Archive for October, 2011

Lemon scones and strawberry jam


I’ve made these scones a couple of times recently, inspired by the gorgeous jar of homemade strawberry jam my uncle in Halifax gave me this summer. I brought it back from PEI and opened it a few weeks ago, and it is so delicious, as of course I knew it would be.

Whenever I’ve had John’s strawberry jam, it before it’s always been accompanied by his perfect tea biscuits. Sadly I wasn’t clever enough to write down a proper recipe for them before I got my jam home. I made these lemon scones in an attempt to create something similar. They are a variation on a cheese biscuit recipe I’ve made for years, which has yogurt as its secret ingredient.

They’re not John’s biscuits, but they did save me from eating jam straight from the jar.
 
Lemon scones
Makes 8-12 scones

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1 cup plain yogurt
grated zest and juice of one lemon
a handful of dried cranberries, blueberries, etc

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in lemon zest and dried cranberries. Combine yogurt and lemon juice and stir with a fork to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. If the dough is too dry add in a bit more yogurt. On a lightly floured surface knead the dough gently until it’s smooth, pat it until it’s about an inch thick and cut out scones. Bake on parchment paper at 400F for 12-15 minutes. Serve with heaps of homemade jam.

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October 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm Leave a comment

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Finally I’ve seen VanDusen Botanical Gardens in the daylight. We went this past Sunday when the garden’s new building was unveiled, inspired by free admission and late-October sunshine. Last Christmas my family and I spent a couple of dark, drizzly hours wandering the Festival of Lights, but given how close we live to VanDusen I felt long-overdue for a daytime visit.

I love gardens in the slow-growth seasons of late fall and early spring: contemplative and restrained, all the small beauties and quiet moods of the space shining through. Flowers were largely absent save for the winter heathers, the droopy hydrangeas, and a few other hardy stragglers, although it was easy to imagine springtime dogwoods, magnolias, and rhododendrons. I can’t wait to go back.

October 25, 2011 at 11:47 pm 1 comment

Blueberry pie

This is the pie I made for Thanksgiving Dinner this year. It’s adapted from Canadian Living’s recipe for Old-Fashioned Blueberry Pie. I’ve made it gluten free and added in more lemon and more blueberries. The overwhelming sentiment about the pie was, “Wow, that is a LOT of blueberries!” I used one and a half big baskets of blueberries that my parents picked up at Granville Island while they were out exploring, and it probably amounted to at least a cup more than what’s below. If you too want a gigantic pie with LOTS of blueberries, go crazy and jam them in there like we did.

In all three big baskets of blueberries came home from Granville Island. We enjoyed the rest with yogurt the morning after Thanksgiving dinner and then each had a big bowl of fresh blueberries for dessert that evening. Just plain blueberries – so good. The rest finally made their way into a coffee cake for breakfast this week.

Blueberry pie
Filling
6 cups blueberries
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pastry
2-1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon lemon rind
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cubed
1/4 cup ice water
3 tbsp sour cream
1 egg white

Mix flour, xanthan gum, salt and lemon rind. Using pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until mixture is in fine crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In small bowl, whisk water with sour cream; drizzle over dry ingredients, stirring briskly with fork to form ragged dough and adding more water, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time, if too dry. Divide in half; press into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon rind, lemon juice and cinnamon; set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Pour in the blueberry filling and then roll out the remaining pastry. I sliced mine into strips for a criss-cross pattern, which I find much easier than trying to transfer over a whole top sheet of pastry.

Brush the top pastry and the edges with a bit of egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the bottom part of the oven at 425F for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350F and bake until the filling is thickened and the pie is golden, about 35-45 minutes. I usually put a bit of foil around the edges and top of the pie so it doesn’t burn and gradually remove it as the cooking time goes by.

Let cool on rack and serve. Ours made enough for 6 generous helpings plus a big piece leftover.

October 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm 1 comment

Antipasto weekend

This past weekend was my first introduction to home canning. My mother-in-law and her neighbour were planning a day of antipasto making and I was invited to Vancouver Island to join the fun. Things went beautifully for about 20 minutes until my poor mother-in-law sliced off the edge of her pinky finger slicing cucumbers on the mandolin. Off she went to the walk-in clinic, arriving back about two hours later with four stitches and a tetanus shot. Needless to say she was moved off chopping duty to a more supervisory role. Ouch.

Over the course of the day we diced four heads of cauliflower, several pounds each of green beans, bell pepper and cucumber, about a dozen jars of olives and countless pearl onions into little tiny bits. We stirred and simmered great vats of antipasto and then funneled it into pretty jars. Twist on the tops, drop them into a hot water bath for 10-15 minutes, pluck them out and then marvel. At the end of the day the three of us ended up with just over a dozen jars each of this tasty treat. It’s a joy to look at the jars packed neat and snug with preserves, and to imagine how you might use them through the late fall and winter months: a gift to pass along to friends and family, a quick and easy snack to start out an evening of entertaining, a simple item in the cupboard to reminds you of a lovely weekend of laughter and conversation.

I’m already looking forward to the next canning weekend. It is time consuming, but the company of friends and family makes it a really nice way to spend a day.

October 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm 1 comment


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