Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Mardi Gras snuck up on me this year. It was only one day in advance that I realized it was here. We don’t normally celebrate it any special way, but in this Covid-confined year anything different is welcome. So I draped myself in strings of Carnival beads and changed my dinner plan for the evening.

A shrimp adaptation of a crawfish étouffée recipe in The New Orleans Cookbook by Richard and Rima Collin seemed like just the thing. It was less complicated than other versions of the dish that I’ve seen, and all I’d have to buy for it was one green Bell pepper and some scallions. It turned out to be a very good choice.
.

I did the preliminary cooking in the late afternoon. Here are all the prepped ingredients for a two-person portion.
.

.
To the right of the shrimp are butter and flour. To the left, chopped onion, celery, pepper, and garlic. In the back, salt, lemon juice, cayenne, parsley, black pepper, and thinly sliced scallion greens.

The first step, in classic New Orleans style, was to make a light brown roux with the butter and flour.
.

.
The chopped vegetables then went into the pot, to cook over low heat, stirring often, until softened. The recipe said that would take about 20 minutes, but my smaller quantities were ready in 10. Things were beginning to smell good already.
.

.
Next, I stirred in the shrimp, all the condiments, and half a cup of water, which was absorbed immediately.
.

.
The recipe wanted this cooked for 12 minutes. Now, I don’t know anything about crawfish, but I do know that my shrimp would’ve turned into vulcanized rubber if cooked that long. I gave them 5 minutes, still stirring, then turned off the heat, covered the pot, and left it on the back of the stove.

At dinner time, I reheated the shrimp mixture and very slowly added about a cup of hot water, stirring constantly to prevent the developing sauce from lumping. It smoothed out nicely and was ready to eat.
.

.
As soon as the rice to accompany my étouffée was also done, I put everything on a serving platter and added a frivolous decoration of Carnival beads. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
.

.
This was a delightful dish. The shrimp were plump and tender, cooked just right. The fragrant sauce was spicy and sweet, creamy and zingy, vegetal and seafoody, in a way that simply sang of Mardi Gras and New Orleans. In a grungy February in pandemic-restricted New York, these flavors were like a breath of life.

Though potato is the one food named in the title above, it refers only to the casing for a rich baked assortment of meats, mushrooms, herbs, and spices. In Italy’s Piedmont region, La Finanziera is an extravaganza of a stew, involving delicacies such as cockscombs, sweetbreads, and truffles. Applying the approach to more everyday ingredients still makes an excellent dinner dish.

This was the special dish I chose to match with the second of the 12 special wines Tom picked out from his collection to drink, one a month, this year. February’s wine was a 2001 Gaja Costa Russi – also from the Piedmont. I found the recipe on Italian Home Cooking, a blog by Stefano Arturi that I follow. Stefano is a London-based former restaurateur, cookbook author, and cooking teacher. His version of the timbale is an adaptation of one in Il Talismano della Felicità, the great seminal cookbook by Ada Boni. And mine is a slight adaptation of Stefano’s.

I want to show you what the finished dish should look like. (Regular readers may suspect why.) Here’s Stefano’s timballo di patate alla finanziera. The free-standing drum is made of mashed potatoes, with a crust of browned, buttery breadcrumbs. Quite a culinary feat!
.

 

I was making my usual half amount of the recipe, which would still be too much for just two of us, but it wouldn’t have been feasible in a smaller quantity.

I started by preparing the potato. I boiled a big russet potato, mashed it, and mixed in beaten egg, grated parmigiano, ground nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
.

.
My faithful knife man cut up the meats for me. I used luganega sausage, chicken gizzards already prepared in confit, and a small amount of veal sweetbread – not exactly what the recipe calls for, but all things I had on hand.
.

.
In a sauté pan I softened minced onions in butter and olive oil, with bay leaf, sage leaf, ground cloves, cinnamon, crushed juniper berries, grated nutmeg, and black pepper. I added each of the meats in turn, cooking them gently, and ended by deglazing the pan with white wine.
.

.
Earlier, I had soaked, softened, and cut up dried porcini mushrooms and also sliced a few fresh cremini mushrooms. Separately, I sautéed those, also in butter and olive oil, and stirred in the porcini soaking liquid and a little tomato paste.
.

.
When I’d mixed the mushrooms and their juices into the meats, the timbale filling was ready and could be set aside. Now came the tricky part!

