Basil Pesto – it’s like Green Gold

Intensely flavourful, herbal, cheesy, and garlicky – what’s not to love about fresh basil pesto? If you’ve got a bounty of basil in your garden, you’ve got the makings for this classic Italian sauce that livens up every dish you can think of to plop it onto.              (Skip to recipe)

ingredients for classic basil pesto with Parmesan and pine nuts

Tomayto, tomahto? How do you say it? How about basil – is it bay-zil or bah-zil?

Well I say bah-zil, and I like it that way. I guess it’s closer to the German word for the herb – Basilikum. Upon a little Wikipedia poking, it seems the UK and European pronunciation is bah-zil (ˈbæzəland the US pronunciation is bay-zil (ˈbzəl). Here in Canada, both tend to be used interchangeably.

However you say it, basil is a herb beloved by many people. Its name comes from Greek and means ‘king of herbs’. It’s quite delicate, as herbs go – not handling cold weather well, turns black quickly when cut or exposed to heat, freezing, or acid, loses a lot of its flavour when dried, and doesn’t keep more than a few days once cut. But basil’s fantastic fresh flavour is what makes it king of the herbs. It’s most often used fresh in recipes or added in the last few minutes of cooking to preserve that taste, which is herbal, slightly licorice, even a bit sweet and perfumey, yet pungent – hard to describe. Sweet basil (or Genovese basil) is one of the main herbs used in Italian cooking. Thai basil or lemon basil are very popular in Thai and southeast Asian cooking, and holy basil is widely used in Indian medicine and teas and in Ayurvedic practices.

And we love beautiful basil here in North America, too.

beautiful leaves for the basil pesto

a heaping pile of sweet basil

Basil is one of the herbs included in Italian seasoning mix and lends its flavour to many Italian dishes. It’s added to canned Italian tomato products and sauces. But the herb’s most well-known use is probably in that wonderful classic – basil pesto; vibrantly green and intensely garlicky, slightly cheesy, pungent, yet with that herbal sweetness that comes from using fresh basil leaves.

classic basil pesto, with pine nuts and garlic

With a jar of basil pesto in your fridge you’ve got the makings to elevate any meal to gourmet status. Slather it on pasta of course, but you can also coat steamed new potatoes with it, add a spoonful to vinaigrettes or salads, plop some on top of freshly grilled or pan-fried meats or seafood, stir it into eggs, plop it onto pizza, layer it on sandwiches and burgers . . . . the possibilities are endless.

a spoonful of classic Genovese basil pesto - so good

We’ve got a couple basil plants in our garden – enough to use in salads or on sandwiches, but not enough to really indulge ourselves or roll in it like I do in my fantasies. (That would be heaven!) So last week when a generous friend came visiting with a big plastic grocery bag stuffed full of fresh basil from her garden, I knew what I was going to do – after restraining myself from shoving my face into the bag, rooting my nose around in the fragrant leaves, and inhaling myself into a basil-stupor.

I knew I had to make pesto – lovely classic Genovese basil pesto. The word pesto comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound or crush. If I was going to be strictly traditional, that’s what I’d do. But I’m not (traditional, I mean). I’m lazy. Plus, I don’t have massive, muscly biker arms or Italian mama pesto-pounding shoulders. I use my food processor. I’m done in five minutes and have jars of beautiful green elixir to use fresh or to freeze for a taste of Italian summer when we’re in the depths of winter.

basil pesto ingredients in the food processor

smooth basil pesto

trimmings from the basil pesto

Earlier this year I made and froze a batch of out-of-this-world garlic scape pesto (also with the lazy food processor method), so now I’ve got some of both squirreled away in the freezer.

And if you’ve got a bounty of parsley on your hands – why not try the zesty Argentinian chimichurri sauce? Another amazing green-power flavour blaster!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Don’t worry if you don’t have exactly the right amount of basil leaves on your hands – there’s no little kitchen police who define exactly what ‘lightly packed’ or ‘tightly packed’ means when relating to springy leaves. Just use a couple good big handfuls – anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of leaves would work. If you’ve got more leaves, just add a drizzle more oil at the end to get the right consistency.

The same goes for the other ingredients, too; a big handful of Parmesan, a small handful of pine nuts, and a sprinkle of salt work as well as the amounts I’ve given below. Trust your instincts. Go by taste.

classic basil pesto - green and flavourful

Classic Basil Pesto

  • ~3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves (100gms), thick stems removed
  • ½ cup (60gms) grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup (35gms) pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top

Place the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarsely ground.

Keep the motor running and add the olive oil in a thin stream, until the pesto is emulsified and smooth with a slightly chunky texture.

Divide into jars, and smooth the surface of the pesto with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top and swirl the jar to coat the pesto evenly with the oil. This helps prevent the top from oxidizing and turning black. (And no worries – the blackened bits are fine to eat, even if they don’t look as bright and fresh.)

Fresh basil pesto lasts for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you can’t use it all up, pesto freezes well.

*To freeze pesto: Either fill ice cube trays with pesto and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag – they’ll keep for up to six months. Or fill small jars or containers, leaving a half inch headspace, then pour a slick of oil on the surface of the pesto, seal, and freeze for up to a year.

Makes 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml).

Guten Appetit!

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Rich and flavorful, classic Genovese Basil Pesto

You might also like:

Garlic Scape Pesto – Summer Magic

Chimichurri Sauce – on Steak, Salmon, Potatoes and Just About Anything Else!

Romesco Sauce – Fantastic on Grilled Chicken

Simple Marinara Sauce

Beet Hummus

Posted in Condiments, Sauces & Dips, Herbs, How-to-Basics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Chili Powder

Raid your spice cupboard and quickly stir up this flavourful homemade chili powder. Ten ingredients that make a rich and complex mix. You won’t want to buy the commercially-made stuff again. (Skip straight to recipe)

homemade chili powder in a jar

Chili powder seems to be kind of a North American thing. We love our chili, don’t we?

When cooks in the rest of the world see the words ‘chili powder’ in a recipe, they think of straight-up ground chili peppers (which we would call cayenne). However, to us North Americans, chili powder is the prepared mix of spices that is the principle seasoning in that spicy ground meat and bean dish (though, no beans if you are a purist) called chili con carne or just chili. It’s also used to flavour many other Tex-Mex dishes. We tend to use chili powder liberally in all sorts of southwest-inspired foods like tacos, bean dishes, enchiladas, and pulled pork or carnitas.

homemade chili powder; 10 ingredients

There are as many recipes for chili powder as there are companies that make them, each with their own signature ingredients and varying heat levels. However, if you have a stocked spice cabinet, it’s easy to throw together your own homemade chili powder mix. Here’s a good base recipe, rich and complex, with a moderate heat level. You can take it from there – adding a touch more or less of each ingredient to suit your taste, or adding other favourite spices of your own. I love the subtle richness that comes from adding a bit of cocoa powder (an ingredient used in some savoury Mexican dishes, like molés).

homemade chili powder; layers of spices in jar

Try your homemade chili powder in this easy Number One Chili or in these super tasty Lentil Sloppy Joes.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I’ve kept the heat level to moderate in this chili powder mix, preferring to add spice to individual dishes if I want them ‘hotter’. That way I can customize recipes by adding more cayenne or chipotle or fresh hot peppers directly when cooking, depending on the crowd I’m feeding. (Or you can always pass the hot sauce at the table.)  However, you can also increase the amount of cayenne in the homemade chili powder mix if you’d like more heat.

easy homemade chili powder - 10 ingredients you probably have in your cupboardsHomemade Chili Powder Mix

*All spices used are ground, except for the oregano which can be ground or the finely crumbled dry herb.

1 tablespoon of each:

  • cayenne pepper
  • chipotle pepper or smoked hot paprika
  • fine sea salt
  • sweet paprika
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • unsweetened cocoa powder

plus:

  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Mix all ingredients. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Makes a generous ½ cup (about 80gms).

Guten Appetit!

 

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homemade chili powder, pinterest long

You might also like:

Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Mix

German Lebkuchen Spice Mix

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

Super Easy One-Cup Chili Recipe

Posted in How-to-Basics, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Homemade Chili Powder

White Bean and Yellow Beet Hummus – a Great Snack for Sailing

This rich and luscious golden beet hummus is extra smooth and creamy. The beets add a silkiness that is hard to achieve with beans alone, and add a very subtle, sweet earthy flavour to this beloved dip. Plus a little trick in processing the hummus helps add to the creaminess, too. (Skip directly to recipe.)

white bean and golden beet hummus with veggies

‘The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” ~Jacques Cousteau

Well, lakes do that for me, too.

golden beet hummus; sailboat on Wabamun Lake

Being on the water thrills my soul. I grew up around boats – mostly river boats and motor boats, but the thrill was still born in me – the feeling of total freedom that comes when you skim the waves and feel all your cares just flitter away across the sparkling water. Bye bye worries. Or that feeling of weightlessness as you lay in a gently rocking boat, looking up at the blue, blue sky above you – fully understanding how tiny you really are within our vast universe. And how tiny your cares are, too. For a short while, you can forget it all and just imagine that you are heading off into the unknown, off into a bright blue future. Who knows where that boat may take you?

golden beet hummus; heeling sailboat on Wabamun Lake

I had my fix again this year; my boat-in-the-water-breeze-in-my-face sailing fix. Earlier this summer, Raymond and I had a skim across the waves with our friends. (Did I say before how lucky we are to have friends who own a sailboat?)

golden beet hummus; Skipper Ian checking out the sails

Skipper Ian checking out the sails

We hit a day of glorious wind again this year. Flying across the water in full sail, with the boat heeling so much I could feel the delicious spray and touch the cool water with my fingers, was a thrilling ride; soul-cleansing. I could feel the cobwebs blowing out of my head, leaving space for beautiful new thoughts.

golden beet hummus; out on the sailboat

Raymond at the tiller and Sabine watching the water

Then last week I got to go and play on the boat – our annual girl’s night sleepover (I guess Sabine decided she could brave my snoring for a night, once again!) Packing up my cooler of snacks and bringing my sleeping bag always feels like I’m heading off to grown-up summer camp, ready for adventure.

golden beet hummus; sailboats at Sunshine Bay Sailing Club

Adventure definitely called my name this time. Sabine and I headed off for a kayak trip to explore the little tributary we paddled into last year.

golden beet hummus; pushing off from the dock

Sabine set off first – notice how the water level is well below the dock?

We paddled into the reeds, up the little creek that felt like we were in another world – far from lake and land.

golden beet hummus; kayaking the tributary

golden beet hummus; kayaking near Wabamun Lake

uh-oh, can’t go any farther, a tree has fallen and blocks the creek

However, as I was paddling, I was having more and more trouble steering my kayak. It kept wanting to go in circles, and I’d have to compensate by paddling hard on one side to get it straight again, then it’d do a little pirouette in the other direction. Cantankerous thing! By this time I was saying some not-very-ladylike cuss words under my breath. It was more and more work. My bum shoulder was getting sore, and I just wanted to get back to the bloomin’ dock.

With a lot of effort and some more bad words, I got my wonky kayak to the dock – and then thought, “Uh-oh.”

The surface of the dock is about 2 feet above the water level. Somehow I had to heave myself out of the kayak, up onto the boards, without capsizing the very light and very unstable vessel. My shaking shoulders did not feel like they had the strength to pull my body weight up.

Well, you can imagine what happened . . .

Yup. More cuss words as the kayak wobbled this way, then wiggled that way, then did a nose dive and started filling with water – with me frantically throwing my camera onto the dock. I tried desperately to stay upright and keep my leather slip-on sandals on my feet (smart footwear choice, huh?), all the time trying to heave myself up onto the boards . . . to no avail. The kayak sank. I was in water up to my armpits. Luckily there was a fellow nearby tending his boat, and Sabine called for help. Between the two of them they were able to drag, pull, and flop me up onto the dock, where I lay ignominiously – a streaming, water-logged, red-sweatered whale.

Thankfully there were no photos to document that little adventure.

golden beet hummus; drying clothes on the sailboat

my soggy clothes drying on the boat

After drying off and a change of clothes, it was heaven to sit on the boat, drink in hand, nibbling a few appetizers and watching the sunset. Looking back, I realized my problem had probably been that I’d forgotten to put my feet against the footbraces in the kayak (thinking of canoeing), and maybe been putting pressure unevenly on the floor of the kayak, causing me to go in circles. Either that or my kayak was possessed!

Enough water for one day.

golden beet hummus is part of our snack selection on the boat

Time for those nibbles. We feasted on smoked salmon with horseradish cream cheese and mini buckwheat blintzes, olives, and this amazingly creamy golden beet hummus with veggies. I even cut a raw golden beet into sticks as part of the dipping veggies – yummy!

golden beet hummus goes good with a drink at the end of the day

cheers!

We love hummus, and even though you can buy tubs of hummus everywhere, it’s so easy to make your own. Cannellini beans and golden/yellow beets make a fantastic difference – the dip becomes lusciously silky and smooth. These beautiful beets are from Peas on Earth organic farm, at the Strathcona Farmers Market. They turned my hummus from ordinary to out-of-this-world.

beautiful golden beets for beet hummus

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Hummus freezes well. I like to keep half the batch for eating fresh and freeze the rest in a small freezer-safe container for another day.

Hummus gets much more mellow after the first day. So if you find the garlic taste too strong when it’s freshly made, wait a day. Conversely, if you find the hummus has lost some of its oomph on the second or third day, give it another squeeze of lemon juice to freshen it up.

Whizzing the lemon juice, oil, and tahini together first gets them to emulsify and get creamy before you add the beans and beets. This step helps make an even more creamy dip.

*To cook the beets, trim off the tops, scrub them, and cover them with water in a large saucepan. Bring them to a boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer the beets until tender when pierced with a fork. This can take anywhere from a half hour to a full hour, depending on the size of the beets. Drain. Set a colander in the sink under the water tap. Hold the beets under the stream of cold running water and rub off the skins with your fingers. The colander will catch the skins. You can also wrap the beets in tin foil and roast them in the oven at 400°F/200°C until tender, then remove the skins with a paring knife.

white bean and golden beet hummus with dipping carrot

White Bean and Yellow Beet Hummus

  • 1 can (14oz/398ml) cannellini beans or white kidney beans (or 1½ cups cooked beans)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) tahini paste
  • juice of one lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small ones)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1½ cups diced, cooked yellow/golden beets* (220gms), 2 – 3 medium sized beets

Set the beans aside in a sieve to drain (no need to rinse them).

