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Double Apple Scones

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Double Apple Scones
Double Apple Scone turned into Triple Apple Scones!

Scones. How my world has been brightened by the advent of these crusty, crumbly versatile treats. There are the hearty, oatsy varieties, developed to stick to your ribs as you trek out on the cold, windy Scottish Highlands for a tryst with your ain wee bonnie laddie. There are Irish scones and Dutch scones. Then there are the delicate golden types that you eat daintily, spreading them with clotted cream and blackberry jam while crooking your pinkie as you drink your tea out of beautiful bone china teacups and pretend that you are in the presence of M’Lady England. Yes, mum. I love them all. They each have their place in my multicultural world.

For breakfast, I tend to go for the heartier kinds of scones. I want one that will hang in there until noon; one that I can break off and savour with my freshly ground and brewed coffee while watching the birds flitting about on my feeder.

When I came across this recipe, I was intrigued because it uses applesauce as the liquid ingredient instead of the usual cream, as well as fresh apple chunks. Since applesauce is part of our heritage every bit as much as my long, swinging braids were in my childhood, my eyes perked up at the notion of including it. I expected the scones to be missing their crusty exterior because of the applesauce, but they still had it. Jackpot! It stayed in my file.

Double Apple Scones
Golden brown. moist and chewy Apple Scones

Here are a few tips about scone-making that I have learned and will pass on to you. (Yeah, don’t mention it. I’m just nice that way.) As always, click or hover on the images for descriptions and captions.

1. Use well-chilled butter and grate it. This can be done by freezing it for 30 minutes, or using butter that has been kept in the fridge. This saves the step of cutting it in with a pastry blender. Handy-dandy! I made a double batch here because I like to give things like this as gifts.

2. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until it starts to hang together in clumps, then tip the mass out onto a heavily floured surface, and knead about 10- 15 turns, just until it forms a ball shape. Divide the ball in two and flatten each half into a 7″ by 3/4″ thick circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and place them on a tray, leaving 1/2″ in between the scone wedges. 

3. Freeze the scones after cutting into pieces and bake them from the frozen stage. The freezing actually relaxes the gluten and causes them to puff up more. This is a huge time-saver; just pull them out of the freezer the morning you want to serve them and bake them. Oh joy, oh bliss! Fresh scones, just like that.

I used my homemade applesauce (remember? it’s part of my heritage) but we do also sell a great home-style unsweetened applesauce at Martins, made with our very own apple supply. 

For this recipe I used the ever-popular Cortland. Its red, streaky skin and pure white flesh make it great for sauces and baked goods, as well as eating out of hand. It has a wonderful old-fashioned flavour that evokes memories of apples stored under blankets in our cold cellar at home. 

How do you pronounce the word “scones”? Well, apparently you may pronounce it whichever way you choose: skahns, skones, or skoons. Take your pick. I pronounce them skahns, because that’s how I mostly heard it pronounced in England.

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. All recipes, views and stories are my own. 

Double Apple Scones

Ingredients

Double Apple Scones
Double Apple Scone turned into Triple Apple Scones!
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ( you can substitute half whole wheat, if you like)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon cloves)

 

  • 1/2 cup very cold or frozen butter, grated
  • 1 cup fresh apple, washed, unpeeled and cut into 1/2″ chunks (I used Cortland)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional, but we sure like the addition!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

  • cream or milk for brushing on top
  • 1/4 cup coarse or fine sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions

Whisk together the dry ingredients, then grate the frozen/chilled butter and stir it in with a fork. Add the chopped apples and cranberries and lightly stir them in. Whisk the eggs, add the applesauce and vanilla and whisk again. Stir the liquid mixture into the bowl until the mixture begins to clump together. Turn it out onto a heavily floured surface and knead lightly for 10-15 turns.

Divide the mixture into two balls, flatten each into a 7″ circle, about 3/4′ thick, then cut each circle into 6 wedges with a knife dipped into flour or run under cold water.  Try to have the edges the same height as the middle; not thinner. Brush the tops with milk or cream, then sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar. Place on a tray covered with parchment, leaving at least 1/2″ between each scone, and freeze for at least 30 minutes (overnight works great).

