Cranberry and Apple Cake 6-8 servings
This is an easy and fairly healthy dish to make when the holidays are here. Actually, it’s good for anytime of the year. You can vary it as to how you think that you want to enjoy it. I personally like less cake so I cut the cake ingredients in half (shown in my picture). There are other options as well. It’s all up to you. I like versatile recipes like that. So, bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Step # 1Ingredients for the filling:
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems if necessary
- 1 Granny Smith or other good kind of cooking apple you like, cored and diced (I diced mine in the food processor).
- 4 ounces Sun Dried Cherries (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of grated orange rind/zest (about 1/2 of 1 large orange)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice from that 1 large orange you just used
- Orange segments from that 1 orange after you’ve juiced it. I put the segments in with the apple and diced it all together.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or some other similar spice that you enjoy
- Some ground black pepper if you wish or even some pepper corns
Step #2 Ingredients for the cake (for more cake like, use the amounts I have listed; if you wish more of a topping like effect, as in my picture, use half of the amounts of these ingredients which also means less calories. )
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or any other extract you like or even brandy (I used brandy)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Step # 3 Topping ingredients for the end result:
- Some Turbinado Sugar to lightly sprinkle over all before placing in the oven
- Some more cinnamon, whatever also to sprinkle over all before placing in oven
- Pre-heat oven to 325F
- Slightly oil or butter a 10-inch glass pie plate.
- Step #1: Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Let sit while you do Step #2.
- Step #2: In another bowl, on medium-high, beat with an electric beater the eggs for 2 minutes. Then, on medium, add the remainder of the ingredients except for the flour and beat until just combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt till well combined.
- Step #3: Pour the cranberry mixture into the pie dish. Spread the batter with a spatula over the fruit covering it as completely as you wish. Top with ingredients listed in Step #3.
- Bake in oven for about 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool Whip, whipped cream or ice cream makes for a nice accompaniment.
Sautéed Apples—serves up to 4
I served this often to my B&B guests and they loved it. It’s so easy to make and is so much better than store bought syrup to use for pancakes or waffles and you get the apples as well. But don’t stop there, it’s great over ice cream as well.
- 1/4 cup (or a bit more if you wish) butter
- 2-3 large tart apples cored and sliced in large segments
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 to 1 cup hot water
- 1/4 -1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or another flavor if you wish
- Raisins (optional)
- In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; add apples. Cook, stirring constantly, until apples are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Dissolve the cornstarch, brown sugar and cinnamon In hot water in a microwaveable dish. Place in micro for 1 or more minutes.
- When apples are just about tender, pour heated liquid into the pan along with the optional raisins if you wish and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Hints: I started out with the lesser amounts of the hot water and brown sugar. After micro-heating and placing in pan with apples, you can always add more hot water. If you wish to have more sugar, dissolve the sugar first in hot water and then add to pan. But truthfully, I found that 1/4 C. brown sugar was plenty sweet enough.
Margot Van Horn
Cassoulet, the easy way serves 6-8 Originally the cassoulet originated in the South of France and was named after the traditional earthenware pot, a casserole vessel that was used specifically for it. It was a “peasant’s” dish and utilized all sorts of left-over’s. It was a slow cooking dish that traditionally contained pork, sausages, goose, duck, mutton, pork skin and white haricot beans. But it has transformed itself by cooks worldwide to now even containing fish. This is such a versatile dish and it can be quite healthy. It can be a little time consuming due to the chopping of the veggies and the browning of the meats so give yourself a minute or two to this creative dish. The end result will be well worth it. Also, if you wish to vary the meats such as using pork, go for it. The fun thing with this dish is that you can make it your own by using your imagination with many different kinds of variations.
Ingredients for the cassoulet pictured above:
- 2 lbs. lamb shoulder slices (bone in)
- 1 ½ lbs. organic chicken thighs-skin on
- 12 ounces Cajun Style Andouille Smoked Pork Sausages-cut crosswise in large 1 inch or more slices
- Bacon-chopped about 1/4 cup or so.
- 1 shallot, 1 yellow onion, 2-4 garlic cloves–all finely chopped
- 2 large peeled carrots, 1 large peeled turnip, 1 large peeled rutabaga, 1 large peeled parsnip, several celery stalks with their tops all chopped in large chunks
- 1-14.5 ounce can of chopped tomatoes—do not drain and 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 or more 15 ounce cans of cannellini white beans—drained, placed in a colander and well rinsed with cold water
- 1-3 cups of organic chicken (or beef) stock (I used chicken but beef is good too.)
- At least 1/4 cup white wine or white vermouth (taste as you go)
- Seasonings: use as you please and pinches only: all spice, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, a pod of anise.
