Apple Clafoutis (Flognarde)

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When I first started writing, it was for my love of fiction. Of course I kept a diary, as I think the majority of pre-teen girls do, but I didn’t love documenting my days, though I did it regularly, sometimes sneaking into the bathroom late at night, armed with my diary and a pen, when I woke, suddenly, realizing I’d forgotten my daily entry. But these entries — plans for my future, stories about my day, angry diatribes about the things I wasn’t allowed to do (listen to Z100 radio and watch Nickelodeon… profound injustices, really. [Love you, Mom!]) — were nothing compared to the stories I made up in my head.

I created romances that eerily mirrored the ones I wished for in my own life. I created magical lands of friendly, other-worldly spirits-slash-aliens, which helped me fall asleep when I went through a period of being scared of the dark… at fourteen. (While this is neither here nor there, my poor Actress sister, with whom I shared a room at the time, had to endure several months of me sleeping with the desk light on and playing the French Kiss soundtrack over and over, my version of a lullaby. Eventually, she told me to memorize a movie and play it in my head. To this day, I can recite the first 20 minutes of Legally Blonde off by heart.)

But fiction. We were talking about fiction. Fiction was my first love, the reason I was drawn to words and writing. I read books voraciously, and when I ran out of things to read, I created my own stories on paper and read those instead.

All that to say, sorry, reader, that I’ve been absent the past few days. My first love has been calling, and my novel has been the focus of my energy, although with all the actual work and school work I have, it should be the last thing on my mind. But like those diary entries that woke me at 2 in the morning, sometimes it’s at the least likely moments that inspiration calls.

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Until then, please make some clafoutis. This is actually technically a flognarde, as is any clafoutis not made with cherries. Until cherries are in season, I’ve been alternating thin slices of green apple or prunes. Both versions are delicious; the Country Boy gave his approval by offering the following suggestion: “Use a bigger dish.”

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Apple Clafoutis (Flognarde) (makes 4 small clafoutis, which is perfect for those who like to eat two desserts, like some members of my household)

1/3 cup (40 grams) flour
2/3 cup (160 grams) milk
1 egg
1/8 cup (25 grams) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (Note: if I were making this for a cinnamon-loving crowd, I would swap the vanilla for cinnamon in the apple version. Unfortunately, cinnamon is not a crowd-pleaser chez Emiglia)
1 pinch salt
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, sift the flour and slowly whisk in half of the milk. Add the egg, sugar, vanilla or cinnamon and salt, and whisk until well combined. Add the last of the milk and set aside.

Prepare your apples in thin slices (the thinner the better — this doesn’t bake for very long.) Lay the slices evenly amongst four ramekins. Divide the batter evenly amongst them. Top each of the ramekins with thin slices of butter. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the clafoutis have puffed up and begin to brown around the edges. As soon as you remove them from the oven, they will fall. Serve warm or cold (not hot). Wait for inspiration.

Frisée and Green Apple Salad

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It’s January, but you wouldn’t guess it here in Paris. The streets are flooded with sunlight; it’s warm enough for a light jacket. If I had to guess, I’d say it was the end of March–that moment just before spring where you can smell moisture evaporating as the snow starts to melt, where you can sense the flowers getting ready to bloom, the lawns beginning to sprout with green again. It puts me in the mood for something fresh and crisp and green, and then I remember that it’s still the dead of winter, and fresh and crisp and green in Paris on January 16th is hard to come by. Luckily, I have my ways.

One of my first jobs in the kitchen as a child was making salad dressing. It’s not hard; I do it now while doing 9 million other things in the kitchen–stirring, boiling water, washing produce–but I remember the first time my grandmother handed me the baby food jar I would use as a vessel how important the task seemed.

Twice as much oil as vinegar (I liked to do half vinegar, half lemon juice–just another way I did things a little bit differently from everyone else, a sign of things to come). A tiny bit of mustard, salt and pepper. Then I screwed the lid on tightly and shook as much as my little arms could until, like magic, the simple ingredients came together into a thick liquid the color of sand, which we would pour over prepared greens, pomegranate seeds and tangerine sections at the last minute, just before sitting at the table.

