Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting

Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’. 

Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom. 

As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.

My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making  a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.

I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.

Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Ingredients
Roasted Parsnips
Cake
Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Roasted Parsnips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Cake
  1. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
Frosting
  1. While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
  • When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
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Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler

As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.

While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh  Pineapple Cobbler  is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!

Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Batter
Fruit & Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
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Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins

As usual, I can’t get enough of using rhubarb throughout its growing season. This year we started three new plants as our older ones are producing less and less. I think they are probably just becoming to shaded so we put the new ones in a great little spot on the south side of the garage.

Rhubarb’s awkward positioning between fruit and vegetable, sweet and tart, is a topic that’s constantly debated. It resembles sticks of celery dressed in their best pink Sunday attire, blushing from the first few washes of early sun peaking through its dense foliage after winter hibernation underground.

Pie remains the most common use for rhubarb, so much that older cookbooks called it the ‘pie plant’. While it generally is treated as a fruit, it has also been used as a savory ingredient, frequently paired with meats, cheese, stuffings, sauces and much more.

This is one of my favorite ‘sweet’ recipes from quite a few years ago. It has it all — rhubarb, cream cheese & streusal!

Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Stewed Rhubarb
Batter
Cream Cheese Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Stewed Rhubarb
  1. In a small saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & lemon slice. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat & simmer about 10-12 minutes or until thickened & reduced to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.
Batter
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. with a pastry blender, cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. In a small dish, measure 1 cup of the flour mixture & add walnuts & cinnamon. Set aside. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla & beaten egg.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups. Stir SOUR CREAM mixture into FLOUR/BAKING POWDER mixture until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread this batter evenly over bottom & up the sides of each paper cup. Place a spoonful of FILLING MIXTURE in center of each, then top with WALNUT MIXTURE & bake 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll

The pairing of chocolate and strawberries is hands down one of the best combos in dessert history. Both have long and rich histories. Strawberries were found growing wild in Italy centuries ago. The name itself has some myth around it stemming from the idea people put ‘straw’ around the base of the plant for both nutrients and protection.

Chocolate was enjoyed by Aztec and Mayan civilizations as a beverage and even used cocoa beans as a currency. As cocoa spread around the world, different ideas for its use emerged. Candy makers added milk & sugar or nuts and caramel to their chocolate confections.

In the 1960’s, Lorraine Lorusso created a decadent chocolate covered strawberry. As the story goes, she worked at a small gourmet shop called the Stop N’ Shop in Chicago, USA. She took a tempered version of the gourmet chocolate that was sold in the store and dipped some fresh strawberries into the mixture. She allowed the chocolate to harden and served these strawberries to their paying customers. The treat was an instant success.

I’ve done my own pairing of strawberries and chocolate in this cake roll with a cream cheese filling. Hope you get a chance to enjoy one through the summer as well.

Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll
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Servings
10-12 slices
Servings
10-12 slices
Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll
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Servings
10-12 slices
Servings
10-12 slices
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whip egg whites until foamy, gradually adding HALF of the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. In a third large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick. Add remaining sugar, vanilla & water; beat until very thick. Gradually fold in flour mixture then egg whites.
  3. Spread batter evenly into jelly roll pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. Loosen edges & immediately turn cake onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar & remove parchment paper. Starting with narrower end, roll up cake in towel; cool completely.
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar & lime juice. Fold in diced, fresh strawberries.
Assembly
  1. Unroll cooled cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling; roll up loosely to accommodate filling. Cover & refrigerate until ready to slice & serve.
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Kumquat Ginger Cakes

The caramelized, citrus kumquat flavor puts a unique twist on the traditional upside down cake. This is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy to place the fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan with a simple cake batter on top and place it over the fire to ‘bake’. The fruit stays juicy and caramelized when cooked being protected by the sponge of the cake.

Probably, this is where the idea for the classic ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’  from the 1920’s stems from. I had some extra kumquats I needed to use so they were perfect in these little desserts. Of course, any fruit of choice will work I’m sure.

Kumquat Ginger Cakes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Kumquat Ginger Cakes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Caramelized Kumquats
Cake
Servings:
Instructions
Caramelized Kumquats
  1. In a saucepan, combine water & sugar & heat until sugar dissolves. Leave a few kumquats whole for garnish & slice the rest. Add all of the kumquats to the pan & bring to a gentle simmer. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes until they are tender; drain & return the syrup to the pan. Bring syrup to a boil until it thickens slightly; remove from heat. Reserve whole kumquats; dividing the slices between 4 custard cups.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over kumquats in custard cups. Place cups on a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cakes have risen & are firm to the touch in center. Remove from oven & allow them to cool in cups for a few minutes. Carefully turn them out on to serving plates, garnish with whole kumquats & drizzle with warm syrup.
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Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts

Rhubarb is one of those flavors that signals the coming of spring. A staple crop for every Canadian homesteader, in the 1800’s, as it thrives specifically in cool climates. The focus was initially on function, not flavor and was used as a medicine due to it’s perceived benefits for the digestive system. The tartness adds kick to it’s character causing it to be adored and despised with equal vigor.

Rhubarb ‘fool’ is a traditional English dessert that was popular throughout the 19th century on both sides of the Atlantic. It generally consists of a pureed fruit folded gently into a light, custard. Today’s recipe is a take on that idea using custard, pureed rhubarb and some mini donuts for ‘dunking’.

Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Ingredients
Donuts
Rhubarb Sauce
Custard
Servings:
Instructions
Donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil & lemon juice. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar & baking powder. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until combined in a smooth batter.
  2. Brush mini donut pan with butter. Fill each cup about 1/2 full; bake for about 4-5 minutes or until they test done. Place some sugar in a shallow dish. Remove baked donuts from oven; while still warm coat with sugar. Set aside.
Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Cut rhubarb into small pieces. In a saucepan, add rhubarb, sugar & water; bring to a boil & simmer, covered, gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid & stir, then remove from heat when it reaches a jam consistency.
Custard
  1. In a saucepan, bring milk & vanilla to a boil. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch together. Add the hot milk to egg mixture slowly whisking as you do so. Return the mixture to the saucepan & bring slowly to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened.
To Serve
  1. Divide custard between 4 custard dishes; place a spoonful of sauce on top. Serve the mini donuts on the side, ready to be 'dunked'.
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Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops

Spring is definitely in the air, so bring on those fresh spring flavors. One that comes to my mind is lemon — zesty and full of some spring ‘zing’. My first thought is to pair lemon with some wild blueberries. I realize we are a long way from blueberry harvest time but the good news is that WILD blueberries are as good frozen as they are fresh. None of the nutritional values or antioxidant goodness is lost by freezing.

Canada is the world’s largest producer of ‘low-bush’ blueberries, which is another name for the wild blueberries native to eastern North America. They grow best on treeless land or on land that has been burned over. Growers do not plant them but instead manage wild stands that spread naturally by means of underground runners. The berries are often not uniform in appearance since managed fields can have several distinct runner systems.

The wild blueberries have a sweeter, tangier more intense flavor than their cultivated cousins. Harvest time comes in late August to early September, generally only lasting a few weeks.

This simple little dessert lets us get into the summer blueberry ‘season’ a little earlier and still has all the flavor.

Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops
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Servings
20-24
Servings
20-24
Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops
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Servings
20-24
Servings
20-24
Ingredients
Pastry
Streusal
Servings:
Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well then stir in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture; blend well. Line the muffin pan size of your choice with paper cups. Divide dough into balls, placing one into each cup. With your fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Refrigerate until filling & streusal are made.
Streusal
  1. In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. FOLD in blueberries. Divide filling evenly between pastry shells. Top with streusal & a spoon full of lemon curd. Bake about 25 minutes, (filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven. If you prefer, add a bit more lemon curd. Once tarts are cool, remove from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.
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Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Many people believe Mother’s Day was developed as a commercial holiday to sell cards, candy and flowers or to celebrate the domestic role of women in the home and family. Really, this day is more about women’s commitment to the past, present and the future. Most often, mother’s take the lead in passing down family stories, life lessons and traditions.

Mother’s Day isn’t a new holiday with some of its earliest celebrations being traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.

Although my mother is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on forever. It is also with love, Brion and I celebrate his mother, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways.

I was trying to come up with something special to bake for the blog recipe today. Lately I have enjoyed using rose & orange water in my cooking. Sweet and fragrant rose water is an elegant steam distillate of rose petals. The key is to use it sparingly as a little goes a long way. Used raw, the flavor is very floral and aromatic. When baked or roasted, that flowery essence mellows out, imparting notes similar to vanilla, with a fruity, more subtle aroma. There are a variety of ways to use rose water from cake and cookies to cocktails and even in roast chicken.

This flavor combination definitely takes the meaning of ‘special’ to a whole new level. Just what I was looking for. 

                                        

 

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes
Rosewater Buttercream Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line muffin tin with paper liners & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour baking powder, soda, cardamom & salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together softened butter, oil & sugar; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. Slowly add sour cream & vanilla. Fold in flour mixture being careful not to over mix batter.
  3. Divide batter between the muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven & place the individual muffins on a cooling rack.
Frosting
  1. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter & 1 Tbsp milk. With an electric mixer, beat on low until sugar is incorporated then move to medium-high speed. Add rosewater a 1/4 tsp at a time (taste to prevent it becoming to strong for your liking) then food color. If the icing is not the proper consistency add another Tbsp of milk.
  2. When the cupcakes are cool, frost each one using a large angled star tip. Top off each cupcake with a sprinkle of the reserved chopped pistachios.
Recipe Notes
  • To make your cupcakes real special, decorate with some dried rosebuds.
  • I was able to find rosewater easily in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
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Mug Cakes

Mug cakes have been around for a while. We seem to like eating food out of mugs. Whether it’s a mug full of chili or just some cereal and milk, we like being able to hold our whole meal in our hands and enjoy it by the spoonful. Mug cakes have gained popularity not only because they are delicious, but because you can make them in five minutes. The technique uses a mug as the cooking vessel and takes just a few minutes to toss in the ingredients. It then goes into the microwave; as the butter in the mixture heats up, it creates air pockets that will cause the cake to quickly rise. The problem is that microwave baking is tricky and not every ‘cake-in-a-mug’ recipe you come across will work well. 

I’ve tried a few with varying degrees of success. Nevertheless, they are a great way to satisfy an emergency homemade treat craving without even turning on the oven.

Here are some ideas you might like to try.

Mug Crumble Cake/ Chocolate Mug Cake
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Mug Crumble Cake/ Chocolate Mug Cake
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Ingredients
CRUMBLE
CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
Servings:
Instructions
FRUIT CRUMBLE MUG CAKE
  1. In a small bowl, combine apple with sugar & butter. Divide between 2 mugs. Cover each with plastic film & pierce several times. Cook in microwave for 1 minute at 800 watts or 50 seconds at 1000 watts. Add dried fruit & nuts & stir.
  2. In a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, oatmeal, flour & salt with your fingertips. Crumble on top of fruit in each mug. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes at 800 watts or 1 minute 10 seconds at 1000 watts. Remove mugs from microwave & sprinkle with sliced almonds.
CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE
  1. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add milk & oil; whisk together until smooth. Divide between 2 mugs & microwave on high for about 70 seconds. Remove from microwave. Cool a bit before eating.
Recipe Notes
  • Be aware that success will depend on knowing how to adjust the cooking time according to YOUR microwave strength (watts). Be careful not to overcook your mug cakes.
  • Each recipe should yield 2 mugs worth. 
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Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

Today, February 13th is Shrove Tuesday  also known as ‘pancake day’. As I was thinking about the subject of pancakes today, I recalled a story from many years ago that still makes me laugh. I’m sure the reason I found it so funny was due to the fact that my life’s work was spent in the commercial food industry so I could relate to the situation.

I grew up in a southern Alberta, Canada farming community. In the town there was a huge building called an Agriplex which was used for all large agricultural events. A local caterer had been hired to provide a morning breakfast to horse show competitors. She recounted this event in a cookbook she later went on to publish in 1983. It read like this:

A horse show was being held at our local Agriplex and I had agreed to provide an early morning breakfast. By opening time we felt all was ready — the counter was set with all the necessary accoutrements, iced juices were ready to pour and the pancake batter, enough to feed all of southern Alberta, stood on a TV tray right next to the hot grill.  Who could ask for more?   This building is located on the northwest edge of town with nothing but countryside beyond it as far as the eye can see. As well, it holds grain and hay for the various agricultural events. Thus, making it ripe territory for mice.

Every precaution had been taken to keep them out of the kitchen — traps, bait, even a cat or two. But one little field mouse had eluded all traps set for him and appeared at the vary moment of opening on a ledge behind the big stove. My first thought was to head him off at the pass. After all, that big bowl of pancake batter sat just a few feet from his inquiring nose.

As things worked out, it would have been better to let him fall into the batter. We would just have had to make new batter. But no, I took a mighty swing at him with a broom and hit the TV table which promptly collapsed. My pride and joy white crockery bowl hit the stove and broke into dozens of pieces which meant a sea of pancake batter began spreading, slowly but surely, into every crack and corner of the big stove. Some disappeared under the stove and the rest spread like glue across the floor, all over the area where we should have been standing, that very minute, flipping pancakes and cooking eggs.  The mouse got away!

Sometime later, a friend of mine, gave me a copy of the cookbook as a gift. Inside the cover she had written — ‘As you read this book I’m sure it will remind you of the many funny and often not so funny things that happened to us during the years we worked together in the food industry’. Great memories!

I hope you enjoyed reading my ‘long story’ today. For my Shrove Tuesday pancakes I’m making SOUR CREAM CORN PANCAKES WITH MAPLE SYRUP.

 

 

Sour Cream Corn Pancakes
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Servings
12 PANCAKES
Servings
12 PANCAKES
Sour Cream Corn Pancakes
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Servings
12 PANCAKES
Servings
12 PANCAKES
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, milk, sour cream, butter & vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture & whisk together until no large lumps remain. Let batter rest for 15 minutes. If you wish, you can refrigerate it overnight & use for breakfast in the morning.
  3. Heat a large non-stick electric griddle to 350 F. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter onto griddle. Top each pancake with well drained corn niblets. Cook to a golden brown on each side. Serve with warm Maple Syrup.
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