Friday, October 20, 2017

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

No chicken dinner to post.....just the winners of the cookbooks!


Judy Biaris
Bebe (finally!)


Dennee from LA
Dr. R


Susan Reynolds

BONUS BOOK! I have one unclaimed BIANCO cookbook from the last giveaway:

Lisa Walker

Please contact me with your addresses so I can get the books to you!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hasselback Apple Cake

Here we are again, in full apple season. As you know my favorite cake is an apple cake.

How many apple cakes must I bake until I find the perfect one?

I will continue my quest for the BEST apple cake.....(truthfully, they are all good, or I wouldn't post them).

Here, it's not only about the taste of this cake being so good, but the presentation!

Delicious and beautiful!

Hasselback Apple Cake (adapted from Food52):

10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
3 very small apples, peeled, halved, and cored
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey plus 1/4 cup for the glaze
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter, then line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and grease the paper as well.

Place the apple halves, cut side down, on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut halfway through the apple halves in thin parallel slices, so that they stay intact. This is hasselbacking, I have done this with potatoes, squash, you name it.

In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and the 2 tsp light brown sugar and set aside.

Beat together the butter and granulated sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the 2 tablespoons of honey and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a small bowl. Fold the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture until just combined.

In another bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
With a rubber spatula, stir half of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.
*(Is it really necessary to separate the egg whites from the yolks....I say nay for this cake, but it will yield a lighter fluffier you make the decision, I am usually too lazy!).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange the apple halves, flat side down, onto the cake batter, pressing them down slightly.

Pour the accumulated apple juices onto the cake. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then slide a knife around the edge of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan.

Let the cake cool completely.

When ready to serve, make a glaze in a small pot by warming the remaining 1/4 cup honey with the orange juice and whisking together until thin (you can do this in the microwave for 20 seconds). Brush the honey mixture all over the cake.

This is one pretty fantastic apple cake!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fall Pasta: Tortellini with Sausage & Mushroom Ragu

Though summer cooking is much more fun and produce is abundant, fall is a lovely season to cook (and eat!) as well.

Squash, apples, woodsy mushrooms and heartier foods come into play, and I love them all.
Time to make some freezer meals for the lean days ahead......if you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you know "winter is coming".

This is a hearty "ragu", made with good locally made Italian sausage and any mushroom you like.

Unfortunately, the husband dislikes mushrooms, so he picked them out of the dish, but they are a must in this dish because they give off such flavor and depth.

I served this over fresh tortellini (Giovanni Rana makes the best tortellini, in my opinion).

This is one of my favorites, and it's also delicious over polenta.

Sausage & Mushroom Ragu: (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 lb. of pasta, orecchiette, fusilli or tortellini
1/2 cup of dried porcini or morel mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed and crumbled
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced thin
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 thinly sliced shallots sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup of beef broth (you can use red wine or chicken stock too)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
fresh thyme or parsley

Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water until softened. Rinse and pat dry; reserve the soaking liquid (you will use this in the ragu).

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the sausage meat and carrot, cover and cook over moderate heat until starting to brown.
Remove the sausage and carrots with a slotted spoon and put aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the soaked rehydrated porcini mushrooms and butter to the skillet, season with kosher salt and pepper and cook until soft.

Add in the shallots and white button mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, until the button mushrooms are soft and golden brown.

Pour in the cup of porcini or morel soaking liquid and the beef stock or wine. Bring to a boil, then scrape the bottom of the pan and turn down to a simmer.

Add the sausage meat back into the skillet and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste.

Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme sprigs.

This is great over any shape pasta or on polenta.
The ragu also freezes well.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall Random Bites & Cookbook Giveaways

A lot of cookbook giveaways today.....keep reading!

I don't like to bore you with my fig obsession, so I wanted to just get in this one last fig cake recipe before the season is over until next year........file it under Random Bites.

It was a delicious fig skillet cake, very simple, I modified the recipe from this Plum Skillet Cake on Serious Eats.
(I have been swapping in 1/2 cup of almond flour for the regular white flour to all my cakes for lighter and better cakes).

My figs are done for the season and many of you ask how my little tree winters over in NJ.

Most people who have mature, established fig trees here, wrap them in burlap to protect them during the winter and let them go into dormancy.

Because my tree is potted, we prune it, then leave it bare naked in a dark cellar stairwell with Bilco basement doors (sounds cruel), where it stays cool and dark all light, no water..........see you in April!

When it comes to fall, my transition from tomatoes is a tough one, but focusing on carrots, beets and squash makes the change easier.

Bright, beautiful heirloom rainbow carrots roasted to perfection with some golden beets and my luscious beet pesto.

Sprinkle of hazelnuts and the last of the mint plant in my garden.

October is always a busy food event month for me.

You know about my love affair with Yotam Ottolenghi by now.

He visited Williams Sonoma in my town with pastry chef Helen Goh, promoting their new cookbook SWEETS, so I had to go and say hello.

The book is one of the best baking books I have seen in a while.
I have bookmarked at least 15 baking recipes, so look out for them (and look at that cake on the cover with FIGS!).

I am giving away 2 signed SWEET cookbooks to my readers, so just leave a comment at the end of the post......

I am also giving away 2 copies of my friend Liz's new book Recipes from Raine's Roost aka Jillian's Kitchen .

