Blueberry Custard Ice Cream

One of the most joyous things about summer for me is the abundance of fresh fruit. Seasonal British-grown fruits are a particular joy – that pleasure that comes from missing them when they are gone and anticipating them just before they are back once again… and then, here they are!

Blueberries are one such fruit but I only came to love them in recent years – their taste is much more subtle than many of the sweet bright berries I favoured as a child, not to mention the wonderfully perfumed and intense tropical fruit imported from warmer climes.

Over the years I’ve become such a fan of these unassuming blue pearls. They’re lovely eaten straight from the punnet – that little squirt of juice as they pop in your mouth followed by their mild grapey taste. They’re also perfect scattered over yoghurt or muesli for breakfast, cooked into pancakes drenched in maple syrup or dropped like jewels into a baked tart or cake.

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (3)

Calling this recipe Blueberry Custard Ice Cream is probably a tautology, since custard is the classic base for many traditional ice cream recipes, I don’t really need to mention it… But the flavour of the custard base really comes through – the marriage of egg-enriched dairy and sweet tart blueberries making a frozen treat that puts me in mind of eating blueberries bobbing about in a bowl of custard. So there you are – Blueberry Custard Ice Cream!

Some of the recipes I’ve seen online are illustrated with photos of vivid purple ice cream – I have no idea how they achieve so bright a colour since the recipes I’ve checked include neither food colouring nor freeze-dried blueberry powder. Fresh whole blueberries have a gorgeous purple-blue skin but the flesh inside is pale green; when blended, the resulting fruit puree is a pretty purple-burgundy but that colour is quickly muted when combined with cream or custard. The higher the ratio of fruit to cream or custard, the more intense the colour will be but if you use fresh blueberries, don’t expect really colourful ice cream.

Another alternative is to substitute bilberries, a closely related berry which looks very similar to a blueberry on the outside but has purple-red flesh inside – indeed I wonder if bilberries have been used in many of the ‘blueberry’ recipes I see online?

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (1)

Blueberry Custard Ice Cream

Makes approximately 1 litre

Ingredients
– Custard base
225 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed but full fat is fine)
225 ml double cream
4 large eggs
60 grams sugar
– Blueberry puree
240 grams fresh blueberries
120 grams sugar
– Blueberry stir-in
120 grams fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons vodka

Note: I often add a little alcohol to my ice creams to make the finished ice cream a little softer. You can omit the vodka if you prefer; in that case, add plain chopped blueberries to the ice cream when churning.
Note: I used my wonderful Froothie Optimum power blender to make the custard ice cream base so the recipe method is based on using a power blender. An alternative stove top method for making the custard is provided below.

Method

  • Combine all the custard ingredients (milk, cream, eggs and 60 grams sugar) in a high spec power blender, increase the speed to high and blend for several minutes. The speed of the powerful blades generates enough heat to cook the custard while continuing to mix it. Nothing catches and burns, there are no lumps and it’s very straightforward.
  • Once the custard is cooked, transfer to a jug or bowl and set aside.
  • Use a blender or food processor to blitz 240 grams of blueberries with 120 grams of sugar. Once blended into a smooth liquid puree, combine with the custard base and mix thoroughly. (You can either pour the custard back into the blender and blitz for a few seconds or scrape the blueberry puree into the custard and mix with a spoon).
  • Finely chop 120 grams of blueberries and place in a small bowl. Pour two tablespoons of vodka over the chopped blueberries and set aside.
  • Pour the blueberry custard mix into an ice cream machine – I use and recommend the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop – and add the chopped blueberries in vodka. They will quickly be stirred into the mixture by the churning blades.
  • Most ice cream machines produce a fairly soft ice cream, so either serve immediately or transfer into a box and freeze until firm.

Alternate method for making custard base on the stove top

  • Gently heat the cream, milk and half the sugar in a saucepan until it reaches boiling, then remove from the heat. Meanwhile beat the remaining sugar and egg yolks together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot mixture over the eggs, whisking continuously. Then pour the combined mixture back into the pan and cook gently until it thickens. Make sure you stir continuously so that the custard doesn’t catch and burn. [Now revert to step two of the instructions above].

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Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (2)

This is my recipe for August’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream Fruit challenge. BSFIC is open to all bloggers around the world. Whether your blog is all about food or only occasionally about food, if you publish an ice cream, sorbet, ice lolly (popsicle) or slushy recipe featuring fruit this month, click on the link and follow the instructions to join in.

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Other delicious blueberry recipes from fellow bloggers:

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Blueberry Custard Ice Cream on Kavey Eats (tallpin)

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August BSFIC | Fruit

For this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream, it’s all about making use of fresh fruit. Whatever’s in season or readily available to you, used as the main flavour or as an accent. All frozen treats are welcome – ice creams, sorbets, ice lollies, granitas, shaved ice…

I’m pondering an old-fashioned raspberry ripple though watermelon ice lollies also appeal, or maybe some peach ice cream?

BSFIC Fruit
Collage by Kavey Eats, images via shutterstock.com

How To Take Part In BSFIC

  • Create and blog a suitable recipe, published between August 1st and 29th 2016.
  • In your post, link to this Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream post.
  • If you like, include the Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream badge (below). Just right click and save the image, and insert into your post as a regular image. Feel free to resize as needed.
  • Email me (by the 29th of August) with the link to your post, your name and a photograph for the roundup sized to a maximum of 600 pixels on the longest side.

You are welcome to submit your post to as many blogger challenge events as you like.

If the recipe is not your own, please be aware of copyright issues. Email me if you would like to discuss this.

I publish a dedicated roundup post showcasing all the entries, featuring an image and introduction to each. I also pin your posts on Pinterest and save to Yummly too. If you tweet your post using the hashtag #BSFIC, I’ll retweet it and I’ll share all entries via Facebook and twitter at the end of the month.

IceCreamChallenge_thumb1For more ideas, check out my Pinterest ice cream board and past BSFIC Entries board.

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BSFIC July Roundup | Dairy Free

A quiet month this month, but I still have some delicious dairy free frozen treats to share with you for Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream.

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First up are these whimsical Finding Nemo Popsicles from Jessica at The Healthy Mouse. The Nemo pops are orange creamsicle flavoured and the Dory ones are blueberry lemonade flavoured. Jessica has used both coconut milk and dairy free yoghurt in these recipes, a healthy homemade alternative to ready-made popsicles.

pimms ice pops

Claire at Foodie Quine is a girl after my own heart with these adult-only Pimm’s O’Clock Ice Lollies featuring Pimm’s and lemonade with strawberries, cucumbers and lemonade. Can I put in an order for a big bowl of these, please?

Summer-Pudding-Ice-Lolly-BS

I really love the idea for these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen. Having made a summer compote with freshly picked summer berries, a moment of inspiration lead her to transfer it into lolly moulds for a cooling summery alternative.

Nectarine Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops on Kavey Eats (Landscape Text Over)

For my own dairy free challenge, I too went for an adult-only option – creating these Nectarine, Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops in a large ice cube tray. Very quick to make using my Froothie Optimum power blender, and deliciously decadent and cooling.

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Our last entry for the month is another gorgeous ice lolly idea – these Four-ingredient Oreo and Strawberry Popsicles by Lucy at Supergolden Bakes. I love her vintage moulds, the wooden spoon lolly sticks, the flavour combination itself and the way the biscuits poke out of the bottom!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these summer frozen treats as much as we have!

Do look out for August’s BSFIC, where I’ll be calling for your fruit-based concoctions – ice creams, sorbets, ice lollies, granitas, you name it!

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Nectarine, Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops

The last couple of weeks have been a scorcher and I’ve been turning to home made ice lollies (popsicles) to cool down. My mango lassi ice lollies made with fresh mango and natural yoghurt were superbly refreshing and so too are my latest batch – combining fresh nectarines, maple syrup and bourbon in mini ice pops for grown ups.

These will work equally well with peaches or nectarines or you could even use apricots if you have some to hand.

Nectarine Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops on Kavey Eats (Portrait Text Over)

As I’ve used the darkest grade of Canadian maple syrup which is much stronger in flavour than light, medium and amber grades, I used half sugar and half maple syrup in my mixture to keep the maple flavour from overwhelming. However if you are using medium or amber syrup, you can use 100% maple syrup as your sweetener if you prefer.

Nectarine, Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops

Makes approximately 12 mini ice pops depending on the capacity of your moulds, or you can make a small number of regular sized ice lollies instead.

Ingredients
300 grams nectarine flesh, skin on (about 3 nectarines)
4 tablespoons dark maple syrup
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon

Note: You can substitute peaches or apricots for nectarines in this recipe, if you like.
Note: If your fruit is very sweet and ripe, you can reduce the volume of maple syrup and sugar a little.
Note: As I used a power blender to blitz my mixture, I left the nectarine skins on as my blender purees them very well. You can peel the fruit if you prefer.
Note: I used half and half dark grade maple syrup and regular sugar. If using medium or amber maple syrup, you can replace the sugar with another 4 tablespoons of maple syrup if you prefer.

