Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Peach Amaretto Cheesecake

I accidently bought 25 pounds of peaches. I’ve been reading about these peaches from a certain farm that only come to Memphis twice a season. People rave about these peaches. I missed any notification that they were coming, but then one day going about my own business, I got stuck in traffic behind cars turning into a nursery and saw the big sign advertising the peaches. So I figured I better turn in too and see what all the fuss was about. The peaches are only sold in 25 pound boxes, which is a lot of peaches, but I had waited and parked and just decided I better go ahead and buy them. And they are delicious peaches. I gave quite a few to a friend, I made Peach Julep Jam, a peach jalapeno jam, peach chutney, spiced peach butter and vin du peche, a French liqueur.

At the start of peach season, I had some idea about a dessert with peaches and amaretti cookies – my mom used to make delicious peach halves stuffed with buttered amaretti crumbs and baked – but I just couldn’t figure out where to go with it. I wanted something composed, like a tart or an ice cream. I bought a couple of bags of amaretti and they sat on my counter for weeks, taunting me to come up with an idea. In my panic over this spectacular array of peaches I acquired with no coherent plan, the idea came to me while I stirred a pot of peach jam. Creamy, rich, decadent cheesecake with a sweet-bitter amaretti crust and a healthy dose of amaretto liqueur. My niece who sampled the finished result texted me “that cheesecake. I can’t get over it.” So clearly in this case, abundance was the mother of invention.

I live to serve this with some sliced or cubed fresh peaches, for the contrast of the sweetly cooked fruit that almost melts into the filling with the bite of fresh, but a lightly sweetened puree would be delicious as well if you like your cheesecake that way.

Peach Amaretto Cheese Cake with Amaretti Crust

For the Crust:

1 (7-ounce) package amaretti cookies

4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling

3 large fresh peaches

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup amaretto liqueur

½ teaspoon almond extract

For the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. 

Set a few of the cookie aside, then place the rest in the bowl of a small food processor and process until finely ground. Drizzle in the butter and process until the crumbs are wet through. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press them into an even layer completely covering the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool completely. Put the remaining cookies in a small ziptop bag and crush well. Set aside.

For the Filling:

Peel and pit the peaches, then cut into small, bite-sized pieces.

Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for a few minutes, then stream in the sugar, beating until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, amaretto and almond extract until completely smooth. Add the chopped peaches and stir to combine and evenly distribute them. Scrape the filling into the pan over the crust and spread the top evenly.  Place a large piece of foil on the oven rack, then place the cheesecake on the foil and bake for about 1 hour, until puffed up, set in the center and just begining to brown. Remove from the oven to a rack to cool for 5 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen from the ring. Leave to cool another 30 minutes, then place in the refrigerator overnight to chill. You can cover the cake after it is firm and refrigerate for up to two days.

Before serving, sprinkle the remaining cookie crumbs over the top of the cake. Serve with sliced peaches if you’d like.

 

No Churn Peach Ice Cream with Sweet Tea Caramel Sauce

It is hot here. All summer. So ice cream is must. Homemade ice cream is a special treat, but it involves a little effort in the kitchen that I’m not always up to in the heat of summer. I have memories of making ice cream with my family as a child. We had this electric contraption that fit over a basin that went in a bucket filled with rock salt and ice. Making the base and pouring it in the machine was exciting, but for my brother and I, the excitement faded after about 5 minutes of watching the churn do its job, leaving my mother to wait the rest of the time watching and adding ice and salt for the rather lengthy time the whole process took. Technology has advanced and now I have a little electric ice cream maker that has a bowl that stores in the freezer – the problem is I don’t always have room in the freezer. So when I started seeing lots of no churn recipes on the internet, I was intrigued. And it turns out it’s good. The texture is a bit thicker and grainier than the type churned in a machine that whips in air, but to me the ease of preparation fully justifies the denser texture. And the recipe is highly adaptable too. Start with condensed milk and cream, then you can add fruits, herbs and spices to your tastes.

I went for sweet in season peaches, heated lightly to release some juice. I added a little buttermilk here for the tang and creaminess. My favorite part of ice cream is usually a sweet sauce, so I wanted to create a perfect complement for the peaches, which leads me to sweet tea. I’ve been there before, in this Peach Bourbon Cake with Sweet Tea Peaches. This caramel sauce is rich and with the lovely tannic bite of tea and the freshness of mint and lemon. It’s a perfect summer version of caramel sauce that would be lovely on any kind of ice cream or with fresh fruit.

No Churn Peach Ice Cream with Sweet Tea Caramel Sauce
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For the Ice Cream
  1. 3 large peaches, peeled and cut into small pieces
  2. 1 cup heavy cream
  3. 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  4. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  5. Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
For the Caramel
  1. 4 black tea bags
  2. 1 sprig of fresh mint
  3. 2 cups water
  4. 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  5. ½ cup granulated sugar
  6. ½ cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Put the peaches in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the peaches are soft and some juice begins to run. Set aside to cool.
  2. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form. Add the condensed milk and whip until the mixture is thick and soft peaks form then add the buttermilk and vanilla beans seeds and beat until completely combined and thick. Stir in the peaches and their juice until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into a metal loaf pan and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream. Freeze overnight.
For the Caramel
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then drop in the tea bags and mint sprig. Leave to infuse off the heat for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bags and the mint. Return to the heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced to one cup of tea, then stir in the lemon juice and sugar until dissolved. Boil until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup, stirring frequently. Stir in the heavy cream and continue cooking until the syrup is thickened back to a syrupy consistency – it will thicken a little when it cools. Cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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Nectarine and Almond Coffee Cake with Whipped Honey Yogurt

I’ll be honest, the first time I set out to make this cake, my idea was to use purple plums, which I had seen at the farmers market the previous week. At that Saturdays market though, there were no plums, but I had promised to make a fruity coffee cake for a girls’ brunch the next day. Fortunately, I found some lovely, rosy nectarines and knew they would work just as well and be a little unique, as I find I don’t make use of nectarines as much as I do the plums or peaches which are in season alongside. I love the grainy, sweet and nutty flavor of almond paste and think it is just perfect paired with fresh stone fruits. It creates a dense, moist cake that is not to sweet and really highlights the fruit. I consider it a coffee cake, but it could perfectly well serve as dessert along with some ice cream. And of course, you can use plums to beautiful effect as well.

The sprinkling of demerara sugar over the batter gives it a lovely, crackly crust that I just love on a brunch cake, but you can omit it or use granulated sugar, though the top won’t be quite as textured. The tangy yogurt whip matches beautifully to the dense almond cake and adds a hint of earthy sweetness. This yogurt makes a wonderful dip for any sliced fruit, or pairs well with other cakes.  The afternoon that I served this, I sliced the one left over nectarine and served it with a little of the slightly deflated yogurt and a sprinkling of nuts for a lovely snack.

Nectarine and Almond Coffee Cake with Whipped Honey Yogurt
Serves 8
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For the Coffee Cake
  1. 8 ounces almond paste
  2. 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  4. 6 eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 3- 4 nectarines, pitted
  10. 1 Tablespoon demerara sugar
For the Yogurt
  1. 1 cup Greek yogurt (whole or low fat)
  2. ½ cup heavy cream
  3. 2 Tablespoons honey
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Beat the almond paste and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until well combined and creamy. Add the butter and beat until smooth, light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, then add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat until the batter is thick and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Scrape the butter into the prepared pan and smooth the top to an even layer with a spatula.
  3. Cut the nectarines into chunks and spread evenly over the top of the cake batter. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top, then bake until no longer wobbly in the center and a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool completely.
For the Yogurt
  1. Right before serving the coffee cake, beat the yogurt, cream and honey together in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until completely combined and fluffy. Serve dolloped over wedges of the cake.
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Blueberry Zucchini Cake

What grows together goes together is a good way to cook in the kitchen. I love to make the most of in-season produce. I always seem to end up with one more zucchini hanging around and my market bag is always bursting with berries when they are in season. So it seemed only natural to find a way to use them together. And I really love this unique, fresh, summery sheet cake.

I saw a recipe for a zucchini bread with blueberries somewhere, but I didn’t save it our cut it out, the idea just stuck with me. I worked on that idea for a while, but in the end, it seemed to me like a great idea for a straight-up sweet with a twist. The zucchini adds this grassy, vegetal note to the sweetness of the cake and the pop of juicy blueberries. Buttermilk adds a little tang with some freshness brought in with a zip of lemon to the cake and to the sweet, crackly glaze. The added bonus here is that this makes a great big sheet cake that serves a real crowd, so it’s perfect for a summer picnic party.

Blueberry Zucchini Cake
Serves 24
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For the Cake
  1. 2 cups grated zucchini, from about 1 large zucchini
  2. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  13. 2 cups fresh blueberries
For the Glaze
  1. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  2. ¼ cup whole buttermilk
  3. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  4. a dash of nutmeg
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 15 by 10 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil with some overlapping ends.
  2. Combine the grated zucchini, buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg alternately with the zucchini mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When fully combined and smooth, fold in the blueberries with a spatula to evenly distribute them. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, scooting the berries around as needed to distribute them throughout the cake. Bake for 30- 40 minutes until golden and firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
For the glaze
  1. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice and nutmeg together until smooth. Slowly spread it over the top of the cooled cake to cover the top. Go slow so the glaze doesn’t drip off the sides. Let the glaze set for at least an hour, then slice and serve.
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Ricotta Cake with Blackberry Limoncello Compote

I used to make this cake all the time because it is so simple to put together but is so luscious. I think the original recipe is from a Mollie Katzen Moosewood book, but I have it scrawled in one of my many recipe keeping notebooks. I used to serve it with raspberry coulis when that was in vogue, or with chocolate sauce. That’s kind of the great thing about this cake. It is so simple that it can be the vehicle for any manner of delicious toppings without overwhelming it. The smooth, creamy cake has the texture of cheese cake and is not overly sweet, so it really lets a fruit accompaniment shine. The compote I top it with here was honestly born from having some blackberries from the farmers market and some limoncello a friend made on the counter at the same time. When I whipped up this tart and sweet topping, I knew immediately I had to search through my files for the ricotta cake recipe. I inadvertently pulled together a delightful summer Italian inspired dessert.

Nothing could be an easier summer treat – a few seconds in the food processor and a little time on the stove – no chopping, dicing, whipping and very little clean up involved! This would be equally delicious with Blueberry Basil Compote or Peach Butterbourbon Sauce.

Ricotta Cake with Blackberry Limoncello Compote
Serves 6
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For the Cake
  1. Softened butter for greasing the pan
  2. 2 (15-ounce) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
  3. 3 large eggs
  4. 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  6. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  7. Zest from one lemon
  8. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
For the Compote
  1. 1 Tablespoon butter
  2. 2 pints blackberries
  3. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  4. zest and juice of one lemon
  5. ¼ cup limoncello liqueur
For the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then sprinkle with flour. Shake the pan to coat with the flour and dump out any excess. Don’t be tempted to use cooking spray – this is an important step.
  2. Put the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and blend until smooth and combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the center is set. Touch it lightly with your finger and it should be firm to the touch. Cool completely, then chill for several hours or overnight.
For the Compote
  1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, then tumble in the blackberries. Stir them around to coat in the butter and cook for a few minutes until they begin to soften. Stir in the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and cook for about 3 minutes until the berries release their juices. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to mash about half of the berries as they soften so you have a nice, juicy sauce. Carefully add the limoncello away from heat, and stir to combine. Cook the compote for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid had reduced a little and is thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
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Rhubarb Ginger Chess Bars

Rhubarb reminds me of England. I didn’t really eat rhubarb as a child – it doesn’t grow much in the South – and the only thing I really ever heard about it was my mother lamenting a horrible dessert served at her boarding school. So I discovered rhubarb when I started spending time in England, where it is very popular and figures in a many classic English desserts. Sure, I had some pretty dismal versions in the college dining hall, but when its good, it’s is really good. I had a small obsession with rhubarb and cream hard candies and bought bags full back from my travels, and I always pick up yogurt with a swirl of rhubarb in at my favorite grocery in London. When I find rhubarb in the produce section here, I go a little overboard, making cakes, infusing gin, and as a dyed-in-the-wool Memphian, a zippy Rhubarb-e-cue sauce. This particular recipe combines my love of all things English with my Southern roots – chess pie is one of my all time favorite desserts. And in this recipe, the sweet stickiness of a sugary, eggy chess style filling is perfectly cut with the tart rhubarb.

Rhubarb and ginger are a popular combo in England – I used to have a recipe (long since lost) for a cheesecake-like dessert on gingersnap crumbs with rhubarb compote on top. I think the ginger in both the crust and the filling of these bars really sparks. A little spicy bite with the tart rhubarb and sweet filling marry together beautifully.

Rhubarb Ginger Chess Bars
Yields 16
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Ingredients
  1. For the Crust
  2. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  3. ½ cup powdered sugar
  4. ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Filling
  1. 4 large eggs
  2. 2 cups granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  7. 4 cups diced rhubarb (about 5 medium stalks)
For the Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 19 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Put the flour, the powdered sugar, the butter and the salt in the bowl of a mixer and blend until combined but crumbly. Scatter the crumbs in the bottom of the prepared pan and press evenly into a uniform crust. Bake for 15 minutes until firm and golden in places.
For the Filling
  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the sugar, flour, vanilla and salt and stir together until well combined and there is no trace of sugar or flour in the bowl. Stir in the ginger and the chopped rhubarb until completely combined. Spread the filling over the crust while it is still warm, then return to the oven for 45 – 50 minutes, until the top is firm and no longer jiggly and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares.
Notes
  1. I like to cut the rhubarb in half lengthwise, then into small pieces across. Smaller pieces are less stringy and blend into the filling better.
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Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy

I have combined a lot of words I like here. Strawberries and biscuits and chocolate. I’m not sure I can do any better for a strawberry season brunch treat. I think strawberries and chocolate are a timeless pairing, though usually found in desserts and candies. Of course, I’m not saying you can’t eat these for dessert, but they make a really lovely surprise on a breakfast or brunch menu. Classic Southern biscuits get an upgrade with seasonal strawberries and a little sweet sugar. Inspired by my Fresh Corn Buttermilk Biscuits, these pale pink beauties are tender and moist and packed with strawberry flavor. Traditional Southern chocolate gravy is rich and chocolate-y without being cloying or tooth-achingly sweet.

These biscuits are also wonderful for strawberry shortcake, split open and layered with whipped cream and sliced, macerated berries. Or mix up a little strawberry butter to spread on them, or your best homemade strawberry jam. The chocolate gravy is wonderful (and traditional) on plain buttermilk biscuits – but if you make these for breakfast or brunch and have some extra gravy, it is very good on ice cream after dinner!

Fresh Strawberry Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
Yields 12
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For the Biscuits
  1. 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  2. 12 ounces strawberries
  3. 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  4. 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  5. 4 ½ - 5 cups soft wheat flour (such as White Lily)
  6. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  7. A pinch of salt
For the Gravy
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. ¼ cup cocoa powder
  3. 3 Tablespoons flour
  4. 2 cups whole milk
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
For the Biscuits
  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. Hull the strawberries, cut into chunks and place about 10 ounces in a blender with 4 Tablespoons sugar (1/4 cup). Puree until very smooth (you can add a drop of cream to get things going if needed). Pour the puree into a 2-cup measuring jug. You should have about 1 cup puree. Puree some more strawberries if needed. Add cream to measure 2 cups of liquid. Return the liquid to the blender, add the melted butter and blend until smooth.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix 3 ½ cups flour, the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar, the baking powder and salt with a fork until blended. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using the fork, blend everything together, pulling the flour into the wet ingredients until everything is incorporated. Lightly flour your hands and work in up to another 1 cup of flour until you have a soft, cohesive dough. Don’t treat the dough too rough – you want a tender biscuit. Cut three or four strawberries into small pieces and sprinkle them over the dough. Lightly knead in a little more flour and the strawberry pieces until you have a nice, soft, cohesive dough dotted with berries. Don’t be tempted to use more berries – they can make the dough watery.
  3. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Lightly knead the dough, folding it over on itself, about 6 times, then pat it out into a circle 1-inch thick. Using a floured 2- inch biscuit cutter, cut the biscuits by just pressing down and lifting out – don’t twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, almost touching. You can pat out the dough scraps to cut more biscuits, but they are never quite as pretty. I usually get nine biscuits on the first go, then three more from a second pat out. Refrigerate the biscuit dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees/
  5. Brush the tops of the biscuits with cream and sprinkle a light sparkle of sugar over the top. Bake the biscuits for 8 minutes, rotate the pan and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes until they are firm and cooked through.
For the Gravy
  1. Sift the sugar, cocoa powder and flour together into a medium saucepan. You want the dry ingredients lump free from the start. Add the milk and vanilla extract and cook over medium high heat, whisking frequently until the gravy is smooth and thick (like gravy). Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until it is melted and smooth.
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Pineapple Ginger Fruit Dip

I am forever looking for interesting ways to serve strawberries on a spring buffet. Their natural beauty brightens up any table, and I always want to make the most of their short growing season. Not that there is anything wrong with eating strawberries on their own, but it’s nice to have a little delicious extra to highlight their flavor. This sweet citrus saucehas been my go to, but I wanted to mix things up with this slightly tropical blend that hints of summer to come.

I like that this dip is full of flavor, but not too sweet. That way you really get the sweetness from the berries. But you could add a little powdered sugar into the mix if you like – just taste both the berries and the dip first so you don’t go overboard. And of course, this works beautifully with other fruit. You can leave out the rum if you must, but it adds a perfect undernote.

Pineapple Ginger Fruit Dip
Yields 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
  2. 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  4. ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  5. 1 Tablespoon dark rum
Instructions
  1. Drain the pineapple well over a bowl to catch the juice. Beat the cream cheese, pineapple, yogurt, ginger and rum together in a food processor (a mini is fine) until smooth and well combined. Beat in enough of the reserved pineapple juice to create a dippable consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, then serve with strawberries or other fruit.
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Spiced Apple Torte

Recipes in my life go around in circles. I used to make a version of this apple dessert when I was just starting out in my first apartment, when a springform pan was considered exotic kitchen kit. I don’t know where I originally found it, but I imagine it might have been in my mom’s extensive file of apple recipes. My mother loves a good file folder, and when the apple tree my dad and I planted in the backyard started to produce fruit, she started filling a folder. I thought I was fancy because I added cinnamon for flair. Somehow, the recipe fell out of my rotation and I had not thought about it in years, but a recent internet search led me in a circuitous route to several recipes for apple sharlotka, a traditional Russian dessert. These recipes reminded me of this classic from my repertoire, so with apple season in full swing, I pulled it out again and updated and modernized it a bit. It was a treat to rediscover an old favorite.

What I love about this dish is that is mostly apple, tart chunks held together by a light, almost custard like filling – making the most of the season’s best fruit. In the spirit of autumn desserts, I’ve added a bouquet of warming spices – veering away from simple cinnamon to the less explored end of the spice rack. Of course, you can just use a dose of cinnamon, or leave out the spices altogether, but I think this combination adds a great hint of mystery and warmth. The cake is lovely on its own, but a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream never goes amiss, or a scoop of ice cream. I recently served it with salted caramel gelato to great effect.

Spiced Apple Torte
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 tart green apples, like Granny Smith
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  7. ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  8. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  9. ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  10. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  11. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then spray the paper and the pan with cooking spray.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into small chunks, about the size of dice. Layer the chunks directly in the prepared pan.
  3. Beat the eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt together in the bowl of stand mixer. At first, it may look like dough, but beat for a few minutes until you have a smooth, thick batter. Spread the batter evenly over the top of the apples. Use a spatula to cover all the apples with batter and to encourage it reach down between the apples. Let the pan sit for a few minutes for the batter to distribute, then bake for 50 – 60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool the cake completely, then remove the springform ring. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar.
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Roasted Rosemary Grapes with Goat Cheese

Grapes are, I think, so unexpected in any form other than right off the stem for a snack. My parents always had a colander full of grapes near the sink, and the grandkids would snack off them constantly. So grapes have been sort of stuck in the realm of kid food to me, but this sophisticated dish dispels that idea quick smart. It has the effortless sophistication in food that I strive toward, but don’t always reach. And the broody color of the softened grapes garnished with a woody sprig of rosemary makes a striking and lovely Autumn treat.

This is one of the simplest, but still elegant appetizers in my repertoire. Toss grapes with oil and vinegar and roasting them creates this sweet, tangy rich topping for creamy goat cheese, with a wafting flavor of rosemary. I like dark, jammy black grapes, but fruity red grapes work as well. For me sherry vinegar or Jerez vinegar to have the perfect balance of richness and bite. I find balsamic a little syrupy for this, but use red wine vinegar if you need a substitute. You could also swap out the rosemary for another woodsy herb like thyme or marjoram. And of course you could serve the grapes with a different cheese, like brie or camembert, but I find the saltiness of goat cheese the perfect foil.

Roasted Rosemary Grapes with Goat Cheese
Serves 10
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups black or red seedless grapes
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  4. 1 teaspoon honey
  5. kosher salt and pepper
  6. 3 large stalks rosemary, plus one for garnish
  7. 1 4-ounce log soft goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the grapes with olive oil, sherry vinegar, honey, salt and a generous dose of ground black pepper in an 8 by 8 inch ceramic baking dish. Tuck the rosemary stalks among the grapes. Roast the grapes for 20 - 30 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the grapes are soft beginning to collapse.
  2. Let the grapes cool for about 5 minutes, remove the rosemary stalks, then spoon over the goat cheese. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary. Serve with hearty crackers or baguette slices.
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