Chia Pudding with Strawberries – Happy Birthday Canada!

Chia Pudding is the easiest thing to whip up. Just stir together these protein-packed little seeds with milk and wait for a while. They magically turn into a creamy tapioca-like pudding that’s fun to layer with fruit in a red and white parfait.

strawberry chia pudding parfaits

Happy Birthday Canada!

Today you turn 150 years young. I feel so lucky to be living in this wonderful country. Each year that goes by, I understand more about the blessings we have in this huge land, from sea to shining sea. (I know, corny, huh? But the Canadian national motto is “A mari usque ad mare“, which translates as ‘From sea to sea’, so I guess I can proudly say that.)

Watch Jonathan Torrens lovely song to thank Canada for being wonderful.

Compared to so many other countries, we are just a baby, but I think that’s what makes us so special in a way, too. We get to write our own history. We are an amalgamation of all who have come here. Canada is a land of many faces and cultures, from the Indigenous Peoples who roamed the prairies and forests first, to all who have come since.

I’m a first generation Canadian. My parents were immigrants to this country in the 1950’s, refugees from Germany, displaced persons who found a home here. As a child I never realized how lucky I was or how special their story was. They were just Mom and Dad, telling about the hardships of their childhood. Their story was unique, and yet so similar to many many other people’s.

Now I get it. I realize that because they survived (and so many didn’t), I am the lucky one to be here. To live in this great, glorious, free country. This country that welcomed the scared, lonely, fleeing souls. This country that opened up her arms to them, and said, ‘Welcome,’ and gave them a home.

Thank you, Canada.

In honour of the red and white of our flag, I’ve made you a little Chia Pudding and Strawberry Parfait. Cheers, Canada!

Strawberry Chia Pudding and the Canada Flag

To read some of my thoughts and ramblings on what Canadian Food and Cooking means to me, check out this post (plus there’s a great recipe for Apple or Rhubarb Crisp).

On to the chia pudding.

We’ve been eating variations of chia pudding for several years now, but for some reason, I never thought to post it. It’s hardly a recipe, so it didn’t seem post-worthy. But I think I’ve been doing you a disservice. This is one of my favourite breakfasts – so simple, satisfying, and delicious – in line with this yogurt, honey, and walnut breakfast.

chia pudding - spoonful of white chia seeds

Chia seeds are mighty little powerhouses of nutrition, rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, omega 3’s, vitamins, and minerals. They’ll give you enough energy to get through the morning easily (from South America – they kept the Aztec warriors in top form). Try them in a refreshing Agua Fresca drink, too. When mixed with liquid, chia seeds soften and absorb water. They swell to about 9 times their volume, exuding a gel that makes them resemble tapioca pudding. They don’t need to be cooked – just stir them up with milk, let them sit in the fridge overnight, add a bit of fresh fruit or berries, a slurp of maple syrup or your favourite sweetener, maybe a handful of crunchy granola, and you’ve got a luscious, healthy, filling breakfast. Serve a smaller portion, with maybe an extra touch of sweetness, and you’ve got a lovely dessert. See how versatile this little seed is?

 

Two chia parfaits with whole strawberries around

You can use any kind of milk you like – dairy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, other nut milks. You can stir in a spoonful of yogurt. You can top the pudding with any kind of fresh fruit or berry, sweeten it with maple syrup, honey, stevia, or any other favourite sweetener. You can add all kinds of flavourings and garnishes to the basic recipe.

Chia seeds come in black or white. The have the same taste and same nutritional value. I use the white seeds when making a light-coloured pudding since I think they look more attractive, but the black seeds will work fine, too.

spoonful of vanilla chia pudding

I used coconut milk in this recipe

This week we’ve been tending to our friends’ yard while they’re on holidays, and I got to raid their strawberry patch! I picked a couple pails of delicious, sweet, ripe strawberries from their garden. What a gift! The flavour is a zillion times better than the supermarket ones.

strawberry chia pudding - bowl of strawberries

just look at those bright red strawberries. they’re as sweet as they look, and soft and juicy

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You will find different ratios of chia seeds to liquid if you search  online. It is all a matter of taste. I like the ratio of 3 tablespoons chia seeds to 1 cup of milk, as it makes a looser pudding. Some recipes use up to 4 tablespoons chia seeds per cup of milk, but I find that makes quite a stiff pudding. Different milks will also absorb in different amounts, so you may have to adjust the liquid depending on what kind of milk you use. If your chia pudding is too stiff, stir in a bit more milk to loosen it once it has finished soaking. Play with the ratio until you find the pudding to your liking.

