Maple Pumpkin Butter


I was a little hesitant on making this. I didn’t think I’d know what to do with it honestly. When one of my many pumpkins started going (and I’d found that I’d already made my repitoire of pumpkin goodies) I figured it was time.
Tasting along the way, this sugar-free variety kept it’s promises of tasting like the best of all pumpkin pies, but did I want that on my toast every morning? As delicious as it was, only days after making it, I’m finding that I didn’t make enough. A spoonful into pancake batter or with soy milk for french toast, pumpkin butter is perking up and making already great treats extraordinary.

MAPLE PUMPKIN BUTTER

2 Cups Pumpkin Purée
1 1/2 Cups Apple Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger

Mix everything together in a food processor until well blended.
Add the mixture to a large saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat until the colour deepens and the purée reduces, about 1 hr.
Store in an air tight container or can to preserve, if desired.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones



I’m sitting and eating and eating and thinking about what to write for a post.
These are good. Even on the second day, but especially just warm from the oven. The amazing thing is that they are perfectly autumn and the moisture hasn’t given way to the little bricks that so many other scones can become.

I may have mentioned my favourite fall outings to the pumpkin patch, my Scottish roots and even my recent vacation. All of which brought me to my current gluttony of scones and tea.

Having arrived home after 2 1/2 weeks in the sun, one of my hoarded pumpkins wasn’t too happy about being hauled inside a little early. With signs of softness starting, I knew it wouldn’t store but since it was one of my favourite Galeux d’Eysines, I didn’t really mind carving in early.
These old French heirlooms are perfect for baking and savoury dishes.
Might be why these thing taste so good!

(That’s her in the middle, my Galeux d’Eysines in all her unspoiled glory.)


PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SCONES

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Vegan Butter, cubed
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Purée, I used unseasoned, roasted Galeux d’Eysines, but canned is already drained
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
Pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
5 T Clementine or Orange Juice, 2 clementines
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Drain any excess water from the pumpkin purée with a fine mesh sieve, if necessary.
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, pulsing to sift.
Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse to a coarse bread-crumbly consistency.
Add the the pumpkin and clementine juice to combine.
Add the dried cranberries and pulse, just to incorporate throughout the dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With clean, floured hands, turn the dough out onto the parchment paper.
Pat the sticky dough into a workable 1″x8″ round and slice, with a floured blade, into 8 wedges.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops have slightly goldened.

Allow to cool, only slightly, before eating.
Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Mushroom Barley Soup


Baby it’s cold outside.
We just returned home from a sunny family vacation and were greeted with snowflakes.
Not exactly the homecoming I had in mind.

Needless to say, our cupboards were pretty bare of all things fresh, so the visit to the grocery store filled the cart and this week’s menu with produce filled warmth. Planned soups, stews and stuffed pastas were top of mind.
Those first flickers of snow whipped my memories of the beach to thoughts of cold toes and hearty lunches.
Along with onions, celery and carrots, the mushrooms were on the top of the bag, so they were the first in the pot. An old favourite from a little school on Toronto Island, this I knew was sure to please.

GARTH’S MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Celery Stalk, finely diced
1 pound Mushrooms, white button or crimini, sliced
12 Cups Water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 Cup Pot Barley
3 Tablespoons Tamari

Heat oil in a large stockpot.
Add diced onions to the oil and sweat
Add the diced carrots and celery to the onion and continue to sauté until soft.
Add the sliced mushrooms, water and salt.
When boiling add and tamari.
Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook until barley is puffed and soft, at least 30 minutes
Adjust seasoning adding more tamari or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Mixed Bean Minestrone



Autumn harvest getting you going? Or is it the threat of frost? I’m not exactly sure which it is for me personally, although I really didn’t mind scrambling to pick the last of my tomatoes and transfer them into the window.

I’m currently vacationing at the beach and even here, the weather’s got a Northerly blow. In fact, it’s down right chilly and where I’d love to return to a summer salad and berries, I’m finding myself craving soup.

Soup is one of those wonderful things that make the change in the weather a better transition. It’s comforting and easier than succumbing to putting on my first pair of socks of the season.

Quick and soothing, minestrone soup is the best way to using up a smattering of harvest vegetables. I just use whatever I have on hand at the time, including those tomatoes in my window sill. To make it a bit more substantial of a meal, I’ve also used up the bottoms of my pantry jars of kidney, red lentils, great northern, pintos and black eyed beans, before running out to restock for the winter, but really you could use any assortment of quicker cooking beans or just add a rinsed can of them at the end.

