A Pile of Apple Cake – 24/67

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The problem with claiming you’re good at baking is that people expect you to be good at baking. Ugh. I’ve been setting expectations too high. Nothing good can come of that! 

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So okay, I admit, this cake did not come out of the bundt pan as I would have wished. But! It still tastes amazing. Amazing enough to publicly share on the internet and admit to my vast readership. So, as they’d say on the Great British Bake Off, flavors and texture wonderful, looks like absolute shite. (Do they say that? I haven’t watched it in a couple seasons, but it seems more or less right…)

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We brought this cake pile to a housewarming party. Daniel thought I should dump it into a bowl and call it a crumble, but I insisted on the cake carrying case, with a sad pile of cake roughly in the shape of a bundt. You could still see a couple layers of cake – apples – cake, after all. We definitely got some funny glances from passersby, who looked expectantly into our cake carrying thing (I feel like you have to be pretty proud of your cake to schlep it through the streets of New York usually), expecting to see a masterpiece. And they were instead greeted by a crumbling tower of artfully placed could-be-cake. I made Daniel carry the case. I was too embarrassed. 😦 

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However! The cake was delightfully consumed! And no needs for plates when it looks like this, everyone just dug in with forks or fingers, as if it was pull apart bread. And the hosts even wanted to keep leftovers! I had my leftovers the next day microwaved with ice cream. Could’ve been way worse. So! Make this. But grease TF outta that pan. 

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one night ago: the amazing pasta alla norma from vegetables illustrated was last night’s really really good dinner 
another thing I’ve been cooking: caramelize a shredded zucchini with garlic and olive oil, mix in parmesan, put on pumpernickel toast, top with a fried egg OMG SO GOOD
three years ago: soy-dashi simmered kabocha squash
four years ago: tomatillo peach salsa 

Apple Cake

from my lovely cousin (in-law?) Heidi. Sorry for messing up something beautiful!

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ( a mix of varieties is nice)
5 tablespoons + 2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral oil
4 eggs
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour (I used spray and IT DID NOT WORK!) a bundt pan. Use a non-decorative bundt pan, for gods sake. Or a tube pan, which I’ve never used, but I think would be perfect for this. Don’t skimp!!

In a big bowl, mix together apple slices, 5 tablespoons sugar, and the cinnamon. Set aside.

In another big bowl, mix together the flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the oil, eggs, OJ, and vanilla. Mix everything until well blended. A wooden spoon worked great for this task. 

Spoon ⅓ of the batter into your prepared pan. Add half the apples. Then another layer of batter, the rest of the apples, and finish with batter. (I couldn’t fit all the apples!)

Bake for an hour and a half. Cake should be brown but not dark. Let cool in pan for at least half an hour before removing from pan. Good luck. 

 
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Capusta (Hungarian Cabbage Noodles) – 20/67

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A couple years ago I hosted a dinner party where everyone made something that represented their heritage. It was a small group of us, but I was nervous that I was going to be seriously out-cooked. I mean, of Indian, Brazilian, Californian (it was a bit of a stretch but we let it slide (she made beet salad)), and Eastern European, I don’t think my Ashkenazi ancestors are the stand-out culinarians. My offering to the evening was my grandma’s Hungarian capusta, which literally translates to cabbage. And the dish itself is really just cooked green cabbage and egg noodles. With salt and pepper. And a little fat. That is literally it. It’s the most humblest, cheapest, simplest of dishes, yet it is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s shockingly good. At that dinner party, everyone kept asking me what could possibly be in this delicious dish. They were amazed to learn it was literally just noodles and cabbage.

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This is the dish we would always look forward to at holiday dinners. My grandma always had leftovers pre-packed for us before the meal so we wouldn’t feel like we needed to hold back at dinner. She said in the notes for this recipe that this dish is a traditional peasant food but now has become a treat because, even though it’s so easy, it’s a little time-intensive. Each batch of cabbage has to be browned fully. It also makes your kitchen smell a little cabbagey for the rest of the day. But, I promise you, these are small trade-offs for the final product. (She would also make pounds and pounds of it at a time — it’s much more doable with a single cabbage-worth.)

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So when I found myself with friends coming over for dinner recently and a giant CSA cabbage taking up space in the fridge, I decided to make capusta. I was afraid it was not as fitting at a summer potluck than on a Rosh Hashanah spread, but it worked just the same. From humble roots to star of the holiday table to a new potluck go-to, here we are.

