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Archive for the ‘Berries’ Category

With the sun shining and the temperature soaring into the high 20s, it’s hard to believe its already Fall.  I love the changing of the seasons, especially when the weather is so mellow.  As the sun glistens on my bike ride home, I soak in the rays while admiring the leaves starting to turns.  Even better, the farmer’s markets are bustling, bursting with produce.

Who doesn't love peaches and raspberries?

Who doesn’t love peaches and raspberries?

I’ve been home visiting my parents, and this past weekend we celebrated my mother’s birthday. She is a raspberry addict, so her birthday dessert just had to have an infusion of raspberries.  We had a beautiful basket of peaches that were perfectly ripe and also needed eating, so I decided to combine the two for a special treat.  I happened upon a recipe for raspberry peach crisp from Averie Cooks and it seemed like the perfect choice to combine the peaches and raspberries for our celebration.

The crisp itself was delicious, full of bold flavours that complimented rather than overwhelmed each other.  The raspberries’ tartness stood out beautifully with the smooth peaches, a delicious combination I’ll most certainly have to try again!  I loved the fresh flavours along with the ease of assembling – it took a mere 10 to 15 minutes.  And who doesn’t love a crispy oatmeal topping?

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

2 1/2 heaping cups diced peach chunks (about 5 medium ripe peaches)
1 1/2 heaping cups raspberries (I used fresh, but the original recipe says frozen is just fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping

6 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.

For the fruit filling: In a large bowl, add the peaches, raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch.  Toss gently to combine and place in pie dish

For the crumble topping: Place the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until small pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit filling.

Place pie dish on a cookie sheet (in case there’s an overflow as it’s cooking) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Crisp is ready when it is bubbling vigorously along the edges of the pie plate and the topping is golden browned.

Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Bon appétit!   Catherine

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Raspberry Jam

One of the well-kept secrets about jam is you can make it without cooking the jam over a stove (and this method is generally far easier to make than its cooked sibling!) Cooking raspberries transform their colour from a vibrant red to a more subdued burgundy. It can also often mute the raspberry flavour. So in our era of freezers, no-cook raspberry jam is a delicious alternative to the more traditional stovetop method.

While I am partial to strawberry jam, my mother and sister absolutely adore raspberry jam. (Dare I admit that I have caught them spoon in hand over an open jar?) Unsurprisingly, there is always a jar of this jam ready to open in our freezer. While the consistently is sometimes a little runnier than its cooked counterpart, its vibrancy never fails to win over converts.

Bonus: As the prepared raspberry jam is stored in the freezer and fridge, there is no risk of botulism, so no need to sterilize jam jars like for cooked jam!

 

No-Cook Raspberry Jam

Makes 6 1/3 cups jam

 

Ingredients

4 cups washed and crushed raspberries
3 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 box CERTO Light Pectin Crystals

Appropriate number of jars, rings, and lids (either three 2-cup jars or six 1-cup jars). If the berries are particularly juicy, an extra jar may come in handy!

 

Directions

Place crushed raspberries in large mixing bowl.** Combine CERTO light pectin crystals with ¼ cup of measured sugar. Add to prepared fruit.

Let stand 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the remainder of the sugar and stir for 3 minutes.

Pour into clean containers filling up ¼ inch from rim. Cover with lids. Leave at room temperature 24 hours until set. Store unopened jars in freezer for up to 8 months. Once jars are opened, store in refridgerator.

**If you want to reduce the number of seeds in your jam, strain half the crushed raspberries pulp through a sieve before measuring crushed berries.

Bon appétit!

 

– Catherine

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As a kid, my family would go strawberry picking in July at a nearby farm. Our family would arrive in a multiple car convoy, with my grandmother leading the way. Each grandchild would be handed a basket and unleashed on the fields. We would spend the next few hours contently picking berries. More often than not, the majority of berries we picked ended up in our stomach rather than the basket. Our more disciplined parents and grandparents had more success in actually picking berries, so we would return to our cottage with mountains of ripe, juicy strawberries.

The challenge was to do something exciting with all these berries. Our family was always up for the challenge – we froze berries whole for later use in the summer, we whipped up frosted strawberry desserts, we baked numerous strawberry pies, and we cooked enough strawberry jam to last us the year. We lived in strawberry heaven for a few weeks before raspberry season arrived!

Today, the farm has been converted into a golf course, but we continue to jam using strawberries from the Farmer’s Market. Making jam is not particularly time consuming or difficult. The trick is in making sure you follow directions for the pectin crystal and avoid any risk of botulism by properly sterilizing jars and instruments. There are a variety of pectin crystals on the market – my mother really likes CERTO light because it is one of the few that uses more fruit than sugar.

Hulling the strawberries

Hulling the strawberries

Your fingers, counters, and bowls are at risk of being stained by the strawberry juice, so I recommend hulling berries over newspaper and using a dark colored or metal bowl to crush the berries. As for the jam pot, note that the jam will nearly double in volume while cooking, so be sure it’s large.

Sterilizing our jamming instruments and transforming our crushed berries into jam!

Sterilizing our  instruments and transforming our crushed berries into jam!

