There’s no doubt about it – despite my best efforts, I fall short pretty much every day on eating the right number of servings of fruits and vegetables. I’m busy, which makes prep time a precious commodity, fruits and veggies can be a little awkward to eat or transport when you’re on the road, yada yada. They’re not excuses so much as obstacles.
I figure the best solution is to trick myself, by using that old mom standby of hiding fruits and veggies in other food, and I’m getting a little help after an evening at the Dirty Apron Cooking School in Crosstown, sponsored by BC Tree Fruits.
First, nutritionist and grower Darcel Markgraf pointed out the obvious benefits of having an apple a day — one decent size apple is already two servings of fruit, there’s lots of fibre and good vitamins in there too. I’ve got the message for sure.
Before we could have dinner, we had to make our dessert of olive oil and apple thyme cake. The Dirty Apron is what I would call a gentleman’s cooking school, where, in order to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, everything is beautifully laid out and lots is pre-prepped for you.
We briskly whisked and folded under the supervision of David Robertson and his crew, each picking a different way to decorate our individual olive oil cakes, and sneaking in some additional apple in the process. Then it was off to the oven.
We tucked into dinner, ably prepared by the crew, with lots of BC apples in all their variety: Fujis, Spartans, Galas, Ambrosias, Red Delicious, Granny Smiths.
We began with seared duck breast flavoured with maple syrup, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, and accompanied by a potato and apple blini.
Potato apple blini recipe
1/2 Spartan apple, finely diced
1 large Yukon potato (about 200g)
25g all purpose flour
70 ml milk
1 tbsp chives, sliced
vegetable oil, salt, pepper
Boil the potato, skin on, until cooked through. Strain from water and peel while the potato is still hot. Push peeled potato through a food mill and place into a bowl.
In another small bowl, beat the eggs until smooth and stir into the potatoes, incorporating the milk, flour, diced apples, and sliced chives. Season with salt, pepper.
Heat vegetable oil in a non stick pan over medium-high heat. Spoon potato mixture into the pan, approximately 2 cm deep.
Cook the blinis for two minutes per side until golden. Keep warm until needed.
Sometimes it can be as simple as adding an extra handful of fruits or veggies onto an entree, as with these bits of sauteed apple adding some crunch and sweetness in contrast to the tender savouriness of this pork tenderloin.
During all of this, my cake was going from the above, to what you see below.
Next time I’ll have to make the strips of apple a little thicker, to avoid the burning. These cakes were delicious — a bit of a sugary crust complimenting the dense, not overly sweet cake, with the apple and thyme adding contrasting flavour elements. They were even better once we added in some ice cream and pretty touches.
Olive oil and apple thyme cake recipe
1/2 Ambrosia apple, peeled and diced
40 ml extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp fresh thyme
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter a small loaf pan and coat with sugar (a 5″ by 2 1/2″ pan works well.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk. Using a spatula, fold in the thyme and apple. Sift together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool.
Okay, so armed with all of the above, I hope that I’ll slowly knock down some of my obstacles to eating enough fruits and vegetables. If I don’t, the only one I’m hurting is myself.