Friday, January 15, 2016

Bundt Apple Cake

For those that have not tried baking in a Bundt pan here is a good recipe to start with. The ring-shaped Bundt pan distributes the heat evenly through the cake and gives a more refined finish on the surface of the cake, which is why Bundt pans have such interesting and fun designs.

This apple cake is full of flavor and moisture.  It can be served as either a dessert or for breakfast with milk or coffee.

Bundt Apple Cake
(using 24 to 26cm diameter bundt pan)

  • 6 whole apples
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 and ¾ cup or 450g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup or 240cc vegetable oil
  • 1 & ½ cups or 300g granulated sugar (or 250g if you like it to be less sweet)
  • ¼ cup or 60cc orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 whole eggs

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F or 180°C. Remove the core from the apple, and cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar on top of the apples.

2. In a clean dry bowl, sift the flour and mix well with the baking powder and salt.
3. In a different bowl, combine vegetable oil, orange juice, granulated sugar and vanilla extract and mix well.
4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and add the egg one by one and mix well into a smooth batter.
5. Oil the Bundt pan and pour half of the batter into the pan. On top of the batter, gently place ½ the apples, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

6. Pour the rest of the batter over the apples in the Bundt pan and gently place the rest of the apples on top of the cake.
7. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 1 and a half hours. The cake is ready when you pierce the cake with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

*Remove the cake from the pan while its hot- its easier. You can carefully drop the pan onto a cutting board placed on the counter from a height of about 5 inches.  This will help the cake drop out of the pan.

You can decorate the cake with confection sugar if you like. It is tasty when hot but it's even better the next day after the flavor settles.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Chicken Liver Pate

Liver Pate is the perfect mate to pair with wine for your social gatherings. Whether it is a fancy dinner party or a relaxing night with family and friends, liver pate is always a perfect fit.

The liver pate that I made today is using white livers. White liver is a bit creamier and more mild than the darker variety as it doesnt have as much of that distinct gamey liver taste. I first learned about white chicken livers from a local butcher. I asked for chicken liver for my pate and he asked if I wanted white or dark livers.  Not knowing the difference, I got both to test at home. I found that the white variety is smoother and less gamey.  Ever since then, Ive been getting the white variety whenever I can find it.  Of course, the recipe works for both and some prefer the standard liver flavor of the dark livers.

I normally top the pate with some pink peppercorns. The pink peppercorns are actually a type of fruit that looks like coarse pepper. It has a nice blend of sourness and bitterness and the tastes very nice when mixed with black, white or green peppercorns. The pop of pink also adds nice color. Serve the liver pate with sliced baguette, wine, pickles and topped with the pink peppercorns. 

Chicken Liver Pate

·       700g White or Dark chicken liver (blood, tendon and fat removed)
·       8 tablespoons of butter
·       ½ onion
·       ½ celery
·       2 cloves of garlic
·       3 fresh thyme sprigs
·       3 bay leaves
·       ½ tablespoon salt
·       pepper
·       milk
·       60cc cognac or other brandy
·       30cc red wine
·       30cc Madeira wine

1.    Rinse the liver well with cold water and remove blood, tendon and fat.
2.     Soak the liver in milk for about an hour to remove the smell. Pat the liver with kitchen towel to remove the excess moisture.
3.    In a pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Cut onion, celery and garlic into small pieces.
4.    Cook the onion, celery and garlic until theyre soft in the pot.
5.    Add the liver, salt, and pepper and cook until the liver starts to change its color. Make sure not to cook for too long!
6.    When the color of the liver turns darker, add cognac, wine, and Madeira wine. Add the thyme and bay leaves and cook until the moisture is cooked off.
7.    When the mixture becomes thicker and the excess moisture is gone, turn the heat off. Remove thyme and bay leaves from the mixture, and transfer it to food processor.
8.    Add 4 tablespoons of butter in the food processor and process until the mixture becomes paste-like. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
9.    Transfer to airtight container and cover with saran wrap. When the mixture is cool enough, move it to the fridge to let it harden.

*The pate keeps for about a week. You can freeze them if you cant finish it.
*If you cant find white liver then just use normal chicken liver.
*If you dont have Madeira wine on hand, use port wine or more red wine.

We should wait until the pate hardens in the fridge but I usually cant resist eating when its still soft. It tastes great when soft too!