Lemon Cloud with Strawberries and Mint

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Fussellette asked me to make “something light” for dessert following our Easter meal of a traditional Jiggs dinner.  What is lighter than a cloud?  Not much.  This sharp lemon foam is a great palette-cleanser and went smashingly with some post-prandial tea.  And, as most things gluten-free tend to be (with the exception of doughy things of course), it was easy and quick to make.  I made it the day before to allow the flavours to really concentrate themselves.

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Start with some fresh strawberries, 2 cups.  Wash them, cut the tops off, and slice them into quarters.  Drop them in a bowl.

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Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over top.

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Grab yourself some fresh mint, 2 tablespoons.  Chop that up and drop it on top of the strawberries.

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Give that a stir, then chuck it in the fridge to chill.

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Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Spray a 1 1/2 quart soufflé dish (I didn’t have one, so I used this steep-sided oval bowl) with cooking spray and dust with 2 tablespoons sugar.  The recipe said to shake out the excess but I left mine in the bottom in the hopes it would get all crusty and lovely, and I was right.  Set the dish on top of a baking sheet.

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Separate 4 eggs and bring the whites to room temperature.  You’ll only need two of the yolks.  I had three whites left over from eggs Benny so in actual fact this recipe used 5 whites.

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Grate the zest of 2 lemons and squeeze out their juice as well.  You want to end up with 2 tablespoons lemon zest and 6 tablespoons lemon juice.

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In a small saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon corn starch.

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Add in the lemon juice, zest, and the 2 egg yolks and stir until smooth.

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Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Transfer to a large glass bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

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Take your 4 egg whites and plop them in a bowl with a pinch of salt.  Whisk until foamy.

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Gradually add, a little bit at a time, 1/4 cup sugar, and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

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Take about 1/4 of the egg whites and fold it into the lemon curd in the glass bowl.

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When that is fully incorporated you can fold in the rest of the whites.

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Transfer the mixture to the soufflé dish and smooth the top.

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Bung that in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the eggy mess is puffy and slightly browned on top.  Haul it out and put it on a wire rack to cool.

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Now watch it fall.  Don’t fret — it’s supposed to fall.

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When it’s cool cover it with plastic wrap and chuck that in the fridge as well to get chilly. When you’re ready to eat, take it out. Or you could sit in your fridge and eat it. Whatever works for you. Scoop some out, top with your strawberry compote, and you’re golden.

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Slimo

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Don’t be afraid of the title.  I promise you that this is really good.

My grandparents used to have a home on the banks of the Ottawa River, and every summer that we could, we would go and visit, for a few weeks of swimming, sailing, and general adventuring.  And on especially hot days, my grandmother would make up a recipe that she had supposedly gotten from her own grandmother, a tasty citrus-y drink guaranteed to refresh.  She called it SLIMO.  To this day we are not sure why.

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My grandmother passed away in August, and at her memorial service, which was oriented towards her relationship with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, I thought it would be appropriate if we served her signature drink.

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It’s relatively easy to put together, but two of the ingredients are a little hard to find.  One is citric acid, which, if you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can get it in many Asian specialty shops, or natural food stores.  The other is tartaric acid (not to be confused with cream of tartar), which can be found (sometimes) in health food stores, but if you have a store nearby that sells beer brewing and wine making supplies, they are guaranteed to have some (or they’ll know where to get it).  Both of them look exactly like sugar, but if you put them in your mouth, be prepared for the sour!

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You need 5 oranges and 3 lemons, ones with a decent amount of rind and lots of juice inside them, so make sure they’re pretty fresh.

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Grate them to remove the rind.

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Then juice those suckers.

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I found that if I poured the juice through a strainer it got rid of the seeds and some of the pulp.

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Add to that 2oz citric acid (~60mL) and 1oz tartaric acid (~30mL).  A kitchen scale will help you with this.

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And 2lb granulated sugar (~1kg).  Yes, that’s a lot of sugar, about half of the 2kg bags you get at the grocery store ’round these parts.  But it’s necessary. Stir all that stuff together.

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In a large kettle or with a spout, boil up 2 quarts water (~2L).  Pour that over your rind, juice, sugar, and acid and stir until the sugar and acids are dissolved.

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You’ll find that the rinds with a lot of pith attached to them will float to the top and get all scummy, so I scooped them out with a small sieve.

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Allow that to cool in the fridge.  Sorry for the dimness of my photos here — despite this being a summery drink, the weekend I made it was dark and rainy.

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When you drink it, use a ratio of 1:2 slimo and water, so 1/3 of your glass is slimo, and the other 2/3 is water.  Adjust it to your own taste, of course.  Feel free to mix it with soda water, as well, or even add a splash of vodka for a more adult version of the beverage.

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Sip it and enjoy memories of summer!

Toffee Bundt Cake

I got tired of making cookies and squares for my research participants, so one weekend I pulled out this toffee cake, also from January’s Canadian Living magazine.

It’s moist and rich and sweet and satisfying, and for all that is pretty easy to concoct. It’s really good warm, but keeps up to three days.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Take yourself a 12oz/375g package of dried, pitted dates and plop them in a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water

Bring the water to a boil and stir it around a bit, then let it cool.

Mash up the dates until smooth.  I found this was easiest in a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Grease a 10″ or 3L Bundt pan (you know, the one with the fluted sides and a hole in the middle).

In a large bowl, beat together 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup softened butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind until light and fluffy. 

One at a time, beat in 4 eggs, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Stir in the dates as well. It’s funny how it’s the dates that give it that lovely toffee taste.

Scrape the batter into your greased Bundt pan.

Bake in the bottom third of your oven for about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, then tip it out onto a plate.

While the cake is cooking and cooling, you can work on your toffee sauce.  Mine didn’t turn out toffee coloured, but still tasted fantastic. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3/4 cup butter.  Whisk in 1 cup granulated sugar until dissolved, and cook, whisking the whole time, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is caramel-coloured.  Whisk in 3/4 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons lemon juice (be careful to avert your face, as adding cream can make it explosive — I’m serious).

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac.

Pour about 3/4 cup of the toffee sauce over your cake and let it stand to absorb. 

When you are ready to serve, drizzle it with the reserved warm sauce, slice and serve.

Sweet and Sour Pineapple Relish

My grandmother came over for coffee yesterday (which for you is about ten days ago) and brought with her about two dozen canning jars she didn’t use anymore.  As well, she brought me an early Christmas present: Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew’s Complete Book of Preserves & Pickles.  Today the book is already covered in stains, just like every good cookbook should be.  I am in love.

Each recipe is simple with regard to ingredients and the instructions are straightforward.  I’ll prove it to you by showing you a fantastically easy relish I made in less than an hour.  I am relishing my first attempt at this particular preserve.

I tripled the recipe in the book and came out with 7 250mL jars of relish.

Open and drain 6 14oz cans of crushed pineapple.  You can use rings, which drain faster, but then you have to cut them up.  Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the juice.

Set the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and leave that for a while to get all the drippings.

Chop up 12-16 green onions (scallions), and mince 6 jalapeno peppers.  The recipe calls for red chillies but I didn’t have any.

Pare the rind from 3 lemons and juice them while you’re at it.

Put the lemon rind and juice in a large saucepan (I prefer a maslin pan for the evaporation) together with 9 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar.

Heat on low, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil.  Cook like this on medium, stirring, for about ten minutes or until the syrup has thickened slightly.

Add in the chopped onions and peppers, together with your reserved pineapple juice as well as any that has dripped out while you were waiting.  Cook this for about five minutes, until things get quite syrupy.

Increase the heat and add the pineapple.  Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Can according to your canner’s instructions.  We’ve got some tips on canning here, as well.

This relish keeps for about three months, and, once opened, should be kept in the refrigerator.  Great with chicken, pork, and white fish.

 

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

This is pretty much the same recipe as the Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary and Sea Salt, but with lemon rind and herbes de provence instead of rosemary.  Easy peasy.

So you take your potatoes.  We used baby white ones.  A couple pounds’ worth.

Parboil them. 

Remove the rind from two lemons.  I used a zester designed to take off long threads of peel, for visual stimulus.  Also if you’re going to roast it for a while it’s going to shrink and get all black, so you might as well make sure that you have lots of it to start with.

Toss your parboiled potatoes with olive oil, then add the lemon rind and herbes du provence.  Add in a bit of sea salt as well.

Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes until wrinkled and crispy.  You can also roast them at the same time as other things at lower temperatures (such as a Thanksgiving turkey) — just roast them for longer.

They’re also wicked good cold the next day, or sliced up and tossed into scrambled eggs.