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Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake



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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 21 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Recipe Preparation

  • Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high; add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

  • Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.

  • Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Recipe by Lori Longbotham,Reviews Section

Upside-Down Cherry Cornmeal Goodness Cake

1. In a small (eight-inch), ovenproof skillet, melt the butter with the agave and pomegranate molasses. Add the cherries. When combined, set the cherry mixture aside.

2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and buttermilk. Once you add the buttermilk, the wet mixture will curdle -- not to worry. Add the dry mixture and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

4. Pour this combined wet-and-dry mixture over the cherry mixture.

5. Bake the cake in a preheated, 375-degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until just baked through and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, and then turn the cake upside down. Do not let the cake cool completely before releasing it from the skillet, as the cherry mixture will become too sticky to release. When the cake is still warm, it will come out more easily.

6. Serve with whipped cream or powdered sugar, if desired.

Reprinted from Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast. Copyright © 2016 by Helene Henderson. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Martin Lof. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.


17 and Baking

There are some things in life I’ve learned I just can’t resist.

Crisp, chewy, savory bacon (and I say this after not one, but several attempts to go vegetarian.) My dog, Tilly, when she’s sad: her eyes are big and brown as chocolate covered cherries, rimmed with black like kohl eyeliner, with eyelashes that make me jealous. Filtered kitchen sunlight at 11 AM. Cinnamon rolls – fresh from the oven, speckled with fragrant spices and swirled with cream cheese glaze, melting into the swirl… how can you pass one up?

And farmer’s markets. There’s something about those white tents that makes me want to spend all day beneath them. There’s serenity in the rich displays of fruits and vegetables, handmade bracelets and jewel-like jars of amber honey.

My favorite farmer’s market – my favorite place in Seattle, even – is the famous Pike Place Market. I wrote an essay about it as my favorite place when I was in 2nd grade. I’d never seen anything so eclectic and teeming with creativity and fragrant with spices and flowers and fruit. Between the bundles of rainbow chard and displays of stained glass kaleidoscopes, I honestly thought the place was magic.

I loved the spice shop, stacked from floor to ceiling with glass jars of every tea, coffee, and spice you could think of. I’d carefully pull down a heavy jar with two hands, lift the lid with a little clink. Then I’d inhale the fragrant air blooming above it, utterly at peace.

And the gorgeous jelly and jam stand, which set out popsicle sticks to taste test all of their varieties. Among my favorites were blackberry lavender, raspberry chipotle, and rose – flavors which seemed to me so exotic and breathtaking, flowers blossoming on my tongue.

And the fish vendors around the market. Many people have heard about the famous stall that throws your order across the shop, but my dad and I prefer a smaller, quieter seafood vendor tucked near the heart of the market. I loved the brilliant rainbow sheen of fish scales, the long, fleshy tongues of geoduck clams, and especially the oily, smoky, irresistible smoked salmon samples I could never turn down.

Despite all the years, not much has changed, and Pike Place Market is still woven with an intangible magic. One morning, I had some thank you gifts I needed to deliver around Seattle. Dad and I left the house early, so we stopped at the market to kill some time. For one of the first times, we quickly found parking on the cobblestone street between tents. We drank coffee and people-watched, then we strolled between stalls.

The market was quieter than I’d ever seen it, still sleepy in the new day light. I could see shopkeepers and artisans arranging their products, setting up their stands, chatting easily with their neighbors. Street musicians warmed up and stretched, a vendor sipped tea as she arranged a bouquet of lilies just so.

“I really like this,” I breathed to my father, nearly whispering so I wouldn’t break the magic.
“What about it?”
“It’s more than the produce and the products. They’re all people.”

It’s yet another aspect of the market that I adore. It’s easy to strike up conversation with the woman who grew the tomato you’re sampling. I know exactly where these flowers once breathed, where they were picked and pressed, how far they traveled to get here. One man tells me about his technique and his tools as I try on the silver rose ring he forged with his fingertips.

Somehow I always end up striking conversation with the farmers and stall vendors, discussing everything from this season’s plums to journalism in Boston to 17 and Baking. It’s truly what makes the place special – the human connection there. It’s really the one thing I can’t resist.

Well… that, and samples. How can anyone stand in the midst of such rosy apples, beautifully crooked carrots, clusters of champagne grapes and not accept an offer to taste? My dad was amused at all the stops I made to try everything available, even the things that weren’t ready. We both sampled sunset-hued Rainier cherries before we returned to the car.

“What do you think?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s a little too early in cherry season. They aren’t quite ready yet,” Dad answered.
“That’s what cherry cornmeal upside down cake is for.”

The cherries are simmered in butter, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. The simple, thick cornmeal cake batter is spread right over them in the skillet and baked until golden brown. Flavorful, moist and coarse-crumbed, topped with glistening dark cherries like a jewelry box. Perhaps early cherries aren’t so bad.

My mom bought a bag of glossy red cherries a little too soon – we are cherry people, and we are impatient. We tried eating a few, but they just weren’t ready. Undeterred, I decided to make this cherry cornmeal upside down cake. Even with not-quite-amazing cherries, the cake was unusually good. I don’t know if it was the touch of balsamic vinegar, which brought out the cherries’ sweetness, or the cornmeal, which gave the cake the slightest of crunches. Whatever it was, this incredibly simple cake is a perfect summer dessert.

Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes a 10” round, single layer cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
5 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries (about 20 oz unpitted cherries)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and center a rack in the oven.

Stir 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, brown sugar, and vinegar together in a 10” ovenproof skillet with 2” tall sides. Mix over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved, around 2 minutes. Turn the heat up to high, toss in the pitted cherries, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat remaining 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) butter in an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, around 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, beat until combined. Add half the flour mixture, then half the milk, then the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining milk, beating until just combined after each addition.

In a clean, dry bowl with clean, dry beaters (or a whisk) beat egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar until the whites are stiff but not dry. Stir 1/4 of the whites into the cornmeal batter, then fold the remaining whites with a rubber spatula in 3 additions. Spread the batter over the cherries in the skillet, covering them completely.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool the cake in the skillet for 5 minutes, then run the spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Set a large plate over the skillet and firmly flip the two together. Leave the upside-down skillet on top of the plate for 5 minutes so that the cake and cherries completely separate from the pan. Lift off the skillet and let the cake cool for 45 minutes before cutting.

Printer-Friendly Version – Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake


Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Today is an eat-a-whole-cake-alone-in-your-room-with-the-door-shut kind of day.

This cake is an eat-a-whole-cake-alone-in-your-room-with-the-door-shut kind of cake.

Am I thankful beyond belief that my recipe relaying is totally backdated and that all I have on my kitchen table is a package of marshmallows splayed out on a baking sheet that refuse to get stale in this humidity?

(Except…I really do wish the marshmallows would get stale. Marshmallow gods. Are you listening? Don’t make me come up there!)

(1) Today is the day that my boards score will be released.

My darling lovely roommate came into my room at 6AM to tell me this.

I love her. But I could strangle her right now.

If you don’t hear from me by Friday…then my score was beyond belief terrible and I’ve fled the country because my parents are about to disown me for quitting med school to become a caterer. Or bakery-owner. Or James Beard award-winning chef. (We can only hope.)

Or trophy wife. Eligible bachelors out there? Hint hint.

(2) I’m going on a first date today with an online dating guy (my second first date this week. Aren’t you guys proud?).

We’re meeting for drinks. DRINKS.

What does that mean to you? Does that mean drinks and dinner? Does that mean drinks and maybe dinner?

And while I’m asking you rhetorical questions. Why doesn’t anyone ever go out for cupcakes? Or frozen yogurt? Or milkshakes (totally drinkable)?

What is so special about drinks?

I need a cake to consume inhale.

I’m so not above stress-eating at times like this. So. Not.

And really. This cake would be perfect.

I made it for the 4th of July when I went to my parents’ house. So…it was kind of like stress eating.

The cherries on top have this kind of sweet tart thing going on from the brown sugar and balsamic that they’re coated in. Lovely.

And the cake part has a great airy yet almost crunchy texture from the cornmeal. Not to mean the vanilla bean flecks combined with coconut milk flavor. Which is so heavenly I could cry.

Please make this. And eat it alone in your room. For me.

Or, you know, I guess you could share it with your friends and family. If you want. (You won’t.) That’s okay too.

Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10, adapted from Bon Appetit via Smitten Kitchen

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries
1 1/4 cups AP flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste OR vanilla extract
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Position rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 350. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in a skillet. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high. Add cherries and bring to a boil. Set aside.

2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in a separate large bowl. Add sugar. Beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternatively with coconut milk in two additions each, beating just until blended and scraping down the sides after each addition.

3. Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg white mix into the batter. Fold in remaining whites in three additions.

4. Pour the cherries into a 10-inch springform pan. Pour the batter over the cherries, spreading evenly to cover the cherries. Cover the bottom half of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent leakage. Bake cake until top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in pan, on rack, for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the sides to loosen. Remove sides of springform pan. Place a large serving platter on top of the cake, and flip over. Remove the base of the springform pan from the top of the cake. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have come unhinged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

I am submitting this to Meeta’s Monthly Mingle, which is being hosted over at Sips and Spoonfuls, the theme of which is stone fruit! I am also submitting it to this Thursday’s Bake with Bizzy! And to – Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France Cheese, Rösle, Emile Henry, Rouxbe and ManPans.


Cherry-cornmeal upside down cake

It’s no secret I’m a big Martha Stewart fan – her recipes are delicious and work every time I sometimes wish I were more skillful so I could make all the other beautiful projects on her website (I would love to learn how to sew and even bought a book on the subject a while ago). Speaking of that, would you please tell me if you know any good blogs on the subject? That would be really helpful! :)

Anyway, back to Martha: one of the first cakes I saw on her blog (back in 200. – who knows?) was her cranberry upside down cake – isn’t it gorgeous? Since fresh cranberries do not exist here in Brazil I decided to mimic Martha’s cake using fresh cherries instead I ended up with such a tasty cake – so tender! – that I regretted not doing that years ago.

Cherry-cornmeal upside down cake
adapted from the always great and delicious Cake Keeper Cakes

Topping:
600g cherries, pitted
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (70g) unsalted butter
¼ cup (44g) light brown sugar, packed

Cake:
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup (77g) yellow cornmeal
¼ cup (25g) almond meal
pinch of salt
¾ stick (85g) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120ml) milk, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan and dust with flour.
Make the fruit topping: combine the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the cherries, increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until cherries begin to become tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to plate to cool. Set aside the caramel still in the saucepan.
Arrange the cherries in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bring the caramel back to a boil over medium-high heat, cook without stirring for 2 minutes then pour over the cherries (caramel will be thicker).
Make the batter: combine the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, almond meal, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. In low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After incorporating the eggs, turn the mixer to high speed and beat until mixture is light and increased in volume, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.
With the mixer in low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the sides of the bowl then beat the batter in high speed for 30 seconds.
Pour the batter gently over the cherries and smooth the surface.
Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool it in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully unmold the cake onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Spread pie filling evenly in the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl combine water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Add these liquid ingredients to the flour mixture all at once. Stir until just moistened. Pour the batter evenly over the cherry pie filling.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cake cool for 10 minutes in pan then invert cake onto a serving dish and continue to cool.


Wholey treats

You just know it's summer when cherry season rolls around. and when you're in the middle of a 95 degree heat wave, but lets stick to food here. I bought my first bag of cherries from the grocery store just a couple of weeks ago and they were wonderful- sweet, slightly sour, firm, and just right. My second bag, however, was nowhere near the quality of the first. Of course there were a couple gems in there but as a whole they were mediocre at best. Still, I couldn't bring myself to throw them away and eating them straight from the fridge wasn't the most appealing option either.

Then! while spending some quality time with the internet (my new cable t.v.), I saw a recipe for cherry cornmeal scones. Now, I'm not really a fan of scones but this combination jogged my memory for a recipe I had seen awhile back: Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake. And lucky me, I had just bought some cornmeal the other day when I was making pizza.

