Small Batch Blueberry Lavender Jam

By Corinne

Several years ago I traveled to South Africa. While there, one of the wineries I visited had chocolates paired with their wine tastings. One was a rose milk chocolate, another lavender, and the third was a salted dark chocolate. It was the flavours of rose and lavender, flavours that I was much more accustomed to as scents rather than tastes, that I found memorably intriguing. I love to experiment with these floral notes in my cooking, and while it might not be a traditional flavour of jam, I find lavender pairs beautifully with blueberries.

I always make jam in small batches, for three main reasons. Firstly, I would rather have a few jars of several different things rather than 20 jars of the same thing. Additionally, canning in a small batch means you can use less sugar and often skip the packaged pectin. Finally, when you do a small batch its a relatively small investment in time and resources. If you try something new and don’t love it, at least you only have 4 jars rather than 20 and produce, even in season, can be expensive.

I 100% recommend Marisa McClellan and her books on making small batches of jam – Preserving by the Pint and Food in Jars. If you are new to jam making, I can’t possibly do better than to point you towards her instructions for those new to canning.

Culinary lavender can be a bit hard to track down depending on where you live, if you live in Thunder Bay you can find it at the Mystic Garden on Algoma- they have a surprising selection of herbs and spices upstairs.

Time: about 45 minutes

Makes: 5-6 125mL (4fl oz, 1/4 pint) jars – yield will depend a little on the water content of your berries

You will need:

  • 2 lbs of blueberries, rinsed and picked over (remove little stems and unripe berries)
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp culinary lavender (it will be the little flower parts – ensure the lavender you source is ok for use in cooking, many times the stuff used for potpourri has been treated with non food safe pesticides or added fragrance)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

Prepare jars and hot water bath for canning. I always prepare one more jar than I think I will need. When you are making small batches of jam you are relying on the natural pectin present in the fruit as well as the large surface area of your cooking pan and the small amount of fruit in order to cook off enough liquid for it to set. This means the yield can sometimes be a bit more or less than you expect. See here if you are new to canning for more detailed instructions for this part.

Put the lavender in either cheese cloth (doubled so the little flower bits don’t escape!) or if you have one of those ‘tea balls’ that will work as well. Mix the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in the pan you are going to cook your jam in. You want a shallow sauce pan rather than a deep pot in order to help with quick evaporation. Allow the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice to sit for about 20 minutes until the sugar has become syrupy. If you prefer a smoother jam, you can use a potato masher to mash up some of the fruit at this point(but don’t mash it all).

When your jars and hot water bath are ready, place the lavender in with your blueberries and start cooking your jam. Over medium high heat, bring the berry/sugar/lavender mixture to a boil. Stir constantly once your jam is boiling. It will foam up a bit at first, but then will settle down.

As it thickens, it might splat and get a little bit messy. Cook for 18-22 minutes. You will know your jam is ready when you draw the spoon through the jam it doesn’t immediately fill in the space and it ‘hisses’. Excuse the oven timer in the following video 🙂

Here  is a description of the plate test, another way to check for set. I usually remove my lavender at about the 15 minute mark to ease stirring and pouring, and my jam is usually done between 18 and 22 minutes.

Remove your jars from the boiling water and quickly fill jars to about half an inch to the top (you can go a little fuller, to 1/4 inch from the top, but don’t do less than half an inch). Place tops and fasten rings fingertip tight. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water. Remove from water and let cool, testing seal after about 12 hours. Store in a cool dry place. Any jars that do not seal (I’ve only rarely had that happen) should be refrigerated and used first.

20170729_181009

Cherry Clafoutis

 

20170704_121119By Corinne

What is clafoutis? It’s traditionally a French dessert (but I love it for breakfast!). I don’t even know how to properly describe it- it’s somewhat like a custardy dense cake that’s full of delicious fruit. In any case, it whips together so quickly that you can have it ready to go by the time your oven is preheated.

Clafoutis is one of those magical dishes that can work for either breakfast or dessert. If you want to finish it with some powdered sugar, or even some whipped cream, or ice cream to make it dessert then go for it! I tend to make it for breakfast, and because I am impatient and hungry I’ve almost always eaten it hot right out of the oven, though traditionally it’s served room temperature or chilled.

