As much as I adore my garden and dread the cold and dreariness of the months ahead (November is the worst!) there is something to be said for having seasons.  They punctuate the year and offer something new to look forward to; a change of pace and a whole gamut of new tastes and flavours (not to mention an excuse for a whole new wardrobe!).  The onset of autumn and ultimately winter permit one to legitimately be a bit lazy for a few months of the year.

This past weekend saw the arrival of autumn flavours at The Good Earth.  On Saturday, Cheffer Patrick danced through a delicious menu groaning with a number of deeelicious comfort foods.  A wonderful mushroom galette with earthy flavours was met with delight by our guests.  A “to die for”, good old fashioned “chicken ’n dumplings” made with crispy skinned chicken thighs was pretty near orgasmic.  Glowing faces with broad smiles and dishes almost as clean as they came from the cupboard were a testament that yup, autumn was indeed here and how lucky!!

Today we had our bi-annual class with “Frac” – Roberto Fracchioni, Executive Chef at The Millcroft Inn.  As always the class was packed (sold out in a nano-second months ago!) and the menu was packed with autumn inspired comfort foods.  We started with a Roasted Celery Root, Squash and Pear Soup, followed by a earthy hot mushroom salad with lentils and a warm balsamic vinaigrette.  The Venison Stew, served with a perfect polenta, reminded us all just how good simple comfort foods can be and… how fabulous they make us feel.

Now, I wonder just what it would be like to live in Arizona, Florida or San Diego where – God forbid – each day rolls out more or less like the next – no great fluctuations to struggle with.  Does one get the same inspiration to venture into a whole different style of cooking, using a whole new basket of ingredients?  or does every meal simply resemble the next?

Well, I say, “Thank goodness!” for the seasons.  The excitement of spring after a long, dark winter is met by the pure bliss of summer with the abundance of fresh flavours surrounding us everywhere slowing into the coziness of autumn and finally giving into the silence and reflection that winter affords, and on the cycle goes again, each season welcomed with a renewed sense of excitement.  But I digress…

Today Frac shared a wonderful dessert recipe with us.  It comes via another one of our favourite guest chefs of yore – Lesley Mattina.  A fabulous pastry chef , Les has a burgeoning new business – OMG Baked Goodness in Toronto.  We made this recipe today with pumpkin – perfect for Thanksgiving dinner or any excuse!  I think it would work spectacularly with any number of combinations – apples & cranberries, pears & ginger, blue plums as well as straight up cranberries.  So… here’s the recipe.  Enjoy it with family and friends, and by the way, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Sticky Toffee Pudding – Yield 12 ramekins

Toffee Sauce:

300gr brown sugar
375 ml 35% cream (no skimping with something low fat!)
60ml unsalted butter
splash of vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Heat until melted & bubbly.  Set aside.


350 gr pumpkin puree
2 tsps baking soda
4 Tbsps unsalted butter, cubed
300 gr brown sugar
4 eggs
350 gr all purpose flour
1/2 Cup cranberries

Cream together the butter & brown sugar.  Incorporate the eggs one at a time.  Add the pumpkin and the balance of the dry ingredients.  Dollop a spoonful of the toffee into the bottom of an ungreased ramekin or muffin tin, toss in some cranberries and fill 3/4 full with the pudding mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees until just set for about 30 to 35 minutes.  When cool, turn out of the ramekin onto a plate and drizzle liberally with extra toffee sauce.

I, of course would add a nice dollop of whipped cream to take it to a whole other dimension!