Welland’s Farmers Market in Niagara-on-the-Lake is not nearly as vast as the mind-boggling markets I visited in Montreal and Quebec but it’s plenty big enough to offer a wide selection and is a wonderful place to buy local and regional produce. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy, cheese, honey, charcuterie, baked goods and other food and drink products are all on offer, sold by friendly, helpful and knowledgeable vendors.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-103102 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats-103825
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats-104204 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-105952

Usually, I’d take my time and explore everything the market had to offer, but on the day of our visit I was focused on just one main ingredient – peaches!

Our hosts, chefs Anna and Michael Olson set us a challenge, giving us just 30 minutes of shopping time at the market and $15 Canadian dollars with which to buy our core ingredients to make either a sweet or savoury condiment back at Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute where Michael is a chef professor. (The Institute is incredible, by the way, not only is there an expansive professional cookery school, the college also boasts a teaching brewery, a commercial teaching winery and a full-service training restaurant. With onsite vineyards, hop yards, and organic gardens, students can also also focus on the agricultural production of ingredients if they wish.)

Over the previous several days (in Montreal, Quebec City and here in Niagara-on-the-Lake), I had admired basket upon basket of gorgeous ripe Ontario peaches at every market and fruit store I’d visited so I quickly decided to make a peach jam.

I raced around all the stalls selling peaches to compare the taste, ripeness and prices of the many varieties on offer – Baby Gold, Flaming Fury, P24, Pierre and Redstar. I decided on Flaming Fury from Tony’s stall after a tasting that clinched the deal.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-120102

I had two ideas to try with my gorgeous Flaming Fury Ontario peaches – a peach and ice wine jam or a peach and honey one. In the end I decided to make both, using some ice wine kindly provided by Anna, and a locally produced honey I bought at the market. I chose a robustly flavoured buckwheat honey from Charlie bee that packed a proper punch of flavour.

We had a few challenges during our cook – an unexpected fire alarm and ensuing evacuation meant we all raced out (I stopped to turn off the stoves first) and it was a long wait (in the tasting area of the teaching brewery, plus a walk around one of the greenhouses) while the fire personnel checked the entire cooking school building before clearing us to go back in. On returning to our classroom we discovered that the gas had not yet been turned back on so had to made a quick switch to another, where we were able to use plug-in electric cookers to continue cooking our condiments!

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-0092

Flaming Fury Peach & Niagara Ice Wine Jam

This recipe can be scaled up or down to according to how much fruit you have

Ingredients
750 grams peeled, cored peaches, variety of your choice
500 grams caster sugar
125 ml ice wine of your choice, divided into 50 ml + 75 ml

Note: I used a locally-made Henry of Pelham Vidal ice wine (2010). You can use any ice wine of your choice, or substitute a different sweet liqueur or fortified wine.

Method

  • Chop the peaches, to roughly half inch sized pieces.
  • Place chopped peaches, sugar and 50 ml of the ice wine into a large, flat-bottomed pan and turn on the heat, at low to start until the sugar melts and the peaches start to release their juices, and then to medium-high.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-140247 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-140232

  • Use a jam thermometer to cook the jam until it reaches 104 °C (219 °F). Alternatively, you can assess for readiness by checking the set of the jam, but I find both the wrinkle test and spoon test more of a faff than using a thermometer.
  • The timing for cooking can vary enormously depending on how ripe the peaches are and how much sugar and water content they have. Keep an eye on the pan and stir regularly to stop the jam from catching.
  • Once you have reached 104 °C or have tested successfully for set, take the jam off the heat and allow to cool for a minute before stirring in the additional 75 ml of ice wine.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-143713 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-144146

  • Bottle hot into sterilised jars or serve warm over vanilla ice cream

To our surprise, after we finished cooking all our pans were set out for Anna, Michael and Anna’s right-hand helper Lisa to taste test, something they took quite seriously and which turned us all into nervous wrecks. To our relief, everything passed muster and we enjoyed the savoury creations with some local sausages, coleslaw and snacks before spooning my warm peach jam over vanilla ice cream for afters.

If you’d like to learn more about ice wine – how it’s made and some great wineries to visit – do check out my recent post on Enjoying Ice Wine in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. With additional thanks to Anna and Michael Olson for being our hosts, and Diane Helinski for being our tour manager and guide.

 

The premise of using vegetables in cakes is nothing new – carrot cake has been a well known favourite as long as I can remember, chocolate and beetroot cakes and brownies have gained popularity in the last decade and more recently courgette cakes are stretching peoples’ definitions of what a cake can be made with.

For me, it goes much further than that, as I’ve long been a huge fan of fellow blogger Kate Hackworthy who writes the much-loved and respected blog Veggie Desserts. As the blog name and tagline suggest, the recipes Kate develops and shares are all about using vegetables in ‘cakes, bakes, breakfasts and meals’ and Kate has won much recognition for the innovation of her recipes, and the stunning photographs with which she illustrates them. You’ll find everything from cookies featuring romanesco cauliflower, cupcakes featuring cucumber, peas or spinach, and cakes full of celeriac, kale and swede! So when I first heard about a cookery book focusing on vegetable- and fruit-based cakes I was already primed for these kind of recipes!

growyourowncake

However, publisher Frances Lincoln have taken a different slant for this new title and teamed up with established gardening author Holly Farrell (who has written multiple books on kitchen gardening and contributed to a range of gardening magazines) and Jason Ingram (a garden and food photographer). Holly is also a keen baker, and in Grow Your Own Cake, she treats the garden as a larder for her baking, providing not only recipes but advice on how to grow the main crop featured in each one.

The recipes range from savoury to sweet, using both fruit and vegetables from the plot, with detailed and well-illustrated guidance for the novice gardener looking to grow some of their own produce in their garden or allotment.

There are fifty recipes in the book; some are already classics, such as the carrot cake and beetroot brownies I mention above. Others such as fennel cake and pea cheesecake are more unusual. Recipes are organised somewhat seasonally, with the first chapter covering spring and summer cakes and the second autumn and winter ones. Next come afternoon tea ideas, puddings and savoury bakes.

Many of the recipes are appealing and I’m waiting eagerly for the main ingredients to come into season in our allotment, rather than buying from the supermarket out of season. I’d like to try the rose cake (featuring home made rose water), the parsnip winter cake (ours didn’t survive the slugs so none for us this winter) and the tomato cupcakes, to name a few.

Photography is lovely – pretty and practical without being overly fussy in the styling, a little old school but comfortingly so. My only complaint on this front is that while there are plenty of photographs of the gardening element of the book, there aren’t as many food images as I’d like to see – it’s frustrating not to have a picture of the finished dish for many of the recipes, especially when they are unfamiliar – what kind of colour do the tomato cupcakes have, for example and how should the icing for the sweet potato and marshmallow cake look? A few more images on the food side would be a huge help.

Thus far, Pete and I have made two recipes from the book, the Upside-down Pear Cake and the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake; both have worked well, though the lack of photographs has made it feel a little more of a shot in the dark, even with Holly’s fairly clear instructions. Most importantly, both were delicious, and I’d happily make and eat both again.

I have permission to share the Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake recipe with you, so keep your eyes peeled for that in an upcoming post.

Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Cake on Kavey Eats (1)

In the meantime, here’s an opportunity for you to win your own copy of this lovely book:

GIVEAWAY

Frances Lincoln are offering two copies of Grow Your Own Cake for a Kavey Eats reader giveaway. Each prize includes delivery to UK addresses.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
What kind of fruit or vegetable have your tried in cakes and what did you think?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow both @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win Grow Your Own Cake published by @Frances_Lincoln from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsGYOC #KaveyEatsGYOC
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle to the beginning of the tweet or your entry will be considered invalid.
Please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES, TERMS & CONDITIONS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 6th May 2016.
  • The two winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a copy of Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell and Jason Ingram, published by Frances Lincoln. Delivery to UK addresses is included.
  • The prizes are offered by Frances Lincoln and cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, entrants must be following @Kavey at the time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contact.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check relevant accounts for the notification message.
  • If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received a review copy of Grow Your Own Cake from Frances Lincoln, part of Quarto Publishing Group UK.
Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell, photographs by Jason Ingram is currently available from Amazon for £14.88 (RRP £16.99).

The two winners of the giveaway are Patricia Whittaker and Emily Knight.

 

Do you know Niagara-on-the-Lake?

No? Well you can probably guess a couple of things about it at least – that it’s near Niagara Falls, and that it’s on the shores of a lake! That’s all I knew too, but last autumn I visited for myself, and discovered a lot more.

What I came away with, as well as an appreciation of the warmth of the local population and the beauty of the landscape, was some serious envy about the quality and variety of fresh produce grown here. Readily available directly from the farm, at farmers markets and in local stores, it’s put to fantastic use by local producers, restaurateurs and home chefs.

Inn the Pines Farmgate Shop

InnthePine Collage1

Very much a farming community, many of the farms have a farmgate shop – exactly what it sounds like, a shop or stall from which farmers sell direct to their customers just yards from where the produce is grown.

We stopped at Inn the Pines in St. Catharines to admire their produce, watch happily squawking chickens enjoy freshly harvested corn on the cob, and chat to owners Cheryl and Barney Barnes – that’s Barney posing on the back of his pickup and feeding the chooks. As we learned a little about some of the produce they grow and sell to both restaurateurs and home cooks, an elderly couple arrived to buy corn by the barrow-load, deftly peeling away the husks which will no doubt be thrown onto a nearby compost heap and bemused by my request to take a photo.

There’s something rather special about buying produce direct from the farmers; one of the things I can’t help but envy, as a London-based city slicker.

Whitty Farms & 13th Street Bakery

WhittyFarms Collage1

Whitty Farms is another local farm just outside  St. Catharines, and like Inn the Pines, has been handed down through the generations. Today, it’s the turn of Doug and Karen Whitty, and just like Inn the Pines, customers can buy direct from the farm.

But there’s another treat not to be missed alongside all the fresh produce and that’s the output of 13th Street Bakery. Their butter tart may be a contender for best in Niagara, if not all of Ontario or indeed the entirety of Canada; if anyone is looking for someone to do a more comprehensive survey, point me at the application form right now!

Butter Tarts are a much-loved treat across Canada and there’s hot debate on just what a good butter tart should (and shouldn’t) be. A basic butter tart has a filling of butter, sugar, syrup and egg baked in a flaky pastry casing, often with the addition of Canadian maple syrup. Purists eschew the addition of pecan nuts or raisins, let alone anything more exotic . It’s less clear cut whether ‘traditional’ allows for a firmer or softer filling but the ongoing argument is a good excuse to taste as many examples as possible.

The Whittys, with their friends John and June Mann also set up 13th Street Winery at the same site, more of which in an upcoming post.

Upper Canada Cheese Company

UpperCanadaCheeseCo Collage1

Another favourite stop for me as a cheese addict, Upper Canada Cheese Company in Jordan Station is a small local creamery producing a range of cheeses from the milk of local Guernsey cows and goats.

We tried a selection including Niagara Gold, a semi-firm washed-rind based on traditional Loire Valley cheeses, Comfort Cream, a camembert-style soft bloomed rind cheese which is best when super ripe, the maple-smoked version of Jordan Station, another semi-firm cheese and Nanny Noir, a goats milk camembert-style cheese rolled in vegetable ash and allowed to ripen for four weeks. We also tried an experimental new blue cheese – great flavour but some more work needed on the texture.

This is everything you want of a cheese shop – great cheeses and very helpful staff happy to give tasters and help every customer find just the cheese (or cheeses) they need.

White Meadows Farms Maple Shop

WhiteMeadows Collage1

Maple syrup is produced across quite a swathe of Canada and I had already tasted and purchased a lot of it during the few days I spent in Montreal and Quebec, before heading down to Niagara. (So much, in fact, that my case was overweight and I had to post a box of goodies home to myself, thus instantly rendering my bargainous purchases into some of the most expensive maple syrup ever!)

But I was still keen as maple-mustard to visit White Meadows Farms and sample their four grades of maple syrup, and to taste their range of maple syrup products – sauces and mustards, vinegars and salad dressings,  maple sugar and maple butter (maple syrup boiled until it’s dry and whipped into a spreadable form, respectively), fruit and maple jams, and of course, traditional maple candies.

Maple syrup, made from sap collected from maple trees, is graded by colour into Light, Medium, Amber and Dark. Canadian maple syrup must be 100% maple sap, and the finished product must have a sugar level of 66%, achieved by boiling natural sap to evaporate the water content which thickens the consistency and concentrates the sugars. The boiled syrup is then filtered before being packaged for sale. The colour is governed by the sap, with early season sap usually producing the lightest finished syrup. Dark is harder to find, as it’s produced right at the end of the season when the sap is at its richest and the strong flavour is not to everyone’s taste.

Dark proved to my favourite, and I bought a few bottles to bring home.

Welland Farmers’ Market

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-103102 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats-103825
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats-104204 Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-105952

Wellands Farmers’ Market is not as huge as the amazing markets I visited in Montreal and Quebec but it’s the perfect place to buy local produce, and there’s a great selection. However, I was focused on just one main ingredient, after our hosts chefs Anna and Michael Olson set us a cooking challenge! More on that cooking experience in an upcoming post…

The best thing about the market, aside from the top quality produce itself, were the very friendly stall holders, keen to tell us about their goods and to welcome us to their town.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario Canada - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-104052

The market consists of two main buildings dating from 1919, and some outdoor marquees as well. Alongside fruits and vegetables you can find fresh meat and eggs, charcuterie, local honeys, fresh baked goods, cheese, chocolates, flowers and wine.

Kavey Eats visited Ontario as a guest of Destinations Canada. With additional thanks to Anna and Michael Olson for being our hosts, and Diane Helinski for being our tour manager and guide.

 

Last month I got it into my head that I wanted to make a persimmon fruit curd. That was a little odd on my part really, since before this, I’d never even eaten persimmons at home – only on my travels. But this winter their orange piles have been beckoning me from several local grocery shops, and I was really keen to experiment. Once the idea of persimmon curd entered my brain, I couldn’t dislodge it!

Persimmons are a fascinating fruit. Bright orange with a smooth skin, at first glance they look a little like orange tomatoes or tomatillos, though they are related to neither. They vary in shape from round to ovoid and even square – such an unusual shape for fruit! – and the colour runs from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange. Botanically a berry, persimmons range in size from a couple of centimetres up to 9 centimetres but most I’ve come across are towards the larger end of that scale.

The most widely cultivated variety is the oriental persimmon Diospyros kaki, native to China where it has been cultivated for more than 2000 years. In Japan, persimmons are known as kaki fruit and are hugely popular. You may also know them as sharon fruit, the name by which the fruit is marketed in Israel, another key producer.

Persimmon Fruits in Japan 2013 Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-2852 Persimmon Fruits in Japan 2012 Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-2574

I first tasted them in Japan; they were in season during our two Autumn trips and many trees still had the orange fruits hanging to their branches, though all the leaves had long since fallen. Market stalls and supermarkets created striking displays of huge piles of evenly sized and coloured fruits.

Persimmon Fruits in Japan 2012 Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-2827 Persimmon Fruits in Japan 2013 Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-5805

When under ripe, the taste of many persimmon varieties is rather astringent; the high levels of tannin are unpleasantly mouth-puckering. Other varieties, such as the Japanese fuyu, are much less bitter and can therefore be enjoyed when not fully ripe – at this stage the flesh is still firm and crisp.

When fully ripe, the flesh becomes jelly-like with a rich flavour and intense sweetness.

They are also enjoyed dried, a great way of preserving a seasonal favourite.

Persimmon Fruits in Japan 2013 Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-3099

Having fixated on the idea of making fruit curd, which is known as fruit butter in North America by the way, I wanted very ripe fruits with sweet, jellied interiors so I was delighted to spot a bowl of seven slightly-past-their-best persimmons for £1 at one of my local ethnic grocery shops. I can rarely walk past the displays of fruit lined along the outside front of the shop without buying something good to eat!

Persimmon and Bergamot Fruit Curd in a Power Blender on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8006 Persimmon and Bergamot Fruit Curd in a Power Blender on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8021

My first attempt – persimmon and lemon curd – had a wonderful flavour but I blended it for it too long and as it overheated, the eggs curdled. In the mouth, it still felt super smooth and didn’t taste eggy but visually, it had a curdled texture.

For my second trial I adjusted the recipe ratios a touch, but changed the timings a lot and that resulted in a thick, silky smooth curd that was everything I hoped it would be. I also increased volumes to use the remainder of the persimmons, but you can certainly scale the recipe down to two thirds or even a third, easily enough.

I also switched lemon for bergamot on the second run, as I had a couple on hand. Bergamot are actually sour oranges but their yellow skin and sour flesh and juice mean they make a perfect substitute for lemons, and their zest gives off that trademark Earl Grey scent – the tea is flavoured with bergamot oil extracted from the skin of these distinctive citrus fruits.

Persimmon and Bergamot Fruit Curd in a Power Blender on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8009 Persimmon and Bergamot Fruit Curd in a Power Blender on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8019

The flower-shaped calyx of the persimmon fruit can be hard to remove, more so when the fruits are not fully ripe. My tip is to place the fruits upside down on the chopping board, calyx-side down. Cut the fruit in half until the knife is pushing on the calyx. Then take the two halves of the fruit, still joined at the calyx, and pull them apart. The calyx will remain attached to one half. You can then either pull it off by hand or use a sharp knife to cut it away from the fruit.

Because I wanted super ripe fruits, there were a few patches on some of the persimmons that were too ripe to use. I cut these out and discarded them. To get 500 grams of chopped fruit (skin on) I used four fruits.

Persimmon Fruit Curd on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (overlay)

Persimmon & Bergamot Fruit Curd | Power Blender Recipe

Makes approximately 1 litre fruit curd; can be scaled down as required

Ingredients
500 grams roughly chopped persimmon fruit (see note below on peeling)
200 grams caster sugar
zest of 2 bergamot oranges (or 1 lemon)
120 ml bergamot orange juice (or lemon juice)
3 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
150 grams butter, roughly cubed
0.5 teaspoon salt

Note: Because I knew my Froothie Optimum power blender could handle them, I decided to keep the skin on to add extra colour and fibre. However, the skin is pretty tough so if you make this using a less powerful blender, you may prefer to peel the fruit.

Note: The Froothie Optimum 9400 has an incredibly powerful motor that powers the blade to 44,000 rpm – and it’s the friction generated by that speed which heats up the mixture as it blends, allowing you to blend and cook the curd in one step. If you make this using a less powerful blender, you may need to transfer the blended mixture to a pan and cook over very gentle heat to thicken the curd.

Note: I sterilise my jam jars in the oven (and boil lids in a saucepan on the stove) before I start weighing and preparing ingredients. Before I transfer ingredients to the blender jug to make the curd, I remove the jars from the oven and lay the lids out onto a clean tea towel, so they cool off a little before I pour the finished curd into the jars a few minutes later.

Method

  • Place all ingredients except butter into the blender jug and switch on at low power. Smoothly turn up the power to full. After about a minute the ingredients should be blended into a super smooth liquid.
  • With the blender still on, remove the cap in the lid and gently drop the butter in piece by piece. I took about a minute to drop all the butter into the mix.
  • Blend for another two to three minutes until the jug starts to feel a little warm to the touch. Don’t let it get really hot – you don’t want to overheat the curd.
  • As soon as the jug feels warm, switch off the blender and dip a spoon in to check taste and texture. The curd should be thick and smooth. If it is, you’re done. If not, blend for a little longer and check again.
  • Transfer straight into still-warm sterilised jam jars and seal.

Persimmon Fruit Curd on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-8033

Other power blender fruit curd recipes you may enjoy:

Kavey Eats is a brand ambassador for Froothie. Please see my sidebar for further details. I affiliate with and recommend only brands and products I truly believe in.

 

This cake is a very famous cake. I reckon nearly everyone who likes baking knows of the recipe, and a good many who simply like eating cake too. I have heard and read people singing its praises for many, many years and yet, we’d never got round to making it at home.

Given that clementines are one of my very favourite fruits, this is an outrageous oversight that needed to be put right. A gift of a box of organic clementines, when the fruit bowl was already overflowing with them, gave us the perfect excuse.

Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (title overlay)

Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake

Original recipe

Ingredients
400 grams clementines (approximately 3 medium-sized ones)
6 large eggs
225 grams white sugar
250 grams ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder

Method

  • Put the whole clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. We used a small pan so the water was reasonably deep.
  • Drain and allow to cool, then cut each clementine open and remove the pips.
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).
  • Butter the rim of a 21 cm diameter spring form tin and cover the base with greaseproof paper.
  • In a food processor or power blender, blitz the clementines (skins, pith and fruit). Then add eggs, sugar, ground almonds and baking powder and blend again until smooth.
  • Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for an hour or until a skewer comes out clean. In Nigella’s recipe she suggests covering the surface with foil or greaseproof paper after the first 40 minutes to stop the top browning; we didn’t put our foil on soon enough so the surface browned more than Nigella’s. I think it looks pretty though!

Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7864

  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin, on a wire rack.
  • When cold, remove from the tin.

Serve as it is or with some yuzu ice cream. My friend recommends lemon curd mixed into fresh cream.

This cake lasts very well in a sealed container for several days, indeed it’s even better a day or two after it’s made.

 Nigellas Clementine Cake on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7888

 

Sometimes the best ideas are spur of the moment, driven by the ingredients you happen to have on hand. So it was with this banana, turmeric and maple syrup smoothie which I liked so much I made it three days in a row.

Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle (title overlay)

Banana is my staple base for a smoothie – I love the flavour and the thick creamy texture it gives, whether as the star ingredient or as a base for other fruits. I like to use natural sweeteners – usually honey, dates or maple syrup.  I first made this smoothie in a snatched 5 minutes before leaving for work early on a dark January morning and it gave me a burst of energy as I headed out into the cold.

A recent fruit and vegetable box gift from Abel & Cole included fresh turmeric root and I was keen to try it raw. Turmeric is the spice that gives many Asian dishes their vivid yellow colour and has a distinct, earthy flavour; strong, a little bitter and quite unlike any other ingredient that I can think of.

I’ve been taking the powdered form, on and off, as a natural anti-inflammatory – recommended by Ayurveda for thousands of years, but only recently being researched by Western medicine. It is said to help with digestive complaints and poor circulation too. My daily dose is mixed with ginger and fenugreek, a combination that tastes pretty vile so I stir half a teaspoon into a few tablespoons of cold water and swallow fast, chasing it down with a long glass of cold water and quickly brushing my teeth! Does it work? Hard to tell, since I also rely on a range of more conventional treatments. Right now, I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt.

That said, I’m not making any health claims for turmeric; I’m not qualified medically or scientifically, and I’m not a fan of the current crop of health gurus that make pronouncements about excluding various food groups based on the flimsiest of anecdotal, purportedly personal, evidence.

In this recipe, the turmeric is far more palatable, adding a vibrant colour and distinctive flavour to this quick-to-make, energy-boosting smoothie.

Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7899 Banana Turmeric and Maple Syrup Smoothie on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7902

Golden Banana, Turmeric & Maple Syrup Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients
1-2 bananas, peeled
1 small piece of fresh turmeric root*
Maple syrup to taste, I use about 2 tablespoons
120 ml water ^
Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon~

* I used a piece of turmeric root about the size of the top joint of my forefinger. I didn’t bother peeling as the skin was soft and thin, but if yours is tough, peel first. If you don’t have fresh, by all means substitute ground turmeric instead; half a teaspoon of dried will be sufficient here.
^ I like a thick but pourable smoothie. Adjust amount of water up or down if you prefer a thinner or extra thick smoothie.
~ Cinnamon is such a natural bedfellow for maple syrup and banana that I added a teaspoon of freshly ground cinnamon to the last batch. It’s not that strong against the turmeric but adds a lovely dimension to the scent.

Method

  • Place ingredients into a well-powered blender and blitz until smooth. If you like your smoothies with less sweetness, use half the maple syrup to start and add more to taste if you need it. Likewise, adjust volume of water to your preference.
  • The banana will start to oxidise and brown after a while, so this smoothie is best enjoyed as soon as it’s made.

As you may have spotted, I used my much-loved Froothie Optimum blender to make my smoothie. We’ve been using the Optimum 9400 for over a year now and it’s one of the best appliances in our kitchen. It’s enormously powerful – enough to blend solid frozen chunks of fruit easily or ice cubes if you want some instant slushie base. In fact the motor whips those blades to an impressive 44,000 rpm which generates enough friction heat to make piping hot soup or one-step custard. You can use it to make your own nut butters and nut milks too. See the affiliate box in my sidebar for information on how to claim an extra 2 year warranty on any Froothie appliance.

Other Recipes Featuring Fresh Turmeric

 

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or my blog’s Facebook page you’ll have noticed that I visited Canada recently, taking in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and the region around Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’ll be sharing lots (and lots and lots!) from that trip in coming weeks. I totally loved all the destinations I visited and cannot wait to go back with Pete for a self-drive holiday.

Our tour of the Niagara region was hosted by husband-and-wife chefs Michael and Anna Olson who not only took us to visit their favourite local producers, vineyards, restaurants and markets but also invited us into their home for dinner and breakfast. We learned several of their delicious recipes, getting involved, asking questions and taking photographs as we laughed and chatted the hours away.

A recipe we all adored was Anna’s Blueberry Sticky Buns, which she made for us with blueberries and peaches, both in season in the local area.

Keen to take inspiration from Anna’s reverence for local and seasonal ingredients, I switched the blueberries and peaches for plums and blackberries gathered from our allotment just hours before.

Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle - textoverlay

Anna’s original recipe calls for buns to be cooked individually in a muffin tin, but I’ve followed the variation she showed us to tuck them all together into a baking dish and turn them out whole for a wonderful family-style tear-and-share result. Also following Anna’s example, Pete and I made the dough, filling and buns in the evening, popped them into the fridge overnight to rise slowly and baked them for a perfect Sunday breakfast the next morning.

Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-183230 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-183757 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-184852
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185252 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185301 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185335
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-182704 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-185736 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-094608
Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095403 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095417 Plum and Blackberry Sticky Buns - Anna Olson Recipe - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-095614

I’m sharing Anna’s original recipe below.

To make my plum and blackberry version, just switch out the blueberries. Of course, you can use your choice of berries or chopped fruit.

To make the tear-and-share version, smear some of the maple-cinnamon filling across the bottom of a baking dish, and sit the buns side by side on top of that, within the dish. Either rise for half an hour at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.

We found that the buns need an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven when cooked this way.

 

Anna Olson’s Blueberry Sticky Buns

Makes 12 sticky buns

Ingredients
Dough:
2 ¼ tsp / 8 g dry active yeast
¼ cup / 60 ml warm water
1/2 cup/ 125 ml milk, room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp/ 25 g granulated sugar
2 ½ cups/ 375 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp / 2 g salt
½ tsp / 2 ml ground nutmeg
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup / 125 g cream cheese, room temperature
Sticky Bun Filling:
½ cup / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup / 200 g packed light brown sugar
3 tsp / 45 ml maple syrup
1 tbsp / 15 ml cinnamon
2 cups / 500 ml fresh or frozen blueberries

Method

Sticky Bun Dough:

  • Dissolve yeast in water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • In a mixer, add milk, egg and sugar and blend. Add flour, salt and nutmeg and mix for 1 minute to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and knead for 5 minutes on medium speed.
  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rest 1 hour.

Sticky Bun Filling:

  • Combine butter, sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon a tablespoonful of filling into bottom of each cup of a greased 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle 1/2- inch thick.
  • Spread remaining filling over the dough, sprinkle with blueberries and roll up lengthwise.
  • Slice dough into 12 equal portions and arrange them in muffin tin. Allow to rise for 1/2 hour.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, and turn out onto a plate while still warm.

 

Huge thanks to Anna for sharing and showing us her delicious recipe, and for giving permission to share it with you. And of course, thanks to all of those involved in making my trip to Canada so amazing. I can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Kavey Eats visited Canada as a guest of Tourism Quebec, Ontario Travel & Destination Canada. The Anna Olson recipe is reproduced with permission.

 

These ice lollies were based on a roasted banana paletas recipe I spotted online a while ago. A paleta is a Latin American ice lolly featuring fresh fruit mixed into a water or cream base – what we call an ice lolly in the UK, the Americans call an ice pop and the Canadians a popsicle!

The recipe I saw used yoghurt which I have switched out for double cream – I do enjoy the tang of natural yoghurt with fresh fruit but for these lollies I wanted the banana to be the star of the show.

Roasting the banana brings out a softer, sweeter flavour than using it raw, but of course you can use it uncooked if you prefer.

Cinnamon is a natural bedfellow for banana but is often added in quantities that make it the dominant flavour; I wanted a mere hint that would add complexity to the banana rather than overwhelm it. Likewise, adding just a small amount of vanilla added a subtle savoury flavour without making its presence felt too strongly. You can omit either of them entirely or adjust up or down to suit your taste. I reckon a generous handful of chocolate chips would be a great addition too – to be tried next time!

Roasted Banana Ice Lollies aka Paletas Ice Pops Popsicles - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -overlay 1

Roasted Banana & Cream Ice Lollies

Makes 4-6 depending on capacity of lolly mould

Ingredients
3 medium to large ripe bananas
50 grams Demerara sugar or light brown sugar
300 ml double cream*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(Optional) half teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

* For American readers, the closest substitute to double cream is heavy cream; if you can find a non UHT version, so much the better.

Method

  • Wrap the unpeeled bananas individually in foil and roast at 200 °C (400 °F) for half an hour.
  • In the meantime, measure the sugar into a bowl and set aside.
  • Remove the bananas from the oven. When you can safely do so without burning your fingers, unwrap each banana and peel and scoop the soft flesh into the bowl of sugar. Do this while the bananas are still hot and mix thoroughly so that all the sugar is melted by the heat. Using a pair of tablespoons makes it easier to handle hot bananas.
  • Put cream, cinnamon and vanilla (if using) into a blender or food processor and add the banana and sugar mix. Blend until smooth.
  • Divide the mixture into lolly moulds or cups, insert lolly sticks (or teaspoons) and transfer to the freezer.
  • I kept mine quite small so they froze within about 4 hours, but you may need to leave a little longer if make bigger lollies.
  • To serve, cup the mould in warm hands to loosen, or dip very briefly in a bowl of hot water. Slip out of the mould and enjoy!

I used my wonderful Froothie Optimum power blender which quickly made a super smooth thick liquid to pour into my moulds. See my Affiliate links sidebar for more information.

Roasted Banana Ice Lollies aka Paletas Ice Pops Popsicles - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -overlay 3

This is my entry for the August #BSFIC Cooling Crowd Pleasers challenge.

IceCreamChallenge mini

If you blog a suitable recipe this month, do link up to the challenge to be included in my end-of-month round up and shared via social media and Pinterest.

Roasted Banana Ice Lollies aka Paletas Ice Pops Popsicles - Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle -overlay 2

 

Summer means strawberries! It calls to mind strawberry picking at a local farm, strawberries and cream (and Wimbledon), home made strawberry liqueur, hot bubbling pans of strawberry jam and the special pleasure of eating home grown strawberries from the back garden.

It’s also the best time of year to make one of our favourite desserts, Eton Mess, a jumbled mix of fresh strawberries, whipped cream and broken meringues. For those of a tidier inclination who prefer to keep it more elegant, strawberry pavlova is a rather tidier presentation of exactly the same ingredients!

When I set the theme to July’s #BSFIC challenge as Ice Lollies the plentiful fresh strawberries available in the shops just now made it a no brainer.

I made Eton Mess Ice Lollies!

Eton Mess Strawberry Cream Meringue Lollies - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle -overtext

 

Eton Mess Ice Lollies (Strawberries, Cream & Crushed Meringue)

Makes 8-10 generous lollies, depending on size of moulds

Ingredients
500 g strawberries, hulled and finely chopped
50-75 g sugar (depending on tartness of strawberries)
300 ml double cream (divided into 2 x 150 ml)
50 g dry meringues, broken into pieces

Note: Make sure you chop the strawberries fairly small, so that each bite of ice lolly has a nice mix of fruit, cream and meringue.

Eton Mess Strawberry Cream Meringue Lollies - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-162709 Eton Mess Strawberry Cream Meringue Lollies - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-170049 Eton Mess Strawberry Cream Meringue Lollies - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle-201045

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix the strawberries, 50 grams of sugar and 150 ml of double cream. If the strawberries are tart, use an extra 25 grams of sugar – the mixture needs to be super sweet as it will be combined with unsweetened cream later.
  • Cover and leave in the fridge for at least two hours. The sugar helps the strawberries to macerate, releasing more juice into the cream.
  • Whip the other 150 ml of double cream until stiff and combine carefully with the macerated strawberry mixture and the crushed meringue.
  • Spoon the mixture into lolly moulds or small cups and insert lolly sticks. The mixture should be thick enough for the sticks to remain upright, but if not, use some sticky tape to keep them in place.
  • Transfer to the freezer overnight until frozen solid.
  • To serve, cup the moulds in warm hands or dip into a cup of hot water for a few seconds to help the lolly slip out of its mould.

Eton Mess Strawberry Cream Meringue Lollies - Kavey Eats - © Kavita Favelle  overtext

I’ve made these lollies for July’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream. I’m also entering them into Allotment2Kitchen’s The Vegetable Palette.

IceCreamChallenge mini

If you make and blog an ice lolly recipe this month, do join in!

 

For the latest Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream I set a theme of sorbets and granitas.

Corin Sorbet

Corin at Pro-Ware Kitchen created this rather grown up Tangerine and Prosecco Sorbet, the perfect palate cleanser. I love the beautiful orange colour and am seriously coveting the pretty champagne coupe glass.

Caroline Sorbet

One advantage of sorbet over ice cream is that it’s a little easier to make low calorie versions. Caroline from Caroline Makes shares this Slimming World Kiwi and Lime Sorbet which substitutes powdered sweetener for sugar. Of course, you can stick to sugar if you like!

no churn lemon 3

Regular BSFIC participant Alicia Foodycat put forward a rogue entry, a No-Churn Lemon Ripple Ice Cream! Yes it has dairy, but as she says, lemon is so refreshing it’s almost like a sorbet! Besides, BSFIC is all about sharing frozen treats, so I’m happy if she is!

Jen granita

Another grown up entry from Jen of Jen’s Food in the form of this Sloe Gin and Tonic Granita. Doesn’t this look just the thing for a warm midsummer’s evening?

Lemon Balm Sorbet - Kavey Eats - (c) Kavita Favelle -landscape-text

Lastly, I made use of some of the herbs from our back garden for this simple Lemon Balm Sorbet which also features a slosh of white rum to add flavour and keep it super soft.

IceCreamChallenge

Thanks to everyone who joined in. July’s BSFIC theme is ice lollies, so do get freezing and join in!

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