Strawberry Lime Ice Pops

I know many of you have moved on to other summer fruits, but I’m still stuck on strawberries. I was away for a week and felt that I needed to eat an extra weeks worth in order to “catch up”. I went out and bought a ton of Quebec strawberries all at once. Unfortunately, eating them all before they went bad turned out to be impossible. That’s ok though, I was planning on preserving some anyway.
Every year I make a few bottles of strawberry jam. Although I like to dream of giving up my job and selling jam, anyone who has seen that episode of Friends where Monica attempts this knows that’s it’s almost impossible to make a living selling jam. My reasons for making it are more ethereal; in the dead of winter, when the ice and cold have me feeling like I couldn’t possibly go on, the smell of homemade strawberry jam revitalizes me. It’s like sunshine in jar.

popsicles

I still had a few strawberries left after making my jam, so I decided to have a little fun with them. We were kids, Mom would often make strawberry juice. It’s just strawberries pureed with sugar, but the taste is incredibly fresh and rich. Sometimes we’d freeze the strawberry juice and save it for the winter too. It’s a lot of work, but once you scrape up a bowl full you get the fresh summer flavour in the middle of winter. But on this day I didn’t feel like waiting for my frozen treat, so I decided to make myself some ice pops. I added a little lime juice to give them a little extra kick. They’re perfectly refreshing on a hot summers day.

Strawberry Lime Ice Pops

  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds and freeze completely. 
Enjoy! 
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Crème Bavaroise avec Gelée aux Fraises

Montreal is a city that is bursting at the seams with restaurants. I read recently that we have the most restaurants per capita in North America. I don’t know if that’s true but based on the number of restaurants I want to try, it certainly feels possible. To keep track of all the places we need to try Janice and I have a List. The List is hard to track; it’s maintained in email strings that are hundreds of emails long. The only way to find it is to search our mail for “restaurant list”, then sort through random chit chat. We might we need a better system.

One of the restaurants that has been on the list since we started it over a year ago is Joe Beef. We finally made it there a couple of weeks ago and had an incredible meal. I’m really not sure why we waited so long to go. I chose not to bring my camera to dinner because I wanted to focus on the meal, but as soon as we stepped out onto the terrace in the back and saw the incredible garden I regretted it. The patio is surrounded by a vegetable and flower garden that would make any home gardener quite jealous.

After quite a bit of deliberation, we finally chose our meal. For appetizers we shared shrimp with aioli and stuffed squash blossoms as well as scallop ceviche and cucumber salad. Both were excellent, but the highlight for me was the squash blossom. It was the first time I had ever had one, and I loved it. I honestly don’t know how to describe it other than delicate and deep fried.

For mains I had the cod and onion and Janice had the ribs. The fish was perfect served with onions cooked three ways (including a really awesome onion ring). Towards the end of our meal, Dave (one of the owners) came by to see how we were doing. Through the magic of twitter he knew who I was, which is fun. He told us about the hydroponic garden the have the restaurants basement, and the constant inspections they go through because of unusual electricity usage. It’s pretty safe to say that most people in Montreal with hydroponic equipment are not growing tomatoes. Some review boards have complaints about Dave’s attitude, but I found him to be warm and inviting; our conversation with him added to the ambiance of the evening.

For dessert Janice had the financiers and I had the bavarian cream with rhubarb compote. Having a dessert in a restaurant made from food grown in the backyard garden is pretty incredible. The bavarian cream was really light and airy, and the rhubarb had just the right amount of sweetness. That dessert inspired the recipe I’m sharing with you now.

I decided to use Quebec strawberries instead of rhubarb, and added a layer of strawberry gelée at the bottom. For the gelée I followed this recipe from the LA Times. My bavarian cream wasn’t quite as airy as what I had at Joe Beef, but it was very good. It was thick and creamy, not too gelatin-ey. It’s a perfect dessert for hot summer days. This dessert does take time to put together as there are several “setting” periods.

