Canada Day Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcake

I think strawberry shortcake is the quintessential Canada Day ‘food’. I say ‘food’ because I don’t think it should just be dessert– it can be enjoyed all day long–breakfast, lunch,  before bed, whatever! It’s Canada Day! We are celebrating, after all!!  I’m including the recipe for a favourite biscuit — I think making your own shortcakes makes all the difference, and they are super easy.  Don’t overwork the dough- be gentle –it’s the key to a tender and flaky biscuit.  Aside from the biscuit recipe, you’re on your own with the strawberries and whip cream (use real whip cream!) – just assemble however you like. One element I added in was lemon curd. Adds a little zing to your shortcakes– I mean, if you like lemon, that is. If you are more a purist, just stick with the strawberries and cream.  So get your supplies together to make these before the stores are all closed.  And HAPPY CANADA DAY!

Basic Biscuits

 from  My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan  (amazing baking book, if you bake alot)
Makes 12 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small  pieces
3/4 cup cold whole milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Drop in butter and using fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Using fingertips or pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into dry ingredients until mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces of everything in between – and that’s just right.

Pour the milk over the dry ingredients, grab a fork and toss and gently turn the ingredients until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading – 3 or 4 turns should be enough to bring everything together.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour and pat the dough out with your hand or roll it until 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if its not completely even. Light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of this first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working as little as possible, pat to a 1/2 inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer them to the sheet.

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a serving basket.

For buttermilk biscuits:

*Replace milk with buttermilk, add ½ tsp baking soda to dry ingredients

add milk to flour/butter mixture

don’t overwork your dough!

I used maple leaf shaped cutter, but use what you have.

bake until golden

lemon curd, if using

split biscuit and dollop with lemon curd,then assemble as usual

truly Canadian.

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Healthy Organic Low-fat Breakfast Yogurt Combo

yogurt/berry/almond delight

This is so good, I had to share. I don’t like eggs and I am trying not to eat a bunch of carb-y toast or cereal for breakfast. This fits the bill – delicious, nutricious, low-fat, just all around yummatrocious. Check it out. I use no fat plain organic yogurt, organic kefir (which is a high probiotic yogurt-type substance), local organic maple syrup, pure vanilla, oat bran and organic raspberries. Oh, and toasted sliced almonds for some crunch-factor.

So, wash and smoosh your raspberries, then place in bottom of glass or bowl. In separate bowl, mix up 1 cup of yogurt, 2 tbsp kefir, 1 to  2 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp oat bran. Mix. Scoop on top of raspberries. Top with almonds (dry roasted in pan until brown and aromatic). It’s so good, plus, I practically fainted from hunger photographing my breakfast for you, so give it a try — it does hold you over until lunchtime. YUM!

smoosh raspberries

yogurt, kefir, maple syrup, vanilla, oat bran

it's so good.

Strawberry Bruschetta – a breakfast delight

fresh Ontario strawberries

Strawberry bruschetta

It’s strawberry season… what a great time of year!  We can enjoy the super-sweet and juicy goodness of strawberries in a myriad of ways. In addition to being low in fat and calories, strawberries are naturally high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidants. I recommend spending a little extra to buy organic – if you look at the structure of the berry, it’s easy to see that it can’t really protect itself against pesticides.

This recipe is an easy way to have a delicious and fun breakfast, while enjoying the perfection of ripe and seasonal strawberries.

Strawberry Bruschetta

adapted from Cuisine at Home

makes 8 pieces

2  ciabatta buns, split, toasted and buttered

cinnamon sugar (2 Tbsp sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

 

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, if you have some

fresh lemon juice from 1 medium lemon

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

Clean and hull your berries and chop into a small dice (about 1/2 to 1 cm pieces). Squeeze on lemon juice,  and mix in  plain sugar and finely sliced basil, if using. This can be done the night before, and feel free to do enough for 2 days.

Slice and toast your ciabatta buns, butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and slice on the diagonal. Top with strawberry mixture, add a dollop of yogurt.  Enjoy!

Variation: Mix up 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese with some grated fresh lemon zest. Spread on top of cinnamon sugar, then top with strawberry mixture. Heavenly.

berries, yogurt, cinnamon sugar and buttered ciabatta buns

you can enjoy this anytime of day

Sharbot Lake Farmer’s Market

Robin of Elphin Gold Organic Farms

I eagerly awake on Saturday mornings in anticipation of attending our local farmer’s market. I’m so excited to go early to make sure I get the best selection of produce, organic eggs, meat, honey, maple syrup– but the most fun is saying hello to the local people who we’ve gotten to know over the years. Our market is located at Sharbot Lake beach, and operates on Saturdays from 9am-12pm.

If you know of a farmer’s market near you, be sure to attend and see what’s available. Get to know your local farmers and producers. It’s great to know where your food comes from and to actually speak to the people who have grown or produced it.

Let the products inspire your cooking. I usually buy what’s in season, take it home, and see what evolves in the kitchen. This is just another reason to love summer (and fall).

Cousin Patty's table (Elphin Farm)

Jen of Crooked Hill Farms honey

Cathy of Dragonfly Herbs

Conboy Maple Syrup (Shabot Lake beach in background)

Local beeswax products

homemade baked goods

handmade soaps

Indian Spiced Kebabs with Raita

Indian Spiced Kebabs

If you enjoy the exotic flavours of East Indian foods, you will love these kebabs. They are as easy as mixing up a batch of burgers, but the flavour is so awesome — you might forget about standard burgers altogether.

You can adjust the heat in these depending on how spicy you enjoy your food– add more cayenne as necessary. The cucumber raita cools things down and compliments the flavour of these kebabs perfectly. I make them in a log shape–kebabs without the sticks– about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide, but feel free to make them longer or wider – whatever size you prefer, but I think if you make them too big, they may be difficult to deal with. If you think you can handle a larger size kebab, go ahead. The 5 inch one won’t fully satisfy you — you will definitely be wanting more than one.  They are also great in a burger shape, served on a bun with raita, lettuce and tomato. Once you try them, you will be asked to make them again. Use a good quality ground beef. I buy pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic beef and it does taste alot better. { Investigate your local farmer’s market to find organic beef and many other wholesome products.}

*once you have mixed up your mixture and shaped them into logs- they freeze perfectly too.

Indian Spiced Kebabs

makes 8 (4 oz) kebabs, or 4 (8 oz) burgers

2 lb ground beef

1 medium onion, grated

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tsp  ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garam masala (spice mixture available at asian / indian markets)

2 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely (if you have it)

Mix up ingredients. Shape into logs or patties. Cover and refrigerate, let the flavours meld for at least 1/2 an hour.  Heat bbq up to medium (about 325-350F). Cook directly on the grill, turning frequently, until cooked through and kebabs have reached an inner temp of 170F. Serve with raita. (see recipe below)

meat mixture with all ingredients

kebabs shaped into 5 inch logs

grill kebabs

Cucumber Raita

1 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup grated (and squeezed out on a paper towel) cucumber

1/2 tsp cumin

Mix ingredients. Serve with kebabs.

raita mixture

kebab with raita and salad – a healthy lunch or dinner

Patio Dining – Delicious and Healthy

salad greens with homemade vinaigrette, beef tenderloin, roasted asparagus (dinner for 2 shown here)

Gotta love patio dining!

We get used to, over the years, baked potatoes, burgers and buns – traditional summer fare, however,  it is possible to easily create summer meals that are incredibly delicious while also being low-carb.  Personally, I find that keeping white carbs and sugar out of my diet is the only way I can prevent myself from gaining weight.  It is also a good way to keep your blood sugar low if you are diabetic, or if you are cooking for one.  This dinner has enough fat and  great flavours — you won’t miss those potatoes! Bon Apetit! And to your health!

For this dinner we had mixed organic greens with feta and red grapes, drizzled with a delicious vinaigrette. 

For  the protein component, we grilled 4 oz. beef tenderloin steaks, and topped those with a small pat (1/2 tsp) of a compound butter. (All I did was mix up a little smoked spanish paprika with butter, then roll in saran and refrigerate. When cold, slice a small disc to place on hot steak.) As well, we had some roasted asparagus with finely diced preserved lemon (or use lemon juice) and freshly grated parmesan. Delish!

Simple salad

grilled 4 oz beef tenderloin steaks with smoked paprika butter

roasted asparagus with preserved lemon and grated parmesan

no potatoes necessary

Watermelon Salad with “Mojito” Dressing

This is a fun and delicious summer salad.  The presentation is great and the flavour even better. I made this to accompany our bbq tonight, and it was delicious. It would be perfect to bring to a summer bbq — your friends will think you are so creative, and one 6 or 7 pound watermelon makes enough for about 6 people. The ‘mojito’ dressing is reminiscent of your last Caribbean adventure and the watermelon reminds you of when you were a kid on a hot day and watermelon was the absolute best thing you could be offered.  The ingredients are simple and work together so well. Pick up your ingredients and make it on the weekend — I’ll bet this becomes a summer family favourite.

Watermelon  Salad

adapted from Pastry Queen Parties

1 seedless watermelon  (about 6-8 pounds)

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2/3 cup diced feta cheese

Mojito Dressing

2 ounces fresh lime juice

2 tbsp rum (I used amber)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp rice vinegar

Salad:

Set the watermelon on its side and slice off a piece, just cutting into the rind, to make a flat surface so the watermelon is flat and sits securely on that flat surface. So, flip it to sit on the cut side and with a sharp knife (I used serrated), cut off the top quarter of the melon. Using a large metal spoon, carefully scoop out the flesh in large chunks.  Cut all the flesh into 1 to 2 inch chunks. Place in a large bowl. Carve and scrape out your watermelon ‘bowl’ (eating or saving any watermelon that you scrape out). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix the watermelon chunks gently with the chopped mint and red onion slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Dressing:

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve your salad, add the dressing and the feta to the watermelon mixture. Mix gently then spoon into watermelon ‘bowl’. Place on a platter and enjoy. So good!

slice piece off bottom of watermelon

slice off top and scoop out flesh

prep your ingredients, hello, could this be easier?

see how good you can look with this salad in hand? 😉

be careful when carrying it, it's so heavy!

Delicious!