Gingerbread (cake) is the perfect sweet/spicy dessert for fall and winter, flavored by a ‘strange lumpy little root’. I recall my mother baking gingerbread cake for our supper dessert. She would serve it warm with farm fresh whipped cream. For lack of a better expression, ‘it was to die for’. Strangely enough, I was never fond of molasses but certainly enjoyed that warm gingerbread cake!?
Gingerbread has been baked in Europe for centuries. In some places it was soft, delicately spiced cake, in others, a crisp, flat cookie. Then in other places, warm, thick, dark squares of bread served with lemon sauce or whipped cream.
At first, gingerbread was made with breadcrumbs and sweetened with honey, but as it made its way throughout the world it has been adapted to meet the taste of different cultures. In North America, along with the ground ginger we usually like to add cinnamon, and cloves. Molasses is usually labeled as ‘sulphured’ or ‘unsulphured’ depending on whether sulphur was used in the processing. The unsulphured molasses is lighter in color and tends to have a nicer flavor.
Brion does not remember ever eating gingerbread cake?? I’m going to try to bring back the taste of a memory with this classic little cake and see what he thinks.
There is definitely more to rhubarb than just dessert. While rhubarb is generally treated as a fruit, it has also made many popular appearances in recipes of the day as a savory ingredient.
Braised in chicken stock with a little brown sugar makes a nice side dish for pork, lamb or fish. In sauces, it teams well with onion, sugar and star anise and tarragon for salmon or trout. If your serving pork, onion, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and cloves all pair well with rhubarb.
In September, 2016, I posted a recipe for Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. It became real popular with my blog followers so I thought I would share another pork/rhubarb idea. This recipe was one of those newspaper clippings from yesteryear that is still in my ‘file’ today.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Trim excess fat from short ribs; cut into serving size pieces. Place some of the fat in a heavy skillet & heat until skillet is well greased. Discard any remaining pieces.
Combine flour, salt & pepper in a plastic bag. Place short ribs in bag & shake to coat evenly; reserve any extra flour. Place ribs in skillet & brown slowly on both sides. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, making a single layer.
Top ribs with slices of onion, orange & celery. Toss rhubarb, sugar, reserved flour mixture & cloves together & sprinkle over all. Add water to the baking pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 35 minutes or until ribs are tender. Uncover & continue baking 10 minutes longer.
The original recipe used pork chops but our preference is with pork country style ribs instead.
The second Monday of October has been the day Canada has celebrated Thanksgiving since 1957. We have now entered into our Autumn season with all it’s breathtaking fabulous fall foliage. Part of Canada’s appeal is it’s four seasons that offer changing landscapes and temperatures.
I, for one, have always loved the changing seasons. That’s not to say that I like freezing cold and slippery roads but that I have come to understand the important role each one plays in the ‘big picture’. When Brion and I initially landscaped our property, careful consideration was given to what plants were planted. Over the years it has developed into a beautiful tapestry of color through our growing season.
Growing up on the farm, Fall was an especially busy time with the grain crops being harvested, garden vegetables being canned, frozen or just stored for use over the coming months. So much needed to be done before winter would set in. As a teenager it all just seemed like a lot of work. Even as hard as my parents worked at making a living from farming, I think they felt a real sense of satisfaction in what they were able to achieve. I realize now that even without being aware of it the visual beauty of the farmland at harvest was imprinted on me forever.
Thanksgiving Day in Canada is linked to the European tradition of harvest festivals. A common image seen at this time of year is a cornucopia, or horn, filled with seasonal fruit and vegetables. The cornucopia, which means ‘Horn of Plenty’ in Latin, was a symbol of bounty and plenty in ancient Greece. Turkeys, pumpkins, ears of corn and large displays of food are also used to symbolize Thanksgiving Day.
Over the years, Brion and I have chose to have a variety of different meats for our Thanksgiving meal. Turkey is always the tradition for our Christmas dinner and since the two holidays come fairly close together, why not! All that being said though, we decided this year to roast just the turkey breast with stuffing. I also incorporated some of that wonderful Butternut squash with cranberries into the meal as well. For dessert we are having some pumpkin chiffon tarts. As a ‘kid’, I remember having a great dislike for the regular pumpkin pie — you know the kind –‘solid’. Then one year my mother made pumpkin ‘CHIFFON‘ pie. Well, now that was glorious and I have loved it ever since.
Today in my recipes I have only included the Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Pumpkin Chiffon Tarts.I thought I’d get into the turkey and stuffing recipes later in the season.
Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Butternut Squash with Cranberries / Pumpkin Chiffon Tarts
Preheat oven to 375 F. Split squash in half; place hollow side down on a lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until completely soft to the touch.
In a small skillet, saute celery & onion in margarine until tender. Add the apple, salt, lemon juice & pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat until apple is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cranberries, sugar & water. Cook & stir until berries pop & liquid is syrupy. If you prefer, you could process this mixture for a couple of seconds in a food processor.
Remove seeds & membrane from cooked squash; mash well. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar & maple syrup. Place some squash in individual custard dishes. Make a hollow in the center for the cranberry 'filling'. Add cranberries & serve.
Pumpkin Chiffon Tart Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine first 7 ingredients; mix well. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, regular milk & egg yolks; combine well. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to a heavy custard. Boil 2 minutes, add 1 Tbsp margarine. Place wax paper over custard to prevent a 'skin' from forming. Let custard become cold (it can be refrigerated overnite at this point, finishing it the following day) then stir in 1/4 cup orange juice.
Whip envelope of dessert topping with 1/2 cup milk & 1/2 tsp vanilla until stiff peaks form. It should yield about 2 cups. Put aside the amount you need to garnish tarts with. Fold remaining whipped dessert topping into custard. Spoon custard into a large pastry bag with a large 'star' tip. Fill baked mini tart shells. Decorate with a small dollop of dessert topping.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening. In a 1 cup measuring cup place egg & vinegar; beat well. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing until pastry pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes, making sure not to over mix pastry. Roll out on floured surface. Using the bottom side of tart pans, cut pastry circles & place over each 'cup'. Bake at 350 F. until golden. Cool on wire rack before filling with pumpkin custard. If your using purchased shells follow baking instructions & cool before filling as well.
This pastry & pumpkin chiffon custard recipe was one I started using many years ago while working in the food industry. They were some of my favorites because they were pretty much 'fail proof'. If you want to make a double batch of each it will give you 4 - 9-inch pies. You can make them up to the point of decorating. Freeze until needed then just bring them out & thaw, decorate and you got a nice little homemade dessert just like that!
As I mentioned before, pork tenderloin regularly pops up in my supper menus. Over time, I have prepared it in many different ways and hardly ever remember any that we didn’t care for.
Since my three rhubarb plants seem to still be producing those lovely stalks, why not use them! This blog recipe is easy, wonderful tasting and a great presentation all in one. Here’s my interpretation of Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Chutney. Enjoy!
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine spice rub ingredients. Butterfly pork tenderloin & flatten to uniform thickness. Place in plastic bag with spice rub & shake to distribute seasoning well. Close bag & allow to stand in refrigerator for several hours.
In a heavy saucepan, combine first 9 chutney ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add rhubarb, onion & dried cranberries; increase heat to medium & cook until rhubarb is tender & mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Can be made ahead of time & refrigerated until needed.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a piece of aluminum foil & place on a wire rack on a baking pan. Cut plastic bag open; lay tenderloin flat with cut side up. Spread chutney over tenderloin & carefully roll (using plastic bag), starting with the long side as you would with a cake 'jelly roll'. Place on greased foil on pan.
Lightly rub a small amount of olive oil or a 'fig balsamic dressing' over top of tenderloin. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tests done. DO NOT OVER BAKE! Remove from oven & allow stand for a few minutes before slicing.