Wednesday, December 8, 2010

German Apple Cake

This one turned out beautifully.  It's just a simple, single-layer, cinnamon-scented base with sliced apples on top.  When you aren't working with flashy ingredients or structure, a little attention to presentation goes a long way.  I have a lot more skill development to do when it comes to creative presentation, but sometimes the recipe suggests it for me.

German Apple Cake
adapted from honey&jam

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 6 pieces (I sliced them as thin as possible)
2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
(I added spices to the batter, such as cinnamon, maybe a dash of nutmeg & ginger, whatever you feel like, but not too much if you want to keep the light flavor and feel)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter your pan (I used a 9" springform).
2) Stir flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
3) Cream butter, sugar, zest on med-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.
4) Add dry to wet and mix on low.  Spoon batter into the pan and arrange apple slices concentrically on top.  Sprinkle with demerara sugar (or regular sugar if you don't have the demerara).
5) Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on the size of your pan.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana

I've never really liked eggplants, or l'aubergine, as our French friends would call them.  Purple has always been one of my favorite colors, but the vegetable?  Non.

I decided to give it a second try one night a few weeks ago, when a friend gave me a few small eggplants from her garden.  I couldn't let good garden food go to waste, could I?  And I did accept them, after all.  It's not like she forced them into my fisted palms.  Although my brain was saying, "Are you sure?"

I wanted to give them a fair trial, so I decided to let them shine in a classic eggplant-centric dish: Eggplant Parmigiana.  There are hundreds of recipes out there, but I only had a few key ingredients on hand, so I made up my own. 

I breaded and baked the eggplant slices while making a homemade meat sauce.  The meat sauce was delicious!  I'm easy to please when it comes to beef.

After the eggplant had baked a bit, I layered them lasagna-style with the meat sauce and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and let it bake some more.  It looked great, but sadly the sauce wasn't enough to conceal the other flavors.

I still don't like eggplant.