When I first came to France, everything was different. I remember watching as my host mother prepared salad dressing in the bottom of the large bowl she would use for serving, blending everything together with the tines of a fork and leaving it to sit until the rest of the meal was prepared, dumping the salad ingredients on top of the dressing–endive, apples, beets, goat cheese–and tossing with tongs right before we sat.

I’ve kept both traditions: in Paziols, where dressing is made by the liter every few days, we have a special container marked with centiliter amounts up the side so that the kids can make it themselves. I find myself often forgetting the “recipe” we have printed on the wall; it’s something I made up so that the kids would have directions to follow, but as the Sous-Chef and I know (and the other girls soon learned), dressing is not a science–you need to taste as you go.

Here in Paris, where I’m more often than not making salads for one, I take a tip from my host family in Mouvaux and blend my dressing in the bottom of my salad bowl: olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar, a tip from Anne-Marie in Paziols. I use the tines of my fork to blend the ingredients together, and then I use a restaurant trick for tossing: there’s no better kitchen tool than a clean hand, and besides, tossing salad is, like making latkes, one of those strange cooking skills that I still haven’t gotten right (when I do it in my mother’s kitchen, half of the greens end up on the floor).

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This winter salad works well with any winter lettuce; I like the green-on-green of Granny Smith apples (pommes Granny in French) and green-and-white frisée, but I’ve done it with endive on many occasions, and it’s just as delicious.

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Apple and Frisée Salad

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. good French mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch sugar
1 Granny Smith apple
2 large handfuls winter lettuce

Combine the dressing ingredients in the bottom of your serving bowl using the tines of a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cut the apple into a large dice, leaving the skin on. Drop the chunks of apple into the dressing and toss lightly; the acid prevents them from browning. If preparing as part of a meal, this can be done a half hour in advance, which allows the apples to soak up some of the dressing.

Just before serving, add the frisée or other winter lettuce to the bowl and toss with a clean hand to ensure coating of all the leaves with the dressing.

Apple Sparkle Cake

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When I was in undergrad, my father strictly prohibited me from getting a job. This, to me, seemed preposterous: who in their right mind would tell their daughter, whose work ethic had her employed for minimum wage at the age of fourteen, not to get a job? And more importantly, how was I going to pay my tab at the Beer Store?

While I snuck around this rule twice for extremely short periods of time (anyone remember my short-lived Hoops job, Torontonians? [… sorry Dad]), hindsight’s 20-20: why, oh why did I not take advantage of the fact that, when I was in school, being a student was my full-time job? And, more importantly, when am I going to realize once and for all that my father is right about everything?

Over the past month and a half, I’ve developped this dizzying feeling, this sensation that I’m living several lives at once.

There’s my life at work, the internship I loved from the moment I arrived. I’ve put my html knowledge to good use, I’ve learned to expertly take phone messages in French, and I’m getting better at riding the longboard that languishes on the floor of the loft, though the Shoe Fiend and I also spend a lot of time trying to get our bosses to let us play Taylor Swift in the office.

There’s my AUP life, the life that seems like it ended years ago, but that I remember every time I see the Artist and the Almost Frenchman. It’s only been a week since they left for Mexico, but it seems like years since I’ve seen them.

There’s my life at the Sorbonne, with the American Proust Fan, languishing over coffees as we fling our giant English vocabularies around without worrying about understanding or being understood. My professors are some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever had the privilege of being in the same room with, and I find myself scribbling nearly incoherently as I try to get down every last idea, every quote I want to read for hours later, only to contemplate it. But what hours?

When I get home, my life is writing: Nanowrimo has started, and on top of the freelance jobs that pay my bills (we hope…), I’m working on my novel. And catching up with friends. And feeding myself, the Roommate and the Country Boy. And sometimes remembering to wash my hair.

I love it. Let’s not pretend for even one minute that I wasn’t made to live like this, because, as I know by now, I don’t feel right if I’m not scrambling over a million deadlines, leaving my apartment and walking back through my front door all in the veil of half-night, spending more than half my day away from the place I call home. It’s why it’s so easy for me to go back to Paziols every year, why being a “writer” last year and living in my pajamas fit me about as well as my sister’s size seven shoes.

