An Apple Cake to Celebrate….Something! Anything!

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Here is what I think…or one of the millions of things I think….find something to celebrate. It can be a little thing or a big thing or nothing real at all, but some creative thing going on inside your head. Take some time to celebrate something. It can only be a good thing, right?

This apple cake is of my own invention to celebrate no one thing, but just the season, the beautiful apples I had, a few lovely soft orange rose hips,  some antique pieces recently acquired for props, the light coming in through the window on this particular day while I played with this still life. More than plenty to celebrate I think don’t you?

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I made a wee cake and a larger cake..one to give away and one to enjoy.

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A dusting of powdered sugar always seems celebratory to me.

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An Apple Cake to Celebrate

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Ingredients:

  • 6 crisp, tart apples or whatever is your favorite, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Spelt flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • powdered sugar for dusting over top of finished cake

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with parchment paper and then spray sides and bottom with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Toss together in a bowl the apple slices & 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand, or hand mixer, blend together the remaining granulated sugar, raw sugar, spelt flour, baking powder, apple pie spice, vanilla extract, eggs and butter.
  4. Fold in half the sugar-coated apples and spoon into the prepared springform pan. Top with remaining apple slices & chopped almonds.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour or until cooked throughout when tested with a skewer. Let cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then remove the sides and cool cake on a wire rack.
  6. Right before serving add a generous, celebratory, dusting of powdered sugar.

Note: Is delicious with a bit of whipped cream as well. If you decide to make a wee and larger cake like I did use a smaller 8 inch pan and an even smaller 6 inch pan. Worked great.

Teresa Blackburn   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com     http://www.foodofifth.com

Hooray…It’s National Cereal Day Orange Peel-Cardamom Gluten-Free Granola

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Hooray, March 7th is National Cereal Day and I celebrated this morning (really, most mornings!) with some Greek yogurt topped with my homemade “Orange Peel-Cardamom Gluten-Free Granola” and fresh blueberries.

Every time I make granola I tweak my basic recipe using whatever I happen to have in my pantry at the time. Recently I have ended up with quite a few nuts and flaked coconut leftover from photo shoots, as well as maple syrup and lots of oranges. One thing I noticed when looking back on previous granola posts is that each time I make it the mix gets simpler and simpler. Hopefully this translates into other parts of my life!

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Ingredients tossed together and spread out on parchment paper lined sheet pans ready for the oven…….

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… baked and finished off with additional ingredients.

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The candied orange peel (how-to candy orange peel here) and cardamom give this granola a wonderfully complex flavor that is both earthy and rich.

Here…..have a bite! Happy Cereal Day all month!

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Orange Peel Cardamom Gluten Free Granola

  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 cup pecan halves & pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries or cherries, divided
  • 1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened, divided
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup slices almonds
  • 1/2 cup slivered orange peel, plain or candied

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl mix together the rolled oats, whole almonds, pecan halves and pieces, half of the dried cranberries and half of the coconut flakes. Toss ingredients together.
  3. Whisk together the cardamom and maple syrup. Drizzle over the oat mixture and toss to coat all ingredients well.
  4. Evenly divide mixture between the two sheet pans and spread out into even layers. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring often, until mixture is a light golden brown.
  5. Remove pans from the oven and evenly divide the remaining ingredients between the two pans – the second half of the dried cranberries and coconut flakes along with the sliced almonds and orange peel. Stir around to mix and return pans to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove pans from the oven and let granola cool completely. Store in airtight containers for up to 3 months. You can also store in the refrigerator. A jar of homemade granola makes a great gift!

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstying.com     http://www.foodonfifth.com

A Winter Dessert, Deep Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

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The light goes early this late November. I catch the last few minutes as my tart comes out of the oven. Dark, deeper colors as the sun sets casting a winter mood.

Deep dark chocolate….ground almonds…6 ripe, yet firm fall pears. Strong and delicate flavors melded to become something magical in the waning light.

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Small Seckel Pears, sometimes called “sugar pears” due to their sweetness. are the perfect fit for this recipe. Pears are very abundant in markets these days with a great variety on offer.

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Carefully cored and peeled,  I used the stems to add a bit of style.  I love the way they look when baked on top of each little pear.

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Before and after baking….

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…up close, ready to slice and eat.

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Yum and yum.

