Monday, November 21, 2011

Tagine Machine: Part II

With just a few days until I head to San Francisco for Thanksgiving (the most wonderful day of the year!), I should be posting about a Turkey Day treat. But I've been meaning to write about the recipe that inspired my tagine tangent, the Moroccan meatball kefta tagine that I saw on Rachael's show a few weeks ago.

I'm always skeptical of Rachael's recipes, but I occasionally stumble upon one that becomes a favorite (like this awesome steakhouse chili). And I'm on a major poached egg kick right now, so anything with yummy, runny egg yolks sounds delicious to me. So with some minor trepidation, I moved forward with this Moroccan marvel.

And I'm glad I did! I wouldn't rank it right up there with the chili, but this was super delicious. I, of course, made a number of substitutions, including replacing Rachael's beef with turkey, omiting chickpeas at Bill's request, and shaking up my own spice blend. I especially liked the little bit smokey, little bit spicey kick from the blend I concocted (note that I didn't provide actual measurements because I truly did just dump enough for a single serving into a bowl and shake to combine ... you can find the recipe for Rachael's original large batch here). The eggs really did add a richness that would have been otherwise absent from the sauce, and I could have gobbled up all of those turkey meatballs straight from the oven. (Consider that my tribute to Thanksgiving this week!)

Moroccan Meatballs with Eggs
For Spice Blend
Pinch cumin
Pinch paprika
Pinch nutmegPinch cinnamon
Pinch cardamom
Pinch allspice
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch ground cloves

For the Kefta
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
3 eggs (1 for meatballs, 2 for poaching)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon spice blend

To make the spice blend, combine spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange a wire rack over a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roll turkey mixture into small balls and arrange on wire rack. Bake until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion and garlic, and zucchini. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey, and spice blend. Bring to a simmer. Remove meatballs from oven and place in sauce.

Make 2 wells in the sauce and drop in eggs (I found it helpful to crack each egg into a ramekin, then slide them into the sauce). Cover pot and simmer to poach, about 4 to 5 minutes. Serve over rice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not-a-Picnic Potato Salad

We just made a very exciting appliance purchase ... a new range (with 5 gas burners AND a double oven ... it's going to be fantastic!). Unfortunately, it won't be delivered until Wednesday, which means I won't be able to use it until I come back from my trip to San Francisco. Problem is, I'm now so disenchanted with what's currently in my kitchen that I'm having trouble mustering up the motivation to cook anything at all.

That's when America's Test Kitchen comes to the rescue with insanely quick and easy, yet intensely delicious recipes! I discovered this gem on The Feed a couple weeks ago and was excited to try it. It's a perfect weeknight meal, and it takes the concept of potato salad to a whole new (and very sophisticated!) level. Rather than smothering the potatoes with a super thick dressing, here we're lightly tossing them with a yummy vinaigrette. And yes, this is the dish that tricked Bill, my condiment-hating husband, into liking mayonnaise :)

Grilled Chicken with Warm Potato Salad and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
2 cups baby spinach

Combine oil and garlic in bowl. Whisk in thyme and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Transfer 2 tablespoons dressing to large bowl and whisk in mayonnaise.

Place potatoes in large saucepan with cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes and toss in large bowl with reserved mayonnaise mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Season chicken with salt and pepper and toss in bowl with remaining dressing. Grill chicken until lightly charred and chicken registers 160 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Toss potatoes with arugula and serve with chicken.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lotsa Focaccia

It becomes more and more obvious to me every day that my love of food is deep-rooted and stems from the dozens of delicious memories from my childhood. As most yummy memories do, mine revolve around my Italian grandmother. But funny enough, it's not always the things she made that I recall so fondly, but sometimes the treats she picked up at the corner bakery.

There are two things that almost always showed up with my grandmother on her visits to our house: chocolate-frosted prune muffins (trust me, they were amazing) and what we affectionately referred to as "pizza bread." As the name suggests, this bread was delicious ... a fluffy, tender center with a just-a-little-bit-crisp crust, topped with either a very, very thin layer of tomato sauce or with olive oil and herbs.

It wasn't until I was in college that I learned that our "pizza bread" was focaccia ... and that it wasn't the same anywhere as it was at my grandmother's favorite bakery. When I left home and that San Francisco bakery was hundreds of miles away, I tried dozens that didn't even come close to being as good. And after my granmother passed and that bakery was too far out of the way for anyone else to bother stopping by, I figured I'd never have my beloved "pizza bread" again.

My focaccia rising alongside my resting pasta dough for homemade ravioli!
And then I moved to Milwaukee and sat down at an unsuspecting trattoria downtown one evening. As often happens at Italian restaurants, a basket of bread was dropped on our table. I took one look - and one whif - and knew I'd found it. This was the "pizza bread." This was the focaccia I thought I'd never find again. But surely it couldn't be as good. The focaccia my grandmother brought us was chewy and moist. This was probably tough and dry. But there was a tomato paste on top. And another with onions and rosemary. It looked right, so it was worth a taste. And it was perfect. It was just like I remembered it. And it's the sole reason that Louise's is my favorite Italian restaurant in Milwaukee to this day.

Shockingly, I hadn't thought of baking my own focaccia, even when I thought I'd tasted my last slice. So the proverbial lightbulb went off when I saw this recipe on America's Test Kicthen Feed the other day. Beware ... this focaccia will take all day (actually, two days!) to make. And most of your time will be spent waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting. But it's worth it.

While it's not a perfect replication of what Louise's makes or what I remember my grandmother buying, it seems to be a good substitute in a pinch. It bakes up a bit thicker and fluffier, and it's not quite as moist as I'd like, but it's delicious nonetheless. Just look at those air pockets that give away the chewy, airy interior! Irresistable!

I made a few minor tweaks to my focaccia by switching up the seasoning and baking it on a sheet pan instead of using round cake pans. You can read the Test Kitchen's original recipe here. Oh, and watch the salt. I had a heavy hand in the step just before baking and added a pinch (or palmful) too much. Oops!

Focaccia Bread
For the Biga
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

For the Dough
2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for shaping
1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Italian or garlic bread seasoning

To make the biga, combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours).

To make the dough, stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray. Use spatula to fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (for a total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

Transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Lightly dust top of dough with flour. Coat a baking sheet with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle sheet with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place dough on sheet, slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Cover pan with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle seasoning evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

Place pan in oven abd reduce temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until top is golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes (in my oven, that was just 15 minutes - so keep an eye out!), rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and return to wire rack. Brush top with any oil remaining in pan (I had none, sadly enough). Let cool 30 minutes before serving (good luck - Bill was slicing into ours shortly after baking!).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Throwdown!

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love sweater weather, I love simmering pots of stew and soup on the stove, I love the firey bright orange and red leaves outside, and above all, I love pumpkin!

I can't get enough of all things pumpkin. Pumpkin breads, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin lattes ... I could go on forever! But it all started with the original: good ol' pumpkin pie. As a kid, pumpkin pie was a once or twice a year treat. An aunt would bring it to our house for Thanksgiving and I might be lucky enough to snag a slice at Christmas, but anything pumpkin was noticeably absent the rest of the year.

Not so in my house now. The first leaves haven't even fallen from the trees before I pump up the pumpkin baking. So when Bill set out to bake a from-scratch pumpkin pie a few weeks ago, I was all for it. It came about when we got our hands on Alton Brown's latest Good Eats cookbook. As often happens when you place a new cookbook in Bill's hands, he put his mind to one of the most involved recipes. And as often happens when Bill succeeds in the kitchen, my competetive spirit kicked in.

I suggested we go head to head and instantly began strategizing. Bill stuck with Alton's recipe and I sought out the most delicious recipe I could find from Martha Stewart. While it took Bill one carving pumpkin, two pies, four pie pumpkins, and dozens of gingersnaps to get it right, his final entry in this throwdown was quite good. It was so good, in fact, that I was a little fearful of how my own pie would fare.

Bill and I knew we couldn't objectively judge our own pies, so I decided to take two slices to one of the only people I know who loves pumpkin as much as I do: my boss, Molly. I should have been completely confident that I had this competition in the bag, but when Bill and I did our own taste test the night before we were both surprised to find that we couldn't decide between the two. Our pies were so different, and both so good. But in the end, Molly described Bill's as "pumpkin purist," which put him on top. Mine had a touch more spice than a traditional pumpkin pie, which I loved, but I can understand that it doesn't suit everybody's taste.

So take your pick: Bill's pumpkin purist pie, or my super spicey slice. I'd make either one again!

Jen's Martha Stewart Pumpkin Pie
For Shortbread Crust
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt

For Filling
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

To make crust, stir together butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in yolk. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until crust turns golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.

To make pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut several slits in pumpkin with a sharp paring knife. Place pumpkin (Martha calls for one about 1 1/2 lbs.) in a baking dish and pour about 1 inch of water in the bottom of the dish. Bake until skin is easily pierced and inside is soft, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While pumpkin is still warm, rip off stem, peel off skin, and scoop out seeds. Place pumpkin in food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.

To make filling, whisk together pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set and slightly puffed but still a bit wobbly, about 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve chilled, topped with whipped cream.

Bill's Alton Brown Pumpkin Pie
For Gingersnap Crust
6 oz. gingersnap cookies
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 oz. butter

For Filling
16 oz. fresh pumpkin puree
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

To make pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice a small piece of skin off one side of the pumpkin so when laid on its side the pumpkin won't roll. Remove stem and split pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and fiber.

Sprinkle flesh with salt and lay the halves, flesh side down, on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Roast 30 to 45 or until a paring knife can be easily inserted and removed from the pumpkin. Test in several places to ensure doneness.

Remove sheet pan to a wire rack and cool pumpkin for 1 hour. Using a large spoon, remove roasted flesh of pumpkin from skin and transfer to a food processor. Process 3 to 4 minutes, until very smooth.

To make crust, combine gingersnaps, brown sugar, and ginger in a food processor. Process until cookies are fine crumbs. Drizzle butter into crumb mixture. Pulse 8 to 10 times to combine.

Press gingersnap mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Place on a sheet pan and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool crust at least 10 minutes before filling.

To make filling, bring pumpkin puree to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add half and half, nutmeg, and salt. Stir and return to a simmer. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs, and egg yolk in a large bowl. Add pumpkin mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour filling into warm pie crust and bake on same sheet pan 45 to 50 minutes, until the center jiggles slightly but sides of filling are set. Cool on a wire rack at least 2 hours before slicing.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tagine Machine

You know what I love? Coming across a dish I've never heard of, being intrigued enough to give it a go in the kitchen ... and pulling it off!

I don't like to admit that I'm sometimes inspired by Rachael Ray, but every so often I catch an episode of her show "A Week in a Day" and she makes something that sounds simply delicious. Last week I saw her make a Moroccan meatball tagine in a tomato sauce with poached eggs and I was tempted. Not being very familiar with tagines, I did a bit more research and came across a lot of recipes. I also learned that what Rachael made is called kefta,one of several traditional tagine styles. I decided I might have to warm Bill up to the idea of Moroccan food before I set out to replicate Rachael's dish, and so I chose another recipe that I thought might be a good stepping stone.

What intrigued me most about this Chicken Tagine with Tomato Chutney was the tomato chutney. And it turns out it made the dish! It was to die for. It was a little tangy from the red wine vinegar, a little spicy from the cayenne, and a little sweet from the sugar. It was an awesome complement to the sweetness of the chicken and vegetables, which really took on the flavor of the ginger and cinnamon they'd cooked in. The chutney was so delicious that now I'm looking for other applications for it. I'm thinking it might be a good substitute as a kicked up chicken parmesan topping, or even bruschetta.

Funny enough, the recipes I came across rarely asked you to actually use a tagine, the cooking implement from which the dish gets its name. Good thing, because the last thing I need is another one-use wonder gadget in my kitchen :) Oh, and Rachael's recipe? This North African version of a tagine went so well that I'm thinking of moving on to the Moroccan dish this weekend!

Chicken Tagine with Tomato Chutney
For tomato chutney
2 1/2 cups water
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For rice
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup long grain white rice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
For chicken tagine
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chicken broth
1 zucchini, cut into julienne strips
1 leek, white parts cut into julienne strips
Salt and pepper

For the chutney, place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until water has completely evaporated and the sauce has thickened into a jam-like consistency, about 30 minutes. Reserve.

In another saucepan, saute onion in olive oil, about 5 minutes. Add rice, pepper, and cumin and stir to combine. Add broth and salt, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is al dente.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, saute the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add chicken strips and saute until almost golden on all sides. Add ginger, cinnamon, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add zucchini and leeks and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve chicken and vegetables over rice. Top with a dollop of chutney.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Husband, the Chef

It's not often that I feature one of Bill's (rare) dinners on LoVBites, but this week he made an amazingly delicious meal and I felt obligated to document the occasion. He's been watching quite a bit of Food Network lately, and because he's home during the day he actually catches the cooking shows (you know, where someone relays a recipe instead of racing against the clock in a competition). Well, every once in a while, one of those shows inspires him.

This week, Bill caught Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa" and she was making chicken piccata with roasted onions and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Sounds yummy, right? Bill certainly thought so, so he recorded the episode, printed the recipes from the website, and made me a gourmet meal on Friday night!

It seems the trick to Bill's most successful dishes is that he needs to watch them be prepared before setting out on his own in the kitchen. Ina sure was a good instructor, because this meal was probably the best Bill's ever made! The chicken was perfectly done, tender and completely moist. The onions were amazing, sweet and just a bit tangy from the lemon dressing. And the potatoes (which required a little bit of improvisation because our buttermilk was expired), were the creamiest and smoothest I've EVER had!

Bill tossed his printed recipes in the trash after dinner and I had a mini meltdown. "What are you doing!?" I squealed. He looked at me and said, "What?" "Don't throw the recipes away! I want you to make this again," I said. Mr. Over-confident said, "I will, and I don't need the recipes."

Well then.

Chicken Piccata with Roasted Onions and Mashed Potatoes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Olive oil
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in flour, shake off excess, then dip in egg and then bread crumb mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add chicken and cook 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place chicken on sheet pan and bake 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For sauce, wipe out saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and  add lemon juice, wine, reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl to combine. Discard lemon halves and serve chicken breasted with sauce spooned over.

Herb-Roasted Onions
2 red onions
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel each onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut in wedges through the root. Place wedges in a bowl.

Combine lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Pour mixture over onions and toss well.

With a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a baking sheet, reserving dressing that remains in bowl. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned, tossing once during cooking. Remove from oven, and drizzle with reserved dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Sort of) Ina's Mashed Potatoes
3 Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Peel potatoes and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Add potatoes to boiling water and bring water back to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until potatoes are done.

When potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place in a large bowl and mash with potato masher. Stir in hot milk mixture with a whisk. If necessary, add more milk to make potatoes creamy. Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot. To keep potatoes warm while finishing the meal, place bowl over a pan of simmering water for up to 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Going Dutch

The number of recipes that arrive in my inbox each week is astronomical. I can barely keep up with the various newsletters and one-offs, but I try to skim them all and weed out those with the most potential. I probably file away at least half a dozen a week with good intentions to give them a shot, but more often than not they disappear into the abyss of that folder labeled "Recipes."

Every so often, however, I come across an email with a recipe I have to make immediately. And for reasons I can't quite explain, this Dutch Apple Cake was one of them.

I first made this cake about a year ago when I saw the recipe in an email from Taste of Home. I'm a sucker for anything involving apples, but I'm sometimes skeptical of those Taste of Home recipes ... perhaps America's housewives have different taste than we do, but their dishes don't always fare well in my home. This was certainly the exception!

I'm in love with this cake because it's super moist, and apple-icious. It's also super dense and egg-y, resembling something closer to bread pudding than cake. I've made it multiple times now, and it's consistently amazing (and it makes a great gift ... this is the treat I left for the owner of the cottage we rented in the Hamptons and she loved it!).

Dutch Apple Cake
3 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine apples, 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Combine flour and salt and gradually add to butter mixture. Beat until smooth. Fold in apples and transfer batter to greased loaf pan. 

Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer loaf to wire rack.