Raspberry Rhubarb Twists

If its possible, I’d like to sneak in another rhubarb recipe even if it is September. While we never grow tired of the classic pairing of strawberries and rhubarb, I love rhubarb too much to simply let it be a sidekick to those sweet berries. Rhubarb is capable of so much more, whether its used in sweet or savory applications (such as the rhubarb chutney I had featured in an earlier blog). This pretty, long, tart piece of produce is not a one-dimensional character …. it loves the spotlight!

Perhaps, not as famous as the combination above but every bit as delicious, are raspberries and rhubarb. While cinnamon may be a more common spice to pair with rhubarb, herbal cardamom lends a warm, citrusy note and is amazing in these twists.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Twists
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Instructions
Filling
  1. Place rhubarb, raspberries & sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer over a low heat. Simmer until mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat & set aside to cool.
Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast with lukewarm water or milk & 1 tsp sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, slightly melt butter; cool a couple of minutes then whisk in egg. In another bowl, combine flour, salt & remaining sugar. Add yeast mixture to butter mixture, whisking together. Add flour mixture, combine then turn on a floured work surface & knead for about 5 minutes. Dough will be very soft but not sticky.
  3. Lightly grease bowl, place dough ball in it & cover with a tea towel. Place in a draft-free place & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
  4. Lay a piece of parchment paper over the removable bottom of a 10-inch tart pan on your work surface. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface; divide into thirds.
  5. Place one portion on parchment paper & roll or press out dough the size of the bottom of tart pan (10-inches). Carefully spread the circle with half of the filling mixture. Roll out the second portion to the same size & transfer with your rolling pin to top the first portion. Carefully spread it with remaining filling.
  6. Roll out third portion of dough to the same size & place it on top of the other two layers. Pinch dough around outer edge to seal. Place a small glass in center. Cut from outside edge just to the glass, forming 12 wedges.
  7. Remove the glass. Twist each wedge 3-4 times. Tuck edge under. Place bottom of tart pan (with parchment paper & pastry) inside tart pan ring. Cover & allow to rise for about 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 F. If you prefer, lightly brush twists with a bit of egg wash before baking. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.
Glaze
  1. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm twists.

Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy

Tender, juicy roasted chicken leg quarters are easy to prepare and delicious. The leg quarter is made up of the thigh, drumstick and part of the back of the chicken. It’s named a quarter because it consists of about a quarter of the whole bird. The dark meat takes well to roasting and yields moist and flavorful chicken.

Asiago has long been a favorite cheese of Brion & I. It is a brilliant cheese to bake into bread for a cheesy treat or grate over soft pretzels before baking. It also works particularly well with chicken dishes.

Asiago is a whole milk cheese that originated in Northern Italy, around the Po River Valley where Italy borders Austria. Coming from the mountains, Asiago is similar to other mountain cheeses, such as Switzerland’s Gruyere or France’s Beaufort. Asiago is made in large wheels designed for long-term aging to get through tough winters. Dense and flavorful, Asiago’s flavor profile changes as time polishes the wheels over the course of several months or years. Taken from the milk of cows grazing on the grasses and wildflowers of the mountains, Asiago can have a fresh, fruity flavor or a savory, zesty taste on the palate.

This is a very simple recipe but has an amazing flavor and is well worth trying, especially if your an Asiago lover.

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Roasted Garlic Chicken w/ Asiago Gravy
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Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon, blot on paper towel & set aside. Add the seasoned chicken & brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Set aside.
  2. Add onion, mushrooms & garlic to saucepan; sauté until tender crisp & lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the thyme & flour; cook for a minute.
  4. Add the broth & deglaze the pan by scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a spoon while the broth is sizzling.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix asiago cheese into the sauce & season with salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Add the chicken, cover with a lid or foil & roast for 15 minutes. Alternately, you can turn heat down to a medium-low & simmer on top the stove for 15 minutes.
  7. Add crumbled bacon to sauce after roasting. Serve.

Everything Spice Chicken & Fries

CELEBRATING LABOR DAY!

