nostalgic feast cooking class

April 27, 2022

my hometown of Sioux Falls is lucky to have Plum’s Cooking Company, a kitchen store stocked with the best cookware, dishes, knifes and foodstuffs, all beautifully displayed…they also have a well-equipped kitchen to host cooking classes that feature local chefs, and I am happy to be one of them!

my “nostalgic feast” class calls attention to some of the most popular recipes in my book, and the chianti tomato basil soup was definitely the most favored of all dishes I prepared during my restaurateur days…when I was writing the book, I asked everyone what recipes they would like to see and this was the most requested…my problem when making soup is that I always make too much, I even tried starting with a smaller pot and still end up transferring over to a bigger one, am sure many of you have the same ailment

so, the theme of this month’s class was what to do with all that left over soup…after we all enjoyed a bowl of the soup with truffle cheese croutons, the remainder was reduced down to a marinara to be used in Italian baked meatballs and for the dessert of tomato upside down cake

the recipe for the soup in on pg.71 and meatballs are on page 177

chianti tomato basil soup w/ truffle cheese croutons
italian baked meatballs

since the cake is a new creation, I will share the recipe with you…this was inspired by a craving of pineapple upside down cake coinciding with the need to incorporate tomato into a dessert

during the depression era, home cooks could not afford chocolate and exotic spices but had plenty of tomatoes available, so in an attempt to bring color and flavor to their baking, they added this naturally sweet ingredient…perhaps you remember your moms adding canned tomato soup concentrate to their cakes?! my thought was to use their idea but adding marinara instead and caramelize cherry tomatoes, this is what resulted…

tomato upside-down cake

1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, sliced in half * 3/4 cup tomato sauce * 3 tablespoons. unsalted butter * 1/3 cup brown sugar * 2 cups flour * 1 teaspoon baking soda * 1/2 teaspoon sea salt * 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon * 1 teaspoon nutmeg * 1/2 teaspoon cloves * 1 cup vegetable oil * 1 cup sugar * 1/4 cup molasses * 2 eggs * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract * whipped cream & basil crystals for garnish

heat oven to 350 degrees F.

butter the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round springform cake pan, and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, buttering the top of it

lay tomato halves cut side down in bottom of pan

melt the butter, add brown sugar, stir, then spread over top of tomatoes

mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a bowl and stir with a whisk several times

mix the tomato sauce, oil, sugar, molasses, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl until smooth

add the flour mixture to the tomato mixture a little at a time, folding and scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed

pour batter over the sliced cherry tomatoes

place pan on a baking sheet in case the springform pan leaks, bake for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick test comes out clean from the center

let cool 5 minutes in pan, turn over upside down on plate, then remove springform ring and base

crumble a little extra brown sugar on top while still warm, serve with whipped cream sprinkled with basil crystals