Pumpkin Coconut Soup

This is less of a pumpkin-spice recipe and more of a pumpkin-herb recipe. I started by wanting to use up leftover Thanksgiving pie pumpkins, so I went to a Bon Appetit recipe that caught my eye. It used butternut squash and coconut milk, but a squash is a squash is a squash. Use whatever you have—I certainly felt free to. And that’s what good home cooking is: using up what’s at hand while making it taste delightful.

The Bon Appetit recipe used garlic and ginger as the main sources of flavour, adding a little heat with chili flakes and cilantro. All well and good, but I needed more from my soup. If I’m to be drinking/eating healthy vegan things, they must have maximal flavour, dammit.

An upgrade was easily achieved with the addition of some chopped lemongrass and fresh lime leaves, simmered in with the pumpkin as it cooks. This made a huge difference. My pumpkin soup went from having a nice taste to an excellent one. It meant putting the lemongrass in some cheesecloth, then extracting it along with the lime leaves right before blending, rather than just dumping the whole pot into the blender. A tiny effort well worth the exertion.

This soup is warm, healthy, and cheerful as can be. If you want to reduce the fat content, use light coconut milk. I made a big batch that was a perfect host to leftover grilled shrimp, some sautéed kale from the night before, some quickly cooked green beans. I topped it with the cilantro leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds, and of course peanuts and toasted coconut would be lovely as well. Cilantro haters, you know very well that you can and will skip that particular ingredient. You know who you are.

Pumpkin Coconut Soup

A warming, filling, herbacous soup that is as healthy as it is tasty.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine: Southeast Asian
Keyword: #coconut, #lemongrass, #pumpkin, #pumpkinsoup, ginger
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2-3 Thai chilis (optional)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom parts only
  • 4-6 lime leaves
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil or coconut oil
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 4-4½ lbs pumpkin
  • 1 small bunch cilantro

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Preheat a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, adding the oil once it’s warm. Dice the onion and sauté until translucent. Turn down to medium low.
  • Mince garlic and chilis, if using. Grate ginger, wash and chop cilantro stems. Sauté everything together on medium low.
  • Peel and seed the pumpkins, or whatever squash you have. A thinner skinned squash willl yield more flesh, so you could start with 3½-4 lbs. Chop into roughly evenly sized cubes and add to the pot.
  • Add water just to cover, then add coconut milk and 2 tsp of salt.
  • Chop lemongrass and wrap in cheesecloth or put into a dispoable tea bag and add to soup. Add lime leaves and salt.
  • Bring to a boil then turn heat down and simmer until pumpkin is soft, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool a bit.
  • Rinse seeds, discarding most of the stringy flesh. Don’t worry if you don’t get it all, it will dry up and separate more easily after baking. Cover seeds in 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tsp of salt.
  • Spread on a parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheet. Toast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Toast until golden brown.
  • Come back to your soup. Just before you pour it in the blender, remove the lemongrass and lime leaves. Fill the blender no more than 2/3 full, and make sure there’s a little ventilation if it’s still steaming hot. You do not want your kitchen to look like a Jackson Pollack painintg.
  • Blend until silky smooth. Pour back into the pot to reheat before serving. Top with cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened toasted coconut, if you have it. Voilà!
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Perfect Cranberry Sauce

Three small additions take your homemade cranberry from good to great.

So everybody knows you don’t buy cranberry sauce. It’s the very easiest thing to make ever.

You buy a package of cranberries, and as per instructions on the back, you boil them with sugar, water and the zest of an orange. Fait accompli.

That does very nicely. But these three small tweaks take your cranberry sauce from good to great in short order.

You replace the water and brown sugar with maple syrup. Add a strong pinch of salt. Add a tiny pinch of cloves. It’s perfect.

The maple syrup adds complexity. The salt adds depth. The musty, heavy flavour of cloves battles the tart tinniness of the cranberries. The ultimate Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. For a Christmas turkey, add an extra pinch of cloves. Tastes like Christmas in a jar.

This is not only a great sauce, it’s a great gift. My family prefers gravy, so I end up putting the cranberry sauce in plain yoghurt for a week. This is a happy occurrence. But I make it for company, and they always describe it in superlative terms.

Perfect Cranberry Sauce

Maple syrup, salt and cloves add a little backbone to this tradiitonal sauce.
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Course: Garnish
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #bestevercranberrysauce, #cranberries, #cranberry, #cranberrysauce, #maplesyrupeverything, #newcranberrysauce, #thanksgiving, #turkeydinner

Ingredients

  • 1 package fresh cranberries (8 oz, 227 g)
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • tsp kosher or sea salt
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 pinch cloves

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients in a pot, and bring to boil over high heat. Put a lid on and cook over medium heat. When you no longer hear the cranberries popping, about 5 minutes, turn off the heat.
  • Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Notes

Cranberry sauce is lovely stirred into plain yoghurt or on top of plain cheesecake. 
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Double Maple Pear Pie

This is the most Canadian of pies. And just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, for those of you who don’t like pumpkin pie. (Why don’t you like pumpkin pie? I don’t understand.) Okay, maybe butter tarts or straight up maple sugar pie are slightly more Canadian, but this is delightfully seasonal and tasty as all get out. Perfect for your Thanksgiving table. 

This award-winning pie came first in our local pie contest last year. I was so looking forward to entering again with a new creation. No pie contests being held this year, obviously, but since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going to focus on gratitude. Thankful for my family, for kind friends, and the comforts of our yearly turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. Hoping you able to take comfort in the same blessings this year. 

Most of the pear pie recipes I consulted before making this one used either maple syrup or maple sugar. I say double down like you’re at Timmy’s. I have maple flavouring, so I added that as well. And I serve it with a thimble of Sortilège on the side. 

It used to be that you could only find blocks of hard maple sugar at farmer’s markets that you had to grate by hand. Local is always superior, but you can buy maple sugar online now or at Costco. 

Use dark maple syrup if you can find it. I love cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and other spices with pears, but I’ve only used allspice (you could substitute cloves) here because it amplifies the maple flavour without distracting from it. Lemon juice has been replaced by Sortilège, bourbon or rum. 

I always double the recipe so that I can use a variety of pears for a more complex flavour profile. 

