Tis the season of the Great Pumpkin! Beginning with Halloween when he takes center stage and captures everyone’s attention right on through to Thanksgiving when he’s sure to appear in and around the traditional holiday dinner and anytime in between. This “jolly good fellow” can make an unexpected appearance in any number of interesting and enticing ways, not the least of which is in this luscious ginger pumpkin custard.
When this happens he will once again have succeeded in stealing the show, by enhancing a dinner or lovely dessert buffet.
Milder in flavor and less dense than the traditional pumpkin pie this dessert will surprise and please the eater with its unexpected addition of candied ginger – lifting it out of the ordinary into the extraordinary!
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and fresh ginger until blended. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, milk, vanilla and salt until blended.
- Pour into 6 (6-ounce) custard cups. Place custard cups in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place dish on oven rack in center of oven. Pour boiling water into pan around custard cups to a depth of 1 1/4 inches.
- Bake 35 minutes or until centers are almost set. Remove custard cups from baking dish and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or cold. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and candied ginger just before serving.
“No matter what their age from the youngest to the oldest” everyone
in the Community of Jesus gathers together for Saturday morning beehive,
a time to busily work on everything that needs doing in the community that week.
Each is assigned a job he or she is capable of doing.
Last Saturday while I was in the convent yard I heard excited shouts and
squeals of fun and laughter coming from the apple orchard. Although we
still have not reached peak apple season we have an abundance of
drops each day and we never waste any of them. That day the nursery school
kids were having a contest to see who could gather the most.
The two sisters responsible for child care had cleverly come up with a way
for them to be useful while at the same time learn a lesson in good stewardship
of God’s gifts to us.
Their mission accomplished, the little wagon full of drops were drawn to
the convent kitchen where they were magically transformed into a
favorite old fashioned dessert that everyone without exception enjoyed
at the coffee hour break…..that is EVERYONE no matter what their age
from the youngest to the oldest!
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a shallow 8” x 8” baking dish.
- Place half the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cubes with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and set aside.
- Stir together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, orange juice, orange rind and the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the bread cubes in the dish and then top with the reserved bread cubes.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes covered with foil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit then uncovered 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
This Sunday after church the sisters, along with some invited guests, enjoyed a sumptuous southern breakfast, the perfect holiday treat especially for those who have southern roots.
The menu was extensive……..baked ham, grits, sausage, bacon, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sticky buns and more than anyone could sample at one sitting. My favorite of all the dishes was a fabulous fruit platter consisting of a combination of roasted fresh and dried fruits and nuts that had been coated with a rich glaze of brown sugar, butter and Calvados.
This winter fruit and nut combination was “Out of this world”…and not only for a southern breakfast, but as a wonderful accompaniment to any number of other meals, especially at this time of year.
Fabulous Roasted Fruit Platter
- Cut fruit to desired size and shape. Spread out on sheet pan and brush with a little oil and cover with foil and roast about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until softened.
- Uncover and sprinkle with nuts and generously brush with glaze. Return to oven uncovered at 50 degrees higher and cook until nice and golden.
- Sprinkle with pecan and walnut halves and serve.
- To make glaze melt butter and brown sugar together until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Calvados and simmer till thick enough to spread.
If dried fruit needs softening soak in warm cider to reconstitute before roasting.
We used firm pears and apples, and pineapple for fresh fruit, along
with dried figs and apricots. Craisins could also be an interesting addition.
As I write this, it is snowing again. Wow,what a winter it has been, and continues to be. I begin to wonder if spring is truly going to come. But like any issue of faith, one just has to believe. Spring has always come, with its promise of new beginnings and life, and it will be all the more special this year when it does.
Usually I would be starting to think of things like asparagus and lemon, lamb and baby beets–but it’s just a little too chilly still for the spring forerunners. I’m still thinking about hot stews and soups, lovely warm desserts like apple crisp in little ramekins with ice cream melting on it. So, to keep us warm through these last chilly days of winter, here is a recipe for orange-tinged mini apple crisps.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Butter 6 ramekins.
- In a medium bowl mix together flour, walnuts, 2 Tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
- Pour butter over and mix together with a fork. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl combine apples, remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar and orange juice, tossing to coat.
- Divide among ramekins, top with flour mixture.
- Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.
What says Autumn more than apples? I still remember apple picking as a child — and all of the smells, tastes and visual stimuli that went with it… the drive to Hadley through the Notch, the trees a riot of color, the smell of leaves crunching underfoot and of ripening apples. The first bite sitting at the top of a tree, tart, juicy sweetness. We are harvesting our apple trees, a few at a time. The early apples are sweet, tart, and super crunchy, perfect for any baking one would want to do. I love apple pie. Also like apple dumplings, but I don’t fancy the whole apple wrapped in crust. So I thought of a marriage of the two — cinnamon sweet apple chunks bundled in pie crust! Little individual dumplings that anyone could eat warm from the oven. So here is what I came up with.
- Mix together flour, sugar and salt.
- Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles course meal and the pieces of butter are pea-sized.
- Add water as needed and mix with a fork until dough holds together and you can form into a ball.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
For the filling
- Peel and cut apples into 1/2 inch pieces.
- In a large pan, over medium heat, melt butter and add apples. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.
- Add sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and cook a few more minutes. Set aside.
To make bundles
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness in a rough rectangular shape. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 4 inch squares.
- Place dough squares on prepared pans. Spoon 1 Tablespoon to 1 1/2 Tablespoons in center of dough square.
- Bring corners to center, pinching along seams. Brush top of each bundle, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (last 2 ingredients combined).
- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden. Can be served with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
This is a busy time of year for us in Paraclete House Kitchen. We are in the process of making baked goods and preserves for the holiday season, some of which will also be for sale in Priory Gifts. Most Saturdays there are about fourteen people of all ages in the kitchen — from 5 years to 80+ years — making jams, chutneys, baking loaves of bread, cookies, pies, and cakes, as well as putting together mid-morning snack for the 200 other people out working on various projects around the community. We have of course been making a lot of things with our plentiful apple harvest; caramel apple pies, apple harvest jam, and my favorite, apple carrot chutney. This is a delicious accompaniment to roast pork, ham, or chicken, and is also wonderful for ham and cheese sandwiches. It’s especially good with cheese on a cracker or mixed into a spread.
Apple Carrot Chutney
- In a heavy pot, sauté carrots in canola oil until almost tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add in all the other ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about one hour until slightly thick, stirring frequently.
- Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and seal, or transfer into a container and store in the refrigerator.