Hot Curried Peaches – a Festive, Fruity Sauce for Ham, Pork, Turkey or Chicken (and a Recipe for Spiced Peach Rooibos Tea)

Are you looking for something different and wow-worthy for your holiday feast this year? Hot Curried Peaches make a stunning sauce for ham, pork, or turkey. Or just serve them over pan-fried pork chops or chicken breasts to turn an everyday meal into something extraordinary. Beautiful canned peaches are the star here. (Skip to recipe)

hot curried peaches make a fantastic sauce for ham, pork, or chicken; great for your next holiday feast

What’s your favourite food to secretly eat, straight from the can with a spoon? Is it by any chance a can of sunshiny golden peaches? Mine is.

Juicy, slippery, sweet, and tasting of summer, I’ve always loved nothing better than to slurp up a bowl (or can) of this glorious preserved fruit. Yes, a juicy summer peach, ripe and heavy and still warm from the sun, with the golden nectar dripping down your arm as you eat it, is a little bit of fruit-heaven on earth. But unless you live right next to a peach orchard, that wonderful experience is pretty elusive.

Northern Alberta is a long way from those sunny fruit-growing climes. It’s very rare that we can buy a really perfect fresh peach at the grocery store. So the next best thing is a peach that’s been grown on family farms, picked at its peak of perfect ripeness, and popped into the can right there at the source – no lengthy weeks of shipping and storage. These little bundles of fresh flavour contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate.

And they taste fantastically fresh and fruity.

California Cling Peaches make a luscious fruity sauce for ham or turkey

California cling peaches are picked and packed in their own juices, usually within 24 hours, to ensure they retain their appearance, texture, flavour, and nutritional content. Then they are shipped up to us to enjoy, year round. Most of the canned peaches we buy in our Canadian grocery stores are luscious California peaches.

This holiday season, I’m craving a bowl of these golden crescents, warm and spicy and juicy, to accompany our holiday ham or turkey. Cranberry sauce is great, but I think it’s time for a change. Let’s cause a mini food revolt! Let’s start a new holiday tradition!

bowl of hot curried peaches, delicious sauce for ham

For our Christmas Eve feast I’ll have to, of course, serve our traditional German Rouladen – the kids would protest if I served anything else. And for Christmas day, it’s gotta be roast goose in this German household. But for Boxing Day I’ll be feeding a huge crew, and a holiday ham or turkey will be the star of the show. As its crowning glory, I’ll make up a big bowl of these wonderfully warm and spicy Hot Curried Peaches.

Sweet peach slices nestle together with chewy bits of tart dried cranberries in a bath of luscious sweet caramel, rich with curry and spices and tangy with a hit of mustard and apple cider vinegar – a veritable flavour explosion. I love how the canned cling peaches keep their shape and beautiful golden colour even when cooked. A big ladle of this zesty, fruity sauce draped over a slice of salty country ham or rich roasted turkey is a wonderful new holiday taste sensation (and if you need to convince those die-hard cranberry sauce fans, you can appease them by telling them that, hey, there are still cranberries in this sauce, too 😉 ).

hot curried peaches make a great sauce for ham, with broccoli and potatoesI’ll let you in on a secret – Hot Curried Peaches are not only delicious as part of a holiday feast. Try making up a batch of them the next time you pan-fry a few juicy, thick pork chops or roast up some chicken breasts or thighs. Serve them beside a beautiful, succulent roasted pork loin or some buttery sauteed pork tenderloins or tenderloin medallions. Sheer peachy heaven! A side dish of these curried peaches will turn any old ordinary meal into something pretty special.

Hot curried peaches - a luscious fruity sauce for ham, pork, or poultry

try these hot curried peaches over a succulent pan-fried pork chop

And while you are roasting the ham and stirring the peach sauce, why not sip on a steaming cup of spiced rooibos peach tea? The juice from the peaches makes a most comfortingly delicious, warming drink.

Cheers and Guten Appetit!

* * * * *

This post is sponsored by California Cling Peaches.

Kitchen Frau Notes: Don’t waste the tasty juice you drain from your cans of peaches. Save 1 tablespoon of it for the cornstarch slurry, then use the rest of the juice to make a delicious hot drink – Spiced Peach Rooibos Tea (see the recipe below). Makes a wonderful sip for the cook and cook’s helper! (If you want to add a splash of rum, I won’t tell.)

And if you don’t feel like making tea, simply add the peach juice to a pitcher of orange juice or any other juice or iced tea you have on hand. Or heat it and use it to make a regular cup of tea. Or freeze the juice in ice cubes to add to smoothies or baking, or use it to cook your porridge with instead of water.

Just don’t dump that liquid gold down the drain!

a bowl of hot curried peaches; the perfect sauce for ham, pork, or chickent

Hot Curried Peaches – a Festive Sauce for Ham, Pork, Chicken, or even your Holiday Turkey

  • 2 cans (398ml/14 oz each) sliced peaches in light syrup or in pear juice, drained (juice reserved)
  • 1/3 cup (75gms) butter
  • ½ cup (100gms) light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (40gms) dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (mild or medium heat)
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon reserved peach juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Pour the peaches into a sieve set over a bowl to catch the juices and let them drain while you prepare the sauce base. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the juice in a small bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, dried cranberries, apple cider vinegar, curry powder, ginger, dry mustard, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken and caramelize.

Add the drained peach slices and stir gently, so you don’t break up the slices. The sauce will sizzle and thin out. Return to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally very gently.

In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch into the reserved tablespoon of peach juice until smooth. Stir into the curried peaches and cook for one more minute, until thickened.

Serve hot over baked sliced ham, pan-fried pork chops, pork roast, turkey, or chicken.

Serves 4 to 6.

* * * * *

hot spiced peach rooibos tea

Spiced Peach Rooibos Tea

  • the juice drained from two (400ml/14oz) cans of peaches (~1 to 1¼ cups total)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 thin slices of fresh lemon
  • 3 thin slices of fresh ginger
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teabags of rooibos tea
  • honey to taste – optional

In a small saucepan, combine the peach juice, water, lemon slices, ginger slices, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat, add the rooibos tea bags, cover the saucepan, and let steep for 5 minutes.

Strain to remove the spices and tea bags. Sweeten to taste with honey, if desired. Pour into 2 mugs and serve hot.

Serves 2.

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute the 2 rooibos teabags with one regular black teabag.

Guten Appetit!

This post is sponsored by California Cling Peaches. I was compensated for developing the recipe, but the writing and opinions are most definitely my own. I truly love eating and cooking with those luscious canned peaches.

 

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Looking for something different to serve with your ham or turkey? Try sweet 'n spicy hot curried peaches!

You might also like these other special holiday feast dishes:

Fleisch Rouladen – a German Christmas Eve Dish

Maple and Mustard Glazed Turkey with Killer Gravy

Sauerbraten – a Special Roast Beef

A Prairie Gift – Seared Duck Breast with Braised Apples and Cabbage

Posted in Condiments, Sauces & Dips, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cooking with Kids: 3 Ingredient, No Bake Cereal Bars for Peanut Butter and Honey Lovers

Crunchy, chewy, nutty! The whole family will love these super easy cereal bars. Whip them up in minutes with three ingredients you probably have in your pantry right now. (Skip to recipe)

No bake cereal bars; only 3 ingredients

Cooking with Amelia

You might remember Amelia from our homemade gluten free playdough cooking day.

Amelia with her no bake cereal barsno bake cereal bars turned into little snack bites

She has sure grown up since then. She still loves princesses and the colour purple, but she now also loves playing hockey, skiing, and reading Harry Potter and any other chapter books she can get her hands on. And she loves messing around in the kitchen.

no bake cereal bars - O Myno bake cereal bars; measuring the ingredientsstirring up the no bake cereal bars takes just a minute or soCooking with Kids; no bake cereal bars - so easy with only three ingredients

Amelia and her mom (my cousin) came to visit us for a few days, and we had fun times in the kitchen together. We cooked up a bunch of recipes and this was one of our favourites – easy no bake cereal bars that fulfilled all our peanut butter and honey cravings.

peanut butter no bake cereal bars with peanuts

I’m not the only one that has peanut butter and honey cravings, am I?

