Bananas Foster is what inspired this recipe. Caramel, spice, and bold tropical sweetness abounds. I rarely buy canned pineapple for this recipe, but in a pinch it can be used. Substitute enough canned pineapple to equal what size a stack of fresh slices from one pineapple would be. You can also do this one on the grill; use a piece of foil over medium heat coals and turn the pineapple slices frequently to avoid burning. Pay close attention to them when they are baking; I have burned a batch or two of these, but, oh my, they are worth the attention. When you have prepared a batch of these, there are numerous ways to put them to use. I like mine with ham steaks, or pork chops or tenderloin, they’re great with good French Vanilla ice cream, and will complement any fruit tart, or any slice of cake, or simply prepare a plate of roasted pineapple presented with knives and some whipped cream as a dessert. If you want a non-alcoholic version, simply omit the dark rum, or substitute it with a nice apple cider. If you don’t have the allspice, any other tropical spice, or combination of tropical spices will do, such as; freshly grated nutmeg, ground clove, cinnamon, freshly ground star anise, and even some red and white freshly, and finely ground, peppercorns work very well (just a pinch or two) in a caramel.
Pineapple slices from one ripened, fresh pineapple, cut to ½” thickness
1 stick of butter
¾ cup of dark brown sugar (molasses or dark corn syrup can be substituted)
½ cup of good dark rum
1 tsp of Madagascar vanilla flavoring (just kidding about the Madagascar piece, just (please) don’t use imitation vanilla flavoring)
½ tsp of allspice (please see above for spice alternatives)
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Combine all of the ingredients, except the pineapple slices, in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, stir the caramel mixture until it combines and comes to a soft boil. Wrap the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil, taking care to come up the sides where possible. Arrange the pineapple slices in the pan to be spread out as much as you can. Pour the caramel sauce over the pineapple slice, lifting the bottom slices so that all the slices are coated evenly. Roast the slices in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, turning the slices and re-coating if necessary every 15 minutes, or, until the fruit has softened and the sauce has caramelized on the fruit. Just keep an eye on them. There is not much difference between perfectly done and burnt to the point of being inedible. Enjoy!
I have three sisters. Because of this fact, I do know that there is a special bond between Dads and daughters. Conversely, I absolutely know that there is a special bond between Moms and sons, as well. It is no different for me. I’m pretty proud of my Mom, too. She was a loving wife for 63 years; raised five kids, taught elementary gifted and talented kids, and ran the household for years. Dad has since left us, and Mom continues to carry on like a trooper. She is currently in her late 80’s and is still very active with caring for her rescue terrier Sam, bridge clubs, garden club, altar guild, and redecorating/remodeling her home; and she does this undeterred by titanium knees and degenerative arthritis.
Despite working full-time, maintaining a long-distance relationship of 80 miles or so, being a stained-glass/mosaic artist, and a food blogger, I did manage to schedule to be home for Mother’s Day this year and was proud to honor my Mom by doing what we did when we were kids. Essentially, Mom doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to for the entire day, and all the necessary stuff is done for her. So, went last Sunday. For breakfast, I made Mom some French-toasted oatmeal bread, with maple syrup and sliced strawberries and sausage links. I made sure I stayed up with the dishes, took Sam for his walks, got Mom her Sunday paper, and generally tried to stay out of her way. For her dinner:
- Delmonico Tips Stroganoff/Buttered Egg Noodles
- Sweet Potato Casseroles
- Iceberg Wedges with Blue Cheese and slivered almonds
- Cherry Crepes
Delmonico Tips Stroganoff
I took a big Delmonico Rib-Eye steak and trimmed the fat, then cubed the meat, and then cut them diagonally across the cube to make triangular tips. I dredged these in some flour that had been salted and peppered. I browned the tips in butter and olive oil and combined them with 2 Vidalia onions that had been chopped and then caramelized. I sautéed an 8 oz. package of sliced baby portabella mushrooms and tossed these in, too. I then added 1 cup of red wine and a can of beef consommé and stirred it all to combine. I put a cover on it and baked it off in a 350°F oven for about an hour. I took it out and let it sit for about 30 minutes to cool down and then stirred in about a pint of sour cream. It was a wonderful sauce and I spooned it out over some medium egg noodles that had been sauced with melted butter and about 2 teaspoons of poppy seed.
Sweet Potato Casseroles
Mom loves sweet potatoes. And, they’re always on everybody’s Super Foods list. You know; the lists with blueberries and almonds on them. I baked two average sized sweets in a 350°F oven for about an hour and a quarter. You can poke them with a fork to make sure they are done all the way through. I usually slice off the pointy ends and don’t forget to scrub them and poke a few holes in them so steam can escape while they are cooking. Peel the skins off of them when they are cool enough to handle. I lightly mashed the cooked potato and added to them a small drained can of pineapple chunks, about 1 cup of chopped walnuts (not too finely chopped, just run your knife through them to make the pieces chunky), about 3 TBSPS softened butter, about ½ cup of dark brown sugar, and about ¼ cup of dark rum. Everything was stirred to combine and I split it back out amongst two oven-proof personal casseroles. Lastly, they were sprinkled with some grated sharp cheddar cheese and baked for about 30-40 minutes, until the cheese was crispy and crunchy and the potato mixture is heated through. Be careful, these dishes come out of the oven real hot and you want to put some trivets or potholders under them for serving.
I started with a can of cherry pie filling and here I would recommend paying a little more and getting the better quality brand. I opened the can into a small saucepan and added to it a ¼ cup of Chambord Raspberry Liqueur, a ¼ cup of sherry, and the juice of half a lemon. Simmer this filling on low for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. I then took about ¾ of a cup of sour cream and added about 2 TBSPS of sugar, the juice of half of a lemon, about ¼ cup of Kirshwasser (cherry liqueur); then stirred it all together and set it aside to let the sugar dissolve and the flavors assimilate. (Knowing that crepe batter likes to rest a bit before using, I had the cherries, the sour cream topping, and the crepe batter all prepared and done before the Stroganoff came out of the oven) The crepe batter is pretty simple. I think the key to a good crepe batter is to spend some time with the first step which is combining 2 eggs with a cup of flour. The egg tends to capture some of the flour, creating lumps that will need your attention to stir out. So, I combined my two eggs with a level cup of flour, working out those lumps with a wire whisk. Then I slowly added ½ cup each of water and of milk, adding a little bit at a time and taking some time to incorporate the liquids. You’ll end up with a slightly gummy batter that you finish with a couple of pinches of salt and 2 TBSPS of melted butter. Stir it all one more time and set it aside to rest.
Mom has a cast-iron crepe pan that she has had for over forty years. It was a Christmas gift from her husband and it has a thumb notch at the base of the handle for spreading the batter and is perfectly sized for ¼ cup of batter which is the right amount for one individual crepe. Mom has seasoned the gently sloping sides and bottom of this pan to perfection and it is a wonder to use. However, regardless of whatever pan or skillet that you use (a small non-stick/”Teflon” skillet with sloping sides will work just as well), the temperature that you use under it is important. Too cool and the crepe batter runs and forms weird shaped crepes, too warm and they set too quickly (another shape/form issue) and they tend to burn, too. Patience is a true virtue in making crepes, but well worth the effort. (Always an impressive presentation, too.) Invariably, you will always waste one or two per batch, as well. That’s how you test for the correct temperature. The last thing you will need is a thin bladed, small, spatula. We have a little spreader that works perfect.
So, you heat the pan; wipe it with a paper towel moistened with cooking oil. Pour a ¼ cup of the batter in the center of the pan. Pick up the pan and slowly tilt it in a circular motion to coat the bottom of the pan with the batter to the preferred finished size of about 6-7“across in diameter. Now, the uncooked side of the crepe will show some signs of being ready like bubbling like a pancake; but, you really want to think in terms of time. About a minute and a half on the first side; when the first side is ready, it will be able to be lifted up on the side with the small spatula. When released all around, and lightly browned on the first cooked side, flip the crepe in the pan with the small spatula. It’s elastic dough and will stand up to more punishment than you think. About thirty seconds only are needed on the second side and it will be lightly browned. You can make and fill these individually, or, you can keep them individually separated by clear plastic wrap and they will keep in the freezer for a long time.
I filled each one of Mom’s by spooning a generous serving of the flavored cherry filling onto the bottom quarter of each of two crepes. Fold them in half and then in half again, leaving the cherries in the bottom pocket, and a double layer of crepe on top. Top the crepes with a dollop of the flavored sour cream and serve warm. Enjoy!
And please remember, honor your Mothers every day for the love they have shown you and the sacrifices they have made. I love you, Mom!
My Mom has been making these for at least thirty years that I know of. This wonderful (and flexible) recipe was given to her by a colleague when she was still teaching. Most often spotted during the holidays, these little critters disappear fast; they can be quite addictive. They make wonderful gifts, all nestled in little tins, or baskets, and, you can take this recipe anywhere you would like to go with it, be adventurous! You really have to work hard at screwing these up, honestly, when they are baking, keep an eye on them so that they don’t get too dark. But, experiment with the “done-ness” thing, because you can take them from an almost soft white to a deep caramel in color, as they bake. Remember that from deep caramel to black and burned is not too distant and the rest is like falling off a log…have fun!
