Plum Cake “Tatin”

February 11th, 2011

I decided that I wouldn’t make a chocolate dessert this year for Valentine’s Day.  Instead I was drawn to the idea of something with fruit.  The Barefoot Contessa made this plum cake a few weeks ago and I printed the recipe.  Plums have not been in the market for a while, but while shopping two days ago a new crop had just come in.  Aha!  Just the thing.  Red- hued plums in a rich cake with a caramelized sugar top.  It is similar to a pineapple upside down cake.

Ina Garten’s recipes are usually fool proof.  This one is too.  The fool is me.  I don’t have a candy thermometer here in Florida so I winged it.  You are supposed to boil sugar and water until it is a warm amber color and 360 degrees on the candy thermometer.  This is poured over the halved plums in the pie plate before the cake batter is added.  I kind of knew when I poured it over the plums that it had not reduced enough.  There was just too much liquid.  But it was too late.  I poured the batter over it and hoped for the best.  The resulting cake was very liquid when I flipped it onto the serving plate and there was not much caramelization on the plums, but in spite of that it was good.  Just imagine how good this would have been if I had had the proper equipment.

Follow this recipe to the letter and I am sure you will have great results.


10 to 12 purple “prune” plums, cut in half and pitted
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously butter a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  Arrange the plums in the dish, cut side down.

Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer.  Swirl the pan but don’t stir.  Pour evenly over the plums.

Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy.  Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one a time.  Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture.  Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evely over the plums and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate.  If a plum sticks, ease it out and replace it in the desigh on the top of the cake.  Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

For more treats for Valentine’s Day check out Lisa’s Sweet as Sugar blog which is linking lots of blogs for Sweets For Saturday.

Food and cooking aside, I have to tell you that our family is receiving the best Valentine present that anyone could receive.  Our Son Michael, DIL Kristen and Granddaughter Rachel are welcoming into our family a beautiful little boy.  He will be delivered on Valentine’s Day.  Our hearts are full.

Lots of love to all of you.  I will be busy for the next week, but promise to share pictures.

Printable recipe


October 28th, 2010
The second Barefoot Blogger recipe of the month is popovers.  It was chosen by Tara, our fearless  BB leader, of Smells Like Home.  You might be interested in following Tara on the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Contest.  She is still in the running and on her 6th challenge.  Go to Foodbuzz and give her your vote.  Thanks Tara for choosing this recipe.  I have never made popovers before.  I had to go out and buy a popover pan, but they are not terribly expensive and it was an excuse to have one more kitchen gadget.  Most popover pans have 6 large cups.  I bought a 12 cup mini popover pan.  I like the smaller size much better.  If given a regular size popover I would eat the whole thing.  With the smaller size I am not tempted to eat two.
I trust Ina Garten’s recipes,  but since I have never made popovers before I wanted to do a little research on them before I made them.  On the surface the recipe seems rather bland; just milk, eggs, flour and a little butter.  I found another recipe for popovers that included a little baking powder to give them more lift and using bread flour which is higher in protein.  The protein in the flour also contributes to the rise. There was a tablespoon of Dijon mustard in the recipe also.  I liked the flavor additive.  So this was the recipe that I made.  Go here for Ina’s recipe. 
The popovers were spectacular in the way they puffed and they had a nice texture on the inside.  If you follow a few steps that are important you will have perfect popovers.  Be sure the pan is hot when you add the batter and never open the oven while the popovers are baking.
1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Note:  The key to making great popovers is having the eggs and milk at room temperature or warm before mixing.  It is also important to let the batter sir for an hour before baking it.  Popovers do not freeze well and pre-made batter has a tendency not to work properly the next day.
Place the milk in a bowl and microwave on high for approximately 1 1/2 minutes, or until warm to the touch.  Spoon the flour into a cup and level it off with a knife.  In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together.  
In a blender combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and Dijon mustard; process approximately 10 seconds until blended.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture in blender.  Process approximately 10 to15 seconds or until just combined. Let rest for an hour if you can.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place oven rack on the middle rung and heat an empty popover pan for 5 minutes, or until it is hot.  Once oven is the correct temperature and the empty popover pan is hot, quickly remove the popover pan from the oven; lightly spray the popover cups with a nonstick spray.
Fill the popover cups a little over 1/2 full.  Immediately place the pan back into the oven.
Bake without opening the door for 15 minutes. (A little less for mini popover pans).  Reduce heat to 375 degrees F. and bake for another 20 minutes or until deep golden brown on the outside and airy on the inside.
Remove popovers from the oven and unmold onto a rack.  Pierce the sides with the tip of a sharp knife to let steam escape and serve immediately with lots of butter.
There is change in the air as Fall progresses.  There is a magical golden glow on our porch in the late afternoons and the mornings are glorious.  After three days of rain this is what our view was like yesterday morning.

It will soon be time to return to Florida.  I hate to leave all of this beauty.   

East Hampton Clam Chowder

October 15th, 2010
Another great Barefoot Contessa recipe.  The Barefoot Bloggers took a break for the month of September, so this is the first recipe in a while.  It is East Hampton Clam Chowder and was chosen by Laura of Family Spice.  Last night was the perfect night for chowder, as the temperatures dipped into the 40’s for the first time this season.

The clam chowder is full of goodness; diced carrots, celery, potatoes and onions.  Since our local supermarket is limited in the seafood selection, I had to use canned clams but I felt that this was still an excellent chowder.

Next month we will start posting recipes from Ina’s new book, How Easy is That.  The only stipulation that was imposed on the Barefoot Bloggers is that we not post the actual recipe unless it is posted by The Food Network.  This is to encourage people to go out and buy the book.  How do you feel about that?  I would love to hear your opinion.  I have joined another group who are posting from Dorie Greenspan’s new book Around My French Table and we have been encouraged not to post the recipes.  I am not sure that I want to show pictures of the food I make and not include a recipe.  What say you?

In the meantime, try this excellent chowder because I am giving you the recipe.  I halved the recipe for the two of us.


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups medium-diced celery (4 stalks)
2 cups medium-diced carrots (6 carrots)
4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes (8 potatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams (1 1/2 pounds shucked clams)

Melt 4 tablespoon  (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot.  Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the celery, carrots, potaotes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes.  Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetabgles.  Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.

Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

Printable recipe  

Mixed Berry Cheesecake The Barefoot Contessa

August 31st, 2010

The second Barefoot Blogger recipe for the month of August is this beautiful mixed berry cheesecake.  The recipe was chosen by Nathalie of Snowbell Jewelry and it is so impressive, even if I didn’t make it in it’s original form.  Our extended family is not arriving for the Labor Day Holiday until the end of the week so I was making this for just the two of us.  The two of us do not need a dessert that contains 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese.  So instead of making the cheesecake in a springform pan, I reduced the recipe and made five individual cheesecakes.

The cheesecake was delicious, with a special freshness from the lemon zest.  The berries give it a “WOW” factor and are glazed with jelly to make them shimmer.  I will definitely be making this again.

So many of The Barefoot Contessa recipes are winners.  It has occured to me that many of the dishes I will be serving over the holiday have come from Ina’s cookbooks.  My daughter-in-law is celebrating a birthday so I am making Ina’s Strawberry Country Cake.  For breakfast one morning I will be making her Potato Basil Frittata.  And as side dishes with our cookouts, I will be making her Panzanella Salad and Sagaponack Corn Pudding.  This cheesecake would be perfect for your Labor Day celebration.  Enjoy.


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

1 cup red jelly (not jam) such as currant, raspberry, or strawberry
1/2 pint sliced strawberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 pint fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and egg yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, melt the jelly in a small pan over low heat. In a bowl, toss berries and the warm jelly gently until well mixed. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Oven-Fried Chicken from The Barefoot Contessa

August 29th, 2010

The Barefoot Bloggers are on a leisurely summer schedule.  Normally we post recipes from the Barefoot Contessa on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, but our fearless leader Tara of Smells Like Home has decreed that as long as we get our recipes posted by the end of each month, we are still in the game.  And what a great time to be a member of The Barefoot Bloggers.  Ina Garten has a new cookbook coming out in October called How easy is That?  Tara received an advanced copy of it and had a phone interview with Ina in mid August.  She will be posting about it on October 11th on the Barefoot Blogger website. It is nice to know that Ina recognizes our little group and is supportive of us.

One of our recipes for this month was Ina’s oven-fried chicken.  It was chosen by Vicki of My Fare Lady.  I am happy that she made this choice because I gave up on frying chicken a long time ago.  I decided that fried chicken just wasn’t good for us and  that it was a messy task.  Leave it to The Barefoot Contessa to simplify the process by frying the chicken briefly in oil and then baking it until it is done.  It still comes out crispy and delicious.  I have also come to the conclusion that enjoying fried chicken occasionally is no worse for me than any other food indulgence.  It is all about moderation and variety.

I followed the recipe closely other than skinning the chicken.  I used all thighs, but whole chicken pieces are fine too.  The chicken marinates overnight in buttermilk.  This makes the chicken very juicy and succulent.  So don’t forget this important step.  The next time I make it, I will add some interesting spices.  The chicken was delicious, but it would be even better with a punch of garlic, paprika or whatever The Colonel puts in his famous chicken.  So feel free to indulge in this great dish.  How bad can that be?


2 chickens, cut in eight serving pieces
1 quart buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and pour the buttermilk over them.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Prehieat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and coat each piece thoroughly with the flour mixture.  Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed stockpot to a depth of 1 inch and heat to 360 degrees on a thermometer.

Working in batches, carefully place several pieces of chicken in the oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side until the coating is a light golden brown (it will contiune to brown in the oven).  Don’t crowd the pieces.  Remove the chicken from the oil and place each piece on a metal baking rack set on a sheet pan.  Allow the oil to return to 360 degrees before frying the next batch.  When all the chicken is fried, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside.  Serve hot.

Printable recipe

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.