By Joe Stumpe
Is Adriene Rathbun crazy? Putting out a cookbook called “Social: Holidays and Happy Hours” in the current environment might seem like it.
“This may be a horrible time in the middle of the pandemic, but I also think people want to daydream,” Rathbun, food columnist for the Wichita Eagle, said. “We’re going to get past this eventually and why not hone your culinary skills while you’re distancing, and then you’ll be ready.”
Rathbun, who is being very cautious herself, also noted that small-scale get-togethers among family and friends are still on the table, so to speak.
Rathbun is known for throwing great dinners and parties, so the focus of her first cookbook makes sense. In addition to writing her column, she has taught classes in her College Hill home and worked in the food industry.
“Social has been my brand for like 11 or 12 years, so part of the book is just about socializing and gathering people around the table, whether that’s a small, intimate dinner with friends or a large party for family,” she said. “What I enjoy most about cooking is the socializing.”
The 208-page book, with lots of gorgeous photography by Kendra Cremin, is organized by the calendar, with recipes and menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July and other holidays. There’s a Mexican menu for showers and several recipes for Lebanese feasts, reflecting Rathbun’s background, plus cocktail and appetizer recipes and entertaining tips.
“Most of the recipes are pretty simple, with the exception of grape leaves and baklava,” Rathbun said. “I hope people will be inspired to make them.”
“Social: Holidays and Happy Hours” costs $38 and can be ordered at adrienerathbun.com.
Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
5 cups Granny Smith apples (about 5 to 7 apples), peeled and sliced
¼ cup canned dulce de leche
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Place the oven rack of on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Mix together sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Make sure the cornstarch is mixed in well so you don’t get cornstarch lumps in your pie.
In a large bowl, toss together the apples and dulce de leche, apple cider and vanilla extract. Add the dry mixture and toss to combine. Set aside.
Roll out the pie dough and stretch it about another inch or more for the bottom piece and roll the top piece gently to even out the dough.
Line a 9-inch pie dish with the bottom crust. Add filling and spread out evenly. Cut a few slits or cut out decorative cutouts in the top crust for venting. Cover with the top crust. Press the top dough into the bottom piece gently to stick together. Tuck the top edges into the pie dish leaving a little crimp at the top. Pinch the edges.
Bake for 30 minutes. Then turn the temperature to 375 degrees. Cover the crust edges with either a pie shield or aluminum foil to create a shield. Bake for another 30 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and set on a cooling rack for several hours to set up the filling.
Yields 1 double crust
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup lard (chilled overnight), cut into ½ inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Blend flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and lard; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.
Add 5 tablespoons ice water and mix with fork until dough begins to clump together, adding an additional tablespoon of water if the dough is dry. Gather dough together into a ball. When the dough sticks together easily, but isn’t sticky, it’s the right consistency.
Divide dough by half; flatten each half into disk. Add dough disks to a plastic bag and refrigerate for 1 hour, if there’s time. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
4 cups fresh butternut squash, cubed into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup olive oil
2 bunches purple kale, stems stripped and chopped
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
½ cup dried cherries
¾ cup maple pecans or Trader Joe’s Sweet & Spicy Pecans
Optional topping: 4 ounces goat cheese crumbles
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet pan, arrange the butternut squash, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pieces are slightly browned on the edges.
In a small pan over medium-high heat, bring water and quinoa to a boil, then reduce heat to low until cooked, about 15 minutes. Chop the kale and add it to a large salad bowl.
Cool butternut squash and quinoa until room temperature. Mix dressing ingredients together and whisk it until it’s emulsified. Add squash, quinoa and dressing to the kale and toss thoroughly. Top with dried cherries and pecans.