Today is Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. Make one for your family! Or go buy one at the local bakery. That is if you like Pineapple Upside Down Cake. To make Pineapple Upside Down Cake you will of course need Pineapple. A 20 oz. Can of Pineapple Rings will do or you can buy a fresh Pineapple and cut your own rings. Fresh is always best, of course, but the canned variety will still give you a pretty good cake. Most recipes will call for Maraschino Cherries to be put in the middle of each piece of pineapple, but you can also use fresh (when in season) or canned Bing Cherries. Pecan halves can also be used in place of the Cherries or in addition to them. If you use canned pineapple and cherries, make sure they are blotted dry, otherwise your cake will be soggy. One nice way to make sure the pineapple has given up enough moisture is to grill the slices. I did this on my stove top grill, but first I sprinkled the Pineapple Slices with Demarara Sugar (coarse brown sugar, sometimes called raw, which of course is not really raw). The Sugar gives a nice caramelization to the Pineapple.
To make Pineapple Upside Down Cake, once your fruit has be prepared, you melt some butter in your baking pan, and then add brown sugar. Spread the Brown Sugar evenly over the pan and then add the pineapple. Unless you would like to have chopped pecans as a finish for the cake, then you would add the chopped pecans before you add the pineapple slices. Once the pineapple slices are in the pan, then you add the cherries or pecan halves. The Cherries or Pecans Halves would go in the center of each piece of Pineapple and in between the slices, where there is room.
Next you preheat your oven to 350 and then make the cake batter. The best recipes will tell you to separate the whites from the yolks. The whites will be beaten until stiff and then folded into the prepared cake batter. This helps to make a light cake.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake can be served warm with Whipped Cream or Ice Cream. It can also be served at room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator. Leftover Pineapple Upside Down Cake should be stored in the refrigerator as there is still quite a bit of moisture in the fruit and this can cause mold to form if left out.
When your Pineapple Upside Down Cake comes out of the oven, give it about ten minutes to set up before inverting it onto a serving plate. To invert the cake, place your serving plate over the pan (be sure to use potholders if the pan is stillt too warm to handle) and then invert. Give it a minute ot two, to allow the cak to drop down, before removing the pan. You should have a beautiful Pineapple Upside Down Cake which will be ready to serve immediately or later on. Whichever way you make your cake and however you serve it, enjoy! And don’t forget, Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, leftover from dessert last night will make a great breakfast this morning!
For two Pineapple Upside Cake Recipe, please see the recipe section of this blog. pineapple-upside-down-cake/
April 19th is Garlic Day, even though in my opinion Garlic Day should really be in July when the Garlic Harvest is going on full scale in Gilroy, California which is the Garlic Capitol of the World. If you have ever been to the Garlic Festival in Gilroy or even have just been in Gilroy around Harvest Time, you will certainly know that Garlic grows here! When you get out of the car your nostrils are assailed with the aroma of Garlic growing, Garlic Roasting and so on. If you love Garlic, as I do, you will be in Garlic Heaven. If you do not like Garlic as my husband does, then you probably won’t even get out of the car as he doesn’t.
One year I, my Daughter-in-Law Nereida and my Grand Daughter, Nesbyth and her Cousin, Christina all went up to Gilroy for the Garlic Festival. There were the Fire Chefs – BBQ with lots of Garlic; their specialty was big flames to show off their BBQ Skill and their food was very tasty, as you can imagine what with all the garlic that was used. There was Garlic Ice Cream, both in Vanilla and Chocolate Varieties. Of course, we all bought Garlic Shirts and braids of Garlic to take home with us. The Garlic Braid shown in the photo above was recently purchased at Garlic World in Gilroy. Even though Garlic Season isn’t until summer, they still have plenty of garlic on hand to sell.
Back now to Garlic. There are many varieties of Garlic, even though you will probably only find one or two in the Supermarket. It is said that there are over 600 cultivated sub-varieties of garlic in the world. Hard to imagine, but probably true. The sub-varieties were cultivated from about 6 main varieties. Garlic grows in bulbs, which are called heads. There are multiple cloves (individual pieces) in each head of garlic, except for one variety, which is a single clove, although it is still round as is a head of garlic.
There is white garlic, red garlic, purple garlic and green garlic. You can purchase Garlic Chives at the Farmer’s Market. There is even a Garlic Plant called Society Garlic which is really more of a flower with a mild garlic aroma. It is not offensive and you can see it growing along the borders of flower beds. The blossom is usually a light purple or lavender color.
There are small bulbs of garlic and large heads of garlic. One of the larger heads is called Elephant Garlic, and it is said that it is not really a true garlic but is really a shallot, which is also in the onion family. A shallot is smaller than an onion and larger than garlic and is milder than either one. Elephant Garlic is milder than its smaller cousins. It seems that as with Chilies, the larger the garlic head or clove, the more flavor it has.
Garlic is used in cooking in everything from salads to sauces and even desserts, such as Garlic Ice Cream. I love Garlic and cook with it all the time. One thing that I like to do with Garlic is to roast the whole head. This can be done, by wrapping a head (or more) of garlic in foil and then roasting it in the oven for about 45 minutes. The result is that you have creamy garlic cloves (which are easy to remove form their skin) that can be rubbed on a piece of toasted (or not) French Bread or can be used in salads and other delectable dishes.
Garlic is good for healthy blood pressure and it used to be used to keep away ‘vampires’ and other bad spirits. You can even buy garlic pills if you don’t like the taste of this amazing vegetable and want the health advantages it possesses.
Some of my favorite foods that contain garlic are:
Bruschetta (the chopped Tomato, Basil Salad that is usually served with the small toasted bread slices) (Mexican) mexican-pizza/
Mafungo – A Puerto Rican dish made with Plantains that are cooked and mashed with Garlic. This dish is the absolute love/hate relationship. I love eating it, but can’t stand the aftertaste that lingers all night.
Try some Garlic in your food today and see how the flavors are enhanced. I think that this year I am going to try growing some Garlic, but I better get to it as pretty soon it will be too late to do so. Look for ‘The Garlic Chronicles’!
MY CULINARY DIARY
Ciabatta is a rustic bread with a crispy crust, and a chewy texture inside with large shiny holes. Even though it is a rustic bread it has become popular as a gourmet item. Ciabatta originated in Italy but can be found in specialty stores and restaurants throughout the United States.
April 16th & 17th, 2012
Sunday Night we had Beef Fajitas for dinner. Since I have a hard time making enough just for two, as usual there were leftovers. Rather than eating them with Tortillas for a second time, we decided that we would use the leftover vegetables and meat for BBQ Beef Sandwiches on Tuesday Night. I love making this type of sandwich on Ciabatta Bread and usually purchase it at Trader Joe’s. This time I decided that I would make it myself; one I love to bake and making Ciabatta is a lot of fun, even though it can be time consuming. The second reason is that you can make your own bread, have it fresh out of the oven (or almost) and save money. Home-baked breads cost about one-fourth of the purchase price of bakery breads. However, the dollar savings is not the most important reason for making them. I just love to bake!
Since the cleaning people were going to be here Tuesday afternoon, I needed to make the bread and have it completely baked by late morning or Noon at the latest. So, I followed my plan of making the dough this afternoon, stretching it, proofing it and having it ready to portion and bake Tuesday Morning. Ciabatta normally takes at least two days to make because you have to make a ‘Poolish’ which is the starter for the Dough. The Poolish only uses 1/8th teaspoon of Yeast in 2 1/3 cups of Flour & 1 ¼ cups of Water and it is supposed to proof at room temperature. The following is what I did to hasten the project:
Used ½ tsp. Yeast in Warm Water (instead of cool water), covered it and put it outside on the patio table in the sun. Instead of taking 10-12 hours to double in volume, it took only two.
Making the Dough
Before dinner, I made the Dough and allowed it to rest. The recipe says to knead the Dough for 7-8 minutes but this is a sticky dough and kneading it by hand would have been a mess. I opted to use my Kitchen Aid with the Dough Hook to knead it and this worked very well.
After dinner, I then stretched the Dough to develop the gluten as the recipe describes repeating the process four times. For a really abbreviated version, you can perform the stretching process only once, however, you will not have the same texture as the Rolls done with the complete stretching process. The Stretching Process involves folding the Dough and Stretching it as you fold.
The Dough Before Stretching
After the final stretching process you are supposed to let the dough rest for 50 minutes and then shape it into bread or rolls. Since I didn’t want to bake it until the next morning, after the 50 minute resting period (which is also a proofing period), I dusted the Dough lightly with Flour, bagged it in a plastic bag and refrigerated it overnight.
Tuesday Morning, I removed the bag of Dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up for about one hour. I then shaped it and cut it into rolls for dinner.
After a 45 minutes resting and raising period, I dusted the rolls with the remaining cornmeal/flour mixture , (used a little too much, but it is easy to brush off) turned on the oven and placed a pan of water on the bottom rack. The steam from the water helps to make the rolls crusty on the outside.
Once the oven had heated up to 450 degrees I then placed the rolls on the middle rack, misted them lightly with water from a spray bottle and closed the oven.
After 20 minutes, I checked the rolls and decided they needed another 5 minutes. The finished roll should be a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
After the baking period the rolls were removed from the oven, placed on a rack to cool and then placed in an airtight plastic bag to await dinner.
Just before dinner time, I heated the leftover Fajitas and added Avocado Halves to the leftover salad from last night. In the indentation left from the Avocado Pit, I added some Basil Oil which would also serve as the Salad Dressing. The BBQ Sauce was put on the table and we added it individually to our Sandwiches. The Ciabatta Rolls made a very nice and tasty holder and also served as our starch item for dinner.
Week of 4/08/12
My significant achievement this week was to make Croissants. On Tuesday, I went to a friend’s for lunch and asked what I could bring. She said that anything that went with a Shrimp Salad would be good, so I thought bread or rolls would be ideal. With that in mind, I decided to make Croissants. I hadn’t made them in a long time and this would be a good excuse. Croissants are not hard to make – they are just time consuming. Luncheon was going to be on Tuesday, so I figured that I would need to be able to bake the Croissants by Monday evening as the proofing time for them would be several hours and if I waited until the morning, I might not have enough time as I had an 11:30 appointment before going to lunch at Mary’s.
We were scheduled to go to a BBQ lunch at Jenny & John’s (Ev’s Grandaughter & Grandson In-Law) Sunday afternoon so I set to work to make the Croissant Dough in the morning. The Dough is a yeast dough and uses 2 cups Bread Flour and 1 cup of All-Purpose Flour. Unlike a normal yeast dough, the yeast is dissolved in a cup of cold milk. (Normally you don’t want to use cold milk without first scalding it, because the enzymes in milk prevent the yeast from working to it’s full capacity)
Next you combine the Flours, Sugar and Salt and then work in ¼ lb. of Butter. This can be done with your fingers, a pastry blender or a food processor. In any case the butter should be cut up into several small pieces (8 works best) to facilitate working it in. I preferred to do it with my food processor as it cuts it in very evenly and distributes the butter throughout the flour.
Next, the Flour mixture is added to the Yeast/Milk Mixture. The two mixtures are then stirred to combine and then kneaded until you have a smooth dough. It takes about 7-8 minutes in a Standing Mixer fitted with the Dough Hook and about 10-12 minutes if you are kneading by hand. After the Dough is kneaded, it is shaped into a ball, scored on time with an X cut going across the whole top of the ball and then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 5 hours.
By the way, Croissant Dough as Danish Dough, is a Laminated Dough and is a pleasure to work with. This Dough comes out really well and feels really nice to the touch. It is not sticky or dry!
Once the chilling time is over and you are ready to roll in the Butter Block, make the Block. The Butter Block consists of ¾ lb. of Butter and it is easiest to make if you use Butter that comes in 4 pieces per pound. Cut each of the 3 Sticks in half down the middle to make 6 pieces no thicker than 1inch. Place the 6 pieces of butter on a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with Flour and then dust the top of the butter with flour and cover with another piece of parchment. Take your rolling pin and tap the butter over the parchment to soften it. Once it has softened sufficiently (not melted!) shape it into a 6 inch square.
The next step is to roll out the dough and encase the butter in it. Once that has been accomplished, and you have turned it, you then wrap it and refrigerate it for 30 minutes and roll and turn again. This step must be repeated a total of 3 times. After the 3rd time the dough should be refrigerated for several hours but not more than 24.
When you are ready to roll out the dough you roll it into a 12 x 18 rectangle and cut the rectangle in half horizontally. You then mark it every 5 inches on top and bottom with a sharp knife.
You then cut diagonal lines from left to right, using the marks as a guide. Next you cut more horizontal lines from right to left. This leaves with triangular pieces of dough which then cut rolled up from the point to the wide end to form a Crescent Shape. This recipe was supposed to make 14 large Croissants and 4 Minis but somehow I got about 18 large Croissants and several minis. I made the large Croissants just normal Croissants without filling. I used Almond Paste and Strawberry Jam (homemade) to fill the smaller and odd-shaped Croissants.
The rolled Croissants filled up two parchment covered baking sheets which I then covered with Plastic Wrap which was lightly sprayed with a Vegetable Oil Spray. I placed them in my oven (not turned on) to proof. The dough was still cold so they took about 3 hours to proof. Unlike most yeast doughs, do not wait for the Croissants to double in bulk, because this will not happen. (Remember the cold milk affects the action of the Yeast) When they are completely proofed, the Croissants will feel light but will not have doubled in bulk.
Next you brush them with an Egg Wash (1 whole Egg + 1 Yolk). The additional Yolk helps the Croissants to brown well. Preheat your oven and place one pan on the middle shelf and bake for 12 minutes. After twelve minutes the pan was rotated back to front and the heat reduced, then the Croissants were baked for approximately another 20 minutes or until they were nicely browned. Repeated the process with the second pan.
In the end we had a nice batch of Croissants, six of which I packed and brought to Mary’s house for lunch on Tuesday. Another 6 or so were packed and frozen for later use. We still had ample Croissants to eat at home and we did have them for breakfast at least 2 days in a row and there were still some leftover to snack on.
Croissants are fun to make and it is really exciting to see how the laminated dough puffs up when baking. Don’t forget, Croissants as other puff pastries, need a HOT oven for the puffing action to take place! For the full recipe just type in Croissant Recipe in your browser and many will come up.
Had a nice four days respite from cooking while traveling to the Bay Area with my Son, Joel, Daughter-In-Law, Nereida and my Grandson, Joey. We went up to visit my Granddaughter, Nesbyth and her boy friend and to attend a performance of the play that Nesbyth is performing in. The play is the first part of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy ‘Utopia’. The segment that they are doing now is called ‘The Voyage’.
While up in the Bay Area we found a wonderful Italian Deli in Berkeley that is like no other that I have ever been to. The lines were long, but the wait wasn’t. There were an ample number of employees to ensure that everyone was waited on in record time. The display of Italian Cold Cuts was so beautiful that it was hard to resist buying everything in sight. We ended up getting sandwiches for everyone (everybody had different ones) and several salads including an Artichoke Heart Salad and a Mozzarella/Tomato Salad plus a variety of Olives. We purchased so much food that we ended up eating some of it for lunch the next day.
In addition to the cold cuts, the Deli also had a variety of tortas and other cooked food as well as pizzas that you could order. On the way home from Berkeley, we stopped in Gilroy to purchase Garlic (a Braid and a small container of roasted garlic) and while we were there since it was close to dinnertime, had dinner there. Nereida and I chose a Chinese Noodle place (Joey stayed up in the Bay area for one more day and came home with a friend that had also gone up there) and Joel went to Dave’s Famous BBQ. The Chinese Noodle place turned out to be disappointing and we did not eat most of what we ordered.
For Breakfast the next day, I made up a batch of Crepes with caramelized Apple Filling. Those were quite good and went well with the Coffee that Nereida made.
Then it was time for me to go home (Son & family live in Lompoc). On the way I stopped at the Farmer’s Market and purchased some Baby Turnips and Young Carrots. When I got home, I turned the Turnips into Sunomono. (Sliced thinly and seasoned with Rice Vinegar, Salt and a little Sugar) For dinner that night (Sunday, April 1), we had Baby Back Ribs that I had frozen from the last time I had made them. (As always, there were too many and so they came in handy for this meal)
Monday, April 02, 2012 – back home and in the kitchen again. For dinner tonight I purchased Red Snapper Filets and seasoned them with Lemon Pepper and Lemon Salt along with a little Onion Salt. Then I lightly floured them, dipped them in an Egg Bath and then coated them with seasoned Bread Crumbs. (The Bread Crumbs were made from the ends of the Challah that I had made a couple of weeks ago. Just chopped up the bread scraps in the food processor and then froze them until needed.) I then refrigerated the filets until it was time to cook them for dinner. Refrigerating coated or breaded meats helps to keep the coating intact when you cook them.
The Red Snapper filets were very good and to accompany them we had baked potatoes and sautéed vegetables which included zucchini, mushrooms, carrots and onions. I also made Tartar Sauce to eat with the fish.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012 – Today is Cleaning Day and it is one of the few days that I like to give the kitchen a rest. That is, keep it clean for one day. So we went out to eat at our local Japanese Restaurant and had Beef Teriyaki, California Roll along with a Salad & Miso Soup. A nice change from constant cooking.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012 – Moroccan Meatballs and Israeli Couscous
These meatballs were a derivation from a Moroccan Lamb Kebob Recipe. I am going to teach a class at a local school that has no kitchen facilities for teaching, so I have to improvise with electric appliances. The Meatballs are a much simpler item to do than lamb Kebobs which would include grilling. Used the Middle Eastern spices to flavor the meat and the tomato sauce that I served with it.
The Couscous was made with Shitake Mushrooms and Onions. Also made Flat Bread to go along with the meals as well as Hummus that was flavored with Cilantro.
Also made Chocolate Chip Cookies to satisfy Ev’s Chocolate Cravings.
Thursday, April 05, 2012 – Shrimp Salad and Mac and Cheese was on the Menu this night. Ev wanted Pasta to go with the Salad and I do not like Pasta Salads very much so decided to make Mac & Cheese to go along with the Shrimp Salad. The Salad consisted of a variety of Artisan Lettuce, Cucumbers, Carrots, Red Bell Peppers and the Shrimp along with a Sesame version of Thousand Island Dressing.
The Mac and Cheese was made with Orichetti, the Italian Pasta known as ears. The Cheese Sauce was made with Colby/Jack and Gouda. Gouda helps to make the Cheese Sauce very Creamy. It was very good and there enough left over for Ev to eat for lunch the next day.
Since today was National Caramel Day, I also made some Cashew Caramel. To make the Caramel, I heated some granulated sugar in a medium fring pan until it liquified and then I added a small amount of heavy cream. Once the Cream was blended in, I then added the Cashews (roasted, salted ones). Once all the Cashews were covered with the Caramel, I poured the mixture onto a non-stick baking sheet that was placed on a cookie sheet. The mixture was then allowed to set up. If you love Caramel and Cashews as I do, then this is a very good confection to have.
Friday, April 06, 2012 – Red Chicken – found this recipe in one of the food magazines. Red Cooking comes from a region in China and includes the use of Mushroom Soy which is the essential flavoring in it. We found it to be a little too salty and would probably do again with have the amount of the Mushroom Soy and perhaps substitute a lite Soy for that half of the Mushroom Soy. Served this with Rice Noodles and Turnip Sunomono.
Saturday, April 07, 2012 – Crab Legs with drawn Butter, Carrot Salad and Baby Red Potatoes. Yummy! A very good dinner!
SHARING CULTURES THROUGH HOLIDAYS & FOOD
April Food Days
Saturday, April 7, 2012 is National Coffee Cake Day. The reason this cake is called Coffee Cake is not because there is coffee in it as an ingredient, but because it is meant to be eaten with a cup of coffee as the beverage. This is a good cake to have for breakfast because it contains eggs, sour cream and butter. The eggs and sour cream provide protein and the butter of course adds flavor as well as moisture to the cake. There are many versions of this baked delight and they are probably as numerous as the number of pastry chefs in this country.
Start with the basic recipe and then add your own fillings or fruity or nutty additions. The recipe below is for a basic cake with a nut/sugar topping. I belatedly remembered the Raspberry Sauce left over from our Waffle Breakfast this morning. It would have been a nice addition to go between the layers of the cake.
This cake does not have two layers in the traditional sense which would mean that there were two layers baked in separate pans. Just that half the batter is poured into the prepared pan and sprinkled with half the topping and then the remaining batter goes over the topping and the remaining topping goes over the second layer of batter. The raspberry would have been a nice flavor contrast.
Remember that if you decide to make this cake, that the ingredients can be varied. Buttermilk can be used in place of sour cream and in fact, I did not have quite a whole cup of sour cream so I added enough buttermilk to make up the difference. Buttermilk, like sour cream, adds a nice rich flavor to baked goods and also adds some moistness. I also substituted ¼ cup of the granulated sugar with ¼ cup of brown sugar. I love the flavor of brown sugar which can give a little caramel taste to baked goods. In addition to or in place of the nuts, shredded Coconut can be used for the toppings. Orange or lemon zest would also be a nice addition to the batter. You can even add dried cherries or cranberries to the batter also. Try your own variations with this recipe and please let me know how they turn out.
SOUR CREAM COFFEE CAKE
2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 cup Butter
1 ¼ cups Sugar
1 cup Sour Cream
1 tops. Vanilla
½ cup chopped Nuts
2 Tbsps. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
- Grease and flour the indicated a 9” square pan or a Bundt Pan; preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together the ingredients for the topping; set aside.
- Combine the Flour, Baking Powder, Soda and Salt.
- Cream the Butter and Sugar; beat in the Eggs and Vanilla.
- Add the Flour mixture, alternately with the Sour Cream.
- Pour half of the Batter into the prepared pan; sprinkle with half the Topping.
7. Spoon remaining Batter on top; sprinkle with the remaining Nut mixture.
8. Bake in preheated oven on middle shelf for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
9. Cool on rack 20-30 minutes before removing from pan or serve directly from the pan.
Yield: 9 Servings