10.29.2011

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes: Happy Halloween!


Aren't these fun? I thought you might like to try them if you're having a Halloween party. Cathy at Noble Pig posted them and I believe the recipe is from Everyday Food. I used half Reese's and half Hershey's dark chocolate Bliss bars. (as I prefer dark chocolate with a pb cookie.) But as you can see, Reese's works better 'cause you can push it deeper into the batter. (But the Bliss was sheer bliss!)


Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

From Everyday Food and Noble Pig



Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
48 miniature chocolate peanut butter cups, such as Reese's (or anything else you'd like to try)
48 pieces of candy corn or M & M's, for decorating

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 F, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Line two 24-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter, butter and brown sugar on high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and egg yolk, scraping down bowl as needed.  With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture, buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

With the large end of a melon baller or a spoon, place 2 teaspoons batter into each muffin cup, then press a peanut-butter candy into each center until batter aligns with top edge of candy.  Bake until puffed and set, about 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

Immediately place a piece of candy corn on top of each cupcake; let cool completely in pans on wire racks.  

And here's my Garden Club Halloween Table. I've already posted Monique's Little Acorns and will post the other three recipes soon. (I think the witch must have gotten into some hard cider. :) )



10.28.2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food: #21, Ree Drummond


Do I really need to say anything about The Pioneer Woman? After all, her blog has more than 
23 million page views per month and 4.4 million visitors! But if you'd like some extra skinny on Ree, check out this lovely article about her in The New Yorker.

Briefly, Ree grew up in Oklahoma and after college in California, planned on moving to Chicago to study law. Her plans got interupted when she met and married a cattleman and found herself right back in Oklahoma, this time on a cattle ranch in Pawhuska.
A familiar refrain, Ree started her blog for fun, not expecting it to lead to anything. She's a writer, photographer and home-school teacher to her four children; telling us all about her experiences on the ranch has led to a cookbook: The Pioneer Woman  Cooks and to top it all off, Ree is about to star in her own Food Network show.



I confess, I am not among the 23 million who regularly visit her blog. But someone gave me her cookbook a while back so I had already perused it. I completely agreed with a comment about it in a New York Times article: "
Vegetarians and gourmands won’t find much to cook here, but as a portrait of a real American family kitchen, it works." 
And I think that's exactly what Ree wanted to do with her highly popular blog AND her cookbook: she wanted it to be the story of a real American family kitchen.



I chose a basic fruit crisp recipe from her cookbook to highlight our blogger game changer Ree. It's a nice recipe using lovely fresh peaches but what drew me in was the maple cream topping. I had some left over and used it over some baked apples (yum!), but what I'm going to pour it over next are Hannah's Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes! 

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond



Ingredients:
5 to 6  whole fresh peaches 
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter (1/2 Cup)
1/2 whole lemon
7 tablespoons real maple syrup, divided
1-1/2 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Method:
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a 
fork or pastry cutter. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed. 
Peel peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches, stir well. 
Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping. 
Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top.

Maple Cream Sauce: 

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle sauce over peach crisp.



Serve warm.


Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda

Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen

10.26.2011

Monique's Little Acorns


Monique from La Table de Nana posted this super little fall recipe a while back. I knew I was having my Garden Club for coffee this week and thought this would be perfect on the table. Don't they look great in my pumpkin bowl? And they're delicious, too. (Find the acorn mold HERE. Or HERE.)

A bench note: my first batch turned out too light. I raised the oven temp to 370 and increased the time to 12  minutes. Don't take them out until they get golden brown on top; then the bottom will be the perfect color. Luckily, there's lots of batter so you can experiment with oven temps and time a bit.



They were a hit at the coffee!