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne. Whiz until the ingredients are creamy and emulsified.

Add the beans and diced beets, and whiz until very smooth. This may take several minutes.

To serve, drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne, if desired.

Serve with raw veggies, crackers, or pita bread pieces for dipping.

Freezes well.

Makes about 2½ cups.

Variation: Use red beets for a beautiful, brilliant, magenta-coloured beet hummus.

Guten Appetit!

 

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White Bean and Golden Beet Hummus - silky, smooth, and luscious. A subtle earthy flavour.

You might also like:

Shrimp Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing – and a Beautiful Day for Sailing

Pimm’s Cup Cocktail – the Perfect Sip for a Day of Sailing

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad

Blueberry Mayonnaise

golden beet hummus; sign at the sailing clubhouse

drinks on the deck after a sail

golden beet hummus

sunset at Wabamun Lake

golden beet hummus; sailboats at sunset

Posted in Appetizers, Beans & Legumes, Condiments, Sauces & Dips, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summery Sweet Green Pea Soup with Dill, and a Bounteous Garden

This light and lovely green pea soup is wonderful hot or cold – a perfect summer meal. All you need is a bag of frozen peas and a bit of dill. So creamy, but not a drop of cream in it. You’ll want to make this again and again.
Skip directly to recipe.

Summer Green Pea Soup with Dill

Thankful.

That is the word I feel when I look at my lush and bountiful garden. Thankful for all this goodness at its bursting sweet best. Corn is as tall as a house, beets as big as my fist, sweet nobbly carrots, potatoes as big as shoes, and herbs growing with wild abandon. The path down the middle of the garden is no longer a path, but an obstacle course of sprawling yellow calendulas and tipped-over flowering cilantro. I need to step over the crazy red poppies I love to leave growing where they will, and force my way between the leg-tangling leaves of kale. The potato plants are up to my waist!

green pea soup; lush garden 2017

green pea soup; the herb bed next to the greenhouse

the herbs are thriving

What happened to this garden when my back was turned? When did it turn into a jungle? It’s been a strange year for growing. Some things didn’t germinate at all and others became massive monsters. I planted peas twice, and still only have a few plants – just enough for a little nibble here and there. Lettuce didn’t even peek its head out of the ground, even though I tried seeding it several times. Kohlrabi went into hiding – didn’t feel like growing this year, and the pole beans are just starting to meander their way around the teepee poles.

Yet the corn is eight feet tall, and the potatoes have become as big and tangled as a bramble patch – I have no hope of seeing where the rows are. Parsnips are up to my knees and tomatoes up to my armpits. We’ve even got a small watermelon growing – the first one ever.

green pea soup; the garden's bounty - a basket of vegetables overflowing

We cannot keep up with all that wonderful produce. Yet here I am, making soup with a bag of frozen peas. Yes, you may ask why.

  1. No peas in the garden – except a few spindly plants.
  2. Need to make room in the freezer – gotta use up stuff.

It’s like that fairy tale where the food just keeps appearing on the table. Our freezer magically keeps filling itself so I never have more than a smidge of room to put something new into it. So I took out a bag of peas and made a little divot where I can now add a bag of fresh garden beans. I don’t think I’m really solving my problem. Hmmmm.

I’ll have to have some soup while I figure that one out.

Sweet fresh green pea soup – it’s a taste of the garden in a bowl. The light flavour and smooth texture are a delight; spoonfuls of silk slipping down your throat. Bright grassy notes of dill complement the sweet base of green peas. A splash of apple juice adds a subtle tang. It all comes together for a little taste of green garden heaven.

When a friend drops by and you can share a bowl, you are sharing a bit of summer.

holding a bowl of green pea soup

I’m feeling thankful. (Frozen peas are a blessing, too.)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: If you’ve got fresh peas – use ’em. But only if they’re nice and small. If they’re too ripe, peas can be mealy and bitter and totally change the tone of this soup. Frozen peas tend to be picked when they’re smaller and sweeter, so they are often a better option for fresh pea soup.

To make this soup vegan, use oil instead of butter and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

lovely bowl of green pea soup with dill

Sweet Green Pea Soup with Dill

  • 2 tablespoons butter or ghee (use oil for vegan & dairy-free version)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups chopped)
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 6 cups frozen peas (one 750gm/26oz. bag), or use fresh young peas if available
  • 4 cups (960ml) chicken or vegetable stock (use vegetable stock for vegan version)
  • 1 cup (240ml) unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ cup (20gms) packed, finely chopped dill (remove stems before measuring or chopping)

Heat butter in a 3 or 4 quart/litre heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 – 8 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and soft.

Add the peas, stock, apple juice, bay leaf, salt, and white pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Remove the bay leaf.

Purée the soup in a blender, in two batches, or use an immersion blender, until it is silky smooth. Return the puréed soup to the saucepan. Add the dill and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or pepper if it needs it (depends on how salty your stock was). Reheat the soup just until it starts to simmer. Serve and garnish with dill fronds.

* Alternately you can serve the soup cold. It’s also delicious that way, on a hot day.

Serves 6.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Green Pea Soup with Dill

You might also like:

Sweet Corn Bisque – a Bowl Full of Summer

Green Soup

Gazpacho – a Cool Soup for a Hot Day

Garlic Lentil Soup

Posted in Soups & Stews, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Apricot and Evans Cherry Crisp

This marriage of apricots and tart Evans cherries is made in summer-fruit heaven. Top it with crispy, oaty, buttery crumbs for a fantastic dessert. (Or a delicious breakfast – I won’t tell.) Skip to recipe.

Apricot and Evans cherry crisp - the taste of summer

The Evans cherries are almost ripe.

The trees are loaded, and I’ve been sneaking out to pick a few of the reddest ones. I know many people pick them as soon as they’re medium red, but I like to wait until the sour cherries are deep dark red and have more sugars developed, even better after a light frost if I can wait that long. They’re still mouth-puckering, but the flavour is deeper. This year, the Evans cherries are a little early. They usually ripen in late August to early September in our area, but if you can stand to hold off, you’ll have amazing sour cherries. They don’t seem to suffer for a longer wait, staying on the the tree and just getting sweeter.

Evans cherry crisp; tree loaded with fruit

I love seeing those trees, abundantly adorned with their ruby jewels. It gives me such pleasure.

Evans cherry crisp; loaded branch of cherries

It wasn’t that long ago that we couldn’t even grow sour cherries in Alberta – the Evans has only been available to the public since about 1996. It was developed in practically our own back yard. Alberta horticulturist, Dr. Ieuan Evans, discovered an unknown strain of sour cherry trees growing in an old orchard northeast of Edmonton where they had been producing cherries since 1923. He propagated the suckers and distributed them everywhere, and within years, the Evans cherry exploded in popularity, now being grown all over Canada and into the United States and other cold climate countries in the world. The trees reach 10 to 15 feet tall and are easy to grow. They are reliable producers of heavy sour cherry crops, with large juicy cherries almost an inch across.