A bit intimidated by the prospect of using the recommended tall metal charlotte mold, I chose a broader, shallower Corning ware casserole dish. I slathered the interior heavily with softened butter and coated it with fine, dry, homemade breadcrumbs. On top of that I gingerly poured in some beaten egg, tilted the dish around until the egg covered all the crumbs, and followed with another coat of crumbs.
.

.
Per the recipe directions, I put the mold into the freezer for a while, to make it easier for the potato lining to cling. Which it did, surprisingly easily: With wet fingers, it was just like applying modeling clay.
.

.
In went the filling, with butter dotted on the top. Then a covering of the rest of the potato casing and yet more butter..

.
I put the dish in a 350° oven with a sigh of relief. But I was not out of the woods yet. It was supposed to be done in 45 to 60 minutes, when the top was firm and golden. It firmed in about an hour, but it absolutely wouldn’t go golden. I gave it several extra minutes, then took it out anyway and let it rest for the indicated 10 minutes before unmolding.

Disaster! Even after loosening the sides, when I topped the dish with a serving plate and reversed the two, the timbale wouldn’t come out. With repeated shaking, the filling and some of its crust let go and spilled out. The original bottom layer of the crust was stuck to the dish and had to be pried out in chunks, to be laid over the filling.

I refuse to show you what the whole mess looked like. Instead, here’s one of the portions I rescued to put on our dinner plates.
.

.
Despite its total collapse, the timbale was delicious. The meats and mushrooms had retained their individual characteristics, enhanced each other, and picked up more flavor from the gentle medley of spices, herbs, wine, and tomato. The potatoes – even the obviously overcooked layer from the bottom of the dish – had also taken on some of the shared flavors and were delicious too. And it all went perfectly with Tom’s special wine.

*

I’d like to add that this dinner was special for us in two further ways. That day, we were celebrating Tom’s birthday, and also, we’d gotten our first Covid vaccine shots. Happiness and relief!

I do wonder why my timbale fell apart, though. Dish the wrong shape or made of the wrong material? Not enough butter or crumbs lining it? Potato layer too thin? Too long in the oven? Or just bad culinary luck?  Stefano, if you’re reading this, I’d be grateful for any thoughts you might have about that!

 

It’s always useful to have a few packages of raw shrimp in the freezer. They can lend themselves to any number of quick, easy preparations for a lunch or for a dinner appetizer, as well as combine with other kinds of seafood for more elaborate dishes. I’ve recently added two new shrimp recipes to my repertoire.

.

Shrimp in Dill Butter

This recipe from the Grand Central Oyster Bar’s cookbook is so simple it’s almost more of an idea than a recipe: you just sauté shrimp quickly in butter that you’ve flavored with salt, pepper, and dillweed. Never having used dill in combination with shrimp, I thought it would be interesting to try. Preparing two small appetizer portions was the essence of simplicity.
.

..
The result was pleasant enough, as long as you like the taste of dill. Which I do, but the dill and the shrimp didn’t combine to offer the palate anything beyond their individual flavors. It would have been equally pleasant to eat the shrimp simply sauteed in butter. I’d like to try it with a different herb or spice – tarragon, maybe, or toasted cumin.

..
.

Spanish Shrimp Fritters

Penelope Casas’s tortillitas de camarones, from her book The Foods and Wines of Spain, are far more than just pleasant – these little fritters are great! Apparently they’re a very popular tapa in Cadiz, but they were new to me. There isn’t a lot in them, other than the shrimp themselves. But all the flavors combine and complement each other.

The first of these are finely chopped onion and parsley, which are cooked gently in olive oil in a covered pan until the onion is tender. Then they get a dash of pimentón, the intriguing Spanish smoked paprika.
.

.
While the vegetables cook, you mix up a typical fritter batter of flour, baking powder, salt, and water. The raw shrimps then need to be finely chopped, which is a fairly sticky operation. I let my mini food processor do that for me, being careful to process only briefly, to achieve a good mince but not a paste.
.

.
When the shrimp and vegetables are stirred into the batter it’s ready to be turned into fritters, though it can wait several hours if necessary. When ready to cook, put ¼ inch of oil in a sauté pan, get it very hot, and drop in heaping tablespoonsful of batter. When you turn them, flatten them into little pancakes if necessary. As soon as both sides are nicely golden, drain them on paper towels.
.

.
Then eat them right away! They’ll be crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, beautifully shrimp-flavored, and just lightly piquant. Lovely with a glass of white wine. Or two.
.

Each month of 2021 will bring me an appealing culinary project: make a dinner dish to complement one of 12 special wines Tom chose from his collection late last year. January’s wine was a 2011 Italian red called Sabbie di Sopra Il Bosco, from Campania. For this match we picked a recipe from our book La Tavola Italiana: a rolled pan roast of veal.
.

.
The meat is breast of veal, which is a tasty, versatile, inexpensive (for veal) cut. The filling is fairly simple, the cooking is easy, and the result is – if I say so myself – delicious.

This evening’s roll was made up from two small ends I’d trimmed off a large breast piece and saved in the freezer for a small meal for two. They’re pretty unsightly, but just ignore that. The streaks of fat and gelatinous tissue melt away in the cooking and help keep the meat moist.
.

.
Together, the pieces weighed only half a pound, skimpy for two but soon to be bolstered by their rich filling. The larger piece was about 7 x 10 inches, not really enough for a decent-sized roll, so I had to somehow incorporate the smaller one too.

First, I salted and peppered the meat and laid two slices of prosciutto on the larger piece.

.
Next, having previously soaked, softened, rinsed, and chopped ½ ounce of dried porcini mushrooms, I spread them over the meat and sprinkled on a mince of parsley, sage, rosemary, and garlic.
.

.
Finally, I plopped the smaller piece of veal onto the larger one, and starting from a short side, rolled them into a cylinder and tied it with string.
.

.
Tying meat is a trial for me, because I never could learn how to tie a butcher’s knot one-handed, so my knots always loosened before I could snug them up. Now I use a sort of “shoelace” double knot, which works, but it’s still a struggle. I was surprised that my little roll came out so neat and even.

In a heavy casserole I browned the roll in butter and oil . . .
.

.
. . . poured on white wine and let it evaporate, added just a little broth, and cooked it gently, covered, for 1½ hours, checking and turning it from time to time. The meat was perfectly tender, and the little roll held together neatly for slicing into rounds.
.

.
The pan juices made a nice small gravy for moistening both meat and egg noodles on our dinner plates, while the varied flavors of veal, ham, mushrooms, and herbs made for an intriguing interplay with each other. They also strengthened the delicacy of the veal so it matched beautifully with the rich red wine this meal was designed to accompany.
.

.
For more about the wine, see Tom’s post about it on his blog.

Mies van der Rohe notwithstanding, less is not always more. Sometimes, less is definitely less.

That, alas, was the case when I embarked on my first new chicken recipe of 2021. As my regular readers know, chicken is one of my all-time favorite things to eat, and I never tire of looking for new ways to serve it. Poulet Sauté d’Yvetot, Chicken Sauté Normandy-style, looked simple and unusual when I read the recipe in the Poultry volume of the Time-Life Good Cook series. Other than chicken, salt, and pepper, the only ingredients were classic Normandy flavors: apples, butter, and Calvados.

I’d never cooked chicken with apples, but the combination seemed worth a try. So, on my next trip to a reliably good grocery store, I picked up a pair of big chicken legs – not organic, not free-range, not brand-named; just what was available that day. The first cooking stage was to brown them in butter in a sauté pan.

.
The chicken sautéed for about 20 minutes, until half cooked. While that was happening, I peeled, cored, and chopped an apple – the kind of chopping job for which it’s fun to use my mezzaluna.
.

.
When the chicken legs’ time was up, I salted and peppered them, set them in a baking dish in which I had spread the chopped apples, and deglazed the sauté pan with Calvados.
.

.
I poured all the pan juices over the legs, covered the baking dish, and put it into a 350° oven for 30 minutes, until the the chicken tested done. Discouragingly, it had looked better on its way into the oven (left, below) than when it came out (right). Gone was the taut, crisp skin and warm brown color of the sautéing. The legs were pale, limp, grayish, and soggy looking.
.

.
Well, whatever else that chicken was, it was dinner for that evening. I made sure to load the plates with lots of vegetables, just in case. And the vegetables were needed. The chicken had turned out bland and boring. Lacking much flavor of its own, it hadn’t taken on any from the apple, either. The apple, tasty enough in itself, hadn’t even seemed to notice that it had shared an oven with chicken.
.

.
What went wrong here? Two things, I think. First, the chicken legs must have been from a battery fowl, to have flesh so tasteless. Their anonymity and low price should have warned me away, and I should have held off until I could find chicken with a provenance. Second, I think the recipe was misguided: It was more of a braise than a sauté, which made the chicken skin unpleasant; and while the richness of duck would have made a good match with the sweet acidity of apples alone, I now suspect that even good chicken would have needed more supporting flavors.

Oh well, you can’t win them all. Little after-dinner glasses of Calvados helped reconcile us.

 

With the annual overeating season finally behind us, I’ve been longing for the gastronomic relief of some fresh, lighter fare. Not too easy at this time of year, but possible. For example, here’s a pleasant little winter salad of celery, dates, and almonds that I make from time to time as a family dinner appetizer – and occasionally even for guests.
.

.
The three main ingredients have a surprising affinity for each other. There are many recipes for salads of them online, with variations in ingredient proportions and dressings. I don’t remember where mine – a years-old typewritten slip pasted in my big recipe binder – originated, but I haven’t seen this exact version anywhere else. Here are the ingredients for two servings.
.

.
Starting with an ounce of almonds in their skins, I blanch them. That is, drop them into boiling water for 20 seconds, drain them, and squeeze off the skins.
.

.
Then I put them in a little skillet with salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil, and toast them.

.
Next comes the knife work, usually performed by my obliging husband. A cup of thinly sliced celery, the almonds coarsely chopped, and the two Medjool dates slivered. The last is the most exasperating task of the lot because of the stickiness of the dates, but he always perseveres, cursing steadily under his breath.
.

.
I toss those ingredients together in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of lemon juice, and a few drops of wine vinegar . . .
.

.
. . . then distribute the mixture onto plates and shower on shavings of pecorino romano. (All the other recipes I’ve seen call for parmigiano, but we like the sharper sheep cheese here.)
.

.
The result is quite delightful: moist, light, zesty, vegetal, nutty, cheesy, sweet, and crunchy. What more could one ask?

.
With this warm, comforting winter dish, I’m beginning my 12th year of writing this blog. In 2020, I focused on trying new recipes from cookbooks I own, doing posts about 40 American, French, German, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Thai, and Ukrainian dishes. This year I’ll be featuring some old favorites, plus recipes shared by friends, found online, or clipped from print sources.

Tripe braised with potatoes and white beans – trippa alla milanese – is a recipe from my own book, The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen. I can reassure the faint-hearted that the dish is not strongly “tripey,” but it does take quite a lot of work. Still, the steps are all easy and can be spread over an entire day or even two.

A good way to start is with the dried beans. They can be given either a two-minute boil plus a two-hour soak or an overnight soak in cold water. Here are 1¼ cups of marrow beans, plumped up after their overnight bath.
.

.
And here they are starting a 45-minute preliminary cooking with seasoning vegetables: carrot, onion, and leek greens. (It was an error here to ignore my own recipe and chop those veg instead of slicing them; you’ll see why below.)
.

.
Next, the tripe. I have to say this batch of tripe was pretty sloppy-looking.  I had to buy the 2½ pounds from a local store rather than my usual butcher, and it was not as well cleaned and trimmed as we’re accustomed to.
.

.
This also had a preliminary cooking: a 1½-hour boil, with salt and a chunk of onion stuck with two cloves. When it had cooled and was quite tender, Tom cut it into smaller pieces for me. Up to this point, both beans and tripe could be done a whole day in advance and refrigerated until needed.

The final cooking required more work for my knife man. Here are chopped pancetta, leek, carrot, and onion, plus several sage leaves.
.

.
In a large pot, I sauteed the pancetta in a little butter to render its fat; added the new vegetables and sauteed them briefly; and stirred in the tripe.
.

.
Now the beans were to go into the pot, along with a cup of pureed canned Italian tomatoes, three cups of hot water, and salt. But wait! First, I had to pick over the beans to remove all the clinging bits of their initial boiling vegetables – which would have been a lot easier to do if those had been sliced rather than chopped. Drat it! I still can’t always be trusted to pay close attention to a recipe, even when it’s my own.
.

.
Finally, I peeled and chunked four potatoes – large German butterballs, an excellent heirloom variety – added them to the pot, cooked gently until the potatoes were tender, and the dish was finally ready to serve.
.

.
As the opening image shows, diners should sprinkle grated parmigiano over their servings, as well as freshly ground black pepper – the last flavor touches to one of winter’s most pleasing down-home dishes. Believe me, it’s delicious. You ought to give it a try.

