Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Aebleskivers and Unitaskers

My kitchen is very familiar with unitaskers - Alton Brown’s name for kitchen appliances that serve only one function. In Alton’s world they are reviled, but in mine they are an all-too-common occurrence. That is why, when I come across a unitasker that catches my eye, I walk away as quickly as I can. I simply don’t have room in my apartment kitchen, nor in my kitchen budget, for every kitchen tool known to man, no matter how much I would actually like to own them all.

This policy of limiting unitaskers is why I first walked away from the aebleskiver pan, and then again and again, until finally after at least a year of lusting after it, I gave in. It’s small, it won’t take up too much room, I love weekend breakfasts made at home, it was purchased with a gift card – these are the justifications that convinced me I could make room for just one more pan.

After three weekends in a row of Saturday-morning aebleskivers, I can fully endorse the purchase of one more unitasker. Go for it. This round, filled pancakes make such a delicious breakfast and they appear much more impressive to your guests than their easy preparation would lead you to expect.

I experimented with three different fillings over the course of those three weekends including an involved apple tarte tatin recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma and a delicious apple butter purchased at an orchard back East. I am thrilled that the favorite filling to date is nothing more than Bonne Maman raspberry preserves. No work needed for the filling means these Danish treats are even easier to prepare.

So go forth and purchase a unitasker. Even if you don’t have Alton’s blessing, you certainly have mine.



2 eggs separated
2 T vegetable oil
1 t sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 t salt

In a medium bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until light in color. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture. Mix in the milk and oil, alternating between the two. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the batter.

Place the aebleskiver pan over medium heat and grease the indentations with butter. Place one tablespoon of batter in each indentation, top with a teaspoon of filling (your choice) and finish with another tablespoon of batter. Let cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the bottoms are beginning to turn a nice golden brown (the only way to tell is to try flipping one). Use two skewers or chopsticks to flip the aebleskivers by pushing down on one side with one skewer while simultaneously pulling up on the other side with the other skewer. If this makes no sense, watch this video. Let the aebleskivers cook for 2 – 3 minutes more after flipping. Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar and some maple syrup.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The First Soup of Fall

The first soup of fall is a highly anticipated event at my house - at least by me. I’m not certain that anyone else even notices that rich, warm soups have been missing from the menu for months.

For Southern California residents like myself, it takes a certain finesse to know when the time is right for that first soup. Though the first official day of fall was September 22, the ninety degree weather we were experiencing at the time certainly was not conducive to soup. Here are a few signs I look for to help me figure out if it’s time: the last tomato has been pulled from the vines in the backyard; rather than gazpacho, I start to crave something warm and substantial; and the idea of turning the oven on for a few hours sounds comforting rather than torturous.

That time arrived on a recent Sunday when temperatures finally dipped below seventy and a low-lying Pacific fog that rolled in off the coast made me want to stay inside and hunker down with something nourishing. I was holding on to a recipe for Maple Carrot Soup from Delicious Magazine for just that kind of day. This soup is delicious, hearty and nourishing – all of the things one might want in a great fall soup. Just be sure to have it as an appetizer as it is surprisingly filling in large portions.

Of course, since I made this soup, temperatures in Los Angeles have returned to the eighties and I broke a sweat yesterday just walking to lunch. I hear that more cool weather is just around the corner and for once, I couldn’t be happier - perhaps the result of a recent trip to New York that forced me to bundle up in jackets and scarves as temperatures dropped into the…wait for it… fifties…gasp(!)… Surprisingly, this California girl loved it and is now ready for fall with scarves and rain boots in hand and on foot.


Maple Carrot Soup
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Serves 6 - 8

2 pounds carrots, cleaned
2 onions, diced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 T olive oil + more if needed
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Crème fraiche to serve

Preheat oven to 350*
Slice the carrots about 1/4-inch think. A mandolin will make quick work of this. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Toss the carrots and onions with the ginger, garlic, maple syrup and olive oil and place on the baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring and turning once or twice during cooking. If the carrots look like they are drying out, add more olive oil a tablespoon at a time. When the carrots and onions begin to soften, transfer them to a large pot with all of the juices from the baking sheet and add the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes until the carrots are completely soft. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot, adding more water or stock as necessary to thin it out. Serve appetizer portions with a dollop of crème fraiche, maple syrup and snipped chives.