apple chips

DSC05497.jpg
Oven-Dried Apple Chips

I regretted instantly buying the Red Delicious apples at the store because they weren’t crisp. So naturally, I googled my predicament and found How to Make Oven-Dried Apple Chips on The Kitchn. It required very little sweat investment on my part and I could just pop the apple rings in the oven and forget them. Well, not quite.

Making apple chips is a lazy way to use up apples that are too soft to eat. But it’s the middle of summer here in Bangkok, and though an apple pie would have been more delicious, standing in the heat of the kitchen sweating over a pie crust  is very unappealing at the moment.

To core the apple, I used a corer, a tube-like instrument for removing the apple core without slicing open the whole apple. (See the picture below)

Oven-Dried Apple Chips (from The Kitchn and Allrecipes.com)

1 apple, cored and sliced thinly on a mandoline

Preheat the oven to 225˚F/125˚C.

Arrange the apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the apple slices are dried and their edges curl up. Let them cool on a wire cooling rack to become crisp.

DSC05495

 

 

 

banana avocado smoothie

banana avocado smoothie
Banana Avocado Smoothie
Is an avocado a vegetable or a fruit? According to Wiki.Answers, it’s got a large seed so it’s a fruit. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to fruits and vegetables in a meal, like avocados belong in a salad or a sandwich. But I’ve learned that I’ve been restricting how I use an avocado in my cooking. It is quite a versatile fruit, adding fat to cakes, for example in this avocado-polenta pound cake and this avocado marble cake. Now I’m trying it in this banana avocado smoothie for breakfast.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: none
Servings: 2

6 cubes ice
1 frozen ripe banana
1 small Haas avocado
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk (can use any flavor nut milk)
honey or agave nectar, to taste (can use stevia)

In a blender, crush the ice. Slice the frozen banana and add it to the blender. Scoop out the avocado flesh and discard the seed. Add the flesh to the blender along with the milk. Blend until smooth. Taste. If more sweetness is desired, add honey to taste.

Cook’s Note: Before freezing the banana, peel it and wrap it in waxed paper then put it in a zipper lock bag in the freezer.

hawaiian paradise cake, version 1.0

hawaiian paradise cake

Since I discovered this recipe on flourtrader.blogspot.com a few months ago, I’ve been so intrigued, not only by the colors but also the concept. It’s actually a chiffon cake baked in layer pans instead of the traditional angel food cake tin. And ever since I saw it, I’ve been planning how to make it.

This is a copycat recipe, so called because it attempts to duplicate a famous recipe, in this case the signature cake of King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant in Torrance, California, whose recipe, unfortunately,  is a secret. King’s Hawaiian Bakery’s technicolor cake originally featured three layers: guava, passion fruit, and lime. The top layer is pink, the middle is orange, and the bottom is green.

I had intended to bring the nectars for the cake with me from New York but I forgot. So I had to go with the juices available here in Bangkok. The top layer is strawberry, the middle is orange, and the bottom is guava. In Thailand, guava is a bland green fruit  known as farangIt is eaten sliced with a spicy dip prik kleua or chili-salt which names two of the three main ingredients in this dip, the other being sugar. But I digress.

I wanted this cake to be made with all natural ingredients. So I brought natural food colors with me from Whole Foods in New York. As you can see, the colors are not as vibrant as the artificial food colors. I did not want to use artificial flavoring so I used the zest of the farang and the zest of an orange to boost the flavor of the juices in those layers.

So with the dissertation drafted and submitted to my sponsor and committee just before New Year’s Eve, I decided to try this recipe today.  The strawberry flavor is distinctive, and so is the orange, but unfortunately, the farang flavor is barely there. I loved the whipped cream icing–light and slightly sweet without being overpowering. I call this version 1.0 because I am quite sure I am going to tinker with this recipe again until it is perfection.

Have at room temperature:
Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cups white superfine sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (2 oz) key lime juice
1/4 cup (2 oz) guava nectar
1/4 cup (2 oz) passion fruit nectar
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon each flavoring, optional
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
liquid food coloring: yellow, red, and green (I recommend natural food coloring)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white superfine sugar

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Get 6 mixing bowls together and 3 eight- inch spring form cake pans, preferably non-stick.  Do not grease and flour the sides or the bottoms. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: I had followed the original recipe and greased and floured three 9-inch cake pans. Mistake. Chiffon cakes are too delicate to bake in greased pans.  They sag under their own weight. Better to use ungreased springform pans.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour with 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat together oil, water, yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest until just combined. Mix yolk mixture into flour mixture until smooth. The consistency will be thick, like cookie dough. Divide the batter into thirds and place in separate bowls. In one bowl of batter, add the key lime juice. In another, add the guava nectar. In the third, add the passion fruit nectar. Add flavoring, if using. Next, add the food coloring: green for the lime layer, red for the guava layer, and orange for the passion fruit layer. Make the colors darker because the addition of the egg whites will lighten the batter. Do not mix until the nectar/juice, flavoring, and coloring have been added.

Cake Baker’s Note: Here’s a sampler for mixing colors–
Orange: 2 drops yellow, 1 drop red (passion fruit, mango)
Green: 1 drop yellow, 3-4 drops blue (farang/guava, lime)
Yellow: (banana, pineapple)
Red: (guava, strawberry)

I unintentionally over-mixed the orange and guava layers, which is why they are not as fluffy as the pink layer. I should have mixed the colors separately and then added them to the batter. I used about 5 drops red for the pink layer, a total of 9 drops for the orange, and after mistakenly adding red to the green, I think 9-12 drops will do it. I omitted the lemon zest and added 2 teaspoons orange zest to the orange layer and 1 tablespoon farang/guava zest to the farang/guava layer.

3. Using a clean bowl and beaters free of grease, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide the whipped egg whites by thirds and add each third to the batter. Fold. Pour each one into a prepared cake pan.
4. Put each pan in the oven. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove pans from the oven and place upside down on wire racks to cool completely. Re-invert pans and run a thin sharp blade around the edges to loosen the cake. Remove the sides. Invert the cake and remove the bottom using a sharp thin blade. Insert the blade between the cake and the pan bottom and press away from the pan. Once the cake is released from the pan bottom, re-invert the cake for filling and frosting.
5. Fill and frost with whipped cream icing and glaze with fruit syrup (recipes to follow).

Fruit Syrup

Ingredients
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup white superfine sugar
1/2 cup nectar or juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

Preparation
Mix the corn syrup and juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until dissolved. Mix cornstarch mixture with sugar/juice mixture. Let cool. You can also put this in the fridge for 45 minutes to speed up the process

Whipped Cream Icing

Ingredients
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat will work too)
1/2 cup white superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream

Preparation
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and extracts in a mixer. While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the cream. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fill and frost the cake then refrigerate it until ready to slice and serve.

Serving suggestion:
Slice the cake and spoon the fruit syrup over each slice just before serving. Serve each slice with a spoonful of fresh fruit, such as sliced berries, mango, and kiwi.

caramel apple cake

caramel apple cake

Caramel Apple Cake
Years ago, one of Andy’s co-workers at Allen-Bradley in Cedarburg, WI, gave me this recipe. It’s always been a favorite at our house–on any continent!  It’s great with coffee or tea as a morning coffee cake, or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and serve it as a dessert. It’s great warm or cold and it’s sticky and sweet! The caramel sauce–which I halved–is very rich. But that’s its appeal, that sinful richness that we gladly pay for later?

1 cup vegetable oil ( I used half almond oil and half canola oil)
2 cups  superfine sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced (use any crisp sweet apple such as Gala)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Caramel Glaze (I recommend halving the following recipe)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add 1 tablespoon flour. Mix well. Use this butter-flour mixture to grease and flour one 9×13 inch pan.

Combine oil and sugar. Add eggs, salt, vanilla. Sift flour and baking soda together Add flour mixture to sugar mixture in three additions. By hand, stir in apples, walnuts (if desired) and 1 tablespoon flour. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until done. Remove the cake from the oven.

Make the caramel glaze while the cake is still hot. To make caramel glaze, melt butter in a saucepan. Add sugar and milk and stir until blended and all lumps have dissolved. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Pour at once over the cake. Slice into squares and serve.

caramel apple cake

peach cake

Peach Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
The cooks at America’s Test Kitchen maintain that peaches these days do not have the flavor they once had.  They need a flavor boost. Though I agree with them, I did not want to buy a whole bottle of  peach schnapps. I would never bake enough peach cakes to finish it. So I substituted peach flavoring for the schnapps. And I substituted yogurt for the sour cream. The cake came out moist and tender, dense with fruit and a delicate scent of peach that lingered even after baking.

Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch-thick wedges
2 1/2 teaspoons peach flavoring
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour plus 1 tablespoon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek style yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed in a food processor

Preparation

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. In a small bowl, gently toss 24 peach wedges with 1 teaspoon peach flavoring, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; set aside.

2. Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into thirds. In a medium bowl, gently toss chunks with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons peach flavoring, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Spread peach chunks in single layer on prepared sheet and bake until exuded juices begin to thicken and caramelize at edges of sheet, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let peaches cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cake Baker’s Note: If using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F.

3. Brush a 9-inch spring form pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter mixed with a tablespoon flour. Whisk a cup of flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and eggs together in second bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add yogurt, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture all at once and whisk until just combined. Be careful not to over mix!

4. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle crushed breadcrumbs evenly over cooled peach chunks and gently toss to coat. Arrange peach chunks on batter in even layer, gently pressing peaches into batter. Gently spread remaining batter over peach chunks and smooth top. Arrange reserved peach wedges, slightly overlapped, in a ring over the surface of cake, placing smaller wedges in center.

Cake Baker’s Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems a little skimpy for the amount of peaches. It will rise on baking and fill in the spaces.

Stir together the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in small bowl until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake.

Cake Baker’s Note: I left out the sugar topping on the peaches. Didn’t need it, didn’t miss it!

5. Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Cake Baker’s Note: If using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, check to see if the cake is done after 45 minutes.