Well, the holidays are fast approaching - do you have your menus figured out yet? I have two boys coming home from college in the next week, both of whom have birthdays, and we give a big Christmas Eve party every year. It's a lot of food planning. I've had cookbook reviews to do, I've been writing Christmas cards, baking a lot and buying and wrapping gifts. But I did manage to finish this purple scarf I've been knitting for quite some time. It's made out of Malabrigo (indigo 88) and it's super soft and very fun to wear. Just had to show that in case we have any knitters out there.
Back to food - for our Christmas Eve buffet, I always serve lasagna and meatballs and some vegetarian dish. This year, I think I will serve these Eggplant Rollatini Stuffed with Risotto for the vegetarian dish. You can grill the eggplant slices and make the risotto the day before and then assemble the day of. They are great fork food - no knife required. I always make sure I think of foods that require no knife, because some people are eating with their plates on their laps. One year I also served these Stuffed Peppers as the vegetarian option.
I always make a little fun treat bag for people to take home with them, and I will be posting that goodie the week after Christmas. One year I made a CD with all of our favorite Christmas songs, another year I made homemade chocolate truffles, and last year I made these Mosaic Biscotti. We've been doing this for 13 years. Stay tuned to see what I make this year! I hope this gives you a few menu ideas for the holidays.
Brian absolutely insisted that I post this Upside Down Cranberry Cake because he's crazy about it and it just looks like a Christmas cake with all the beautiful cranberries. We also ate it during Thanksgiving, because cranberries were so plentiful. This is not a hard cake to make. You do whip up the egg whites separately and then fold them in, so you will need two mixer bowls.
This cake is from Chez Panisse and if you read this blog, you know how much I love that place and their style of cooking. I have made their Plum Tart and Lindsey Shere's Almond Tart (incredible) and they are all favorites.
Cranberry Upside Down Cake
from Chez Panisse
for a printer friendly recipe, click here
For the Topping:
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 2 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup orange juice
For the Batter:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Use a 9-inch round or an 8-inch square cake pan with 3-inch sides. To make the topping, place the butter and brown sugar in the cake pan. Place the pan on a stovetop burner over low heat and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the sugar has melted, after a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Scatter the cranberries evenly in the bottom of the pan and drizzle in the orange juice. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the cake batter, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each one to make sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Gradually add the dry ingredients and the milk in stages: mix in about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half the milk; mix in another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk; finally, add the last third of the dry ingredients.
In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Beat the whites until they form firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter in two batches. Pour the batter over the topping in the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a little orange liqueur, if you like.
Makes one 9-inch round cake or one 8-inch square cake; serves 8