friday feast: fly soup and apple brownies

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and an apple brownie (spiders and centipedes optional).

On this crisp and clear Halloween Eve, we’re serving up a tasty poem by London-based author Elli Woollard.

I love noshing at her wonderful blog, Taking Words for a Stroll, which is a gold mine of fun, whimsical, silly and nonsensical rhymes, sure to put a smile on your face and make you want to indulge in some wordplay of your own.

One never knows just what Elli will write about next — ducks? vikings? cats? farting mermaids? I admit I was first drawn to her foodie poems. Who could resist such titles as “Kitchen Bullies,” “Feeling Like Cake,” “Best Biscuit Race”, “The Joys of Toast”? Here’s a poet who’ll riff on cheese even though she doesn’t personally care for it. Oh, and did you know there’s a “Shortage of L’s”? Nasty business, that. I don’t ike it one bit. 🙂

When I saw “There’s a Fly in My Soup,” I knew I just had to share it here. Soup — my middle name! And since it’s almost Halloween and all, it’s a good time to swallow a few flies, spiders and other creatures with rascally relish. Bugs, birds and goats never tasted so good.


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dorie greenspan’s custardy apple squares

You’ve got last minute guests coming for dinner and you need to whip up a quick and easy dessert.

Or maybe you’ve already made your Thanksgiving pumpkin and pecan pies, but need a little extra sweet something for holiday weekend guests.

What’s an adorable, well-intentioned host like you to do?

Ta da! Dorie Greenspan to the rescue with her Custardy Apple Squares!


You’ll likely have all the ingredients on hand already for this recipe; this baby can be eaten warm or cold, and it’s also good for breakfast. 🙂

This is just one of the goodies included in Dorie’s latest cookbook, Baking Chez Moi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014). I just love Dorie and this book is definitely on my holiday wish list. 🙂

Check out the video:

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  • 3 medium juicy, sweet apples (Gala, Fuji), peeled
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.

3. Slice the apples from top to bottom using a mandoline, Benriner or a sharp knife, turning the fruit as you reach the core. The slices should be about 1/16th inch thick—elegantly thin, but not so thin that they’re transparent and fragile. Discard the cores.

4. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl.

5. Working in a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt together for about 2 minutes, until the sugar just about dissolves and, more important, the eggs are pale. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by the milk and melted butter.

6. Turn the flour into the bowl and stir with the whisk until the batter is smooth. Add the apples to the bowl, switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold the apples into the batter, turning everything around until each thin slice is coated in batter. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top as evenly as you can—it will be bumpy; that’s its nature.

7. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown, uniformly puffed— make sure the middle of the cake has risen—and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

8. Using a long chef’s knife, cut the cake into 8 squares in the pan (being careful not to damage the pan), or unmold the cake onto a rack, flip it onto a plate and cut into squares. Either way, give the squares a dusting of confectioners’ sugar before serving, if you’d like.

~ adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).



Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

friday feast: ♥ my darling, my dumpling ♥

Not too long ago, I asked you to call me “Melon Head.” Would you mind changing that to “Apple Dumpling”?


Of all the foodie terms of endearment — Pumpkin, Sweetie Pie, Babycakes, Cookie, Honeybun — I think “Apple Dumpling” suits me best right about now.

Fall (my favorite season) doesn’t officially begin until Sunday, but that familiar chill is already in the air. Hooray for apple season, deep blue skies, warm cider with cinnamon sticks, stunning rustic foliage, and friendly pumpkins on porches! I am basically *ahem* a little apple-shaped, can be sweet or tart, and would like nothing better than to wrap myself in a buttery, flaky blanket of dough. Did you know this past Tuesday the 17th was National Apple Dumpling Day? 🙂

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my new go-to autumn recipe: amy traverso’s apple pumpkin walnut muffins

Apples pumpkins pudding and pie.
Love you, pumpkin, apple of my eye.

I’m sitting here looking out my office window, sunlight glimmering through gold and russet leaves, with a mug of warm apple cider and a fresh-from-the-oven Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffin. I finally treated myself to a copy of Amy Traverso’s, The Apple Lovers Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011). I’d been hearing such great things about it ever since it was released last year and decided it would be a nice way to celebrate my favorite season.

These muffins seemed like the perfect first recipe for me to try — apples and pumpkins represent the essence of Fall, after all. (I just made a rhyme, did you see that?) Though I’ve baked quite a few pumpkin pies and any number of apple desserts (pies, crumbles, crisps, muffins, cakes), I’d never actually combined pumpkin and apple in the same recipe before. What could be cozier than having Autumn all wrapped up in one cozy, take-it-anywhere muffin?

Just in case you’re not familiar with Amy’s book, it’s easily the most comprehensive, accessible apple companion out there. Not only do you get 100 original recipes, but also a fabulous Apple Primer with in-depth profiles of 59 apple varieties — notes on appearance, taste, texture, as well as history, availability, and best use. The varieties are classified as firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart and tender-sweet, and a cool Cheat Sheet allows you to determine which varieties would be best for each recipe.

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happy 145th birthday, laura ingalls wilder!

“Remember well, and bear in mind, a constant friend is hard to find.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

I like to think of Laura as a good friend. I first “met” her as a shy child who devoured her books, and she’s remained a constant presence in my life as a reader, writer and human being.

I’ve enjoyed deepening my connection to Laura by learning more about the foods mentioned in the Little House books (via Barbara M. Walker’s Little House Cookbook), and making some of the recipes contained in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook (Trophy Press, 1997).  Some of you may know that this cookbook contains over 70 recipes compiled by Laura during the 30’s and 40’s when she lived with Almanzo at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri.

Last year, I made her Chicken and Dumplings and Apple-Upside Down Cake, and two years before that, her famous Gingerbread. To celebrate Laura’s birthday this year, I decided to try her Apple Slump, another of the six apple recipes included in the Country Cookbook.

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