(BTW - it is also the annual Fiber Festival of New England at the Big E in Springfield.)
Many years ago, The Farmer and I took a vacation in France. On the recommendation of my boss Pat, I took along Patricia Wells' Food Lovers Guide To France. Using Patricia's guide, we explored so many different back roads of France discovering cheese makers, bakers, specialty shops, Calvados, Cognac and Armagnac makers and more. We had the good fortune to be in the Pyrenees this actual day many years ago. We sat at the bar in a small little bistro and a man who could tell we were foreign said to us when we were seated "Appy Al-o-win". At first we didn't know what he was saying - because both The Farmer and I only had high school French but then we figured it out and had a rudimentary conversation with the sweet guy. I will never forget that day.
The next day, we watched as this little town in the Pyrenees (perhaps Ainhoa, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port or Espelette) celebrated Toussaint (All Saints Day). There was a parade through the town and all the families went to the cemetery to visit their relatives - bringing bouquets of flowers. We spent some time wandering through the cemetery which I have vivid memories of still. You can see some photos here. This was so many years ago before blogs and cellphones so it is tough to remember it all.
I have many of Patricia Wells' cookbooks. My favorites are Bistro Cooking and Trattoria. If you ever get a chance to go to France, I highly recommend her Food Guides. What I love so much about Patricia's cookbooks are the headnotes that she includes before each recipe. There is always a story about where the recipe came from, a meal eaten or just a bit of advice.
Here is a fantastic apple cake recipe for this time of year. I have made it several times over the years. It sounds odd but it is so delicious. I think I will make it again this weekend. I will post a photo of it on Instagram and add it here later.
The Apple Lady's Apple Cake
from Patricia Wells' The Paris Cookbook
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs (beaten)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup whole milk
4 baking apples - peeled (2 pounds)*
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg - beaten
3 Tablespoons butter - melted
*Patricia recommends acidic cooking apples such as Cox's Orange Pippin, Cortland, Gala or Gravenstein. If you prefer sweet apples, she recommends Golden Delicous or Jonagold.
• Preheat oven to 400.
• Butter a 9" springform pan.
• Core the peeled apples. Cut into thin wedges.
• In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Add vanilla, eggs, oil, and milk and stir until well blended.
• Add the apples to the batter and stir completely to cover the apples with the batter.
• Plop the battered apples into the springform pan. I love this part because it looks like a complete mess. Just wait though!
• Place the pan into the middle of the preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes - until fairly firm and golden.
• While the cake is baking, make the topping. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir and set aside.
• Remove cake from oven and pour topping over it. Return the cake to the oven and bake until the top is deep golden brown and cake feels firm when pressed - about 10 minutes.
• Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan and remove springform leaving the cake on the base. Serve at room temperature cut into thin slices.
Sorry there is no photo with this post - the photo editor is not working on my blog at this time.