Sunday, July 31, 2011

Raspberry Crumb Cake

This past weekend was busy. Busy in a 'what fun thing do we get to do next' kind of way, not busy in a 'what do we have to do now' kind of way. Always prefer the former.

After making a rather large quantity of raspberry jam for my doughnut hole experiment I realized I was going to be eating raspberry jam for breakfast every day for a month (or two) unless I could find a creative way to use up a large quantity of raspberry jam. One of our weekend activities was entertaining family after a rousing game of t-ball and I wanted an easy fuss-free treat to serve on the patio. The raspberry jam was staring at me from the fridge all week so Thursday night I pulled it out, set it on the counter and determined to bake it into something delicious. Solution: Raspberry Crumb Cake. Found on a lovely little blog called The Corner Kitchen:

Raspberry Big Crumb Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, March 2011)

For the crumb topping:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the cake:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 buttermilk
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

3/4 cup raspberry jam (or any other flavor you fancy)

Crumb topping
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugars, cinnamon & salt.  Pour melted butter over the mixture, and mix using your hands, until large clumps form.  (Mixing with your hands, versus using a wooden spoon or spatula makes for bigger crumbs).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line an 8x8 baking pan with tin foil (or you can butter the pan).  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl (or mixer), beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in egg and egg yolk, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of buttermilk (beginning & ending with flour).  Continue to beat until well combined.

Spoon batter into pan, and spread evenly.  Evenly spread the jam across the top of the batter.  Sprinkle crumb topping over the jam layer.

Bake 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar.

This cake really delivers - large crumbly topping, fresh raspberry jam, moist was great with lemonade and iced tea on the patio and it was great with a latte the next morning. You could likely substitute any jam you like for the raspberry. Blueberry strikes me as something I'd like to try. Next time....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Market fruit (and doughnuts)

Saturday morning while the boys were getting haircuts I went to the farmer's market and was seduced by all of the wonderful in-season, locally-grown fruit on display. Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries all made the trip home with me. I was briefly tempted by some peaches but decided not to push my luck. (Peaches are an August fruit around our house.) After rushing the fruit home I rushed myself over to the movie theatre to meet Daniel so we could watch the last Harry Potter movie together. We've been going every week the last seven weeks, viewing one Harry Potter flick every Saturday morning from Philosopher's Stone through to this, the final installment of the Deathly Hallows. We've read most of the books together but Daniel wanted the final part of Deathly Hallows to be a 'surprise'. I, of course, knew what was going to happen having read the books as they were released. I still wasn't prepared. So we both laughed, screamed and cried (sobbed, really) together for two hours. It was awesome.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Corn Chowder

It's hotter than stink outside - anyone up for a nice steaming bowl of corn chowder? To be honest, I find the heat takes away my appetite altogether. I shouldn't admit that two nights this week I had a milkshake for dinner. Not one of those low calorie jobs in a can, either. A full-fat assault that you can feel going straight to your hips while you're drinking it.

Corn chowder happened at our house because I had a few ears of sweet corn left over from the weekend, the kids were in bed and David was in Chicago on a business trip. I wanted something fun and/or relaxing to do but didn't feel like reading and I just can't get interested in TV any more. So this is how I chose to amuse myself - by rustling through my fridge and pantry to try to figure out what I can make with ingredients I have on hand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

This oozy, gooey, delicious crisp tastes just as much like Summer as the Cucumber, Tomato and Feta salad I made on the weekend. I have walked by fresh rhubarb at the grocery store for weeks now without putting some in the cart. I'm so glad I finally decided to bring some home. I didn't really know what I was going to do with it but that's half the fun. I toyed with making some kind of barbecue sauce or maybe a syrup for a cold drink but then when I was putting away some frozen lemonade I bumped up against a large bag of strawberries from Heeman's I had put in the freezer a couple of weeks ago. So I decided to keep it traditional and go for a crisp.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Market Vegetables

I can't believe that we're already mid-way through July. Summer seems to be flying by. One thing that's wonderful about the Summer marching on is the different produce to choose from at the market every Saturday. This Saturday we went to the St. Jacob's market, which was busy but full of wonderful things. David and I used to visit the market as a treat when we were students at Laurier. I wasn't as much of a cook then as I am now or I would have made the most of having such an abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat right on my doorstep. We saw an amazing variety of fresh foods at the market. Apples that were literally as big as David's fist. Lemonade served up in a cup big enough for the whole family. Mini donuts fried and sugared right in front of our eyes (yes, we bought a half dozen and devoured them in seconds). We came home with what I imagine is the first of this season's sweet corn. I boiled it up tonight (6 minutes in boiling, salted water) as part of our Sunday dinner which relied heavily on the current fresh produce offerings of the region.

