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I buy canned pineapple rings about once a year, just in case my Dad wants a pineapple upside down cake. (Some years he wants a chocolate mayonnaise cake, and I keep dried dates on hand for that, but that's another story.) My Dad's birthday comes just a few weeks before Father's Day, so that leaves all of us ten siblings scrambling for not just a birthday but also a Dad's day gift. It's tough to know what to get for the guy that has it all, especially considering that he is a superlative gift giver. I've given up getting wrappable gifts for the most part-unless I catch him openly admiring something and I can quickly buy it before he can. Instead, I bake him gifts from my kitchen. This year it was pineapple upside down cake. He loves my pineapple upside down cake, because I make it just like his mother did. You can't get fancy and modern with fresh pineapple. No, it has to be canned pineapple rings studded with seven maraschino cherries. The cake itself is tender and slightly sweet, making a perfect foil for the sugary brown syrup and bright pineapple juice. Bake it in a cast iron skillet for the best results. When you are all done enjoying your pineapple upside down cake, you will be left with a few extra pineapple rings, plus some juice. They make a splendid sauce and topping for chicken, especially again in your cast iron skillet that can travel so seamlessly from stovetop to oven. (If you don't own a cast iron skillet, buy one. But if you can't do that, wrap the handle of your skillet with tinfoil, and it'll fare well.) The chicken is tender and sweet, but the pineapple is the true star of this dish. It takes on savory notes from the soy sauce and chicken, but the pineapple's sweetness is intensified by the brown sugar and the high heat. It's given me a new reason to buy pineapple rings, and not just for my Dad's cake. But I'll keep buying if for that, too. Happy Father's Day, Pop.
Dad's Pineapple Upside Down Cake
from Joy of Cooking
Estimated Cost: $5.00
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple rings
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain 7 slices of pineapple (reserve juice and remaining slices for recipe below). Heat a nine inch oven proof skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Place one pineapple ring, in the center, and surround it with remaining pineapple rings, each with a cherry in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, soda, and salt. Add softened butter and buttermilk and beat until smooth. The batter will be stiff. Add the egg mixture and beat until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, atop the pineapple rings. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and tilt the pan in all directions to loosen the cake. Let cool for 2-3 minutes and unmold. I like to place a large plate on top of the skillet and flip it over. Voila!
Pineapple Glazed Teriyaki Chicken
Estimated Cost: $7.00
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices red onion
4 slices green bell pepper
4 canned pineapple rings
juice from 20 ounce can of pineapple rings
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and let warm. Add chicken and brown, about three minutes per side. Cover each piece of chicken with a slice of onion, green bell pepper, and a pineapple ring. Combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Pour over chicken. Place chicken in oven and bake for twenty minutes, basting with sauce frequently. If sauce reduces too quickly, you can add chicken broth or water. (I don't season with any salt, since the soy sauce is already salty.) Serve with rice.
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread