Baked Marinated Pineapple

London broil is definitely not filet mignon and olives aren’t truffles.

And yet, many years ago, I confess, I made an elaborate New Year’s Eve dinner for friends with those very substitutions. Filet was too expensive. Truffles? Forgetaboutit. No way. So, I made Beef Bordelaise — even made the stock from scratch — using London Broil. To garnish, I sliced black olives to replace the truffles.

They didn’t even look like a good imitation of truffles.

But dinner was great, festive too. The meat was tough but no one cared. There was plenty of wine and that made everything taste better. Besides, I had asked our 6 friends to come formally attired and they all substituted jeans or corduroys, so I guess we were even.

I didn’t keep accurate records in those days but the meal started with some hors d’oeuvre and champagne. Dinner was a soup followed by the beef. I know I made asparagus — steamed, not roasted (which I usually do today) and with no Balsamic vinegar droplets because no one knew about that in those days. I think there was also a mushroom ragout and roasted potatoes.

I do remember dessert, fabulous looking (and tasting) meringue-topped pineapple halves filled with fruit that had been macerated with Grand Marnier and Meyer’s rum. I remember because my husband Ed and I had recently been to London and eaten in a restaurant called Parkes, where we ordered this dessert at the suggestion of a friend who had been there before us. I worked out the recipe, long ago, and have been making this dessert, for which everyone is grateful, ever since.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Marinated Pineapple

1 large pineapple

6 tablespoons confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons orange flavor brandy

3 tablespoons dark rum

4 large egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

Cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, keeping the leaves intact. Carve the flesh from the shell, remove and discard the fibrous core and cut the flesh into chunks. Place the chunks in a bowl and add the confectioners sugar, brandy and rum. Toss ingredients and refrigerate for 1-5 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment of a standing mixer (or use a hand beater) until they are foamy. Gradually add the sugar and gradually increase the speed to high; beat until the whites stand in stiff, glossy peaks. Place the macerated fruit and its juices back into the two pineapple half shells. Spread the meringue over the fruit. making sure to spread the meringue to the edges, sealing in the fruit. Place the filled pineapple halves on a cookie sheet. Wrap the leaves in foil to protect them form burning. Bake the pineapple for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove the foil and serve. Makes 6 servings