Evans cherry crisp; cherries on tree, tart and juicy

This is what summer tastes like – soft baked fruit, tart and juicy, topped with a crunchy crumbly topping of buttery crumbs. Yes.

I found beautiful B.C. apricots at the farmers market and what better way to showcase them than together with our beautiful Alberta sour cherries?

Apricot and Evans Cherry Crisp; BC apricots and Alberta cherries - what a team

Look at those glowing jewels.

apricots and cherries for the Evans cherry crisp

apricots and cherries ready for a rumble. . .er, crumble

The snuggle up all cozy together under their blanket of crumbs to make this:

Apricot and Evans Cherry Crisp fresh out of the oven

fresh out of the oven and ready for ice cream

 * * * * *

Kitchen Frau notes: Substitute other sour cherries if you don’t have Evans cherries. You can also substitute peaches or nectarines for the apricots.

Check out my post on a nifty trick to easily pit those delicate and juicy Evans cherries.

have a bowl of apricot and Evans cherry crisp

Apricot and Evans Sour Cherry Crisp

  • 2 cups diced apricots, ¾ inch/2cm cubes (340gms)
  • 2 cups pitted Evans sour cherries (320 gms pitted) or other sour cherries; see how to pit Evans cherries
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ½ cup (100gms) sugar (preferably organic evaporated cane sugar)
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1/3 cup (75gms) soft coconut oil or butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (125gms) lightly packed brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • ½ cup (50 gms) oat flour, gluten-free if necessary
  • ½ cup (50gms) ground almonds/almond meal
  • ½ cup (45 gms) rolled oats (quick oats), gluten-free if necessary

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Put the diced apricots and pitted cherries into a 9-inch (23cm) square or 10-inch (25cm) round baking dish. Sprinkle with the almond extract and toss lightly. (It will distribute more evenly when baking.)

In a small bowl, mix together the ½ cup sugar and the cornstarch or potato starch, until no lumps remain. Pour this mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, cream the coconut oil, salt, and brown sugar until well combined. Beat in the oat flour, ground almonds, and rolled oats until well mixed and crumbly, or work them in with your fingers.

Spread the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream, frozen yogurt, or whipped cream.

Leftovers are great for breakfast with yogurt.

Serves 6.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Luscious apricots and juicy sour cherries snuggle up together under a crispy crumb crust in this heavenly dessert combo. Not so bad for breakfast either!

 

You might also like these other Evans Cherries recipes:

How to Pit Evans Cherries

Evans Cherry Pie

No-Bake Evans Cherry and Coconut Bars – a Delightful Use for Evans Cherries

Evans Sour Cherries in Brandy

Posted in Canadian Food, Desserts, Puddings & Such, Fruit | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Cornmeal Crusted Fried Trout, Garlic Baked Potatoes, and the Call of the Loon

A little bit of heaven; fresh-caught trout, cornmeal-crusted and fried to crunchy crispness just hours after it was swimming in the lake, and a steaming baked potato, buttery and rich with sweet roasted garlic. 

crispy cornmeal crusted fried trout and steaming garlic baked potatoes - a meal fit for a king

I’m back from the lake.

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; chair on the dock at Francois Lake

We went to the cabin.

I saw my dad everywhere.

I saw him in the cabin, lovingly built from logs, the place he was happiest at.

I saw him in the dock, now falling apart, that he built with timbers he’d sawn himself  and the metal hardware he’d forged by hand.

I saw him in the sauna stove, welded from iron scraps saved in his yard.

I saw him in his chair in the cabin kitchen, untangling fishing lures and organizing his tackle box before he headed out.

I saw him in the lake, how we’d see the speck of his boat in the distance, hour after hour, trolling for char or casting for trout.

I saw him in his boat, the one he built from scratch, as he came chugging in to shore, grinning proudly with a pail of fresh-caught fish.

I saw him in his workshop, an Aladdin’s cave of metal pieces, cans of bolts, bits of motors, oars, and wires.

I saw him in the trees, as the wind blew through the branches. I saw him there, whistling as he walked the mossy trails.

I saw my dad everywhere . . . and it was so hard . . . but he felt so close.

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; the old boat and crumbling dock

the crumbling dock and old boat dad built, still seaworthy but sadly missing its owner

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; fireweed at forest's edgecornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; Francois Lake cabin

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; cabin roof peeking out from the fireweed

This was a bittersweet trip to our family cabin on the shores of Francois Lake in British Columbia. Wonderful to be in that familiar place, on that beautiful lake, in our cozy cabin, within hugging distance of family that I see so seldom these days. But overhung with a heavy chore . . . heavy in our hearts. We came to spread my dad’s ashes at his beloved lake.

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; the shoreline of Francois Lake

we spread my dad’s ashes at this beautiful part of the shoreline near his old dock.  just after we finished, a family of loons (seven of them, like my mom and dad and us five girls) came swimming out and stayed close to the shore in front of us, totally unafraid.
evermore, I will think of my dad when I see a loon or hear its haunting cry

My dad passed away six years ago, just shortly after I started this blog. The hole that ripped into my heart then is still there – the edges may be a little less jagged and it may be a tiny bit smaller, but it’ll always be open. It’s a part of me now.

Valentin Bose (January 15, 1936 - June 30, 2011) photo collage

Dad was born in a German community in Russia in 1936, one of ten children in his family. Part of the many Germans displaced and expelled from Eastern Europe during WWII, he grew up fleeing, living in concentration camps, and as a refugee in Western Germany. He left school at age 14 to apprentice as a blacksmith, then emigrated to Canada with his family in 1955 at age 19.

He met my mom in English night classes for immigrants and they fell in love, getting married in the house he built for them in New Westminster, B.C. They went on to have five daughters (including me) and many adventures. My dad was a restless soul, always looking for a place to put down roots. Consequently we moved a lot between B.C. and Alberta. He worked as a metal fabricator in a sawmill at the coast, owned a blacksmith shop in northern Alberta, was a sugar beet farmer in southern Alberta, a grain farmer in northern Alberta, a commercial fisherman on Vancouver Island, and a welder/fabricator in northern B.C., with many other jobs and locations in between. I remember him pounding ploughshares on the anvil in his blacksmith shop when I was a child – I loved watching him dunk the glowing metal into a vat of water, sizzling and spitting, to harden the iron. He taught me how to drive the tractor on our farm in southern Alberta and how to ride a horse. He took me hunting with him when I was a teenager. I remember many camping trips as we were growing up. I loved taking my Nancy Drew book and making a nest out of life jackets in the bow of the boat, laying in the sunshine as the water gently lapped and rocked the boat and my dad steered and fished.

Dad lived life with gusto. He had many interests and talents. He could build anything out of metal or wood. He built river boats from patterns he drew on the back of cigarette packages. He built houses and motors and trailers. He could fashion costume parts for school plays and make kitchen tools and garden implements out of metal scraps. Dad could fix anything that was broken.

He was an avid reader, never without a book in his hand when sitting down. He loved playing cards and watching old Westerns, and was a great dancer. He and mom were a joy to watch as they twirled in elegant unison. He taught all of us girls to dance, and drive, and fish (though I haven’t practiced enough to be good at it).

