Christmas Cookies

December has arrived and when I was growing up, it was officially ‘baking season’ for my mom. Many of the ingredients for the special things she would bake at this time of year were just too expensive to have on hand all the time. While we were at school, over the weeks prior to Christmas, she would bake many different kinds of cookies and squares. When we would arrive home in the late afternoon, there was no trace of what she had baked. Every cookie tin and various other containers were being filled with these glorious goodies. It all became part of the mystery and suspense of the season.

Like many traditions, the origin of the Christmas baking ‘bonanza‘ comes from medieval times. Winter solstice rituals were conducted long before Christmas became the huge commercial holiday it is today. Celebrations revolved around food. By the middle ages, the Christmas holiday had overtaken solstice rituals and the pastry world was experiencing some big changes. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper as well as dried exotic fruits were becoming available. Expensive delicacies like sugar, lard and butter all became treasured ingredients that could only be afforded on this most important holiday.

Unlike pies and cakes, cookies could easily be shared and given to friends and neighbors. Our modern day Christmas cookies are baked for similar reasons. They’re given as hostess gifts in festive tins, used on giant dessert trays and of course they make for wonderful family baking traditions.

Most homemade holiday cookies were simple rounds or squares until import laws changed in the 19th century introducing inexpensive cookie cutters made of tin and emphasized shapes.

I realize ‘mincemeat’ doesn’t appeal to everyone’s pallet. These days the ‘all-fruit’ varieties have made it much more appealing. In a previous blog, I had used a lemon curd filling in these tender little cheesecake cookies. Since Brion and I both enjoy the all-fruit mincemeat, I thought I’d do a Christmas version. Pairing the flavors of anise, mincemeat and lemon was real nice.

The Irish Cream cookies are an easy no-bake version. If you like this liqueur, I’m pretty sure these boozy little bites will work for you.

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Mincemeat Cheesecake Cookies / Irish Cream Cookies
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Instructions
Mincemeat Filling
  1. Combine mincemeat filling ingredients & refrigerate until needed.
Cheesecake Cookies
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese & butter until fluffy & smooth; 1-2 minutes. Add sugar; beat another 1-2 minutes then add eggs & anise extract & continue beating 1 more minute.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, anise seed & salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to the butter mixture & stir just until incorporated. Do NOT over mix. Divide dough in half.
  3. Between 2 sheets of parchment paper, roll each half of the dough to a 1/8"-1/4" thickness. Remove top sheet & using a 2 1/2" (6 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Using top sheet of parchment, lay rounds about 2" apart. Slide a plastic cutting board under parchment paper & transfer to freezer for about 30 minutes. (I found this made it much easier to continue the procedure).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove cookies from freezer. Spoon about a teaspoon of COLD mincemeat filling onto center of each circle. Wet edges a bit with water or beaten egg. Fold cookies in half & using a fork, press edges to seal. (If your mincemeat filling is well chilled, I found it didn't run out of the cookies while being baked).
  5. Bake cookies for 10-11 minutes. Cookies should be light in color, not browned & just starting to brown on bottom. * Length of baking time may vary from oven to oven. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients & beat to a drizzle consistency. When cookies are cooled, drizzle with glaze.
Irish Cream Cookies
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine Irish cream, corn syrup, butter, white chocolate & salt. Heat while stirring until butter & chocolate have melted. Gently boil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat & stir in puffed rice & oatmeal. Let stand for 2 minutes. If the mixture is a little runny, you may need to add a little more oatmeal ... about 1/4 - 1/3 cup).
  3. Using a spoon, you can either drop by spoonfuls on buttered parchment or press mixture into a buttered 1/4 cup measuring cup to form more precise cookie rounds. Let stand for at least an hour or until cookies are set. They will be soft but chewy. If you wish, decorate with holiday motifs.

Cauliflower Monte Cristo Lasagna

Do you recall the Monte Cristo sandwiches of ‘yesteryear’? There was a time when you could find this sandwich on most restaurant lunch menus across North America. Basically, its ham and cheese sandwiched between two pieces of french toast, smothered in egg batter, deep fried, sprinkled with powdered sugar and dipped in a side of jelly. It’s where salty meets sweet and savory.

It’s believed that the Monte Cristo evolved from the French sandwich called ‘Croque Monsieur‘. The original grilled cheese sandwich consisted of Gruyere cheese and lean ham between two slices of crust-less bread, fried in clarified butter.

This sandwich, although delicious, is neither health or diet food but sometimes its fun to just enjoy these kind of things in moderation, of course.

