Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.
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Some dining traditions exist simply because they must, and your feelings about the food in question are really beside the point.
I’ve heard all about Cornish hens and spaghetti served at Thanksgiving dinners, and I can promise you at least one person at those tables shuddered with despair when a turkey could not be mustered, even one that was overcooked.
Early in my marriage, I once quietly substituted my mother-in-law’s canned green bean and onion casserole with one made from fresh ingredients for Christmas dinner, and the scorn for the dish was open and unabashed. My sister in law actually picked up the dish for washing as if contaminated. But she’s that way. We can talk about that later.
Ditto for my homemade cranberry sauce, though in that case I continued to provide both store-brought -- rings and all -- and my own for years after, perhaps as a measure of culinary passive aggressiveness.
Christians have no monopoly on these traditions of course, and Jews cling to their gefilte fish (which has websites devoted to its mocking) just as tightly as my husband’s family cleaves to its French’s onions.
The most dispiriting of these traditions tends to center around dessert. I’ve made dozens of honey cakes -- which are served during the high holidays this month to usher in a sweet new year -- and while some are less offensive than others, never are they a crowd pleaser. Yet I will make them again and again, and that’s just how it is.
This year, I decided to give The Perfect Apple Cake a try. This is a very lo-mo cake that packs a lot more of a complex apple punch than it would appear. In fact my dinner guests confessed to me that they had low expectations in the cake until the first bite.
A few things about this recipe: I don’t have an 8 inch springform plan, so I just used one with a removable bottom and no calamity befell me. Beckyforgets to tell you when to add the spices to the batter so I will: add them to the dry ingredients as you prepare them. Don’t fret too much about what apples you have on hand -- I really think any will be just great. The almond milk gives this cake a special texture and zing, so do not substitute, please.
Yes add the ingredients slowly as the author says to do, but she borrows a little trouble here by suggesting this will be hard and you will be tempted to frantically toss everything in the bowl at once. You won’t! You are calm and will bake as instructed!
Don’t over bake, but you knew that. Tastes great on day two, and even three.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).