June 2, 2011

Catch The Brass Ring on The Flying Horse Carousel!

When I was a child visiting Grandmother Grace in Ohio, we always went over to Russell's Point by Indian Lake and spent a long summers evening enjoying the Sandy Lake amusement park. It was magical. The lights of the rides shimmered off the lake, while the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs and taffy overtook the park! Thinking back on this, it seems like a place forgotten. We could not contain ourselves waiting to ride the merry-go-round and the massive wooden-staked roller coaster! So, if you visit New England this summer and find yourself in Rhode Island........

Take a stroll to the very end of Bay Street in Watch Hill,  within the town of Westerly and there you will discover The Flying Horse Carousel.. This 135 year old carousel is one of two in the state designated as National Historic Landmarks, along with the Crescent Park Looff Carousel in East Providence . This magical carousel boasts twenty wooden horses decked out in their finery that will remind of you childhood days in old time amusement parks.

It may or may not be the oldest carousel in the nation, but it is certainly the oldest of its type, in which the horses are suspended from a center frame. The carousel is believed to have been built 1876 by the Charles W. Dare Company of New York. It was part of a traveling carnival until 1879 when the carnival was forced to abandon the carousel in Watch Hill. Unlike most carousels, there is no wooden platform to support the horses but rather, they are suspended from chains. As a result, the horses seem to "fly" as the ride increases speed, hence the carousel's name. Each horse has a tail and mane of real horsehair and a genuine leather saddle. In the middle of the ride, a device holding metal rings is lowered for riders to grab as they pass. The last ring is brass, granting the "winner" a free ride token. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

What better dessert to prepare for a summer's day than fresh fruit cobbler. I love making cobblers with various summer fruits and these are a lovely change from a traditional peach cobbler. Be sure to try one or both or your next summer gathering!

Estelle's Apricot Summer Cobbler with Custard Sauce
4 (6-ounce) packages dried apricots, cut in half
4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons almond liqueur (optional)
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Combine apricots and water in a saucepan; let stand 8 hours.
Stir in 2 1/2 cups sugar; cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in extracts and, if desired, liqueur; cool. Unfold 1 pie crust, and press out fold lines. Cut to fit into the bottom of a deep 2-quart baking dish, reserving excess pastry. Spoon half of apricot mixture into dish; top with reserved pastry.
Bake at 475° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon remaining apricot mixture over pastry; cool.
Unfold remaining pie crust; roll to 1/8-inch thickness, and cut into 1-inch strips. Arrange in a lattice design over apricot mixture. Bake at 475° for 15 minutes; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar and almonds, and bake 2 to 3 more minutes. Serve warm with Custard Sauce.

Estelle's Custard Sauce
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan until blended. Whisk in half-and-half, and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Press wax paper or plastic wrap onto custard surface; cool. Chill.

Estelle's Raspberry Fig Cobbler
2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and cut into fourths
2 pounds fresh raspberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

Combine half of figs, half of raspberries, and next 6 ingredients in a saucepan, and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat 40 minutes or until fig mixture is thickened. Stir in remaining figs and raspberries, and remove from heat. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Spoon half of fig mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish, reserving other half.
Roll each pie crust into a 12-inch circle. Cut 1 pie crust into 1-inch strips; set aside. Place remaining pie crust on top of fig mixture in baking dish. Bake at 475° for 12 minutes.
Spoon remaining fig mixture over baked crust; arrange reserved strips in a lattice design over filling. Bake 14 minutes or until golden.

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