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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!

Eatins Canada – June

farmageddon-book-672x372Given recent events in the news, the most important article in the June Edition of Eatin’s Canada is Alison Cole‘sexcellent interview with Philip Lymberly, author (with Isabel Oakshott) of Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat, and the review, also by Alison, of this timely book on a heartbreaking topic.

IMG_6337We also have more excellent recipes from GaddAboutEating, a luscious Goat Cheese Cheesecake and Graham Crumb Crust and Gurpreet Chana, with some delicious Aloo Tikki (Potato Patty’s) and Chickpea Curry.

AndesFlavours11Finally, we have a review of Andean Flavours 2014, by our editor, Gayle Hurmuses, and as always, please sign up for our mailing list and receive a copy of Easy Date Oven, our collection of simple recipes for dating and dining.

Cooking isn’t work, it’s entertainment, it’s nurture, it’s fun!

 

Easy Date Oven Book Cover
Easy Date Oven Book Cover

Review: Andean Flavours 2014

Review by Gayle Hurmuses

Andean Flavours 2014, an event was organized for a group of growers & farmers and hosted by  EcoCanopy Andino , and the Trade office of Peru And Ecuador based in Toronto, was held at The King Edward Hotel on May 26, from 5pm to 9pm.

It was a nice choice of venue; even the conference rooms there have an elegance to them that enhances good food, and the staff are silently excellent.  Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late for the event and so missed the presentations, which were all in the first hour, but it was still a pleasant time being at the event, which was nicely thought out on a culinary level. A good thing, since its function was to showcase wonderful food from the Andean region…and it worked, since over 150 people attended this year’s event.

Fortunately for me, there was still a great deal of evidence of this thoughtful approach remaining and I was able to enjoy much of what had been presented.

There were several racks of Maca-herb crusted lamb chops, with artichoke salsa, remaining, perfectly cooked, tender and succulent, as it should be. These were prepared and presented by Chef Dennis of Hunter’s Landing and offered with a drizzle of Don Joaquin pepper sauce. The lamb paired well with the Quinoa and summer vegetables salad with Peruvian hot peppers vinagrette, and might have paired well also with the Quinoa noodles with Avocado Oil & tomato-palmito-artichoke salsa still being served, but I found that a bit too al dente for my taste. Also still available was an excellent Halibut ceviche with sacha inchi nuts, which was filled with chunks of delicious Halibut and had a nice fresh flavour.

I missed the Merken smoked chili pepper, spiked shrimp, exotic fruit drizzle, but am already a dedicated user of the Merken spice mix, which I regularly use to make a quick “chipotle-esque” mayo, as well as roasted chicken. I likewise missed the Hearts of Palm dip, living sprouts, so can’t comment on that, but am willing to believe based on the evidence, that I missed two excellent dishes.

The room was lined with vendors presenting their products, everything from the always wonderful Pacari chocolate to Olave oils, with a lovely and pungent single source pure olive oil that was delicious on its own and would be lovely as part of a garlic and Merken shrimp dish…this booth also had an excellent Avocado oil and the vendor was extremely knowledgeable about his product. Casillero del Diablo was sampling several nice wines and featuring their new and refreshing Rosé.

An enjoyable event made more memorable by the chance sighting of Bishop Tutu in the hotel lobby, he was there for another event, but graciously agreed to a photograph. My life is complete.

GayleWithBishopTutusm

Book Review and Interview: Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, by Philip Lymbery with Isabel Oakshott

Review by Alison Cole, used with the generous permission of Animal Voices Vancouver.

It’s time to wake up and dramatically evolve our consciousness when it comes to making choices about our food.

So goes the underlying message of Philip Lymbery’s new book “Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat”, which takes us on his journey of traveling the world to observe and investigate global industrial farming systems. Through his analysis, he provides the reader with fascinating and alarming discoveries that reveal the facts involved when it comes to the production of our meat on a mass scale. The bottom line is the “bottom line”, where the priority for such food industry is money, with little to no attention given to animal welfare, environmental impacts, and the overall health and well-being of humankind.

As the CEO of the animal welfare organization Compassion in World Farming, with a vested interest in our food supply, Lymbery’s investigative efforts run strong in his search for the truth in various facets of the cyclopean picture. For example, he travels to Peru where he observes the effects of the decimated fish supply as a result of overfishing. One of Peru’s leading businesses is exporting ground-up fish to China and Europe to be fed to farmed animals, and he observes the now uninhabited ‘guano’ islands that were once abundant with birds. He learns that all birdlife has been demolished as a result taking all their fish to be made into fishmeal. He calls the fishmeal industry an “environmental catastrophe” and one of the filthiest secrets of the factory farming industry.