Acorn Pound Cake

From King Arthur Flour via Monique



Ingredients:

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon almond extract 
5 eggs

Method:
Preheat oven to 350. (I heated to 370)
In a mixer, beat the first two ingredients until there are no lumps left.
Add the salt, sugar, flour and baking powder. Mixture will be quite thick. Add the extracts and the eggs, one at a time. The mixture will now be light and fluffy.
The key for perfect acorns, according to Monique:

A combination of cooking spray and flour. The cooking spray coats all the nooks and crannies and the flour adds a thin layer of non-stick protection that results in a smooth as silk finish on the outside of your baked goods. In this case, less is definitely more. Filling the wells too full will result in acorns that puff and flow over the sides of the well. Surprisingly, just 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter is plenty. A teaspoon scoop proved to be just the right size and made scooping a breeze.
Bake the acorns for 8 to 10 minutes ( I baked longer) or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the nuts comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

10.25.2011

Caribbean Coconut Muesli from The Four Seasons, Nevis


Someone from Four Seasons read my recent post on
coconut yogurt and noticed I mentioned my kids liked the Caribbean muesli as well as the yogurt. I neglected to ask for the recipe when we were there so the chef at Four Seasons was nice enough to email the recipe to me recently. Four Seasons has been very generous in sharing their recipes. Thank you Chef Andreas Donnerbauer!


Let me warn you, this is sweet. Coconut creme is very sweet and frankly, I only added a very small amount of honey. As far as I'm concerned, it really doesn't need any honey at all. Taste before you add it. I do remember now my kids mentioned how sweet it was and said they could never have eaten an entire bowlful, but I noticed they sure made inroads! 


I also toasted my sliced almonds AND added some dried cranberries. This would be fabulous with fresh fruit which would certainly help cut the sweetness.  You muesli lovers can add or subtract anything you want.

Caribbean Coconut Muesli
Courtesy Andreas Donnerbauer, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Nevis



Ingredients:
1 generous cup quick cooking oats (I used McCanns)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup yogurt (I used Fage)
4 ounces coconut cream
2 tablespoons coconut, toasted until golden brown (add more for garnish)
2 tablespoons raisins
3 ounces honey (I really don't think you need this)
1 tablespoons sliced almonds (I toasted these; hazelnuts would be good too.)

Method:
Soak oats in the skim milk overnight. The next morning add the yogurt and the coconut cream. Add the toasted coconut, raisins, almonds and honey, if using. Mix well and serve cold. Garnish with toasted coconut on top.         
               

10.23.2011

Summer Vacation: Nevis, Part Two


I'll begin Part Two with our tour of Nevis churches.  Old churches and cemeteries are always fascinating and you can learn so much about the history of an area by visiting them. I've always thought a wonderful photo-essay could be written just on tombstones and the tales they tell. We so enjoyed visiting these three churches and were fortunate to be able to go inside two that are intact and still hold services.

The first we saw was St. Thomas Anglican Church and School. It's the island's oldest church and was built in 1643. The gravestones in the old churchyard have so much information on them, are in pretty good condition and it was a learning experience wandering around. The setting of the church is high on a hill with a wonderful view. The church itself contains stone memorials (set in the floor) to Nevis's early settlers. We especially liked the stations of the cross. The artwork was wonderful and very well preserved. Don't you love the baptismal font? "Suffer Little Children" written on the base.


The second was Cottle Church, built in 1824. It states on a placard in front: "The first church in the Caribbean built for all people, regardless of colour, to worship together."



The last church we visited was St. James Anglican Church, built in 1750. A placard here states: "This is one of only three churches in the Caribbean to have a black crucifix." You can see a photo of it below. There was an exquisitely carved lectern in the shape of an eagle. I took one close up of the top and you can see it in the distance in another photo.
And that's our wonderful driver, Dale, in the last photo. He was an amazing font of knowledge about the island, its history and even its flora and fauna. We spent an entire day with him touring the island.


Now that we've toured the churches, I hope you're feeling hungry, 'cause I'm going to move on to restaurants and I'll start with the hotel,  Four Seasons. They had several restaurants. 



