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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

For the first time in my life, I am on the West Coast of Canada, enjoying the casual Vancouver life. I’ve been indulging in delicious seafood, and it reminded me of one of my favourite seafood salads.

This salad is the very essence of fresh – the cool cucumber and green melon accents the crab meat perfectly.  The mayonnaise dressing is lightened with lemon and dill, making the seafood shine.  This is one of my favourite salads to enjoy as it’s simultaneously light and refreshing, while filling.

I can’t take credit for this salad – that goes to my mom a few decades ago who had the brilliant idea of substituting imitation crab meat for chicken in a Silver Palate recipe.  It’s been a family favourite ever since, often the star during a picnic lunch. The salad keeps well undressed for a few days in the fridge – so if it’s just me enjoying it, I’ll dress individual portions as I eat them to help it hold. To make it a meal, serve with a crusty roll and enjoy!

Neptune Salad

Neptune Salad

Ingredients

1 lb imitation crab meat, flake style (usually blend of Alaska polluck and king crab)

2 cups honeydew melon balls

2 cups cucumber balls with skin

4 green onions, chopped

2 cups washed green or red seedless grapes, halved

½ cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Coarsely ground fresh pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, and seasoning until thoroughly mixed.

Shred the imitation crab meat into bite-size pieces and place into a large bowl. Add the melon and cucumber balls, grapes, green onions, and dill. Fold the mayonnaise mixture into the salad. Adjust seasoning to taste.  Best served cold.

Bon appetit!

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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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My grandmother recently turned 90!  To celebrate her birthday, we held a luncheon that included this salad. A recipe from the now-defunct magazine Gourmet, this salad is simply lovely.  The dressing is the star – creamy and with just a hint of sweetness, the kick of the curry and ginger makes this dish shine.  I also love how the dressing is not too heavy, lightened by the yoghurt.  The chicken is gently poached, ensuring that it stays nice and moist. And the tanginess of the red grapes and mangoes compliment the saltiness of the cashews.   You simply can’t go wrong with this one!

If you plan to assemble ahead, hold back the cashews and add at the last minute.  Otherwise they will lose their crunch.

As an aside –  if you happen to have curried mayo leftover from sweet potato fries, this is a delicious way to use it up!

Curried chicken salad

 

Curried Chicken Salad with Mangoes and Cashews

(serves 6 generous portions)
 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 Tbsp curry powder

Zest of one lime plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cubed

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
 

Directions

Combine chicken broth with 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, for 6 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and cool for 10 minutes.  Chop into 1/2-inch cubes.

While chicken is cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry, lime juice and zest, honey, ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, mango, grapes, and cashews.  Stir gently to combine.

Bon appetit!
 
– Catherine

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To accompany the cranberry sauce post I did a few days ago, here’s the recipe for an absolutely divine cheesecake we made for a dinner party last night. G. has been coaching boy’s volleyball, and last weekend he brought a big bag of his home-made chocolate chip cookies along for the team. They loved the cookies apparently, but the poor quality of the flour meant that before the boys managed to eat all of them many had disintegrated. He came home and announced we must make a cheesecake to use up the crumbs. Yes!

Warning! Bake this cake in the morning – it requires a lot of cooking and cooling and rest before you can serve it to your guests or bring it to a dinner party. It’s well worth the effort though, I promise. It’s lighter than many cheesecakes, and the nuts in the crust along with the browned butter make it absolutely irresistible.

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (we used crumbs from the chocolate chip recipe at the back of the “chipits” chocolate chip bag, and picked out the chocolate chips we could find)

3/4 cups chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup browned butter

Filling, first layer

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 lb (454g) cream cheese (this is two packages of philadelphia cream cheese, not one!)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling, second layer

1 1/2 cups thick sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1-2 cups Spirited Cranberry Sauce

Directions

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once it is melted, allow it to begin to bubble. Reduce the heat and watch it carefully until the bubbles start to get bigger and then smaller. Once they are tiny and look foamy, keep your eye out for little golden and then light brown specks in the butter. Remove it from heat immediately as the butter is now at the browned butter stage which is delicious as it tastes like hazelnuts but it can easily be burned. If you like you can keep a shallow pan of cold water next to your stove and when the butter is browned you can dip the bottom of the pan in order to kill the cooking process and protect your butter from burning.

Mix the cookie crumbs along with the brown sugar, and then pour the butter over that whole mixture. Mix well, and then press into a round, 2 1/2 inch deep springform pan (ideal… we don’t have anything of the sort though and managed well enough). Press the bottom and sides up to form an even crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you process the first layer of cheesecake. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge so it can soften a bit, as with the eggs.

Next, preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk all the ingredients for the first layer together, except the cinnamon. If you have a food processor, process them together. If not, as is the case with us, you can press it through a sieve several times with a spoon and that does the job too although it is a bit messier! Spoon that into the crust and bake for 20-22 minutes. When it is cooked remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. This takes several hours. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top of the first layer.