This ‘lasagna‘ turned out to be real tasty. It kind of puts a new spin on an old classic. Instead of french toast, the ham and cheese are layered in between a baked cauliflower mixture that resembles slices of bread or lasagna noodles. Serve with cauliflower sauce or a sauce of your own choice.

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Cauliflower Monte Cristo Lasagna
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
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Ingredients
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Instructions
Cauliflower 'Pasta'
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the tablespoon of salt & lemon juice. Cut cauliflower into florets, add to boiling mixture & cook until they are soft. Drain cooked cauliflower & roughly crush them into 'mush'. Add breadcrumbs, Parmesan, egg, garlic, Italian herbs, salt & pepper; mix well.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Press cauliflower mixture on baking sheet into a 9 x 9-inch square. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy. Remove from oven, cut cauliflower into 3 strips. In a buttered baking dish place the first strip. Cover with half of each of the ham & cheese slices. Put another strip of cauliflower on it & top with the rest of the ham & cheese slices. Place the third strip of cauliflower on top & sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Adjust oven temperature to 350 F. & bake 'lasagna' for about 30 minutes.
Cauliflower Sauce
  1. Add butter to a blender or food processor. Cook cauliflower according to package instructions. Using a slotted spoon, drain off any excess water, transfer to blender. Add the vegetable broth, Parmesan, garlic, milk, salt & pepper. Process until a very smooth consistency is reached. Serve warm over Monte Cristo lasagna.

Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Barley was traditionally used to add bulk and a comforting flavor to stews and broths. The gentle flavor of this grain makes it endlessly adaptable. I have often substituted it for rice in main course dishes but it is definitely dessert worthy too.

Like rice pudding, its a comforting (old fashioned) dish. Barley stays chewy compared to how soft rice becomes even after a few days in the fridge. Now, don’t get me wrong … I love rice pudding and of course its one of those desserts that holds nostalgic memories for me.

Barley was a grain crop my father grew on our family farm. As Canadians, we are blessed with some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Our province of Alberta, along with the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are the major growing areas for barley in Canada.

Having such great nutritional value and versatility, barley deserves much more culinary acclaim than it receives, I think. This barley pudding is best served warm. I chose to make a simple caramel sauce to drizzle over it. In the whipped topping MIX, I used 1% milk and added a tiny bit of anise flavor for interest. Yum!

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Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce
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Course dessert
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Ingredients
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Instructions
Barley Pudding
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil; add barley & 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, butter & vanilla; beat well. Add cooked barley, raisins, lemon zest & juice.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. Turn pudding into a well buttered, 6-cup baking dish. Set pan into a larger baking pan in oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan to within an inch of the top of the pudding. Bake for an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm as is or with caramel sauce & anise topping.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add sugar & cornstarch. Pour in a little of the hot water & whisk quickly to blend. Over a low heat, add the rest of the water, butter, salt & rum extract. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Prepare dry whipped topping mix if using.

Apple Chickpea Flan w/ Raspberry Sauce

There’s a whole chickpea world out there beyond hummus. From crunchy, spicy snacks to main ingredients in baking and cooking. This is a wonderful ingredient that can adapt extremely well with herbs and spices.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, grow in hot parts of the world so they are naturally a key ingredient in the cuisine of countries such as India, Mexico, Egypt and the southern part of Italy. Despite their origins, chickpeas are available everywhere, usually in either canned or dried form. There is very little difference in nutritional value between precooked, canned chickpeas and the dried variety you cook yourself.

In our part of the country, I remember these peas/beans first appearing in the restaurant salad bars. Chickpeas were one of several choices set out in bowls to add to salad greens. Then a few years later they became better known when ‘Mediterranean hummus’ became trendy. Then the notion came up to use them in baking. Legumes in cake? Remember the big debate when ‘someone’ decided to put carrots and zucchini in cakes etc. (not to mention tomato soup).

Chocolate chickpea cake has been a success for quite a while now so I decided to try a different take on the idea of the flourless cake.

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Apple Chickpea Flan w/ Raspberry Sauce
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 4 custard baking cups or a 9 X 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a food processor, place applesauce, rinsed chickpeas & eggs; blend until almost smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Place in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture & stir to combine. Pour into baking dishes & bake for about 50 minutes OR until it tests done with an inserted toothpick.
  4. To make raspberry sauce: In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Add water & raspberries; cook until clear & bubbling. Remove from heat & add margarine & lemon juice & zest. Cool & serve over chickpea flan.
Recipe Notes
  • In place of one of the eggs I used 1 Tbsp ground flax seed plus 3 Tbsp water. 

Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza

Ever since I made pizza with yeasted potato crust it has become a staple in our meal rotation list. It seems like all it takes to come up with an amazing filling combo is just a little inspiration so the influence of flavors Brion and I tasted in Mexico became a natural choice for me.

Although avocado on pizza may sound weird, if you are a guacamole lover, its glorious. When you think about it, tomato or tomato sauce is a big part of pizza most of the time. Often guacamole is made with tomato, so it compliments pizza well. I used all the ingredients you would normally fit into a tortilla for toppings. Spicy chicken, bacon, avocado, onion, tomato, cheese and GUACAMOLE!

When I make guacamole for pizza, I like to keep it simple: mashed avocados, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Another thing I found, was that any left over pieces can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag and frozen. When you want to use them, thaw at room temperature then heat slightly in the microwave. Most often pizza is frozen unbaked and needs assembly and baking. This pizza tasted just as good as when it was freshly baked!

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Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Chicken Marinade
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Guacamole
  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro. Blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use. You will have extra for something else.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until fairly crisp, drain on paper towels & chop coarsely. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Add marinated chicken, stir-fry until cooked then remove to a dish. Add peppers & onion to skillet; sauteing until tender crisp.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  2. Using some grated cheese, make a ring around the outer edge of the dough. Roll dough once over cheese ring. Carefully spread the 1/2 cup of guacamole over the bottom of pizza, then sprinkle with a bit more cheese. Layer with avocado slices, onion, bacon, chicken, tomato & remaining cheese. If you prefer, brush to top of the outside ring with egg wash.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, Remove from oven & slice.
Recipe Notes
  • You may choose to prepare your marinated chicken & guacamole before you start making the dough.

Saskatoon Berry Tarts

Saskatoon berries are very high on my list of nostalgic memories from my childhood. How these little berries can evoke such a flood of treasured thoughts is amazing. Our family farm was located in Southern Alberta, (Canada). If you were to stand on our farmhouse, west veranda, the sight of the ‘foothills’ came into view (foothills are an upland area that flank the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains).

How wonderful it was to be able to pack a picnic lunch on a Sunday afternoon and be able to drive there. It was like a whole different world. A landscape of long ridges and rolling hills covered in native lodgepole pine, aspens and spruce trees. The small streams wound their way through meadows of dwarf birch, willow and prairie grasses. You could easily come across some of the beautiful wildlife such as elk, moose or deer that lived there.

This is where our family would go to pick saskatoon berries. Very often we were accompanied by family friends or relatives. It was such a great time, everyone picking berries together, eating Mom’s fabulous fried chicken and potato salad (etc. etc.) for our picnic lunch. I was looking at some pictures from those times. We must have had some hot dogs on one occasion and I burnt my mouth it seems. What priceless memories!

With ‘saskatoon season’ in full swing, Brion and I thought it would be great to pick our own this year. It certainly can’t get any fresher than that. We chose the U-Pick farm called GROVE BERRY PATCH. This is a family owned and operated farm with 20 acres of saskatoon berries and 1 acre of raspberries, black currants, highbush cranberries and vegetables. They are located 1.5 km south off Highway 16A on Spruce Valley Road, Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada.

It was such a nice little adventure. The morning was beautiful and the atmosphere of the berry farm and its family owners was very enjoyable. We picked a pail full of gorgeous saskatoons in a short space of time. I had originally started out with thinking I would post one recipe but of course, its turns out to be three. They consist of some Saskatoon Rhubarb Tarts, Saskatoon Butter Tarts and some Saskatoon Cream Cheese Tarts. Yum!

We are adding a few pics, not only of the tarts but some from the berry farm as well as a couple from my childhood days. Hope you enjoy the blog.

