Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/8/2010 (2462 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Our Manitoba summer has been bookended by rain. Along with the lush foliage on the trees and shrubs throughout my neighbourhood this summer, one of the other benefits of all that precipitation has made itself apparent in the last couple of weeks. There is an abundance of apples -- large, full, ripe apples. So many, in fact, that at one yard sale I visited, the proprietor was generously offering free apples to her customers. She was simply running out of things to do with them.
Those trees full of apples are a sure sign that summer is snuggling down into the cooler autumn, and that means that there will only be a few weekends left to enjoy the pleasures of either the backyard garden or the farmer's markets.
The Harrow Fair Cookbook by Moira Sanders and Lori Elstone with Beth Goslin Maloney (Whitecap Books, $29.95) celebrates the end of the summer with all the delicious things one associates with the coming autumn. This is a good fall cookbook that will tempt you from the garden and the market back into the warmth of your kitchen.
The Harrow Fair (www.harrowfair.com) takes place in Essex County, Ont. in the southernmost part of Canada. (It's the same latitude as the Tuscany region of Italy. We should all move there immediately.) This is the 156th year the fair has taken place, and the sensibly written recipes and photography in this featured cookbook certainly capture the spirit of a Canadian rural fair.
I've chosen three recipes from The Harrow Fair Cookbook. One should finish up the rhubarb in your backyard, the second will use up a few apples either from your yard or the market, and the third is for pickerel -- something local and fresh that is not growing in your garden.
This is a family-friendly drink and a great way to use up a lot of rhubarb without having to can it or freeze it. Serve it with club soda or, for a more traditional, sweeter punch, use ginger ale.
2 large oranges
2 litres (8 cups) water
3 litres (12 cups) chopped fresh rhubarb
625 ml (21/2 cups) granulated sugar
2 litres (8 cups) club soda (or ginger ale), cold
Orange slices for garnish
Wash the 2 large oranges well. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest off of the oranges in wide strips.
Place the water, rhubarb and strips of orange zest in a stockpot set over high heat. Boil the mixture for 10 minutes.
Strain the rhubarb and orange zest, reserving the liquid in a large punch bowl. Discard the pulp and zest. Stir the sugar into the hot liquid.
Store the concentrated punch in the refrigerator. Mix the concentrate with an equal part of club soda (or ginger ale) just prior to serving. Serve over ice and garnish with orange slices.
Storage: This punch can be made well in advance and frozen in containers. Simply defrost for a few hours in the refrigerator before use and add the club soda or ginger ale at the last minute.
This recipe calls for fresh rhubarb, but frozen rhubarb works just as well.
In 155 years of the Harrow Fair, Brenda Anger is the only woman to have been president of the Harrow Fair Board. This is her recipe for apple dumplings. Whole apples are filled with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then wrapped in a flaky pastry and basted with sweet syrup. What a sumptuous way to use up those apples falling off the trees right now.
660 ml (22/3 cups) all-purpose flour
15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
7 ml (11/2 tsp) fine sea salt
250 ml + 40 ml (1 cup + 8 tsp) cold unsalted butter, cubed, divided
160 ml (2/3 cup) milk
8 medium Empire apples (or your favourite)
5 ml (1 tsp) ground cinnamon
125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
310 ml (1 1/4 cups) firmly packed brown sugar
185 ml (3/4 cup) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Working quickly and with a light touch, incorporate the 250 ml (1 cup) butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Stir in the milk. Toss the dough with a fork until it comes together. (Add a little more milk, if needed.)
Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape into small discs. Cover the discs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Butter a 23 x 33 cm (9 �ó 13-inch) baking pan.
Peel and core the apples, leaving each apple in one piece. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a 18 cm (7-inch) square. Place 1 apple on each square.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Place 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the cinnamon-sugar in the centre of each apple. Top each apple with 5 ml (1 tsp) of the 40 ml (8 tsp) butter.
For each apple, bring the 4 corners of pastry up to the top of the apple and pinch together to seal. Place the dumplings in the prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes while you make the basting sauce.
While the dumplings are baking, make the sauce by combining the brown sugar, water, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring often, over medium-high heat.
After the dumplings have been in the oven for 15 minutes, pour the sauce over them. Bake the dumplings for an additional 40 minutes. While the dumplings are baking, spoon the sauce over the dumplings twice. (This gives the dumplings a shiny glaze and moistens the dough.)
Serve warm. Makes 8 dumplings.
When our kids were small we used to go a pickerel dinner fund-raiser at the end of the summer, and to this day, the taste of pickerel tells me fall is just around the corner. This is touted as the best method of baking fresh fish. If the steps are followed, the fish should come out perfectly every time.
60 ml (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened, divided
30 ml (2 tbsp) water
4 pickerel fillets, about 250 g (8 oz) each
15 ml (1 tbsp) fine sea salt
10 ml (2 tsp) freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the butter. Sprinkle the surface of the skillet with 30 ml (2 tbsp) water. Set aside.
Ensure the pickerel fillets have been thoroughly deboned and skinned.
Sprinkle both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper. Place the fillets in the pan. Dot the top of the fillets with the remaining 30 ml (2 tbsp) butter.
Set the skillet over high heat, bringing the water to a boil.
Immediately transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 7 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flaky. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
1 Last weekend, I had the amazing good fortune to participate as a judge at the Manitoba Open Barbeque Championship (www.mobc.ca) at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival. I also got to find out just how serious this business of barbecue really is. Because the MOBC is now officially a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned competition, it is required that KCBS-trained judges be at the tables adjudicating the entries. After completing the course, and being officially certified, like the other novice judges, I was required to raise my right hand and recite the oath, which included a promise that "I accept my duty to be an Official KCBS Certified Judge, so that truth, justice, excellence in barbeque and the North American way of life may be strengthened and preserved forever."
I kid you not.
Here are the top three as judged at the MOBC, the only KCBS-sanctioned barbecue competition in Canada... and let me just say the food was phenomenal.
1st Place Overall: Prairie Smoke & Spice, Rob Reinhardt, Pilot Butte, Sask.
2nd Place Overall: Two Little Pigs BBQ, Ross Bowen, Minnetonka, Minn.
3rd Place Overall: Smokin Hawg BBQ, Bernie Lutzer, Winnipeg
The winner is automatically invited to the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn. in October.