Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to make Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Cake recipe
The flower pattern that’s revealed once this cake is inverted will be defined best by an apple that holds its shape. A sweet variety will complement the nutty brown butter in which the apples are cooked. Serve the cake on its own or with vanilla ice cream.

For the apples
2 lb. (about 4 large) sweet apples that hold their shape when cooked (such as Braeburn, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold), peeled, quartered, and cored, each quarter sliced into 3 wedges
1 large lemon, finely grated to yield 1 Tbs. zest (reserve for the cake) and squeezed to yield 1 Tbs. juice
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
Pinch table salt
For the topping
Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the cake
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. table salt
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and slightly softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whole milk

Prepare the apples

In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice.

In a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet, cook the butter over medium heat until it has a nutty fragrance and there are brown bits on the bottom of the skillet, about 4 minutes. Immediately add the apples and salt and toss gently with a heatproof spatula until well coated. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes, tossing once. Toss again, cover, and cook, tossing every 2 to 3 minutes, until the apples are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Uncover and cook, stirring gently, until some of the apples begin to brown and any liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes more. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Make the topping

Butter a 9x2-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, and butter the parchment. Have ready a pastry brush and a small bowl of water.

Put the sugar, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and, using the pastry brush dipped in the water, wash any sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the caramel begins to color; then swirl the pan until the caramel turns an even, deep amber, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan, swirling to evenly coat the bottom. Let cool.

Starting in the center of the pan, arrange the cooled apple slices on the caramel in slightly overlapping, tightly packed concentric circles. Set aside.

Make the cake

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, the reserved lemon zest, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl and beater.

With the mixer on medium speed, slowly sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, taking 20 to 30 seconds to add it. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until pale and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape the bowl and beater.

Add the egg and beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the yolks and beat until incorporated, 1 minute. (It’s OK if the batter looks curdled.)

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions and the milk in two additions; scrape the bowl and beater as necessary and mix each addition just until smooth.

Using the rubber spatula, spread the batter evenly over the apples. Tap the pan down on the counter once or twice to settle the batter. Bake until the cake springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer the cake to a rack and run a small, sharp knife around the edge to release it from the pan. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes.

Holding the pan between your palms, rotate it briskly back and forth on the countertop to release the apples from the bottom. Invert the cake onto a cake plate and slowly remove the pan and the parchment. If any apples have shifted, reposition them. Let the cake cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
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Apple and Escarole Salad with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts

Salads are the ideal place to showcase apple varieties that are best enjoyed raw. Here, piquant blue cheese, toasty nuts, and slightly bitter escarole are delicious counterpoints to sweet, juicy apples. Though you could use peeled apples, their colorful skin makes them pop visually.

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. minced shallot
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 oz. whole shelled hazelnuts (about 1/2 cup), toasted and skinned
1 lb. (about 2 large) sweet apples best enjoyed raw (such as Fujis or Galas), quartered, cored, and sliced into thin wedges
1 lb. escarole, torn or cut into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced length-wise (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil in a slow and steady stream until incorporated.

Put the nuts in a zip-top bag, force out the air, seal the bag, and break the nuts with a meat pounder or a heavy skillet into uneven pieces.

In a large bowl, toss the apples with 1 Tbs. of the dressing. Add the escarole, cheese, onion, parsley, and hazelnuts. Toss with the remaining dressing and serve.
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How to make Spiced Apple-Pecan Bread

Warm spices, apples, and plenty of toasted pecans make this the perfect fall quick bread. Applesauce adds an extra hit of apple flavor while chopped pecans make an appealing crunchy top.

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup diced apples
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and then flour the bottom and sides of a 6-cup (8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch or 9 x 5-inch) loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Whisk until well blended. Stir in the toasted pecans and apples.

In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the applesauce and whisk until blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold until blended.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Sprinkle the chopped untoasted pecans evenly over the batter, gently patting them in so they adhere.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until the top is golden and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert the bread and remove the pan, turn the bread right side up, and let cool completely. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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How to make Smoked Trout with Apple and Crème Fraîche

In this savory-sweet nibble, thinly sliced apple is a fresh, creative stand-in for crostini or crackers. If you don’t have roasted walnut oil, use any other roasted nut oil, such as hazelnut or almond. In a pinch, good-quality extra-virgin olive oil will do.

2 medium sweet, firm apples (such as Gala or Pink Lady)
8 oz. smoked trout
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
2 Tbs. roasted walnut oil
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
About 1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 medium lemon

TIP:See the Test Kitchen post for a visual on how to slice the apples.

Stand the apples on a cutting board and slice twelve 1/8-inch-thick rounds from the sides (not counting the small outermost slices); cut each round in half and arrange in a single layer on a platter.

Remove the skin from the trout and flake the flesh. Toss with the chives, walnut oil, and black pepper.

Using your fingers, divide the trout mixture among the apple slices. Use a small spoon to top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Finely grate the zest from the lemon over all and serve.
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How to cook Applesauce Trifles

These trifles of caramelized oat-rye-spelt clusters, vanilla-infused applesauce, and whipped cream are a riff on a classic Scandinavian dessert known as Veiled Country Lass. Belle de Boskoop apples, native to the Netherlands, are traditional for making applesauce, but other tart-sweet baking apples like Jonagold or Pink Lady will do. You can use just oats to make the clusters, but the rye and spelt flakes add a lovely nutty note.

4-1/2 lb. tart-sweet apples (about 9), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup rye flakes
1 cup spelt flakes
4 oz. (1/2 cup) salted butter, 2 oz. melted and 2 oz. cut into 4 pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream

Combine the apples, sugar, vanilla seeds and pod, if using, and 1/2 cup water in a heavy-duty 4-quart saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water 1/4 cup at a time if the apples become dry, until broken down into a chunky sauce, about 30 minutes. Transfer the applesauce to a medium bowl and add the vanilla extract, if using. Let cool and then refrigerate until chilled, about 1-1/2 hours. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pod, if used.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Toss the oats, rye, and spelt with the 2 oz. melted butter on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread in an even layer and bake, stirring once, until golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Melt the remaining 2 oz. butter with the brown sugar in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely melted and bubbling slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the hazelnuts and toasted grains, and toss until clusters form. Spread the clusters on a large rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely.

In ten 8- to 10-oz. parfait glasses, alternate two 1/2-cup layers each of applesauce and clusters, starting with the applesauce.

In a large chilled bowl with a hand-held electric mixer, whip the cream on medium-high speed to medium-firm peaks, about 2 minutes. Top the trifles with the cream and serve.
Make Ahead Tips

The oat-rye-spelt clusters can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored at room temperature, and you can assemble the trifles up to 2 hours before serving.
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Celery Root-Apple Slaw with Pecorino, Parsley, and Pine Nuts

I love this slaw alongside a juicy roast chicken, especially when the juices from the bird mingle with the slaw. Use nutty Pecorino Toscano, not Romano; the latter is too salty here. If you can't find Pecorino Toscano, manchego makes a good substitute.

1 medium celery root (about 1-1/2 lb.), peeled, quartered, and cut into a julienne
2 Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored, and cut into a julienne
1-1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
4 oz. shaved Pecorino Toscano or manchego (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

TIP:Leaving the skin on the apples gives each end of the apple sticks a bit of color, differentiating them visually from the celery root.

Put the celery root, apple, and parsley in a large bowl. Crumble 1 tsp. salt into the bowl and toss. Add most of the cheese, the oil, nuts, vinegar, and several grinds of pepper. Gently toss to combine well. Season to taste with salt and vinegar. Serve right away drizzled with more oil, sprinkled with additional pepper, and topped with the remaining cheese.
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Potato and Cheddar Latkes with Brown Sugar Applesauce

Molten Cheddar oozes out of the centers of these crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside latkes, making them more substantial. Don’t skip the step of squeezing out excess liquid from the potatoes (opt for Idaho or Russet) and onions; it helps make the latkes crisp.

For the applesauce
5-1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled, tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. apple cider
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbs. fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
For the latkes
2 lbs. peeled baking potatoes such as Idaho or Russet, grated
1 cup finely chopped white onions
2 cups grated mild Cheddar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or matzoh meal
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 grinds black pepper
About 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. vegetable oil, for frying
Sour cream, for serving (optional)

Make the applesauce

Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized, heavy saucepan; stir, then bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples become very soft, about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher and set aside.

Make the latkes

Place the grated potatoes and onions on a large, clean kitchen towel. Gather the sides into the middle, roll up the towel, and squeeze the mixture over the sink to remove any excess liquid. Transfer the grated, drained potato-onion mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the Cheddar, flour, eggs, salt, and pepper.

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add five 1/4-cupfuls of the batter, flattening each circle a bit with a nonstick spatula. Cook until the first side is golden brown and crisp, about 3-1/2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until also golden brown and crisp, about another 3-1/2 minutes. Transfer the finished latkes to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining latke batter, not letting the pan go dry (you’ll probably only need another 1 Tbs. oil).
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