Labor day week-end gives us an opportunity to enjoy family & friends before summer is officially over. Although, we have not officially reached the first day of fall (Sept. 22nd), this part of the year often begins with a tinge of melancholy. Even so, there are many ways to appreciate Canada’s most sentimental season.

Part of our country’s appeal is its four season’s: Winter, Spring, Summer & Fall. We are entering the season of the fall harvest and the leaves on the trees begin their transformation to stunning shades of orange, red and yellow.

Whatever your choice of relaxation is, you know good food will play a big part in the week-end events. For some reason, ‘Chicken & Fries’ just seems like a great meal for this occasion. Ever since I started using this seasoning blend, I want to put it on everything.

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried minced garlic & onion and sea salt. These five ingredients aren’t necessarily the heroes of the spice world, but together they are irresistible. Move over Colonel Sanders there’s a new spice for that chicken!!

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Everything Spice Chicken & Fries
Instructions
Chicken
  1. Slice chicken into 'fingers'. In a plastic bag, combine all seasonings & spices along with the shredded Parmesan cheese. Drizzle chicken with oil then place in seasoning 'bag' & coat heavily with the mixture.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place chicken fingers on it in a single layer. Set aside in refrigerator until fries are prepared.
Fries
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash & slice potatoes to desired size for the fries. Toss in a large bowl with oil & seasoning; coat well. Line a baking sheet with foil paper & spread fries out on it.
Baking
  1. Place prepared chicken fingers & potato fries in preheated oven. Bake the fries for 30 minutes then flip them over & bake for another 15-20 minutes or until they are crispy. Bake tray of chicken fingers until cooked through & golden brown.
Recipe Notes
  • Alternately, chicken can be cooked in oil in a skillet if you wish.

Leeks Cordon Bleu

As my love affair with leeks continues, I just can’t imagine what took me so long to try them. It’s amazing how many ways there are to use these giant ‘onions’.

The ‘cordon bleu’ idea has been around forever and generally it features a specific cut of meat stuffed with ham and cheese. In this recipe, the leeks are wrapped in Swiss cheese & Canadian bacon, then baked in a béchamel sauce and served over steamed rice.

Though ham and Canadian bacon look and taste remarkably similar, they’re not the same thing. Ham comes from the back legs, specifically the thighs and rear end, while Canadian bacon comes from the center of the pig’s back otherwise known as the eye of the pork loin.

There are a few names for Canadian bacon which include back bacon and pea meal bacon. During the early part of the last century, yellow peas were ground up and used to coat and cure pork loin. This became known as pea meal bacon. Once cornmeal became more readily available, it was swapped out for the pea meal.

Probably the bacon most people are familiar with is American bacon, which comes from the belly of the pig and tends to be much fattier …. hence the name ‘streaky bacon’.

I have to be honest, I’ve never been a bacon lover (which probably stems back to my Dad’s home cured version !!) but I did find this meal light and tasty.

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Leeks Cordon Bleu
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Instructions
  1. Remove roots, outer leaves & tops from leeks; leave 6-inches of each leek. Cut each in half crosswise. Steam, covered 8 minutes or until tender. Wrap each leek half in 1 piece of cheese & top with 4 pieces of Canadian bacon. Place leeks in an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  3. Place flour in a small saucepan; add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook 6 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat & season with salt & pepper. Pour sauce over leeks & sprinkle with panko crumbs.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Serve over steamed rice.

Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Spicy Raspberry Sauce

Scallops are beloved by pretty much everyone who can eat them …. they’re tender, sweet and taste ever so slightly of the sea. Being not only expensive and easy to overcook, scallops are often considered restaurant only fare.

Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.

Pan-seared scallops pair well with bright, tangy flavors that contrast their meaty sweetness or in creamy dishes that emphasize their richness.

One of my go-to ‘sauces’ that I’ve used on numerous occasions on the blog, contains hot red pepper jelly. I’ve added a raspberry preserve to the jelly for a new twist on the flavor this time. The parmesan risotto brings it all together, definitely making this meal a ‘keeper’.

