French Apple Cake…

cake

I thought it might be time for a brief break from poetry and photography…

In the fall, I love baking with apples. In Canada, it’s almost Thanksgiving, and with company coming this year I was looking for a new recipe that isn’t too sweet and puts the emphasis on the apples.

I happened on a recipe for French Apple Cake that really appealed to me. I love simple, rustic French food, and not only did this recipe sound great but it looked easy, which is even more important, so I thought I’d give it a try.

This dessert has a custardy, apple-rich base beneath a light, cakelike topping. Cook’s Illustrated recommends microwaving the apples briefly to break the enzyme responsible for firming up pectin. I followed that suggestion and it worked really well.

This cake goes really well with a light dusting of powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream but it’s also lovely by itself — and tastes just as good the next day or the day after, in the unlikely event that anything is left.

If you like apples or French food — or both — you might want to give this a try!

slice-of-cake

French Apple Cake

1 ½pounds apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced ⅛ inch thick crosswise (about 4 to 5)
2-3 tablespoons rum (optional)
teaspoon lemon juice
cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
large egg plus 2 large yolks
3/4 cup vegetable oil
cup whole milk
teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Serves 8 to 10

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with rum and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.

3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1 to 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, then cut into wedges, and serve.
Note: The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it’s too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again.
Adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe.

 

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How to eat a poem…

heirloom tomatoes

Don’t be polite.
Bite in.

 

Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.

 

It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

 

For there is no core

or stem

or rind

or pit

or seed

or skin

to throw away.

 

 

Eve Merriam

 

window sill lr

What I’m loving right now…

cantaloupe jam

I love that Labour Day weekend is here and I don’t have to go back to school. Not that I didn’t love school — I was a good student and I loved learning — but elementary and high school were way too regimented for my free spirit. CEGEP and university were where I really soared.

I love that I can continue learning and discovering and creating and practising skills so many years later, but now at my own pace and free of the pressure of judgement and comparison. This time is truly a gift.

Melon jam

Nothing pleases me as much as a new recipe to try…a new taste combination…something I have never thought of before. This week it was melon jam, inspired by a crop of cantaloupe that we couldn’t eat fast enough. The colour is sublime, but I wish I could give you all a taste too!

Rebecca Solnit On being a “bad Buddhist” … “Buddhism is your guiding star, not the planet you live on necessarily every day.”

Kim Manley Ort on Pivotal Photos I read this and immediately related to what Kim described as a “pivotal” photo. They’re “the ones that made me see my life, photography, and even myself differently. They’re not necessarily the best, but they sent me in a new direction.” If you want to understand more about your photography and yourself, go through your images … I think your “pivotal photos” will jump out at you. Some of my pivotal images

Thank you…

I want to sincerely thank all those who took time to comment on my recent attempts at poetry, with so much encouragement. A kind reader said she found my poem “thought-provoking and relatable” which made me very happy, although a bit surprised, since I was hoping it might be…

 

 

 

 

Light and fresh summer fare…

A steaming bowl of Green Shrimp with Coconut Kale served on basmati rice

Grilling coconut kale

Shrimp in green sauce before being placed in a hot oven for 15 minutes

After a travel-filled winter and spring, we are staying closer to home this summer. That means closer to the garden and all its vegetable goodness. Our kale was looking luscious today so I went out and cut some and then searched through my recipe collection for a new way to prepare it.

I had saved a New York Times recipe on Pinterest for Coconut Kale that captured my imagination. It was from a famous Indian chef who works out of Vancouver. It seemed quite easy — bonus! — and I had all the ingredients — the main one being coconut milk — so it was a go.

We also had some shrimp in the freezer so I found another New York Times recipe that I thought might go well with the kale. Shrimp in Green sauce, which I renamed “Green Shrimp” as a nod to Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, my favourite children’s book, well I digress…

The recipe called for only oil, garlic, scallions, parsley and wine or stock plus some heat. And it seemed quite forgiving. You blitz everything together in a blender and then pour over the shrimp. Fifteen minutes later you are ready to enjoy.

The kale was a bit more fiddly. Soaking the kale in coconut milk for the afternoon was a breeze. But then you need to grill each piece for a few seconds. You have to work quickly so they don’t burn. I let Bob do that so I could take some pics. Not at all hard though, and oh-so-worth it. The flavour was amazing and the texture was tender.

The kale proved a perfect complement to the shrimp, which also had an intense but fresh flavour. With some basmati rice to soak up the sauce, it was a great light summer meal.

Here are the links to the recipes should they appeal to you as well. By the way, do you have any favourite ways to cook kale — I’m always on the lookout.

Green shrimp

Coconut kale

 

 

Arugula pesto…

arugula pesto and salmon

Wild caught salmon topped with arugula pesto along with salad.

Veggie orzo salad with arugula pesto

plate

Grilled haddock accompanied by arugula pesto and salad and roasted squash

 

The other day we bought a huge container of arugula (known as rocket in the U.K.) and started eating it in salads. In the summer I crave fresh salads, don’t you? We like to vary our greens so as not to become bored with the same old, same old. And at 10 calories per two cups with tons of antioxidants and vitamins, it is really a healthy superfood. Believe it or not, it’s from the same family as broccoli and kale.

But no matter how much arugula we ate, it didn’t seem to be making a dent in the amount we had. I hate to waste food — a quality that I now realize I inherited from my paternal grandfather — so I thought I had best figure out a creative way to use it up before it went all slimy.

So it was that I happened on a recipe for arugula pesto. Since I adore the flavours and texture of basil pesto and I also love to experiment with new recipes, I tried it. It has become a new favourite. It’s spicy, flavourful, healthy and versatile. So what’s not to like?

We’ve been eating a lot of fish lately and this pesto adds a piquancy that works well with many different types. We’ve eaten it with grilled haddock and salmon, as you can see above. Great with both.

I still had some pesto left after those meals so I decided to try adding it to a veggie orzo salad, since I often do that with basil pesto. Another winner. I’ve read that it makes a great sandwich spread when combined with mayo. Must try that soon.

So if you like foods rich in ingredients found in the Mediterranean diet, this might appeal. It’s easy to whip up and even easier to enjoy. Here are two different recipes that I used to make mine if you want to give it a try.

Arugula pesto recipe from Simply Recipes

Arugula pesto recipe from Epicurious

A few days in Prince Edward County…

I’m taking a video course this summer (Make Films with Xanthe Berkeley), so in an effort to improve my skills, I put together a three-minute video. I wanted to capture a recent visit to Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada (PEC) for a family getaway in moving pictures as well as stills this time.

I’m a big fan of the County as locals call it, which is really a beautiful island, and I adore islands, as many of you know. In past summers, we’ve sailed around it, using Waupoos Marina as our base.

But PEC is also an up-and-coming Ontario wine region, which is producing award-winning wines and becoming a preferred destination for wine lovers and foodies from the nearby big urban centres of Toronto and Ottawa. However, even with its success and newfound popularity, it hasn’t lost its “realness,” its friendliness or its old-fashioned charm.

You can still find boxes by the side of the road where you can leave your money for produce on the honour system.

In wineries throughout the county, you can still meet with the actual owners/winemakers who are more than pleased to pour their wine for you and share their passion for what they make and how they make it.

Prince Edward County is also home to three of the best beaches in Canada. As youngsters my sister and I spent many a happy day at Sandbanks and we decided to go back for another visit, this time with cameras. It did not disappoint.

On top of that, there’s lots of great restaurants and places for food lovers to satisfy all their desires. We were only there for a couple of days but I still couldn’t cram all the places we went to in this short little video. I may have to do another post…

A few days in wine country — Prince Edward County, Ontario from Sherry Galey on Vimeo.

My new morning friend…

raspberry smoothielr

And now for something completely different…I’ve started making my own kefir at home and I have to say, I’m hooked.

Imagine yogurt in a drinkable form and with even more nutritious goodness. Kefir (pronounced ka-FEER) is made by fermenting milk using bacteria and yeast.

In both yogurt and kefir, bacteria ferments the lactose found in milk into lactic acid, giving these products a tangy flavour.  But kefir has three times the probiotic content — the “healthy” bacteria that block harmful bacteria from living in your gut — that yogurt has, so it is great for digestion. This can also boost the immune system.

Kefir is also a fantastic source of calcium, B vitamins and phosphorous. It’s a low-fat source of protein, too.

It is super easy to make, requiring only milk (or coconut milk or even water) and kefir grains or starter. You don’t have to heat it as you do yogurt. Just let is sit on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours. Mine was ready in 12. It is milder in flavour than yogurt and makes delicious smoothies.

There is a great deal of research going on these days pointing to the connections between the health of our digestion system and our health in general, and the micro biome is receiving lots of attention. One fascinating area of research is also looking at how the health or our gut affects the health of our brain and our moods.

 

 

Eat, drink and be merry…

santa and lights-cover

The fondest memories are made gathered around the table.

For those of us who have a bountiful table, may this season remind us how blessed it is to give and share with others. And may we all be guided and surrounded by light and love now and always.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break as I move from one place to another. Thank you for spending time with me in 2015 here on the blog — and for offering the gifts of your encouragement and support. I am very grateful.

Til we meet again…

 

 

Time for dessert…

torte

I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!

Calvin and Hobbes

Over the last few months I’ve gotten away from indoor photography since the weather has been so ideal for outdoor shooting.

And as we’ve travelled to a few new places like West Virginia and the Northwest Territories, I’ve found myself focusing more on landscapes and nature and even a bit of wildlife.

But now as November rolls in and the view outside becomes a bit more desolate in this part of the world, my mind turns more toward food, and so does my lens.

My favourite things to prepare are vegetables and desserts. I mostly leave fish and meat to others…

Sometimes I even try try to find desserts with healthy ingredients (said with tongue firmly planted in cheek). This tart has heart-healthy walnuts and high-fibre raspberries, along with the other bad stuff like sugar.

And if not low calorie, this tart is delicious, festive looking, and very easy to make. All in all a great combo for this time of year. The crust is a shortbread-cookie type crust so it’s quite foolproof and simple to throw together.

The walnuts are layered on the shortbread cookie crust first and then the frozen raspberries. Then the egg mixture is poured over the top, which gives it a pecan pie-ish look.

If you’d like to try it, you can find the recipe here.

torte2

To balance things out, here is a bonus recipe — for healthy salmon. It’s called horseradish grill-roasted salmon, and can be done on the BBQ, although we used the oven.

We were introduced to this recipe by my sister and brother-in-law and they learned of it from their chef friends Anna and Michael Olson, who have some gorgeous cookbooks out. It tickled our taste buds and left us feeling satisfied but not overly stuffed. (And quite happy to be getting our Omega 3s!) This is a great dish for company and the guests we served it to the other night were hugely enthusiastic.

The topping — we used panko — has flavour and crunch and keeps the salmon underneath very moist. It can be prepared very quickly and takes only about 10 to 15 minutes in the oven. If you don’t like horseradish you can scale it back or omit it completely.

Here’s the fish chef in our household just before taking the meal to table. You can find the salmon recipe here. I also made four veggie dishes to accompany the salmon (beet and apple slaw, butternut squash soufflé, smashed roasted baby potatoes and green beans with garlic and ginger), which were all tasty and colourful, but I was too busy coordinating them all to take pics. Another time…

What are you cooking these days?

bob and salmonsq