It had been a very long time since we went to Maine in Autumn, too long really. Most of the tourists had hung up their beach towels and packed away the camping gear weeks ago, leaving a few diehards left to say “so long” to the season. The warm breezes had fled, replaced by crisp leaves, painterly skies and crackling logs. Most of the roadside lobster shacks were shuttered and stores were on a different schedule. That lovely feeling that you should stock your pantry, split more wood and put on another sweater had descended.
We were in luck that Cedarholm Garden Bay Inn was open till the end of October. We were warmly welcomed by George, Kristin, Barry and Joyce. The Inn was still as beautiful and spotless as it was on our last visit. We settled back into our little cabin in the woods overlooking Penobscot Bay, lit a fire and raised a glass to being back. There was a change that we took to right away…Kristin was now making homemade granola, and it was delicious. We are not used to a big breakfast, but found room to stuff in not just the granola, but also the fresh fruit and the still warm homemade sweet breads and muffins Joyce prepared every morning. Another change was that instead of beds of blooming perennials, we were met by dahlias… tall, imposing stalks topped by flowers that burst forth with all of the colors of the rainbow and then some.
George and Kristin are avid gardeners and their love for the dahlia proves it. You have to be committed to dahlias, they’re not a flower you can just plant and walk away. We we told that dahlias have to be scooped out of the earth after the first frost, then washed, treated, dried and divided before they’re off for their long winter’s nap in the cellar. In the Spring they are started in the greenhouse and when they are a certain size and the weather is favorable they are planted in their special beds. Are they worth all of this work? You decide.
Dana and I were intrigued by the dahlias, so Joyce gave us a brochure and directions to Endless Summer Flower Farm in Camden where we were in awe of row upon row of the tallest, most beautiful dahlias I had ever seen in one place at the same time…wow! Dana and I made notes of our favorites: Wyoming Wedding, Valley Rust Bucket, Valentine Lil and Cafe au Lait. We were told that we could order online and receive these little tubers in the Spring to begin our own dahlia adventure.
On our drive to the farm, we saw that the hills of wild blueberries were now a crimson carpet. All of the little blue beauties bursting with flavor were gone till next year. Most of them are now nestled in jars and freezers waiting to be used to make something wonderful like this gingerbread. A burst of spice, a pop of sweet served warm from the oven. A plop of whipped cream and a few more berries make this treat even more special. So far, I’ve received rave reviews for this recipe…one friend even said that he would prefer it over pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving! Whether you serve it then, or at your next Sunday Supper with your friends and family is up to you.
Gingerbread Cake with Blueberries
Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
A burst of spice and a pop of sweet with a crunchy sugar topping.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add egg, mix till combined.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt making sure that they are well blended.
In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, baking soda and molasses.
Alternate mixing in the flour and the buttermilk to the creamed mixture till it is all combined. Gently fold in blueberries.
In a 9 x 9 x 2 baking dish, or 9 inch round pan, pour batter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean.
Serve warm with whipped cream and fresh blueberries.
Jeff and I both knew that it would happen one day. Dana would walk out the door and come back very excited with something sparkling on her left hand. We just didn’t know who, or when, or where, till John. I honestly knew by the excitement in her voice the first time she met him that he was someone special. Over the last few years we figured that he was going to be the “who.” It wasn’t until we received a special e-mail from him, after he had already asked Jeff for her hand, that we knew the “when” and “where.” We were really touched that he included us in all of the fun. Dana had no idea of the date and place, although she knew that he was the guy…and that she was going to say, “yes!”
So, on a perfect September night, he asked…she said the obvious and then came the big surprise. John had planned a surprise engagement party. Have I told you how much Dana loves surprises? Her friends came from as close as Lincoln Park and as far away as Charleston and Washington D.C. There were lots of squeals and laughter and maybe a few tears (mostly from me). We are so very happy to welcome John to the family!
Then the wedding gears started turning and because they want to get married next year, those gears had to turn incredibly fast. Because of Dana and John’s careers, there was only one person who could sit on the phone for hours and hours and hours…me! So that friends, is what has been happening the last few weeks…that, and a trip to Maine. So, please forgive me for my absence in the blogosphere. But by now, you know me…family first.
Now things have settled into a mild roar, and I’m happy to be back sharing more Sunday Supper stories and recipes…that is until we get closer to the date…I might have to to into hiatus again, and I hope that you understand.
I was born just south of the original Mason-Dixon line. Or at least, that’s what the historical marker along I-71 on the way to Columbus, Ohio says. Maybe that ‘s why I’m drawn to a style of cooking that I’ve tasted since I was very young based on fresh, local ingredients. Cooks from Southwestern Ohio, Southeastern Indiana, and Northern Kentucky had many of the same influences. It was, like all of the regions of our country, a melting pot. I’m proud to reflect those influences in what I cook.
My Aunt Mary was from Southeastern Indiana, but she taught me a style of cooking that you might think was more suited to the South. Lots of fresh veggies from her garden, paired with meat that she and Uncle Jack bought directly from the farmer and stored in their large chest freezers. All fresh, all local. Were they way ahead of their time, or just keeping with their roots?
Most of the time she slow simmered her veggies with smoked meat, for a deeply flavored dish that flash cooking can’t produce. The vegetables were not crisp, but didn’t need to be. They were laced with smoky, rich flavor. Or, she’d mix a fresh vegetable with dairy and slow bake till it reached a golden goodness. I’m thinking about her corn pudding. Straight from the garden to the oven with a run through the dairy barn.
She didn’t raise corn, but she’d instruct Uncle Jack to stop at the local farm stand where she would inspect every ear and pick 13 of the best for a “baker’s dozen.” I always smiled that the farmers were “bakers” as well. When I was young this fact was very confusing. I can still find farmers at my market that sell a “dozen” the same way today.
So, even though you might think that corn pudding is a Southern dish, it felt right at home in Aunt Mary’s kitchen. Which brings me to the Beaumont Inn.
The Beaumont Inn is located in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. It is one of my favorite places on Earth. Not because it’s set among the lush, rolling hills of Kentucky bluegrass, dotted with horse farms, antebellum mansions and famous bourbon distilleries. No, those are the perks that come with the trip. Why I really love it is because it takes me back to Aunt Mary’s table. Savory meat, vegetables fresh from the garden, topped off with the most decadent of desserts.
The Beaumont Inn got its start as Greenville Springs Spa in 1806. It became Beaumont College in 1895 and since 1917, five generations of the Dedman family have been gracious hosts to visitors. Beaumont Inn reaches out and shakes your hand and invites you in with Southern hospitality. It has been my retreat for a very long time. I walk through the heavy, tall door and feel the weight of Victorian opulence. The warm and inviting parlors, the “Cleopatra” clock, pictures of Civil War generals and pretty girls in period dresses.
I travel back in time when I’m there and as I walk into the dining room, I step right into my Aunt Mary’s kitchen. Although, even Aunt Mary didn’t make fried chicken this good! I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken in my day, and theirs is the best, bar none. The crispy, golden skin is not heart healthy and it doesn’t make apologies for that. Since I only indulge about once a year, I don’t feel the least bit of guilt…well, maybe I feel a tiny bit guilty when I dive into in their Robert E. Lee cake with ice cream for dessert.
They are also famous for their corn pudding. Which reminded me of this heirloom recipe from my family. My version starts with lots of freshly creamed corn, not corn kernels, I’ve actually never had any corn pudding quite like this one. This is not custard with a few corn kernels poking through. It’s lush with fresh, sweet corn and therefore it really can only be made with fresh, not frozen corn. This recipe was handed down through my family and now on to you to share with you family and friends for your next Sunday Supper.
Besides the fresh corn, the “secret” to this recipe is using a hand grater like this to grate the kernels from the cob. Then take a knife and scrap all of the milky goodness into the bowl. This grater is the same one that my aunt used and has been passed down to me. If you don’t have this type of grater, a box grater could be used. but it won’t be as easy.
This recipe uses 10 ears of corn, that’s another of the secrets. You can’t get this type of rich corn flavor with a couple of ears of corn.
Here it is hot from the oven!
Fresh, Sweet Corn Pudding Recipe
Yield: 6 - 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
Freshly picked corn from the garden to the oven with a run through the dairy barn. Golden and delicious!
10 ears fresh corn (either Silver Queen or Bi-Color), grated - This will render 2 cups grated corn
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish.
In a medium bowl, grate the corn. Be sure to scrape down the husks with a knife to release all liquid from husks.
In a large bowl, whisk the milk and eggs together then whisk in flour salt and sugar. Finally whisk in melted butter.
Stir the creamed corn into the milk/egg mixture until well blended.
Pour into buttered baking dish.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or till pudding is firm and golden brown on top (see picture).
Kale. The overcooked, overlooked vegetable of my youth has been in the limelight for the last few years. My mother was a fan of simmering it for a long, long time in stock produced from the “country ham” that she prepared often. It gave the kale a nice ham-y flavor. She served it up along side her buttery mashed potatoes for many a Sunday Supper.
Her kale came in a plastic bag from the supermarket. I don’t know what variety it was…it was just kale. Now, we have many varieties to chose from. My favorite used to be lacinato, but recently our farmer’s market and Whole Foods have been presenting us with a new way to enjoy this feisty green: tender, sweet, BABY kale. Have to say, I’m a big fan.
At the same time, I discovered an accessory for the grill that I’m loving this summer. It’s called a stainless steel grill grid. I’ve put these two together for what is our new go-to vegetable…grilled baby kale, sprinkled with Parmesan and a dash of red chili peppers. A drizzle of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar is optional.
