Thursday, December 12, 2013

Apple Upside Down Cake

This cake recipe has been whipped together, layered in a pan, and popped into the oven three times in the past seven days… a true record for one who doesn’t covet desserts. I now refer to it as The Evil Cake as it has managed to entice, beckon and bewitch slices to disappear like magic.

It’s really just an upside down cake, fairly traditional with that appealing caramel-like melt that gets heated up and laid down first in the bottom of a standard cake pan… later presenting as the top of the cake when the whole thing gets flipped over. And while pineapple is often the fruit of choice in these flip-flop cakes, apples (from a generous delivery of PiƱata apples from Stemilt Growers) were happily substituted in ALL three cakes that quickly disappeared.

Quite honestly, I had no real intention of partaking in the initial cake I baked. It was a dessert made to please another. I simply cut a razor-thin slice to “test” it and whatever real intentions I may have had disappeared along with the cake.

Besides being delicious, this cake is just too easy to make. It’s one pan, one layer. Perhaps, it’s this ease in assembly that contributes somewhat to its “evil” ways. And once you cool it a bit and flip it over to plate, that caramel-like melt that I mentioned earlier… well, it’s now bubbled into a gooey, sweet topping that’s made its way in and around the apples and over the sides of the cake, becoming slightly (and delightfully) crisp here and there. The apples are perfectly sweet and beautifully flavor-tinged with that brown sugar-butter caramel and light touch of cinnamon. And the cake is moist and just subtly sweet, making it the perfect complement to a rather luscious topping.

While the holidays may call you toward pies and such, this easy upside-down apple cake is definitely my simple, sweet choice for a holiday (any day) offering. Dust it with a little powdered sugar and a crumble of chopped pecans for a little dressier version, if you’d like. Either way… it will disappear.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pear, Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad {for Stemilt Growers}

Leafy greens factor into most every day of the week in our kitchen, whether they get plated in the form of a salad, chopped and tossed into a soup, or whirred up into a morning smoothie. And it seems that regardless of what form they take, fruit is often part of the mix. Even in soups and smoothies! Think Butternut Squash Soup with apples or pears as a sweetening component, for example. And most any in-season fruit is the absolute trick to sweetening up (and loving) green smoothies.

When it comes to salads, that whole savory-sweet component works as well. Right now, pears are kind of my go-to. There are a whole heap of varieties available so I’m happy to grab whatever looks good... though the firmer varieties will hold up nicer in a plated salad where you want to showcase the fruit just a bit more.

Thinking of a plated salad that might look beautiful for a holiday dinner (or any dinner, really), I selected Stemilt’s d’Anjou pears. Cut and fanned out over a bed of lightly dressed arugula greens, these delicious, juicy and subtly sweet pears take center stage in a colorful plating… particularly attuned to the season. Both in color and flavor, these pears “pair” well with a bright pop of pumpkin-hued persimmon and a sprinkle of fresh, ruby-red pomegranate seeds and toasty walnuts.

Pear, Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad is a particular pleasing plating! For recipe details, click over to The Stem.

Disclaimer: While I am being compensated by Stemilt Growers as a guest contributor to The Stem, the views and/or opinions expressed are my own.