All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dorie's custardy apple cake

Yesterday morning I was circling the kitchen, trying to decide what to do with the bowl of apples from the orchard up the hill.  Pie?  I like apple pie, but I usually end up leaving most of the pie crust on the plate.  As I blankly looked at my idea board on the wall, I suddenly saw the ripped out Wednesday Boston Globe food section from last week, and there it was: an interview with Dorie Greenspan and a recipe for her Custardy apple squares.  I checked the ingredient list and I had everything but a square pan.  I pulled out one of my professional grade 8 inch cake pans - the one with the nice rolled rim and 2 inch height.  That would have to do.

It came together like a dream - it was almost too easy to make.  I shared half the cake with my friendly taste-testers, but over the course of the day regretted that, as I wistfully polished off the last slice.  Today I made it again for my neighbor , and I'm thinking after a run to the store for more vanilla, I may just make a third one.  And I'm also thinking this could easily be made gluten-free, since it only uses 1/2 cup of flour.  If you do make a GF version, please let me know what you used, so I can pass it along to Izzie, my GF granddaughter.

Dorie's Custardy Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 375F.

Butter or vegetable shortening for the pan.
Parchment circle for the bottom of the pan (I just trace and cut from a roll)
3 medium fresh apples - enough to make 2 cups apple slices
A mandoline for slicing the apples, or a sharp knife and lots of patience
1/2 cup all purpose King Arthur flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
6 tablespoons whole milk
1 or 2 pinches of kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioner's sugar for sprinkling on top of the cake

Butter the cake tin, trace a circle on parchment and cut out and press into bottom of pan.
Peel and slice the apples very thinly, using a mandoline .  Set aside.
Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside.
In mixer bowl, add the eggs,sugar and salt and beat for two minutes, then add the milk and vanilla and the melted butter.  Mix briefly.
Add the flour and baking powder to the egg mixture and mix briefly.
Add the apples to the batter, and gently fold in the apple slices with a rubber spatula until they are coated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean, and the top of the cake is golden.  It will continue to bake as it cools in the tin.
Let cake cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cake.  Quickly flip cake onto another cooling rack, place another rack on top, and flip over so cake is right side up.
Cut the cake into 6 or 8 triangles, and dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

Adapted from Dorie's book:  Baking Chez Moi

Monday, October 20, 2014

egg timbales with chopped herbs

I have finally torn myself away from walking in this autumn wonderland - what a beautiful Fall it's been , every day glowing with bright oranges and golden yellows - and for once the lack of rain has lengthened leaf-peeking season.

To celebrate Monday, I decided to again make Craig Claiborne's egg timbales, which are  creamy, custardy unsweetened puddings with a generous amount of finely chopped herbs.  It's been years since I've looked up that recipe!  The only thing I was wishing I had added was a tablespoon of good Swiss cheese, but that's an indulgence  - I do love cheese. The timbales are very mild and soothing, and elegant enough for a brunch.

Here's the recipe I made today:

1 cup whole milk or light cream, scalded (which means heated to just under simmering or boiling)
3 large eggs, slightly beaten with a fork
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced scallions, greens included
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill (you can also use parsley)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
Swiss cheese, grated, 1 tablespoon (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.
Heat a kettle of water to just boiling.
Butter 3 standard ramekins or small ovenproof cups.
Add the scalded milk or cream to the eggs, whisking, then add the salt, herbs, scallions and the cheese, if desired.
Ladle the mixture into the ramekins.  Since they do not puff up, you can fill to just under the top of the ramekins.
Place the cups into a deep sided pan (I used a small cake pan with 2 inch sides), then pour the simmering water into the pan no higher than 3/4ths up the sides of the ramekins.
Set in oven for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of the ramekin comes out clean and the mixture is firm.

Serve with toast, English muffins, or a thick slice of buttered French bread.
Makes 3 servings.

Today I am sealing my bedroom floor, which is beautiful old wood - but after 150 years or so, has shrunk, leaving large cracks that let the cold air (and the mold) straight into my bedroom.  After that can I put down a rug or carpeting so no more cold feet in the winter:)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

busy day chicken soup with greens and pasta

What a wild morning!  When I woke up, the rain was pouring, a soft wind blowing, trees shaking and waving, the dark clouds racing across the sky towards the coast.  Two hours later the sun came out and all that is left of the storm is a pretty carpet of leaves in the front yard.

Busy day, busy day!  Articles to write, pictures to take, recipes to double check.  As I was making one dough, and wrapping another for the fridge, I saw the leftover chicken, the lovely fresh kale, the herbs in the drawer still (surprisingly) firm and green. Which gave me an idea.

I pulled out a pot, and, in between mixing and measuring the tart and pie dough, quickly washed and trimmed and cut and tore the vegetables and the chicken, into the pot.  In with the stock, the sprig of rosemary, and last of all the pasta bubbling away.  This was the easiest lunch to pull together in some chaos of sorts, and I'm grateful to sit down to a big bowl of it in a half hour.

Busy Day Chicken soup with greens and pasta

2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup sliced scallions (green onions)
1/2 cup Italian parsley, rough chop
1 cup sliced celery
1 teaspoon thyme
pinch hot pepper flakes if desired
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 or 2 cups leftover cooked chicken, cut in chunks
3/4 cup macaroni or small pasta.  I used large ditali from Italy

1 cup packed torn kale greens, set aside to add at the very end

bring the water and stock to a rolling simmer and add everything but the pasta/macaroni and the kale.
Simmer fifteen minutes, then add the pasta.  Cook until pasta is soft, take off heat, and stir in the torn kale.  Taste for seasoning and serve with bread and curls of parmesan cheese, if you want. (which I definitely wanted!)

Have a wonderful day!