Fall is our favourite time of year, with changing colours transforming ordinary landscapes into brilliant works of art. Leaves in glowing reds, shimmering oranges and pale yellows adorn the trees, making a long, leisurely drive into the countryside one of the highlights of this season.
This year, unseasonably warm weather slowed the progress of Fall and dimmed the colours on the trees, making our scenic road trips a little less vibrant. On the other hand, this meant that we could still sit outside on a restaurant patio by the water, watch sailboats pull into the marina, and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch in the sun!
The sandy beaches and warm waters of Lake Ontario beckoned to us on an unusually hot day recently and we headed off to Presqu'ile Provincial Park for a day of sun, sand and hiking.
This park has lovely, long, shallow sandy beaches, lots of great hiking trails and one of the oldest lighthouses in the region. It is a nice day trip out of Toronto, if you want to get away from it all.
On the way, we stopped at The Big Apple, a huge bakery, restaurant and farm market which is visible all the way from the highway. We came home armed with a delicious medley of apples and jugs of fresh apple cider. The apples were crisp and slightly tart - perfect to eat and cook with!
If you love cooking with apples, try these easy apple muffins. Loaded with chunks of fruit and delicately scented with cardamom, they are great for breakfast. Or, pair them with home made Saffron Rosewater Ice cream and wow your guests with an unforgettable dessert!
Apple Cardamom Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup each: granulated white sugar, brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup apple cider
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced into very small pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup Demerara sugar for sprinkling, optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin cups or spray lightly with cooking spray.
Combine flour, baking powder and ground cardamom in mixing bowl.
Combine butter and sugars in separate large mixing bowl with hand blender.
Add eggs, beating lightly after each addition.
Mix in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture in 1/4 cup segments, alternating with the milk.
Add the apple cider at the end and mix well to blend.
Fold in the apple pieces with a spatula, mixing them into the batter.
Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin pan and lightly sprinkle tops with demerara sugar, if using.
Bake for 30 min or until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.
Let muffins rest for 10 min, then serve warm. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate any leftover muffins.
Makes 12 Muffins