Category Archives: Produce: Berries and greens.

Crisp Pickle Tips

Use these tips with our pickle recipe.

Grape Leaves!
Last year at a party a friend told me that the grape leaves growing in the garden could be used to keep my homemade pickles crisp. We have Concord grapes growing and I have been using a small leave or portion of a larger one since. Results have been excellent.

Other things to consider:

  1. The cucumbers should be perfectly fresh and unblemished, just as with any other preserves you might make.
  2. Trim off the blossom end of the cucumber. This can have microbes that will give you soft and meh, whatever, pickles.
  3. Use the appropriate type of cucumber, making sure they are not more than 2″ in diameter. In general, pickles are better and crisper when they are smaller.
  4. Salt the cucumbers after washing them and before putting them into the jars. This will draw out excess moisture. Rinse and drain them before putting them into the jars.
  5. Make certain that your immersion bath (canning water) is boiling and your pickling liquid is hot when you add the liquid to the jars, immediately before putting them into the bath. These two things will minimize the amount of time required for the bath to come to a boil again and reduce the overall time your pickles need to be processed. (Processing time is counted from the beginning of a rolling boil, not from the moment the jars hit the water).

GaddAboutEating Newfoundland’s finest foods

Article and photographs by GaddAboutEating

I’m currently GaddingAbout Eating in Newfoundland where I am visiting friends and family.   It would be hard to avoid the ocean and its wonderful bounty when visiting (or talking about) Newfoundland.

Newfoundland’s history is firmly rooted in the Cod Fishery.   Europeans were recorded to be visiting here to fish as far back as 1501 and settlements started springing up soon after.   Reportedly, fishing at that time was as easy as dipping a basket into the ocean.

Things have changed over the years and for a period of time the question has been:  “Will the Cod Fishery be part of Newfoundland’s future?”.   A moratorium was put in place in 1992 in response to the collapse of the North Atlantic cod stocks.   A study in 2010 did show that the stocks are recovering but at that point had only returned to 10% of original biomass, having fallen to 1% at the time of the moratorium.

Starting in 2013, a recreational (food) fishery was opened allowing people to catch up to 5 fish per day (maximum 15 per boat) including cod, during selected weeks of the summer.  The fishery is on currently and my host this week went out with his neighbour.  Like ya would! 😉

DSC_0302If you’re super lucky, you’ll also know someone who knows someone who has a commercial licence for things like crab or lobster.  Or you’ll know someone who knows someone… also given is that Newfoundlanders love to share with their neighbours.  So when the neighbours hear that someone has guests from ‘The Mainland’ then you might even get yourself a lovely feed of delicious crab legs.

DSC_0305Crab eating is dirty work, so don’t wear your best shirt.   Expect to take a bath in crab water at some point.   If at all possible, eat outside; on a deck next to the water; drinking some yummy beverages; and close to a garden hose.

I plan on writing more about my food adventures on The Rock including some recipes, restaurant reviews, and photos.

But for now, one more food porn teaser.   A photo of some amazing Smoked Jerked Chicken.  enJOY

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Urban Spoon – Osteria dei Ganzi

AppetizerSIdePlateSmWtmkUrban Spoon hosted a lovely and extravagantly delicious evening for food bloggers at Osteria dei Ganzi on August 8, 2013, and I am thrilled that I was invited. The meal was excellent from start to finish and it was great to meet and speak with other bloggers. It’s been nearly a year since this review was written, but recent trips to Ganzi have been consistent with this experience, so here it is…a glorious summer patio recommendation for Toronto residents and tourists.

OlivesAndAranciniSmWtmkStandouts were the arancini, the bresaola, the eggplant parmesan, the trio of desserts, the ambiance…it was all part of a well planned and executed evening that impressed, as it was intended to do. The cocktails designed by Ganzi mixologist Joåo Machado were all pronounced excellent, I am loyal to their sangria, probably the best I have ever had and a wonderful complement to the entire meal.The arancini were everything one might wish for, with a crust that broke with a satisfyingly crisp snap under my teeth, revealing tender, perfectly seasoned rice, and large shavings of parmesan cheese, melting nicely throughout the ball. A side dish of parmesan sauce gilded the lily for a decadent finish.
EggplantParmeseanSmWtmkThe eggplant parmesan were presented as individual slices in the appetizer course and were perfectly cooked, with the eggplant slices at just that ideal point of doneness where it is tender, but not pungent. These were complemented by the fresh tomato slices and melted mozzarella that was perfectly molten, with the slightest trace of browning.
Mucca Pezzata
Mucca Pezzata

