Jammin’ in the okanagan

All jam-making normally starts with a nice little adventure of fruit picking. Here in Kelowna, BC, we harvest apricots from an abandoned tree by the university (if we get to them before the wasps) and heaps of raspberries from our backyard. Blueberries don’t really grow in the dry forests around here, but you can buy them for cheap from some farmers that cultivate them.

Once you’ve got the berries all you need is two large pots, some old jars and a bunch of sugar (and spices if you want to mix things up a bit).

The amount of sugar you need to add depends on if the fruit is sour or sweet. I normally just fill up with sugar so that it looks like the fruit/berries are somewhat covered. In most cases you don’t need to add water, the sugar will dissolve the fruit into nice a juicy jam.

When the jam is boiling (on low heat so that it doesn’t burn) foam will form on the surface. Remove the foam by scooping it off with a spoon since you don’t want it to end up in the jars.

Once the jam has boiled for a while and reached a nice consistency (it will be rinnier hot than once it’s cooled down), put the empty jars and their lids in a boiling water bath to kill potential pathogens and then while the jam and the jars are still hot, fill the jars with jam and seal the lids. Let the jars rest until they cool down, then the lids will pop down and seal. A lot of people buy new jars or lids, but I’ve always just used old olive jars or jam jars with their lids and it has worked just fine, as long as you make sure to boil everything.

The end result might look something like this:

Here are some of the flavour-mixes for this year’s harvest:

From the left: Apricot-ginger-cinnamon (made with fresh chopped ginger and cinnamon sticks), Raspberry-lime and Blueberry-vanilla (made with a dried vanilla pod that I cut open).

My favourite out of the bunch is the blueberry-vanilla one. It has a perfectly balanced sweetness and the hint of vanilla coats your mouth in a smooth and comforting way. I actually got the idea to combine bluberry and vanilla from a jam I got from my friend Amanda that she had bought in a cheese store in Umeå where they make cheese and jam pairings. It is considered a good complement to soft cheeses like a brie or a cambozola and I can guarantee that it sure is!

Fantastic foraging

Two weeks ago I had to go out on a field trip to collect some seeds for my experiments, and on our way, we found some delicious treats: Aspen boletes (mushrooms) and wild red gooseberries which turned into a delicious meal :)

With the boletes, I made a nice quiche. First I fried the mushrooms in some butter and then I used this recipie to make the quiche dough and egg-filling. I stuffed the quiche with onion, zucchini and mushrooms and used regular cheddar cheese.

 

With the gooseberries I decided to make a crumble, and since the harvest wasn’t quite enough for the glass baking pan, I added some frozen blueberries. For the crumble I mixed:

  • 125 g butter
  • 200 ml sugar (pour half on the berries and use half for the crumbles)
  • flour (add until the butter forms non-sticky crumbles
  • cinnamon
  • cardamom

Then I poured the crumbles on top of the berries and baked in the oven (200°C) for about 30 min (until it turns golden on top). Here’s the result:

Chocolate balls

These little guys are the swedish take on rum balls and a treat. They take minimal time and effort to make, all you have to be prepared for is getting your hands sticky!

This is what you need:

  • 100 g butter
  • 150 ml sugar
  • 300 ml oats
  • 4 spoons of coacoa
  • 3 tbs liquid (There are many options here: coffee, kaluha, some fruity liqueur or simply water)
  • pearl sugar, finely chopped nuts, sprinkles or or grated coconut to roll the balls in.

Mix all the ingredients except the topping together with your hands to a solid not too soft dough.

Wash your hands from all the stickiness and start rolling balls. I tend to make them a small one bite size since they’re quite rich.

Roll the balls in which ever topping you chose and put them all on a plate in the freezer.

Once the balls have hardened in the freezer, eat them with a nice Iced latte – perfect for this crazy 35 degrees heat that just hit us!

Strawberry midsummer cake

Celebrating midsummer requires a good strawberry cake, and this year I decided to invent my own. It has a touch of marzipan, rhubarbs and ginger, but besides that a classic recipie.

To begin with, you need to make the filling (which is kind of like making jam).

I chopped strawberries, rhubarb and fresh ginger into little cubes, covered them with white sugar and boiled them at a low heat for about 40 min until the jam was soft and gooey but not too rinny (it will solidify more once it cools off). Let the jam cool completely before putting it into the cake.

For the cake you will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g grated marzipan/almond paste
  • 150 g butter (half melted, soft but not rinny)
  • 100 ml sugar
  • 200 ml flour
  • 50 ml milk
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla sugar
Mix all the ingredients to a smooth paste and pour into a buttered and breaded cake pan and bake in the middle of the oven at 200ºC for about 30 min. Stick a toothpick/fork into it to make sure it’s not rinny insde before you take it out.
Once the cake is baked, follow instructions through the pictures below :).

Ready to be baked in the oven

Cut the cake into two halves

 

spread the jam evenly across the bottom slice.

Put the lid on

cover the cake with whipped cream and sliced strawberries

Ready to serve!


Rabarberkräm (gooey rhubarb deliciousness)

I’ve been longing to make a post about kräm because it’s something I find very delicious and that I always have a hard time describing to people here in Canada. “It’s like jam but soft and gooey, kind of like jelly but not solid like jelly…” yeah, not the easiest thing to describe. Anyways, after some oppurtunistic foraging in an abandoned corner of the neighbourhood (and a dose of Carrie’s courage), I finally got my hands on some rhubarb stalks to cook up a storm.

One of the main ingredients in this recipie is potato starch. I am not sure if you can buy it in the grocery store over here, but to be on the safe side, I brought some over from Sweden when I was visiting last month (not suspicious at all to bring a package of white powder on the plane…). I managed to find this homepage though, with information about potato starch in Canada, and who knows, corn starch might work as an ok substitute.

Enough about that, here’s the recipie:

  1. Chop 5 medium sized rubarb stalks
  2. Put in a pot and cover with white sugar (you don’t need very much, maybe 200 ml)
  3. Pour in water until the rhubarb is covered but not floating.
  4. Add a cinnamon stick and let boil until the rhubarb softens and splits into strings.
  5. Mix 4 tbs of potato starch with some water in a bowl until it is completely dissolved (no resistance when stirring).
  6. Slowly pour the starchmix into the pot while stirring. The starchmix should run in a slim continuous stream into the pot to avoid lumps.
  7. Keep stirring until the kräm thickens (it shouldn’t have to boil any more).
  8. Pour the kräm into a glass bowl and sprinkle ground cinnamon on top.

Let the kräm cool off and then serve with cold milk.

If you don’t want to serve this as a dessert, it can also make for a yummy afternoon snack in the summer, and if you have access to gooseberries, they make for a great replacement to rhubarbs. The truth is that you could do this with almost any kind of fruit, you just have to adapt the amount of water, startch and sugar you put into it based on how sour and watery the fruit is.

Banana pancakes with chestnut paste

It’s so easy to forget bananas and it doesn’t take long before they start being covered in little brown spots. This is a great recipie to use up some of them – it is quick and easy and

tastes delicious!

This is what you need:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml flour
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • butter to fry them in

Mash the bananas and stir together with the other ingredients. Use a 1/3 (or 1dl) cup to pour the mixture into the pan. I could fit 3 little pancakes in our large frying pan. Fry them until they catch some colour on both sides.

Serve with chestnut paste! So yummy and filling for a weekend breakfast or afternoon treat.

Cracked egg buns (vanilla buns)

I learnt how to make these from one of the nurses when I worked in eldercare, and one thing is for sure: even if they can’t cure cramps – old people love them!

To make vanilla buns you basicly just have to follow my dough-recipie for Cinnamon buns and then when you’ve rolled out the dough, just cut out squares, put a spoon of vanilla sauce (custard) on it, fold it up and then pinch the fold together (like in the picture above) into a little ball and flip the buns over. Be careful not to put too much sauce in them or making the dough too thin, then they will leak.

To make the buns look like eggs with yolk peeking through, I brushed them with whipped egg to make them shiny and cut a little peek-hole with my scissors.

I then baked the buns in 200°C for about 12 min. Take them out once they look golden. Every oven can be a bit different, and you don’t want them to be dry and burnt.

If you want to make them extra sweet or sparkly, once they’ve cooled down, brush them with melted butter and roll in some white sugar.

Purim pastries (Hamentashen)

I love traditions, especially food related ones! Therefore, this year, I decided to join forces with David to bake jewish treats to celebrate purim. For purim, people bake sweet pastries called hamentashen. It is like a citrusy shortbread dough filled with different stuffings where a poppy seed-paste is the most traditional one. We made three different kinds of hamentashen; poppyseed, apple – caramel & cocolate chip – cream cheese.

For the dough, we used this recipie (but switched the orange for a lemon) and for the various fillings we followed instructions from this pretty blog (poppy, apple, chocolate).

To bake the hamentashen we got help from a bunch of our friends and it turned into a wonderful baking-masquerade party with lots of pretty costumes and tasty treats. Here’s a small summary in pictures:

Caramelized oat bisquits

Crunchy, crispy, sweet deliciousness is what awaits you if you try this recipe out.

  • 75 g butter
  • 100 ml all purpose flour
  • 100 ml oats
  • 100 ml sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs syrup (I used swedish cane syrup – “ljus sirap” but I think corn syrup could work as well)
  • 2 tbs milk

Melt the butter and stir together with the rest of the ingredients. Scoop spoonfulls of the mixture onto baking trays covered with parchment paper. The lumps will melt and spread out a lot so leave a generous amount of space betweeen them.

Bake in the oven at 200°C for ca 5 minutes. Take them out when they are flat and golden. Pull the parchment paper with the bisquits off the trays and let cool on a net or a cool surface.

Enjoy with a cup of dark coffee or a black flowery tea.

The recipie came from this site.

Berry smoothie

Some mornings, there’s nothing better than to start the day with some fruity deliciousness. It’s easy peasy if you have a hand blender, a bowl and a freezer full of berries. This is what I used:

  • frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries & raspberries)
  • 2% milk
  • sugar (just a spoonful)
  • 1tsp vanillasugar
  • banana for dipping or in the smoothie as you like.