Apples and Autumn: A Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients

  •  2 Tablespoons / 1 oz. butter
  • 2 small apples (use any variety you like), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I use My Spice Sage’s Saigon Cinnamon, which is extremely pungent and flavorful, feel free to up this quantity if your cinnamon is more delicate)
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ C / 60g all-purpose flour
  • ½ C / 4 fluid oz. skim milk
  • lemon juice, powdered sugar or maple syrup for topping

As much as I’ve enjoyed the warm weather this summer, I couldn’t be happier that autumn has finally arrived. Fall has always been my favorite season of the year, bringing about the anticipation of a new school year, heralding the changing of colors, the return of the crispness in the twilight air, and the anticipation of the holiday season. With the new crops of apples coming in, I look forward to enjoying them as much as possible.

Today I’m sharing a simple recipe for a Cinnamon Apple Dutch Baby to usher in the season, easily prepared in the morning for breakfast or topped with ice cream as a light dessert. Dutch babies, with their high ratio of eggs to flour, are akin to popovers and yorkshire pudding and puff up dramatically in the oven and collapse when cooled, allowing you to top it off with your favorite syrup or just a light dusting of powdered sugar.

cinnamon apple dutch baby / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang for dearestnature.com

cinnamon apple dutch baby / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang for dearestnature.com

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large cast iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the sliced apples and sauté for several minutes, until the apples begin to soften. Add in the cinnamon and brown sugar and continue to sauté until the apples are golden brown and the sugar melts and begins to caramelize.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together and add the flour and milk and whisk until combined. When the apples are softened and covered in a lovely golden brown sauce, pour the batter over the apple mixture and place the skillet into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pancake puffs up and is golden brown.

3. Remove the pancake from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and powdered sugar generously or top with maple syrup and serve immediately.

cinnamon apple dutch baby / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang for dearestnature.com

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.

Celebrating the Flavors of Summer: Cherry Cornmeal Pecan Cookies

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ C all purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ½ t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ C butter, room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • ½ C brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1 C tart dried cherries

Recently I attended a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Hollywood Bowl with a group of friends from high school. It was my first time at the bowl despite living in Southern California for most of my life, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to picnic in the hills surrounding the bowl prior to the performance. Naturally, I volunteered to bring some baked goods and dessert, and looked to create a portable dessert that captured the essence of summer picnics.

I turned to the Corn Cherry Scone (my favorite item from the Cheeseboard Collective, a wonderful bakery and pizza place in my old college stomping grounds of Berkeley, CA), as inspiration and modified a cookie recipe to imitate the flavors I found in Cheeseboard’s original recipe.* By modifying this excellent cookie recipe from Baking Bites; I was able to capture the flavors in Cheeseboard’s scone. What resulted was a buttery, chewy cookie that was tempered by the tartness of cherries and had an added crunch from the cornmeal. Pecans add a lovely nuttiness as well, but feel free to swap that out for your favorite nut or even chocolate for a more decadent cookie.

cherry cornmeal pecan cookies / recipe & photos by Beverly Wang / featured on dearestnature.com

cherry cornmeal pecan cookies / recipe & photos by Beverly Wang / featured on dearestnature.com

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

3. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until  thoroughly combined. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour gradually until the dough comes together, then stir in the pecans and cherries. Note that this cookie dough will be stiff. If you have a warm kitchen and find that your cookie dough is a bit slack, place it in the refrigerator to stiffen a bit before proceeding to shaping.

4. Using a 1 ounce cookie scoop or a tablespoon, shape the dough into balls and place 2” apart on the baking sheet (I was able to fit a dozen to each sheet). Place into the oven and bake for approximately 12-14 minutes, or until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly brown, rotating the sheets in between. When done, take them out of the oven and allow them cool for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

cherry cornmeal pecan cookies / recipe & photos by Beverly Wang / featured on dearestnature.com

In hindsight, I do wish that the corn flavor of the cookies could be amplified bit more. Maybe next time, I will add some pulverized freeze-dried corn ala Momofuku Milk Bar’s Corn Cookies to see if I can boost the corn flavor. Please let me know if you try this! In any case, this cookie was well received and received a lot of compliments. I hope you bake these for those you care about as well. Enjoy!

Notes:

*See here for an excellent article about scone-making and a recipe of the original corn cherry scone

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.

Banana Peach Bread

Photo by Donaville Herrick

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 8 tbsp of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 ripe peach
  • 1 tbsp of milk (I used Silk's very vanilla soy milk)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Banana bread is always a huge hit in my house. I bake it at least once a month and it literally only lasts two days. My little dearests love it and the Mr. — let’s just say that next to bacon, banana bread is his biggest weakness. And it suddenly just dawned on me that I should try sprinkling bits of bacon on top of the next fresh loaf of banana bread I bake. I’m pretty sure Mr. will be pleased to the nth degree.

Last week, I added a peach to the banana bread recipe I always use and the result was nothing short of marvelous. I served banana peach bread for dessert one evening with a side of sliced peaches and banana, to further enhance the banana and peach flavors. The kiddos thoroughly enjoyed eating banana peach bread, though we were a little banana’d and peached out afterwards.

