Layered Zucchini Bake

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By Corinne

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I only eat in the summer when it’s in season. It’s called summer squash for a reason!

I like to use yellow and green zucchini for this as I just think it looks prettier ๐Ÿ™‚ You can of course use whatever colour you happen to have on hand, it makes little difference in taste.

I usually do this in the amount listed below, however, in the photos I had halved the recipe since I only had 2 zucchini.

Serves: 4-6 as a side

Time: 15 min prep, about 35-45 minutes cook

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 10 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 3/4 cup chardonay
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parmesan or asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until softened- about 5 minutes. Add the chardonnay and reduce by half. Add the minced garlic and rosemary. ย Add half of this to a 9 inch baking dish.

Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick.

If using both green and yellow zucchini, place a slice of each, and then half a slice of prosciutto. Continue in this manner until all zucchini and prosciutto are used and your pan is full. Put the rest of the onion/wine/herb mixture on top.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, remove from oven, testing doneness with a fork. I like my zucchini to stay fairly firm, but you may wish to bake for an additional 10 minutes before adding the cheese. Add the cheese for the last 10 minutes of cooking, if needed you can put the oven on broil for the last minute or two to brown them up.

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Blueberry Lime Pie

By:  Julie

Serves:  Makes 1 9-inch pie

Time:  1 hour plus 1 hour chill and 50 min cooking time.

I once made Blueberry Lime jam, and it was fantastic, so why not make a pie?  Simple really, all I did was substitute out the lemon juice for lime.  I have to tell you, not only is it tasty, but the house smells amazing.  Blueberries are in season right now and I was able to get 4 quarts for a $3.99, which is really the only time they are affordable enough to make a pie.  Unfortunately, Evelyn ate half of them in the grocery store so I had to go back today for more to make the pie.  We decided to walk there, since the local foodland is close, with Evelyn happily pushing her stuffed bear in her stroller.  All was good… and then she stepped on a pine cone.  The CRUNCH terrified her and convinced her that some horrible monster-bug was hiding in the pine cone and that it was going to eat her. Immediately.  We were halfway to the store.  The peaceful blueberry mission turned into March of the Screaming Child, who was holding so tightly to my neck you would have sworn that the boogey-man himself was after her.  No amount of convincing would assure her that the pine cones were not evil, nothing that was going to get her, and everything was ok.  She calmed down briefly in the store, where we paid 3.99 for ONE quart of the precious blue gold, and then screamed about birds trying to get her all the way home while daddy carried the stroller.  It just goes to show you that your whole day can change with one pine cone.  After much effort the pie was made, and it was worth it.

I would try this crust even if you already have a favorite.  It’s the only all-butter crust that I’ve made that is tender and flaky, and you know what?  I MADE IT IN THE MIXER!  That’s right, no tedious pastry blending, no fear of over-working.  I once left this crust in the mixer and forgot about it and it still came out delicious (although it was a bit hard to roll that time).  It can be a bit delicate to roll out, so take your time.

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You Will Need:

For The Crust

  • 2 and 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp ice water

For the Filling

  • 6 cups fresh blueberries, if using frozed make sure they are thawed and dry
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (or flour if your prefer)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp of butter to dot the filling after its in the pie shell.

Prepare The Crust

Preheat oven to 425F

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In your mixer bowl, with the paddle attached, mix the flour, salt, and sugar until well combined.  Add the butter and increase speed to 2 until the mixture looks grainy and the butter is mostly in pea sized pieces.  In a separate small bowl, whisk the egg and the cold water together and add to your flour mixture.  Mix until it comes together into a dough.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead a couple of times, divide into two round discs, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for a min of 1 hour.

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When chilled, remove from fridge, flour counter, and roll out into a circle.  Make sure to flour both sides of the dough.  My favorite technique for this is to turn the dough continuously 1/4 turn at a time as I roll.  If the dough starts to stick, add more flour.  Continue turning it every time you roll until it’s 10 inches in diameter or larger.  Try to get it to 1/8″ thick and try to make it the same thickness all the way across so it cooks evenly.  This can take practice.  If this is your first time, don’t get discouraged.  It took me about 20 pies and 10 different recipes to get any good at it.

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Lay your crust across the bottom of the pie plate and gently press it into the corners.  Place the crust in the fridge while you prepare the filling and roll out the top.

Prepare The Filling

In a large bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lime juice and cinnamon.  Stir until combined.  Put aside.  On a floured counter, roll out the top crust.

Assemble The Pie

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Place the filling in the crust, mounding it towards the center.  Dot with butter.  Trim the crust around the pie plate so there is no excess.  Place the top crust over top of the filling and tuck the edges under the bottom crust.  Use two fingers on one hand and place them under the crust edge.  Use your index finger on the other hand to gently press and create a crimp.

Option:  To make your crust brown nicely, use an egg wash.  Whisk an egg with a tbsp of milk or water and brush evenly over crust.

Cut steam vents in the top crust, be sure not to cut through the bottom!

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Place in oven at 425 for 10 min.  Then reduce to 350F and cook for 40 min more.  If the edges of your pie brown too quickly, cover with a pie shield.

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Cool completely before serving.

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 hereย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Here ย 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.

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Summer Garden Pesto Stirfry

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By Corinne

This is a bit of a garden miscellany recipe that will work with whatever fresh veggies you have, in basically any amounts that you have them! Don’t have snow peas? Use snap peas instead. No chard? Try kale or spinach. No garlic scapes? Use some fresh garlic at the end- or if your pesto is quite garlicky, pass on the garlic altogether! You can serve it on it’s own finished with a drizzle of balsamic as a side dish, served on top of rice, or mixed into pasta.

 

Time: about 15 minutes

You will need: some mix of the following, though substitute according to availability!

  • about 10 oz, 300g cherry tomatoes *
  • 3-5 leaves of chard
  • small/medium zucchini
  • 1 cup of snow peas
  • a few garlic scapes if you have them!
  • 2-4 tbsp of your favourite jarred pesto
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated asiago or parm
  • drizzle of good quality balsamic to finish
  • 1 tbsp of canola, olive oil or butter
  • rice or pasta for serving if desired

If making rice- prepare first.

Add oil to large pan on medium/high heat. Chop zucchini into thin rounds or half moons. If the peas you are using are large, you can halve them, otherwise leave them whole. Trim flower end from garlic scapes if it seems tough or dry, then give a quick chop into small pieces. Thinly slice chard. Add vegetables to pan in the following approximate order, giving them a minute or two in the hot pan before adding the next ingredient. First tomatoes, then peas, followed by zucchini. When these veg are getting hot and a bit softened and maybe browned, add the scapes. When veggies are done to your taste- I like things more crisp, but to each his own so cook accordingly, add a few tbsp of your favourite pesto and stir until all veg are covered. Add the chard and cook 1-2 more minutes until still bright but softened.

Finish by adding the fresh grated cheese and a drizzle of balsamic.

*note- if your cherry tomatoes haven’t ‘burst’ while cooking (which is fine) be careful when you eat them as they will be hot juicy tomato bombs if you pop them into your mouth whole!

Black Bean Dip

By Corinne

Cilantro seems to be one of those things that people like or REALLY dislike. The people who like it always seem to like it a lot. To me, cilantro tastes fresh and almost a bit citrusy. The people who hate it usually describe it as tasting like soap. That all being said, this black bean dip is for sure for the cilantro lovers! The ingredient list is short, and it’s a nice complement to salsa.

Time: 5 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • a generous handful of cilantro including stems-see photo below for an idea of how much- you could of course use less if that is your preference
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of two limes

Drain and rinse the black beans. Give the cilantro a rinse, but don’t worry about drying it. Add beans, cilantro, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the juice of two limes to a food processor and pulse until combined. Serve with bread or tortilla chips, or as a yummy spread on a wrap (think the way you might use hummus). This is fine made the day before, but doesn’t keep well for more than a few days because of the mass of cilantro. I used canned beans, which I usually find salty enough, but if you are using dried beans that you’ve rehydrated, you may wish to add salt.

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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:ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