I had a pretty busy time in the kitchen yesterday. We were going to an Oscar party, and I had promised to bring desserts. Upon finding out that I had said we would attend, G's comment was a simple and succinct "please kill me now." He's not big on socializing in general, and if the truth be known, he loathes the Oscars -- this in spite of (or perhaps because of) being rather a film aficionado (he'd hate it that I called him that. But I can't think how else to describe it. Film buff? No, that sounds even worse. Please don't tell him I called him any of these things). Back to the subject at hand: cuisine. I woke up early and began baking.
First I made the gorgeous Trianon Cake that Bakerina posted a while ago. I've been craving the very idea of it, and promised myself that it was next on my "to-bake" list. Yes, you're right. Your eyes don't deceive you. There are two cakes in that picture. Okay, okay, I made two, figuring I'd take some to the party and then we could still have some at home for our mean selfish selves. Always a good plan when baking.
Then I moved on to Pineapple Upside-Down Cake by request of my hostess, Marcela, who refers to Upside-Down Cake as "Bend-Over Cake". It's a translation thing, I think. But it's a name that could catch on. I used fresh pineapple and dark Muscovado sugar for the topping; otherwise it was pretty standard stuff. Emily over at Baking Beast posted a good recipe. I thought maybe the fresh pineapple made the whole thing a bit damper than I would have liked, but it seems to have been a great success, judging by the howls of joy which accompanied its consumption.
As I was doing all this baking, it occurred to me that in addition to ensuring everyone else's sugar coma for Oscar night, I might also make some non-dessert food for us to have in the house during the coming week. Especially since we're expecting a house guest. So I made what I always make when I need a fall-back -- a soup. I can once again sing my song about the virtues of soup, but I'll give it a rest and just say that it's a great thing to make when you don't know if and when you'll be home for dinner. That's because if you are home, then you've got a no-brainer meal with some good bread and cheese, maybe a salad. And if you're not going to be home, you can stick it in the freezer in assorted size handy-dandy containers.
This is a soup I haven't made in quite a while, but I recalled loving it and so decided to give it a re-visit: Yellow Pepper and White Bean Soup with Sage. It's a beautiful yet simple soup based on the classic Tuscan flavors for white beans -- garlic and sage. The recipe is from Sally Schneider's delightful book The Art of Low-Calorie Cooking. This was the first cookbook I ever bought that had literally mouth-watering photos. That in itself was a revelation -- and then there was the fact that I wanted to try almost everything in the book -- not my usual reaction to anything billed "low calorie".
Finally, I made a pecan pie -- also for the Oscar party, also by request. The wonderful thing about a pecan pie is that most people adore it, and can't believe that you actually made it. And no matter how many times you explain that it takes about five minutes to assemble if you use a nice, high-quality pre-made crust, they still behave as if it's an act of genius. And you are not merely the genius that committed the act of piemaking, but also incredibly kind and altruistic to have brought them said pie. So I just go with it. Unfortunately, this time I heard the timer go off, told myself I'd go check the pie in a minute, got distracted and forgot about it. Luckily it didn't burn, but it turned very dark brown and very, well, crisp on top. No matter. Despite my apologies, I heard no complaints.
So we went off to the party, shopping bags in hand. We had delicious Argentine food prepared by Marcela and her family members. And the awards turned out fine. The dinner awards, anyway. The desserts were voted in by popular acclaim, if not by the Academy. But the real contender was Marcela's Aunt Graciela. As far as I'm concerned, she was definitely the winner in the category of Best Empanadas in a Starring Role.