To make the second layer, preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the ingredients for the second layer thoroughly. Pour it all over the first layer. When the oven is ready, cook for five minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool first to room temperature and then to chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before it is ready to be served.

Before serving, prepare spirited cranberry sauce, and drizzle over top.

-Sitelle

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Today is a very special day – 3/14 – the best excuse of the year to make pie!

So in honour of pi day, I share below my five favourite pies from last year.  May your days be filled with delicious pie!

– Catherine

 

Tourtiere – Easily my favourite savoury pie, this traditional Quebecois meat pie is a treat!

White Chocolate Cranberry Tart with Toasted Pistachios  – This combination of tart cranberries, nutty pistachios, and smooth chocolate is elegant and stunning. 

Raspberry Glacee Pie – If you ever need to bribe my mother, look no farther.  This delicate raspberry pie is truly divine served with whipped cream.



Pumpkin Pie – Nothing screams autumn more than impeccably spiced pumpkin pie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pie –  Whipped hazelnut cream filling topped with chocolate ganache.  Need I say more?

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Just this fall, I have made endless desserts with apples – and I have been challenging myself to make a different one each time. The most difficult thing about that is the fact that most of the time I only have a short period of time in which to make these, so inevitably, that reduces the scope possibilities.

Despite this, leafing through cookbooks and fellow foodblogs, I have managed to keep it relatively creative. I made this recipe with apples that were picked off a tree and wild blueberries from the Byward Market in Ottawa. What a delight!

The great thing about this cobbler is that it is versatile and can be consumed for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Ingredients – 6 portions

-1.5 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-pinch salt
-1.5 tsp baking powder
-1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
-1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
-1 egg
-1 Tbsp milk or cream
-1 Tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp cardamom, mixed

-3 cups diced apples
-1-2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
-1/2 cup walnut or pecan bits
-juice from 1/2 lemon
-2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
-2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional – omit if you like desserts that are not very sweet or if your apples are very sweet)
-1/2 tsp cardamom
-1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 375F. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats together. Cut butter into flour mixture until small lumps remain. In a separate bowl, mix maple syrup or honey with egg. Pour into flour mixture, and quickly form into a ball. Cover and refrigerate while you cut the fruit.

Core and cut the apples into small pieces. In a bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice. Add the blueberries, and then the flour, brown sugar, nuts, and spices. Toss until the entire mixture is covered.

Lightly grease a deep 8-inch square baking dish (I often use casserole dishes). Place fruit inside. Divide the dough into several pieces (I like to do 5), and flatten them with the palm of your hand. Place one in each corner of the pan and one in the middle – most of the fruit should be covered. Now, lightly brush the milk or cream on top of the crust, and then sprinkle the whole top with the cardamom sugar.

This recipe is absolutely delicious with vanilla yogurt, frozen yogurt, or ice cream! Or, if you haven’t tried apple-based desserts with a slice of sharp cheddar, this might just be the time.

-Sitelle

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Although this particular recipe is my own invention, it is based on an idea my mother came up with. And the best part is that it’s more delicious, easier, and more novel than the usual crumble (well, perhaps not after this post – but I’m ok with that). With this dessert, not only do you have the delicious crumble topping and the warm apple, but you also have a flakey crust. And the trick is that the crumble topping is made primarily with wholesome granola!

All the pies I made 20 minutes ago have already vanished – which I take to mean it was a success.

In September I moved to Montréal, and I shared these pies with my new house-mates. They were made with apples I picked right off a tree during my lunch break while working in the field at a switch-grass farm. I hope you can enjoy these pies often during the cold winter months!

Ingredients – makes 6 small 4-inch pies

-1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry

-4 apples, cored and diced
-1 tsp cinnamon
-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1/4 cup pecan pieces

-1 cup granola
-1 Tbsp flour
-1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
-1-2 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Prepare your sweet shortcrust pastry 30 minutes in advance. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 6 small tart pans (I used the small 4-inch tin pans available at the supermarket). Roll out dough after it has rested, and cut it into 6 circles to fit into the pie shells. Prick the crust on the bottom and sides, then place in the oven for 15 minutes to partially blind-bake it.

Meanwhile, crush the pecans into small chunks. Mix with the cinnamon and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the granola, flour, brown sugar, and butter. Once the crusts are set, quickly cut the apples and mix into the brown sugar, pecan, and cinnamon mixture. Place 1/6 of the apple mixture in a heaping pile in each pie, then top with the granola topping.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the apples are in their melt-in-your-mouth stage. Serve alone, with vanilla yogurt/ice cream, or lightly sweetened whipped cream!

-Sitelle


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Sitelle and I have been negligent posting as of late.  She has been off camping in Northern Ontario, while I moved back to Halifax to continue writing my thesis.  Now that the boxes are unpacked, my kitchen is back in full working order, so I am ready to get busy in the kitchen!

Two of my close friends celebrated their birthdays in the last few weeks.  The birthday girls decided on peach cheesecake, so I tackled baking the second cheesecake of my life.  While I love cheesecake, it seemed like such a finicky dessert that I largely avoided baking it.  I found a recipe on Epicurious that looked both simple and delicious.  The recipe below is a slight modification of the original recipe, incorporating a few changes reviewers recommended.

This is a New-York style cheesecake that bursts with autumn flavour.  The peaches add a little panache while the cake itself is decadent and smooth.  Making the cheesecake is fairly simple, although with so many steps, it can be time intensive. This is a great recipe to make ahead – the flavours only intensify if you refrigerate it for a day or two!

Peach Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

(9-inch cheesecake, about 12 slices)

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 package gingersnap cookies (about 1/2 pound)

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of cinnamon

Compote:

5 peaches, peeled, pitted, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Cheesecake filling:

32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (that’s 4 cups, or 4 8-ounce packages)

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze:

1/2 cup peach jam

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 large peach, peeled, pitted, very thinly sliced

Directions:

For crust:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.  Coarsely grind gingersnap cookies in food processor. Add ginger, cinnamon, and butter and blend until moistened. Press crumbs over bottom and 1 inch up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake crust until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Cool on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

For filling:

Combine peaches, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon juice in heavy large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and peaches are juicy, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until peaches are tender and juices thicken, about 5 minutes.  Place compote in freezer and cool until at room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream and vanilla. Spoon a generous half of cheese mixture (about 4 cups) into crust. Spoon peach compote over by tablespoonfuls, spacing apart. Top with remaining cheese mixture.

Bake cheesecake until puffed, set in center, and beginning to brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off oven with the cheesecake still inside, and allow the oven to cool (I left mine in overnight). Remove cheesecake from oven and cover.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

For glaze:
Combine jam and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until glaze just comes to simmer. Strain into small bowl. Release pan sides; place cheesecake on platter. Spread glaze over top of cheesecake to within 1/4 inch of edge. Chill cheesecake until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. Just before serving, arrange peach slices in center of cake.

Bon appetit!

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Peach Pie

You know you have had a spoiled week when you get to eat peach pie twice in one week.  Ontario peaches are at their height, so it is certainly worth enjoying them!

 

This past weekend, two of my closest high school friends visited Ottawa – one who currently lives in Vancouver and the other who had spent a large part of her last two years in Switzerland and Italy.  We spent a lovely weekend at my cottage with two other good friends, where among playing cards, canoeing and swimming, we ate a delicious peach pie for dessert.

 

This past week was the last for my summer practicum.  With ripe peaches in the kitchen and skies threatening rain (suggesting perhaps I should drive instead of risk a 30 km bicycle commute), I decided to bring in a peach pie to share with my colleagues.  I am sad to be leaving my position, but also excited to soon be back in Halifax to work full time on my thesis.

 

This peach pie is remarkably simple, without other spices, allowing the peaches’ flavour to shine through.   The riper the peaches, the juicier your pie will be.  Served with a touch of ice cream, you certainly cannot go wrong. Bon appétit!

Peach Pie

(one 9 inch pie, about 8 slices)

 

Ingredients:

1 sweet piecrust, plus extra for a lattice  or top crust if desired

8 ripe peaches

half a lemon

¾ cup of white sugar

¼ cup flour

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

 

Meanwhile scald the peaches . (To scald them, place the ripe peaches in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.   Allow them to sit for a minute or two, before using a paring knife to gently peel away the skin, which should mostly fall off).

 

Slice them into a bowl before adding the sugar, flour and lemon juice.  Add a little extra flour if the peaches are particularly ripe and juicy.

 

Transfer the mixture into the rolled out piecrust.  Weave the lattice over the peach filling.  Bake the pie for about 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and crust is lightly browned.   (If you are worried that the filling will boil over, place a tray on the oven rack underneath the cooking pie).  Cool and serve!

 

– Catherine

 

 

 

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With last week’s heat wave in Toronto, I thought I should share a recipe I happily discovered in Belize. Sorry it’s a week late, but then again, it might not be too late. In Belize, people know how to deal with extreme temperatures – at least 45 by day, and maybe a lucky 35 by night, for two weeks non-stop while I was there.

No one has A/C. But they do take an afternoon siesta in a shady hammock. They also eat really, really spicy food, and drink this most amazingly refreshing beverage: watermelon juice. In that heat, I found I couldn’t even think. I stayed in the shade, in front of a fan if I was lucky, and I drank glasses of this wonderful beverage one after the other. Somehow, I adapted well, and I learned to appreciate the new layout of my day, from 5am till 9am, then from 4pm till 10pm. The rest? Laying down, having a rest.

Watermelon juice

(3-4 pint-sized servings)

Ingredients

-1/2 a large, ripe watermelon
-2-3 ice cubes per person
-sugar to taste (only if watermelon is not sweet enough)
-1 cup water
(optional: add the juice of one lemon and 2 Tbsp sugar)

Directions

Taste watermelon to ensure it is ripe enough. Cut it up into cubes, and remove any large seeds. Place the watermelon, ice, and water in a blender (I like to do it in 2 batches, with half the water, ice, and half the melon). Purée until smooth, and serve in a tall glass.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

-Sitelle

 

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