Santa Claus did all right on the cookie front at our house this year. Tom, serving as Santa’s personal representative, negotiated successfully for three batches of traditional favorites, while I stipulated for the addition of one new-to-me kind.

 

The new one I made is Spritzgebäck, a hazelnut cookie, from a recipe in the Cooking of Germany volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series. We love hazelnuts, and I found excellent imported Piedmontese nuts in a local specialty store. Making the dough was easy: butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, and ground hazelnuts. But shaping the cookies was awful.

The dough was to go into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and be pressed out into crescents. My dough was so thick it utterly refused to emerge. Substitutions of three increasingly large-hole tips were to no avail. I had to settle for squeezing it out, messily, from the bag alone. The best shapes I could achieve that way were clumsy semicircles.

They tasted good, though: crunchy, sweet, and nutty. Still, I don’t think this recipe will enter my holiday cookie repertoire. Happily, the traditional cookies I made later were much better behaved.

 

Peanut butter cookies have been part of my Christmases for as long as I can remember. I used to make them exactly as my mother did, but over the years I’ve experimented with various recipes. You can’t really go far wrong with a peanut butter cookie.

The recipe I like most, one I clipped from Saveur magazine many years ago, calls for chunky peanut butter. In all other respects we’re a smooth peanut-butter household, so usually I buy a jar of the chunky just for Christmas. This year I used the smooth I had in the pantry, and chopped some of those excellent hazelnuts into the dough. As always, the cookies came out fine: happy throwbacks to the Christmases of my youth.

 

For this year’s batch of Toll House cookies, I even considered putting in more of those hazelnuts. (I’d bought a lot of them!) But there were chopped walnuts in my freezer that needed to be used, so I decided to stick with them, as usual.

For these cookies I always use the recipe on the Toll House morsels bag, but I noticed that the morsels themselves weren’t quite the same this year. They’re called “dark” now, not “semisweet,” and they’re bigger. The recipe still doesn’t specify light or dark brown sugar, so I tried light brown for a change.

They were good cookies too, though a little different from my standard. More crumbly and less chewy – possibly from the lighter brown sugar? The morsels seemed more intensely chocolaty, which tended to mask the walnuts’ flavor. Next year back to the drawing board, to recover the old style.

 

My third Christmas cookie classic was Ruggelach. Though I make these tiny cream-cheese pastries almost every year, from a recipe of my mother’s, I often vary the filling ingredients. This year I decided to try dates and – guess what! – hazelnuts. They were delicious, as always. Beautifully nutty, with rich little centers of fruit sweetness from the dates.

 

I’d started my cookie making fairly early in the month this year, so it required a certain amount of self-control every day, as we passed them sitting in their decorative tins, to be sure there’d be some left for Santa. Happily, there were.

 

 

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes for chicken that I can make to tempt the taste buds of my non-chicken-loving spouse. My latest discovery is a dish that I didn’t quite get right but that offers interesting possibilities for future adaptations: an empanada gallega.

I’ve known empanadas as small, savory turnovers. This one, a specialty of Spain’s Galicia region, is a full-sized pie, filled with a mixture of chicken, peppers, onions, and ham, and baked in a bread crust. Here’s its picture in the Cooking of Spain and Portugal volume of the Time-Life Foods of the World series.

.

The recipe starts by having you make the bread dough and let it rise fully, before it says anything about preparing the filling. There I almost shot myself in the foot right away, not noticing that there had to be two rises, not one. Happily, I reread the instructions just in time to get started early enough.

As the dough rose, I began working on the filling. For a small half recipe, I put two chicken thighs and several chunks of onion in a pot and poached them in water for 25 minutes.
.

.
As soon as the thighs were cool enough to handle, I skinned, boned, and cut them up. Since my chicken didn’t lend itself to neat ½-inch cubes, as requested, I settled for bite-size chunks.
.

.
Next I had to finely chop about three tablespoons each of onions and prosciutto (an approved substitute for Serrano ham) and a tiny clove of garlic. And to cut the flesh of half a red Bell pepper into ¼-inch squares. The shape of my pepper wasn’t conducive to squareness, either, and I decided somewhat larger pieces would be fine. Every cook is entitled to a little self-expression.
.

.
I sauteed the peppers, onions, and garlic in olive oil for 10 minutes. They started smelling good immediately. I added the ham and ⅓ cup of simple tomato sauce; raised the heat and cooked off most of the moisture; stirred in the chicken pieces, salt, and pepper; and turned off the heat. It all looked good enough to eat, right out of the pan. I resisted; and set the pan aside.
.

.
Returning to the risen bread dough, I deflated it, divided it in two equal pieces, and rolled them out in circles on a floured board. Well, I say “rolled,” but mostly I treated them like pieces of pizza dough, stretching them by hand. The dough was reasonably cooperative.
.

.
I then did something really foolish, which could have been disastrous. I spread the filling on one piece of the dough, laid on and sealed the other piece, and left the pie to rise for a final 20 minutes on the rolling board, not the baking pan.
.

.
I was appalled when I realized what I’d done. How was I going to get that soft, heavy, moisture-filled mound moved onto the baking pan?! I had panicked visions of dinner consisting of a smeary loaf of chicken bread.

It took two of us to do it. With four hands, two large flat spatulas, and a rimless cookie sheet, plus delicate nudging to restore the empanada’s shape once safely on its pan. With a whoof! of relief, I brushed the surface with egg wash.
.

.
In 45 minutes of baking at 375°, my empanada browned nicely and rose into a substantial dome. That surprised me, because I couldn’t imagine the filling would have swelled to raise the crust like that.
.

.
Nor had it. When I cut into the empanada, there was a big air space inside, which somehow had stretched the top crust to eggshell thinness. There was nothing like that in the cookbook’s photo, though a closer look at it suggested the presence of a steam hole at the center – which was not called for in the recipe. That might well have made the difference.
.

.
Despite its peculiar appearance, my empanada was very pleasant to eat. We just crunched our way through the brittle top crust and enjoyed its contrast with the softer crust on the bottom and around the rim.
.

.
And that chicken filling was amazingly good. Even Tom said so. Simple as its condiments were, it had somehow achieved an Iberian flavor, even without Serrano ham. I can easily see myself making chicken this way again, to use as a pot pie filling with a pastry crust, or an oven casserole with a biscuit topping. Even just by itself, with rice or noodles alongside. I can hardly wait!

Basque Cornmeal Cake

I’m getting fond of making simple, lightly sweet cakes that can serve both as a dinner dessert (e.g., with fruit and/or whipped cream) and for breakfast the next morning (toasted and buttered or just plain). I found an interesting one this week in Bernard Clayton’s book The Breads of France. His Gâteau au Maïs is a curious little country cake, something like a cross between cornbread and pound cake, that’s baked in a charlotte tin.
.

.
Clayton always has interesting things to say about his recipes. Here, he tells us that corn entered Basque cooking with Christopher Columbus, who brought back corn to the Old World as a curiosity. His Basque crew took the foreign grain home to their families, and it became an important part of the local culture.

To make my cake, I brought three eggs to room temperature and melted a stick of butter and let it cool. In a large bowl I mixed ½ cup of cornmeal with ½ cup of sugar and a dash of salt. I separated the eggs and added the yolks to the bowl.
.

.
Very gradually, I drizzled the melted butter into the bowl and whisked everything together.
.

.
I stirred in another ½ cup of cornmeal, making a thick paste, then beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and folded them into the corn mixture.
.

.
The recipe said this would make a thin batter. Not mine: it remained very thick. But it looked good. I buttered my smallest charlotte mold and scraped the cheerful daffodil-yellow mixture into it.
.

.
When the cake had had 30 minutes in a 375° oven, I checked it, as directed, and it was rising and browning, as it should. (The recipe didn’t say what to do if it wasn’t!)
.

.
Another 15 minutes and the cake was done and ready to be unmolded onto a rack. Actually, it needed some persuasion to loosen from the pan, but it conceded in the end. I left it to cool on the rack, as you saw in the first photo above.

Clayton’s headnote says the cake is excellent with fresh fruit, and he especially recommends pineapple. So that’s how we had our first slices of it.
.

.
The cake was indeed very good, all by itself. It had a nice light corn sweetness and a pleasant graininess: both flavor and textural interest. It was also quite nice with the pineapple, though that’s not one of our favorite dessert combinations. Next time I make it, I’ll choose something softer, like a compote of peaches or plums, or a strawberry sauce.

And how was it for breakfast? Just fine. Lightly toasted, it bonded with butter in a shameless love affair.