“Old Cape Cod”…home of the Cod, home of the Oyster, the Quohog and the Clam. Home of the Beach Plum and Rose Hip, and also of the Cranberry, now at the very peak of its season!
I am fortunate to have lived here for many years, and one of my most favorite sights in the late fall is that of the bright afternoon sun shining on the cranberry bogs, catching their sparkle….like beautiful gems or jewels reflecting the light as they wait to be harvested. Over my years here I have accumulated quite a collection of typical Cape Cod recipes. One of my favorites is this beautiful Cape Cod Cranberry Torte, lovely looking, luscious tasting — at any time of the year, but particularly at this snowy, winter season.
This is a guest blog from one of our Swedish Sisters
This year, it was possible to make these Swedish pepparkakor cookies a little earlier than usual. It makes me happy, and helps me remember for a moment where I came from, and that God is in charge of all the little things in our lives. It is my great-grandmother’s recipe from Tidaholm, Sweden. I don’t know why it is that cookies have become a tradition around the season of Christmas in particular, except for the fact of celebrating the most important birthday of all!! But these little cookies, for me, have always been a part of that celebration, with their trinity of spices that scent the kitchen when baked . . cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Not to mention, the smiles that come to people’s faces every single time!
Gift giving for Sisters can present a bit of a challenge since we aren’t able to simply just “go shopping” at any time. As a result, many handcrafted items and homemade food gifts are produced especially around Christmas time. Last night the convent kitchen was a veritable hub of gift making!
At the baking end of the room one sister was shaping cranberry shortbread cookies. At the stove another was cooking up the filling for egg rolls. At the opposite end of the room yet another was mixing up ingredients for her mothers’ favorite dessert, Tiramisu. After a recent visit to Italy her mother had as she herself put it “fallen in love” “with all things Italian” and this dessert was one of those things. Although not what would have occurred to me as a Christmas gift, it had made such a hit with her when she received it on her birthday, I know this will be no less thrilling to her at this special holiday.
Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon-colored and let cool.
Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.
Fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside.
Mix the espresso (or strong coffee) and coffee liquor together. Dip the lady fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet.
Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 9 inch square baking dish.
Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.
Repeat process with another layer of lady fingers add another layer of cream.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight and dust with cocoa before serving.
I had just finished my evening rituals with Gratsie (my Maine Coon cat) and was about to leave the family room when our guest cook sister entered the room waving her camera at me with a look in her eye that told me she was pleased with something she wanted to show me…
With one innovative idea she had succeeded in transforming our popular summer tart into a Fall/Winter version using apples and cranberries laced with caramel sauce, replacing the usual summer strawberries, peaches and nectarines.
A graceful (and delicious) transition from one season to another with an amazing result! We both smiled as the cat swished her tail, and we all went to bed purring.
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Cran-Apple Compote with Meringue and Caramel Sauce
Separate one egg at a time into a small bowl, letting the white fall into the bowl and discarding the yolk. If there’s any trace of yolk in the white, discard the white and start over. If it’s yolk-free, transfer to a clean medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.
Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan.
Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag (or pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze.
Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner.
Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 2-inch-diameter tarts, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the tarts until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Peel and chop the apples of your choice. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. For this recipe, we used Golden Delicious.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped apples on medium
Add the sugar and seasonings to the apples and cook until fork-tender. Keep an eye on the apples and sugar, reduce heat if needed. The sugar should melt into a consistency similar to syrup. Turn the heat down if sugar starts to caramelize.
Add the whole cranberries and cook a few minutes more until the cranberries start to burst. If you prefer, cook a bit longer to cook the cranberries a little more, adding sugar as necessary, depending on how tart the berries are.
Remove from heat, set aside and arrange the meringues on a plate or serving platter.
Gently heat the caramel sauce and spoon into the center of the meringue, tumbling the Cran-Apple compote on top. Drizzle with extra caramel sauce if desired.
Serve at room-temperature and pair this tangy-sweet seasonal dessert with a steaming cup of tea, coffee or pressed cider!
Many years ago, we had a cookbook from Maine that had the most extraordinary apple pie recipe. It had a layer of crushed graham crackers and caramel sauce underneath the apples. We lost that cookbook in the move to our new kitchen, but every fall when the apples are being harvested I think back to this recipe. This year, I decided to re-create it in an apple crisp. It sure took less time than making a pie, but the flavor combination was there.
For gluten-free cooking, try substituting gluten-free cookies for the graham crackers and brown rice flour for the flour. I think you might be pleased.
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Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
6cupsapple(s)peeled and sliced (6-8 apples: gala or honeycrisp recommended)
Filling: Toss apples together with brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and the melted butter.
Topping: Melt butter in a medium bowl and add all other topping ingredients. Mix until crumbly and evenly mixed.
Sprinkle over apples and pat down lightly. Bake at 350º for about 30-40 minutes, until apples are soft and the filling bubbles and the crisp is golden.
Meanwhile make Salted Caramel Sauce: Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. It's okay if the sugar begins to form clumps- keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, it will be around 350 degrees F. Watch this step very carefully!
Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will bubble up ferociously.
Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel or kosher salt and whisk to incorporate.
Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into jars. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Serve crisp warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
In the coming months, you will from time to time be treated to new recipes from “guest bloggers”. These are old and new friends — dedicated chefs and passionate voices who share our love of cooking. Our lives are enlarged as we welcome them and listen to their unique voices, share in their story and try our hand at their creativity. This week’s recipe is from a dear friend, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, a wife, mother, grandmother and EWTN TV host. She is an award-winning author of more than two dozen books, including Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. She is the founder of the “Feeding the Body and Soul Movement.” More at DonnaCooperOBoyle.com.
From Donna-Marie “Ahh, summertime! A time of well-deserved rest comes with a welcome change of scenery and in-season fruits. While making our plans, let’s not forget about our prayer lives. A change in schedule and eagerness to “get away from it all” might cause us to lose touch with our spiritual needs. We mustn’t let our prayer life go on vacation.
So that family prayer continues to happen throughout summertime, we have to carve out time for it. Many inconveniences pop up in the heart of the family, and God knows we can’t drop to our knees to pray while taking care of pressing family needs. He also knows we are a work in progress, too. When our planned prayer time gets sabotaged or rearranged, we should try again to make it work. If we have done our best, He will surely reward us for persevering, and for training our children and grandchildren to develop committed relationships with Him.
Don’t miss family time in the kitchen, too. Why not make my Summer Double Berry Cobbler together? Make an extra pan and gift it to someone who might need a lift. God bless you! ”
Wash berries (if using frozen berries, no need to wash! and mix with sugar (or honey), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, cornstarch, vanilla and cinnamon (if using).
Place in a buttered pie dish or 4 quart baking dish.
Next, make biscuit dough topping. Whisk together flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar (or honey), baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the center and stir in the milk (or yogurt) and beaten egg.
Mix just until combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the berries. Bake for 30 min. or until well browned and berry mixture is bubbling and dough is cooked.
Amazingly delicious when served warm with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or even a spoonful of greek yogurt. Enjoy!
Thank you, Donna Marie, for such a delightful summer recipe!
The Gourmet Nuns