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Capusta 

from my giant-hearted Grandma Evy, who has made this one of her specialties, even though it comes more directly from my grandpa’s lineage

1 head green cabbage
1 bag medium-wide egg noodles (I used extra wide because that’s all the store had)
Salt and pepper
butter/margarine/olive oil

First, grate your cabbage. You can do this using a box grater, food processor, or fancy knife work. I used a box grater; next time I’ll use my mandoline (which I just used to make a shredded salad and omg it was so fast.) 

Heat a big saute pan (I used my Le Creuset braiser) over medium heat. Add a bit of fat — my grandma uses margarine so the dish stays dairy-free (and hence servable with meat), but I used a combo of butter and olive oil. I probably used ¼ – ½ a stick butter in total. Regardless, cook cabbage in batches so each piece gets good browning time. Add a little salt and pepper as it cooks. Add more olive oil or small pieces of butter if it seems like it’s sticking a lot. Cook until cabbage has darkened and wilted and smells great. Once cooked, place in a big bowl. Repeat with remaining batches. 

Meanwhile, boil your noodles. Add warm noodles to cabbage, add more salt and pepper and a couple small pats of butter, and mix mix mix. Taste — it will probably need more salt. Then your capusta is done! It’s most delicious alongside stuffed cabbage rolls and tomatoey green beans. 

 

 

Ooey Gooey Brownies – 4/67

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For some reason, these brownies are part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition. There is nothing remotely Thanksgiving-y about them. They have chocolate, fluff, and peanut butter — nary a mention of pumpkin, a sprinkle of spice, or a slice of apple to be found. The other incongruous thing about these “ooey gooey brownies” is that they’re from Cooking Light, circa 2000. So that means a) my Mom’s been making them for 18 years and I’ve never helped make them (oops) and b) they are trying to be healthy? The recipe calls for skim milk, fat free sweetened condensed milk, and an egg white. Brownies just don’t seem to be the place to cut down on calories. So I used full fat milk, a whole egg (#yolklove), and I could only find regular sweetened condensed milk, so that’s what I used.

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These brownies definitely don’t suck. The ooey gooey ness gives them that home baked allure, all oozing chocolate, creamy goodness, just on the right side of “do you eat this with your hands or a fork” that makes people want to go in for a second. They were certainly a hit at the holiday party we brought them to.

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But! I kinda want to play with this recipe when I have a moment. It leaves an awkward amount of leftover sweetened condensed milk, which I think could be easily incorporated into the brownie batter. I’m not sure we need to cook the brownie base twice. My marbling sucked. And I definitely should remake it in the right sized pan, oops. When I have another chance to give desserts to a crowd, and am not ashamed to use so many store bought products, I’ll play around. Will keep you posted on #projectblasphemy. 

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(Also I’m not reaching for the scraps as much as I normally would because we have two things of candy cane ice cream and two things of hot fudge from Ample Hills that Daniel and I made together(!) at a recent workshop in the freezer/fridge (respectively). This shit is gooooood. I wish I could live on ice cream.)

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one year ago: not much in these categories today, since I managed to update my blog a mere 6(!) days ago…
two years ago:
…but I did return to this zoodle recipe recently and still love it
three years ago:
anyone have a good hot sauce recipe? asking for a friend/wedding party favor
four years ago: 
mushroom and farro stuffed acorn squash 

Ooey Gooey Brownies

From my mom, originally from Cooking Light in September 2000

¾ cup sweetened condensed milk, divided
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup milk
1 box devil’s food cake mix (I think it was 15.25 oz)
1 egg
Fluff – didn’t measure, but I used half a 16-oz container (originally recipe calls for 1 ¾ cups or 1 7-ounce jar, but that seemed fussy to measure and Target only had giant containers)
About ½ a package peanut butter chips, divided
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. (My pan was 14 x 10-inch, which led to a slightly too shallow brownie.)

In a big bowl mix together ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk, butter, milk, cake mix, and egg. Press ⅔ of the batter into your prepared baking pan. I found that pressing the batter with wax paper coated with cooking spray made this simple. Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, fluff, and about ½ – ¾ cup peanut butter chips in another bowl. Stir together until smooth.

Take brownie pan out of oven, and spread fluff mixture evenly on top. Dollop spoonfuls of remaining brownie batter over the fluff layer. Use a knife to swirl the layers together. (I failed at this, as I may have used too much brownie in bottom layer, and remaining batter was too tough to swirl. Alas.) Sprinkle top with another ¼ cup or so of peanut butter chips. Return pan to oven and cook for another half an hour, or until fluff layer starts to brown. Cool completely in pan before cutting with a sharp knife.

