Monday, October 14, 2019

Spiced Apple Chili



  What? Apples in CHILI? I know. I know. It sounds crazy, but just go with me on this one. Have I ever lied to you before? Seriously, it's one of the best chilis I've ever tasted! The apples bring a little hint of sweetness to the party, and the warm spices round everything out. So, with all the apples and cinnamon, you're probably thinking "does it taste like apple pie?" Nope! Not at all! It just tastes like a fabulous bowl of chili with a tiny little tweak, that's all. And the apples bring a heartiness to the dish, kind of in the same way that potatoes do in a beef stew. It's super easy to make too! You brown the beef and then basically just throw everything in the pot and let it simmer. It's ready in about an hour! Easy, right? Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the recipe is from Taste of Home, so you know it's tried and true and test kitchen approved. It's just plain delicious! I like mine with shredded Cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, but you do you!

 
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
3 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 cups beef broth
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 can (15oz) chili beans, undrained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Optional toppings: shredded white cheddar cheese, diced red onion



 In a Dutch oven, cook and crumble beef with onion over medium-high heat until beef is no longer pink, 5-7 minutes; drain. Add tomato paste, spices, and garlic; cook and stir over medium heat 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and broth until blended. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, until apples are tender and flavors are blended, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with toppings as desired.



Tips:
One of the things I love about this recipe is the balance of spices. Each one is definitely in the show, but nobody steals the spotlight. The amounts are exactly spot on. The only thing I might do differently is to add a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes for a little spicy hit. I don't like to burn my face off with heat, but just a little spicy poke is pretty nice.
Btw, this would be FABULOUS on a hot dog. Is anyone else thinking Halloween dinner? Who's with me?

Monday, October 7, 2019

Invisible Apple Cake



 Have you ever heard of an Invisible Apple Cake?? I must say I had never heard of it until recently when I was browsing apple recipes. Apparently it's a thing! Now, don't quote me on this, but I believe it's a French thing, and it's now very popular in Japanese cuisine. Who knew? 
 Ok, so what exactly is it? Well, it's lots and lots of VERY thinly sliced apples that are coated and baked with the tiniest amount of very thin batter. Sounds good, right? So, wait... does that mean the cake is invisible or the apples? Seems to me that all you see are the apples and they're being held together by an invisible cake. Yup. I'm going with that. Alrighty then! It's fun to find a new something to bake, isn't it?
 I found many versions... some baked in a loaf pan, some with regular granulated sugar, some with sliced almonds on top... but I decided to try this one from a blog called Seasons and Suppers. I'm sure all the other versions are delicious too, but I liked the idea of using brown sugar and baking it in a round pan.
 Make this for a special occasion, or holiday, or just because you love apples. Serve it at room temperature, chilled, or better yet warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or whipped cream. Or homemade caramel sauce. Or all of the above! I have yet to meet an apple dessert that I don't love, and now I have another one to add to my repertoire! I'm pretty sure the real reason it's called INVISIBLE is that it will disappear in no time! YUM.



6 large Golden Delicious apples peeled 
2 large eggs 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp butter 
6 1/2 Tbsp milk 
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt



 Preheat oven to 400 F.
 Line the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Melt the butter in saucepan or microwave bowl. Add the milk and stir well to combine. Allow to cool slightly, then add to the egg/sugar mixture. Mix to combine.
Sift together the flour and baking powder, then sprinkle over the egg/sugar mixture. Mix just until combined.Quarter the peeled apples and remove the core. Use a mandoline to slice each quarter into thin slices. (if you don't have a mandoline, just use a very sharp knife to slice them very thinly by hand.) Add the apple slices to the batter. Gently stir the apples in the batter to ensure all apples are coated. Pour into prepared pan, making sure to fill in all gaps between apples. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set. If desired, you can turn on the broiler for a minute to brown up the top of the cake. Leave in pan to cool, then run knife around edges and remove outer spring form pan ring. Dust with icing sugar, if desired.


Tips:
Instead of Golden Delicious apples, I used Honeycrisp. Why? Because they're my favorite! This dessert is not overly sweet, so you definitely want to use a sweeter variety of apple instead of, say, a tart Granny Smith. That would be another reason to serve it with caramel sauce or ice cream, otherwise it doesn't really feel like a DESSERT.
This cake has none of the usual spices in it, but if you're all about the cinnamon and nutmeg, GO FOR IT! You can even use an apple pie spice blend, if you'd like. I think a teaspoon would be plenty! Also I may or may not have been a little heavy handed with the vanilla extract. (I make my own vanilla extract with bourbon, and a little extra bourbon in an apple dessert is definitely not a bad thing!)