Tag Archive: apple


And Now for Something Sweet…

Apples, apples everywhere! One dropped on my head the other day as I was walking down the sidewalk, as if the trees themselves were trying to get my attention 😉 They litter the streets and yards and pile up in the gutters; people in our neighborhood put basketfuls out on the sidewalk packed full of apples with a sign saying ‘gratis’.  It seems like every tree over here is loaded down with delicious, brightly colored fruit, from Dutch to Danish apples and endless other varieties I don’t know the names for yet. In my opinion, they all taste good, but I’ve been told some are better than others…and some still are best left for baking so I thought with all this fruitful abundance I’d at least give it a try.

This apple cake recipe I got from a friend, a fellow international student at my University who let me try a piece she made before relaying the recipe; needless to say that after one bite of the sugary fruitfulness, I was sold on the idea of making the cake. And, after going through the motions of baking it once, I’m already resolved to make it again. It’s rare that I enjoy baking as much as I do regular cooking; I’m not sure what it is exactly–all the waiting, whisking, explicit measurements, and intricate chemical reactions are a bit intimidating but this recipe was neither difficult nor complicated, so I highly recommend it anyone craving something sweet }:-]

Can you guess the star ingredient? That’s right, apples. And what would this cake be without them? Just butter, sugar, and flour–still pleasantly sugary–but certainly not possessing the same fruity goodness. I put the ingredients for this recipe in grams & deciliters this time since that’s what I’m working with; if anyone desires a ‘European experience’ as I like to call it, you should try making this recipe doing the conversions yourself, it’s useful math and not difficult, I promise ]:-) At the end of all this baking, I brought the finished product over to a friend’s who was having us for dinner. I arrived with the whole damn cake, thinking I was probably bringing too much but ended up leaving with none at all. I mean seriously, it’s gotta be good if everyone has 2 & 1/2 pieces of it after a large supper. I bet if success had a smell, it’d be sugary and sweet…

Sugary Cinnamon Apple Cake

Ingredients

100 g butter

2 deciliters sugar

4 deciliters flour

2 1/2 deciliters milk

1 egg, beaten

3 tsp. baking powder

4 apples (of your choice)

cinnamon

(1) Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (or 350 degrees Fahrenheit). Melt all the butter in a small saucepan over very low heat. (2) In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg & sugar together with a whisk until light and fluffy. (3) Stir in the milk and melted butter. Next, add the flour in stages (a deciliter/cup at a time), whisking well to ensure that no lumps form. (4) Grease a round baking pan with a little bit of butter and pour in all the batter. (5) Peel and core the apples, slicing thinly before arranging the pieces in the batter in the pattern of your choice (the cake will rise as it bakes so be sure to add as much apple slices as you can); when done, sprinkle the top with a (generous) layer of cinnamon and sugar. (6) Bake on the top rack of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly when stuck into the center of the cake. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into triangular pieces. Serve the pieces of apple cake with a dollop of clotted cream (if you’re feeling adventurous) and a pot of tea :->

Serves 4

I will admit, I’m a bit relieved to have made a cake successfully and I believe my baking qualms are over, for the time being at least 😉 And while the cake didn’t last (at all), I have confidence that my next food concoction will last just a little bit longer…I mean it’s got to, right?

My question: What is one of the best fruits to use in a cake?

(Other than apples, of course) I’m thinking pears…maybe peaches…

9.9.11

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Keepin’ it Light & Spicy

So these days I’m keeping it light and simple but still trying to eat healthier, when the opportunity arises }:) I’ve come across so many things I want to eat just walking around here…lavender flowers, strawberries, rosemary leaves, huge pink chive blossoms; there is so much rain on this side of the ocean that everything grows big and green (and juicy;)

I’ve come to find out that my beloved father (Happy Father’s Day if you’re reading this!!) is on a new diet that involves a lot of green things and fewer calories, so I wanted to write some posts that could contribute to this temporary healthful regimen (-: you know, just omit/substitute the sugar, dairy, salt…) I wanted to avoid shopping so I compiled a list of things we had and made this recipe up on the spot. The soy-paprika glaze for the shrimp was a little spicy but the creamy curry dressing smoothed it over with enough crunch to call this a salad (success!) I find that it’s hard to go wrong when using such wonderfully uncomplicated ingredients as curry powder and minced garlic 🙂

Arugula, Spinach, & Bean Sprout Shrimp Salad with Curry Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for the salad)

1 cup Arugula (they call it Ricola over here:)

1 cup spinach

1 cup bean sprouts

1 cup mixed greens (such as red leaf lettuce, watercress)

1/4 cup cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup baby  tomatoes, halved

1 golden apple, cored & chopped

(for shrimp w/glaze)

12-15 medium shrimp, (tail-on) peeled & deveined

2 Tbs. soy sauce

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbs. dried Basil

(for vinaigrette)

1/3 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

1 Tbs. curry powder

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. oyster sauce

3 Tbs. fresh chives, chopped

1 Tbs. white vinegar

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Wash all the greens and lay out to dry. Cut the bean sprouts in half and mix all of the greens together in a bowl; cover and refrigerate. (2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I will persist with the Fahrenheit;). Mix together the soy sauce, paprika, and olive oil for the glaze in a small bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat, letting sit for five minutes. (3) To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients above from yogurt through vinegar, seasoning to taste with salt & pepper. Let chill in fridge until ready to serve. (4) When preheated, put the shrimp in the oven for 5-7 minutes until cooked through, turning once midway through and reapplying the glaze. When done, remove from oven and let stand covered for 3 minutes. (5) Mix all the chopped vegetables and fruit into the salad greens, tossing well. Distribute the salad among plates and top with warm shrimp and horizontal lines of the vinaigrette. Serve with warm/toasted bread if desired 🙂

Serves 4

So, as I meddle with all these salad combinations I take comfort in the fact that, at least I’m not on a diet! (sorry Dad;) but I am making an active effort to eat more of these colorful summer vegetables while they’re fresh and inexpensive (but no, I’m not giving up cheese!) There’s something wonderful about summer in the kitchen and now that I am in Europe it feels (and maybe this is just me) so much prettier and romantic, it’s just ahhhh…

My question: what is one of the most delicious salad vinaigrettes you’ve ever had? I’m looking for flavor, something new and interesting }:-)

6.19.11

On a Cloudy Day All I Want is Soup…

Ahh, don’t get me wrong. Cloudy weather is nice, I mean it’s cold…and brisk and…did I mention cold? But, as my title points out, when it gets cloudy, all I want is soup. But who doesn’t? There’s a reason soup settles so satisfyingly in the stomach; after all, broth is best. Soup is also a genre of food with endless variation. And just for an example: think of your favorite food; now, imagine it as a soup. Eureka, right?! 😉 I could make up soups all day. Any combination of ingredients (fresh or likewise) will work and with some patience, stirring, and a blender, the soup eventually cooks itself.

For this particular soup recipe, I substituted celery root for a normal base of potatoes because…why not? The flavors are similar, but celery root has perhaps a slightly richer (but not starchier) flavor that reminds me of anise. Did I mention celery root aids digestion? After everything is blended, the soup takes on a much smoother consistency, which is perhaps why I was able to pack in the fresh veggies, because you can never have too much of those 🙂

I originally got this recipe from one of my beloved soup books, only to discover I’d packed the book away in one of my many boxes 😦 Now that’s sloppy planning. Luckily I kept track of the ingredients, so I ended up making this soup based on a recipe from a New Hampshire Co-Op. And New England knows blue cheese. Mmmm. In this case, the blue cheese is important as the flavor should be robust enough to enhance the vegetables but not so strong that it overpowers the final dish. I decided upon Maytag blue cheese because I figure I’ll have plenty of time to try the traditional Danish blues 😉

The best thing about all this is that by the time I got around to making the soup, it was late at night and so I had the kitchen to myself and plenty of time to sample pieces off the crumbling block of blue cheese. Remember, you only need a cup for the soup and it’s the chef’s duty to test the ingredients for quality control, at least that’s my excuse!

Creamy Celery Apple Blue Cheese Soup

Ingredients

2 Tbs. Butter

1 head of celery, stem and leaves, chopped

2 lbs. celery root, peeled and chopped

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 golden delicious apple, chopped

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

2 Tbs. white wine

1 cup fat-free half & half (or cream/milk)

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion and celery, cooking until soft, 8 -10 minutes. (2) Stir in the broth and bring to a boil; add the celery root, cover, and reduce the heat to low, simmering until the celery root pieces are soft, about 35 minutes. Add the golden apple pieces and let cook another 10 minutes. (3) Remove the soup from the heat, uncover, and let cool. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth, returning the entire mixture to the pot. (4) Reheat the soup over low heat; stir in the half & half and white wine, adding the blue cheese a little at a time and mixing until well blended. (5) Season the soup with salt & pepper to taste and add extra chicken broth (or wine) if lacking in consistency. Garnish with celery leaves and serve with toasted bread of choice (can be kept up to 2 weeks in the fridge…)

Serves 6

It is true that soup rarely fails to satisfy. There’s something about a steaming bowl of palatable vegetables and spices that’s the best thing when your hungry and it’s cold outside 🙂 Man do I love blue cheese.

My question: What is the best soup for a cold day?

3.29.11

Spaghetti Cuisine

Pasta is one of the few ingredients I know that has so much versatility in its variations. To be frank, pasta salad is one of my favorite foods (at least when I make it) and I’m a sucker for any pasta dish involving unusual (shall we call them eccentric?) ingredients because it’s always the out of the ordinary ingredients that make a dish uniquely tasty, much like the one I made for dinner on a dark and chilly night last week 🙂

Now, I have to say ahead of time that this recipe was borne out of necessity, and by making it I successfully used a lot of my leftover ingredients in concocting a meal that was delightfully (and I have to use this word again) unusual. For the pasta, I ended up using chili pepper-flavored Spaghetti, which added more umph than I realized. I also added a chopped apple because well, luckily Gala apples are still in season (and actually looking kinda tasty). I incorporated  Turkey bacon which is way better than it sounds and certainly easier on your digestive system. As for the best ingredient in this dish–the cheese! In this case I went with leftover Asiago but any dry, aged cheese will do like Romano, Parmesan, maybe even a little Mizithra…

As I have gone on contesting the the wonderfulness of this pasta dish, I want to encourage people to make up recipes of their own involving simple pastas like spaghetti and handy ingredients like apples, spinach, or raisins. Pasta sauce is not necessarily needed as you can dress the noodles in any combination of vinegar, cheese, olive oil, or wine. I suppose it’s important to keep thinking simple; pasta dishes can be made from combinations of any available vegetable and fruit ingredients, or mixes of them both 😉 All I can say is, don’t limit your thinking when it comes to making pasta because anything will taste delightful when sprinkled with sauce, cheese, and pepper!

Peppered Spaghetti with Butternut Squash Sauce, Turkey Bacon, and fresh Apple

Ingredients

16 oz flavored spaghetti (like chili pepper or basil)

16 oz turkey bacon

2 cups Butternut squash pasta sauce

1/2 cup dried currants

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated

1 gala apple, chopped

1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped

sea salt & cracked pepper

olive oil

(1) In a large skillet coated lightly with olive oil, cook the Turkey bacon over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Set the bacon aside to cool 5 minutes before coarsely chopping. (2) In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions until al dente. (3) Drain the pasta and return to pot, moisten with olive oil and stir in the spinach, currants, and butternut squash sauce, stirring until well-blended. (4) Reheat the mixture over very low heat and add the remaining ingredients of turkey bacon, macadamia nuts, and chopped apple. Season with sea salt & cracked pepper to taste. Serve hot with fresh bread 🙂

Serves 4

As Spring lingers mysteriously ahead, I find myself still clinging to warm, comforting dishes that remind me there is still plenty of warmth somewhere on this globe. For now I shall continue my experiments in cuisine simplicity and definitely get my hands on more pasta }:)

My question: what is your favorite pasta to cook? (Bowtie or fettuccine? Whole wheat or semolina? Imported or homemade? The possibilities are endless…)

3.04.11

Fine Cuisine meets the Quesadilla

By ‘fine cuisine’ I only mean using some unique ingredients to spice up the flavors of this tasty dish. In this recipe from Cooking Light, the unusual ingredients include apples (still in season!), Dijon mustard, and brie cheese, while I also ended up adding into my version green onions, spinach (instead of Arugula), and thinly sliced deli turkey.

Since meat is so important in a meal (especially if you’re only making 1 dish for dinner), I asked the lady behind the deli about some of the meat that wasn’t on display, some of the more  unusual options 😉 and she showed me some delicious sun-dried tomato turkey breast, 98% fat-free, a little spicy, and less than roast beef per pound.

This wise deli woman also said a lot of the delis in supermarkets carry different types of turkey and chicken that aren’t displayed out front, so I encourage everyone to go and ask for something unusual 🙂

 

 

Apple Brie Quesadillas

Ingredients

1/2 cup green onions, sliced

1 apple, cored & thinly sliced (like Braeburn or Pink Lady)

1/4 lb. sliced turkey breast (like sun-dried tomato or buffalo style)

7 oz. Brie cheese, thinly sliced

4-5 tortillas

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. dried or fresh parsley

sea salt & cracked pepper

cooking spray

(1) Mix together the mustard and parsley in a small bowl; season with salt & pepper and set aside. (2) Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; spread one side of a tortilla with the mustard mixture and cover with brie cheese slices. (3) Cook the underside on the skillet until the cheese begins to melt, about 1-2 minutes then add an even layer of sliced apples, turkey slices, green onions, and top everything with spinach leaves. (4) Carefully (no joke here), fold the tortilla in half and cook until both sides are browned, 3-5 minutes. Cut the quesadilla into 3 slices and serve. Repeat steps 2-4 until all the remaining ingredients have been used. This quesadilla can be served by itself or with any array of salsa or sauces 🙂

Serves 4

I love Brie (which is encompassed within my great adoration for cheese) so I sliced it thinly along with the rind, because it’s only lending flavor as soon as everything starts to melt 🙂

My question: What is the best tasting cheese melted? I vote Gruyère, but that’s just personal preference 😉

2.07.11