Herb Roasted Game Hens with Rhubarb-Date Chutney

According to legend, the Cornish game hen was actually ‘invented’. The original breeder was a woman by the name of  ‘Tea’ Makowsky.  At the age of 15, she moved to Paris, France finding work at both a milliner’s shop and a cheese shop. It was here she met her husband and they married in 1933. Fleeing from the Nazis, they settled in the USA. After fire destroyed their farm in 1949. the Makowskis, began experimenting and came up with a cross breed of Cornish game cocks and Plymouth Rock hens. The result was a plump little bird that matured quickly with all-white meat. In less than 5 weeks, the chicken was ready to be sold.

By the 1950’s, the Cornish Game Hen was fabulously popular. The usual weight is about 500-700 grams, which makes it ample for an individual serving. I remember in the 1970’s, Cornish game hens were considered to be a very upscale or exotic dinner and quite expensive.

I haven’t made any of these little ‘birds’ for a long time. Since its that time of year for that wonderful rhubarb, I’m pairing some Cornish hens with a rhubarb chutney. Yum!

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Herb Roasted Game Hens with Rhubarb-Date Chutney
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Servings
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
Cornish Hens
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash & dry hens thoroughly, Divide herb pkg between hens & place inside. Rub each hen with butter or mayo. Place breast side up in a roasting pan. Roast until juices run clear & meat thermometer reads 165 F. when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken, about an hour. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Fruit Chutney
  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick but still has a small amount of liquid. Serve warm or cold with Cornish game hens.

Mango Chutney Country Style Ribs

If you are not accustomed to using chutneys it is well worth revisiting the idea. Chutney is similar to salsa or a sweet ‘relish’. The perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy are critical elements for most chutneys. The sweetness coming from fresh or dried fruits, the sour element from vinegar, lemon or lime and the spiciness from a variety of whole spices. 

There is no right or wrong recipe, just a preferred flavor or two. They can be cooked or fresh and are made from a wide variety of ingredient combinations of fruits and/ or vegetables and spices. Ground spices tend to make chutney cloudy so it is best to use whole ones.

In the majority of chutney recipes one ingredient tends to dominate the flavor. The sweet and sour ones work well with beef, pork and chicken, whereas sweeter versions are great on cheese and crackers, bagels and toast.

I have made numerous chutneys over the years. Some were served with warm Brie cheese but very often I’ve used mango chutney when cooking pork. This particular recipe can be made with either purchased chutney or just make a recipe of your own. It creates a unique flavor along with nice tender ribs.

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Mango Chutney Country Style Ribs
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Instructions
Mango Chutney
  1. In a saucepan, combine honey & vinegar, Bring to a boil & simmer until honey dissolves. Add remaining ingredients & simmer, uncovered until mixture becomes slightly thickened. Pour into a glass dish & set aside until needed. Refrigerate any remaining chutney that you don't use in making ribs.
Ribs / Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, Brown ribs & set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add all 'sauce' ingredients to saucepan except for the 1 fresh mango. Bring to a boil, cooking for about 15 minutes, gently mashing tomatoes with a fork, until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 F. Place ribs in a baking dish; pour sauce over ribs, cover & bake for about 1-1 1/2 hours until ribs are very tender. Serve with sauce & top with remaining diced fresh mango.

Apfel-Streuselkuchen – German Apple Coffee Cake

German-inspired yeasted coffee cake is a very popular type of cake all over Germany and Austria. It is very different from the typical butter cake associated with streusel coffee cake in North America. Whereas a butter cake is rich, sweet and fine grained, kuchen is light and slightly porous with a complexity of flavor that can only be found in yeast leavened baked goods. Of course, there are many different variations, but the important part is the streusel or crumbled topping, which consists  of a combination of flour, sugar, butter and spices.

In the past, most German towns and cities had orchards planted all around them, on land that belonged to the community. Cows or sheep grazed underneath the trees and people were free to pick the fruits when they became ripe. Today most of those common lands have been turned into suburbs and the trees are gone. Destruction of the remnants of ancient orchards is ongoing, contributing to the loss of heirloom varieties. Even though the diversity of choice is decreasing, the apple is still by far the most popular fruit in Germany.

Here is my best adaptation of an  APPLE STREUSEL COFFEE CAKE   that I think you might enjoy to try.

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Apfel-Streuselkuchen - German Apple Coffee Cake
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine European, German
Servings
Ingredients
Coffee Cake
Apple Filling
Streusel Topping
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine European, German
Servings
Ingredients
Coffee Cake
Apple Filling
Streusel Topping
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Coffee cake
  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/8 cup sugar & lukewarm water; allow to dissolve. Stir in remaining 1/8 cup of sugar, salt, milk, sour cream, lemon juice & vanilla; mix well. Add egg & blend.
  2. With fingertips, rapidly work the butter into 2 1/2 cups of the flour until coarse, meal-like consistency. Add to the yeast mixture & knead in bowl, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, elastic dough. Shape into a ball & place in a lightly buttered bowl. Cover tightly and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled in bulk.
Apple Filling
  1. Peel & slice apples. In a small saucepan, combine all filling ingredients except pecans. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until apples are tender, & juice has evaporated. Stir in pecans; set aside to cool.
Streusel Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon & lemon zest. With fingertips, rub in butter until mixture is coarse & crumbly. Set aside.
  2. When dough has doubled in size, turn out on a lightly floured piece of wax paper. Press out gently into a rectangle about 10 x 14-inches in size. Spread apple filling to within 1/4-inch of edges & very gently press into dough. Roll up from the wide end, jelly-roll fashion.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-inch tube or bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the streusel in pan. Carefully, (dough will be very soft) with the help of the wax paper, fit the roll into the pan so that the ends of the dough join. Pinch ends of together. Sprinkle cake with remaining streusel. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven & allow cake to cool before slicing.

German Stollen – In the Spirit of Tradition

I realize we are still weeks away from Christmas, but there are some things that are just better if given the time to ‘ripen’ and develop a rich and complex flavor. German stollen, also known as (Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen) is one of them.

In my previous blog I mentioned that stollen was a close ‘kin’ to fruitcake, but one thing it is not – is fruitcake! Stollen is a yeast bread  that is fortified with a colorful collection of candied fruit, citrus peel, raisins/currants, nuts, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, mace or cloves, brandy or rum and lots of butter.

The tradition of Christmas stollen dates back to 14th century Germany. The sweeteners in this period were honey and dried fruits; until the 17th century, sugar was a scarce and expensive commodity. For this reason, sweets were only meant for times of great festivity and joy.  Originally it was made without milk or butter because these items were forbidden by the church during Advent. That changed in 1490 when Pope Innocent VIII signed the ‘butter document’ allowing bakers to use butter. It was much later when the use of milk was finally permitted.

The cake’s distinctive shape, which it retains to this day, is meant to symbolize the Christ child ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager’. Baked loaves are brushed with butter then cloaked in a thick layer of powdered sugar.

Holiday food traditions are a miraculous mix of time, place, ideology and ingredients. Often times, a single person can be the catalyst for a family culinary tradition. They bring it to the table as a delectable ‘gift’, wrapped with their own cherished memories and life experiences, enriching our holiday celebrations.

When I think of German stollen, a very unique memory comes back to me. One of the few newspapers my folks were interested in and had access to was the ‘Free Press Weekly Prairie Farmer’. It was a small newspaper published by the Manitoba Free Press for the prairie provinces in Canada. The newspaper’s middle section, ‘Home Loving Hearts’, contained ads from people requesting  pen pals  across Canada as well as recipes, ads for patterns of aprons, dresses, pot holders, baby clothes and knitting.

It was here my mother acquired a pen pal by the name of Renate Leitner in about 1956, that lasted for over 20 years, until the time of my mother’s passing. Every Christmas, Mrs. Leitner would send our family a beautiful loaf of German stollen bread in the mail. I remember how we looked forward to receiving it and how good it always tasted. This definitely attests to the durability of this bread.

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German Stollen (Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen)
If made several weeks in advance it allows it to mellow and soften into a glorious fruit bread.
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine German
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Marinate raisins, candied fruit & almonds in rum overnight, Stirring occasionally.
  2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups of the flour. Stir in yeast mixture & lukewarm milk. Cover with plastic wrap & let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Punch down dough firmly & work in beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon zest, vanilla & pieces of softened butter.
  4. Sift remaining 3 cups of flour with salt, nutmeg & cardamom & work in 2 cups to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead in remaining cup of flour mixture to form a smooth and satiny dough without any stickiness. Work in fruit & nut mixture.
  5. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll each portion into an oval shape about 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20 cm) & 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. Brush each piece with melted butter & fold the dough over lengthwise, almost in half.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly press edges together to seal (brush tops with a beaten egg if you wish). Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden. Cover with foil if loaves are browning to fast. Brush warm loaves with melted butter & dust thickly with powdered sugar. Cool on a rack. When completely cool, wrap tightly in foil & keep in a cool place for 2-3 weeks to ripen.
Recipe Notes
  • You can customize your filling ingredients any way you like. For example,  use dried cranberries or cherries instead of raisins -- candied citrus peel or candied ginger instead of citron peel -- your favorite dried fruit instead of apricots. You can even use sweet poppy seed paste or marzipan to fill your stollen -- your choice!
  • Stollen freezes well so it can be made weeks in advance of Christmas.