MIXED BEAN MINESTRONE

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery, diced
4 Cups Tomatoes, chopped – about 4-5 medium
1 Potato, peeled and diced (optional)
8 Cups Water
1 Cup Mixed Dry Beans, Pinto, Kidney, Red Lentils, or one 15oz can drained and well rinsed.
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stemmed
1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (optional)

For quicker & softer beans, soak them for at least a few hours or over night.
Peel and dice the onion, then chop the carrot and celery.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Or if desired, a slow cooker on high.
Add the onion, carrot celery and minced garlic to sauté.
If you’re making the soup in a stockpot, once the onion has softened, about 3 minutes, add the potato, tomatoes, water, soaked dry beans, bay leaves and herbs. Otherwise, add everything to the crock-pot.
Cover with water and bring to a rolling simmer. Or reduce the heat to low in the crock pot and leave to cook for the day; 8-10 hours.
Once the carrots and beans are tender, add the frozen peas, salt and canned beans in lieu of the dry if using.
Adjust seasoning, adding freshly ground pepper.
Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.

Serve with fresh bread and freshly grated parmigiana, if desired.
Freezes well.

What Ever Became of You?


We found ourselves getting a bit carried away, shall we say at the apple orchard last week.
At least, not until we’d discovered an overwhelming tree full of brightest red Mac’s. Our picking was literally done in minutes. With my filled bag, I headed to the scales and the woman running the show was notably impressed by our haul.
I’m greedy, I thought. We leave on vacation in four days, how are we possible going to go through an 18 pound bag of fresh apples?*

As I listed off potential recipes to make a dent, we were invited for a casual afternoon with friends so, this is what we made.
Thrown together, it was a cinch to make and although it only used up two apples, it was pretty delicious and perfect for tea.

APPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, divided (vegan, Earth Balance) softened
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Medium Apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the two flours with a fork and set aside.
Cream the butter, less the two tablespoons, with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar.
Pour in the teaspoon of vanilla extract and add the 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.
Add the baking powder and soda then continue to mix until fluffy.
In a measuring cup, soy milk and lemon juice.
Add half soy milk mixture to the creamed sugar, then half of the flours, mixing until each is combined, repeating with the remainder.
Evenly spread the butter over the bottom of an 8″x8″ baking pan. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Lay out the apple slices over top of the sugar in an even layer.
Add the cake batter to the pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester can be cleanly removed.
Cool in the pan then gently slide a knife around the edges before turning it out to a cooling rack or a serving plate to completely cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Oh, and just as an update, after creating and edible centerpiece, a few pints of slow-cooker apple butter and a pot of pumpkin soup, I’m down to four (count ’em 4) apples! I had to restrain myself not to get any more… but I have about 50Lbs of pumpkins… and a whole other story.

Thanksgiving Weekend Eve (Canadian Style)


Here we are, the weekend I lust after for most of the year. Yes, call me crazy but I love Thanksgiving more than lets say, Christmas. Frankly, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving.

This morning’s drive north to the farm was glorious. Enjoying the warmth of an Indian Summer, the leaves were blazing red in the temperate breeze. The corn stalks have turned tan and the green ground cover has been replaced in most parts with a see of orange pumpkins.

It was not a hard decision to go fully local this year. The bounty is tough to argue with.
At the farm, the over-sized broccoli and cauliflower heads were no match for the cabbages which were easily the size of the pumpkins awaiting Halloween.
Genuine Brussel sprouts were proudly displayed, complete with their stalks rendering them hardly recognizable as grocery store produce, were only recently picked and ready for this weekend’s picky eaters.
I could hardly fit this cornucopia of my future feast into the car, when I was seduced by the countryside’s apple orchard markers.

The midday sun was ablaze as we set out to find the perfect tree. Countless gleaming red apples practically jumped into my bag knowing that they would be Sunday’s pie, or next week’s apple butter… Eighteen pounds later, I managed to wedge my sweet spheres into the car and made my trip back into the envious city.

The Menu

Heirloom Tomato Soup
Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Cinnamon Orange Cranberries
“Turkey”
Green Beans
Sautéed brussels sprouts
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Butternut Squash & Spinach Casserole
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Galette

I will be sure to post all recipes. If you’d like, leave your request for the order in the comments and I’ll get to the most demanded.
In the meantime, this is what I prepared first….

SPICED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

3/4Lb Fresh Cranberries, frozen will do
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
1 Stick of Cinnamon, 2-3″ piece

Pick over and rinse the cranberries.
Into a large pot, combine the cranberries with the juice and sugar.
Drop in the cinnamon stick and bring everything to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until the cranberries have begun to pop.
Continue to simmer until slightly thickened and reduced.
Remove the cinnamon stick, if desired cover or can.
Cranberries will keep preserved or in the fridge for a week.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.