This was my first time making an upside-down cake and I have to say, I'm enthralled. You see, I'm a cake person and a bread person- not a cookie person or a pie person. Don't get me wrong, I love a good apple pie but the crust doesn't get me the way it gets some people. I'm much more taken by the fluffy and airy or thick and dense texture of a good cake or quick bread than I am by the buttery crust of a pie. So what I'm trying to say is that this pairing of fruit and cake, much better than a fruitcake I might add, could just be my perfect summer dessert.

Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
From Bon Appétit
I halved the recipe and made it in a loaf pan, which worked perfectly. Perhaps it's not as pretty as a 10-inch round, but the size is much more manageable for only two people. although my boyfriend ate basically all of it within a day.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar*
3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 21 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation
Position rack in center of oven preheat to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

*I used white balsamic vinegar because it's a bit sweeter than regular balsamic, but honestly, I couldn't really taste it. If you want the taste of the vinegar to come through, I would suggest upping the measurement to at least a tablespoon.

Edited to add: I just tried Dorie Greenspan's "Dimply Plum Cake" from Baking: From My Home to Yours and I have to say it is at least 25 times better than this cake! If you don't have the book, you can see the recipe over at smittenkitchen. And if you're wondering why there's no entry on that cake over here, it's because my mom made it :) but I might crack soon.


How to Infuse Dry Vermouths

These days, it seems as if every bar and home bartender were making infusions. The ultimate neutral palate, vodka is a natural place to start. Rum’s warmth lends itself to some flavors. Tequila takes kindly to spice. But hard liquor isn’t the only route to cocktails or infusions. Low-alcohol, nuanced, and adaptable, vermouths are infusion-friendly. Like wines, beers, and liquors, they work well in the kitchen. Infuse them, and they bring crafty elegance to cocktails, desserts, and entrees.

While red vermouths are deep, rich, and flavorful, the subtlety of white vermouths makes them an excellent starting point for exploring infusions with fortified wine.

White vermouths are not like triplets or quintuplets. From vines to botanicals, each house has its jealously guarded recipes, and each white vermouth has a distinctive flavor profile. Get to know the basics, and it’s easy to build on them.

A bartender favorite, Dolin Dry is crisp, dry, and light. That doesn’t mean it’s simple. Dolin’s as Alpine as a skier’s dream. There are more than 50 botanicals in that bottle, with chinchona, chamomile, and wormwood among them. Let it sit with sliced cucumbers and yellow peppers to bring out its clean vegetal flavors. When the pepper and cucumber are becoming clear, add a hit of anise or thyme, or a thin slice of fennel. Taste the mixture every five minutes. When the balance suits you, run the vermouth through a fine mesh strainer, funnel it back into the bottle, label it, and put it in the fridge to chill.

Another classic, Marseille-born and bred Noilly Prat is a rover. Made with two separately aged wine varietals, Noilly Prat gathers its twenty-something plants and spices from France, Tunisia, and Indonesia. The vermouth spends three weeks in casks, resting with the botanicals. This is a fruitier white vermouth, with notes of orange, as well as anise and herbs. Give it time over sliced and peeled peaches or nectarines, and drop in a bit of vanilla or mace toward the end. If you’re thinking in terms of dessert, and you want to spike a syrupy sub-note, then roast the fruit before starting the infusion.

Routin’s white vermouths differ enough that it’s worthwhile playing with both of them. Think “palate cleanser,” and you’ll be sharing space with Vermouth Routin Dry. Its 17 flowers, plants, and spices frame a nutty, borderline almond characteristic. It isn’t prominent, but it’s present enough to give the vermouth roundness. Boost that with chopped toasted almonds or counterpoint it with dried apricots or cherries. Add cardamom at the end, but taste frequently cardamom can overpower fast. Take it in a different direction with rosemary and pan-warmed walnuts. Those autumn notes pair well with toast and cheese, but it’s also gorgeous drizzled over a savory cheesecake.

As is typical with the dry/blanc divide, Vermouth Routin Blanc is on the sweeter side of fortification. With one more botanical than its drier sibling, Routin Blanc tastes like sun-warmed stone fruit and freshly torn thyme—and thyme is a great starting point for an infusion. Add lemon peel, being careful not to include any of the bitter pith. Taste it every ten minutes or so, until it reaches the intensity you desire. Drizzle it over sorbet or warm cornbread, or use it to make sweet and sour chicken.

An Italian vermouth, Contratto Bianco has 50 flavor components—not counting the wine—but the makers will share only 28. Those include aloe, angelica root, gentian, rhubarb, pimiento seed, sage, clover, and sandalwood. Contratto Bianco doesn’t taste busy. This creamy vermouth has sweetness and tartness and an underpinning of something dry. Hazelnuts, nutmeg, and plums underscore the richness. Vanilla takes Contratto Bianco’s creaminess up a notch. A touch of cracked black pepper can provide unexpected brightness–just don’t let it steep too long.

Don’t feel constrained by cocktails. Vermouth is a strong player in the kitchen. Infuse it with the last of the caramelized onion, roasted carrots, herbs that won’t last much longer, and keep it in the refrigerator for salad dressings (cut back on the vinegar, and use vermouth in its place), glazes, or whatever else comes to mind. It will become one of your most flexible staples, and a natural way to use scraps, save on waste, and expand your creative range.

Swap a homemade infusion for a shelf vermouth, and take your gin martini from prêt-à-porter to haute couture. Get our Perfect Gin Martini recipe.

Prick this savory cheesecake with a fork, drizzle it with vermouth, and you have an adults-only appetizer no one can replicate. For a glaze, reduce the vermouth to half over a low heat. Add finely chopped shallots and a pinch of thyme, to bring out the best of the basil in the cake. Get the recipe.

Andrew Zimmern’s pomelo sorbet gets bitterness from Campari and some of its sugar from sweet vermouth. Tweak its flavors with infused vermouth, taking the sugar down a notch or shunting it in a more savory, herbal direction. Get the recipe.

Michael Ruhlman uses dry vermouth in his Roasted Chicken Provençal. Choose your infusion, and heighten the flavors of roasted shallots, herbs de Provence, or citrus. Your guests will thank you (and probably eat all of your dreamt-of leftovers). Get the recipe.

Use herb or shallot-infused vermouth in this tomato and scallop pasta. Here, too, you can reduce the vermouth a little to boost the flavor. Do that, and you can get away with using less vermouth, losing none of the taste and saving some fortified wine for other things (like your after-dinner cocktail). Get the recipe.

Make the Bronx your own by subbing an infused vermouth in this classic cocktail. Play with gins, too. Made with Plymouth or Dorothy Parker, the same recipe will give you a very different drink. Get our Bronx Cocktail recipe.

Go ahead. Drizzle vermouth over Smitten Kitchen’s Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake. Nobody will tell. Just lock the refrigerator, or you might find yourself going back for a third slice of midnight snack. Get the recipe.


Black Plum Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

3. In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the 10 tablespoons of the butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until just blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully blended between additions.

Reduce the speed to low and add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, then the remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended after each addition.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

6. In a small saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter with the 1/2 cup brown sugar and honey over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is bubbling and the sugar has partially dissolved, 2 minutes.

Drizzle the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, then add the plum slices, very tightly overlapping, in concentric circles so that they completely cover the bottom of the pan. (Keep in mind the fruit will shrink during cooking and you want to avoid too much of the cake poking through). Pour the batter over the plums smoothing it out to the sides to evenly cover the surface.

7. Bake, turning halfway through, until the surface is deeply golden and the middle of the cake provides resistance when pressed lightly with your finger, approximately 70 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes, run a sharp knife around the rim of the cake, then invert the cake onto your desired serving platter and let it sit, still in the springform pan, for 5 minutes.

Remove and discard the foil from the outside of the pan, then release and remove the springform ring from the pan. The top of the cake will be juicy and almost pudding-like from the plums. Eat warm, like a bread pudding, with ice cream, or cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.

