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.
Blackberry & Blueberry Rustic Tart
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.
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.
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.
Quiche always sounds fancy or ‘gourmet-ish’ but the truth is, its one of the easiest meals to prepare. The same filling can be used in any size quiche recipe. Once you have a good basic format the possibilities are endless.
Start with the pan size — for a large quiche, use a 9-10-inch pie pan. For individuals, use muffin tins and for mini appetizers, use mini muffin tins.
EGGS: – A ratio of one large egg per half cup of dairy is a good rule to create a fluffy filling. DAIRY: – Heavy cream or a blend of half & half plus cream produces a rich but calorie laden filling. One or two percent milk works just as well but needs a bit longer to set. Using a mixer or a whisk to whip egg mixture until frothy results in a stable filling with a lighter texture. ADD-INS: – Vegetables, greens and meat need to be pre-cooked before adding to egg mixture to prevent the filling from becoming runny. Tomatoes and herbs are the exception. BLIND BAKING CRUST: – This is entirely personal preference. Pre-baking your crust a bit helps to prevent filling from leaking through. I have found that putting the cheese in the crust first, add-ins second and filling last will do the same thing. A blind baked crust will always be crispier if that’s what you want to achieve. OVEN POSITION: – For a large quiche use the bottom rack. For individual or mini quiche use middle rack.
In my quiche today, I started with my favorite, simple cornmeal crust. You can either roast your own potatoes and green beans or purchase a package of the Green Giant steamers version. Use your own sausage choice. As you have probably noticed, I love the red pepper/ Asiago sausage made in-store at Save-On foods. Quiche of whatever kind, is always in my regular meal rotation.
Roasted Potato with Red Pepper/Asiago Sausage Quiche
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed. If not add additional ice water, 1 tsp at a time. Do NOT over work the pastry.
I am using an 8-inch deep dish pan for my quiche. Cut out a circle of parchment about 12-inches in diameter. Roll or pat pastry evenly over paper leaving 1/2-inch border. Lift paper with pastry into pan carefully helping it to conform to the pan shape. Place in refrigerator until filling is prepared.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse & pare baby potatoes & green beans (cut in to bite size pieces). Place in a plastic bag with some oil & shake well. On a foil lined baking pan, spread veggies out, season with dried rosemary, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Roast until tender. Remove from oven & cool slightly. If using frozen, cook as directed on bag for minimum time. Pour into a dish & cut up large pieces of potatoes. Adjust oven to 350 F. for quiche.
In a skillet, crumble sausage; add mushrooms. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked; drain. Add sausage/mushroom mixture to roast veggies; stir to combine.
In a pitcher, whisk together eggs, cream & pepper until blended. Remove pastry from refrigerator; sprinkle cheese over bottom. Spoon filling mixture over cheese then carefully pour egg/cream combo over all.
Bake 35 minutes or until eggs are set in center. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. If you like, sprinkle with some fresh parsley.
- The extra border you left on the parchment when patting out the pastry will make it easy to lift the quiche out of the pan when cooled. I find you can make nice clean cuts that way.
Perogies are of virtually untraceable Central or Eastern European origin although speculation has it the recipe could have been brought from the Far East.
Thinking beyond potatoes and cheddar — who knew that perogies could be filled with fruit?! Although the most traditional fruit filling is plum, many fruits will work. Summer perogies are often filled with apricots, sweet or sour cherries and apples. At Christmas, sweet poppy seed filling is a popular choice. This simple food turns into a wonderful dessert when served with orange sauce, lemon curd, a basic chocolate ganache or even a raspberry or strawberry coulis.
I realize we are not quite into summer yet but blueberries are great anytime. What makes berries so attractive as a filling is their size and texture. Perogies need only a short time to cook – a few minutes each in water than in the frying pan so the berries will break down sufficiently in this amount of time.
While savory perogies are often fried, baked or even deep fried after being boiled, most fruit perogies are served without frying, lending a delicate texture to the more delicate flavor of the fruit.
