Sunday, September 23, 2018
Are you watching season two of Netflix's Ozark? I am, sort of. It's so contrived and crazy, but hard to get off the rollercoaster. The lives of Marty (Jason Bateman) and Wendy (Laura Linney) are so frenetic and stressful, one wonders why criminals (most of whom are very smart) just don't get regular jobs.
Ozark Pie (probably named for the geographic region of its origin) is a simple apple confection, and not really a pie at all. It's just that it's baked in a pie plate. It is more than the sum of its parts. Favorite son-in-law loved the brown sugar -- but there's no brown sugar. It's just that the white sugar caramelizes so beautifully. It is really delicious, uses ingredients you probably already have and so easy to make. I'll bet it's something that Ozark's Ruth (or more likely her grandmother -- this is a vintage recipe ) would whip up in a minute.
The mis en place is below. Cinnamon, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, nuts and apples.
I love recipes where one is instructed to dump everything in a bowl and mix. Not only is it easy, but clean up is a snap. For this, first beat the egg in the bowl, and add all the other ingredients (save the nuts and apples).
The mixture will be very thick.
Add the nuts and apples. It will seem that there's insufficient batter to cover these, but worry not.
See? Everything is beautifully coated.
Dump the entire mixture into a pie pan. I didn't grease the pan but you can give it a spray of PAM, mostly to aid clean up. I used an 8-inch pie plate.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, depending on your oven. As you can see below, the "slices" are removed from the pan like pie, but will not hold their shape when plated.
Vintage recipe card below. I followed the instructions exactly. I used two large Cortland apples, and about a cut of walnuts, and one teaspoon of cinnamon. But you can add more or less of these, depending on taste. I baked it for 35 minutes.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Until a few days ago, I was an apple fritter virgin. Seriously, I'd never tasted one, always pointing to Boston creme or glazed donuts at the donut shop. But looking to turn my surplus of new crop apples into something yummy, I decided to try my hand at these treats. I was delighted to discover how easy and delicious they are -- the gratification is nearly instant!
These are old-fashioned, modest fritters. There is but one tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe; the sweetness is derived from the apples.
The DH, an apple fritter lover from way back, prefers the supersized and frosted apple fritters that gained popularity in America along with so many "over the top" versions of almost everything. (Note: you can make these larger and frost them, but I wanted to prepare the recipe in the spirit in which it was intended.)
This is a very simple c. 1940s recipe, part of a collection I purchased at a stoop sale in Park Slope. It uses ingredients you probably already have (see the mis en place below) and take just minutes to prepare.
Mix the ingredients together in a single bowl.
Add the sliced apples.
Mix them in thoroughly. It will seem like there's not enough batter to cover the apples (there is) but that's the point -- the apples are the stars in this confection.
Drop by tablespoon into hot vegetable or canola oil, turning a few times until the fritters are golden brown.
Drain on paper towels...
...and, using a sieve, sprinkle them with confectioner's sugar.
The Executive Record and Travel Guide in which the recipe author (Grace Johnson, a woman who lived on 10th Street) recorded all of her recipes. You can read the story of Grace and her neighbor Jackie, who hosted the stoop sale, here.
The original recipe. Below the image, I've written out the steps more clearly.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup milk
1 well-beaten egg
Two medium apples, pared, cored and cut into slices
Mix all ingredients except the apples. Combine well. Add the apples, stirring into the batter.
Heat oil in a large (I used a 12-inch frying pan, and about 1.5 inches of oil) until hot. Temperature, if you want to measure, should be about 370 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, that’s fine. Just put a small amount of batter into the oil to test.
Drop the batter into the hot oil using a regular tablespoon. I turned them over with a fork, and when golden brown, removed them to paper towels using a slotted spoon.
Sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!
Saturday, September 8, 2018
I'm back! After a really long hiatus (insert life-got-in-the-way excuses here), I'm thrilled to present the easiest, most delicious honey cake ever. And just in time for Rosh Hashanah. Honey cake, the traditional holiday dessert to symbolize a sweet new year, has a deservedly bad reputation. It's often dry and dense. Even my grandmother's version was nearly inedible without a gallon of milk to wash it down. And she was a fabulous baker.
This recipe, however, is a winner. It is one of hundreds of recipes gifted to me a few years ago by the legendary Arthur Schwartz, and was sent to him by a listener who wrote: Now this is a honey cake! He'd given me a number of honey cake recipes, but I chose this one for its utter simplicity.
Start by beating the eggs and sugar until very, very light. Add in the honey and oil, then alternate adding the flour mixture and coffee. Begin and end with the dry ingredients.
The batter is very thin. Pour into a greased loaf pan. I just sprayed mine with Pam. It released pretty well, except for one small spot which, after I "repaired" it, was unnoticeable. You could line the greased pan with parchment if you want to ensure a complete release.
Bake for about an hour. The edges will look a bit well done, but test with a skewer to ensure the center is cooked.
Let it cool, then slice and serve. It's even better the second day!
Some of my tasters, Cheryl and Alex. Baby Stellan is too young to enjoy the cake, though he's trying to grab it! Cheryl declared he cake moist and delicious and Alex finished off the loaf. The DH especially enjoyed the caramelized edges.
The recipe, below. I followed it exactly. The nuts I used were blanched slivered almonds, a tribute to my grandmother who always decorated her cake with whole almonds across the top of the loaf, like buttons running the length of the cake.