Yummy Date Cake out of the oven

The chunky apples kind of melt into the cake and just after a few hours the cake is very moist.  I inverted the cake onto a cake stand and drizzled with a powdered sugar glaze laced with almond flavoring.  This cake is very moist, marbly-looking and has that old-fashioned comfort food allure.

Date Cake

So I made a really yummy cake yesterday by cleaning out my spice cupboard.  I had two different containers of dates getting dry and hard & about 1/3 C golden raisins in about the same condition.  I also had two gala apples starting to wither a bit in the fridge.  One other odd ingredient–about 1/3 C Vin de Glaciere which is an inexpensive version of a Northwest “ice wine.”  This was based on my banana bread recipe which I’ve used for years.  Here’s how I did it:

  • About 1/3 C chopped, pitted dates
  • 1/3 C raisins–any kind
  • 2 medium apples peeled, cored & thinly sliced then coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 C sweet, white dessert wine–you could use cream sherry
  • 1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. Nutmeg

I placed all the above ingredient in a microwaveable container & heated them for about 2 minutes–then I let this cool while I was preparing the cake.

CAKE:

  • 1 stick butter or margarine at room temp
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c sour cream or buttermilk or plain yogurt (or you can “sour” the cream by adding 1 t vinegar to 1/4 fresh cream

In a stand mixer cream the butter, sugar & eggs using a batter paddle until creamy & fluffy.  Place the dry ingredients on top of the egg mixture, add the sour cream & place the cooled fruit mixture on top.  On the slowest speed fold all the ingredients together.  Do not over mix!!!  After several turns of the paddle take the bowl off the stand finish folding everything together by hand.  The batter should be really thick, chunky and marbled.  I spray a bundt pan with bakers joy and evenly place the batter in the bundt.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  Cake is done when the cake is springy to the touch or a toothpick comes our clean.  Invert onto a cake plate after 15 minutes.  Let cool–I made a simple powdered sugar glaze flavored with almond.  (Photos to follow.). It was moist & delicious!

Crustless Quiche Bites

Many years ago on my first stay in France I learned how to make a French Cheese tart which required making a white sauce first.  At the same time I was a frequent purchaser of a breakfast-sized Quiche–nearly every morning from a local Patisserie.  I tried some recipes for Quiche which just made a custard of cream and eggs poured over the fillings into a pie shell.  I didn’t like this kind of quiche as I found it to be gummy and after a  little while the custard would start to break down and become very watery in the bottom.  So I started early on making a white sauce first and add the beaten eggs to that and I got a better texture and it was more reminiscent of the small quiches I was getting at the French bakeries.  These little quiche bites I just dreamed up from the same recipe and baked them in a small, bite-sized muffin tin.  (The first batch I made stuck a bit to the pan so subsequent batches I sprayed the pan very well with cooking spray and dusted it with corn meal and from then on the mini quiches just popped right out.)  Here’s the recipe for Crustless Quiche batter:

  • 2 1/2 T Butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 1 2/3 C whole milk
  • Salt and pepper or Drew’s salt + white pepper (to Taste)
  • 2 large handfuls grated cheeses–any kind–I used cheddar/jack combo
  • 1/3 C finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C Finely cut green onion (I used only the green tops)
  • 1/2 C small diced ham or you could use bacon–this need to be small cut
  • 5 eggs beaten
  • Paprika sprinkle

In a sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and stir in the flour to form a roux–I let the roux cook for a minute or two but it does not need to brown.  Add the milk, seasonings and stir constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens into a THICK white sauce.  Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook and stir and let the sauce bubble several minutes–the flour needs to cook completely.  Remove from the heat and let cool 15 or 20 minutes while still stirring from time to time.    Add the cheese and stir until its mostly incorporated and then stir in the chopped ingredients.  Beat the eggs and stir them into the sauce–(the sauce should now be cool enough to accept the eggs–do not pour the eggs into the sauce while its too hot!)  Now you have a batter–I found your quiches puff better if you let the batter set for up 30 minutes.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees–generously spray the mini muffin tin(s) and dust with corn meal.  Using a table spoon fill each tiny cup in the tin with the batter–I filled them to the top.  Bake for 20 minutes–they will be really puffy and should be starting to brown and firm to the touch.  While still hot you may lightly dust them with paprika just to enhance the color.  You can serve now, when they are at room temp, or you can chill them and reheat later in the microwave.  They are delicious and not too fussy since your screwing around with pie dough.  Bon Apetit!

 

Crustless Apple Pie–Taken from Delish

Crustless Apple Pie

  • 6 large baking apples, halved vertically and cored
  • 12 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 generous T granulated sugar for each apple half
  • 2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • about 4 T Butter
  • about 4 T Brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • (Combine the above to make a streusel)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • Warm caramel, for drizzling

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each apple half flat side down and use a paring knife to create thin slices all the way across, making sure to stop slicing right before the bottom of the apple (so it stays together as one piece). Transfer apple halves to prepared baking sheet.
  • Lightly brush apple tops with melted butter mixed with the cinnamon and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake until apples are soft and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. In a small bowl, combine remaining melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and oats. Once cool enough to handle, spoon mixture inside apple slits.
  • Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.
  • Top each with a scoop of ice cream and serve
  • (This is one of the best desserts we’ve made at Ecole Dijon in a long time–it was easy but really made an impression!)