The fresh jam is delicious on breads, but also over icecream or eaten straight from the jar with a spoon!

 

Strawberry Jam

Makes ~8 cups of Strawberry Jam
 
Strawberry Jam
 

Ingredients:

6 cups washed, hulled and crushed strawberries
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 box CERTO light pectin crystals

Appropriate number of jars, rings, and lids (either four 2-cup jars or eight 1-cup jars). If the berries are particularly juicy, an extra jar may come in handy!
 

Directions

Sterilize jars by placing them in the oven at 225oF for 10 minutes. Keep warm until filling time. Boil utensils in a pot of water for at least 15 minutes and lids at least 5 minutes before use.

Place crushed strawberries in a large saucepan. Combine the CERTO light pectin crystals and ¼ cup of the measured sugar. Add to strawberries.

Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining sugar. Return to a rolling boil (i.e. one where you cannot stop the pot from boiling when stirring hard) for 1 minute. The jam will nearly double in volume at this point and start spitting. It is also highly susceptible to burn at this stage, so continue to stir hard!

Remove jam from heat. Continue stirring jam for 5 minutes. During this time, skim foam off jam.

Pour jam using sterilized utensils into warm sterilized jars to ¼ inch from rim. Cover with lids and screw rings on tightly. The jars should seal overnight. Occasionally, one does not, so store it in the fridge and eat this jar first.
 
NOTE – this is the 2013 CERTO Light recipe – they occasionally change up the crystal formulation, so be sure to follow whatever recipe is listed with your pectin crystals.

Bon appétit!
 
– Catherine

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A year and a half ago I was browsing through my mother’s books in her living room and I came to “The Boreal Gourmet – adventures in northern cooking”. It caught my eye, and I was soon going through it, savouring the stories and their accompanying recipes. The book is written by a woman who grew up in Toronto, was deeply influenced by her mother’s delicious cooking, spent time in Greece learning to cook traditional Greek food, and who finally ended up in the Yukon Territories cooking up a storm.

When my mother came in and found me reading the book she was very disappointed – somehow I’d managed to pick through her entire book collection to land on the ONE book I was not supposed to see – it was intended as a birthday present later that year for me. I quickly put it away and basically forgot its existence until my birthday a few months later.

Alexandra Falls gorge covered in 1.25m of snow!

Soon after I was given the book, though, I stepped into an adventure taking me to Gambia, and my exploration of the recipes in the book was postponed until this year when I have somehow managed to walk myself right into the Northern refrigerator. There is over a meter snow on the ground, the boreal forest is scraggly at best, and I live on the very Northern end of the Canadian Railway in the Northwest Territories. G. and I brought one cookbook with us: “The Boreal Gourmet”, and we’ve had a great time taking a crack at many recipes already.

Spirited cranberry sauce is great with everything from cheesecake to pancakes to meats… and probably many other things I have yet to try!

We’ve got a large mound of buffalo in the freezer, along with several whitefish fillets, and 10 cups of rosehips we’ve planned to transform into preserves. What fun! All these ingredients come from the land around us. I was hoping to harvest cranberries to make this sauce but the snow came unexpectedly fast, and so I was forced to buy a bag of fresh ones at the store (I was lucky enough to find some!).

Ingredients

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp raw honey (I used wild honey from Gambia with a smoky flavour since that’s how they collect it by smoking the bees out!)

Juice and rind of two oranges

2 Tbsp rum

Directions

Put all ingredients into a pot, and add a Tbsp of water if the liquids are too low to get a simmer going. Simmer covered for 20 minutes, until thick. Use a fork to mix it up and puree the cranberries a bit.

Serve with roast meat or turkey, or with cheesecake (as I will post soon!)

-Sitelle

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Berry season is over, and there’s nothing quite like fresh, fully ripe berries that have been warmed in the sun. I’m posting this for memory’s sake, because I love blueberries, and as you’ve probably already figured out, I harvested a lot of them this summer (the heading photo for our blog is proof!).

I love how versatile shortcakes are: all you need is a sponge cake, some cream, some fruit, and a bit of imagination to make it unique – and then you have a delicious never-fail dessert with which to spoil your friends and families.

Ingredients – 8 servings

sponge cake

-1 cup sifted cake flour
-6 large eggs, separated
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-1 Tbsp milk
-zest from 1 lemon, finely grated

lemon whipped cream

-500mL whipping cream, cold
-finely grated (as finely as possible) lemon zest
-2-3 Tbsp icing sugar (or more if desired)
-2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions

Sponge cake

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 round sponge cake pans, or better – line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, sift the flour. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks together with 1/2 cup sugar until they are fluffy and light, around 5 minutes on high with a mixer. Then add the lemon zest, milk, and vanilla extract, and continue beating for another 30 seconds.

Pour flour over egg yolk mixture, but do not mix. In another bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks on high speed. Gradually add in the remaining sugar until it is incorporated, and the mixture is glossy.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour/egg yolk mixture, and gently fold in. Then add the remaining egg whites, and gently incorporate. Do not over-mix. There may be a few lumps remaining, but that is not a problem.

