Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ReBlog: 50's Culinary Theme Party

Taste Test From Hell: We Cooked a Bunch of Gross Recipes From the '50s

Well this is a pleasant surprise!

Remember when I told you about the fantastic mid-century cookoff I attended a few weeks back? Well our good friends over at Jezebel blogged the event and rated all of the recipes. Guess what!?! Pineapple Upside Down Cake (or PUD-C as Lindy West dubbed it) was a huge hit!

Here's a lead-in to the post:

Few things are more luridly delightful than midcentury food porn—fishy Jell-Os, mayonnaise frosting, all canned everything, foods ground up and then moulded into the shapes of other foods. If you've ever flipped through your grandma's post-war Betty Crocker cookbook, then you know what I'm grimacing about. These are recipes from leaner times, grounded in thriftiness and imperishability and resourcefulness. And, yes, Hot Dog Aspic Ambrosia is fun to gawk at in 2014, but what would happen...if you actually ate the food? Some friends and I decided to find out. 

Read the whole post here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Hi Friends,

Last night I attended a truly creative theme party at a friend's house. Inspired by this Buzz Feed article, the marvelous blog The Mid-Century Menu, and an abundance of mid-century cook books we gathered together to share some of the most creative and often disgusting mid-century recipes we could find. We had such "delicacies" as Tuna Pie, SPAM sandwiches, savory Pillsbury casserole, Gelatin Chicken Salad, a Frosted Ribbon Loaf and a host of other tastes.

Mercifully, there were a few people who also brought excellent desserts - Grammy's Oreo Dessert, and Orange Delight Pie were among the favorites. For my part, after torturing the party goers with chicken in gelatin, I wanted to bring something that would have been at home on a mid-century table, attractive to look at, and tasty. That's how I settled on this Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It was marvelous. Here's the recipe:

You'll need a 10" oven-safe skillet. I used a relatively new non-stick Calphalon pan, but if you want that nice cake shape you'd get from a cake pan you might want to use a well seasoned cast iron pan with steep, deep sides.
I started to beat the egg whites for this recipe by hand and after 10 min of constant whisking almost lost the use of my arm for the night. Use a standing mixer if you have one. Your arms will thank you.
A basic flour sifter.
I also needed 4 separate mixing bowls. Not because the recipe calls for it but because I'm a spaz. Make sure you have an extra few on hand just in case.

Time: about 1 hour
Makes: 1 10" round cake
Feeds: 8-12 depending on slice sizes.

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (20 ounce) can sliced pineapple, or two small cans sliced pineapples
A jar of maraschino cherries

Pour off the pineapple juice into a glass and drink that because it's amazing. You could probably pour some of the rum below into that and add a cherry, too. Your baking won't suffer, and it might alleviate the pain of all the egg white beating you're about to do.

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup sifted cake flour (yes, sift it FIRST then measure)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon of spiced rum (optional)
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar (optional)

Note we're using cake flour, not all-purpose flour. Cake flour has a different protein content.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

2. In your 10" skillet, melt 1/2 cup butter or margarine over very low heat. Remove from heat, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over pan. Arrange pineapple slices to cover bottom of skillet. Pull the stems from the cherries and arrange them however you like around the pineapple; set aside.

3. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Yes we know you already sifted the cake flour, sift it again with the other ingredients.

4. Here's the part where you work. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two separate bowls. Set the yolks aside for now. In a large bowl, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating well after each addition. Beat until stiff peaks form. This is going to take you a little longer than your arm might be comfortable with. If you have a mixer use it.

5. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks at high speed until very thick and yellow. They should have a lighter yellow color when you finish than when you started. I didn't even try to do this by hand. I cranked the mixer to full blast and it still took a bit.

6. With a wire whisk or rubber scraper, using an over-and-under motion, gently fold egg yolks and flour mixture into whites until blended. Fold in 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine and almond extract. Spread batter evenly over pineapple in skillet.

7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. Loosen the edges of the cake with table knife. Cool the cake for 5 minutes before inverting onto serving plate.

8. When you turn the cake over you may lose a pineapple or two, and some of the brown sugar topping might stick to the pan. Replace that as you like it on the cake top. Sprinkle the rum over the cooling cake, and finish with a dusting with confectioner's sugar. You may want to use your sifter for the confectioners sugar to prevent clumping.

This is a variation on this recipe I found online. I added the rum after reading several other variations and sizing up my audience. I recommend using a dark spiced rum because it has a higher sugar content. Some other ingredients you might consider playing with: nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed almond, other dried fruits in the topping.