You will also need ice cube moulds (or regular ice lolly moulds) and lolly sticks. Because of the alcohol and maple syrup, this recipe remains a little sticky once frozen, so make sure you use flexible plastic or silicon moulds to allow for easy removal of the finished pops.

Method

  • In a blender, blitz the nectarine flesh until smooth.
  • Add three quarters of the maple syrup / sugar and blend again.  Taste before deciding whether or not to add more. As freezing changes the way we taste sweetness, the mixture should be a little oversweet to your taste at this stage.
  • Add bourbon and blend again.
  • Pour into your ice cube mould or into regular ice lolly moulds if you prefer.
  • Insert a lolly stick into each one.
  • Freeze upright for 24 hours.
  • Once frozen, unmould individual ice pops by stretching and flexing the mould and gently teasing out the ice pop.
  • Eat straight away, returning the rest to the freezer immediately if not serving.

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I used my Froothie Optimum power blender to blend my nectarines into a super smooth smooth pulp, much as I use it to make smoothies. The powerful motor can also blend solid frozen fruit straight from the freezer to make an instant sorbet. I’ve also made several delicious soups in it as well as custard-based ice creams – it’s a great no-fuss way to make custard from scratch and fruit curds are also a doddle.

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Nectarine Maple & Bourbon Mini Ice Pops on Kavey Eats (Landscape Text Over)

This is my entry into this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream, which has a theme of dairy free. All bloggers are welcome to join in, please check the challenge post for information. This is also my post for Munchies & Munchkins’ Al Fresco challenge.

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Nectarine Maple Bourbon Mini Ice Pops (Pinterest Tall Pin)

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Sweet Cherry Crumble Crisp

Also known as a fruit crisp in parts of North America a fruit crumble is one of Britain’s favourite desserts; a comforting bowl of cooked fruit topped with a layer of flour, sugar and fat crumbled together and baked in a hot oven.

It’s popularity grew enormously in the era of rationing during and after World War II, when a thin layer of crumble was an economic alternative to the volume of pastry needed to make a pie. Foraged and home grown fruit made it even more so.

A crumble is also wonderfully easy to make, especially versions where the fruit filling doesn’t need to be cooked ahead of assembly.

The most popular fruit for crumble is apple, often combined with blackberries or rhubarb, though I’ve also enjoyed crumbles made with peaches, plums or gooseberries. Cherry crumbles are less common, perhaps because the fruit is one that remains quite expensive here, even when its in season.

Recently I bought a bag of ‘sweet cherries’ at a local market that were anything but – far too sharp but with a lovely flavour beneath the acidity.

Although I do love the basic flour, sugar and butter crumble mix, I have come to prefer this version with rolled oats added to the mix. The combination of oats and flour makes for a topping that remains crisp and crumbly on top, but still provides that magical layer of gooey stodginess, where the crumble has sucked up some of the moisture from the fruit below.

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I’m calling this a ‘crumble crisp’ because I love both the British and North American names for this dish, and combining them makes me smile.

Sweet Cherry Crumble Crisp

Serves 4-5

Ingredients
Filling

400-450 grams pitted cherries, halved
Optional: 25 grams Demerara sugar
Optional: 1 tablespoon cherry brandy or other cherry liqueur
Topping
100 grams plain flour
75 grams butter
100 grams Demerara sugar
50 grams rolled oats

Note: As I don’t have a cherry pitter, I halved each cherry and used the tip of the paring knife to help slip out the pip. Since the cherries sit more snugly together when halved, I recommend halving them even if you have a proper pitter.

Equipment: Our casserole dish has a 7 inch (18 cm) diameter, which results in a decent depth of fruit beneath a generous layer of topping. Using a larger dish will result in thinner layers and may require an adjustment to the cooking times. However, you can double the quantities and use a 10 inch (25 cm) diameter dish to make a larger crumble, if you prefer.

Method

  • If the cherries are a little sharp, sprinkle with 25 grams of Demerara sugar, cover with cling film and set aside for an hour.
  • If you plan to bake the crumble as soon as it’s assembled, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Alternatively, you can prepare the crumble a few hours in advance, set aside, and bake in a preheated oven when required.
  • To create the crumble crisp topping, blend the flour and butter in a food processor for a few seconds until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Using the pulse function helps to distribute the butter evenly and ensure that the entire mixture is crumbled. If you don’t have a food processor or prefer to do this by hand make sure the butter is cold, cut it into small cubes and then rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the entire mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the Demerara sugar and rolled oats to the flour and butter mixture and stir with a spoon or spatula. Be gentle enough not to compress the topping, but ensure that the oats and sugar are well mixed in.
  • If you are adding cherry brandy or liqueur to the cherries, pour the alcohol over the cherries, stir well and then transfer cherries to your baking dish (see above), making sure to include all the juices and liquid in the bowl.

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  • Spread the crumble crisp topping evenly over the cherry filling. Don’t pat it down, the intention is for it to retain an aerated crumbly texture.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the topping has taken on a golden colour.
  • Serve hot with custard, cream or vanilla ice cream.

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What’s your favourite recipe for fresh cherries? Have you used them in a crumble or do you prefer a more traditional apple filling? And what do you think of adding oats into the topping? Let me know in the comments; I love hearing from you!

Other ideas for fresh, canned and dried cherries:

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BSFIC June Roundup | Summer Refreshers

Resurrecting Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream (now the summer is supposedly here), I left the theme wide open, calling upon my fellow bloggers to create a frozen treat that reminds us how wonderful ice cream, sorbet, ice lollies etc. can be when the sun is shining.

As it turns out, June hasn’t been the wonderfully sunny and summery month it so often is – instead it’s either been raining or about to rain most of the time!

Still, my fellow bloggers have created some lovely treats that are just as good eaten indoors as out.

Strawberry, Banana & Custard Ice Lollies (Camilla)

Camilla at Fab Food 4 All is the queen of making great use of the random ingredients she has to hand – often from her amazing supermarket bargain runs – and these Strawberry Banana Custard Ice Lollies are no exception. She added melted chocolate and sprinkles to make them even more special.

Prosecco and Elderflower Popsicles (Nicky)

How elegant do these wonderful Prosecco Elderflower Popsicles look? Nicky from Kitchen Sanctuary has made a very grown up ice lolly that wouldn’t look out of place in the glitziest of garden parties.

Mixed berry Granita (Nayna)

For her summery Mixed Berry Granita Nayna of Simply Sensational Food has combined a selection of in-season berries with a little sugar and water. After blitzing, the mixture is poured into a tub and frozen, making sure to stir a few times as it freezes.

Blueberry Yoghurt Ripple Lollies (May)

May from Eat Cook Explore has combined blueberries, yoghurt, creme fraiche and honey for her refreshing and light Blueberry Yoghurt Ripple Ice Lollies.

Cocoa Cashew Slice 1 (Lisa)

Lisa from Cookwitch Creations is a blogger who loves to experiment. For this Cashew Cocoa Iced Dessert she’s combined cashew nuts, dates, pistachios, honey, cocoa and vanilla to create a layered sliceable block.

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies on Kavey Eats (titled 1)

I’ve been revelling in Indian Kesar mangoes this year. Towards the end of one big box I had a few that ripened all at once and needed using up. Inspired by the increasingly popular Indian drink, mango lassi, I created these rippled Mango Lassi Ice Lollies.

Mango-Mousse-Ice-Lollies (Janice)

Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen was also inspired by my favourite fruit. For her Mango Mousse Ice Lollies she created a clever dessert that can be served chilled as a mousse or frozen to make ice lollies – two desserts in one. I love the melted chocolate and coconut flake jackets too!

Strawberry Ripple (Heidi)

Like us, Heidi of Kitchen Talk also has an allotment. Unlike us, her strawberries are cropping well and she used some of her harvest to make this Strawberry and Coconut Ice Cream with its pretty ripple effect.

Peanut butter ice lollies (Claire)

Claire aka the Foodie Quine made these lovely Peanut Butter Ice Lollies with a melted chocolate and roasted peanuts coating. The base combines flavoured yoghurt and custard with smooth peanut butter for a rich lolly with lots of flavour.

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Doesn’t this No Churn Peach Ice Cream from Lisa at Lovely Appetite look gorgeous?

Bloody Mary Sorbet (Claire)

Putting the rest of us to shame, Claire created a second frozen treat in June – this very grown up Bloody Mary Sorbet inspired by gazpacho soup. Adding alcohol to frozen treats is also a great way to keep them that little bit softer, making it easier to scoop and serve.

IceCreamChallenge

I hope you’ve enjoyed these wonderful recipes. Do click through to visit each one, and leave a comment to let the bloggers know what you think.

July’s BSFIC will be up soon and is open to bloggers anywhere in the world.

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies

Over the last few weeks I’ve been gorging myself on delicious Kesar mangoes from India. Alphonso mangoes aren’t very good this year, their flavour not as sweet and their scent not as perfumed as usual but the Kesar ones have been superbly delicious. I’ve bought box after box from my local Asian grocery store, shared with family and friends or eaten at home with sleeves rolled up and an apron protecting my clothes.

The last box I picked up wasn’t ready to eat when I bought it so I had to wait, impatiently, for the fruits to ripen. When they did, they did so fast and it wasn’t long before they continued on from perfectly ripe to starting to rot. I quickly cut open the last four mangoes, slicing and scooping all the flesh out of them before they turned. That left me with 700 grams of top quality mango flesh in the fridge.

I thought about freezing the mango flesh in small portions to throw straight from the freezer into smoothies or instant sorbets.

But my thoughts went back to a family barbeque we recently enjoyed with family friends – three generations of our two families contentedly sharing an afternoon around the barbeque, watching my nephew put his recently-discovered walking skills into practice for hour after happy hour. I took a big box of ripe kesar mangoes, my mum took several bottles of home made lassi.

Lassi, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a popular Indian drink made from natural yoghurt and water. It can be made sweet or salty, the former often enhanced with rosewater or kewra essence, the latter with spices such as cumin. More recently it’s become common to add fruit, with mango lassi becoming increasingly popular both in India and worldwide.

I’m not the first to translate mango lassi into ice lolly form – it’s such a natural progression, especially during the hot summer months and it’s also a great way to enjoy top quality mangoes beyond the all-too-brief mango season.

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies on Kavey Eats (titled 1)

For my mango lassi ice lollies I debated whether or not to blend the mango flesh into the yoghurt but decided to keep the two separate, so that some bites are sweet and heady with mango, while others are refreshingly tart from the yoghurt.

If you prefer, you can blend mango and yoghurt together for an all-in-one style ice lolly.

 

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies

Delicious mango and natural yoghurt ice pops

Makes approximately 8 ice lollies depending on the capacity of your moulds

Ingredients
700 grams fresh mango flesh
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1 medium lime, juiced)
(Optional) sugar to sweeten the mango, to taste
500 grams thick full-fat natural yoghurt
(Optional) sugar to sweeten the yoghurt, to taste

Note: As my mangoes were very sweet, I didn’t add any sugar but if yours aren’t sweet enough, add sugar while blending, to taste.
Note: Likewise, my natural yoghurt was very tart, so I mixed 50 grams of sugar into it – just enough to soften the tartness without eliminating it.

You will also need lolly moulds and lolly sticks. I use disposable plastic cups as moulds, and traditional lolly sticks (easily purchased online).

Method

  • In a blender, combine the mango flesh and lime juice and blend until smooth. If you are adding sugar, add a little at a time, blend thoroughly and taste again before adding more if needed.
  • If adding sugar to the yoghurt, fold it in by hand or your yoghurt will lose its naturally thick texture.
  • Assemble your lolly moulds – as you can see I use disposable plastic cups.
  • Spoon in dollops of the mango mixture and the yoghurt in turn, swirl with a lolly stick to mix if needed.
  • Insert a lolly stick into each mould. If using cups rather than custom-designed ice lolly moulds, you may need to use elastic bands or masking tape to hold the stick upright – mine stayed upright on their own as the mango and yoghurt mixtures were both quite thick.
  • Freeze upright for 24 hours.
  • Once frozen, unmould individual lollies by dipping each mould into a bowl of hot water for a few seconds before pulling the ice lolly gently out.

I used my Froothie Optimum power blender to blend my mango into a super smooth smooth pulp, much as I use it to make smoothies. The powerful motor can also blend solid frozen fruit straight from the freezer to make an instant sorbet. I’ve also made several delicious soups in it as well as custard-based ice creams – it’s a great no-fuss way to make custard from scratch. Fruit curds are also a doddle.

IceCreamChallenge mini

This is my entry for this month’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge, open to all bloggers around the world – if you blog an ice cream, sorbet, ice lolly (or pop), shaved ice or gelato recipe this month, do join in!

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies on Kavey Eats-3

Mango Lassi Ice Lollies on Kavey Eats (tallpin)

If you’re a fan of fresh fruit lollies, you may also like my roasted banana ice lollies and my eton mess strawberry cream and meringue ice lollies.

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my sidebar panel for more information.

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Peach & Ice Wine Jam | Using The Produce of Niagara-on-the-Lake

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

Grow Your Own Cake | Book Review + Giveaway

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.

Grow Buy Cook Eat | Niagara-on-the-Lake

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.