Pear and Gooseberry Cake

Oh, just two more weeks of tax season and then I can get back to blogging more regularly.  Can’t wait!  Yesterday I didn’t have time to blog because I was baking and cooking up a storm.  It felt so good to be up and moving about.

The PT is working really well.  I went back to Pilates and last week after doing a forearm plank suddenly my shoulder felt fixed.  Figured out the bicep tendon had been flipped out of it’s groove for months.  Geez, if I had known doing planks would help I would have done that a lot sooner!  It’s wonderful not to feel old and infirm.  Can’t tell you how excited I am about this!

For St Patrick’s Day I usually cook something Irish.  Go figure, right?  As a treat I found a Pear and Gooseberry Cake with a Black Currant Compote in The Irish Isle by Sharon O’Connor.

Pear gooseberry cake 1 2016

It can be tricky to find ripe pears and because I only decided to do this on the day, the pears were pretty hard.  I microwaved them for a bit to soften them a little.  They were still on the firm side after baking but it was balanced with the softer gooseberries.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Pear gooseberry cake 2 2016

This is a cake not made with a mixer.  In a bowl mix together 1 3/4 cups of self rising flour, pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of ground ginger.

Pear gooseberry cake 3 2016

Cut in 4oz of cold butter into the flour mixture.  You want to mix the butter in well enough that it looks like bread crumbs.

Pear gooseberry cake 4 2016.JPG

Add in the two pears, chopped and about 1 1/2 cups of gooseberries.  The recipe calls for 3 cups but that would be way too much and put out the cake out of balance.  Mix well.  Add a 1/2 cup of sugar.

Pear gooseberry cake 5 2016

Add 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 a cup of milk.  Mix and then spread out into a 9 x 13″ pan.

Pear gooseberry cake 6 2016

Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Pear gooseberry cake 7 2016

While the cake is baking put a cup or so of black currants in a small saucepan.  Add about a 1/2 a cup of water.  Bring it to a simmer.  Gradually add brown sugar until you get the balance of sweet and tart you like.  Just don’t make it thick like jam.  I kept it on the tart side because my husband loves the flavour of the black currants.

Pear gooseberry cake 8 2016

This is a very moist cake with a lovely sweet and tart flavour to it.  I do apologise for the last picture.  My camera was being wonky, I think because the batteries weren’t  charged properly.  I have to say it’s nice that it is so light later now, I’m back to being able to use natural light again.

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Turkey Day and Despite a Tough Year, Still Grateful

Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving.  For those that follow me you know this is my favourite holiday.  With all the materialism built in with a lot of holidays I like we have one where is’t just family and good food.

It’s been a tough year for my family.  We have 12 round the table and we weren’t guaranteed we’d have 12 this time round.  Fortunately my sister’s neck is just about good as new and my dad’s life saving surgery went as well as it should have.  And we are fortunate my cousin in Kenya has made a near complete recovery from his car accident.  Thank goodness the two taxi drivers rushed him to hospital barely alive.  This was while others looted his car.  So you can imagine the amount of gray hair that made light of day in our family this year!

We’re very much looking forward to 2016, as you can imagine!

For this post I wanted to reshare a few of my recipes I’ve made over the years for Thanksgiving.  I figured I’d get them in before the holiday rather than after for once.  🙂

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

The Sage Pear Turkey fast became a favourite of mine.  Pear works so well with the sage and stuffing the skin with butter just makes it divine.

Cranberry Raisin Sauce 6 2014

Hopefully this year I won’t forget to serve the cranberry sauce!  I made this last year with port and it was really delicious.  I like to do variations each year for something new.  I’ve done it with orange, ginger, thyme.  Surprisingly cranberry is a good match for many different ingredients.

Stuffing balls 6 2013

Stuffing balls are a fun variation.  These are made with pork.  This year I’ll be separating these out to have sourdough stuffing then pork balls as some can’t have gluten.

I was going to share a blog post of pumpkin pie.  Looks like I haven’t done a post on that!  Guess what will be coming soon?

For those that celebrate this holiday I hope it is a safe and fun one.  And may you not have to travel too far!

Seared Lamb with Pear Sauce and Not Enough Hours in the Day….

I’m loathe to talk Christmas before Thanksgiving.  Growing up nothing remotely Christmas would show up until the day after Thanksgiving.  Now?  I see stuff in September.  I mean, seriously, 3-4 months of Christmas?  By the time it rolls round, we’re burned out.   I do, of course, make an exception for the lists.  Budget wise, it’s silly to try to do it all in one month.

So we were trading lists and I asked for things to match my interests.  We don’t need stuff, per se.  Honestly, those that love shopping, where do they put it all?  But I love to get books or gadgets that match our interests of gardening, photography, beer and cidre making.  Of course cooking!  Plus, we learning (or trying to learn) different languages.  The list is long.

My mum’s response?  Fabulous, I’m amazed you find the time for it all!  And there’s the rub.  I don’t have the time needed to do all the interests.  I do hope with the physio for my neck and hips, when everything is healed I can just fill the hours with productive stuff rather than icing or heating the injuries. They have taken up way too much of my time over the past several years.  I’m trying to be patient but I’m chomping at the bit to get healed and do bunches of stuff.