I’ve been working on grilling kale for awhile. At first, I thought that my lacinato would be perfect because it was large enough to stand up to grilling. I removed the long, tough center stem, drizzled on a bit of olive oil and popped it on the grill. It was just OK. Parts got a bit too much char, it was too oily and since it is a long leaf it did not make a good presentation.
I then found my new grilling accessory, used baby kale and tossed it with a lighter douse of olive oil. It takes just minutes on the grill and you have a rich, smoky dish that has a bit of an Italian accent. We love it and I think that your friends and family will as well for your next Sunday Supper.
Spicy Grilled Kale with Parmesan Recipe
Yield: 2 - 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Spicy and savory kale topped with freshly grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.
1 - 5 oz. container of baby kale
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt (to taste) (optional)
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice (optional)
Light your grill. When it is hot, place grill grid on the grill surface so that it can reach the temperature of the grill.
Place baby kale in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. It looks like a lot, but kale REALLY cooks down.
Place baby kale on grill grid as shown. Use tongs to move it around on the surface of grid...keep it moving and don't leave the grill. In a few minutes it will be ready.
Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
We are trying to cut down on salt, so I personally don't add salt, I let the Parmesan lend a dash of salty flavor. Also, you can add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice before serving if you'd like.
Score: Desserts in Jars – 10 GPS-0
I love jars, I love desserts, I love gardens! Sounds like a recipe for a perfect Saturday afternoon, right? I was really looking forward to a day in the country visiting the Mariani Estate and Gardens with the Woodlands Garden Club to see recipes demonstrated from Shaina Olmanson’s new cookbook, Desserts in Jars followed by a garden walk…especially after I heard our forecast for a quintessential summer Saturday…sunny, 80 degrees, no humidity.
But the GPS was wrong, has that ever happened to you? After a couple of tries (and some kind human intervention) we finally pulled up to the right spot, although we didn’t pull up in style like these folks did!
So…instead of arriving early and settling into a lovely demonstration by Chefs Corey and Sara Grupe….we arrived to hear the applause as their presentation was ending. A little frazzled and disappointed we were soon under the tent enjoying delicious Frozen Mudslide Pies, homey Lemon Blueberry Bread Pudding and ice cold non-alcoholic Peach Granita Bellinis.
The Mariani Gardens were in full bloom and the perfect backdrop for a garden party.
Chefs Corey and Sara shared that they believe that desserts that are prepared in jars are perfect for folks who want to make things ahead. You can determine the perfect proportion size and jars are easy to store and transport.
The desserts were served to us in “tasting size” 4 ounce jars. I thought that it would be a great idea for Sunday Supper with your family and friends to serve more than one dessert and serve them in these smaller containers so that there would be no guilt when you had two.
What’s not to love about canning jars? They symbolize preservation of food traditions, are easily portable and are well…delightful! All good things can come in jars and Shaina proves it. Her creativity inspires with tasty recipes using traditional canning jars in delightful, innovative ways for you to cook, serve, drink and give as gifts.
After emptying the jars of all their goodness, visitors were off on a self-guided tour of the grounds.
The kitchen garden was my favorite with terracotta urns bursting with blooms, raised beds filled with an outstanding variety of herbs, vegetables and flowers featuring towering handmade trellises.
A long line was forming and folks were walking away with their arms loaded with books. Many said that the book had inspired them to cook in jars and others were excited to give them as gifts. It’s not often that you can do your holiday shopping under a canopy of leaves surrounded by flowers.
I got permission to let you have a taste of one of the recipes that we enjoyed. The Frozen Mudslide Pies are rich, creamy and of course frosty, perfect for a warm summer afternoon and just like the other recipes in this book…portable, charming and delicious.
Frozen Mudslide Pies Recipe
Yield: 8 - 8 oz. jars or 16 - 4 oz.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
What can be better than chocolate cookies buried under smooth chocolate and espresso ganache topped with a swirl of whipped cream?
For the Crust
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Espresso Ganache
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Filling
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
For the Whipped Cream
1/2 heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Espresso powder, for garnish
1. Make the crust: Mix the cookie crumbs and butter until the crumbs are evenly coated. Press 2 tablespoons of the crumbs into the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce jars and set aside.
2. Make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat just until it boils. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate pieces. Allow to stand for 1 minute and then whisk in the espresso powder and vanilla until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour evenly into the jars over the chocolate crust. Refrigerate the jars until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Make the chocolate filling: Beat together the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa in a medium-size bowl until stiff peaks form. Using a pastry bag and tip, preferably, or a zip-top bag with a corner cut off, pipe the filling over the espresso ganache layer. Cover loosely and freeze for at least 2 hours, until ready to serve.
4. Make the whipped cream: Beat together the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar. Pipe a small dollop onto the top of each pie and sprinkle with espresso powder. Serve immediately.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this is not a sponsored post. I was given a “goody bag” which included a copy of the book as well as various brochures for businesses in the area.