Since I wanted to serve these blueberry perogies as a compliment to our roasted bratwurst and veggies, we preferred them slightly fried and topped with a sweet/savory balsamic blueberry sauce. It made a great combo!
Balsamic Wild Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry Filling for Perogies
In a small saucepan over low heat, place blueberries, garlic & honey; stir until mixture begins to boil & thicken. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Bring sauce to a boil & allow to reduce slightly to become the consistency of honey. Set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve.
Wash & dry blueberries; set aside. In a small dish, combine cornstarch & sugar; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour & salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, sour cream & oil until well mixed. Add liquid ingredients to dry mixture & gently combine. Before the dough is completely mixed, transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough 7 or 8 times to form a soft ball. Do NOT over-work dough.
Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3 1/2-inch cutter, cut circles out of the dough or if you prefer to just cut same size pieces from dough ball. Stretch each to a 'perogy' size. Place about 1 tablespoon of berries on each round of dough. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar/cornstarch mixture over berries. Moisten the edge of each dough circle with a little water & fold the dough over filling. Pinch the edges firmly to create a tight seal.
Place perogies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper while preparing them. Keep covered with a slightly moist towel until ready to cook.
Fill a large pot with about 8 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt (+ 1 tsp oil if you wish), cover & bring to a boil. Cook perogies in batches. Stir gently until perogies float, cook about 2-3 minutes. Do not over cook or dough will be tough.
Serve perogies with warm balsamic wild blueberry sauce.
Today, March 28th, is my mother’s birth date. As we honor her beautiful memory, I’m sure each of my siblings will reflect on special times we shared with her. Forty-one years after her passing, I’m still doing many things in her likeness. Baking was a shared passion for my mother and I. We liked nothing better than to bake something together. After I moved from ‘home’ and would return for a visit, instead of having a coffee and visit we would get busy and bake something while we talked. Such great memories!
In honor of her fabulous kitchen skills, I decided to make some Guava Cream Rolls. If I have a little extra time when I grocery shop, I like to scan the import isles to see if there is something unique I can use in my baking. One of the items that caught my attention was guava paste. Also known as ‘guayabate’ or ‘goiabada’, guava paste is a very thick puree of the guava fruit cooked with sugar and often with added pectin.
Guava is very popular in Cuba, the Caribbean and Spain. This thick paste has a sweet, floral taste like a combination of pear and strawberry. It is often paired with cheese as an appetizer or in the filling of baked goods as well as in savory dishes.
For these rolls, I used a combination of sweet guava paste with savory cream cheese which gave this dessert a very distinct and tropical flavor.
Guava Cream Rolls
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast & 1 tsp sugar in lukewarm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture, stirring to combine.
In another bowl, combine flour & salt. Add flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, combining with wet mixture. Once all flour has been added, knead dough for about 2 minutes until smooth & elastic consistency, Place dough in a greased bowl & cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about an hour. While the dough is rising, beat together guava paste & softened cream cheese to make filling. Line a 10-inch spring form pan with parchment paper; set aside.
Punch the risen dough down & transfer to a floured surface then divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Divide each of them again into 4 parts, so to have 8 pieces of dough altogether.
Roll each piece of dough out into a roughly rectangular shape with a thickness of 1/4-inch. Spread guava/cream cheese over each piece. Place one piece of rectangular dough over another one & start to roll a cylinder. Do the same with the rest of the dough; you will end up with 4 cylinder rolls altogether.
Cut each roll into three pieces. Slice both ends of the roll ( about 1 1/2-inch long piece from each end) & put these 2 pieces aside. Cut the middle part of each roll into 4 triangles. In the middle of spring form pan, arrange the cut ends of the rolls around each other to form a circle, placing the cut sides down. Arrange the cut triangles to completely surround the middle circle.