Photo of Plated Pork with Maple/Sage Glaze & Snow Peas

Sautéed Snow Peas

  • 1 1/2 lbs snow peas—I de-string them like to do for string beans
  • 2 T finely minced shallots–I mince several shallots at a time a pour white wine over them–they will stay preserved for months
  • 2 T Butter–I bought Kerry Gold butter for this
  • 1 T oil
  • Salt and Pepper or Drew’s salt
  • ½ C White wine

So in a sauté skillet, heat the butter just to the point where it starts to brown and add the oil.  Add in the shallots and cook for about a minute before adding the snow peas and the seasoning & sauté for 3-5 minutes—you don’t want to overcook them.  You need you skillet quite hot–even if a few of the peas start to brown–that’s a good thing.  Cook another minute or so and add the wine. Cook until the wine is nearly dissipated and serve immediately.

Pork Tenderloin with Grainy Mustard, Maple & Sage

Two pork tenderloin—(not the same as loin)—there are usually two in a packet

  • 1-2 T finely minced fresh sage–even in winter I had plenty of still soft sage leaves in my herb patch
  • 1 garlic bud finely minced
  • 2 T Grainy mustard
  • 2- T real maple syrup
  • ¼ C good olive oil

First you may need to trim the silver skin off the tenderloins—silver skin is nerve tissue that really doesn’t cook—it can shrink up a screw up the proper cooking of the meat.  Use a boning knife to get rid of it.  Mix al the flavoring ingredients into a marinade and place the trimmed pork into a baggie with the marinade and let rest at least 30 minutes or overnight.

To cook the the pork—brown it in a large skillet that you can put in the oven also—you’ll need a skillet that has an all-metal handle.  Brown the pork over med heat in about 2 T butter or oil.  Turning several times with tongs.  When the meat is brown on 3 sides—place the pork, in the skillet in a 375° oven and roast until the meat has an interior temp of 158°.  Put the pork in a warm place and let rest up to 15 minutes.  In the meantime make a sauce in the skillet saving the drippings.  Add butter—1 T flour, more chipped sage, more mustar and white wine or dry sherry.  Add maple syrup to taste and season with salt and pepper.  Cut the pork into medallions and pour the thin sauce over the pork—garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

 

Cheesy Cauliflower Hot “Dip”

So we recently had a dish similar to this at SeaSalt Restaurant.  We’re just going to try to recreate it with our own recipe.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About ½ large cauliflower or a smaller one—cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 C prepare Mornay Sauce–I only needed about a cup and a half
  • 4-6 strips cooked bacon cut into bits
  • 1 1/4 C Grated swiss cheese
  • Pre-make melba toasts or crostini

RECIPE FOR MORNAY:

Ingredients:
3Tbutterand4Tflour
2 C Milk or half milk and half stock or broth Up to 1 C Grated Mixed cheeses
Finishing ingredients:
Hot sauce or a pinch of Cayenne Worcestershire sauce
Chicken base
Salt, white pepper
Lemon or lime juice added at the end.

Method: Melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the flour. Add the liquid(s) and stir constantly with a wire whisk. Heat Milk in a sauce pan and whisk in enough butter/flour mixture (roux) to thicken to a medium thickness. If the mixture gets too thick, thin with water or broth rather than adding more dairy. Whisk in cheeses and other flavorings. Use as a sauce over steamed veggies, eggs and seafood.

I cut up most of a medium cauliflower into bite-size pieces and placed them in a 7 X 9 1/2 inch Pyrex baking dish about and inch or so deep.  I made my Mornay before hand so it was all ready.  I put about 1 C water in with the cauliflower and placed plastic wrap over the baking dish and cooked it in the microwave for 3 minutes.  Poured off the water and poured the sauce on top–sprinkled with the bacon and topped with the Swiss.  In a 400 degree oven until it’s hot, bubbly and starting to brown.  I served it like a sort of Fondu on freshly baked bread but at the restaurant it was served on crostini toasts.  Everyone loves this!

Crepes–Small Batch

For the “Fettuccine” sundaes–you need to make a small batch of crepes–you just stack them and cut them into noodles between 1/4 inch and 3/8 inches.  Sprinkle the “noodles” over you ice cream and add your berry topping or your hot fudge and voila!

RECIPE  (Makes about a dozen crepes)

  • 1 C milk
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C flour
  • 2 T melted butter

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl using a wire whisk.  Even if there are a few small lumps here and there you can go ahead and use the batter.  I use a non-stick skillet over med-high heat and I keep cooking spray handy to use between each crepe.  Using a 2 oz ladle, pour 2 oz of the batter into a 9 or 10 inch skillet.  Swirl the thin batter around so it covers the bottom of the skillet–you wan the batter to be as thin and even as you can get it.  Let the crepe brown on one side–it should look quite lacy and elegant.  Turn it over briefly to cook the over side.  Stack the crepes with the “pretty side” up and you can use them for many, many recipes.  For savory crepes omit the sugar.