Coral Grill was their most elegant (and expensive) restaurant, featuring fresh seafood and exquisite cuts of meat. We had relaxing dinners there a couple times.

Mango, a less formal restaurant, sits on a jut of land that overlooks the ocean towards St. Kitts. Located right on the beach, it's a charming and rather romantic place to dine at night.

There is an Italian restaurant, Neve, also open only at night. We didn't eat there, but this is where breakfast is served in the morning (And where the sous chef gave me their recipe for coconut yogurt... I posted it a while back. Recently, they were nice enough to email me the Caribbean Muesli recipe which I will post soon.) and when there was bad weather, the beach restaurant would close and a bountiful buffet lunch was served at Neve.

 The final photo was the Cabana restaurant near the beach. Very casual. We either had lunch there or ordered lunch down on the beach under our umbrella.

We most often chose to eat away from the hotel because the island's restaurants are varied and fun to visit.
Let me start with two on Pinney's Beach, both a short walk down the beach from the hotel.....Sunshine's and Double Deuce. Both funky. We went to Sunshine's years ago when it was in a different location. It really swings at night. Great bbq!



Double Deuce is the other on the beach and has the best burgers you'll ever taste. I know, it looks pretty beat up from the beach, but the food is excellent.


And two of our dinner favorites. First, Bananas.
Bananas was lovingly built by owner Gillian Suiter-Lowe in the style of the old Caribbean Chattel houses. (She lives in the back.) Walaba shingles, wooden shutters, Island stone floors and a wrap around rustic galvanized porch, together with chandeliers and old iron day beds lend a “shabby Chic” atmosphere to the restaurant. Great fun, Gillian is a super friendly owner and the food was excellent.



The second, Gallipot. Fab seafood here!



Another wonderful restaurant, a touch more elegant, was Golden Rock Plantation Inn. We had been there years ago and we were astounded at the refit.  
Pam Barry's great-great-great-grandfather built this estate in the early years of the 19th century; Pam and co-owners artist Brice Marden and his wife redid it completely. Pam is an avid environmentalist so there are nature trails throughout the mountainous 96 acre property. We wandered around and found the property splashed with reds and greens, looking quite like a contemporary art installation which played off the historic elements. A truly beautiful setting, good food and so unusual. Brice Marden happened to be there that night, Tracy knows him so they had a lovely chat. (That's me in the red dress. I match the decor!) I might mention here that most of these restaurants are also hotels or inns, so I added links if you're interested.


One night, Tracy and I went to Montpelier Plantation, set in a sixty-acre estate 750 feet up in the hills of Nevis. We we were fortunate to get reservations in the sugar mill;  I enjoyed this dinner the most, the setting was unusual and charming and the food excellent and well presented, but Tracy is not much of a meat eater and did not enjoy the main course of filet of beef. It was a set menu the evening we were there.


Another old favorite we remembered from our last trip was The Hermitage. It is one of the oldest Nevis Hotels in operation. The great house was built around 1700 from the rare Nevis hardwood Lignum Vitae. The house has always been in use, as a hotel, as an artist studio, as the head quarters for the Minister of Agriculture, as a rich planter’s home, and as a poor planter’s home. I didn't get a photo of the dining room, which was out on the screened-in patio, but you can see the period furnishings, like antique china and oriental rugs, that decorate the main house. Food was excellent here as well.


One we missed this summer was Nisbet Plantation Beach Club. It closes mid August.  A lot of restaurants and hotels in the Caribbean close down mid August and September. So I hope you won't miss it if you go as we remembered it well. It has a lovely history:

This resort is where British Navy Captain Horatio Nelson met Frances “Fanny” Nisbet, niece of the President of Nevis and widow of Dr. Nisbet, owner of Nisbet Plantation. Nelson and Fanny quickly fell in love and were married on March 11, 1787 at Fig Tree Church on Nevis. A key stone found in the ruined windmill bears the family initials and the date 1778. It was first a sugar plantation and later a coconut plantation.
In 1950 Mary Pomeroy bought the plantation and eventually made it into a resort. Nisbet Plantation and Golden Rock became the first Nevis hotels. Ownership has changed several times and it is now owned by David Dodwell. The photo below is of their dining room: The Great Room.



Last, but certainly not least is Miss June's.
Miss June is an institution on Nevis AND an experience. She has an outlandish collection of hats....all over her bedroom. And when I pulled out my fan (it was really a hot rainy night and restaurants are not air conditioned on this island), Miss June grabbed my arm and led me over to a drawer which, when she opened it, contained 50 fans at least. An amazing assortment.
Dinner at Miss June's is rather like a house party. G
uests assemble around 7:30 p.m. for cocktails, and dine at 8:30 p.m. at a formal table set with crystal and fine linen.  Drinks are in the living room, appetizers served at the table (whatever it was, it was nearly inedible) and then a buffet is set up along a wall. Miss June proceeds to describe every single dish and believe me, it takes a while. You name it, it was there.  Caribbean, Asian, and European  dishes (even mac and cheese) all accompanied by wine followed by coffee, liqueurs, port and brandy and of course, a dessert...as I recall, strawberry ice cream. 
 Years ago, with our British friends, we giggled our way through the evening. The guests at Miss June's make or break the experience. This particular night, the guests were not fun nor very interesting. Unfortunately. Because if you're not laughing, you're thinking about the food, which is not fabulous. You have to go with a sense of humor, that's certain. That's Miss June in the pink and blue check dress and my daughter behind her in white. I wish my photos of the line-up of food had turned out better because it was something to behold.


Well, I hope you've enjoyed wading through this lengthy tour of Nevis. We had lots of fun. And I regret not posting photos of food we loved, but every single food photo I took was terrible.  :(
Stay tuned, because the very next post will be the Four Seasons recipe for Caribbean Muesli!

10.21.2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food: #20, Molly Wizenberg


The next two Game Changers will be easy posts....we know their stories well and most of us have been following them for years. This week, it's Molly Wizenberg from Orangette.


Molly traveled and studied through France, gathering  degrees in biology and French and cultural anthropology along the way. While she was attending 
graduate school in Seattle, her father was diagnosed with cancer. She went home to be with him and was there when he died.

Everyone said: make no major life decisions for 18 months. So Molly didn't but after that she moved to France, intending to work on a doctorate for a career in cultural anthropology. Within weeks of arriving in Paris, she realized that her life kept coming back to food. A writer friend suggested she start a food blog. After returning to Seattle,  she wrote the first Orangette entry in July 2004.




Orangette caught on quickly because Molly didn't just write recipes, but wrote about the meaningful things that happened around food. Slowly, her life inched more and more onto its pages. She even met her husband (Brandon Pettit) through her blog and together, they opened Delancey in Ballard. And all this time, we were there reading and experiencing all the difficulties and successes that life brings and then the complications of opening a new business.
So Molly's blog is about her life,  the experience, the stories, and imaginings that surround food. She says:  "Food is never just food.  It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be."

To celebrate Molly, I chose a recipe she posted back in 2005, Jimmy’s Triple Chocolate Scones. These are a chocolate-lovers delight and when she says triple chocolate, she means it. Don't expect them to be terribly sweet because they are scones, after all. But we did love the restrained chocolate flavor for breakfast. Besides, you can add more ganache topping if you want.

Jimmy's Triple Chocolate Scones

From Orangette, June 5th, 2005 post




Ingredients:

For the scones:
1 ¾ c unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ c plus 1 Tbs unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
2 ¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the ganache:

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (be sure to choose a good-quality chocolate that you’d enjoy eating on its own)
3/4 cup heavy cream

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Drop in the butter, and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter chunks into the flour until they are reduced to pearl-sized nuggets. Stir in the granulated sugar. Set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, and vanilla. 
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients, add the chocolate chips, and stir to form a dough. The dough will be firm but moist, and a bit sticky to the touch. Knead the dough lightly in the bowl about ten times—or, as Jimmy has found, if the dough is too sticky, don’t worry about kneading. It is better to undermix than to overmix.