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Saskatoon Berry Tarts
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Course dessert
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Pastry
Filling for SASKATOON RHUBARB TARTS
Filling for SASKATOON BUTTER TARTS
Filling for CREAM CHEESE SASKATOON TARTS
Course dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Pastry
Filling for SASKATOON RHUBARB TARTS
Filling for SASKATOON BUTTER TARTS
Filling for CREAM CHEESE SASKATOON TARTS
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder & salt until completely combined. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork.
  2. Measure the vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, then add enough ice cold water to make 1/2 cup. Pour over flour mixture, gently stir with a fork ONLY until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap & place in refrigerator for a minimum of an hour so it can chill well. When ready to use, Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using a 3 1/2" cookie cutter, cut out tart shells & place them in tart pans.
Saskatoon Rhubarb Filling & Streusel
  1. In a small saucepan, combine saskatoons, diced rhubarb, sugar & cardamom. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine water, lemon juice & cornstarch. Whisk together to make a slurry. Add to to saucepan & cook on medium heat, stirring until mixture becomes thickened. Remove from heat; add vanilla & allow to cool before using.
  2. FOR STREUSAL: Place all streusal ingredients in a small dish & combine with finger tips until crumbly. Spoon berry filling into tart shells & top with streusal. Bake at 375 F. until pastry is golden.
Saskatoon Butter Tart Filling
  1. FOR BERRY TOPPING: In a small saucepan, mix together berries & water; simmer for 10 minutes over low-medium heat. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar & cornstarch then add to the berries & combine. Stir in lemon juice; simmer until mixture slightly thickens. Set aside to cool.
  2. FOR BUTTER TART LAYER: First beat together eggs. In a saucepan, melt the butter then add sugar, vanilla, cream, raisins & beaten eggs. Bring to a boil over medium heat & boil for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. TO ASSEMBLE: Place a heaping Tbsp of butter tart mixture into each shell, then fill remainder of the tart shell with the berry topping mixture. DO NOT MIX. Bake at 375 F. for 15-18 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool before removing from tart pans.
Cream Cheese Saskatoon Tart Filling
  1. FOR BERRY TOPPING: Crush 1 cup of saskatoon berries & place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Simmer about 2 minutes. Strain & return berry juice only to saucepan. Combine sugar & cornstarch; add to sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick & clear. Remove from heat & stir in remaining 2 cups of saskatoons to glaze & stir gently. Pre-bake tart shells.
  2. FOR CREAM CHEESE LAYER: In a small bowl, blend together cream cheese, lemon zest, sugar & heavy cream. Divide cream cheese mixture between baked tart shells. Top with generous portions of berry topping & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • The pastry recipe will yield about 48 mini tarts. I had doubled the pastry recipe because I wanted to make all 3 kinds. It's so nice to have some in the freezer for future use.
  • If you make the pastry in 2 separate batches it seems to be nicer for some reason.
  • If you happen to have any filling left over, it freezes well for another time.

 

German Pancake Bites

If you have never eaten a German pancake, think of it as a cross between a souffle and an omelette with undertones of French toast. Often called a Dutch baby pancake and not unlike a sweet Yorkshire pudding. ‘Eggier than your typical pancake, but sweeter and lighter than an omelette, with more pastry-like characteristics. The sides of the pancake rise high above the edges of the pan, creating a light, puffy crust with a tender, custard-like middle.

Story has it that the name ‘Dutch Baby’ was coined when a restaurant owner’s daughter (in the USA) could not pronounce ‘Deutsch’, the German word for German, and out of her mouth came ‘Dutch’. Originally served as three small German pancakes with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice, the Dutch Baby, moniker was born.

These German pancake ‘bites’ are kind of a fun spin on the classic Dutch baby pancakes. The fresh apricot/raspberry sauce along with the Greek yogurt filling, bananas and chocolate makes them such a decadent addition to brunch.

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German Pancake Bites
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Pancake Batter
Greek Yogurt Filling
Apricot/Raspberry Sauce
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Ingredients
Pancake Batter
Greek Yogurt Filling
Apricot/Raspberry Sauce
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Instructions
Apricot/Raspberry Sauce
  1. In a food processor, place pitted apricots, lemon juice & sugar; pulse several times until the apricots are COARSELY chopped. Transfer mixture to a saucepan. Lightly boil over medium heat, uncovered for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add more sugar to taste depending on how sweet your apricots were. Add raspberries & simmer 1-2 minutes or until raspberries are heated through & softened. Set aside until ready to use.
Greek Yogurt Filling
  1. In a bowl, cream together cream cheese & sugar with a hand mixer. Add Greek yogurt & beat on medium-high until smooth & creamy. Set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate if not using right away.
Pancake Bites
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl, using a hand mixer, blend eggs, milk, vanilla, flour & salt until well mixed. Pour a small amount of the melted butter in 8 MINI loaf pans. Pour 1/3 cup of the mixture into each of the individual spaces.
  2. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven & invert on a cooling rack. Place 'bites' on a serving plate. Divide yogurt filling, placing some in the bottom of each individual pancake. Top each with some apricot/raspberry sauce & some banana slices. Drizzle with chocolate & sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Baked Seafood Stuffed Avocados

Very often when you browse through ideas for preparing avocados the comment is made that they should never be cooked. Avocados are most often eaten raw, chopped up in a salad, spread on toast or made into guacamole. This is usually because they can very quickly become bitter once heated. However, if cooked just right, they are delicious.

