Thursday, May 25, 2017

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, and that's partly due to travel I've been on, and all the catch up that's necessary upon return. 
I wish I had something more seasonal to show you, which I plan to do after I've gotten back to my routine (if there is one!). 
For now, I'm giving you a cake recipe I made a few months ago, but that tastes good any time of year.
It's from Ruth Reichl's book, "My Kitchen Year" - a cookbook really - with some narrative before each recipe, outlining how she felt after Gourmet magazine folded, and what she decided to do with her time after she was no longer editor of the magazine.
There are quite a few good recipes in the book, including this one. Please don't leave off the caramel glaze. The cake would be good without it, but with it, it's transformative.
Speaking of transformative, how would you like to spend a week at this villa in late September? 

Well, you still have a chance. We have only one spot left, so don't delay. 
Join us for our memoir writing retreat on Lake Como in the beautiful village of Varenna. You don't have to be a professional writer - just have interest in learning- whether you're male or female!! 
Find out more by going to But hurry before it's too late.

Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Gingered Applesauce Cake

From Ruth Reichl's "My Kitchen Year - 136 Recipes That Saved My Life"

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 knob fresh ginger

  • 2/3 cup neutral vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Pepper

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • For glaze

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Break eggs into a large bowl. Whisk in sugars and brown sugar. Add ½ tablespoon (or more) of freshly grated ginger and the applesauce. Whisk in the oil and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Put flour in small bowl. Whisk baking soda, salt, a few grinds of pepper, cinnamon and ground cloves into the flour and stir gently into the applesauce mixture.

Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes until cake bounces back when you press your finger into it.

Cook cake for 15 minutes on a rack before turning it out and allowing it to cool.

Make glaze: Put cream in a heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk in brown sugar, corn syrup and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and continue to boil for about 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes.

When glaze has come together into a smooth, thick caramel, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Put the cake, still on the rack, over a sheet of waxed paper. Carefully pour the glaze over the cake. If you don’t mind a bit of a mess, you can simply pour the glaze less carefully over the cake and let it drop onto the plate.

Serves 8 to 10.

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Monday, May 8, 2017


 What you're looking at is one of my favorite vegetables - broccoli raab -- topped with lots of toasted garlic cloves.  It's also got anchovies in the recipe, but honestly if you're squeamish about them, you'd never know they're in there. They kind of dissolve into the oil when you're smashing them with a wooden spoon. But they do add a certain "umami" flavor that kicks up the taste a lot, and leaves you wondering "mmm" what's that taste in there?

This recipe is similar to the way I've been making broccoli raab for decades, and it's found in a book called "Garlic" by Robin Cherry. It's an edible biography of the history, politics and mythology behind the world's most pungent food.

My book group read it recently and gathered to talk about it, as well as prepare food from the 100 recipes included in the book.

Each of us brought a recipe from the book that featured garlic. One of the appetizers couldn't be more garlic themed if you tried - roasted garlic. After the heads of garlic, drizzled with olive oil, roasted in the oven for 45 minutes, we smeared it on crackers and gobbled it down.

 Next we feasted on gambas al ajillo - the classic Spanish tapas dish featuring shrimp, lots of garlic and a generous splash of brandy.
We had a garlic soup course too, a remarkably mild and sweet soup served with strands of vermicelli.
The main course was a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin, slathered with a mustard-garlic-herb crust before roasting, and served with a garlic horseradish sauce (not pictured here).

We couldn't forget vegetables, and a few people brought those, including this roasted garlic and quinoa salad that included arugula, olives, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese.
The roasted eggplant with garlic and LOTS of olive oil was so delectable, I had to refrain from eating the whole plate.
The broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies rounded out the vegetables and you can find the recipe below.
If you are a garlic lover, you will love this book, not only for the recipes, which are terrific, but for all the garlic legends and lore you'll learn about, and how it's viewed by different cultures around the world.
The book even includes a few dessert recipes featuring garlic, but we decided we'd prefer a little sorbet to cleanse the palate after a night of eating garlic in each course. It didn't stanch my love of garlic in any way, in fact, eating all that garlic in different courses gave me appreciation of the different flavors garlic can have, from very mild to very pungent, depending on how long you cook it and how much you use.
The book also gives instructions on how to plant garlic, something I did last fall, after a friend of my son's, who owns McCollum Orchards in upstate New York, gave me some produce from his farm, including several beautiful, big heads of garlic. Most of them we cooked in various recipes, but I saved a couple of bulbs to plant, separating the cloves and putting them in the ground last fall.
They're coming up beautifully and should be ready to harvest in late June or early July. You can plant them now too, but the bulbs will undoubtedly be smaller than if you had planted them in the fall.
Even if you can't grow your own garlic, try to find garlic grown locally for the freshest taste and highest quality.
I'm including the recipe for the broccoli raab, but you'll have to buy the book for the other recipes pictured above. It's well worth the read.
News Flash: We're almost sold out for our memoir writing workshop on beautiful Lake Como. Hurry if you'd like the chance to learn how to improve your writing, eat memorable meals and have this view from your bedroom at Villa Monastero in Varenna each morning. For more information, contact me by email or go to
Want more Ciao Chow Linda? Check out my Instagram page here to see more of what I'm cooking up each day. 
You can also connect with Ciao Chow Linda here on Facebook, here for Pinterest or  here for Twitter.

Broccoli raab with toasted garlic and anchovies

from "Garlic" by Robin Cherry

makes 4 servings

1 1/2 lb. broccoli raab, stems peeled

3 tbsp olive oil

8 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

3 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the broccoli raab and cook it until it is bright green and barely tender, about 3 minutes. Immediately transfer it to a colander and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking. Let the broccoli raab drain well.

Combine the oil and garlic in a sauté pan and heat it gently over medium heat until the garlic is golden brown and crisp. Lift the toasted garlic from the oil and set aside.

Add the anchovy fillets and red pepper flakes and sauté, smashing the anchovy with the back of a spoon until it dissolves. Add the drained broccoli raab and continue to sauté, tossing or stirring until it is evenly coated and very hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the dish with salt and pepper.

Serve the broccoli raab at once, topped with the toasted garlic.

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