Dad would help out anyone who needed it. He was interested in everything, had strong opinions, and didn’t suffer fools. He drank a bit too much in the early years, but quit totally in his later years. Same thing with smoking. He loved my mom and he loved us girls, but was a stern and strict father. Dad mellowed a lot as he got older, tearing up when he saw his grandchildren, telling us he loved us, and proud as punch of all of us, though still displaying flashes of his strong and irascible opinions.

Dad’s main passion was fishing – he was a master. He could catch fish when and where no one else could. He was the fish whisperer. Locals around the cabin described the bay in our corner of the lake as the one where ‘that guy is always out in his boat fishing’. He bought their property on Francois Lake because my mom loved eating Arctic char and this cold, deep lake was where he could find them.

So in honour of my dad, here is a recipe for fresh fried trout and garlicky potatoes – a meal he would have loved.

* * * * *

Crispy Fried Trout – a Delicious Way to Use the Catch of the Day

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic potatoes; three cleaned trout

our neighbour at the lake took my nephew, Kristian, out fishing and they caught these three lovely trout

cornmeal crusted fried trout; stuffed with lemon slices

dip ’em in cornstarch, egg, and cornmeal, then stuff ’em with lemon slices

cornmeal crusted fried trout


then fry ’em up

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potatoes

Cornmeal Crusted Fried Trout

  • 3 to 4 fresh trout, gutted and cleaned (no need to scale them)
  • ~ ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) cornstarch or flour (gluten-free flour or regular flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • ~ ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) fine cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper, plus more as needed
  • 2 slices of lemon per fish (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons oil

You can leave the heads on the trout, or cut them off if you wish – it may depend on the size of skillet or griddle you have.

Rinse the trout and pat them dry. Sprinkle the inside of the body cavity with salt and pepper.

Put the flour into a bowl, large plate, or small pan.  Put the eggs into a bowl or pie dish and beat them with a fork. Combine the cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a flat dish or pan.

Dip the whole fish into the cornstarch or flour, using your fingers to sprinkle it onto any parts of the outside of the fish not covered.

Then dip the fish into the beaten egg, making sure it is all moistened.

Last, dip the fish into the cornmeal, sprinkling cornmeal on any parts not covered.

Cut the lemon slices in half, and tuck four halves into the belly of each trout, if using them.

Heat a large heavy cast iron skillet or large griddle on medium heat on the stove or on a grill set over a campfire. Add the oil.

Fry the fish, turning them once the bottom side is crusty and browned and the flesh has turned opaque. Depending on the size of your fish, it should take about 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Serve with additional lemon slices.

Serves 4 to 6, again, depending on the size of your fish and the size of your appetite. Small fish (about ¾ of a pound, live weight) will serve one person each. Larger fish can serve two. But when I’m out in the fresh air and hungry, I can easily eat a whole large fish myself!

Serve the Trout with these Fantastic Garlic Baked Potatoes

fried trout and garlic baked potatoes; cut out a wedge

cut out a wedge

garlic baked potatoes filled and ready

garlic baked potatoes; seasoning the spuds

Because of the province-wide fire ban (due to the exorbitant amount of forest fires in British Columbia this year), we baked the potatoes in the woodstove in the sauna hut. Look at those beautifully glowing coals – juuuuussst right.

garlic baked potatoes; into the oven

into the woodstove they go

 

cornmeal crusted fried trout and garlic baked potato

Garlic Baked Potatoes

  • whole baking potatoes
  • fresh garlic cloves
  • butter or oil
  • salt and pepper
  • other spices or seasoning mixes, if desired (like curry powder, chili powder, or steak seasoning)
  • tin foil/aluminum foil
  • parchment paper (optional)

Tear or cut tin foil into squares. Line each square with a smaller square of parchment paper if desired. Wash the potatoes and pat them dry. Place a potato onto each square of tin foil.

Cut a thin wedge lengthwise out of each potato. Cut the garlic cloves into thick slices and if the butter is hard, cut it into long slivers. Stuff the slit with 3 or 4 slices of garlic cloves and fill it with slivers of butter, or if the butter is soft, spread it into the slits. Alternatively, if using oil, drizzle oil liberally over each potato. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with spices, if using them.

Pull the sides of the foil squares up around the potatoes and fold over the long edges several times. Roll up the ends and press the foil firmly up against the potatoes, molding it closely to the potato.

Place the potatoes into the hot embers of a campfire, wood cookstove, or into a hot oven (about 425°F/220°C). If you’re using a campfire or wood stove, they’re easier to handle if you place the potatoes in a metal barbecue basket, but you can also lay them individually directly into the coals. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the potato feels soft and gives a little when you press on it with a finger (covered in a tea towel). If your potatoes are smallish, check on them at 45 minutes.

Serves 1 potato per person.

Guten Appetit!

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The best campfire meal - fresh trout fried to crusty perfection, served with garlic-stuffed baked potatoes. Summer heaven

You might also like these other posts about the Francois Lake cabin:

Lazyman Skillet Bannock – Cooking at the Cabin – 2016

Juniper Berry and Raisin Stuffed Pork Chops and Summer at the Cabin – 2015

Campfire Baked Potatoes – a Nifty Trick – 2014

End of Summer at the Cabin and Bannock Biscuits – 2013

Rich Creamy Succotash – and a Trip to the Lake – 2012

Nature’s Gifts: Fresh Trout, Morels, and a Side of Bannock – 2011

Posted in Barbecue & Grilling, Fish & Seafood, Potatoes, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Saskatoon Jelly

Preserve up the bounty of sweet summer saskatoon berries in jars of glistening saskatoon jelly. A special ingredient helps enhance the berries’ natural flavour. (Skip to recipe)

jars of homemade saskatoon jelly

I’m heading off to my parents’ cabin, and before I go I want to to leave you with another saskatoon recipe – in case you’re still dealing with the delicious tail end of your berry harvest.

For years, I made very little jam or jelly, since my mother-in-law supplied us with a veritable treasure chest of jewel-toned jars filled with every fruit or berry that could be jammed or jellied: topaz lemon/marrow to golden apricot to ruby raspberry to deep amethyst-black saskatoon and every gleaming shade of jam or jelly in between.

Now, Granny’s off the farm and enjoying her rest (painting and crafting up a storm), so I’ll have to start jammin’ again. I’m not very musical, so my ‘jamming’ is of the sweet edible variety and involves fruit and sugar.

Our saskatoon harvest has been abundant this year.

we've had a great crop of saskatoons - great for saskatoon jelly

And I’ve been making my kind of music in the kitchen.

The jelly kettle has been bubbling, and I’ve been humming along (as long as there’s nobody within hearing range – the dog doesn’t count).

Saskatoons are such a luscious berry. They’re sweet and nutty, with floral and slightly almond overtones. So hard to describe and incomparable to any other berry out there.

close up of saskatoon berries for saskatoon jelly making

In the system of scientific classification for plants, saskatoons belong to the same botanical order (Rosales) and family (Rosaceae) as roses. Reading that was an ‘aha!‘ moment for me. Of course. That would explain the faint floral flavour. The berries almost look like little purple rosehips and they’re full of seeds, too (though much more juicy than rosehips).

Adding a touch of rosewater to this homemade saskatoon jelly is a magical flavour enhancer, bringing out the sweet best in those wonderful berries – a natural pairing. That subtle hint of rosy flavour takes the jelly from fruity to fantastic.