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Zoodle Latkes

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Look, I agree. Latkes don’t need to be anything more than shredded potatoes fried til crispy, sprinkled with flaky salt and eaten as is. Applesauce dollop highly suggested.

IMG_7846 IMG_7847So…zucchini? And… spiralized? Yeah, I know, it’s unnecessary. But look! how! fun! it is!

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This is a perfect breakfast for one, while your fiance goes to a motorcycle show with his buddies and you pray to whoever that he doesn’t buy anything. With one butt you can only be in one place at a time, according to old family saying, soooo we can extrapolate to… with one butt you can only have one motorcycle per decade? That sounds like as good an adage as any.

IMG_7852 IMG_7857Update: He didn’t buy a motorcycle. Phew. He did, at a later date, buy multiple fancy music-making synthy devises, because apparently with one butt you can indeed play more than one of those at one time. My analogy has failed me. 

Happy Hanukkah, however you decide to latke this year!

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one year ago: nothing of note, but I did revisit this kale caesar last night and am still quite in love with it
two years ago: key lime pie with saltine crust
three years ago: rellenitos de plátano (stuffed and fried mashed plantains!)
four years ago: messy and delicious buttermints 

Zoodle Latkes

a swanky original

1 zucchini, spiralized
½ onion, thinly sliced/shredded
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon flour
Neutral oil to fry
Salt and pepper

Fried egg to top, highly suggested

Squeeze liquid out of your zucchini over a sink. Place zucchini strands in a mixing bowl, and add onion, egg, flour, and a bit of salt and pepper.

Add ¼ inch of oil to a big skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. When it seems hot hot hot, add dollops of your zoodle batter to the pan, and slightly flatten. Cook about 3 minutes per side, until crispy. (I made this into two big latkes, but wished I had done 4 small ones instead. The edges were nice and crispy and the insides were cooked, but too thick to be the perfect texture throughout. Oh well, the more you know.)

Take latkes out of pan and place on paper towel-covered plate. Sprinkle with a bit of salt immediately. Let rest for a moment.

Top with a fried egg and hot sauce for a perfect breakfast.

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Hot Artichoke Dip – 3/67

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I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. I mean, we all know I love food. And a whole day (or letsbehonest, a whole! weekend!) devoted to food?? I’m down.

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We always have two celebrations, one with each side of the family, and then since we’re all together anyway, add a gift-exchange component to the day. On one side that means a Yankee swap, on the other it means socks. Both sides do fairly traditional Thanksgiving meals (although one turkey is always better than the other, not saying which). One side does cherry pie, the other does pumpkin. One leans into the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes, the other tries to get rid of them every year. And one side has artichoke dip.

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Artichoke dip at Thanksgiving is, I concede, gratuitous. But even though something is unnecessary does not mean it is unwelcome. I Love artichoke dip. Well, I love all things artichoke (oh wow, only one other recipe with them on the site!), so it’s no surprise that when mixed with roughly 6 kinds of dairy products and then baked until golden and bubbling and filling the house with incredible smells, I’d be a fan.

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This is my first Texas Thanksgiving, and when faced with the thought of missing my family’s traditions for a year, artichoke dip rose to the top of the list. How else would I ruin my appetite before the turkey meal?? Turns out, there are endless ways to do this, including decadent quiche for Thanksgiving brunch, cheesy salty Tex Mex the night before, and the Williams’ family own impressive appetizer spread, including deviled eggs, bruschetta, shrimp on cucumbers, and various pickled things. Texas always provides. And now I can provide Texas with artichoke dip! Family mushing in action. 

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one year ago: nothing of note, but I also made this cauliflower tart for the Big Meal. So good, so rich.
two years ago: nothing of note, but I also made this mushroom farro stuffing yesterday. This had lots of fans!
three years ago: blueberry lemon cake with ginger cream cheese frosting
four years ago: sweet sesame cauliflower, snow pea, and kale salad 

Hot Artichoke Dip

From Aunt Beth B – I one-and-a-halved Beth’s recipe, with some extra artichokes. The following is how I made it.

12 ounces cream cheese (one and a half bricks)
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded mozzarella
¾ cup grated parmesan
2 14-oz cans artichokes in water, drained and chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Using electric beaters, mix together cream cheese and mayo until combined. Add cheese and mix until just combined. Fold in artichokes, and a dash each of salt and pepper, with a spatula.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. (Original recipe called for a pie pan, but I ended up using a small-ish casserole dish and a little square pan for the extra. I think I prefer it in a thinner layer because more surface area = more browning.) Bake until golden and bubbling — original recipe said 20 minutes but mine took closer to 40.

Serve with crackers and veggies, to kid yourself about any health value.