SECRET RECIPE CLUB: QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES

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The Secret Recipe Club is a monthly event that pairs food bloggers in secret so that they pick a recipe from their assigned partner, and blog about at the exact same time.  My group always posts on the last Monday of the month, but we had a vacation break in December.  Having barely survived SRC withdrawal syndrome, here I am to report on the outcome of my virtual stalking of Nicole’s site,  Hapa-tite.  I was delighted to learn the rationale behind her blog’s name: Hapa is a Hawaiian word that means “half” and is used to describe a person of mixed race with partial roots in the Asian or Pacific Islander heritage.  Hawaii is one of our favorite spots on earth for a vacation.  We love the atmosphere, the music, the pace of life, the people, and you cannot beat the weather.  Weather?  Sore subject. As I type this on a Sunday morning,  a foot of snow  is laying in our backyard. Simply put: a meteorological tragedy.  But, rather than dwell on the harsh reality of January in Kansas, I will tell you that two other recipes fought very hard to be featured in the Bewitching today: her Chicken-Lime Skewers with Apricot Glaze,  and her Pork Souvlaki.  In the end, the chance to use my black, red & white quinoa made me go for these tasty little fritters.

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QUINOA AND SWEET POTATO CAKES
(from Hapa-tite,  inspired by original recipe from Cannelle & Vanille)

makes 8 cakes

1/2 cup (90 g) quinoa, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 + /2 cups (about 200 g) grated sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup (50 g) Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
grape seed oil for frying
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Bring 1 cup (250 ml) of water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes until quinoa has absorbed all the water and it’s tender. Set aside to cool.
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Heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and cook the shallot for 3 minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, and black pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
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In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and chives. Add the cooled quinoa and sweet potato mixture. Stir to combine.
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Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add enough grape seed oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape it into a round cake. Add enough cakes to the pan without overcrowding it. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Finish frying all the cakes. Drain them on paper towels before serving.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Aren’t these cakes the most colorful thing ever?  I modified the recipe a little bit, adding more sweet potato than called for, and using a mixture of different quinoa colors instead of only white.  They turned out quite festive.  Those who have gluten intolerance can use gluten-free bread crumbs, or I suppose almond flour could go well too.  You could probably get by with only 1/4 cup of almond flour as a binder.   I also think some grated ginger could be fantastic together with the coriander and the herbs.  Fun things to try.

Nicole, it was great to get to know your blog a little better this month, I see that 2014 will bring wonderful things to your life, like moving to a new home and getting married…  Good luck with all your projects, and if you succeed in de-cluttering, tell me your secret!  ;-)

If you want to see what my fellow Secreters were concocting in their kitchens this month, poke the blue frog at the end of the post. I think she might be Hawaiian, who knows?   She sure seems to have that aura of happiness that comes with the islands…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

TWO YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

THREE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: POTATO CRUSTED ITALIAN MINI-QUICHE

Spinach Mini Quches
November is waving goodbye,  I try to stay positive and upbeat even though the weather is getting colder and colder.  No matter the temperature outside, the last Monday of the month brings with it a warm feeling: it is Reveal Day for members of The Secret Recipe Club.  After getting an assigned blog in secret, we have about 3 weeks to pick a recipe, cook, compose a blog about it and post at the exact same time as everyone else in the group. This month I was paired with Curious Cuisiniere, a blog hosted by Sarah and Tim, a young couple with a smile as bright as the sun on a summer day in Brazil.  If you don’t believe me, check their beautiful photo…    I love it when a couple has so much fun cooking and exploring different flavors and cuisines, so I was pretty excited to act as a virtual stalker of their site.  Before I go into the recipe, let me share with you a great quote from  their blog:

Life gets rough.  The kitchen gets hot.  But there will hopefully always be something tasty that results, someone to share it with, and lessons learned along the way.

Perfect!  I wish I had written that myself…  ;-)   During the stalking phase, I selected 6 other recipes as strong contenders:  a Sweet Potato African Peanut Soup, a tasty Coconut Fish Curry,  a Sesame Chicken Salad (with an interesting method to coat the chicken pieces), Oriental Burritos.  a Sweet Chicken Tajine, and finally something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time, Pretzel Rolls.  But, with a dinner party approaching, I settled on the cute mini-quiches.

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POTATO CRUSTED ITALIAN MINI-QUICHES
(slightly modified from Curious Cuisiniere)
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for the crust
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
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for the filling
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 shallot, finely minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
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Heat your oven to 350F. Place diced potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until soft. Drain all but ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Mash the potatoes with salt and pepper to a very smooth consistency. Spoon roughly 1 teaspoon of mashed potatoes into the bottom of each section of your greased mini muffin tin. Press to the bottom and slightly up the sides to form a ‘crust’. Bake potato crusts for 20 minutes or until they start to get golden.
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In a medium bowl, combine dry spinach with shallot, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Toss to mix well. Reserve. In a small bowl beat the eggs and milk until well combined. Season with a little salt and a dash of nutmeg.
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When your crusts come out of the oven, immediately measure or pour roughly 1 Tbsp egg mixture into each cup. Add ½ tsp of spinach mixture and ½ tsp mozzarella cheese to each cup as well. Top off with additional egg mixture if needed.  Bake mini-quiche 15-20 minutes at 350F, or until they have set and are firm to the touch.  Let the quiche cool for 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before removing the quiche from the pan to cool on the rack.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I only have one mini-muffin pan that holds 12 muffins, so I had to bake these in two batches. That turned out nicely, because in typical Sally fashion,  I disregarded the instructions to use 1 teaspoon of mashed potato in the first batch, and added more.  That is no bueno, folks.  The layer of potato turned out too thick, never quite crisped up, so the first batch looked sad. Not very brown at the bottom. The photo above shows the correct amount of potato, which interestingly enough is exactly what the recipe called for!  So, do as specified and save yourself some grief.

I also thought it was a good idea to add the spinach to the milk-egg base and mix it. No bueno hits again: the spinach just floats and you are forced to mix it in and do all kinds of tricks and messy maneuvers to get equal amounts of spinach in each mini-muffin. Crass language will be heard. Once you follow the recipe as written, there shall be no problems.

Using mashed potatoes as the base was a nice change to the regular quiche. The use of milk instead of heavy cream also lightened up the recipe compared to the classic.  I can see variations using sautéed mushrooms, my sister in Brazil wants to make it with sautéed zucchini, all sorts of goodies can be incorporated, just like a normal sized concoction.

I had a great time this month, and invite you to check the productions of my fellow Secret Stalkers from Group D.  All you have to do is go poke a blue frog. There is one smiling at the end of this post, waiting for your click…  ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

TWO YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

THREE YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

FOUR YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: MOZZARELLA-STUFFED TURKEY BURGER

October is coming to an end. The last couple of years have been so busy for us! Months go flying by, each one bringing new challenges, but the last Monday of each month is always special: it is reveal day for The Secret Recipe Club, the best group event in the cooking blogosphere.  Food bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each others’ site in search of a recipe, cook it and blog about it at the exact same time.   The group is very popular now, there is a huge waiting list for new members, so if you are interested, send your name in.  Just keep in mind you need to be blogging for a while so that you have enough recipes in your database, and also a recipe index in your site.

This month I got a GREAT site to cook from: Cooking Whims.  Megan is funny, witty, her cooking style similar to ours.  I love this little bit she wrote about herself:

  “I love goat cheese, all things pumpkin, chocolate, and dancing to Sinatra while I experiment in my kitchen”.

Awesome!  Now, back to my assignment. The fact that we were away for 10 days on a trip to California and that our kitchen was still undergoing hellnovation made this month’s participation a bit of a stretch, but by now I am used to cooking stresses of many kinds.  Several recipes called my name during the stalking period.  For instance, her Oatmeal Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes…  or Fish Tacos with Spicy Tomato-Cucumber Salsa… but I also flirted with her Beet Hummus,  and the Hungarian Paprika Chicken.  So, what did I choose in the end?   A turkey burger.  I could not resist that one, made ultra special by home-made marinara sauce and a stuffing of mozzarella.

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MOZZARELLA-STUFFED TURKEY BURGER
(slightly modified from Cooking Whims)

for the marinara sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 small shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups plum tomatoes, chopped
6  sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt & pepper

for the burgers
1.5 lb ground turkey (50:50 dark and white meat)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
4 thin slices of mozzarella cheese (optional)

For the marinara sauce: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes have broken down. Pulse a few times in a food processor. Set aside on very low heat to keep warm.

For the turkey burgers: Place the turkey, scallions, Worcestershire sauce, lemon zest, oregano, parsley, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Mix with your hands, then shape into 8 thin patties.

Combine 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and basil. Divide evenly on the center of 4 patties. You may not need all the cheese. Cover each patty with the remaining patties and crimp closed.

Grill the burgers turning once, for a total of 8 to 10 minutes on a medium-high grill. When the burgers are almost cooked through, top with a slice of cheese and allow the cheese to melt before serving with a helping of marinara sauce on top.

We enjoyed our burgers “naked”, but for a real burger experience, have some toasted buns ready…  and

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients

Comments:  Megan’s description of this recipe started with “This burger belongs on a show called burger wars.”.  Then, she says that another version from her blog would fight for the number one spot, the “Hummus Turkey Burger with Cucumber  & Feta Cheese“. Of course I intend to make that one soon.  Stay tuned.

We loved these burgers!  She is absolutely right, the lemon zest is a key component of the recipe, but everything comes together in perfect harmony, including the simple but tasty marinara, that calls for sun-dried and regular tomatoes.

I slightly modified the recipe by mixing dark and light ground turkey, and using about 50% more meat than she did to end up with 4 stuffed patties. Since we were going to enjoy them without buns, I wanted each to be slightly bigger. I also included fresh Italian parsley because I had some in the fridge and it seemed like a good herb to incorporate in the mix.   Once you have the mixture ready, portion 8 equal amounts over parchment paper, flatten them, add the cheese to half of them, cover with the other portion.

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Pinching the sides seems hard to do, but don’t worry, it will work.  I cooked my burgers on the grill, as it would have been impossible to cook them in our improvised kitchen.

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Now, as if I did not have enough grievance in my life, when I was getting ready to take the first photo, I could not find the lemon.  Keep in mind that the fridge was still in the garage, to get to it we needed to jump over a few pieces of wood and squeeze through some furniture.  So, I am going crazy searching for my lemon.  The thoughtful man I married suggested that “maybe you think you got it from the fridge but you didn’t“.  His remark caused me to go into a blazing hot monologue that traumatized for life two of our three dogs.  Chief was spared thanks to being deaf.   A second lemon quickly showed up at the scene, and we put the citric incident to rest.  Later that evening,  Phil calls me in the TV room:  cozy inside a dog bed between the sofa and the wall, a lemon was peacefully resting.

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Never a dull moment, folks.  Never a dull moment…

Megan, I loved getting your blog this month, and hope you had fun with your own assignment too!

For those who want to see what Group D cooked up for the final Monday of October, click on the blue frog at the end of the post. She loves a little click!  ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO:  Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

TWO YEARS AGO: Clay-pot Pork Roast

THREE YEARS AGO: Panmarino

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LINGUINI WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO

Linguini Cauliflower Pesto

A sensible person evaluates a situation and chooses a path of action that is compatible with it.  For example: a sensible food blogger whose kitchen is undergoing renovation would take a break from The Secret Recipe Club to be back once she actually has a place to cook.  I did consider that option for a while, say… 5 seconds.  ;-) So, throwing caution to the wind, here I am to join once more the virtual party in which bloggers are paired in secret to cook recipes from their matched blog.
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Last month was my 2nd anniversary with SRC, so this post opens my third year with the group. And what could be better for an “old-timer” than to be paired with a new member?  I was assigned Vintage Kitchen Notes, hosted by the beautiful  Paula, who just joined SRC. She cooks and blogs from Argentina, right next door to my home country. Paula blogs in English, but she also keeps another blog in Spanish – talk about blogging stamina!  I actually tried to include recipes in Portuguese for a while, but quickly realized it was too much of a struggle for me.  So, I am in awe that Paula can do it all!  Her photography is beautiful, I had a wonderful time browsing her site. Let me share a few of her concoctions that were particularly tempting to me: 8-Hour Cheesecake with Roasted GrapesLimoncello-Glazed Citrus Poppy Seed Cake, Chocolate-Hazelnut Mini-Bundt Cakes (gorgeous!), Pastel Azteca (gotta make that sometime), Roasted Radicchio and Provolone Risotto (go drool over the photo, will you?), and just to tempt my bread baking addiction, she has more than 40 different bread recipes listed on her index.  I will just mention one: Soft Pretzels with Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce.   I’ve always wanted to make soft pretzels at home, but that will have to wait for calmer days.
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Since our kitchen looks like a war zone.  I ended up choosing a very intriguing recipe that required only the food processor and one pan to cook the pasta.  Seemed doable under the circumstances.  So, I am delighted to share with you my first experience with a cauliflower pesto!

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LINGUINI WITH CAULIFLOWER PESTO 
(from Paula, at Vintage Kitchen Notes, originally adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)
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1 pound (450g) fresh cauliflower
1 medium shallot, quartered
pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup toasted almonds
2 oz. (60g) Asiago cheese
4 sun-dried tomatoes, dried-packed
1 Tbs drained capers
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (I added 2 tsp)
1 pound linguini
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Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a small bowl and let them stand for 5 to 10 minutes to soften. Drain well and chop them coarsely. Rinse the cauliflower, cut off the leaves and hard stalks.  Cut the rest into chunks, and add to a food processor, processing them until they are more or less the texture of couscous. Transfer to a large bowl and reserve while you prepare the other ingredients.
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Add to the food processor the pieces of shallot,  pepper flakes, almonds, cheese,  sun-dried tomatoes, capers and parsley. Process until they´re as fine as the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil and vinegar and pulse until a paste forms. If you feel it´s too dry for your taste, add another tablespoon of olive oil.
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Transfer to the bowl with the cauliflower, check the mixture  for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.
Cook the linguini until al dente in plenty of salted boiling water.  Reserve some of the cooking liquid, and drain the pasta, transferring to a serving bowl.   Add some of the pesto and mix gently.  If necessary, add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the remaining pesto, sprinkle with grated cheese, a few parsley leaves and serve immediately.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments:  You might remember that Phil is not too wild about cauliflower, so I  was hoping to prepare the pesto while he was doing something outside, maybe playing golf or trimming tree branches.  My plan almost worked but not quite. I had cleaned all the “remains” of the cauliflower from the crime scene,  but he caught a glimpse of the processed cauliflower, and…

What is this? some exotic type of rice?

This? No, not rice.
(quickly moving the bowl away from view)

Hummmmm… couscous?

 No, not really…

What IS it?

I cannot quite tell you.  It’s a surprise. It’s going to be a pesto..  A surprise pesto..    

Pesto? Great, I love pesto!

;-) ;-) ;-) ;-)

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Verdict: Two very enthusiastic thumbs up for this pasta! I can understand why Paula made this dish twice in  the same week. One could imagine the raw cauliflower to be too sharp and omnipresent in the pesto, but it’s not.  It is just a perfectly balanced dish, with the capers, the vinegar, the sun-dried tomatoes, the parsley,  a real winner.  I divulged the “secret ingredient” of the Secret Recipe Club concoction to Phil, and he was amazed.  The heat of the pasta slightly changes the texture of the cauliflower, taming its raw taste.  I highly recommend you try this recipe.  If you use the reduced amount of oil I did, make sure to save some of the pasta cooking liquid to adjust the consistency at the end.  If it still seems too thick, swirl a little olive oil right at the table.

Paula, it was great to get your blog this month, I hope you had fun stalking and cooking from your assigned site!

For a delicious collection of tasty dishes prepared by my friends from Group D of SRC, click on the blue frog at the end of the post…

ONE YEAR AGO: Carriage House Apple-Walnut Pie

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Marsala

THREE YEARS AGO:  Home, sweet home

FOUR YEARS AGO: Levain Bread with Caramelized Onions

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: APPLE-CINNAMON BREAD

The month of August is coming to an end. The last Monday of this busy month brings with it a special revelation: which blog was I assigned to cook from as a member of The Secret Recipe Club? And who is posting something from my blog?  Which recipe was chosen? So much excitement, so much fun… This month I was paired with a food blog Queen:  Amy, the hostess of “Fearless Homemaker” has even been on TV!   You can read about her first cooking demonstration by clicking here.   And now, here I am, cooking a recipe from her blog.  Too cool for words. If her blog is new to you, I strongly recommend you to stop by.  Not only she has loads of wonderful recipes, but side-stories that are truly special, like her surprise wedding party.  She and her partner invited friends over for a nice get-together, and all of a sudden both disappeared, changed into their wedding outfits, and next thing their guests knew, an orchestra was playing, a priest was arriving , and the party turned into their wedding!  Now the family got bigger, as she and her husband recently welcomed the arrival of   “The Fearless Baby“…  Congratulations, Amy!

I had quite a few recipes on my final list to cook for the Secret Recipe reveal day: her Vegetable and Quinoa Pilaf, her Honey-Chipotle Turkey Meatballs, her Chicken Bolognese, and also her Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake.  But, in the end, I went with an Apple-Cinnamon Bread, with chunks of apple permeating the cake.   Yes, you guessed it, I took it to our department on a sunny Monday morning…    ;-)

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APPLE-CINNAMON BREAD
(from Fearless Homemaker)

1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
pods from 1 vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples, skin removed

for topping:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

 Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8 by 4 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.  Reserve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in oil, applesauce, vanilla,  mix until smooth.    Add the sugar and mix until well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture, incorporating until the flour is barely combined. Gently fold in the apple chunks. pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Prepare the topping: in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle this topping over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until loaf is golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. loosen sides of the loaf with a knife and invert carefully.  Cool the cake completely on a rack before slicing.

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ENJOY!

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to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:
  As Amy pointed out in her post, this bread smells WONDERFUL while it bakes.  Cinnamon seems to do just that, fill the house with intoxicating aroma of deliciousness to come…    I am not sure why I’ve been picking sweet recipes for the past few Secret Recipe Club adventures, but I’m enjoying the phase.  And I suppose the members of our department don’t mind that either!   ;-)

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Amy, it’s been great to spend time on your blog, reading your stories, marveling at your photos.  

I hope you enjoyed this month’s assignment as much as I did!

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To see what the other members of my group cooked up for today’s Reveal Day, click on the blue amphibian smiling at the bottom of the post.  And if you are wondering who got my blog and the recipe chosen, go visit Karen’s site at Lavender and Lovage!  ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Blueberry Galette

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2011

THREE YEARS AGO: Journey to a New Home

FOUR YEARS AGO: Friday Night Dinner (very tasty pork medallions)

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LEMON POPPY-SEED MUFFINS

At the risk of repeating myself over and over and over, I must say the last Monday of each month makes me feel as happy as a kid in a toy store… Why? It is the day in which bloggers of my group at The Secret Recipe Club reveal which blog they were assigned to cook from, and post their recipes. This month, I could not be more pleased with my assignment. I got April’s blog, Angels Homestead. April is a very active participant of the club. You see, we have a Facebook group to discuss issues, make sure everyone is aware of what needs to be done (participation forms to be filled, upcoming Reveal Days), and April is always there with her very unique and personal touch. I was thrilled to cook from her blog! It took me just a few minutes to settle on a recipe, because right when I got the assignment I was wondering about something to bake and take to our department. Lemon poppy-seed muffins seemed perfect. And perfect they were! ;-)

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If you want to make a batch of muffins to cheer your co-workers early in the morning, here’s the way to do it:  before going to bed, measure the dry ingredients, place the flour in a large bowl, the baking powder and baking soda on small bowls next to it.  Get the two eggs ready to go, same for poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon.   Place paper liners in your muffin pan.  Measure the butter, the yogurt (or sour cream), and place both in the fridge. Marvel at your uncanny sense of organization, and go to sleep. Have pleasant dreams.

ingredients
Next morning, turn the oven on.  Grab the yogurt from the fridge, zest and juice the lemon,  add the poppy seeds and mix them al together.

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Beat the sugar with the butter and the eggs, add the poppy seeds mixture, incorporate all very well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix gently.  Add scoops of the batter to the muffin pan, trying to add the same amount to each paper liner.  If you are like me, at this stage of the day the caffeine has not kicked in yet, so your consistency won’t be stellar.  Oh, well…  Do your best.

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Now, all you have to do is bake those babies, and get ready to brighten up the morning of your colleagues.  If you can make that a Monday morning, even better…   ;-)

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for a printable version of the recipe, click here

For some serious fun with the productions of my fellow Secret Recipe members, click on the blue frog that is smiling at you at the bottom of the post. She is a bit cross-eyed, but still pretty adorable.

April, I hope you know how much I enjoyed getting assigned to your blog this month!  A real special treat…  ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Mascarpone Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Salmon Tacos

THREE YEARS AGO: Cinnamon Turban Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Summertime Gratin

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: CARROT FLAN WITH GREENS AND LEMON VINAIGRETTE

flanJune, folks. We are in June. That means half of this amazing year is pretty much over.  Carpe diem. The months always end on a nice note for me, because the last Monday brings Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club.  I was paired this month with Dena from Oh! You Cook!”. Dena describes herself as a librarian by day, recipe blogger by night, except on nights in which she works as a librarian…  Not only she works around books, but she is an author herself, having published last year “The Everything Kosher Slowcooker Cookbook”.  Check it out here.  Reading her blog is a lot of fun! She is quite witty, and often opens her articles with remarks that will bring a smile to your face.  For instance, the recipe I chose, carrot flan, is under a post entitled “Go Forth on the Fourth…”  I quote straight from her blog:

Go Forth on the Fourth…  and barbecue, of course! 

Steaks… check!

Skewered chicken… check!  

Carrot flan… huh?   :-)

So there you go. Whether you are making this dish as a side for a barbecue or as a light meal, it will turn your day into something unique. Elegant, light, sophisticated, and the best part: it’s actually quite simple to make.

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CARROT FLAN WITH GREENS AND LEMON VINAIGRETTE
(adapted from “Oh! You Cook!”)

Makes 6 individual servings.

for the flans:
12 ounces carrots (enough to make 2 1/2 cups of chopped pieces)
4 eggs
4 ounces (1/2 cup) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg

for the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon honey

Make the flans: Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter 6 ramekins (3/4-cup size). Cook the pieces of carrots in boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth, and let cool slightly.

Whisk the pureed carrots together with the eggs, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Divide the mixture among the buttered ramekins, and place the ramekins in a baking pan. Add enough hot water to the baking pan so that the water goes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pain with foil and bake until the custards are set and a knife inserted near the middle of one comes out clean. (In my pathetic oven it took almost 1 hour, but you should start checking it at 40 minutes, normally it should take around 45 minutes). Remove the ramekins from the baking dish and let cool slightly before unmolding.

For the vinaigrette:  whisk together the lemon juice, lemon peel, mustard, and honey. Stream in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until an emulsion forms. Season well with salt and pepper,  and store in the refrigerator.

Final assembly of the dish:  Place a handful of salad greens of your choice for each serving of flan in a large bowl. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the greens, season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, and toss to dress. Run a knife around the inside of the ramekins to loosen the flans, then invert them over a plate to unmold. Serve the flans with the salad  and an additional drizzle of the vinaigrette.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: This might be a bold statement, but I’ll go ahead with it: I think this was my favorite recipe of all the “Secret Ones” I’ve made in the year and a half participating in the event.  Phil raved about it from the first bite, and said that these flans could be served on the best bistrots of Paris. How’s that for a compliment?  The leftover flans were warmed in a microwave for 40 seconds, and they unmolded perfectly then.  So, this recipe is a wonderful option for a dinner party.

tiediePolishing off the meal with non-stop compliments: Nice! Wearing a tie-die shirt with more colors than the dinner plate? Optional, but so very cool… ;-)

If you want to see what my friends from Group D cooked up for this Reveal Day, click on the blue frog at the bottom of the post…. have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

TWO YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

THREE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes