Monday, 23 August 2010

Great Fun and Great Flavours - The Harrow Fair Cookbook

The Harrow Fair Cookbook
Prize-Winning Recipes Inspired by Canada's Favourite Country Fair
by Moira Sanders and Lori Elstone
with Beth Goslin Maloney
Softcover, 256 pages

Harrow, Ontario is the southernmost tip of the province and has been the site of the famous Harrow Fair every Labour Day weekend for over 150 years. People gather from all over to celebrate the growing season with wonderful food; local, natural, and hand-made. Sisters Moira Sanders and Lori Elstone, both with culinary educations, have compiled a book of 150 recipes straight from, and inspired from, this great tradition.
From pickles and preserves to cocktails, starters, soups, salads, sides and mains - and don't forget dessert! - the authors cover every delicious aspect of great fair fare.
We couldn't wait to dive in and try our hand at the delicious offerings, and started out with the Apple Dumplings. Living in apple country, we were delighted to wrap delicious Ontario apples with flaky pastry, baked until tender perfection with a caramel sauce. They were perfect with melty vanilla ice cream while still warm, and also cold out-of-hand the next day. Yum!
apple dumplings
In 155 years of the Harrow Fair, Brenda Anger is the only woman to have been president of the Harrow Fair Board. She and her family have been involved in the organization of the fair for more than three decades. This is Brenda’s recipe for apple dumplings. Whole apples are filled with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, then wrapped in a flaky pastry and basted with sweet syrup. They’re divine.
Makes 8 dumplings.

2 2/3 cups (660 mL) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1½ tsp (7 mL) fine sea salt
1 cup + 8 tsp (250 mL + 40 mL) cold unsalted butter, cubed, divided
2/3 cup (160 mL) milk
8 medium Empire apples
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups (310 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup (185 mL) water
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Working quickly and with a light touch, incorporate the 1 cup (250 mL) 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 350°f (180°c). Butter a 9- × 13-inch (23 × 33 cm) 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 7-inch (18 cm) square. Place 1 apple on each square.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Place 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the cinnamon-sugar in the centre of each apple. Top each apple with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the 8 tsp (40 mL) 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 the dumplings. 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
Next we made the Barbecue Sauce, delicious sweet tomato heat that's a real family pleaser and just perfect for the Pulled Barbecue Chicken on a Bun. Does that sound delicious or what? We loved the sweet and savoury nature of the sammies and the fact that the beer flavour stands out. Very Canadian, eh?
barbecue sauce
This recipe is the creation of Lori’s husband, Jake, who takes grilling very seriously. He made it everything a good barbecue sauce should be . . . smoky, spicy, tangy, and saucy.
Makes four 16 oz (500 mL) jars.

¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
2 cups (500 mL) chopped yellow onion
6 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups (2 L) chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp (5 mL) red chili flakes
4 tsp (20 mL) smoked paprika
1 cup (250 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 cups (500 mL) Heinz ketchup
½ cup (125 mL) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp (10 mL) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper

Prepare four 16 oz (500 mL) jars, lids, and rings for canning. Hold the sterilized jars in the boiling water canner until needed.

Heat the oil in a large stockpot set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring the sauce to a boil then simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Blend the sauce in a food processor until smooth. Return the sauce to the stockpot, and bring the sauce back up to a boil. Remove from heat.

Fill and seal the hot jars one at a time, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Process the jars in the boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

storage Enjoy at any point, but use within 1 year.

This sauce can also be frozen (instead of canned) in convenient 2-cup (500 mL) portions for up to 6 months (the perfect amount for barbecued ribs, page 123).

pulled barbecue chicken on a bun
This is the perfect sandwich to serve on a hot afternoon after going for a big swim in Lake Erie. (We suggest eating after a swim because once you eat this sandwich you’ll be too full and happy to contemplate a dip.)
Serves 4.

1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
1 cup (250 mL) barbecue sauce
1 cup (250 mL) Walkerville Brewing Company’s Classic Amber beer
4 large crusty rolls
¾ cup (185 mL) shredded aged Canadian cheddar cheese
¼ cup (60 mL) sliced green onions

Combine the chicken, barbecue sauce, and beer in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the sauce and place it in a large bowl. Continue to simmer the sauce over low heat. Using 2 forks, shred (or “pull”) the chicken. Mix the pulled chicken back into the sauce and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

Slice the rolls in half. Divide the pulled barbecue chicken between the 4 bottom halves. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Assemble the sandwiches.

Serve immediately.
And last but not least, I made myself (yes, I said myself) a Peaches & Cream Pie. I have been thinking about what to make myself for my birthday this year and it was a toss-up between peach pie and cheesecake. When I saw this recipe I decided to give it a go - and I am so glad I did! The recipe for Favourite Pie Crust turned out perfectly and the peaches and cream pie was divine. So creamy, it didn't need anything to accompany it. This is by far my favourite pie now.
I have the Double-Double Chocolate Cake bookmarked for my daughter's birthday - and have seen that the lovely and talented Monica Bhide was treated to the same cake for her birthday. Serendipity!

Some other recipes that I have bookmarked are:
Sweet Corn Fritters with Peameal Bacon
Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
Soft Pretzels with Honey Mustard Sauce
Great Lakes Chowder
Maple Baked Beans
Smoked Trout Dip
Cheddar Loonies
Colchester Fried Chicken
Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Strawberries & Cream Roll
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream