Even though we've only had enough snowstorms to count on one hand, it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the winter meals we habit around this time of year, roasted vegetables, creamy soups, crusty breads, boxes and boxes of citrus, and stick to your bones desserts. I'm sure the majority of you out there are planning meals with health and a low calorie count in mind, but for us January is when we nestle into the rhythm of winter, a slow pace, hearty meals that sustain us through the cold days, and quiet early evenings with a good book in hand or favorite movie to watch, with or without forecast snow. Admittedly, there may be a green smoothie in there every now and again.
Not much other than root vegetables and hot house plants are in season right now, but if you take a bundled walk around your backyard or neighborhood, you will likely find a rose bush or two adorned with these blush berries called rose hips. I'm sure if you ask, your neighbor wouldn't mind you taking a few (though they may question your sanity). They can be picked as early as after the first frost October/November and as late as the spring. Don't take them all though, as birds rely on them through the winter, or so I read.
The berries themselves are full of seeds which are surrounded by these irritating little fibers, but the flesh is tart and tasty, reminding me of hawthorn berries aka chinese haw or even gogi berries. The juice makes for an awesome syrup or jelly.
I also have to mention that I attended the Altitude Design Summit as a caterer for one of their kick-off dinners last week. I teamed up with Lindsey Johnson of Cafe Johnsonia and we made a delicious vegetarian dinner at the Viking Cooking School in Salt Lake City hosted by Alt (nickname for the conference). Becky Rosenthal came and was a huge help as well. A few pictures of the dinner can be seen here. The dinner was tiring but super fun, and the rest of the conference was amazing. I met so many interesting and inspirational people, came away with a sense of work to do and visions to fulfill, and can I just say I couldn't get over how great all the keynote speakers were? Pilar Guzman, Deborah Needleman, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Ben Silbermann, and Gretchen Rubin. Incredible, incredible people.
You need to go to it next year, trust me; but eat this cake first.
1/2 pound of rosehips, rinsed and ends pinched off
4 cups water, warm
1 - 2 cups natural sugar
While you are preparing the rosehips, boil 1 cup of water.
Place all the trimmed and cleaned rosehips in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of warm water and blend until fine. Add to the boiling water and bring the whole mixture to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat and let the mixture sit for fifteen minutes.
Pour the mixture into a cheesecloth or tea towel inside a sieve, set on top of a bowl or measuring cup. Leave the mixture until all the liquid is strained out (do not squeeze). Combine the strained rosehip pulp with another 2 cups of water in the pan, stir a little, and strain again this time squeezing until there is no more liquid.
Discard the pulp and combine the strained juice with the sugar in a clean saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, let boil for a bit (you can use a candy thermometer if you want to reach a certain temperature to assure syrup consistency), and then preserve as you would other syrups or jams. You can serve it over puddings, ice creams, mix it with mineral water or alcohol for a nice spritzer, your morning muesli, or in a vinaigrette for a salad of citrus and avocados.
spiced rose hip and olive oil cake
1 cup spelt flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rosehip syrup
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon, optional
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 3/4 cup water
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter and line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.
Sift together flours, spices, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine the syrup, olive oil, vanilla and lemon zest.
Into the syrup mixture, mix in half of the dry mixture, followed by half of the baking soda water, alternating until everything is incorporated and smooth but not overmixed. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
This cake is more like a sweet bread or muffin than a cake, not overly sweet. So serve it with honey butter, crème fraîche, or a tall glass of milk, almond is my favorite.
If you use a bundt pan, bake for about 30 minutes. If you use smaller cake pans, reduce your time a little more (I baked a 4" cake pan for 15 minutes). Follow the rule of thumb to remove from oven when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Don't have/want to make rosehip syrup? Substitute with maple syrup or honey and increase the zest.
You can substitute the spelt flour with whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose.