Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘strawberry’

strawberrypreserves_first

This is an apple sweetened preserve with strong strawberry flavour and a hint of cinnamon. It’s delicious on toast, cheese or even a garnish on dessert. However, if you are a sweet tooth, this may not be for you.

Late last year, JT and I decided to hunker down and lose the weight we put on in 2016, start date January 3, 2017. I don’t know about you, but it keeps getting more and more difficult to shed those pesky pounds. So over the last few weeks, we have been dry and on a very strict regiment. I’ve joined a doctor supervised program that I’ve had much success with in the past and I am happy to report, I am doing rather well. At this rate, I should reach my goal by March! I also bought a fit bit zip, so as corny as it sounds, I am getting in my 10,000 steps, a day! We got a bit lazy after our trip to Europe last fall, so it feels great to get back on track.

The diet we subscribe to has you eating real food (in moderated proportions) so it will be easy to keep up the practice even after we reach our goals. Having said that, there are a few things that I miss because the preferred brands contain aspartame or some other chemical sugar that I decided many years ago to avoid like the plague. So, in this simple post, I present to you an apple-sweetened strawberry preserve recipe. I must warn the super sweet tooths out there that this recipe is definitely not for you. It does, however, have excellent strawberry flavour and the apple just curbs the tartness of the berries without any processed sugars! I suspect I could have added honey or some other natural sugar, but the diet really limits ALL sugars (except chemical) so my hands were tied. These preserves should be frozen as opposed to canned because it does not contain processed sugars as a preservative. At first, I made a single batch of one jar, but JT loved it so much, the jar did not last long. So when I saw strawberries (from Mexico) on sale for $1.88/454 g (1 pound) I jumped! Surprisingly, they have excellent flavour and aroma and the berries really shine through in this preserve.

Apple Sweetened Strawberry Preserves

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 500 mL (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • ~1.8 kg  (~4 lbs) strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 apple, chopped finely, peeled, cored (reserved)

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop strawberries, add them to a heavy bottom saucepan along with the cinnamon sticks, apple and the water. Wrap the apple peel and core tightly in cheesecloth and add to the mix (the peel and core will add natural pectins which will help thicken it).
  2. Boil until the berries and apple have broken down, most of the water has evaporated and it has thickened. With a fork, mash any berry chunks or apple that have not broken down. Remove the cheesecloth bag, drain and discard.
  3. Bottle in sterilized jars and refrigerate for immediate use or freeze for future use. The refrigerator preserves are good for about one month, but it probably won’t last. The freezer jams will be good for about 6 months if they are sealed tightly.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Hello Spring

Spring has finally sprung in The Big Smoke so I thought I would run some lovely signs of spring first. I’m always surprised at how elated I am when I see the first buds on the trees and then somehow, it seems that from one minute to the next BOOM, we have blooms. It’s like spring explodes into nature; trees go from no leaves to full leaves, bulbs spring up, lilacs bloom and everything is glad to be alive. Finally.

Azaleas_4633

The Azaleas are one of the first to bloom

Cardinal_4628

A visiting Cardinal. He is just too big for our feeder, so he eats the dregs.

Flowering Tree_4626

Our new Japanese Cherry Tree just loves its new home.

Flowering Tree_4627

Completely covered in blooms

HeatLight_4632

Even sitting on the back deck is quite pleasant with a little fire and heat.

Trillium_4656

Our lovely trillium returned in the back 20.

Lilac_4642

And last but not least, this 7 year old lilac FINALLY bloomed this year. Ironically, this was the year I had planned to replace it with a Rose of Sharon.

JapaneseCherryBlossoms_4636

A drive through High Park to showcase the beautiful Japanese Cherry trees just prior to their peak.

JapaneseCherryBlossoms_4637

It’s a lovely fresh aroma

JapaneseCherryBlossoms_4638

There were tour buses on the weekend

JapaneseCherryBlossoms_4639

The trees are dispersed throughout the park, but there are also gorgeous clumps of them.

CherryBlossoms_4644

I took these pictures on Saturday; the trees were definitely at their peak.

CherryBlossoms_4646

Such gorgeous delicate blossoms.

CherryBlossoms_4647

I wish they bloomed all year round; that would make me very happy.

We had my family Easter dinner in mid-April because my brother and family always have other plans on Easter Weekend. I don’t mind having these holiday dinners at a different time, things are generally cheaper, it’s fun to have the festivities again (we had an Easter Egg Hunt) and it gives a good excuse to get together regardless of missing the holiday. Win-win.

We made a couple of BBQ’d Herbes of Provence chickens which always turn out exceptionally well, even though we remove every bit of skin it’s super moist and flavourful (I can’t believe I haven’t done a post about this flavourfull chicken, but here is a photo of the bird on the BBQ). And of course, this wonderful dish pairs so well with Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw (aka 19 Ingredient Slaw) that I made it again. We also had some lovely roasted sweet potatoes.

Angel Food Cake_4479

My first Angel Food Cake from scratch. Who knew it would be so easy?

And of course, the dessert: Strawberry Shortcake made with a lovely Angel Food Cake. My very first scratch Angel Food Cake. I always hesitated to make this cake because my MIL warned me about how difficult and finicky it was. So as she did, I used a mix. Strange but true. I hadn’t thought about an Angel Food Cake in a lot of years (she’s been gone for more than 15 years) but I wanted a light cake with little to no fat and this fit the bill. Now to find a recipe which doesn’t use 14 or 16 egg whites! I found this recipe created by Anna Olson for a light chiffon cake using 8 egg whites. Perfect.

Now you know me by now that I generally don’t have a lot of dessert eaters, so when I chose a dessert (whether it be slightly better for you than ordinary) I always make it smaller. Who needs left overs? So I figured out the volume of the 10″ tube pan Anna used and cut it in half to fit my 8″ spring form pan! Clever? I must warn you, that the tube pan is used to help bake this light, airy meringue-like cake through the centre; my small spring form was just the right size and it baked relatively evenly. I would not recommend going larger as your edges will dry out and your insides will be runny. Anyway, food for thought!

I got a nice crumb on the cake, the bottom of the spring form had a harder time releasing due to the little dimples in it, so next time, I will line it with a piece of ungreased parchment, that should do the trick. Oh, and it’s really important not to jump around the oven like a mad dance, or even open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking. Also note that although this pan is smaller, it did take a bit longer to bake through, probably because there wasn’t the chimney effect heating the centre through. And having said that, I’d do it again in an instant, it’s a lovely light-feeling dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake_4489

A cake slathered in stabilized whipped cream and way too many strawberries.

You’re probably wondering “what the heck is stabilized whipped cream?” Well, maybe only some of you. I was looking for a way to make this cake up a few hours in advance and not have the whipped cream fall flat and runny on me. It’s really rather easy, 1 tsp of gelatin in about 3 tbsp cold water, nuked until gelatin melts complete, cooled down but not set and drizzled into the whipped cream with (1 tbsp icing sugar and 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract) as you’re whipping. So easy and it sets the whipped cream ever so slightly so it won’t go all sloppy and meltie. You can’t taste the difference.

Strawberry Shortcake_4490

It just looked so yummy, I had to take another photo.

Ingredients:

Serves 4-6 from an 20 cm or 8″ spring form pan

  • 1/2 cup cake and pastry flour (less protein than bread flour)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 236 mL (1/2 pint) whipping cream, stabilized as above
  • Strawberries, to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 163° C or 325° F.
  2. Sift the flour and granulated sugar twice and set aside.
  3. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until foamy, then gradually add the icing sugar, whipping until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Sift in the flour and sugar mixture to the whipped whites in 2 additions and using a whisk to fold in the flour evenly and easily. Scrape the batter into a 8-inch ungreased spring form pan, spread it to level and bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, until it springs back when gently pressed (try not to open the oven before 25 minutes).
  5. Cool upside down (this is apparently important so the cake doesn’t deflate and fall). Wait until it is thoroughly cook (I’m not kidding) to remove from pan (you must cut it out with a clean knife). To slice the cake in half, use an unserated blade and cut with short delft strokes until full severed.
  6. Serve the cake with whipped cream and berries, if you wish. The cake will keep, well wrapped (not refrigerated – it will dry it out) for up to 3 days.
Strawberry Shortcake_4491

It’s only about 20 cm or 8″ wide. My 13 year old nephew had half of it.

Read Full Post »

JT has asked me to thank everyone for their lovely birthday wishes; thank you!

I have some exciting news to share with you today! I was approached by Daniel Maxian, a contributor at MyCityCuisine.org, a wiki project providing travelers with information on local cuisine in cities around the world. He said he was working on an article about Lemon Tarts and came across the recipe you have posted for the same dish.
“I think your recipe would be a great addition to the MyCityCuisine wiki resource, so I highly recommend that you have it added to the Featured Recipe section on the Lemon Viennese Tarts page.” Woohoo! I’m really pumped over this! Thank you for allowing me to share my excitement with you. Here is the link for the page.

I spotted this recipe for Strawberry Souffés with Fresh Berries on my friend Liz’s blog a couple of weeks ago (That Skinny Chick can Bake) and I knew I had to try it. It fit right into my healthy cooking and I was having a gluten intolerant friend over for brunch…perfect timing!

But I first made the ‘test’ dessert for my nephew Brian (Ceement Boy) who was over for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was a great success and I’ll be making it again on the weekend for my gluten intolerant friend.

Now you must be wondering why I have lovingly named my nephew Ceement Boy? I’m more than certain he is wondering too, as he is one of my lurkers (one who reads the blog but never comments; that’s OK, I’m just pleased that he cares enough to read about my mundane life, thanks Brian, I mean Ceement Boy).

The story goes like this: JT and I are NYC; it’s late one evening and I’m blogging, updating or just responding to comments on my blog using my iPhone 3Gs. Ding Ding, my phone pings. Hmmm, there is a text. It’s from Brian. That’s a bit odd in in itself as we are not texting buddies. He says “Be on vacation!!! Don’t blog!” Many of you will be able to relate to this, but blogging is part of you. You just can’t stop! You are either in the act of blogging, or preparing to blog or thinking about a story to blog about. It’s innate. So Brian, it just isn’t possible, sorry. (As I’m typing this, I wonder where all the words went before blogging?)

Upon our return from the Big Apple, we had Brian over for dinner; the night before we were coordinating our timing and JT gets a text from Brian referring to me as Princess Blogalot. Hmmmm. Did someone have a few cocktails? In retaliation (yes, I can be vindictive that way) I thought I would come up with a nick-name for Brian. Brian is a structural engineer specializing in cement, hence Ceement Boy. I like to draw out the Ceeee really long. Country and western-style ;-). Somehow I don’t even mind Princess Blogalot. Not too much, anyway.

Since we’re all trying to watch our waistlines, this dessert was a perfect intensely flavoured ending to our delicious meal. Our in-season Ontario strawberries really popped with flavour and the aged balsamic reduction drizzled over top added that wonderful tartness that the strawberries craved. The toasted slivered almonds were for texture as the egg white souffé is light, airy, full of flavour and needed a bit of crunch.

I snapped this pic with my crappy iPhone 3Gs. When will they release the 5???? I can’t wait forever.

Please head over to Liz’s blog to see her recipe. I have altered the recipe to our taste and requirements.

Strawberry Soufflés with Fresh Berries

Serves 4, 200 mL ramekins

Ingredients:

  • Butter, to grease ramekins
  • 340g fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided, or to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier, optional
  • 4 tbsp toasted almonds slices
  • 4 tbsp balsamic reduction for garnish

Directions:

  1. Butter four 200 mL ramekins and dust with sugar. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  2. Purée half the berries with 2 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste), lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour into small sauce pan and cook on medium till puree boils and thickens. Cool completely. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  3. Slice remaining berries and add 1 tablespoon of sugar (or to taste) and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Mix and taste for sweetness. Set aside. May be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
  4. Just before serving, pre heat oven to 400°F.
  5. Beat egg whites till foamy. Slowly add in remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and whip till stiff peaks form. Slowly fold purée into egg whites, one third at a time. Divide between the four ramekins and smooth tops with offset spatula. Run finger around perimeter of each soufflé to make a slight indentation in soufflé. Slide tray of ramekins into oven and bake 14-17 minutes or till soufflés are puffed and golden.
  6. Serve immediately garnished with sliced berries, toasted almonds and drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Another dark and dreary photo with my iPhone 3Gs.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: