Monday, March 23, 2009
A Twist on an Old Favorite
You can usually tell when my husband is out of town because all I eat is peanut butter sandwiches and that doesn't make for a very interesting blog. Fortunately he is back and I did some fun things for Sunday dinner last night. Basic dishes made with a bit of a twist.
I had defrosted two Cornish game hens and with the leftover brown rice in the refrigerator the meal was basically covered. Stuff the rice inside the birds and roast for an hour at 425 degrees. It couldn't be simpler or more boring. I picked up one of Mario Batalli's cookbooks and he imparted the brilliant suggestion of brining small poultry. I have been brining my turkeys for Thanksgiving for the last 7 or 8 years and it has made all the difference in the moistness of the meat so I felt perfectly comfortable doing it my hens.
Using a big soup pot filled with cold water I added a cup of Kosher salt, 4 crushed garlic cloves and 4 circles of fresh ginger slightly smashed, a 1/2 cup sugar, a couple of teaspoons of pepper, and two Cornish game hens. After covering with a lid I put them in the refrigerator to float around for 6 hours. When they were done swimming in brine I pulled them out, dried them with paper towels, stuffed them with brown rice, basted them with olive oil, and placed them in a 425 degree oven for an hour. In the last 10 minutes of cook time I basted them with some Sweet Thai Chili Sauce and then basted them one last time as I removed them from the oven.
They were a huge success. The meat was moist, salty but not too salty, and delicious. You could taste the garlic and ginger flavors in the meat as well. It was a real treat. My husband ate his entire hen but I only managed half. Tonight I'm going to be using the remaining hen, some cabbage, onion, and lemongrass to make Spring Rolls for dinner. More on that later.
Now for dessert. Being a child of the sixties I was around when Pineapple Upside Down Cake was all the rage in desserts. It has gone out of style since then but it still remains one of my favorite yummies. One of the things I love about this dessert is that it is rustic yet sophisticated. I adore using my few pieces of cast iron cookware and this recipe is perfect for it because it goes from stove top to oven and that is something cast iron does very well.
The only fresh fruit I had available to me yesterday though was apples. I'm good with that because I like to eat as seasonally as I can and apples are something that are available all the time. Also because I live in Washington State they didn't have to travel very far! The recipe I found for Apple Upside Down Cake is delicious but if you use cast iron like I did then you need to increase you oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Apple Upside Down Cake
4 or 5 tart cooking apples
2 T butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Peel apples and remove cores. Slice apples very thinly; sprinkle lightly with lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Place butter in 9 inch round shallow baking dish or medium cast iron skillet. Melt butter in 325 degree oven if cooking in a baking dish or on the stove top if using a skillet. Sprinkle brown sugar over butter. Overlap apple slices in dish; work from the center to the outside until bottom is covered with apples. (I had many more apple slices then needed for a single layer so I just layered them on until they were all used up....it was fine!)
Place egg in medium size mixing bowl; beat well with electric mixer. Add sugar gradually and beat until mixed. Mix cream and vanilla together. Sift flour and baking power together. Add cream and vanilla and flour and baking powder alternatively into the egg mixture until all mixed in. Finishing with the flour for some reason makes a better cake. Pour batter over apples in pan and place in oven.
Cook for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center clean. Let cool ten minutes and then turn out onto cake plate. The top of your cake should be caramelized apples. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar for presentation. This cake can be served warm or cold.