Pineapple Upside-down Cake

pineapple upside cake 2

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

All those upside-down cakes of yore topped with canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherries adorning the centers will seem like a bad memory after you’ve tasted this fresh pineapple version.  Select a pineapple that is fragrant and has a little give when pressed. The subtle tang of the buttermilk and tender crumb are irresistible.    The glistening caramel gives the cake a glorious finish. A dash of dark rum on the finished cake is a delightful touch.

Needed: a 9-inch silicone cake pan, rimmed baking sheet, wide-bottomed light-colored saucepan (such as stainless steel).


1 cup sugar

1 large ripe pineapple

For the Cake:

1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ t pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

Procedure— Caramel:

1. To a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan, add 1 cup sugar.  Don’t use a dark-colored pan as you won’t be able to see the color of the caramel change.

2. Over medium heat let the sugar melt swirling pan but not stirring it.

3. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove it from the heat and pour immediately into the silicone pan. Carefully swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Set aside on a rimmed baking sheet. (This can be done well ahead.)

The Pineapple:

1. Cut the top off the pineapple and a slice from the bottom so the pineapple will sit upright. Quarter the pineapple.

2. Core, peel and slice into ¼” slices.

3. Arrange the slices on top of the hardened caramel, overlapping them with the flat edges pointing upward.  Remember that this will be the top of the cake.

The Cake Batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light.

2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition for 15 seconds.

3.  Add the vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears.

6. Add the buttermilk and mix again.

7. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and again, mix just until the flour disappears.

8. Scoop large dollops of the batter over the pineapple taking care not to disturb the arrangement of the slices.  Smooth out the batter.

9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (about 50 minutes).

10. Run a knife between the cake and edge of the pan.  Set a serving platter on top of the pan and invert.  Carefully lift off the cake pan.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Adapted from a recipe by Margery K. Friedman


Grilled Hawaiian Shrimp

Grilled charred shrimp and pineapple.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Add tropical fruit, thread onto skewers and baste with a tangy sweet and sour sauce.  Serve on a bed of hot rice and transport yourself to beautiful Hawaii.


1 T soy sauce

1 T rice vinegar

1 6-oz. can pineapple juice

¼ t ground ginger

1 t finely minced garlic

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 T cornstarch

1 medium red onion

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 lb. extra large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup fresh mango peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks


Combine soy sauce, vinegar, juice, ginger garlic, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Stir frequently and set aside.

Cut onion and peppers into 1-inch squares. Alternate pineapple, shrimp, mango, onions and peppers onto metal skewers.  Place in a glass baking dish. Brush with sauce.

Preheat broiler.  Lightly brush peanut (or vegetable) oil on rack of broiler pan.  Set kabobs on rack.  Broil, about 3 inches from heat, for 3 minutes.  Turn over and brush with sauce.  (Discard remainder of sauce.) Continue broiling until shrimp turn opaque, about 3 minutes.  Serve on a bed of rice.

Kabobs can also be cooked on your outdoor grill over medium heat.

Photographer Bill Brady

Homemade Pizza is Heaven

Your Own Pizza Pie? That’s Amore!

Are you ready for a pizza that’s worlds apart from what you pick up in that big square box? Read on at your own risk. Don’t say you haven’t been forewarned. You might just start making your own pizza from now on. My husband is the pizza-maker in our house. He makes his own pizza dough and garnishes it with fresh ingredients. His techniques guarantee a crispy crust and caramelized toppings.

The highlights of this recipe are partially baking the dough rounds before adding toppings and sautéing the toppings before adding them to the pizza. The pizza doesn’t bake long enough to give the raw ingredients a caramelized taste. (Serves six.)

Pizza dough:

1 package (2 ¼ t) active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees)
4 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for dusting
2 t salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Toppings (go nuts, prepare your favorites):


Avoid prepared pizza sauce. Instead, chop up a tomato or handful of tiny tomatoes and sauté in a nonstick pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper. Mash as tomato softens.

½ cup sliced mushrooms, sautéed

I cup thinly sliced sweet pepper (think yellow, red or orange for color) lightly sautéed.

1 small sliced Vidalia onion sautéed until beginning to caramelized

4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic added to caramelized onion

One hot and one sweet Italian sausage, crumbled and sautéed

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or Turkish olives sliced in half

2 T fresh basil, chopped

½ t red pepper flakes

¼ t dried oregano

½ t salt

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

¾ lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced*

The dough:

Proof the yeast by dissolving it in warm water. It should foam up. Put the flour and salt in a food processor using the steel blade. Pulse briefly and then add the yeast mixture in a slow stream. Stop processor, add oil and pulse a few times.

On a lightly floured surface knead dough briefly and form into three balls. * * Place on a baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise about 45 minutes until double in bulk.

Place baking stone in a 450-degree oven.

Shaping, Topping and Baking:

Press out dough with your fingers from the center out on a floured surface (preferably a marble slab). Shape dough into three 12” rounds about ¼” thick.. Allow a lip on the edge. Poke a few holes with a fork in the dough to keep it from puffing up. Lift onto a peel, slide onto hot baking stone and bake one at a time, unless baking stone can accommodate more, for four minutes until lightly baked. Take out of oven and divide toppings among crusts. Arrange slices of cheese on top. Return to oven and bake another 6 minutes, just until cheese is melted and starting to bubble. Run under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown the top. Don’t overbake or cheese will become leathery. Cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.

*Place cheese in freezer for 20 – 30 minutes to make slicing easier.

** At this point dough can be refrigerated or frozen for use later. Each ball will make pizza for two.

Victor’s Heavenly Pizza

My Mom makes awesome pizza. That’s not a subjective statement, mind you. Everyone says so. And even though there were three terrific pizzerias within a ten block radius of my block growing up, nothing compared to her creations. Perfect crust, aromatic sauce, just the right amount of mozzarella and other toppings. A gastronomic experience, really, even though the art of pizza making is not all that complicated. Mom says it just takes a good recipe, and some practice. Mostly love, really.

One of the first things to consider is the type of pizza you’re contemplating. The thin crust, round Neapolitan pie is always a hit. How thin to make the crust is a matter of preference, of course. I like it really slim – almost cracker-like – and well done. Doesn’t fill you up as much, so you get to eat more. The thicker crusted, square Sicilian pie is Mom’s personal favorite. I don’t believe it has anything to do with our Sicilian heritage. I think it’s all about the abundance to her. Hefty pieces (she doesn’t call them slices) that really hit the spot, if you know what I mean. You might also consider deep dish Chicago style pizza. Similar to Sicilian, but not as crispy on the edges. Really quite nice.

QuantcastOnce you’ve decided on the type of pizza you’re creating, you’ve got to make a critical decision. Pre-made dough, or homemade? I opt for homemade. Again, it’s not all that difficult. Mom says you’ve got to establish a relationship with your dough. OK, maybe that’s a bit much, but after making my own pizza for a few years, I kind of see what she means. A few tips here. Remember, it’s going to get messy the first few times, but that’s alright. Have fun with it. If you own a mixer, that’s great. If not, be sure you use a very large bowl. No…larger that that! You’ll need it. And use lots of flour on the counter while rolling and stretching the dough. Less sticking means fewer holes to patch up. I also found that when baking, pizza stones are OK, but a pizza screen achieves an even, crispier crust. You can also try grilling. It enhances the final product with a smoky goodness, almost like the wood burning oven pizzas my great grandmother undoubtedly treated the family to back in the old country. Just be sure to coat with plenty of olive oil. You don’t want three quarters of your pizza to remain on the grill! The rest is all about imagination.
Be sure you have a good sauce recipe. Not too sweet, like those jarred varieties you’ll find at the supermarket. Nice and savory. Then get to building your pizza. A traditional sauce and mozzarella pie is a good place to start. You can step it up by adding pesto or anchovies to the mix. I like that a lot. Some pizza fanatics say no mozzarella, just sauce and grated parmesan cheese. OK by me, but I like to add Italian tuna in olive oil to that one. Want more? Pepperoni, sausage or sliced meatballs are popular. Mushroom, peppers, zucchini and eggplant appeal to the vegetarian set. A white pie featuring mozzarella, ricotta and grated parmesan is also delectable. Anything goes, really. Left over breaded or grilled chicken cutlets in the fridge? Slice them up and top the pizza. Baked ham last night? Chunk it up, add pineapple, and call your pie a Californian. When visiting Sicily, I actually tried a pizza topped with scrambled eggs, artichoke hearts and grated parmesan. It was phenomenal. I kid you not.

The point is that once you’ve got your homemade dough and sauce down – the basics of the pie – you can achieve greatness as a pizza chef in your own neighborhood. Just think about the foods you like to eat, and top your pizza with them. Get your creative juices flowing and there’s no telling what you’ll come up with.

Oh, I should mention that sweet pizzas are definitely an option for you. You can transform a white pizza into an excellent dessert by adding cinnamon, sugar, grated orange peel and chocolate chips to ricotta. Just spread evenly over the dough, and bake. I also like a chocolate-hazelnut spread as a topping. You can make your own, but here’s one instance where the store bought spread works just fine.

Fire up the oven or grill, get some dough on your fingers, and be inventive. That’s Mom’s motto when it comes to crafting pizza. And you’ll create a slice of heaven for family and friends every time.

Photographer Bill Brady
Written by Victor Ribaudo
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin,
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Blog syndicated at the

Grilled Pizza with Ham and Pineapple

You don’t really want to light the oven to 500 degrees on a hot July day,  do you?  This easy grilled pizza should get you in the mood for some outdoor summer relaxing.  Just a few simple ingredients showcase the smoky flavor and crispy crust.

Pizza dough:

2/3 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)

2 t instant dry yeast

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t salt

1 ½ T olive oil

Add yeast to warm water, mix and set aside. Place flour and salt in food processor.  Add oil and mix.  Pour yeast mixture around mixture and pulse just until a ball forms.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly.  Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise about one hour until doubled in bulk.  Punch dough down and divide into two equal balls.

Tomato Paste:

2 large flavorful tomatoes cut into 1-inch slices

1 medium Vidalia onion, cut into ½-inch slices, salt and pepper to taste

Place tomato slices on a vegetable grill pan. Set on grill over indirect heat. Turn over after one side begins to char. Place onion slices directly on grill over indirect heat.  Turn over after one side becomes charred. When both tomatoes and onions become soft, mash together and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

2 T yellow cornmeal for baking sheets


1 1/3 cups coarsely grated fresh mozzarella (Place in freezer for 15 minutes first.)

3 T freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

4 canned pineapple slices, coarsely chopped

6 thin slices cooked ham, coarsely chopped

Prepare a hot grill.  Sprinkle cornmeal over two baking sheets. Roll out each ball of dough into a 10-inch round. Place each on a baking sheet. Slide onto the grill until lightly browned.  Lift up with a large spatula to check the underside.  They cook fast..  Take off the grill with the spatula and turn over onto those same baking sheets.  Brush the tomato paste over each, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the two cheeses over the pizzas.  Arrange pineapple pieces in a single layer over pizzas and sprinkle with ham.  Slide the pizzas onto dry grill.  Cover the grill and cook until the crusts are crisp and brown and cheese is melted.   They can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.  Keep a close watch. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.  Serves 4 to 8.

Photographer Bill Brady
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell

%d bloggers like this: