Archives for 2011

Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup with Parmesan

Here’s a spur of the moment recipe post for a soup I prescribed myself today. Even if you’re not feeling under the weather with a nasty cold as I am, garlic soup is as savory and nourishing as it gets.

I lifted this recipe from Whole Living, one of my favorite reads for healthy, beautifully inspired living – from the publishers of Martha Stewart magazine – but of course.

The small amount of potato in this soup gives it a luscious, satisfying texture, eliminating the addition of very much fat; just a tablespoon of olive oil coats the garlic cloves as they roast. A dusting of fresh Parmesan and some warm crusty bread makes this a perfect meal for a winter day.

Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup with Parmesan

Serving Size: serves 4 - 6


  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves, purchased peeled or from one or two garlic heads
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 6 cups stock or water
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh thyme leaves, optional


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the garlic in a small baking dish, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and cover with a piece of foil. Roast until the cloves are golden and tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the stock or water to a simmer. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and add the roasted garlic and potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender (carefully - the soup is hot!). Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like.
  3. Serve bowls sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, a few thyme leaves and a piece of warm crusty bread.


Based on a recipe in Whole Living, December 2011

Tuscan Apple Cake

Here’s another apple dessert I want to share – it’s a quick, simple recipe that makes good use of fall’s apple bounty.

I did make apple pie recently, but while I was browsing through some new cookbooks the cover image of a rustic apple cake on one of them – Dolci: Italy’s Sweets – drew me in right away. Of course I tinkered a little bit; I adjusted ingredients because I wanted to make a square cake in a larger pan (rather than the 8-inch round cake in the book) and added pine nuts for a more “Tuscan” flavor profile.

Surprisingly, the baking time for my cake is much less than the book’s recipe – 45 minutes rather than 75 minutes – even though I increased the volume of some ingredients. I’m not sure how to account for that except that to think maybe there was a typo in the original. An hour and 10 minutes would have way overbaked the cake.

This cake keeps very well for a few days covered on the kitchen counter, and I think it’s even better enjoyed on the second day along with morning tea or coffee.

Tuscan Apple Cake

Adapted from a recipe in Dolci: Italy's Sweets by Francine Segan


  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 2 small lemons)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored; one diced into chunks the other 2 thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as turbinado


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with two strips of parchment paper so that the paper overhangs by a few inches all around - this will make the cake easy to remove for slicing later. You can skip the paper step if you want to cut and serve the cake right out of the pan. You can also use a 9-inch springform pan if you don't have a square one that size.
  3. Brush the lined pan or the unlined springform pan with some of the melted butter to coat all sides.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer on medium-high speed, until the eggs become thick, pale and creamy. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest in a bowl.
  5. Lower the mixer speed to stir in the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk.
  6. Scrape half the batter into the pan and scatter the diced apple over. Add the rest of the batter and arrange the sliced apples on top. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top of the cake and sprinkle evenly with the pine nuts and coarse sugar.
  7. Bake about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the center is firm when touched with a fingertip. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Homemade Apple Pie with Lemon Butter Crust

A piece of homemade pie is such a simple thing when you break it down; a few ingredients that come together in perfect agreement. Butter, flour, sugar, water, apples… as if pie were what they were made to be, happily ever after.

Yes, it’s easy as pie to think about and eat, but I admit to having an avoidance with making pie crust.  If I think too long about the actual labor involved in pie making I tend to move on to something else a bit less scary – chocolate cake, maybe. At least the outcome of chocolate cake isn’t so contingent on a list of fussy factors that can affect pastry, like the temperature of the air, butter, water and even your hands.

Warm hands might work while mixing up a cake batter or rubbing a pork loin with olive oil, but with pastry – not so much.

So, to challenge myself I’ve put pie-making on my list of skills to master. And with the promise of a piece of pie as a reward, it’s not really so hard to do. I remind myself that pie is just a list of ingredients that need a confident hand with a rolling pin to guide them along.

It helps to have a lesson in pie-crust making from an excellent teacher. This video of pastry chef Cindy Salvato demonstrating her method was very instructive for me. Notice how comfortable she is getting her hands in the dough, rolling and smacking it. You can see who’s in charge, and it’s not the pie dough.

I liked Cindy’s style, and it encouraged me to get in there and make some pie.

I used Honeycrisps since they are just now arriving in markets, and they worked perfectly, their taste is nicely sweet-tart, and they keep their shape and texture after baking – I cannot stand mushy apples. I also left the peel on out of sheer laziness and that turned out just fine in the finished pie.

Here a few keys to making a perfect pie I picked up from Cindy:

    • Use cool, not cold or softened butter. Cindy recommends butter not be “stone cold”, but at 55 degrees. I took the temperature of my butter with an instant thermometer directly out of the fridge and  it was right there.
    • Don’t be afraid to add more water if the dough seems dry. Add a little at time and use your hands.
    • Use a glass pie dish for even heat distribution.
    • Add lemon zest. Lemon makes everything better.
    • Big chunks of butter in the dough are desirable. They create those flaky air pockets as the pie bakes.
    • Don’t be intimidated by pie dough. Remember you are the master of the kitchen!
Homemade Apple Pie with Lemon Butter Crust

Yield: 1 pie

For best results, let the pie cool completely - preferably overnight - to allow the natural pectin in the apples to work. Cutting directly into a freshly baked, warm pie is tempting, but it won't be set properly.

Adapted from Cindy Salvato


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tablespoons), cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup ice water plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • for the filling:
  • 3 pounds firm apples such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp (about 6 or 7 apples)
  • 1 tablespoon rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and zest. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or a fork until the butter is pieces about the size of large peas. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the water and lemon juice.
  2. Blend with a fork until the dough starts to come together. If there's flour on the bottom of the bowl, add more water a teaspoon at a time until you can gather the dough into a ball. Divide into two pieces, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten slightly to form a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour and up to 24 hours.
  3. When you're ready to assemble and bake the pie, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the pie dough out of the refrigerator to soften slightly while you prepare the apples. If it takes more than 15 minutes to deal with the apples, then put the dough back in the fridge until you're ready to fill the pie.
  4. Peel the apples if you want to: core and slice into 1/2-inch thick wedges. Put the slices in a bowl and toss with the flour.
  5. Mix together the sugar, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  6. Smack one package of dough with a rolling pin to flatten. Unwrap and put the dough on a large floured piece of wax or parchment paper. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour and roll the dough firmly away from you, turning the paper after each roll to create a circle about 2 inches larger than your pie dish. Sprinkle lightly with more flour if you notice the dough starting to stick.
  7. Fold the dough in half gently and place in a pie dish, pressing into the bottom of the dish. Be sure you have an overhang of about an inch all around. Trim off any excess.
  8. Put a layer of apples on top of the dough in a concentric circle, starting at the outer edge. Sprinkle with sugar. Repeat the layering and sugaring 2 or 3 more times, until the apples are generously heaped to the top of the dish.
  9. Take the second piece of dough and repeat the rolling. Put the dough on top of the apples; pull the edge of the top dough over the bottom and pinch together all around the pie.
  10. Use a sharp knife to make 4 vents in the center of the pie.
  11. Put the pie in the oven and turn the oven down to 400 degrees. Bake the pie about 30 minutes, until the crust is deep golden and the juices are bubbling.
  12. Cool the pie before slicing to allow the juices to settle. Yum.