Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce

Apple-buckwheat-crepe-front_Yes,-more-please!

“With an apple I will astonish Paris.”
~ Paul Cezanne ~

This cake is for the person who loves to cook and who enjoys the process of creating, and building something from scratch; layering flavors, textures, and aromas. This cake taught me patience. From the conception, to the making I learned all the way. I learned that fast and easy are not always worth it. I was reminded of the “virtuous” character of patience. We can use it when we desire the outcome we imagine. To enjoy making this cake, reserve time, and relax. There is something about craftsmanship in this recipe that I love, especially the gratification of assembling the components. The results of such efforts are worth every step.

Time, and patience are the main ingredients. Apples, buckwheat flour ,butter ,and apple cider are the witnesses to the madness. The smells are insane once you start to cook; peeling the green apples, that crisp sweetness from breaking the skins, to the nutty and buttery aromas that fill the kitchen with a warm cloud when making the buckwheat crepes.

Imagine 26 soft silky layers of light, thin, buttery and nutty buckwheat crepes carefully layered with thinly sliced tart green apples sautéed with cinnamon and honey, mascarpone cinnamon cheese spread between layers. Add toasted pecans and a tipsy cider caramel sauce that sinuously hangs from the crispy feathery crêpe edges…This is the ultimate tribute to the apple and buckwheat love affair.

When you cut the first slice of this cake, your work shows, it makes you feel like a better person and all that patience and love invested in the creation it is absolutely worth it for a slice of this cake.

Fifty percent apples plus cheese and a bit of flour make it almost guiltless and mildly sweet, do not get the appearance trick you.

If you want to enjoy an apple cake this season, something memorable, and not so overly sweet, Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce is the dessert you been waiting for.
Make time for this love affair and prepare to astonish.

Apple-buckwheat-crepe-Yes,-more-please!

Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake_ingredients

Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake with Cider Caramel Sauce

Serves 8-10

For the Crepes:

11/2 cups buckwheat flour
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons turbinado sugar or agave nectar.
¾ teaspoon fine salt
1 pinch of cinnamon

3 cups of milk
4 Large eggs
3 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons mild olive oil

Plus about 3 more tablespoons of butter to cook the crepes.
1 – 8” non-stick pan
1 Ice cream scooper
1 baking sheet or cookie sheet tray

For the Apples:

7 medium size green tart Granny smith apples*
3 medium size Braeburn apples*
½ cup honey
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup apple cider

Note:  I’m combining two different types of apples, green tart wich are super crisp and hold their texture when sautéed, and the Braeburn wich are sweet and fragrant and wich also hold their texture when they are cooked. Once balance the others, I did not wanted to use a lot of sugar, since the cake will be drizzled with a cider caramel sauce. My advice is please, taste your apples: If they are to sweet or two tart you might need to add more sugar or honey is up to your preference and your sweet tooth.

For the Mascarpone filling:

2 cups mascarpone cheese
¼ cup honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon

For the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce:

2 cups apple cider
½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup calvados.

1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans.

Directions:

1. Start by preparing your Crepe batter. Combine all dry ingredients, Combine all wet ingredients and add them little by little to the dy ingredients whisking throughly until well combined and no lumps. Cover your batter with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is touching the mixture, to avoid a skin to form. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can make it the night before or in the morning and make the crepes at night. The batter will keep for about 48 hours.

Apple-Buckwheat-crepe-cake_making-crepe-batter
2. Mean time your crêpe batter is resting, prepare your apples. Peel them, core them as you peel and core them place the apples on a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent the apples turning brown. Slice the apples about an 1/8 inch thin using a mandolin or the food processor.

Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake_preparing-apples
3. Place them on a bowl and toss them with the honey, sugar, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice lemon zest. On a large pot over medium high heat melt the butter and add the tossed apples. Mix the cold apple cider with the cornstarch to avoid lumps, and add to the apples. Saute the apples tossing gently for about 6-7 minutes until they are tender, but not mushy, they have a glistening light brown color the juices are reduced. Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if needed. Set aside, to allow to cool. Reserve some of the best looking round slices to decorate the top layer.

Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake_sautee-apples
3. Once your batter has rested, pull it out f the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, whisk a little and start preparing to make the crepes. Pre-heat your 8” nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a little dab of butter until melted and remove excess with a folded paper towel. Poor about 1.5 to 2 ounces of batter into the center of the pan immediately swirl the pan all around to spread the batter on an evenly coat that covers all the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds until the edges start releasing when you pull them with the help of a spatula. At this point flip. And cook for another 10 to 15 seconds, transfer to the baking sheet, lay them out flat and allow them to cool. Continue with the same procedure, using the buttered paper towel in between crepes works great, you do not have to add butter every time to the pan, a small coat from the napkin will do it. Continue until your batter is gone.

Tips and Notes to the crêpe maker:
– I use an Ice cream scooper to portion the batter, this allow me to have equal thickness every time. a small ladle will work too.
-The first crêpe is not always the prettiest, usually is the test drive; it allows you to adjust the temperature in your pan and rectify the heat.
– If this is your first time making crepes please do not get discouraged, it gets better as you go. Once you get the groove on it is fun and the smell on your kitchen is heavenly!

How to make crepes_Yes, more please!

4. Once you finish making all the crepes, allow them to cool, and make your mascarpone filling. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whip them for 2-3 minutes with a hand blender until smooth and well combined.
5. Now that you have all the components start assembling, on a flat platter or a cake stand, place a dollop of the cheese and place your first crêpe, arrange a single even layer of the sautéed apples, then add a crêpe, then a thin layer of mascarpone cheese, apples. Between, crêpe and crêpe, gently press to ensure you have even layers. Continue until you are done with the crepes and filling, ending with a crêpe. Cover the cake with some plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so the layers can set.  Mean time make the caramel sauce.

Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake-assambling-sequence
6. On a small heavy bottom pot, add the apple cider, sugar, honey and butter. Bring to a rapid simmer, you want o evaporate as much water on the sauce. This will take around 15-20 minutes until reduced by half. You will see the formation of big bubbles, and the consistency of the sauce is thicker it resembles more like a syrup.
At this point add the heavy cream whisking at all times, until all is incorporated. Add the Calvados and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes until the consistency of a caramel sauce. Remove sauce from heat. And transfer into a small poring jar. Allow to cool before drizzling on the cake.

Apple-Buckwheat-Crepe-Cake_apple-cider-caramel-sauce
7. Pull the cake out of the refrigerator, place the reserved pretty slices of sautéed apples and decorate the top, once the caramel has cool down a little, pour some of the caramel sauce all over the cake drizzle all edges and sprinkle with the toasted pecans.
8. Make sure you reserve at least half of the sauce to drizzle some extra when the cake is served. Enjoy.

Apple-buckwheat-crepe-with-Cider-caramel-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!

Apple-buckwheat-crepe-slice_Yes,-more-please!Apple-buckwheat-crepe-back_Yes,-more-please!Apple-buckwheat-crepe-sliced-cake_Yes,-more-please!

Apple Buckwheat Crepe Cake

with Cider Caramel Sauce

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Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Béchamel Sauce

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!Its warm in the Lone Star State. We’re still waiting in Texas for some cool Autumn weather. We are still in the 80’s around here if you know what I mean. The only indication of Fall, besides the calendar, are the beautiful pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables and leafy greens at the markets.

This last Sunday, I found small butternut squash, acorn squash, and some white mini pumpkins. While some people are turning them into candle holders, I think they are the perfect individual size for dinner. They cook fast and leave no left-overs.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_the-vegetables

With this in mind, and the romantic idea of having a Fall season, I turned my oven on and thought about the most autumn dish I could bake, and this is what I came up with: Butternut Squash Cannelloni with a Walnut-Sage Bechamel sauce. Dreamy. This recipe has a long name and a short preparation. It is not hard to Imagine pasta sheets filled with delicate butternut squash, baby spinach, onions and goat cheese; rolled and smothered with a light creamy, nutty walnut-sage béchamel sauce, some mozzarella on top and.. Kazam! You have Fall on a plate. Nutty, creamy, warm, cheesy, the kind of dinner you want to snuggle with…In Texas we snuggle in shorts and t-shirts. Or you can fake it and watch a movie with maple trees, and turn your A/C to 64F grab a little blanket and for a few hours pretend is Fall….Not that we have done this…ehem, ehem.

Mean time we will patiently wait in shorts and T-shirts for the winter… maybe I should make Margaritas instead!… Enjoy the recipe.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-ingredients

Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Bechamel Sauce.

Serves 4

12 cannelloni pasta tubes or 12 lasagna sheets.

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups baby spinach or baby kale
1/2 medium onion small diced.
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. Chèvre Goat cheese

For the sauce:

1/2 cup blanched and toasted walnuts
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
Zest 1/2 lemon
1-2 pinches nutmeg (freshly grated preferred )
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 cranks of fresh ground black pepper

Fresh mozzarella ( liberal amounts upon your preference)

Preparation:

1. Using a little glug of olive oil Sauté the onions and butternut squash until tender. Finally add spinach salt, pepper and nutmeg; toss well then remove from stove and let it cool down. Add the goat cheese in crumbles once the filling is cool, toss gently.
2. Pre-cook your pasta sheets according the directions on your package. Remember to salt your water to flavor the pasta. Remove the sheets from boiling water 3-4 minutes before, according to directions. Shock them in iced water to stop cooking, and avoid to stick together.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-preparation
3. Make the sauce.  Start by blanching the walnuts in warm water for 5 minutes, this will eliminate any bitterness from the walnut skins. Drain the walnuts and toast them on a large skillet for a few minutes. Blend the walnuts with 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth. Then incorporate with the rest of the milk.

Walnuts
4. In the same large skillet, over medium heat, place the butter until melted and bubbly. Add the flour and whisk well to combine until no lumps and the buttered flour looks light golden-yellow in color. Start adding the walnut-milk in smaller additions and whisk at all times to avoid lumps, until the 2 cups of milk are incorporated. You might need to reduce the heat to medium low while whisking. After all the milk is incorporated season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and sage leaves. Bring too a slow simmer and remove from heat. The consistency should be of a light creamy thickness, if to thick, add more milk, to lose, place it back to the heat and whisk until desired consistency.
It should cover the back of a spoon see picture below.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni_how-to-make-bechamel-walnut-sage-sauce
3. Prepare a baking dish with butter, or a little olive oil, add a bit  of the sauce on the bottom.
4. Start by filling the cannelloni’s pasta tubes or by placing the filling on one end of the precooked pasta sheets and roll them up tightly. Proceed to do the same with each pasta sheet. Place the cannelloni rolls into your baking dish as you go.
5. Cover all the pasta rolls with the walnut-sage sauce, reserve some of the sauce.
6. Cover with mozzarella slices, then pour the remainder of the sauce, top with some sage leaves.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloniwith-sage-and-walnut-sauce_assambling-the-rolls
7. Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and top is blistered.
8. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: Not too fond of rolling? make it into lasagna layers, you also can add some cooked ground turkey or sausage to the butternut -spinash filling and it will be equally delicious. I just love the way the Cannellonis portions out. Enjoy!

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_out-of-the-oven-

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!-

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Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets

Underblade-steak-&-beets

I got these fabulous under blade steaks similar to the infamous Denver steak. The Under Blade Steak comes from the same muscle as the Denver steak, however the under blade steak is cut against the grain for better texture. Where did I get these beauties? At one of my favorite butcher shops here in Austin, Salt &Time. These steaks are full of flavor with great texture, and very fairly priced for their amazing punch of flavor they are good for you and your wallet. My friend Kristen (who I met at volunteering at Boggy Creek Farm) currently manages Salt & Time. She has always recommended awesome cuts to try. Besides the under blade we have sampled the Flat iron steak, Hanger steak, and next on my list the Babette…I hope it is as good as the last supper scene in “Babette’s Feast”. By the way if you are a foodie or food movie aficionado this is a good film to watch, just to enjoy seeing the woman cooking the feast of a lifetime.. keep in mind… Also ask for Kristen if you happen to visit the amazing Butcher shop & Salumeria known as Salt & Time, in Austin, Texas.

Any how, with this fabulous under blade steaks in my possession, one quote came to my mind,
“To eat steak rare… represents both a nature and a morality.”
―Roland Barthes

I believe this man knows his semiotics well. I believe that under cooking a steak is an easy repair and forgivable, but over cooking a steak it’s a sin. By the nature laws and morality, I would like to reply to Roland Barthes quote, “ To the cook: when you are cooking a steak, please don’t kill twice” Cooking a steak it’s a serious matter to me. Few foods are so misunderstood like the steak. Forget the marinades, glazes, grilling seasonings and all those powders, and lets concentrate on the matter “maximus meat flavor” that’s how I want to eat my steak.

Under blade steaks taste best if cooked, medium to medium rare, especially if you are pan searing them. I would say that if you like your steak more on the done side, this cut may not be for you since it can get a little tough.( But to tell you the truth I have not meet a well done steak that is not tough, heheh…)

After I cooked the steaks, I could not resist to leave all the good delicious bits of meaty flavor plus butter garlic and rosemary left in the bottom of the pan; so I decided to throw some vegetables I had in hand, yellow onions, beets, beet greens, added a pinch of cinnamon quick sautéed all and add a squeeze of lemon at the end for a punch of acidity. I put back my steaks and served straight out of the pan to the table…. one pan easy dinner, your protein and vegetables all happy together. Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets It was epic!

Music Pairing: Sin, Sing, sing, Benny Goodman

Let’s cook!

Underblade-steak-&-beets_season-under-blade-steak

Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets

Serves 4

4 under blade steaks (also known as Denver steak) room temperature
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tablespoons of butter
2 garlic cloves crushed
4-5 sprigs of rosemary
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Onions, Greens and Beets:

5-6 organic baby beets per person combine yellow, chioggia, red, or any kind you have available, Save the leafy greens if your beets are organic, we will sauté them along,

they are delicious and a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium.

2 cups beet greens (spinach, kale, any green of your affection will work too)
1 medium yellow onion sliced in wedges.
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2-4 good pinches of cinnamon
4-5 cranks of fresh ground black pepper
1 good pinch of sea salt
The zest and juice of ½ lemon

Preparation:

1. Remove your steak from refrigerator and leave it on a fresh area of your counter. Allow them to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking.
2. Mean time wash and remove the rough parts of the tops, leave the skin. Steam your beets until al-dente. 20-25 minutes depending on the size. Once cooked, under the water remove the skin very easily with your thumbs or using a paring knife. Cut into quarters.
3. Save and wash the leafy greens of your beets, make a leafy bundle and slice into a wide chiffonade.
4. Slice the onion into wedges.

underblade-steak-and-beets_cinnamon-lemon,-beet-greens,-babybeets
5. Once you have all the prep done on your vegetables start by heating your skillet. Use a heavy bottom stainless steel or a cast iron pan will work best.
6. Pat dry your steaks if needed, Season with a good pinch of sea salt and fresh black pepper on both sides. Be generous, do not be afraid of seasoning well.
7. Once your skillet is screaming hot, add a glug of olive oil. The oil should be rippling hot, then proceed to place the steaks. Remember not to overcrowd your pan. (I used a 12” skillet for 3 small steaks)

Underblade-steak-&-Beets_how-to-cook-a-steak_Yes,-more-please!
8. Give 4-5 minutes on each side, then once you turn on the second side, add the butter, the rosemary, and crushed garlic to the pan. Tip the pan and start basting the steaks with the melted butter. Using some tongs stand up the steaks to cook and caramelized and crustify the edges of the steak.

Underblade-steak-&-beets_basting-a-steak

Underblade-steak-&-beets_sear-the-sides

 

Underblade-steak-&-beets_basting-a-steak_sear-the-sides
9. Check for doneness, medium rare about 4-5 minutes on each side, medium 6-7 turn 4 times for the extra 2 minutes to cook evenly, add the butter and herbs during the last 2 minutes, baste. Use your thermometer to check the temperature. Usually I will remove them a bit early than the maximum read on the desired doneness, the residual heat can keep cooking your steaks about 3-4 more degrees once the meat is resting.
10. Once your steak is cook to your desired doneness, transfer to a platter and let it rest.

Underblade-steak-&-beets_reasting-the-steak

11. Meantime in the same pan, add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, add beets and toss for a quick sauté, season with a pinch of salt, fresh black pepper, and 3-4 good pinches of ground cinnamon, keep tossing until the onions are tender . Then add the greens and toss and shake for 2 more minutes. Place the steak back into the pan over the beets and onions, squeeze some lemon juice all over and grate some lemon zest. Serve immediately. Enjoy! 

Note: Get creative, you can trow any vegetable combinations, sweet potatoes, little new potatoes,spinach, kale, chard,  zucchini, okra, mushrooms, cipollini onions, peppers, shishito peppers, serranos, jalapeños,… just rock it out!)

Under-blade-Steak_sauteing-green-beets,-beets,-onions

Under-blade-steak,-final-touches

Underblade-steak--with-greens-and-beets-Yes,-more-please!

Seared-Under-Blade-Steak-greens-and-beets_Yes,-more-please!

 Sing, sing, sing, this  is the new steak of the goddess…

Seared Under Blade Steak Greens and Beets one pan epic dinner!!

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Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwichWednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_cremini-mushrooms

A grilled cheese sandwich with a side of green salad, this is my love letter to the grilled cheese sandwich.
Sautéed Mushrooms, caramelized onions, and rich fragrant cheese in between two slices of toasted buttery bread; this is my kind of togetherness and solidarity. This is the one that hump day screams for. Let’s stick the whole week together with melted cheese plus mushrooms and onions and make our Wednesday memorable. After all it is certain that the small things in life give happiness and comfort. Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwiches like this have one mission , to turn any humpy or lumpy day into a little happy memory. Enjoy.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich--Caramelized-onions-+-cremini-mushrooms

Wednesday Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of artisanal, rustic bread
1/4 pound of Challerhocker Swiss cheese. (Gouda, Swiss, Emmental will work fantastic as well)
8-10 Cremini Mushrooms wiped with a damp clean towel and sliced. 
1 small medium yellow onion 1/4 “thick sliced
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter for sauté
1/4 cup or 2 glugs of any leftover white wine. no white wine…chicken stock will work…
2-4 dashes of Sherry Vinegar.
Salt and Black Pepper to taste.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_Manchego-butter

 

Manchego Butter Spread:

2 tablespoons of 1 year aged Manchego cheese, grated.
4 tablespoons butter softened

1. In a little bowl combine this two ingredients until you have a spreadable consistency.

What I love the most a bout this sandwich? the Manchego Butter Spread, once the sandwich hit the pan, this spread makes the most utterly croquant and buttery grilled cheese, you ever had… I suggest you can make any substitutions on the inside of the sandwich, but this spread is irreplaceable.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_Butter-and-manchego-spread-for-bread

Preparation:

1. Over medium heat on a sautee pan add olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter, sliced onions, salt pepper and a pinch of turbinado sugar. sweet the onions until translucent and they start to get some golden edges and color. At this point add the sliced mushrooms and sautee for about 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms start to get some color too. about 6-7 minutes.
2. By now the bottom of your pan is starting to show some crusty brown bits. The onions and mushrooms are soft and golden brown caramelized color, Away fro the stove add two good splashes of white wine, and 2-4 dashes of the sherry vinegar, and a fresh sprig of thyme. Bring back the pan to the stove and wait until the liquids reduce. Set aside.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich-caramelized-onions-and-cremini-mushrooms 3. Evenly spread one side of each of the bread slices with the Manchego-butter spread.
4. On the no spread side, place a layer of thinly sliced or grated Challerhocker cheese, then a layer of the caramelized onions and mushrooms, and top with more cheese. Cover with the other bread lid, butter spread side up.

Wednesday-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwich_Yes,-more-please! 5. On a medium heat warm up a non-stick pan, cast iron pan or plancha. Once is hot, place both of your sandwiches and grill for about 4 minutes each side, until mahogany golden brown, and the cheese is melted.

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_-on-the-pan 6. Remove from pan into a cutting board and slice in half.
7. Toss some baby spinach and salad greens with a bit of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, serve your sandwich on the side.
Enjoy!Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_sliced

 

Wednesday-Grilled-cheese-sandwich_don't-forget-your-greens!

Always remember to eat your greens!

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