Squashberry Cake

This cake is kept moist with Squashberry sauce from the Dark Tickle Company

Moving house is interesting.  We recently picked up sticks and moved to be closer to work.  Now, instead of a thirty minute drive to work, it’s a couple minutes walk.  There’s less wear and tear on the car, on the environment, and on our pocketbook.  So it’s good all around.  Because we had to pack up everything, I realised that there’s so much stuff we’ve collected over the years.  This time moreso than other times we’ve moved because this time we did everything ourselves.   The last time we have the benefit of a moving company, so it was a little harder to see all the crap stuff we’ve got.  We’re slowly starting to declutter (again) and get rid of things we haven’t used in months, if not years.

One thing I did find, though, was a small bottle of syrup we were given a few years ago as a Christmas present: Squashberry sauce from the Dark Tickle Company.  The Dark Tickle Company takes Newfoundland’s fresh berries and makes wonderful jams, jellies, syrups and spreads out of them.  They even have tea, coffee, and chocolates.  Perfect for any gift giving or as a treat for yourself.  When we go back to visit, we always pick up a jar or two to savour later.  They ship worldwide, so check them out.  I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like.  You get your own bottle of Squashberry sauce here.

Squashberries similar to high bush cranberries and are part of the honeysuckle family.  Squashberries thrive in low to middle elevations in Newfoundland’s moist forests, rocky slopes, and along margins of wetlands. It is a decidous shrub which reaches heights ranging from 2 to 12 feet. The plant has smooth gray bark and shallowly lobed, sharply toothed leaves.The autumn frosts turn the reddish berries a glistening red. The tart, clustered berries are often picked in late summer and early fall as well as after the first frost. Squashberry bark was often chewed and juice swallowed to cure such ailments as lung colds. The Haida Indians considered these berries food for supernatural beings.

I found this recipe in one of my bread cookbooks and thought it would be perfect for using the sauce.  The original recipe used a rum sauce to soak the sponge, but any sweet syrup will do.  You could use lemon and add some zest to the batter for a tart dessert.  As this is a yeast product, the end result comes out more like a soaked bread than cake.  There’s only a little sugar in the recipe, so most of the sweetness comes from the sauce soaking in.  Serve with a nice vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to compliment the cake nicely.

Squashberry Cake

Print Recipe
Squashberry Cake
This yeast cake is closer to bread than cake, and is kept moist with delicious Squashberry sauce from the Dark Tickle Company.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Prep Time 90 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Measure cake ingredients into your bread machine's baking pan in the order listed. Select Dough cycle.
  2. Spray bundt pan with cooking spray. With floured hands or a rubber spatula, remove dough from baking pan and pour into a prepared bundt pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  3. Bake cake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Tip the cake onto a large plate and leave upside down. Immediately with a long skewer poke numerous holes in the cake. This is where the sauce will soak into the cake, making it moist. Slowly spoon the sauce over the warm cake, letting it soak in. I used a pastry brush to make sure all the cake was covered. Let cake sit for two hours before serving.
Recipe Notes

It may seem like a lot of sauce, but it gets soaked into the cake very quickly.  If you like, warm the sauce slightly in the microwave.  This will help it absorb faster.

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Turkey pizza with Cranberry BBQ sauce

It’s the new year and you might have a few leftovers from your feastings.  I’ve finally finished off the last of the Christmas turkey (except for the carcass) and have scoured the tubes and wires of the interweb for recipes.  I found this one for turkey pizza and it is delish, I must say.  Over the past week or so I’ve made turkey stuffin muffins, turkey chili, and even turkey sautéed with Brussels sprouts.   Each and everyone tasted wonderful, but I particularly like the pizza.  And who doesn’t like pizza?

So, I hauled out my breadmaker.  Yes, I still use it fairly regularly, about once a month or so and got started on the pizza dough.  What, you say?  You didn’t buy it from the store?  Do you know me?  I’m cheap frugal. So I thought “Why buy it when I have the stuff to make it at home?”  It’s the holidays and I have some time.  Yes, you can get one of those pre-made crusts in the deli section of the store if you don’t have the time and I really won’t judge you for it.  Much.

Kidding.

If you have some spare time before all the kids are going back to school or you have to get back to work then here’s a nice quick way to use up some of those holiday leftovers.

First, the pizza dough.  This is easy.  Just throw everything in the bread machine and walk away.  Walk, I tell you!  The lovely machine does all the work for you and you get nice, fluffy, risen dough to work with about 90 minutes later.  Once the dough is ready, let it rest for a bit and then gently press and stretch the dough into a circle about 14 inches (35 cm for you metric folk) in diameter.  You can use a rolling pin, if you prefer, but it goes fairly quickly by pressing the dough into a circle while reaching underneath to stretch it out.

PRO-TIP: When you are stretching your pizza dough, always reach underneath to pull the dough from the center to the outside.  This cuts down on possible tears.  And your fingers can feel where the dough is thicker, so it can be stretched more evenly.

Preheat your oven to 400F.  You’re going to partially cook your dough.  This will keep your ingredients from making the crust soggy later when you make the pizza.  Place the dough on a pizza pan sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 10-12 minutes.   It should be slightly browned.  Once the pizza crust is done remove it from the pan and let it cool.  Now, you can make the crust earlier in the day and then add the toppings just before supper.  You can even make the pizza crust earlier in the week and freeze the crust for later.  Crazy, huh?  Just take the crust out about 30 minutes to thaw, then add your toppings and bake.

Now, on to make the pizza.  Preheat the oven to 400F.  In a small bowl combine about 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce with 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce.  The combo is a nice blend of sweet and smoky.  Spread that on the crust.  Add a little cheese so things don’t slide around.  I used a blend of cheddar and mozza.  Add turkey, shredded or cubed.  I sautéed some peppers and onions for colour and flavour.  Then I added a little more cheese, a handful of stuffing (bread on bread action) and sprinkled some summer savoury on top.  Bake for about 15 minutes and you’re done.  I love the extra flavour from the savoury.  Truth be told I could eat just stuffing for dinner sometimes.

The pizza I made was cut into eight pieces and was amazing.  Sorry for the blurry photo.

pizza, leftovers, turkey, christmas, cranberry, bbq, stuffing, savoury, newfoundland
Turkey Pizza with cranberry BBQ sauce

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

This wonderfully easy crust is the base for my leftover turkey and cranberry pizza.
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup All purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Instructions

  1. Measure ingredients into the baking pan as listed. Insert pan in chamber and choose the Dough cycle.
  2. Remove dough to a slightly floured board. Cover and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Spray pan with cooking spray and set aside. Roll and stretch dough and then transfer to the pan. Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Before adding your toppings, preheat oven to 400F. Add your toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  5. Serves four (or one teenager).

Christmas Cookie Countdown – Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundland

This week’s cookie is one that I personally like.  While it can technically be made any time of the year (as are most cookies), I personally like cinnamon flavour around this time.  It makes you feel warm and brings forth visions of sitting by the fire while sharing these cookies with your loved ones. Oatmeal cookies have always been a favourite of mine.  I like the more chewy ones over the crisp cookie.  So this cookie is perfect for that reason.

This is another drop cookie.  It’s one of the easiest cookies to make.  You can try other drop cookies, like my molasses drop cookies, or the Newfoundland classic, scrunchies.

I’m just going to dive right in with this one.  You’ll need to mix your brown and white sugars with the oil in a bowl with the mixer on medium.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Then add the banana, coconut, and raisins.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  With your mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients until clear.  Then add the oatmeal.  I’ve used quick cooking oats for my cookie, but you could use regular oats for an even more chewy cookie.  Mix until well combined.

I let my batter sit in the fridge to firm up a little.  You want the batter to be a bit cooler for scooping.  Just throw it in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.  While that is happening, you can preheat your oven to 350F.  The cooler batter will mean that the cookies won’t spread as much as a batter that is at room temperature.  Because these cookies are only about a couple of inches across after baking, I though it was a good idea to chill the dough.

Scoop onto a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes.  The cookies will be a nice brown colour when done, with slightly darker edges.  Again these cookies freezer very well, so if you make them today, you can store them away until the holidays.

cookie, newfoundland, oatmeal, banana, cinnamon, raisin, chewy

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 14 minutes
Servings 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana approximately one whole banana
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl with the mixer on medium, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and oil.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. Add the mashed banana, shredded coconut, and raisins. Combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix with a whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Add the oatmeal and mix until combined. Transfer batter to fridge to cool for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop batter onto parchment of Silpat lined baking sheets with a couple of inches between scoops.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned and the edges are a little darker. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Christmas Cookie Countdown – Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

cookie, contest, newfoundlandWell, the Christmas music is playing, I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea by my side so I’m ready to start giving you some of my favourite holiday cookies.  I’m starting off with a drop cookie.  Drop cookies are one of the easiest cookie to make.  Cookies like my molasses drop cookie or chocolate chip are examples of a wonderfully easy cookie.  You just scoop out the batter onto a cookie sheet and bake.   You can be more precise with a cookie scoop so they all look the same and bake evenly.  I like using a scoop for that reason.  And it’s a little faster than using spoons.  Not to worry though, if you don’t have a cookie scoop, just use you tablespoons and you’ll be fine.

sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holidayWhile most wouldn’t think about using sour cream in a cookie, it works really well.  It gives in a nice creamy texture with a hint of sourness.  And this cookie keeps well too.  You can make some and freeze them for the holidays and they’ll stay soft (after thawing, of course) and won’t crumble.  Perfect for your holiday get-togethers when you have to bring a housewarming gift.

First preheat your oven to 375F.  Now cream the butter.  You’ll want to get your butter nice and fluffy, so whip the butter for at least a minute.  Remember to have the butter at room temperature first.  It will make this step so much easier to do.  Add the sour cream to the mixture.  You’ll want to use full fat sour cream for this recipe.  It adds to the creaminess of the cookie.  Don’t worry about the fat content.  It’s not like you’re going to eat a dozen of them while watching a Christmas movie because you got home late and skipped supper.  No, nothing like that ever happened.  Ahem.

After you blended the sour cream and butter, add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Put your mixer on low and slowly add the dry to the wet batter.  Mix until clear.  That means you shouldn’t see any specks of flour in the batter.  Fold in the raisins.

Scoop by the tablespoon onto parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheets leaving about an inch between each scoop.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  The cookies will have a slight colour so don’t be tempted to keep them in longer.  They will continue to cook as they sit on the cookie sheet.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.sour cream, raisin, cookie, christmas, newfoundland, dessert, brown sugar, holiday

Sour Cream Raisin Cookies

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter unsalted if possible
  • 2/3 cup sour cream full fat
  • 2 cups brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins Can substitute currants or Craisins if desired.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter on medium until fluffy. Add sour cream. Blend well.
  3. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs to butter/sour cream mixture. Mix on medium until well combined.
  4. In separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Blend together with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients. Turn mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until clear.
  5. Slowly fold in raisins to batter.
  6. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between scoops. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until set.
  7. Let cool on pan for about 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Currants or Craisins can be substituted for the fruit.

Always have your ingredients at room temperature for baking unless specified.

Apple Oat Loaf

apple, oat. loaf, savoury, fall, autumn, cinnamon, farm, picking, breadMy family came up to visit this week and we wanted to show them around the area, so we did a little sight-seeing.  Just a little drive up the road is Homestead Orchards.  They used to be a dairy farm but the owners switched over to apples a few years back and now the son runs the farm.  They offer pick-your-own apples, as well as strawberries and fresh corn.  The strawberries help them out during the beginning of the summer when the apples aren’t quite ready, helps them in the pocketbook too.   They even bake apple goods on-site, so you can pick up a fresh apple pie or apple blondie hot from the oven, if you choose.

When we arrived there were three types of apples ripe for picking.  Apples ripen earlier or later during the season depending on the type.  When we went there were galas, gingergold, and jonamac apples ready to be picked.  They recommend you bring your own bags so it’s easier on the environment too.

When you arrive you can see rows of apple trees laden with ripening fruit.  The ones which are ready are clearly marked and you’re welcome to taste while you pick.  Jonamac is a combination of a Jonathon and a MacIntosh apple and is a perfect baking apple and great for applesauce and apple butter.  We spent about half an hour going through the trees and finding the ones we liked.

After you go back to the barn area, your apples are weighed and you pay a very reasonable price per pound.  Of course we picked up an apple blondie to go too, since the smell of fresh baking was wafting through the air.  At this time of year who could resist.   Talk about farm to table!

A while ago, I picked up some steel cut oats thinking that they were similar to large flake.  Boy was I wrong.  While the oats are delicious, I hadn’t realized how much more prep would be needed for the steel cut variety.  I foolishly picked up the large bag and we’re still have about half a bag left.  Instead of always trying to use it up making breakfast, I searched for another way to use these wonderfully filling grains.  What did I find?  Honey oat loaf.  Since we have the fresh apples, why not combine the two?

This recipe requires a little prep as you have to soak the oats for a couple of hours before everything else is mixed together.  You could even do it overnight and leave them in the fridge if you like, but you really only need to soak them for a couple of hours.

After the oats have softened, place in large mixing bowl.  Preheat your oven to 350F.  Mix in your melted butter and honey while on the mixer is on low.  Add the eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Blend the dry mix with a whisk until well combined.  While the mixer in on low, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Then add 1/2 of the milk, one more third of dry, the last of the milk, and finally, the last of the dry.  You should always end mixing with the dry ingredients.  That way you can tell if your mix is too wet or dry and you can adjust accordingly.  Then fold in the diced apples.   Place even amounts into two greased 8×5 pans and bake for 70 minutes.  The dough is very dense so it needs the longer bake time.

Once removed from the oven, immediately remove from the pans and let cool on the rack.  The steel cut oats give the loaf a nice chewy texture, interspersed with the warming flavour of apple and cinnamon.

apple, oat, cinnamon, loaf, savoury, bread, farm, picking, fall, autumn, harvest

Apple Oat Loaf

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 2 loafs

Ingredients

  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water boiling
  • 4 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup honey liquid, not creamy
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups apples peeled, small dice

Instructions

  1. Place steel cut oats in a large bowl and cover with the two cups of boiling water. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 2 hours. Stir once half way through.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt butter and honey then stir into bowl with oats.
  5. Beat egg into milk and alternately add milk mixture and flour mixture to large bowl with oats stirring with a wooden spoon as you add each. Do not over mix, just mix to combine wet into dry. Fold in diced apple pieces.
  6. Generously spray two standard size loaf pans (8X5) with non-stick cooking spray and scrape the dough into the pan, using half the batter for each. Using a spatula, smooth out the top then place in oven for 70 minutes (one hour and ten minutes), or until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean. The dough is dense so we recommend leaving in for the full 70 minutes.
  7. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve with additional drizzled honey.

Recipe Notes

Note: this bread is not meant to be that sweet.  I personally like to use more tart apples for a greater contrast in taste.  Experiment and let me know how you do.

Zucchini Loaf

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert, A couple of months ago I planted some zucchini sprouts purchased from our local garden centre.  Every year I seem to lose my memory about how abundant zucchini plants are under ideal conditions.  This summer’s crop is doing really well.  We’ve had quite a bit of moisture this season.  Some farmers are complaining it’s too wet, while others say their yield is the best they’ve seen for years.  You can’t please everyone.

We went away last week to do some camping for the weekend and came back to find two huge zucchinis tucked away under the leaves.  I had thought I found most of the small ones, but for some reason there’s always one or two which I overlook.  Needless to say, the ones I didn’t pick were about the length from my elbow to my fingers, about a foot and a half.  So, I picked them and thought about what to do with all this wonderful bounty.

First I made some muffins.  It’s my go-to for using up stuff.  Then zucchini tots.  They are like tater tots, but use zucchini instead of potato.  Basically toss some grated zucchini in a large bowl with some bread crumbs, egg, salt, pepper, grated cheese, and garlic.  Press into little bite-size balls and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  Yummy and fast.

Then came the loaves.  I’ve made 10 so far and there will be more coming.  Erma Bombeck talked about being that neighbour who has so much zucchini that you end up sneaking next door in the dead of night with little gift baskets filled with zucchini and ringing the doorbell.  As you crouch behind the potentilla, You spy your neighbour gingerly pick up the basket expecting an abandoned child or pet and pull back the gingham.  A cry of exasperation comes from their lips as they realize they’ve now been cursed with the gift of produce.

When we were visiting Newfoundland a few years ago we took a drive up the Northern peninsula to visit L’anse Aux Meadows.  It’s a national historic site which shows when the Vikings visiting the northern part of the island thousands of years ago.  As you’re driving up the highway you have to first be on the lookout for moose.  That highway is famous for accidents involving moose and cars.  Unfortunately neither the car with its passengers nor the moose fair well when they meet.  Always be careful driving, especially at dusk.

One other thing you’ll notice is along the highway there are gardens.  I thought it a bit peculiar to see a fenced garden just plopped along the highway.  Most of the plots that we were driving past were started in the late 1960′s when the highway was constructed. Up until then gardening had been a challenge due to the lack of plentiful and fertile soil along the coast. However, when the major road was built the dirt was piled up alongside the road where it could be put to great use in growing the main Newfoundland crops of potatoes, cabbages, and turnips.

While our garden isn’t along the highway, I wanted to share some of the bounty with my zucchini loaf recipe.  This recipe is fairly easy and you can add raisins or chocolate chips for variety.  I’ve added some All Bran buds for a little extra fiber.

Preheat your oven to 375F.  In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini.  Mix to combine.  In a separate bowl add the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and soda.  Mix with a wire whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients.  With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients to your wet.  Mix until you can’t see any more flour.  Then add the All Bran Buds.

Pour into a prepared 8X5 loaf pan.  I spray mine with cooking spray, but you can butter and flour the pan if you prefer.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center of the loaf.   Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.   Then remove from the pan and let cool completely.

zucchini, garden, newfoundland, highway, dessert,

Zucchini Loaf

These moist and not too sweet loaves will help you use up all that wonderful zucchini you have been blessed with.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs large
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce unsweetened (one serving cup)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups zucchini, grated OR 2 cups frozen grated.zucchini
  • 3 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup All Bran Buds

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. In your mixing bowl combine the eggs, oil, sugar, apple sauce, and vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Then add the grated zucchini. Mix on low until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder. Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk until evenly distributed. With you mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet. Combine until you no longer see any flour. Add the All Bran Buds cereal.
  4. Pour into a greased 8X5 loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. It's done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and let cool on the rack completely.
  5. Makes 8-10 slices.

Recipe Notes

I like to take some of the moisture out of my grated zucchini before I bake with it.  You can toss the grated zucchini with some salt and then place the zucchini in a fine sieve.  Place the sieve over a large bowl to catch the liquid.  Let sit for a least an hour.  Afterwards pat dry with a clean dish towel.  You can also use paper towel.

 

Lemon Partridgeberry Bars

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluckCan you feel it?  The days are getting warmer and thoughts are turning to having a couple of months off for summer vacation from school, or going out to the lake for the weekend with family, or just hanging out on the patio with some good friends and good food.

As the days get warmer, I love experiencing the fresh tastes that becoming more seasonal.  A friend used to give me some of her Meyer lemons from her tree every year and I would whip up some tarts or squares.  Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter than the regular ones from the store.  A nice subtle lemon flavour.

This week I was asked to make some goodies for a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  The request was for all things gold or yellow.  I immediately thought of lemon squares and prepared those.  They were a hit.  I then noticed that I still had a little leftover partrigeberry jam from the time I made the partridgeberry marshmallows.  I know that lemon goes well with raspberry and cranberry and partridgeberries have a similar flavour profile.  So why not?  The worst thing is that they will taste horrible and I’ll chuck them in the bin.

Luckily they tasted amazing.  I love the sweetness of the meringue topping, the tart lemon filling, and the amazing unique flavour of partrigeberries.  All piled on a crispy shortbread crust, you can’t go wrong.

Note:  This recipe uses a pre-packaged lemon pie filling mix.  Shocking, I know.  While I will try to make things from scratch,  I wanted to use this mix first because of its ease of use.  And I’ve always loved the Shirriff lemon pies.  I have not been compensated in any way by Shirriff or their parent company in any way.  (Although, if anyone from there is reading this, I wouldn’t mind some wonderful products, if you’re inclined.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more.)

Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.  You’ll thank me later for this.

For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar.  Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.  I like to first start with the pastry cutter to get all the larger pieces of butter incorporated, but finish off with my hands.  (Clean, of course.)  That way I can feel for any larger pieces of butter which may have escaped the cutter.  Plus I can take in the lovely aroma of fresh butter mixing with the flour.  I don’t know why, but it’s one of the favourite baking smells.  You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly.

Now press the shortbread mixture in the bottom of the 9×13 pan until you form a nice, even layer.  It’s okay if you see flecks of butter still in the crumb.  Just make sure there isn’t any larger chunks.  Now bake the crust for 20-25 minutes.  The edges should be a little brown when you take it out.  While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam.  Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends.  The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily.  Set that aside.

Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup.   This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water.  I wanted the filling to be more firm so I reduced the water.  Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer.  It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.

Now, preheat your oven to 425F.  Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over.  (The yolks went into the lemon filling.)  Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it’s still mixing.  Whip until you have firm peaks.  Spread on top of the lemon filling.  You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges.  Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.  Keep and eye on it though.  Mine was done at 4 minutes, but you should know your oven.

