Savor Some Tropical Treats

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Cat's Commentary

fruit saladMany times, Dad ends up tending the weekend grill, and that's okay as long as he enjoys it. But we can help out with some side dishes or salsas, maybe even a dessert. Lately there is a renewed appreciation for tropical fruit, especially mangoes and pineapples. I thought it would be fun to explore some recipes that feature these fruits.

Speaking of mango and pineapple, I am currently addicted to natural (unsweetened), dried versions of both these delectable fruits. Also dried bananas, but not the crunchy chips; I love the chewy, sticky ones referred to as "flattened" bananas. But I am getting off track here, sorry.   Let's get on with the show!

Featured Recipe: Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into rings (you will have some left over to enjoy)
Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F

  1. Melt butter. Brush a little bit of the butter on the inside of a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Mix 5 tablespoons of the butter with the dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice. Place this mixture in the bottom of the cake pan. Arrange the pineapple rings on the brown sugar mixture in a decorative pattern. Set pan aside.
  3. Stir together the flour, salt, white sugar, and baking powder.
  4. Separate the eggs. Beat the whites until stiff but not dry.
  5. Beat two of the egg yolks until lemony yellow. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup pineapple juice, vanilla and remaining melted butter. Add this mixture to the flour mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites. Pour batter over the top of the brown sugar and pineapple rings.
  6. Bake for 30 about minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then loosen edges, cover pan tightly with a serving dish and invert so that the pineapple side is up.

Some Obscure Tropical Fruit Facts

  • The Pitaya is actually a cactus fruit that has been eaten since pre-Columbian times.  The pitaya fruit is the top fruit export of Viet Nam.
  • The "stinkiest" fruit, the Durian, gets it's name from the Malay word for spike which is "Duri".   It is not uncommon for people to be killed walking under Durian trees when the fruit is in season and dropping from the tree.
  • England received it's first shipment of Kiwi Fruit from New Zealand in 1953.  Even though cultivation has extended from New Zealand to France and the U.S., New Zealand remains the largest exporter of the fruit.
  • During the Ming dynasty 'clubs of devotees' would gather in gardens and temples to feast on fresh Lychee.
  • Mangoes are dried and ground to make a spice powder called amchur which is used in Indian cooking.
  • The Mangosteen is less common in the U.S. (but becomming more widely available)  A delicate and delicious fruit has but one fault; the juice from the rind has magnificent staining power.

​U.S. Exotic Fruit Growers

Here are some good resources for more information on exotic fruits.

  • Going Bananas - Located in Florida and specializes in banana plants and a few other tropical trees.
  • Tropical Fruit Growers - A very informative website with lots of information, photos and even recipes for tropical fruits.

Cathie Campbell - Food Editor

cathie-cambell food editor
Cat Campbell is a freelance writer living in California, and has been writing food columns for several years. Future plans include gathering her best recipes into a cookbook. She was inspired at an early age by her Italian Nana, who was either in her vegetable garden or her ranch kitchen.
author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.