My main was off the menu, Mucca Pezzata, a grilled steak tagliata with red wine and cream sauce and a balsamic reduction, with roast potatoes, zucchini with red peppers, and asparagus. It was superb, and a perfect choice for my palate that evening, but the commitment-phobe in me wonders longingly about the two entrées that I did not choose.I had been sorely tempted by two of the specials, a lamb shank that sounded divine and was pronounced ‘exceptional’ by Eye Candy’s Abraham Wornovitzky, sitting to my left, and also a shrimp and breaded fried oyster pasta in a lemon/garlic olive oil sauce that I still dream of and long to have tried.

The seasoning on all dishes was restrained, but satisfying, each simple, but complex in variety.

Antipasto Tray
Antipasto Tray

This satisfying repast would have been enough, but there was more that I have not taken the time to detail, like the bresaola, which had me looking longingly at the board, wishing that it would magically replenish…as I also wished with the delicious gorgonzola that too-swiftly disappeared from the board at my section of the table. Had I a list of all items on the menu, I would rhapsodize on each…but they live on in my memory.

DessertSmWtmkThis was all then followed by a trio of satisfyingly decadent desserts, presented on a series of platters for two. These were a cheesecake made partly with mascarpone, a tiramisu made without it, and a lovely crisp cannoli. Had I perished on my way home, this would have been a worthy last meal.

OsteriaDiGanzi1Urban Spoon was well represented by Laura Williams, a congenial hostess who spent some time visiting with each of us throughout the evening, setting the tone for a convivial atmosphere.

Our servers, whose names I sadly did not record, were all excellent and professional and have been consistently so on both visits to the restaurant.

Executive Master Chef Guerrino Staropoli was charming and earnest in introducing his food, to which he clearly has a passionate commitment. This was my second visit to Ganzi and his commitment was also clear in the contrast between the two visits.

Perfect Sangria
Perfect Sangria!

At my first visit, not long after opening, Chef Staropoli was dealing with a newly created group of chefs that were not yet on the same page. Now, he has the evidence of a well-trained ensemble in which each knows their own role and plays their part with nuance and gusto. I can only imagine where they will be in another month, or year.

Where on my first visit, the food was very good, but not entirely memorable, this was an evening well worth revisiting and reliving on a lovely afternoon while sitting in my garden. I’m excited that Osteria dei Ganzi is fairly close to home and can’t wait until I have the opportunity to visit again. I highly recommend it for everything from a romantic dinner, to a gathering of family or friends.

My congratulations to Chef Staropoli, Mr Machado, co-owners Dan Gunam and Luca Biscardi, and to all involved on creating such a jewel.— at Osteria Dei Ganzi

Osteria Di Ganzi Bloggers Party
Osteria Di Ganzi Bloggers Party

Berry tartlets with almond crust

Recipe and photography by Rita Anastasiou

When I was a kid and later on as a teenager, my mom was sending me during the summer, to buy tartlets from the local pastry shop. It was some of the few things she never tried to make. Cakes has always been her major! “Fruit tarts is a summer dessert!” She used to say. As a kid I’ve never understood,why summer? Is it so special?

imageYears later, I decided to make fruit tartlets and I remember my mom again…But I’m willing to make some fruit tarts in the winter,too…!!

Ingredients for the almond crust:

  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven at 350 F.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pat in a muffin tin.
Bake for 10 minutes,till the crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool down.

 

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For the pastry cream:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Orange zest

Beat the egg yolks well in a bowl,stir in the milk.
In a small sauce pan,mix sugar,cornstarch and salt.
Gradually stir in a small amount of mix mixture in a medium heat. Add the orange zest in the end.
Transfer the cream into a bowl and cover it with a plastic food wrap film. And let it in the fridge to cool completely.

Assemble:

Take the pie crusts,add the cream and the berries on top. I used blueberries and strawberries and I dust them with powder sugar.

 

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The orange zest really brightens up the whole dessert and is the perfect bite!
It took me back to my childhood…

I think I made my mom proud!

Pectin-free Strawberry Jam

IMG_20140625_205329Recipe and photos by Mimi Jones Taylor

I wasn’t sure if we were going to get a strawberry harvest in Ontario before July this year. Our winter was frigid, then in April, just as things appeared to be warming up, they froze over. I know that if the farmers have seedlings in the ground before Victoria Day weekend, they have to do their best to keep the ground warm and moist for the little guys, but with our last frost being on that weekend, the farmers certainly had their work cut out for them.

You see, I have a thing for strawberry jam. And when I say I have a “thing”, that doesn’t mean I eat every jar I lay my hands on. In fact, I hardly eat strawberry jam at all. But I do love to make it.

Before I moved to the Green Belt, though, I never contemplated making jam. My mother tried her hand at it when I was a child, and all I remember seeing were pots of bubbling and boiling liquids here and there and gooey Certo spilling all over the stove and having tons of filled jars in our cellar.

My late husband the chef made wine jams for sen5es – in their early days when they were a gourmet food store that served light fare. He had always prided himself on the fact that his jams were made with only the naturally-occurring pectin in the fruits themselves, and no additional pectin was used – no small feat when you add alcohol to the cooking fruit, since alcohol can inhibit the jam from gelling.

But my love affair with making strawberry jam started the year my son was in Junior Kindergarten. He is “on The Spectrum”, meaning he has autism. He is a high-functioning child with a condition formerly known as Aspergers. As a result, when he started school, not only did he have a Kindergarten teacher, but he had an Educational Assistant, along with the Special Education Resources Teacher, and the student teachers all helping him to transition from the happy, carefree life at home to the confined life inside a classroom. At the end of the year, when it came time to figure out what to give his teacher for a thank you gift, I was faced with having to give at least four gifts. I didn’t know what to do, since this was just before the dollar stores started selling better-quality mugs, and besides, teachers have a billion mugs anyway. All of his teachers had gone above and beyond the call of duty with him, and I wanted to thank them in a special way. I could have just baked cookies, but I had no idea who had what kind of allergies, and my kitchen facilities are in no way, shape, or form nut-free.

While I was trying to figure out a suitable gift, one evening I stopped in at Whittamore’s Farm on the Markham/Toronto border to pick up a quart of strawberries so I could make some strawberry ice cream. Whittamore’s had stunning flats of berries, along with pretty jars on the shelves near the strawberries. Then it clicked. I should make strawberry jam. Why not? It would be something different, homemade to show that I cared, and, more importantly, it wouldn’t be another mug.

I bought a flat and some jars and brought it all home. I researched the best way to make jams without using additional pectin. And off I went. Turns out I actually learned something from observing all the people around me make preserved fruit. I ended up with ten x 250 mL jars of jam that first year. And all of the teachers came back to me in September to let me know how much they had enjoyed the “fruit” of my labours (yes I just made that joke).

We have been very lucky with the school system for my son. He has managed to have the same EA and SERT since JK, something that is practically unheard of in the public education system in Southern Ontario. So every year, these wonderful teachers, and the new teachers and EAs who have come into my son’s life, all end up with jars of homemade strawberry jam. I was told by his SERT that she hides the jam in a special place in the fridge with a huge note on it. “This is MOM’s jam. Do not touch on pain of death!” This is coming from one of the kindest, most patient people I have ever encountered on this planet!

But getting back to my fears about this year – with frost occurring well into May, I feared that there would be no fresh strawberries in time for the end of the school year, and I would be forced into purchasing eight – yes he had eight teachers involved in his life this year, including the principal – cheesy dollar-store mugs and filling them with bulk store candy. But the weekend before school closed, I saw, much to my delight, flats of Whittamore’s strawberries ready for preserving. I took pictures of my process, and as you can see, the fruit this year held a lot of water, even more than in previous years. I did have my son help me crush the fruit so he could take part of the credit of making the actual jam. All I had to do was whip up some labels, and voila – instant (and when I say instant, I mean made in 90min) presents to show these hard workers – who do what they do more for love than the pittance of cash we pay them – a small token of my appreciation of everything they do every day for my son.

Here’s my simple recipe. Hopefully you will have people waiting with bated breath for your jam year after year as I have with mine. Just remember to share!