This dessert is best made the day of, because the meringue has a tendency to sweat if left to sit for too long.  Place the pan in the fridge to cool for a couple of hours.  Once cool carefully remove the bars from the pan.  This is why I asked you leave some parchment over the sides.  This way you can lift the whole thing out of the pan and place on a board for cutting.  I cut the bars into 18 pieces but you could easily cut them smaller for bite-size morsels.  Enjoy with your favourite iced tea.

lemon, meringue, partridge, berry, lingon, shortbread, dessert, bar, Dr. Oetker, Shirriff, mix, potluck

Lemon Partridgeberry Bars

A wonderful lemon flavour combined with partridgeberries. Amazing!
Servings 18 squares

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Unsalted cold

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup partridgeberry jam
  • 2 packages Shirriff Lemon Pie filling
  • 4 large eggs separate yolks, save whites for meringue

Meringue topping

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a 9X13 pan with parchment, making sure the parchment comes up the sides.
  2. For the shortbread crust combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse bread crumbs. You can use a food processor to do this, but use the pulse button until the butter is mixed in accordingly. Press into a nice even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 pan.
  3. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes. The edges should be a little brown when you take it out. While the crust is still warm add the layer of jam. Use a spoon or an offset spatula to make sure you have an even layer of jam going all the way to the ends. The heat from the crust with help spread the jam easily. Set that aside.
  4. Prepare the pie filling as the packaging suggests, EXCEPT reduce the warm water by one cup. This recipe uses two packages of pie filling which calls for four cups of warm water. Once the filling is set, spread it on top of the jam layer. It should be thick, and will set completely once it cools.
  5. Now, preheat your oven to 425F. Prepare the meringue topping with the egg whites left over. (The yolks went into the lemon filling.) Whip the whites until you have a soft peak, then add the sugar while it's still mixing. Whip until you have firm peaks. Spread on top of the lemon filling. You can make a nice design with the meringue or even pipe it with a rosette piping tip to give you the nice ridges. Bake for 5-7 minutes to give the browning on top.
  6. Let the lemon bars cool completely before cutting. Place in fridge for a couple of hours. Remove the bars from the pan and cut into squares.

Recipe Notes

Partridgeberry, or Lingonberry jam can be found in most Newfoundland stores, or your local Swedish furniture store.  Raspberry can be substituted as well.

Rum Spiced Banana Bread

rum, banana, bread, loaf, dessert, sugar, screech, newfoundlandSo if you have been following my blog, you would have realized that I made the lovely Portuguese orange cakes the last time and they were topped with sanding sugar.  And if you haven’t been following my blog, then sign up for updates so you don’t miss out on the fun and food.

Anyway, I bought the sanding sugar and, of course, had a little left over because I wasn’t sure how much I would need for the last recipe.  Needless to say, there may be a few more recipes coming your way which have sanding sugar in them.  Oopsee.

There were a few bananas which were going off and getting too soft to enjoy so they were placed in the freezer for later baking.  I don’t know how that happens.  It seems that the bananas go from green to overripe in days.  I have all the best intentions about eating them for breakfast, or throwing them in a lunch bag, but when I get around to it I just don’t feel like eating bananas that day.  So they ripen.

Banana bread has become such a common dessert and you’ll find millions of variations out there with a myriad of ingredients and extras.  I wanted something fairly simple (read: one bowl mixing) and a subtle nod to my home province of Newfoundland.  What would be easier than throwing in some Screech?  Booze is better in most things.  Right? Right? –crickets chirping–

The thing about banana bread is that your bananas have to be as ripe as you can stand it.  That’s the good thing about throwing them into the freezer when they reach the peak ripeness.  That way you can preserve all the sweetness of the sugars in the fruit, without all the peskiness of attracting fruit flies.

Don’t get me started.  I left some bananas out to ripen once and within a couple of days I was finding little fruit flies everywhere.  It was like that scene in Amityville where the flies are covering the windows.  Freaky.   Needless to say, I throw them into the freezer before things get too out of hand.

Preheat your oven to 350F and put the ripe bananas in your stand mixer and mix on low.  You want the bananas to be mushy, almost liquid-like.  The softer the better.  You’ll get more banana flavour if they are really ripe.  Still mixing on low, add the melted butter, sugar, eggs, and rum.

Then mix your dry ingredients.  You can throw everything in the mixer, but I personally like to mix my dry ingredients first to make sure everything is evenly distributed.  Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add that slowly to the wet mixture and blend until clear.  That is, you don’t see any more flour in the batter.  Do not overmix as the bread will be too chewy.