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A Winter Dessert, Deep, Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened + extra for brushing on tart pan
  • 6 firm, yet ripe Seckel Pears, cored, peeled, saving stems
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, whole or slivered
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemons zest
  • powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush tart pan sides and bottom with softened butter.
  3. Toss prepped pears with the lemon juice
  4. Process sugar and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and almond extracts, salt and zest until combined into a thick batter. Scrape batter into the tart pan and spread out evenly.
  5. Gently press pears into the batter around the edge of the pan evenly spaced. Insert the stems down into the pears. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake tart until puffy, for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out with a few wet crumbs attached. Take care to not overbake. Cool tart on a wire rack.
  7. Serve dusted with powdered sugar if desired.

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs – Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Holiday gift giving 2015 will soon be in full swing and there are so many ways to make it easier and more personal. I am not much for shopping but I do love to make things. This is the first in a series I will post every so often during November and December. Easy edible food gifts to help get you through the Holidays with a sense of well-being and sharing.

My recipe, if you want to call it that, for “Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Cocoa-coated Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs/Cacao Nibs” is amazingly easy. It takes no special skills and it allows for lots of experimentation. The time for this batch was about 15 minutes! It doesn’t get any better than that! Don’t you feel more relaxed already?

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Olive and Sinclair Mexican Chocolate bars melted with some Nestle’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Morsels in the top of a double boiler….

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…poured out on a flat pan covered with parchment paper & spread around with a rubber spatula….

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…dusted & studded with toppings.

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A quick chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes and it is ready to break up into bite-size pieces.

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The dusting of chipotle chili and dark espresso powders give this chocolate an indulgently intense flavor that will appeal to all your chocolate obsessed friends.

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Place pieces in decorative tins or boxes for gift giving. Great host or hostess gifts.

Chipotle-Dark Chocolate Studded with Pistachios, Almonds, Sea Salt, Espresso Powder & Cocoa Nibs - Edible Gift Giving 2015

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces Olive & Sinclair Mexican Chocolate Bars (or any other bittersweet chocolate)
  • 8 ounces Nestles semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other brand)
  • Chipotle Powder to taste
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup cocoa covered whole almonds or regular almonds, rough chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • flakey sea salt such as Maldon
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Gather and prep all ingredients before you start melting the chocolate.
  2. Melt chocolate in the top of double boiler pan until smooth and without any lumps.
  3. Remove from heat, wipe pan bottom with a kitchen towel and pour/scrape melted chocolate out onto the parchment paper. Smooth with a dry rubber spatula.
  4. Dust over the entire surface with chipotle powder. More or less to fit your palate. I like more.
  5. Dust with the espresso powder and sprinkle with pistachios, almonds, sea salt & cocoa nibs generously. Press larger nut pieces down into chocolate gently with fingers.
  6. Place pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. Remove when chocolate is hard, break into pieces. Store pieces in airtight containers. Best made and gifted within a couple of days.

Note: I made this up on a whim using what I had in my pantry, but you can totally experiment and add chopped dried fruit, coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, black pepper, etc…

Teresa Blackburn     teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      foodonfifth.com

Plum Yum Almond Cake

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Every summer as The Plum Tree on my street becomes laden with ripening fruit it looks like it is about to topple over. The owner is clever in using large sticks and boards to prop up the limbs that without some intervention would no doubt break off. The Plum Tree needs a bit of trimming here and there, a little bit of pruning love, but, alas, it is not my tree.

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On the other hand, I have been enjoying the fruit of this tree for 10 years this summer. This year has a wonderful crop. I picked a small boxful this weekend…many from the ground and a few from the tree. It is never good to be greedy with another’s fruit!  Here is what they looked like when I got them home…..

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….rinsed & drained…..

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,,,,cut in half & cored….

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….topping off my easy-to-make almond cake batter….

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….Plum Yum…..

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Plum Yum Almond Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: plum easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe, but firm plums, cut in half & cored
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond flour mixed with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps almond extract
  • 1/2 cup almonds , slivered or sliced
  • powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a 9″ deep dish pie pan or cake pan melt the 1 stick of butter.
  3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, flours & extract just until blended. Do not over whisk. Scrape batter into pie pan with melted butter.
  4. Arrange the plum halves, cut side down, on top of the batter & scatter the almonds over all.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes until cake is a light golden brown. It is okay if the very center is a bit jiggly. Cool on a wire rack. Serve dusted with powdered sugar.

Notes: This cake is a dense moist cake and best eaten the day it is made. I did heat a slice in the oven the day after I made it and it was delicious with a cup of coffee.

If you prefer you can use more plums to cover the top of the batter more.

Recipe by: Teresa Blackburn         http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

A Mother’s Day Tennessee Strawberry Tart

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This week they arrived, plump, sweet and plentiful. Those small, round baby berries. Tennessee Strawberries. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I made this tart with the first ones I purchased after eating half the carton one-by-one.

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I have never been a big fan of cooked strawberries as in strawberry pie or strawberry cobblers. Something about the berries becoming “mushy” during the cooking process just doesn’t appeal to my palate. This tart is different. The berries stay firm and keep their color, they do not get mushy nor discolored.  It has a wonderful crispy crust that doesn’t get soggy on the bottom. With only a few ingredients it is quick and easy, beautifully rustic and will just make you, or your mother, very happy bite-by-bite.

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This is what a really fresh, ripe, just picked locally grown Tennessee Strawberry looks like up close. Not perfect, not dark red and very red inside as well as outside. They are fragrant. Here are some places you can go and pick your own berries in Middle Tennessee if you like. I am pretty happy to let others do the picking for me. These berries came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.

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Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.

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Four ingredients is all that is needed for this crust. If you are in a big hurry you can, of course, use a refrigerator roll-out dough. In a food processor my crust takes about 5 minutes to make. Give it a try.

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Warm from the oven…..

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….come on…get a bit closer…let’s have a bite. Share some with your Mom, or someone else’s Mom. Make this while the local strawberries are available…it is a fleeting season.

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Tennessee Strawberry Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Strawberry Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/4 cup raw sugar divided
  • 4 Tbsp ice water
  • 2 cups rinsed, hulled & halved small strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. For this easy crust just put butter, flour-salt mixture & 1 Tbsp of the raw sugar in a food processor and pulse just until mixture is blended. Drizzle in ice water while pulsing mixture until a dough ball forms. Remove dough from processor, form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Place halved berries and sliced almonds in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch & remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar over & gently toss to coat berries. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
  5. Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
  6. Pile strawberry filling in the middle of the dough circle and gently fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Brush dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  7. Bake tart for about 40 -50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly. Remove from oven & cool tart on pan set on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This tart was very good for a few days and the bottom crust never got soggy!

(Recipe is based on one that I did for an editorial client earlier this Spring for a photo shoot. I, of course, made a number of changes to make it more user-friendly.)

“Hola! Granola” (A Gluten-Free Swimsuit Crash Course)

Hola Granola

 I was in Quintana Roo, Mexico at the beach recently. Meaning I lived in my swimsuit. Lounging on  the beach, daily snorkeling in the turquoise sea, swinging carefree in a hammock every afternoon….did I say I lived in my swimsuit?

 Ay Dios Mios!

Need I say more?…..

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Yes! Upon checking out a few post vacation photos taken of me by my traveling companion, Terry M, it is now definitely “Hola! Granola” time for me!

This recipe is easy, gluten-free and has a few special ingredients…dried white peaches, pepitas, Quinoa & molasses along with a splash of fresh lemon juice to brighten all the flavors.

Here is what you will need:

3 cups Gluten-Free Oats (Bob’s Red Mill)

1/2 cup each – dried White Peaches (Trader Joe’s), dried Cranberries, unsweetened Coconut Flakes or Shreds, Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds), Quinoa (I used a tri-color, but any will be fine)

 1 cup slivered Almonds,

1/4 cup Honey  + 1 generous Tbsp. Molasses mixed together with the juice of 1/2 lemon & 1/4 cup olive oil

Sprinkle of Sea Salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large mixing bowl toss together the Gluten-Free Oats, slivered Almonds, Pepitas & Quinoa. Drizzle the Honey-Molasses-Lemon Juice-Olive Oil mixture over and toss until ingredients are well coated. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake another 10 minutes & stir again. After 20 minutes remove the pan from the oven &  add the dried  fruit & coconut to the pan and toss together well. Bake another 20 minutes. “Hola! Granola” should be a medium-light golden brown. Remove pan from the oven to cool completely to “crunch up” before storing in glass jars with tight-fitting lids.

This recipe does not come with a money-back guarantee, but if you eat this every morning with some fat-free or low-fat Greek Yogurt (high in protein), carry a little bag  around to munch on for a mid-day snack, and take a lots of long walks “Hola! Granola” will no doubt be very effective as a “Swimsuit Crash Course” whether on a Mexico Beach or just lounging in your backyard.

Try it and let me know how it is working.

Dive In

It’s almost Spring. Adios Winter!