Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Sour Cream Coffee Cake


2 tablespoons butter for greasing the cake pan

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

Cake Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream or whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup peeled,cored and sliced apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter a 9-inch bundt, tube or springform pan.

For the streusel topping, mix together the brown and white sugars, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or a knife and fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Sift or mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a mixer, beat the 1/2 cut butter and sugar in another bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and milk and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture and beat evenly.

Pour about half of the batter into the greased pan, smooth the top and sprinkle in half of the streusel. Top with the sliced apples. Add remaining batter, smoothing over the streusel and top with the remaining streusel.

Bake cake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on rack for about 10 minutes.

From Spices of Life-Simple and Delicious Recipes For Great Health by Nina Simonds

I topped the apple cake with candied apples made by sauteing apples and brown sugar together for about 10 minutes and purchased apple butter. A dollop of creme fraiche to finish.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some of My Favorite Kitchen Tools

"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear.”

Julia Child

A whole lot of my kitchen tools have been bought indiscriminately, but pictured are a few which might have been bought on a lark at first, but have worked their way into being an indispensable part of my kitchen activities. These are only a small sampling of the many tools I use in my kitchen and they worked well to photograph.

From left to right, the wooden spoon has been used for a jam spoon, a spoon for chocolate mousse and or getting mustard out of the tiny openings that a normal spoon wouldn't fit. The spoon is also a perfect teaspoon measure. The granite molecajete y tejolote which is easier to prime and clean than the lava version was bought in a kitchen supply store locally. Not only is the molecajete y tejolote useful for grinding small amounts for seasonings, but doubles as a serving dish for guacamole and salsas.

Moving around, the wooden pie dough tamper flattens out the dough in tart shells and is available in many kitchen stores and online. Wooden prep bowls hold spices and herbs for mise en place which means setting in place or organizing to save time in the kitchen. I use the small rolling pin to roll out tortillas and pastry for empanadas and other small pastry items.

The wooden salt spoon holds about a half teaspoon and is kept in a salt pig by the stove as is the wooden coffee spoon which is handy for use as a tablespoon as well as a measure for coffee. A favorite for picnics is the knife bought from Williams-Sonoma years ago and is still available.

From Ikea in the garden shop is the small galvanized tin holding the paprika. I have four of thes which I used for individual portions of sesame sweet potato fries or as condiment dishes. They are perfect containers to hold mustard, catsup, pickles and mayonnaise for burgers or hot dogs.
in the garden shop is the small galvanized tin holding the paprika.

Sesame Sweet Potato Fries

Brush long slices of sweet potatoes with a combined mixture of vegetable and sesame oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in a 400 degree farenheit or 200 degree celsius oven and bake until the sweet potato is golden.

From New Food Fast by Donna Hay

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Honey Baked Apples with Raisins and Cinnamon

Honey Baked Apples with Raisins and Cinnamon

3 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
6 unpeeled Braeburn, Golden Delicious or McIntosh apples, cored with a melon baller
1/2 cup golden raisins or currants
1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned
6 whole cloves
2 or 3 star anise pods
2 to 3 cinnamon sticks, optional
1/4 cup apple brandy

In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes or so, or until mixture is syrupy and reduced to about 2 2/3 cups.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stuff the apples with raisins and apricots and place in a 12-inch baking pan. Distribute the cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, if using, over the apples. Pour the hot syrup over the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are almost tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the oven, turn the apples over, add the brandy. Baste apples with the apple cider and apple brandy many times, allowing the apples to absorb the flavor. Let the pan stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Serve baked apples with the liquid and dried fruits spooned over them in a bowl. Served with whipped heavy cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Adapted from Food TV

Photo-Canon 5D, 50 mm lens, also Canon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Palm Springs Tableware Finds and Tomatillo Salsa

On a recent trip to Palm Springs, California, I found these great soup bowls and woven place mats at two different gift shops-the Trading Post at Indian Canyons ( and the Plaza Gift shop at the Living Desert ( botanical park and zoo. Something Mexican or American Indian to cook? After finding some very fresh tomatillos and jalapenos, tomatillo salsa was in the making.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos or 3 (11-oz) cans tomatillos
5 fresh Serrano chiles or 2 jalapeno chile's
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 large onion, sliced in half, crosswise
1-2 teaspoons coarse salt

Preheat broiler.

If using fresh tomatillos, remove husks and rinse under warm water to remove stickiness. . Broil chiles, onion, garlic, and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, about 7-10 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender.

Can be made one day ahead, cover and chill. This makes a very picante salsa
Makes about 3 cups.

The lizard bowl was made in Mexico and the place mats are woven by the Zapotec Indian's in the Oaxacan Valley of Southern Mexico. You may see them again in future posts-maybe with some posole or corn soup, but definitely, an earthy dish befitting the vessel.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rich Chocolate Souffles with Creme Anglaise

I made this dessert this past Christmas 2005. It was a smashing success with my family and it is in my plans to make it again this year. It was super easy and low fat, but very rich tasting. I used Droste Cocoa and Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate.

Soufflé Cakes:

Cooking spray
8 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons sugar

Crème Anglaise:
3 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º.

To prepare soufflé cakes, lightly coat 8 (4-ounce) ramekins with cooking spray. Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon sugar.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolates, stirring with a whisk until chocolates melt. Combine 1/2 cup cocoa, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add cocoa mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring with a whisk. Whisk in 2 egg yolks and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; fold in remaining egg white mixture. Spoon chocolate mixture into prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in a large baking dish; add hot water to dish to a depth of 3/4 inch.

Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until puffy and slightly cracked. Remove ramekins from dish, and place on a wire rack.

To prepare crème anglaise, combine 3 egg yolks and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, whisking until thick and pale yellow (about 3 minutes).

Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat.

Gradually add hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Return egg yolk mixture to pan; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until slightly thick and mixture coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly (do not boil). Remove from heat. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Serve with soufflé cakes.

Note: A water bath tempers the heat and insulates the soufflés, ensuring a creamy texture. Line the baking dish with a towel to keep the ramekins in place.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 soufflé cake and about 1 tablespoon sauce)
Recipe From Cooking Light December 2003

Cooking Light

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Star Anise and a Recipe for Tea Eggs

A powerful, licorice-flavored spice, star anise plays an important part in Oriental cooking and is grown almost exclusively in Southern China, Indo-China and Japan. The stars are available whole or ground. It flavors meat and poultry dishes and is used in confectionery and sweetmeats. Star anise is also an ingredient in a mixture known as "Chinese Five Spices" and is added to jams and fruit compotes. Anisette is a liqueur made from star anise.

Star anise has many medicinal uses and of late has been touted as a major weapon against bird-flu influenza. It is the primary source of shikimic acid which is used to produce oseltamivir phosphate, sold under the brand name Tamiflu.

I also used star anise in a previous post-Pears in Red Wine. The tea eggs have a subtle flavor and are delicious. It's important that the eggs cool in the liquid.

Tea Eggs

1/3 cup dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lapsang souchoug tea leaves
1 star anise
12 hard cooked eggs-cooled under running water, but still in their shells
2 teaspoons sesame oil

In a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce, tea leaves,and star anise with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, dry the eggs off and gently roll them, using the palm of your hand, to crack the egg shell lightly until they are covered with fine cracks. Add the eggs, shell and all to the boiling liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the eggs to cool in their own liquid. After the eggs have chilled, remove the shells and coat in the sesame oil.

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Photographs by Lynnylu taken with a Canon 5D.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Plum Jam and Cream Currant Scones

A delicious and easy jam to serve with the cream currant scones.

Melt in your mouth scones with plum jam and creme fraiche.

Active time: 45 min Start to finish: 2 hr
2 lb firm-ripe red, black, or fresh prune plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup sugar-I used vanilla sugar
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

Coarsely chop plums and stir together with sugar, water, and cinnamon stick in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally (more often toward end of cooking to prevent sticking), until thickened and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Discard cinnamon stick and cool preserves. Transfer to an airtight container and chill, covered.

Cooks' note:
• Preserves keep, chilled, 1 month.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
July 2002 .

Cream Currant Scones

These scones taste identical to those I have enjoyed while visiting friends in England. They are not in the low-calorie or low-fat category.

Makes 8
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in large bowl or workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Following illustrations for Wedge Biscuits on page 209, cut scones into 8 wedges. Place wedges on ungreased baking sheet. (Baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.)

6. Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe From Cooks Illustrated

Photographed with a Canon 5D and a 50mm macro lens. Lighting -Alien Bees B800 strobe and a Westcott 60" white satin umbrella.