Friday, June 13, 2008

Sweet Summer Apple Salad

Oh my goodness- the aromatic perfume of pink lady apples is heady. We had my brother Todd's fiancé Rebecca's mom Susan and her partner Abigail here visiting this week. It was Susan's birthday-and a good time to celebrate. The pink lady apples looked delightful so, it was time to make something new. Here is a recipe for Sweet Summer Apple Salad. It incorporates Pink Lady Apples, fresh lemon and two kinds of cheese. If you want it to be a bit more savory- sprinkle sea salt over the apples. Somehow these flavors came together as a light, crisp, scrumptious side.
Sweet Summer Apple Salad
Serves 4-6
4 pretty pink lady apples
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup water
6 oz fresh goat cheese- you can use flavored/herbed cheese if you like
4 oz very sharp cheddar cheese
fresh chive blossoms, pansies, herbs or other edible flowers for garnish
tools: 1 gallon plastic bag, cutting board, paring knife, large knife, zester or microplane, small bowl, spatula, grater, paper towel and platter.
Place the cheddar cheese in its wrapper or in a plastic bag in the freezer while you start cutting the apples. Wash and dry the apples. Place them beside your cutting board.
Zest the lemon. Place the zest and the plain (or flavored) goat cheese in a small bowl. Gently incorporate the lemon zest into the goat cheese. With a spatula, form the goat cheese into a ball, pyramid or small log. Cover and chill.
Open your gallon plastic bag and fold the top inch-or-so over to make a "collar" at the top. Set it on the counter so it is standing up- you can set the bag in a bowl if it doesn't want to cooperate. Pour the water into the bag. Juice the lemon into the bag- removing any seeds if they stray into the liquid. Swish the water and lemon around a bit and set aside.
With a large, sturdy knife (my favorite is an 8" French knife) you are going to slice the apples horizontally into very thin (less than 1/4") slices. Set an apple on its side on your cutting board. Very carefully slice the top 3/4 inch off of the apple. Lay it aside. Continue slicing the apple until you begin to see the core, setting each slice on top of the one before- making an upside down apple stack. Pause now and core the bottom part of the apple with a paring knife. Be sure that you leave the apple intact and only remove the core and seeds. Return the apple to the cutting board and continue slicing it (now into rings) until you reach the bottom. You can eat the bottom slice now- since you won't need it for your recipe. Stack the apple slices back up so you have it looking like an apple again. Hold the apple slices -all together- in your hand and dunk them into the lemon water separating the rings slightly so the liquid coats all of the slices. Remove the apple from the water, let the excess drip off and set aside on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining apples.
When all of the apples are sliced, take the cheddar cheese out of the freezer. Now, you can start arranging your salad. On a platter place the goat cheese in the center. Arrange the bottom slice from each apple in a single layer around the cheese. Finely grate a few strands of the cheddar cheese over each of the apple slices. Lay the next slice from each apple on top of the cheddar and grate a little more cheese over this slice. Repeat with the remaining slices of apple until all of you apples are "reassembled" with layers of cheese in between all of the slices. Grate the remaining cheddar cheese over all of the apples and goat cheese. Garnish with chive blossoms, edible flowers or herbs. Chill until ready to serve.
To serve: use two spoons or small salad servers and give each diner a few slices of apple and a dollop of goat cheese. Mmm. Delicious.
Savor. Linger. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chocolate Wow Cake- Fit for your own Royal Family

Here is a majestic, never fail chocolate cake recipe that is sure to please a crowd. The combination of cream cheese and butter make it very rich. The Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate create a velvety, dark, rich texture. This one is sure to elicit many “MMmMmmm”s from your family and guests. This recipe is best made in its entirety. It makes A Lot of cake! The cakes, once baked, can be frozen for a later date. It freezes well and retains its moistness. Yum!

2 c. butter
8 oz cream cheese
2 c. sugar
9 eggs
4 1/2 c. flour
5 T. cocoa
1 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 T. baking powder
18 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 T. pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar.
Add eggs one at a time, incorporating completely after each addition.
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
In measuring cup mix milk and vanilla together.
Melt bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates together. This is best done in a microwave or a double boiler. Stir the melted chocolates until they are combined.
Add the dry ingredients, milk mixture and chocolates alternately to the creamed butter and eggs. Beat until all are incorporated into a beautiful velvety chocolate batter.
This recipe is versatile- it can be baked in many different pans for whatever use you desire. The batter will make enough for four 8” round cake pans or a 9 x 13 pan AND 24 cupcakes or a 12” spring-form pan plus another small pan.
Bake cakes according to their pan size- until a tester comes out clean with moist crumbs. Plan to bake cupcakes 20-25 minutes, 8” rounds 30-35 minutes and a spring-form pan at least 45 minutes.