Double Maple Pear Pie

The pear pie uses maple syrup and maple sugar combined for an extra dose of flavour. Perfect for Thanksgiving!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #falldesserts, #fruitpie, #holiday, #maplepear, #maplepearpie, #pearpie, #pie, #thanksgiving
Servings: -8

Equipment

  • Pie plate
  • Tin foil
  • Apple slicer

Ingredients

  • 3 ½  lbs. firm Bosc pears, usually 7-9 large pears
  • ¼  cup maple sugar (plus extra for decorating)
  • ¼  cup dark maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp allspice (or 1/8 tsp cloves)
  • 1 tsp maple or vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp maple liqueur, rum, or bourbon 
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 double crust pie crust, rolled and rested

Instructions

  • Line pie plate with one half pie dough. Prick the bottom all over with a fork. Roll the other half flat and return both to the fridge. 
  • Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C) in a regular oven, or 350°F (180°C) in a convection oven. 
  • Mix sugar, syrup, salt, cornstarch, allspice, extract and liqueur (if using). Stir together until sugar and cornstarch dissolves.  
  • Section pears with a handheld apple slicer if you have one (see photo), slicing peels off and making each slice relatively even. Toss to coat after each pear to prevent oxidization. 
  • Put pear mixture in the chilled pie dough.
  • Beat the egg with a tsp. of water to make an egg wash.
  • Paint the edge of the dough with the egg wash, then add the other rolled out pie dough in top. Brush egg wash all over. Pinch the edges together.
  • Cut vents with a knife. Sprinkle with more maple sugar on top. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place or a cookie sheet to catch any spillage.
  • Bake for 45 minutes covered. Remove foil, then bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown and the juices are bubbling up through the cracks. 
  • If you double the recipe, you can skip the tin foil. Just rotate the pies, one above and one below.

Notes

  • For deep dish, add another 4 pears and 2 tbsp. maple sugar. Don’t add more liquid.
  • Use pears that are just ripe or almost ripe. Very ripe or over-ripe pears become mushy when cooked.
  • If a pear is grainy, don’t add it to your mix. Just toss it or eat it raw.
  • For the best all-butter, double piecrust recipe, check Brave Tart’s recipe.
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Poached Pears in Magnolia-Scented Oolong

Many of us are familiar with jasmine tea, but magnolia flowers are a prized ingredient in Chinese cuisine as well, appearing in recipes for food as well as in scented tea. 

Magnolia is usually associated with spring, with weddings, with feminine beauty and purity, so now is an odd time of year to feature this flower. But in traditional Chinese medicine, magnolia is also associated with respiratory health, as are pears. And pears are definitely a fall fruit, so we’ve got all the reasons we need to go ahead. (Note that I’m not claiming this combination as a health tonic, but I feel we need every little bit of comfort we can contrive these days.)

The real reason I’ve united these two together is that they are both delicate. Stronger flavours easily overwhelm the beauty of a pear. Now, not all pears are beautiful. Supermarket pears can be dreary and uninspiring unless they are local and even then, they are often picked far too soon. But when you do get one in its prime, it is a shame to bury it under a heavier flavour.

I’ve used Murchie’s Magnolia Oolong  for this recipe, although I’ve also made it with David’s Tea’s version, which also has jasmine flowers in it. Could you make this recipe with jasmine tea? Sure, but why not try something new? These flowers are prized for their beauty and scent and are every bit as lovely in teas as jasmine flowers.

For the pears: different types of pears require different cooking times. The first time I made this recipe was with beautiful little Fiorelle pears, but those weren’t available when I went to the store. Determined not to let the memory of the perfect become the enemy of the altogether lovely, I tried with the pears that I did find. 

For poached whole pears, I used mini-NorthBrites, since I had those from a local farmer. And my word were they incredible! Perfect pear flavour! But such tiny pears are cooked through the minute the poaching liquid comes to a boil, and so receive very little infusion. This is not much of a problem, since the reduction imparts the magnolia flavour very well, and the magnificent taste of these precious pears is fully manifest.  

To poach larger pears in what is some very expensive tea, I couldn’t bury whole pears under a ton of liquid. I solved this easily by slicing them in half, poaching them, and allowing them to cool just a little before peeling them and basting them with the still-reducing liquid. Here’s where the variety REALLY makes a difference.

Both red and yellow Anjous cook very quickly and become slightly grainy. The texture is like that of tinned pears, so not unfamiliar, and still tasty. Certainly, the red ones offer a lovely hue. But a Bosc pear poaches into a lovely firm, smooth texture, and can be cooked just before it’s ripe. It requires a longer cooking time, which allows for greater absorption of the magnolia flavour, and the result is a delight. 

This recipe is not quite vegan, because it calls for honey, but agave syrup would be an acceptably mild substitute. 

When poaching pears, you can peel them first, or poach and then peel. The peels slip off easily if you blanch them and then shock them in ice water, but we don’t wish to dilute our poaching liquid. You can poach them, then peel them while still warm, and thus make a smoother surface. I’m far too impatient for such careful measures, though, so my pears were a little rough on the surface. I don’t care, but if you do, proceed accordingly. Make ahead, store for a few days, or enjoy the same day.

Magnolia Oolong Poached Pears

Pears are poached in a glorious magnolia scented oolong and drenched in a magnolia-pear-honey reduction for a simple, delicate, unexpected dessert.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: #magnoliaoolong, #oolong, #pearseason, #poachedpears

Ingredients

  • ½  cup magnolia oolong loose leaf tea
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 Bosc pears
  • 1 cup pear juice
  • ½  cup honey

Instructions

  • Bring water to a boil. Let cool to 85°C (185°F) and add tea. Let sit for 3 minutes, then remove tea leaves and set aside.
  • Peel pears, then slice pears in half, coring with a melon baller. Place pears in tea, bring tea to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer for 2 minutes, or until a knife goes in easily.
  • Remove pears with a slotted spoon to a drying rack.
  • Bring tea back to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Reduce by half, then add in pear juice and honey, and continue reduce to 1 cup.
  • Remove pears to a dish, middle facing down. Brush occasionally with reducing liquid. When it is reduced to one cup, baste the pears again.
  • Drizzle the remaining rediuction over the pears. Serve right away, or store for another day.

