Archive for the ‘blueberry’ Category

Newfoundland 2007 4

I seem to have my jet-set engines on at the moment. I’m only just getting my breath back from our trip to Newfoundland and already I’m busy packing for another bout of airports and baggage check. Naturally I’m thrilled to be partaking of one of my great loves in life: travel; but it also means that I’ve not had too much time to do any cooking. And all those squash and pumpkins just lying there, calling me! I love this time of year and I’ve been waiting patiently, almost on tender hooks, to sink my cooking teeth into some new dishes. Well, they’ll just have to wait, I’m afraid, until I’m back from my exploring. Oh, our lives are not boring, at least! Now the question is: will I have time to make real Christmas pudding this year, when the time to make it would be now? The proof of that pudding … well, you know. C’est la vie, non? Right now, though, I’m still dreaming of Newfoundland, with its raw, majestic landscapes and its wild, unforgiving storms and its seas, which throw themselves, now calmly, now violently at the shores like a heartbroken woman. The kind of seas you want to stand overlooking, on a cliff, and conduct into a crescendo. The kind of land filled with fervent passion and cold cruelty, wherever you look. And with blueberries and partridge berries covering the ground, just begging for a pie.

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Blueberry tea cakes

I’m feeling a little tender this morning and in need of a culinary hug. I’ll think back to this cheery little tea I had with my darling Mr P last week, and perhaps slip off with a girlfriend to find something similar at the Red Tea Box. For these little cakelings I whipped up a simple, slightly heavy cake batter, added a pinch of ground cardamom and a whole, oozing cup of wild blueberries (I only made just enough batter for two, so they really were packed with the little globes of blue) then topped each filled ramekin with a fat disc of Marzipan and a big handful more of the berries. Nothing shy about these babies. Eaten still hot from the oven, soaked with fresh cream and a cup of tea, like snuggles in the duvet on a Sunday morning.

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Muslie pancrepes

We’ve all heard it a thousand times before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve heard it from our mothers and fathers, from our doctors, our teachers, our newspapers and magazines. I had to learn the hard way to start the day off right. I used to wake up late, being a committed fan of Club Duvet, rush through my morning routine of showering, dressing and general cleanliness and then dash out the door and head off straight to work. “I’ll grab something at work” I used to tell myself, but apart from a cup of tea or coffee, I very often would get so absorbed and distracted by work that I’d look up, famished, at 3 0’clock and wonder why I felt so tired and lack-luster. Now I know: if I skip a meal, I won’t make it through the day without needing to put my head down. And while I love a nap now and then on a rainy Sunday, there’s really just so much I’d rather be doing. During the week, as a rule, I usually start the day with a lovely bowl of muesli, which I custom make from my little jars of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit, with a dollop of yoghurt and a generous mug of fresh Cafetiere-style coffee. Weekends, when the ever delightful Mr P is around, is when the fun happens. So what do you do when you’ve had a long weekend full of the fun and you’re somewhat fed up (so to speak) with eggs over easy and blueberry pancakes; but your husband wants something a bit more elaborate than a bowl of cereal? Well, a wise woman would tell you, marriages are all about compromise, non?


*note: due to the lack of plain flour gluten (I’m guessing here) these Pancrepes don’t hold together as well as ordinary crepes, so they’re somewhere between Crepes and all-American breakfast pancakes. Hence the name. Get it?

Muesli PanCrepes with Berry Compote and Cream Cheese

for the pancakes:
½ cup + 2 Tbsp Quinoa flour
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp ground oatbran
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp ground cornmeal (not corn starch, but finer than Polenta)
1 Tbsp ground Almonds
1 tsp baking powder
½ Tbsp maple sugar (or use caster sugar)
pinch salt
1 cup rice milk (or cows milk)
2 eggs, beaten

for the compote:
1 cup berries of your choice (I used wild blueberries and blackberries)
¼ cup water
½ Tbsp maple sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

cream cheese to serve

1: make the batter

– combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a whisk

– combine eggs and milk. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

– leave to stand for 20 mins or so, while you make the compote.

2: make the compote

– combine fruit, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins. Keep warm while you make the pancakes.