Roasting avocados is more of an art than a science. If you choose to roast slices, adding some oil, garlic or chili powder with a little salt and pepper helps to draw out the natural flavor. If you want to slice them in half and remove the seed, you can add any number of fillings. Just bake and enjoy, knowing that the flesh just next to the skin, is the most nutritious part of the fruit.

These crab and shrimp filled avocados make an extraordinary Sunday or special occasion brunch entree. If you like avocados and seafood, this one’s for you!

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Baked Seafood Stuffed Avocados
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice & pit avocados. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients; mix well.
  2. Spoon the mixture equally on top of each avocado half. Place in a glass 9 X 13-inch baking dish or 4 individual servings dishes. Make sure your avocados will not tip over during baking time. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked. Serve immediately.

Blackberry Scones with Chambord Glaze

Blackberries seem to be my thing this summer. Its funny how every season, something peaks your interest and you want to use it in everything. Since blackberries are pretty tart and quite expensive most of the time, their not always top priority but—.

I happened to come across this scone recipe the other day. It uses self-rising flour, a staple I don’t always have on hand. The recipe seemed interesting in the way that it used buttermilk and lemon zest and not a lot of sugar with these tart berries. Mind you, they do have a bit of glaze on them.

If your not familiar with self-rising flour, it is a mixture made up of regular flour, baking powder and salt. The leavening power of the baking powder is mixed evenly throughout the flour, so you will automatically get that nice rise out of your baked goods every time.

Self-rising flour was invented in England in the 1800’s as a way for sailors to create better baked goods while on board. The idea was patented in the USA around 1849, which eventually led to the creation of mass-market baking mixes such as Bisquick, cake mixes, etc. Self-rising flour should only be used for its specific purpose as it will not work well with breads that are yeasty.

You can make your own by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp fine salt. Keep in mind that most store-bought self-rising flours will contain a ‘softer’ or lower protein content flour than your typical all-purpose flour. This means that your end result, should you use regular all-purpose flour, will be slightly less tender (but still good).

Because of the baking powder, self-rising flour has a shorter shelf life than other flours. For that reason, it is always sold packaged in small quantities.

All that being said, these scones are amazingly tender. The glaze was truly ‘the icing on the cake’. They are sooo-– good!

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Blackberry Scones with Chambord Glaze
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Servings
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Instructions
Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and lemon zest. With fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg & vanilla; add to flour mixture. Fold in just until incorporated then carefully fold in blackberries. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Score into 8 wedges. Bake 20 minutes or until golden & test done. Cover lightly with foil if over browning before baked. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Cool before glazing.
Glaze
  1. In a small dish, combine glaze ingredients & drizzle over cooled scones.

Blackberry & Blueberry Rustic Tart

Nothing says summer like fresh fruit and if blackberries aren’t in the mix, you’re missing out. Blackberries have a sweet, tart flavor making them perfect for salads, smoothies, blended into savory sauces, eaten fresh or in desserts.

Blackberries are closely related to raspberries but should not be confused with the black raspberry. Although native to Europe, we can grow them here in Canada. They will thrive in a wide range of soils but good drainage and direct sunlight are a must. Blackberries are the largest of the wild berries, growing on thorny bushes called brambles.

Because blackberries and blueberries make such an amazing combo, using them in this tart seems very fitting. My favorite alternative cornmeal pastry makes a buttery yet slightly crunchy crust. Since it stays so soft, I found it easier to press this pastry into the tart pan as opposed to rolling it out. I added a border after I filled the shell to give it a more rustic look. What more could you want — eye appeal and a fabulous flavor!

I should mention, I’m going to post some balsamic glazed fig & pork kebabs next time. Save a couple of pieces of this tart as they are a perfect ending to that meal.

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Blackberry & Blueberry Rustic Tart
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Cornmeal pastry
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Cornmeal pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. With fingertips, cut in butter until mixture resembles small peas. In a measuring up, combine ICE water & sour cream. Add to dry mixture. Mix only until combined, do not over mix. Press into your favorite choice of pan ( tart, quiche or pie pans are all good). Place in fridge or freezer until ready to fill.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, combine berries, sugar, flour & lemon juice; spoon into pastry shell. Brush edges with beaten egg & sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  2. Bake 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden & filling is bubbly. If your pan has a removable bottom, it makes it a lot easier for serving. Cool slightly & serve with whip cream (or ice cream) if you choose.