Blueberry Upside-Down Skillet Cake

I think this is such a great idea. I love blueberries.  A lot. I really am not too much of a fan of other fruits. There are just a few:  Blueberries, blackberries, nectarines, grapes, apples, esp. Granny Smith, raisins, but that is dried fruit but it is still fruit and I love that. Are cranberries a fruit? I am not sure, but I like them both fresh and dried. I guess they are a fruit. This just shows my lack of knowledge. And I am too lazy to check it out.

I think the orange juice in this in this recipe will likely make it. I have orange juice in my cranberry relish recipe for Thanksgiving and it makes me happy. It just works. Sometimes you just need that slight acidity with a little sweetness – not the over powering citrus like a lemon. But some times you need that too – Pecorino Chicken is a great example. Indeed.

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4 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a ten-inch oven proof* skillet, melt butter over medium low heat, stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in orang juice and the place blueberries over mixture.

In a large-ish bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together egg, milk, butter, and vanilla until blended. Add wet ingredients into flour mixture, until it just comes together – do not over mix. Pour over blueberry in the skillet.

Bake 18 – 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto serving plate. Dust with some powder sugar, or, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream or whatever strikes your fancy.

Notes: I am going to make this again. I did not let it bake enough to set the cake. Boo. That said, the parts that I did eat were really good. I may make this the next time with frozen (organic – yes, I did it) blueberries which means I could make it just about any time.

Source: I got nothing. And I really feel bad about that. If someone recognizes this –  let me know. I want to give credit where credit is due. But sometimes I just mess up in this department.

* If you are not sure if your skillet, esp. the handle, is heat-proof at this temperature, just wrap the handle in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil. It works. See: Apple Sour Cream Butterscotch Upside-Down Cake that I make all the time, especially for the Boy’s birthday.

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Apple Cake

It is officially Autumn now – so says the calendar, but where we live that means basically, nothing. Yep nothing. Except the likelihood of a hurricane. No really, hurricanes are most likely to hit in our area in September or October. Thankfully since 2005, we’ve been very fortunate. All that said, it is still hotter than blazes here and what is worse we have had no rain to cool off the afternoons.

So I am trying to force the issue with apple cake. Force the fall to get here sooner by sheer force of will. Apples and cinnamon – I think that equals fall, at least it does for me.

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2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs vanilla
6 cups peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples (3 apples)

Frosting*
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. This is a thing I do with dry ingredients. It is kind of habit.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, eggs, applesauce, canola oil, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in apples.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 – 40 minutes, roatating the pan half the way through, until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Frosting: In a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar, but add more confectioner’s sugar as needed. Spread over completely cooled cake.

* I did not make the frosting because I wanted to try the cake on its own first. We decided that it was really good with no frosting. Maybe next time I will bake the cake, cool, and turn it out and cut in half and frost half and leave the other plain.

Pear and Bleu Cheese Turnovers

I was always a big fan of turnovers. My Dad’s Mom made amazing fried apple pies –  which is a turnover – mostly. She made them with dried apples – not sure why they were made with dried apples but then she fried them in a  – I am not sure what that thing was called – I think it might be an electric skillet. Maybe? Not sure.

D&D_1492That said, when my grandmama came down from Rockingham North Carolina, she made those fried apple pies and they were (are) sublime. My Mom loved them – which was kind of cool because she was a great cook/bakery herself. Sometimes old recipes are the best. Indeed, mostly they are.

I have found a variation of  (chausson aux pommes “apple slippers”*) the fried apple pies that grandmama made and it totally works for me, but I think this new recipe might be just a little bit more interesting. I mean – pears – and then bleu cheese is involved. Although, I think Granny Smith apples would work well too.

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 good sized not over ripe Anjou pear, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1 egg, for egg wash, beaten with 1 Tbs water
Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Combine pears, lemon juice, cranberries, and bleu cheese in a bowl and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll a sheet of puff pastry into a square, about 11 x 11 inches. Trim back to a 10 x 10 inch square. Using a pizza wheel, cut into 9 smaller squares – oh, lord, math is involved – ugh. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Brush two edges with egg wash and fold pastry into a triangle. Press edges to seal. Transfer to baking sheet and chill 20 minutes.

Once chilled, brush triangles with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and make a couple of slits for the steam to escape. Bake 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

* The French make everything sound so much better, damn them. It is also Bastille Day.

Source: Baking Obsession

Pear and Cheddar Crisp

6 cups peeled and sliced Bosc pears- about 5 pears
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Okay – how do you decide what is a 2 quart casserole dish — it is 8 cups, but … annoying. Just give me a measurement of the dish – I mean really – ugh.

Toss pears with lemon juice in a bowl. Combine 1/2 cup light brown sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon together in a separate bowl. Add sugar mixture to pears; toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish – totally sprayed this with cooking spray. Sprinkle pear mixture with Cheddar cheese.

Combine flour and 1/2 cup light brown sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Cut butter into flour mixture until crumb consistency. Sprinkle topping over Cheddar cheese layer.

Bake in the preheated oven until top is golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Source: Allrecipes.com

Interesting that the original recipe said this was an odd combination – Really? No. This was really good, granted, I made a couple modifications, but I think that is allowable based on taste. I have a couple of quibbles though.

D&D_1145This did not work in the cheese flavor department, which was really disappointing because I love pears (or apples) with cheddar. Will have to figure out how to do that better. And, this is no criticism, but I want a little more crunch in the “crisp” part and I think either walnuts, or maybe almonds should work for that.

A 2 quart dish is an 8 cup dish, and according to conversion charts can be a 9 inch round cake pan (thank you again William Sonoma). That is what I used and to be honest, I think something slightly smaller in size, to make it a bit thicker would have been good. Notes for next time. And there will be a next time. I have two Bosc pears and a Granny Smith apple and I think I will be doing this again.

Apple Butterscotch Sour Cream Upside Down Cake

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Apple Sour Cream Butterscotch Upside Down Cake

I made this cake on a whim (from Bon Appetit – March 2006) the first time. I mean – longest recipe name, um, ever. But all the component parts sounded really good together. The methodology was different than anything I had ever made and that made it all the more appealing.  Then the Boy went crazy for it – understandable. It was/is slightly amazing. And it has stood the test of time. Let us see how that works – it works like this: 19 March 2006, 22 April 2006, 22 April 2007, 26 April 2008, 24 April 2010, 19 April 2013. 26 November 2015 – all of these at the Boys request. Are we seeing an April – birthday – theme. Yes, yes we are. But it totally makes sense for Thanksgiving – fall & apples.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar or regular sugar – does not seem to make a difference, and I have done both.
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, finely chopped

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and the other half of the one that went into the batter

Preheat oven to 375°F. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over a piece of waxed paper. Using mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla; beat until blended. Mix in flour mixture, then sour cream. Stir in chopped apple. Set aside while preparing the upside down part of apples and butterscotch.

Melt butter in 10-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet* over medium heat. Add apples and sauté to soften just a bit. Then add brown sugar and butterscotch morsels; stir until melted and smooth and mixture is bubbling. Cook until apples are golden, u (there will be a lot of liquid in skillet). Remove skillet from heat and let cool 3 minutes. Using tongs, arrange apple slices in skillet in concentric circles or other pattern – if you are really that person – never bothered myself.
Carefully spoon cake batter in dollops on the apples in skillet. Using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to edges of skillet (batter will seem to float on top of apples and pan juices). Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in skillet 10 minutes. Run plastic knife around edges of cake to loosen. Place large platter over the skillet. Using oven mitts or pot holders, hold platter and skillet firmly together and invert. Use the courage of your convictions. Serve cake warm. Or at room temperature – it works just as well that way.D&D_1008

*If your nonstick skillet does not have an ovenproof handle, wrapping the handle in two layers of heavy-duty foil. I always do this and it works – and my skillet is only 9.5″ but I kept it just for this recipe. Would not want to disappoint the Boy.

Lime Meltaways

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Lime Meltaways

When I was a kid it was a huge thing for us me in the summer when my mom made limeade. I don’t do that enough and need to remedy that. Limeade went along, typically, with boiled peanuts and watermelons on a summer Saturday.

I love the nuanced flavor of a lime. I also think that the best way to eat an avocado is with lime and some sea salt – just heaven, but not on toast. Too trendy, and, to my mind, a bit insipid. Lime also features in my mushroom and watercress pate, because it is citrus but just a bit sweet too. Lime is a lovely complex flavor.

I am always making lemon cookies, I know, you are all astonished, right? but lime, not so much. I think it is because when you see something lime, it is typically pie. Which I have nothing against, but you don’t see much in the way of lime cookies. So I am making a concerted effort to change that – single handedly.

3/4 cup butter (12 Tbs) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
Finely grated zest of two limes
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 Tbs vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbs
2 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Sift together flour, cornstarch, and salt over a piece of wax paper – I do love to do it this way. It’s simple and easy to clean up – Set aside.

Put butter and 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla and mix until combined.

And here is where things became interesting … Really should have used the paddle attachment. The whisk was a pain, esp. to get it cleaned out to get everything mixed together.

Then, because the whisking didn’t go well, it took some time to hand mix the dough to get it come together. We will no return to our show, already in progress….

Divide dough in half. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs and slice into 1/4 inch thick coins. Space coins about an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until barely golden, 12 minutes or so, turning the pan halfway through. Cool on a wire rack 8 – 10 minutes. Place the other 2/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar in a zip top bag, and toss the still warm cookies to coat. Store airtight at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Source: Martha Stewart

These were really good, if you like citrus. Went over well with my friends. It’s shortbread after all.

Stone Fruit Cobbler

When I was a kid, we had a nectarine tree in our back yard. It was in a tight space between a wooden fence and the house so it was rather protected when the little bit of cold weather we had come each January. I remember eating them and loving them. Each summer there was enough fruit from the tree to make a cobbler, so I’ve always just made nectarine cobblers, like my mom did before me.

Peach Cobbler

It’s the right time of year for Peach Cobbler

This year I decided to see if I could tell the difference between a nectarine and a peach. To be honest, once you put it into a cobbler, I don’t think there is a way to tell the difference at that point. Given the option though, I think I will continue to pick nectarines in the future. Just to be different, if for no other reason. That is just me.

I have not been happy with my mom’s biscuits on the cobbler though. They seem too dense. Sorry mom. This is a recipe that I found that followed a different path that seemed good, but I did mix in a couple of my mom’s tricks to make this my own.

Peaches:
8 ripe peaches, peeled, cut into small chunks (catch any juice you can – you will thank me)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg – just do the nutmeg – they last for pretty much ever
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch

Biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny cubes
1/4 cup milk or cream

Topping:
3 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together peaches, and next six ingredients. Place in a 2 quart baking baking dish and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

While you are waiting,  combine dry biscuit ingredients with a whisk. Blend in butter with your fingers or a pastry blender. Add in the milk/cream until combined, but do not over mix it. That makes it tough, not biscuit-y.

Remove baking dish from the oven, and drop the biscuits over the peaches. Then sprinkle with the sugar cinnamon mix. Bake until the top is golden and slightly crunch – sugar you know – about 30 minutes.

Notes: This is a mix of my mom’s recipe and something completely different.  I like it, but I am still going to work on it. That’s just me – I guess.   My friends really liked this one. Hope to make a couple more before the season is over. Still will go with nectarines  – it is just a thing.

14 August 2015 – perfect peach time – but will do this again before the “summer” is over – but with nectarines. Yep.