Anyone following my blog is well aware of my love for rhubarb. I think I’ve tried to use it in every capacity possible. Well, get ready for my next adventure — rhubarb Turkish delight! I refrain from eating a lot of chocolate bars, not that I don’t enjoy them, but seriously –. In Canada, the Nestle company sells a chocolate bar called ‘Big Turk’ for which Turkish delight forms the basic foundation. Of course, I love it!
Just a bit of food history background on the subject first. The Turkish name for the sweet comes from the Arabic rahat-ul hulkum which means ‘soothe or heal the throat’. This was abbreviated to rahat lokum and then lokum. The name ‘Turkish Delight’ was coined in the 18th century to make it easier to pronounce. As an improvement on the original recipe of honey or molasses, a mixture of water, flour, cornstarch and refined beet sugar were used to make a firm, chewy jelly.
Little has changed in the last 240 years. Although there are more than 24 different flavors, the biggest seller that still remains is a plain jelly studded with pistachios. Traditional Middle Eastern flavors include rose-pistachio, orange-blossom walnut, mint and rose-lemon.
Back to the rhubarb. Somewhere in my travels, I came across a recipe for rhubarb truffles that peeked my interest. After more research, I decided why not go right out on a limb and test my skills at making some rhubarb/rose Turkish delight. Actually, the end result was not bad. I have acquired a taste for the use of floral water in baking, Brion, not so much. It has to be used very sparingly or it becomes overpowering. I made three versions: Turkish delight plain or covered in white chocolate and a rhubarb truffle. A bit time consuming but a very unique flavor.
In a saucepan, put 1 1/4 cups water with sugar, rhubarb & lemon juice. Cook over low heat , stirring until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat a little; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; leave the rhubarb to infuse for 10 minutes, then pass through a sieve, reserving the juice & pulp separately (the pulp can be used in the truffles that follow).
Line a baking dish with cling film (the size will depend on how thick you want your candy) & set aside. In a small dish, blend cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth. In a saucepan, add rhubarb juice, gelatin powder, dissolved cornstarch & heat gently, stirring until gelatin has dissolved, then bring to a rolling boil.
Keep mixture at a steady rolling boil, stirring constantly, for about 12-14 minutes or until syrup reaches a soft ball stage. Cool slightly & then pour mixture into lined baking dish. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 12 hours or until the mixture is set; do not refrigerate.
Once the jelly is set, cut into pieces. Combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp powdered sugar in a bowl, then roll the jellies in this mixture to coat them. Keep jellies in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days; do not refrigerate. If you want to dip some of your jellies as I did, I found using a mini ice cube tray as a mold was helpful. I just set the piece of jelly in each cup & poured the white chocolate over & around it. Can be frozen until needed.
Rhubarb Cream Cheese Truffles
In a double boiler over medium heat, melt 55 grams of white chocolate chunks. Transfer to a bowl; add remaining ingredients EXCEPT milk chocolate & beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Cover & chill until solid enough to roll or scoop into balls.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt milk chocolate. drop balls of rhubarb/cream cheese mixture, one at a time, into milk chocolate to coat. Carefully remove onto parchment paper & allow to harden. Can be frozen as well until needed.
I also tried freezing the plain jellies without putting cornstarch/sugar mixture on them and it worked fine. They were actually nice tasting right out of the freezer.
The end of October! Seriously, it seems like we were just getting into spring and now its Halloween. Brion and I were in a store around the end of September that already had Christmas displays up. For me, that really doesn’t work. Maybe it just comes as we get older, but I really enjoy to try to stay in the ‘moment’ and enjoy each day, season and year as they unfold. That time will never come again, so why do we feel the need to rush it so. I guess you could call it, ‘making the most of your own personal journey’.
Nevertheless, it is time to think about some treats for the special ‘little people’ next door. We have just wonderful neighbors on either side of us. One family has two boys and the other side, two girls. I especially enjoy to come up with something unique each year for them on Halloween.
This year I decided to do some apple ‘mummy’ pastries (apple instead of pumpkin for kids, right?!), chocolate bats and black cat cookies. If these treats turn out they should look great! Fun! Fun! Fun!
FOR CRUST: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt & sugar, then add butter. Pulse until only until coarse meal texture is obtained. Add chilled water 1-2 Tbsp at a time. If your dough doesn't come together in clumps add remaining water. Divide dough into two portions & shape each into a 5-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap & chill for one hour.
FOR FILLING: On a cutting board, chop apple pie filling into smaller pieces. In a bowl, soften cream cheese & combine with apple filling & 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Cover bowl & chill until ready to assemble cookies.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out first disk of dough to about 13 X 11-inch rectangle. You will need to have straight edges so you may need to trim a bit. Make twelve 4 X 2 1/2-inch rectangles. Roll out second disk of dough & cut into 1/2-inch strips.
Space rectangles on prepared baking sheet & spread 2 heaping Tbsp of apple filling onto each one, leaving a rim on all sides uncoated. Brush uncoated edges with egg/water mixture. Top with strips to create a 'mummy' look, then seal edges with your fingertips & trim any excess. Brush strips with remaining egg white/water mixture & sprinkle with combined sugar & cinnamon. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until golden. When cooled secure edible candy eyes.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar; set aside. Remove wrappers from Reeses cups. Gently separate Oreo cookies & scrape off frosting. Cut cookies in half to form 4 bat wings. Fill a plastic baggie with cream cheese frosting. Cut off the tip of one corner & pipe frosting onto one corner of each cookie half.
Press one cookie piece on the left of the Reeses cup & another cookie piece on the right forming your bat in flight. Pipe frosting on the back of the edible eyes & secure on top of the center of the Reeses cup.
Black Cat Cookies
In a mixing bowl, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add egg, & vanilla; combine then stir in flour, dry pudding mix & nuts. Combine well but do not over mix. Roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thick between 2 sheets of parchment. Place in freezer for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut cooled dough into pumpkin shapes & place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake about 8 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In a small double boiler, melt black candy melts. Pour melted wafers into a piping bag fitted with a fine tip. Place a large piece of waxed paper on a flat surface with a printout of black cats underneath. Trace cat shapes & fill in after. Allow to set completely, then peel shapes from waxed paper.
Ice cooled pumpkin cookies with orange frosting then lightly press a black cat on the top of each one. This recipe should make about 30 cookies.
The word ‘gratin’ or ‘au gratin’ has been given numerous alternative and incorrect definitions. Many think that the term is French for ‘with cheese’, others say that it refers to a dish with a browned topping and some even claim that gratin means a baked casserole.
The word gratin actually derives from the French word grater or gratter, meaning ‘to grate’. Originally it meant something more like ‘scrapings’. This referred to the browned crusty material that forms on the bottom or the act of scraping loose these crusty bits and stirring them back into the dish during baking. However, it now tends to refer to the browned crust that forms on the top of the baked dish. Toppings generally consist of breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter.
The word gratin is also used to identify the types of cookware in which such a meal is cooked. Traditionally, they are oval, but can also be round and come in graduated sizes and are made of clay-based ceramic, metal or oven-proof glass.
This au gratin combines ham and cauliflower in a creamy, Parmesan sauce and is topped with cheddar cheese. We really enjoyed it.
Fill a medium pot half full of water & add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Cut cauliflower into small flowerets & add to boiling water. Blanche for 3 minutes. DON"T OVERCOOK! Pour into a colander in the sink & let drain well- about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 6 X 8-inch glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Cut ham into small cubes & slice green onions. In a small bowl, place softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, Parmesan & sliced green onions.
Return cauliflower to cooking pot; gently fold in sauce mixture & ham. Season to taste with black pepper. Pour cauliflower mixture into prepared baking dish, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted & lightly browned. Mixture should be bubbling & hot through. Remove from oven & allow to stand 10 minutes for any liquid to be absorbed. Serve hot.
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’.
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.
Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar & lime juice. Fold in diced, fresh strawberries.
Unroll cooled cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling; roll up loosely to accommodate filling. Cover & refrigerate until ready to slice & serve.
With doughnuts, its all about the ‘hole’. No hole, no doughnut. That little circle means everything. The idea of frying a piece of dough is ancient. The Romans, Dutch, Spanish and Germans all did it. While we know who introduced the doughnut, the story behind the doughnut hole is a little less clear. The most likely explanation was that at some point, bakers started adding egg yolks to their recipes, which produced a richer dough. Of course, this meant the middle of the doughnut no longer cooked at the same rate as its edges, resulting in doughy, raw centers. They came to the conclusion, that if they removed the thick center, the doughnut would cook evenly throughout. It was also believed that the hole was formed to make it easy to ‘dunk’ the doughnut in coffee. However, as in all food history stories you will find various other versions that are more entertaining and whimsical.
In Canada, doughnut holes that are sold by the Tim Horton franchise, have become known as ‘Tim bits’. The name is a play on the word ‘tidbit’ (a delicate bit of food). They were introduced in April 1976 and are available in at least 20 flavors that differ from store to store.
I’m not big on deep fried things whether they are sweet or savory. These carrot cake doughnut holes are baked — no frying necessary. Dip them in a bit of cream cheese ‘glaze’, sprinkle with remaining chopped walnuts and enjoy!
Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, finely grate carrots. Sift in flour then add brown sugar, soda & spices. Add egg & oil & beat until mixture is smooth. Fold in half of the chopped walnuts.
Butter & flour a cake pop pan. Divide batter between 14 holes. Secure top pan in place with rubber clamps. Bake for 10-12 minutes, testing with a toothpick at about 8 minutes. When baked, remove from oven & allow to cool before removing top pan.
In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, margarine & milk. Gradually add sugar & vanilla beating to a glaze consistency.
Once doughnut holes are removed from pan & thoroughly cooled, dip in glaze, sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Allow to firm up in refrigerator before serving with forks.
Self-Rising Flour is made with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt & enough all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.
About five years ago, Brion and I planted a ‘Cupid’ cherry tree in our back yard. I don’t know if you have ever heard about these ‘prairie’ cherry trees. They were developed here in Canada at the University of Saskatchewan for colder climates. A sour cherry was cross pollinated with a Mongolian cherry. This resulted in a variety of very hardy, smaller trees with a tart-sweet cherry about the size of the well-known ‘Bing’ variety. A group of five cherry trees were developed and became known as the ‘Romance’ series.
We chose this particular one because it is an early bloomer with large, dark red cherries that are both sweet and slightly astringent. The fruit matures in late August -early September with about a three week harvest period. The tree size is perfect as it matures to around eight feet tall. In the fall it’s glossy green leaves turn a beautiful yellow-orange. Last year we harvested over five pounds of cherries. Not a bad yield for a young tree.
I was going through the freezer the other day and noticed I still have some cherries left from last year. A Sour Cherry Cheesecake Galette seems like the perfect way to use them.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
In a bowl, beat cream cheese, egg yolk, 2 Tbsp sugar & vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. In another bowl, toss cherries with cornstarch & remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.
Remove pastry from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Spoon the cherries over cream cheese, leaving any excess juice in bowl. Gently fold pastry over cherries, pleating to hold it in. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar.
Bake 35-45 minutes until filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
I realize raspberry season in our part of the country is still a number of months away. I still see nothing wrong with using some of those frozen ones from last years crop. If there’s one thing I love, its an easy dessert that is still totally delicious. Combining raspberries and cream cheese is a match made in heaven then add some oatmeal and it becomes amazing.
The cheesecake part of this recipe has been one of my ‘go to’ recipes when it comes to the base for any any number of variations. Since I had some frozen raspberries on hand I though they would give this dessert just what it needs. I have also used different pie fillings and preserves in it or just left it as a plain cheesecake bar — all are good. These bars freeze well so its great when you need a bit of dessert on short notice.
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together 1 1/2 cups raspberries, sugar & water until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat & add vanilla. In a small dish, combine cornstarch & 2 Tbsp water; mix well. Add to boiling mixture, stirring over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat & allow to cool for 15 minutes, then fold in the last of the raspberries. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour & brown sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in oatmeal. Reserving 1 1/2 cups; press remainder onto bottom of a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Add milk & vanilla then lemon juice & beat well.
Pour cream cheese mixture over crust evenly. Next, carefully pour raspberry filling over cheesecake evenly. Sprinkle top evenly with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until tests down. Cool thoroughly & cut into bars or diamond shapes.
This recipe will divide easily into thirds for a smaller batch.
If you prefer the raspberries sweeter, add another 1/4 cup sugar.
Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mother’s birthday. She passed away in 1978 at the age of 60. No matter how many years go by she will always be the never ending song in my heart. She had such a wonderful ability to make the everyday things more enjoyable. I have so many great memories of those times that I just took for granted and now realize how special they were. Her courage and strength to endure the harshness that farm life sometimes throws at you was nothing short of amazing. As we honor my mother today, we hold on to those precious memories that will never fade from our minds.
As I have mentioned so many times before, my mother was exceptional in her ability to cook and bake. Regularly, when she baked bread, one of the extra treats was a pan of cinnamon rolls. This Kahlua Nut Roll seemed perfect for today’s blog recipe.
In 1986, a little recipe pamphlet was published by Maidstone Wine & Spirits Inc. using Kahlua liqueur. All you had to do was write to them and request as many copies as you wanted free of charge. It contained about 90 recipes all using Kahlua. What a great bit of ‘PR’ work!
The oldest proof of Kahlua’s date of origin is a bottle found by Maidstone. The bottle came from Mexico and was dated 1937. The word Kahlua was discovered to have ties to ancient Arabic languages and the old label, which bears similarity to the current label, shows a turbaned man smoking a pipe beneath a Moorish archway. The only obvious change in the current label is the man has become a sombrero wearing man, napping beneath the same Moorish archway and in some labels there is no man pictured at all.
My Kahlua Cinnamon Nut Roll was adapted from this great little recipe pamphlet.
In a small dish, add yeast to lukewarm water; set aside. In a large bowl, combine milk, shortening, sugar & salt. Add 1 cup of flour; beat well. Add egg, yeast mixture & remaining 1 1/4 cups flour.; beat to form moderately stiff dough. Turn out on a floured work surface. Knead gently until smooth & elastic. Lightly butter bowl, form dough into a disk & cover with clean tea towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes.
Cream Cheese/Pecan Filling
In a bowl, combine cream cheese & butter until smooth. In another dish, combine pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter; add brown sugar & Kahlua liqueur. Bring to a boil; simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; reserve 1/3 cup syrup. Pour remaining syrup into a 9-inch round cake pan.
When dough has risen, turn out on a lightly floured work surface & roll into a 14-inch square. Spread dough with cream cheese mixture & sprinkle sugar mixture on one half. Fold other half over sugar & press lightly to adhere.
Cut dough lengthwise into 5 strips. Beginning in the center of prepared pan, wrap strips in a spiral pattern, pinching ends together. Cover & let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until golden & cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove & let stand in pan 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate; spoon reserved syrup over top.