Raspberry Almond Summer Rice Pudding

From what I have read, today August 9th, is  national rice pudding day  in the USA. I’m not sure how these holidays are figured out but who needs a special date to have rice pudding?!  In Canada & the USA, most rice pudding recipes were brought by European immigrants. The basic version contained long grain rice, milk, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.

This food traces its roots to the grain pottage’s made by Middle Eastern cooks. Almost every region of the world has its own take on rice pudding. Some versions are sweet, while others are savory and some are thick while others are thin.

Summer rice puddings put a fresh twist on an this old classic comfort food. There is so much fresh summer fruit to choose from and combinations of flavors just waiting to be explored.

I remember my mother’s rice pudding with fondness. I wasn’t big on raisins at the time and always thought it would be perfect if they would be omitted, but it was still wonderful.

Today’s showy little dessert makes use of the season’s nice fresh raspberries. 

Raspberry Almond Summer Rice Pudding
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Raspberry Almond Summer Rice Pudding
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine rice, sugar, milk & butter; bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 30-35 minutes until rice is cooked. While rice is cooking toast almonds in a skillet.
  2. When rice is cooked, allow to cool THEN add almonds & extract, lifting as you stir. Divide rice between dessert cups & refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Make raspberry jell-o according to package instructions. Once the jell-o is made allow to cool until slightly set. Top each dessert cup with 1/6 of the jello & refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until jell-o has set.
  4. Decorate desserts with fresh raspberries, crushed amaretti biscuits, sliced almonds & a sprig of mint if desired.
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Roasted Strawberry & Hazelnut Pastries

Definitely, roasted fruit is one of my favorite summer desserts. It becomes so intense when its been sizzling and caramelizing at a high temperature. Roasted strawberries are one fruit that can take any dish to the next level. Along with the fact that it will stain even the palest berries to a ruby red, the subtle use of aromatic ingredients like lemon, vanilla or rose water can breathe new life into your bland unripe berries. Another added bonus is that the seeds add a little crunch to the tender, supple structure of a roasted strawberry.

I wanted to make something quick and easy for dessert today. I just happened to have some strawberries on hand why not roast them. A while back I saw an idea on youtube.com with strawberries and of all things, the famous chocolate hazelnut spread, ‘Nutella’. I have to be honest, I have maybe only tasted it once or twice but what the heck! Of course, you guessed it, I would first want to read up on its history. You maybe know all this but—–   It seems it all started with the same Italian family that gave us the glorious ‘Ferrero Rocher’ chocolates. Nutella was invented during WWII when the war had created a chocolate shortage.

In 1925, Italian chocolatier, Pietro Ferrero, perfected the so-called ‘pastone’ (pastry mesh) of chocolate and hazelnuts. The Piedmont region of Italy, which his family called home, is famed for its delicious and abundant hazelnuts. In 1946, he created pasta giandja (or giandujot) which was made in a small hard loaf or bar, wrapped in aluminum foil and could be sold at a cheaper price. This chocolate could be cut into slices to eat on bread which formed a big part of the diet at the time. In 1949, a spreadable version called supercrema gianduja was intoduced, which was later renamed ‘Nutella’ in 1964. The name gave the product international appeal. It said ‘nuts’ and it also said Italy — ‘ella’ being a common affectionate ending in Italian such as in mozzarella cheese, tagliatella (a form of pasta) or caramella (a sweet).

Fifty years on, the company is the number one user of hazelnuts worldwide. Interesting!    OK, now on with the pastries. 

