Cinnamon Apple Cake by Summer Miller

This cake was originally a gift, a kind gesture from a new friend during the hardest of times. It was Christmas season and Summer’s husband was in the hospital with an unknown, but seemingly serious illness. She was weary and scared and trying her best to keep things level for her two young children. Bryce Coulton brought Summer this simple, yet beautiful cake, which brought peace, solace and comfort to her family. This is the recipe that she reworked from taste that became a cherished family tradition.

For the Cake

butter

1 ½ cups granulated sugar (divided)

1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon (divided)

2 apples

½-cup oil

½-cup applesauce

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon extract

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¼-teaspoon salt

¼-teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)

1⁄8-teaspoon ground clove

For the Whipped Cream

¾-cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a spring form pan. In a small bowl combine ¼-cup sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Take half of the mixture and sprinkle the bottom of the buttered pan with it. Save the rest for later. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples so they are ready when you are. In a medium-sized bowl, use a spoon to stir together the remaining 1 ¼ cup of sugar, oil and applesauce. Make sure it’s mixed-in well. Next, add the eggs and extracts, mixing them in thoroughly. 

In a smaller bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and clove. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until almost all the dry ingredients have been dampened, but you still see pockets of flour. Add the apples and stir until coated. This step will make or break the texture of the cake. If you over mix, it will be tough. So take your time, fold a little here, stir a little there until everything is coated. Pour it into the prepared pan, sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture. Pop it in the oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Let the cake cool on the counter for about 15 minutes, before removing from the pan, cutting and serving warm (it’s good at room temp too). If you want to get fancy, loosely whip some heavy cream, add the vanilla and powdered sugar to taste just before soft peaks form and serve a dollop on top of each slice of cake just before serving.

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Czech Potato Salad by John Jelinek

This authentic Czech potato salad has four generations of history and family get-togethers behind it. Elements of sweet, smoke and the right amount of crunch will make this dish the perfect compliment to your next brisket or burger.

serves 12-15

12 medium potatoes – peeled and hard boiled
to retain firmness

12 large eggs – hard boiled

1 pound of bacon cut into ¼-inch pieces,
fry and set aside to cool

4 stalks celery

1 medium or large onion

6 or 7 sweet pickles

2 large dill pickles

2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons white vinegar

salt to taste

pepper to taste

It is recommended the eggs and potatoes chill overnight before slicing. Chop all ingredients into approximately ¼ inch square pieces. Put all ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix in the following: 2 tablespoons each dill and sweet pickle juice, 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly and let chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.

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Cranberry Fluff Salad by Clayton Chapman

Clayton Chapman, owner and chef at The Grey Plume, created a beautiful rendition of his grandma’s Cranberry Fluff Salad. He worked with ingredients that aesthetically or texturally represented those in his favorite childhood dish, but were playful, unique and completely unexpected.

clayton chapman admiral district grey plume
Everything in this dish is similar, but not quite the same.
— Clayton

Clayton’s family-style salad consisted of braised cranberries, red amaranth (bull’s blood), crème fraîche, toasted marshmallow, cranberry gelée, cranberry purée, compressed celery, pickled celery, lettuce purée, cranberry gastrique and celery leaves.

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Evolution of a Project

As a commercial food photographer, I look for inspiration in so many places and through osmosis, I’m constantly getting ideas for personal projects to work on. I have notebooks full of ideas. About the time that people are jotting down new year’s resolutions, I decided to make just one: do three awesome personal food projects this year that involve both stills and video. That's it. Super vague. I opened up the notebooks and sifted through ideas. There were some good ones, as well as lackluster ones. There were some that I couldn’t even decipher because my handwriting is terrible.  Sometimes I dream about food stories and I write them down in the middle of the night in a dream-like state. One time I woke up and found this written on a piece of paper next to my bed: “To my buddy. Sleep is king. I love cake.” Maybe there’s a personal food project in there somewhere.

To my buddy. Sleep is king. I love cake.

I kept coming back to one. I liked it because it could be approached a few different ways. I liked the freedom and the possibilities. The idea was very simple: invite chefs to my studio to create one meaningful, seminal dish. Something that had a good storyline. Something that possibly explained their love affair with food. 

So, I started collaborating with chefs. I would ask them to make a dish that was important to them. They would drop by my studio and we would hang out and talk about food. We drank beers and shared amazing food together. I listened to some fascinating stories and I did my best to document them and create a story. I made a lot of new friends, connected with old ones, and learned how to make some really incredible recipes.

 Brad Iwen's studio in the Blackstone District.

Brad Iwen's studio in the Blackstone District.

All in all, I worked with 11 chefs over the course of the last 6 months. I created a video segment and a series of still images for each chef. The videos and some of the still images for each will appear on this site. The final still images can be viewed in person at an event on August 12, 2016. More details to come, but all proceeds from this event will be donated to No More Empty Pots, an Omaha-based food charity doing amazing things for the community.