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Posts Tagged ‘blueberries’

Family birthday photo

The best family photo we could get… The candle is blown out, we should be eating cake!

Today we celebrated Baby’s first birthday! As my cousin wrote me this week: a year with a kid goes by quickly, even when some of the days go by very slowly. So here we are. Year One gone already.

Since this day last year, I’ve watched Baby grow: from 8lbs to approx. 25 lbs, from 52 cm to approx. 71 cm. Watch out — she can reach what’s on the table now! She seems so big compared to this time last year, and yet she’s still so small.

She has six teeth and is taking her first steps. She went from dark hair to light hair. I remember wondering back then what she would look like in a year. I couldn’t imagine it, and now I can’t imagine her any other way.

I’ve also watched Baby develop into an alert, bright, curious, determined, energetic, lively, playful and social little person. It’s fun to be with her. Her giggle is infectious. She brings out the crazy in both her parents, especially her papa! And every day she does a bunch of quirky little things that make us both laugh.

Her fun these days is making music; squishing blueberries at breakfast; pulling anything with a string; playing with water; swings; books, especially turning the pages; riding in the bike trailer; and climbing over any obstacle, none of which are too big.

Baby making music

Baby making music with instruments received from maman and papa.

Baby exploring tunnel

Baby getting ready to crawl through her birthday tunnel.

It’s fascinating to watch Baby play and figure things out. The wheels in her brain are turning all the time. Sometimes I just sit and watch with quiet wonder.

We invited family for lunch to share the celebration. On the menu: gazpacho, slow-roasted salmon, a wild rice, corn and Swiss chard toss, goat cheese with fresh herbs, and peach blueberry cake with whipped cream. Even though it was quite an “adult” menu, it included some of her favourite foods: salmon, goat cheese, corn, rice, peaches and blueberries!

Baby eating birthday cake

Baby eating peach blueberry birthday cake. Yum!

Now Baby is asleep, and it’s time for us “new parents” to start our own BIRTHday ritual: bubbles after bedtime. As we get ready to raise our glasses, we’re reliving some of the moments surrounding Baby’s arrival and celebrating the day that changed and enriched our lives forever, being parents, and making it through the year with a bit more wear but no tear. Cheers to that!

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Bread pudding

I admit, the portion I ate was twice this size!

Baby already knows her mother well. One of the only daytime tv shows I consider worth watching on the few channels we receive is In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita. I only recently discovered it, because it happens to coincide with one of Baby’s feedings. Now I watch it as long as Baby’s feeding schedule allows.

The other day Stefano did a show about using leftover bread. The last recipe of the episode was a bread pudding. He brought back memories of my childhood.

When I was little, we had bread pudding for dinner every once in a while. My mom would diligently let dry every scrap piece of bread and collect them in an old ice cream container. When the container was full, it was time for bread pudding. She’d soak the bread in a milk and egg mixture, then mix in some sliced apples and raisins. Only lightly sweetened, she’d serve it with homemade vanilla sauce.

Inspired by Stefano and with memories on my mind, I decided it was time to make bread pudding. We would eat it for dinner/dessert following a hearty soup. I admit that I purposely bought bread for the recipe, because I wanted to use an appropriate egg bread. (We ate a light rye bread at home when I was growing up. Inevitably this old rye bread found its way into the bread pudding and the flavour of the bread was a bit too pronounced for my taste… What I always expected to be a more dessert-like meal just wasn’t.)

Since the loaf was big enough for two dishes, I made two versions (on separate occasions); both were much less healthy than my mom’s. The first was a dark chocolate and sour cherry bread pudding and the second was a white chocolate, blueberry and hazelnut bread pudding. I’d make them both again. So simple, so yummy, and a perfect way to use old bread 😉

Recipe: Dark Chocolate and Sour Cherry Bread Pudding

Dark chocolate and sour cherry bread pudding

Makes one 9″ x 9″ dish. Tastes great – almost better – the next day!

4 cups egg bread (day old; I used Rideau Bakery‘s egg bread; one loaf was good for two dishes)
1½ cups sour cherries (I used frozen ones, but I think preserved ones (from a jar) would work too)
2 tbsp rum (optional)
½ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Lindt)
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream (35%)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish.

Combine sour cherries and rum. Set aside. (If using sour cherries from a jar, drain them first, although it’s ok if there’s a bit of cherry juice in the mix.)

Bread pudding before baking

Bread pudding before baking.

Tear bread into pieces and place in a large bowl. Add sour cherry mixture and chocolate. Toss lightly to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar until combined. Whisk in milk and cream. Pour egg custard mixture over bread and stir to evenly combine. Let stand for 15 minutes so that bread absorbs the egg mixture.

Pour bread and custard mixture to the buttered dish; it will fill the dish to the top. Bake until custard is set, and top of bread pudding springs back lightly when touched, approx. 45 minutes.

Recipe: White Chocolate, Blueberry and Hazelnut Bread Pudding

White chocolate, blueberry and hazelnut bread puddingMakes one 9″ x 9″ dish. Tastes great – almost better – the next day!

4 cups egg bread (day old; I used Rideau Bakery‘s egg bread; one loaf was good for two dishes)
1½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup chopped white chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream (35%)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish.

Tear bread into pieces and place in a large bowl. Add blueberries, white chocolate and three-quarters of the hazelnuts (keep the rest to sprinkle on top). Toss lightly to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar until combined. Whisk in milk and cream. Pour egg custard mixture over bread and stir to evenly combine. Let stand for 15 minutes so that bread absorbs the egg mixture.

Pour bread and custard mixture to the buttered dish; it will fill the dish to the top. Sprinkle reserved hazelnuts on top. Bake until custard is set, and top of bread pudding springs back lightly when touched, approx. 45 minutes.

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Favourite blueberry tart

My favourite blueberry tart.

When blueberries turn up at the market, I’m reminded of how much I love blueberries.

More than strawberries, even though strawberries are red juicy goodness. More that raspberries, even though raspberries are like sweet-tart kisses when they are warmed by the sun and eaten directly from the bush. More than blackberries, even though blackberries sum up summer with their plump sweetness.

There’s something simple, honest and down-to-earth about blueberries. I eat them by the handful. They’re my favourite berry.

Having grown up on the West Coast, my blueberry is the large highbush one. Some might claim that that’s not the real blueberry, but for me it is. And when BC blueberries show up in the supermarket, I’m in heaven (and ignore the fact that they travelled across most of the country to get here). I stock the freezer, have some in the fridge, cook/bake with them, and eat them daily.

My mom would make this tart once a summer. It’s still one of my favourites.

Recipe: My Favourite Blueberry Tart

Slice of my favourite blueberry tart topped with whipped cream

A slice of my favourite blueberry tart topped with whipped cream. Mmmmm!

1 recipe pastry dough
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 lbs (approx. 675 g) blueberries
1/3
cup ground hazelnuts
Whipping cream (to serve)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Prepare pastry dough. (Usually pastry dough recipes call for a ½ cup of butter, so I keep pre-measured pieces in the freezer. I make the dough without a food processor and grate the frozen butter into the flour, a trick I picked up from one of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s HomeBaking cookbook). Line an 11-inch tart pan (I use one with a removable bottom) and blind bake the tart crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon  in a bowl. Add the blueberries and toss with the sugar mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix gently, ensuring that there’s no cornstarch visible on the blueberries.

Sprinkle the ground hazelnuts over the pre-baked tart crust. Fill with the blueberry mixture.

Bake 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Top with whipped cream to serve.

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