Before baking, preheat oven to 425° F. Once it’s hot, bake the scones without thawing them for 18 – 22 minutes. Let them cool on the tray for five minutes before serving. Eat them plain, or spread with butter or honey. Or… slather them with a dab of apple butter like we do and turn them into Triple Apple Scones! Delight in every bite.

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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One of the first sets of cookbooks I began collecting as a young girl was the Company’s Coming set, produced by Jean Paré. She had great, easy-to-follow recipes, beautiful pictures, and easy conversation throughout. A lot of my first masterpieces date back to this collection, and certainly my love of trying new recipes grew through it.

This is my collection. I won’t show you all the cookbooks below and above it, or in my drawers. Does anyone else read cookbooks like novels, from cover to cover?

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My Jean Paré collection, well-loved and well-worn.

One of my first books within the set was Soups and Sandwiches and I think my favourite recipe in the book was, and still is the Cauliflower Cheese Soup. It slides so easily down the gullet, it’s soothing, yet has a wonderfully full flavour. The toasted bread cubes on top add a delightful contrasting crunch. One day last week, one of my sisters was asking how to make it, and as mom and I were telling her how, our own hunger for it grew as well. I knew we still had some lovely heads of cauliflower at Martin’s, so I went home and quickly cobbled the soup together. The cauliflower is done now, but you can use frozen as well, and we still have tasty Bright’s cheese and Eby Manor milk, as well as the root vegetables, pears and apples. Remember this soup recipe next year when it’s cauliflower season and come on in to Martin’s!

Mom got her last little box of soup out of the freezer, and my sister made it too. So all three of us enjoyed it that night. As my husband was eating it, he commented three times (I was counting) on how good it was. Three things help to make this soup exceptional. A. The cauliflower is cooked in the chicken broth = Hello, flavour! B. You need to use a good quality medium or even sharp cheddar. More equals less with cheese; the sharper the flavour, the less quantity you need. C. The bread cubes on top. They lift this soup waaay beyond the ordinary. If you have homemade chicken stock, it hits the soup right out of the ballpark into the neighbour’s lawn. I didn’t have any this time, but it was still really good.

Cauliflower is in the cabbage family. It is generally started inside from seed, then the seedlings are transplanted outside after the danger of frost is over. After the heads begin forming, the plant leaves are tied around the head to promote “blanching” or whitening of the heads. To keep cauliflower white while cooking, do not add salt until it is done. 

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Ingredients

IMG_20171027_124137264_HDR.jpg

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, about 6 cups chopped (frozen cauliflower can also be used successfully)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or stock (check ingredients for GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour (use 1/4 cup corn starch or potato flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese

 

  • 3 cups of stale bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes or coarsely grated (omit or use gluten-free bread to adapt to GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Directions

Cook cauliflower in chicken broth until tender. Do not drain. Cool a bit, then run through blender or use immersion blender in the pot to your desired smoothness. We like a few chunks in ours. I love my immersion blender for things like this. 

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until clear and fragrant. Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk by degrees, and stir until smooth. Heat on medium heat until it begins to boil, stirring frequently. You can be browning the bread cubes in butter either in a 350° F oven or in a skillet while this is thickening.

Turn heat to low. Add cauliflower, stir, then add cheese and stir again. Heat just until hot but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and top with a little sprinkle of cheese, fresh chopped parsley, and the buttered toasted bread cubes. Be comforted and well.

 

 

 

 

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast

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Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
I grew up fishing. I fished with my dad, my grandma, my grandpa, and my siblings. I recall getting up as the sun was just beginning to peep over the horizon and going with Dad down the long hill in the woods behind us to the river. Back then it was probably the only thing in the world that could get me out of bed early voluntarily! Then we would wade through the long, dewy grass in the flats beside the river; the long fronds as high as my waist. Often we caught only shiners, small perch or rock bass or sometimes, ugh, a sucker. But every now and then, oh joy of joys!, we would catch a nice black bass. Then we would trek back up the hill with our catch (or not!). Dad would expertly filet them and Mom would dust them simply in flour, salt and pepper to pan-fry them. Boy, oh, boy that was tasty. Even though we were a large family, Mom and Dad made sure we got away on a vacation most summers. Usually it was to a cottage area, and Dad always made sure it included good fishing. As a result of these childhood experiences, nearly all of our Kraemer tribe loves fish to this day.

Most of my kids also love to eat fish, so when my daughter asked what we’re having for Sunday lunch on a rare weekend when she was home from college, I immediately thought of the salmon fillets I had tucked in my freezer for such a time as this. I had also promised to include apples in my next blog, sweet potatoes team superbly well with apples, and the rest, as Dad used to say, is history.

I found a recipe for baked salmon that I tweaked to adapt to the addition of sweet potatoes and apples. And I call it a “roast” because that word rings more sweetly in my ears than “bake” does. It sounds a lot more sophisticated, I think. And salmon is the epitome of fish sophistication, no?

 

It was simple; once again I made one sauce mixture that I divided between the meat and the vegetables, like I did in my last post. It worked out great; the salmon and the sweet potato/apple mixture roasted in about the same amount of time, and while they were roasting, we “spinached” the plates and set the table. Best of all, it tasted wonderful! Even Steve liked it. He did not grow up fishing. He grew up feeding hogs and picking apples, so guess what he likes to eat? Yup; you guessed it; pork. And apples. In fact, you could substitute pork loin or chops for the salmon in this recipe and it would be equally as good, I’m sure.

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Isn’t this just so gorgeously Fall? We’ve got all these goodies at Martin’s. I am so lucky.

 

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach

Sweet potatoes grow underground as tubers. I found it fascinating that Steve’s mom grew them in her garden, because I had understood that they are hard to grow. They are high in beta carotene, fibre, and rapidly digestible starch. In other words, they’re good for you, unless you’re highly diabetic. We also love them roasted whole in the oven or microwave and eaten with butter, salt and pepper. Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing? As a a matter of fact, all yams are sweet potatoes, but not all sweet potatoes are yams. For an explanation of that cryptic statement, click here.

I used a Honeycrisp apple in this dish because you want to use a firm apple that will not turn mushy when roasted. Honeycrisp is an amazing apple that works well for just about everything you want it to do. It has taken the apple world by storm and turned it right side up again. We hear over and over from our customers, “I thought I didn’t like apples, then I had a Honeycrisp”. It is always crisp, very juicy, has a thin skin, and the texture of the flesh is almost like that of a Japanese or Bosc pear. It is also our most expensive apple by far, for several reasons. We call it the Cadillac of apples. Empire, Spy, Gala, Ambrosia, Russet or Crispin (also called Mutsu) all work well for a smaller pricetag.

 

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast

Ingredients

Sauce: 

Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons from concentrate)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 Ontario garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I like grainy brown Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chili or Cajun spice (optional)

 

  • 1 1/2 lbs. (4 – 6 pieces) salmon fillets
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 medium firm apples, washed, unpeeled (I used Honeycrisp)
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • poppy seed dressing, or other dressing of your choice

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 450° F. Whisk or shake together all the sauce ingredients. Line two separate baking sheets with parchment or foil. Lay the salmon on one pan, skin side down. I cut my skin off; not half as expertly as Dad would have, I might add. Cut sweet potatoes and onions in 1″ chunks. Lay them in a single layer in the other pan. Cut the apple into 1″ chunks as well, but don’t add them yet.

Spread half of the sauce over the salmon fillets. Pour the remaining sauce over the sweet potatoes and onions and toss them lightly until coated. Put both pans in the oven and bake them for 15 – 20 minutes, based on the thickness of your salmon. While the meal is roasting, set the table and spread 1 cup of spinach on each plate. Test your salmon after 15 minutes by sticking a fork in the thickest part of the fish and twisting lightly. If it flakes and doesn’t look raw, it’s done. If not, give it another 5 minutes. At this point, add the apple chunks to the other pan and roast them for 5 minutes as the sweet potatoes finish. Remove both pans from the oven.

To serve, divide the sweet potato/apple mixture on top of the spinach, then top with the salmon. Pour any pan juices over the fish. We found there wasn’t a lot of juice left over so we drizzled a bit of poppyseed dressing over the spinach. Because we like heat, I also snipped a bit of dried red chili pepper over the fish. Laying a slice of lemon on top would also be gorgeous. Happy fishing!

 

 

 

 

 

End-of-Summer Grilled Salad

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End-of-Summer Grilled Salad
End-of-Summer Grilled Salad. Such an abundance of flavours and textures!

This is my farewell-to-summer salad recipe. I made it about a month ago, thinking I would save it to post next summer, but summer is extending waaaay beyond its normal Canadian boundaries, so I couldn’t resist sharing it now. Besides salad is good for you anytime, even if it’s a summer salad teetering on the cusp of Fall. We have all winter to feature beets, apples and pumpkins.

It all began very innocently: I was planning to make Grilled Peppers with Feta for our retail girls because we had such beautiful peppers at the store, and they are amazing marinated, grilled and stuffed with feta. I was telling them about our family’s introduction years ago to the cute, but hot cherry bomb peppers by one of our employees at market. He’s from Laos and told us how to cut off the top, hollow out the inside, sprinkle salt on the edges, then turn them upside down on a paper towel-lined pan to drain. This cuts down the heat factor. Then you stuff them with feta cheese and seasonings. I’ll tell you, our horizons have really broadened with our ethnic friends’ influence! We didn’t grow up eating hot stuff, but we love heat now. I make these cute, flaming delights once a year for our family.

One busy day this fall when I was assisting the girls at the store, I promised to make some for them. They agreed with reserved enthusiasm. I decide that to save time, I would employ the marinated pepper recipe that I love, using both sweet and hot peppers, and cut them smaller. It was a bit anti-climactic because the peppers aren’t very hot this year, due to all the rain they got during their growing season. But the girls loved them, and didn’t need to chase them down with milk.

 

Then I started thinking about all this delicious marinade, and the leftover peppers that I didn’t use. It hurts me to throw away perfectly good marinade that simply had peppers sitting in them for a few hours. It was a beautiful warm day, the grill was hot, I had other vegetables and chicken breasts thawing in my fridge. I marinated the vegetables in one bag and the chicken in another, and that is the backstory to the End-of-Summer Salad.

Note: You can use whatever vegetables you like that are grillable. That’s the beauty of salads! 

 

As stated above, peppers are hotter in a dry year. It makes sense that a pepper with a higher water content would be milder, right? Keep them in the fridge in a bag. I have discovered that a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully to scoop out the seeds in a hot pepper.  

For the Grilled Stuffed Peppers, simply marinate them, sear them, and melt a spoonful of the herbed feta mixture in the cavity. So simple; so good. 

End-of-Summer Grilled Salad

Ingredients

Salad:IMG_20170922_184035490-3.jpg

  • 2 sweet peppers
  • 2 – 4 hot peppers (I used cherry bombs)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 – 6 green onions
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of herbed feta cheese or mix your own like I did
  • mixed greens, washed and dried

Marinade:

  • 2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

Cut peppers into halves, thirds or quarters, depending on their size. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, then again in half lengthwise. Leave the green onions whole. 

Whisk or shake together the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in one zippered plastic bag and vegetables in another. Pour half of the marinade into each bag, turning a few times to distribute it. Refrigerate and marinate for at least an hour, turning several times. Remove from the marinade and grill the vegetables quickly  on medium high heat. Don’t overcook them; you just want to sear them. Brush with remaining marinade. Remove the chicken from marinade and grill on medium until no longer pink inside. Again, brush with remaining marinade. I make a small slit in the fattest part of the breast to check doneness. Remove from the grill. 

To serve, slice the vegetables and meat and arrange on a bed of mixed greens. Add herbed feta cheese, drizzle with your favourite dressing, and say farewell to summer.

 

 

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip

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Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip on Cream Cheese
A few weeks ago, I was asked by our head marketing guy, Peter, if I could develop a recipe that would feature our Martin’s Apple Chips. That sounded like an enticing proposition, so I started researching recipes. For weeks, images of apple chips danced in my head, spinning and twirling, accompanying granola (somebody beat me to that one), on top of pork loin (I’m definitely going to play with that idea. I love pork loin, and it’s so easy to dress it up. Don’t you agree that our chips would be great with pork loin?), and with cheese (cheese, yes, of course!)

Since our Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner and our US friends are looking forward to celebrating it next month, my thoughts kept veering towards a party food. Plus, Christmas is coming! We had just toured Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh a month ago, we grow apples here, and we sell Bright’s Cheese. That’s a pretty good local trio right there. And so this Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip came into being.

It’s a sweet and savoury, slightly spicy dip with two options for serving it; over cream cheese, or as a salsa with feta cheese stirred in. The day I made it, I took both versions in to our offices and the retail store staff to get a consensus on the favourite. Well. The favourite split cleanly down the middle, with nearly all of the samplers saying they like both. And wow, did the apple chips ever bring it to life! We tried both the original and cinnamon chips, and the simplicity of the original definitely showcased the dip best.

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Feta
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Feta
So…I’m happy to feature both variations. I used fresh cranberries, but frozen would work just as well. I buy a big bag from Martin’s and keep them in my freezer all year because I never know when a craving for cranberries will strike. I used four types of peppers to add a bit of heat and spicy flavour, and you’ll never believe this, cilantro. Yeah, you heard me. What can I say? I had a weak moment; I actually felt it would enhance the flavour. I was right, too.

One more, because it’s so pretty and our photographer, Sary, took such beautiful photos…

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin's Apple Chips
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin’s Apple Chips
Cranberries are grown on very low bushes in northern climates. The fields they grow in are called bogs or marshes. In order to harvest them more easily, the bogs are flooded so that the plants and berries lift. Then they are raked off and sorted. I learned that a properly ripe cranberry will bounce; if it doesn’t it will be rejected. They can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks, then they should be frozen.

We begin harvesting early apples at the end of August, and continue until the end of October. We are in the ‘eye’ of the apple harvest storm from the middle of September until the end of October. For a fun little infomercial on our apple harvest, watch this. To see the apple chip process and our own personal bee, click here, then click the arrow in the centre of the page.

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip

Ingredients

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin's Apple Chips
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin’s Apple Chips
  • 12 oz. bag (3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ of a medium crunchy apple (Honeycrisp, Ambrosia or Gala are great in this!)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

 

  • 2 250gr. bricks of cream cheese or ½ cup feta cheese

 

Directions

Coarsely chop fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to thaw the frozen berries). Finely dice washed and cored apple, green onions, and jalapenos. If you like lots of heat, leave seeds and membranes in the jalapeno; if not, remove them. Combine all of these fresh ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the cheese and stir together lightly. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and up to twelve hours. Drain thoroughly, place two bricks of cream cheese on plates and top with the drained topping. Serve with assorted dippers, including our very own Martin’s Apple Chips!

Variation: Instead of using cream cheese, stir ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese into the drained topping and serve as a salsa. Or do one of each, cutting back to one brick of cream cheese and ¼ cup of feta.

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

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Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

As I stated in my introduction to my blog, I absolutely love to make bread. I am convinced that the process is healing to the soul, and will lift up the downcast spirit. It is so rewarding to stir together flour, salt, yeast, and liquid (henceforth known as The Basic Four), let the mixture sit until it rises into a beautiful airy cloud, then shape it and bake it into golden crackling loaves. The transformation is astounding.

I especially love crusty, chewy bread, and have long wanted to delve into the world of artisan bread baking, but never got around to it. The artisanal enjoyment was initiated on our first trip to Europe; ohhh, the breads and cheeses that assaulted our senses there! I still remember what our tour guide said to us as we were leaving France’s luxurious three hour gastro pleasures, and heading to Germany, the Land of Hard Work and Practicality. In a heavy, affected German accent, he pronounced, “No more creme sauces and croissants; ve vill now be entering Germany, vhere you vill get bredt and vater, and you vill be tankful!” We all roared with laughter and the phrase has stuck in our memories. And we were indeed very thankful for the chewy bread.

When a recipe for a no-knead artisan bread burst on the scene a few years ago, I was skeptical, but after reading the testimonials of soaring successes, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. So I watched the sale flyers and bought myself a cast iron Dutch oven to experiment with it. Oh. My. Word. I became an instant believer.

You simply stir together The Basic Four, cover it, let it sit for 12 – 24 hours on your counter, and bake it in a covered heavy baking dish in a screeching hot oven. It takes only 5 minutes to stir together, but you should allow at least an hour and a half for the baking process. If you want really detailed instructions, Simply So Good does a fantastic job of covering all the bases. I use less salt and heat the pot immediately with the oven for convenience’ sake.

To The Basic Four, I added a quarter cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, half of a Zestar apple, coarsely chopped, and half a cup of dried cranberries. After baking, I brushed the top of the loaf with maple syrup immediately after removing it from the pot. Presto. Basic turns into amazing in a fraction of time. Not that basic isn’t also amazing, depending on the moment. It definitely is amazing dipped in olive oil, herbs, and balsamic mixtures.

I have tried myriad combinations, both savoury and sweet. This one was developed about a week ago when I wanted to take advantage of our fresh apple season that is happening now AND I had beautiful dried cranberries here that I picked up at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala, Ontario. They do fantastic tours of their place. Do visit them if you have the chance sometime. We will be selling heaps of their fresh cranberries in time for Thanksgiving, since apples and cranberries are a thankworthy team. Then we freeze them until Christmas, and sell them frozen. We do fantastic tours of our farm too, by the way. It looks pretty these days with the apples waiting to be harvested.

Speaking of pretty, so is this bread. Just look at it. You can do this too.

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf
No-knead rules!

 

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf
Look at that moist spongy interior!

 

I tried out the freshly baked bread on a friend and her 4-year-old, my oldest daughter and my 1-year-old grandson. Every single one of them approved it for the blog.

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Lining up for the chomp. Isn’t he absolutely adorable? Yes. Yes, he is.

 

More pictures of other breads I’ve tried…click or hover on the pictures to see the descriptions. And that’s it. I’m stopping now. My keyboard is getting wet.

TRUE STORY: I was bragging this bread up to this very same friend last winter and telling her that it’s virtually foolproof. I promised her I would supply the bread if they had us at their place for dinner that Sunday. I baked an aged cheddar, garlic and cracked pepper loaf before church, took it along in the very hot pot and let it sit in the car. Well. What a sorry, deflated, soggy loaf I presented at noon. I hadn’t baked it quite long enough and the steam created a sauna for the bread as it cooled. Breads do not like saunas after they are baked. So this apple/cranberry loaf was to redeem both the bread and my baking skills in her eyes. I still claim that it’s foolproof, but not idiotproof, apparently.

The bread should be stored in a paper bag until it’s cut, then the rest can go into plastic, but it will lose its crisp crust and simply be chewy.

Apples? I like to use a firm, sweetly tart apple for this sort of thing. The first time I used Gingergold, this time it was Zestar, next time it will be Cortland or Honeycrisp. Always, always store them in the fridge in a crisper or bag. Do not store them with pears. The apples exude ethylene gas that will over-ripen the pears in a hurry.

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

Ingredients

The Basic FourIMG_20170921_094254902

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used half AP and half multigrain bread flours for this loaf)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fast-rising or instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of cool tap water

Additions:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar, depending how sweet you like your stuff
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 firm and tart medium apple, washed, unpeeled, and chopped in 1″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • maple syrup for glazing the top of the loaf

Directions

Stir together all the ingredients except the maple syrup in a glass or metal bowl big enough for the dough to double in size. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for  approximately 12 – 24 hours. I often stir it together around 7:00 pm, then bake it the next morning. 

When you’re ready to start baking, turn the oven on to 450° F. Immediately put a 5-6 quart/litre cast iron or other heavy oven-proof pot in the oven. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN, or it will smoke like crazy. Let it heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove bread from the bowl with a large scraper, and turn it out onto a heavily floured pastry mat or parchment paper. Flour the top of the loaf, then using your hands or two dough scrapers, curve the sides and tuck them loosely into the bottom so that you have a nice round loaf. Lightly cover again with the plastic and let it rest while your oven is heating. 

When the oven and pot have heated for 45 minutes, remove the pot and set on a heatproof surface. Remove cover, lift up the bread with the parchment or two dough scrapers and carefully drop it into the pan. You should hear the apples sizzle from the heat. Put the cover back on top, place the pot in the oven, and bake it for 30 minutes, still at 450°. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is deep brown. This apple version will be darker than the Basic Artisan Loaf is because of the whole grain flour and brown sugar. When it’s brown, take it out and immediately remove it from the hot pan with two sturdy lifters. Brush the top of the loaf with pure maple syrup. Cool on a wire rack. I dare you to leave it for more than 15 minutes. Chow down. It’s really good as is, but you can slather it with butter if you wish. Or Brie cheese, or maple butter, or apple butter … you name it. 

Makes 1 loaf.

 

 

Peach Blackberry Shortcake

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The peach season is winding down, and I feel as though I must quickly post a peach recipe before it’s over. Also, I still need a dessert to round out the blog menu! You see, creating a food blog is different than putting together a cookbook. When you’re writing a recipe book, you assemble all the recipes and publish them all at once. With a blog, your head is swimming with ideas, but you publish them one at a time, lovingly and painstakingly. You may consider each recipe a gift, chosen carefully and handed to you with love at special occasions. Okay, enough with the gushing sentiments. I’ll stop before I have you all in tears.

Because I did not make a single strawberry shortcake this year, I vowed that peach season would not skid past without a peach blackberry version. In my mind, peaches and blackberries fit together like sunflowers and bulrushes in a fall bouquet. You can have them separately, but the two together add a stunning Wow factor, both in looks and flavour. Yesterday I was in at our store and got a basket of peaches and a quart of blackberries to pair together in some goody. Last night, we had a special family dinner in honour of our youngest going away to college, and moving out for a year. Voila! My reason to make this shortcake was born.

I love shortcakes, especially the biscuit variety. In fact, I love all things biscuit-related: scones, shortcakes, and biscuits themselves. On our honeymoon, we spent some time in the South, where I learned how to make a proper biscuit that does not have the texture of sawdust. You’ve all had those, I’m sure; the kind that come out your nose if you sneeze. Or like one I had at a High Tea at a heritage homestead that flew off the table when I tried to saw it asunder to butter it and landed on the grass with a thud, with nary a dent or a crumb out of place. Nope, my biscuits have to be flaky yet moist; crusty yet soft. Sometime, I will share that recipe with you. Meanwhile, here’s the shortcake.

The key to any biscuit-type recipe is to cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the crumbs are a little larger than a small pea. This helps to create the flakiness. Now stir the liquid in with a fork, swirling from the outside towards the centre, just until the dough gathers together. Lastly you tip it onto a floured surface and gently knead it with the heels of your hands (that’s where your hand meets your wrist) about 20 times. Pat it and shape it, and mark it with B. Hmm, how much do you bet that old nursery rhyme was written about shortcake?

Peaches should be firm when you buy them, with good colour. They ripen quickly, so if you buy them ripe, they will be over-ripe by the next day. Spread them out on a towel or newspaper at room temperature to ripen. They are ready to use when the shoulders around the stem end depress when you press them slightly. Ideally, they will be ripe within two days. 

Your supplier will thank you if you do not squeeze them before buying. We would cringe when customers did that at the market, then ask “Why are these peaches so hard?” In our heads: “Ummm, ma’am, do you have any idea what these peaches would look like if they were soft and you squeezed them like that?”  But of course we didn’t say that. We’d just smile and reply sweetly with information on ripening peaches.

Peach Blackberry Shortcake

Ingredients

Fruits

  • 3 cups washed and sliced fresh peaches (I leave the skins on)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh or other anti-browning agent

Shortcake:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Milk or cream (optional)
  • Coarse sugar (optional)

Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, combine sliced peaches, blackberries, sugar and Fruit Fresh, and toss very lightly. Chill until ready to serve. Preheat oven to 425° F.

In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the shortcake. Cut cold butter into 1″ chunks, then cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in the sour cream. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture holds mostly together. 

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 20-25 turns, or until starting to smooth. Roll or pat into an 8″ circle on a lightly greased pizza pan. Cut a 2″ hole in the centre to form a ring. This hole keeps the shortcake from having a doughy centre. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lightly browned. It will expand and puff up. Cool until ready to use.

Put all topping ingredients in a small deep bowl and whip until stiff. 

Just before serving, slice shortcake into two layers. Spread cream on bottom layers, saving a little for top garnish. layer most of the fruit on top of cream. Carefully place the top layer of shortcake over fruit. Garnish with remaining cream, fruit and the little cutout. Cut into 8 wedges to savour the fine tastes of summer!