I know I’m overdue to write a new post for my blog. I have many excuses why it has taken me so long: the California wildfires, an unexpected medical diagnosis, as well as my friends, house, and garden all needing attention. What it really boils down to is major procrastination. It’s not that I haven’t anything to post, as I have cooked many meals in my partially remodeled kitchen. I love my new countertops, my new sink, and my pull-out drawers.
I made some delicious beef short ribs with cauliflower gratin for a friend who just moved back into her house after evacuating from the Bonny Doon wildfire. The fire had burned her fence and woodpile, but left her house intact. She had hitched her horse trailer in the middle of the night to save her horse and donkey. I had several other friends who had to evacuate, but luckily nobody lost their homes.
So, let’s get back to my kitchen and cooking. I made different recipes with zucchinis and yellow squash from my garden. My favorites are zucchini cakes and zucchini carpaccio. The recipe for the cakes are here and the carpaccio is easy to make. Slice a small yellow squash with a mandoline, put them on a plate, sprinkle some raspberry vinegar and good olive oil over the squash. Put it on a bed of lettuce if you like. Season with coarse salt, pepper, and some fresh thyme and you have a great salad. Now you can add whatever you want.
For my book club dinner, I went all out. I served my over-the-top crepes filled with salmon and fennel. It was delicious and everybody enjoyed the alfresco dining on my outdoor deck. It was a gorgeous evening and we didn’t talk a lot about books. We just enjoyed each other’s company, one of those rare treats in these times of COVID. There were only five of us, which made it easier to keep the 6-foot distance.
For dessert, I decided to make a French apple cake by Dorie Greenspan from her book Around My French Table. David Lebovitz adopted and posted the recipe on his blog, which I really enjoy reading. He now lives in Paris but used to be the baker for Chez Panisse in Berkley. It's a delicious and easy-to-make recipe. I have made it several times and everybody sees to enjoy it. Please do not omit the rum in this recipe, as it what really makes the cake. Because I didn’t have any rum, I used some of the liquid from my Rumtopf (fruit preserved in rum). In my humble opinion, this cake needs to be served with some whipped cream.
Click here for the recipe
Of course, there is always my German Apple cake which I have baked for decades.
Click here for the recipe.
You may also like my apple strudel cake, another favorite of mine.
Click here for the recipe.
Do not omit the rum, as it adds richness and flavor to the cake. But if you do not want to bake with alcohol, double the amount of vanilla. Epicurious is posting the same recipe calling it Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake. There are many helpful comments on the post like substituting calvados for rum. I am going to stick with the rum but it would be interesting to find out. This is a beginners cake, so anyone can bake it and it is done in no time—perfect for the home cook. It is important to use a variety of apples for flavor and taste. I like playing with recipes, so I added my own twist. I used the apple peels to make a thick syrup that I added to the cake after it was baked, which is totally optional.
Recipe for French Apple cake
A light and refreshing desert with a pudding like texture and a crunchy crust. This cake is easy to make.
Right now my lemon trees are full of lemons. I have been picking them as soon as they are ripe and sharing them with friends and neighbors. Actually, my lemon trees are a hedge along the driveway in front of my garage facing a busy street. Often people take some, which I usually don't mind until last year when someone came and picked all my lemons. I was not a happy camper because these lemons are my treasure and I take pride in caring for them. My favorite are the Meyer’s lemons with their thin aromatic peel and fleshy fruit that is sweeter than others. They are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or orange. Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, brought a plant in 1908 from China.
Wouldn't you know, it was Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley who made it popular in the 1990s.
I have a jar of preserved lemons in my fridge and a bowl of lemons on my kitchen counter. When I run out of my own lemons, I get some from a mature tree in my neighbor, Josephine’s, garden. She graciously shares them with me. The recipe I'm going to share with you comes from Deborah Madison's cookbook The Savory Way. This one, in addition to her Greens cookbook, have recipes from her days as a chef at Greens, a wonderful vegetarian restaurant near the waterfront at Fort Mason in San Francisco. This restaurant was a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement almost 30 years ago. Anyway, I have used these two cookbooks for many years and they have never failed me. I have made this lemon pudding cake many times and always get rave reviews. It is easy to make and has a sweet and lemony flavor. I serve it with some fruit, like raspberries or blueberries, and sometimes with a dollop of whipped cream.
Here are some more desserts using lemons . Click on the photos for the recipe.
I use low-fat milk for this recipe. If you want a richer flavor, use whole milk or half and half. Sprinkling the raw sugar over the cake gives it a delightful crunch.
Lemon Almond Cake
It will be Easter in a couple of days. To me, Easter is my favorite holiday. It means that spring is just around the corner, as the days get longer with so many signs of new beginnings. And it means that the days of darkness are in the past.
It is also the time when I usually travel to Germany. I always looked forward to seeing my German family and celebrate Easter with them. My little village has traditions that get repeated every year. One of my favorite ones is the bonfire on the night of Easter Sunday. It is an old pagan ritual meant to chase away winter and its evil spirits and welcome spring. Today, it is mainly a social gathering to drink beer and eat sausages and apples. The belief is that the apples ensure good health for the coming year, but what about the sausage and the beer?
There is also a tradition of having a big Easter dinner on Sunday or Monday. Easter lamb, chicken or eggs are typical meals. My family always has a brunch after the kids finished their Easter egg hunt. Many houses and town squares are decorated nicely with bunnies and eggs. This year I’m not going to Germany. I will stay at home here in Santa Cruz and go to an annual Easter party on the mountain with my girlfriend and her family. We will also celebrate an upcoming marriage and a birthday. There will always be new beginnings.
This cake has a distinct lemony taste because whole lemons are being used. The almonds add crunch and one can taste a hint of candied ginger, a delight for the senses.
Years ago, a genius cook made up this recipe using whole lemons and Sunset magazine printed it. It is a nutty, chewy, not-too-sweet cake with the flavor of whole lemons including the rind. If you want sweet lemon bars, you picked the wrong recipe. This cake is not sweet and does not taste like a regular lemon desert. Since this recipe uses the whole lemon, you get a very lemony somewhat bitter flavor. To mellow out the flavor, the lemons are cooked and then used in the recipe. I have made this cake many times and most of my family and friends like it, but not everybody likes the distinct bitter lemon flavor. So you wonder, “Why is she posting it?” The answer is because I love the flavor and texture of this cake, so it has a worthy place in my cooking repertoire.
The cake lasts for several days and tastes even better the next day. The almonds add a crunchy, chewy quality to the cake that I love. How will you know if you like it or not? If you like orange or lemon marmalade, you will probably like this desert.
If you want another choice for a lemon dessert, try my lemon bread. It is a more traditional recipe since it uses only the juice of the lemon. I would be very interested what you think about my choices. By the way, my niece, who was visiting me from Germany requested lemon bars, the sweeter the better. I made most of her favorite food while she was here, like butternut squash lasagne with hazelnuts, which I will post soon.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.