Comfort food: Coconut pie and Pineapple Upside Down Cake that's worth handing down

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A few months ago, I bought a "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book," published in 1968, at a church yard sale. I didn't need another Better Homes cookbook; I bought it because of the handwritten recipes that fell out of when I opened the book — the kinds of recipes that are shared at potluck suppers, swapped over coffee and passed down through generations of families.

The recipes tucked inside the cookbook, written on yellowed paper and school notebook paper, are a tribute to family traditions.

I have my husband's grandmother's "My Better Homes and Garden Cook Book" from 1935. It also has dozens of handwritten recipes.

Whether it's pecan cake, salmon croquettes, tuna noodle casserole, coconut pie or fried chicken, we all have our favorite foods that comfort us when we need it the most.

You don't have to have an old family cookbook to find recipes that bring back memories. Many comfort food recipes can be found in church and regional cookbooks or those from small interest groups.

There are new cookbooks that have updated those great recipes for today's generation of cooks. Here are some recipes that might bring back some memories.

Quick Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

This recipe is from “Sew Many Recipes … Sew Little Time,” a collection of recipes from Quilter’s Square in Lexington, Ky.

3 tablespoons butter

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 can (15 ounces) unsweetened pineapple slices

7 maraschino cherries, optional

½ cup chopped pecans, optional

1 package yellow cake mix, without pudding

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over butter in the bottom of skillet. Arrange 7 pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place a cherry in center of each pineapple ring and sprinkle with pecans, if desired. Set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter over pineapple. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove cake and invert onto large plate.

Coconut Pie

Makes 8 servings.

This recipe is from “Classic Southern Desserts from the editors of Southern Living” (Oxmoor House, $ 29.95).

½ package (15 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts

1 cup sugar, divided

¼ cup cornstarch

2 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, plus more for toasting for garnish

2½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

2 cups whipping cream

Preheat oven to 425 F. Fit 1 pie crust into 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of pie crust with fork. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack.

Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Place plastic wrap directly on warm custard to prevent a film from forming; let stand 30 minutes. Spoon custard mixture into pie crust, cover and chill 30 minutes or until set.

While pie chills, heat oven to 350 F. Place 3 tablespoons coconut in a single layer in a shallow pan; bake 5 to 6 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add ⅓ cup sugar and remaining 1½ teaspoons vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filling. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Store in refrigerator.