Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Make-ahead apple cake

This cake, courtesy of Diane Phillips, can be made up to a month ahead and frozen; the sauce can be made up to a week before and kept in the refrigerator.

Hot Apple Cake with Caramel Pecan Sauce
Serves 8

Ingredients for cake
2 sticks butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. baking soda

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for caramel sauce 
4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup pecan halves

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup whipping cream

Vanilla ice cream

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, until well blended. Add flour, spices and soda and beat until just incorporated. Mix in the apples, nuts and vanilla. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove to rack to cool. Refrigerate the cake when cooled. Reheat in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.

To make the caramel sauce: Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add pecan halves. Add brown sugar and whipping cream, and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce boils and sugar dissolves. Refrigerate for up to a week. To serve, place a wedge of warm cake onto dessert plate. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon hot caramel pecan sauce over all.

Per serving (with sauce and ice cream): 485 cal.; 5 g pro.; 52 g carb.; 29 g fat (15 sat., 11 monounsat., 3 polyunsat.); 115 mg chol.; 177 mg sod.; 2 g fiber; 31 g sugar; 54 percent calories from fat.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Want a stress-free Thanksgiving? Start early

Thanksgiving is a hard concept for the cook in the family: What in the heck is there to be thankful for? You cook and cook and cook, and present a beautiful table, yet in an hour or two, everyone's stuffed and in front of the TV and there are mounds of dishes to be done. Well, I can't help you with the cleanup, but you can take a load off the front end of the production by preparing many of the traditional dishes ahead of time, so that all you really need to prepare on Thursday is the turkey. Here's your timeline: Start cooking Sunday; buy bird Wednesday. Sunday: Make the apple cake and/or the pumpkin ice cream pie and freeze (the sauces can be refrigerated). Monday: Make the Gulliver's Corn. Refrigerate. Tuesday: Make the Curried Cream of Pumpkin Soup and the Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes. Blanch the green beans and make the sauce for that dish. Refrigerate. Wednesday: Pick up a fresh turkey, allowing 3/4 to 1 pound per person. Make stock from the neck and giblets. Make stuffing and gravy; refrigerate. Wash turkey in cold water and dry well; cover and refrigerate. Set the table and cover with a sheet. Take the cake out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. Thursday: Determine when you would like to eat. Calculate the cooking time, stuff the turkey, place it on a rack in a large roasting pan and bake as directed. If you don't stuff the turkey, put the dressing into a loaf pan and cook it with the turkey for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 45 minutes while you heat the soup, the gravy and vegetable sauce on the stove, and bake the potatoes and corn in the 350-degree oven. Take out the green beans from the fridge. After 25-30 minutes, take out the potatoes and corn and crank up the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, serve the soup and urge everyone to start without you. Carve the turkey. Remove the stuffing to a serving dish, or slice it from the loaf pans. Toss the green beans with the sauce. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees. Serve and enjoy! For dessert, put the apple cake into the oven 10 minutes before you're ready to serve. Heat up the sauce. Serve up the cake and top with sauce. Or soften the ice-cream pie a bit by putting it in the refrigerator before sitting down to eat, then serve it with its sauce after the meal. Actually, the cake can be made up to a month in advance, and it's good for any fall event. I'll reprint the recipe tomorrow. The rest I'll post the week before Thanksgiving so you'll have time to shop.