3: make the pancakes and serve

– put a plate on the lowest rung of your oven and turn the oven onto it’s lowest setting. Put a small dollop of butter onto the plate.

– heat a non stick skillet or frying pan or griddle on a medium to high heat

– using a soup ladle, drop one ladle of batter onto the hot surface at a time, swirling the mixture around the pan a little to spread it out. The end pancake should be somewhere between crepe and pancake thickness.

– when bubbles begin to pop on the surface, carefully turn the cake over using an egg lifter and cook the other side.

– when the pancake is cooked, put it in the oven on the plate while you cook the rest. If you’re feeling indulgent, plop a little piece of butter onto the top of each crepe while it waits for its neighbour.

– serve with fruit compote, cream cheese and plenty of Maple syrup.

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Lavender Petals

It’s been hot in TO this weekend. A dry heat, for a change, making us think a bit of Summer in Johannesburg. I’ve been longing for a swim in a pool and a bowl of ice-cream afterwards. So I made a couple cold desserts to keep our temperatures under control. Now, I must be honest with you. This jelly nearly didn’t make the cut for the blog because, it turns out, Mr P doesn’t have much love in him for jelly. How I can have been married to him so long and not already know this I’m not quite sure. Suffice to say he’s a secretive man and I’m still glad to be learning new things about him all the time. I, on the other hand, love a big bowl of bright jelly and Ultramel custard. I guess it reminds me of being seven years old again. Nothing wrong with that. In any event, I got the ‘have you made me eat bugs?’ face from my number one critic on the first spoon of jelly in his mouth. My first reaction is always, ‘oh no, catastrophe’ but it turns out it’s the texture more than anything else he doesn’t like.

Well, mostly. The other thing you need to know about this jelly is that it’s perfumed with Lavender, which, like rose flavoured Turkish Lokum, is only for a very select few of us. I love rose flavoured goods. I remember my Mom buying a jar of rose petal jam on holiday one year and the two of us devoured it eagerly over the few weeks on toast and crackers and teaspoons. The boys of the family wouldn’t so much as sniff it. So yes, this is maybe a slightly more Risky dessert to make if you’re unsure of your feedee’s tastes. I decided to put it in anyway, because, well, I can. And I loved the sweet blueberries combined with the perfume of the lavender.

*note: I used gelatin leaves instead of powder for the first time and it is so much easier this way.

*note 2: you can use fresh lavender flowers from your garden if you have them. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before.

Lavender and Blueberry Jelly

Blueberry and Lavender Jellies

makes 6 individual cups

for the blueberry jelly:
1 cup wild blueberries
2 Tbsp + 1 cup water
⅓cup castor sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 sheet gelatin

for the Lavender Jelly:
1 Tbsp edible, dried lavender petals
2 cups boiling water
⅓ cup castor sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 sheets gelatin

– put berries and 2 Tbsp water into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until berries soften and juices run. Add 1 cup water, sugar and lemon juice.

– bring back to a medium rolling boil and cook until liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat.

– soak 1 gelatin leaf in cold water for a couple minutes, until soft. Squeeze off excess water and add to berry mixture, stirring well.

– divide between 6 cups and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour

-meanwhile, put lavender and water in a small saucepan and heat gently. Leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. Strain. Retain water in the saucepan. (at this point I used the spoon from the blueberry jelly to stir the Lavender in order to give it a bit of extra colour)

– heat lavender water (do not boil), add sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Soak 2 gelatin sheets in cold water for a couple of minutes and add to hot Lavender water, stirring well.

– let lavender cool to room temperature.

– remove blueberry jelly from fridge and add equal amounts of lavender jelly to each cup. Return to fridge to set, about 1 hour.

Lavender and Blueberry Jelly 2

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Wild Blueberry tarts with Marzipan

It’s been a busy weekend, jam packed (ahem, excuse the pun) with picnics, parks and outdoor activity. After a birthday party picnic on Saturday Mr P and I met with friends on the Toronto Islands for a day of sun and tennis and food. There’s something about picnicking, where you you snack all day and never really know just how much you’ve eaten or not, that leaves you feeling satisfied with life and full of the goodness of the earth. It is good to let your bare toes curl and flex in fresh, soft grass, and to let your skin turn golden in the sun under the SPF. I’m having a complete berry love affair at the moment, in case you hadn’t noticed, and my pet favourite has always been the wild blueberry, impossible to get back home or any time but Now, here in Toronto. One had better make the most of it! I throw them by the handful into cereals and buttermilk pancakes for breakfast, snack on them during the day and love doing up a batch of little tarts (or pies as they’re called here). Great for picnics, non? With these ones I threw a slice of marzipan on top of each before baking. Wow. Delicious. Just be sure to mention it to your feed-ees in case of nut allergies, advice I could almost have learned the hard way this weekend.