The directions for this recipe are from the Food Network, with the addition of a peach on my part and the use of a blender instead of a fork when it comes to mashing the fruit.

banana peach bread recipe

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 ° F. Butter a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

2. Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. In a blender, blend the bananas and peach together adding a little bit of milk. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Add the banana peach mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

6. Slice and enjoy. Goes great with a bit of butter or a scoop of ice cream.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Summer and a Simple Radish Sandwich

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of bread of your choice
  • 1 French breakfast radish, sliced thinly (a mandoline is great for this)
  • butter, softened to spreadable consistency
  • dijon mustard, optional
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

With the local farmer’s markets in full bloom lately, I’ve been trying to make the most of all the fresh produce available. Last weekend, I was browsing a stand when I came upon this lovely bunch of radishes. With their petite size and whimsical elongated shape (up until this point, I had only seen the round variety in my grocery store), I couldn’t help but pick up a bunch to try. These variety of radishes are known as French Breakfast Radishes, which are known for their delicately sweet flavor and crispness. After washing one and taking a bite; I knew that I had to use them in a way that would let their delicate flavor shine.

radishes / photo by Beverly Wang

The French eat these radishes on tartines (a sort of open-faced sandwich); simply prepared with butter and a dash of salt.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, I love meals that are simple and allow the main ingredient to shine; this sandwich is a perfect example of that. Light, refreshing and easy to make; I’m sure I’ll be eating this sandwich frequently in the warm days to come. I’ve used my hippie-dippie sprouted raisin bread for my version, but I’m sure any hearty bread of your choice will be delicious too. I couldn’t help but put a thin slathering of dijon mustard, but I’m of the type to put mustard on every kind of sandwich I eat.

radish sandwich / recipe and photo by Beverly Wang

French Breakfast Radish Tartines (makes one tartine)

Directions

1. Spread butter (and mustard if you choose) on one side of the bread and top with sliced radishes.

2. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

3. Devour.

radish sandwich / recipe and photo by Beverly Wang

Enjoy! How are you taking advantage of all the season’s great produce?

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.

AT&T (Avocado, Tofu and Tomato) Salad

Photo by Beverly Wang

Ingredients

  • 1 medium avocado
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes (8-10 pieces)
  • 1 4 oz. block of firm tofu*
  • 1 medium lime
  • black bean soy sauce**
  • shichimi togarashi***

I’ve been on an avocado kick lately. I’ve been putting it into sandwiches, mashing it for guacamole, and making lovely salads like this one. With an abundance of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins C and K, there’s no reason why avocados shouldn’t be a part of one’s daily diet. I love them for their luscious, creamy texture and how they seem to have a cooling effect when I eat them; avocados are the perfect food to bridge between spring and summer.

AT&T Salad / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang

This recipe comes courtesy of my mom; she used to make this Asian-esque caprese salad, with tofu instead of cheese (we, unfortunately, are mostly lactose-intolerant in this family), shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice pepper) instead of black pepper, and aged black bean soy sauce instead of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Tossed with a splash of lime juice, this salad is tangy, light, yet substantial enough to be eaten as a meal. It may seem like a random assortment of ingredients, but trust me; it’s delicious.

AT&T Salad / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang

Notes:

* About ⅓ of a standard water-packed package. If you’re tofu adverse, feel free to substitute with any cheese of your choice. Indian paneer, mozzarella, or feta would all be great choices here.

** This is a Taiwanese specialty soy sauce. It’s akin to aged balsamic vinegar in that it’s got a more viscous texture and a more complex flavor profile; it’s got notes of bitterness and sweetness.  Try to seek this out if you can in your local asian grocery (in Chinese: 醬油膏, usually labeled “black bean soy sauce paste”, or simply “soy sauce paste”); if you can’t find it, feel free to substitute with your favorite brand of tamari or soy sauce.

*** Shichimi togarashi; literally, “seven flavor chili pepper” is a Japanese condiment consisting of seven ingredients. Can be found in Japanese and asian grocers but can be substituted with your favorite chili powder.

Directions

1. Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels and pat dry. Cut the tofu into small cubes, about ½” in size. Put into a medium mixing bowl.

2. Depending on their size, halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. Try to match their size to the size of the tofu cubes. Add to the mixing bowl.

3. Add enough soy sauce to just coat the tomatoes and tofu (see picture above). Mix so that the soy sauce coats the mixture evenly.  I try to do this step before adding the avocado so that the avocado doesn’t get too bruised in

the mixing process.

4. Cut the avocado into similarly sized pieces and add it to the tofu/tomato mixture. Add the juice of half a lime. Add more or less, to taste. Sprinkle with a few shakes of shichimi togarashi and toss lightly to combine.

5. You can choose to serve it immediately, or chill to let the tofu absorb more of the flavor. Either way, it’s delicious.

6. Enjoy!

AT&T Salad / recipe and photos by Beverly Wang

About Beverly Wang

Beverly is a web applications developer living in lovely Southern California. When she's not writing code, you'll probably find her in the kitchen or out capturing moments of her daily life with her camera. Never content to sit still, she always finds herself trying to do ten things at once. She believes that good food, made with love and from scratch, is the panacea for all ills.