Tag Archives: spiced

Spiced Upside-Down Apple Cake

Spiced Upside-Down Apple Cake

The very last issue of Gourmet sits in a stack along with the most recent issues of Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine — all barely touched.  Holiday catalogs I’d rather not receive lay scattered in the mix as well reminding me that I should probably pay attention.  How can it be the end of November?  The month has flown by and with it my favorite season of the year, leaving only a few days to think about recipes I’d like to try this year for Thanksgiving.  Outside of making a simple list of traditional dishes and leaving it to sit on the kitchen counter, I’m still not prepared.

I’ve accepted that this just won’t be the year to try yet another way to mash and flavor potatoes with the likes of parsnips or roasted garlic, white truffle oil or black truffle shavings.  I won’t have to wonder why a stuffing recipe calls for freshly made cornbread that has to sit on the counter for a day before it can be cubed and tossed with other ingredients to make an herby stuffing.  And I’ve decided that deep-frying a ton of microscopically thin onion rings to flavor a new spin on the classic green bean casserole won’t be happening, either, even though it was quite a fabulous recipe.  No, we’re going to be relatively conservative this year which is why I was able to spend some time in the kitchen today trying a new recipe with some of my favorite flavors:  apples, pecans, and cinnamon with a hint of orange.

David Guas’ Spiced Upside-Down Apple Bundt Cake was perfect from the moment I saw it in Food & Wine’s “Last Bite.”  Even though I’ve never owned a bundt pan, it was the least of my worries because the recipe calls for buttermilk.  Whenever I buy buttermilk,  it gets pushed to the back of the fridge and is forgotten until long after the date stamped on it, then ends up down the drain.  Not this time!   I found it with a day to spare — not that I could tell given its characteristic pungent smell.

How does one tell whether buttermilk is sour when it always smells badly?  It’s a very good thing that it works so nicely as a cooking ingredient, don’t you think?

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Vols-au-vent: Spiced Poached Pears with Hazelnut Sabayon

Vol-au-vent with Hazelnut Sabayon and  Spiced Poached Pears
It was only a matter of time that I’d have to revisit the task of making pate feuilletee again.  My first run-in with the multi-layered French pastry dough was also my first Daring Baker challenge over two years ago.  The result was truly something that might qualify as an organic building material considering the sheer weight of it and lack of any discernible layers.  It was awful.  But when I saw this month’s  challenge, I knew I’d be ready to tackle it again.  After all, it’s been over two years, so my trauma has subsided and I’ve been more preoccupied by what kind of dessert I’d create with the puff pastry we were asked to make.

It’s officially Fall, so pears are plentiful here.  Nuts always make me think of Fall as well, but what kind, and what to fill the pastry with?  Leafing through  The French Laundry Cookbook, I found the perfect recipe and decided that it would be the perfect way to welcome in my favorite season.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!”

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Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

Each year for the holidays, I experiment with a new twist on cranberry sauce — the one item that somehow for many in my family make the meal complete.  I grew up eating cranberry sauce from a can.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  The apply the can opener, and slide the gelatinous ruby red cylinder from the can cranberry sauce — can markings and all.  Its place of honor after I'd been given the responsibility for it about age nine, was to lay the cylinder on a small plate and artfully slice a few rounds so they'd be easy for those interested in laying a slab on their already loaded plate.  We love to give my mother a hard time about the can markings on the cranberry sauce, but I'm not sure she's always amused.

I can't remember when I gave the can up, but it must have been after I had my first two sons and began to get even more daring in the kitchen trying recipes I'd never thought of before.  With respect to cranberry sauce, this involves: 1) purchasing a bag of fresh cranberries; and 2)  following the directions on the bag.  Tough work if you can handle it.

But over the years, the experimenting began, and although I haven't strayed too far from something I'll call traditional, I have managed to have some fun with orange and nuts.  If I get too crazy, it doesn't get eaten — the bowl sitting on the table looking a bit too mysterious to those who like no surprises on Turkey Day. 

This year, I ran across a new recipe for cranberry sauce at The Wednesday Chef, a lovely site that I'd not visited before, but spent quite a bit of time sorting through and bookmarking other promising recipes. Her "Cranberry Orange Sauce" has the perfect mix of citrus and spice.

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Spiced Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/3 c. Cointreau
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 T orange zest

In a small sauce pan, add the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, liqueur, and spices.  Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to medium low, simmering until cranberries pop and the mixture thickens a bit — 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the orange zest and remove from the heat to cool completely, then refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.

Notes:

  • I loved this recipe.  The original calls for 1/2 c. toasted, chopped pecans which I would have also loved, but the nuts in the cranberry sauce sometimes pushes it over the edge for the more picky eater.  I haven't figured out how to sneak in the nuts yet.
  • I know you're thinking the Cointreau is an issue.  You can use another orange liqueur, or, add it and burn off the alcohol with a match.  The intense flavor is wonderful and very different than what I've tried with recipes that use only orange juice or zest. 
  • If you don't like one of the spices listed, have fun with those you do enjoy.  Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg…they'd all be excellent in this.
  • If you love herbs, then fresh rosemary would also be excellent minced in this.
  • This is definitely something I'd make the day before.  It's one less burner being used on my stove on a busy day!