But tonight, something snapped. I’ve been trying to accomplish three full-time lifestyles and see as many of my friends as I can, and as I climbed the stairs this evening and ran through the list of things I still had to get done before getting to bed… it happened. It’s been awhile, but I finally got that feeling I used to get when I was younger, literal hot-headedness that had me sticking my neck under the bathroom sink in the hopes that it would let me sleep. I set my teeth together and “breathed through my eyelids” (which doesn’t make sense, but helps) as I defined a giant list of words relating to the five senses, half of my brain on my work, the other half still chanting that list of stuff I have to get done.

The Country Boy, ever astute, stared at me, thinking, before finally speaking, carefully (I don’t blame him. I tend to snap. And rant.)

“What do you want to do… right this minute?”

I don’t know where my answer came from. Even I couldn’t believe it. “Make a cake.”

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The minute I said it, I smiled, hopped up, and started pulling ingredients out of the pantry: flour, sugar, eggs, apples. The Country Boy made fun of me–just minutes before I had been bemoaning the lack of hours in a day, but I was dead-set on cake making, and so a cake I did make.

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It wasn’t anything intense: the Sous-Chef will remember that when I’m in the mood for muffins, there is no recipe, and this quickbread happend in the same way. I used a glass as a measuring device; I threw things into the bowl at random. I sprinkled raw sugar over the top, and when I pulled it out of the oven nearly an hour later, three things checked off my “to-do” list and another underway, it sparkled.

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I feel better now.

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Apple Sparkle Cake

I have a lot of experience using a glass as a measuring cup, but I won’t pretend that I know that these measurements are exact, though they’re pretty darn close. Use your judgement: the batter should look like muffin batter.

2 apples
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar + 2 tbsp. (I use about half Sugar in the Raw and half granulated sugar, but whatever proportions you use, the 2 Tbsp. should be Sugar in the Raw)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla or one packet vanilla sugar (for those living in France…)
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.

Grate the apples (skin and all) into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, cup of sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well to combine. Without mixing, add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the reserved sugar.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool fully before slicing.

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Tarte Tatin

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I am–and always have been–of the school of thought that says that people don’t change.

Maybe a little bit, OK, I admit, but really, most people–and most things–don’t change all that much. When they do, it comes as a shock, at least to me.

Paziols, on the other hand, is a strange sort of organic place where everything changes and yet nothing changes all at the same time. Each time I come back to this house, I recognize everything, the past four summers blending together into a wild blur of all-nighters in the grenier and early mornings in the kitchen, long lunches on the terrace and excursions started from the garage.

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I feel as though this house is mine: the blue paint I spattered all over the tiles two summers ago is still there, proof that I exist, though most of the kids have taken to telling me that this place wouldn’t exist without me, something I can’t even imagine (the program not existing or the program existing without me.)

Summers blend together through memories and photographs, though I can separate them easily if I try hard enough; trying is hardly worth it though. It doesn’t seem to matter anyway: I’ve always been here. Anne-Marie and I are the only ones who have been here all four years, and even though there are some kids and some counselors who are back again after two or three years, it’s me that people in the town recognize. “You’ve come here before… haven’t you?”

I don’t recognize most of them–after all, it’s much easier to remember someone when they invade your small town every summer with a band of rowdy Americans than it is to recognize the locals who watch you swarm down on them from afar. By chance, I finally met one of them this weekend, and he posed all the questions I was sure others had been thinking of. “What are you doing here?” “Why France?” “Wait… where are you from?”

I don’t mind answering. It may be my fourth year, but I’m always learning things about this place, and nothing ever gets old for me, even the Cathar chateaux and the prehistoric museum in Tautavel we visit every year. But maybe most of all, it’s the people who actually do come back that make this place into what it is.

This year, five of the six older girls who are campers here are returning students, one of which is my Sous-Chef from last year. She stumbled back into the kitchen as though she had never left, and though I took my time remembering where we kept the knives and which one was my favorite–after two weeks back, it seems impossible that I could have ever forgotten–she had remembered everything down to where we kept the presse-ail, and she was more than happy to watch me recreate one of the favorite desserts from last year: tarte tatin.

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She’s taken a different role this year–something I didn’t expect. Instead of hanging on my coattails, she’s the one directing the younger kids, leaving me free to run around chasing boiling-over pots and burning quiches. She stands behind me calmly and explains how to wash the salad three times, where the bowls for the tomatoes are kept, how to set the table for lunch. One afternoon, when I got stuck in Perpignan for longer than expected, Anne-Marie turned to her and asked, “What’s for lunch?” I wasn’t there to witness it, but apparently, she didn’t miss a beat.

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So maybe some things have changed. After all, this year, the Country Boy flung the last few slices of tarte into the circle of six grandes, who launched themselves onto them like lions and licked the plates clean.

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This year it was me, and not Marc, who turned the tarte tatins out of their pans and onto the glass serving plate. This year, no one suffered sugar burns, but no one laughed at Marc screaming like a little girl either. And this year, the Sous-Chef stood calmly behind one of the other girls, explaing what to do with the seemingly endless apple slices I kept dumping into her bowl, as she created spirals in a pan of melted butter and sugar and settled back into her element.

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Tarte Tatin (republished from this time last year)

2 refrigerated puff pastries
14 granny smith apples
lemon juice
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
2 sachets vanilla sugar or 2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Core and peel the apples and slice them. Use a little bit of lemon juice to keep them from browning as you slice.

Heat the butter and sugar in two tarte tatin pans or in two skillets if you don’t have them over medium heat. Add the vanilla sugar.

When the butter and sugar are melted together, add the apple slices in swirls from the inside out. You will not use all the apples. Turn the heat down to low and cook.

As the apples begin to cook, squeeze more and more apples into the spaces that will appear between apple slices. Continue cooking until the sugar is a deep brown and all the apples have been used.

Flip the pans so that the apples are upside down into tarte pans (if you are using tarte tatin pans, skip this step).

Unroll the pastries onto the apples, pressing the sides down so that they stick. Place in the oven and cook for half an hour, or until the pastry is golden on top. Serve with crème fraîche.

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Apple-Cream Cheese Bread

“Is there anything you can’t make?” The Artist asks me as she sits in a chair in my kitchen watching me put the finishing touches on an Indian feast one of my first nights back in Paris.

The Artist and I met for the first time at my Thanksgiving celebration last year, where she waxed on and on about this Pumpkin Tarte Tatin that has become a staple at my Thanksgiving table, going so far as to make it for her boyfriend, even though she only cooks tortillas and Kaiserschmarrn.

I thought about it for a moment. “Really simple things…” I answered, reaching for a dish towel to move one pot to another burner and stirring with the other hand.

“For awhile I didn’t like my tomato sauce… and I still can’t make latkes.” I kept thinking for another moment as I made a spice blend for the dal. Suddenly, it hit me.

“Bread,” I answered. “Anything with a yeast dough.”

I know it’s not an uncommon difficulty, but for me, it’s a very frustrating one. I bake all sorts of quickbreads, muffins and cakes with ease, and then the second I try to mix yeast, flour, water and salt, four simple ingredients, all Hell breaks loose and I end up with a rock-hard-on-the-outside, kind-of-raw-on-the-inside ball of tasteless yuck.

Oh well… someday I’ll figure it out, maybe. Until then, I can content myself with being good at this: I do love a nice quickbread, and this one is no different. It’s very light in texture–my father compares it to the inside of a cupcake. It’s all gone now, so I assume that’s a compliment.

Apple-Cream Cheese Bread

1-1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 apple, chopped
1 8 oz. block of Neufchatel cheese (or regular cream cheese)
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking pan (I used a tart pan and an 8×8 brownie pan) by greasing the interior and lightly dusting with flour. Set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and sugars with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until completely encorporated and slightly lighter in color. Add the applesauce and vanilla to the wet ingredients and mix to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined. Add the apple and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared vessel of your choosing.

