Elvis photo courtesy elvisinhawaii.comThe Balthazar Cookbook, by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, and Lee Hanson (Clarkson Potter, 2003)

Are You Hungry Tonight? : Elvis' Favorite Recipes, by Brenda Butler (Gramercy, 1992)

Fit for a King: The Elvis Presley Cookbook, by Elizabeth Mckeon (Rutledge Hill Press, 2001)

Tomorrow, January 8th, is Elvis' birthday. While Gothamist has to confess we're not the biggest Elvis fans (he died before we could walk), from looking at the Elvis-related cookbooks out there, we certainly share the King's taste in food. From our mutual appreciation for barbecue, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, cheesecake, it appears that we have a culinary, if not musical, kinship with the man who made the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich famous.

The best of the Elvis cookbooks, Fit for a King, collects 300 Southern-tinged recipies (many provided by Elvis's cook, Alvena Roy) for your lip-smacking enjoyment, from jambalaya to cocoa praline cake. The book also contains numerous anecdotes about Elvis as well as 70 photographs from his early career. Are you Hungry Tonight? is a book for the Elvis fan more than it is a book for cooks, with recipes for old Elvis standbys like fried chicken and peanut butter and banana sandwiches, but what it lacks in gourmet recipes it makes up for in enthusiasm, even providing the recipe for the wedding cake served at Elvis' wedding to Priscilla!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Courtesy Chenyu Yan at Alice-Tony.netDowntown brasserie Balthazar would seem at first glance to have little in common with the man famed for his sideburns and swagger. But among the recipes in the Balthazar cookbook for Banana Tarte Tatin, Roast Rack of Veal, and Sole En Papillote lurk recipes for Elvis' food-Macaroni and Cheese, Onion Rings, French Fries, and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Are we saying that Elvis would have liked Balthazar? Maybe. Would he have liked the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake? Definitely. Elvis was a huge fan of Hawaii, and therefore became a big fan of pineapples while there. And we all know about his penchant for alcohol in his later years... As an alternative birthday cake for Elvis, consider Maria Bruscino Sanchez's "Elvis Cake", a devils' food cake with peanut butter and bananas, featured in the recently-published Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers, by Kathryn Kleinman and Carolyn Miller (Chronicle, 2004).

For more information about Elvis's birthday, visit Elvis.com. Find an Elvis impersonator here.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Serves 6


7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tea teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 4 T vanilla extract)
8 1/8-inch slices fresh pineapple (or 1 can)
2 tablespoons coconut rum
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 jar maraschino cherries (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Butter an 8- or 9-inch nonstick cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter.

3. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

4. In a medium saute pan, combine the brown sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds with 7 cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Add the pineapple and poach for 5 minutes. Remove the pineapple, raise
the heat to high, and reduce the liquid to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and stir in the rum. Set aside. If using vanilla extract, add towards the end or with the rum.

5. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the 6 remaining tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar. With the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate completely. Lower the speed and add the sifted ingredients. Mix on low for 10 seconds. Add the milk in increments and mix until smooth.

6.Arrange the pineapple slices in an overlapping circle on the bottom of the prepared cake pan and brush most of the rum-flavored syrup over them. (If desired, add cherries to center of pineapples.) Pour the batter over the slices to fill the cake pan
halfway and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. Insert the blade of a knife into the center to test for doneness: It should come out clean. Let cool for 2 minutes before inverting onto a
serving plate. Spoon the remaining glaze over the top.

Alternative: in Fit for a King, there is an amazing and easy recipe for Ginger-Peach Upside-Down cake, which can be approximated with the recipe above by substituting peaches for pineapples (skipping the poaching step) and adding 1/2 t. cinnamon and 2 t. ginger to the batter, but we recommend following the recipe in the book.