I was overcome with the berry-fever at the farmers market on Saturday. Everywhere you looked berries flooded the vision. I found myself unable to concentrate on anything the blue and red and yellow and magenta and black of berries berries everywhere. I arrived, as often happens, with a small list of things I need to pick up: just raspberries in this case, but end up, after am entranced, hypnotised hour, with almost more than I can fit into the basket of my bicycle. Now, again, I find myself in the predicament of what to do with all the berries I have sitting in pretty, green cardboard punnets on my counter. Berries don’t keep as long as, say, apples. I spent a couple hours yesterday making up a fresh batch of flavour-packed, irresistable on a spoon black currant jam and still have a couple punnets of small, green and maroon gooseberries to do coax into submission.

Blueberry tarts with Marzipan

Pate Brise:

1 cup all purpose flour
1½ cups Whole wheat flour
¾ tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
250 g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into small pieces
¼ – ½ cup ice cold water


3 cups wild blueberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
juice from ½ a lemon
12 slices of marzipan, about 5mm thick

Preheat oven to 420˚F

for the pastry:
– combine sifted dry ingredients and butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. The trick with pate brise is to work lightly and not blend the mixture too well, leaving chunks of butter. This keeps the pastry texture light when it bakes.

– add water, a bit at a time, until the dough only just comes together. Again, don’t mix too much. Divide dough into two pieces, flatten each into a round disc, cover in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour.

– on a floured surface, using one disc at a time from the fridge, roll dough out to about 3mm thick and cut rounds to fit inside 12 well greased small pie or muffin tins (I used both)

– place lined tins in the fridge.

for the filling:
– mix berries, flour and sugar. Add lemon juice and mix until berries are coated in mixture.

– divide mixture between between pastry shells and top with a slice of marzipan.

– bake pies at 420˚F for 10 mins, then lower temperature to 350 and bake a further 15 mins or so, until the berries are bubbling and their juice starts to run.

Blueberry tarts with Marzipan

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Though I’ve mentioned it as such, this is not in fact my first experience of Canada. I count it as a first with the eyes of an adult living in an adult world and dealing with all that goes with such.

A bunch of years ago I was a naive and dewy-eyed student living a year in Ottawa as part of the Canadian SWAP program. And a Student Working Abroad hardly qualifies as much of an adult. Working menial jobs to pay the rent, party on the weekends and backpack your way around the countryside may be spirit growing, but one hardly learns the lessons of mortgages and career development. What I did learn, however, on a hot and steamy mid-July afternoon in the wilderness near Pembroke, is that nothing tastes quite as much of Summer and holiday as a piece of wild blueberry pie.

I’ve been waiting since that steamy afternoon, when I sat for 15 mins and slowly devoured the Summer on the plate in my lap, for a chance to revisit the moment. We experience few enough moments that stay with us vividly for the rest of our lives. Your first kiss, your first day of high school, that moment in Namibia where you just knew He was Him. Through the Winters of Bristol and London and the years I spent back in Johannesburg’s blueberry-barren suburbs I thought back from time to time to that afternoon with the pie, mouth watering slightly, wondering if we’d meet again. And so when I saw the big quarts of wild blueberries at the organic farmers’ market last week, I knew my time had come and there was only one destiny for those berries. Perfect for a weekend at the cottage.

It was every bit as good as I remembered. It was Summer.

Wild Blueberry Pie

Wild Blueberry Pie

Pate Brise

1 quart (3 cups) wild blueberries, picked over and rinsed
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
couple Tbsp butter

milk and egg beaten for glaze

– Make pastry. Line pie with thinly rolled pastry (about 3mm thick). Remember to roll a second disc for the cover. Refrigerate shell, about 15 mins before use.

– Mix berries, flour and sugar

– fill pie shell, dot with butter, cover with pie top. Brush with milk and egg mix. Fold ends under. Refrigerate until chilled, about half an hour

– cut steam vents into pie shell and bake at 425˚F for 20 mins. Reduce temperature to 350˚F and bake for a further 30 – 40 mins, until the juices are bubbling and the pie is golden. If the pastry starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil.


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Berry Bowl


At the market on Friday, I was overcome completely by the astounding variety and sheer volume of delicious looking berries. Red currants! Strawberries! Raspberries! Cherries! Blueberries! Blackberries!

Ontario is a couple of weeks behind the States in terms of crop growth and even though we’ve been able to get fresh berries for a while now at the market, this time they were from the local area, fresher and sweeter looking than the previous punnets which have obviously had to be driven in from across the border. How could I resist? I couldn’t, not in the least, and ended up having to carefully, and delicately balance far too many berries in the basket of my bicycle, hoping the whole way home that the ones on the bottom wouldn’t end up a pulpy, juicy mess by the time I made it back. There are definitely downsides to deciding to travel by bicycle through the city. I can’t wait to get a rack and set of baskets on the back of my bike as well so I can do more shopping at one time.

I arrived home still grinning with the excitement of my find and unpacked all my purchases on the kitchen counter, only to stare in post-purchase disbelief at the pile left there. So many berries, and all so beautiful and tempting, but what was I going to do with them all? Surely they wouldn’t last the time it would take to think of something lovely to do with each of them and finish eating what was made. I couldn’t let them go to waste, and there was no concievable way I could have not bought them in the first place. Okay, so let’s look at what there is: red currants, sour red cherries, sweet black cherries, deep red raspberries, strawberries, green gooseberries and fresh rhubarb. Rhubarb is another thing I can’t seem to resist buying when I find it: it’s so rare and its season is so short.

When I saw the gooseberries,
I pounced on them immediately, berries-2.jpg
a slightly crazy, wicked glint in
my eyes. I’d been keeping a wary
eye out for these for a while now.
The reason is simple. In South
Africa, what I was brought up
believing was a gooseberry
(and which my Granny had a
bush of at her front door and
on which we feasted as children)
is actually known as a Cape Gooseberry,
though I’ve seen the same fruit
referred to as a physalis or a
ground cherry. I’d never seen
them before, but having read
about them in Jam Faced recently,
I couldn’t wait to see what all
the fuss was about.

Which led me to the decision to simple preserve a bunch of the fruit, before it could ruin, and have it ready to eat whenever the mood should strike. Jam! I was going to make jam! And it turned out to be a rainy Sunday today so what better way to pass the time?

Raspberry Orange Flower, Red Currant Sour Cherry and Gooseberry jams

I made three kinds:
a simple gooseberry jam,
which left me in no doubt
as to who the real gooseberry
is (yum!) a raspberry and
orange flower jam
which is so delicate
and delicious, I might end
up eating it by the spoon
and a red currant and
sour cherry jam
, which I left
quite tart and a bit runny
because I have a wicked plan
for its future… watch this space!

Jams are really easy to make, despite what you’ve heard to then contrary, and I love how making them reminds me so of my Gran.

With the rest I made some divine little strawberry and rhubarb tarts with a fresh custard, made slightly lighter than the previous post by using half milk half cream and the sweet black cherries are to become a cherry clafouti soon.

Of course, now I have three egg whites left over in the fridge from the custard, but again, you’ll have to wait to see what I do with those.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart w Custard

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Tart:

Pie Crust of your choosing. A vanilla one complements the strawberries well.

2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (1cm pieces)
1 ¼ cups hulled and quartered strawberries
½ cup sugar
¼ cup flour

Preheat oven to 420˚F

– make pie crust, refrigerate for ½ hour before rolling out and lining 6 mini tart cases. Refrigerate 10 mins.

– mix pie ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes so that the fruit juices run out a little and soak up the flour and sugar. Mix a couple times until fruit is well coated.

– divide evenly between cold pie crusts, bake at 420˚F for 10 mins, then lower oven to 350˚F and bake for 45 mins.

Sour Cherries and Red currants

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