We are so thrilled to introduce September's Bright Rx theme: Apples. We could not think of a better way to kick off our series than with dear Brightland friend, Sylvie Charles, and her delightful Olive Oil Cake with Apple Compote. Sylvie Charles, M.D. is the founder and CEO of Just Date Syrup. She is a former practicing physician at the University of California, San Francisco. Fueled by her experience with patients and families suffering from diabetes, Dr. Charles started to build a natural sweetener company, aiming to help consumers choose a better sugar that was packed with both flavor and nutrition. At Just Date Syrup, she leads a team that makes natural sweeteners from pure plant sources. Their flagship product is Just Date Syrup, made from one perfect ingredient: organic California-grown medjool dates.
Q&A With Sylvie
Brightland: What is your favorite way to unwind at home?
Sylvie: When there's a moment to unwind, I immediately gravitate to the kitchen. There's nothing I love more than spending a luxurious amount of time in the kitchen. I love taking the time to choose ingredients with care. I slowly, deliberately create a meal that is too complicated for an ordinary night. I feel so relaxed and gratified at the end of it all.
Brightland: What do you like to keep out on your kitchen countertop or "kitchen shelfie"?
Sylvie: Currently on my countertop, I have a bottle each of Just Date Syrup and Just Pomegranate Syrup, a bottle of Brightland, a pack of Jacobsen Salt, a jar of Diaspora Co turmeric, Burlap & Barrel Cured Sumac, Wild Mountain Cumin, Silk Chili, and Seed+Mill tahini. These are my go-to flavors that enhance just about any meal.
Brightland: What does living in a golden state meant to you?
Sylvie: Ah, the move to California 10 years ago was one of the best decisions I ever made. Since my move to the Golden State, wild nature has taken the place of my love for the built world (I was an architecture major). I've been surrounded by such incredible natural beauty in Northern California (foggy rugged cliffsides overlooking the Pacific to name one example), and it's taught me to appreciate the world around me that much more. I smile every time I look at California poppy or a Meyer lemon. My love for food grew to new heights in California, as I leisurely perused the bounty at our farmers markets. Meeting the farmers and appreciating the work and care behind every peach or blueberry informed the way I look at...just about everything. My life in California has been slower, more deliberate, more intentional, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Brightland: If you had all the time in the world, what meal would you cook for yourself on a Sunday night?
Sylvie: I spent a month in Morocco living with a family during study abroad in college, and it was there that I fell in love with flavors like date and pomegranate. The meals were similar to the bounty I was used to my Indian mama cooking up, but with an underlying gentle sweetness that I found so delightful and addictive. Often on Sundays, I'll cook the lamb, pistachio, and apricot tagine that this amazing Moroccan grandmother taught me. No recipe needed anymore, it all just happens by memory.
Brightland: What is one of your favorite memories/traditions that takes place in the kitchen?
Sylvie: I grew up in a big extended family Indian household, and at the center of it was the kitchen. My mom, aunt, and grandmother were constantly in the kitchen, creating dosas, dal, pickles, biriyani, and more. I didn't think it was out of the norm to have six plus platters of food on the table every night. A particular favorite of mine is crab curry. My mom used to put a mat (chapa) on the floor, a huge pot of fresh blue crab curry (we lived by the coast in Florida), and a bowl of basmati rice. I sat on the floor cross-legged, and would have at it with my hands, messily digging in for a solid hour. There seemed to be no cap to my hunger, I just couldn't get enough. Around my birthday every year she makes me a big bowl, and my method of eating it hasn't changed since I was age 5.
Olive Oil Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Fold in the dry ingredients.
- Lightly rub a springform 9" round pan with Brightland's AWAKE, pour in the batter.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. It's that simple!
- 2 Pink Lady apples, diced
- Juice from 1/2 navel orange
- Zest from 1/2 navel orange
- 1/8 cup of Just Date Syrup
- 1 pinch of ground cardamom
- 1 tiny pinch of kosher salt
- Stir all the ingredients except salt in a stainless steel plan over low heat and cover, checking every few minutes to prevent sticking to the pan.
- After the apples have released some of their water (approximately 5 minutes), uncover the pan and stir often until the liquid has just evaporated.
- Add a tiny pinch of salt towards the end.