Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

~Molly & Jamie At the Green Market~

From Food Stylist Molly:

Happy New Year! We’ve had a snowy start, but I have good feelings about 2011. And despite what other people say, I love the snow! I love walking through the city and seeing the quiet transformation all things undergo when covered in freshly fallen snow.

*Heart of Lovikka hat, mittens & scarf!

This month, Jamie and I were playing around with cranberries. Cranberries have their peak season September-December and are a good source of nutrients and antioxidants. Massachusetts is known for its cranberry bogs (thank you, Cape Cod cranberry juice), and while I was home for the holidays I was able to pick up a bunch of the beautiful local cranberries that were in season. Cranberries freeze beautifully, so after making a few batches of cranberry sauce the rest went straight into my freezer.

Admittedly, after the latest snow storm, I had had about enough of the snow and wanted nothing more than to watch it fall from my window over a hot cup of tea. Needing to satisfy my sweet tooth, I made a Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake. It is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea or could even be served with a little whipped cream for dessert.

Cranberry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

Adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Fruit

Cranberry Topping:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries, picked over and rinsed

Cornmeal Cake:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup flint cornmeal (regular cornmeal may be substituted) Flint cornmeal may be found at: 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8” or 9” cake pan and set side.

Pour the sugar and water into a saucepan and place over medium heat. When the sugar starts to dissolve, swirl the pan to help the sugar cook evenly. Continue to occasionally swirl the pan until you see the sugar start to develop color. When the sugar becomes a lovely, light chestnut color add the butter and continue to swirl the pan gently. Be careful when adding the butter as this causes the caramel to bubble up vigorously. Once the butter has melted completely, quickly pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan.

 Let the caramel cool slightly. Pour the cranberries over the caramel and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Separate the egg yolks and whites into two small bowls. Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla. Incorporate the milk and flour mixture by alternating the two. Add the flour in thirds, adding about half of the milk between each addition, and ending with the remaining flour. Mix until just combined and set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk vigorously until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold the stiff egg whites into the cornmeal batter in two batches. 

Pour the batter over the cranberries and smooth over with a spatula to create an even, smooth layer.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes. Carefully run an offset spatula or knife around the edge of the pan to help loosen the cake. Place a cake plate over the pan, and wearing oven mitts, invert the cake onto the plate and remove the pan. Best served warm.

~ Recipe and words by Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

Molly & Jamie ~ At the Green Market ~ French Onion Soup

~ Recipe and story by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

From Chef Molly:

Consider the onion.
While I can’t take credit for the profundity of that thought (it belongs to the one and only, Mr. James Beard), it is the subject at the heart of this month’s post.
Onions are probably the most commonplace, standard kitchen ingredient there is, but they are prevalent with good reason. Onions keep for months, add loads of flavor to dishes, and are amazingly versatile. They provide many nutritional benefits to boot. Storage onions (the standard onion variety with thick, dry skins) are available year-round at farmer’s markets due to their long shelf life.
After all the cold, snowy weather we’ve been experiencing in NYC, I was in the mood for something warm and comforting to beat the chill. After picking up a couple of pounds of beautiful brown onions at the farmer’s market, I set about tweaking a recipe for French Onion Soup that I made while in culinary school.

My good friend Brad generously donated a hunk of Gruyere to contribute to my endeavor. Brad’s family owns an amazing cheese shop just outside of Boston called Wasik’s. Armed with a cave-aged Gruyere from the Swiss Alps, farmer’s market onions and a fresh baguette, I felt success was inevitable. And I was right.
French Onion Soup is the coolest, not only because it is so delicious, but because all you need to make it is a bit of patience and a handful of basic ingredients.

French Onion Soup

  • Ingredients

2 pounds onions, sliced very thinly,

1/8-1/4 inch.

3 tablespoons butter,

plus extra for buttering the bread

2 oz Calvados

(brandy or cognac may be used as a substitute)

6 cups homemade chicken stock

2 bay leaves

5 sprigs thyme


10 oz Gruyere cheese, grated

*A special thanks to Wasik’s for the amazing selection of cheeses!

salt and pepper, to taste

To start, sweat the onions very, very slowly over low heat. This allows all the natural sugars to caramelize and helps the soup develop a more hearty, robust flavor. Don’t rush this process!

The onions will need up to a full hour and a half in order to cook properly. Give them an occasional stir. Meanwhile, have a pot of stock heating on the stove so that when it comes time for use, it will be warm and ready to go.

Once the onions have turned a deep golden brown, deglaze the pan with Calvados. Be sure to scrape up all the good bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a few minutes to cook off the alcohol.

Add the chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme. Simmer for 35-40 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, prepare the toasts. Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the baguette into 3/4 inch slices and lay on a baking tray. Spread butter on one side of the bread and toast in the oven until crispy and golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Turn on the broiler to high.

Once the soup has simmered, season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into the gratin dishes, top with two overlapping toasts, and sprinkle generously with Gruyere. Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 3 minutes. This happens quickly, so be sure not to burn your toasts!

Serve immediately.

*The yield for this recipe will vary depending on the size of your gratin dishes. Ours were tremendous and this recipe only yielded two portions. However, this recipe should easily serve four if baked in smaller ramekins. The ratio of ingredients will remain the same, just be sure to prepare two toasts for each ramekin and portion the cheese equally among the baking dishes. Snack on any cheese that might be leftover.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

Molly & Jamie~ At the Green Market

~ Story and styling by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

From the Chef:

For my 25th birthday, I went on a trip to Paris. Yes, this makes me just about the luckiest girl there is and my experience in France was only confirmation of that fact. I fell in love with Paris- the food, the city, the people, the pastries! All of these were enough to make me consider packing my bags and staying for good.
Of all the wonderful food I had while in Paris, nothing quite compared to the incredible cheese that could be found throughout the city. Virtually all the cheese in France comes from small local dairies. The variety was astounding, as were the myriad differences in color, texture, age, smell and taste.

Dinner in France inevitably includes hours of laughter and conversation with friends, fresh bread, multiple bottles of delicious cheap wine, and a cheese course to finish the meal. Offering anywhere from 3-6 varieties, the cheese course quickly became a favorite part of my Parisian suppers. Happily, this is a tradition I can practice anywhere.

Unlike in the US, cheese in France is made with unpasteurized milk. All American milk is required by law to undergo pasteurization due to health laws. While this inevitably makes for a different kind of cheese, there are American dairy farms using traditional methods to produce beautiful, artisanal dairy products. Next time you are at your local farmer’s market, check out all the different varieties being offered.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

Molly & Jamie~ At the Green Market

~ Recipe and story by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

Often times, just the thought of wandering the farmer’s markets during the cold winter months is enough to keep people at home. I mean, what can you buy besides potatoes anyway? I actually love this time of year and the season’s flavors. Yes, this post is coming a bit late and some of the produce available in December no longer lines the tables of the greenmarkets. But all sorts of goodies — brussel-sprouts, apples, pears, turnips, parsnips and squash included, are widely available during the winter months and they just happen to be some of my very favorite foods.

For the holidays, I went home to Massachusetts and was eager to cook a feast for my family. My first stop for inspiration and ingredients to create our Christmas dinner was a small local farm in Westport, MA that my mother had introduced me to some time ago. They sell local dairy products, cheese, and cranberries along with their own produce and eggs. I had a veritable Union Square farmer’s market in my backyard!

Turnips, a rather disregarded vegetable, are fantastic. Truly, they deserve more recognition. Most turnips are a cantaloupe-orange-color with a mild, sweet flavor reminiscent of a parsnip. In a small Massachusetts town that borders Rhode Island, an unusual variety of white turnips grows and is a local favorite. Known as Westport turnips, after the place in which they grow, these white gems have the same flavor and texture as their more common namesake. They just lack the sherbet hue. It quickly became clear that Westport turnips would have to find their way to my holiday menu.

This dish, which made the cut for my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, is delicious. Simply layer turnips and sweet potatoes with gruyere cheese, sage and thyme. Then pour in hot cream and bake until bubbly perfection! The natural sweetness from the turnips and sweet-potatoes makes an otherwise traditional preparation both interesting and even more delicious.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Gratin


2 lb turnips (about 1 large turnip or 2 medium turnips)

2 lb sweet potatoes (about 2 or 3 medium sweet potatoes)

6oz. gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon sage, finely chopped

2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

salt, pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small pot, heat the butter, cream and garlic over low heat. Using a cheese grate, shred the gruyere cheese and reserve.

Meanwhile, peel and quarter the turnip and the sweet potatoes.

Cut into very thin slices, about 1/8” thick. Set aside.