In addition to the corn I also made a Cucumber Tomato Salad from Epicurious that I tried on Thursday and had to have again, it was so good. I know that I'll want to make this salad again when tomatoes and cucumbers aren't in season and it won't be nearly as good, so I'll try to talk myself out of it since I think this salad really requires the best cucumber and tomato you can find. David isn't an olive fan so I kept some of the cucumber/tomato/feta mixture separate for him when I served it this week with some grilled lamb kebabs. It was the perfect accompaniment to the lamb but went just as well tonight with some boiled potatoes, sweet corn and grilled sausage. I halved the recipe with no noticeable difference to the final product. This is a dish that tastes just. like. Summer.

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad - from Epicurious

6 cups coarsely chopped English hothouse or Persian cucumbers (about 2 pounds total)
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound total), coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup assorted pitted olives (such as Kalamata or Gaeta), halved
1 7-ounce package feta, crumbled, divided
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, olives, half of feta, and mint in a large bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining half of feta over and serve.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pasta Al Pomodoro - or, the end of the reign of V8

When Daniel finally got himself established on solid foods I decided to try feeding him pasta. I figured he couldn't choke on it and who doesn't like pasta? (Turns out Patrick, my second son. Not a great pasta lover. However he likes mashed potatoes where Daniel does not. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes? But I digress.) My decision to introduce pasta was likely an excuse for me to buy a package of the cute alphabet-shaped pasta that caught my eye at the grocery store. I know that a lot of kids are introduced to pasta with a bit of butter or Parmesan cheese for flavour but I decided to go the traditional 'red sauce' route for Daniel and served him his first bowl of pasta drenched in V8 juice. I think I figured that the addition of the V8 juice would count as a serving of vegetables. It was a raging success. In the last seven and a half years he must have eaten a hundred.....zillion bowls of alphabet pasta.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I like to think of myself as a curious person. Curious as in 'filled with curiousity' rather than, you know, an odd duck. I lead with this information to explain why I would bother making something that retails for about two bucks a bag at the local supermarket. When I told David I wanted to try making marshmallows that was the first thing he said: "You can buy them for 2 bucks at Loblaws. Why bother?". Why indeed?

Monday, July 4, 2011


Frittata seems to me to be one of those words that needs an exclamation mark. Kind of like ole. Ole doesn't look right unless it's written ole! Am I right?

I'm tardy with Canada Day greetings but I have a good excuse. On Friday David and I completed our first (well - second) 10K. Our time was 1h3m but our goal wasn't a fast time, it was to run the whole race (no matter how slow) and to finish. Which we did! The course was a bit more hill-filled than the Terry Fox 10K we completed back in the Fall but we persevered. (I say this is our first 10K because when we did the Terry Fox run we didn't set out to do the 10K distance. It just sort of happened.) After our triumph we headed back to London (the 10K was part of the Highland Games in Embro) to meet up with family. And then we ate. And ate. And ate some more. My parents brought the food and when they bring food they mean business. Which means I have lots of leftovers. In particular lots of veggie leftovers since we had a large vegetable tray, many of which are of a type that never make it into my own grocery cart. (Such as radishes..what am I going to do with a half bag of radishes?) One of my favourite things to make with leftover veggies is frittata. It's so easy and perfect for a hot Summer evening. Here's how I made this one:

The veggies I was aiming to use up included a dozen mushrooms and half a yellow pepper. I also had some leftover chives. I always have eggs and mozzarella cheese on hand. (I considered the radishes and then decided this wasn't the time or place for that particular experiment.) So. What I did. I started by cutting up a small onion. About 1/4 cup worth. Then I sliced my mushrooms and diced my pepper. I heated some olive oil in a 10 inch skillet and once it was hot, added the onion, stirring for 1 minute, followed by the veggies for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, I beat six eggs combined with a cup of mozzarella cheese and a handful of chopped chives. Once the veggies were softened I poured in the egg mixture. The whole shebang cooked on medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Then I transferred it to the oven to broil the whole works for another 2 minutes.

Voila. Frittata! All that is left to do is remove your frying pan from the oven with an oven mitt and put another oven mitt over the pan handle immediately. As in right away. Otherwise you might forget how hot the handle is, get out the toaster to make toast then grab the frying pan with your bare hand to shake the frittata onto a plate. Which will burn you. Don't say you haven't been warned.

So the basic idea here is you can make a simple dinner if you can find 6 eggs, 1 cup of cheese, a bit of onion and 1 1/2 cups of veggies. Or whatever you have in the fridge that seems appealing. I almost put in some leftover steak and roasted potatoes we had leftover from Sunday dinner but I decided to save those for David. He doesn't enjoy my frittata experiments as much as I enjoy them. And I just signed him up for another 10K run in the Fall so I need to show him some love. This particular frittata will likely be designated breakfast this week. A wedge served between toast is a great way to start the morning.