Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall is Here, Time for Apples

It's apple time in the Pacific Northwest so it's time for a wonderful variety of apples at our local farmers markets and grocery stores.  I can't resist buying apples when they are at their peak and eating them crisp and cold from the fridge.  Occasionally though, a cooked apple dessert is just the thing for a Fall day and when I saw this recipe in the Oregonian, I knew it was a must try.
This comes from one of my favorite cookbook authors and collaborators, Dorie Greenspan who has worked with many famous chefs such as Julia Childs amongst others and has developed amazing books, including her own Baking: From My Home to Yours.  She has recently come out with her newest book called  Around My French Table and this recipe is included.  I have yet to purchase it but I have read great things and look forward to ordering it from Amazon very soon.

A little about this cake.  It is all about the apples which have a very thin  layer of cake surrounding them.  I used two varieties; Honey Crisp and Liberty to make my version but Ms. Greenspan recommends using 4 different types to get a mix of tart and sweet and a variety of textures.  It's a delicious dessert and very simple and quick to put together.

Marie Helene's Apple Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and center a rack in the oven. Butter an 8 inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform pan on it. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 to 2 inch chunks.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, when it’s incorporated, add half of the melted butter, followed by the remaining flour mixture and butter. Mix in between additions so you have a smooth, thick batter.

Fold in the apples with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan. Spread with spatula so the batter is somewhat even.
Slide the pan in the oven and bake 50-60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for five minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake and remove from the pan. Cool cake until slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the pan, wait until the cake is completely cooled. Slide a long spatula between the cake and pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving platter.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika Sauce

Sometimes I just have to sit down and go through the ever growing stacks of magazines that accumulate around the house and pull out recipes and articles I may use at a future date and then get the rest into the recycle bin.  Otherwise our house would be inundated by them.  Yesterday was that kind of day, though I must admit I barely made a dent in the piles.

I did come across this wonderful and quick dish in a Martha Stewart magazine.  Her publications are always filled with such great recipes, decorating ideas and interesting articles it's hard for me to throw them away.  But get rid of them I must, lest I become the next star on the show Hoarders-Buried Alive, with my out-of-control magazine addiction!

This is a very fast recipe and from start to finish, this dinner took no more than 30 minutes to put together and it was a winner.

Pork Paillards with Sour Cream-Paprika Sauce
(Serves 4)

8 pork paillards
Salt and Pepper to taste
Flour for dusting meat
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp paprika

Season pork with salt and pepper on both sides then dust lightly with flour.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 4 paillards and saute on 1 side until golden brown, approximately 1-2 minutes.  Flip and saute paillards until cooked through about 1 minute.  Transfer to a plate.  Repeat with remaining meat.

Saute onions for 2-3 minutes until transparent.  Add white wine to skillet and deglaze pan; cook until wine reduces by half, about 1 minute.  Add chicken stock and any plate juices.  Simmer until sauce reduces by half, about 2 minutes.  Gradually add in the sour cream and the paprika.  Season to taste.  Serve with buttered parsley noodles.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies

This is a cookie from my youth, either in this shape or in the pinwheel shape, which were my particular favorites.  I found this recipe in the September 2010 issue of Martha Stewart's Everday Food magazine and just knew I had to try them.  This is not a recipe if your goal is to whip out a batch of cookies in a hurry.  These took some time but were totally worth the effort.  The recipe states it makes 18, but I only managed to get ten out of the dough and had only enough chocolate, even after adding three more ounces, to coat nine cookies.  Oh well, nine cookies are better than none!!

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies
(as adapted from Everyday Living Magazine)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for working
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
9 large marshmallows, halved
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light, 4 minutes. Add egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Drop dough by tablespoonfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. With the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in flour, flatten cookies to 2 inches in diameter. Bake until dry and set, about 7 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Remove from oven and top each cookie with a marshmallow half. Bake until marshmallows are soft, 2 minutes.
Remove from oven and, with a metal spatula sprayed with vegetable spray, gently flatten each marshmallow. Let cookies cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 minute increments, stirring often, until chocolate is thoroughly melted. Place one cookie at a time on tines of a fork, submerge in chocolate, then tap fork on edge of bowl to remove excess. Place on wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let cookies set in refrigerator, about 10 minutes.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mom's Clam Dip

This blog entry is in honor of my mother's clam dip.  It is a family tradition.  There isn't a family gathering that goes by where this isn't served by someone.  Sometimes the simplest of food items can evoke such strong memories and for me, this is one of those items. 

Growing up, my parents use to throw parties in our remodeled basement which was where it was "happening."  There was a bona fide bar with three built in bar stools that were ever so fun to spin around on. There were two large mirrors on the walls.   There was a red linoleum tile floor, a couch, chairs and a piano.  Eventually it was additionally decorated to resemble an English pub, with English beer glasses, a map of the Underground and various other souvenirs my parents collected on their travels to England.

Well, back to the clam dip.  The day after these parties I would go down to explore the aftermath where it smelled of stale beer and cigarette smoke (weren't the '60s something) and inevitably there would be left over chips and clam dip sitting around.  Not for long!  Nothing better than slightly soggy potato chips and clam dip which has been out all night. 

We're all grown up now and I wanted to make sure I got this recipe (I use the term lightly as I don't believe there is a recipe) written so it can be passed on to the next generation.  Like my grandmother's English tarts, my mother's clam dip is and shall remain a family tradition.

Mom's Clam Dip

1 8oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 can chopped clams, undrained

Beat cream cheese, garlic powder, mayonnaise and approximately 2/3 of the clam juice until smooth and creamy.  Drain clams of remaining juice.  Add clams to cream cheese mixture and stir until blended.  Serve with chopped veggies and potato chips.

This is my take on this concoction.  I'm sure my two sisters have their own variations, but the basics would be the same.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lunch At The Coast

The Husband and I took off one recent beautiful, sunny Fall Saturday and drove to Newport on the Oregon coast for a walk around downtown and lunch at Mo's.  You Oregonians will be familiar with Mo's delicious clam chowder. 
It's worth the drive just for a cup, along with their yummy cheesy garlic bread.  The day was perfect and it was a fantastic, much needed get-away.