Apple Cake

This quick bread comes together easily and includes one of my favorite foods, apples. I got the idea from a blog that I visit often and it’s a recipe from her great grandmother which I figured was a good sign. I tweaked it a little by adding some buckwheat flour for extra nuttiness and using olive oil instead of canola. I also reduced the amount of sugar for a little less sweetness.

The end result is a recipe that is great to have on hand because it comes together so quickly and with mostly pantry staples. It’s also easy to swap ingredients like using only regular flour if you don’t have any buckwheat flour in your pantry.


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Brazil

I ate a lot of rice and beans in Brazil. Lunch and dinner everyday consisted of rice and beans along with whatever meat we had. Because we were staying with family, I was able to have a lot of traditional, home-style meals which are always the best kind. Below is a picture of a typical meal.

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Feijoada, rice, yucca, farofa, chicken.

Feijoada is considered the national dish of Brazil and is a black bean stew typically made with beef, pork and sausage. In addition to rice, feijoada is eaten with farofa which is toasted cassava flour often flavored with butter, onions, eggs, smoked meat, or whatever else you want to add to boost the flavor. It’s basically like adding breadcrumbs to your rice and beans.

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Coconut water straight from the source can be found along every beach in Brazil and along the streets as well. It’s especially refreshing when you’re in 100 degree weather everyday.

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Dried shrimp and fish is particularly popular in the markets in Brazil and used to flavor a lot of stews. The most popular is called vatapa which is a coconut and dried shrimp stew that is typically eaten in Bahia-the northeast of the country.

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The cheese selection at the market. The most interesting one we tried is called queijo mantega (butter cheese). It’s basically a white cheese mixed with butter until it has a semi-hard consistency and a strong butter flavor.

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Flan. A typical dessert that is eaten throughout the world but in Brazil it’s usually made with condensed milk and topped with caramel.

Chili

Chili is a great one-pot meal. It’s a great way to feed a crowd. It’s also a great dish to make on Sunday and eat through the week. During the hurricane we had here in the Northeast, I cooked a lot. Chili was a great dinner on the nights we had to walk to and from work that week when we needed nourishment from the long walks and bitter cold.

The weather here in New York has turned from pleasantly brisk to frigid; requiring ear muffs and gloves rather than just making sure you’re wearing your flats and not your flip-flops. It’s nice to come home to a warm and spicy meal that can be heated up in the microwave.

I like to add lots of toppings when I make chili. My favorites are cheddar, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla chips or cornbread.
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Financiers

As soon as we got Thomas Keller’s new Bouchon Bakery cookbook, I knew I had to bake something from it immediately. The recipes are very accessible for a home cook but just a touch more complicated than what I’m used to baking. I followed this recipe exactly and couldn’t have been happier with the results.

Financiers are one of the classic petit-four cakes. They have moist centers and crispy edges and while they’re best eaten the day that they’re made, they can also hold up a few days as long as they’re covered. While typically baked in individual financier molds, I used what I had on had which were these mini-muffin pans.

This recipe is much more precise than my usual measurements and directions but when it comes to precision, I trust Thomas Keller and it paid off. For baking more complicated recipes, it’s always worth measuring by weight with a scale rather than measuring cups and spoons.
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Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I love garlic. When roasted, the flavor becomes mild and creamy and less harsh than when it’s raw. This recipes really highlights the buttery quality of the garlic and makes it a great dish served with some crusty bread.

This is a classic recipe that many, many cooks have made their own. This is my version. I use the thighs and legs because they have more flavor than the breast and also because they cook more evenly than if I were using white and dark meat. I also find it tastier than roasting a whole chicken because it absorbs the flavor of the sauce while it’s cooking. While the classic recipe calls for 40 cloves of garlic (obviously!), I usually try to use as many as I can stand to peel. Here is a great video from Saveur for “How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds.”
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Olive Oil Shortbread

Hurricane Sandy is hitting our area and I’m doing lots of baking until the power goes out. We did all our grocery shopping yesterday before the crowds descended on the bottled water aisle. I stocked up on provisions for spending the next two to three days inside. Lots of beer and wine, as well as ingredients for chili, apple cake and these short bread cookies.

I made one batch that was just plain and another with some drizzled dark chocolate on top. Both were delicious and since this recipe is very basic, it’s easy to add different flavors.

Stay safe and enjoy!
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Shishito Peppers

It’s not too late in the season to find these peppers at the farmer’s market. All you need to do is heat olive oil in a pan, let the peppers blister and add sea salt. Be warned because while shishito peppers are mostly sweet, about one our of every ten can be very hot.
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