Chocolate Pavlova with Winter Fruits

November stormed in with a chip on her shoulder and brought a gale that toppled trees and ripped the roof of a business in the neighborhood.

We watched from the windows as gusts of wind effortlessly whipped neatly raked piles of leaves up in the air and tore branches off the trees in the back yard. The storm caused power outages over a broad area which left us in the cold for thirty long hours.

It wasn’t so bad, that first night without electricity. We brought our jack-o-lantern into the kitchen and I prepared ham and cheese sandwiches by its flickering light, which we grilled on the barbecue at dusk. We lit candles, sipped wine, and then turned in early for the night.

But the next 12 hours brought numb fingers, a shortage of morning coffee, and worry about the stash of summer produce in the deep freezer. In the end we made an investment in our homestead – a shiny orange Subaru generator – which sustained our fridge and freezer for the duration of the outage.

We got invited out for a lasagna feast on Saturday night, and I took care of dessert, thanks to a chocolate meringue I had baked off the day before. Turns out one can have a decadent dessert when absolutely nothing is functioning in the kitchen.

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Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel Sauce

Fall in Virginia is in full swing, as evidenced by the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground. I’ve been spending my afternoons outside with Clara, watching her toddler feet crunch the leaves as she squeals excitedly.

After burning so much energy playing outside, she’s almost always ready for a snack when we come in. We try to keep our snacks healthy, usually opting for fruit, cheese and crackers, or vegetables and hummus, but after walking in to the fragrant smell of this Bundt cake cooling, I couldn’t resist sharing some of it with her (and having a slice myself).

Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Maple Caramel SaucePhoto by Courtney Champion

This was a snack that, while not her typical variety, I still felt good giving Clara. I reduced the amount of sugar in the cake and swapped out raw cane sugar for the granulated sugar called for in the original recipe. This Bundt cake is full of pumpkin flavor that isn’t drowned out by sweetness.

The combination of oats and pumpkin is a new favorite of mine, and, in this recipe, the oats add a delicate texture that differentiates it from other cakes I’ve made.

While powdered sugar is the standard topping for many a Bundt cake, I decided to make a maple caramel sauce to top this one, turning it into a decadent treat. Toasted, salted pumpkin seeds add crunch and just the right amount of saltiness to balance the caramel. [Read more…]

Spiced Brown Rice Pudding

We’ve been graced with a mild fall this year; most days are sunny and balmy, the brilliance of the orange trees enhanced by the watercolour blue skies.

The warm weather has  been a bit of a mixed blessing, making it all too easy to ignore the approaching winter. So last week when the first frost struck, it left us quaking in our boots, literally.

A bowl of comfort food was in order and rice pudding was the obvious choice.

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