Today I bring you a wonderful guest post from someone who is not only a gifted chef, but a wonderful, sweet individual. Chef Dennis, who writes and takes photos for his site, More Than a Mount Full – A Culinary Journey, has a following that few other bloggers have. And I know that as soon as you finish reading this post, you’ll know why.
I would like to take this opportunity to say hi to all of Brian’s readers, and for those of you that may not know me I am the chef /director at an all girl’s high school right outside of Philadelphia where I feed 560 of the best girls in the world! I was honored when Brian asked me to do a guest post for him, I love his blog and all of the wonderful recipes he amazes us with, not only does he create flavorful dishes, but he captivates us with his photography. Thanks Brian!
Today I would like to share with you a recipe taught to me by Mama Jeanette many years ago, its one of my favorite desserts to make during the fall and winter seasons. When I was at the market this weekend, apples were plentiful, I found some great Cortland Apples that were just begging to be baked into something. That’s when my mind went back to a much simpler time a lifetime ago.
The weather had changed that morning, it was the kind of day that really made you appreciate being alive. The air was cold and crisp, the cold wind held the sent of ripe apples from the nearby orchard, each breath felt like a gift from God. Mama Jeanette said “Sonny Boy, lets go pick us some apples” My mind went directly to a deep dish apple pie, but Mama Jeanette had other plans. As I peeled the apples she explained we would be making a Torta di Mele, she went on to explain it was her mother’s recipe for an Italian Apple Cake that had been passed down for generations.
Mama Jeanette didn’t share much, so when she did it meant a lot. That afternoon we sat by the fireplace, with a warm slice of apple cake and an espresso, while Mama Jeanette shared the story of her parents with me.
But that’s a story for another time.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful cake as much as do. It’s so rich and flavorful your family and friends will beg you for the recipe and another slice!!
Torta di Mele
½ cup unsalted butter
3 apples cut into slices
2/3 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp grated lemon zest
10 x sugar to dust
Preheat oven to 375, butter a 9” round cake pan
In a large frying pan over low heat, melt the butter, reserve 6 tablespoons for later. Add the apple slices and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl mix together flour, salt and baking powder. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg yolks until blended. Add the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir in flour and apples. Spoon into prepared pan, smoothing the top.
Bake until cake is browned, 30-35 minutes and transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Invert cake onto plate to remove the pan and then invert again and return to rack to cool completely.
Before serving dust with 10x sugar. It goes great with fresh whipped cream, or even a scoop of ice cream.
Brian, Thanks again for having me on your blog today. I hope your readers enjoyed Mama Jeanette’s Apple cake.
First rice pudding and now risotto?!? You may think I’ve gone a little bonkers, but I swear it wasn’t planned. Not that it was a complete accident. I mean, I did make the dish, so I did have a choice in the matter.
This may need a little bit more of an explanation…
You see, a few months ago, the lovely Barbara from VinoLuci
created a website for all of us Bon Appetit magazine lovers. The idea was that each month bloggers could submit their versions of the RSVP dishes that are featured in the magazine. For those who are not familiar with the publication, Bon Appetit (or BA, as we subscribers sometimes call it) is full of useful articles ranging from culinary techniques to restaurant and chef profiles.
One of the columns in BA is a section known as RSVP, where readers can write into the magazine and ask the editor to get recipes for dishes from their favorite restaurant or vacation resort. Want to relive that dinner you had while on your honeymoon? Is there a special BBQ sauce at your local ribs joint that just blows your mind? These are the kinds of things RSVP can provide you with.
But for those of us who have never eaten at any of these establishments, it’s a fun way to try out some creative dishes.
Barbara’s pet project, RSVP Redux, is a wonderful website that allows us to make these recipes and share them with all of you. For this month’s submission, I decided to make this incredibly flavorful (and surprisingly light) risotto.
The recipe, which was featured in the October 2010 issue of BA, was a side dish that went with braised lamb shanks. But seeing as I don’t (or, I should say, rarely) eat meat, Eric partook in that carnivorous act as I enjoyed this as my entree.
In addition to this recipe, I wanted to let everyone know that I have a guest post (remember that picture I teased you with in my last entry?) on my dear friend, Monet’s, blog, Anecdotes and Apple Cores. She’s a terrific writer, baker, and she has an incredible outlook on life. Hope you all enjoy!
Lemon Risotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(Recipe by from Bon Appetit, Oct 2010)
PREP: 50 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hours
1 12-ounce package cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
5 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth (Brian’s Note: I used veg. broth to make it vegetarian)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups arborio rice
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups (loosely packed) baby arugula
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until skins begin to wrinkle, about 12 minutes. Set aside. Pour 5 cups broth into small saucepan; bring to simmer. Cover and keep warm.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat in large saucepan. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently and adjusting heat if necessary to maintain gentle simmer, about 5 minutes. Continue to add broth by cupfuls, stirring often, until rice is tender, about 25 minutes total. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and all remaining ingredients. Fold in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Adapted from Restaurant Saveur
As a food blogger, you hear a lot of things from your readers that may not be completely accurate. For example, I often have people tell me that I come across as being very confident. And I take that as a compliment. But the fact is that most of the time I am not very sure of myself or the work that I do.
Which is why it's always a pleasant surprise when I receive notes with stories or comments on these posts. I love knowing that whatever I write or whichever recipe I feature resonates with people.
This morning, I woke up to find a lovely e-mail from Adelina from My Tasty Handbook
saying that I had received an award and to check out her site. Adelina and I have become pals on Twitter and it has been delightful chatting with her about recipes.
Read more »
Everyone has their own definition of what comfort food means to them. Mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (ok… anything with cheese in it), and homemade chocolate cookies are some undeniable favorites. But for me, there is one that beats all of those for that special place in my heart: rice pudding.
Rice pudding isn’t for everyone, but, in my opinion, there is nothing that does a better job of warming the soul on a bitter cold day. Mix in a handful of raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and I’m a happy man.
And what’s so incredible about this dessert is how it has its place in a wide array of cultures from nations around the world. Most associate rice pudding with Indian cuisine, where it is seasoned with a variety of spices, including saffron and ginger. But it is also quite popular in South America (Arroz con leche)
where it is served with raisins and cooked with lemon or orange peel.
While this recipe calls for half and half, I have tried other variations that use condensed milk. And if dairy isn’t for you, I’ve seen others that replace it with soy, coconut, or almond milk. I’d imagine that all of them would be wonderful, though the consistency and taste may vary.
If you’ve purchased rice pudding from the store and haven’t been a fan or if you’ve never tried it before out of skepticism, I recommend making this recipe. After that first bite from the pot, I’m pretty sure you’ll become a convert.
Cinnamon Rice Pudding
6 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. dark rum
6 tbsp. short-grain rice
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
2 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
1⁄2 cup packed finely grated panela or light brown sugar
2 4″ sticks cinnamon
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
3⁄4 tsp. vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon, for garnish
1. In a bowl, combine raisins and rum; let soak for 30 minutes.
2. Combine rice, salt, and 3⁄4 cup water in a 2-qt. heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; stir; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, until water is absorbed, 6–8 minutes.
3. Stir in 2 cups half-and-half, panela, and cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring, until rice is tender, 20–25 minutes. Slowly stir in egg yolk; cook for 1 minute.
4. Remove pan from heat; add raisins with rum, remaining half-and-half, and vanilla; let sit for 10 minutes. Spoon pudding into serving glasses; sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
Want to know what happens when food bloggers get together? They eat… a lot. No other words are needed… I think I’ll let the pictures (and a few captions) speak for themselves. Here’s my food-filled trip to New York this past weekend.
Korean Beef Taco at the Hester Street Fair – Grub Street Food Festival
Buko (young coconut) and Purple Yam Pie and Chicken with Pickled Cucumber and Rice from Purple Yam at the Hester Street Fair – Grub Street Food Festival
Coconut Lemon Donut from Babycakes Bakery
Inside Babycakes Bakery
The menu at Momofoku’s Milk Bar
Chocolate Malt Cake Truffles from Momofoku’s Milk Bar
Cinnamon Bun Pie from Momofoku’s Milk Bar
The menu at Luke’s Lobster
The most incredible lobster roll from Luke’s Lobster
The Falafel Plate from Taim (included three kinds of falafel, tabouli, Israeli salad, and pita)
As the days get significantly shorter and the air gets cooler, I find that my soul, just as much as my body, is forced to adapt to this shift. I have to remind myself that even though the weather won’t be as nice (or as warm) as it was in the summer, there are things to look forward to. I must think about all of the things that I enjoy about fall… the changing colors of leaves, the crispness in the air, and, most importantly, a welcome return of comfort foods.
Eric and I have seen a drastic change in the produce our CSA has been providing us these past couple of weeks. Tomatoes and eggplants have been replaced by a plentiful assortment of apples, squash, turnips, and potatoes.
Everyone has those foods that they look forward to the most this time of year. One thing I can’t get enough of are the wonderful baked goods that you can make with those seasonal ingredients. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and apples lend themselves wonderfully to breakfast breads, scones, and muffins.
Which is why it was such a pleasure making this terrific recipe for apple oat muffins. The inclusion of apple sauce in the batter adds lovely moisture. So, with that I leave you with this scrumptious breakfast treat. May this be a delicious start to the season!
On a separate note, a number of other bloggers have posted apple/pear muffins recently that I wanted to give a little shout out to here. It’s a funny thing about being a food blogger… sometimes a certain recipe is just in the air and you’ll see a number of posts come up around the same time. Here are some of the other links to check out:
Shulie at Food Wanderings and An from Baker Street (twin posts)- “Apple Rolled Oats Streusel Cider Muffins”
Monet from Anecdotes and Apple Cores – “Oatmeal Pear Muffins”
Note: This recipe called for whole wheat flour, which I replaced with oat flour.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.
Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.
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