Spiced Apple Pancakes

I’m not much of a pancakes person, to be honest. But whenever we had big sleepovers at Kat and Marissa’s house last year, we’d make big breakfasts with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and Kat’s apple pancakes. So when

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I was contributing to breakfast for a group of friends this weekend — several states away from Kat — I just had to make apple pancakes.

It was my first attempt at all-from-scratch pancakes, and I have to say I was happy with them. Real butter and buttermilk are the foundation for great homemade pancakes. These are enhanced by warm spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger — and apple chunks that still pop when you bite in. They’ll make a pancakes person out of anyone.

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Prosciutto, Cheese, Apple and Fennel Sandwich

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My tastebuds were dancing. They were truly ecstatic after eating this sandwich.

Now, we all know tastebuds enjoy cheap thrills from time to time. They get worked up over the easy highs of fat and sugar. This sandwich isn't a brownie or a french fry. But it's got layers of flavor that remind your tastebuds that despite many seemingly satisfying meals, they are rarely stimulated like this.

With the one-year anniversary of the publication of The Flavor Bible upon us, I thought carefully about arranging this sandwich as such. Cheese and apples are a classic combination. (Cherry Street Artisan in Columbia had a nice brie and apple panini.) The port salut cheese I had in the fridge is slightly milder than brie, but it would do. Prosciutto was a logical addition, providing some salt and that cured flavor I can't describe. Back to the apples, I'd been wanting to make apple fennel slaw with lemon juice as a side dish for a while, but I decided the sweet and sour flavors would be perfect for the sandwich.

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Think about this with me for a minute: Fresh French bread with a firm crust and pillowy inside. Warm soft cheese and extra thin slices of salty cured ham. The crisp bite of green apple with a lemon tang that gives way to the faint anise sweetness. And I don't know much of anything about pairing wine with a dish, but I will say that a few sips of chardonnay put this whole thing over the edge for me.

Dancing tastebuds. That's all I can say.

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Apple Celery Salad

This is a little something I came up with a few months ago when the only fresh produce I had were apples and celery. The two are a great combination, and with sunflower seeds and a quick cider vinaigrette, this has become one of my favorite sides. The apples make it a good complement to pork, but it's so crisp and refreshing, it's a good addition to any barbecue or picnic.

With Mark Bittman talking about his favorite simple salads, I figured it was time to share my new one.

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