dessert

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

by Anne Maxfield on December 3, 2018

Accidental Locavore Cranberry Upside Down CakeThis cranberry upside-down cake appeared on David Lebovitz’s website just before Thanksgiving.

It was just the dessert I needed to bring to friends. He says it’s best served warm, and made in a cast iron pan, so I tried to erase memories of one of my biggest cooking disasters ever (a tarte tartin made and cemented into a cast iron pan) and just go for it.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

Batter

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

In a 9- to 10”cast iron skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar together, stirring frequently, until the sugar is moistened and liquefied. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from heat and set the pan aside.

Accidental Locavore Cranberry Cake PrepPreheat the oven to 350º.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal or polenta, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a mixing bowl with a spatula, beat the ½ cup of butter, granulated sugar and lemon zest at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until very light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Mix in the vanilla extract.

At low speed, add half of the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just enough so that they’re all combined. Do not overmix.

Distribute the cranberries in the prepared pan over the brown sugar mixture and shake the pan so they are in a relatively even layer. Spoon the batter over the cranberries in four mounds, then use a spatula to spread the batter evenly over the fruit.

Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, wait 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake. Place a serving platter overturned on top of the cake in the skillet, then using oven mitts to cover your hands, flip the two over simultaneously, until the cake releases from the pan. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore CranberryMy Verdict: Phew! Came out of the pan beautifully and tasted great! Frank thought it could use a few more cranberries, so the next time I make it, I’ll just pour the whole bag in.

In a moment of pre-baking terror, I did give the cast iron pan a quick spray of butter, but I’m not sure if it needed it.

The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the cornmeal. It does add a crunch which Lebovitz says he likes in his baking, which Frank liked, but I’m not sure I was a huge fan. Maybe next time, I’ll try it with all flour.

The other thing I would probably do differently would be to cream the butter and sugar together using my stand mixer. I used a hand beater and while it worked fine, it took longer and was not as creamy as when I’ve pulled out the big mixer.

If cranberries aren’t in season, a mess of blueberries or other fruit would probably work just as well.

 

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Catch 38

by Anne Maxfield on August 6, 2018

Accidental Locavore Catch 38 OystersWhen you have really great oysters, like Catch 38 had the night we were there, I can understand letting them shine. However, even with really great oysters, sometimes you’d like to be able to mix and match them in increments less than 6. You’d also appreciate a slice (or even better a wedge) of lemon larger than the one in your cocktails and enough yuzu mignonette to see what it tasted like with the oysters.

Luckily, if Chef Wesley Dier & Bryn Bahnatka-Dier are paying attention, these are super simple fixes to make and this could easily become a terrific addition to the Rhinebeck restaurant scene.

Catch 38 is a bright airy take on an upscale seafood shack. It’s definitely upscale, and very much not a shack. There is plenty of seafood and enough meat options to please carnivores too.

We started with a dozen oysters from the West Coast, 6 each of Totten’s Inlet and Pacific Kiss. They were plump, meaty and sweet and I’ll look for them again.

Accidental Locavore Catch 38 SaladMy friend started with the Little Gem Chop Chop salad with veggies. A wedge of Little Gem lettuce, nicely dressed with a cider vinegar dressing and sprinkled with chickpeas, red peppers and carrots, it was a good way to start a meal.

The winner of the main courses was the fish and chips. A few nice chunks of cod battered and perfectly fried sat on a swish of sauce, with a cone of skinny fries on the side. The cod was sweet and delicious and reminded me of how good, good cod can be.

Accidental Locavore Catch 38 Fish &  Chips I was intrigued by the lamb sliders. Yeah, I know it’s a place for seafood. But who wouldn’t want to try Tuscan Lamb Sliders with pesto aioli, tomato jam, burrata, spinach, griddled polenta and Parmesan frico? It was a pair of lamb patties, nicely grilled, sitting on the spinach and tomato jam and topped with a slice of burrata and pesto. There were two small discs of Parmesan polenta on the side. It was a tasty combination (although as much as I love burrata, it was a little overpowered by all the other goodies on the burger) and I was glad I’d given it a try.

Accidental Locavore Catch 38 SlidersThe guys each had the seared sea scallops with Israeli couscous, beets and arugula. They both said it was more of a couscous and beet salad with scallops and as big scallop lovers, they would have liked more than three scallops.

There were 5 desserts the night we were there, and we tried 3 of them. The Key Lime Muffins were our favorites. This was all about presentation, so I won’t ruin the surprise, let me just say that the “muffins” were like mini Key Lime pies and the sauces that came with them were delicious (as were the muffins).

Accidental Locavore Catch 38 Key Lime MuffinsAlso yummy, once you could get to it, was the Chocolate-Chocolate Carmel Sundae. It was served in a traditional sundae glass with chunks of brownie at the top, and layers of chocolate sauce, crunchies etc. underneath. It would have been easier to get all the great layers and flavors in a bite, if the brownie pieces hadn’t been blocking access. Maybe a broad bowl instead of the sundae coupe?

Last up was the Creamsicle Sherbert, made from blood oranges and buttermilk. Everyone liked it with the fresh berries alongside. I’ve never been a Creamsicle girl, so I went back to work on the chocolate sundae.

Catch 38 shows a lot of promise. We’ll definitely be back–the oysters and fish & chips are worth the trip. The food overall was good and a little more time should help them work out some of the kinks.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

by Anne Maxfield on March 19, 2018

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate TartThis salted caramel chocolate tart recipe from bon appétit looks complicated but if you’ve made tarts before, it’s not hard. You’ll need to devote some time to the process but a lot of it can be done ahead of time, chilled and assembled later. It’s all worth it! Check out “my verdict” for some tips before you start. 

Crust

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons chilled milk or water

Filling

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Ganache

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate (do not go above 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart FillingCrust

Whisk cocoa, sugar, salt, and 1⅔ cups flour in a medium bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Using your fingers, smash butter into dry ingredients until it nearly disappears (you shouldn’t see any large bits) and mixture holds together when squeezed—you’re working it more than you would pie dough. Make a well in the center and add yolk and milk. Using a fork, gradually incorporate flour mixture until you’ve got a shaggy dough. Knead a couple of times in bowl until no dry spots remain, and dough is smooth.

Flatten into a ¾”-thick disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and chill until firm, about 2 hours (if you’re making the caramel, you can make it while the dough is chilling).

Preheat oven to 350°. Let dough sit 5 minutes to soften slightly. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 14″ round about ⅛” thick, dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Lift dough on one edge and throw a pinch of flour on surface.

Slide the removable bottom of tart pan under dough, positioning it roughly in the center.

Fold the edges of the rolled dough inward toward the center, working all the way around so it rests on top of the tart pan bottom. Then lower it into the tart pan. Unfold the edges so they gently slump against the sides of the tart pan and the excess dough is hanging over the edges. Press dough firmly into bottom of pan with floured hands, then firmly press sides of dough into grooves and up sides of pan. Use a rolling pin over top edge of pan to shear off excess dough.

Reserve dough scraps for patching any potential cracks later. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork and chill in freezer until very firm, 10–15 minutes.

Place tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and line with a sheet of parchment paper or foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake until edges of crust are set and starting to look dry, 12–15 minutes. Carefully lift parchment with weights. Patch any visible cracks with reserved dough. Return crust to oven and bake until firm and dry all over, 18–22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Salted Caramel Filling

Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and ⅓ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-low, stirring with a heatproof spatula until dissolved. Cook, swirling pot often but not stirring, until mixture turns deep amber and wisps of smoke rise from the surface, 8–10 minutes. Remove caramel from heat and immediately stir in butter a piece at a time until smooth (be careful; mixture will sputter). Gradually stir in cream, then add salt. Transfer caramel to a heatproof measuring glass (you should have about 1½ cups). Let cool until warm.

Pour caramel into cooled tart shell. Chill until caramel is set, at least 1 hour. 

Ganache

Place chocolate, cream, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (bowl should not touch water). Stir with a heatproof spatula until ganache is smooth, about 5 minutes. Let cool until thickened enough to hold an indentation from a spoon—if it’s too warm, it won’t hold its swirls.

Remove tart from refrigerator and scrape ganache over caramel. Using a spoon, gently work ganache over surface, creating decorative swooshes and swirls. Sprinkle with sea salt; let sit until ganache has lost its sheen, 10–15 minutes. 

Accidental Locavore Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart SliceMy verdict: This was totally worth it! Amazing salted caramel chocolate tart! As I said in the beginning, it needs lots of time (mostly cooling and resting), which I didn’t plan for when I was making it.

First, I made the dough in the food processor. It was fine, but I did end up putting it in a bowl and kneading it by hand until everything was incorporated. Not sure that the food processor saved any time.

There was a lot of dough leftover, so I rerolled it and made three mini tart shells for future use (not sure how that’s going to work). I mixed some cocoa powder in with the flour when I was rolling out the dough, so there wouldn’t be a lot of white flour marks on my dough.

My big hack on this was using a 6-ounce jar of my friend Kristin’s Cara-Sel amazing salted caramel sauce for the filling. I’m lucky enough to have easy access to it, you should just order some and thank me later.

The ganache took forever (i.e. more than 10 minutes) to cool until it was workable. If I had to guess, it’s about an hour. I was in a hurry, so I tossed the (metal) bowl in the freezer and it chilled to the right temperature in about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

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Holiday Cheer and Humor With Christmas Dinner Bingo

by Anne Maxfield on December 25, 2017

Christmas RifThe Accidental Locavore wants to relieve some of the stress of the holidays and put a smile on everyone’s face. How? Try Holiday Bingo! When we used to go to Rancho La Puerta, the highlight of the week for everyone was bingo night (probably because there was unlimited popcorn). I still have the set of 5 papiermâché napkin rings I won one night (is five a significant number at Mexican dinner tables?). You may have heard about Meeting Bingo, where you track all the tired business clichés…”at the end of the day, teambuilding, thinking outside the box, metrics, etc” (and thanks to About.com, someone’s already figured out how to use this to teach you how to be a better manager), but if you haven’t tried Christmas Dinner Bingo, you’re missing a big opportunity!

A couple of years ago, the Cleveland Plains Dealer had a way to bring entertainment hilarity to Christmas dinner, or any family gathering: Holiday Bingo. You mark down on a card every time you hear someone saying something really dumb, annoying, or just plain typical. On their site you  can download game boards, but why not create your own? The prizes can be whatever you were looking to re-gift, or just another helping of dessert.

Accidental Locavore Christmas BingoFor my family I created my own Christmas Dinner Bingo cards, little realizing what the reaction would be. My mother was laughing so hard, the Yorkshire pudding almost didn’t happen and my father could barely stop wheezing (his highest form of laughter) long enough to fulfill his wine-pouring duties.  Since then, I’ve had them laminated (for easy clean-up) and they’ve become part of our Christmas tradition. If you’re curious about my family’s clichés, or just want a good laugh, click here to access the game cards.

What would be on your Holiday Bingo cards?

Happy Holidays to all!

 

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