Speaking of tradish, if you want to not pit your cherries, that’s actually the traditional way to make a cherry clafoutis. I’ve done it both ways, apparently leaving the pits in is supposed to impart a subtle almond flavour, but I’ve never noticed a difference and prefer to pit my cherries even though it’s a little more prep. Totally up to you!

Serves: 4 for breakfast, 8 for dessert

Time: prep/preheat 10 min(400F), bake 25-35 min depending on baking dish used.

You will need:

  • generous 2 cups of cherries, pitted or not as you wish 🙂
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum or amaretto

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9-10 inch glass pie plate, or stoneware pie plate (what I used in the pictures) or a cast iron skillet. Baking time will depend on what dish you use- and whether it’s nine or ten inches. I find using a glass pie plate only takes 25 min, while using my stoneware pie plate takes 35 min.

Pit your cherries if you wish, and put them in the buttered dish.

Melt butter in microwave and set aside. For the rest of the instructions you can either whisk by hand or use a mixer, I do either depending on how I’m feeling that day :). Whisk 3 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add the butter, whisking until it’s incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Finally, add the tbsp of spiced rum. The batter should be very smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and pop into the oven. Check at 25 min. Give the pan a little jiggle, if your clafoutis wobbles give it some more time. When it’s finished it should be slightly browned and almost set in the middle. By almost set, I mean when you give the pan a shake there should only be a little wobble in the very middle. If you find it’s browning too much on top, throw a piece of tinfoil lightly over the top until it’s finished.

Serve room temperature or chilled, or hot out of the oven if you just can’t wait 🙂

Rum and Eggnog Bread

img_4782

By Corinne

Rum and eggnog is perhaps the quintessential Christmas holiday drink. I felt like they would make a good match in a quick loaf, but unfortunately all the recipes I looked through either called for vanilla pudding mix or edible oil product flavoured coffee creamer, or only used artificial rum extract. Was it not possible to make a loaf with just… egg nog and… actual rum? It turns out that it is 🙂

And since you have the rum and eggnog and nutmeg out already, you know, you may as well make yourself a drink while you’re waiting for this to come out of the oven.

Makes: 1 loaf

Oven: 350F

Time: prep 10 minutes, bake 40-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean – baking time will depend a bit on the type of pan you use, and your individual oven. Check at 40 minutes – mine took 50 minutes.

You will need:

For the bread:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3/4 cup egg nog
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tbsp spiced rum
  • 2 tsp egg nog
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 1/4 cup spiced rum, 3/4 cup egg nog and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the butter and sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together with a spoon until just combined. Batter should be lumpy. Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 40-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn out and allow to cool completely before glazing.

For glaze, sift powdered sugar, and whisk in 2 tsp eggnog, 2 tbsp spiced rum, and a pinch of nutmeg. Drizzle over cooled loaf.

Coconut Oatmeal Muffins

img_2239

If you haven’t noticed, I’m sure you will, Julie is the baker on this blog. Writing down recipes has forced me to reluctantly start measuring things, and baking is always about measuring stuff. For a long time I lived in a place with an unpredictable oven that often resulted in fairly disastrous results, and a one time full out cookie making tantrum.

Not only that, but I tend not to have much of a sweet tooth. I’d choose chips over chocolate every time. That being said, I do like a muffin, but find many muffins these days are much more like cupcakes minus the icing. Some are sweeter even. And while I’m not entirely against cake for breakfast, I do want my muffins to be somewhat virtuous. Inspired by, but quite modified from Smitten Kitchen

Makes:9-10 muffins (my muffin pan is large, I only got nine)

Time: 30 min, 20 in oven

Oven: 375F

You Will Need:

  • 1/3  cup virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cooking)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup full fat Greek-style vanilla yogurt (though I’ve also used plain)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for on top

Melt coconut oil in microwave- 20 seconds at a time until just melted. Mix together yogurt, oatmeal, egg and vanilla. Mix the flour, shredded coconut, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the sugar to the melted coconut oil, and then whisk this into the yogurt, egg, oatmeal mixture. Add wet ingredients all at once to dry and stir until just combined.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full and sprinkle tops with extra shredded coconut if desired.

Bake in oven 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. img_2239

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

img_4312

By Corinne

I love a breakfast cookie! These are hearty and delicious, full of all kinds of goodness. They are a soft cookie, but the pepitas give them a bit of a crunch.  I prefer them without chocolate chips, but my husband has more of a sweet tooth and prefers them with. If you are trying to reduce refined sugar, the brown sugar can be substituted for an equal amount of honey – though I find they are less sweet with honey, so you may want to add a bit more.  They are gluten and dairy free (if you omit chocolate chips).

Time: prep 10 min, bake 18-22 min per batch

Makes: about 45 cookies

Oven: preheat 350F

You will need:

  • 2 cups quick oats*
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together all dry ingredients. Melt 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil in microwave, about 1 minute. Add coconut oil, canned pumpkin and eggs to dry mixture and thoroughly mix together. This can be done pretty easily by hand, or if you have a mixer, that works too.

Place scoopfuls of mix onto a cookie sheet. They will not spread as they cook, so you can snuggle them up close together. I like to press them down and flatten them a bit after I scoop them on, as they do not flatten or spread as they cook so whatever shape they go in is the shape they come out.

Bake for 18-22 minutes. Cookies will be slightly browned around the edges and tops. Cool completely and store in an air tight container, or freeze and take out just a few at a time as desired.

*oats are one of those ‘maybe’ items for many celiac people. While oats themselves are gluten free, crops may be contaminated with wheat. Some brands of oats will say ‘gluten free’ and others don’t.

Fiddlehead Omelettes

img_2865

By Corinne

Today I got up early to go birding, it was supposed to be clear, and looked promising at 6am. However, by 7am it had clouded over and was no longer great light for photography. As I was wandering looking for warblers, I noticed a few fiddleheads around. Deciding all was not lost for my morning adventure, I decided to do some foraging.

When I got home I went straight to rinsing and then boiling my fiddleheads. My original idea had been just to pick enough for supper, but since it was a breezy bug free morning I ended up collecting quite a bit. Fiddleheads have a bit of an asparagus/spinach flavour and I thought they would be nice in an omelette. They weren’t just nice, they were amazing! I can’t wait to make this again 🙂

For how to prep fiddleheads for cooking, please see this post here. It is important to properly prepare fiddleheads for eating as they have been associated with food borne illness when not fully cooked.

Time: 15 to 20 min – if using already prepped fiddleheads

Makes: 2 omelettes

You will need:

  • 1 cup boiled fiddle heads – see preparing fiddleheads
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 6 tbsp grated asiago cheese
  • 2 tbsp snipped fresh chives + more for garnish
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp butter

In a frying pan melt 1 tbsp butter, add previously boiled fiddleheads and garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk two eggs. Melt 1 tsp of butter in a small frying pan, when melted, but before browned, add eggs slowly to pan, swirling to distribute evenly.

Add 1/2 of the prepared fiddlehead/garlic saute, 3 tbsp grated asiago and 1 tbsp snipped chives. When eggs have just about set, using a spatula, fold omelette in half. Cook a few more min as necessary. Serve with additional snipped chives.

Repeat using the remaining butter, eggs, fiddleheads, cheese and chives for a second omelette.

 

 

Magic Muffins – Double Chocolate Zucchini

By Julie

Serves:  Makes 12 extra large muffins

Time:  35 min

I thought I posted these on Monday.  Did you know it’s Wednesday?  I didn’t.

So these are healthy… mostly.  A tiny bit of refined sugar here, a little chocolate chip there… there IS whole wheat flour.  And some of the sugar is subbed out for maple syrup.  Oh, and there’s lots of zucchini!

 

 

You Will Need:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cups of zucchini
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Prep

Preheat oven to 350F and grease your muffin pans.  You can use paper liners if you wish, but I prefer the slight crisp on the outside of the muffin when they are baked naked.  This recipe removes easily from the baking pan with just a slight coating of cooking spray.

Mix The Wet Ingredients

Whisk the sugar, eggs, honey, vanilla, and applesauce together in a large bowl until smooth.

Mix The Dry Ingredients

Stir flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Combine and Bake

Mix the dry into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Fold in the zucchini, and chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 min for extra large muffins (full muffin cups, see picture).  Mine baked for exactly 23 minutes and they were perfect.