Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Miniature Pear Upside-Down Cakes

Okay. Elephant in the room. I abandoned you for a whole month. There. I said it. It’s out. 

If I said I was sorry, would you believe me? That things just kept coming up, and it totally wasn’t you, it was all me, me and my desire to read cookbooks and to watch cooking shows but not to actually cook. Which is a problem, for a cooking blog. 

But look, I’m back now, and I’m ready to go. Okay? Forgive me? 

If it helps, I brought cake.

Not just any cake, either. I brought a delicious, caramel-y, fruity layer of golden goodness over top some of the most silky, supple vanilla cake I have ever had. Pear Upside-Down Cake, with warm caramel still running down the sides. 

And I didn’t bring you one cake. I brought you four. Miniatures, yes.  But you get one all to yourself. 

And you know what else? I get one all to myself, too! And that’s exciting for all of us, because that means when I blow out my birthday candle, you don’t only have to worry about me spraying saliva all over your serving. That would be pretty rude of me. 

I turned older this past weekend, and while this wasn’t my proper birthday cake, it was the cake I baked on my birthday. It seemed like the right thing to do.  I couldn’t be happier than to be simmering thick slices of ripe pears in caramel and folding whipped egg whites into a delicate batter, so that’s what I did. I’m pretty sure it’d make you happy, too.

This past weekend, we also lay to rest the ashes of Sparky’s grandfather, who succumbed to his battle with cancer last November. In the weeks leading up to his passing, the family was fortunate enough to be able to come together one last time for a meal with him. This was the cake I made for dessert. 

I don’t mean to get all heavy on you. Maybe I’m just getting a little more circumspect in my old age, but it seemed fitting to bake this cake to again celebrate life. My life, this time – another year past, and a new one to come.  Here’s to the wild ride. 

And here’s to you. Go make this cake. Celebrate something, or someone, or someplace. Share it with friends. Make memories. 

Check after the jump for the recipe, and an adaptation to produce one 10 ½ inch cake, rather than four miniatures - and check out the new poll in the sidebar to give me your opinion on cake vs pie!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gone Fishin'!

You know what? I missed you.

About a week ago I embarked out on an annual pilgrimage to the coast of British Columbia with Sparky's family; our eventual destination was the island of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as Queen Charlotte Island). I meant to let you know I was leaving, but two days' drive, a six hour ferry ride and a few days of vacation later, I'm just now getting to it. Though we stay in the sleepy little fishing town of Masset, I confess, I've been busy. There's family to catch up with, poker to play, scenery and wildlife to enjoy, and then? Then there's the crabs to catch.

In addition to being purportedly some of the best salmon fishing in the world, and the best place on earth to dig for razor clams (more on both of those things later), the beaches of Haida Gwaii act as spawning grounds for these gorgeous crustaceans - dungeness crab, some of the most delectable things you can drag out of the sea, in this foodie's opinion.

So I've been up most mornings, wiggling into my waders and grabbing my net to go with Sparky's family to the beach at early low tide to scoop up crabs in hip-deep surf on a beach where, on a clear day, one can see the southern tip of Alaska. You know what that means? Ocean fresh crab cakes. And you know what else? That's great news for you.

(Forgive the photo quality, please, I was too busy putting this in my face to worry about color balance.)

I'm here on the island for about ten more days, and I should be properly back to blogging around August 14th; I'd hoped to do some more while I was here, but there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day. But I hope I'll bring home enough presents that you'll forgive me - a bounty of razor clams, salmon and halibut to cook for you, and pictures to go with them.

If seafood ain't your thing, no big deal, I've got a lot of other things to show you when I get home, too - raspberry sorbet, homemade soda syrups, bison steaks and pork butt (which does not actually come from the pork's butt) and the best homemade wheat sandwich bread I've ever come across, etc. . . Just to give you a quick taste. Don't worry. I haven't forgotten you; I'm just getting started.

In the meantime, if you're hungry, check out the links in the sidebar at the right for direction to other food blogs that'll make your mouth water. . . and I'll meet you back here in a few days!