Don’t be Afraid of Making Jelly

It’s easy!

Just cook up the saskatoon berries with a bit of water.

Dump them into a jelly bag or damp tea towel laid into a colander (which is set into a large bowl).

making saskatoon jelly

my mom sewed me a jelly bag out of an old sheer nylon curtain. she serged the edges and it measures about 14 inches square. but you can use an old tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, too

Tie up the bag around a wooden spoon.

Saskatoon Jelly Making

gather up the two sides and tie them over the spoon handle

Leave to drip.

saskatoon jelly - dripping jelly bag

set a bowl on the floor between two chairs and rest the ends of the spoon on the chair seats for an unorthodox but easy way to let your jelly bag drip

And voilà – you’ve got a beautiful clear juice you can now cook up to make your sparkling, wibbly, wobbly saskatoon jelly.

Your morning toast and jelly experience will be a gourmet treat.

Or use the saskatoon jelly to make this amazing creamy, fruity, saskatoon ice cream. (You can’t get that flavour in a store!)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Of course you can omit the rosewater and still have a wonderful, simple saskatoon jelly with a full fruit flavour.

Rosewater is made by steeping rose petals in water – pure, simple, edible rose essence. It can be found in import stores and some large supermarkets.

Bottled reconstituted lemon juice is recommended in jelly making since its acidity is standardized – more reliable than using fresh lemon juice, which can vary greatly in acidity levels. A certain amount of acidity is necessary in jelly making to ensure a pH level that will promote jelling and prevent spoilage.

homemade saskatoon jelly tastes great on toast

Saskatoon Jelly

  • 2 kg (4lb, 6oz) saskatoons (14 cups/3½ quarts of berries)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons/90ml) bottled reconstituted lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
  • 7½ cups (1.5kg) sugar
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin (170ml in total)

* The jelly might not set if you double the recipe – make one batch at a time.

Pick over the saskatoons. Rinse them and drain them well. (See an easy saskatoon cleaning technique here.)

Combine the berries and the water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the juice by pouring the cooked berries into a jelly bag hanging over a bowl. (Tie the corners together and slip a wooden spoon through, under the knot. Hang the spoon between two chairs. (See photo above.)

If you don’t have a jelly bag, you can makeshift one by using a clean damp tea towel (it will become stained) or layering 3 to 4 sheets of cheesecloth into a colander. Moisten the cloth, add the berries, gather up the corners, and tie them into a bundle. Leave the fruit to drip for 3 to 4 hours – until you have 3½ cups juice. Do not squeeze the fruit or you’ll have cloudy jelly. If you don’t get quite enough juice, you can top it up with water to make 3½ cups.

Prepare and sterilize canning jars. Run clean jars through the hottest setting in your dishwasher and leave them in there to stay hot until you need them. Set the metal lids into a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring them to a simmer and leave them simmering on low heat, to fish out of the water directly when you seal the jars.

In a large saucepan, combine 3½ cups prepared saskatoon berry juice, lemon juice, rosewater (if using) and sugar. The pot should be no more than half full to allow plenty of room for the boiling jelly. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat.

Stir in the liquid pectin, squeezing all the pectin out of the pouches. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and skim off any foam floating at the top of the jelly.

Working quickly, pour the jelly into warm, sterilized jam jars to within ¼ inch of the top. Wipe any drips on the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Cover with sterilized lids and seal, screwing jars finger-tight. Let cool undisturbed. You should hear the lids “pop” as they seal and see that the vacuum has sucked the lid down so it doesn’t move when pressed with a finger (but don’t press the lids until the jars are completely cooled.)

If any jars didn’t seal (the lid will still bulge upward slightly and moves when pressed with a finger), store those jars in the refrigerator and use within a few months.

Makes 8 cups (8 half-pint/250ml jars).

Guten Appetit!

 

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Homemade saskatoon jelly is a delicious way to use up your saskatoon berry bounty.

How about some of these other delicious saskatoon recipes:

Gluten Free Saskatoon Scones

A Method to Easily Clean Saskatoon Berries

How to Freeze Saskatoons

How to Can Saskatoons and Make Saskatoon Preserves

Saskatoon Ice Cream and Saskatoon Jelly

Saskatoon Roll or Saskatoon Cobbler

Saskatoon Slump

‘Prairie Mess’, a Delectable Dessert with Saskatoons and Rhubarb

Saskatoon Juice

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

Posted in Canning & Preserving, Saskatoons | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Saskatoon Jelly

Gluten Free Saskatoon Scones

If you’re lucky enough to be within arm’s reach of a saskatoon berry bush or two (or you’ve got a stash in the freezer), you can celebrate their short but sweet season with some fantastic baked goods – like these light, flaky, tender saskatoon scones. Put the kettle on! (Skip to recipe)

gluten free saskatoon scones with a dab of butter and a cup of tea

Saskatoon berry picking season is upon us. There’s no hiding those stained fingers and purple lips.

saskatoon stained fingers are worth it for saskatoon scones

Our bushes are heavy with their juicy gifts.

bushes loaded with saskatoons for saskatoon scones

can you find the little critter hiding in the leaves?

Berry picking is my therapy; it’s my medicine and my outlet. Pulling down a leafy branch and methodically plucking off all the dusky purple orbs lulls me into a calmer place, a place where worries flutter away on gentle breezes. I am completely in the here and now; this bush and this moment. All my thoughts are centered on plucking the next perfectly ripening cluster. Hours can slip away before I notice the krick in my neck and the cramp in my arms. My fingers are a deep purple and my mouth gives away the fact that I’ve been stuffing juicy handfuls on the way to the berry bucket.

Growing up, saskatoon picking was a treat, a break from other busy farm chores. It gave us a chance to pack up the pails and a picnic lunch, hop into the old farm truck, and head for the forests and fencelines. Mom always knew where the plumpest berries were hiding.

But so did the bears.

Seed-studded bear droppings and flattened grass wallows where the creatures had been snoozing between berry pig-outs were the signs we watched for. We made sure to make lots of noise so the bears would stay far away. Luckily the closest we ever got was seeing the odd bear ambling lazily off in the distance or running across the road as we drove away.

Now we have our own saskatoon berry bushes planted in our yard, and I don’t have to worry about bears any more. Some of the thrill, that flit of danger, is gone, but the joy is still there.

This weekend we had fun times picking berries with friends. We’re starting to make headway on harvesting the crop.

handful of plump berries for saskatoon scones

Loreto and Nicoletta of the lovely blog SugarLoveSpices were here to help pick. As you can see, we had canine and feline helpers, too.

saskatoon scones - picking berriessaskatoon scones - raymond picking berries

The sun shone and the berries beckoned.

luscious ripe saskatoons for saskatoon scones

Those luscious purple beauties have found their way into jams and jellies, smoothies, pies, juice, and ice cream.

And they also slipped into these delectable scones.

freshly baked saskatoon scones

Whip up a Batch of Gluten Free Saskatoon Scones

saskatoon scones - loose, crumbly dough

stir together a light and flaky dough

dump out the saskatoon scone dough

load it with saskatoons and dump it onto the counter

saskatoon scones, shaping the dough

pat, pat, pat – shape the dough

saskatoon scones cut in triangles

cut some pretty triangles

saskatoon scones cut and ready for the oven

and into the oven they go

have a saskatoon scone with butter

then slather with butter and enjoy warm

Kitchen Frau Notes: Both fresh or frozen saskatoons work in this recipe, but I actually prefer to use frozen ones, since they are firm and don’t get squished when you work them into the dough, causing occasional purple streaks (which add a rustic look, though).

The glaze with egg and sugar is optional, but it does help the saskatoon scones to brown nicely, since gluten free baked goods often lack that. (The scones in the photos are a bit browner than my usual ones, since I got busy ‘saskatooning’ and kinda forgot them in the oven – still delicious, though.)

saskatoon scones with a cup of afternoon tea Saskatoon Scones

  • 100 grams brown rice flour (¾ cup)
  • 100 grams millet or sorghum flour (¾ cup)
  • 150 grams sweet rice flour (1 cup)
  • 150 grams potato starch (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons guar gum or xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup cold salted butter or dairy-free margarine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned premium full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups frozen saskatoons
  • extra sweet rice flour for rolling out the dough
  • Optional – beaten egg and granulated sugar or coarse sanding sugar for topping

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper or greasing it well.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter or margarine with a pastry blender or two knives until it is the size of marbles.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, and beat in the coconut milk and vanilla.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dough until all the loose flour has been mixed in and it looks like a bowl full of large crumbles. There should still be some largish lumps of butter to be seen.

Add the frozen saskatoons and mix them in lightly, using your hands if needed. The mixture will still be quite crumbly.

Liberally dust the countertop with sweet rice flour. Dump half of the crumbles onto the floured countertop in a pile. Using wet hands, keep pressing the crumbles together into a rough ball, then alternate flattening the top of the ball with using the flattened palms of your hands to push in the sides of the ball until you have a flat disk about 7 inches in diameter. Press in any stray saskatoons as you go. You may need to re-wet your hands during the process.

Cut the disk into 8 wedges with a sharp knife. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula or offset spatula, slide it underneath the wedges and lift them carefully onto the prepared cookie sheet, again pressing in any stray saskatoons as you pick up the wedges.

Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.

Optional: brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar or coarse sanding sugar.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 16 scones.

Guten Appetit!

 

Sign up here to receive new Kitchen Frau recipes directly to your email inbox, and get a handy and useful kitchen tip with each recipe.

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Gluten free saskatoon scones long image

How about some of these other delicious saskatoon recipes:

A Method to Easily Clean Saskatoon Berries

How to Freeze Saskatoons

How to Can Saskatoons and Make Saskatoon Preserves

Saskatoon Ice Cream and Saskatoon Jelly

Saskatoon Roll or Saskatoon Cobbler

Saskatoon Slump

‘Prairie Mess’, a Delectable Dessert with Saskatoons and Rhubarb

Saskatoon Juice

Pork Chops with Saskatoon and Green Apple Chutney

Posted in Breads, Biscuits & Other Baking, Saskatoons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Garlic Scape Pesto – Summer Magic for Garlic Lovers

Garlic Scape Pesto is a magical, flavour-packed green sauce – intensely garlicky and delicious when used raw; gently garlicky and mellow when used warm. You’ll want to hunt down some garlic scapes to make this amazing pesto. (Freezes well, too.) Read on for other ways to use garlic scapes, if you’re lucky enough to get some.

garlic scape pesto piled high in jar

What do you do when the veggie gods grant you a marvelous garlicky gift?

You make Garlic Scape Pesto, of course!

garlic scape pesto - bright emerald green

Two days ago a friend dropped off a plastic grocery bag full of fresh garlic scapes she’d just cut in her garden that morning. (Thanks, Ronaye!) I hate to admit such a nerdy thing, but I got giddy with excitement. Do you think maybe I need to lead a little less boring of a life?

Does any kind of food do that to you – make you weak at the knees with anticipation of what you are going to do with it? (Please, please admit that it does and I won’t feel like such a weirdo.) I imagined a bowl full of glistening green pesto, rich and garlicky and ready to slather on pasta, potatoes, or even sandwiches. I thought of grilling some of the wacky-shaped green coils for garnishing all manner of dishes and making them look fancy. I drooled over thoughts of garlic scapes snipped into sautés and hashes, risottos, and stir fries.

garlic scape pesto - a bag full of scapes

Garlic does that to me. I love it in all its forms.

In fact we’re kind of a garlic-loving family. Whenever my relatives get together, it’s not uncommon to find a bowl of peeled garlic cloves on the table at lunch – for guests to help themselves and slice onto their salami sandwiches. Yeah, you probably don’t want to be around us unless you chow down on a clove or two yourself, so you get swallowed into the garlic haze and aren’t fazed by our ‘heavenly perfume’.

What are Garlic Scapes?

Garlic scapes are the flower stalks and buds of hardneck garlic plants, and they are removed in May or June to encourage the garlic bulbs to grow larger, rather than putting their energy into flower production. Lucky for us garlic lovers, since garlic scapes are delicious – they taste just like garlic but in a more herbaceous, grassy way. Garlic scapes are a delight to use, and their alien-looking tendrils are quite beautiful in their own way. (They actually look lovely tucked into flower bouquets, too.)

If you don’t grow your own garlic, or have a garlic-growing friend, you can find garlic scapes at local farmer’s markets in early summer or sometimes you can find them straightened and bundled at Asian import grocery stores, labeled as garlic stems.

garlic scape pesto - 3 beautiful curls

How to Prepare and Store Garlic Scapes

To use them, you snip off the buds and usually just use the stems. If the buds are still soft and tender you can just snip off the long stringy, pointy tips and use the buds too, but if they’re tough, discard the whole flower buds and use only the stems.

Garlic scapes keep for weeks in a loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They can even be chopped and frozen for use later – no blanching required. Just stick em in a zip-top freezer bag.

How to Use Garlic Scapes

They are delicious grilled – just toss them with a bit of oil and salt and pepper. (Trim off the stringy tips of the buds first). Place the whole scapes directly on the grill and cook them for 2 or 3 minutes on each side. They’re like garlicky grilled asparagus – they just look way cooler. It’s surprising how mild and sweet the garlic flavour gets once the scapes are grilled.

Garlic Scapes can be used raw or cooked: snip them into any kinds of egg or potato dishes, stir fries, frittatas, stews, salads, soups, or make them into this amazingly delicious pesto.

garlic scape pesto with scapes

Garlic scape pesto is intense and potently garlicky when raw. A smear on a sandwich or burger is heavenly. However as soon as the pesto is subjected to a whiff of heat, the garlic aroma surprisingly mellows to a sweet savoury umami flavour. It’s tamed right into submission. You’ve got two different beasts in one amazing sauce: a roaring garlic-fierce lion or a sweet garlic-whiffed pussy cat.

Toss a few spoonfuls of it with hot steamed new potatoes and it becomes a gentle green blanket for the spuds. Toss a blob of the shiny green pesto with a pot full of drained hot pasta and you will be smacking your lips in mellow garlic rapture. Or stir a small spoonful into a pot of barely cooked green peas for a delicious side dish. Smear the pesto onto a pizza instead of tomato sauce, or brush it on grilled meats, fish, or kebabs. You can use it in marinades, too.

