As wedding plans were in progress for Henry and me (a hundred years ago), Henry made a last hurrah trip to Alaska and I made one to the beach in Sarasota. Dick met me there and we hung out for a few rainy days, stuck in the hotel room while I addressed wedding invitations.
We once had too much to drink and weaved our way through the Kapok Tree restaurant in Clearwater singing Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" at the top of our lungs. And we swore years ago we would go to the old folks' home together. Of course, if we ever do, we will take the place by storm - cooking storm, that is. He and I are both passionate about it.
He swears I taught him how to make risotto. I think he's so old, he forgets. He probably taught me. For his birthday last week, I gave him a copy of Thomas Keller's AD HOC AT HOME. I challenged him to cook his way through it and he probably thought I was kidding. Guess what, my friend? I meant it! Get cooking, boy! Throwdown!
I've got a head start. I've already made Ad Hoc Brownies and now I have made Ad Hoc Pineapple Upside Cake. Bring it on, Simpson!
Let's talk about pineapple upside down cake. I love this dessert. Next to bread pudding, it's probably the dessert I love the most (no fancy stuff for me, sorry). My grandmother (who lived in the house I recently posted pictures of) made a good version and that's where I learned to love it. Yeah, it's pretty retro. Remember it with the perfectly arranged concentric canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherry halves in the centers? Oh, so fifties!
Thomas Keller has now updated it with the use of a silicon baking pan (genius!) and a brown sugar pan "schmear." His "schmear" method eliminates the graininess of the original brown sugar topping. And of course he has eliminated the maraschino cherries. Good call, Thomas!
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE CAKE (from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon dark rum
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
1 Gold (extra-sweet) pineapple
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, honey, rum, brown sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth and well-blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear over the bottom of a 9-inch round silicone cake pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt. (The remaining schmear can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 1 month; bring to room temperature before using).
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
2 large eggs (I used extra-large because that's what I had on hand)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon milk
Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter and serve warm. Leftover cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.
As usual, I have a couple of things to say.
I've got mixed reviews on this recipe. As I said earlier, I like the "schmear" idea. But I didn't think there was enough of it, so I would probably use the entire amount next time. Then again, if you don't want your cake to be very sweet, you might disagree with me. Personal preference.
This recipe produces a cake with a very fine crumb. I might like that for another cake, but I sort of like a more "homespun" version for a comfort food recipe like this. I also thought it was too dry. Next time I make it, I would cut down slightly on the baking time. I would also consider serving it with a little freshly whipped cream.
Do you remember "Fried Green Tomatoes?" I was lucky enough to be on the food styling team for that movie. The sushi Kathy Bates ate was brought to the set personally by me! See the plate in this picture? I have 15 of them. They were some of the props we used for the Whistle Stop Cafe. Cool, huh?
Speaking of plates? Step up to it, Simpson!