Bavarian Cream with Strawberry Gelée

For the Gelée

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package gelatine
  1. Fill a medium pot halfway with water then bring to a boil. In a metal bowl that will fit over the pot, mix the strawberries lime juice and sugar together. Cover with plastic wrap then place over the boiling water (like a doulble boiler). Lower the heat and let the water simmer for an hour.
  2. Using a mesh strainer lined with a paper coffee filter, strain the strawberries into another bowl. Gently press down on the strawberries to extract all the juice, reserve the strawberry pulp for another use (great on pancakes)
  3. Mix the gelatin with 1/4 cup warm water to dissolve, then add it to the strawberry juice. Pour into serving dishes and let cool in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.
Bavarian Cream
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  1. Dissolve the gelatin in the water. Set aside.
  2. In a metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
  3. In a medium saucepan heat the milk and vanilla until small bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Do not let it come to a full boil.
  4. Whisk a small amount of the milk into the egg yolks to temper them. Slowly pour the remaining milk into the eggs whisking constantly.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. The mixture should start to thicken.
  6. Pour back into a bowl and stir in the gelatin. Place the bowl in an ice bat to cool.
  7. While the custard is cooling, whip the cream to soft peak. Once the custard has cooled completely but before it starts to set, fold the whipped cream in. Pour into serving dishes and let set in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
Macerated Strawberries
  • 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • mint, sliced
  1. Toss all the ingredients together and let sit for about 30 minutes until the strawberries start to release their juice.
  2. Pour over set bavarian cream and serve.
Enjoy!

Guest Post: Strawberry Radish Tartare for Two

At the moment I’m surrounded by boxes, trying to figure out what goes where. Moving can be incredibly overwhelming, but thankfully another kind blogger has offered to help me out. 

Kristel of Kristel’s Kitchen has graciously written a great guest post for me. I actually had the pleasure of meeting her last night in real life at a Montreal Dishcrawl. My first impressions of Kristel are that she’s kind, fun, and passionate about food. I hope you enjoy her guest post and her blog as much as I do!



 

For those of you who don’t know me (or haven’t read my blog), I recently did a raw⁄living food cleanse. Though I am and always will be a true omnivore, there are certain aspects of the rawfoodism that I have decided to keep as part of my lifestyle, in an overall attempt to achieve balance and just feel better overall. In a nutshell, my objective is to be 60% rawfoodist and 40% omnivore. But you know, sometimes foie gras can taste just as good as a hot dog.

I chose this recipe because it is a simple, elegant, fresh and raw appetizer that fits perfectly with warm summer evenings that each day are getting closer and closer. I called it a tartare, because we are in Montreal and that is how we like to call things when they are served raw.

Strawberry Radish Tartare for Two

§    2 tbsp red onion, diced

§  1⁄2 cup strawberries, diced

§  1⁄2 cup radishes, julienned

§  1⁄2 cup cucumber, diced

§  1⁄2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

§  1 tbsp grape seed oil (because it is a bit more neutral in flavour but olive oil is fine)

§  Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Begin by dicing the red onion, strawberries and cucumbers. You want to take the time to cut these ingredients into a small dice. To julienne the radishes, simply slice the radishes and slice again into a small matchstick. You can also dice the radish but I like playing with different types of cut. It adds a sense of whimsy to the dish. Combine the diced strawberries and vegetables in a mixing bowl with the sea salt, the balsamic vinegar, the oil and some freshly ground pepper to taste. You can prep the ingredients ahead of time but wait until no more than 30 minutes prior to serving to combine the salt, pepper, balsamic and oil. If the mixture macerates for too long, the salt and vinegar will extract too much water from the strawberries and the vegetables.

Now, moving on to plating! You do not need any special tools to achieve the shape you see in the picture. Just rummage through your cupboards and look for a ramekin, cookie cutter, small cup, jar or dish that you can use to shape the tartare for serving. You can always just skip this step and using a spoon simply pile-up the tartare in the center of the plate. If using a mould, make sure you firmly pack the mixture and avoid spooning in too many juices. Unmould the tartare onto a plate, garnish with a mint leaves and stare at your creation like the pro that you are!

Pop-open a bottle of rosé wine and get ready to enjoy the long summer evenings ahead!

A toast goes out to Lynn from I’ll have what she’s having for inviting me to share a recipe of my own on her wonderful blog. Thank you!

Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

All over the blog world, people are writing about cooking and baking with fresh, local, Spring produce. Here, the grass just turned green about 2 days ago. Fresh produce is still a few weeks away. The posts I’ve been reading from points south of here had me longing for fresh strawberries. The giant California strawberries we get all year here just weren’t going to cut it. Compared to a Quebec strawberry, the California ones are quite bland. I’m sure it has something to do with the shipping. How could a berry travel so far and still taste good?

Instead of patiently waiting, I opened up my last jar of homemade strawberry jam and started to experiment. In the past I haven’t done much inventing, but I have to say this was a lot of fun. I actually put my face right up to the oven window as it baked; I was so excited to try it.

What I decided to make was a strawberry and ricotta tart with a streusel topping. I have to say it turned out pretty darn good. The jam added a great hit of strawberry flavour, the cheese layer was surprisingly light, and the almond meal in the crust added a really nice texture. Next time I might add a little cream cheese to the cheese to give it a little tang.

Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 1 cup strawberry jam (or jam of your choice)
  • 550 g ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and almond meal together. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut/rub the butter into the flour until the mixture just holds together when squeezed and there are no large chunks of butter. Add the vanilla and the egg, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture just comes together.
  2. Press half the dough into a greased 9 inch tart pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. Make the cheese filling. Place the ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  4. Once the dough crust has chilled, spread the jam over the crust. Top with the cheese mixture. Crumble the remaining dough over the cheese. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F, bake for 40 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy!

Strawberries for Valentine’s Day

I’m generally not a big fan of Valentines Day. The hype that surrounds it makes it very difficult to live up to if you are in a relationship, and very depressing if you are not. Commanding people to feel lovey-dovey on a particular day is really kind of silly.

Instead of ignoring the day as I usually do, this year I’ve decided to treat like we did in elementary school. Everyone gets a Valentine! (Read that with an Oprah delivery, ie “You get a card, you get a card, EVERYONE GETS A CAAARD!!!!”) And you, my dear readers, are getting TWO strawberry recipes today.

You might notice that there is no refined sugar in these treats, that’s because I don’t think they need any. If you feel either of them needs a little more sweetness for your tastes feel free to add some.

The first strawberry treat I have for you is a smoothie. I love these for breakfast when I’m in a rush. Just pour them into a portable cup and drink on your way to work. If you want to up the healthiness factor, you can add flax or chia seeds, or even some protein powder. (Note, I’m not a huge powder fan but protein in the morning is great way to get energy for the day.) If you want to up the indulgent factor, add some cocoa powder and sugar or other sweetener.

The second is something I like to make myself when I’m craving a creamy dessert but feel like doing any work. It’s quick and easy to put together, and the drizzle of maple syrup is a perfect finishing touch.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

(serves 1)

  • 1 Banana
  • 5-6 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla)
  • 1 cup milk (soy or almond also work)
  • mint leaves
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree till smooth. Serve!

Strawberry and Ricotta Cup

  • Ricotta
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup
  • Strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  1. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, cinnamon, and a couple of tablespoons maple syrup.
  2. Put ricotta mixture in serving bowls, top with strawberries. Drizzle some maple syrup on top.

Enjoy!

Berry Terrine

Have you ever had a recipe stuck in your head?

Ever since I saw Laura Calder make this recipe on the Food Network Canada I’ve been thinking about making it. Since  July 14th was Frances national holiday I decided this was a great time to make it. I know a lot of people have the impression that french food is complicated, and although it can be, in general it’s actually quite simple.

This terrine is basically just a fancy jello mold. I based my recipe on Laura Calder’s Pink Grapefruit and Orange Terrine, but since we are at the height of raspberry season here in Quebec I decided to make a berry version.

To make this you’ll need a 9 inch loaf pan and some plastic wrap.

Berry Terrine

  • 1 cup rosé or white wine ( I used C’est La Vie Rosé Syrah)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages gelatine
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (halved or quartered if they are too large)
  • greek yogurt and honey for topping
  1. In a saucepan heat wine, juice , and sugar until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture is simmering.
  2. Take a 1/4 cup of the hot liquid and dissolve the gelatine, then return that to wine mixture.
  3. Line loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure there is a good overhang.
  4. Fill the loaf pan with the berries and the cover with the wine gelatine mixture.
  5. Cover with overhang from the plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours until set.

I was actually a little disappointed with the dessert. Maybe I cooked the wine too long, but there was no wine taste to the jelly at all. Next time I’ll change the wine to juice ratio, and maybe add some anise to it for more flavour. I will try again though, as I think this has a lot of potential.