In a medium-sized roasting pan, layer the prepared ingredients starting with a layer of sweet potatoes followed by a layer of turnips. Sprinkle generously with chopped sage and thyme, season with salt and pepper, and finish with a layer of shredded cheese (make sure you reserve enough cheese for the final topping!). Repeat this process, finishing with a final layer of sweet potatoes sprinkled with the remaining chopped herbs and a generous amount of shredded cheese.

Remove the garlic cloves from the cream and pour the warm liquid over the gratin.

Place in the oven and bake until the potatoes and turnips are cooked through and the gratin is brown and bubbly, about 1 hour.

Let the gratin cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!

Molly & Jamie~ At the Green Market

~ Recipe and story by Chef & Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography by me.

Once a month this Upper East Side chef and food stylist Molly Shuster collaborates with an Upper West Side photographer Jamie Beck to bring our readers a homemade recipe using local farmer’s market seasonal ingredients, the kind of fundamentals our grandmothers lived by in the kitchen. We do hope you’ll stop by once a month and see what’s cooking!

Happy Kitchen & Happy Thanksgiving!
Love, Molly & Jamie

November~ Pumpkin Pie

From the Chef:

The first time I made a pie I was about three. It consisted of sand, leaves, twigs and a few of those little brown bugs that curl up into a ball when you touch them. My first edible pie came not too long after that. Out of the sandbox and in to the kitchen- my dad began teaching my brother and I how to make pies. I remember peeking up over the counter to watch my dad cut shortening in to flour, amazed as I watched the rough, lumpy dough transform into a smooth, thin crust. For us, seasons were marked with the change of filling: blueberry in the summer, apple in the fall and pumpkin in the winter. Now this pumpkin pie wasn’t your run-of-the-mill pie, but authentic pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin and a flakey, homemade crust. A perennial favorite and fixture at the Shuster family holiday table, this pie has stood the test of time. My role in the process may have changed over the years, but my appetite has remained steady. Along with my dad’s mushroom gravy, you can be sure this pie will be gracing our table this holiday season.

Now I know what you’re thinking, using fresh pumpkin sounds like a lot of work! But it actually requires very little effort. It is just a matter of roasting the pumpkin, pureeing the flesh and allowing the excess liquid to drain. 

Growing up, we always made our pies with the standard jack-o-lantern pumpkins that flood the grocery stores and supermarkets during the fall season. However, with the rise of green markets heirloom varieties of winter squash have become widely available and many of these make for an even tastier pie. The Blue Hubbard, Blue Ballet and Pink Banana are just a few to look out for on your next trip to the farmer’s market (for more information check out Martha Stewart’s Glossary of Squashes and Gourds at

November’s Pumpkin Pie:

To Roast Pumpkin:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the pumpkin to get rid of any dirt or debris. Halve lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (which I highly recommend you save and roast). Place the pumpkin halves skin side up on a greased baking sheet place and roast in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until tender.

When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and discard the skins. Grab the pumpkin a handful at a time and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Place the flesh in a food processor or blender and process until completely smooth. Line a colander with paper towel. Pour the processed pumpkin in to the colander and place the colander in a large bowl. Let the pumpkin drain in the refrigerator overnight. (This may be done a couple of days in advance and freezes very well).  

*All pumpkins and winter squash may be prepared in this manner, regardless of the variety. Depending on the size of the pumpkin, cooking times will vary.

** To roast pumpkin seeds, simply separate the seeds from the stringy flesh and spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Stir the seeds every 5 minutes to help them bake evenly.

Pie Crust:
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
ice water

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor or mixer. Drop the shortening in to the flour, mixing until the shortening has been cut into 1/3 inch pieces. Add the butter and mix until the dough looks like coarse sand. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing just until a ball of dough begins to form. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead briefly to create a smooth ball and shape into a flat disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator, at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Once the dough has chilled, cut the disc in half and place the extra piece back in the refrigerator. Shape the dough into a smooth round and using a rolling pin, shape into a large, thin circle about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Gently lift the dough on to the rolling pin and carefully place the dough in a 9” glass or ceramic pie plate. Trim the edges to create an even crust. Prick the bottom of the pan with a fork.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough and using cookie cutters, cut the dough into decorative shapes. Gently place the cut-outs around the crust.

Cut a large piece of tin foil into a disc. Carefully place the tin foil on to the bottom of the pie crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Carefully, remove the tin foil and bake the crust for another 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool.

Pumpkin Filling:
1.5 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/5 cups evaporated milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the pumpkin mixture in to a prepared 9” glass or ceramic pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool completely. Delicious with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!