Thursday, March 29, 2012

Drunken Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

My last post was just inside of the new year, nearly 3 months ago. I had good intentions to maintain this blog. I've cooked a number of meals in this space of time and taken my customary step-by-step pictures of the best of them, but unfortunately I have not found the energy to translate even one of those meals into a blog post.

I realize that when I made the announcement of my return to full-time teaching, back at the beginning of November, I wrote:

"With these upcoming changes on the horizon, I still plan to update here with new recipes. This isn't a goodbye (after 3 years of documenting my cooking adventures, I wouldn't dream of abandoning "Krista's Kitchen") but realistically, my posts will be less frequent while I adjust to my new job and a typical work schedule."

When I typed the words "less frequent", I anticipated that I would post once a week, maybe every two weeks at the worst. I never imagined that I would find myself staring at the computer screen at 9 pm every single school night, with pictures of meals taken and downloaded, and nothing left in me to edit those pictures and type up even a brief description about my latest kitchen adventure. Granted, I could've/should've posted on the weekends- but I was too busy doing all of the stuff that I used to do during the week when my work-from-home schedule provided the luxury of flexibility.

I guess that it has taken me longer than expected to adjust to a typical 9-5 or rather a 7- 3:30 schedule (Which usually turns into 4:30 because I am adapting to a whole new kind of teaching.) Plus, this time I am doing it with 2 children, and one of them has homework now! (When I left my last teaching position, I only had one toddler.) I know- Excuses, excuses....

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for you working moms who "do it all", but that respect has certainly been elevated, now that I am living it.

All of that said, I love my job teaching "life skills" to incarcerated youth. It lends itself to a feeling that I am making a difference on a daily basis. Additionally, the "Type A" planner in me is being challenged (which is a good thing) because no two days are ever the same. I'm certainly never bored! Plus, the stories that I hear from my students truly inspire me to count my blessings. I am grateful for this life that I was delivered into, my parents who loved and supported me, and the family that I have built with my wonderful husband. Every Single. Day.

And now it is Spring Break for 2 WHOLE WEEKS! (My breaks are longer because I teach at a year-round school.) I decided to kick off this break by celebrating with a special breakfast.

I prepared these amazing pancakes on my first Spring Break Saturday morning. We usually head South for Spring Break to enjoy the beaches of Florida.  However, this year, with the rise in fuel prices and the sheer need to just "catch up" around home, we decided to stick a little closer to home.

This recipe is perfect for a lazy Saturday "staycation" because it possessed the ability to take me to another place. It is involved and indulgent, compared to other pancake recipes I have prepared. With warm tropical flavors of pineapple, brown sugar, cinnamon, and dark rum- I may as well have been breakfasting on a beach patio with the taste of saltwater in the air and tradewinds in my hair.

This recipe begins by melting butter in a skillet with a cinnamon stick. I was just out of cinnamon sticks- I used the last one in a Faux Pho recipe (which I never got around to posting here...). I used some Pampered Chef Sweet Cinnamon Sprinkle instead, with a little bit of extra powdered cinnamon stirred in. (By the way, I used this same Pampered Chef Cinnamon blend to make the most easy, amazing cinnamon rolls for my family on Sunday morning. The recipe was on the back of the container).

Once the butter begins to brown, add fresh, 1/2" thick, pineapple slices...

Cook until light, golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Then add in dark rum and brown sugar.

Cook over medium-high heat until the juices are thick and syrupy.

Note: This recipe did not make enough syrup for all of the pancakes when cooked until the juices were perfect "syrup" consistency. Next time I will double or even triple the amount of pineapple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum.

While the pineapple syrup simmered, I began making the pancake batter. While these pancakes were more dense than Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Pancakes, a personal favorite, they were incredibly rich and delicious, even without the "drunken" ring of pineapple and the decadent pineapple-rum sauce. This time, the dense texture was actually a welcome change.

My kiddos, who are not a fan of pineapple, still loved the pancakes. I just left out the fruit.

To make the pancakes, mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Note: Because I was out of granulated sugar (which never happens!) I used the cinnamon-sugar that we usually reserve for sprinkling on toast. It made the pancakes extra-cinnamony...which in my opinion was not a bad thing. :)

Add the liquid ingredients: buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Once the pancake batter was mixed, I returned my attention to the pineapple simmering in syrup on the stovetop. I removed the pineapple slices to a plate and poured the syrup into a serving pitcher.

To make the pancakes, heat a griddle or heavy skillet then brush with oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. For pancakes, I prefer to use oil. Pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle. Cook for 2 minutes. Once little bubbles form on top of the pancake, top it with a pineapple ring.

Then flip!

Cook the pancake for another two minutes, until golden brown. The recipe calls for the pancakes to be transferred to a 325 degree oven for another 5 minutes to cook through. However, I found that mine were completely cooked when I removed them from the griddle.

Top with syrup and allow yourself to be transported to a place of sheer breakfast bliss....

Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes as seen in Bon Appetit Magazine March 2012

Makes eight 4" pancakes
Recipe by Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2" rounds, cored
3/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.
Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.
Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

Tip: To make perfect rings of fresh pineapple, slice in 1/2"-thick circles, then round off the edges and punch out the core with 3 3/4"- and 1 1/4"-diameter cookie cutters, respectively.

Nutritional Information
4 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 375.0
%Calories from Fat 24.6
Fat (g) 10.2
Saturated Fat (g) 6.0
Cholesterol (mg) 71.6
Carbohydrates (g) 60.6
Dietary Fiber (g) 1.9
Total Sugars (g) 36.3
Net Carbs (g) 58.7
Protein (g) 7.1
Sodium (mg) 835.5

Wow, that felt good. It's nice to be posting again. Stay tuned for my next "staycation" post: Crab Cakes with a Spicy Remoulade Sauce.
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