Holiday food bring back memories

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Going up and down the grocery aisles the other day reminded me that the holidays are drawing near.

When the giant displays of canned pumpkin, chicken broth and cranberry sauce show up you know it is time to plan your holiday menus and start stocking up on items that are essential to get you through the holidays.

For me that always means bags of fresh cranberries as soon as I see them (extras go in the freezer), brown and regular sugar for baking, red and green M&Ms and of course ingredients for dressing and multiple desserts.

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We are a turkey at Thanksgiving and a ham at Christmas family, and every year I make my ham exactly the same way. It is the only time of the year that I buy one can of pineapple rings.

When I passed the pineapple rings the other day, I couldn’t help but think back to my grandmother. She kept pineapple rings in her cabinet; they were the base of her fancy salad. If you were raised in the South you know the one I am referring to. A leaf of iceberg lettuce, a pineapple ring, a dollop of mayonnaise a sprinkle of grated Cheddar cheese and voila — fancy pineapple salad. The only other thing I remember her making with the exotic rings was a pineapple upside down cake, baked in her black cast iron skillet.

When she would flip it out of the pan, the pineapple rings would be golden brown and caramelized sauce would run down the sides. After some research I found several upside down cakes with which to work. The first change I made was to not use my cast iron skillet, which is reserved for cornbread and biscuits, period. So by cooking the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan first you can still get the caramelized flavor without it sticking to your skillet.

Pineapple upside down cake

Six tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

12 ounces canned pineapple rings packed in pineapple juice (reserve juice)

Maraschino cherries

1 1/2 cup plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons backing powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the six tablespoons of melted butter in a small saucepan, add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice and bring to a simmer for about a minute and remove from heat.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan very lightly with nonstick spray, and lightly wipe out with a paper towel. Pour in the juice and brown sugar mixture into the cake pan. Arrange rings of pineapple in syrup with a cherry in the middle of each ring.

Put the sifted flour (remember to measure the flour first and then sift it), baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk, vanilla and one stick of melted butter and mix well. Pour these liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the pan over the pineapple. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven, then let the cake rest 5 minutes in the pan. Invert it onto a serving plate.

Adapted from the Lee’s Brothers

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at