Friday, October 29, 2010

FFWD ~ Marie Helene's Apple Cake

I am very excited to make my first post for French Friday's with Dorie. The fact that I am baking an apple cake just adds to my excitement.  I love cooking but baking is my true passion. I have loved baking for as long as I can remember. I think I was 6 years old and visiting my Aunt Emma. She asked if I would like to bake a pie. I really didn't know, since I had never baked before, but what 6 year old doesn't want to eat pie?  So why not bake one? My aunt mixed up the pie crust so quickly and let me roll it out and help her put it into a pie plate. We made cherry pie and put a lattice top on it! For me it was magic. That was many years ago but that was the beginning. I was in love with the process. The measuring, the rolling and the smell of something wonderful in the oven.  My aunt is now 87 and can't bake much anymore but, I will never forget my introduction to baking. Lucky for me, she was just one of the great bakers in our family.

I loved this cake! I was surprised at the ease of preparation. I used 3 varieties of apples. Winesap, Macs, and Golden Delicious. I peeled and cut them as suggested. I was temped to slice them but, told myself to follow the recipe. I'm so glad I did. The chunks of apple in this cake are marvelous. The cake is moist and almost custard like. We had friends over for coffee yesterday and they thought this cake was delicious.
Every baker has a few favorite "go to" recipes for a quick dessert. Because of the ease of preparation and the absolute deliciousness of this cake….this will definitely be added to mine.  I'm so glad Dorie took the time to decipher Marie Helene's Apple Cake!!
This recipe is in Dorie Greenspan's new book "Around My French Table" and also on Epicurious.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FFWD ~ Hachis Parmentier

Many years ago, when my children were very young, my husband started a game.  When I made a meal for the first time (which happened quite often because I loved to try new dishes)  they would all rate my meals from 1 to 10. They would then let me know whether or not it was a keeper!! I haven't thought of this game in quite a while, until tonight!
Since I was away when FFWD started, I have not posted any of the first 3 picks. However, the Hachis Parmentier really appealed to me. So tonight I made it for dinner.  I actually cooked the meat and broth yesterday and put the dish together tonight. I chopped the beef with a chefs knife, rather then a food processor and then sauteed the sausage. I used turkey Italian sausage, trying to make it a bit more healthy. The fragrance of this dish simmering on my stove was incredible. I was tempted to use some wine in the sauce but, wanted to stay true to the recipe for the first time. I then boiled the potatoes and riced them as suggested. I also used a smoked gruyere cheese.  Dinner time!!

That's when those memories, of my kids laughing around my kitchen table, shouting out, "I give it a 5" or "I give it a 10" or "This is a  keeper, mom", came rushing back!  After my husband took his first bite, he looked up and said to me  "this is a 10….a real keeper"!  To be honest, I agree!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Few Lovely Loaves of Persimmon Bread!

Just got back from a few weeks in Florida and, while the warm weather and sunshine were wonderful, it was so good to get home to the gorgeous color of Fall in NJ.  While in Florida I visited a delightful farmers market, with some very unusual veggies.  For a Northerner, some unfamiliar fruit, too. I bought some winged beans and some other veggie that I have never seen before and can't remember it's name. It looked like a very skinny cucumber and was about 7 inches long. Had a nutty taste. Kind of like a pecan. I was told it is used in Asian cooking. This market was such a lucky find. They had a stand that sold greek food..and since I'm of Lebanese decent I had to try the grape leaves and the baklava. They also had a great variety of salads and of course I had to try them, too. I picked up some honey from the honey man, who had 4 or 5 varieties of honey and of course let you try all of them. I bought a jar that tasted a bit like chestnut honey. Yum! I almost bought some duck eggs, which I am told are very rich and creamy, however, at 10 bucks a dozen I thought I'd stick with chicken eggs for now. Then I found my persimmons. I had never eaten this delicious fruit before and I truly enjoyed this taste treat. I bought about a dozen of them so I could enjoy them when I got back home to NJ.  However, they ripened very quickly and I didn't know what to do with them. I searched online for recipes using persimmons and found a very nice Persimmon quick bread on All  This bread smells so wonderful while baking, I can't wait to try some. If you're lucky enough to find some persimmons in your local market, here's the recipe.

    Persimmon Bread

    1 cup persimmon pulp
    2 teasp. baking soda
    3 cups sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 eggs
    1 1/2 teasp. cinnamon
    1/2 teasp. nutmeg
    1 1/2 teasp. salt
    2/3 cup water
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup chopped walnuts


    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2- 8 1/2x4 1/2 loaf pans.
    2.  In a small bowl, stir together the persimmon pulp and baking soda. Let stand 5 minutes to thicken
         the pulp.
    3.  In a medium bowl, combine sugar, oil, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until smooth. Mix
         in persimmon pulp and water alternately with flour. Fold in nuts. Divide batter into the prepared pans,
         filling each 2/3 full.
    4.  Bake for 1 hour in preheated oven or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 min. before
          removing to a wire rack to cool completely.