Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter's On It's Way: escalloped pineapple

Back from a lovely vacation to gorgeous and very atypical Spring weather in Indy.  Warm sunny skies and 75 degrees.  We would kill for this weather for graduations, the 500 or even Father's Day in mid-June.  Crazy.  The lovely weather has kept me from sitting down to write, but I can't let a day off come to a close without cooking and posting.

Since Kelly's birthday is the week after Easter this year, I will host Easter dinner and have Kelly's family birthday all in one day.  (Sara will be at Duke celebrating Easter with her BFF Annie who will also be without family, so I know she will not "like" this post on facebook.  That and she doesn't eat cooked fruit with the notable exception of my homemade applesauce.  Love you, Sara).  There will be ham (you don't like that either, little one but I know that's not the point), asparagus, strawberry-spinach salad, mac and cheese and escalloped pineapple all for tradition's sake.

Will there be the famous lamb cake?  Hmmmm..... maybe not.  Will have to ask the birthday girl.    Creme brulee cheesecake?  That one's so good my recipe was in The Indianapolis Star last week.  I had the most amazing orange cake with lemon filling and coconut icing at my favorite restaurant on St. John, Shipwreck Landing.  If I don't try to replicate that on Easter it will happen soon.  You know I love cake (if you don't know this, read my older posts and catch up).  You also probably have shared my experience with cakes in restaurants:  they look and sound fabulous and end up being a big disappointment almost always.  Not this one.  And it wasn't just a long day snorkeling and soaking up sun accompanied by lots of fluffy drinks, it was a da** good cake.  Moist orange layers, lemon curd filling and coconut buttercream icing with toasted coconut.  Alas, there are no pictures.  That you might blame on the pinot grigio that night.

But I digress, I started out intending to give you a recipe for the scalloped pineapple so you can add it to your recipes for your own Easter dinner or anytime you have ham.  This recipe is an adaptation of one from a vintage spiral bound cookbook from the good ladies of the United Methodist Women from the Carmel UMC.  A treasure trove of goodness.  I've cut the butter in half and reduced the sugar by over 25%.  You just don't need it.  It's almost a pineapple bread pudding.  I'm sure you could class it up and use fresh pineapple instead of canned or brioche instead of white bread or add a little toasted coconut.  But if you're going almost old school, and Easter dinner is pretty terrific the old-school way, here's a dish that fits right in.  Ham without escalloped pineapple is like turkey without cranberries to me.  Don't even bother unless both things are on your fork at the same time.

*cook's note:  so I made this using a whole fresh pineapple peeled, cored and cut into chunks and 3/4 C skim milk since I did not really have juices from the pineapple.  Kelly was in charge of combining all the ingredients and we let it sit and kept tossing it all for about 20 minutes which made the bread super smushy and not really cubed at all.  We actually added about another cup of bread as we went along.  It was amazing.  More like a pineapple bread pudding for Easter.  Especially good since whole pineapples were on sale everywhere this week.  I bought three.  One for this recipe, one we grilled (peel, cut in rings and use an apple corer or knife to cut out the cores, brush lightly with vegetable oil and grill over low maybe 5 minutes per side) and we still have one just to eat fresh.

bubbling escalloped pineapple

Escalloped Pineapple

2  20-ounce cans pineapple chunks in natural juices, drained reserving juice
4 C cubed/torn fresh white bread (I actually used whole grain white from Pepperidge Farm)
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 C white sugar
1/4 C milk
1/2 C reserved pineapple juice
3 eggs
2-3 T coarse or demerara sugar

Spray a 2 to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain pineapple and reserve the juice.  Pour pineapple chunks into dish.  Top with bread cubes.  In medium bowl whisk together melted butter, white sugar, milk, pineapple juice and eggs.  Pour over pineapple and bread and toss together until well combined.  Sprinkle top with coarse or demerara sugar and bake until golden, about 40 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

ingredients

draining pineapple
I so need to wear my reading glasses to see my camera screen,
sorry about the blurriness

torn bread, we don't mind crusts

eggs, sugar, butter and milk and pineapple juice

all mixed up

sugar sprinkled on top

ta-da!  

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