REUBEN’S LEGENDARY APPLE PANCAKE

The recipe comes from the late Richard Sax’s wonderful “Classic Home Desserts.” The original, beloved at the legendary New York restaurant Reuben’s, was made in a cast-iron skillet. Sax changed it to a nonstick skillet. Portland Press Herald food editor Peggy Grodinsky prefers it made in (well-seasoned) cast iron for the nice crispy edges and good caramelization, so she has changed it back. Warning: The cooking process is a little labor intensive.

Serves 2

1 large green apple, such as Granny Smith

2 tablespoons raisins

9 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter (clarified is great as it won’t burn)

Peel and core the apple; slice 1/4 inch thick. Place in a bowl with the raisins, 1-1/2 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon. Mix well. Set aside until needed.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and vanilla; whisk in the flour to make a smooth batter, but do not overmix.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a cast iron skillet until it sizzles. Add the apple and raisin mixture and cook, stirring until the apples soften, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and let it melt. Pour in the batter to completely cover the apple mixture. Cook over medium high heat, pulling the set sides of the pancake away from the edges and allowing the runny batter to flow underneath (as though making an omelette), shaking the pan occasionally to prevent sticking until the pancake begins to firm, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the sugar evenly over the top.

Invert the pancake onto a plate, add 1 tablespoon butter to the empty pan with about 1 tablespoon sugar, and slide the pancake back into the skillet with the opposite side down.

Cook the second side, allowing the sugar to caramelize, several minutes. As before, sprinkle the top with more sugar, invert the pancake onto the plate, add butter and sugar to the skillet and return the pancake (opposite side) to the skillet. Cook another minute or two, then place the pan in the oven and bake until the surface is golden brown – start checking after 6 minutes or so.

Remove the pancake from the oven. Cut in 2 and serve hot.

POTATO AND KALE GRATIN

This recipe is adapted from Deborah Madison’s “The Savory Way.” She leaves the potato skins on; in classic gratin, the potatoes would be peeled. It’s your dinner so your decision. You can vary the cheese, too, of course.

Serves 8 to 10

Oil for cast iron skillet

About 2 cups heavy cream

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 pounds russet or yellow Finnish potatoes

Salt

2 large bunches kale

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and oil a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, if necessary.

Warm the heavy cream with the garlic in a small pot on the stove to infuse. Don’t let it boil.

Slice the potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the kale, removing and discarding the stems. Add the kale leaves to the boiling water once the potatoes have been removed. Cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing to remove as much of the water as possible.

Arrange the potatoes and kale in alternating bands or circles in the prepared skillet. Pour the garlic cream over the vegetables to not quite cover; reserve any remaining cream. Sprinkle with lots of pepper.

Cover the skillet with foil and bake until most of the cream has been absorbed and the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour over any remaining cream. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until a golden crust forms around the edges and the cream is bubbling and golden brown, between 1 hour and 75 minutes total. Let the gratin sit 10 minutes before serving it.