Cranberry Almond Gratin

IMG_9201At a recent event, I wanted to serve something not too sweet for dessert. As we had to work feeding a large group from limited ovens, I thought that if I could pull the dessert out just before putting the meat into the oven, it would still be slightly warm for dessert. I decided to use the old standard, a gratin.

Using cranberries for the fruit, and a ground almond batter, made a tart & light dessert, which we topped with Orange Creme, a couple of pieces of Candied Orange Peel, and put a few pieces of segmented oranges alongside. Once the guests have gone through appetizers, salads, and a main buffet, I really like to give them a dessert that refreshes their taste buds, and isn’t overly huge, or heavy. This little gratin is a perfect ending for either a fancy dinner, or as a weekend treat for family & friends. Continue reading

Apple Pudding

IMG_8706We’ve picked all our apples, and have them stored in twelve large bins in the barn. Getting them in by mid-October seems to be the right time. The late ripening Jonathans’ pips have turned brown, and their flesh is beautifully tinged with pink. From the three Gala, Bramley’s Seedling & Jonathan trees we probably have 700 lbs stored. This is after weeks of eating them, and feeding gallons of windfalls to the livestock. While we give away many, the bins will safely store them for us right through March. By March the apples will have had their run. The livestock will start to get the slightly withered ones that are still left.

One year in mid-November, when the trees were still fairly young, we were away for a couple of days. Both of us working different shifts, and not home together during daylight hours. On the second day, my husband noticed that I had picked all the apples. When I came home, I thanked him for picking all the apples. Oops! Neither of us had picked any apples. We checked all around the trees, and found cores everywhere. Our local branch of the raccoons had come in and done it for us while we were asleep. We got none. Ever since, we’ve tried to get them by mid-October at the latest.

With so many apples, most of our desserts tend to be apple based. For the past several weeks I’ve been working on an apple pudding that isn’t super sweet, and works beautifully whether an all-purpose wheat or Gluten Free flour is used. It has taken awhile, simply because we can only eat so many apple puddings! Friends and family have been kind when I turn up once again with a pudding as my contribution to dinner. I must say though, no one has ever turned it down, in any of its reincarnations. We enjoy it with a little custard sauce, or some Crème Anglaise. Continue reading

Pear & Ginger Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

What is it that makes something a comfort food?  It needs to be something that triggers good memories in your taste buds, and doesn’t take you to strange places flavour-wise.  I think bread pudding is one of the most wonderful desserts ever devised.  It’s such a simple dish, the basic version using day old breads, sugar, milk and eggs.  We can dress it up, like this recipe, as a dessert, or you can make it savoury for breakfast or brunch.  It can easily be made one day, and cooked the next.  It’s actually better for it.  Whether stuffed with raisins & currants or with pears & ginger, I’m pretty sure that it is one of the best comfort foods around.  Although, I always remember picking out the raisins when I was young.  Continue reading

Fruit Crisp

Here I am making more fruit dessert!  It is the time of year.  I am still amazed at the flavour that blackberries are still giving us.  No rain, lots of sun – a perfect science!Having just picked our Bartlett Pears today, and still plucking blackberries, I thought I should share the best crisp I’ve ever eaten.  Seriously.  I’ve combined these fruit with Bramley Seedling Apples – an amazing cooking apple.  Transparents work really well in this recipe.  Store apples – well, Galas always do in a pinch, and the lovely Pink Lady’s and Sunrise work well, too.

This recipe started from one of Ina Garten’s.  I’ve rarely made any other crisp once I found it, and now I’ve been baking it for years.  I’ve tweaked it here or there, and it can be made with just a ¼ c lemon juice.  Living on an island, I can’t always follow recipes, I just have to make do!

We’ve made enough for a hundred guests, and portioned it down to just enough for some fruit I had at hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fruit combinations.  The topping seems to work no matter what!

I usually double the topping, and put the other half in the freezer for those “just in case” times.  It makes a wonderful topping for pies, a great scattering for ice cream, and is amazing to stuff baked apples with. Continue reading