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Monday, November 22, 2010

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake from Dorie Greenspan

I have seen this cake floating around the blogosphere for weeks and was lucky enough to decide to try it out when it first came out. And I have to tell you, this cake, and this cake alone, made me add Around My French Table to my Amazon wishlist. It's simple, easy to make, and delicious. The rum adds a certain je ne sais quois to the overall flavor, but the apples are the stars of the cake. And because there's so many apples, it has to be healthy for you, right?

The recipe calls for you to use several different kinds of apples. I'm sure it's great that way, but I'm lazy and have used whatever kind of apple I have laying around--usually the ones that were on sale. Maybe some day I'll get around to buying four different kinds, but I don't usually plan ahead in my baking that well. I also added a sprinkling of turbinado sugar (larger grained brown sugar) to the top for a nice sparkle and crunch. (I try to add sparkle to anything I can since my four year old is into sparkly things these days.) :-)

The result is a rich, flavorful and impressive cake that everyone will love!

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake
from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (Dorie suggests you use four different kinds, but this recipe is forgiving.)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Turbinado Sugar

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.

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.

**Can be served with lightly-sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. (We prefer it without.)

**This cake is very moist, so when storing it, store at room temperature (for up to two days). Don't cover--just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut sides.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mindy's Mouthful...Now on Facebook

After much thought, I've decided to create a fan page on Facebook for Mindy's Mouthful. The compelling argument was that some people just don't have time to go to their reader to keep up with blogs, so I thought I'd make it easier for those of you who don't keep up with your readers as well as you'd like. (If you'd like to subscribe to this blog with a reader, click on the link at the bottom of this post or if you're reading this in a reader, click here.)

Feel free to join us on Facebook in the meantime!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White Beans

Before joining our CSA, I don't think I had ever tasted chard, so I didn't really know what to do with it when I started getting those giant leaves in my basket. I've sauteed it (which is tasty), but this is one of my favorite recipes for it so far. Chard to me is very much like spinach, but it seems to hold up better once cooked. It's pretty bitter raw, but the bitterness disappears when cooked. If you can't find chard, fresh spinach would work here too.

This dish is not quite vegetarian, but can easily be made so by leaving out the bacon. (But who wants to do that???) This takes me about 45 minutes to make, and although it's a little bit of a stretch on a busy weeknight, I can still make it on weeknights when I get home on time. Last time I made it, I doubled the recipe and froze half of it to have on hand as a quick meal. This gnocchi is a perfect warm and filling dish for a cold rainy night.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard and White BeansAdapted slightly from Eating Well
serves 4
1 16-oz package of shelf-stable gnocchi (can usually be found in the dry pasta section of your grocery store)
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch matchsticks
1 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1 bunch chard, stems removed and chopped
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 15-oz can white beans (cannellini, great northern white, etc.), drained and rinsed
1 tsp Kosher salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Boil gnocchi in a large pot until puffed up and floating.

Heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and transfer the cooked gnocchi to the skillet. Cook stirring often, until the gnocchi starts to brown. Remove gnocchi from the pan.

Add the bacon to the pan and cook until browned. Remove to a paper towel. Drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon grease. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for about two minutes or until it they start to wilt a little. Add the garlic and water and cover. Cook for about 4-6 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the chard and cook for another 1-2 minutes, covered, until it starts to wilt. Add the tomatoes, beans, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  (If using fresh tomatoes, simmer until the tomatoes are no longer raw.)

Stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover and cook until the cheese is bubbling.

Serve with bread to mop up the sauce!

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