June 24, 2009

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This cake is so easy to make, and so nostalgic for many of our parents. The best part is flipping the cake upside down out of the skillet and seeing the pretty arrangement of pineapples on top. This recipe is from Moosewood, which is why it calls for mashed bananas, to reduce the amount of fat. I made this for Andy's dad's 60th birthday on request, and Mary Ann's birthday as well.

What's in it:
20 oz can unsweetened sliced pineapples, undrained
1/4 C butter
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
3/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C buttermilk 
1/2 C mashed banana
3 Tbl vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C flour

How it's made:
Drain the pineapple, reserving 1/3 C of juice.  In a 10" cast iron skillet, or oven proof skillet, heat and melt butter on med heat. Add sugar and cook stirring constantly until sugar starts to turn brown (3 min).  Remove from heat and keep stirring.  Add drained juice (1/3 C) and return pan to low heat and stir until sugar is melted again.  Arrange pineapple slices close together in a decorative layer on the bottom of the skillet, reserving any leftovers.

For cake batter combine wet ingredients in one bowl and sift together dry ingredients in another.  Add dry to wet and stir until mixed.  Pour batter over pineapple slices and top with any reserved slices.  Bake for 30-40 min until knife inserted comes out clean.  Cool in skillet for at least 10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate, so slices are facing up.

June 15, 2009

Stuffed Burgers

I might start rating my recipes by how many "mm-mmm's" the food gets from John. This just happened to be a 5. Growing up my dad would make stuffed burgers from time to time. Dave is known to order them at McMenamins. So I thought it was my turn to give them a try. This is what I did:

First, I bought just over a pound of the 20% fat ground beef from New Seasons. I know 20% fat sounds like a lot when you see it next to the 10% or 5%, but when you're dealing with grilled burgers it equates to grilled goodness.

Second, I cut a large yogurt container so I was left with a two-inch ring measuring from the rim. This is the form I used to mold the burgers. They actually make a tool for this you can buy for $20...or you can make your own.

Thirds - I like to make 1/3 pound burgers..when you're dealing with 20% fat meat a good portion of the meat melts away and the 1/3 lb burger is actually just right. Separate the 1/3 lb portions into halves.

Fourth, press one half of the meat into the mold. Make sure to really work it into the entire space. This will make sure your burger holds together when you cook it. I usually flip it and then press it in again. Once you've done this, with the meat still in the mold, sprinkle finely chopped fillings (cheddar cheese, green onions, red onions, blue cheese, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, etc. what ever suits you). Then free-form the second half of the meat into a disk and place it over the other meat and toppings in the mold. Kind of like a top pice crust.

Fifth, press the top all around and work specifically around the edges. Flip it over, use mold again, and do a final pressing. If you don't press it well enough you run the risk of the burger splitting open on the grill and loosing your fillings and maybe even part of your burger.

Sixth, grill. The burgers in the image above are a little more well done than I usually like. It just happened. And we didn't have any tomatoes to top, but the green onions and lettuce were from our garden. With a little bacon, some BBQ sauce and mustard they still tasted soooo good.


June 13, 2009

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

This recipe is based on the July 1995 Cooks Illustrated Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. It's easy when you use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts. John loves this combo and I've had varying results. So far this recipe has been consistent for me. It's important to use the right amount of thickener with a pie like this because you could easily end up with a soupy, runny mess of a pie (I've made a few of these). Here is what Cooks has to say about sugar and tapioca:

The amount of sugar and tapioca you use is relative, depending on the fruit’s quality and your taste. If you prefer a less sweet pie or if the fruit is especially sweet, use the lower sugar amount. If you like your pie juices fairly thick, or if the fruit is really juicy, then opt for the higher amount of tapioca. If you are using frozen fruit, measure it frozen, but let it thaw before filling the pie. If not, you run the risk of partially cooked fruit and undissolved tapioca.

3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 cups fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3–4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 package of two Pillsbury Pie Crusts*


Take Pillsbury Pie Crusts out of the frig so it can come to room temperature..

Heat oven to 400-375 degrees.

Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt, pepper and tapioca. It’s really important to let it stand for 15 minutes.

Unroll the first crust onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it so it is even. Don’t over roll it because it is already the right thickness. Do this for both crusts.

Fit one piecrust into bottom of pie dish. Fill with fruit mixture. Lay second crust over top. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal.

With the dough trimmings you can gently reform and rollout to make decorations. I made little strawberries and cut some little vines for the vents.

If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Place pie on baking sheet in the middle of the oven; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

*I've used other brands and they just don't turn out as well.

June 12, 2009

Kate's Fave Potato Salad

I never liked potato salad much as a kid until I had my grandmas. All potato salad was kind of sweet or too mustardy or too mushy. Then at a family reunion of sorts when I was 11 or 12 I tried hers. It did not have sweet relish or mustard in it. And as for the mushy, I was able to get past that because of the first two omissions. About 15 years later I developed my own recipe for potato salad that I love. Today, while finishing off the last bit left over from a recent BBQ* I realized this is an easy one to post and share. Please forgive me as the only bits I had left for a picture were practically traces in my NS "bowl."

In order to remedy the mushy part I use red potatoes. They are a little more waxy than russets and hold their form a little better. Here is how I make it:

a few pounds of smallish red potatoes
3-6 stalks of celery
2-5 green onions
1 can of medium black olives
1 cup of Mayo (Vegenaise** or Best Foods)
Fresh Ground Pepper***

Optional Ingredients
Hard boiled eggs
Fresh parsely

First, chop the potatoes into small cubes, about 3/4" x 3/4" -ish. Then boil them until they are just soft enough to stick with a fork. Not mushy! But rather, just cooked, firm but not crunchy. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to cool. (Sometimes I spread them out on a pan and put in the frig.)

While the poatoes are cooking, chop the celery - slicing it length-wise frist and then into little pieces. I even chop up the leafy parts on top. Chop onions into little pieces as well and add to a large bowl. Finally, chop olives. I like to cut them into quarters the long way. It's pretty, but you can chop them however you want.

When the potatoes are cooled add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss with mayo. Add more or less mayo depending on your style. It's best if this can sit for an hour or so in the frig before you serve it, but it's really good anytime.


*Ramon is coaching me on BBQ, which I recently learned is different from grilling. More to come on that in the next months.

**Vegenaise is a great way to make this dish vegan if you're interested or have friends who you want to impress. Grapeseed Vegenaise is my favorite.

***If you don't own a pepper mill, now is the time! Fresh pepper makes everything better (even sweets I've recently discovered). If you're using the pre-ground stuff you might was well leave it out. It's stale and bland. Fresh ground pepper is amazing and SO worth it.

June 10, 2009


Ingredients: Amount depends on size of serving dish

*Pound Cake (I used frozen Sara Lee)
*Fresh berries - black, blue, straw, ras.
*Vanilla pudding - the cooking kind
*Whipped cream
*Jam - I usually use rasberry

Trifle is sooooo yummy and a family favorite of mine.  The ingredients are flexible so add what fruits you like.  It's easy to make and best served in a bowl like the one pictured so the layers can be seen.  The order you layer the ingredients is up to you, but this is how we do it.  
    I like to lay down a little custard/pudding in the bottom to make it even since the dish is rounded.  My Nan liked to use bird's custard, but I just use cooked vanilla pudding after it's cooled a bit.  Then cover with pound cake; doesn't mater if there are openings, just do a layer - hint, but not a must, is to spread jam on one side of the pound cake.  Next is berries (the jucies will soak into the pound cake and preserve the layered looked).   When in season fresh rasberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries would be ideal. . . however it is still very tasty to use the frozen mixed berry pack from the store (thaw first).  
    The next layer is banana's - sliced and arranged virtically around the glass for viewing purposes and then a complete layer across the rest laying face down.  If you want to keep the color bright, sprinkle lemon juice over the bananas before putting the in the dish.  The last layer is whipped cream - can use real, however cool whip maintains a firm texture a bit longer which is nice for the layering, and it taste just as good.  Then start the next layer with pound cake on the whipped cream followed by custard and so on. 
Repeat the layers in order for as high as your bowl allows.  The top layer should be whipped cream and garnished with a few pieces of friut.   

Keep refrigerated until served!  When serving dig down through all of the layers with a spoon.

June 9, 2009

Moosewood Muffin Madness

There's nothing like the smell of fresh baked muffins - any time of day. Usually I try to have bananas on hand all the time for cereal, and when they overripe, they go into banana bread. Today I tried out the Moosewood muffin recipe, instead of my standard banana bread, and it looks great! It's nice because there is a standard base, and then you can add whatever variation you want to make your muffin flavor. It also could be made vegan fairly easily by using egg substitute.

What's in it
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 C vegetable oil
3/4- 1 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Dry ingredients:
2 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Additional variations 
(must have one of these along with the wet and dry ingredients):
Apple: Add 2 C grated tart apples and 1 tsp fresh lemon zest to wet ingredients.  Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to dry ingredients.  Optional: fold in chopped walnuts or pecans into batter.

Banana: Add 1 1/2 C mashed ripe bananas to wet ingredients.  Optional: Fold in chopped nuts or chocolate chips into batter. 

Blueberry-Lemon: Add 1/2 C fresh or frozen blueberries and 1 Tbls fresh lemon zest to wet ingredients.

Zucchini: Add 2 C grated zucchini to wet ingredients, and 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom to dry ingredients.  Fold 1/2 C raisins or currants, and 3/4 C chopped nuts if you like, into batter.

How it's Made
Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients.  In small bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add appropriate variation ingredients to wet or dry ingredients.  Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined.  Fold in additional ingredients if necessary.

Spoon batter into oiled standard muffin tins (makes 12), and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  If using mini muffin pans, bake 10-15 minutes.

June 3, 2009

Rustic Veggie Melt

The other day I needed a quick dinner and I ended up with a delightful meal worth posting.

My sister works at New Seasons and is able to bring home a lot of produce for free. When ever something is dropped or bruised or on the verge of going bad they set it aside. It's from this group of veggies she can pick some for us to enjoy at home. She brought home a lot of squash, peppers and onions which she chopped and roasted. I walked in when the veggies were coming out of the oven, which drastically reduced my overall cooking time, but it's still easy. Here are the instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Rinse and chop various veggies, in this case we had green and yellow squash, red and green bell peppers, yellow onions and whole cloves of garlic. Toss veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can add fresh herbs too. We had thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Roast in glass baking dish until all veggies are cooked through and starting to brown, tossing at least once. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Increase oven to Broil.

Cut thick slices of sourdough and lay them on a flat cookie sheet, covered in foil if you like foil.
Scoop some of the roasted veggie mixture onto each slice of bread and spread it to the edges. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil or other herb if you have it. Then layer some jack or mozzarella cheese over the top. Place in the oven on middle rack and watch until the cheese just starts to bubble and the edges of the bread are toasty. Remove from the oven and seve immediately.

I didn't have the energy to make a whole salad to go with this so you can see I just tossed some avocado pieces with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Total time with roasting veggies is about 1 hour (most of which you are sitting while veggies cook)
Total time with pre-roasted veggies is about 10 minutes. If you pre-roast veggies they can be stored in the frig for a few days and you can have this meal for an easy lunch or brunch with an egg on top.