As you probably know by now, Chicago was hit by a pretty intense blizzard this week. It came just as we were preparing for the first Lottie + Doof and Floriole dinner. We decided to go ahead with the first dinner as planned and were cheered by a great group of people who braved the cold and mountains of snow to eat dinner with us. As a food writer, I spend a lot of time behind the safety of my computer and it was a real treat/challenge to have what happens in the privacy of my kitchen happen in real time and space. It turned out to be such great fun that I can’t wait to do it again.
Before we talk about the dinner, some gratitude. I can’t thank the staff at Floriole enough (Sandra, Mathieu, Amber, Claire (both of them), Heather, Kaitlyn, and Rachel (and everyone else who lent a hand outside of the event)) for their hard work and for allowing me the privilege of working with them. Thanks to the very good people of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board who sent us incredibly delicious cheese from Saxon Creamery, BelGiosio and Bleu Mont Dairy. I can honestly say that Wisconsin cheeses are one of the best things about this world. And most importantly, thanks to everyone who came out in the cold to share this hearty Midwestern menu with us.
Most of the recipes we used are from the archives of this site, though improved by Floriole’s expert staff. They included the charred onion dip, which we served with housemade potato chips. My favorite potato gratin dish, as well as the famous apple jellies, also made it onto the table. A couple of recipes (including the beautiful green goddess salad) will make their way here soon.
One of the new recipes, developed especially for the dinner, was a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream. Sandra had the idea for the pineapple cake, which immediately made me think of Claudia Fleming’s recipe for pineapple with pink peppercorns. I set about making an ice cream that had a bit of the floral pink peppercorn flavor but also the tang of buttermilk. Together, the plate was fantastic (if I do say so myself!). I’m hoping the pineapple cake makes it into the bakery case at Floriole on a regular basis (hint, hint).
Both dinners were great experiences and I’m very happy to say we will be doing this again. We’re hoping to collaborate together once a season, so look for a spring dinner in May. In the meantime, make this cake. You’ll be glad you did.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from a Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe)
- 6 Pineapple rings (1 whole, 5 halved)
- 11 Brandied Cherries (or maraschino)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons butter
Butter a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment, butter parchment. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
To Make Fruit Topping
Drain pineapple slices (reserving 1 tablespoon of juice) and cherries and place on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. You will need 1 whole pineapple slice and 11 whole cherries. Halve the 5 remaining pineapple slices.
In a skillet, stir together the 1 tablespoon pineapple juice, the 4 tablespoons of butter and the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer on medium/low heat 3 minutes, stirring constantly just until it starts to bubble. Continue simmering until deep amber and caramelized (an instant read thermometer will be 300°F.) Remove from the heat immediately and pour the bubbling caramel evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Without touching the hot sugar, carefully place 1 whole pineapple slice in the center of the pan and 10 half slices surrounding it, like the spokes of a wheel. Place the whole cherries in the center of the whole pineapple slice and between each half.
To Make Cake Batter
In a medium bowl, lightly combine yolks, about 1/4 of the buttermilk, and the vanilla.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add butter and the remaining buttermilk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add egg mixture to batter in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate ingredients and strengthen structure. Scrape down the sides. Scrape batter into fruit-lined pan, smoothing evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown and the wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. Run a small metal spatula around the sides and invert at once onto a serving plate. Leave the pan in place one or two minutes before lifting it. If any fruit has stuck to the pan, simply use a small spatula to place it back on the cake.
*For fresh pineapple, use 1 golden pineapple peeled and cored. Cut pineapple into 6 1/2-inch thick slices, reserving 1 tablespoon of juice. Trim the diameter of the pineapple slices to approximately 3 inches wide.
Buttermilk Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 8 large egg yolks
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
In a medium saucepan, heat cream and 3/4 cup sugar to a simmer, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, immediately add peppercorns and cover. Allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain cream into another medium pot (or the same one, cleaned) and warm over low heat. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar. Slowly add the warm cream into the eggs to temper, whisking constantly. Once all of the cream has been added return the custard mixture to the pan and warm over a medium low heat until the custard has thickened and coats the back of your spoon. (this will be around 170-175°F) Immediately remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and salt and stir to combine. Cover and chill overnight. The next day, stir the mixture before churning it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.