This weekend is the Canadian Thanksgiving. Generally speaking, Thanksgiving is not celebrated over here in the UK, or at least not the Canadian one at any rate. It's quite possible that you may find a small fuss being made over the American one, as there must be a lot of Americans living over here. Put it this way . . . there is never any difficulty finding cranberries, tinned pumpkin or turkeys around the end of November . . . but second Sunday in October?? Very difficult, if not close to impossible to find.
I've never quite been able to understand why the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving so late in the year, almost on top of Christmas as it were . . . let's face it there is not really a lot of harvesting going on at the end of November, and if Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday to celebrate thanks for the great harvest . . . it makes better sense that it would come closer to the end of summer, rather than almost on top of the beginning of winter . . . but meh . . . that's just me I guess. I like Thanksgiving no matter when it occurs. In fact, I like Thanksgiving so much I would celebrate it on both the Canadian and American days if I could!
I like the fact that the Canadian one comes right at Harvest time . . . and I like the fact that the American one sort of ushers in the Holiday Season of good cheer! I'm not hard to please. I just like celebrating and any holiday celebrated with special foods is a.o.k. in my books!
Most years I haven't been able to celebrate any Thanksgiving at all. When I worked down South for the American family, I was always working on the Canadian Thanksgiving, and . . . no surprise here . . . I was always working on the American one too!! Go figure! I always spent days getting things ready for their dinner . . . and I never even got to enjoy a plate of dinner myself. (I know . . . . it was kinda weird the way that went.)
Anyways, what's the point to all of this?? Well, this year I am actually celebrating Thanksgiving and with some fellow Canadians too! Hooray!! I am in charge of desserts. I searched online to find something that would be really special and I found this recipe for these tarts that looked really nice on the Canadian LCBO page. There are a lot of nice looking recipes on there. It sounded really nice, and unusual.
The flavors were very autumnal sounding and definitely celebratory . . . sweet roasted parsnip ribbons, a lemony goat's cheese filling . . . a buttery oatmeal cookie crust. What's not to like about that??? Tasty and quite unusual I'd say! But when you can't find tinned pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie . . . one must adapt.
They turned out quite nicely . . . but I wouldn't say they are altogether transportable. They're quite delicate and so I am going to make something else to take. But if you are going to be staying home, do give them a try, and not just at Thanksgiving either. I think these would be fabulous at any special dinner, but only if you are eating it at home.
*Cinnamon Roasted Parsnip and Lemon Goats Cheese Tarts*
Makes 6 servings
This unusual dessert will have your guests guessing!! It's delicious!
For the crust:
300g of fine crunchy oat cookie crumbs (something like a hob nob, 2 cups)
115g of unsalted butter, melted (1/2 cup)
For the Roasted Parsnips:
2 medium fresh parsnips, peeled and trimmed
100g of soft light brown muscovado sugar (1/2 cup Packed)
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 TBS unsalted butter
For the Lemon Goats Cheese Filling:
125g (4 ounces) fresh soft goats cheese
95g of golden caster sugar (1/2 cup)
1 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest from an un-waxed lemon
1 large free range egg
Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Butter six 4 inch tart tins, with removable bottoms. Place them on a baking sheet.
Combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and salt for the crust. Divide this mixture equally amongst the tart tins. Press the crumbs firmly into each pan bottom and up the sides all around. Bake for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
To do the parsnips, using a vegetable peeler, peel long shavings of parsnip off of each until you reach the core inside, peeling off as many as you can. Toss the ribbons of parsnip in a small casserole dish along with the lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. Dot with butter, cover and bake until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Arrange these roasted parsnip ribbons in the bottoms of the cooled tart shells.
Beat the soft goats cheese together with the sugar. Whisk in the lemon juice, lemon zest and the egg. Spoon this mixture over the parsnips, dividing it equally amongst the tarts and covering the parsnips completely. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until set. Cool to room temperature. Chill for at least three hours before serving.
If desired garnish with some sifted icing sugar and a few sprinkles of lemon zest.
Notes: Things I would do if making these again.
1. I found that my parsnips were not tender in the allotted time. It took far longer and they ended up being more candied, than roasted. If I make them again (and I do think I will) I will cut the parsnips into small cubes or batons and parboil them for a few minutes before roasting them for a shorter period of time so that they are more roasted and less chewy.
2. I also would only use half the amount of brown sugar and lemon juice and butter. I felt the quantities were far too much for the amount of parsnips.
3. I would make 4 tarts instead of 6, making them a bit deeper and having the final cook time for a tiny bit longer in order for the goats cheese cheesecake mix to cook through. I thought these tarts, whilst delicious were a tad bit on the skimpy side as far as filling went.
4. Although the cookie crust is very nice, I think I would opt to use either short crust pastry next time, or filo pastry. I didn't think that the cookie crumb crust held up very well, despite baking it twice.