Posts filed under ‘Cooking’

Sherry-Glazed Apple Cake

I’m not a food blogger. I’m certainly no food stylist. I don’t have the skills (read: patience) required to take one of those beautifully lit, perfectly arranged photos that captures the essence of the delectable in question.

For proof, I give you Exhibit A, Sherry-Glazed Apple Cake, a tradition at our Thanksgiving dinners:

Sherry Apple Cake

The Tastespotting police would be all over this.

But this isn’t about photography. This is about cake. A cake that combines just about everything that’s great about fall all into one delicious bite.

A cake that allows you to pretend you’re eating something “healthy” because it includes fruit and nuts.

A cake that quickly reminds you healthy has gone out the window, what with all the sugar.

And the butter.

Oh yeah, and the booze.

Sherry Apple Cake

If you look really closely from this angle, you can spot the gap where a chunk of cake stuck to the pan. This is also something of a tradition, albeit an unfortunate one.

This cake began its chapter in our Thanksgiving history the first year we invited our Nashvillian-by-way-of-Guadalajara friends over for a taste of the holiday they normally wouldn’t even be celebrating.

It turns out that one of those friends, Pablo, has a birthday that always falls somewhere in the vicinity of Thanksgiving. Sherry-Glazed Apple Cake became not just the traditional Thanksgiving dessert (along with Helen Corbitt’s pumpkin cheesecake), it became the traditional birthday cake for Pablo.

This cake is the perfect combination of moist, nutty, aromatic and sweet-but-not-too-sweet (deceivingly so, though, once you realize how much sugar is actually in this thing). It personifies—to us, at least—Thanksgiving, birthdays, coziness and the tastes and smells of the season.

I could even make the case that it’s perfect for breakfast, assuming you want to start the day off with a sugar/booze high, and the more I think about it, the more I think that could be something to be very thankful for indeed.

Sherry-Glazed Apple Cake

For the cake:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 cups peeled, chopped apples
2 cups chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla

For the glaze:
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup dry sherry

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Cream butter and 2 cups of sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
  3. Sift together flour, soda and salt; add and mix in cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well.
  5. Stir in apples, nuts and vanilla.
  6. Pour into a greased bundt or tube pan, and bake about 1½ hours or until done. Let stand 15 minutes, then turn out.
  7. Mix glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until syrupy. Pour over warm cake.

November 29, 2011 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Panics – Bonus Post

Why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner? A Cook from Frozen” Whole Turkey?!

The Freezer to Oven Turkey

One of the greatest inventions of our time?

Yes, it’s turkey for the math- and refrigerator-space-challenged! (Thanks to Nadia G from the Bitchin’ Kitchen for this great find.)

I don’t know if you can get them in the US, but if not, it just may be worth the move to Canada.

On the other hand, I guess it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without all the panic.

November 22, 2010 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 2)

Are mashed potatoes really that difficult to make?


I admit I’d never actually attempted to make them from scratch until a few Thanksgivings ago, but it seems like there’s a lot of advice and troubleshooting for successfully producing the perfect mashed potato.

But all the recipes are pretty straightforward: Boil ’em. Mash ’em with some stuff. The end.

How hard can that be?

Turns out, it’s not difficult, and I still don’t know why there’s so much literature on the subject. Especially when the one key piece of information that really matters is missing from all that literature.

Potato peel is the enemy.

As I said, I really had no trouble with the recipe (Mashed Sour Cream and Scallion Potatoes, by the way). OK, it is true that math tripped me up again. I should have realized that I didn’t need 8 servings of mashed potatoes for 2 people, and even if I hadn’t looked at the number of servings, the “7 pounds of potatoes” in the recipe’s ingredients should have at least been a red flag, but that’s another story.

No, this story is about the hidden danger that’s lurking in every mashed potato preparation: the propensity for peel-tastrophe.

I was feeling right on track with my Thanksgiving prep. The bird was in the oven and, fingers crossed, not stewing in a cornucopia of deadly bacteria. The game plan for the side dishes was on schedule, the desserts were made, and the potatoes, stripped of their jackets, were skinny-dipping away in a giant pot of boiling water.

Seemed like a good time to do a little cleaning up. So I shoved the mounds of potato peel down the sink drain and turned on the water. I flipped the switch to turn on the disposal. And then…


November 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm 4 comments

Top 3 Moments of Panic from Thanksgivings Past (Part 1)

Will the turkey thaw out in time? Or will we have to postpone Thanksgiving until Saturday?

TimerThe thing about a frozen turkey is, you have to be able to find a spot in the freezer for it, which can be a challenge depending on how big of a bird you end up with. (For us, this is actually a blessing in disguise since it forces us to finally part with unrecognizable leftovers from last January.)

But the other thing about a frozen turkey is, you have to thaw it out, and here you tread a delicate line between a solid-as-a-rock, still-frozen state and horrible bacterial-induced death.

There also seems to be some math involved, which is always a bad sign, but if you follow the calculations precisely, by Thursday morning you should end up with what I ended up with two years ago: a still not-quite-thawed-out turkey.

My first solution was to panic. Once I had completed that task, my husband decided to run to the neighborhood grocery store and pick us up a fresh turkey.

Now, this may sound practical to you, or it may sound extravagant. But if you’ve ever been to the sad grocery store in my neighborhood, where you’re guaranteed to find lottery tickets and cheez foods but would be hard-pressed to find chicken breasts, the idea that he would successfully find a fresh, not-past-its-sell-by-date turkey, on Thanksgiving Day no less, was just plain ridiculous.

But somehow he did.

Within minutes, he was back home with a fresh turkey.

In the meantime, though, I’d come up with an even better solution: I called my mother.

She talked me down with some quick thawing tips and assurances that it wasn’t still as frozen as I might have believed and also that her quick thawing methods would likely not kill me considering they’d never done me in in all my years of eating Thanksgiving at home (with the exception, of course, of the year my parents opted for a Tofurky. Just the idea of the Tofurky almost killed me.).

Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, I sent my husband back to the store to return his new turkey. It was a good thing he didn’t have to go far, because he would need to be there for the next crisis that was about to strike…

Stay tuned for Part 2, “Potato Peel of Doom.”

In the meantime, I’m already panicking about being behind in this year’s preparations. For example, I’m past the deadline to make my leaf decorations and cornucopia.

November 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm 4 comments

Umami Paste: More than just a great name for a band

In the category of Things I Didn’t Realized I Needed But Now I Must Have: Taste #5 Umami Paste. Whet your appetite, too, at  TastingTable National (Taste No. 5 Umami Paste is a Timesaver and Flavor Enhancer in the Kitchen).

October 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

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