Stir a spoonful of garlic scape pesto into scrambled eggs, or dollop it on top. Stir it into hot cooked rice or swirl it into cream soups for artistic effect and a fantastic flavour boost. Stir a few spoonfuls of pesto into a homemade vinaigrette to make a delicious salad dressing.

Stir it into equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise for a green garlic dip. Drain a can of cannellini beans and toss them with a spoonful of garlic scape pesto plus some additional oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for a great summer salad.

Use garlic scape pesto wherever you’d use regular pesto. Plus, it freezes well, so you can enjoy it when the depths of winter return to us (pretend I never said that).

* * * * *

main ingredients for garlic scape pesto

Kitchen Frau Notes: Parsley helps negate the effects of garlic on our breath, so I’m hoping it helps do the same thing in this pesto. Maybe there won’t be dragon breath on the day after eating it! Let me know if it works for you, in the comments below.

Don’t forget that the intense garlic flavour of the raw pesto is totally transformed into mellow garlic delight as soon as it’s exposed to a little bit of heat – even when stirred into hot dishes.

So this pesto is like two different dishes in one: an awesome garlic-powered showstopper when raw and a gentle garlic-infused flavour booster when heated.

Jar of garlic scape pesto

Garlic Scape Pesto

  • 1 cup (140gms/5oz.) chopped, trimmed garlic scapes
  • 1 cup firmly packed parsley (90gms), leaves and stems
  • ¼ cup (35gms) pine nuts or pistachios
  • ¼ cup (35gms) grated Parmesan cheese
  • zest and juice of half an organic lemon (~ 1½ teaspoons zest + 1½ tablespoons juice)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup (120ml) olive oil

Lightly toast the pine nuts or pistachios in a small heavy skillet over medium heat til golden in spots – about 3 to 4 minutes.

In a the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic scapes, parsley (stems and leaves), toasted nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper.

Process until everything is blitzed up. Leaving the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, and keep processing until a smooth chunky sauce is achieved.

Scrape the lovely green pesto into a jar. Seal and refrigerate. Will keep for a week or two in the fridge.

*Garlic Scape Pesto freezes very well. Seal it in small jars or freezer containers and freeze for up to 6 months. Or you can freeze it in ice cube trays, then pop the frozen cubes into a zip-top bag and freeze.

Makes 1½ cups.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Garlic Scape Pesto - intensely flavourful and delicious. Tips for using garlic scapes and many ways to use the pesto.

You might also like:

Garlic Lentil Soup

Chimichurri Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Summer Herb Vinaigrette and Zucchini Salad

Posted in Canning & Preserving, Condiments, Sauces & Dips | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes are the answer for a delicious meatless meal that will satisfy the whole family. Kids love ’em. Plop the flavourful lentil filling onto buns, top with cheese, and enjoy this fantastically-flavoured, fun, messy meal. (Skip to recipe)

lentil sloppy joes with on a toasted bun, with cheese

Cooking with Meredith

Kids (and grown-ups) love meals that are flavourful, comforting, and maybe a little messy to eat. Sloppy Joes fit the bill. What differentiates a Sloppy Joe filling from a regular thick meat sauce is that it’s slightly sweet ‘n sour. And what differentiates these Sloppy Joes from the regular ones is that they’re made with lentils. Delicious, fiber-rich, nutrient-rich, fun-to-eat lentils. Hearty and filling. Loaded with tangy-sweet flavour. A great way to sneak in a meatless meal more often.

eating lentil sloppy joes - fun and messy

Kids will be asking for them again and again.

Meredith and I had fun cooking these up. She loved chopping the veggies and measuring the spices.

We served our Lentil Sloppy Joes on buns with a side of carrot curl salad.

lentil sloppy joes with a side of carrot salad

You can pile the filling onto a bun, top with shredded cheese, and eat the whole thing like a drippy hamburger, leaning over your plate and using lots of napkins – Meredith’s choice. Or you can pile the dressing onto both halves of the bun and eat it in a civilized manner with knife and fork – my choice.

open faced lentil sloppy joes

(Though I must admit, Meredith’s way is much more fun!)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can use any kind of lentils for this, but big green lentils and brown lentils work best because they get softer when cooked and cook apart a bit more, so they make a nice sloppy joe texture. If you need to use green Puy lentils or black lentils, cook them a bit longer, until they start to get somewhat mushy.

*If you can’t find gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, use 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of gluten-free soy sauce instead.

You can use your favourite commercial chili powder mix, or this easy and delicious homemade chili powder.

To make these Lentil Sloppy Joes vegan, use the substitution above for the Worcestershire sauce and use vegan buns and a vegan cheese substitute, or omit the cheese on top.

We used gluten free O’Dough’s hamburger buns, but you could also serve the Lentil Sloppy Joes with crackers to dip in, or on top of rice or short pasta.

 

lentil sloppy joes on a bun

Lentil Sloppy Joes

  • 1½ cups big green lentils
  • 4½ cups water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 onions
  • 1 red or green bell pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can (156ml/5.5oz) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (see Notes, above)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (gluten-free if necessary, see Notes, above*)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

to serve:

  • 6 buns (gluten-free if necessary), like hamburger buns, or Kaiser rolls
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • crushed red chili flakes (if anyone wants added spice)

Combine the lentils and water in a saucepan. Stick the two whole cloves into one of the peeled garlic cloves. Add this and the bay leaves to the lentils. Bring the lentils and water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with the lid, and simmer the lentils for 30 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, peel and dice the onions. Mince the remaining two cloves of garlic, or push them through a garlic press. Cut the green or red bell pepper into thin strips, then cut the strips crosswise into small cubes, and mince the celery finely or cut it into small cubes.

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the garlic, onions, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté, stirring often, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are all softened. Set aside.

When the lentils are finished cooking, fish out the bay leaves and the garlic clove with the cloves stuck in it. If the cloves have slipped out of the garlic, try to find them, but if you can’t – don’t worry too much about it. You don’t need to drain the lentils.

Add the sautéed vegetables to the lentils, and add the tomato paste and the rest of the ingredients (except the buns and cheese).

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered and stirring often, until the Sloppy Joe mixture is thick like porridge.

Cut the buns in half and toast them. Serve the filling on top of the buns, either open-face onto both halves of the buns, or piled onto one bun. Top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle with a pinch of red chili flakes if you’d like it spicier. Add the top half of the bun if you’ll be eating the Lentil Sloppy Joes out of hand, or leave them open if eating with a knife and fork.

Serves 6.

*Note: This filling reheats well (so you can make it ahead) and it also freezes well (so you could make a double batch and stash one in the freezer for busy days). You might need to add an extra splash of water when reheating, to loosen the mixture up if it’s too thick.

Guten Appetit!

For more fun cooking projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series here.

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Lentil Sloppy Joes - deliciously savoury, fun and messy to eat, and a great meatless option. A good cooking-with-kids project.

You might also like:

Number One Chili (Super Easy Chili Recipe)

Pasta and Sausage Skillet Supper

Easy Marinara Sauce

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If you like my recipes, follow me on InstagramPinterestTwitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

Posted in Beans & Legumes, Cooking with Kids, One-Dish Meals | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments