Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

IMG_8349My husband loves Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I recently made one in my cast iron skillet and it turned out great (other than the fact that I used a 12 inch skillet instead of a 10 inch the recipe called for, but it was still delicious – I had to reduce the cooking time as a result. ) I will be getting a 10 inch cast iron skillet soon, so I can make this correctly.  The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion it is a real treasury for baking that I really recommend.  I have made a few recipes from this book and the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is a keeper as well. (Amazon: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

I overdid it on Maraschino cherries.. but my family says there is no such thing!  I also omitted the nuts, but I will leave them in the recipe so you can decide if you want it in yours.  My husband said it was like the cake he remembers having as a child.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion p 376

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 (16 oz) can pineapple rings, drained (juice reserved)
  • 12 to 16 maraschino cherries (or more … like the whole jar! minus the two you ate)
  • 16-20 pecan or walnut halves, optional
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet (though I used a 12 inch and it turned out okay too… just reduced the cooking time, but the cake was very thin).  Sprinkle the dark brown sugar into the melted butter and place the pineapple on top.  Arrange the maraschino cherries inside the pineapple rings and additional gaps.  If you are also using nuts, place those in the gaps in addition to the cherries.

In a medium bowl, soft the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Set aside.  Combine the pineapple juice and vanilla and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat the eggs until they have thickened and are light in color.  Sprinkle in the sugar with the mixer running.  Add the pineapple juice mixture and slow the mixer down as you add the flour mixture to the batter gradually.  Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute.

Pour the batter over your pineapple rings and cherries.  Bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until the center is springy to the touch and the cake is pulling away from the sides of your cast iron skillet.  Remove it from the oven.  Then place a serving platter upside down on the skillet and carefully (with oven mitts!) invert the pan over the platter- allow the pan to stay over the cake for about 5 minutes or longer so that the sugar drips back down onto the cake.  The cake should have loosened enough from the pan to easily transfer to the plate leaving the beautiful pineapple rings exposed.  Slice into 10 wedges and serve.

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My Favorite Kitchen Tools

I love my kitchen gadgets and helps.  I have a few favorites that I would like to tell you about.

My top pick for the kitchen that is handy to have is an immersion blender.  I have one from Braun that I won at a silent action in 2002 that still works, but Kitchen Aid has a great one, as well as Cuisineart. They range from 20-100 dollars.  What I like about them is that you immerse the blender in your soup pot (or other dish) and are able to blend the soup or sauce in the dish, rather than placing it in a blender and having a big bulky thing to wash. The blending stick is detachable from the motor and is usually dishwasher safe.  Win!

My next favorite item is the spice stack! I have two.  My husband gave them to me for Christmas last year and I finally have an organized spice cabinet.  They come in different sizes, so you may not need two – depending on how many spices you use regularly. Here is a link to the small one you can also find a large one here.  It does a better job with round bottles, some of the square ones do not fit well.  Yes, I use two of the large ones.. 60 spice bottles… and I still have overflow, but it works for the ones I use most! 🙂

Salt and pepper grinder.  I like using sea salt.  I am told that sea salt is lower in sodium and better for you. My Christmas gift from my son was a pair from Kuhn Rikon Ratchet Mills.  You can easily adjust the size of the grind by turning a knob on the output.  It is super easy to load, as it has a little door that swings out on the side and you simply pour the salt and peppercorns into the unit and close it.  I love this pair – my family says it looks like it is a Dalek out of an episode of Dr Who!

My salad spinner.  I had one for a long time that served me well, but it recently broke and my husband replaced it with a Kitchen Aid spinner… it was okay, but the lid kept coming apart and was not the easiest to reassemble.  I bought one from Oxo at my local market and I love this one.  The bowl is nice and solid and pretty enough to put the salad in after for serving.  It has a simple slide lock that keeps the pump in place for storage and a button for breaking.

My pots and pans are of course my best friends.  I was fortunate enough to be able to buy my all clad stainless pots at a kitchen store that was going out of business – it was 40% off and I was able to save several hundred on that, or I would not have them!  They were the display models so they had a few scratches on them, but they work great.  The thing about All Clad that I love is that they are heavy, thick bottomed pots and pans that conduct heat evenly.  Even heat is always a good thing!

For my non stick pans, I am falling more and more in love with my Lodge cast iron skillet. It is heavy behemoth of a monster, but now that I season it properly, it is the one pan I like to use.  What I love is that it can go from stove top to oven with no problems, but it does get HOT!  My lighter companion non-stick skillets are scanpan, which have a thin porcelain vs teflon coating.  I found they do get scratched easily though, so I usually have a layer between them when I store them (like bubble wrap or paper) and I try not to over-heat them.

We love pizza and calzones at our house.  My must have for that is a pizza stone!  I love my pizza stone from Pampered Chef, but you can find other brands as well that do a good job.  Pampered Chef used to have one that was round that did not have handles.. I liked that model better because it was more versatile.  It did have a metal rack you could slide under it that would give you handles for easy lifting.

Crock pot liners: I only recently discovered them.  I love the fact that the food no longer hopelessly gets stuck on the side of my crock pot and it is much easier to clean.  I just discard the liner, give the inside of the crock-pot and lid a quick wash and get on with my day, rather than having to soak and scrub the food from the side wall of the insert.

Of course I should not forget my work horses of the kitchen: good quality knives!  The brand that I use is Wusthof Classic.  I find having quality knives in the kitchen makes the prep time shorter.  I like to keep my knives sharp – a dull knife can easily slip and hurt you more than a sharp one can, though I get occasional cuts, they are the gift I will give to a young couple as a gift.  There are plenty of good brands available, but because I am used to the feel and balance of Wusthof I use them.  They have a new line however, Gourmet that is cheaper (and also more cheaply made) that lacks the balance that Classic or Grand Prix have.

These are some of my favorite things.  I hope they help you in your kitchen as well.


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Curried Chicken Salad

IMG_8370At Christmas time, I always look forward to attending an annual Christmas Tea at a church.  The food that stood out to me this year was their Curried Chicken Salad served in a pita pocket.  I immediately begged my friends Cara and Elizabeth in the kitchen for the recipe and they were happy to share with me.  Yay for everyone, because I got permission to share the recipe on my blog.  Today I had the chicken salad on a bed of greens.  I use a rotisserie chicken, but for large amounts, canned does a lovely job as well.  I also made this salad for our choir Christmas Eve services, and several people asked for the recipe.  This Curried Chicken Salad can be enjoyed year round!

Thank you Cara and Elizabeth for sharing this yummy recipe!

Curried Chicken Salad

Source Cara and Elizabeth @ NP Church

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked, cubed chicken
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained, chopped
  • 8 oz pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 lb grapes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds

Dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Instructions:

Combine the chicken, water chestnuts, pineapple tidbits, and grapes in a bowl and toss.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over the chicken mixture.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with slivered almonds just before servings.

Serving Suggestions: Fill pita pockets with a generous scoop of chicken salad, or serve over a bed of greens.  Pecans are also very nice instead of slivered almonds.

Enjoy!

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