Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mushroom parmesan pinwheels and other ways in which mushrooms are awesome

Did you have a good Thanksgiving?  I had a good Thanksgiving.  It involved family, friends, good food, a warm house surrounded by blankets of fluffy white snow…and five or six glasses of champagne.  Cheers!

On the 3.5 hour return trip home, I alternated between listening to the History of Rome podcast Josh likes to put on for long car rides and fantasizing about all the mushroom dishes I want to make this weekend.  Specifically this first one–mushroom parmesan pinwheels: a roulade of puff pastry, goat cheese, a couple kinds of mushrooms cooked in butter with fresh herbs, and a healthy sprinkling of salty parmesan cheese.

mushroom pinwheels


In fact, the moment we got back into town, we went to Whole Foods to pick up some chanterelle and cremini mushrooms.

This dish is a great appetizer, and that can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.  It’s also vegetarian, easily customizable (swap out different kinds of mushrooms, herbs, cheeses, etc), easy to make and of course, delicious.

But before I get to the recipe, I want to share these fun mushroom facts.  Learning earlier this week that mushrooms can create their own breezes, I started wondering what other secret talents the little fungi possessed.  Apparently:

  • Mushrooms have no chlorophyll, so they don’t need sunlight to survive.
  • Mushrooms are one of the few natural producers of vitamin D.
  • They are found on every continent in the world and used in almost every cuisine.
  • They can be used to make natural dyes.
  • Some mushroom spores can lay dormant for decades and still grow.
  • Each mushroom contains around 16 million spores.
  • They pretty much fruit when they want to; we’re not really sure what the exact conditions need to be.

Photo Nov 29, 11 29 32 PM

Mushroom parmesan pinwheels


  • 1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms
  • 1oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2lb fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 sheet puff pastry


  1. Unwrap the puff pastry, leave it loosely covered and let it come up to room temperature at least a half hour before starting.
  2. Dice the cremini mushrooms and garlic as finely as you can, and roughly chop the dried chanterelles as well as you can.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add in the mushrooms, garlic and parsley and cook together on low for 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  4. Let the mushroom mixture cool and then stir in the goat cheese until well-incorporated.
  5. Sprinkle the puff pastry with flour and roll it out just a bit to smooth out the creases. Spread the mushroom-cheese mixture over the puff pastry. Sprinkle half of the grated parmesan over the filling. Gently and tightly roll the puff pastry up on the long side, until you form a long roll.
  6. Carefully wrap the roll in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  8. Remove the puff pastry roll from the fridge and, using a serrated knife, gently cut half inch rounds from the roll. Place them cut-side up on a cookie sheet that's been laid with parchment paper, and sort of squish them back into a circular shape if you need to. Sprinkle them with the rest of the parmesan cheese.
  9. Bake the rounds at 375 for about 30 minutes or until browned.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Mushroom Mania & a $75 Whole Foods Gift Card Give-Away

It was fortuitous luck, really.  I was wandering through the cornucopia of brightly colored produce at Whole Foods this past weekend, and a large display of little orange beauties caught my eye: satsumas.  It reminded me of the citrus challenge we did this time last year, where we sat down with a crate of satsumas and clementines and figured out what to do with them.  My first recollection of that experiment was the incredible Satsuma Delight (because OMG!) but then I remembered the fresh satsuma cheese plate and the delicious clementine-scented, parchment-baked mushrooms.  I started craving mushrooms.

It was fortuitous, because Whole Foods was kind enough to offer me another challenge this winter: mushrooms.  (Badgers everywhere, rejoice!) Super Mario himself could not be so lucky.  I’ve put my head to it and I’ve got a list of mushroom dishes that I can’t wait to share with you.  They’ll be popping up all over the blog over the next week (mushroom joke!).

To celebrate the fabulous fungi, I’m also doing a gift-card giveaway!  ONE lucky random winner will receive a $75 Whole Foods gift card, courtesy of Whole Foods Market.  The contest will be open until 12am ET on Monday, Dec 2nd.  The winner will be announced shortly after.


$75 Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway

What do you have to do to enter?  It’s easy.  You can do one or more of the following (and each one gives you more chances to win):

  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling me about your favorite way to eat mushrooms
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Tweet about your favorite way to make mushrooms (don’t forget to tag @chickenmeatball!)
  • Tweet about the giveaway
  • Become a fan of Have Fork, Will Eat on Facebook
  • Leave a Facebook post or comment about your favorite mushroom dishes
  • Share your favorite mushroom meals on Google+ and tag me in it

Important! Use the widget below to enter the give-away and keep track of your chances.  Good luck—and good eating!
Enter the Mushroom Mania $75 Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway

Food for the Soul: A post for my grandmother

I asked her to write down her cordial recipe and she looked at me, slightly panicked, and said she can’t–her hands are too arthritic; she can’t grasp a pen very well.  “That’s ok,” I said.  “I’ll write it down and you tell it to me.”  I sat down on the floor at her feet, in front of the wood stove.  My friend Lisa, who was visiting with me, sat on a chair on the opposite side of the stove.  I opened the notebook, balanced it on my thigh, turned on the pen and pressed its tip to the record button at the bottom of the page.

My grandmother died this weekend.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it hurts.  I can still see her, sitting in her favorite chair, being hilarious.  She was hilarious, generous, stubborn and I can definitely see her in her children and grandchildren, myself included.  She was my last remaining grandparent, and the only one I’ve had the privilege of getting to know as an adult; I loved her dearly.  She was a great influence on me.


My grandmother, Frances Harris

She also made a mean cordial.  It’s a simple thing–you take fresh berries, some sugar and a lot of booze and throw them together in a jar–but delicious and I’ve associated it with my grandmother for as long as I can remember, along with a honey-whiskey toddy, freshly made lemonade, poundcake, and bread and butter pickles.

I decided one day earlier this year that I wanted to record her giving her recipe for the cordial.  I wanted more than just the memory of her saying it, I wanted to hear her long after she was gone.  Now that she’s passed, I’m so glad I did.  I only wish I had recorded more.

With the Livescribe pen, you can write and record both your writing and any audio at the same time.  Wirelessly, that gets transmitted and saved to my Evernote account, where I can share it with the rest of my family.  I can listen to the recording from my Evernote notebook, or I can tap the pen on the notebook itself and hear it.

It would have been better if she’d been able to write it herself–I always liked her handwriting.  Mine, with the notebook balanced slightly on my thigh, was not so great.  The entry certainly isn’t perfect.  Halfway through the ingredient list, she realized she was remembering it wrong– so things are crossed out and written over and messy.  But even moments later, when I climbed into Lisa’s car and opened the notebook and listened to the recording, it made me smile.  It was so very authentic and wonderful.  It made me want to do this with everybody I love.

I created a blueprint for a project I call an audio-annotated cookbook.  So far, I’ve given my Livescribe pen and notebook to a few friends and family and had them record their favorite recipes.  It captures their handwriting, their voice, and their personality in a way that I never could before, and helps me create a truly unique cookbook that is more than just the text of the recipe.  It’s not perfect–it’s messy and sometimes we stumble in the writing or over words, but that just makes it all the more dear to me.

Don’t get me wrong–you could do this in a number of ways.  You could write the recipes and scan them in and attach an audio file.  You could write on a tablet and use an app that will record audio and match it to the notes.  I liked the pen for this because it’s simple,  it can be used anywhere, and it saves the recording to a place I trust.  But I don’t think it really matters how you do it.  I just think you should do it.  I kept thinking I would have more time to record more of her recipes, but I didn’t.  You can’t really do anything about that.  But you can take steps to preserve the people and culture that you love, even in little ways.

I wish I’d thought of this project years ago.  It’d have captured so many stories, from so many people.  But I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to do this with my grandmother, to capture a moment we shared together.  To capture a piece of her.

My grandfather and grandmother

My grandfather and grandmother, Albert and Frances Harris

I’ve pasted a link below to my grandmother’s recording.  It makes me smile just to listen to it; it’s only fair that I share that smile with as many people as possible.  Just a note–I accidentally pressed ‘stop’ in the middle, so the recording is in two parts.  When the first part finishes, the second part will automatically load.  Click the play button again to get it going.

Grandma’s Cordial

Creating an Audio Annotated Cookbook Pencast


Learnist Love: All About Thanksgiving

Starting to fret about the upcoming holiday?  Don’t.  This is the internet.  Help is everywhere you look.  I’m particularly fond of all the resources curated over at Learnist.  A search for Thanksgiving brings up everything from the history of the holiday to healthy eating tips to how to keep from pulling your hair out.

Check out all the Learnist Thanksgiving resources here.

Here are a few of my personal boards for getting through Thanksgiving:

Do-It-Yourself Instant Cocoa Mix

I am about to take you on a fun-filled, wondrous adventure to a magical land called filled with flavor and delicious delights and that ever-so-sumptuous food of the gods.

That’s right, we’re going to make hot cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 26 PM

Don’t say it.  Don’t tell me that you make hot chocolate all the time–“All you have to do is open the packet of Swiss Miss and add hot water.”  That’s not making hot cocoa.  That’s just barely making it through the day and being willing to settle for something, anything with a mere wisp of chocolate in it before you go insane and take somebody with you.

Now, while I am a fan of melting down shaved chocolate into a pool of lightly simmering, frothy milk in the celebrated winter ritual that is settling down with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate whilst mentally praising those brilliant Mayans, sometimes you don’t want to spend the time, effort or money to do that and sometimes you’re at work, mentally (or physically—although in that case, you have more serious problems than chocolate-deficiency) to a desk, or snowed in at home behind 2 feet of frozen little water pellets.  In those cases, you want–nay, you need–instant cocoa.

Photo Nov 24, 11 23 37 PM

But that doesn’t mean you should rush headlong into the arms of the Swiss Miss.  Not to impugn her honor or anything, but I hear she really gets around.  You deserve someone more special than that.  Someone unique and hand-crafted.  And I am love to play matchmaker.  Well, me and Alton Brown.

Alton Brown’s Hot Cocoa

* 2 cups powdered sugar
* 1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)
* 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch
* Hot water

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.  Seal in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

To make hot cocoa, fill half a mug with the cocoa mixture and then pour in hot water or milk.  Stir, sip, smile.

If you want to make it even more betterer (yes, that’s right, even more betterer), you can make some snickerdoodles to dip into your cocoa.

Black Turnips!

I don’t really have a post, I just wanted to share these beauties that I found at a local grocery store.


Because…Pie, Part II: Winter is Coming

It snowed last night.  I don’t know if it had even frosted yet but last night, it snowed.

It’s made my husband terribly happy.  He’s a weird, cold-loving polar bear who has somehow managed to squeeze himself into a very convincing Josh-suit.  He loves the fact that it rained and then snowed last night, even though it froze the car doors shut.

Me?  I like the snow just fine, I suppose…as long as I’m laying in my warm bed (flannel sheets for the win!).  Or snuggled on the couch with a mug of cocoa watching How I Met Your Mother or American Horror Story.  Or basically not anywhere near the outside.  If it were possible to safely and inexpensively induce hibernation in people…I would do it.  In a heartbeat.

But alas.  I live in Michigan and snow is a thing.  Winter is real.  It’s not just a Game of Thrones meme anymore.


My only weapon against it is flannel sheets, fuzzy socks, and an arsenal of warm, heavy comfort foods.  I have decided this is going to be the Winter of the Comfort Food, officially.  Last week was lasagna.  I’m still working on perfecting it.  Then pumpkin pie.

This week, I turned my attention to pot pie.  I love a good chicken pot pie.  It combines my top comfort food (chicken stew) with pie crust.  There is literally nothing to not like about that.  And when made in ramekins or small baking dishes, you get single-sized portions.  Easy for distributing, and repackaging, and taking for lunch the next day.



I spent less than half a day making these, all told.  It seems like a lot, but most of it is “put it in the oven and let it do it’s thing” time.  I roasted the chicken, made the pie crust, cooked the stew…did everything except make stock.  I used store-bought because I didn’t have any on hand, but homemade would make it even more awesome.  It was a great way to spend a cool fall day.  It’ll be a great way to pass the winter ones too.




Roasted Chicken Pot Pie


    For the crust
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsps cold butter, diced
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsps dried herbes de provence
  • For the chicken
  • 3-4 pound whole chicken, cleaned and with the organs removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic
  • A little bit of chicken stock as needed for basting
  • For the filling
  • The white and dark meat from a 3-4 pound roasted chicken
  • The pearl onions roasted with the chicken
  • 1 leek, sliced and washed
  • 3 carrots, sliced into half inch rounds
  • 1 cup of frozen baby peas
  • 32oz of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tbsp dried herbes de provence
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


    Make the pie crust
  1. Do the step either before or while the chicken is roasting. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, herbs and butter in a food processor and pulse a few times until the butter is thoroughly chopped. Slowly drizzle in the cold water while you pulse the processor until the dough forms on its own into a rough ball.
  2. Remove the dough and place it on a floured surface. Pat it into a ball shape, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Roast the chicken
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  5. Mix the olive oil, herbs and sea salt together and rub them all over the chicken, especially under the skin over the breast meat. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic and rosemary sprigs.
  6. Place the chicken in a small roasting pan with the pearl onions. Roast for approximately 1-1.5 hours (about 20 minutes per pound, or until the juices run clear), basting as needed with a little stock.
  7. Let the chicken cool before pulling the meat off.
  8. Bring the filling together
  9. In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the stick of butter. Add in the flour and stir together, creating a roux. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed. You want to cook the flour taste out, but not burn the roux or let it get too dark--let it go for 10 minutes or so. Add the dried herbs and rosemary to the pot, and then slowly stir in the chicken stock. Let the stock simmer for about 15 minutes.
  10. Pull the meat from the chicken, give it a rough dice with a knife, and add it to the soup, along with the leeks and carrots. Let the soup simmer down until the stock has reduced by at least a third. Add in the cream, half of the parmesan, the pearl onions and peas. Taste it and add any salt and pepper as needed.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  12. Assemble the pies
  13. Divide the stew amongst your ramekins. I used four wide, shallow ones. The amount of pies you get will vary on your ramekin size.
  14. Roll out the pie crust and, using a pizza cutter or a knife, cut out circles slightly larger in diameter than your ramekins. Carefully drape the crust over the top of the ramekins, pressing the edges over the sides, sealing in the stew.
  15. Brush the crusts with a bit of egg wash or butter, and sprinkle each one with a quarter of the leftover parmesan. Place the ramekins on a large cookie sheet, and bake them in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the crusts are nicely browned.
  16. Serve and enjoy. They will be hot and delicious!

I’m Lauren and This Is My Kitchen

I love kitchens.  I bet you never would have guessed that from someone with a food blog.  Crazy, right?  But anyway, it’s true.  I love kitchens.  The best part of Ikea is  the cinnamon rolls the kitchens.  I like to see the different styles, setups, color schemes, organizational trends.  I love appliances and pantries.

I also like seeing how people set up and get around their own kitchens.  When we moved into our house, I took the longest to unpack the kitchen.  There are so many choices that impact my everyday life there–what goes into which cabinet and how to arrange things so that they make sense to me and I can find them.  I also redo my pantry on a fairly regular basis, always trying to achieve some optimal level of organization.  Seeing what other home cooks do and how they work gives me ideas and inspiration.

So to help spread that around, I’ve started asking people to answer a few questions and share some pictures of their home kitchens.  I figured I’d be a good sport, and go first.

I’m Lauren and this is my kitchen.

I’m 30 years old and I live in Michigan.

Occupation and hobbies?
I have a few occupations–I’m an instructional technology consultant at the University of Michigan.  I produce content for Learnist, and I do freelance WordPress development.

Do you follow a specific diet or food philosophy?
Not all the time, but my general feeling is to “eat real food.”  We tend to cook from scratch using ingredients with names we can pronounce.  I’m prone to hypoglycemia (I have almost passed out in so many embarrassing situations–church, the grocery store, on the job) and tend to feel better when I eat a lower carb diet.

How do you plan for meals?
I drift back and forth between organized and random.  When I do plan for meals, I usually first think of things I’d like to make (a combination of new things to try and old things we like to eat) and then I write up a menu for the week in Evernote.  In the midst of my “organizational” swings, I buy based off what’s in sale and use Supercook and the contents of my Evernote recipe book to figure out meals based off those sale items.  Often I just buy ingredients I like to have on hand and then I make up the rest as I go along.

How many people do you cook for?
Most days, just 2–me and my husband.  Occasionally we have friends over, and a few times a year we do a huge to-do and cook for 40-50.

How often do you grocery shop?
Several times a week.  Usually at least once on the weekend for big things and then a couple times during the week for a few ingredients here and there.  I actually prefer multiple small shopping trips to one big one.  I actually really love shopping for food.

Describe your kitchen.  What’s your favorite thing about it?
My kitchen is in the back part of a 150 year old house.  It’s galley style, and long and we have delightfully high ceilings.  My favorite thing about it is actually a two parter: I have a walk in pantry that has a countertop (it’s where I do most of the prep for my baking) and our refrigerator is actually built into the wall, in a box that juts out into the mudroom.  It’s weird but awesome because it saves us so much space.

Do you have any particular methods for organizing your kitchen?
I keep the counters relatively clear.  There’s stuff on them in the pictures above, but generally, half that stuff is put away somewhere.  I like a lot of free space for when I need to chop veggies or roll out dough.  Beyond that, I organize the cupboards and pantry so that I don’t have to take too many steps to get to things I need.  And because I like to have a lot of platters and serving items but don’t want to have a ton of room in the kitchen, I use those as decorative items lining bookcases in the next room.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?
I would cut down one of the walls and make it more open.  Galley kitchens are nice, but a little odd when you have multiple cooks.  Cutting down one of the walls would open it into the next room, create more connection and expand the space!

What ingredients do you always have on hand?
Outside of the basics like salt, pepper and olive oil, I always have the ingredients to make buttermilk biscuits at any given moment because you never know when your sanity will suddenly depend on having a biscuit in your hand in 30 minutes or less.  Also always some sort of pasta and a bar of dark chocolate.

What ingredient is in your pantry that you’re not sure how long has been there?
There’s a bag of almond flour in the pantry that is definitely less than a two years old but maybe more than one year.

Favorite dish to make?
Biscuits, clearly, because they are fast, easy and comforting.  But for actual dishes, probably chili and barbecue ribs.

If you could instantly know how to make any dish on earth, what would it be?
Chicken 65.

What’s your biggest struggle in the kitchen?
Keeping it clean.  Also, apple pie.

Favorite tips?
You can scoop pieces of egg shell out of your cracked egg with another piece of egg shell.  Chill cookie dough for a half hour before baking.  Grill your meat on a salt block.

Name 3 absolutely necessary pieces of kitchen equipment.
A sharp chef’s knife, a KitchenAid stand mixer and a cast iron skillet.

Do you listen to music while you cook and if so, what’s usually on the playlist?
Absolutely, and normally it’s classic Motown and R&B from the 60s and 70s–Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Smoky Robinson, Aretha Franklin, etc.  Occasionally it’s modern pop or rock, and sometimes classical.


I sometimes wonder who first looked at a pumpkin and thought, “let’s bake that down and pie it.”  It seems to me that the vast expanse of human culinary history really comes down to someone looking at some random item and thinking, “I should put that in a pie.”

Case in point:

One of the ways in which we traditionally separate ourselves from animals is that we are tool using species who cook our food.  No, I say.  The real separation between us and the animals is that they will look at their prey and think, “I want to eat that” whereas we look at our prey and think, “I could bake that into a pie and it would be delicious.”



Really, why?  Why do we fill pie shells full of ground lamb and smother it in mashed potatoes?  Why do most cultures have their own versions of hand-held goodies wrapped in pie crust so that you can eat your pie while simultaneously fighting off intruders or driving a backhoe?  Why did someone actually think to crush Cool Ranch Doritos and bake them in an onion-y filling?  Because…pie.


Yeah, that’s pretty much all there is to it, so far as I can tell.

So to celebrate this apparently deeply ingrained appreciation for combining crust and filling, with or without another crust on top depending on said filling, I am going to share a recipe for Josh’s favorite pie: classic pumpkin.




Classic Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 prepared and rolled out pie crust
  • 15oz of canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (2 parts cinnamon, 1 part ginger, 1 part nutmeg)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp amaretto
  • 5oz evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. Lay your pie crust in your pie plate so that it nestles into the sides. Trim off any excess and use it to create decorations if you like. Carefully wrap tin foil around the edges of the pie, so that they don't get too dark while it's baking.
  3. Put the pumpkin, sugar and pie spice into the bowl of a mixer and blend together. Add the eggs, amaretto, evaporated and whole milk. Blend until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into the pie crust. Place the pie on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven and bake it for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil and continue baking the pie for another 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. When a toothpick inserted into the pie comes out clean, pull it out of the oven and let it fully cool.
  6. Slice and eat, and store it in the fridge.


I like to use this all-butter crust recipe for my pie crusts. Not that I have anything against lard or shortening crusts, but I always have butter on hand, so it's easy for me to make.


And because they’re my favorite pies: cookie pie and cinnamon pie.  Also, for good measure, no-pie apple pie.

Homemade Hot Sauce

Relax, dear friends, and take a deep breath–maybe not too deep, you might inhale something.  But rejoice, because no, there will not be a Sriracha shortage after all.  Yay.

Now, I don’t currently make anything that rivals the marvel that is sriracha sauce, but it did get me thinking about how much I love hot sauce in general.  It’s a lot.  But the importance of a good sauce is not just the heat, it’s also about flavor.  And many hot sauces really just one or the other.


Of all the things you know how to make in your home kitchen, hot sauce might not have been on the list.  It should be, though, because it’s one of the easiest things to do and then you can control both the heat and the flavor.

In my case, I like to use poblano peppers, because I love the way they taste, and serranos.  Sometimes I amp it up with habaneros or do a mix of serranos, jalapenos and other peppers.  The fun part is playing around.  Also, eating.  Definitely eating.

I’ve posted on this before, and you can find that post plus the original recipe here.

No, seriously, apple syrup is a thing

I first wrote about apple syrup a couple years ago.  I just wanted to remind you all that seriously, this stuff is legit.  You should make some while you can still find unpasteurized cider in the store.

I do love living in Michigan for a number of reasons, but the apple harvest is definitely in the top ten.  Josh purchased 15 gallons of freshly pressed cider to make hard cider.  I had him pick up a couple extra gallons for me to make syrup.  We got a cran-apple blend, and a semisweet blend.

The first syrup I’ve made this week used the cran-apple blend plus a couple of Tahitian vanilla beans and 40 minutes later, the result was a gorgeously amber-colored syrupy explosion of flavor.  We actually drank a little from a cocktail glass; it’s that fancy.

I think that next will be a cinnamon-heavy blend for my french toast (yum).  But seriously, go forth and make yourselves some yum.

Basic apple syrup recipe

Apple cake: apple pie for minimalists

Apple CakeI don’t know if you know this about me, but I suffer from a very intense case of laziness.  It’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time.  Well, I wouldn’t say struggled, exactly.  That indicates some sort of action on my part and I’m far too lazy for that.  What’s truly amusing about the whole thing is that I really am a very productive person, all told.  Or at least, I seem to manage to be.  I have a full time job, a couple of part time gigs, a fairly active social life, clean house and lots of hobbies.  So maybe it’s less that I’m lazy and more that my time is at a premium.

Yeah, that sounds way better doesn’t it?  I should have started out with that.

Apple Cake

What was my point?  I had a point.  Oh right–so my laziness, I mean, time premium has some negative aspects to it.  The biggest one being that sometimes I want food in my mouth but I don’t want to have to make the effort to produce said food.  Oh, how I long for the halcyon future-days of the Jetsons era where I can have a robot produce food for me, put it into my mouth and help me chew.  Sure, I could crack open a box of Kraft mac or some pizza rolls–and don’t get me wrong, I will occasionally do that (anyone who tells you they never do probably has a pantry full of lies)–but generally I want real food.  Real good food.

This brings me to pie.  Pie is difficult thing.  It’s not actually that hard to make, but it takes some time.  You have to make the dough and then chill it and then there’s all that rolling and–yawn–at this point, you haven’t even put together the filling yet.  OMG.  First world kitchen problems.

Apple Cake

However, this apple cake saves the day.  All you have to do is dice some apples (with the skin on!), mix them with a super easy batter, pile them into a pan and bake.  Done.  And what you get is a delicious dessert that’s like pie, but faster and lighter.  And if you’re not a fan of pie crust, well you’re probably a vampire but you’re also going to love this dish.  And if you are a fan of pie crust, you’re still going to love this dish.  

Apple cake: apple pie for minimalists

Adapted from Strawberry Plum


  • 4 large or 8 small-medium honeycrisp or similar apples
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp amaretto
  • 2 tbsp frangelico
  • 1 cup melted unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 8 or 9 inch pie pan.
  2. Dice the apples into half inch chunks.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, combine all the other ingredients--first the dry and then the wet. Fold in the apples.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour (start checking it at 50 minutes, depending on your oven).
  5. Let cool, run a knife around the edge to loosen it and then slice and serve as you like.