I like to make a double batch of this pudding and have it in the fridge for several days for breakfasts. Sometimes I chop the leftover berries and stir them right into the pudding, and eat them the next day. In the winter, I love pomegranate seeds in my chia pudding.

Use whatever sweetener you like. The maple syrup combines well with the vanilla and adds a richness. Besides, it’s a truly Canadian ingredient!

chia pudding parfaits with strawberries

Chia Pudding Parfaits with Fresh Strawberries and Maple Syrup

gluten-free, dairy-free option, vegan

  • 1 cup milk, any kind (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 3 tablespoons white chia seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla flavoured nut milk)
  • maple syrup or other sweetener to taste
  • a couple handfuls fresh, sliced strawberries (or other berries or fruit)
  • a few spoonfuls granola to garnish, optional

Stir together the chia seeds and milk (or you can put them into a jar, seal the lid, and shake them well). Let the seeds soak, then stir or shake them again a few minutes later. Chia seeds need to be stirred a couple times in the first few minutes of soaking to prevent lumps forming. After that they are fine without stirring. Refrigerate the chia gel for at least four hours, or preferably overnight.

In the morning, stir in the vanilla and maple syrup or other sweetener to taste. (I like about 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.)

Slice up some fresh strawberries.

Plop a spoonful of chia pudding into a pretty glass. Add a handful of sliced berries. Drizzle on a bit of additional maple syrup. Add another layer of pudding, more berries, and another drizzle of syrup.

Top with a final spoonful of chia pudding. Sprinkle on a bit of granola, or top with a berry.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

The chia pudding will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Chia Pudding - easy, delicious, & nutritious. A great breakfast, snack, or dessert.

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Posted in Breakfast & Brunch, Desserts, Puddings & Such, Grains & Seeds | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Taste of Mexico: Fish Veracruz Style (Pescado à la Veracruzana)

Mexican Fish Veracruz is a light and flavourful way to prepare fish. The Spanish influence shows in the zesty olives and capers. Bring a spoon to catch the last delicious drops of tomato broth.

fish veracruz - a delicious Mexican fish dish cooked in the Veracruz style

Last week we were lucky enough to be lolling in the Mexican sunshine again. One glorious week of fiesta and beach, plus a beautiful Mexican/Norwegian wedding.

Fish Veracruz - colourful Mexico window plants

June might not be the time of year most people think of going to Mexico, but let me tell you – it was wonderful. Hot? Yes. Humid? Very. Less expensive? Yes. Warm ocean water? Absolutely! Fun, colourful, fantastic? Totally. Crowded? Not at all. Same warm and friendly Mexican people as ever? For sure!

It was fiesta time!

The son of dear friends from Mexico married his Norwegian sweetheart at a huge Mexican/Norwegian wedding in Puerto Vallarta, which included guests from eleven different countries.

Fish Veracruz - Mexican wedding

Stine, the beautiful Norwegian bride and Gilberto, her handsome Mexican/German groom

We were the Canadian contingent, flying down to Mexico for a week with two other couples, also dear friends. Wedding festivities lasted for three days, with a ‘getting to know each other’ fiesta the night before the wedding, the midday ceremony and evening reception on the day of the wedding, and a farewell brunch the day after.

fish Veracruz - Mexican fiesta and fireworks

fiesta night – delicious Mexican food, dancing, fireworks, and lots of hugging and getting-to-know fellow guests from around the world

 

fish veracruz - grandmas strewing rose petals at the Mexican wedding

everyone’s heart melted when the three grandmothers of the bride and groom came down the aisle strewing rose petals – such grace, dignity, and joy in their movements

fish veracruz - tamarind popsicles in a slushy cocktail

guests cooled down before the reception with fresh coconut water and tamarind popsicles dunked in a slushy cocktail with a chili-salted rim

Amazing memories from this joyful international wedding. And then on top of it, we had the added thrill of spending days on the beach and exploring the markets in neighbouring towns during the rest of our week.

Fish Veracruz - straw hat weaver on the Malecon

straw hat weaver going home after a long day

fish Veracruz - at the market in Puerto Vallartafish Veracruz - little Mexican dude

fish Veracruz - Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

steeple of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, known locally as ‘La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe’

Street stands everywhere sold fresh roasted corn with lime, mayonnaise, chili, and queso.

fish Veracruz - roasting corn in street stalls along the Malecon in Puerto Vallartafish Veracruz - Mexican roasted corn with lime, mayonnaise, and chili

fish Veracruz - the path to Bucerias

the path to Bucerias

fish Veracruz - sleeping watchman in Bucerias

sleeping on the watch

fish Veracruz - market in Bucerias, Mexico

market in Bucerias

fish Veracruz - Mexican Talavera potteryfish Veracruz - on the way home through the market

fish Veracruz - schoolgirls in Mexico

school’s out – these smiling girls were on their way home through the market

fish Veracruz - door in Buceriasfish Veracruz - smiling merchant in the Bucerias market

fish Veracruz - Mexican grill

one of the chef’s at our resort getting dinner on

fish Veracruz

at the beach – this view I could get used to

fish Veracruz - playing in the waves

in between wedding activities and market strolls, we played in the waves. the Pacific Ocean was as warm as a bathtub

fish Veracruz - beach ponies in Nuevo Vallarta

fish Veracruz - coconut and mango vendors on the beach in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexicofish Veracruz - Mexican masks

fish Veracruz - chip vendor on the beach in Mexico

chip vendor on the beach

At one of the beachside restaurants in Bucerias (didn’t note the name – too busy having fun and cervesas), one of our group had the Fish Veracruz.

fish veracruz in Mexican restaurant

It was baked in foil, with the vegetables and sauce piled on top of a large white fish filet. The piquant flavour reminded me of the lovely cooking class we had last year on our visit to Puerto Vallarta. We had made a version of that flavourful, Spanish-influenced fish dish in our class. Margarita’s Fish Veracruz was very simple, so I revisited that recipe, adding a few other Mexican ingredients to amp up the flavours and it turned out DELICIOUS, winning rave reviews from my chief recipe taster with requests to make it more often.

Fish Veracruz originated in the state of Veracruz on the southeastern coast of Mexico, the port where the Spaniards landed in the 1500’s. The addition of the olives and capers show the Spanish influence of this tasty fish dish.

You can make this dish easily at home. Slice up some veggies. Drain olives and capers:

vegetables sliced for Mexican Fish Veracruz

Stew them with tomatoes and spices.

stew the veggies for fish Veracruz

Fry up some firm white fish filets (I used red snapper here).

fish Veracruz - fry snapper filets

Lay the cooked fillets on top of the stewed vegetables, heat through, and enjoy – with a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, some diced onions, and a squirt of Mexican hot sauce.

fish Veracruz with red snapper filets

Even if you’re not heading off to a Mexican vacation any time soon, you can still make this wonderful dish and pretend you are partying at a vibrant tropical fiesta.

Mmmm. Olé.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Fish Veracruz is an adaptable recipe. You can omit the potatoes and carrots (or add peas as in the version from Bucerias in the photo). You can use more or less olives or capers. You can serve the fish and sauce separately, or serve individual fish filets with the sauce spooned on top. If omitting the potatoes and carrots, you can chop the bell peppers more finely and make the vegetable stew more sauce-like.

You can use any type of firm white fish, like red snapper, cod, halibut, tilapia, basa, or mahi mahi. You can even use salmon, if you like.

Just don’t forget the olives and capers and make sure to add a good squeeze of lime juice to serve.

 

Mexican Fish Veracruz with onion and lime wedges

Mexican Fish Veracruz Style

  • 2.2 lbs (1kg) firm white fish fillets (like red snapper, sea bass, mahi mahi, cod, tilapia, basa)
  • 1 large can (796ml/28oz) diced tomatoes (or 4 cups/1 litre packed, diced fresh plum tomatoes)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for salting the fish
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 24 pimiento stuffed green olives, halved (about 1/3 of a cup)
  • 4 tablespoons capers (drained if pickled; rinsed & drained if salted)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium potatoes (firm and waxy type, not baking potatoes)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

to serve:

  • chopped fresh onion
  • lime wedges (about ½ lime per serving)
  • bottled hot sauce (like Valentina or Cholula brand)
  • warm corn tortillas – optional (or crusty bread, gluten-free if necessary)

Put tomatoes and their juice, the water, and garlic cloves into a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Using an immersion blender, whiz up the tomatoes and garlic until roughly pureed. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can whiz them in a regular blender or mince the garlic and leave the tomatoes diced for a chunkier sauce.) Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, oregano, marjoram, and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, to combine the flavours.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare the vegetables. Halve the olives and drain the capers. Core the bell peppers and cut them into long thin strips. Cut the onion in half and slice each half crosswise into ¼ inch (½cm) thick slices. Peel the carrot and cut it into 2 inch (5cm) lengths, then cut the lengths into long thin strips. Cut the potatoes into french fry sized batons.

Add the olives, capers, and cut vegetables to the tomato sauce. Give it a stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are simmering, heat a non-stick skillet with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Cut the fish fillets into large chunks and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Cook until opaque on the first side, flip them and cook a minute or two more, just until opaque on the outside. The fish should still be slightly undercooked. Transfer the fillets gently to a plate, trying to keep them from breaking up. Use the remaining tablespoon of oil to cook the rest of the fish in one or two more batches.

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the parsley. Lay the partially-cooked fish fillets, and any of the accumulated juices, gently on top of the simmering vegetables. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over to moisten the fish fillets. Cover the Dutch oven and cook the fish and vegetables for 5 more minutes.

*Or fully cook the fish filets, and serve with the vegetable stew on the side to spoon over the fish at the table.

Serve in large shallow bowls, with a small bowl of chopped fresh onions and lime wedges to squeeze on top.

Pass the hot sauce for anyone who’d like to add a little zip to their Fish Veracruz.

Serves 5 to 6.

Buen Provencho!

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Mexican style Fish Veracruz is light and fresh - a delicious way to make fish.

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Mexican Fish - Veracruz Style

Posted in Fish & Seafood, Soups & Stews, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pickled Spruce Tips

Delicate Pickled Spruce Tips are a special seasonal treat – put them up when the spruce trees are budding in spring and you’ll have delicious, caper-like pickles to add flavour and interest to cheese platters, sandwiches, or salads. Use them to garnish soups, cocktails, or appetizers or add a zippy mouthful of flavour to any meal.

IMG_2141bt

I’m always a little late to the party. Here in our yard in the country, the spruce trees are just in full glory of budding spruce tips, though when I drive a half hour east into Edmonton, I see that the spruce tree tips are already grown out into feathery fronds. So if you’re in a northern locale or a shaded cooler little microclimate, you may still be able to harvest some of those delectable little spring treats. I find the buds are still tighter on the north sides of my trees. (And if your spruce tip season is done, make sure to bookmark or pin this post so you can get on them first thing next spring – it’s so easy to miss their short time to shine.)

You can pick the new buds off the ends of the branches from any spruce, fir, or pine species – they all have the same resiny flavour base with fresh citrusy overtones, though different species will have slightly different flavour profile. (Avoid yew trees, which are poisonous and don’t grow in our northern climate anyways.) The common spruce trees growing in forests and yards are the ones easiest to find. Just think – you’ve got this delicate specialty right at your fingertips! Spruce tips can be picked when still in tight buds covered in their papery casing or once they’ve opened into lime-green new growth. Older, mature needles can be used in some recipes, though they need to be chopped or steeped, as they are tough.

Spruce tips are super little niblets of health-promoting goodness: they’re high in vitamin C (indigenous peoples knew chewing on them prevented scurvy, plus they soothed sore throats and relieved lung congestion). They are a good source of carotenoids and are exceptionally high in magnesium and potassium. Drinking spruce or fir tip infused water is a natural source of electrolytes (much better than commercial sugary, colour-laden electrolyte drinks). Make the fresh or dried tips into a healing tea to drink after the season for fresh tips is over.

pickled spruce tips - tender tips to harvest

Don’t be worried that picking the spruce tips will harm the tree – you’re actually pruning the tree to produce more tips and be even bushier next year. Just don’t pick all the tips off one area of a tree – spread your picking around the tree, and don’t pick the top tip off a young spruce tree, as that is the growing leader and may make the tree’s future growth misshapen.

Spruce tips are ready for harvesting when the brown papery husks are starting to split and loosen off the new buds at the tips of the branches. But you can also use the more feathery, grown-out tips as long as they’re still soft, to chop up and flavour salads like this bright green salad or this citrusy one, or in any recipes with spruce tips that require cooking like in this post. However for pickling the zippy little delights, you’ll need to have relatively tight buds.

pickled spruce tips - filling the jars

It’s quick and easy to preserve a couple small jars. Then let them age for about a month, and pull them out to add a jolt of flavour to all kinds of meals. Pickled spruce tips are great as a bright and unusual addition to a mixed cheese platter – slice up a selection of different cheeses, add a few handfuls of dried fruits and nuts, and a small dish of the pickled tips. Wow! Their tangy flavour, with hints of piney resin and citrus, are just the foil for rich cheeses.

pickled spruce tips - pouring on the brine

Do you like olives? Pickles? Capers? Then you’ll love pickled spruce tips.

jars of pickled spruce tips ready to process

Use them anywhere you’d use capers: garnish the top of a grilled fish fillet (especially nice on salmon); chop them into a tuna salad, egg salad, or potato salad; pop one onto each deviled egg; chop them into green salads or bean salads; mince them into salad dressings; add a couple to a sandwich; float them on a cream soup as a garnish; use a bit of the pickled spruce tip brine in a Caesar cocktail and garnish the drink with a couple of tips; or make a spruce tip martini . . . as you can see – the possibilities for these zippy little pickled buds is endless.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, or even plain white vinegar if that’s all you have.

