Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!

Mr. S did not wear his strawberry costume to work today. In fact, when he went out to start his car (in his regular slacks and jacket), it wouldn't start! So now he's paying penance to the Halloween spirits by having to deal with tow truck drivers and car people. 

I'm happily trotting off to work in my sheriff costume, complete with lasso and longhorn (small and cute with a ribbon around his neck).

Hope you enjoy this Halloween day!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Some really awesome people came to town this weekend. All the way from Houston. We had a great time gallivanting around the bay area. Up to Marin Beach, over to Sonoma, even down to Santa Cruz and Monterey. Of course, we also ate ourselves silly. 

There was Indian food, 4 types of dumplings, calamari & clam chowder, caramel-sea salt hot chocolate, pasta... We even dragged mom & dad to In-N-Out (not pictured - we were too hungry by the time we got there for me to snap a photo before the burgers were inhaled).

I put them on a plane this afternoon—then immediately started baking. 

And I don't want to stop. 

Someone save me. And bring more flour. I'm almost out.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Russianish Apple Cake

Told ya I was going to make this cake

Well, I tried to make that cake, but some things got changed and added and... It's not exactly what I'm willing to call a bonafide apple sharlotka. Especially since I know several people who I'm pretty sure have strong opinions on what an apple sharlotka is.

I'll just stick to Russian Apple Cake. Nope, not even that. RussianISH Apple Cake. 

Here's whyI over-beat the eggs and I added bourbon.Which means a crunchy meringue-esque top and a delicious hint of bourbon.

You're welcome.

Trust me. This cake is super easy and ridiculously good. Ask all the people at my office. The cake was gone before I could even get my second cup of coffee. 

Good thing I have more apples!

Start off by peeling and coring the apples.

Then chop them in half, each half into quarters, and each quarter into 1/4" thick slices.

Pile them high in a greased 9" springform pan.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the sugar until light in color and you can see the waves from the beater in the egg-sugar mixture. It will take a minute or so. 

Beat in the vanilla and the bourbon. 

Stir the flour in with a spoon. 

Pour over the apple mixture and gently smoosh down so that the batter goes in all the crevices. 

Bake for an hour or so until golden brown on top.

Let sit for 10 minutes before popping the pan and diving in....


Russianish Apple Cake
Makes 1 9" cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 medium Pippin or Granny Smith apples (or 6 large or 10 small)
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp bourbon
1 c. flour
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and core the apples. Slice each in half, then each half into quarters. Slice each quarter into 1/4" triangles. Pile high in a greased and lined 9" springform pan. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric beater. Beat until it's light yellow in color and you can see the waves in the egg mixture when you're beating it. It will take a little while.

Beat in vanilla and bourbon. Stir the flour in with a spoon. Pour the thick batter over the apples and smoosh it gently into all the cracks. The batter should be level with the apples. 

Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown on top. 

Dust with powdered sugar after slicing. Serve.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fried Apple Rings

You. Guys. 

There's no fancy photo of these rings on a nice plate, angled to show their best side - mostly 'cause I couldn't get them into my mouth fast enough.

When one has 10 pounds of apples, one needs to get creative on how to eat them. Some are reserved for Mr. S's lunches this week, a few are set aside for an apple pie of some sort, and the rest, well, let's just say that Pinterest's search feature has been earning it's keep.

I'd been seeing a few recipes floating around pin boards recently for these apple ring fritter things and decided to give them a go. 

But I didn't jump at just any old recipe off Pinterest. Oh, no. I went looking at my most trusted sources.

After a quick rabbit-hole jaunt with an apple sharlotka (which I WILL be making soon), I found that Joy the Baker had the recipe I was searching for. It just needed a few tweaks.

First off, panko bread crumbs, coconut, cinnamon and sugar go into a bowl. Mix well.

Then flour, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, and more cinnamon make friends in another bowl. 

Find a large-ish bowl to whisk together an egg, vanilla, and milk, then whisk the flour mix in. 

Let the mixture sit and thicken while you slice up the apples. Use a little biscuit cutter to take the centers out. I used the donut hole maker that my biscuit cutters came with to turn them into donut cutters. Hah. I love having the right equipment for the job. 

Soak the apple rings in the batter for a bit. 

Shake off some of the excess then dip in the panko/coconut breading and toss into a pan of hot oil. 

Fry until golden on one side and then flip so they are golden all over.

Drain on a paper towel.

If you want them to look more donut-y, don't bread them. They aren't as crispy, but they are good that way too. 

Mmmmmm. I love apple season!

Fried Apple Rings 
Makes ~10 rings
Adapted from Joy the Baker

For the breading:
1 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp cinnamon

For the batter:
1/2 c. flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 c. milk
1/3 tsp. vanilla

2 Fuji apples
1/2" vegetable oil in a pan, for frying

In a small-ish, wide-mouthed bowl, mix the breading ingredients together. Set aside.

In another small bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt together. Whisk well so all is combined.

In a medium sized wide-mouth bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, and milk together. Whisk in the flour mixture, being sure that it's incorporated so there are no lumps. 

Slice the apples into 1/3" rings. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out the center seed pod. Toss them into the batter. 

Heat up 1/2" vegetable oil (or other neutral oil - don't use olive oil) in a large skillet. Drop a small bit of batter in to test and see if it's hot enough to fry. If the batter immediately sizzles and is covered with tiny little bubbles - you're good. If it just sinks to the bottom, the oil needs to be hotter. Be patient. 

Dip the apple rings in the batter, then place in the panko/coconut breading. Be gentle to that the breading doesn't fall off.

If your batter just doesn't stick to the apples, toss them in plain flour first, then batter, then breading.You can also skip the breading part, if you prefer the rings softer and more donut-like.

Toss the breaded rings into the frying oil and allow to cook for a few minutes on each side, until golden. Don't crowd the pan, it will take several batches. 

Keep the rings warm in a 200 degree oven - or just eat them as you go.

Serve warm. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple Salsa

It's fall in California - though if you looked at the temperature, you'd never know it. 

On the east coast, you know it's fall because there's a crispness to the air, the leaves turn colors, and there are apples to be picked. 

Over here on the other side of the continent - the trees are green, the strawberries are red, and apparently there's still apples!!!

Lots of apples. Besides the fuji and granny smiths, there were mutsu, winesap, pippin, and lots of others that I'd never heard of. 

Mr. S and I were invited by our good friends the Timkos to head out to Watsonville and enjoy the fruits of the season. I came home with 10 pounds of various varieties, plus a few bonus veggies. 

I wanted to make something fun with the apples. Go beyond the typical pie.

Since we had decided on fish tacos for dinner - well, salsa was the obvious choice!

Wash up your apple (you know, the one you just picked off the tree this morning), and slice it into small matchsticks. 

Dice up a bit of red onion. Mix it into the apples.

Add as much jalapeno as your heart desires. Mr. S bought a massive jalapeno. It was also really spicy. These few slices were all we needed.

Then some cilantro, salt, and lime juice.  

Use on fish tacos, quesadillas, or any other delicious goodness 

Apple Salsa
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (depending on the size of your apple!)

1 apple
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 a lime

Slice the apple into thin matchsticks. Mix with finely diced red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Toss well. Allow to marinate for a half hour or so. Use on fish tacos or whatever else floats your boat.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spanish Tortilla with Cauliflower

Someone was in DC this week. That someone managed to eat at one of the best tapas joints in the universe (Jaleo) TWICE in the 2 nights he was there. 

Not. Fair. 

At least he brought me a tapas cook book. Or rather - deck. 

A whole DECK of tapas ideas!! Glorious day. 

You guys are going to be in for it for awhile. Hope you like Spanish food. 

I was inspired by the Spanish omelet - aka, tortilla - and began googling Spanish tortillas like a mad woman. 

No, I was not grabbing for my bag of masa corn flour. In Spain, tortilla is the word for an egg dish that's much like an omelet. Quite honestly, I prefer tortillas to omelets any day.

And it seems that they all have potatoes in them. I actually had potatoes! On the counter! They were purple, but that just makes them more awesome. If you can't find purple ones, I bet regular potatoes would work just fine. 

Slice up the potatoes and the cauliflower into thin slivers.

Fry them in olive oil. Potatoes first.

When they are done, drain them on paper towels. And salt the heck out of them. 

Then cauliflower. Same deal.

Whisk up some eggs and add a bit of milk.

 Toss some onions in a pan. 

Remove from heat and layer in the potatoes.

Top with the fried cauliflower and pour the eggs on top.

If you didn't salt enough before, put a bit more in now. Cook for a few minutes. 

Use your spatula to work around the edges so the eggs don't stick. 

When it's only liquidy in the center, toss it in the broiler or use a plate to flip it over. 

Cook until done to your liking. It's ok if it's a bit runny. 

Serve as a slice with olives. Arugula salad is also a good idea. See top photo. I had it together there.

Spanish Tortilla with Cauliflower
Makes 1 large tortilla - feeds 4 to 6
Adapted from Elise

3 smallish purple potatoes (or fingerlings)
1/4 head of a small cauliflower
Olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, diced
6 eggs
1/4 c. milk

With a mandolin (or a very good knife), slice the potatoes into 1/8" - 1/4" circles. Put a decent amount of olive oil in the bottom of a medium-sized skillet. Fry the potatoes in batches for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned. Once you remove them from the oil, transfer to a papertowel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with salt. 

Slice the cauliflower into slightly thicker pieces and fry them too, salting heavily as each batch finishes.

Remove a bit of the oil so that you are left with just a thin coating of the bottom of the pan. Toss in the onions and cook for 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and layer with the potato slices. Then the cauliflower.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk up the eggs. Beat in the milk. Gently pour into the skillet and shake a bit so the egg gets into all the cracks. Put skillet on medium heat.

After the sides look like they are beginning to firm up, run a spatula around the edges. Do this frequently, slowly working your way down the sides of the pan. 

Let cook until center is the only part that looks a little liquidy. Either a) toss under a broiler for a few minutes if your pan can go in the oven or b) flip the torta and pray to your heavenly father that it doesn't break too badly....

Cook until done. Serve as a wedge with arugula salad and olives.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pamela's - Plus. Gluten Free Muffins

Where I work, there seems to be something in the water - or, rather, the bread. An oddly high percentage of folks are gluten free to some degree. 

Which makes me feel like a complete jerk when I waltz through the doors with cakes, cookies, and other delicious gluten-filled goodies.

Finally, one of the wonderful gluten-free gals handed me a bag of Pamela's baking mix. I think they got tired of being left out. 

When I made these muffins and brought them in, I dutifully post-it noted them, labeling their gluten-free status. That note seemed to be ignored though. One guy grabbed a muffin and happily chowed down. 

When he was informed of their gluten-free-ness, he was shocked and appalled. But he continued eating...

The mix suggested adding fruit and nuts to the muffins, but decided to kick it up a notch. 

For my first batch of 6 muffins, I went for apple pie. 

Start off with the liquids. 

Mix in the dries. 

Then add the apples and walnuts.

Toss in the muffin cups. 

Now, for the gingersnap version. 

Liquids again to begin. 

Then dries. 

Then apples. 

[no photo this step, I'm afraid. I got too concerned with speed...]

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Apple Pie Pamela's Muffins
Makes 6
Gently adapted from the muffin recipe on the bag

1/4 c water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1/3 c. honey
1 1/4 c. Pamela's Baking/Pancake Mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 apple, chopped
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients together. Add the last two and stir in. Fill a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill the cups up 3/4 of the way full. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Ginger Apple Pamela's Muffins
Makes 6
More vigorously adapted from the recipe on the bag

1/4 c. water
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/6 c. molasses
1/6 c. honey
1 1/4 c. Pamela's Baking/Pancake Mix
scant 1/4 tsp ground cloves
scant 1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 apple, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the first 10 ingredients together. Mix in the apples. In a paper-cup lined muffin tin, fill the cups 2/3 of the way full. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes.