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.

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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



SECRET RECIPE CLUB: PENNE WITH TRAPANESE PESTO

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Not sure how we made it so fast to the end of May, but here we are!  And the last Monday of the month brings with it the Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club.  Bloggers are paired in secret, stalk each other’s site for a nice recipe, and blog about it on the same day.  This month I was paired with Erin, from The Spiffy Cookie.  She is a graduate student working on her PhD in Microbiology and that immediately puts us both in a similar page.  Granted, I probably had my PhD before she was born, but still… I know what it takes and how frustrating it can be to get there.   As I always say to the students in the lab, “science is not for sissies“.  But, I digress.   I spent quite a bit of time on her site, tempted by many of her recipes. A few examples for you:  Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary Yogurt, Apple Oatmeal Breakfast MuffinsNutella Mousse (that almost made my final cut), and Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread Snack Cake (do I need to say anything more?).  But, in the end, my heart was set on Penne with Trapanese Pesto, because it seemed like the type of recipe Phil and I would love.  Plus, the almonds in the sauce take me to a Persian aura that is quite welcome in our kitchen these days. So, without further ado, my contribution to the SRC this month…

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PENNE WITH TRAPANESE PESTO
(slightly adapted from The Spiffy Cookie)

2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1/3 cup almonds, lightly toasted
1 clove garlic
12 basil leaves
1-2 anchovies filets (or to taste)
2 tsp capers
1 pinch crushed red pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, almonds, garlic, basil, anchovies, capers, crushed red pepper, cheese, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to get it going. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream. Taste it. Add a little more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to pot.  Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss to combine.  Store whatever is left in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Serve  with more cheese and basil.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients
Comments: I made two small modifications in the recipe, adding capers and anchovies to the pesto. Now, for those who personally know me, it will be shocking to learn I added anchovies were anchovies were not called for.  Yes, indeed, I don’t like anchovies, but have been working on improving our relationship.  For one of those virtual coincidences, a food blog I recently fell in love with (Chef Mimi Blog) had a post on Trapanese Pesto, and she added anchovies.  Being a certified anchovy-wimp, I added only 1 small filet, carrying it with the tip of the fork, arm extended as far as I could to avoid its pungent aroma…   :-)  Capers seemed like a natural partner for all other ingredients,  so into the pesto they went.

This was a delicious meal! For my taste, Trapanese pesto beats the Genovese by a long shot.  Less oily, less pungent.  The recipe made more sauce than needed for our pasta dinner, leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.

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Erin, it was great to stalk your blog for recipes and get to know your site better (although I’ve visited your blog many times before) through this month’s adventure with SRC.  For those who want to see the full collection of recipes posted by members of our group, click on the funky frog and have fun!

ONE YEAR AGO: Superman

TWO YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

THREE YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango



SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LEEK AND CHEESE TART

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One more month flew by us! Last Monday of April, first Secret Recipe Club of a favorite season, Spring!  I was paired with the blog Food Baby Life, and had a blast browsing Susan’s site. She has a well-organized index which makes life a lot easier for the stalker.  Being a busy mom, many of her recipes are compatible with our own life style. You know, that life style in which the day doesn’t seem to have enough hours, and each night we ask ourselves “why isn’t tomorrow Saturday instead of Tuesday?”   ;-)    I had quite a few recipes on a list of favorites to choose from, including her  Spiced Meatball Wrap, but settled on this tart because of the unusual crust: instead of butter, olive oil. Instead of white flour, a combination of 50/50 white and whole-wheat. A few modifications of my own for reasons specified in the comments, and there you have it: a Leek and Kale Tart with Olive Oil Crust!

LEEK AND KALE TART WITH OLIVE OIL CRUST
(adapted from Food Baby Life

for the filling:
2 large leeks, washed and sliced thinly
1 small bunch kale, sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs
1 cup (250ml) evaporated milk
125g cheddar cheese, grated (see comments)
for the crust:
125g plain flour
125g whole -wheat flour
1 ts salt
60 ml olive oil
100-120ml cold water
Lightly grease a 28cm (11 inch) tart dish, preferably one with a removable bottom, but a Pyrex type will work too.  Heat  the oven to 390 F  (200 degrees Celsius).
To make the pastry, place the flours and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the oil and stir with a fork. Add the water and continue to stir with a fork until it is just absorbed then start to knead with your hand, until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to fit the tart pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, trim the edges and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pastry is chilling, make your filling. Melt the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes, then add the kale and cook for a few minutes more, until wilted. Season with nutmeg and remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs and milk along with salt and pepper to taste.

Blind bake the pastry for 10 minutes lining it with parchment paper and filling it with beans. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the edges are golden and the base is totally dry to the touch. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To assemble the tart, fill the pastry shell with the cooked leek and kale mixture, sprinkle over the cheese and then pour over the egg mixture. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. The filling should be just set and the edges of the pastry a deep golden brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:
What’s life without a little adrenaline rush? You would think that by staying away from cakes I’d be safe, right?  Not so fast.  Things were going quite well up to the moment of adding evaporated milk to the game. I grabbed my can opener, a little gadget that works like a charm, smooth, graceful, leaving no sharp edges. It usually performs a little magic around the edges, so that you cannot quite tell the can is open, but it is.  Or is it really?  Something about the edge of the can of evaporated milk simply would not cooperate and it refused to open.  I had a second can in the pantry, tried to work on it,  again no luck. I searched everywhere for an old-fashioned type can opener, but apparently ours was lost during the move.  A few slammed doors and drawers, a few words not fit to print, I finally had the brilliant idea of pairing an oyster knife with a hammer.  Punched a square hole on top of the can, and back in business I was.  (BTW, I don’t recommend doing that, it is both messy and dangerous).

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To add a little more emotion to the day, I forgot to buy Cheddar cheese for the recipe!  I had no cheese around, except for three little triangles of “Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss Cheese”.   I ended up mixing it as well as I could to the evaporated milk, and that was that. Finally, If you followed the original link to Baby. Food. Life, you will notice that she removed the excess dough after covering her tart pan, for a very polished look. I don’t know what I was thinking, but obviously I went into a different direction.  Oh, well…   What matters is that this crust might very well become my default recipe from now on.  We both absolutely loved it, it does have a more rustic quality thanks to the whole-wheat flour and the olive oil.  Plus, making it in a bowl using just a fork and your hands was awesome!

Susan, it was great to meet you and your blog through The Secret Recipe Club, we loved this recipe, enjoyed it three days in a row, it only got better and better!

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For those who want to see what my fellow friends from group D cooked up this month, don’t be shy, just click on the blue frog at the very end of my post, and happy browsing!  And those who are curious to see which recipe was chosen from my blog, and who had it, jump here for a fantastic article by Fran!  She made a favorite of ours, Vietnamese Spring Rolls.

ONE YEAR AGO: Secret Recipe Club; Triple Chocolate Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Shaved Asparagus Salad

THREE YEARS AGO: Indonesian Ginger Chicken



SECRET RECIPE CLUB: PORTOBELLO CAPS STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO

servedThe month of March brought a little too much snow and cold to The Little Apple, but we escaped to warmer weather for a week, arriving from Brazil right before the last Monday of the month.  Why is the last Monday of the month so important in the food blogging world?  Well, by now you should  know it’s The Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day!  This month, with all our activities and travel, it was a bit of a stretch to participate, but I’m very glad I did.  I was paired with a blog I had not visited before, The Saturday Evening Pot.   The host is a trained chef, and that immediately got the adrenaline pumping in my system as I browsed his site in search of recipes.  He cooks for a family of four: himself, his wife, and two kids, but to make things a lot more interesting they have food sensitivities that need to be taken in account. Not an easy task.  He does so beautifully, though, and in his site you will find extensive nutritional information for all recipes and plenty of advice for adapting recipes in case you face similar issues.  I highly recommend a visit to The Saturday Evening Pot.   It did not take me very long to choose a recipe, because I’ve been thinking of trying stuffed Portobello mushrooms for quite some time.  Great opportunity to go for it, wouldn’t you say?

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PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO
(from The Saturday Evening Pot)

3-4 large Portobello mushroom caps
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
4-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
3-4 slices prosciutto

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a small dinner spoon, remove stems from mushroom caps and scrape out brown ribbing on underside of mushroom caps. Lay mushroom caps, stem side up, on sheet pan.  Brush each lightly with olive oil. Bake approximately 10 minutes or until mushroom browns lightly.

While mushrooms are baking, take each slice of prosciutto and cut using a chiffonade pattern.  Set aside.

Remove mushrooms from oven and turn oven setting to broil. Drizzle each mushroom cap with a small amount (approximately 1/4 teaspoon) of balsamic vinegar.  Spread vinegar evenly with the back of a spoon over inside of mushroom cap. Place one slice shredded prosciutto in each mushroom cap and sprinkle goat cheese on top of prosciutto. Place sheet pan under broiler and melt cheese until lightly browned.  Remove and serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Delicious recipe, we will definitely be making this over and over and over, adding all kinds of goodies on the Portobello base.  My only modification was to use fig balsamic vinegar, but other than that, I followed his recipe to a T. Three mushrooms were more than enough for Phil and I, we even had half of the small one leftover.  We enjoyed them as our main dish, next to a little spaghetti with olive oil and lemon zest.  You may notice there is no salt in the recipe. Both goat cheese and prosciutto can be very salty, particularly when you roast them, so make it as written and see how you like it.  I love salt, but did not miss it.  For a full vegetarian version, sun-dried tomatoes could replace the prosciutto, or a mixture of black olives, roasted red bell peppers…  this is a nice basic method to improvise according to your mood.

If you want to see the other recipes made by friends in my group, click on the blue frog that is smiling at you at the bottom of the post.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Orange and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

TWO YEARS AGO: Pistachio-Walnut Sourdough Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Cottage Loaf and Yeasty Dogs