Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blueberry Beet Butter - Toast Topper #73

Every Summer it seems like I make a few standard items to can for the Winter months - whether it's for us to enjoy here at home or to give away during the holidays, a jar of something delicious always seems to warm the heart and be appreciated! A few of the recipes I riff on every year are chutney (my favourite being this Moroccan Tomato one), mincemeat (like this Downton Abbey "mockycat"), some sort of pasta sauce and - our current favourite Toast Topper - blueberry butter. The gloriously thick, sweet-tart spread is one of those that everybody loves - the eaters because it's delicious, the cooks because it's drop dead easy to make.

Blueberry Beet Butter

In fact, the (original) recipe is essentially three ingredients - blueberries, apples and sugar. After that, the possibilities are more or less endless! The first time I made it (way back in Toast Topper #2!), I used vanilla sugar, allspice and nutmeg. by the time Toast Topper #32 came about, I was tossing in lemon zest and pure pomegranate juice. This time around I took the recipe down a whole other road - adding a glug of red wine, some date syrup, and a garden fresh, dark red beet. 

Yes, a beet. I love the root veggie in pretty much any and every form, and already know how well it works in sweet things (brownies, anyone?), adding that subtle earthy note to the sugar and berry flavours. It is, as I said, subtle - you're not going to bite into your English muffin and go "yum, I'm eating borscht for breakfast". Rather, you're likely going to go on the hunt for some natural peanut butter and make yourself a grown up PB&J. Who says we have to grow up?

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Spiralized Sunomono

It's been a while since I broke out my Spiralizer - during the colder months, the lack of economical, "spiralize-able" veggies drops significantly, leaving not much around but carrots, potatoes and beets. I'm not sure if it's my model or not (I do have a fairly high-end one, though not the top of the tier) but the harder roots basically "shred" more than "twirl" in the machine, and make cleaning it a royal pain. Therefore, once the cucumber, zucchini and even apples fade away from their place as "peak" produce, so does the machine.

Spiralized Sunomono

However, at this moment, we have lots of Summer squash options coming in from the garden. Not only do we have our usual crops of zucchini, but there's some yellow squash and my long-awaited cucumbers as well. While I originally put in the cucumbers for pickling, the latest burst of rain and hot, humid weather acted like a natural steroid for my plants. By the time I got back out into the (somewhat dried-off) garden, I found two baby cucumbers that had been decimated by the storm and a single, rather large specimen that would not be fitting into any pickle jar soon! Luckily, I had a different use for it in mind - one of my favourite Japanese salads, called sunomono, is essentially a sweet-sour-salty pickled cucumber salad topped with sesame seeds. A breeze to whip up with the Spiralizer, it was also beautiful done that way, and if you let the cucumber "drain" a little on tea towels before assembling it holds quite well. In fact, drained enough, it gets better as it sits - just add the seed garnish at the last minute and you have a light and refreshing, vegan cucumber salad perfect for Summer get togethers (or solitary noshing)!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Brownie Brittle

I am a "brownie edge" person. Don't get me wrong - give me a pan of fudgy, dense brownies and it will disappear entirely without complaints - but if it's a choice between the soft centre and the crisp-chewy borders of a freshly baked pan, I'm going for the trimmings. My dad and I share the same love for that slightly overbaked texture, and while we don't like teeth-shattering crunch, we'll gladly take the bits most people wouldn't serve.

Brownie Brittle
Serving them in a coffee can is a great way to tie in the mocha flavour!

It was my search for this "golden medium" that landed me at this recipe. A relatively basic, Kamut-flour brownie got a little built-in "chew" from egg whites and custard powder, plus a "grown up" boost from brewed coffee and espresso powder. They're double-baked (a la biscotti) and left to cool in the oven, ensuring that they dry out enough to store safely at room temperature while staying ever-so-slightly yielding to chewing. Brittle really isn't the right name for these, but both "brewies" and "chettle" sound weird, so the original name for the treats I've seen in store it is!

I left out nuts and chocolate chips from the batter (they make spreading evenly tricky!) but couldn't resist a handful of bittersweet beauties scattered overtop. I might try making a batch soon with one of my favourite combinations - peanut butter and chocolate - by using a little peanut flour instead of the custard powder and a mix of peanut butter and chocolate chips overtop. The door is open for possibilities!!

How do you like your brownies? Soft, cakey, dense, fudgy... as much chocolate as you can stand?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Maple Pecan Blueberry Bread

Well, another Olympics is in the books, and (to toot our own horn) Canada did respectably - 22 medals, 4 more than the London Games and only 3 shy of the last Winter Olympics. While I admittedly didn't watch most of the Games (not a sports person in the least), I am still immensely proud of my country and how our athletes represented the values of our nation and the Games as a whole. 


Maple Pecan Blueberry Bread

In celebration, I decided to capitalize on a few hallmarks of Canadian cuisine to make our weekly loaf of bread. First, I infused some locally made butter with a mixture of Jakemans Pure Maple Syrup and my go-to Grade B (which is now apparently called "Dark Colour and Robust Taste"). Then came the Canadian-grown whole wheat and soy flours as well as a handful of flax seed for texture. To add some fruitiness, home-dried wild blueberries peppered the dough. While not Canadian, I added some pecans to the loaf as well. My mom loves pecan butter tarts, and the occasional buttery crunch just adds extra decadence to morning toast.

Sliced, toasted and topped with butter (or almost any Toast Topper), the loaf was delicious and hearty... and just Canadian enough to be "I am Canadian" cliche. Time to break out the plaid, Mountie gear and canoes!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

Now that the CNE is on (along with it's wonderfully weird mystical food building), I know that the end of Summer is nigh. It's a rather bitter-sweet moment, since these past few months have been filled with great times with family, chances to get to the gym and even enjoying the (occasionally frustrating) forays into the garden. Of course, I've been playing with the produce I've been able to pick and procure from the farmer's markets, and since my herbs have finally decided to play ball in their boxes I've been using them in both sweet and savoury things any time I get a chance.

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

One of the great things I've rediscovered with my herbs is infusing - both salt and sugar this year have been herb-ified in my garden. A jar of cheap Kosher salt met up with a few of my rosemary sprigs for a gourmet-tasting pantry staple ready for Fall or Winter roast chicken, while nasturtium blossoms and lemon balm have made some fantastic (and beautiful) jars of sugar. It was the lemon balm sugar, along with a lemonade mix that a student of mine had gifted me, that inspired these carnival-sized, summer sunny yellow cookies. Inspired by Averie's recipe, I added fresh lemon balm to the mixture of infused sugar and strawberry lemonade mix for a pop of fresher "what could this be?" flavour. Tons of lemon zest followed suit, along with a shot of lemon extract and even lemon juice for kicks (and leavening!). I opted for a tiny touch of yellow food colouring to make the Kamut flour's natural golden hue pop, but of course it's optional!

How do you celebrate Summer (or it's swan song)? Let me know in the comments!