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