Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dinner with Sam the Critic - 2 out of 5 Aint Bad


I am not sure where to start. My head is still a bit foggy and putting words together to describe the evening is difficult. As usual Dr. Food and I decided to cook. We decided on a few "easy" recipes and a carefree evening with friends. Sam the Critic (STC) was to come along with mom and dad. Ok, I could win Sam over. Easy.

The evening started fine. Sam the Critic had a new potato gun and it was easy to thrill him with an old potato that I dragged out of my refrig. We were off to a good start. The menu for the evening was Pumpkin Soup with blue cheese, Pork Tiella with Wild Mushrooms and Potatoes, and a spinach and artichoke dish. All of these came from Paula Wolfert's "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking". Well, what was *I* thinking? Poor Sam is just a KID. Strong tasting blue cheese and very flavorful mushrooms is a bit out of kids taste.


He had reached his tolerance level. Had it been THAT long since my own kids were "Annie the Critic" and "Evan the Critic"? I guess so. Luckily mom had a sandwich for Sam.

I had one more trick up my sleeve. It was an Apple and Ginger Upside Down Cake.


I waited with my breath held to see what Sam would say. I broke out in a cold sweat waiting with anticipation to see what the outcome was going to be.....and....and....


Although he is sticking out his tongue (Sam, that sly one) he gave it a thumbs up and really liked it. So, after cooking our way through the day the dessert passed the test!

Oh yeah there was also an Asiago dip that Sam seem to be crazy for as well. 2 things out of 5 wasn't bad!


Sam Approved Apple and Ginger Upside Down Cake
That's My Home - Website

(Printable Version)
For topping:

1/4 C. butter

1/3 C. (packed) brown sugar

1/2 t. ground ginger

4 large Granny Smith apples (about 28 oz.), peeled, quartered, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

3 T. minced crystallized ginger

For cake:

1/3 C. minced crystallized ginger

4 T. plus 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 C. (packed) brown sugar

6 T. butter, room temperature

2 large eggs

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 C. whole milk

1 C. chilled whipping cream

2 T. sugar

1/4 t. ground ginger

Make topping: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and cook until mixture bubbles, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in ground ginger. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading with spatula to distribute evenly. Tightly overlap apples atop sugar mixture, making 2 layers of apples. Sprinkle crystallized ginger atop apples. Set aside.

Make cake: Mix crystallized ginger with 1 tablespoon flour in small bowl. Sift 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl until light and creamy.

Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk. Stir in ginger mixture. Spoon batter atop apples in pan. Bake cake until brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.

Whip cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and ground ginger in another medium bowl to soft peaks.

Run small knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Place platter over cake and invert cake onto platter.

Serve warm or at room temperature with cream. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover cake; let stand at room temperature. Cover and chill cream.)

Sam Approved Asiago and Parmesan Cheese Dip
(Got this from my friend Alisha)

Printable Version


1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. Asiago cheese
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 stalks green onion, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Process olive oil, cheese, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper in a blender until cheese is a coarse texture. Add to a serving bowl and top with green onions and black pepper.


  1. Aren't those kind of critics the toughest to crack?? Nicely done with the 2 out of 5 though! A good stat.

  2. I have to say that I'm impressed that Sam the Critic liked the Asiago dip so much! That's a pretty strong cheese, too. I think this kid's got a bright future ahead of him. :D

  3. Now I know why he approves these 2 dishes. They sounds so yummy! He's a tough critic... but very cute :)

  4. Ha - well, I think I'm going to follow Sam's advice and try that asiago dip. I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it, too ...

  5. If the little one approved, then it should be awesomeness.

  6. Um, you forgot to post what we had for dinner. :)

    Dr. Food

  7. Ha - well, I think I'm going to follow Sam's advice and try that asiago dip. I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it, too ...