Combine the cheese with the remaining brown sugar, and dollop in small amounts over the top of the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is set in the middle. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Cake Day: Buttery Apple Loaf Cake

I have trust issues.

*Phew* There. I said it. That feels better.

I’ve always had trust issues… I’m not too sure where it comes from. Maybe from growing up in a house where nothing–from the bathroom to your bedroom to even your diary–was private. Maybe it’s from moving around so often, always having to make new friends and never being sure what they truly thought of you. It could even be from being an awkward middle schooler, like so many of us are, even if we all feel like we’re the only ones.

At any rate, I have a hard time trusting people, and I tend to keep a lot of things, like most of my writing, a secret from the people closest to me, even if I have no problem posting it all on the Internet for strangers to see.

I have trust issues with my food too. Though I’ve come a long way from my soap fear, I still get nervous the first time I feed someone new, especially when that someone is a picky eater. Alex likes everything–he’s easy to please, but others aren’t so forgiving of little mistakes and cooking “au feeling.

A few weeks back, we spent the whole weekend at Alex’s parents’ house in the suburbs, and when Saturday rolled around, Alex expected Cake Day, as usual. I wasn’t so sure: it wasn’t my kitchen, I didn’t know the oven, I didn’t know what ingredients were available… but he insisted, and I caved.

I wanted to pick something simple, something I would feel comfortable making, like a quickbread, which is hard for me to mess up. There were apples in the fruit basket waiting to be used up, and so I grabbed a couple and found this recipe at Culinary in the Country.

I moved my way through the hotel’s kitchen, unwrapping individually-packaged 12.5 gram pats of butter to get the right amount, rummaging through the unfamiliar collection of spices, tasting different mysterious white powders until I found the (unlabeled) box containing baking powder, subbing white sugar and honey for the brown sugar that is nearly never used in France.

I accidentally mistook plastic serving trays for baking sheets and almost burned the hotel down, standing next to the oven having a stress-fit while Alex expertly removed the bubbling trays from the oven.

But it came out in the end, a little burned on the top, but perfectly serviceable. And yet, something wasn’t quite right. The apple topping was tasty, the ribbon of sugar in the middle had come out right… but the cake itself was surprisingly bland. I had taken some liberties and added nutmeg to the cinnamon, which had been the only spice, and had thrown a bit of both spices into the cake itself, but something was still missing… I’m assuming vanilla, which I didn’t notice was absent from the recipe, but afterwards, I wondered if it was a typo.

No problem, says Alex, heading to the industrial-sized fridge for a package of pre-made crème anglaise. He generously pours it over the top and declares it delicious. When his picky sister agreed–a self-declared hater of cinnamon in any form–I decided I could trust his pronouncement–and the recipe.

This recipe is my submission to this month’s FBI Gloves blog event, hosted by Marija at Palachinka. You can stop by Joe’s awesome blog any time before May 31st to pick a recipe to make and blog about.

Remember: if you’d like your baked goods featured in the weekly Cake Day post on Saturdays, just send me a hyperlink to the post, and I’ll include you in my round-up!

Buttery Apple Loaf Cake (adapted from Culinary in the Country)

Note: We served this with crème anglaise and it was fine, but in the future, I’ll definitely be adding vanilla to the batter, and so I’ve written the recipe to reflect this change.

For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. honey
8 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups peeled and diced tart apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together topping ingredients until crumbly.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter,  yogurt and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix just until moistened.

Place half of the batter into a 9 x 5″ loaf pan coated with nonstick spray. Cover the top with half of the apples and half of the topping mixture. Place the remaining batter on top and spread to cover. Scatter with another half of the topping mixture, the remaining apples and finish with the leftover topping.

Bake until golden and a toothpick placed in the center comes out mostly clean – about 70-80 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully remove. Let cool completely. Serve with crème anglaise.

Squash and Apple Purée

When I was 16, I read an article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times magazine about the mistreatment of steers on American farms, and just like that, I became a vegetarian. It stuck for a year: the only time I ate meat was when I ordered French onion soup once, about 7 months in, and felt so sick that I looked online and found that it was made with beef broth. I didn’t know that. I wasn’t into cooking yet.

I started eating meat again when I was 17. It was a Fuddrucker’s burger. I’ve never looked back.

But somehow, I’ve become a sort of de facto vegetarian. Granted, when I eat out, it’s almost always meat: I do live in France after all, but I don’t buy meat at all: not even cold cuts. I guess it stems from the fact that when I first started cooking, in Toronto, I would buy meat for my meals (when I was growing up, no meal was complete without meat), but then my plans would change, I would go out to eat, and it would take so long for me to get around to actually cooking that chicken that I would have to throw it out. Vegetables are a lot more forgiving. Plus, the leftovers keep a lot better, and I can make huge amounts of soup, chili, curry, etc. and keep it to eat for lunch during the week.

This is how I manage to eat a lot of side dishes as actual meals, which brings me to today’s post: this squash purée I found over at one of my favorite blogs, the Wednesday Chef. Luisa served this purée with pork chops, and after trying the recipe last night, I realized that she was right to serve it with a protein. Some side dishes do well on their own, and others do not. This one was quite yummy, but it just wasn’t enough to be called a meal. I can see how it would be really great with some salty pork chops on top, though, and the next time I make this, it will be as an accompaniment to meat. We’ll see if that ever happens in my kitchen, but I could see it making an appearance on my mother’s table at Christmas: it may be the one dish I contribute this year (aside from my ever-present gratin (aka cheese with some potatoes thrown in).
I was planning on making the dish the way it was written, with ginger, but I remembered at the last minute that I only like ginger when it’s pickled with sushi, and the way the dish looked, all whipped and lovely, I would hate to experiment with a spice that I almost always regret. Instead, I added a pinch of salt, some fresh-ground black pepper, and some nutmeg. The changes were most definitely welcome.

Squash and Apple Purée (adapted from The Wednesday Chef’s adaption of Russ Parson)
1/2 potimarron, seeded
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
10-15 g. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Prepare the squash and place it, face down, on a jelly roll pan. Fill the pan with about 1/4 inch water and roast for 20 minutes, until soft. Turn over and roast until slightly golden, about another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you prepare the apple.

Using a spoon, remove the flesh from the skin of the squash and place it in a dish along with the apple. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the butter and blend until the butter is no longer visible. Add the spices on top, and serve. Preferably with some cut of meat. Yum.

The Great Doughnut Adventure

Today, I made doughnuts for the first time.

It was a learning experience.

When I lived in Massachusetts, one of our favorite things to do was to run to Smallack farms and get a box of apple cider doughnuts. They were dipped in cinnamon sugar, and they were just about the best things ever. And we didn’t even feel bad about eating them, because we figured that running to the farm and eating a box of doughnuts essentially cancelled each other out.

I wanted to participate in Peabody and Helene’s doughnut challenge, and I got very excited, because there is a market near my house that is only opened on Wednesdays and Sundays, and they sell amazing apple cider. I actually even had a recipe for cider doughnuts from Peabody’s archive that I had been wanting to try for awhile. In my eyes, the planets had aligned, so I got up bright and early on Wednesday, went over to the market, and picked up my ingredients. This is when the learning started.

1. I need to get a one cup measuring cup. Or learn to count. I can’t be sure, but I think I only added two and a half instead of three and a half cups of flour. The dough was more like batter, and I tried so hard to roll it out before I decided that it just wasn’t going to happen.

2. I am not afraid of boiling oil. But I should be. As I was trying to get the temperature right, I ended up scalding the bottom of my pot, making a couple of rejects when the oil wasn’t hot enough, and standing against the wall while the few inches of shortening in the bottom of my dutch oven boiled to five times their original height and threatened to take over my kitchen.

3. The rejects taste awesome.

The Canadian came in to ask me some questions about photoshop, and he took a bunch of the doughnut holes (AKA Tim Bits… Tim Hortons… any Canadians out there? OK. Moving on.) which he enjoyed quite a bit. After awhile, I got a nice rhythm going… but then I was out of dough. So… yeah.

Rejects and Timbits.

Link to Recipe: