Found Recipe – Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I don’t bake very often, but sometimes, you just gotta.  That was me yesterday.

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Photo from Epicurious

The backstory: my Aunt-Mom was responsible for the dessert at Christmas dinner this past year and found a terrific recipe on Epicurious for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  It was originally published in Gourmet magazine in 2000, and her execution of the recipe was flawless.

It got rave reviews from the Grill-Meister:

so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!

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The neon cake of the past

In addition to all that food-gushing, I like that the recipe calls for fresh pineapple and forgoes the neon blast of unnatural color and flavor from the maraschino cherries that always came to the upside down pineapple party in the past. I was curious about when that strange addition became the norm for its poor pineapple partner and stumbled on a terrific history lesson about pineapple upside down cakes (see the link in Resources below).

I had an opportunity yesterday to support a friend with a food contribution for a family gathering after a memorial service and thought this cake would be just right.  The Grill-Meister agreed, with a caveat:  please, please, please make two and keep one at home.  (The cake at Christmas was that good, remember: “so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!”)

Along with the Grill-Meister, I can highly recommend this recipe.  Aunt-Mom, you done good!  

My upside-down cooking experience is shown below, and the recipe from Epicurious is at the bottom of the post.

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Start with fresh pineapple
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Melt butter in a cast-iron skillet
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Add the brown sugar and it makes a glaze
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Arrange the fresh pineapple atop the butter and brown sugar mixture
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The batter is pretty thick and you have to spoon it over the pineapple
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After baking but before upside-downing
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I was in a rush and didn’t have time to garnish, but actually love the homey look of it
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You can see the glazy-goodness and freshness of the pineapple – no neon maraschinos!
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The Grill-Meister and I had ours with coffee on the patio yesterday afternoon

Notes

If you make the recipe, you might want to look at the reviews from other (very enthusiastic) bakers.  My recommendations are to bake the cake for a little less time than recommended, use slightly less cardamom, and don’t skimp on the rum drizzle at the end.

The cake travels well and is a good one to bring to parties.  Epicurious says it serves 8, but I think it’s about double that number, because the cake is so rich that you can reasonably serve smaller pieces than this shown above.

Resources

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Decadent Chocolate Orange Pots

We had a tiny dinner party last night and I took a chance by making a new dessert for the first time.  If you’ve stumbled onto my About page, you’ll know that I’m just not much of a sweets enthusiast.  But my risk-taking paid off and the Chocolate Orange Pots delighted the Grill-Meister and our guests, who gushed their appreciation:

This is the best thing I’ve tasted in a long, long time.

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Banner from Recipe Reminiscing blog

The recipe came to me by way of the Recipe Reminiscing blog.  The author, whose moniker is TidiousTed, is doing a public service by resurrecting the ghosts of culinary classics.  I found the recipe he posted for “Chocolate Orange Pots” when I was searching for interesting things to do with our just-harvested Glover Gardens orange crop.

I adjusted the recipe and made it my own, most notably using semi-sweet instead of plain chocolate and Cointreau instead of Curacao.  I had tasted the Curacao before using it – thank goodness! – and found it to be cloyingly sweet and not very orange-y.  The Cointreau has more of the slightly bitter tang of orange peel.

The recipe serves between 4 and 8 people, depending on how large you want the portions to be.  It is very rich, but the orange zest provides a great balance to the mouthfeel of the chocolate and cream.  We served shots of freshly squeezed orange juice alongside the dessert, and it was heavenly.  If you have a need for an impressive, decadent, and yet relatively easy dessert for a dinner party, this one will not disappoint.  Be sure and make it a few hours ahead of time so it can chill nicely.

Decadent Chocolate Orange Pots

Ingredients (serves 4 – 8)

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces, plus 1 tsp. grated semi-sweet chocolate
  • rind of 1 small orange, finely grated
  • 3 eggs, separated and whisked lightly with a fork
  • 3 tbsp. Cointreau
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 orange
  • orange rind spirals

Cooking Instructions

Melt the chocolate, either by stirring in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water, or by following the instructions on the package to melt in the microwave.  Let cool slightly (removing from the pan of water if you used that method).

Stir in the orange rind, egg yolks and Cointreau. Stir well and set aside.  Using a mixer, whip 1 cup of the cream until thick, then in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the cream and egg whítes into the chocolate mixture.  Pour into custard cups and chill.

Beat the other cup of cream with vanilla and sugar until it forms soft peaks and spoon it onto the chocolate pots after they are well chilled.  Garnish with orange rind spirals and grated chocolate.

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Assembling the ingredients first makes it go so much quicker.  That’s the recipe from Recipe Reminiscing on my screen.
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I love how glossy chocolate looks when it is melted
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These were generous servings, but we were glad when we realized how good this is!
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Serving the shot of freshly squeezed orange juice with the chocolate was a hit.  Plus, it just looks cool, doesn’t it?

References:

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Call This Baby (Carrot) Ugly

Epicurious sends a message every day, just for me (and their umpteen zillion other subscribers).  I usually don’t have time to read it right away (or ever, sometimes), but today’s caught my eye.  It listed their top ten stories of 2016, and as a food blogger, I was interested to see what generated the most interest.  They introduced the list:

Cooking made us happier in 2016 (there’s proof!), and so did these stories, which are our ten most loved, clicked-on, and shared stories of the year.

They’re all interesting, and I’ve provided the link to the online version at the end of this post.  But the one that stood out was #6 on the list, “The Case Against Baby Carrots”  by Adina Steinman.

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Here’s the scoop: baby carrots aren’t babies at all!!!  They are full-grown carrots masquerading as cute, younger, fake versions of themselves after some vegetable-style cosmetic surgery.

Sez the story, which is subtitled “Why Baby Carrots are Evil”:

Baby carrots are in fact full-grown carrots, whittled down into earplug-shaped cylinders. They aren’t sweeter, fresher, or younger than the bunches of carrots they’re sold alongside. In fact, they’re often made from older carrots, hence the starchy, not-very-sweet flavor you get from some bags.

It’s an outrage, and as the writer says, these carrots are pure evil.  I will never, ever buy these manually-midgeted carrots again.  I have no idea why I didn’t realize they were a sham, but from today forward, I am committed to peeling the authentic full-grown versions.

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Beautiful, authentic, full-grown and unmodified carrots – the real deal

In honor of the noble, full-sized root vegetable, here is a picture and a recipe that a friend of mine brought to a wine party, made with beautiful heirloom carrots.  They are tossed with sumac and mint, topped with toasted pistachios and served on a bed of marvelous whipped feta.  They were delicious!

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My friend’s heirloom carrots on their bed of feta, topped with pistachio goodness

Here’s how it looks in the magazine where he found the recipe.

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Photo from Shape.com by Sang An

New year’s resolution: no more baby carrots!!!

Links:

 

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: A New Holiday Sweet Potato Favorite

We love our holiday food classics here at Glover Gardens, but it is also fun to mix it up a bit.  At Thanksgiving this year, my Aunt-Mom (there’s a story for another time) did just that with these wonderful sweet potato “stacks” she found in Cooking Light.  Yum!  And look how attractive they are.

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These sweet potatoes were just right – not sweet and just the right savory level.  And the serving size is excellent.  Photo by Frank Harvell (AKA my Dad).

My Aunt-Mom says she doesn’t like to cook but is really, really good at finding great new recipes.  This one can be found online at Cooking Light’s site here:  Sweet Potato Stacks with Browned Butter.

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Photo for Cooking Light online by Jennifer Causey

 

Cooking with Friends: A Root Vegetable Christmas Memory

winespectatorratings-mar13-2011Some of the most alluring recipes I’ve come across in my years of cooking have been published in Wine Spectator.  They are always perfectly paired with wine, described delectably and photographed beautifully, and I’ve been known to keep back issues for years, planning to make that picture-perfect meal a reality in my kitchen.  Someday.

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Photo from Wine Spectator online

The December 23, 2002 issue had just such a meal:  A Holiday Menu from Wine Country.  Oh my, it looked good:  White Bean Soup with Fried Sage, Pan-Roasted Duck with Root Vegetable Hash and Sweet Potato Puree…whee!   I held onto that issue of Wine Spectator for a couple of years, revisiting the recipe and ingredients a bit wistfully from time to time while realizing that my everyday life with a small child didn’t really support making this super-sophisticated meal.  But as they say, good things come to those who wait.  I finally broke out that recipe for a very small girls’ night at my house during the holidays a few years later.  It was just two of my closest friends and me, ready to cook, laugh, tell stories and maybe even cry a little (if necessary) in the little kitchen of my 1920s wood-frame cottage.  Two of us were single moms at the time, and the third a “restaurant widow”: her husband was the managing partner at a very popular restaurant, and was never home in the evenings.  All three of us were without children that night, for various reasons.  “Like sailors on leave,” one of them said.

The menu from the magazine, billed as an easy holiday meal to make at home, was provided by the executive chef of Napa Valley’s Auberge du Soleil, Richard Reddington, who was described as wine country’s “hottest young chef”.

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“Richard Reddington today is known as  ‘the most-loved bad boy in Napa Valley’ by the locals who adore him”, says Haute Living magazine.  Reddington owns and runs Redd, a high-end spot and Redd Wood, an Italian-style casual eatery.  They are on my list for the next Napa Valley trip.

The last thing I want to do on a holiday is kill myself in the kitchen,” Reddington says. “I want to be done and I want the kitchen to be clean and I want to sit down with my guests for an hour and drink a glass of sparkling wine.”

Gentle readers, you should know that there are definitely different definitions of “easy”.  Easy, it was not.  Tasty, it was.  Might as well drink that sparkling wine while you’re making the dinner, because it will be a while before you get to the finish line.

In my little kitchen with my two girl-buddies, there was a frenzy of chopping and chatter, and it took us a couple of hours to get the meal made.  We had a marvelous time, uncovering the meaning of life and praising the fiber of root vegetables as we sautéed each of them individually before mixing them (they don’t cook at the same rate and might get mushy if crammed together in a pan). We also praised ourselves for being smart and sophisticated enough to appreciate root vegetables – no bourgeoisie, we!  We exclaimed over the richness of the pureed sweet potatoes as we laid crispy-skinned pan-fried duck on them and began the devouring.

We drank our wine and told our stories with the desperate urgency of moms who only have a night off a couple of times per year – and of course the kids took center stage in all of those stories.

We knew were were the luckiest gals in the world that December evening, with our wine, our stories, and our fiber-laden root vegetables.  I cherish the memories of that night, with that meal, and those ladies.  One of them has left us and is now cooking with the angels, and I imagine her in heaven savoring the super-crispy duck skin with the rich, smooth pureed sweet potato and crunchy, root vegetable hash without worrying about the calories.  If you’re interested, you can read more about her here, but grab a cup of coffee first, ’cause it’s a long one.

Gather some friends and try these recipes one day when you have time.  They won’t be quick and easy, but you won’t be sorry. Here it is again:  A Holiday Menu from Wine Country.

Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Found Recipe: Fabio Viviani’s Short Rib Lasagne

One reason I love to travel is the exposure to different foods, cultures, ideas and people.  A case in point is the food discovery from last night at a business dinner in Chicago:  short rib lasagne.  Wow!  It was a blustery, windy, rainy night, and the sadly, the Cubs didn’t win, place or even show in their first World Series appearance in a zillion years, but the kitchen at Bar Siena on Chicago’s near west side was on its A-Game.

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It’s a hip and trendy atmosphere at Bar Siena, and the food is as rockin’ as the decor

fullsizeoutput_c7Let’s set the stage – the big ballgame was on, the place was packed with hungry and loud Cubs fans, and my dinner hosts were foodies.  We ordered a selection of cicchetti (Italian for “little bites” meant for sharing).  While the octopus with a chili vinaigrette and grilled shrimp with artichokes were wonderful, the short rib lasagne adorned with roasted garlic béchamel and taleggio cheese was the meal’s most valuable player.

This dish is now pretty high on my Must-Learn-How-to-Make List, and I found the recipe on the first page of Google search results.  The owner of Bar Siena is Fabio Viviani from Top Chef, and he shared his recipe with the world on Rachel Ray’s show.

With the windy weather and the World Series, autumn was in full swing last night in Chicago – and this dish really hit the spot.  We’re not quite there yet here in Southeast Texas, but once the chill sets in, I’ll be making this “warm up your bones” dish.  If you get to it first, please share the results!

Links:

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The lasagna before we attacked it