Cover pan with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg with water to make egg wash & carefully brush the top of rolls when they have risen enough. Bake rolls for 30-40 minutes or until baked & golden in color. Remove from oven & brush immediately with melted butter. Remove spring form pan & cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Today, March 5th, is officially known as Shrove Tuesday. This date varies from year to year and falls somewhere between Feb. 3rd and March 9th. This traditional ‘feast’ day marks the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. The expression Shrove Tuesday, derives from the word shrive, meaning absolve. This day was observed by many Christians who wanted to make a point of self-examination to consider what wrongs they needed to repent.
Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and making pancakes was the perfect way of doing that. The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolize four points of significance at this time of year.
EGGS –creation, FLOUR–the staff of life, SALT–wholesomeness, MILK–purity
I’ve noticed this idea of the Sheet Pan Pancakes on the internet. It seems like our basic sheet pan has graduated from just baking cookies to whole meals and now pancakes. Sure looks like a good idea to me. Make up one big batter, put it on a baking sheet, top it with 3 or 4 add-ons, bake, cut into squares and serve. Seriously! Does it get any easier than that — no flipping required.
Sheet Pan Pancakes
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, sour cream, melted butter & vanilla.
Add flour mixture to liquid mixture & whisk together until no lumps remain. Refrigerate batter for 15 minutes before baking. You can even refrigerate overnight & bake the next morning if you prefer. During the 15 minute 'resting' time, prepare your choice of toppings for pancakes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 16 X 12-inch sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour batter onto prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth out the top. Imagine the batter in the pan divided into however many types of toppings your going to use. Top each section with your choices.
Place sheet pan in the oven. Bake, rotating it halfway through baking until golden brown, about 13-15 minutes. Test with a toothpick in center for doneness. Remove from oven, lift pancakes out of sheet pan with edges of parchment paper. Cut into 12 pieces & serve.
- For Raspberries & Cream Cheese Swirl - Whisk 75 gm softened cream cheese with 2-3 Tbsp milk & 3 Tbsp powdered sugar until completely smooth. Dot cream cheese mixture evenly over pancake batter, then use a knife or skewer to make a swirl pattern. Dot with 1 1/2 cups (150 gm) fresh raspberries.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Brion and I would like to share some more January holiday adventures while they are still fresh in our minds.
Merida, Mexico made a perfect home base for us to enjoy many interesting things. The cultural capital of the Yucatan peninsula, Merida is a city steeped in Colonial history. It has some of the region’s best museums, beautiful historic mansions and architecture as well as many Mayan ruins to make for some amazing day trips.
One tour we took was to the archaeological sites of Uxmal and Kabah. Uxmal (pronounced Ush-mal) covers around 150 acres. The central area is reasonably well preserved due to the high quality of the buildings which are constructed of well-cut stones set in concete. The most famous structure at Uxmal is the Temple of the Magician. This temple was rebuilt three times; this is where Uxmal got its name, which means ‘thrice built’. The structure towers above the surrounding jungle, crowned with intricately carved stonework.
The city of Uxmal was erected with its buildings at precise angles from and in relation to each other. Astronomical, geometrical and metaphysical calculations were carefully considered when the layout of the site was designed.
Unlike many other Mayan sites, no stone quarry has been found at Uxmal. Where the Maya quarried the stone and how it was moved to this site without the help of the wheel or animal strength is unknown. How such a large city could grow up in an area without springs, rivers or cenotes (sinkholes) to provide water is totally amazing. Uxmal residents were completely dependent upon cistern rain water collection systems. This explains their reverence to the Mayan rain god Chac.
The Kabah ruins are also very interesting in their own right. This city is connected to Uxmal by a Mayan ceremonial causeway called a ‘sacbe’. It’s most famous structure is the ‘Palace of the Masks’. The facade is decorated with hundreds of stone masks of the long-nosed rain god.
My recipe for today is originally meant for breakfast but Brion and I enjoyed it just as much for our evening meal.
Hope you enjoy my briefed info as well as some more of Brion’s great pictures.
Overnight Breakfast Enchiladas
Suggested Ingredients for Serving
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, garlic & all spices; cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.
Add chicken sausage & cook, stirring frequently, for another 5-6 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the sausage into small pieces. Once fully cooked, stir in 3/4 cup of cheese.
Spray a 13 X 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. On a work surface, lay out tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the sausage filling onto one side of the tortillas; roll each tightly. Place seam side down in the baking pan; sprinkle any extra sausage mixture on top.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs & half & half until completely combined. Pour over enchiladas & sprinkle with remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese. Cover with foil & refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove chilled enchiladas from fridge, bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil & bake for an additional 15 minutes OR until center is set (eggs should no longer be jiggly) & cheese is lightly browned. If you prefer, leave the casserole covered & bake longer, before removing foil. Serve with your choice of toppings.
Scones were originally made from oats and shaped into a large round called a ‘bannock’. Each round was scored into four to six triangles and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove.
A scone is not a cupcake. Making scones is like stirring together biscuits. A simple mixture of flour, salt, baking powder and/or soda, milk or sour cream, butter and sometimes eggs. Scones are the perfect blank canvas and can be flavored to taste and loaded with add-ons.
Many times, scones have been perceived as dry and boring. The classic scone is crusty on the outside and biscuit textured within. A cakey super moist texture should not be expected in a scone.
We found this dried fruit scone was excellent eaten slightly warm. The cardamom spice really enhanced the flavor of the papaya fruit in them. I used the flour/oatmeal combo, as I most often do because of the the nice texture and taste it gives. The glaze is optional as it kind of goes against the basics of a scone but what the heck!
Tropical Papaya Scones with Vanilla Glaze
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, pulse oatmeal for a few seconds then add next 5 ingredients & pulse a few more seconds. Add butter; whirl ONLY until mixture resembles coarse crumbs then place in a large bowl. Stir in chopped fruit.
In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk & vanilla. Add to dry mixture blending only until JUST incorporated. Scoop onto baking sheet & bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. With a small spoon, drizzle glaze over scones.
Crostata, Galette and Tart are three terms largely interchangeable when it comes to baking fruit or a savory filling into tender crust. Nevertheless, there are in fact reasons why three different words exist. Just for interest, here’s the ‘scoop’ on the subject.
Crostatas are a rustic looking, free-form pastry that consists of a rolled out piece of dough piled high with fruit and/or veggies. Baked on a flat sheet, the edges of the dough are folded in about an inch or so to create a crust. They are usually brushed with an egg wash before baking.
When it comes to galettes, the only difference from the crostata is linguistic. Crostata is an Italian term and gallette is French. Both refer to the same thing.
Now the tart is actually the European cousin of the pie. What defines a tart is the pan in which it is baked. It can be rectangular, square or circular and vary vastly in size and depth. In a tart pan the bottom is removable, so unlike pies, tarts are usually served unmolded, showing its elegant, fluted edges. Tart crusts are a bit more shortbread-like, as opposed to a flaky pie dough. Tarts can be savory or sweet as well.
Since we are into the fall season, it would seem appropriate to use some beets and apples. These little crostatas have such a great color due to the beets in them. I simply love the flavor of this combo with these spices, Brion not so much! Beets have never been on his ‘favorite’ list but —. The sour cream/cornmeal pastry adds a little ‘crunch’. Hope you have time to give this recipe a try.
Beet & Apple Crostata
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, I Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. When ready to use, thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Trim off top & bottom of beet. Chop apples & beet into 1/2-inch cubes. Place apples, beet, sugar, spices & salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 5 minutes. Add flour & simmer for 1 minute allowing the filling to thicken slightly. There should still be some liquid in the bottom of the pan but filling should not be watery. Cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove chilled pie dough from fridge & divide into 4 balls. On a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle. Spread 1/4 of the filling evenly over each circle, leaving a 1-inch border. Gently fold pastry over filling, pleating to form your crostatas. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar if you prefer.
Bake about 35 minutes until filling bubbles & crust is golden. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.