June 22, 2012

one for the money, delicious in your tummy

While doing a little grocery shopping, I fell in love.

In the midst of the produce department, I saw the object of my fancy, and I knew it had to be mine. Next to the pile of peaches and bags of grapes the sign said, "ON SALE - Fresh Pineapple." I had to have one.

Pineapples are one of my favorite foods. It is my go-to topping for pizza, a delicious snack and a regular topic of conversation on Psych. And how cute are they? All spikey on the outside, with that fantastic green plume on top, they are absolutely adorable. When I saw that sign and a pile of ripe and lovely pineapples, I had to have one.

Admiring it as I placed it on my kitchen table, I imagined the possible outcomes for this delish fruit. Would I eat it fresh? Throw it on the grill? Make a pizza? Bake with it? Oh, the possibilities! The decision would come to me, but until then, it made a fantastic center piece.

All week, I loved that pineapple and the spot of color it added to our kitchen. There was only one problem. I knew that one day, I would have to kill the pineapple or let it rot to death. This was a horrifying fact, and one I should have realized the moment I put it in my shopping cart. Not only did I have no clue about how to slice the pineapple, but I had also fallen for it. How could I be the one to cut it?

The pineapple and I in happier times.
It reminded me of the time my sister bought a pinata for our fiesta-themed bad sweater party, and she grew to love Paco, the name she gave to the pinata during their week together. On the night of the party, after spending so much time together, my poor sister could not watch the pinata meet his fate. She handed me the candy-filled donkey and a baseball bat and left me to it. In the end, it was only myself and a few of our friends who were with Paco when he met his end. His delicious and fun, but ultimately sad end.

At this moment, as I stared at my beloved pineapple, and I understood my sister's pain. The only way to ease that ache was knowing that I could make it into something so delicious, I would know its death had been worth it. But what?

Fortunately, my mom and sister came to my rescue. My sister suggested I bake a pineapple upside down cake, and Mom reminded me that Stephanie Plum, the heroine in Janet Evanovich's series, loves pineapple upside down cakes. Not only is pineapple upside down cake amazing, but Stephanie Plum the bounty hunter is a total bad ass. If I pulled this off, my pineapple's life could have meaning.

Now if I could only figure out how to cut the darn thing.

To be honest, I'm not sure I did it right. I grabbed the biggest knife in our set and started by cutting off the cute green plume. Still not completely ready to let go of this pineapple, I set it aside thinking I might be able to make it into a new centerpiece. (I was wrong. I ended up throwing it out with the rest of the peal.) After that, I cut off bits of the outside and was horrified to discover black spikes still on the fruit inside. I cut each of those out bit by bit, and finally cut out the center and sliced the pineapple into nine full circle pieces. Sadly I lacked the skill to make this look pretty, and the whole process took a lot more time than I ever imagined. It also killed most of the love I had for that pineapple. What was I thinking when I bought an uncut pineapple?

With that, I was ready to go.

Stephanie Plumb's Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
Fresh pineapple
1/2 jar maraschino cherries
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup softened butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 9x13 pan, add melted butter and brown sugar evenly over surface. Place fresh pineapple slices on surface. (Note: Because the pineapple I bought was so big, I used six as full circles and added wedges to the spaces in between.) Place cherries in the center of each slice and as desired throughout the rest of the pan. (Most recipes say one for each center, but my family and I like cherries, so we went crazy with them.)

Mix flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, milk and egg in a bowl until well blended. Pour the batter into the pan over the fruit.

Place in center of oven and bake for about 50 minutes. Cover the dish with a flat pan or plate and turn upside down. Cake should fall nicely onto the pan, but go ahead and take any remaining sugar mixture out and cover. Serve warm for best results (but chilled it makes a great, if not too healthy, breakfast).

As you can tell from the picture, this cake did not turn out perfect or beautiful, but it was delicious. My broomie and sister loved it, each eating a couple of pieces, and the friends we shared it with were also complimentary.  Even though it was super uggo, it is one of the best tasting dishes I've baked to date. My pineapple's life was vindicated.

I would definitely make this again, but even though it was an adventure, I'm buying canned pineapple next time.

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