*Tip: Since the unbaked batted can be a bit runny, we recommend wrapping the springform pan in aluminum foil for an extra layer of insurance against leaks. Once baked, make sure to follow the directions, letting the cake sit, inverted, in its pan before releasing the outer ring – this will ensure that all the plums end up on top of your cake – not stuck in the pan.


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl except for the bibb lettuce.
  2. Incorporate all ingredients together thoroughly.
  3. Arrange your bibb lettuce into shingled portions of leaves a top each other for up to 8 people.
  4. Scoop a very generous amount of Chicken Salad a top each portion of lettuce.
  5. Garnish with Blue Cheese, Cranberries, Chives and Radish.

Yields 2.5 pounds Meat

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Rub your olive oil all over the chicken inside, outside and under the skin.
  3. Then very generously salt and pepper your chicken inside and out.
  4. Stuff the cavity with Lemon, Thyme, Garlic, Onion, Carrot and Celery.
  5. Place in a roasting pan with wings tucked behind its back as to not burn.
  6. Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh or until an internal temp of 165 degrees.
  7. Let rest at room temp for 25 min then place in fridge and allow to cool completely before cutting up.
  8. Once cool pull all meat from the bones and do a very quick ruff chop of the chicken so you still leave semi big chunks.

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  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups basil, loose leaves (stems removed)
  • 1 pound bucatini or other dry pasta
  • 8 ounces ricotta (good quality)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not brown the onions.
2. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
3. Use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, basil and a little salt into a rough paste (or use a mini food processor). Stir in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
4. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the water. Cook according to packaging instructions to bring to Al dente. Keep 1 cup of liquid.
5. Add cooked pasta to the zucchini skillet and turn heat to medium. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to combine well. Cook for about 1 minute more.
6. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir. Spoon pasta into warm bowls and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.
7. Serve.

  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 Sara Lee pound cake, thawed
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • cinnamon for sprinkling
  • optional: whipped cream, ice cream, basil

1. Start off by creating peach rings. Use your knife to slowly cut around the peach “hamburger” style. Use your fingers to gently detach the peach from the seed.
2. Cut all the peaches, except leave half of one.
3. Then, horizontally slice your pound cake into 3 layers, or even 6 layers.
4. Then, use your largest peach ring as a template and trace out a circle from your pound cake.
5. Repeat until you have no more pound cake. You can also use a similarly sized cookie cutter if you don’t want to trace out manually.
6. On a BBQ grill, or a grill pan, gently grill your cake on low to medium heat until those grill marks appear, about 2 minutes each side.
7. Repeat with the peach rings, which will take longer (about 5 minutes per side).
8. Then, alternately layer your cake and peach rings, sprinkling cinnamon on top of the peach rings.
9. Finally, create the peach compote by chopping up your remaining half peach. In a small saucepan, add in the chopped peaches and sugar and heat until the sugar is caramelized, about 5 minutes.
10. Finish by topping the cakes with the peach compote.
11. Now, add optional toppings such as whipped cream, ice cream, or shredded basil.

  • One 2lbs half of a salmon side, skin off
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Garnish with chives
  • 3 red onions, peeled, cut into quarters, keeping root intact
  • 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

1. Heat up the grill on high for direct heat.

2. Soak your plank for at least 1 hour (or longer, you cannot oversoak it) to avoid it from catching fire. Make sure it is weighed down with a plate and fully submerged and flip it half way. Tip, You can also soak your plank in apple juice, beer, or wine to add more flavor to the fish.

3. The darker the color of the cedar the better the flavor.

4. Place the salmon on the soaked plank and season with kosher salt liberally.

5. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, sriracha, mayonnaise, and brown sugar. Spread evenly over the salmon.

6. In a large deep dish, toss the asparagus and onions in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

7. Brush an area on the grill lightly with oil. Place the onions and asparagus on the oiled grates. Cook for about 3-4 minutes turning halfway until lightly charred and just tender. Remove from heat and keep warm. Place the salmon plank on the grill and cover with lid. Cook the salmon for 10-15 mins, or until 130-135 F degrees on a thermometer. Let rest for about 3-4 minutes. Place the plank on a large tray and serve alongside with the grilled vegetables.

  • 12 large quahog clams
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 shallots chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1 stalk celery diced
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2-3 Tbsp, reserved, clam juice
  • Paprika
  • 8 oz. cooked linguini noodles
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced (OPTIONAL)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley plus more for garnish

Directions:
1. Fill a large pot with 2-3 inches of white wine and the sliced garlic. Bring to a simmer.

2. Add the clams to the simmering wine and steam until the shells open. About 6-10 minutes.


3. Remove clams from the pot and let cool enough to handle. Reserve the steaming liquid and clam juice.


4. Discard any clams that have not opened (If they don’t open, they may be dead don’t eat them).


5. Remove the clams from the shells and chop.


6. Break apart the clamshells.


7. Pick about 12 of the nicest shells and clean them, getting them ready for the stuffing.


9. In a fry pan, melt the butter on medium heat and add the shallots and celery.


10. Once the onions and celery have softened about 2-3 minutes, add the minced garlic.

11. Cook garlic for 1 minute, then add the cheese, parsley, breadcrumbs, chopped clams, lemon juice, and reserved clam juice. Stir until the stuffing mixture is completely moistened.

12. If too dry, add a little more clam juice if too wet, add a little more breadcrumbs.

13. Fill the cleaned clamshells and place them on a baking dish.

14. Scoop a little stuffing mixture onto each clamshell.

16. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.

17. Strain 2 cups of the steaming liquid in a deep pan and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.

18. Add in the additional 2 cloves of sliced garlic (OPTIONAL).

19. Remove the liquid from the heat and whisk in the butter until incorporated and then stir in 2 tbsp. of chopped parsley.

20. Toss the linguini into the sauce to coat and serve alongside the stuffed clams.

Ingredients for the Ice Cream

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup caramelized peaches (recipe below)
  • 6 tablespoons cinnamon streusel (recipe below)

Ingredients for the Caramelized Peaches

  • 3 semi-hard peaches (about 1 day away from being perfectly ripe)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup white sugar

Ingredients for the Cinnamon Streusel

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 ounces cold butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for the Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp but NOT melted)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2, 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2, 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:
1. For the Ice Cream: Place the butter in a small saucepan and simmer until the butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat before browning too much and let the butter cool completely.

2. In another larger saucepan, heat the half and half over medium high heat.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, white and brown sugars and salt until smooth.


4. Temper the mixture by adding 1/2 cup of the warmed half and half to the egg mixture and stir together. Add another 1/2 cup of the half and half to the egg mixture and stir together while tempering the egg. Transfer the entire egg mixture into the remaining half and half in the saucepan and stir over medium heat until a thick mixture has formed. The mixture should be 170 degrees F when it's done. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the seeds from the vanilla bean as well as the browned butter mixture. Let the mixture sit for about 1 hour to infused all the flavor and then strain through a mesh sieve. Discard anything that didn't make it through the mesh sieve and refrigerate the mixture until chilled.


5. Once the mixture is cold, put it into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions.


6. Once fully churned, stir in the streusel and caramelized peaches and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.


7. For the Caramelized Peaches:Cut the peaches into bite sized pieces and discard the pit. I left the skin on for extra flavor and color. Place the peaches into a sauce pan with the lemon juice and white sugar. Heat the sauce pan over medium heat until the peaches start to cook. Cook the peaches for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.


8. For Cinnamon Streusel:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


9. In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon and pulse for a few seconds to break up the butter. Place the mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes.

10. Remove the streusel from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, break it into bite sized pieces if needed and use as needed.

FOR SUGAR COOKIES:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.


2. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated.


3. Chill the dough in the refrigerate for 2 hours. Scoop out some dough, and roll it into a ball. It should be about the size of a golf ball.


4. Place the cookie on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place 6 cookies on a sheet since they will spread due to their size.


5. Bake for 14-15 minutes until just slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet. If you want to flatten them out a big, carefully bang the baking sheet on the counter to release any excess air in the cookies. Note They might look a little under baked in the middle - but don't fear!! They will continue to bake a bit once removed from the oven.