1 stick of salted butter
2 egg whites
1 cup of sugar
1 pound pecan halves
Salt, to taste, after baking
Preheat the oven to 300° (oven temperatures vary, these should just be turning a light golden brown after about 20 minutes), melt the stick of butter in a jelly-roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides on it, or else the butter will get all over your oven), spread the melted butter evenly over the pan, beat the egg whites until foamy (about ½ way in between egg whites and meringue) and add the granulated sugar. Mix in the pecan halves and spread in the jelly-roll pan. As said above, bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Levels of being done at this point vary greatly with each cook who makes these; some like them dark, and some like them light. Just be careful not to burn them and don’t be afraid to experiment. (See below) Salt lightly to taste after they come out of the oven, cool them in the pan and then break them up into bite-sized pieces. Store refrigerated in an airtight container. These freeze well, only needing a little time to thaw before serving and they make great gifts, too!
I’ve seen these made with all kinds of different nuts; this recipe works well with almonds, walnuts, or peanuts (stick to dry roasted varieties and stay away from “skins” (like redskin peanuts for example)), and don’t be afraid to combine two or three different kinds of nuts in one batch. Shoot for a combined weight of about a pound of nut meats
- Go savory with this by omitting all but a couple of tablespoons of sugar and mixing into the egg foam some savory spices, vinegars, and maybe some stuff to provide some heat: Tabasco, cayenne, hot sauces, pepper flakes…just beware that all of your guests may not like stuff as spicy as you do.
- I have made a “tropical” version of this by substituting turbinado sugar (granulated unrefined light brown sugar) for the granulated white sugar and adding an 1/8 tsp each of nutmeg, allspice, ground clove, and cinnamon to the egg foam before I added the nuts.
- Bacon and Maple syrup…oh, my!
- You can basically add just about anything that will hold up to the slow bake…have fun with these and enjoy!
I can remember my grandmother, over a small saucepan on the stove, making this wonderful topping for a chocolate cake. It is simple in preparation; simple in ingredients needed, and can produce one of those between the eyebrows-middle of the forehead sweet headaches quicker than any sweet thing I know.
Similar to dulche de leche, except for the addition of butter, this simple sauce is wonderful poured on a piece of chocolate cake, similar to Mrs. Watson’s Chocolate Cake (see Desserts posting). Take an unfrosted piece of this cake, split it down the middle, the flat way, to make two side-by-side pieces. Spoon some of this sauce, warm, over the pieces of cake. It will soak in and transform your cake into a gooey, warm, chocolate-based piece of comfort heaven.
Although this sauce has been made for generations (handed down from my maternal great-grandmother), the first known recorded recipe was committed to paper when my Mom and Dad gave us a collection of family recipes for Christmas. You could not provide the cake recipe and not include the recipe for this sauce. So, included below, (and commented), is the recipe for “Butter Sauce”, as written by my dad, who jokingly would sign his work “AWH”, for A. W. Hoople, his favorite “pen-name.
(a.k.a. Butter Sauce, as quoted directly from the “Red-Book”; the book of Morris Family recipes)
“The hitherto unpublished and extraordinarily complex recipe for the butter sauce that goes so well with Mrs. Watson’s Chocolate Cake
Sugar: 2 cups, more or less (2 cups is plenty, have made the sauce successfully with 1 ½ cups)
Butter: a big hunk or (if you prefer) a large glob (about 4 TBSP, or ½ of a stick is plenty)
Milk: Some (about ¾-1 cup, whole milk, or even cream works well here, too)
Vanilla: be generous and don’t use imitation vanilla
NEXT COMPLEX INSTRUCTION
Boil (Bring to a low rolling boil over medium heat, boil slowly, stirring occasionally, until very light brown in color, approximately 15-20 minutes. You can take it to a darker color, but the key is dissolving the sugar, not making caramel.)
This sort of reduces cooking to its simplest terms and allows one’s imagination to run rampant. Nan’s recipe. (My maternal grandmother) I can guarantee that she never wrote it down either.”
(Thanks, Mom and Dad, for all the great recipes…and thanks, Dad, for all the great transcriptions!)
Mrs. Watson’s Chocolate Cake
This truly is a classic cake, and to many, truly at the top of their “comfort food” list. There have been thousands of these cakes made by my family alone, and who knows how many beyond that. Dark, rich, moist, easy, flexible, portable, delicious!
I couldn’t have been more than six years old, or [...]
This is one of my Mom’s favorite recipes. She adapted it from a recipe she got from her friend Carol, “who lives just down the street”. If you like any kind of pickle, then this one’s for you. Even if you’re somewhat fussy about your pickles (I’m feeling you, right now, because that’s me, too…) you will be blown away by these.
These darn things have been around for a while. When I was growing up, they were a real treat when they were made by Mom. When you see them, or make them from time to time, they have that same kind of initial “fresh-out-of-the-oven-chocolate-chip-cookies” type of appeal that has nothing to do with taste. If warm nostalgic feelings can’t be considered a component of what comfort foods are based on, then I don’t know what would be.