Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Post-Climbing Dinner

Tuesdays have become my night of the week to cook after John, Carolyn and I go rock climbing at the Doylestown Rock Gym. By the way, for whomever cares, the ankle is doing much better and I did some high climbs tonight. I had to climb in my sneakers, because my ankle is still too swollen to fit into my climbing shoe :( Anyway, I cook other nights of the week as well, but the three of us have sort of a group dinner schedule. In addition, like most things involving John, this has become a small competition. He cooks for us on Wednesday, and has "upped the ante" with his cooking skills, trying to show us up. So, in due form, we try to show him up. Last week, the dessert category was added to these meals (he is actually a decent cook, one of these days he will post a blog - when his recipes have reached "perfection" so he says) when John made us a homemade apple pie - it even had a lattice crust! Fancy.

After scouring the internet, I found the following two recipes - Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (my mom always used to make it when I was growing up, so it has some fond memories attached) and Lemony Herb Chicken. Perfect!

The gym is not air conditioned, so after getting all hot and sweaty, we went to Luke's again (see blueberry post) this time for dinner and swimming. Luke is a vegetarian, so he could not eat the chicken and Carolyn brought him some leftover manicotti...mmmm....We sipped on some Smirnoff Peach Raw Teas and chatted while we cooked. We were pretty hungry so ate the cake first - hey why not?? This recipe is from Epicurious.com and turned out really well. When getting recipes from online sources, I always check the readers comments, very helpful!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Recipe Courtesy of: Epicurious.com
yields 8-10 slices

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh pineapple, halved lengthwise, cored, and peeled
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Directions:

1) Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

2) Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a bowl. Cut pineapple crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick wedges.

3) Grease (I used cooking spray) a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep) lightly on side and generously on bottom of pan using butter (I just put a few little clumps of butter in the bottom). Sprinkle all of brown sugar evenly over bottom and arrange pineapple over it, starting in center of pan and overlapping slices slightly.

4) Beat together remaining stick butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour and mixing just until batter is smooth.

5) Spread batter evenly over pineapple and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a rack, then invert cake onto a plate and remove pan. Cool to room temperature.

Besides the greasing method, I followed this recipe pretty closely and it was Awesome! The cake was moist and dense and pineapples were sweet and gooey. I will definitely be making this again. It was so easy and turned out very very well.

Round two of dinner was provided by Cara of Cara's Cravings. She had blogged a few weeks ago on this dish and I knew it was something I wanted to try. Although, she uses basil, rosemary, oregano and thyme, I used different herbs based on what I had in my garden and kitchen (basil, cilantro and fresh parsley). I also just made this dish in the oven on a baking sheet, not on the grill like she did. I also used some "good" Feta, which I got from Whole Foods. It was not the run of the mill crumbled feta, but some sheep's milk feta from France! It was actually not too expensive - $4.00 for 1/2 pound. Sheep's milk feta is far superior to cow's milk. Next time you see it, pick some up!

Lemony-Herb Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of: Cara's Cravings
yields 3 generous servings

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts, rinsed and trimmed
handful of fresh herbs of your choice (I used basil, cilantro and fresh parsley)
2 clove garlic
2 oz feta
1/2 of a small tomato, sliced thin
salt & pepper
1 small lemon, sliced

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mince together the herbs and garlic, and crumble in the cheese, stirring to combine (I also squeezed in some lemon juice).

2) Using a small paring knife, carefully cut a pocket into the side of each breast, without going all the way through.

3) Place a few tomato slices in each pocket and divide the herb stuffing mixture evenly between the breasts. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with a few lemon slices.

4) Place on a greased baking sheet and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until lemons and chicken turn golden brown.

We served the chicken with corn on the cob and steamed broccoli. It was fabulous! The chicken was moist and flavorful, but not overwhelmed by the different ingredients. The dinner got high praise from all who attended. Try it out and let me know how it works for you, I'd be surprised if you didn't really like this meal. This is also very impressive to have in your repertoire for guests. It looks and tastes far more complicated than it actually is.

Lastly, I think I am making great strides on my photography. Thanks "E" for the tip on the micro-setting, it worked really well. Also, if you have gotten this far, please LEAVE A COMMENT!!! I am starting to feel quite unloved. Come on people...

10 comments:

DP said...

Photo's are getting better. I like the backlight idea, use a reflector ((big piece of white paper or cardboard or really high tech; crinkle up some aluminum foil then smooth it out an stick in on a piece of cardboard.) Recepies sound great! When you coming in our direction to cook, thought you were coming to see us once a week? ;-0

jordan said...

Hey Georgia! I didn't realize you were such a foodie (I mean if the pb&j wasn't proof enough). The time between college and work I liked to spend my time watching the food channel a lot and I started trying lots of new receipes/techniques. This one sounds great, I'll have to try it... now I just have to find someplace to rockclimb...

Cara said...

Hi Georgia! I'm glad you liked the chicken! I looove cilantro, I'm sure it was delicious :) Your blog looks great, and ironically, I just bought my friend some mini bundt pans so I'll have to tell her to check out your ideas - who knew muffins could be so much cuter that way?

Carolyn said...

The delicious food last night made the whole climbing/swimming thing that much more fun. The cilantro and the lemon were my favorite flavors. Way to go GA! You forgot to mention that now we are belay certified! Awesome!

erin lou said...

I am really going to try that chicken recipe- it looks so good!

Also, I am glad you tried the scone recipe. If I ever can get some good fresh blueberries, I am going to use them!

Georgia said...

Wow, a little guilt really works ;)

dp (or dad) - Thanks for the tips, I'll try them out. You can come here and I'll cook for you. I like mom's cooking when I'm home!

Jordan - Yeah, I'm a total foodie...what can I say? I think Carolyn and I are coming to Rally WV to cook for you guys.

Cara - The mini-bundts are indeed cuter than regular muffins, definately try them out.

Carolyn- SORRY! Yes, everyone, we got belay certified!!! Woohoo!!!

Erin Lou - The scones were very yummy, I can't wait to see what you blog about next :)

E said...

Georgia - Your blog is fast becoming a favorite of mine. I love that there are other people in the area who have food and photography interests that are similar to mine! Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

All those hours that we watched the food channel together really seems to have worked. You have a great feel for putting things together and substituting different spices. And I'm still waiting for you to come home to cook once a week too.
Let me remind you and your readers, it's not just what we eat, it's how we eat. Read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and family. Make a difference. It sounds like you've been doing it all along. But if everyone in America ate one meal with food grown locally, we'd save a kazillion gallons of oil a year. The majority of what we pay for food goes to the oil industry for shipping, processing, cold storage,etc. The farmer makes only pennies on his food, the oil company makes dollars. Love you! Keep on making a difference! We could start a grass roots movemnet, oh maybe you already have! Oh, Georgia, what won't you do! Mom

sher said...

Oh my! I haven't had pineapple upside down cake in years. And I'm a huge fan! After looking at the picture, I must whip up one for myself! Yum!!!!!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Dessert first, I love it! And I love pineapple upsidedown cake! Delish! I think it is great that you have a group of friends who cook for each other and challenge each other! Nice job!

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