Notes

Use reserved tea leaves to make tea to serve alongside the pears. Fine quality oolong can be re-steeped at least a half a dozen times. 
To make the tea again, heat filtered water to 85°C (185°F) and pour over tea leaves. Always bring the water to the tea, not the other way around. Steep for 3-4 minutes, then strain into teapot. (For a first steeping, try 2 -3 minutes.) Do not leave the tea in the water too long—it will become too bitter. 
Jasmine tea would be lovely in this recipe. A white tea is often too delicate to impart much flavour, so I’d recommend a jasmine oolong or green tea, but experiment as you please. The cost of the tea will likely guide any decisions. 
Try this recipe with a chai blend, or Earl Grey, or blackcurrant tea with blackcurrant juice or syrup instead of honey and juice. 
You could also make pears sous vide with a few tea leaves and some honey – omit the juice, as the pears will create their own juices as they cook. Sealed in a vacuum-packed bag, sous vide pears can be prepared a week in advance.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Lady’s Slipper and Black Currants

I was delighted to be a guest blogger for Lady’s Baker Tea in PEI. I stumbled across their blog after finding mention of their beautiful teas on a friend’s post, and then I was thoroughly impressed with the care and expertise that goes into their curated offerings, especially the house blended teas. I begged them to allow me to develop a recipe using my favourite, Lady’s Slipper.

Little did I know that black currants are native to North America. Why are they so popular in England, France, and the rest of Europe, but an imported food in North America? The US of A made them illegal in many northwestern states, because their thick foliage interfered with pine tree logging. A few farmers across Canada are trying to reignite the domestic black currant market, but they need a little promotion to put them back into the hearts and minds of Canadians. Here’s my two cents worth:

https://ladybakerstea.com/blogs/blog/ladys-slipper-and-black-currants

Lady’s Slipper and Black Currants

Black currant has been a favourite of mine since childhood, like many Canadians with some British heritage (Scots, Irish and English on my mum’s side). We had it mainly as a jam, and it made me feel a little closer to the Enid Blyton novels I read as a child. It was at once exotic and comforting, cozy, yet refined. I grew up loving black currant tea, as well, although I thought of it as a family preference, not something I thought to serve to friends.

On a family trip to France last summer (remember those?), I was surprised by the presence of black currants everywhere: in the ubiquitous cassis liqueur, as a savory sauce for pigeon or duck, or in cakes, puddings and of course, as a spread. This should not have surprised me, as the north of France would have similar growing conditions to England.

Little did I know that black currant is also native to Canada. It lost its early popularity among Canadian and American settlers when several American states banned the black currant bush as a nuisance that impeded the logging of pine trees. Since then, it’s been seen mainly as an import, a quaint reminder of British teatime. Black currant, however, is as Canadian as the Lady’s Slipper flower, and every bit as deserving of being in this lovely tea blend as any other local berry.

Earl Grey has also long been a favourite of mine, either on its own or in a vanilla-infused London Fog. So I was delighted to discover this precious flavoured tea, Lady’s Slipper. A hint of bergamot, reminiscent of Earl Grey, a touch of black currant, and vanilla to tie them both together. This fragrant, unique flavoured black tea seems quite fitting with shortbread or plum cake in the afternoon but is gentle enough that it is welcome at my breakfast table, too.

I have paired the Lady’s Slipper tea with black currant jam and infused it into cream for this icebox cake, so as to best appreciate all the different notes at play. Adding the black currant jam, made into a syrup with the addition of tea, hints at a trifle, the more complicated British version of an icebox cake. Add some cassis liqueur at your own discretion, if you please, on top of the cookies, but don’t whip it into your cream. You want to savour the delicately balanced flavour profile of the black currant, bergamot and vanilla—as well as the tannic undertones of the Yunnan black tea leaves – in your whipped cream. Bright and familiar strawberries are a welcome addition here, and blackberries fit nicely if you can find them.

The glory of an icebox cake is that you make it a day ahead. It is so easy as to be the culinary version of child’s play. The presence of sugar and vanilla extract in the cream is very low, because there is already enough of each in the tea and cookies. The only trick here is that I ask you to infuse the cream for a few hours, then wait again overnight as the cookies meld and bloom into their layers of jammy tea-syrup, berries and cream. But I promise it’s worth the wait. This sophisticated flavour profile makes a homey dessert once again seem fancy, like the elusive but homegrown black currant itself.

Lady’s Slipper & Black Currant Icebox Cake

4 cups whipping cream

2 tbsp Lady’s Slipper tea leaves

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla

2 tbsp Lady’s Slipper tea, brewed

1 cup black currant jam or syrup

3 pints strawberries

2 pints blackberries

½ box vanilla wafers, such as Nilla brand

Infuse the whipping cream with 2 tbsp of dry tea leaf overnight, if possible, or 8 hours. You can pop them right into the container in the morning and reach for them in the evening when you are ready to construct your dessert.

Bring brewed tea to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat and stir in jam until thoroughly blended. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Reserve one pint of whole strawberries and one pint of blackberries for the top layer.

Rinse your berries. Slice 2 pints of strawberries and toss with one pint of blackberries. Stir in jam mixture to coat thoroughly.

Strain the whipping cream with a fine mesh strainer. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip into soft peaks.

Using a clear glass bowl, place a thin layer of cream on the bottom of the dish. Lay cookies over the cream, fitting a few broken cookies into any big gaps. Scatter berries over the cookies, then top with cream. Smooth whipped cream gently to fill in any large air bubbles. Follow the layers in the pattern of cookies, berries and cream until you reach a final layer of cream. Top with whole strawberries and blackberries, and chill overnight.

 Serve with a sprig of black currants, if you can find them. Enjoy with a cup of delicious Lady’s Slipper Tea.

Best-Ever Pumpkin Spice Muffins

AKA The Ultimate Pumpkin Loaf

It is NOT too soon. It’s not! 

I can see you rolling your eye and groaning. I know, I know. Wait for bloody October for the pumpkin spice business to begin. It’s like ads for Christmas paraphernalia before Hallowe’en. Just hang on, dammit! 

I’m getting this out there now because if I don’t, you’ll go ahead and make some other silly pumpkin spice muffin recipe and there is absolutely no need. This is it. Full stop. 

Ûber-pumpkin-spice muffins. Ultimate pumpkin spice muffins. Top-tier, best-ever, incomparable, essential, supreme, perfect pumpkin spice muffin recipe. No need to trust me. Try it yourself. You’ll see. 

This definitive pumpkin spice muffin recipe, which works equally well as a loaf, is a variation on a recipe I found in an old Food & Drink magazine around 15 years ago. I’ve tried others but they don’t deliver like this one does. Everyone—and I do mean EVERYONE—who has tried it loves it. Obviously pumpkin-spice haters don’t even try. 

I swapped out the whole wheat flour for almond flour to make them even more rich and moist. With the added fat, however, I needed to cut it down a touch to avoid making them heavy and soggy. You would think almond flour would be too hearty but it was not, adding a nice heft along with some protein and fibre. They do last longer with the almonds, in fact, they are better the next day, making them ideal as a make-ahead recipe. 

I found the original recipe a little frustrating because you had to mix all your spices, then parcel a bit out and set it aside, and then stop yourself from accidentally mixing up the bowls…all too much for an early morning. Plus I needed more topping for muffins than I did for a loaf. So I’ve upped the spice, added white pepper as a further nod to lovely speculaas. You could do a cream cheese topping, if you’re feeling decadent. 

Best Ever Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin spice muffins stay moist
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #muffins, #pumpkinspice, #pumpkinspicemuffins
Author: Theresa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (250 mL)
  • ½  cup almond flour (175 mL) or ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (10 mL)
  • ½ tsp baking soda (2 mL)
  • ½ tsp salt (2 mL)
  • 1 ½  tsp cinnamon (7 mL)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg ( 2 mL)
  • ½ tsp ginger ( 2 mL)
  • ¼  tsp ground cloves (1 mL)
  • ¼  tsp allspice (1mL)
  • ¼  tsp white pepper (1mL)
  • 1 ¼  cup brown sugar (300 mL)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (250 mL)
  • 1/3  cup vegetable oil (75 mL)
  • ¼  cup orange juice, fresh or concentrate) (50 mL)

Topping

  • ½ cup brown sugar (125 mL)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (2 mL)
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg (2 mL)
  • ½ tsp ginger (1mL)
  • ¼  tsp allspice (1mL)
  • ¼  tsp cloves (1mL)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Place flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and stir until well mixed.
  • Place spices and brown sugar in a bowl; add eggs and orange juice beat until smooth. Stir in canned pumpkin and oil.
  • Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  • Stir together topping ingredients until well mixed. Spoon a little on top of each muffin, or spread equally over the loaf. 
  • For muffins, place cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Divide batter equally and top with sugar-spice mixture. If using almond flour, bake for 20 minutes.
    With whole wheat flour, bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a piece of spaghetti comes out clean. 
  • For a loaf, line a loaf pan with parchment paper and fill with mixture, then add topping evenly across the top. Bake on middle rack of oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick (or spaghetti!) inserted in centre comes out clean. Let pan cool on rack for 15 minutes; turn loaf out and let cool completely.
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Warm Duck and Lentil Salad

I’m not even going to pretend that this is healthy, although honestly, it could be worse. Once you try it, you won’t care in the slightest. Picnics, family BBQs, feeding whosoever is in your bubble, or dropping it off to those with whom you cannot break bread at present. This is hearty, rich, decadent and yet still filled with healthful legumes. I won’t say it’s uncomplicated either—it’s full of several little steps­, which can be broken up and tackled in stages. 

Why is this a salad, rather than a warm side dish? Mainly because I use a vinaigrette to dress the lentils. But instead of oil, duck fat is warmed up and used along with the reduced pan juices. I got this idea from the brilliant Brad Long, chef and owner of Café Belong and Belong Catering, and sometimes star of the Food Network smash hit Restaurant Makeover. His Brown Butter Vinaigrette, born out of necessity, provided me with the understanding that different types of fat can stand in for oil in a salad dressing. Duck fat is delectable in any recipe. Here it is paired with the vinegar from my Smoky Onion Pickles, and the pickled onions, paired with a sweet mustard. Fresh tarragon makes this feel like the most French thing you’ll eat all summer, and well into the fall.

I made use of pre-made duck confit, but roast duck legs would work perfectly here. As long as the skin is crisped and thrown in with the shredded meat, you should have plenty of hearty flavour to boost your lentils, with or without pan juices. 

The other cool trick I learned this week is that sous vide lentils are their own thing entirely. I usually put puy lentils in the pressure cooker, not caring if some become mushy. Preferring it in fact, for lentil and potato soup. I’ve tried cooking them carefully on the stovetop to preserve them in distinct and unbroken form, only to find that the age of the lentils can create wildly varying results. And they require an exceedingly watchful eye. Sous vide lentils, on the other hand, can be left for hours without any fear of disintegration, and leaving you free to turn your attention to other matters. You can cook them in a Ziplock bag, but I cooked them in mason jars.

This salad can be easily doubled for a crowd. Makes a nice side dish or a main with a wholegrain sourdough and an endive salad. 

Warm Duck and Lentil Salad

Hearty, rich, decadent and yet still filled with healthful lentils, this salad uses pickled onions and crispy duck for a hefty wallop of umami.
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Canadian, French
Keyword: #duck, #lentils, #salad
Servings: 8 people

Equipment

  • Sous vide device (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup puy or beluga lentils
  • 2 ½ cups water 
  • 2-4 fresh bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp sea salt 
  • 1 whole leg of duck confit (or 2 roast duck legs)
  • 1 cup tarragon, washed and chopped 
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup smoky onion pickles 
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp salted capers
  • ½ cup vinegar (from the onion pickles, or white wine or champagne vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard  
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup duck fat, warmed
  • ¼ cup pan juices 
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 pats duck fois gras (optional)

Instructions

  • Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve, then place them in jars or bags with water, bay leaves and salt. Set sous vide devise to 190ºF (87ºC) and cook for 90 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Open and let cool. Drain and set aside. 
  • Alternatively, bring lentils, salt, bay leaves to a boil in 4 cups of water, then simmer until tender, 25-30 minutes.
  • Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Rub off most of the skins, then chop roughly with a knife or pulse in a food processor until roughly ground. Set aside.
  • Remove the duck from its bag, pouring the juices into a small pan. Bring juices to a boil, then reduce over medium heat until you have about ¼ cup. 
  • Reheat duck in a cast iron frying pan, browning and crisping the skin. Remove the skin and crisp it on all sides. Melt any fat under the skin. Reserve ½ cup of the fat.
  • Remove duck to a cutting board, let cool slightly. Shred with hands. 
  • Chop onion pickles (use fresh mild onions or shallots if you don’t have the onion pickles) into a fine mince. Chop tarragon and parsley, then throw all three into a bowl with the lentils. 
  • Make the vinaigrette: put the vinegar, garlic cloves, capers, mustard, salt and pepper together in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour over the lentils, onions and herbs. Warm up the duck fat in the pan. Toss together thoroughly. 
  • Add half of the hazelnuts and the duck meat and skin, and chopped fois gras, if using, and toss again. Top with remaining hazelnuts and a few sprigs of tarragon. 

Notes

You can use your own sous vide duck, buy it, or roast a couple of duck legs to use instead. 
If you happen to find duck foes gras, adding it in will take this dish from decadent to doubly delicious. 
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Potage Jacqueline

There is something so delightfully nostalgic about an old cookbook. Once beloved, long since fallen out of fashion, then dusted off and revived once more. Like finding your childhood teddy bear or an old photo you didn’t realize you’d kept.

I don’t generally go in for nostalgia. It’s usually only fun for a brief moment; a warm memory, a resurgence of feeling, a fuzzy image—suddenly ungraspable and empty, all-too-quickly receding again into the past. The present comes quickly knocking again to remind you of what’s what.

Not so with old cookbooks. It’s been twenty years at least, but I knew exactly where to find New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant in my library, and exactly which page to turn to.

I learned to cook from Moosewood cookbooks. As a young West Coast vegetarian whose eating habits offended my family of hunters, I was thrilled to learn that books and restaurants and a whole food culture was geared to people like me, because there was a whole movement of people like me. I am no longer vegetarian, due to the pressure of feeding meat-lovers in my house, but I often eat vegan cuisine when I’m home alone. It’s better for animals, the planet and my health. And more vegetables can never be a bad thing.

This is a non-vegetarian take on a vegetarian soup that I made once for my friend Jacqueline. She was delighted to have a soup bearing her name. I’ve upped the cream and switched out the water for chicken stock. Both tweaks make for a richer soup, but honestly, water or veggie stock will do just fine. I’ve upped the ginger, too, but trust me, it’s not overwhelming. It’s a very balanced, still a very French-seeming soup, perfect for transition weather. Gently from summer to fall we go, back and forth, then and now. 

The other tweak was the lemon. The original recipe called for a floating lemon slice in the soup, which is a beautiful garnish, but it also was essential to the flavour, but a very uneven delivery method. I didn’t want the acid of lemon juice, and I didn’t want to boil the lemon zest, which would make the soup unbearably bitter. So, I grated so zest—a fair bit—to be blended in with the cream. It makes the sweet potato soup tastier and less insistently healthful.

If you can find fresh bay leaf, please do use it—dried is acceptable but just not the same. Tarragon also makes a lovely garnish. Potage Jacqueline, la deuxième fois.

Potage Jacqueline

A luxurious update of an old Moosewood recipe, sweet potatoes and cream scented with ginger.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack, Soup
Cuisine: American, Canadian, French
Keyword: cream of sweet potato, ginger, soup, sweet potato ginger, sweet potato soup, sweet potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large onions, or 3 small
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup fresh whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest 

Instructions

  • Melt butter in oil over medium low heat. Sauté onions slowly until they are translucent. Add ginger and celery, stirring until celery is soft. 
  • Add chopped sweet potatoes, salt, bay leaf, white pepper and chicken stock. If you have the leaves from the celery, throw that in too. If the stock doesn’t quite cover the potatoes, don’t worry, they will submerge as they cook. You want them to be almost covered by liquid, not quite. Add more stock or water as needed, leaving about half an inch of potatoes sticking out. 
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, until the potatoes are thoroughly softened. Let cool a little to make the soup easier to handle. Remove bay leaves and celery leaves, if using. 
  • Blend soup with cream and lemon zest on high until perfectly smooth, about 2 minutes. Reheat gently on the stovetop. Serve with a slice of lemon and some chopped tarragon, if desired.
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Strawberry Pistachio Icebox Cake

The Ultimate in Strawberries and Cream

Is there any more heavenly combination than strawberries and cream? Actually—yes. Strawberries and pistachio. More accurately, strawberries and pistachio and cream. Okay, okay: strawberries, pistachio, cream and cookies. That’s it! I swear!

This is all you need to begin the most divine of all icebox cakes. What is an icebox cake, you ask? It’s like a trifle, minus the custard, booze optional. This is a family-friendly, liqueur and liquor-free concoction, and it is a crowd pleaser. There is nothing to it, but slapping some fabulousness together and letting it sit overnight until it becomes Über-fabulous. Heaven in a bowl, and easy as you please.

I’ve made this before with vanilla whipped cream and it was so good we all scarfed it down until our tummies hurt and then got up again the next morning to gobble it down for breakfast. But strawberry and pistachio has to be one of my all-time favourite combinations (you’ll see many incarnations of this delicious pairing to come on this blog) and it fits so perfectly here.

I have used a store-bought pistachio butter, but from the finest of food merchants: SOMA Chocolatemaker in Toronto. You can make your own, of course, but why would you, when products like this exist. Next time you are in the Distillery District or on Queen West, stop in a grab a couple of jars (the hazelnut too), along with a myriad of other treats.*

SOMA Chocolatemaker makes beautiful pistachio paste.

If you’d like to try this with Homemade Pistachio Paste, the incomparable Stella Parks aka BRAVETART gives you the key here. But I had the SOMA version in my cupboard, and the only raw pistachios I could find were from California. They are bland and lacking in the subtle, magical, ethereal pistachio flavour that comes from Sicilian, Iranian or Moroccan pistachios. So while I’m waiting on a special order of the very best pistachios, I’ll happily buy this smooth and flawless nut butter by people who know their stuff when it comes to good food.

When you layer this cake, the cookies and strawberries will not lay flat or smooth, so you’ll press and spread the cream a bit to fill in any air holes. What doesn’t get filled will likely disappear as the dry cookies expand, absorbing liquid from both strawberries and cream, transforming overnight into the most heavenly, cakey, delightfully cream-covered strawberry slop you will ever have. It’s messy and sludgy and gorgeous in its deliberate disarray.

If you think something so simple and so easy can’t be this divine, you will be amazed and delighted beyond all measure. Try it. What have you got to lose, but your deference to structure, form and—once you taste it—proportion?

*For goods from SOMA: You don’t need to hit the brick & mortar actual store. Everything is online, with FREE shipping within Canada (min $50) & Porch Drops (min $50) + Next Day Curbside pick-ups at the factory. online@somachocolate.com. And NO! They did not pay me to say this. Sadly. Doesn’t matter. Just get your hands on some of this business because it’s the real deal.

Strawberry Pistachio Icebox Cake

Strawberries and pistachio cream soften vanilla cookies into a cake-like texture for a bowl of glorious decadence.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 1 day
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, British, Canadian
Keyword: #chantillycream, #feedsacrowd, #goopygood, #iceboxcake, #iceboxcakerecipe, #makeahead, #overnightcake, #pistachio, #pistachiocream, #strawberries, #strawberry, #strawberrycake, #strawberrycakerecipe, #summerdesserts, #whippingcream
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 4 pints strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 4 cups whipped cream (1 L)
  • 1 box Nilla wafers
  • ½ cup pistachio paste (storebought or homemade)
  • ½ cup granulated or superfine sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  • Rinse and slice three pints of strawberries. For the last pint, remove the green tops and set those berries aside for later.
  • Add ½ cup of cream to the bowl of a standmixer along with the pistachio paste. Using the paddle attachment, blend on low until the pistachio is fully incorporated into the cream, scraping down the sides as necessary.
  • Add sugar, vanilla and the rest of the cream. Using the whisk attachment, beat together on low until mostly blended, about one minute, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.
  • Smear a ½ cup of pistachio cream on the bottom of your bowl (preferably glass) to anchor your cookies.
  • Your layers should proceeds like this: cookies, strawberries, cream. Smooth your cream over each layer gently. You want to fill in any huge gaps without completely squahing and deflating the cream. A few holes are not a problem, they will fill up as the cookies expand.
  • Keep going until you are out of sliced berries. Top with one last layer of cream, and chill overnight. You can add your whole berries to decorate before you chill it or after, whicheve rmakes it easier to wrap it up. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.
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Haskap Berry Slushie

The newest, weirdest, surprisingly pleasing superfood

Haskap. How do you say that? Just as it sounds – with an “a” like “at” or “hat”. Doesn’t reel off the tongue with great ease, nor does it recall easily, since it sounds like nothing else you might hear in regular conversation. It is said to derive from a Japanese word; I’m sure there’s a gentler Japanese pronunciation than the awkward noise I’ve heard people make when referring to this berry. They are known by prettier monikers, too: edible honeysuckle, blue honeysuckle and honeyberry. This is a trick. It’s meant to make them sound so lovely that you fail to notice how ugly they are. You won’t.

There’s no way you could call these things pretty. I think the visual comparisons are immediate and thoroughly off-putting, (at least that my mind, perhaps you’re less squeamish or prone to imagination), so I’ll refrain from naming them. Not pleasant to behold in the slightest. 

Behold the haspkap berry. Also known as Swamp Fly Honeysuckle. Go figure.

What they are, though, is incredible tasty, which I only discovered by forcing myself to try one. First bite seemed mouth-puckeringly sour, next bite was all sweetness and joy. Which is great, because they are really, really good for you. 

“Haskap berries are high in Vitamin C and A, fiber, and potassium. Specifically, they have three times the antioxidants of a blueberry, more vitamin C than an orange and almost as much potassium as a banana. They are extremely high in antioxidants such as Anthocyanins, Poly Phenols, and Bioflavonoids.” LaHave Berry River Farm

I don’t know how many berries it takes to defeat an orange, but let’s accept that they are nutrient rich, shall we? Now, not every fruit or vegetable is best consumed raw, but Vitamin C and antioxidants are easily lost through heat, and the raw taste is so lovely, let’s go with it. Most people describe them as tasting like a mixture of blueberry and raspberry, with varying third influences such as Honey Crisp apples, elderberry or black currant. I think the more common association with black grapes is the most apt. And I gotta tell ya; ya put those all together, and —strange as it sounds—somehow it works. 

They are quite addictive once you get a taste for them, but what to DO with such an unappealing mutt of a berry? They are apparently a bit watery when baked, which can be easily remedied by using a small amount of haskap berries with a pectin-rich fruit like a plum (skin-on for more pectin and firmness). I’m guessing such a combo would make a heavenly pie. 

But this is the new superfood! We must find a way to enjoy the fabulous raw taste while – if at all possible – concealing the look of the hideous little beasts. So I went with a boring old smoothie.

I left a little pulp in the smoothie, not wanting to decimate all fibre.

A smoothie seems such a waste, and especially paired with blueberry, which could easily drown out the unique flavour of the haskap berries. But my wild blueberries got smushed and dampened in the delivery box, so there was nothing for it but to give it a whirl, so to speak. Just berries – haskap and blueberry – and a touch of watermelon to keep it sweet, light, and refreshing. Vegan, too. 

It was scrumptious. So delectable, the pickiest of toddlers would gulp it down, no added sugar. I tried swapping out the watermelon for yoghurt and a touch of water (milk coated the berries in a cloying manner). Also fabulous. No added sugar necessary! 

Try this smoothie/slushie. And try haskap berries when you can get your hands on them, anyway you like: in fruit salads, scones, pancakes or in a honey-sweetened cooked sauce. Roasted or raw on a green salad with cherries and goat cheese and almonds. Or a coulis, blitzed and strained. Make people guess what that is on their cheesecake. Or poundcake, ice cream or meringue. Or baked brie. 

Haskap Berry Slushie

Haskap berries are as nutritious as they are weird looking. Great in fruit salad or in a smoothie.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Drinks, Snack
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #haskapberries, #haskapberry, #rawjuice, #smoothie, #superfood, #vegan
Servings: 4 glasses

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients

  • 1 cup haskap berries
  • 1 cup blueberries, preferably wild
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup ice (otional)

Instructions

  • Throw your ingredients together in a blender until desired texture is acheived. I like it a little pulpy for extra fibre.

Notes

I tried substituting the water with milk or blueberry juice. Milk gives a discordant texture – I’ll try oat milk next time. 
Blueberry juice made it too sweet and overwhelmed the other flavours. This smoothie is so sweet already, it doesn’t need the sugar boost from juice. If you must add some, squeeze a quarter of a fresh lemon or orange in. Don’t overdue it or you’ll lose the elusive haskap berry flavour. 
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TRIGGER WARNING: BUGS

Bonus: if you have little children that love eating bugs, especially in defiance of parental rules and common decency, just tell them you’ve collected some very sizable larvae or baby slugs for them to eat and let them chase the neighbours’ kids through the yard. It’s a superfood AND an exhilarating pastime! 

Cheesecake feature image

New-fangled CHERRY CHEESECAKE

Fruit-filled, sous-vide, light and fluffy, this is the most flavourful cheesecake you will ever have

Welcome to the Cheesecake Revolution. This new ingredient-method mashup gives you a unique type of cheesecake: one with the fruit flavour in the batter, not on top.

I devised this cheesecake recipe for my audition for the first season of The Great Canadian Baking Show. Sad to say that I did not make it on, but the producers were incredibly gracious and I left the audition feeling lucky to have been invited to participate. What do you think—should I audition again? Maybe let me know after you’ve tried this cheesecake. 

This recipe is special thanks to two things: the miracle of sous vide cooking, and freeze-dried fruit. At the time, this was a really innovative use of ingredients and method, although both commonly used by foodies now.

Freeze-dried fruits are everywhere nowadays, but I first learned about them when I saw this post on the Serious Eats website by the brilliant Stella Parks (aka Brave Tart): Super Thick Fruity Food Processor Whipped Cream

Freeze-dried cherries are available all year around.

The idea is that you pulverize freeze-dried fruits with sugar into a fine, Kool Aid-like dust, and then blitz it with whipped cream. The fruit is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs some of the moisture from the cream, leaving an extra-thick, smooth, fully flavoured whipped-cream topping. I thought, if you can do this with cream, why couldn’t you do it with cream cheese? I wanted a cheesecake that was flavoured throughout, not just plain vanilla with fruit on top. 

Looks like chunkier Kool Aid.

Well, turns out that if you try to beat fruity sugar into your cream cheese, it doesn’t get all that light and fluffy.  But if you add to it the sour cream and let it sit while you make the rest of the batter, it supplies a fulsome, hearty flavour to your batter. 

Where it got tricky in devising the recipe is that you need granulated sugar to help aerate the cream cheese as you beat it, too. Obviously sugar in the cream cheese AND sugar in the fruit could lead to a cloying, tooth-aching mess. But both require it. So I had to reduce the sugar in each part of the recipe as much as possible while keeping it at a functional base level. Too little sugar in the cream cheese and your cake will be dense. Too little sugar in the fruit mixture and your fruit powder will harden as it is processed. After several trials, I hit a version that is just right.

This recipe owes much to Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cordon Rose Cheesecake from her classic Cake Bible (as does my Banana Chai Cheesecake recipe, for those who love spice). I tried to replace the lemon juice with cherry juice, but it needed the tang to avoid being overly sweet. I’ve increased the amount of cream cheese to make up for the absorbent fruit powder. I’ve increased the vanilla both to add liquid and make a more assertive base note to complement the cherry flavour.

Once you try this cheesecake, you’ll be sharing it with all your friends. My taste testers were certainly enthusiastic, agreeing that all the experimentation along the way was well worth it. If you don’t have a sous vide device, you can cook this batter in the usual way. It just won’t be as fluffy and light, but then some people prefer a cheesecake that is more dense.

Almond cookies make the perfect crunchy accompaniment to this mousse-like cheesecake. @somachocolatemaker

Top with freshly made cherry sauce, crumble amaretti, and top with whipped cream. Or dark chocolate sauce on freshly pitted cherries. Or mixed berries, or lemon curd, or….you get the idea.

New-fangled Cherry Cheesecake

This original cheescake uses freeze-dried fruit to saturate the batter with cherry flavour. Sous vide makes it lighter and fluffier, but you can make it in a traditional cheesecake pan and water bath as well.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian
Keyword: #cheesecake, #cherrycheesecake, #sousvide
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Theresa

Equipment

  • Sous vide device or oven
  • Mason jars, 16 x 4oz, or 8 x 8 oz jars OR cheesecake pan
  • Stand mixer
  • Food processor or mini-chopper

Ingredients

  • 3 pkgs cream cheese Philidelphia brand, if possible
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 tsp freeze-dried cherries (60 grams)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cherry flavouring 
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  •  Attach your sous vide device to a heatproof container, then fill ¾ full of water. Preheat to the water to 80 °C or 176 °F
  • Make the flavoured cream first: into the bowl of a food processor (small bowl or mini-chopper if you have it), pulverize the cherries with ½ cup of sugar until it mostly resembles a fine dust. A few little pieces are okay but bigger chunks mean you need to pulse a few more times. Stir into the sour cream and let sit. 
  •  Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend with remaining 3/4 cup of sugar using the whisk attachment. Beat for 3 minutes on medium high speed until light and smooth, scraping down the side as needed.
  • Add the egg yolks one at a time on medium low speed, scraping down the sides after each addition
  • Add the lemon juice, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  • Stir fruit and sour cream mixture again, trying to make sure as much of the fruit sugar has dissolved as possible, squelching any little pockets you find with a brisk stir.
  • Beat into the cream cheese mixture gently until fully incorporated, no more.
  • Cast the batter into your jars using a ladle or serving spoon. Fill to just below the rim, leaving about a half inch of space between the cheesecake and the lid. Screw on fingertip tight (see here) and place gently in your preheated water bath. Use tongs if you like to avoid getting splashed by hot water. .
  • Cook for 90 minutes.
  • When they are done, use those tongs again to remove the jars to a tray or a flat tea towel on a hard surface. Let them sit until they have cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. 
  • Top with freshly made cherry sauce, crumble amaretti, and top with whipped cream. Or dark chocolate sauce on freshly pitted cherries. Or mixed berries, or lemon curd, or….you get the idea.

Notes

  • If the cherries aren’t powdered with some sugar they can turn sticky and hard.
  • If the bowl of the food processor is too big, the cherries won’t pulverize into a small enough pieces.
  • Cherry flavouring is really strong – err on the side of caution. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Add with care.
  • This recipe works really well with freeze-dried raspberries as well, and I’m sure blueberries would do too. Strawberries tend to be too mild in flavour to stand up to the tang of the cream cheese and sour cream.
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Plum & Blackberry Galettes with Hazelnut Frangipane

I’ve wanted to do a plum pie since Cook’s Illustrated rebooted the concept with a Plum Ginger pie in their last spring issue. I thought adding blackberries would be an original way to give it some depth, but a quick online search told me that combo has, of course, been tried a million times. The thing is, it’s usually done with Chinese 5-spice, or more ginger and cloves and orange, and while I love all that, it makes me think of Christmas more than summer.

I did not want to let the fruit sit too long in the sugar, as it does in their recipe, since it would release a lot of liquid that be too much for my little hand pies. I added a hint of Frangelico to make it stick to the fruit after a quick toss. Another dollop of Frangelico in the nut mixture worked again to intensify the flavour.

I made these galettes with purple plums first, then yellow. Both were good partners for the blackberries, and both benefitted from the softening effect of the bed of crushed hazelnuts. Almonds are the more obvious pairing with stone fruit (they’re related), but the earthiness of the hazelnuts combats the tartness of the plums.

With purple plums leave the skins on. It adds colour and retains the shape for defined slices. With the yellow plums, the sweet flesh can be overwhelmed by the tartness of the skins. I left them on and found them quite sharp. They were fine in a pie mixed with purple plums, where all the fruit was baked in the syrup that formed when they were left to rest in sugar for 20 minutes. For the little galettes, I might peel them and use the pretty blackberries to disguise any indistinguishable yellow plum flesh.

You can make one big galette, but smaller ones are great for individual portions (social distancing!) since there’s no need to cut and serve. You plop them on a plate and let people head up to the table one at a time.

Featured image
Seasonal plums and blackberries go nicely. Hazelnut base takes it to the top!

If you want to make pie instead of galettes, I would make both the pastry and the plum filling the day before, and add the blackberries just before you fill the crust. Letting the plums macerate for a good long while makes them swim in a gooey sugary syrup that would be too much liquid for the free-form galettes. But that same sweet nectar will bake into a delightful jammy mess in a deep dish. No need for the frangipane, but if you want a little nut flavour, you can line the bottom crust with some store-bought almond paste. No shame in that at all.

Gooey but tasty!

I used Brave Tart’s (Stella Park’s) Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough Recipe, because it holds its shape well, especially when it’s had a day to firm up in the fridge. And it’s delicious.

Plum & Blackberry Galettes with Hazelnut Frangipane

Small, rustic, freeform pies loaded with seasonal fruit on hazelnut paste.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Canadian, French
Keyword: #fruitpie, #pie, blackberries, galette, galettes, hand pies, hazelnut frangipane, hazelnut paste, hazelnuts, plums, Stone fruit, Summertime
Servings: 8 portions

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 1 batch basic pie dough

Plum & Blackberry Filling

  • 2 cups sliced plums, skins on (from 1½-2lbs plums)
  • 1 cups blackberries
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Frangelico
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Hazelnut Frangipane

  • ¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted and cooled
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • I tbsp Frangelico
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • crystal sugar, to finish the crust

Instructions

  • Divide pie crust into 8 equal pieces by cutting it in half, then in half again. Roll out each piece into a rough 6 inch circle and stack them up on parchment paper. Refrigerate for two hours minimium. This is a great step to do a day ahead.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Rub loose skins off hazelnuts, leaving any that cling. Grind hazelnuts and ⅓ cup sugar in the food processor into a fine paste, 2-3 minutes. Add butter, flour, Frangelico, salt, and egg. Pulse until smooth and set aside.
  • Slice your plums into ¼ inch wedges and toss with ½ cup sugar and Frangelico.
  • Beat egg with water and set on the table next to all the other components. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and have a pastry brush handy.
  • Add a heaping tablespoon to the centre of a disc of dough and spread in a circle, leaving a 1″ border. Brush the border with egg wash. Spoon some fruit onto the frangipane, and fold the edges in, tucking each fold into the next, making little nests for your fruit fillling.
  • Brush egg wash over outer ring of pie dough, and sprinkle with large crystal sugar, if you have any. Otherwise regular sugar will do.
  • Pop them into the oven and cook for 35-35 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the plums and blackberries entirely softened.
  • Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Serve with ice cream, if you like. Or just eat out of hand, without even taking the time to get a plate.
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Green Chicken Chili

Tomatillos are not as common an ingredient here in Canada as they are south of the border, but they are an essential part of Mexican cuisine and utterly delicious. They are related to Cape gooseberries, and bear some similarities in appearance and taste with their papery husks and citrusy notes. I absolutely love them, and usually pair them with roast chicken to make enchiladas.

Roast or poached chicken would be an excellent (and more traditional) substitution for the ground chicken in this recipe, but ground was what I had, and everybody loved it.

I have used yellow green beans and yellow zucchini here in a somewhat gimmicky attempt at a monochromatic colour palette, but I couldn’t find yellow tomatoes. The red ones were delicious, just warmed and barely softened, rather than truly cooked.

Green Chicken Chili

A lighter, summery version of chili to celebrate the season.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Canadian, chilli, Latin-inspired, Tex-Mex
Keyword: chili, green chili, tomatillos
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • One large skillet.
  • One rimmed baking sheet.
  • Parchment paper.
  • Large colander.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red or yellow onions
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano or epazote
  • 1 tbsp hot Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 4 whole poblano peppers
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 dozen tomatillos
  • 1 zucchini
  • ½ lb yellow beans
  • 4 yellow tomatoes
  • 1 can pinto bean
  • 1 can navy or cannellini beans
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
  • green onions, minced
  • avocado

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to broil. Rinse and pat dry poblano peppers. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place peppers in oven.
  • Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them in a colander over the sink. Place them whole in the pan with the poblanos. Turn poblanos over, making sure they are blackening evenly.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes to check on thhe roasting vegetables. Removes poblanos when they are blackened on all sides. When the tomatillos are blackened on top and softened throughout, remove the tray from the oven and set aside.
  • Dice onions. Core, seed, and mince jalapeño pepper, and add to the onions. Mince the garlic cloves and add in.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over low heat. Sauté the onion mixture until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the cumin, Mexican oregano and paprika to the onion mixture and stir, sautéing until fragrant.
  • Wash cilantro carefully, especially if it seems gritty. Place leaves aside, mince the stems, then add them to the pan. Add the canned green chiles and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove your aromatics to a bowl, and set aside. Add the other tbsp of olive oil to the pan and raise the heat to medium high.
  • Add the ground chicken to the skillet, stirring until all pink is gone and brown bits start to appear.
  • Return the aromatics to the skillet and stir into the ground chicken, turning heat back down to medium low. Add beans, stock and salt and leave to simmer.
  • Peel blackened skins from the poblano peppers, then remove seeds (most of them, don’t worry too much) and stems. Chop into fine bits and add to the pan. Using your hands, grab each tomatillo and squish it, then drop it into the pan. Once you’ve finger-mashed them all, stir them in, along with the considerable amount of pan juices they’ve released, and continue to simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
  • Mince zucchini and chop beans, and add them in, cooking until just tender.
  • Mince tomatoes, (yellow if you can find them!) and add, stirring until just softened. You’re good to go! Top with the reserved cilantro leaves and some fresh squeezed lime, as well as any other toppings you desire: green onions, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips.

Notes

If you have the time to cook your own beans from scratch, do so by all means. They are always better. 
And you can absolutely omit the chicken for a vegetarian version, swapping out the stock with veggie stock or water. I would add a (well-rinsed!) half a cup of quinoa along with the beans in that case. 
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