Apple cake season is back!

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Last winter, in the throes of Oregon rainy season, I discovered an apple cake that was so easy and delicious, I must have made it a half dozen times. It was good for dessert. It was equally good for breakfast. It stayed moist for days. Well, I had intended to try my hand at an apple gallette or tart, but I ran out of time and needed a dessert for a dinner. The apple cake!

As before, so tried and true. It’s one of the best cake recipes because it uses two full apples and the batter of the cake is just enough to bind the apples together.  It calls for walnuts, but this time I made it with pecans.  It says to chop them.  Sometimes I do chop them but this time I left them whole.  It gives those bites more flavor of whatever nut you’re using.

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The only caveat, as always, is baking times. The original recipe gives a range of 30 to 50 minutes. My usual time is about 40. This morning, it was 43 minutes. It really depends on the weather and the moisture content in the apples. Just to be safe, I checked it at 30 minutes and went up from there.

The full recipe (from Tamara Davis via goop) is in this post, here.

Enjoy!!

Forget toaster streudel!

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I’m not much of a pancake eater.  I’d rather have french toast or waffles which seem heartier to me.

On Tuesday my friend and I hit a “hotcakes” joint after a show in Portland and I had a humongous pancake that was super delicious.  It was also 11-something at night which makes most things delicious.  It put my mind to pancakes this week.

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I had some sour cream that was getting a bit iffy and I needed to use a lot of it (more than 1 cup) quickly.  An internet search brought up a variety of recipes but most only used a small amount.  Finally I found a sour cream pancake recipe on the Pioneer Woman site that seemed like it might be pretty good.  I think the reason I don’t always love pancakes is they’re too cake-y and absorb too much syrup making for a generally mushy plate.  Her post made them seem lighter but also somehow more substantial and the tang of sour cream is usually a good combination for me.  I think I was taken by the golden-ness of the photos.  And it used 1 cup of sour cream!

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So I gave it a try.  It’s a delicious pancake recipe and the pancakes themselves get very crispy and also stay quite light.  But I was the only person around and it makes quite a few cakes.  Now what?  I remembered that my mom used to freeze waffles and sometimes pancakes individually and then we’d eat them warmed in the toaster like the expensive ones from the store.  I figured I’d eat them the next day since it was the weekend, but figured freezing would still make for a better result in texture than just having cold pancakes in the fridge and nuking them in the microwave.

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I was right.  Similar to rice, refrigerating pancakes changes the texture in a way that isn’t delightful whereas freezing must somehow bypass that transformation.  If you put rice in the fridge, it gets crusty and hard.  If you freeze it and then microwave it from frozen, it’s almost as good as when you first cooked it.  I think pancakes from the fridge taste flat, “dull.”  By freezing and then toasting, the original texture is preserved and the toaster crisped them up just enough to be very delightful.

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They key is making sure they’re totally cool before wrapping them in layers of wax paper (I put them on small racks to cool) and then into some kind of container for the fridge.  I did four cakes per container and it was pretty snug without much air.  I think they would have been fine in the freezer for several weeks, but I impatiently ate them on Sunday.

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Maybe even better than on day one.   Better than the stuff you buy in the frozen food section.

Simple pasta with fresh tomatoes!

I’ve been cooking a lot but not writing. Not sure why… Full moon? Heat for sure! Working too much? Definitely.

I’ve also been eating simply by either bbq-ing veggies in just olive oil, salt and pepper or raw in salads.

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Yesterday was market day and as usual, I over bought tomatoes. While they’re available and delicious, I make no apologies even though it’s a race against time to use them all. This is a problem I like to have.

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I was thinking about a recipe I saw last summer where you make pasta with tomatoes and basil in one pot instead of pasta in one pot and sauce in another. I had heard of this technique years ago, maybe on the Splendid Table on NPR. You make a sauce with extra liquid (using broth as an example) and then add pasta and cook it risotto-style. It means stirring often and adding more liquid if necessary. Cooked this way, the pasta starch thickens the sauce and the pasta has a slightly chewier texture. After trying it once, I was doing it a lot for a while.

Like a lot of things, you forget about it eventually.  Enter the Martha Stewart recipe.

It makes enough for 4 but I didn’t want so much left over, so I cut the recipe in half. Except for tomatoes. I used the full amount of tomatoes since I had them. And because I love tomatoes.

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It’s easy. Into one pot, you put in the uncooked linguini, the cherry tomatoes cut in half, the thinly sliced onion and garlic, and the fresh basil, salt, pepper, chili flakes and olive oil. That’s it. Turn on the heat, bring it to a boil, stir often, and in about 8-10 minutes, you have pasta. You need to keep the heat a little high to encourage it to evaporate. The linguini absorbs most of the water.

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To serve, put it into bowls with whatever “sauce” remains, top with cheese, more basil and a little olive oil and serve. Mine needed a bit more salt, so taste to adjust seasonings.

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It takes a few more minutes to prep the ingredients than it does to cook the pasta. For a busy Sunday, it was perfect. Warm and satisfying without heating up my kitchen or destroying the great fresh tomato flavor.

Original recipe:

June 2013 Martha Stewart Living

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