There is something very comforting about an upside down cake. It’s old school baking, which I think is the best kind of baking. Think chocolate chip cookies and bundt cakes.
I saw this recipe while flipping through the October 2006 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The picture made me want to eat it immediately. When I read the recipe it confirmed what my eyes already told me. The addition of saffron and ginger give the cake a modern twist, but the caramelized pears give it a classic upside down flavour.
Saffron Scented Pear Upside-Down Cake
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Pears, (6 to 7 ounces each), peeled and sliced
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the saffron and 1/4 cup sugar. In a bowl beat the sugar mixture with the butter until light and fluffy. Spread the mixture in the pan.
Place the pear slices over the butter in a decorative pattern.
Whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry in a slow stream while stirring. Spread the batter over the pears.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes then flip onto a serving platter and allow to cool completely.
I hated shrimp as a child. Up until about 5 years ago I refused to even try one. Their weird curved little bodies and the memory of a taste and texture I despised were too much for me to overcome.
My mother will tell you that I didn’t actually hate them, I just thought I did. She loves the story about the time in 6th grade when my friend Kathleen and I ate a whole box of breaded shrimp and loved it because we thought they were chicken nuggets. It’s possible that this event occurred, but I would argue that fried breading makes everything delicious and that my child self really did hate those squiggly things.
I don’t remember what pushed me to try them again, but I did.
And I still found them weird.
Shrimp has a strange texture that takes time to get used to. But I did get used to it, and I can now say that I enjoy shrimps meaty but sweet flavour.
That sweet flavour is the perfect counterpoint to heat in this recipe from the October issue of Food and Wine. The recipe is incredibly simple, and yet delicious. It’s great for those nights when you don’t feel like cooking but want to eat real food and not some crappy frozen pizza. I’ll be submitting this post to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Monday (and I’d just like to say that Magazine Monday is making my magazine habit seem totally justified, thanks Ivonne!)
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
From Food and Wine
- 1 1/4 pounds shelled and deveined medium shrimp
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ounce thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced (1/4 cup)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups jarred marinara (I used this easy tomato sauce)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red pepper, and salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
- Heat a large pan until very hot. Add the shrimp and cook over high heat until lightly browned and nearly cooked through, about 2 minutes. Take the shrimp out of the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, and sauté the onions, garlic and pancetta until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan, and add the marinara. Simmer until the shrimp are cooked through.
- Serve with crusty bread.
September is a weird month for me. It makes me hope the summer will go on a little longer, but at the same time it has me craving fall foods likes soups and stews. The cooler weather over the last couple of days made it a great time to make a soup. I still had a few pears so I decided to adapt Martha Stewarts Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup, from the Oct 2006 issue.
I loved the idea of adding pear to the vegetable soup, but I was a little surprised that Martha called for water instead of broth. I also thought the soup could use a little more flavour so I added some sautéed onion as well. The soup is wonderfully satisfying and warming on a cold rainy day. There are a lot of steps in the recipe so it’s a little time-consuming, although most of it is unattended. You can skip the pear garnish and replace with pumpkin seeds, but it does make the soup very pretty. You can also skip roasting the squash and just peel and dice the squash instead.
Pear and Butternut Squash Soup
- 5 medium pears
- 1 butternut squash
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 L low sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
- 1/2 tsp sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice one pear very thinly, using a mandoline. Place slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour till slices are dry. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 400. Slice the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Once done, scoop the squash out of the skin.
- Peel and core the remaining pears. Cut them into large chucks.
- In a soup pot, saute the onions until translucent. Add the pears, squash, and broth. Bring to a boil, season with sage, salt and pepper, then lower the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Let the soup cool a bit, then use and immersion blender to puree. Stir in the cream.
- Serve soup with sliced pears as garnish.
I’ll be submitting this to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays. Check out what everyone else has been up to!
When it comes to baking, I can usually tell when flavours will work together. Can I use almond extract instead of vanilla? Maybe a little liqueur somewhere. When it comes to savory dishes however, I’m clueless. I love it when magazines or cookbooks tell me what to do, otherwise I’m lost. The June issue of Bon Appetit had a section of starters, mains, and sides that all went together. When I first saw it in June I wanted to make everything, but time passed and I never got around to it. On Saturday while I was thinking of what to make for dinner for my guests I remembered the magazine and started flipping through. Although I still kind of wanted to make everything, I decided on Salmon with Coriander Rub and Lime Cream as a main, with Roasted Potato Salad and Green Beans and Zucchini with Sauce Verte as sides.
The dishes were all great. If anyone still needs a zucchini recipe, this one is delicious. The star of the meal was the salmon though. I’m going to pat myself on the back a little and say that it was perfectly cooked, not too raw, not too flaky. The recipe was also very easy to put together, which is great for entertaining.
The picture above is actually of the leftovers. We just couldn’t wait to dig in so no pictures were taken that night.
Salmon with Coriander Rub and Lime Cream
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
- 1 large garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 3/4 teaspoons finely grated lime peel, divided
- 6 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets (each about 1 inch thick)
- 5 tablespoons plain yogurt
- juice of 1 lime
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- In a baking dish mix together spices, olive oil, garlic and lime zest. Coat salmon fillets with oil and spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
- Make lime cream sauce. Mix yogurt, lime juice and cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat oven to 425. Remove excess oil from each fillet and place fillets on a baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes. Serve with lime cream.
When I moved in to my condo four years ago I knew absolutely nothing about taking care of a home. Things like installing light fixtures, or fixing a leaky faucet were completely foreign to me. Today I know slightly more than nothing, but I’m still pretty much clueless. Thankfully I have friends who are kind enough to help me out with these things. Yesterday, my friends Frank and Bianca came over with their almost two-year old son Sasha. Frank changed the light fixture in the dinning room, I made dinner, and Bianca watched Sasha like a hawk as he ran through my non-babyproofed home.
Frank and Bianca have helped many times over the years, and to thank them I wanted to make sure they had a great meal. Main courses aren’t really my thing, although I think I have been getting better, so I made them an amazing dessert: Double Peach Tart from the September issue of Food and Wine.
The tart tasted amazing. The crust was nice and crisp, it reminded me of a sugar cookie but a little less crumbly. The cinnamon and nutmeg went perfectly with the peaches. I think cardamom would have been nice as well. I made the tart exactly as written by Food and Wine, except for the cooking time. The magazine says to bake for an hour and 40 minutes, however my tart was done after an hour. I’m not sure if the recipe is just wrong or if my oven temperature is off. Either way, I’m really happy I decided to check in on the tart after an hour, it would have been a disaster if I had waited.
Since this is another magazine recipe, I’ll be submitting it to Cream Puffs in Venice for another Magazine Monday entry. Magazine Monday’s are a chance to go through all those magazine recipes we’ve all got bookmarked to make one day. Just post a magazine recipe you’ve made and contact Ivonne and she’ll post it with her next edition.
Double Peach Tart
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 10 small, ripe peaches (about 4 pounds)
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 1/3 tablespoons), softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour sugar and salt together.
- Add the cubes of butter and cream cheese. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work the butter and cheese into the flour until it has a crumbly texture.
- Press the dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan (with removable bottom). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Line dough with foil and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for 15 more minutes.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 10 seconds each. Peel the peaches, then cut 6 of them into quarters and 4 of them into slices.
- Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs to butter one at a time. Add vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and continue to mix until well combined.
- Pour the filling mixture into the baked tart shell. Place the quartered peaches in concentric circles over the filling. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for 1 hour. Check that the filling is golden and firm to the touch.
- Cover with sliced peaches before serving.
For me a great meal is all about the side dishes. A nice piece of meat is great, but how good are the potatoes on the side? I’ve constantly got my eye out for good side dish recipes, and this one from the August issue of Food & Wine struck me as the perfect summer side dish. It’s packed with my favourite summer veggies; zucchini, tomatoes, peppers. And as a base, new potatoes!
I also got the chance to use some of the herbs I’ve got growing on the balcony. Everything has been going great, except for the parsley (weird, eh?). The recipe only called for thyme but I threw some oregano in as well, just for fun.
Summer Vegetable Casserole
- New potatoes, sliced a 1/4 inch thick
- Plum tomatoes, sliced
- Yellow peppers, sliced thinly
- Red onion, sliced
- Fresh thyme and oregano
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Parmesan, grated
- Toss all the ingredients together except for the parmesan.
- In a baking dish, layer the vegetables in the following order; potatoes, mushrooms, 2/3 of the onion and green peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, and finally the remaining onion and peppers.
- Top with grated parmesan.
- Bake covered in foil at 350 for 40 minutes. Increase the temperature to 400, remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
This was pretty tasty. The recipe is simple enough to let the flavours of the fresh summer vegetables shine through. Next time I make this I think I’ll add some goat cheese to the mix, or maybe a layer of ricotta and spinach, just to make it a little more substantial.
I’ll be sending this post to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Monday. For those of you who don’t know, Magazine Monday is a chance to get through all those magazine recipes we all have earmarked to make and then share your creations. Head over to her site to check out what everyone else is up to!
You may have noticed that my posts aren’t very challenge-like lately. I’ll admit, I haven’t worked as hard on this one as I did for the sugar free challenge. I think the rules this time around are too lax. Organic chips are still chips after all. All I really have to do is have a smoothie and go for a walk. How hard is that? I need a challenge that is actually challenging.
But I’m trying to shape up a little, starting with this post. The April 2010 issue of Chatelaine has a recipe for a Classic Tomato Chèvre Tart that really caught my eye. I’ve decided to make it challenge friendly by making the crust out of whole wheat flour and eliminating the sugar. I could have gone the extra mile and substituted the milk for something non dairy, but that seemed like overkill (and to be honest could have been disastrous). I also decided to make the tarts mini for easy office-lunch portability and for the cuteness factor.
These smelled soooo good in the oven. I could hardly wait to have a bite. And when I did have a bite, it was like a little bit of goat cheese heaven.
Bonus, this recipe is really easy to make, it took me just a few minutes to get the dough and the filling together.
I’ll be submitting this post to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays. Be sure to check her blog to see what all the other Magazine Monday-ers are up to!
Mini Tomato Chèvre Tart
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 150 g goat cheese
- salt & pepper
- 3 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup snipped chives
- In a large bowl, combine flours, butter and salt with your hands until a it takes on a crumbly texture. (This can be done in a food processor too). Add liquids and stir till ingredients for a ball.
- Press dough into a muffin tin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Combine eggs, milk, cheese , chives and salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Put some diced tomato in each muffin cup. Pour 1/3 cup of egg mixture into each muffin cup.
- Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until filling is set.
I’ve been reading food blogs (kind of obsessively) for a while now. I’ve stumbled across (and drooled over) posts from the Daring Bakers, the Tuesdays with Dorie people, and of course Dorie herself, oh and David too. I started reading them during my first sugar-free challenge as a way to vicariously satisfy my sweet tooth. Reading the descriptions of the foods and seeing all the beautiful pictures (see Tartelette) I felt like I was actually tasting all of the wonderful creations.
After a discussion of mojito cupcakes, my baking buddy cousin sent me this link with what she called the best looking recipe she’s found. The recipe sounds delicious (and is still on my list of things to make). So I decided to check out the rest of the blog. It turns out the author is one of the founders of the Daring Bakers, and she’s also come up with something called Magazine Mondays. Magazine Mondays were created as a way to go through all those magazine recipes we’ve got bookmarked but never actually get around to making. Every monday (well in theory every monday), you pick a recipe from the pile and tell the world about it.
I think it’s a great idea, and so I’m hoping on the bandwagon.
My first Magazine Monday Recipe is from the November 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The switch from hot to kinda of coolish weather last week had me craving soup, so I made one of Martha’s.
Spicy Chickpea Tomato Soup
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chickpeas cooked (or 1 can)
- 1 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes, including the juice
- 1/2 cup drained jarred roasted peppers
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- sour cream or yogurt for serving
- chives or parsley for garnish
- In a food processor pulse garlic, chili, coriander and salt into a paste.
- Heat oil in a medium-sized pot and add garlic paste. Cook until softened.
- Add chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers and broth. Simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly
- Using an immersion blender puree soup.
- Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and garnish with chives or parley.
I omitted the caraway seeds Martha calls for just because I don’t have any.
And I used chives from my “garden”.
They came back all by themselves this spring! (I took the picture at night to hide the horrible view from my balcony, I need to move!)
This is a very quick and easy soup. I actually found it tasted better the next day, the flavours seemed to have blended together a little more, probably because of the short cooking time. The peppers give the soup a little something extra, a very nice touch. The only issue I had was with the texture, maybe I didn’t puree it enough but I found the soup a little clumpy. I would definitely make this again.