Dec 15, 2017

A Show Stopper Holiday Dessert!

Star Fruit Upside-Down Cake
This recipe is a show stopper during the holiday season, and is a nice change from pineapple upside-down cake. Star fruit are easy to find here in Hawaii, especially in the winter when they're usually available in farmers markets. Not only are they beautiful and delicious, but they are packed with antioxidants, potassium and Vitamin C, which can help ward off winter colds and flu. They are also a good source of fiber with only about 30 calories per fruit.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 to 6 star fruit, depending on how large they are
   (I usually buy a couple extra just in case)
1/2 cup pecan halves
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rinse the star fruit. Holding the fruit in the palm of your hand, using a potato peeler, remove the tip of the five ridges (or “star points”), discarding the brownish outer edge. Trim off the ends of the star fruit and discard. Slice the fruit about 1/4 inch-thick. Repeat this process until you have enough stars to cover the top of the cake.

Using the tip of your knife, remove and discard any seeds you find in the sliced stars.

Melt butter in a 10-inch, cast-iron skillet (or cake pan) on medium heat (watch carefully so the butter doesn't burn). Remove from burner. Evenly (without lumps) sprinkle in the dark brown sugar. Arrange the star fruit slices on top of the sugar, fill in spaces between stars with pecans halves (remember to turn the pecan halves so the top of each half faces down).

In large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk and oil. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute. Add egg, lime zest, lime juice, and vanilla. Beat just until well combined.

Carefully pour batter evenly over star fruit in skillet. Bake in preheated 350˚F oven until tester (toothpick) inserted into centre of cake comes out clean and top of cake is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Have a serving plate ready as this cake needs to be inverted onto a it the minute it leaves the oven, otherwise the fruit and nuts may stick to the bottom of the skillet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: If any of the fruit or nuts stick to the bottom of the skillet, don't panic, carefully slip a fork under the runaways and press them back on top.

Dec 7, 2017

Santa's Favorite Christmas Cookie

I have tried hundreds of Christmas cookies over the years and I have to say that this cookie would be the one that I would leave for Santa, with a big glass of milk. The combination of spices in this recipe makes for a taste that your family and friends will always remember. Ginger bread and ginger snaps all wrapped up in one!

Ginger & Spice Cookies
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Ginger & Spice Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Combine the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy for 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and molasses. Sift the flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt together into a bowl. Add the butter mixture, beating just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a pie plate. Shape the dough into walnut-size balls then roll in the sugar to coat. Arrange 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets and sprinkle the tops of the cookie dough with a little more sugar. bake until cracked and dry but still soft, about 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cool on wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.