Monday, June 04, 2007

2 Cooking Light Recipes - Korean Cucumber Salad and an Upside Down Cornmeal Cake

I like cucumber salad, and have usually made it my way, with a little vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. But I like spicy foods, too, so when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light, I had to give it at try. The most interesting part of the recipe was squeezing the liquid out of the cucumber - therefore leaving me with wrinkled cucumber slices and a lot smaller salad than I'd originally planned on. After giving it a taste test, I added an extra teaspoon of Splenda.

Korean Cucumber Salad

3 ½ cups (1/16-inch-thick) slices English cucumber (about 1 large)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda granular
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon dark sesame oil

Combine cucumber and salt, tossing well. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry. Combine cucumber, onions, rice vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper, and sesame oil. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Use a mandoline or food processor to slice the cucumber uniformly thin. Salting the cucumber causes it to wilt and draws out excess moisture. It also gives the dish a pickled quality similar to kimchi, Korea's spicy and pungent fermented cabbage condiment.

I served this salad with the grilled pork chops I planned yesterday to have with more of the tomato jam I made.

For dessert, I tried another Cooking Light recipe, but had to improvise since I'd already used up my blueberries. I had plenty of blackberries, so I doubled up on those. This is what it looks like when you first take it out of the oven, and below, what it looks like once you've flipped it out onto a plate.

Nectarine-Blackberry Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake
adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) nectarine slices
2 cups blackberries
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (5 1/2 ounces)
½ cup stone ground yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Coat a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Brush pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle pan evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Pour nectarine mixture into pan in an even layer; set aside. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine remaining 1 cup sugar and 5 tablespoons softened butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat just until combined. Spoon batter evenly over fruit mixture. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until cake is set and light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Place a plate upside down on top of cake pan; invert cake onto plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The wooden pick test isn't accurate for this cake since the fruit makes it appear wet when it's really done. Look for the cake to brown on top as a good sign of doneness. I had to cook it for an hour, though I was using my toaster-convection oven, where things are usually done in shorter times, not longer. As for nutrition, this cake really shouldn't be in Cooking Light magazine. What' s light about it? Sugar, refined flour, butter, fruit - not what I'd call low-calorie in any way. It's absolutely delicious, but not light. What's funny is the Cooking Light website lists on its nutrition chart for this cake that it has zero carbs. Ha ha. A little proofreading needed, dontcha think?


Kalyn said...

I'm not usually a big fan of Cooking Light, but the cucumber salad recipe looks great!

Cris said...

That looks yummy... :-)

Toni said...

Both these recipes look terrific! I'm headed for the grocery store - looks like cucumbers are on my list!

sra said...

The pickled cucumber looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

The dessert is not much to look at. Good thing you showed it inverted. Is the crust dry?

Cyndi said...

I showed it inverted because it's an upside down cake! Nope, the crust wasn't dry at all - very moist, almost gooey - I had to cook it longer than the recipe called for to make sure it wasn't gooey. It's got the consistency of a brownie, not a cake.

Julie said...

That upside down nectarine- blackberry cornmeal cake looks and sounds wonderful.

Helen said...

The upside down cake recipe sounds delicious and very refreshing for this summer!

Amanda said...

hey- just stopped by b/c I ran a google search on "Korean pickle cucumbers" and this popped up.

I adore pickled cucumbers, and I lost my recipe. yours seems similar, but mine had minced garlic in it as well, which I think, after it's been in the fridge overnight, makes the pickle taste extra yum. I also put alot more of the spicey in- it's a personal taste thing, I think, since you seem to prefer it sweeter. but thanks for the recipe! I think I'll use this one from now on, since I can't find my own.