- Herbs: sprig of Rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, chopped parsley or even dry parsley flakes
- Olive oil—could be up to 1/2 cup
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Place your 10 inch cast iron skillet on top of the burner
- Place all of your meats in a separate bowl—if you wish you can S&P them.
- Place your finely chopped shallot, onion and garlic cloves in a small bowl or maybe like I did you’ve made it easy for yourself and used your Cuisinart.
- Place all of your chopped root veggies in a bowl
- Open your chopped tomatoes can and remember the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.
- Drain and rinse the cannellini white beans and place in a bowl.
- Heat the skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon in it (about 5 minutes). When the bacon is done, scoop the bacon bits out but leave the bacon drippings in the pan.
- Over medium heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the bacon drippings and gently sauté the onion, shallot and garlic (about 5 minutes) till softened. Remove the ingredients to a separate dish.
- Now, still over medium heat, add to the skillet the chopped veggies and sauté them till slightly brown—stirring every now and then.
- Remove the veggies to its separate bowl.
- To the skillet, still over medium heat, add the meats (maybe in several sessions) and brown, turning every now and then (about 10 minutes)
- Remove the meats to its separate dish.
- Over medium heat in the skillet add the chopped tomatoes with its liquid, the tomato paste, the onion, garlic, shallot and 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a slight boil. Add which ever spices you like tasting as you go. Add the white wine or vermouth. Keep on tasting. Add the herbs. If you like the sauce—go for it.
- At this point add the beans, meats and veggies. Now if you need some more liquid add some more stock but you don’t want the mixture to be drowning in the liquid. If you have too much liquid, spoon it out.
- Place the whole skillet, UNCOVERED, in the pre-heated 350F oven and bake for 1 hour. Watch every now and then to see that your liquid has not evaporated. If so, add some more chicken stock.
- Serve with crusty French bread and wine of course.
Shortbread Cookies—–Warning—- Dangerous: Can’t Stop Eating These
Easy to make and they are the freezer kind, but of course are called refrigerator cookies. Shouldn’t they be called Freezer Cookies? Go figure?!!!!
So, once you make the dough (in your processor or if you prefer, in a bowl with your electric mixer) you roll the dough into two logs and freeze them for at least 2 hours or up to one month. One roll makes at least 30 delights so I bet you’ll easily have some cookie dough left over to make into yummy cookies some time later unless you are baking for a large crowd. Below, look for variation possibilities.
Ingredients: makes 60 cookies
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 Tsp. coarse salt
- 1 Tblsp. plus 1 Tsp. lemon zest (or whatever you choose)
- 1 Tsp. fresh lemon juice (or whatever you choose)
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, cut into pieces
- 2 egg yolks
- Granulated sugar (maybe 1/4 C?) for rolling the dough in before baking
Directions (easy and if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a bowl and electric beaters):
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt and lemon zest until combined.
- Add the butter pieces and process till crumbly.
- Add the egg yolks and lemon juice.
- Pulse until dough comes together. (If it hasn’t done that to your satisfaction, use your hands to form the dough into a cohesive ball)
- Divide the dough in half and form with your hands each half into a 1 ½ inch wide log.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until firm—- 2 hours or up to 1 month.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Place parchment paper on your baking sheet(s).
- Spread granulated sugar on a paper towel and roll the log(s) in the sugar. If you still want more sugar on the log, use your hands to place more on the log.
- With a sharp knife, slice the log(s) into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange them about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. These cookies really don’t spread so you are safe from their melding together.
- Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges (about 15 minutes). They’ll be sort of white on the tops but as long as they have some brown edging, they’ll be perfect. If you are using more than one baking sheet, rotate them half way through the baking cycle.
- Transfer the baked cookies to a wire rack or onto paper towels to cool.
- To store, cover and keep at room temp for up to 5 days. They also freeze well.
- Hint: want orange flavored cookies? Use orange juice and orange zest. How about lavender buds, crystallized ginger, ground almond, ground pecans? Use your imagination to alter these cookies to your very own taste and make sure to comment on what you have invented. I can’t wait to hear.
Bon Appétit: From Margot’s Table to Yours
Want some more recipes? Easy to find on Margot’s blog: http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com Want someone to help you with small time entertaining or cooking?—email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Crepes, The Easy and Painless Way
No measuring is daring and it can be fun. It’s certainly the quick way to cook and you might be surprised at how well you can do this.
Crepes are a good substitute for morning pancakes and they certainly are good for lunch, dinner or dessert. They are so versatile. So, it’s up to you with what you want to fill or top them: ricotta cheese and berries? Jam? Veggies and cheese? Chicken bits with a lovely sauce over it all? Or topped with a delicate orange or lemon Crepe Suzette sauce? Variations are endless and fun to invent. You can even have an array of fillings on the side and let guests or your family invent themselves. What I myself had this morning were crepes filled and topped with ricotta and fresh berries. Yum, they were delicious!
I could go on and on about fillings and toppings but what I am giving you here is just the basic crepe recipe. The trick with this recipe is to use the SAME SIZED cup or glass for placing the eggs, flour, milk and butter because you are going to eyeball your amounts within these four vessels. A vessel that holds about 2 cups (oops—I shouldn’t have said that—sorry) will make enough crepes for 4. My picture showing my vessels with the ingredients are for half of the listed ingredients i.e. 1/2 a vessel of eggs, 1/2 vessel flour, slightly less than 1 vessel full of milk & 1/8th vessel of melted butter.
I use a Teflon crepe pan but if you don’t have one, then make sure to put a little oil or butter in your pan first. I like to make sure my pan is quite hot (when an entered droplet of water sizzles). If your first crepe doesn’t turn out quite right, fear not because you’ll know whether to turn the heat up or down to make the next one right.
To keep your crepes warm, you can have a double boiler top all ready to put them in; or wrap them in foil or in a dish covered with foil in a 200F or 250F oven. I also have had left over batter which when whisked again make fine crepes the next day. You also can freeze left-over already made crepes. So see how versatile these guys are?
- Eggs-1 vessel full
- All-purpose flour-1 vessel full
- Whole milk-1 ¾ vessel full
- Melted unsalted butter-1/4 vessel full
- Pinch salt
- Pinch baking powder (optional)
- Pinch powder sugar (optional
- Drop or so vanilla (optional)
- Lemon or orange zest (optional)
- In a bowl that has a pouring spout is the best, whisk well or beat with electric beaters the eggs.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients. Whisk or beat till you have a smooth batter.
- Heat your crepe pan or a small size skillet. Add a bit of the batter, just enough to partially cover the bottom because then you want to roll your pan around so the batter slides smoothly over the whole pan bottom. You don’t want a thick crepe. You want a crepe that is fairly thin.
- Cook until the edges begin to brown—anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Flip over with a spatula and cook for another 30 seconds or more. You can peek to say how brown the bottom of the crepe is getting.
- Pile them up on your oven warmed platter and cover; or place in the top of your double boiler that is warm by boiling some water in the bottom part.
Bon Appétit —-From Margot’s Table to Yours
Want some more recipes or small group catering: visit http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com or email Margot at email@example.com
Ricotta Kisses, Italian Style, For Your Honey on Valentine’s
Easy to whip up and yummy to eat, this will certainly be a treat for you and your honey. Celebrate Valentine’s here in the good ole’ US of A with an Italian twist (Baci Di Ricotta). This recipe can make about 30-40 kisses and goes very well with coffee, espresso or even a nice liqueur.
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract –but this can vary like almond, rum, liquorish, etc. Use your imagination.
- 1/2 C. flour (best to use unbleached flour but all purpose also will do)
- 1 ½ Tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tblsp. sugar (superfine is the best but regular if sifted is OK)
- 1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon but again you can vary like nutmeg, etc.
- Grated orange or lemon zest (optional)
- Vegetable oil for frying—I use Canola oil
- Confectioner’s sugar for last minute dusting
- In a medium bowl and with a whisk (or you can use your electric beater) beat the egg and then add the ricotta and extract.
- Place the dry ingredients in a sifter
- When the liquid mixture is blended till smooth sift in the dry ingredients and mix again so that you have a smooth batter.
- Next is the slightly tricky part, but fear not, you can do it.
- Pour the canola oil in a large skillet so that there is about 3/4 inch of oil in it and heat oil over medium heat till the oil is about 350F degrees if you have a candy thermometer, or when you drop a small piece of bread in the oil, the bread will be browned in 40 seconds or so. At this point, test one kiss to see that it does not brown too fast and too much. If it does, turn the heat down, wait a minute and try another kiss. You want your oil to be just perfect heat wise. Visually, your kisses should puff and turn golden brown on one side after about one minute—and then when you turn it over with a slotted spoon, it should brown in another minute.
- Place about 5 or 6 kisses at one time in your pan so that you are not overwhelmed.
- When your kisses are browned nicely, place them on a paper toweled lined platter to drain.
- Let them rest for several minutes; pile them on a pretty platter in a rough pyramid and sprinkle, through a fine-meshed sieve, some confectioner’s sugar over them.
- Happy Valentine’s and Buon Appetito.
- These kisses are best devoured immediately; however you can pop them, PRE-SUGARED, on a wire rack over a cookie sheet in a 300F oven and keep them warm for up to 1 hour.
- As well, I have stored left-over’s in my refrigerator in a closed container and then the next day reheated them on some foil in a 300F oven for about 10 minutes and they certainly still tasted good; not as good as when first cooked but good enough. So, don’t throw those left-over’s away—that is if you have any.
GUAC: JUST IN TIME FOR THE SUPERBOWL –The Basic Plus 14 Fresh Ways
Skiing on Big Game Day in Sun Valley is usually superb because you mostly have the mountain and trails to yourself. The rest of the folk are prepping the chicken wings, guacamole and wondering about “flat footballs”.
You’re on your own for the chicken wings but here’s a little help for the Guac and believe me that will NOT be flat. Frankly, I like a good tasty strong Bloody Mary to go with any one of these recipes—but if beer, wine or a margarita is your preference, go for it.
And just in case you’ve bought too many avocados, next week I’ll have a nice little breakfast oven baked avocado/egg recipe just so those extra avocados won’t go to waste. It’s easy, delicious, healthy and not flat either.
The Basic GUAC’ for 8 (Way # 1)
- 2 to 3 ripe avocados
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lime (taste as you add)
- 1/2 to 1 Tsp. ground cumin (taste as you add)
- 1/2 C. diced tomato (fresh and drained canned)
- 2 Tblsp. chopped/minced fresh cilantro
- 1/4 C. diced/minced red onion
- S & P, to taste (can be as much as 1/2 to 3/4 Tsp. salt)
- Hot sauce, to taste or 1/2 to 2/4 Tsp. red pepper flakes (taste as you add)
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- Slice avocados in 1/2; remove the seed; spoon flesh into a medium sized bowl.
- Using a fork, mash the avocados until the consistency of your desire has been reached. If you wish a rougher chop, use a knife to slice through the avocado flesh and then a fork. And you might add the lime juice to the pulp to start with so that the avocado doesn’t brown.
- Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
- Serve immediately.
14 Fresh Ideas For A Switch On The Ole’ Basic GUAC’
- Fast and Dirty: In place of the tomato, cilantro and red onion, stir in 1/2 C. of your favorite jarred salsa, 1 Tblsp. olive brine and 2 Tblsp. chopped green olives.
- Mango-Balsamic: In place of the tomato, stir in the diced flesh of 1 mango. Use scallions in place of the red onion and 1 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar in place of the lime juice.
- Chipotle-Corn: Stir in 1 minced chipotle and 1 Tblsp. adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo. Add 1/2 C. corn kernels (fresh, defrosted frozen or drained canned)
- Tzatziki: Use 1 C. finely diced seedless cucumber in place of the tomato and red onion. Use dill in place of the cilantro. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves.
- Roasted Garlic and Poblano: Roast a head of garlic wrapped in foil with a little olive oil until tender and brown, about 30 minutes at 400 F. Roast a poblano pepper under the broiler, turning frequently, until the skin is charred. Carefully remove the charred skin from the pepper (with gloves maybe), then chop the flesh. Squeeze the garlic pulp from the skin and mash. Mix both into the guacamole, omitting the onion.
- Minted Cotija: Follow the basic recipe but add 3 Tblsp. chopped fresh mint instead of the cilantro and add 2/3 C. crumbled cotija cheese. Season with S&P.
- Maple-Bacon: Follow the basic recipe but use 3 avocados, 2 Tblsp. white wine vinegar, 2 Tblsp. soy sauce, 2 Tblsp. maple syrup, 2 chopped scallions and 1/2 C. chopped cooked bacon. Season heavily with black pepper.
- Ginger-Hoisin: Add 2 Tblsp. grated fresh ginger and 2 Tblsp. hoisin sauce to the basic recipe.
- Citrus Tabbouleh: Replace the tomato and onion with 3/4 C. purchased tabbouleh and the zests of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. You can also add 1/3 C. pomegranate seeds. You’ll love the color of this version.
- Shrimp Scampi: Use lemon juice in place of the lime juice and basil in place of the cilantro. Omit the cumin, tomato and onion. Stir in 1 C. chopped cooked shrimp, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/3 C. shredded Parmesan cheese.
- Pico de Gallo Guac: add 1/2 C. of chunky tomatoes, 2 Tsp. of minced jalapenos and 2 Tbsp. of chopped green peppers to the basic recipe. Don’t like green pepper, choose the milder red, yellow or orange one.
- Calorie Conscious Guac: Delete one of the avocados and add 1/2 C. of LIGHT sour cream or LIGHT plain yogurt. Here you’ll have a creamy and fluffy guac minus some calories. You may like to do this even with 2 or 3 avocados because it’ll be a bit different.
- Greek Guac: Add 1/4 C. of chopped Kalamata olives and red peppers and instead of the cilantro and lime, add basil and lemon juice.
- Guac in those little peppers: Yes, you know those cute little peppers in all colors, all ready in a package. Serve a tray of those, cut in half and filled with your favorite Guac. Fun, easy and colorful. And you still can have chips and drinks on the side.