Apple and Caramelized Onion Chutney

My mom and stepdad arrive for Thanksgiving. I am at the kitchen table, running four Granny Smith apples through the apple peeler.

“I’m using that thing you bought me that I said I didn’t need but totally did.”

I wanted to make a contribution to Thanksgiving dinner but it needed to be something that could be done ahead. Trying to operate while Other Stuff was going on in the kitchen would be too difficult physically and mentally. I decided on chutney as it isn’t injured by waiting, and apple because we possess the automatic apple peeler above, which cuts prep time to a minimum and was acquired for us by my mom despite my mild objection that How often do I need to peel a bunch of apples? Mom was right: More often if it’s easy.

Chutneys are my kind of kitchen task – I deeply enjoy the multifactorial balancing of sweet, tart, rich, and spicy on which their success relies. They’re little kitchen jewels with their strong flavors, perfect as embellishment.

Chimp and Mom helped me with this. Chimp caramelized the onions for me. Mom kept an eye on it while it simmered.

Apple and Caramelized Onion Chutney

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A sweet and aromatic accompaniment to curries, cheeses, flatbreads or anything that needs a little fillip to glorify it.

Credit: She Spills the Beans


155 g (about one medium) finely chopped yellow onion
Oil for the pan
800 g (about four) Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
8 g sweet curry powder (1 T)
100 g dark brown sugar (1/2 c)
40 g water (about 3 t)
20 g honey (1 T)
28 g butter (2 T)
3 g table salt (1/2 t)
5 g grated fresh ginger (about 1 t)
3 g lemon extract (3/4 t) or the zest of half a lemon
3 g (about 1 t) cider vinegar (more if you prefer a very tart chutney)


  1. Slowly sauté the onion until deep brown and sweet; this may take up to an hour.
  2. Push the onion aside and add a little more oil to the pan. Drop the curry powder into the oil and allow to bloom a few moments, stirring, until saturated with oil and fragrant.
  3. Drop the apples on top of the curry powder and stir in to bring the blooming to a halt. Add the brown sugar, water, honey, butter, and salt. Bring to a simmer, partially cover, and allow to simmer very slowly for about an hour until the apples are tender and the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup.
  4. Stir in the grated fresh ginger, lemon extract, and cider vinegar. Remove from the heat.

Baba Ganoush & The Eggplant Incident

My lack of love for eggplant has been previously mentioned herein.  Each summer, though, the tide of eggplant rises along with the other nightshades – tomatoes, peppers – and eventually, a globe or two shows up in our CSA box from T&D Willey and I must dispense with it.  This was the week.

That "previously mentioned" link above – to a recipe for Royal Eggplant with Garlic, which is a really delicious smoky roasted eggplant puree with tomatoes, onions, spices and butter – is one of my two ways of coping with eggplant.  My other coping mechanism is baba ganoush.  Load eggplant up with olive oil, tahini & lemon juice, and really, there’s no reason not to eat it. 

It’s sad that I have two eggplant recipes and a bajillion ways of using just about every other kind of produce, but they are two really good eggplant recipes.

So, not having posted my baba ganoush recipe previously, that’s where I headed on Saturday.  The heat had broken (it was going to be 104 instead of 112; that’s what we mean in Fresno when we say it’s going to be "cooler") and so I took some time before the day got really hot to roast the eggplant in the oven.

This occasion is one of those times that I think I should buy a grill to avoid heating up the house with the oven, and then Chimp reminds me that you have to cook on a grill outside.  Well, scratch that when it’s 110.

I think I could skip buying the grill entirely; just oil the eggplant up and lay it on a well-scrubbed section of patio, then go out and kick it every 30 minutes or so.  Come to think of it, why don’t I have a solar oven?  And along with that, why isn’t every roof in this town covered with solar panels?  You’d think we could make a mint.  I must be missing something.

But I’m getting off track here.

I came home from the market, washed the eggplant, and popped it in the oven to broil while I washed some shallots (for something else) to roast along with the eggplant.  I was tossing the shallots in a dish with some grapeseed oil and salt when


"Aha," I thought to myself, "That must be the eggplant exploding."

I opened the door.  My oven had birthed a Japanese tentacle monster.

Exploding the eggplant was not originally part of my baba ganoush recipe, but if you, like me, are tired or forgetful and omit the step of pricking the eggplant before you place it in the oven, I want you to know that this recipe has been tested with both exploded and intact eggplant on separate occasions, and both kinds work just fine.

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Sorites Paradox Pesto

I had to ask my husband the professional philosopher tonight, “What’s the name of the idea about how much of something you have to take away before it ceases to be that thing?”

“The Sorites Paradox.”

“May I call this Sorites Paradox Pesto?”

“It’ll be clear that you’re married to a philosopher. It’s also called the Paradox of the Heap.”

“That’s okay. ‘Sorites Paradox Pesto’ sounds better than ‘Paradox of the Heap Pesto’ anway. ‘Heap’ isn’t really a good word for a recipe title.”

Classic pesto: Basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, salt. This shares only the last two ingredients and the method, and is by dint of that vegan and still interpretable as pesto. The method is what’s really important.

We put big dollops of this on top of an otherwise very plain-Jane white bean soup, a place I sometimes put gremolata. It would be good applied to just about anything that would hold still long enough – broiled on bread, tossed with pasta, incorporated into an oil-and-vinegar dressing, heated and mixed with wilted greens.

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Pimiento Cheese

A request from a co-worker – sort of. We were talking about retro party food, and pimiento cheese, though always a classic in my estimation, fits well into a retro party menu.  I told her she needed this recipe.

This is a recipe I adapted from James Mc Nair’s Cheese Cookbook. This stuff makes the best little tea sandwiches you can imagine. Cut the crusts off thin slices of bread and toast.  Spread this in the middle.  Stand back lest you be trampled.  (My other favorite tea sandwich is Gruyere, grainy mustard and asparagus.)

3 medium-sized fresh red pimientos or other red sweet peppers

2 c. (about 6 oz.) grated high-quality Cheddar or other cheese (Grafton, Tillamook, or Cabot would all be good here.)

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 c. mayonnaise

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper

Place the peppers over an open flame or under a broiler and turn frequently until charred on all sides. Place the pepper in a tightly sealed container until cool, about 15 minutes. Remove the peppers from the container and rub off the blackened skin. A paper towel is a good aid for this.  Dry the peppers carefully, then cut them in half, remove and discard seeds and veins, chop the flesh, and set aside.

Place the cheese, garlic, mayonnaise, salt and cayenne pepper to taste in a food processor and process until the mixture is fairly smooth. Add the chopped peppers and blend just to combine.  Makes about 3 cups.