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Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Spicy Raspberry Sauce
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Instructions
Risotto
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook & stir diced bacon until browned, about 5-10 minutes. Drain the bacon & reserve.
  2. In the skillet, melt the butter & sauté onion & garlic for about 4 minutes until soft & translucent. Add the rice & mix well until it is fully coated with the butter.
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth & lemon/lime juice. Once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, turn heat to medium low. Add one cup of broth & continuously stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat, one cup at a time, with the remaining broth. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water & take the pan off the heat once risotto is at your desired consistency. Add the parmesan cheese, reserved bacon & parsley; stir to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Sauce
  1. In a food processor, puree ingredients for sauce & set aside.
Scallops
  1. Thaw scallops as directed on package. Rinse & pat dry with paper towels; season with salt & pepper. Add oil & butter to a non-stick skillet & heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté scallops by turning over once until browned & just cooked through, 4-6 minutes total.
  2. Serve over a bed of parmesan risotto & drizzle with sauce.
Recipe Notes
  • Of course, if you live where you have access to fresh scallops, your in a whole different class!!

Peach Chutney Galette

This peach chutney galette has all the flavors of a classic peach pie, plus the pop of fresh ginger, apple cider vinegar and spice.

I love chutneys and find that just about any fruit can be made into one. Each chutney is a balance of sweet, sour, savory and spice with endless variations. When it comes to the ways you can eat or serve it, a few that come to mind are:

  • Add it to a chicken sandwich
  • Serve with cured meats & cheese
  • Serve on the side with empanadas or meat pies
  • Eat it with any cooked pork meal
  • Serve with grilled sausages or roasted poultry
  • Serve it with pate
  • As a topping for warm Brie cheese
  • Mixed into Greek yogurt
  • Puree it & use as a dipping sauce
  • Served on a burger

Peaches are one of those fruits that make their way into summer chutneys so why not put some in a galette and see what develops?!

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Peach Chutney Galette
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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 fingertips, 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 saucepan over medium heat, add apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, star anise, cloves, pepper, cardamom & sea salt. When mixture starts to bubble, fold in about 2 cups sliced peaches. Bring the mixture to a boil; turn down heat to a lively simmer. Cook, stirring often, 20-30 minutes, or until mixture has thickened enough to easily coat a spoon. Set aside to cool.
Assembly
  1. When chutney is cooled, preheat oven to 350 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press out chilled pastry into a 12-inch circle.
  2. In a large bowl, stir to combine remaining peaches, cooled chutney, 1/4 cup sugar & cornstarch.
  3. Spread mixture evenly over dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold pastry over peach chutney filling, pleating to hold it in. Brush with egg wash (if using); sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake 35-45 minutes until filling bubbles up & crust is golden. Chill at least 2 hours to prevent the filling from running out. Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Here on the Canadian prairies we have a native berry called a ‘Saskatoon’. These berries are very special …. the kind of special that only comes once a year.

Saskatoon berries look much like blueberries, but in fact are part of the rose family which includes apples, cherries, plums and of course roses. Saskatoons ripen in late June or early July. They grow in many conditions from sea level to mountain peaks and are less picky about soil conditions than blueberries. Trying to explain their flavor to anyone who has never tasted them is difficult and elusive. They’re sweet, dense, rich, seedy, slightly blueberryish, more almondish, a bit apple-y, dusky and deep. Like I said …. difficult to explain!

Throughout North America, saskatoon berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, service berry, shadbush or juneberry.

Saskatoon berries work equally good in sweet treats as well as savory recipes. This pork tenderloin entrée is a good example of the latter.

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Honeyed Saskatoon Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
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Instructions
Tenderloin/Stuffing
  1. In a small bowl, combine panko crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, oregano, garlic & pepper.
  2. Remove silverskin from tenderloin & 'butterfly'. Place meat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & pound, making it all the same thickness. Spread mustard evenly on flattened cut side & top with 'stuffing'.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Starting with the long side, carefully roll the tenderloin as opposed to just folding it over.
  4. Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay a piece of foil on top creating sides for it. Lightly oil center of foil; place tenderloin on it & brush with Fig Balsamic Olive Oil Vinaigrette or just use olive oil. Roast for about 45 minutes until just a hint of pink remains.
Saskatoon Chutney
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, add 1 tsp oil & sauté green onions & ginger for a couple of minutes. Add honey, water, cider vinegar, cornstarch & salt; mix well. Add saskatoons; bring to a simmer & cook until chutney thickens slightly.
  2. Slice roast tenderloin into medallions about 1-inch thickness. Pour some chutney onto serving platter; place sliced tenderloin medallions on top & drizzle with remaining chutney.

Plum Kabobs w/ Cardamom Sugar

While fruit might not be the first thing one thinks of in regards to barbecuing, its a great option that’s often overlooked.

Traditionally, the word ‘kabob’ is reserved for grilled or charred meat. Fruit kabobs take their name from the style of presentation, not their contents or preparation method.

Fruit kabobs are great for numerous reasons. Nearly any variety of fruit can be used including berries, bananas, melons and pineapple. You can make a few or as many as you want to suit your size crowd. Make them as long or short as you choose, no oven required and preparation can be done in advance.

Fruit kabobs make a fascinating presentation, particularly when paired with different dipping sauces.

These plum kabobs could not get any easier to make but they are super good tasting.

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Plum Kabobs w/ Cardamom Sugar
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Instructions
  1. Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour. After 1 hour of soaking, preheat grill to medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar & cardamom; set aside.
  3. Cut the plums in half & remove the pits. Cut each half into 3 pieces. Place the plum sections on the skewers & rub the plums with the cardamom sugar.
  4. Place sugared kabobs on grill & cook for 3-4 minutes on 1 side, then turn kabobs & grill for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove kabobs from grill & serve warm.

Salmon Picnic Empanadas

No matter what the stuffing or style is, love for the empanada is not a difficult one to understand. They are cheap, easy to eat, transportable, and versatile.

Empanadas look as good as they taste; perfect food for a picnic. Eating outdoors, spaced apart is probably one of the safest ways to gather during the ongoing pandemic crisis. The great thing about picnicking is that you can do it practically anywhere you can throw a blanket down. If you can’t make it to a park or field, your yard, porch or any flat surface with a little grass (or sand), some sun (& shade) will do.

Empanadas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They can be served as appetizers or snacks (hot or cold), but they can easily make a full and satisfying main course.

The very basics for an empanada are a combination of three things; dough, filling and a cooking method. The dough can be made from wheat flour, cornmeal, mashed plantains, potatoes, yuca, sweet potatoes etc. and the fillings can consist of meat, fish or vegetables. The cooking method is usually to be baked or fried although some can be cooked on a griddle or grill.

According to food historians, empanadas with seafood filling first appeared in a 1520 cookbook, published during the Moorish invasions.

I was real interested to see what I could do to make some salmon empanadas taste special. We found they were good as a hot meal served with the remaining ‘sauce’ or eaten COLD for a picnic lunch.

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Salmon Picnic Empanadas
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6 inch EMPANADAS
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6 inch EMPANADAS
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup 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, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. Do NOT overwork dough.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate for at least an hour.
Soy Sauce
  1. In a skillet, melt butter & sprinkle with flour. Allow to cook for a few minutes. In a bowl, whisk together broth, milk & soy sauce. Slowly add to flour/butter mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Remove from skillet & set aside.
Filling
  1. In the skillet, sauté salmon filet in 1 Tbsp oil until JUST cooked. Remove to a dish. With a fork, 'shred' salmon; set aside.
  2. In the skillet, sauté vegetables in remaining Tbsp of oil for a couple of minutes. Add seasonings, shredded salmon, 1/3 cup prepared soy sauce & grated cheddar. Toss to combine; set aside to cool.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Divide chilled pastry into 10 balls. Roll each one in cornmeal. Place a ball between 2 sheets of plastic wrap & roll into a 6-inch circle.
  2. Divide filling into 10 portions. Place a portion on one side of the pastry circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border (on filled side). With your fingertips, moisten edge of pastry with a bit of milk or water. Flip opposite side over filling & press edges together to enclose it well. Use a fork to make the classic look.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Repeat with remaining pastry & filling. Lay empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pastry is baked & slightly browned.

Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)

This week we celebrate my husband, Brion’s birthday. In previous years I would be able to post a ‘birthday pic‘ with a wonderful holiday background …. you know the kind with tropical plants, ocean, and such. Due to the covid pandemic keeping us close to home for the last year or so, my birthday picture of Brion is in our back yard but notice we have a tropical Canna close by!! During the interlude away from being able to travel, Brion has had to wear another ‘hat’, and has been there for me through numerous surgeries. I am incredibly grateful for that and the speedy recovery that comes through such love & care.

I had read about this little treat sometime back but had put it on hold for a special occasion and today’s the day!

Named after the principal ingredient used in the filling, budini di riso is a typical pastry coming from Siena, a medieval city in the region of Tuscany, located in the north of Italy.

Every summer, from May to July, until the 1960’s (and even 1970’s in some places), thousands of female seasonal workers would make their way to the Po Valley in northern Italy. Here, in the rice fields, they went to work as ‘mondine’. Their task was to remove weeds that could stunt the growth of the rice plants.

The compensation of these women consisted not only in money but also 1 kg of rice for each day of work. Hence the wide spread use of rice throughout the region in both savory and sweet preparations.

This rice custard tart is a combination of a creamy, vanilla scented rice pudding with a caramelized top, all baked in a crisp shortbread pastry crust. There are many variations for this Italian classic. Some like to make it with a crust, others prefer it without. Other recipes may also add fresh squeezed lemon juice for a citrus flavor.

Today, rice is the world’s most widely consumed cereal grain, which means that virtually every culture has a rice pudding they call their own.

Part pie … part rice pudding, these little tarts can be eaten for breakfast, as an afternoon snack or for dessert, they are just plain good anytime.

BIRTHDAY WISHES TO MY LOVE, YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Italian Rice Pudding Tarts (Budini di Riso)
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Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
Servings
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Short Crust Pastry Shells
Rice Pudding
Raspberry Topping
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Instructions
Tart Shells
  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, rice flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powder. Add butter & rub together with fingertips to make soft crumbles.
  2. In a small bowl, beat egg; add to flour mixture & work into a smooth ball of dough. DO NOT OVERMIX. Flatten dough ball & wrap in plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator.
Rice Pudding (Filling)
  1. Place rice in a saucepot. Cover with water & bring to a boil. Rinse rise; return blanched rice back in saucepot & cover with milk. Add cinnamon stick & lemon zest. Cook over low heat, stirring often until rice has absorbed most of the milk & rice mixture becomes soupy.
  2. Remove rice-milk mixture from heat & add butter; stir well. Place rice mixture in a bowl to cool. Stir & cool for about 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar & vanilla; add to cooled rice mixture.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Roll out the chilled pastry to a 1/8-inch thickness. Traditionally these little rice tarts have straight sides. The fastest way to do this is to cut out pastry disks with a glass or lid as big as the bottom of the muffin tin & press them gently in. Next cut with a knife some pastry strips to line the sides of the muffin tins. Press the pastry lightly with your fingers to seal the bottom with the side strips.
  5. Spoon the rice pudding into the pastry shells & bake about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Prepare raspberry topping.
Raspberry Topping
  1. In a saucepan, place frozen raspberries & heat until thawed. Stir in the sugar & bring to a slow simmer. In a cup, dissolve the cornstarch in water & stir into raspberry puree. Bring to a boil & simmer for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. The mixture will thicken a bit more as it cools.
Serving
  1. Serve rice tarts warm or cold with raspberry topping & yogurt, whipped cream or ice cream. If you would prefer, just a dusting of icing sugar or as is works just as well.