Apple Dapple Cake

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Five years ago I spent 3 months on a farm in Tuscany. It was about as magical as it sounds, times 78 billion trillion million. We drank wine from the farm’s vineyards, ate toasted bread with olive oil straight out of the presses, herded pigs (I did less of that and more of the eating), partied with visitors to the B&B, and generally enjoyed all that Italy has to offer. I wrote down a thousand recipes from the cooks, sort-of perfected the art of the pizza dough toss, and crafted so many delicious pillows of gnocchi goodness that I think I passed out directly into the bowl of potato dough. But the one recipe I come back to most?

Apple Dapple Cake.

Is it Italian? Nope. Is it maybe Italian-American? Not even a little. Is there perhaps a Tuscan twist to it? Please stop, it’s pure-blooded American.

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The owners of the farm made this throughout the autumn months and graciously shared it with the 9 interns me. It’s nothing fancy, but it makes my heart sing with joy and gluttony. Apples, cinnamon, and a brown sugar glaze that will make you dissolve into a puddle of love. It requires no adornment but a humble fork and — perhaps– a sink to catch the stray crumbs as they come flying out off the plate as you snarf yourself into an apple dapple haze.

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The only tweak I made was to the glaze, which would curdle if the fat content from the milk wasn’t just right. Subbed in some cream and kablooie– super fab.

Apple Dapple Cake

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3 eggs
2 c sugar
1 1/3 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
3 c flour
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
3 c peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples
Glaze
6 T butter
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T heavy cream
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 and generously grease a bundt pan. In standing mixer beat the eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla, then, with mixer running on medium low, slowly stream in the oil. This should take about 1-2 minutes. Definitely don’t dump the oil in all at once, or else it won’t emulsify properly. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in the chopped apples. Pour the batter into the bundt pan, making sure to even it out with a spatula. Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until a knife comes out with no wet streaks. Place on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.

For the glaze: In a small saucepan combine the butter and brown sugar. Heat on medium low until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Add the cream, salt, and vanilla and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Poke holes in the cake (while it’s still in the pan) with a chop stick or knife and pour the glaze over the top evenly. Let the cake cool for about 20-30 minutes, invert onto a plate, and serve warm. Then, put your socks back on, because they will have inevitably been blown off by tasty deliciousness.

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Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

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Wake up and smell the pumpkin spiced lattes Northern Hemisphere, because fall has officially arrived. Maybe we get it a bit later in California and maybe we don’t feel it as acutely as the show-off New England crowd with their big fancy leaf festivals and their crisp breezes, but we FEEL fall just as much as the rest of you. And, to top it off, we don’t have to deal with that horrid snow stuff that turns to slush stuff and ice stuff and cold stuff.

But I will turn the conversation back to food, something we can all agree on is what keeps this party going.

Soup is THE best comfort food (aside from fattie delicious fried stuff) on a cold night and it has the added bonus of having a gagillion healthy options. Gagillion– that’s a technical term, by the way. You should probably write it down for future reference in a novel or something.

My friend is about to bring over some home made bread to go with this delightful intro-to-fall-soup-a-thon, so here it goes. Enjoy!

And isn’t that a beautiful bunch of purple kale?

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Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1″ cubes
2 t paprika
1/4 t cumin
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 c rice
1/4 c lentils
1/4 c white wine
6 c stock, heated
1 bunch kale, de-ribbed and coarsely chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
grated parmigiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potato, 1 t paprika, cumin, and 1 T olive oil on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes or until sweet potato is fork-tender. Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. When hot, add the diced onion and cook until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 t paprika. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and white wine, then the stock. Simmer until rice and lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add kale, beans, and roasted sweet potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve with grated parmigiano on top.

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