On another beautiful day spent at Gopher Springs Farm with Franka, Eric, Dexter and Pepe the cat, we were invited to help with the making of apple cider.
Grandmothers wheel Dexter and Pablo on a cart around the property as they happily munch on apples, and watch, unphased, teamwork in action. Next to a high pile of red & golden apples, Franka and her father-in-law wash and cut the fruit. These are some of the apples we harvested a couple of weeks ago, from the many fruit trees here. There are three varieties of apples, and the trees are still full to the brim, apples falling and rolling downhill to our feet.
Eric has designed and built a wooden apple crusher requiring a high level of coordination for the novice that I am. Turning and crushing. After going through the crusher twice, the apples are put inside a cheesecloth, and placed in the apple press, to produce unfiltered apple juice.
With the help of some yeast from Austria and time, about a month, this apple juice will become cider.
In the meantime, when you have lemons, make lemonade. Or in our case, when you have apple juice, make turnip gratin. This is a very simple gratin recipe, where the sweetness of the apple juice compensates the slight bitterness of the turnip, with a touch of salt and crunch brought by the pancetta.
Turnips au gratin with apple juice & pancetta
Adapted from Idées futées pour inviter
Serves 4 people
Age for babies: 8-10 months, the turnip can be given as finger food, cut up in small pieces (though I wouldn’t give baby any pancetta)
1 cup + 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup + 1.5 tbsp unfiltered apple juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 lbs turnips
6 strips of pancetta
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven at 400°F.
Peel and slice the turnips.
Pour the cream and apple juice in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and the mustard.
Put the turnip slices in the juice-cream mixture (stirring to coat all pieces, if needed) and cook for another 5 minutes.
Cut the pancetta in small pieces, and sauté in a non-stick frying pan for a few seconds.
Pour the turnip / cream / apple juice mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the pieces of pancetta.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the gratin is golden on top.