Pour into a greased eight inch loaf pan and set aside.  In a small bowl combine a couple of tablespoons of sanding sugar and a little bit of the rum.  You want the sugar to absorb the rum, but not be soaking.  You don’t want the sugar to dissolve.  Sprinkle the sugar on top of batter and bake for 50 minutes on the middle rack.  Use the knife test to check for doneness.

Let the loaf cool in the pan on a rack for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the pan an let cool completely.  Serves 8-10.rum, banana, bread, loaf, dessert, sugar, screech, newfoundland

Rum Spiced Banana Bread

This light banana bread has the subtle flavour of rum and a pleasing sugary crust.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 3 bananas very ripe
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Screech Dark rum
  • 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp sanding sugar for topping the loaf

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In stand mixer on low with the paddle attachment, mash the bananas until soft. The bananas should be very well broken down. Add the melted butter, sugar, egg, and rum.
  3. In a separate bowl combing the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  4. With the mixer still on low, add the dry ingredients. Mix until clear. Pour the batter in a greased 8 inch loaf pan.
  5. In a small bowl combine the sanding sugar and a few drops of rum. Mix until moistened. Sprinkled the flavoured sugar over the top of the batter. Bake for 50 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick or until a inserted knife comes out clean.
  6. Let the loaf cool on a rack in the pan for at least 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely. Serves 8-10 slices.

Portuguese Orange Cakes – Bolinhos de Laranja

portuguese, orange, cake, dessert, portugalThe story of the Portuguese presence in Canada dates back to the Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although it is not clear who may have landed in Canada prior to John Cabot’s historic voyage in 1497, it is believed that Diogo de Teive who set out from Lisbon in 1452, had previously explored the east coast of Canada. His exploration would eventually influence the likes of Christopher Columbus. It is well documented that Portuguese explorer Gaspar Corte-Real landed in Newfoundland in 1501. His statue stands proudly in St. John’s today.

Statue of Gaspar Corte Real in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Evidence of the Portuguese presence is manifest in the many places names of Portuguese origin in Atlantic Canada. Most notable perhaps is the name Labrador which is believed to be named after João Fernandes, a “lavrador,” (a farmer).

Some historians contend that after the Vikings the first attempt at a establishing a permanent colony in Canada was lead by navigator Alvares Fagundes circa 1520. The location of this settlement has never been found but believed to have been somewhere in Cape Breton. Although no permanent communities are known to have lasted, the Portuguese presence in Atlantic Canada continues to this day while men fish for cod on the Grand Banks.

If you have the time you can take the Baccalieu Trail. Baccalieu is derived from the Portuguese word for codfish.  This 230km trek will take through such charming places as Heart’s Content, Cupids, and Heart’s Desire.  You eventually find yourself reaching Baccalieu island off the coast.  Offshore, Baccalieu Island bears witness to the potential menace of the North Atlantic. The wrecks of more than a dozen ships lie under the waters that surround the island. Baccalieu Island Ecological Reserve has 11 species of seabirds nesting there, making it the most diverse seabird colony in the province. The island hosts 3.3 million pairs of Leach’s Storm Petrels, and thousands of puffins and black-legged kittiwakes and other birds each summer. The foxes that share the island with the birds rarely go hungry.

There’s even the Bacalao restaurant in the capital, St. John’s.  The owner, Andrea Maunder, celebrates the food and culture of the province while keeping the menu hyper-local.  Many of the menu’s ingredients are grown locally or hunted locally.  Drop by and give them a try.

I found this wonderfully simple recipe for these light orange cakes that take no time at all.  They are fluffy, light, and have the fresh orange citrus flavour.  Perfect as a dessert for a party or get-together.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 muffin pans.
In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until the eggs are pale yellow and fall in ribbons. Stir in orange juice, butter and vanilla until well combined.
Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up.  Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Sprinkle the top of each cake with some sanding sugar and return pans to the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 2 minutes.  Sanding sugar is a coarser sugar.  Its crystals are larger and will give your cakes a nice crunch.
Allow the pans to cool 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently unmold. Let the cakes cool completely.
portuguese, cake, orange, dessert, portugal

Portuguese Orange Cakes - Bolinhos de Laranja

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 24 minutes
Servings 24 cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup orange zest rind of two oranges
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • sanding sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 muffin pans.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and orange zest.
  3. In a separate bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until the eggs are pale yellow and fall in ribbons. Stir in orange juice, butter and vanilla until well combined.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. The mixture will froth a little. Pour the batter into the muffin cups filling them 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Sprinkle the top of each cake with some sanding sugar and return pans to the oven. Turn the oven off and leave them in there for 2 minutes. Sanding sugar is a coarser sugar. Its crystals are larger and will give your cakes a nice crunch.
  6. Allow the pans to cool 5 minutes then run a knife around the edge of each cake and gently unmold. Let the cakes cool completely.

Summer Savoury Biscuits

savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quickAsk anyone from the province about savoury and they will tell you that it’s a staple in most Newfoundland kitchens.  Summer savoury is an annual herb and is hearty enough to survive the short Atlantic growing season.  It’s flavour is similar to the winter variety and is sometimes used as a substitute for sage.

Newfoundlanders use summer savoury mostly in stuffing, or as we call it, dressing.  This is the stuffing that you will find inside your holiday turkey.  One of my favourite uses is to have chips with Newfie dressing.  That is french fries which are covered in a deep rich brown gravy, then you add fried onions and dressing on top.  It can be found in most restaurants on the island.

There was a small place in Windsor called Hiscock’s.  Unfortunately the store is closed and a candy/ice cream shop is in its place.  Hiscock’s was famous for its chips and dressing.  They were open late into the night and one could go there after staying out with your friends and scarf back some loaded wedge fries.

Hiscocks, newfoundland, windsor, grand falls, drive-in, fast food, fries
Hiscock’s Drive-In

These fries were amazing.  Thick wedges of potatoes, battered and deep fried.  The outside was crispy and inside was light and fluffy.  The way a french fry should be.  These would then be piled into a takeout container the similar shape as those rectangular Chinese takeout containers.  Then you would choose your toppings.  My personal favourite was dressing and gravy with deep fried weiners.

Remember this was the time in my youth when I didn’t care about calories or what I ate.  I was a skinny teenager.  Oh how things have changed.  I would get the fries, dripping with lovely brown gravy, layered with the savoury dressing, and peppered with little pillows of weiners (these were deep fried too).  Heavenly and amazingly good.

Summer savoury can be used in other applications too.  I found a lovely recipe for biscuits and decided to add the savoury to the recipe.  Similar to a scone, these biscuits are light and fluffy, and are very quick to make.  They are perfect as a side to mostly any main, but they are best if you have something in a sauce or gravy.  That way you can use the biscuit to sop up the excess.

The original recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but you can use butter.  Preheat your oven to 450F.  Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sage, savoury, thyme and salt. Cut in with a pastry blender or forks the shortening.   PRO TIP:  Freeze the shortening and grate.  Then add to the dry mix.  Easier to get the small pieces covered in flour.  Add the milk and combine until the dough comes together.   Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough until the flour in incorporated, about 8-10 times.  Try not to overwork the dough.  You don’t want gluten to form which would make the biscuits too chewy.  You can check out my post about bread rescue and it will give you some pointers on how not to overwork dough.

Flatten the dough until it’s about an inch thick.  I just used my hands, but you can use a rolling pin if you want.  Cut the dough into rounds and place on a greased (or Silpat lined) baking tray.   When I was a child I watched my grandmother use an old Swartz mustard glass dipped in flour.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  My rounds were about 3 inches in diameter.

Swartz Mustard Glass

An aside. Back in the 1960s, you could get mustard in these really cool glasses with card suits on them.  I guess the Swartz mustard company thought that people would continue to buy their product to get a whole set. There were ubiquitous in most kitchens across the island.  I only remember a couple of glasses at my grandparent’s house, but they may have lost some along the way.

 

Enjoy these wonderful fluffy, savoury biscuits.  Don’t forget to drop me line and subscribe so you won’t miss out on any posts.savoury, biscuits, bread, bun, quick

Quick Savoury Biscuits

These wonderfully light, fluffy biscuits are perfect for any main. Make lots as they will disappear quickly.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes
Servings 6 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried summer savoury
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening Butter may be substituted - keep cold
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Mix well.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, cut in the shortening until finely incorporated. Then add milk and bring together into a dough. Turn out into a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times. If the dough is too dry you may have to add a little milk.
  4. Flatten to about an inch thick with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut into rounds. Reshape scraps and flatten to cut out more rounds. Do this a maximum of two times or the dough will be too tough. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden. Cool on rack. For best results serve slightly warmed.