Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for the beauty that was Fall/Autumn 2010

Visions of beautiful leaves from Fall/Autumn 2010...please enjoy this Thanksgiving Day!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Green Hive Honey Sauce for Thankies!!

Oh no!!! I appear to have steamed up the whole neighbourhood!!
Actually this little delight only takes about 1/2 hour of steaming instead of the usual 3 hour puddings I make here on my blog so one doesn't have to wait until the cows come home for Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Green Hive Honey Sauce to be ready. This pudding is both bright and that possible, it is not very sweet but you can add more sweetness by either changing the fresh cranberries to dried sweetened ones or add a few tablespoons more of sugar or honey to both the pudding and the sauce? I have added more sweet than the original recipe, so that couldn't have been sweet at all, which is actually a combination of a couple of recipes from
"Good and Wholesome Honey Recipes" by the American Honey Institute...a goodly book with some nice old-fashioned recipes therein.

The jewel like pudding with it's crown of lemony honeyfied goodness on the top.
A celebration of my disorganized cooking method which involves covering every possible surface with every kitchen implement known to man and sticky powdery ingredients...all without tidying up first...I just have to accept that I am a messy worker both as a baker and an artist and that's an end of it!!
 I like the looks of the cranberries halved and ready to be tossed in the sifted dry ingredients...I suppose you could use dried sweetened cranberries if you don't like the brightness of fresh from the bog ones, I would even keep the quantity the same in dried as in fresh.
 And now for the recipe....

This makes enough for two nice sized puddings, I used two pudding bowls of 1 cup capacity, 4" diameter Mason Cash #54 if that means anything to anyone...a good sized portion for a hearty eater...big enough for two who are already full to the gills with turkey, gravy,
mashed potatoes and the rest...

First avail yourself of a double boiler and get the water up to heat, simmering in readiness:

1 tablespoon/ 1/2oz butter
1 1/8 cup/5ozs white flour
1 cup fresh cranberries halved (when you wash them in a big bowl of water you can discard the ones that sink...they are not good)
1/2 cup/4 fl ozs whole milk
1/3 cup/4ozs honey...of course I used raw Green Hive Honey as I just finished designing their label and their honey is divine!!
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 an egg beaten...yes I know half an egg!...but I cut the recipe in half for just two puddings - one for me and one for James or we'd HAVE to eat two puddings each and that's just too much temptation.
1 teaspoon almond extract/essence
1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder

1. Sift dry ingredients together.
2. Toss the halved cranberries in the dry ingredients and then remove from the flour mix shaking excess off.
3. Cream the butter 'til nice and soft.
4. Add sugar and continue creaming.
5. Add honey in 3 batches and cream, cream, cream.
6. Add half of egg and CREAM.
7. Add a third of the sifted dry ingredients and alternate with a third of the milk until everything is added and you have a smooth batter.
8. Fill already buttered pudding bowls about 3/4 full and cover with waxed or parchment  paper rounds and secure with an elastic band.
  One of the puddings ready to be popped into the steamer for her 1/2 hour sauna.
During this time you can make up the sauce...see below below..
 Like two puddings in a double boiler...nice and toasty warm!! Good for a foggy day in Maine.
 Here's how your pudding will look when you remove it from the pan and then remove the will look a bit sticky and gluey but it's OK that's just the top. Use a toothpick to test for doneness...stick the toothpick deep into the pudding and if it comes out clean...with no uncooked batter remnants on it...then it is done.
After about 10 minutes out of the steamer cover the pudding with it's final receptacle and turn upside down to deliver if from it's pudding basin...and thus you have the little treasure seen below.
The Honey Sauce Recipe:
1/4 cup/4 tbsp/2 oz butter
1/4 cup/3oz honey
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 egg
1/8 cup/1 fl. oz lemon juice (juice from an average half lemon)
1/4pt/2 fl oz UK whipping/double  cream whipped to stiff.

1. Melt butter, sugar and honey together in the top of a double boiler with gently boiling water.
2. Cream the flour with some of the egg until there are no lumps and add to honey and butter and whisk.
3. Gradually add the rest of the egg whisking all the careful not to let the mix curdle or overcook...keep water on a gentle boil.
4. When mixture has thickened slightly whisk in the lemon juice and continue to let it thicken a bit more.
5. Allow to cool.
6. Fold in the whipped cream and slather on recently steamed cranberry pudding!!! Cool sauce - hot pudding - nice combo!!

Happy Thanksgiving One and are some images from a foggy November day in Maine.

 See you after Thankies and we move on to Christmas!!! YEA!!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coventry Tartlets made with Green Hive Honey...yum!!

How lucky am I that I get to make delicious Coventry Tartlets using Green Hive Honey which is not only raw and local but also packaged with a label I designed...this is the Bees Knees for me!!!
This is a simple and really delightful recipe which could be an easy addition to your Thanksgiving array of desserts.

I began with an oh-so-easy tart crust gleaned from my friend and baker Lindsey Schortz of
let them eat cake , is astoundingly easy and so doesn't shrink and gives a rich almost cookie like crust...YUM!!!
Pre-heat your oven to 325F...thank you!!

EASY PEASY SWEET TART CRUST: I made 10 miniature tarts from the recipe here:
1 1/2 cups/6ozs of unbleached white flour
1/2 cup/2ozs confectioners/icing sugar
1 stick + 1 tablespoon/ 4 1/2ozs butter VERY COLD
1 large egg yolk
a tad of milk or cream if your dough doesn't stick together

1. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl.
2. Grate the butter into the dry ingreds, and rub in until like breadcrumbs.
3. Add egg yolk and blend carefully until the dough sticks together
4. Mine didn't stick together with just the egg yolk so I added baby drop by baby drop some cream until it did start to come careful once it does start to come together it does so quite quickly...don't let it get sticky!!
5.My mini tart cases are about 1 1/2" round so I rolled a ball of dough about the size of a large walnut and popped one into each case.

Then joy of joys I just squashed and pushed the dough to line the tart cases one by one...isn't that simple? I let the dough be quite thick as it so delicious and cooks through very evenly and nicely!!
Now fill the cases with this simple creamy deliciousness:

Coventry Tartlet filling:
4 ozs cream cheese/ 1/2 an average pack
1/4 cup/3 ozs raw honey or regular - doesn't have to be raw

1/8 cup/1 oz butter (I always use salted because I like the flavour)

1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ye olde nutmeg
2 teaspoons (or one if you like and just want a hint) lemon juice.

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together.
2. Add honey and cream some more.
3. Add rest of ingredients and cream together and then fill the cases to quite full, the mixture expands a little as it cooks but not a lot...when it is cooled it will fall but that's just the way of this recipe....

Pop your little darlings into the pre-heated oven at 325F and cook for about 25 minutes until nicely and evenly browned...until they look like this dreamboat below!!

Sorry about the wonky spacing in this post...I made one draft and when I published it it was all deleted and it is hopping around all over the place so I am leaving the odd spacing as I don't want to type it again for the third time...thanks for your patience!!

Happy baking!!! I will have another recipe coming before Thanksgiving...Cranberry Steamed Pudding with (Green Hive Honey) Sauce...ooh la la!! 
Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, November 15, 2010

A bevvy of colourful "Barn Mandalas"

A prospective corporate client recently asked me to put together a portfolio of my "Barn Mandala" designs so I thought I would share the images here with you. 
It is a dark and glowering day in Maine and it brightens everything for me to be working 
on these images today.
"Abbey" mandala with 24 carat gold leaf accents

 "Stella" mandala...I started off doing circles but then I decided to get tricky and have James cut out more elaborate shapes for me to paint - why can't I ever keep things simple!!
 "Harlequin".....also featured on my website as a hand made rug design
 "Facets"...acrylic on panel
 "Fiesta" above and "Kaleidoscope" below...both of these are watercolour paintings on paper, about 10" diameter but they too can be painted up large for indoor or outdoor use...what fun it would be to paint them large with gold leaf accents!!
 I call them "Barn Mandalas" as their first application in my mind was to be used like Pennsylvania Dutch hexes....large circular paintings found in Pennsylvania Dutch country hung on the barn usually as good luck symbols and to ward off evil spirits and the like but the word 'hex' doesn't sound good to me, conjuring up thoughts of witches and Salem so I thought about the word mandala (Sanskrit for circle) which has a similar connotation in Buddhist culture - especially so as I meditate while I paint and they can be used to sit and stare at to calm the frenzied modern mind. There are two images here which have been hung outdoors for quite a few years with no ill the painting I mean...but also maybe the evil spirits have been warded off too!! YEA!!!
This mandala was custom designed and painted for "Cellardoor Winery" in Lincolnville Maine. The phrasing is the owners mantra and was incorporated into the design which now hangs over the door to the store. I created the original design as a large rectangular rug for the vineyard and then I reworked the design into the circular format you see here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Clonlara Apple Pudding or Windfall Apple Pudding