No need to rinse the spruce tips if you picked them with clean hands and they weren’t near a road. If you think they need it though, give them a rinse and drain them well.

The brine makes enough for one jar, with a little bit left over, depending on how tightly you pack the spruce tips. If making more than one jar, fill each jar with the listed ingredients, and multiply the vinegar solution by the amount of jars you’re using.

In pickling it is best to use filtered water or distilled water as the chlorine or minerals in some city water or well water can cause pickles to discolour. If you don’t have a filtration system or filtration jug (like a Brita jug) you can purchase jugs of distilled water in the grocery store. If you’ve made pickles with your tap water before and it is fine, then you won’t need to get filtered water.

Processing the pickled spruce tips in a boiling water bath ensures they will keep for several years in a cool dark place. If you are only making one jar and plan to use it up within six months, you can just screw the jar shut and keep it refrigerated, without canning it.

Allow the spruce tips to age for at least a month before using them, so the vinegar can fully pickle the buds.

Pickled Spruce Tips - half pints ready to store for the winter and many delicious uses

Pickled Spruce Tips

for each half-pint (250ml) jar:

  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 slice of fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 heaping cup (250ml) of spruce tips

for the brine (enough for 1 jar):

  • ¼ cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup (60ml) filtered or distilled water

Into each very clean and well-rinsed half-pint (1 cup/250ml) jar, place 6 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 1 slice of lemon cut in half. and 1 teaspoon salt. Hold the lemon slice and bay leaf against the side of the jar if you’d like them to show on the outside.

Clean the spruce tips of their brown husks (a bit of a sticky job) and pack them into the jars up to ½ inch (1 cm) from the tops of the jars. Pack them in quite firmly. Put the the vinegar and filtered water into a small saucepan and heat just until boiling. Pour the hot brine over the spruce tips and salt until it is also ½ inch (1cm) from the top of the jar. The spruce tips will turn from bright green to olive green as the brine hits them.

Put the new snap lids for the jars into a pot of simmering water for 5 minutes to soften them. Wipe the top rims of the jars with a clean cloth. Seal the jars with the snap lids and metal screw rings until finger tight.

Lay a clean dishcloth in the bottom of a saucepan that is taller than the jars (the dishcloth keeps the jars from bouncing around in the pot once the water is boiling.) Set the jars onto the dishcloth and fill the saucepan with hot tap water up to the bottom of the metal screw rings. Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring the water to a full boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down a bit to keep the water boiling without boiling over. Start timing for 10 minutes.

Process the jars for 10 minutes, then remove them carefully, using a pot holder or jar clamp, to a clean dishtowel laid out on the counter. Leave the jars undisturbed until they are cool. The metal lids should have sealed and suctioned down. If the lids are still bowed slightly upward, then the jars haven’t sealed and should be stored in the fridge and consumed within six months (leave them to age for one month before using). The spruce tips will all have floated to the top of the jars once cool. Give each jar a shake and they will disperse evenly again.

If sealed, the pickled spruce tips will last for several years in a cool, dark place. Leave the jars for a month before using them, so the brine has had time to fully flavour the spruce tips.

Guten Appetit!

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Pickled Spruce Tips are a delicious spring delicacy - taste like capers or olives and add zip to your dishes.

 

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Posted in Canning & Preserving, Spruce Tips | Comments Off on Pickled Spruce Tips

Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Galette – Easier than Pie!

A rustic rhubarb galette showcases spring’s bounty of mouthwatering fresh rhubarb spiked with another special spring offering – spruce tips! This free-form pie is so easy to make, yet looks like a stunning masterpiece (and tastes like one, too.)

fresh rhubarb galette with spruce tips for flavouring

It’s rhubarb season and spruce tip season – so what should we do? Why not put them together? The subtle citrus notes of the tender new buds on your favourite evergreen tree are a lovely complement to the tart notes of rhubarb.

spruce tips ready to pick for the rhubarb galette

I love cooking with spruce tips. The unique and fresh flavour of these little buds enhances so many foods. Just pick them off the tree with a slight twist, remove the papery brown husk, and they’re ready to chop up and add to all sorts of dishes. You can even use them when the tips have opened up and are longer, though still soft – as long as they’re still soft enough to dent them with your fingernail. See this post for pictures of how large they can be.

IMG_1809b IMG_1814b

Used fresh, like in this green salad or this citrusy one, the flavour of spruce tips is much more ‘piney’ and pronounced, but once cooked, the spruce tip flavour is very delicate and subtle, like in this stuffed pork loin with spruce tips and orange glaze. Spruce tips go particularly well with earthy foods, like sautéed mushrooms or potatoes in a cream sauce or with roasted asparagus. You can make spruce tip vinegar or spruce tip salt with them, but my favourite combination is spruce tips and rhubarb, like in this delectable Swedish Cream with Roasted Rhubarb and Spruce Tips. And since it seems to be pie time in our house lately, here’s a yummy one for you.

I’m not sure where the saying ‘As easy as pie’ came from, because sometimes pie is not so easy to make (but if you have a few bags of my gluten-free pie crust mix in your freezer, half the work is done already).

However, a galette is a different story. It’s definitely as easy as pie – much easier, in fact!

a plump and still-warm rhubarb galette flavoured with spruce tips

This open-faced French pie (or crostata in Italian) requires you only to roll out the pastry, plop on the filling, and fold up the edges. No particular neatness required – in fact, it’s supposed to look a bit messy. That’s part of its rustic charm. The pastry folds can be thick or thin, rumpled or smooth. Sometimes some of the filling leaks out, but that’s okay, too. All good. That crisp crust enclosing a plump, glistening filling – that’s the beauty of a galette.

Let’s get baking. Chop up the rhubarb and spruce tips, stir them up with a bit of sugar and thickener:

filling ingredients for the rhubarb galette

Plop the filling onto the rolled out pastry:

plop the rhubarb filling onto the pastry for the rhubarb galette

Fold up the edges, brush with milk and sugar to make an extra crunchy crust. Dab with butter to keep the top of the filling nice and shiny:

rhubarb galette is ready to pop into the oven

And then . . . ta-da! . . . this is the ruby and gold beauty that comes out of the oven.

who took the first slice of rhubarb galette?

okay, who took the first slice?

Serve this luscious rhubarb galette warm with a scoop of ice cream melting into it or a dollop of whipped cream adorning it, or let it cool and eat it any time. Your taste buds will have a party dancing with the tart, soft little nubs of rhubarb. They melt on your tongue, leaving behind the faint whisper of the spruce woods, the memories of a green forest with dappled sunlight through the mossy evergreens. This rhubarb galette is spring’s gift to you – bounty from the garden and forest.

(And if you haven’t got a forest, maybe your neighbour’s spruce tree will gift you with a few tender morsels 😉 )

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: See the end of the recipe for a couple variations, in case you don’t have a spruce tree in your yard and your neighbour won’t let you filch from his tree (tell him you’re doing him a favour and pruning his tree for him so it’ll be even more bushy next year – truly).

slice of delicious rhubarb galette

Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Galette

  • pastry for a single crust pie (for gluten free pie crust recipe see here)
  • 4 cups (550gms) rhubarb, cut in ½ inch (1cm) pieces
  • 2/3 cup (140gms) + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) chopped spruce tips (*or see variations below)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons almond milk, dairy milk, or water

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Roll out the pastry dough between two sheets of parchment paper, into a 12″ (30cm) circle. (See the bottom of this post for a good tip on how to roll between paper.)

Peel off the top layer of paper and discard it. Transfer the bottom layer of parchment, with the pastry circle still attached, to a baking sheet – a pizza pan works really well for this. Set the pan with the pastry crust into the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

Cut the rhubarb into ½ inch (1cm) slices. Clean the brown papery husk off the spruce tips and chop the spruce tips coarsely. Place the rhubarb and spruce tips into a bowl. Add the salt, cornstarch, and sugar. Toss to combine everything well. Scrape the mixture into a pile on top of the pastry circle in the pan. The sugar and cornstarch will settle between the rhubarb chunks. Level the rhubarb chunks into a neat circle, leaving a 2 inch (5cm) border of pastry uncovered.

Very carefully fold up the pastry border, pulling up on the parchment paper to help lift the pastry. Pleat the pastry and press the folds gently down onto the rhubarb filling as you go around the circle.

Dot the filling with little bits of the butter. Brush the pastry border with the milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Remove the galette from the oven and leave it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Leaking bits of filling are normal with galettes, and add to their rustic charm. If there’s a big puddle of liquid that has leaked out, try to scrape some of it up with a teaspoon and drizzle it back onto the center of the galette.

Gently slide the galette with the paper onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or let cool completely.

If letting the galette cool, remove it from the paper to the cooling rack. To do this, slide a thin metal spatula between the galette and the paper and run it all the way around the galette to make sure it isn’t sticking to the paper anywhere. Then slightly lift one side of the galette with the spatula and pull the parchment paper out from underneath, leaving the galette resting on the cooling rack. Leave it there until it is completely cool. This helps the bottom crust to stay crisp.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

Serves 8.

Variations:

*Rhubarb Basil Galette: replace the spruce tips with 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Another winning combination.

*Plain Rhubarb Galette: replace the spruce tips with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Simple and delicious.

Guten Appetit!

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Rustic Rhubarb Galette flavored with fresh spruce tips - a stunning spring dessert!

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Posted in Pies & Tarts, Rhubarb, Spruce Tips | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Big Beautiful Lemon Meringue Pie

A luscious lemon meringue pie is on the top of the favourite-pie-list for many people. Make this beauty from scratch for the lemon lovers in your family. A smooth and silky custard that’s tart and intensely lemony topped with a soft billowy meringue – it’ll satisfy every lemon pie craving.

slice of big beautiful lemon meringue pie

What am I?

I have:

A crispy flaky crust, shattering when the fork hits.

Silky filling, wobbling with sunshine, screaming loud & luscious lemon flavour.

Pillows of fluffy meringue, sugar-kissed, melting on your tongue. 

Okay, in case the picture didn’t give it away – I’m a LEMON MERINGUE PIE!

(And I’m the favourite flavour of a lot of pie-lovers around here.)

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t grow up eating pie. My German mom was more into making delicious cakes, and strudels, and tortes. I only got ‘into’ pies once I met my husband, whose meals throughout his childhood were defined by the kind of pie they ended with. I had never seen such a glorious selection of pies as those my mother-in-law baked each and every week of her life while her kids were at home. So, naturally, my kids became pie lovers, too. It was in their genetics – and their granny fostered that pie-loving gene by feeding them an astonishing array of pies every time we visited the farm over the years. Pie for dessert. Pie for snacks. Pie for breakfast. And usually a pie to take home with us, too.

Every child had their favourite pie (or two), and I think that changed with the seasons. I mean, there was apple pie, and cherry pie. Saskatoon pie, bumbleberry pie, and peach pie. Plum pie (my favourite), wild blueberry pie, raspberry pie, and strawberry-rhubarb pie. There was raisin pie, mincemeat pie, and pumpkin pie, not to mention, flapper pie, banana cream pie, custard pie, and pecan pie. She also made lemon coconut pie, German chocolate pie, coconut raspberry pie, chocolate cream pie, and even turnip pie. But she always had a lemon meringue pie amongst the mix (my other favourite pie.) It was also the favourite pie of a lot of her huge brood of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

And it was Grandpa’s favourite pie.

Our beloved Grandpa passed away in January of this year. It was a tough time for all of us. He ended a 16-month long battle of complications from a stroke and quietly slipped away, after 96 years of life lived to the fullest. This amazing man was still driving his truck until almost 95 years old, playing cards and telling his dry jokes until his last weeks. He saw a lot of changes in his lifetime. When he was born in 1920 to a homesteading farm family in northern Alberta, life was hard. Travel was by horseback and physical labour was the only way to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Schooltime in the one-room country schoolhouse was a holiday from the work waiting at home. Joining the army as a young man to fight for our freedom in World War II was a call inside him he couldn’t deny. And coming home after the war to provide for his family and raise his children on the farm with his wife Mabel was his greatest pride. They were a great team.

Marvin was a humble man, gentle and kind, but raising his children with a firm hand that didn’t tolerate any straying from his strong core values and principles of honesty and hard work. He was always so grateful for everything he had and would often shake his head in bemusement over how lucky he was to have the life he lived and that his children were all doing well. I think his hard childhood and the experiences he had in the war shaped that gratitude. He loved the land, hunting and fishing, playing ball, and curling. He had a quick and witty sense of humour. Our boys laugh out loud remembering all his crazy old farm sayings (most of them too off-colour to mention here!) And he had this way of lighting up whenever you came to see him, saying ‘Well HELLO there!” with a big smile when you arrived.

After he died, I asked my mother-in-law what Marvin’s favourite pie had been. When she said ‘lemon meringue pie’ I became obsessed with making a lemon meringue pie that would honour him. Mabel had always used a packaged mix that she doctored up with real lemon juice and other ingredients. (That is the only pie she ever used a box to make, and even then she added her own special tricks to it. Fresh lemons were scarce and expensive in country stores years ago.)

squeezing lemons for lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pie - silky custard pouring the filling into the shell for the lemon meringue pie

So after about eight pies, I finally got the recipe perfected, tweaking it slightly every time (I tried using different flours to thicken it, but no go). I’ve borrowed Mabel’s method of cooking the lemon zest in water and using that to add another layer of flavour depth to the filling. This pie is tangy and bright and big. It’s a slice of lemony sunshine on a plate, and when I eat it I think of my father-in-law.

lemon meringue pie - billows of meringue lemon meringue pie - spreading the meringue Lemon Meringue Pie just out of the oven with a beautiful golden meringue

taking a big bite of lemon meringue pie

Raymond loves lemon pie too – like father like son

Lemon Pie Love.

* * * * *

 

Kitchen Frau Notes: This is a large pie, so if you only have a regular 9-inch pie shell, pour some of the extra filling into a small oven-proof dish and cover it with a bit of the meringue to make a lemon meringue pudding.

Whenever I use the zest of lemons, I try to make sure they are organic, since the peel is where most of the chemical sprays accumulate.

Lemon meringue pie is best when eaten within a day, as sometimes the meringue will ‘weep’ a bit if kept longer – although the extra cornstarch added in the recipe below helps prevent that happening too soon. Make sure to spread the meringue so that it seals to the crust all the way around and can’t pull away from the crust as it cools.

Keep the pie uncovered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to a day, though it usually doesn’t last that long – it’s pretty delicious for breakfast – after all it’s got eggs and fruit in it, right?

lemon meringue pie - one piece with lemon wedge

Big Beautiful Lemon Meringue Pie

  • 1 unbaked 9″ (23cm) deep-dish pie crust or 10″ (25cm) pie crust, gluten free or regular, or a graham wafer crust
  • 2 cups (480ml) water
  • grated zest of 2 organic lemons
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) freshly squeezed, strained, lemon juice (from 4 – 5 large juicy lemons)
  • 1 cup (210gms) sugar
  • ½ cup (65gms) cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) water
  • pinch of turmeric (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

for the meringue:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85gms) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Roll out the pie crust to fit the pie pan. (If using the gluten-free crust, roll it between two sheets of parchment paper – see photos for an easy way to do this at the bottom of this post.) Trim and crimp the edges. Prick all over with a fork. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).

Bake the chilled pie crust for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Prepare the filling: Combine the 2 cups of water with the lemon zest in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat a bit and cook at a low boil for 3 minutes. Strain through a fine meshed strainer into a 2-cup measuring cup. Press down on the lemon zest solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Top up the lemon liquid with water to make 2 cups (480ml).

Rinse out the saucepan to remove any bits of lemon peel adhering to the sides, and return the lemon water to it. Add the fresh lemon juice.

In a small bowl stir together the sugar and cornstarch to evenly combine them. Add the salt, egg yolks, 1/3 cup water, and pinch of turmeric. Whisk until smooth.

Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the lemon water in the saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a full rolling boil, then cook for 15 seconds more.

Remove the filling from the heat and stir in the butter. Cool 5 minutes, stirring twice.

* * *

While the filling is cooling, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and make the meringue.

Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Mix the cornstarch with the sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle it over the egg whites, then continue beating until glossy. Don’t over-beat or the meringue will be hard to spread. Add the vanilla and beat for a few seconds to incorporate.

Pour the slightly cooled filling into the baked pie shell. Dollop tablespoons of the meringue evenly on top of the filling. Using a butter knife or small offset spatula, gently spread the meringue to fill the spaces between dollops, and spread it to the edges of the crust, making sure it is sealed to the crust all the way around the edge of the pie (to prevent shrinkage). Use the knife or spatula to makes swirls over the top of the meringue.

Bake in the pie in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the swirls are golden brown.

Allow to cool completely – at least 4 hours – before slicing. Store the lemon meringue pie at room temperature, uncovered, for up to 24 hours.

Makes 8 slices of pie.

 

Guten Appetit!

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Luscious Lemon Pie - tart and lemony and made from scratch (easy) | Kitchen Frau

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Posted in Pies & Tarts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments