Gooseberry-Red Currant Gin Fizz

I’m not a big fan of overly sweet drinks. My tastes seem to run more towards the tart end of the taste spectrum and I love a cocktail that is discernably sour, though not mouth-puckeringly so. This variation on the classic gin fizz has a balanced flavour with just enough zing to be refreshing. You could make the juice with all currants or all gooseberries, though I prefer the combination. Look for gooseberries that are showing a nice red hue, which means they are riper and therefore less sour than all-green ones.

Fresh, tart berries yield delicious juice that is an ideal base for cocktails like this Gooseberry-Red Currant Gin Fizz.

Fresh, tart berries yield delicious juice that is an ideal base for cocktails like this Gooseberry-Red Currant Gin Fizz.

Ingredients

For the red currant juice

  • 1/2 pint (approx. 150 g) fresh red currants
  • 1/2 pint (approx. 150 g) fresh gooseberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) sugar (add up to 2 tablespoons/30 mL if you prefer things sweeter)

For the cocktail

  • 2 ounces (60 mL) gin
  • 2 ounces (60 mL) gooseberry-red currant syrup
  • 2 ounces soda (60 mL) soda water
  • Ice cubes and slices of lime

Method

For the juice

  • Remove stem and blossom ends from gooseberries with a sharp paring knife. Put gooseberries, red currants and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the berries and water into a cheesecloth-lined sieve or colander elevated over a bowl. Allow to drip for 5 minutes. Do not squeeze or press down on the fruit too much while it is dripping as this will make the juice cloudy.
  • While juice is dripping, wash the pot that you cooked the berries in.
  • Return the juice to the clean pot along with the 1/3 cup (90 mL) sugar. Heat, stirring, just until sugar dissolves. Taste the juice and if it is too tart for your liking, add up to 2 tablespoons (30 mL) more sugar.
  • Pour the finished juice into a clean glass jar. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Juice can be stored in the fridge for one week or frozen for up to a year. If freezing, make sure to leave at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) headspace at the top of the jar.

For one cocktail

  • Fill a cocktail shaker (or clean 500 mL/2 cup glass jar with a tight lid) with ice. Add gin and fruit syrup.
  • Cover and shake for 1 minute to thoroughly blend and chill the drink.
  • Strain into a glass, top with soda water and garnish with a slice of lime. Add ice if desired.
Posted in cocktails, Drinks, Entertaining, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berry Burst Muffins

I am completely infatuated with muffins. Sweet, savoury, cheesy, fruity, crunchy, warm, cold…I love ‘em all. I’ve shared a few of my favourites on this blog, like banana, caramel-apple, date square and even savoury frittata muffins, and now I have a new one to add to the lineup. It was inspired by a trip to the Farmers’ Market this weekend, where I couldn’t resist the many pints of perfect local berries on display. I chose blueberry and strawberry as my feature flavours but you could easily use raspberries, blackberries or even cranberries too. You could also use frozen berries or even fruit jam in a pinch. We ate the whole batch in a day but these muffins would freeze beautifully.

Adding multiple kinds of fruit to a favourite muffin batter makes these Berry Burst beauties extra flavourful.

Adding multiple kinds of fruit to a favourite muffin batter makes these Berry Burst beauties extra flavourful.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) baking powder
  • 3/4 cup fresh mixed berries (halve or quarter large berries)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) white sugar

Method

  • Line 12 muffin tins (look for parchment paper liners – they are fantastic) and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add the milk, vanilla and eggs and beat for a minute or two.
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking powder and add to the butter mixture all at once.
  • Beat just until the flour mixture is completely damp (don’t worry about the lumps).
  • Fill the muffin tins 1/3 full with this mixture (about a heaping tablespoon / 18 mL per tin).
  • Place a heaping spoonful of fruit on top of the batter then fill tins with remaining batter.
  • Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top of the muffins.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove and let cool on a rack for a few minutes before devouring.

Makes 12 irresistible, large muffins.

Posted in Baking, Berries, Breakfast, Fruit, Muffins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two minute no-cook chocolate pudding

This no-cook chocolate pudding is super creamy and rich thanks to the avocados. It’s got so much flavour that people likely won’t even realize that it’s also really healthy! Gluten-free, vegan and lactose-free, it’s a versatile base for lots of different dessert options. I like to sprinkle it with a little sea salt and some toasted coconut chips; you could also layer it with whipped cream or use drained, whipped coconut milk for a vegan/lactose-free parfait. Sprinkle it with raspberries or sliced strawberries and it’ll be positively elegant.

This amazingly two-minute chocolate pudding is no-cook, vegan, dairy free and crammed with creamy, delicious flavour.

This amazingly two-minute chocolate pudding is no-cook, vegan, dairy free and crammed with creamy, delicious flavour.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) honey
  • 1.5 teaspoons (7 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) sea salt *
  • toasted coconut (chips or flakes)
  • fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries (optional)

* if not using as a garnish, then mix in with avocados, cocoa, honey and vanilla

Method

  • Puree avocados, cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth. I don’t recommend using a stick blender as the mixture is too thick.
  • If not serving immediately, transfer to a storage container with a tight lid and refrigerate. This pudding is very good at room temperature but even more delicious when chilled for 1 – 24 hours.
  • To serve, spoon into serving dishes and sprinkle pudding with toasted coconut chips and good sea salt (if you haven’t already blended the salt in). If desired, garnish with berries.

Makes 4 servings; can easily be doubled or tripled (depending upon the size of your blender/food processor).

Posted in Dairy-free, Dessert, gluten-free, Lactose-Free, summer, vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini Apple Pie No-Bake Cheesecakes

I love using mascarpone in cheesecake-style desserts because it has a soft, satiny texture and less sodium than cream cheese. Combining whipped mascarpone with the fixings for cheesecake crust and canned apple pie filling makes for a most splendid no-bake dessert. You could easily cook up your own sliced apples with sugar and spices, but on a hot summer’s day, why not give yourself a little break and make this 10 minute dessert instead?

This no-bake apple pie cheesecake is so easy and delicious you might be tempted to make it year 'round.

This no-bake apple pie cheesecake is so easy and delicious you might be tempted to make it year ’round.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature *
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) white sugar
  • 8 graham crackers
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter, melted
  • 1 cup (250 mL) canned apple pie filling
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon

* Substitute with cream cheese if you prefer

Method

  • In a medium bowl, blend together mascarpone and ¼ cup sugar; beat until smooth.
  • Place graham crackers in a zippered sandwich bag and seal bag. Crush crackers with the bottom of a sturdy glass or mug.
  • Pour graham crumbs into a small bowl. Add sugar and melted butter; stir to combine.
  • Combine apple pie filling with cinnamon; break up apple pieces with edge of spoon as you stir them together.
  • Place about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of apple pie filling in the bottom of four serving dishes (small mason jars, cocktail glasses or even wine glasses work well).
  • Put 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the mascarpone mixture on top, then add a tablespoon (15 mL) of the graham crumb mixture.
  • Repeat all three layers; sprinkle with a bit more cinnamon for garnish.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 4 individual desserts; recipe can easily be doubled.

Posted in Desserts, Fruit, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No-cook Pumpkin Pie Parfaits

When it’s really hot out, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven to cook. Yet, at the same time, I cannot imagine entertaining friends and family but not serving dessert. This recipe is perfect for summertime dining, whether at home, at the cottage or even on a picnic. It’s healthy, really quick to pull together and is a great make-ahead option too. Plus, it tastes just like pumpkin pie….and who doesn’t love pumpkin pie?

This parfait is a delicious no-bake version of pumpkin pie that takes just minutes to prepare. Perfect for summer entertaining!

This parfait is a delicious no-bake version of pumpkin pie that takes just minutes to prepare. Perfect for summer entertaining!

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unseasoned canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon each powdered ginger, cloves and cinnamon
  • 8 ginger cookies
  • ½ cup whipped cream, slightly sweetened

Method

  • In a medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, yogurt, maple syrup and seasonings.
  • Place about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture in the bottom of four serving dishes (small mason jars, cocktail glasses or even wine glasses work well).
  • Add a dollop of whipped cream to each dish.
  • Crumble one cookie into each dish.
  • Repeat all three layers; refrigerate until ready to serve (cover if refrigerating more than an hour so the desserts do not absorb odors from the fridge).

Makes 4 individual desserts; can easily be doubled, tripled or more.

Posted in Desserts, Make Ahead, Recipes, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crunchy Curried Cauliflower Pickles

Refrigerator pickles are a quick, easy way to capture the flavours of the season and enjoy them for months afterwards. I was excited to find some cauliflower in this month’s Farmers’ Feast challenge basket, courtesy of Linda’s Garden at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market and thought it was the perfect time to make a few jars of these versatile pickles. They have a fantastic flavour and make a great side dish for Indian food among other cuisines; I’ve discovered they’re also delicious chopped and scattered over hot rice.

Quick refrigerator pickles are the perfect way to preserve fresh vegetables in season. These curried cauliflower pickles are crunchy and delicious!

Quick refrigerator pickles are the perfect way to preserve fresh vegetables in season. These curried cauliflower pickles are crunchy and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut in small florets (approximately 3 cups / 750 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) turmeric
  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, in 3 slices
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar *
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar *
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

* if it is more convenient you can use all rice or all cider vinegar

Method

  • Pack cauliflower florets into three 1 cup / 250 mL pickling jars.
  • In a medium saucepan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat (2 – 3 minutes) until they are fragrant, shaking pan occasionally. Watch the pot carefully so the seeds don’t burn.
  • Add the curry powder, turmeric, ginger and garlic to the pan and stir to combine.
  • Cook for 1 minute then add the water, vinegars, sugar and salt. Stir and heat till almost boiling.
  • Pour the brine over the cauliflower, being sure that the spice mixture goes into the jars and dividing the garlic and ginger slices among the three jars.
  • Let cool on the counter until they reach room temperature, shaking jar occasionally to redistribute spices. Once cool, refrigerate immediately.
  • These pickles will be ready to eat in 5 days and keep in the fridge for up to three months.

Makes 3 small jars.

Posted in Canning, Farmers' Feast, Ottawa Farmers' Market, pickles, Preserves, Quick Pickles, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini Fruit Pies

I like to think of this dish as the perfect marriage between fruit crisp and fruit pie, combining crunchy oatmeal cookie-like topping with an assortment of gently sweetened fruit. I’m grateful each year to the fine folks from Warner’s Farm who bring all sorts of fantastic fruit from their Niagara-area farm to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Saturdays (Westboro) and Sundays (Lansdowne). This July’s edition of the Farmers’ Feast challenge included boxes of their cherries, red currants and gooseberries, the latter being, in my opinion, an underrated hero of the fruit world. I love their tart, bright flavour but they can look a little pale cooked up on their own so adding currants and cherries was the perfect solution. You could easily use this same method with other fresh or frozen fruit; consider making a double or triple batch of the crumble topping; you can store it in the freezer and whip up a quick fruit dessert in just minutes.

Easier to serve than from a larger dish, these mini pies combine barely-sweetened fruit with a crunchy oats and almonds topping.

Easier to serve than from a larger dish, these mini pies combine gently-sweetened fruit with a crunchy crumble topping made with oats and almonds.

Ingredients

Topping

  • ½ cup (125 mL) quick cooking (not minute) oats
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) white, whole wheat or oat flour*
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) slivered almonds (optional but delicious)
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) cinnamon
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) very cold butter

* you can make oat flour by pulverizing oats in food processor or blender; it’s a great gluten-free option for this dish

Fruit

  • 2 cups (500 mL) combined fruit (I used tart red currants, pitted sweet cherries and gooseberries**)
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cinnamon

** Gooseberries turn from green to red as they ripen and become sweeter. Be sure to use a sharp knife to remove the stem and blossom ends from the gooseberries before cooking them

I used a combination of red currants, cherries and gooseberries; you could make these pies with any fruit you like.

I used a combination of red currants, cherries and gooseberries; you could make these pies with any fruit you like.

Method

  • Prepare the crumble topping up to 2 days ahead of time by combining the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  • Grate the butter and add to the oats mixture. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the oats until it is evenly combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Prepare the fruit by putting it in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat to let the fruits release their juices (about 5 minutes).
  • Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a small bowl and add to the fruit mixture.
  • Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until thickened and shiny.
  • Divide the fruit mixture among four small oven-safe dishes, leaving at least an inch (2.5 cm) of space at the top of the dishes. You can use Pyrex cups or ramekins but I don’t recommend baking in canning (Mason) jars as they have been known to explode in hot ovens.
  • Top each dish with lots of crumble topping.
I like to add at least a half-inch (1.25 cm) of topping to each mini pie.

I like to add at least a half-inch (1.25 cm) of topping to each mini pie.

  • Bake for about 25 minutes, until topping is golden and filling is bubbling.
  • Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 individual pies.

Posted in Desserts, Farmers' Feast, Fruit, Fruits and vegetables, local, Ottawa Farmers' Market, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment