The little dinette that could (and the turnip that did)
Posted on March 11, 2012
Before we get to my Nana’s recipe for pineapple upside down cake, we have to talk about turnips. Now is the time to eat turnips, as they are nice and firm, crunchy, and not fibrous. Almost every booth at the farmers market was selling turnips.
I was very impressed with the flavor they imparted to this frittata. When I was shredding them, they smelled like a potato and a radish at the same time. My dogs ate some raw chunks, and although at first they were surprised, they came back for more. There is a sweetness to a really fresh turnip, as well as a hint of the radish.
This recipe is really easy, but has some prep time. You have to peel and grate 1 pound of turnips, which I did by hand because I don’t know where my food processor is right now. Then you have to salt the turnips and let them drain; squeeze out all the water with your hands. The result it totally worth it, and the flavor would not be there with potatoes, so don’t sub them.
Frittatas are much easier than Quiche, a little lower in calories too. They are great as lunch, since leftovers should be served at room temperature, not reheated. Many people cook them in a frying pan and then transfer to the oven. I was worried about sticking in my non-non-stick pan. So I generously greased a casserole dish, and combined the egg mixture with the pre-cooked veggies. It worked very nicely.
Okay, Okay, enough vegetables, time for dessert. And yes, this dessert uses canned fruit and unnaturally red cherries. It is sinful, but it is my childhood. There are a lot of recipes floating in the internet ether attempting to “update” or gourmet-ify this 1920’s classic. But after making this for the first time, and having it turn out exactly as I remember from my grandmother’s kitchen, I think I appreciate the simplicity of the design. Fresh pineapple would ruin this cake (although there are many recipes from trendy chefs calling for this) with too much tartness and texture. Adding spices to the cake batter would also upstage the crunchy-sweet-tart brown sugar and pineapple topping. Also, who can resist something called a “dinette” cake? Not me…
One experiment I could not resist was to make some upside down cupcakes. They turned out cute! I cut off a couple inches of the pineapple rings, so they would fit perfectly into the cupcake molds. But I also made a loaf pan of the traditional. The cake is creamy from the milk. But what makes this a winner is the contrast with the crunchy brown sugar.
Turnip and Kale Frittata
1 pound turnips, peeled and grated
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chopped kale
4 scallions or equal amount of shallot
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta
2 tsp fresh dill
dash of cayenne
1 tsp fresh parsley
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
oil for the baking dish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the shredded turnips drain for 30 minutes in a collander over the sink. Then squeeze the water out of them with your hands. Heat the canola oil in a pan to medium heat and pan fry the turnips for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, and scraping any that stick. You can use non-stick, but I don’t use them as they are known to release carcinogens, and frankly, don’t work very well as a substitute for oil and elbow grease. I have never seen one in a restaurant kitchen.
Add the other veggies and garlic to the pan, stir well so that the garlic doesn’t burn. reduce heat and allow the kale to wilt. Whisk eggs, cream, ricotta, herbs and spices together in a large bowl. Fold in the cooked veggies. Pour the mixture into a 9×12 casserole dish. Bake until the eggs are firm, but not dry (about 10-15 minutes). Move to the broiler (not too close) for about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot. Refrigerate and serve leftovers at room temperature or cold, but do not reheat.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Betty Crocker, via Jean Runkle Cramer, with thanks to Ellen Schafer for the recipe. Recipe is a variation on the Betty Crocker dinette cake.
Note: this recipe calls for shortening. I used Earth Balance Non-Hydrogenated shortening, as I did not want to change the flavor or texture by using butter.
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
9 slices pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained
9 maraschino cherries without stems
1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
This is so easy. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter and pour it into the bottom of your 8 inch square aluminum (not glass) cake pan. You could also use a round pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Be careful not to have any dry areas of mostly sugar, as these will stick when you flip it. Add more butter if you need to. Lay the pineapple slices and cherries in the pan.
For the batter, simply combine everything else in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Start out on low, and then turn your beaters up to high for three minutes. That’s it. No alternating wet and dry, no beating egg whites, just mix the hell out of everything. It should be smooth and fluffy. Pour it over the pineapple. Bake for 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. When it is done, IMMEDIATELY turn it over onto a serving plate. Let the pan rest on top for several minutes, allowing everything to drop. If it sticks a little, and is unattractive, I guarantee it will get eaten despite this.