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Monday, January 28, 2013

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake ~ Simply Scrumptious!

My daughter served this luscious pineapple upside-down cake this past holiday season; and when I took my first bite, I absolutely thought I was going to melt!  I told you she had a talent for recognizing a good recipe...naturally, I had to have this one!

Now, we all know the real beauty of an upside-down cake is how simple they are to make.  But the topping on this cake is what makes it so special, and it's made a little differently than the typical topping for an upside-down cake.

     How Could Anything So Easy...

Be So Delicious!

Adapted from Lucy M. Clark's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Delightfully Southern Cookbook

Serves approx. 6-8


The Topping
  • 3 TB salted butter
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream or evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 c. sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes 
  • 1/ea. 20 oz. can pineapple slices, drained (You'll have extra slices.)
  • 12/ea. maraschino cherries, drained
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 10" cast-iron skillet

The Batter
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. whole or 2% milk
  • 1 TB salted butter

The Garnish
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
   Oh, That's So Good...

There'll Be No Leftovers!


The Topping
  1. Spray the iron skillet well with the butter-flavored cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together in the skillet, over medium heat, the butter, cream or evaporated milk, brown sugar and ginger until the mixture bubbles.  Whisk constantly about 3 more minutes, or until thick and smooth.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the brown-sugar mixture.  
  4. For the pineapple pattern, refer to the above photo:  Cut about 6 drained pineapple slices in half.  Place about 7 halves of the pineapple, with a cherry in the middle of each, around the edges of the skillet, over the coconut.  Building toward the center, in the next circle, place about 4 pineapple halves with a cherry in the middle of each.  In the center, place 2/ea. one-quarter slices of pineapple, with a cherry in the middle of each.  (You may have one half a slice of pineapple left from the 6 slices you cut.)

The Batter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs until thick; then add the sugar a little at a time, mixing well.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture just enough to incorporate.  Set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, whisk the milk and butter together over medium heat just until warm (about 1 minute)...stir into the batter and pour over the pineapple in the skillet.
  6. Bake approximately 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, springs back when lightly touched in the center with your finger and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  
  7. Approximately 15 minutes after the cake is out of the oven, loosen the edges carefully from the pan with a thin-bladed knife; then let the cake cool about 1 hour total in the pan.
  8. Turn the skillet upside down and release the cake onto a serving platter.  Refrigerate after a day or two any leftover cake.  (Leftover cake, are you kidding me?)

Makes a great take-along dessert!  Serve with or without a nice dollop of whipped cream beside each individual serving of cake.  

So, when you're pressed for time, but want something that everyone will exclaim "oh, that's so good!", you'll definitely enjoy this recipe! 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boeuf Bourguignon Simplified ~ Classic Beef Stew with Red Wine Sauce

Julia Child was a great influence on my early cooking.  My Boeuf Bourguignon was inspired by Julia, and it is a classic, fundamental dish that never fails to please.  Hopefully, you'll find my simplified version of Julia's recipe encouraging.  It's wonderful as a hearty winter dish for family or as an elegant entree for guests, lunch or dinner. 
You can prepare a day ahead the base, mushrooms or sauce, or the whole stew and refrigerate.  This stew actually improves with flavor when made in advance; so it's great for cooking on the weekend to reheat for weekday meals, or for just preparing ahead for entertaining.  It freezes very well..many years ago, I adjusted the ingredients for large quantity, then prepared and froze this dish to serve 100 guests at our housewarming.

                                    No Worry About The Car, Dear...

                                     Everything Will Be Just Fine!

As inspired by Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon, The French Chef Cookbook

Serves approx. 4...use a 2 1/2 qt. flameproof casserole dish. (Recipe may be doubled for approx. 8 servings...use a 4 qt. flameproof casserole dish.)


The Beef Stew Base
  • 3 oz. lean, unsmoked bacon (I used turkey bacon.), cut into about 1" long & 1/4" wide sticks (lardons)*
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2  lbs. lean beef stew meat (I used shoulder chuck.), cut into 2-3" chunks and well-dried on paper towels*
  • Approx. 1 c. +2 TB full-bodied, young red wine
  • Approx.  2 1/2 - 3 c. beef bouillon (broth--not consume), divided between the base and the sauce
  • 1/2 TB tomato paste
  • 1-2 pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Approx. 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
The Mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, cleaned & caps quartered (not sliced); stems cut on the bias*
  • 1/2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 TB salted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 
The Onions
  • 1/ea. 15 oz. jar whole, small white or pearl onions--not pickled (I used Aunt Nellie's Holland Style...Kroger has).  Drain and reserve the juice for the sauce.
The Sauce
  • 3 TB salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3 TB all-purpose flour
  • Reserved onion juice, as needed
  • Reserved beef bouillon, as needed
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Bacon:  Optional.
  • Beef:  Lean, boneless chunks from the round, rump, or shoulder chuck...chuck is more flavorful.  Dry the beef chunks well with paper towels, or they will steam, rather than brown.
  • Mushrooms:  Clean by wiping with a damp paper towel.

Suggested Accompaniments
  • Wide egg noodles, or rice (garnish w/parsley)
  • French bread
  • Salad
  • Red wine (same as used for cooking) 

                                         Say, About That Promotion...

                                   Things Are Looking Pretty Good!


The Beef Stew Base
  1. Preheat the oven to 300º.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the bacon lardons lightly with about 1 TB olive oil over medium-high heat, to render the fat.  With a slotted cooking spoon, remove the lardons from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add a little olive oil as necessary to film the skillet to about 1/16" inch and heat over moderately-high heat until hot, but not smoking.  Add the well-dried beef chunks and toss to coat with the oil.  Without crowding, brown the beef, adding more oil if needed.  Reduce the heat if necessary and turn the meat frequently to brown all sides.  Place the beef as it is browned, into a 2 1/2 qt. flameproof casserole dish.
  4. Pour the browning fat out of the skillet and add the red wine.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape all the flavorful brown bits from the pan into the wine, then pour the wine over the beef in the casserole.  Set the skillet aside for the mushrooms.
  5. Add the browned lardons to the casserole and enough beef bouillon to almost cover the meat.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients and bring the casserole to a simmer on the stove.
  6. Cover the casserole and place in the oven.  Simmer for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.  (Check the casserole after the first hour; and if necessary, stir in more beef bouillon for the liquid to come up the meat about half way.) 
The Mushrooms
  1. In the large skillet used for browning the beef, heat the oil and butter until the butter foam begins to subside.  Add the mushrooms and toss over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes, or until the mushrooms are very lightly browned.
  2. Remove the mushrooms to a side dish until needed, then toss with the salt.  Reserve the skillet for the sauce.
The Sauce
  1. When the beef is done, remove the bay leaf and set the casserole cover askew, then drain the cooking liquid into a large liquid measuring cup.  Add the reserved onion juice...then, more beef necessary, to equal 1 1/2 c. liquid.  Pour the liquid into the large skillet you had used for browning the mushrooms.
  2. Skim off fat (leave a little for flavor) and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat on the stove.  Taste very carefully, then add salt and freshly ground black pepper as you like.
  3. In a small bowl, with a spatula, cream the butter and flour into a smooth paste.  Blend in several spoonfuls of the beef cooking liquid with a whisk.  Whisking constantly, blend this mixture into the rest of the beef liquid in the skillet and bring to a simmer.
The Finale
  1. Add the mushrooms and the drained onions to the beef in the casserole dish.  Pour in the sauce and cover.  To blend the flavors, bring to a simmer on the stove over medium heat, and cook slowly for 5 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to just simmer.
  2. Stir the casserole to baste the meat and vegetables with the sauce.
  3. If not serving immediately, cool, cover and refrigerate to reheat later.  Freezes well.
Serve over wide egg noodle or rice with a nice salad and hot French bread, and the same wine you used for the recipe. 
Bon Appetit Y'all...Enjoy!

Printable Recipe