Monthly Archives: July 2012

Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

I wish there was still some of this cake in the kitchen. Sadly, it’s long gone. Lee and his sister polished it off with ice cream on Monday night. Oh I got my share. I tasted the sticky corners of the pan after I first inverted the cake onto a plate. I had a nice, big slice the night after our second triathlon. It was exactly what I needed and I was so glad I’d baked the day before. This is the best thing I’ve baked for a long time: it’s fruity, herby, sweet and nutty without being overpowering. It’s dense but still dessert.

I made this for the figs. They practically begged me to do it. I have this problem with figs, you see. When the short-but-sweet fig season finally gets going I have to buy them. I buy them en masse and then remember that I’m the only one in this household that actually likes figs. I vaguely remember giving Lee one once, long ago, and having him say “Is this supposed to taste good?” Ha!

So, we have figs. Then there’s the rosemary and cornmeal, and not just any cornmeal but purple cornmeal. I came across this recipe (the second one) while searching for an upside-down fig cake and the thought of rosemary and walnuts with my gooey fruit was captivating. I also happen to have fresh rosemary from the CSA box in my fridge and walnuts in my pantry. This kind of ingredient alignment almost never happens to me!

I used rosemary and walnuts from the above recipe but found my cornmeal inspiration from Cake Duchess and her Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake. I almost recruited the peaches from my fruit drawer at the sight of this beauty and went right for the purple cornmeal I’d bought for some other grand plan a while back.

I should have taken a picture while I was mixing the batter. The purple color was incredibly intense. It darkened as the cake baked but I still like the dark purple notes in the finished product. Wouldn’t a yellow and purple swirl be fun?

I promise this is the last thing. There’s two things I learned when baking this cake:

  1. Even though it may seem like the butter-sugar concoction you’re coating your pan with is going to cook itself into a stuck-on mess it really isn’t. Everything is going to be fine. Butter is magical, even in reasonable quantities.
  2. Don’t invert your upside down cake out of the pan until you’re ready to serve it. I couldn’t wait to see mine to I flipped it as soon as it had cooled and I think the glossy topping soaked into the cake by the time I sliced it the next day. It might have soaked in even if I’d left the cake upside down but I’m guessing it would hold up better.
  3. I lied! I learned 3 things! Make a cake with cornmeal and fruit and you can eat it for breakfast without feeling like you’re eating cake for breakfast!

 

Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ripe figs, halved and stems removed
  • 1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground but only purple if you feel like it. Yellow would be lovely too.
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice. I used barley flour.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or another egg)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place butter in a square or circular cake pan or a 10 inch cast-iron skillet and place this in the oven for a few minutes till the butter has melted.
  3. When the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and stir to combine and evenly distribute the mixture.
  4. Place halved figs on top of the sugar/butter layer cut side down so that they cover at least most of the bottom of the pan. Sprinkled rosemary and walnuts over between figs. Set the pan aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift/whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer or by hand, beat coconut oil and remaining brown sugar until well blended.
  7. Add eggs to the oil+sugar. Reduce mixer speed to medium, if using, and beat well.
  8. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
  9. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing on low until just combined.
  10. Pour batter into pan/skillet, distributing it evenly over the figs.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. To remove it from the pan, run a plastic knife or spatula around the edges of the cake. Place a tray, plate, or cutting board on top of the cake pan. Holding the edges, quickly flip the pan and the tray so that the tray is not on the bottom. You might need to shake the pan a little to get the cake to fall out but it should come out smoothly. You might want to wait till shortly before serving it to invert the cake so it keeps that fresh, glossy look.

Notes

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Oh, potatoes

I wrote a much longer, more eloquent post about these potatoes earlier today. WordPress proceeded to stall out while uploading a picture and send my hard work into a void of digital nothingness. grrrrr

This time around, I’m keeping it simple.

I’ve been getting bags of delicious new potatoes in my CSA box all summer long. While they aren’t up there among my favorite foods, I don’t dislike potatoes. Until last weeks batch, I don’t think I ever really appreciated them.

This simple recipe for roasting an assortment of tiny “Potatoes Détente” came from chef Jonathan Miller, who contributes recipes to Mariquita Farm‘s weekly newsletters. The medley of French Fingerling, Russian Banana, German Butterball, and Red Norland potatoes roasted up beautifully with a few springs of rosemary (also from my box), some olive oil, salt, and pepper. When I pulled them out of the oven their skins were perfectly crinkled, holding flavor I never imagined in a potato. The crunchy bits of rosemary only made things better. Every bite really did melt in my mouth! I could go on and on and on…but I won’t.

These were the smallest potatoes I’ve ever seen. Described as “sort-outs” in the farm newsletter, I don’t know where you would ever get potatoes like this except directly from a farm. Now that I think about it, part of what made me love these so much is the potato skin to pulp(?) ratio: skins are my favorite part of any potato and with tons of tiny spuds you get more crackly, crispy skin!

Roasted potatoes, tempeh (also roasted), and a salad.

Potatoes Détente (or any tiny, roasted potatoes)

Ingredients

  • About 2 lbs tiny potatoes, washed and dried
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 rosemary sprigs, if you have it
  • salt and pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread potatoes and rosemary on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (you can put slightly larger potatoes on their own pan. I just cut the handful of larger ones in half). Be sure they are not crowded.
  3. Sprinkled olive oil over the potatoes and stir them around until they are evenly coated.
  4. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place potatoes in the oven and roast until they are just cooked though. This will take about 30 minutes but start checking them at 20 to 25 minutes. Mine were perfect at 25.

Notes

From Jonathan Miller via The Ladybug Postcard Vol. 81

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Apricot-Plum Cobbler

Fruit finds it way into my house in waves. Some days there is seemingly too much for a family of two, even two enthusiastic fruit-eaters, to consume. Lee and I always manage to polish it all off somehow.

Bananas are easy. One goes in my breakfast every morning. Two or three of whatever else is around go towards my lunch and snacks. Lee gets his two to 3 fruit a day whether he likes it or not, assuming he eats the lunch I pack him.

Lately, stone fruit rules my countertop, fruit basket, and fridge. I feel like I have cherry pits coming out my ears and had to take a break from apricots after a total apricot overload last week. My one complaint about summer fruit is this: Why is it all so soft and delicate that transporting ripe fruit in a lunch box leads to a squished mess? You can’t just throw a plum or a fig or a handful of blackberries in a bag and go. These things require armored protection. My lunches away from home are bulky and heavy thanks to all the necessary fruit containers.

Enough ranting about summer fruit’s annoyances. Lets talk about damage control, and by that, I mean dessert. Last week I found myself with a bag of plums from a generous co-worker’s tree and a fridge full of half-smashed hand-me-down apricots (they came to my aunt’s house via a friend who brought them for a jam-making session and then to me when the jam making was over and there were STILL apricots rolling around).

These were good apricots and exceptionally delicious plums – juicy with barely sour skin and bright pink insides. I probably would have eaten all of them as-is if Lee and I hadn’t gone out-of-town last weekend. I wanted to use up some food before we left. July 4th came along and I thought there might be people around to help us eat a giant dessert.

I threw this cobbler together without a recipe, which meant I got to leave the sugar out of the filling and forego making the topping from scratch. Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix served nicely and I swear we didn’t miss the extra sweetness in our fruit. As one test subject observed, vanilla ice cream balanced out the slightly sour plum skins in the filling (For some reason, those skins actually increased in sourness when cooked!).

 

How about a crude formula rather than a recipe?

roughly 6 cups plums and apricots, pitted and cut into quarters + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or equivalent corn starch) + maybe 2 tablespoons honey

+ your favorite biscuit mix or recipe for the crust

preheat to 350, mix fruit etc. in one bowl, crust in another bowl, pour fruit into prepped baking dish, spread crust on top, BAKE

mine took about 25 minutes

serve with ice cream. yum

 

I got to test out my giant Le Creuset pie dish for the first time. This beautiful, red dish needs to come out of the cupboard more often!

Now, why did I just buy tons of figs, peaches, cherries, and a honeydew melon? I’ve already baked something with the cherries, coming here soon.

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