Form the dough into a 7- to 7 ½-inch round disk on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 6 wedges, and using a spatula, transfer the wedges to a baking sheet. Bake the scones for 17-18 minutes, or until set. Remove them to a rack to cool, and set the rack over a rimmed baking sheet.


To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is very hot and steamy (not boiling, but close), remove it from the heat, and pour it over the chocolate. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Use a spoon to drizzle the ganache over the cooled scones, and serve.

Yield: 6 large scones

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda

Nancy - Picadillo

10.17.2011

Marion Cunningham's Custard-Filled Cornbread


Marion calls this recipe magic. She's right. When it's all cooked, there's custard in the center. This is an old recipe...from the 30's actually..... and as I've mentioned before, I'm slowly working my way through Marion's marvelous cookbook, The Breakfast Book. While we like cornbread, I've only made the old fashioned kind: muffins or those wonderful cornbread sticks made with bacon grease.

This cornbread is an entirely different cup of tea. With this one, there's cornbread on top and cornbread on the bottom with a lovely creamy center. Marion's only instructions were to serve it warm so I did some investigating. Most people served it for breakfast with maple syrup poured over it. Or honey. Almost everyone seems to think in terms of breakfast or brunch. But I read one blog that suggested serving  it with grilled meat, cutting down on the sugar a little, which you could do, but it's really not all that sweet to begin with. I liked that idea.


However you choose to serve it, it's definitely a recipe worth trying. I just couldn't bring myself to pour maple syrup over it so I took my first mouthful plain. And loved it. Then I took another mouthful with a little honey. Liked it that way too....but not quite as well.  I didn't want it sweet (because I'm so accustomed to corn bread as savory?) so that night, I reheated it and served it for dinner alongside some grilled meat. It made a fine side dish as it's rich and really doesn't need anything else, even butter. Besides, everyone wondered how the heck that custard got in there!

I didn't say this was low calorie! Whole milk AND heavy cream.  Yikes!


Custard-Filled Cornbread
From The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham



Ingredients:
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup heavy cream

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish that is 2 inches deep. Put the buttered dish in the oven to heat up while you make the batter.

Beat the eggs a little and add the melted butter. Beat well. Add the sugar, salt, milk and vinegar and beat well again. Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda together and add to the egg mixture. Mix just until the batter is smooth with  no lumps.

Pour into the heated dish and then pour the cup of heavy cream into the center of the batter. DO NOT STIR. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown. Serve warm.



10.14.2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food: #19, Pim Techamuanvivit


Our second Game Changer food blogger is Pim Techamuanvivit. She prefers to go by just plain Pim because "I’ve grown tired of people butchering my multisyllabic last name."  :)


Pim was born in Thailand, educated in several places and ended up living in the San Francisco Bay area. She had a Silicon Valley job which she quit in 2005 to pursue a career in food: her recipes, writings, and photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine magazine, Bon Appétit magazine. She's also moonlighted as a judge on Iron Chef America. Fluent in many languages, Pim is a world traveler and taster. When she started blogging in 2001, it began as a way of keeping in touch with friends but it soon turned into a food blog and eventually a career. (Sound familiar?)

Pim's food blog is called Chez Pim and she reports on her travels around the globe in search of gastronomic treasures. When she comes home, she lives with Michelin-starred chef David Kinch of Manresa restaurant fame. The London Guardian once called Pim the “queen of the food bloggers”; she has written The Foodie Handbook, cooked Pad Thai for Martha Stewart, and had her recipes featured in the New York Times and Bon Appétit magazine.


Two pieces of advice from Pim? 

1) Go to farmers’ markets when you travel — get the true taste of where you are. 
2) Everyone has innate good taste. People just don’t pay enough attention when they eat. They follow recipes, but they don’t taste. People should taste as they cook.

To highlight one of Pim's recipes, I chose this lovely idea for fall: Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Jar. Now when Pim made it, she used very pretty oven-proof glasses and served it at the dinner table to her guests. I was thinking more in terms of football and tailgate parties, so I used my little Ball jars with tops. This travels beautifully and is made entirely in your food processor.

Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Jar
From Chez Pim




Ingredients:
For the base:

200g Anna’s Ginger Thins (I used gingersnaps)
120g (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoon brown sugar
a pinch of salt

For the cheesecake:

24oz cream cheese (3 bricks of Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup All Purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of clove

Method:
Put the ginger cookies in your food processor and blitz them until fine. Transfer the ground cookies into a medium bowl, add the melted butter, brown sugar and salt, stir with a fork until you get wet crumbs.
Divide the crumbs equally between 8 little glasses. Press down the loose crumbs to make slightly compact crust at the bottom of each glass or jar. Set aside for the batter. Wipe the food processor clean so you could make the batter in it.

Then you make the cheesecake batter:

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Put all the ingredients into the food processor and process until homogeneous. It will be easier if your ingredients are at room temperature, but don’t sweat it, you blitz it long enough everything will come together.
Pour the batter into the 8 glasses or jars you’re using, just divide it equally-ish, don’t sweat it. Tap each jar on the countertop  to let out air bubbles and smooth the top a bit.
Take a deep pan large enough to fit all the jars, the one you plan on roasting the big fat turkey on Thanksgiving would be just fine. (Or if you’re doing half the recipe like I did in the photo a pyrex brownie pan works perfectly.) Arrange the cheesecake jars on the pan, fill the pan with hot water from the tap until half way up the sides of the jars. Bake in this water bath in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate. This will make about 10-12 little Ball jars.



Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
SueThe View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
KathleenGonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
AmyBeloved Green

Linda
 Ciao Chow Linda

NancyPicadillo

10.11.2011

Summer Vacation: Nevis, Part One


This vacation post is a long one, so I'm going to divide it into two parts. The first part today is  about the island and our hotel. The second post will be about the churches and restaurants.


We flew from Miami to St. Kitts and then took a 45 minute ferry ride to Nevis. Let's start with the pronunciation of the island. It ought to be Nevis, the "e" sounding like the e in never. But everyone, islanders included, call it Neevis, with a long e.


Nevis is a volcanic island in the Caribbean, located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago. It's seven miles long and 5 miles wide with a population of 11,000 and the capital is Charleston. 

Nevis was first sighted by Columbus in 1493; an island settled for more than two thousand years by Amerindian people. The current name Nevis was derived from a Spanish name meaning "our lady of the snows", probably referring to the white clouds that usually cover the top of Nevis Peak.

The island of Nevis is divided into five administrative subdivisions called parishes; 
each parish is shaped like a pie slice. The first part of the name is the name of the patron saint of the parish church, and the second part of the name is the traditional common name of the parish.The five parishes of Nevis are:

Saint George Gingerland

Saint James Windward
Saint John Figtree
Saint Paul Charlestown
Saint Thomas Lowland


Nevis retains old world charm with 18th and 19th century stone buildings and refurbished plantations and great houses scattered about the island. The island is also known by the sobriquet "Queen of the Caribees", which it earned in the 18th century, when its sugar plantations created much wealth for the British. We had dinner one night in an old sugar mill on Montpelier Plantation, which you'll read about in Part Two.


 Nevis is also of particular historical significance to Americans because it was the birthplace and early childhood home of Alexander Hamilton.


For the British, Nevis is the place where Horatio Nelson was stationed as a young sea captain, and is where he met and married a Nevisian, Frances Nisbet, the young widow of a plantation-owner.

It may be a small island, but one thing you'll never be is bored. There's so much to do: hiking (you can even climb Mt. Nevis), sailing, golf, tennis, a lovely botanical garden, scuba diving and of course, beaches. There are any number of beaches, but the longest is Pinney's Beach, where The Four Seasons is located. This resort also has three lovely pools (one for adults only), several restaurants (we'll discuss these in Part Two), a golf course, tennis courts, spa and workout room; in other words, everything anyone could possibly want. We had a room overlooking the ocean. (That's my daughter in the first photo with Mt. Nevis in the background....she had her hair braided!...and my youngest son with my daughter in the final photo.)


The island is awash with green vervet monkeys. It's said they number 4 times the population. While they didn't seem to encroach on the space around rooms, beach and hotel grounds (how that was avoided here I can't imagine as on other islands in the area they actually come down to the beach and steal food and drinks away!), there were lots of them on the golf course. One afternoon, we took a tour and look what we found (some of them had been cavorting around on the golf course greens but took to the trees when we came along).









They may seem cute, but they are pests. They eat everything so it's almost impossible for anyone on the island to keep fruit or vegetable gardens, which is a shame in a climate like this. The monkeys' preferred trees are mango and another called a genip tree. It bears an interesting fruit; I'd never heard of it before. We broke off a branch and tried the fruit. It's quite small and when you bite into it, you find a large round seed covered with a slightly furry fruit layer. There's nothing substantial about the fruit and all you can do with it is suck on the seed. It's sweet and no wonder the monkeys like it. I did too!


A little about flowers: one of the most common was Coralita, a twining vine found growing everywhere. It's really considered a weed, but the pink or white flowers are very numerous and make a conspicuous bed of color. Look how it's taken over this old house! If you look closely and you can see the pink flowers. (There's a close-up of Coralita in the slideshow on the Botanical Garden below.)



Another interesting tree is the cherry tree....and it's not what you think. 
This particular cherry tree yields a sticky fruit that was/can be used as a homemade glue. There's a photo of that tree in the slideshow too. 

The flamboyant is the national tree of Nevis, with long, brown seed pods  that are shaken like castanets to make music. In Florida we call it a Royal Poinciana. The red blooms are something to behold and we are fortunate to see them blooming everywhere in the summer.
 


And before I forget, let me tell you about the goats and sheep. They wander about freely in fields around the island. Lots of them. The sheep don't have the heavy wool coats we are accustomed to seeing; we were told it was because of the year-round warm weather. You can barely tell the difference between them. How? Goats: tails up. Sheep: tails down.  :)



One afternoon we visited the Botanical Garden. It was lovely, very well kept and had one of the nicest gift shops on the island.








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Did I mention Tracy and I had been here before? In 1996. Oddly enough, one of the things we remembered best was a trip to the race track. Yes....they have a race track. It used to be open on holidays only, not terribly well organized and when we went years ago, one of the horses dumped his jockey, took off across the field next to the track and wasn't found until the next day.  :) We had gone with a British couple we had made friends with and spent an afternoon of fun and laughter. I'm sure we lost every cent we bet too. Not too many tourists know about the races. Anyway, things are much more organized now, a serious business....fun, but not nearly as much fun.  The track has covered bleachers now and they actually smooth the track out in between races. The same jockeys are used race after race, so there's quite a wait in between races. All the same, a trip to the race track is not to be missed if you're fortunate enough to visit Nevis when the horses are running. Food and drinks are for sale (as well as betting) and everyone brings their family and makes an afternoon of it. As you can see below, many of the local women sport Kentucky Derby-type hats!


Our driver, Dale, showed us a drag track and said drag racing was quite a popular sport here and then a cricket field, which stood practically in the center of Charleston city. Needless to say, cricket is a big sport on Nevis. Unfortunately, we didn't see a match, even if I could understand the rules, which always have left me in total confusion!


Stay tuned for Part Two......

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