In addition to such ecological disasters, Lymbery gives us a glimpse into the world of the corrupt slaughterhouse system, in which the veterinarians employed by these establishments are forced either to play by the organization’s dirty rules or not at all. He tells us of a personal account relayed to him in which a slaughterhouse vet was threatened at knifepoint for stopping the slaughter line because he saw an issue that threatened the safety of the meat. Such a drastic action as ceasing the production line means less productivity which means less money for all involved, and is a deed that is rarely executed despite any frequency of need for it.

Where is the enforcement, then, for keeping the meat safe and for the welfare of the animals in such an aggressive environment where kill quotas by the hour must be met, lest the workers be docked pay and otherwise punished? These kinds of conditions in the abattoirs are, unfortunately, all too common, with little hope for improvement as the current system runs.

With “cheap” meat also comes the grandiose use of antibiotics in our food system, which is just one more prong of many that make up the faults in this global industry. It’s a fact that half the world’s antibiotics are used to feed farmed animals, whereas closer to 80 percent of North America’s antibiotics are. And these drugs are routinely fed to even the “healthy” animals in the factory farming systems, as a preventative measure to illnesses in the animals that are often inevitable with the systems of mass confinement (aka factory farming).

As more antibiotics are fed to the animals that we humans then eat, we are approaching a crisis in which this medication will be coming less and less effective to use for human illnesses when we need them! The audacious cycle affects us all on this planet – a fact that must be understood and addressed by us, the consumers and inhabitants of this planet.

So how does this all end? Given the many angles of this story as told in this 426 page tome alone, the effects of the meat industry on this earth are multi-fold and complex when you peel back the various layers wrapped around the core of the money, the factory farming system, and the peoples’ avid hunger for animal flesh. But that really is the core, and when contemplated at its foundation, I believe that we can empower ourselves to change the system, and at least become consciously aware of this system that manifests so much destruction in our world.

“Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat” will open your eyes to the hidden processes of industrialized food production. It will have you question how “cheap” that meat really is the next time you think of buying a hamburger, an action that once seemed so simple and insipid. Consider what lies beyond the shiny packaging in the supermarket when you purchase your meat products. And take one step further in truly educating yourself about the looming “Farmageddon” and taking personal actions to help reverse the disaster.

You can start now! The first 48 pages of the book are available to read here online for free.

And here’s an audio interview that I did with Philip Lymbery on the Animal Voices Vancouver radio show on various topics covered in the book:

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Eatin’s Canada – April

ESSENCE:

  1. The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, which determines its character:
  2. An extract or concentrate obtained from a plant or other matter and used for flavouring or scent. (Oxford)

There may in some quarters be a debate about what is the most Canadian food, but here at Eatin’s Canada it is recognized that Maple Syrup is the essence of Canadian spring..and the most Canadian of foods.

This year, given the long and harsh winter, April is the month of the essence, when the warming of the weather allows the sap to run freely, filling buckets with pure liquid, almost like water, but ever so slightly sweet.  JP Campbell returns with part two of the sugarbush story.

Maple Syrup, The Essence of Spring, our feature Food for Thought article takes us from tapping, though the cooking process, to the final product. Later in the month, we’ll be featuring an article on another wonderful essence…Honey, but more on that when it arrives. When time permits, there will also be a follow-up and progress report on the seedlings.

Meanwhile, we have reviews and recipes for your reading and cooking pleasure:

Reviews: GaddAboutEating’s review of West Coast Seeds. For those that have not yet begun their gardens, as I did last month, there is still time to get seeds and start them indoors. Through the month, we’ll also be reviewing some other products and some events, watch for updates.

Recipes: In honour of the season, Gurpreet Chana has created a Canadian version of Gulab Jamun, an Indian classic dessert, using a maple based syrup, rather than a rosewater scented one. Lindiwe Sithole has provided a new Zimbabwean comfort food, Oxtail Stew, and Glen Synoground has returned with a delicious and tempting Crispy Szechuan Chicken recipe.

Before you go…don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list and get a FREE copy of our eCookbook, Easy Date Oven, with simple and delicious recipes for easy entertaining.

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Recipes

Frying Gulab Jamun
Frying Gulab Jamun

Recipes: In honour of the season, Gurpreet Chana has created aCanadian version of Gulab Jamun, an Indian classic dessert, using a maple based syrup, rather than a rosewater scented one.

 

 

oxtail02

 

Lindiwe Sithole has provided a new Zimbabwean comfort food, Oxtail Stew.

 

 

 

 

017Glen Synoground has returned with a delicious and tempting Crispy Szechuan Chicken recipe.