Dinner with Sandy

Lost to the sea during Hurricane Sandy  HMS Bounty, her captain and another mate

The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind.

I’m always amazed at the high drama of The Weather Channel reporters and it seems that they are more and more dramatic with each storm report, just ridiculous.  If it rains 2 inches they seem to go out of their way to find knee-high water in the largest gully around, then in the snow, the deepest plowed snow bank, in a hurricane (while they can) at the ocean’s edge being pummeled by wind and rain repeating how dangerous things are and by all means stay away from dangerous surf, just stay at home.  The worst one for me was a news person warning everyone to stay at home and mentioned that he was standing next to sparking electrical wires…really, really smart.   Oh well, I hear TWC has quite a following so it has to be entertaining.

Chicken-Corn Chili dominated the pre-storm Sunday Sandy day,  made it in the slow cooker and packed up in containers for the freezer for the most part, but for tonight a hearty bowl  with tasty corn waffles and just about any garnishes that one could want to top the chili  The recipe was adapted from several so it doesn’t matter which one you google, just add your favorite chili touches.

I Started with a about 3 pounds of sautéed chicken thighs, large diced, with additions of green chilis, poblanos, green peppers, jalapenos, and tomatillos for the “verde” sauce.  Shallots, onions, bay leaf, thyme, salt & pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cilantro for seasonings.  I used cannellini beans (canned,  added to the last 2 hours of cooking), but any beans would be a nice addition for chili for beans lovers.

Garnish as desired, Mexican cheese blend, roasted poblanos, green onions, cilantro, and lime were my choices.

With lots of apples from the mountains available I wanted to make something simple and Dorie Greenspan’s French Apple Cake fit the bill rather nicely.  My cake did not stand as high as the one pictured in the recipe, but that was because they called for an 8″ springform pan and I own 9″- 11″ pans.  I might try mini cakes with the small springform pans the next time, but I think that it might be a little difficult to get equal parts of the cake mix into each pan so for now I’ll just make the cake in one pan and invite a few people to share.

French Apple Cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 cups apples (I recommend Fuji, golden delicious, Gala, or Pippin)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (I was out of cardamom, subbed allspice and a touch of nutmeg)
3/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled.  Preheat the oven to 350 F. Using some of the melted butter, brush the inside of an 8-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl and set aside.Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Slice the apples or cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks. (Note: the larger your apples, the fewer you will have to peel! And, the smaller your chunks, the less fragmented your cake will be when you cut into it to serve it.)In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or electric mixer until they are foamy. Add the sugar, rum, vanilla, cardamom, and lemon zest and whisk to blend. Add in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and smooth out the top with the spatula.

Place the cake on a baking sheet and position it on the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen and then open and remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Delicious when served warm or at room temperature, with a vanilla sauce, ice cream, or creme Chantilly.