Sunday, October 26, 2014

Upside Down Apple Cake

For some reason, I recall past memories more readily when there is food involved.  Take for example, apples.  I started thinking about my memories of apple picking.  The first memory that came back was Ellijay in northern Georgia at R and A Orchard with my family.  I remembered the apples hanging plentifully on the trees looking like a still life waiting to be painted.  We had a great time, and picked more than our fair share of apples.  (I blogged about it back in October 2009).  Then I remembered apple picking in southern California in the mountains of Julian.  Julian is known for their apple pies, so delicious they inspired me to pick and bake my own back then.  Gosh, I miss those apple pies and the apple aroma of that apple mountain town!  Still letting my mind wander, the fall hikes in the countryside of Germany were recalled and picking apples along the path.  The apple trees would be so heavy with apples, sticks were placed to support branches.  Often ladders were left leaning on the trees waiting for the harvest to resume.  The taste of those countryside apples still lingers in my mind, they were crisp and sweet and so appreciated on some of those way too long hikes.  And then I remembered what I think was my first apple picking.  I was in high school and as part of the tennis team, we would run across town to the practice tennis courts. The neighboring property to the courts was lined with apple trees ~ some even had branches that hung over the fence, to our delight!  Now those apples were crisp and TART, but we didn't care we greedily picked and ate.
This fall, I have purchased apples from my local farmers market.  The apples come from Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge and almost every week there is a new variety to sample.  Check out their website  They have a comprehensive list of the apples they grow and an informative description of those apples.
Apples bring back nostalgic memories of autumn, not only picking, but also baking.  Pies, crisps, cakes and strudels, I've eaten them all.  This year, I made an Upside Down Apple Cake, it was pure heaven and another food memory to recall for the future.  The Upside Down Apple Cake is the perfect excuse to take a break, enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake while watching the leaves fall.  Maybe even a new addition to your Thanksgiving desserts.

Upside Down Apple Cake
adapted from Food and Wine magazine, Joanne Chang

1 cup maple syrup
3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
optional for serving; creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter and flour a 10 inch round cake pan.
2.  In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until maple syrup is reduced to 3/4 cup.
3.  Pour the reduced maple syrup into the cake pan and covering the bottom completely with the maple syrup.  Arrange the apple slices on top of the maple syrup in a concentric circle, overlapping the slices. Repeat with an inner circle.  Fill the pan completely with apple slices.
4.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
5.  In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  In 3 alternating batches, beat the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.
6.  Pour the batter over the apple slices and smooth evenly.  Bake for 90 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cake on a rack for 45 minutes.
7.  Run a knife around the cake and invert it on to a serving plate.  Serve with creme fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

 The other day I had an amazing Roasted Cauliflower Soup from my local bakery.  It was so good, yes, it inspired me to attempt a recreation at home.  I have made Roasted Cauliflower Soup before, but with cheese.  What can I say, it was NOT a favorite and somehow, I wished I had just roasted the cauliflower added some Parmesan cheese and eaten it, end of production. But this Roasted Cauliflower Soup had more layers of flavor.  There was fennel and lemon, so clean tasting and like most soup it was filling and satisfying.  Once again I went on a recipe search with Google, trying to pin point what I thought I had tasted.  Combining a few different recipes I developed a KEEPER of my own.  The Roasted Cauliflower Soup I had from my bakery was made with vegetable broth, however, I just happened to have some homemade chicken broth on hand.  **HUGE chicken broth tip here! I have been reading and cooking out of "French Roots" by Jean-Pierre Moulle and Denise Lurton Moulle. When making chicken broth I have always made it starting with a raw chicken. In "French Roots" Jean-Pierre advises to take the leftover roasted chicken carcass add onion, bay leaves, thyme and water to a large stock pot and simmer for about one hour. Easy and delicious chicken broth!!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
inspiration from Theo's Brothers Bakery
adapted from

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 small to medium fennel bulbs, cored and quartered
2 apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth, homemade if possible
1- 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 lemons, juiced - or to taste
Italian parsley, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F
2.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine cauliflower, fennel and apple.  Toss with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.  Spread the vegetable/fruit mixture on the lined baking sheet in a single layer, salt and pepper the mixture.  Roast for 25 minutes. Stir and turn mixture after 15 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a large pot add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Add the  onions cooking until translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes.  Add roasted cauliflower, fennel and apples, chicken broth, and garbanzo beans to the pot with onions and garlic.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly and then puree in blender.  Return puree to pot and warm thoroughly.
4.  To serve sprinkle with dukkah and parsley.

Dukkah is a Middle Eastern nut and spice blend.  I purchased mine at Trader Joes. I also use it on eggs, vegetables and pasta dishes. Pin It

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Late Summer Roasted Vegetables

I am a farmers market advocate. When in need of a dose of inspiration for dinner and/or a nudge toward healthier eating, I seek out a farmers market.  Warning, farmers markets are NOT created equal, but when you find one that inspires and nudges you to your happy place, you will know.  This summer I discovered a gem of a farmers market located in a quiet neighborhood close to Atlanta called Morningside  The market is small maybe 12-15 vendors, but all certified organic and the produce must be grown within the state of Georgia or within 150 miles of Atlanta. The market is year round, every Saturday 7:30-11:30 A.M. (January 1- March 31, 8:00-11:30 A.M.)
The Morningside farmers market became a welcomed Saturday morning ritual for my daughters and me this summer.  We would get up early for the 30-40 minute commute to the market.  Our goal was to get get there at 7:30, but early morning reality got us there usually just after 8:00.  Our first stop was always La Calavera Bakery for the savory and chocolate croissants, the select pastries are the first to sell out.  Next stop Crystal Organic Farm for heirloom tomatoes, peppers, salad, figs, okra, the list of favorites would evolve from week to week.  They always have a line of customers patiently waiting their turn!  After securing our favorite baked goods and prized vegetables we would wander the other vendors for added treasures.  Flowers at the farmers market are a must.  Check out my Instagram (@alwaysravenous) for just a taste of the gorgeous flowers to be had. 
After our baskets were full and we could not carry any more, we would make our way home feasting on a croissant and discussing what we would make for dinner with our newly acquired vegetables.
Our farmers market vegetables take center stage on our dinner table - they are a feast for our eyes as well as our stomachs.  As luck would have it, vegetables are edging out other food groups currently in cookbooks and food magazines.
This summer while visiting family in Wisconsin, I came across a great article in "Midwestern Living" on oven roasted vegetables and fruits using sheet pans.  A few of my favorites were a sheet pan mixed with green beans, broccoli, mushroom and grapes and an Asian flavor mix of sliced green cabbage with plums and almonds.  The combinations are limitless, fun to create, quick to make and healthy!
My most recent trip to the farmers market featured late summer produce of eggplants and peppers so I created a ratatouille of sorts.   My late summer roasted vegetables inspired by my farmers market produce, an article from my summer vacation, and my favorite cookbook of late, "Ottolenghi The Cookbook" for its Mediterranean, full flavored simple food.

Late Summer Roasted Vegetables

2 small to medium globe eggplants, cut into 1 inch dice
2 cups mixed red, orange and yellow peppers, cut into 1-1/2 inch dice
1 medium red onion, cut into 1-1/2 inch dice
8-10 campari tomatoes, halved and seeded
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Za'atar
Extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 425 F
2. In a medium bowl toss eggplant with about 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.  Salt and pepper.
3.  Line a 12" X 17" sheet pan with parchment paper.  Pile the peppers and onions on the sheet pan and toss with about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Salt and pepper.  Add the eggplant to the pepper mixture and toss again.  Sprinkle with Za'atar and toss again.
4. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile in a medium bowl toss the tomatoes with extra virgin oil just to lightly coat, add salt and pepper.  After the first 20 minutes add the tomatoes to the other vegetables and gently toss.  Continue to roast for 10-15 minutes.
5.  Cool slightly and sprinkle with parsley. Makes a delicious side to grilled herb marinated lamb chops and olive bread.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Homemade Granola

Why make your own granola?  Making your own granola is EASY and more importantly, you determine the ingredients.  I keep hearing the mantra, ...our food today has all these "extra" ingredients added in,  could this be part of the reason we look heavier now than say 20 years ago?  I don't know for sure, but I do know, when you make something yourself you get to control the ingredient list. 
I have a friend that explained to me everything she puts into her smoothies has a purpose.  I decided to apply her logic to my homemade granola. 

Oats - high in fiber, lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, stabilizes blood sugar, lowers type 2 diabetes risk and this is just the short list!
Nuts - sunflower seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds - vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory
Coconut - flavor enhancer, vitamins and minerals
Fresh or Dried Fruit of your choice - can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease & stroke, prevent some cancers and the list goes on
Ceylon Cinnamon - lowers blood sugar, antimicrobial properties and brain booster
Salt - flavor enhancer, you can control the amount
Orange Zest - flavor
Maple syrup and Butter - more flavor, but you could also use honey and oil.

In the end it has to taste good and homemade granola will make you smile!  My favorite breakfast is homemade granola sprinkled over Greek yogurt (protein booster).  Depending on my mood, I add different dried or fresh fruit right before I eat it.


adapted from "Super Natural Every Day" Heidi Swanson

4 cups organic Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded large flake coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
grated zest of 2 oranges
4 oz. unsalted butter
6 oz. maple syrup
fresh or dried fruit of your choice (add right before serving)

1.  Preheat the oven to 300 F.  Position the racks on the top and bottom third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, salt, cinnamon and orange zest.
3. In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low heat.  Remove from heat.  Whisk the maple syrup into the melted butter.  Pour the mixture over the oat mixture and combine well.  Stir until everything is well coated. 
4.  Divide the mixture onto the baking sheets.  Spreading it out to make a thin layer.
5.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes.  (Stir and rotate pans after the first 25 minutes.)
6.  Granola should be a nice golden color.  Cool completely and store in an air tight container at room temperature.

makes 2 lbs.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Do I Blog?

I  started blogging almost five years ago.  I wanted to share my passion for cooking, food and WINE.  I am a curious person, ALWAYS on the search for something new to cook up.  Cooking for me is so much more than getting accolades for a tasty dinner.  It is my creative outlet, my zen time, it balances me and connects me to my garden, a farmers market, nature, art, culture - yes, food and wine is all that and more for me! Over the years ALWAYS RAVENOUS has become a collection, a hub where even I can locate my favorite recipes.  ALWAYS RAVENOUS is shaped by what I read, trends, whether culinary or health driven, travel, memories - again the list goes on.
So why do I blog?  Because food and wine are ALWAYS on my mind.  Because I want to try that new recipe or taste that bottle of wine.  Blogging keeps me on a quest to learn and discover more and then, share that excitement and joy.
Right now my focus is WINE.  When I started my Pinot Noir project, which I really started as a food and wine pairing "focus", I stumbled across the book I am currently reading "The New California Wine" by Jon Bonne.  Reading this book is taking me down another path for a desire to learn more about wine.  The "new" California winemakers are all about terroir and what a grape varietal can, and should taste like.
I recently tasted 2 (actually 3) Russian River Pinot Noirs that were to be my "crown jewels" from that region.  Paul Hobbs 2010 & 2011 and Merry Edwards 2008. Paul Hobbs Winery  Merry Edwards Winery  All these Pinot Noirs I enjoyed, even though I struggled to find "the perfect" food pairing to complete the experience.  The Paul Hobbs Pinot Noirs I had with my Thanksgiving dinner and the Merry Edwards with a birthday celebration of garlicky chicken, Moroccan couscous and a goat cheese salad.
The flavors and wine notes adhere to the typical Pinot Noir flavor profiles, The Wine Aroma Wheel. The wines from my perspective were well made, nicely balanced with that alluring finish that makes you smile. But the more Pinot Noirs I taste I realize, I want to go to the next level of interpreting what I am tasting.  So to get to the next level I am becoming a student again.  First adding to my reading list and joining a local chapter of the American Wine Society to taste more, learn more and come back here to share what I discover. Cheers to good wine and food and ALWAYS with good company! 
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Cheers It's Friday ~ Drinking Pinot Noir and Thinking Thanksgiving

Cheer It's Friday with a glass of Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir in one hand and a notebook in the other hand planning my Thanksgiving feast.

The Wine:
2010 Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley
Sonoma County

My Tasting Notes:
A smooth concentration of plum with some earthy notes.  Perfectly balanced elegant wine.  My favorite so far along the Russian River Valley of Pinot Noirs.
Alcohol 14.5%

After tasting this Pinot Noir, I will be running to the store to buy more Sonoma Cutrer 2010 Pinot Noir for my Thanksgiving dinner.  This wine will be a nice pairing with my sage rubbed turkey, cornbread chestnut stuffing and a new addition, roasted kabocha squash.  Somehow I am late to the kabocha squash party trend....until now.  Kabosha squash has been popping up in recent cookbooks, food magazines, restaurants, and most recently on my "Panna" iPhone app.  Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton of the Canal House prepare roasted kabocha squash via video on Panna - it is awesome, I highly recommend this app.  I adapted their recipe to make it a little more wine friendly, leaving out the lemon and adding some pomegranate seeds.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Pomegranate Seeds
adapted from Panna - The Canal House
1 large Kabocha Squash
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
1 Small Bunch Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Cut the squash in half down the equator side (not through the stem side).  Scoop out seeds and discard. Cut squash halves into quarters.
2.  Place squash on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over the squash quarters.  With your hands coat the squash with the oil.  Salt and pepper each quarter.  Roast for one hour.
3.  While the squash is roasting, cut the pomegranate in half and submerge one half in a bowl of cold water.  Peel the seeds out from the white pithy part while holding the pomegranate under the water, this will eliminate pomegranate juice from squirting everywhere.  The seeds will sink to the bottom and the white pith will float to the top.  Repeat with the other half and then strain the seeds.
4.  When the squash is done, drizzle a little olive oil over the roasted squash and top with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

I guess Cheers It's Friday is just a primer for the big turkey just 6 days!
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Favorite New Cookbooks Fall 2013

Food Bloggers love cookbooks, we read them like a good novel.  Fall is prime time for new cookbooks to released.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs over the weekend, Pinch My Salt, and she reviewed her latest cookbook couch reads.  Just like Nicole of Pinch my Salt, I too take a stack of cookbooks with coffee and notebook in hand to the couch and plot out menus and new recipes to try, not to mention taking in a dose of inspiration and relaxation. 
Just to add to the Food Blogger list of new favorite cookbooks, here is my most recent list of favorites. 


"The A.O.C Cookbook" by Suzanne Goin
This cookbook was the one I was waiting for with great anticipation.  I have cooked through and been inspired by her previous book "Sunday Suppers at Lucques."  A.O.C. is a cookbook that I will go to for more inspiring and great tasting menus.  The section on salads has already influenced and challenged me to create a new Thanksgiving salad.  Stay tune. Another great feature is the wine pairing notes for each recipe by Caroline Styne, business partner to Suzanne Goin and wine director for the restaurant group.

"Keepers" by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion
This book I discovered through Twitter, I can't remember who tweeted about it, but as the title implies recipes worth keeping.  It is a great collection of tasty time efficient recipes for busy week night cooking. 

"Feel Good Food" by Giada De Laurentiis
I bought this cookbook last Friday and started cooking and baking and simply loving it and yes feeling good!  Giada's food is the kind I crave and her recipes are straight forward, my family loves them, and they don't create a huge kitchen clean up.   

"The Art of Simple Food II" by Alice Waters
Alice's first "Art of Simply Food" cookbook is my indispensable go to cookbook for dinner ideas with flavor that never disappoint.  "Art of Simply Food II"  will get me back into the garden and focused on the seasonal foods.  I have always been a believer in the kitchen garden. Herbs are a main stay in my garden year round and thank goodness for farmers markets and local CSAs. Vegetables with Alice are never boring! Pin It