Apple Cake “Tatin”

It is the time of year that I start thinking about apples (and pears). I have a great apple cake recipe that I make for The Boy – D&D_IMG_0779-EditSour Cream Butterscotch Apple Upside-Down Cake. It’s dreamy. No really, not kidding, even though the name is long and I never seem to put all the words in the same order. Sometimes I make it for Thanksgiving, sometimes in the spring for his birthday. Apples are great anytime, but they, to my mind, really are fall fruits.

I like this idea because it plays on the classic tart Tatin which, by definition, is “A famous French upside-down apple tart made by covering the bottom of a shallow baking dish with butter and sugar, then apples and finally a pastry crust.”*

I’ll admit to some trepidation about this recipe, but it was really only the part that involved a candy thermometer. Even though I have a good bit of candy making (sugar work) experience, sugar can go south so fast, but my Thermopen and careful watching saved the day. Thank you Ina Garten!

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 12 pieces or more as you see pictured – yep, that’s just me.
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down. Okay, there are two cut sides – um, yep there are.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 D&D_IMG_0782-Editminutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
* Food Lover’s Companion, p.620.

I’m sorry, but this cake is only slightly amazing.
I dub you – breakfast apple cake!
And this will make an appearance at the Thanksgiving table – a high honor indeed. Plus the MotH liked it too which is nothing short of amazing. It is not too sweet and the apples baked up to perfection.D&D_IMG_0793-Edit

9 October 2015

Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

D&D_IMG_0756-Edit

Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ugh – I’m in such a rut. A cookie baking rut. Guess for some people that is not a problem, but I’ve been going down this road for what seems like (is) weeks, so I have resorted to asking people for what I should make just to get me out of this rut. And what, exactly, did that get me? A request for more cookies – sigh. Well, at least it was a request for something that would not jump to the front of my mind. Chocolate Chip.

Now, as a request – someone, please ask for, I don’t know, … not cookies.

I am not a big fan of chocolate chip cookies. There, I said it. But if you add nuts,  I might be tempted. Still, just not a chocolate girl. I’m sure I am not in the general population in this particular area. I am in the minority. Given a choice, I will not choose chocolate. There it is. That said, I do like these cookies. It is probably because I put so many nuts in them – it is kind of like cheese: if a recipe calls for cheese, just add more; same thing with nuts. There is nothing fancy about these cookies, but that is fine with me. They are solid.  And I do plan on eating some of them for breakfast.

2 cups plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
12 ozs semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a sheet of waxed paper or in a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Just use the waxed paper – easier in the grand scheme of things. And no clean up.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and add both sugars, mixing until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat only until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Line baking sheet with parchment. Arrange a scoop of dough about two inches apart on sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, turning the pan half way through the baking time. Let cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thanks Food & Wine

Roasted Roma Tomatoes with garlic, Gorgonzola, and bread crumbs

D&D_IMG_0765-Edit

Roasted Roma Tomatoes w/bleu cheese & garlic

Another no recipe recipe …

Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil
Fresh Garlic, minced
Kosher salt+
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain bread crumbs*
Gorgonzola, crumbled

Okay with this recipe you have to base it on ratios. But the methodology is solid. Roma tomatoes work because they are solid tomatoes that hold up under the heat and get better and sweeter as they roast.

So slice the tomatoes and use a grapefruit spoon to get rid of the insides and especially the seeds. Put them cut side down of several pieces of paper towels to drain for at least 5 minutes.

Put tomatoes in a bowl large enough to hold them. Add enough olive oil to coat. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add minced garlic, enough that it makes sense for the number of tomatoes but understand that garlic is a key part of this recipe. Stir everything together until the tomatoes are coated and let marinate for as long as it makes sense.^

In another bowl mix together Gorgonzola and bread crumbs.£ Place marinated tomatoes, cut side up, on lined baking sheet. Fill with Gorgonzola bread crumb mixture. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake (or should it be roast?) for 20 – 25 minutes until tomatoes are softened and topping is lightly browned.

If you want, top with chopped herbs, parsley is a good idea. I think the best idea.

+I have used my homemade lemon Rosemary Maldon salt for this and it is, in a word, amazing.

*At work we use a lot of catering from Panera and they always bring baguettes with each order. I typically take one home if no one else wants it and have two things I do – make croutons with herbs fine and make plain breadcrumbs. So these are my homemade breadcrumbs.

^For me it takes at least an hour, but I have let them sit overnight too. Works well either way.

£ Figure out, based on ratios how much Gorgonzola you think will work, you can always add more and add just enough breadcrumbs to make the cheese sandy – that makes sense to me but to explain, enough bread crumbs to barely coat the Gorgonzola cheese.

This is one of the last things that my beloved father-in-law had that I made. He asked for seconds and well, even now, that is difficult and it has been several years but it still makes me happy. He was a second father to me and I am glad that I was able to make him happy.

25 May 2009 – Memorial Day. vvg w W/J – Used just enough bread crumbs to make Bleu cheese sandy
20 June 2009 – added a couple Tbs of cream cheese – just because there were fresh local Roma tomatoes
4 July 2009 – @ W/J w/D et al
23 June 2012 – vg
4 October 2015

Lime Meltaways

D&D_IMG_0758-Edit

Lime Meltaways

When I was a kid it was a huge thing for us me in the summer when my mom made limeade. I don’t do that enough and need to remedy that. Limeade went along, typically, with boiled peanuts and watermelons on a summer Saturday.

I love the nuanced flavor of a lime. I also think that the best way to eat an avocado is with lime and some sea salt – just heaven, but not on toast. Too trendy, and, to my mind, a bit insipid. Lime also features in my mushroom and watercress pate, because it is citrus but just a bit sweet too. Lime is a lovely complex flavor.

I am always making lemon cookies, I know, you are all astonished, right? but lime, not so much. I think it is because when you see something lime, it is typically pie. Which I have nothing against, but you don’t see much in the way of lime cookies. So I am making a concerted effort to change that – single handedly.

3/4 cup butter (12 Tbs) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
Finely grated zest of two limes
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 Tbs vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbs
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of wax paper – I do love to do it this way. It’s simple and easy to clean up – Set aside.

Put butter and 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla and mix until combined.

And here is where things became interesting … Really should have used the paddle attachment. The whisk was a pain, esp. to get it cleaned out to get everything mixed together.

Then, because the whisking didn’t go well, it took some time to hand mix the dough to get it come together. We will no return to our show, already in progress….

Divide dough in half. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs and slice into 1/4 inch thick coins. Space coins about an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until barely golden, 12 minutes or so, turning the pan halfway through. Cool on a wire rack 8 – 10 minutes. Place the other 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in a zip top bag, and toss the still warm cookies to coat. Store airtight at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Source: Martha Stewart

These were really good, if you like citrus. Went over well with my friends. It’s shortbread after all.

Sausage Cheddar Biscuits

D&D_IMG_0762-Edit

Sausage Cheddar Biscuits

I love biscuits. Guess every real Southerner does – it is probably genetic to some degree. My favorite weeknight biscuits are drop biscuits. They come together fast and are super satisfying with a quick dinner. They are also great the next day, split open and toasted and topped with cream rich butter.

The recipe I used for these Sausage Cheddar Biscuits is from Tricia Yearwood’s cooking show. I enjoy her show because so much of what she fixes, based on her family recipes, are very very (!)  similar to the way my mom always cooked. In fact, I’ve used several of her recipes to help be get back to something my mom made, but I never had a recipe for. Part of the problem is that my mom, largely, didn’t have recipes for most of the things she made. Another part of the problem was me. I would call and ask for help with making something and I made just the laziest of notes about them, and then she was gone. It took time to realize all the things I didn’t know. So now I’m trying to get back to what I never took the time to do before.

On to these biscuits. I think, really, I know, any time you add sausage to something, it is good eats. Lovely as well is that I had all ingredients on hand. Not surprising considering that there are only five.

8 ozs pork bulk breakfast sausage, hot
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 cups self rising flour
5 ozs shredded extra sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment.

In a skillet, cook sausage until well browned, breaking the sausage into small pieces. Drain on paper towels and cool completely.

In a stand mixer, mix together sour cream and butter mix in flour, a little at a time until fully combined. Add sausage and cheese and mix until incorporated.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment. Bake until lightly brown 20 – 25 minutes, rotating half way through.

Notes: So many things.
First, I did not have self-rising flour, so I made my own.
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/homemade-self-rising-flour.html
This is not a problem in my opinion because I rarely use enough self-rising flour to keep it on hand.
The original recipe used pork sausage with sage – not a flavor I’m a fan of, so the change.

The thing I did wrong on the first batch was forget what one of my mom’s best friend taught me about drop biscuits. I made the biscuits too big, they spread a bit much, but they tasted amazing. And duh, what’s the trick? Bake drop biscuits in a muffin tin. It is perfect! Every time.

2015 Butter Usage (by month – September)

D&D_0415

Pecan Pie Cookies

2 September 2015 – 2 Tbs – Cheddar Orzo, but with Cheddar instead of Gruyere.

4 September 2015 – 12 Tbs – Pecan Pie Cookies

4 September 2015 – 10 2/3 Tbs – Oatmeal Cookies

6 September 2015 – 8 Tbs – Peanut Butter Cookies

11 September 2015 – 10 2/3 Tbs – Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

11 September 2015 – 5 1/3 Tbs – Magic Bites

18 September 2015 – 16 Tbs – Sugar Cookies

18 September 2015 – 8 Tbs – Snicks

19 September 2015 – 12 Tbs – Sour Cream Pound Cake

30 September 2015 – 12 Tbs – Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

Total 96.65 Tbs = 12.08 sticks = 3.02 pounds

All in cookie form apparently. Guess I’m keeping my friends happy. However, I need to expand my butter usage to include something that might resemble dinner. Or not.