In the meantime, it’s one foot in front of the other.  And try to catch up with the blog posts.  It’s not tax season, this is crazy that I’m having trouble finding time to post and read all the ones I follow.  I was reading Jovina Cooks Italian a little while ago and she mentioned trying lamb with pear.  I thought I pinned it but I can’t find that post.  So, Jovina, please feel free to put the link in the comments!  But I was intrigued and thought it would be a great pairing to try.

Lamb with pear sauce 1 2015

When I mentioned the idea I think my husband was worried it would be too sweet.  We had some dried red currants on hand that would balance the sweetness.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of butter.  Season the lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the lamb.

Lamb with pear sauce 2 2015

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  In the skillet, add half a chopped onion and two small chopped pears.  Throw in a small handful of the currents.

Lamb with pear sauce 3 2015

Cook for a few minutes to allow the onions to soften and to have the pears to start to break down a bit.  Add a cup of chicken stock and half a cup of a dry white wine.  Bring to a simmer and season with sea salt and pepper.

Lamb with pear sauce 4 2015

Simmer until the lamb is finished.  Let the lamb rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  I also roasted potatoes and cooked up some corn for the sides.

Lamb with pear sauce 5 2015

I’m really glad I tried this flavour combo.  It is a very easy sauce to make with a great balance of tart and sweet over the lamb.  It just goes to show, you should always think outside the box!

Sage Pear Turkey

How did it get to Saturday already?  Where did this week go?  My husband is travelling for two weeks and I’ve had the kids this week.  It’s been a whirlwind of band practice, concerts, tennis practice, and herding the pets.  Plus the tax office is starting up with some things and suddenly it’s Saturday.  I hope next week goes by just as fast because then my husband will be home. 🙂

We had a lovely Thanksgiving but we delayed it a day because a snow storm blew through the night before the actual holiday.  We were lucky because we didn’t lose power but a lot of people did and they were stuck with all that food and no way to cook it.  Some got creative and fired up the old grill.

As usual we order our turkey from a local farm.  Usually we order it from Mayfair Farms a few towns over.  When we don’t it’s because I flaked and waited too long.  This year I didn’t, I ordered early and asked for a small turkey, about 12-13lbs.  Yes, that won’t be a problem, I am on the list!  Pat on the back and all.  Well, best laid plans and all that because the turkeys turned out to be even healthier and hungrier than planned.  Our turkey ended up being 17.56 lbs!  Holy moly.  So I quickly put out the word to my family members to bring containers.  Did any of them do that?  Absolutely not.  Sigh.

As I drove out into the woods to pick up our bird it started snowing and by the time I got to the farm it was really pretty.

Sage pear turkey 9 2014

Craig and Sarah, who own the farm, have been here for a few years now and have really made it into a growing concern which is wonderful.  And I was greeted by the “guard” dog who definitely had to check me out.

Sage pear turkey 8 2014

Each year I try to do the turkey a bit differently from the last to keep it fresh so I thought I would do a sage and pear roast turkey with butter.

Sage pear turkey 1 2014

I softened 1/2 cup of butter and worked in a handful of chopped fresh sage.

Sage pear turkey 2 2014

Luckily the turkey still fit into the roasting pan.  Not the lid though so I had to use tin foil to cover.  Murphy was really hoping I’d screw up somehow and the turkey would magically fly out of the pan and onto the floor.

Sage pear turkey 3 2014

I’ll admit I don’t like this next step of mucking about with raw poultry.  I stuffed most of the butter under the skin and what little was left rubbed into the outside of the skin.  Season with salt and pepper.  I used white pepper because we ran out of regular pepper.

Sage pear turkey 4 2014

In the basin of the pan add a peeled pear, chopped, half a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a handful of sage, and a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.  Add 1/2 cup of dry sherry, and a couple of cups of water.  Cover with tin foil or a lid and begin roasting at 325F/160C.  If the turkey is less than 15lbs, cook it 15 minutes per pound, if more than than, then drop it to 12 minutes.  This is per the Fanny Farmer cookbook.  So our turkey was about 3 1/2 hours.  An hour and a half in I basted.  When there is an hour to an hour and a half left remove the cover.  Normally I wait to the last 45 minutes but because I added so much butter I knew this wouldn’t dry out.

Sage pear turkey 5 2014

Now I love turkey skin and let me tell you this was amazing.  Crispy and full of flavour!  And because I put in all the ingredients for the gravy at the beginning it is just about made.  I put it on the boil and add dissolved corn flour a bit at a time to get the thickness I want.  Stir constantly.  I usually add a bit of Gravy Master but not too much because I want the subtle flavours of the pear and sage to come through.

Sage pear turkey 6 2014

We did our usual roast veg and I made the stuffing balls I did last year.  I also made a fabulous cranberry port sauce.  That I forgot to serve. Honestly, all that effort.  All well I’ll serve it at Christmas.

Sage pear turkey 7 2014

Of course we had way too much food.  I always stress about making sure we have enough food though logically I know we’ll have leftovers taking over the fridge.  But it was wonderful to have family together for my favourite holiday.