Monthly Archives: October 2017

French Apple Cake

Last weekend, we drove to Traverse City, Michigan to check out the fall foliage.  Traverse City is a beautiful city to visit at any time but especially so in the fall.  The area has so much natural beauty that it is easy to get the feeling that you really are “up north”.

Traverse City claims that it is the Cherry Capital of the world, and it very well could be true.  The area does produce around 75% of America’s tart cherries.  The cherries were long gone on our visit but local apples were still available.  I found some local Honeycrisp apples from a farm stand on the Old Mission Peninsula Road.

We took a drive along this very scenic route.  It is a beautiful drive no matter what time of the year.  We stopped at a scenic overlook so I could take some pictures. We did see some color, but the colors had not peaked yet.  It was still a beautiful view.  There are several wineries along this road that beckon you to stop and sample local wines.  We saw a lot of grapes still on the vine.

At the end of Old Mission Peninsula Road is the very picturesque Mission Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was built in 1870 and is no longer in operation.  However, it is open for tours and provides a great photo opt for visitors.

Downtown Traverse City has a lot of good shopping.  One of my favorite places to shop is the Cherry Republic.  It is the place to go for all things cherry.  They sell everything from cherry jams to your favorite cherry wine.  All of their items are beautifully displayed.  Even if you don’t buy anything, it is a fun place to just look around.

I wanted to make something special with the apples I bought in Traverse City.  My first thought was an apple pie.  But after some research on the web, I found a beautiful French Apple Cake recipe that was perfect for my apples.

It is a recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Once Upon a Chef.  She has great recipes and beautiful pictures detailing the preparation of each recipe.  Please visit her web site to read the inspiration behind her French Apple Cake recipe.  The only change I made was to use brandy instead of rum because that is what I had.

This is a moist and buttery cake with a slight crunch and delicate flavor of the sweet apples.  I like how the top of the cake has a crispy taste from the sugar sprinkled on top.

French Apple Cake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy (original recipe calls for dark rum)
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes (I used Honeycrisp)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Confectioner’s sugar (optional) for decorating the cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until until it is light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add one egg at a time beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and brandy and beat till combined.  If the mixture looks grainy that is ok.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the chopped apples into the batter mixture.

Spoon the batter into the prepared springform cake pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the top evenly with the 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.  Let the cake cool until just warm.  Carefully run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and then remove the side of the springform cake pan.  With a fine sieve, sprinkle with the Confectioner’s sugar, if using.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.  

Notes:
 A regular 9 inch cake pan can be used for this recipe.

 

Italian Vegetable Soup

I think we all have our favorite comfort food.  Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and grilled cheese sandwiches are quite often considered comfort foods.  Also, it could be a favorite cake, pie, or cookie.

Often times when we eat our favorite comfort food, it takes us back to a happier time or perhaps a reminder of a loved one.

The Huffington Post has a list of what they consider to be the top 25 comfort foods.  The number one being the grilled cheese sandwich.  Check out the complete list here to see if your favorite comfort food is listed.

One of my favorites is any kind of vegetable soup with a tomato base.  I can remember eating vegetable soup when I was kid, and it was always made with vegetables and tomatoes from my Mom’s garden.

This recipe is so easy to make and chances are you will have all of the ingredients on hand.  It is a hearty soup and will be welcomed for lunch or dinner.

Serve the soup with a favorite bread or with sweet Honey Muffins as I do. Recipe for the Honey Muffins can be found here.

Italian Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups water
1 10.5 oz can beef broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juices
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can corn, drained
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven and then add the onion.  Sauté the onions until just barely tender.  Add the carrots and celery and stir to combine, cooking for an additional minute.  Turn off the heat, and add all of the spices and mix to combine with the vegetables.  Add the water, beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans and the corn.  Bring the soup to a boil, and then immediately turn down to a very low simmer.  Continue to simmer the soup uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the carrots are tender.

Serve the soup while hot.  

Notes:
1.  Recipe makes a lot of soup but is great for leftovers.
2.  Adapted from allrecipes.com.