring, no cinnamon, no lemon, just the pure, clear taste of cooked apples with a bit of caramelized depth. Something faintly toasted. Something good. I eat these apples with yogurt or on top of my morning oatmeal or just straight from the refrigerated container, so cold that my teeth ache, before bedtime. And just the other day, it occurred to me that they'd make perfect baby food.


While I get over my New York melancholia, I'm loving looking through these photographers' images:

Sandra Juto
Joseph O. Holmes

And this picture from my baby shower (that's me on the left):


Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce
Makes about 3 cups
Find the original recipe here

3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples (Rodgers uses crisp eating apples, like Sierra Beauties, Braeburns, Pippins, Golden Delicious or Galas)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
A splash of apple cider vinegar, as needed

1. Heat oven to 375 F.

2. Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Toss with the salt and sugar (more or less to taste). Spread the apples in a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Top with slivers of the butter, cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake until the apples start to soften, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your apples.

3. Uncover, raise the heat to 500 F, and return the pan to the oven. Leave the apples to dry out and color slightly, about 10 minutes. When the tips of the apples have become golden brown and the fruit is tender, scrape them into a bowl and stir into a chunky purée. Season with salt and sugar to taste, then add a splash of apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavor (don't overdo the vinegar). Keeps for a week in the fridge.

Wednesday Evening Link Love


(BOOM. I know. It's huge. Even my doctor said so after she pulled out a measuring tape and got to measuring my belly with what seemed like unabashed relish. The baby, however, is totally normal-sized, average, even, and yes, there is only one in there, but don't think I haven't been asked about a hundred times if I'm sure I'm not having twins. Yes. Sure. STOPITNOW.)

Hello, friends! I haven't done a linky post in a while and I've found a few things I think you should know about (if you don't already), plus I am feeling kind of skittish, or strange, or something, I don't really know, and so I thought I'd busy myself here instead of sitting in my office and staring blankly at my lap, wondering about what comes next and feeling sort of weirdly empty. Because, you see, about six hours ago, I sent the copy-edited manuscript back to my publisher for it to be transmitted to the design department and what this means is that I've finished testing every single last recipe, I've written my acknowledgments (which made me weep!), and I am now perilously, treacherously close to having the book out of my control entirely, when it's time for it to go to the printer. Which, honestly, is a bloody relief.

So, without further ado, let's get started:

You can now pre-order My Berlin Kitchen on! (Pam, a reader, alerted me to this fact on Sunday and to say that you could have knocked me over with a feather after reading her email would be the understatement of the century.)

Testing recipes for the book while living alone during the week has meant a lot of strange meals for me lately (carrot sticks and yeasted plum cake, anyone?). So I'm craving lots of well-balanced, healthy meals now. These tips for making perfect quinoa come just at the right time.

This post about a father's food memories surrounding the birth of his first child killed me in the best way. Though I'm happy that our little guy still has three months to go before he gets here (my urge to nest just appeared the other day and hoo boy, do we have a lot ahead of us), reading Andy's post has me even more excited (also, craving chicken salad sandwiches).

Speaking of cooking and newborns, while I have the privilege of living in a country in which pre- and postnatal care, in all senses of the word, is amazing, what I do not have is a large freezer. In fact, I don't think more than two pairs of my ballet flats would fit into it. So much for cooking ahead for the time to come. Instead, this video is serving as inspiration for how to prepare staple foods on one day for the rest of the week. If it doesn't get your cooking juices flowing, I don't know what will.

And while I'm singing Tamar Adler's praises, since I think broccoli stems are the most delicious part of a broccolo, this piece on cabbage cores warms my cruciferous-vegetable-loving heart.

I've found "my" sushi joint, a favorite Korean spot, and even a Chinese restaurant that will feed my craving for gai lan and roast pork. But really good banh mi are still hard to find in Berlin. So these hoisin-glazed meatloaf sandwiches made my eyes grow wide when Jenny mentioned them the other day.

One of my favorite ways to dress pasta was featured on Joanna Goddard's brilliant blog, Cup of Jo, the other day - and it really is so easy. All you need is good canned tomatoes, a bit of basil, and some fresh ricotta... (Victoria, this one's for you!)

Next week, big belly and all, I fly to New York for a week to see my friends and meet with my publicist (!). Truth be told, I've been a little nervous about leaving my little nest here where I can collapse for a rest on the couch whenever I need to and where my hospital is just ten minutes away (you never know, just in case, etc, and so forth). But then I think about seeing my girls and the beautiful city and that crazy blue New York City sky and I get, as my girlfriend Betsy put it, total butterflies.

I'll be back with a recipe before I go.