My nostalgia for this flavour combination stems from childhood – crackers spread with peanut butter and topped with a smear of honey were a staple sweet snack in our household, one of the few mom allowed. Later, as a university student and then working as a teacher, I often lunched on rice cakes spread with peanut butter and honey; an easy, throw-together-at-the-last-minute lunch on rushed days. And I still love to satisfy a sweet craving like that nowadays. This simple peanut butter & honey combination doesn’t seem to go out of style.

No bake cereal bars are a great project to make with kids (and licking the bowl is an important part of the job). Young ones will need help with the stovetop part of the recipe. For these easy bars you just cook up some peanut butter and honey, stir it together with a heap of cereal (kinda like our Rickety Uncles treats) and pop it into a pan. Or you can have fun and fill a batch of mini muffin tins for little individual snacks. Amelia topped ours with a sprinkle of colourful candy-coated sunflower seeds.

no bake cereal bars can be baked in mini muffin tins to make snacky little bites

or you can fill mini muffin tins with these no bake cereal bars for fun little snacky bites

Yes, they are a sweet treat. But life’s short. Sometimes we need sweets.

* * * * *

Tell me . . .  are you a peanut butter & honey lover, too?

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Even though Cheerios brand cereal doesn’t contain any wheat ingredients and is labeled ‘Gluten Free’, some people with celiac disease have problems with it. So if you have celiac disease, are extremely sensitive to gluten, or if you know you can’t tolerate it; use a certified gluten-free, O-shaped oat cereal instead.

Nut free: many schools don’t allow peanut or nut products. I’ve tried this recipe with No Nuts brand toasted soy butter, which tastes very much like peanut butter, and it turns out just as deliciously. If you are making the recipe nut-free and wish to add nuts, replace the peanuts with toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Vegan: golden syrup (like Rogers Syrup) or brown rice syrup, instead of honey, work equally well in this recipe.

plate of no bake cereal bars - so easy to whip up

3 Ingredient No Bake Cereal Bars

  • 3 cups O-shaped oat breakfast cereal (like Cheerios or a certified gluten-free substitute)
  • ½ cup (120ml) peanut butter
  • ½ cup (120ml) honey
  • optional: ½ cup roasted peanuts

Prepare an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan by lining it with parchment paper. Crease the paper to fit neatly into the corners. Or alternately, place mini-sized cupcake liners into 24 wells of a mini muffin tin.

Measure out the cereal into a bowl. Add the peanuts, if you are using them. Set aside.

Combine the peanut butter and honey in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook for one minute, stirring constantly, as it can burn easily.

Pour the coating over the cereal, scraping the saucepan clean with a silicone spatula. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir it, making sure all the cereal is coated.

Pour the hot sticky cereal into the prepared pan and pat it down with the back of a large spoon so the top is smooth. Or, use two teaspoons to fill the wells of the mini muffin tins, heaping the cereal up and pressing it into the liners.

Chill the cereal bars or snack minis for at least one hour before cutting.

Lift the whole slab of cereal bar, with the parchment paper, out onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares with a sharp knife.

Makes 16 squares or 24 mini muffin bites.

Guten Appetit!

 

For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

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Easy Cooking with Kids Project - 3 Ingredient No Bake Cereal Bars

You might also like:

Cooking with Kids: Rickety Uncles

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (aka Haystacks)

Spiced Rice Krispie Trees

Choco-Crisps (Rice Krispie Cookies)

Gingerbread Rice Krispie Squares

 

Posted in Cakes, Bars, & Squares, Cooking with Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maple Crème Brûlée and a Trip to Québec City

Luscious, silky, maple-infused custard topped with a crackling layer of caramelized sugar, Maple Crème Brûlée is the stuff dreams are made of. (Skip to recipe)

a luscious spoonful of maple creme brulee

The last part of our little Canadian holiday took us to Québec City. See Part One and Part Two of our trip for more photos, recipes, and stories.

maple creme brulee, view of Quebec from the Citadel

view of Québec from the city wall at the Citadel, with the Chateau Frontenac reigning majestically over the Old Town

Québec City (usually just called Québec) is a cultural gem; the last remaining fortified city with intact walls north of Mexico. Strolling the streets of its old town, Vieux-Québec, you would think yourself in the center of any small village in France. Winding cobbled streets and old stone buildings transport you instantly back in time. You expect the baker to be walking down the street with a cloth-covered basket of baguettes and the village children to run by you on their way home from school.

maple creme brulee; street in Vieux-Quebec

maple creme brulee; vines on old stone buildingsmaple creme brulee; fall displays on storefronts in Old Quebec

Since it was late October, the city was all dressed up for fall.

IMG 2979est

this quaint town square!

maple creme brulee; wet oak leaves in Quebec

oak leaves on a wet street

maple creme brulee; Quebec City buildings

maple creme brulee; view of Quebec over the river

the newer part of Quebec City, across the river

We took a walking food tour to get a little bit of the taste of Quebec – everything from Cariboo liqueur and apple cider to poutine and all things maple.

maple creme brulee - food tour

local wine and hard apple cider tasting

maple creme brulee; potato sacks for poutine

sacks of local potatoes washed and ready for the best poutine ever

You can walk along parts of the city wall.

maple creme caramel: Quebec City at dusk from atop the wall

there are still many old canons stationed along the wall

We took a tour of the Citadelle, part of the city’s fortifications and the beautifully-kept base of the Royal 22e Régiment of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as one of the official homes of Canada’s monarch and its governor general.

maple creme caramel; big canon at the Citadel

maple creme caramel; Quebec City wall gate

one of the gates in the city wall

We walked through the market down at the harbour along the St. Lawrence River. Our eyes feasted on a vast array of meats, cheeses, and local fresh produce.

maple creme brulee; sausages at the market in Quebec

sausages at the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec

Apples were king at this time of year.

IMG 3055estmaple creme brulee; more apples at the market

maple creme brulee; produce at the Quebec market

On our last day in Québec, we ate dinner at a restaurant inside the oldest house in Québec City.

maple creme brulee; at Aux Anciens Canadiens

Restaurant aux Anciens Canadiens

Inside the dark, low-ceilinged wood-paneled building we feasted on a meal of tourtière, the traditional Québec meat pie, along with a sweet ‘n zesty homemade tomato and fruit ketchup.

maple creme caramel; tourtiere at Restaurant aux Anciens Canadiens

Raymond chose the meat pie made with a selection of wild meats, including cariboo, moose, and wild boar. I lucked out in choosing the most decadent and delicious maple crème brûlée.

Maple Creme Brulee at Restaurant aux Anciens Canadiens

Mmmm . . . heaven on a spoon. That luscious, silky custard infused with the sweet taste of maple topped with a crackly crunchy crust had me smacking my lips long after the last spoonful was scraped out of the bowl. I love cracking that gleaming layer of brown candied sugar with my spoon – kind of like stomping on frozen puddles when I was a kid.

I just had to make it myself as soon as I got home.

flaming the maple creme brulee

On our way to Toronto for the Taste Canada Awards, we took back roads so we could scope out as many covered bridges as we could find. This took us through some beautiful countryside in the southern part of Quebec – a memorable side trip.

maple creme brulee; Grandchamp covered bridge in Quebec

I thought it was appropriate to be holding a little brown jug of apple cider we bought at a local brewery

maple creme brulee; inside of Grandchamp covered bridge

and Raymond inside the Grandchamp covered bridge, built in 1918

maple creme brulee; Decelles covered bridge

the Decelles Covered Bridge, built in 1938

maple creme brulee; Balthazar covered bridge, Quebec

Balthazar Covered Bridge, built in 1932

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I recommend using the darkest maple syrup you can buy. The   darker the colour the more intense the flavour, and since you don’t want the custard to be too sweet, you want the most maple flavour you can get with using the least amount of syrup. If you can only get light maple syrup, increase the amount to 1/3 cup (80ml).

Traditional creme brulee is made with all cream, but I’ve lightened it up a bit with milk, without sacrificing the luscious richness of the custard.

Regular granulated white sugar works best for the crackled candy sugar layer on top. Don’t try using maple sugar or icing sugar – both burn unnattractively!

Some recipes say you can brulee the sugar under the broiler, but I haven’t had much luck with that. If you want to serve creme brulee more often (and you should!), invest in a small torch (I bought mine at a hardware store) or borrow the propane torch from your garage workbench or toolshed.

maple creme brulee; a luscious spoonful

Maple Crème Brûlée

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (480ml) heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • ¾ cup (180ml) milk
  • ¼ cup (60ml) dark maple syrup (Canada No. 3)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C. Set 6 wide, shallow crème brûlée dishes or ¾ cup (180ml) ramekins into a baking pan (this may take two baking pans). Set a kettle or pot full of water to boil.

Set a medium-sized bowl onto a tea towel on the counter so it doesn’t slip around. Crack the egg yolks into the bowl (save the egg whites for another purpose) and whisk them until smooth.

Combine the cream, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it just starts to simmer.

Remove from the heat. With one hand whisking the egg yolks, use your other hand to slowly pour the hot cream from the saucepan in a thin steady stream into the yolks, whisking constantly all the while.

Pour the hot custard cream into the six ramekins in the baking dish, dividing it evenly. Put the baking dishes containing the ramekins onto the middle rack of the oven. Slide the oven rack out just a few inches, enough to reach in and carefully pour the water you boiled earlier into the baking pan around the ramekins until it is three quarters of the way up the sides, trying not to splash any into the custards. Very carefully and slowly, push the oven rack back in.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the custards are softly set, but still jiggly in the center.

Remove the baking pans carefully from the oven, set them onto trivets or towels on the counter, and leave the custards to cool in the water for 30 minutes. Then remove the ramekins from the water and put them in the refrigerator to chill and set completely, 8 to 24 hours.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly over each custard – use only 2 teaspoons of sugar for each if your dishes are taller with a smaller surface area.

Using a culinary torch (or larger workbench torch), carefully flame the top of each custard until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Move the torch constantly so the sugar doesn’t burn in any one area, though a few darker patches are okay (and delicious).

Return to the refrigerator if not serving the crème brûlées right away. Serve within 1 hour, or the crunchy tops will start to soften.

Serves 6.

Bon Appetit!

 

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 Maple Creme Brulee - silky, luscious, indulgent . . . and surprisingly easy to make. Wow your guests!

 

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Dreamy Coconut and White Chocolate Mousse

Honey Vanilla Quinoa Pudding

Mini Lemon Coconut Pavlovas

Baked Rhubarb Compote over Silky Swedish Cream

maple creme brulee; Quebec City at night

the Chateau Frontenac is magical at night

Posted in Canadian Food, Desserts, Puddings & Such, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Real Canadian Poutine and a Trip to Ottawa and Montreal

Indulge in that iconic Canadian dish – poutine. What’s not to love about a plate of crispy fries, stretchy squeaky cheese, and a rich, luscious gravy? It’s pure comfort food; potatoes and gravy with a fantastic, flavour-boosted twist! Only in Canada, eh? (Skip to recipe)

real Canadian Poutine with potatoes, cheese curds, and gluten free gravy

We live in a beautiful country. I am reminded of that fact every time I get to explore another little corner of it. What a wonderful trip we had to Ontario and Quebec!

This trip had a few firsts: my first time to visit Ottawa and my first time to attend the Food Bloggers of Canada annual conference. It was an amazing experience! I met so many wonderful new blogging friends and learned so much. After three days of intense experiences, workshops, eating, laughing, and making new connections, I was wiped out, thrilled, and on top of the world. It was a truly invigorating and inspiring weekend. Check out the first part of my adventure here, with a few tidbits about the conference and my trip to the Taste Canada Awards at the end of it.

Ottawa

What a special city. Canada’s capitol is the most amazing amalgamation of rich and storied history, exciting new growth, and spectacular natural beauty.

Canadian Poutine; Ottawa old and new

Ottawa reflections, old and new

I walked around with my mouth open in awe so much of my time there as I explored the city alone, with blogging friends, and with Raymond after he joined me there. I just couldn’t get enough of photographing our beautiful Parliament buildings, from every angle.

Poutine with gluten free gravy; Parliament buildings and fence

from the front

poutine and gluten free gravy; Ottawa's Parliament Buildings from across the water

from the back, while walking across the Alexandra Bridge spanning the Ottawa River

poutine with gluten free gravy; view of the Parliament buildings from Gatineau

and from across the river in Gatineau, between the Canadian Museum of History and the Musée canadien des enfants

We took a guided tour of the Parliament building. Such a beautiful interior. I had goosebumps walking those halls where so much of our country’s history has happened and felt proud to be a Canadian. Proud to know who we are and what we stand for. Proud to be part of this glorious land.

poutine with gluten free gravy; the stunning library inside the Parliament buildings

inside the stunning library of the Parliament building

There is so much else to see in this spectacular capitol city of ours.

poutine with gluten free gravy; the National War Memorial in Ottawa

soldiers on guard at the National War Memorial

poutine and gluten free gravy; squirrel gathering nuts

this little squirrel had no idea of the history and beauty of his surroundings – he was just gathering nuts on the lawn around the National War Memorial

poutine with gluten free gravy; statue of Champlain at Nepean Point

statue of Samuel de Champlain at Nepean Point

poutine with gluten free gravy; West Block Building of Parliament

the West Block building on Parliament Hill

poutine with gluten free gravy; fall leaves in Ottawa

downtown Ottawa dressed for fall

And we made a couple visits to ByWard Market – what a fun and fantastic place. Pumpkins were king at this time of year!

poutine with gluten free gravy; stall at ByWard Market

poutine with gluten free gravy; squash at ByWard Market, Ottawapoutine with gluten free gravy; garlic at Byward Market

poutine with gluten free gravy; crazy car around Byward Market

crazy car near the ByWard Market

poutine with gluten free gravy; view of Ottawa from the Parliament Building

view of Ottawa from inside the clock tower of the Parliament building

On to Montreal

What an amazing city – international, colourful, rich with history and heritage, yet funky and full of off-beat energy! Montreal is a bustling hub of diversity and dichotomy, embracing its arts and culture, its modern cosmopolitan vibe, and its beautiful old town nestling shoulder to shoulder with a pulsing chinatown and busy inland harbour. There is no single word that can describe this unique city. And the few days we had there weren’t nearly enough to explore it all.

On our first day there it rained buckets all day. We were soaked to the bone and had to buy bigger umbrellas – which did little to keep us dry.

poutine with gluten free gravy

A rainy day is a good time to take a city bus tour and spend some time in art galleries (amount of time in which is dictated by your non-art-loving husband’s patience for strolling painfully slowly – his words – to look at one beautiful painting after another).

poutine with gluten free gravy; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

I could stand and look at the paintings of the Impressionists for hours – but a pacing husband turns our rounds through the gallery into a speedwalking exercise

On our second day we took a stroll down Sherbrooke Street. It’s lined with the flags of all the countries in the world.

poutine with gluten free gravy

The McGill University campus is one of six universities in the Montreal area.

poutine with gluten free gravy

I found the inner me (and maybe a bit of the outer me, too)

You absolutely cannot visit Montreal without a stop at the iconic Schwartz’s Deli for a famous Montreal smoked meat sandwich. The lineup outside the deli is definitely worth the wait. Eating at Schwartz’s is a taste experience; a blast from the past.

poutine with gluten free gravy; lineup outside Schwartz's Deli in Montreal

wave hi to Raymond

Once inside, we shouldered our way to a seat at the scarred old countertop – I’m sure it must be the original one from when the deli opened in 1928 . . .

poutine with gluten free gravy; seated at the counter in Schwartz's Deli

. . . and dug into huge sandwiches of mustard-smeared rye bread piled high with the most juicy, smoky, flavourful corned beef . . . ooohoooh. And the pickles! We had one regular mouth-puckering green torpedo and one of the ‘half sours’, which was fresh and crunchy and just barely pickled.

poutine with gluten free gravy; Montreal smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz's Deli

The deli strummed with noise and joie de vivre; the steady roar of hungry patrons talking loudly  threaded through with the loud calls of servers shouting out orders and teasing each other while bustling constantly to feed the continuous stream of diners. It was an experience to remember. If you go, make sure to eat at the counter – you are within the beating heart of it all.

poutine with gluten free gravy; cheerful server at Schwartz's Deli

What I love about Montreal is the constant play of contrasts. One minute you can be staring in awe up at the most ornate cathedral you’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a lot of them in Europe) and the next you can be grinning at the vast and varied array of graffiti/murals adorning any adornable surface.

poutine with gluten free gravy; Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal

Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal – beautiful outside

poutine and gluten free gravy - Notre-Dame Basilica inside

and stunningly beautiful inside. Gilding everywhere makes it glitter and sparkle like a celestial Aladdin’s cave

Peeking from walls everywhere, you find this artistry of another kind – fun, funky, and thought-provoking.

poutine with gluten free gravy; graffiti murals in Montreal

poutine with gluten free gravy - grey and brown grafitti in Montrealpoutine with gluten free gravy; more Montreal graffiti

We stood mezmerized for ages outside the window of a restaurant in Chinatown, watching the cook make hand-pulled noodles, batch after batch of them.

poutine with gluten free gravy; hand-pulling noodles in chinatown

hand pulled noodles in Chinatown

On our last evening, we strolled through Old Montreal as night fell, and magic started to appear on the walls of buildings in unexpected places.


IMG 2881est

Projections of historical figures and moments in the story of Montreal appeared on the sides of buildings all over Old Montreal. The project is called Cité Mémoire and features an impressive amount of moving tableaux showcasing many important moments in Montreal’s history.

poutine and Montreal Harbour Area

the harbour area near Old Montreal at sunset

The next day we left this special city and headed east. We stopped for lunch in the small town of Joliette and stumbled into a wonderful little artisinal brasserie (brewery) where we had a glass of freshly brewed apple cider and tasted our first poutine. The verdict was – delicious! This humble dish of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in a rich brown gravy was invented in Quebec in the 1950s and has now become extremely popular in the rest of the country, even the continent. There’s something very homey about a dish of fries and gravy. It’s hard to explain the attraction until you’ve tried it. And then if you try it with a good mountain of shredded, meltingly tender roasted rib meat added on top . . . just wow.

two dishes of Quebec poutine, one with rib meat

Next Stop: Quebec City 

Watch for it in the next blog post!

Read my last blog post about the first part of our trip.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Use your favourite french fries – frozen is fine. You can usually buy bags of cheese curds in the cheese section of a large supermarket or a specialty cheese store. If you can get ‘squeaky’ ones – score!

Use your favourite gravy or the delicious recipe below. The gravy should be nice and thick so it sticks to the fries and doesn’t all run to the bottom of the bowl.

You can make vegetarian poutine by using a flavourful vegetable broth instead of a meat-based broth.

Canadian poutine with gluten free gravy

Real Canadian Poutine

For each serving:

  • a few handfuls of hot, cooked french fries – fresh homemade or previously frozen & baked according to package directions
  • a handful of cheddar cheese curds
  • ¼ to ½ cup (60-120ml) of thick, flavourful gravy (your favourite, or see recipe below)

Arrange a serving of french fries in a shallow bowl. Add a handful of cheddar cheese curds. Drizzle over a generous amount of gravy.

Eat with gusto.

a forkful of poutine with rich gluten free gravy

Rich and Flavourful Gluten Free Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat – butter, ghee, duck fat, pan drippings, or oil
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3½ tablespoons sweet rice flour (or regular flour if not gluten-free)
  • 2 cups good quality gluten-free beef broth (or use chicken or turkey broth)
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce

Heat the cooking fat and stir in the onion powder, celery salt, garlic powder, dry mustard powder, and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds.

Stir in the sweet rice flour and cook for 1 minute.

Gradually pour in the beef broth, stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce. Cook until bubbling and thickened. Taste and add more soy sauce if it needs to be more salty. This gravy should be well-seasoned, so its flavour remains bright even when combined with the fries.

*Note: If you want to make this recipe to use as regular gravy, use only 3 tablespoons of sweet rice flour. Poutine gravy should be a little thicker than normal so it sticks to the fries.

Makes about 2 cups.

Bon Appetit!

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Real Canadian Poutine - that comfort food dish of fries with cheese curds and rich gravy

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gluten free gravy; Parliament in autumn splendour

Parliament in full autumn splendour

Posted in Canadian Food, Eggs & Cheese, Potatoes, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Apple Pumpkin Butter and a Cinderella Story

With a jar of this decadent Apple Cider Pumpkin Butter in your fridge, you can keep autumn in your kitchen even when winter winds howl. Slather a rich, golden spoonful onto toast, biscuits, or pancakes, or stir a dollop into yogurt or oatmeal for a decadent morning treat. Simple 4-ingredient recipe that’s easy to make at home.  (skip to recipe)

biscuits with apple cider pumpkin butter

Come.

Come into my  kitchen, friend. I’ve put the kettle on and baked some biscuits. The windows are all steamed up from the pumpkin butter I’ve been simmering. Let’s have a cup of tea and a warm biscuit and cozy up while the wintery world lathers and swirls outside.

It’s been a while since we’ve chatted and we have so much to catch up on. I want to hear your news, and I’d love to tell you mine. How is your uncle doing? Did your husband get his promotion? And how are the kids – did they have fun at Halloween?

I’ve been gone for the last couple weeks, gallivanting, growing, and living out a dream. I travelled across the country, expanded my horizons, and learned a whole heap. The beautiful landscapes of Ontario and Quebec were the backdrop for my small adventures. Have a cup of tea, and I’ll tell you about it.

I flew out to Ottawa to attend my first Food Bloggers of Canada conference. Wow, what a weekend! It was so wonderful to connect with a whole herd/gaggle/tribe of us food writers. I found my people! Food blogging can be a very lonely occupation – mostly done in my pyjamas and apron (sometimes with the stylish addition of rubber boots from quick dashes out to the garden) and amid a pile of dirty dishes, pots, and bowls. My boundaries of existence tend to run from grocery store, to garden, to kitchen, to computer screen. To find myself surrounded by a crowd of like-minded (read: slightly kookaloonie) people who understand this blogging life was like finding long-lost family. New connections were forged. I can now imagine these new friends in their kitchens and at their computer screens across the country.

While at the conference, we were fed extremely well (just ask my blue jeans), and at one of our breakfasts we sampled a delicious apple butter. Elizabeth Baird, that most kind and gracious doyenne of the Canadian food scene, pointed it out in her keynote address to us that morning, remarking that this apple butter was just as apple butter is meant to be – pure and unadultered by spices (oops, don’t tell her about my recipe for sweet and spicy apple butter). I couldn’t get the taste or the idea out of my head and came home thinking I needed to make a pumpkin variation. Four iterations later, I’ve come up with a recipe that is just the right balance of clear, tangy apple flavour and earthy, buttery pumpkin. Five simple ingredients  produce this thick, luscious spread – the radiant remnants of summer captured in a jar for moments of blissful pleasure when your world looks like this:

Apple Cider Pumpkin Butter; the wintery world outside my back door

this is the view I faced outside my kitchen window after being in Ontario and Quebec for a couple weeks, where we’d just left a world with half the leaves still on the trees and green grass everywhere

Here, have another biscuit, slather on some of that pumpkin butter, and I’ll tell you about the second part of my adventure.

Apple Pumpkin butter in a jar

Raymond joined me in Ottawa after the conference, we rented a car, and spent the week enjoying the sites, sounds, and tastes of Montreal and Quebec City. Fantastic adventures. (I’ll save that for another post.)

Kitchen Frau goes to Taste Canada Awards!

Let me go back to the beginning:

Three months ago in July, on a regular old morning, while in my pyjamas (I promise, I do get dressed occasionally) drinking tea and checking messages, I received an email announcing that my blog had been shortlisted for a Taste Canada Award. My hands immediately started shaking and I had to put the tea cup down. What? I couldn’t quite take it in.

But yes, this little ol’ blog had somehow made it into the finalists’ list of blogs being considered for a prestigious Taste Canada Award – Canada’s most highly regarded honour for food writing. I was included in the category for Health and Special Diets, along with such notable names as Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows (a two-times New York Times bestseller cookbook author), Nicole Axworthy of A Dash of Compassion (another cookbook author), Heidi Richter of A Simple Green, and  Sonia Wong of Saltnpepperhere. Right then and there I felt like a winner. All the self-doubt I’d been feeling about my blog, all the niggling questions – was it any good? why couldn’t I get the hang of all the tech and social media stuff? was it too simple? did people even read it? – disappeared like the last sip of tea from my cup. Somebody, somewhere, had read it – and liked it!

I have spent the last three months hugging that glorious thought to myself like the coziest of fall sweaters; a private blog-affirming award. I felt like a winner.

And even though I didn’t win an award at the gala (Oh She Glows won gold and A Dash of Compassion won silver), that didn’t matter at all. I had made it into the winner’s circle, one of only five in my category and I felt like a winner inside. The beautiful, classy, funtastic awards ceremony and gala, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto on October 30th, helped to make me feel like a true winner just by virtue of being included. (See all the 2017 winners here.)

What an evening! The Academy Awards of Canadian food writing. Amazing eats provided by some of the best chefs in the country and a ‘ritzy’ ceremony (how cool is it that such an awesome adjective stems from this actual hotel?) hosted by TV personality Noah Cappe and food expert Claire Tansey. I was Cinderella at the ball (though with a few more years, pounds, and chin hairs than befits the traditional princess image).

red carpet photo at the Taste Canada Awards

okay – so this is as dressed up as it gets

I feel like I haven’t come back to reality yet. I’m still living and reliving the glow of that magical night (and yes, I am in my pyjamas as I write this – I know you were dying to ask, but even Cinderella can’t stay in her ball gown all day).

So, even though my footmen have scattered and my gown’s turned back into teddy-bear-printed flannel, there’s still the little matter of a pumpkin to deal with . . .

Cinderella's coach will make great pumpkin butter

All it needs is a bit of TLC and a transformation, and poof! there’s a jar of luscious tangy pumpkin butter to spread on our biscuits, our morning toast, or onto a stack of warm pancakes. Why not try swirling it into a bowl of yogurt or dolloping it onto a bowl of hot oatmeal? And wouldn’t little jars of this make great hostess gifts over the holidays?

a bowl of yogurt with pumpkin butter and walnuts

Take a serving of plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, stir in 2 to 3 heaped tablespoons of rolled oats. Swirl in a tablespoon or two of luscious Apple Pumpkin Butter, top with a few more oats or some granola, and a handful of toasted walnuts, pecans, or pumpkin seeds. Voila! Breakfast. I love to fill a container of this pumpkin butter/oat yogurt and take it to work with me. Try freezing some of the pumpkin butter in ice cube trays. Then put your oatty yogurt into a container and push a frozen cube of pumpkin butter down into it (helps keep it cold, too). Pack the nuts and oats separately, and pop it into your bag for a breakfast-at-work or a light and delicious lunch. When ready to eat, stir it up lightly, sprinkle on the toppings, and enjoy.

With Heartfelt Gratitude to my Readers

Thanks for stopping by for tea, and thank you from the deepest part of my heart to all my lovely readers and friends for coming by and reading my blog, and subscribing, and for supporting me with your comments and social media likes and shares. Without each and every one of you, I wouldn’t have the continued inspiration to keep showing up here and sharing my life and my kitchen. Thanks for sticking by me, even in my pyjamas. You are what keeps me coming back to this space and I am so very honoured you care to visit.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: There are three levels of easiness/laziness you can use when making this pumpkin butter.

1. Artisinal, Craft, Lovingly-Tended, Totally-From-Scratch Homemade: Make your own apple cider with a cider press or make fresh apple juice (cider, really) with your electric juicer. Make your own pumpkin purée by roasting a pumpkin, puréeing the flesh, and draining it.

2. Busy Cook on a Rainy Day Homemade: Use purchased sweet apple cider or 100% pure unsweetened apple juice and canned pumpkin purée.

3. Harried Home Cook Wanting-to-Get-Out-of-the-Kitchen-to-have-a-Glass-of-Wine-on-the-Couch Homemade: Use ¾ cup (180ml) of thawed, frozen apple juice concentrate (unsweetened/the kind you mix with water to make apple juice) and skip the reducing stage. It won’t be quite as intensely apple-flavoured, but still delicious. Mix the apple juice concentrate straight with the canned pumpkin purée, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and boil for 10 minutes or until desired thickness. Boom. Done! 10-minute Apple Pumpkin Butter.

*A ‘pinch of salt’ is the amount you can pick up between your thumb and index finger.

*Here’s a recipe for light and fluffy gluten-free biscuits that would go wonderfully with your apple pumpkin butter.

Golden Pumpkin butter in a jar

Apple Pumpkin Butter

  • 4 cups (960ml) apple cider (non-alcoholic) or unsweetened pure apple juice
  • 1 can (398ml/14oz) pure pumpkin purée (or 1¾ cups + 2 tablespoons homemade, drained pumpkin purée)
  • ¼ cup (45gms) packed brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt

Pour the apple cider or juice into a large (2 quart/litre) saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil vigourously until reduced to ½ cup (120ml). Keep a measuring cup by the stove and eyeball it – when it looks close, pour the cider in and measure it. If it’s more than half a cup; boil it some more. If you’ve, oops, boiled it too long; add water to bring the level back up to half a cup.

Whisk in the pumpkin purée, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

Return to a boil over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin butter is as thick as pudding. The cooking time will depend on the diameter of your pot and the heat of your burner. Using a splatter screen will help to minimize mess on your stove; the mixture plops and splutters as it thickens. It will also thicken a bit more as it cools.

Scrape the pumpkin butter into a jar and store refrigerated for up to two weeks. You can also freeze part of your pumpkin butter in a freezer safe container, or in ice cube trays (transfer the frozen cubes to a zip top bag).

Makes about 1½ cups (360ml) of delicious apple cider pumpkin butter.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Luscious Apple Pumpkin Butter - quick and easy cheater's method

 

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Posted in Canning & Preserving, Condiments, Sauces & Dips | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Apple Cider Glazed Carrots

Elevate your carrots into this luscious plate of sweet, cider-glazed jewels – a stunning side dish. Bugs Bunny would approve.

apple cider glazed carrots on white plate

Carrots are a humble vegetable – the unnoticed wallflowers of the veggie world. Every garden grows them. Every market carries them. They’re only one step above lowly potatoes in the ‘Glamorous Veggie’ hierarchy. Even if your kids eat no other vegetables, odds are they’ll happily crunch on carrot sticks. That’s why carrots are often overlooked; relegated to hold down the veggie platter, but not considered fancy enough to warrant more than being sliced and boiled.

I say, bring ’em to the front of the line, dress ’em up in some fancy duds and bedeck ’em with jewels. Let their inner diva out. Bring those glowing root vegetables to the party and watch them dazzle the crowd.

Start with a big bunch of regular ol’ orange carrots, or find yourself a few fistfuls of richly coloured heirloom carrots. Our rainbow carrots thrived in the garden this year. We harvested a wheelbarrow full of multicoloured roots, from white to deep purple. They are such fun to use, and each colour boasts a subtly different flavour profile.

cider glazed carrot; a bounty of garden carrots and apples

And when they’re roasted and dressed with a a shiny, sweet and tangy apple cider glaze, they become a fantastic side dish.

Press yourself a jug of fresh apple cider, like we did last week, buy some at the store, or juice up a few apples in your electric juicer. Or even just use unsweetened apple juice.

cider glazed carrots; roasting rainbow carrots

While the carrots are roasting and caramelizing to sweet intensity, let the cider simmer until it becomes thick and syrupy. Then drizzle it over those roasted carrots and watch them glow.

cider glazed carrots; drizzle on the cider syrup

They look nothing like a plate of carrot sticks, do they?

I’m sure they’ll convert the carrot-indifferent in your crowd. Or for another fancy carrot feast, try this Coconut and Carrot Puree with a crunchy seed topping.

I think Bugs Bunny would go for a dish of either of these if he was offered them, don’t you?

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Regular orange carrots work just as well for this recipe. I just happen to have a good supply of the multi-coloured ones this year. You can use up to 2 lbs (900gms) of carrots with this amount of cider. Reduce it to about 2½ tablespoons, then.

Make sure to use regular fresh apple cider (not hard cider, which contains alcohol) or unsweetened apple juice. Watch it carefully as it nears the end of its reducing time, so it doesn’t burn.

apple cider glazed carrots; beautiful on rainbow carrots

Sweet Apple Cider Glazed Carrots

  • 1½ lbs (700) carrots
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups apple cider (non-alcoholic) or unsweetened apple juice

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Wash, scrub, and trim the carrots. Cut them into sticks about 3 inches (7cm) long. Put them onto a baking sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat all the carrot sticks.

Roast for about 25 minutes, tossing them a couple times during the roasting, until they are soft and starting to caramelize at the edges.

While the carrots are roasting, pour the apple cider into a saucepan and heat to boiling. Turn the heat down to medium high and let the cider boil until it is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Turn down the heat and watch it carefully as it approaches the 2 tablespoon mark, as it will start to get thick and caramelize. You don’t want to get it too brown or burn – just nicely golden and syrupy. This should take about 20 minutes, but it will depend on the surface area of your liquid and how hot your burner is. There’s no need to measure the syrup – just eyeball it. Anywhere between 2 and 3 tablespoons of apple cider syrup will be enough to coat the carrots.

Drizzle the syrup over the carrots, toss to coat, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Spiced Hot Apple Cider

Cradle your hands around a steaming mug of sweetly spiced hot apple cider, take your first warming sip, and you’ll sigh and be glad that the colder weather is arriving. It’s a reason to celebrate autumn. (Skip to recipe)

spiced hot apple cider - so tasty

Start the presses! Start the presses!

Or just start one of them. The apple press, that is.

It’s finally arrived. After a whole summer of trying to convince my husband that we need one, I finally wore him down. (Score 1 for nagging wives!) He just didn’t want to hear any more of my rationalization as to why we needed this contraption to make our lives more fulfilling.

hot apple cider, using the apple cider press

Our beautiful shiny new apple cider press arrived last week, and though it was getting pretty cold for outdoor washing and pressing of apples here in northern Alberta (we’ve had two light snowfalls already), we had a great trial run. We pressed over 50 litres of beautiful sweet fresh apple cider.

hot apple cider; beautiful fresh pressed cider

look at that beautiful fresh pressed cider

Our apple trees have been producing more apples every year, and I just cannot bear to see the ground underneath each tree littered with a thick carpet of crisp juicy apples, rotting. What a waste of precious produce. Like with our cherries, it is so deeply ingrained in me to use up every bit of nature’s bounty. But after cooking with them and canning and drying them, how many apples can you eat yourself and give away to others, even with your ‘apple a day to keep the doctor away’ mandate?

hot apple cider; apples on the tree

the sweet crisp ‘Red Sparkler’ variety

hot apple cider; wheelbarrow full of apples

two of the five varieties of apples we had for pressing

I’m excited to see what we can do with this lovely fresh apple cider; lots of sweet cider to drink, some to spice and serve hot, some to cook with, and a trial batch to ferment into hard cider. My mom, a master wine and beer maker, is going to help me with that, since I’ve never tried any kind of brewing before.

hot apple cider; supervising the pressing

mom, supervising the pressing and waiting to catch the juice to measure into the buckets

There’s some confusion about the nomenclature of apple cider. The sweet fresh cider that comes from pressing apples is called soft cider, or just apple cider. It’s distinguished from apple juice by its brownish colour and murky cloudiness due to fresh apple sediment remaining in the juice. You can purchase soft apple cider in the refrigerated section of some grocery stores or health food stores. It can be pasteurized or not. You can make your own apple cider on a smaller scale by using an electric juicer to extract the juice from fresh apples, too. Commercial apple juice has the sediment filtered out and is always pasteurized. It lacks the rich complexity of fresh apple cider. Once soft cider has been fermented and develops a percentage of alcoholic content, it’s called hard cider, though to confuse the issue further, some hard cider is also labeled simply as apple cider. You’ll need to check the labels to be sure which type of cider you’re getting.

Clear as cloudy cider?

Fresh cider for spiced hot apple cider

Apple Cider 101

We had a little bit of help with the trial run of our new press. We assembled it on Thanksgiving Sunday with our kids and their friends, but it was so cold (4°C) we only got enough cider made to have a good sample sip.

Hot apple cider; Apple Cider Crew

The next day warmed up to a balmy 14°C, so even though fingers got chilly and warm layers were in order, we got to work again. We had a small crew – lots of hands to help wash and trim the apples.

hot apple cider; getting to work on the pressing

some workers, some bosses

hot apple cider; picking a few more apples

some helpers were put to work picking a few more apples to add to the press

hot apple cider; washing the apples for pressing

first you wash the apples and trim out any bad bits

Next, the apples got fed into the grinder. I was so thrilled to get this grinder that my dad had built years ago. Mom had given it to a neighbour and he wasn’t using it, so passed it back to me. It was special to have dad’s handiwork as part of our day.

hot apple cider; feeding the grinder

then you feed ’em into the grinder to chop them up fine

Then the ground-up apple mash gets plopped into a mesh bag lining the drum of the cider press, and the cranking starts. A little bit of grunt work and out squeezes the fresh juice through the holes. Sweet apple cider flows into the bucket.

hot apple cider; turning the press

then you pop them into the cider press and start cranking, as the sweet nectar flows out

After a few hours of pressing duties in the finger-numbing weather, there’s nothing better than a hot mug of spiced apple cider to wrap your hands around. Warm sips of sweet apple nectar slipping down your throat melt away the chill, and suddenly you can think of no better way to celebrate the arrival of autumn.

Raise a toast with a sweet cup of spiced hot apple cider!

hot apple cider; cider press and wheelbarrow of apples

 

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can purchase fresh apple cider at some grocery stores or  health food stores. You will recognize it by its murky brown colour. It is an unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice, and can be pasteurized or unpasteurized. Pasteurization is done by heating it to a specific low temperature or exposing the cider to ultraviolet light. You can make small batches of your own cider if you have an electric juicer.

If you don’t have star anise pods, you can substitute with a couple slices of fresh ginger. If you don’t have cardamom pods, use a pinch of ground cardamom, or omit it altogether. You can use 2 orange slices instead of one lemon slice.

Apple cider is generally sweet enough on its own, from the natural sugars in the apples. However, if you find that your cider isn’t sweet enough (especially if you made it yourself from a strain of tart apples), add sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste.

mugs of spiced hot apple cider and apples on table

Spiced Hot Apple Cider

  • 4 cups (1 litre) apple cider or unfiltered pure apple juice
  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice berries (or peppercorns)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 slice fresh lemon

Pour the apple cider into a medium saucepan. Crush the cardamom pods with the bottom of the spice bottle or a glass, to crack the shells. Place the pods and any escaped seeds into the apple cider, along with the remaining ingredients.

Bring the apple cider to a simmer, and continue heating at a low simmer for about 20 minutes, covered. The sediment will foam up a bit and form small cloudy particles. This is normal. Strain out the spices through a fine meshed strainer and pour the hot apple cider into small mugs, adding a cinnamon stick or clove-studded orange wedge to each if you like, or garnish the lip of the cups with a thin slice of apple, notched so it clips onto the rim.

*Add a shot of brandy, bourbon, whiskey, or rum to each glass to make your drinks more ‘festive’.

*You can also make a large batch of mulled apple cider in a slow cooker. Multiply all ingredients to make your required amount (but only use up to a maximum of 4 star anise pods, as the flavour can get too strong) and simmer in a covered slow cooker on high for 1-2 hours or on low for 4-6 hours, then keep warm. For convenience when making a big batch so you don’t have to strain it, bundle all the spices except the lemon into a cheesecloth square and tie it up. Float the lemon slices in the cider, then simmer, and remove the spice bundle just before serving.

Serves 4 to 6.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Posted in Drinks, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sauerbraten

Want a special dish for your next Sunday dinner? How about a tangy German Sauerbraten – a wonderfully flavoured, simmered pot roast with a fantastic gravy? Oom-pa-pah! Bring on the Lederhosen! (Skip to recipe)

a beautiful platter of Sauerbrate with gravy and braised vegetables

Being German, I should have a decent recipe for Sauerbraten on this site, shouldn’t I? It’s time to rectify that omission.

What is Sauerbraten? It’s basically a tangy marinated German pot roast, a wonderful Sunday dinner and a special comfort food. I didn’t grow up with Sauerbraten, though the flavour profile is familiar to my tastebuds. My mom marinated lots of meats and fish in vinegar solutions before roasting or frying them. She also pickled raw herring and fried herring, pickled fried peppers and stuffed peppers, made her own sauerkraut, fermented huge crocks of cucumber pickles, and green tomatoes, and little apples. She made her own cottage cheese and Kochkäse (cooked cheese). She made headcheese and a kind of absolutely delicious loose sausage, kind of like haggis (we called it Knipp). She cooked beautiful roasts and cabbage rolls and savoury Strudel. She made big meaty casseroles and stewed chicken with homemade noodles.

But no Sauerbraten.

So, when I was newly married I wanted to learn about this Sauerbraten. Translated directly, the word means ‘sour roast’. Like many German foods, it’s not a really pretty sounding name, is it? The recipe is actually one I got from a German student, when we compiled a cookbook of international family recipes in my grade three class years ago. It’s the one that stuck and which I then made for my family over the years. Since we’ve become a gluten-free family, I’ve adapted that recipe with a few modifications, and it is just as fantastic.

Sauerbrate and those beautiful tangy vegetables

If I had to describe German cooking, it would be with the words savoury, piquant, and tangy. Also big, bold, and full of flavour. ‘Tangy’ is the key word in today’s recipe. Many of Germany’s dishes contain an element of sour – whether it’s the sour pickles used in Rouladen, or the sublte lacing of vinegar in an Eintopf, or the unabashed pucker-inducing tang of a dish of hearty Sauerkraut. Germans have become the master of elevating ‘tangy’ to new culinary heights. Pickling and fermenting were key techniques used long ago to preserve food in a northern climate with a long chilly winter. The techniques remain today because of tradition and a deeply ingrained love of the flavours.

rump roast for sauerbraten

I got my butcher to cut me a nice 4.5 lb rump roast from local, hormone-free beef

I love the ease of making Sauerbraten. The recipe looks long and involved, but the steps are actually pretty simple. You prepare the marinade days ahead and pop the roast and veggies into a bag in the fridge.

sauerbraten in its marinade

pop ’em all in a bag in a bowl

You let them do their stuff while you go about your merry way. Then on the day you’re entertaining, you just brown up the roast to get the nice caramelized flavours, pop it all into the oven and again, let it do its stuff, on the stovetop this time, while you read a book or swipe a dusting cloth around.

browning the sauerbraten

look at that nice brown sheen and crusty flavour bits in the pan

Not much to do when the company gets there, but to slice the meat and make the gravy. A good slosh of red wine and a touch of sugar do wonders to balance the tartness of the vinegar in the piquant gravy. The tangy braised veggies laced with bits of bread (almost like a stuffing) are a great accompaniment to the moist and tender meat.

slicing up the sauerbraten

Serve the Sauerbraten with buttered noodles (gluten-free if you wish) or Spätzle, or mashed potatoes. Or you can make up a batch of potato dumplings. I often cheat and cook up a batch of the packaged German dumplings (Knödel) available in import shops. Read the ingredients, many of them are gluten-free, to boot.

Then serve the meal with a hearty red wine and the rollicking strains of oom-pa-pah music playing in the background.

Prosit!

*Thanks to reader, Bonny, for her request for a Sauerbraten recipe. I’d been meaning to do one, but her gentle nudge is what got me going. 🙂

 * * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: *I used Schär brand Gluten Free Artisan Baker Multigrain Bread. It holds up well and doesn’t cook to mush, but any other favourite gluten free loaf would be fine to use if you’re making the recipe gluten free. Also, for gluten free, make sure to use sweet rice flour (or glutinous rice flour), not regular rice flour. Sweet rice flour makes the best substitute for regular all purpose flour when making gravies.

sauerbraten sliced up and ready to serve

Sauerbraten

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried juniper berries
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups low sodium beef broth (gluten-free, if necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 boneless beef round rump roast, 4 – 4½ lbs (1.8-2kg)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 slices pumpernickel bread – or *gluten-free whole grain bread
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 additional teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup flour – or sweet rice flour for gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • hot cooked noodles (gluten-free if necessary), spätzle, or mashed potatoes

Supplies needed:

  • 1 six-inch (15cm) square of double layer cheesecloth plus a length of cotton twine or thread
  • 1 large heavy duty plastic bag with a zip top or a twist tie

Pile the bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, and juniper berries onto the center of the cheesecloth square. Gather up the corners and tie the string around the folds, making a tidy bundle.

In a saucepan, combine the red wine vinegar, beef broth, salt, and spice bundle. Bring to a boil, then cool to room temperature.

Place a handful of the sliced onions, carrots, and celery into a large, heavy-duty plastic bag set in a large bowl (to catch any overflow should the bag leak). Add the beef roast and the rest of the vegetables. Pour over the marinade, and seal with a twist-tie or the zip top of the bag, trying to keep out any air, if possible, without the marinade spilling out as you close up the bag.

Place in the refrigerator and leave to marinate for 3 to 5 days, turning the bag daily.

About 4 hours before you wish to serve the Sauerbraten, remove the roast from the bag, discard the spice bundle, and reserve the marinade and vegetables.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed large saucepan. Pat the roast dry with paper towels, and brown it on all sides in the hot oil. This should take 10 to 12 minutes.

Scoop out the vegetables from the reserved marinade and add them around the roast in the Dutch oven. Pour 3 cups of the marinade over the roast and vegetables. (Discard the remaining marinade.) Bring the roast and marinade to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2½ to 3 hours, turning the meat occasionally, until it feels very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Alternately, you can cook the Sauerbraten in a 325°F/170°C oven (bring it to a boil on the stovetop first.) If necessary, top up the liquid with water to keep it at about the level you started with.

Crumble or tear the pumpernickel or gluten-free wholegrain bread into small pieces and add it, along with the raisins, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper, to the vegetables around the roast.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes more. Remove the meat to a cutting board and tent it with foil to keep warm. With a slotted spoon or strainer, remove the vegetables, raisins, and bread crumbles to a covered saucepan to keep warm. Pour the liquid from the Sauerbraten into another container, then strain 3 cups of it through a fine-meshed sieve back into the Dutch oven. Discard the rest or save it for soup.

Whisk together the red wine, flour, sugar, and ginger, and stir this into the liquid in the Dutch oven. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or sugar if needed. Cook and stir for two minutes more.

To serve, slice the meat and place it onto a platter, spoon the vegetables around it, and pour a bit of gravy over the meat. You can also serve the vegetables on the side separately. Serve the remaining gravy on the side.

Serve the Sauerbraten with cooked noodles, spätzle, potato dumplings, or mashed potatoes.

Serves 8 to 10.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Sauerbraten Banner - deliciously tangy, special German pot roast

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Posted in German Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Swiss Green Salad (Nüsslisalat) with Creamy Dressing and Chopped Egg

What is Nüsslisalat, you ask? It’s a tender green, usually grown in the fall in Switzerland and Germany, a type of corn salad. But don’t worry – you can substitute romaine lettuce and spinach and get to enjoy this simple but deliciously fresh, light, green salad any time, with its piquant dressing and bits of rich, sunshiny egg. (Skip to recipe)

Swuss green salad with creamy dressing and chopped egg

It’s sweater weather!

I love this time of year. There’s a chill in the air that brings a feeling of excitement, of anticipation. We’ve worked so hard in the summer, keeping on top of the yard and garden. It’s rewarding work, but back-breaking, and we need a rest. Once we get the garden harvested, we can start to take life a bit easier. We’ve got a bit of work left to do. Root vegetables are all still in the ground and everything aboveground is looking pretty straggly.

Yet some people are still harvesting greens. This week my aunt from BC was visiting my mom (who recently moved to a townhome only ten minutes away from us). My friend, Ronaye, called and asked if I wanted to come and pick up some garlic and fresh salad from her garden.

Fresh salad? At this time of year? What was she talking about?

Well, she is Swiss and always brings Nüsslisalat seeds (a type of corn salad) with her from Switzerland. This salad green, also called Feldsalat, WintersalatAckersalat, Vogersalat, or Rapunzel (as in the fairy tale) is known as a winter salad in Germany and Switzerland, withstanding temperatures as low as -15°C, and being harvested throughout the winter. Here in our harsh winter climate, it needs to be grown as a fall lettuce. Ronaye plants the seeds in mid-summer, and in the fall she harvests a bounty of these tender little bundles of green.

Nüsslisalat first grew wild at the edges of fields and meadows, but is now cultivated as a delicious, hardy salad green. To serve it, keep the little rosettes of leaves intact. Rinse well in several changes of clean water to remove any clinging soil, then dress it lightly with a robust vinaigrette, or use it in omelets or other dishes like you would use fresh spinach.

close up of corn salad for Swiss green salad

She strews them thickly in a green carpet.

patch of corn salad, ready to harvest for Swiss green salad

And today she shared them with us. So we piled in the car and headed over.

My mom and friend got right down to the picking while my aunt and I wandered around her garden, admiring its bounty on this beautiful fall day.

picking nusslisalat for Swiss green salad

After our garden harvest, my friend washed up a huge bowl of the tender greens, mixed them with a little chopped egg and a zingy, creamy dressing, served alongside moist chunks of grilled chicken. We feasted like the luckiest of kings for our lunch. It was such a simple meal, but it nourished with rich fulfillment. Minutes before, those delectable greens had just been absorbing minerals from the soil and energy from the sun, and now they gave them up to us.

The Swiss dressing for this salad is robust and tart – the perfect foil for these mineral-rich little bundles of green and the pops of sunshiny egg.

eggs and greens for Swiss green salad

But don’t despair if you haven’t got a secret stash of Nüsslisalat – replace them with baby spinach, or romaine lettuce, or any other mix of rich, hearty greens. A handful of arugula would go well here, too.

The woods are calling and so are the paths. Drifts of yellow leaves carpet the ground and fill the air with a rich muskiness. I’m gonna have a quick salad and head back outside.

Come join me for a walk?

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I like to make up a double batch of this dressing. It keeps for two to three weeks in the fridge and is so handy to have for tossing on any type of greens for a quick salad.

Swiss green salad with chopped eggs and creamy vinaigrette

Swiss Green Salad – ‘Nüsslisalat’ with Creamy Dressing 

Creamy Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup mild-flavoured oil (like avocado oil)
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Green Salad

  • 4 large handfuls (10 to 12 cups) of Nüsslisalat/corn salad, well washed, or a combination of baby spinach and torn romaine salad
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled
  • 2 green onions/scallions
  • ~½ cup of Creamy Dressing, recipe follows

Make the Dressing: In a jar or bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with a small amount of the vinegar until smooth. Gradually add the remaining vinegar and keep whisking until it is smoothly mixed in. Add the  oil. Press or grate the garlic clove on a microplane grater and add it to the dressing. Add the mustard, salt, and pepper. Seal the jar and shake until creamy or whisk until creamy. Makes a generous ¾ cup(200ml) – more than you’ll need for the salad. Save it to dress salad greens another day.

Make the salad: If using Nüsslisalat, leave the little rosettes of greens whole. If using spinach and romaine, tear them into bite-sized pieces. Coarsely chop the hard-boiled eggs and thinly slice the green onions.

In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and green onions. Add  enough dressing to just coat all the greens lightly, and toss the salad well. This should take about ½ cup (120ml) of dressing or a little less.

Serves 4 generously, or 6 as a side salad.

Guten Appetit!

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Swiss Green Salad - a delicious, robust fall salad

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Posted in Gardening, Salads & Dressings | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sweet Corn Pudding – A Special Side Dish

Looking for a special side dish for your Thanksgiving feast? Or maybe just a way to enjoy the tail end of summer’s corn harvest? Sweet, creamy, and sunshiny – corn pudding will be that special side dish having everyone sneaking back for more.
Skip to recipe

sweet corn pudding - I want a spoonful now

Yup, fall is here. And not only on the calendar.

The trees are turning golden wherever I look, the furnace kicks in every morning, and I’ve pulled out our winter coats.

Aaaaaand, we had our first snowfall last week. Sigh . . .

I was teaching that day in a grade one class, and the kids were beyond excited to look out the window and see those fat, white flakes swirling thickly down. They kept jumping to the window and shouting, It’s snowing! It’s snowing! It snowed all day, leaving the world winter-white and slushy. The snow had melted by the next day, but the damage that heavy blanket of white stuff did to all the trees still full of leaves was disheartening. It broke huge branches off our weeping willow tree, split a friend’s apple tree in half, and finished off the garden. We had harvested our tomatoes the week before, beans and peas are long picked, but most everything else is still in there.

sweet corn pudding - the garden after the frost

the frost-blackened basil is done. luckily I made some pesto and have it stashed in the freezer to enjoy this winter. the purslane behind it is more hardy and we can still salvage some fleshy leaves to add to salads

The corn patch is now a sad sight, with stalks bent over in a higgledy-piggledy fashion from the weight of the snow.

sweet corn pudding - the corn after the snowfall

I pulled off about half of the cobs to blanch and freeze.

sweet corn pudding - corn harvest

But first I had to indulge in my yearly tradition. I ate a couple cobs raw, standing out in the garden – sweet milky juice squirting and dribbling down my chin as I bit into the crisp kernels and gnawed them off the cob. Oh, heaven. If you’ve never eaten a fresh ear of corn, right after it’s been picked, you have not yet had the ultimate corn experience. Don’t even think to try it with corn that’s been sitting in a grocery store bin for days. They are worlds apart. The sugars have already been turning to starches, and you won’t have that crispness of juicy kernels popping as you bite into them.

Pippa, our dog, has discovered that same joy. She has become very crafty in fueling her addiction to fresh corn. She’s figured out how to jump up and pull herself an ear of corn off the stalk, then holds it with her paws as she pulls back the husks with her teeth. Once the cob is clear, she gnaws all the juicy kernels off and leaves the evidence strewn over the lawn for me to find.

Mister, the cat, looks on with raised eyebrows, thinking, Dumb Dog.

sweet corn pudding

our corn-eating dog at work

Pippa, our eat-anything-and-everything dog, also digs herself her own carrots, snatches peas off the vine, raspberries off the bushes, and eats apple windfalls whenever she feels like a sweet snack. She’s quite the happy vegetarian when there’s no meat around. Luckily our garden is large enough to supply both us and the dog 🙂

I’m sure Pippa would gobble up this delicious corn pudding, too, but I’m keeping it from her clutches.

 

big bowl of hot corn pudding

Golden corn, soft and fluffy like a soufflé but creamy like a pudding, dotted with chewy kernels, natural sweetness enhanced with a kiss of maple syrup, crispy caramelized outer bits . . .  oh, my. What a fantastic side dish for a festive turkey dinner!

Or just have it for a simple supper like we did,  served with a few strips of smoky bacon and a crisp green salad.

scoop up a spoonful of sweet corn pudding

Get your hands on some fresh ears of corn, or even use frozen. Cut the kernels from the cobs, making sure to scrape off all the best milky bits next to the cob.

cutting kernels from the cobs for sweet corn pudding

Whiz it up in the food processor,

ingredients for sweet corn pudding in the food processor

and bake to crispy-edged golden perfection.

pan of sweet corn pudding

It’s the next best thing to eating a garden fresh cob of corn you’ve pulled right off the stalk.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: If using frozen corn, you will need more than 4 cups, since it shrinks when thawed. Defrost it first, drain off the water, then measure it. To quickly defrost corn, you can put it in a colander and run cold water over it.

If your corn is super sweet and fresh, you can omit the maple syrup if you like. Or use a couple tablespoons of light brown sugar instead.

Corn cob sizes vary. One medium cob yields about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of kernels.

sweet corn pudding with cobs of corn ready for freezing Sweet Corn Pudding

  • 4 cups corn kernels, cut from 5 to 6 cobs of fresh corn (or 4 cups defrosted frozen corn kernels)
  • 1 cup (240ml) light cream (or ½ cup heavy cream + ½ cup milk)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup (60gms) soft butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease an 8×8-inch (20x20cm) or 2-quart glass baking dish with butter.

Cut the kernels from the corn cobs, and use the back, dull side of the knife to scrape off the hearts and all the sweet, milky bits remaining on the cobs to add to the kernels.

Set aside one cup of kernels, and add the remaining 3 cups of kernels to the bowl of a food processor. Add the cream, eggs, butter, cornstarch, maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the food processor. Whiz until you have a coarse mash.

Remove the food processor blade and stir in the remaining 1 cup of corn kernels.

Pour the corn pudding into the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the center is set.

Serves 6 to 8.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Corn Pudding - gently sweetened with maple syrup and the natural sweetness of late summer corn - a wonderful side dish for a special.

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Posted in Gardening, Vegetables | 4 Comments