Pour batter into each pan evenly, spreading it out gently with a rubber spatula so it is even throughout. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden and springy. When ready, remove from oven and pans, and cool on wire racks, and remove the parchment paper if you used it (which I recommend).

Lemon whipped cream

Once the cake is cooked, whip the cream in a bowl (the colder the bowl, cream, and whisk are – the better). Once it begins to thicken, add the vanilla, icing sugar, and the finely grated lemon zest. Make sure the lemon zest is really fine – I usually zest it with a microplane and then chop it even mor on a cutting board with a sharp knife so it is basically lemon dust.

Continue whipping the cream until it is firm, but stop before it begins to get lumpy.

Assembling the cake

Place one of the sponge cakes on a platter. Cover it with a thin layer of whipped cream, and arrange a layer of blueberries on top. Cover with a bit more whipped cream if desired, then place the second sponge on top. Cover entire cake with remaining whipped cream, and arrange blueberries on top. If you want to make a tripple, or even quadrupple-decker, just multiply the sponge and cream recipes!

-Sitelle

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This past weekend, my friend Craig came to visit my roomate Katie and me in Halifax.  After spending a lovely day wandering the Seaport Market and Spring Garden Road, we were craving flaky and cheesy spanakopita.   Unsurprisingly, we ran out of spinach filling before phyllo, so inspired by frozen berries in the freezer, we decided to make bumbleberry tarts.  The filling was berrilicious and the tarts crispy.  I confess I still have a slight preference for flaky pastry, (or filling the phyllo cups with salmon mousse), but this was a tasty way to ensure we did not waste any phyllo sheets!

The phyllo cups can be made a day ahead if once cooled, they are stored in an airtight container.

Phyllo Bumbleberry Tarts

(makes 20 tarts)

Ingredients:

4 sheets phyllo pastry

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 cups frozen mixed berries, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons peach or apricot jam

1/4 cup sugar + 1 extra teaspoon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Rind from one orange

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lay a sheet of the phyllo on a clean surface.  Brush the top with the melted butter.  Place another sheet on top of the first, and brush it with butter.  Repeat with the remaining two sheets.  Sprinkle the top phyllo sheet with a teaspoon of sugar. Cut the phyllo into 16-20 squares and press each into a tart pan.  Bake for five minutes or until the phyllo is goldon (watch them carefully!)

Meanwhile, stir berries, jam, and sugar together.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Taste and adjust for your preferred sweetness. In a small cup, mix the cornstarch with some of the berry juice.  Whisk into bumbleberry filling and continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until thickened.  Grate in as much orange rind as desired.  Allow the filling to cool.

Before serving, spoon the filling into the phyllo cups. Bon appetit!

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In peak harvest season I’m always inspired to make granola, although I’m not sure why. In a blur, the kitchen becomes transformed as I bring in bags and bags in of nuts, fruits and seeds and then begin mixing in my largest bowl, which is never large enough. Then, after the first batch, I make another, and then another, and then another, until we have a supply of granola to last until Christmas.  Then it happens over again! This year, so far I have gone through 25 cups of rolled oats!

The great thing about making granola, aside from the fact that it is really easy and delicious, is that I know exactly what I put into it, and that means it’s all things I like and things that are healthy.

My recipe here is a tiny version of what happens in the kitchen at our place, so feel free to multiply it several times over if you want to make granola for a few weeks or even a month at a time. That, and also feel free to adapt the recipe with ingredients of your preference: if you don’t like the crunch of Kamut as much, substitute more oats or barley, for example. If you’re a big fan of pecans, then substitute those for almonds!

Ingredients – about 12 cups (feel free to multiply to make it even more worthwhile)

-2/3 cup honey
-1/2 cup water
-1 tsp maple extract (optional)
-1 cup canola oil

-2 cups rolled oats
-1 cups rolled Kamut Flakes
-1 cups rolled Barley Flakes
-1/2 cup sesame seeds
-1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
-1 cups wheat germ
-1 cup wheat bran
-1 cups chopped raw almonds
-1 cup chopped hazelnuts
-1 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
-2 tsp cinnamon

-1 cup dried blueberries
-1 cup chopped dried peaches
– other dried fruit if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 275F.

In a small saucepan, bring water and honey to a simmer. Remove from heat, and once it has cooled a bit, add the extract (optional) and the oil. Let stand while mixing the next ingredients.

In your largest bowl, combine the next 11 ingredients. Using a wooden spoon (or your hands), mix it thoroughly. Then pour half of the honey/sugar mixture over the oat mixture. Mix well so everything is as coated as possible, then add the remaining honey mixture. Mix again.

In a separate bowl, mix the dried fruit. Set aside.

I like to use fruit I dehydrate in the granola – it makes it possible to have dried blueberries, peaches, and anything I like!

Pour half the granola onto two baking dishes or cookie sheets. Place in oven for 15 minutes, then stir. Return to oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and stir in the dried fruit. Let cool to room temperature then store in an airtight container.

Serve with milk or your favourite yogurt for breakfast or a delicious snack!

-Sitelle

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