Friday, October 30, 2015

Apple Bundt Cake

Kicked off our Halloween weekend with this autumn treat, an easy recipe shared by a fellow cult survivor on an online forum years ago, back when we were busy moms of babies and before we had Facebook!

This fruit-studded cake makes a fantastic quick breakfast. We eat it plain, but a simple glaze could dress it up for dessert. And I used tart apples. If your apples are sweet, you can reduce the sugar by 1/3 cup.

Bake this recipe in either a 9 x 13" pan or a bundt pan. Instead of the standard "grease & flour", I spray the pan well, then generously sprinkle cinnamon over the baking spray. This gives the cake a darker presentation as well as an extra boost of flavor.

Apple Bundt Cake

4 cups diced peeled apples

3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and pour into prepared pan.

For bundt pan:
Bake 55 minutes at 350 F.

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Turn out onto wire rack and cool two more hours before serving.

For rectangular pan:
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 F.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cold Strawberry Soup

While uncommon here in the States, fruit soups have a place in other traditional cuisines. Like their savory cousin, gazpacho, soups made with seasonal fruits can be served refreshingly cold. This creamy and flavorful recipe is inspired by Scandinavian and Eastern European dishes and is equally delicious as an appetizer or a dessert.

Notes from the kitchen:

  • This week, I had sour cream and half-and-half in my fridge, but you could use any creamy combination you please: milk, cream, yogurt, crème fraiche... 
  • You can reserve all or part of the whipped/sour cream and use a dollop as a garnish in each bowl, swirling it through the soup to marbleize. 
  • Adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of your berries, and the tanginess of your yogurt. If you only use plain yogurt, use up to 2 T. more sugar. If your soup lacks zing, add a splash of lemon juice.
  • My daughter was helping me make this, and she objected to the seeds (yes, strawberry seeds!). So we removed some of them by putting our soup through a sieve. :-)
  • Someday, I want to try this recipe with raspberries, or pitted tart cherries. 

Cold Strawberry Soup

1 1/4 lbs. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
2 T. granulated sugar
1 (6 oz.) container strawberry flavored yogurt
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, or sour cream
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk, cream, or half-and-half
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. almond extract, optional
2 T. wine (red, white, whatever), optional 

I put everything in the blender and process till smooth. Serve immediately in chilled bowls, or refrigerate in tightly-sealed container. Soup can be made up to one day ahead.

Garnish with fresh mint leaves and/or dollops of more cream.

Yield: about 1 quart