Sabrina Elkins Stirs Things Up
By Sabrina Elkins, author of Stir Me Up (Harlequin TEEN)
I’ve always found there to be a strong bond between food and love—maybe because the needs are both so primal. To that end, the food that teen chef-in-training Cami, the heroine of my debut young adult novel, Stir Me Up (Harlequin TEEN ebook original, October 2013), makes for her love interest Julian is increasingly sensual. First, a simple omelet, then a muffin with a streusel topping, then sausage, potatoes, a frittata laden with vegetables, a luxurious soup, and as their relationship deepens, a custard-like puff dripping with caramelized apples. One of the tender parts of this, for me, is the way Julian comes to realize Cami is expressing her feelings for him through her cooking. Even when she hurls a muffin at him, he picks it up and eats it.
There is something deep-rooted about the way Cami works in her father’s restaurant. This isn’t just a good career move or an interesting hobby for her. Cooking is an integral part of who she is, it’s how she was raised, and how she loses track of hours. When Cami creates a new dish for her father, it’s a turning point for her, an attempt to stand on her own as a young chef and young woman. The Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon topples over on her first attempt, but you can bet eventually she makes it spectacular.
Recipes for both the German Apple Pancake and the Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon are included here for you to enjoy. If you have any questions or comments about them or the book, please don’t hesitate to be in touch! You can find me at sabrinaelkins.com, on Facebook at elkins.sabrina and on Twitter @sabrina_elkins.
High-Rise German Apple Pancake
Julian tells Cami this dish tastes like a kiss.
1 c. milk
1 c. flour, all-purpose unbleached
1/3 c. sugar
4 extra-large eggs – at room temperature (you can soak them in warm water to do this)
6 large apples – peeled and sliced thin, golden delicious are best
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 – 6 Tbsp. light brown sugar or pure maple syrup, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure you have a center rack in the oven.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat in an oven-proof skillet. Add the sliced apples and cook until tender, adding the brown sugar or maple syrup near the end when it’s almost ready so the sugar doesn’t burn.
Mix milk, flour and sugar, first three ingredients, in a bowl with a wire whisk and set aside. This is your batter. Small lumps are okay.
Place remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small casserole dish and put in oven. Remove when butter is melted and coat bottom and sides of pan with the butter using a pastry brush. Add batter to the lake of hot melted butter and put back in center rack of oven until sides rise and are browned slightly, 15 to 17 minutes. Keep an eye on it.
Remove casserole dish from oven and top with cooked apples. Pancake deflates quickly so serve at once. Recipe can be halved and cooked in an oven-proof skillet for two servings. It can also be doubled or even tripled and baked in a bigger casserole dish.
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon
Cami assembles this dish for her father late one night in the hopes that it will impress him.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DRESSING:
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
½ c. muscat orange vinegar
1 tsp. honey mustard
salt and pepper to taste
INGREDIENTS FOR THE NAPOLEON:
3 large red beets
3 large golden beets
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
8 oz. chevre – goat cheese
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
½ c. candied pecans, chopped in small pieces
1.75 oz. organic micro greens, washed and dried
Prepare the beets: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating, rinse the beets and cut away the leafy ends so that only a few inches remain.
Once the water is boiling, add the beets to the pot and let them cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until their skin is fork-tender. Then remove the beets from the boiling water and place in a large bowl of ice water and let cool, about 15 minutes.
Once the beets are cool enough to touch, cut both ends away and peel the skin off very gently either with a vegetable peeler or your fingers. You can then use a knife, potato slicer, mandolin and/or cookie cutter to slice and shape the beets however you wish.
Please note: The red beets will stain the golden beets, so keep them separated and keep everything that touches the golden beets very clean. Red beets can also stain your clothes, fingers, and work surfaces, so handle them with care and consider using disposable gloves.
For the filling: In a separate bowl, mix together the chevre, mascarpone and heavy cream. Place in a pastry bag with a blunt tip or a plain quart-sized plastic bag with one small corner snipped away. Set this aside.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, blend the mustard and vinegar together. Whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take a clean, dry plate and set down the bottom layer of beets. Add a layer of cheese mixture, and then another layer of beets, and another layer of cheese until you have an alternating stack.
The Napoleons can be small, for an elegant appetizer, or in large slabs for a hefty lunch. Garnish the plate with a little stack of micro greens, the chopped candied pecans and the muscat orange vinaigrette dressing.