Whether you cook a little or a lot, Dorie Greenspan is about the nicest, most knowledgeable guide you can have in the kitchen. Her new “Baking Chez Moi” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40) adds to a catalogue that pretty much represents the story of modern American home baking.
Greenspan’s own role in that story is significant. Her work has included interpreting Pierre Hermé’s hardcore French pastry for home cooks, as well as “Baking with Julia” (William Morrow, 1996), the companion cookbook for Julia Child’s groundbreaking PBS show—to my mind, among the most important cooking shows ever. (It’s available to watch on PBS.org.)
“Baking Chez Moi” is like a big, juicy new chapter in Greenspan’s own story, one that started with “Baking: From My Home to Yours” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006) and continued in “Around My French Table” (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010). As she says, this latest includes simple recipes her French friends make at home, when they haven’t purchased something fabulous from a pastry shop—loaf cakes, and even a no-bake cookie assemblage with cornflakes, poetically named “Desert Roses.” But because she’ll always keep us apprised of the latest professional trends, there are also fancier recipes from favorite pâtissiers.
I love pineapple, and a recipe for Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple in “Baking Chez Moi” immediately caught my fancy—it seemed like a homey version of a flambéed pineapple with Maraschino liqueur that my husband and I had in Italy years ago. Scored in her Paris hair salon, I got a kick out of how stylist Laurent of the title isn’t even Greenspan’s own hair guy, but just likes to chat with her about food. It’s so simple, so good; peeled pineapple is roasted in a boozy syrup until almost caramelized. You can see there’s lots of ingredient leeway; I used brandy, apricot preserves, vanilla bean, cardamom, coriander, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick. Cut-up chunks and a drizzle of the syrup with vanilla ice cream was such a big hit at one recent dinner party that I served it at a second as well.
Laurent’s Slow-Roasted Spiced Pineapple
Laurent strains the syrup and discards the spices, making the dish more elegant, but I leave them in because I love the way they look speckling the sauce; if you’re going to strain the syrup, do it while it’s hot—it’s easier. The temperature you serve this at is, like so much of this recipe, up to you—warm or room temperature is best, but chilled is also good.—Dorie Greenspan
1 small, ripe pineapple
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
½ cup Cognac, brandy, Scotch, Grand Marnier, bourbon, rum, or other liquor (or additional orange juice)
12 ounces (about 1 jar) apple or quince jelly, apricot jam, or orange marmalade
Combination of the following, as desired:
1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
A few each star anise, cardamom, coriander, pink peppercorns, allspice
Whole cloves, no more than 3
Fresh ginger slices
Cinnamon stick, broken
Small hot pepper, like a chile de àrbol, whole or part
Few black peppercorns, 2 to 5
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 300 degrees.
Peel and quarter pineapple; cut away core. Place in baking dish or small roasting pan that holds it snugly while leaving room to turn and baste.
Whisk juice, liquor, and jelly, jam, or marmalade together. Pour over pineapple; add vanilla bean and spices.
Bake pineapple about 2 hours, basting and turning every 20 minutes or so, until tender enough to be pierced easily with tip of knife. Fruit should have absorbed enough syrup to seem candied.