Roasted Strawberry & Hazelnut Pastries
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Roasted Strawberry & Hazelnut Pastries
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
Roasted Strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice off blossoms; leave small & medium berries whole, cutting largest ones in half. In a glass baking dish, toss with sugar, salt & lemon juice.
  2. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 30-40 minutes, long enough for the berry juices to thicken but not burn. Remove from oven; add vanilla & rose water. Set aside until ready to use.
Pastries
  1. On parchment paper, lay out sheet of puff pastry. At one end of the pastry, spread hazelnut cream& top with cooled roasted strawberry 'jam'. Below the chocolate/strawberry mixture make 5 slices so you end up with six strips. Starting at top where the filling is, roll up pastry & join the two ends together to make a wreath.
  2. Adjust oven to 400 F. Brush with egg wash , sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Lift wreath ON the parchment paper to baking sheet & bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
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Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler

As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.

While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh  Pineapple Cobbler  is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!

Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Batter
Fruit & Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
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Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins

As usual, I can’t get enough of using rhubarb throughout its growing season. This year we started three new plants as our older ones are producing less and less. I think they are probably just becoming to shaded so we put the new ones in a great little spot on the south side of the garage.

Rhubarb’s awkward positioning between fruit and vegetable, sweet and tart, is a topic that’s constantly debated. It resembles sticks of celery dressed in their best pink Sunday attire, blushing from the first few washes of early sun peaking through its dense foliage after winter hibernation underground.

Pie remains the most common use for rhubarb, so much that older cookbooks called it the ‘pie plant’. While it generally is treated as a fruit, it has also been used as a savory ingredient, frequently paired with meats, cheese, stuffings, sauces and much more.

This is one of my favorite ‘sweet’ recipes from quite a few years ago. It has it all — rhubarb, cream cheese & streusal!

Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Stewed Rhubarb
Batter
Cream Cheese Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Stewed Rhubarb
  1. In a small saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & lemon slice. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat & simmer about 10-12 minutes or until thickened & reduced to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.
Batter
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. with a pastry blender, cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. In a small dish, measure 1 cup of the flour mixture & add walnuts & cinnamon. Set aside. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla & beaten egg.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups. Stir SOUR CREAM mixture into FLOUR/BAKING POWDER mixture until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread this batter evenly over bottom & up the sides of each paper cup. Place a spoonful of FILLING MIXTURE in center of each, then top with WALNUT MIXTURE & bake 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll

The pairing of chocolate and strawberries is hands down one of the best combos in dessert history. Both have long and rich histories. Strawberries were found growing wild in Italy centuries ago. The name itself has some myth around it stemming from the idea people put ‘straw’ around the base of the plant for both nutrients and protection.

Chocolate was enjoyed by Aztec and Mayan civilizations as a beverage and even used cocoa beans as a currency. As cocoa spread around the world, different ideas for its use emerged. Candy makers added milk & sugar or nuts and caramel to their chocolate confections.

In the 1960’s, Lorraine Lorusso created a decadent chocolate covered strawberry. As the story goes, she worked at a small gourmet shop called the Stop N’ Shop in Chicago, USA. She took a tempered version of the gourmet chocolate that was sold in the store and dipped some fresh strawberries into the mixture. She allowed the chocolate to harden and served these strawberries to their paying customers. The treat was an instant success.

I’ve done my own pairing of strawberries and chocolate in this cake roll with a cream cheese filling. Hope you get a chance to enjoy one through the summer as well.

Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll
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Servings
10-12 slices
Servings
10-12 slices
Strawberry Cream Chocolate Roll
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Servings
10-12 slices
Servings
10-12 slices
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whip egg whites until foamy, gradually adding HALF of the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. In a third large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick. Add remaining sugar, vanilla & water; beat until very thick. Gradually fold in flour mixture then egg whites.
  3. Spread batter evenly into jelly roll pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. Loosen edges & immediately turn cake onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar & remove parchment paper. Starting with narrower end, roll up cake in towel; cool completely.
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar & lime juice. Fold in diced, fresh strawberries.
Assembly
  1. Unroll cooled cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling; roll up loosely to accommodate filling. Cover & refrigerate until ready to slice & serve.
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Kumquat Ginger Cakes

The caramelized, citrus kumquat flavor puts a unique twist on the traditional upside down cake. This is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy to place the fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan with a simple cake batter on top and place it over the fire to ‘bake’. The fruit stays juicy and caramelized when cooked being protected by the sponge of the cake.

Probably, this is where the idea for the classic ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’  from the 1920’s stems from. I had some extra kumquats I needed to use so they were perfect in these little desserts. Of course, any fruit of choice will work I’m sure.

Kumquat Ginger Cakes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Kumquat Ginger Cakes
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Caramelized Kumquats
Cake
Servings:
Instructions
Caramelized Kumquats
  1. In a saucepan, combine water & sugar & heat until sugar dissolves. Leave a few kumquats whole for garnish & slice the rest. Add all of the kumquats to the pan & bring to a gentle simmer. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes until they are tender; drain & return the syrup to the pan. Bring syrup to a boil until it thickens slightly; remove from heat. Reserve whole kumquats; dividing the slices between 4 custard cups.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over kumquats in custard cups. Place cups on a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cakes have risen & are firm to the touch in center. Remove from oven & allow them to cool in cups for a few minutes. Carefully turn them out on to serving plates, garnish with whole kumquats & drizzle with warm syrup.
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Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts

Rhubarb is one of those flavors that signals the coming of spring. A staple crop for every Canadian homesteader, in the 1800’s, as it thrives specifically in cool climates. The focus was initially on function, not flavor and was used as a medicine due to it’s perceived benefits for the digestive system. The tartness adds kick to it’s character causing it to be adored and despised with equal vigor.

Rhubarb ‘fool’ is a traditional English dessert that was popular throughout the 19th century on both sides of the Atlantic. It generally consists of a pureed fruit folded gently into a light, custard. Today’s recipe is a take on that idea using custard, pureed rhubarb and some mini donuts for ‘dunking’.

Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Ingredients
Donuts
Rhubarb Sauce
Custard
Servings:
Instructions
Donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil & lemon juice. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar & baking powder. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until combined in a smooth batter.
  2. Brush mini donut pan with butter. Fill each cup about 1/2 full; bake for about 4-5 minutes or until they test done. Place some sugar in a shallow dish. Remove baked donuts from oven; while still warm coat with sugar. Set aside.
Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Cut rhubarb into small pieces. In a saucepan, add rhubarb, sugar & water; bring to a boil & simmer, covered, gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid & stir, then remove from heat when it reaches a jam consistency.
Custard
  1. In a saucepan, bring milk & vanilla to a boil. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch together. Add the hot milk to egg mixture slowly whisking as you do so. Return the mixture to the saucepan & bring slowly to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened.
To Serve
  1. Divide custard between 4 custard dishes; place a spoonful of sauce on top. Serve the mini donuts on the side, ready to be 'dunked'.
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Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops

Spring is definitely in the air, so bring on those fresh spring flavors. One that comes to my mind is lemon — zesty and full of some spring ‘zing’. My first thought is to pair lemon with some wild blueberries. I realize we are a long way from blueberry harvest time but the good news is that WILD blueberries are as good frozen as they are fresh. None of the nutritional values or antioxidant goodness is lost by freezing.

Canada is the world’s largest producer of ‘low-bush’ blueberries, which is another name for the wild blueberries native to eastern North America. They grow best on treeless land or on land that has been burned over. Growers do not plant them but instead manage wild stands that spread naturally by means of underground runners. The berries are often not uniform in appearance since managed fields can have several distinct runner systems.

The wild blueberries have a sweeter, tangier more intense flavor than their cultivated cousins. Harvest time comes in late August to early September, generally only lasting a few weeks.

This simple little dessert lets us get into the summer blueberry ‘season’ a little earlier and still has all the flavor.

Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops
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Servings
20-24
Servings
20-24
Wild Blueberry Lemon Drops
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Servings
20-24
Servings
20-24
Ingredients
Pastry
Streusal
Servings:
Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well then stir in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture; blend well. Line the muffin pan size of your choice with paper cups. Divide dough into balls, placing one into each cup. With your fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Refrigerate until filling & streusal are made.
Streusal
  1. In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. FOLD in blueberries. Divide filling evenly between pastry shells. Top with streusal & a spoon full of lemon curd. Bake about 25 minutes, (filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven. If you prefer, add a bit more lemon curd. Once tarts are cool, remove from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.
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Sour Cherry Cheesecake Galette

About five years ago, Brion and I planted a ‘Cupid’ cherry tree in our back yard. I don’t know if you have ever heard about these ‘prairie’ cherry trees. They were developed here in Canada at the University of Saskatchewan for colder climates. A sour cherry was cross pollinated with a Mongolian cherry. This resulted in a variety of very hardy, smaller trees with a tart-sweet cherry about the size of the well-known ‘Bing’ variety. A group of five cherry trees were developed and became known as the ‘Romance’ series.

We chose this particular one because it is an early bloomer with large, dark red cherries that are both sweet and slightly astringent. The fruit matures in late August -early September with about a three week harvest period. The tree size is perfect as it matures to around eight feet tall. In the fall it’s glossy green leaves turn a beautiful yellow-orange. Last year we harvested over five pounds of cherries. Not a bad yield for a young tree.

I was going through the freezer the other day and noticed I still have some cherries left from last year. A Sour Cherry Cheesecake Galette seems like the perfect way to use them.

Sour Cherry Cheesecake Galette
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Sour Cherry Cheesecake Galette
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Instructions
Pastry
  1. 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 cold water, 1 tsp at a time. Do not overwork dough.
  2. 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. Thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, egg yolk, 2 Tbsp sugar & vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. In another bowl, toss cherries with cornstarch & remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.
Assembly
  1. Remove pastry from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Spoon the cherries over cream cheese, leaving any excess juice in bowl. Gently fold pastry over cherries, pleating to hold it in. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar.
  2. Bake 35-45 minutes until filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes on a wire rack before serving.
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Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Many people believe Mother’s Day was developed as a commercial holiday to sell cards, candy and flowers or to celebrate the domestic role of women in the home and family. Really, this day is more about women’s commitment to the past, present and the future. Most often, mother’s take the lead in passing down family stories, life lessons and traditions.

Mother’s Day isn’t a new holiday with some of its earliest celebrations being traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.

Although my mother is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on forever. It is also with love, Brion and I celebrate his mother, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways.

I was trying to come up with something special to bake for the blog recipe today. Lately I have enjoyed using rose & orange water in my cooking. Sweet and fragrant rose water is an elegant steam distillate of rose petals. The key is to use it sparingly as a little goes a long way. Used raw, the flavor is very floral and aromatic. When baked or roasted, that flowery essence mellows out, imparting notes similar to vanilla, with a fruity, more subtle aroma. There are a variety of ways to use rose water from cake and cookies to cocktails and even in roast chicken.

This flavor combination definitely takes the meaning of ‘special’ to a whole new level. Just what I was looking for. 

                                        

 

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes
Rosewater Buttercream Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line muffin tin with paper liners & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour baking powder, soda, cardamom & salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together softened butter, oil & sugar; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. Slowly add sour cream & vanilla. Fold in flour mixture being careful not to over mix batter.
  3. Divide batter between the muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven & place the individual muffins on a cooling rack.
Frosting
  1. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter & 1 Tbsp milk. With an electric mixer, beat on low until sugar is incorporated then move to medium-high speed. Add rosewater a 1/4 tsp at a time (taste to prevent it becoming to strong for your liking) then food color. If the icing is not the proper consistency add another Tbsp of milk.
  2. When the cupcakes are cool, frost each one using a large angled star tip. Top off each cupcake with a sprinkle of the reserved chopped pistachios.
Recipe Notes
  • To make your cupcakes real special, decorate with some dried rosebuds.
  • I was able to find rosewater easily in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
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