Liz is a USA Today contributor and a published romance writer and her new book is chock full of delicious recipes (and I am mentioned in the forward of the book!).

Next up a NYCWFF No Kid Hungry Benefit at the historic 21 Club in NYC with Philly chef Mark Vetri and Chicago chef Paul Kahan from The Publican.

The NYCWFF benefits many local charities, local food banks being one of their major benefactor.

The food was off the charts......pressed octopus on garbanzo beans; homemade almond filled tortellini with truffle butter; NY cheesecake; baccala cappuccino shooters!

The last giveaway are 2 signed copies of Publican cookbooks for you lovely readers.

All 6 winners announced Friday.

Ok, I am done rambling for the day.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Simple Apple Cake w/ Vanilla

Hooray for apple season!

I am looking forward to some cooler fall temps and apple recipes! We have had a very warm fall so far (80F everyday in October).

This recipe is for the non-bakers and the bakers.

It is so easy, that even a non-baker can whip this one up.

If you can't make this cake, then just go to the bakery and buy a cake, it's time to hang up your apron.

It is based on Marion Burro's summer plum torte, but I have adapted the recipe using apples and vanilla.

Simple Apple Cake w/ Vanilla:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced
turbinado sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Grease an 8" or 9" cake pan (I use a 9" springform).

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar together, then add eggs in one at a time.

Mix until batter is pale yellow.

Mix in the flour and baking powder.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place the apples on top.

Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the apples. Then some sugar and cinnamon on top.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Delicious warm or at room temperature.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Lentil Hummus

I love lentils, and have been craving them lately.

I found this easy recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine and it was delicious.

If you have leftover cooked lentils, this is a great idea to use them in.

I am calling this a hummus, cause it looks like hummus, but there is no tahini in site.

Here's the recipe (adapted from Bon Appetit):

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup yellow, green or red lentils
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more for serving (lemon juice would be good too)

Since my lentils were leftover, and already cooked, I cooked an extra sliced onion in a skillet and added that to the food processor, to give the hummus a nice oniony sweet taste.

Combine onion, lentils, cumin, and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until lentils are falling-apart tender, 25–30 minutes. Let cool.

Purée lentil mixture, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 Tbsp. lime juice in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a bowl. Drizzle with oil and lime juice; top with more cilantro.

Delicious with a crispy egg on top, but of course!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hazelnut Yogurt w/ Figs

Another new cookbook for my collection.

This one is a doozy. I love it.

Missy Robbins' book "Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner... Life!: Recipes and Adventures from My Home Kitchen".

Missy is the chef/owner of Lilia Restaurant in Brooklyn, which I still have not been to (hard to get in and Brooklyn seems like worlds away, and it's actually only 24 miles from my house).

You should get the book just for this recipe.
Hazelnut yogurt.

I love yogurt, and since coming back from France recently, I have yogurt on the brain.

I had never had a nut yogurt, which is more popular in Europe and Israel. And hazelnut yogurt?
Yes, please.

I love hazelnuts, and when they are toasted, they have an intoxicating aroma.
But please, no fake hazelnut flavor, like in coffee, I just can't.

Ok, enough about what I like and don't like......let's make this recipe.

Here, Missy uses dried figs and Greek yogurt....I had fresh figs, so opted for them good.

The recipe calls for 32 oz. of yogurt, which makes a lot. I cut the recipe in half and I still had breakfast for 4 mornings.

Use any Greek plain yogurt you like, I used Chobani and Fage because I had them!

Hazelnut Yogurt: (adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner... Life!: Recipes and Adventures from My Home Kitchen)

1 quart plain Greek yogurt
2 cups of skinned hazelnuts, toasted (I think you could use less), save some for garnish
2 tbsp hazelnut oil
1/4 cup honey
6-8 dried figs, sliced thin
cocoa powder for garnish

Place the yogurt in a blender or food processor and add in the nuts. Whiz a few times to break up the nuts. Add in the honey and hazelnut oil.

You now have hazelnut yogurt! Keep in the fridge all week so you have a nice breakfast to look forward to!

Garnish with the sliced dried or fresh figs, some chopped hazelnuts and a dusting of cocoa powder.

I'm happy. :)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Paris 2017

In case you were not following my daily feasts in Paris on instagram, here is a recap.

We saw old friends (Charlotte from Lulu Escapes & Sharon from My French Country Home) and came home with a collection of new friends (as is always the case when we are on vacation!).

We went to our favorite Paris restaurants, L'Avant Comptoir du Marche; Apicius; Buvette in Pigalle.

And tried some new restaurants......La Regalade (fantastic Bistronomy) and Shirvan Cafe Metisse (for great Middle Eastern).

Make a note of them.

A day trip to Champagne was the highlight of our vacance.

We visited Maison Ruinart (my favorite champagne) and some small producers. We took Instants Champagne Tours and I highly recommend Remi & Clement for your trip.

We visited Montmartre which has the best views of the city.....all uphill, and has the best street art in Paris.

Paris is always wonderful, no matter what time of year you go.

There is beauty everywhere you look.

We never tire of it, sort of like New York City.
The more you go, the more you love it.

Thank you for all the nice comments on my instagram and facebook page, I loved taking you along with us this year to Paris.

I am back in the kitchen this week with some new recipes!