The good old apple trees are still hanging on to some of their apples and will do for quite some time yet...but I availed myself of some more of those crispy crunchies lying happily on the ground to make my first Steamed Pudding of the season now that our wood stove is up and wasted energy on boiling water for hours on end as we are using the stove to heat the house.
Ta dah!! The first Steamed Pudding arrives safely upturned onto it's plate - juices flowing and apples cooked to perfection.
Before you begin put a double boiler on the stove and get to a gentle rolling boil while you make the pudding. Please check the pan regularly to make sure you are not running out of water as this pudding steams for about 2 hours!!

THE RECIPE from Irish Traditional Food by Theodora FitzGibbon

For the dough:
1 ½ cups of white flour, about 7 ozs

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 oz shredded suet, just less than 1 cup (you can use butter here if you like but it doesn't work as well as the suet...the butter can make the dough greasier and heavier so try to get suet if you can)

3/8 cup/about 3 fl ozs iced water

2 tablespoons sugar
1. Sift the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg together then shred the suet or butter from the fridge or freezer (the shortening needs to be very cold) into the dry ingredients...I use a grater and literally grate the shortening with that.
2. Rub the suet into the flour until well blended but don't work too much - just like regular pastry you don't want to warm it up.
3. Add water a little at a time until you get a cohesive stiff dough.
4. Roll out the dough to fit the bowl with enough left over to make a 'cap' for the top of the pudding. Press the dough and mold into the bowl as necessary.

I used a 3 cup/24 fl.oz bowl...which must be steamable:

4 large apples, cored and chopped into medium sized pieces
2oz/half a stick of butter
3oz /3/8 cup  sugar
4oz/ 1/2 cup apricot jam...a nice tangy one
1. Cook the apple chunks with the butter, apricot jam and sugar until soft but not broken.
2. Cool and then pour into the prepared pastry lined bowl.
3. Put the cap on and seal using some of the juices from the apple to make the seal's ok if there's a big clunky rim around the edge as you see below...this is how your pudding should look before she goes for her steam!!

Then we cut a round of greaseproof paper to cover the bowl generously....cover the bowl, fold paper over down the sides and secure with an elastic band, or for purists with some nice string.
Now cut a circle of aluminium foil and do the same until you end up with what you see below

Now pop your little pudding into the top of the boiler...put the lid back on and get the kettle on for a cuppa while you wait for your pudding to be cooked.

Allow to steam continuously for about 2 hours...remove from the double boiler, remove the paper and aluminium 'caps' and  allow to cool somewhat for about 15 minutes before you unmold.
Now here comes the fun part - the unmolding...first run a knife gently around the edge of the pudding being careful not to break the pastry, then cover the pudding bowl with an appropriately sized other bowl...remember the juices will flow when you cut into the pudding so you want somewhere to catch those juices...wear oven gloves to stop getting burned from the hot pudding bowl now flip the whole thing upside down and hope the pudding conveniently falls out into the bowl...good luck with that. Mine just popped right out!! YEA!!!
You may have already twigged to the fact that this is a pudding for the strong of constitution, it is what we call in Blighty "STODGY"...Oxford English Dictionary definition of which is as follows: "(of food) heavy, filling, indigestible"...well I don't know about that last word I managed to digest it quite easily thank you very much but it certainly is a stolid dessert not for the feint of heart!!  So here we have the pudding just before cutting...SO neat and cute, like a hat without a brim!! Do serve hot with lashings of good cream or English custard...the resultant juices that flow are very sweet and delicious!!

Click this LINK for more interesting sustainable recipes and information over at the blog Frugally Sustainable!
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Blueberry Barren is neither blue nor barren at this time of the year!

 Please enjoy walking around Blueberry Hill with me on this bracing Autumn day in beautiful Maine. There's Blue Hill in the distance and Penobscot Bay in between.
 The colours vary from vivid red through to a lovely muted straw yellow and at this time of the day when I took the pictures...about 4pm in the afternoon.... somehow the colours just seem to glow from is a sight to behold and only for a few days more.

 How many hands and hours went into building this stone wall so many years ago?
 Looking off towards Appleton Ridge

Now for a cup of steaming hot tea and some buttery toast......