A Vintage Butter Tart Recipe

It is raining this Labour Day, so what better to do than bake up a batch of what I consider to be the best butter tarts? Apparently there is some debate as to whether butter tart fillings are better with nuts rather than raisins, syrupy rather than firm. I prefer them with raisins and a firm filling, and the following recipe is the one I return to every time. It is from my mother’s old Purity Flour cookbook from the 1940’s. Butter tarts-1

 

2 eggs

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons vinegar (I use cider vinegar)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cups raisins (I use Thompson raisins)

Pastry (I use Glutino pastry mix)

Beat eggs only until whites and yolks are well blended. Beat in sugar and add vinegar and vanilla. Stir in the  melted butter and raisins.

Line tart tins with pastry and fill  1/2 to 2/3 full with butter mixture. Bake in hot (425 degree F) oven for the first 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to a moderate (350 degree F) and bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until filling is firm. Place tins on cooling rack.This recipe makes 24 small tarts or 12  2″-sized tarts.

Every time I bake a batch of these I remember back to the first summer of my  marriage. I had baked 4 dozen tarts in preparation for a family reunion the following day. After they were cooled and removed from the tins, I put them away and left home to go to my job. After my shift, I returned home to find DH and his friend sitting at the kitchen table happily munching their way through all four dozen tarts! Well, if that isn’t testimony to how good these are, I don’t know what is.

What ever you are doing this Labour Day, I hope it is something you love to do. Enjoy.

 

 

Another Zucchini Recipe

If you have zucchini plants growing in your garden, chances are that it is now providing an abundance of fruit.

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If not watched carefully, the fruits grow into mammoth proportions. This has happened to us a few times this summer! Fortunately, there are hundreds of ways to use zucchini of all sizes. DH has chopped up the really large ones to make into relish. I have spiralized a few to make “spaghetti”, sliced several lengthwise to make “lasagna” and shredded the smaller ones to make into zucchini bread.

Gluten-free Chocolate Zucchini Bread

2 small – medium sized zucchini, shredded

6 Tablespoons cocoa

2 cups almond flour

6 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour

1/4 cup powdered stevia (or sugar, if preferred)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

3 large eggs

6 tablespoons extra light olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 small loaf pans.

Shred the zucchini and put into a paper towel lined colander to absorb excess moisture.

Using a wire whisk, combine all the dry ingredients in mixing bowl.

Stir the eggs and oil together.

Press as much moisture as you can from the zucchini, then  add it and the egg mixture to the dry ingredients.  Mix everything together and divide into prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool completely before slicing.

Tip: This zucchini bread freezes very well.

 

 

 

Just Peachy

Our Civic holiday weekend began with an hour long drive through fog to  the airport so that our week long house guest could catch his 6:00 a.m. flight back home. After dropping him off at the departures entry, we decided to take a different route home, stopping along the way for coffee, and a visit to a farmers market where we purchased two baskets of Niagara peaches. August is the peak season for this delicious, juicy, fuzz-skinned fruit here in the Niagara Peninsula, and we can’t seem to get enough of them.

There are so many ways to use peaches: pies, muffins, cakes, smoothies, salads, and ice-cream.  They can be  preserved them for winter enjoyment by canning, freezing, making chutneys and jams. However, I think  the best way of all is to eat peaches raw, when they are in season locally.

Since it was a holiday weekend, we treated ourselves to waffles for breakfast on Sunday, and what better way to serve them than with sliced fresh peaches. To prepare the fruit, I just wash it and slice into the stone. Since these peaches are a freestone variety, the stone comes out easily.  As an aside, is there anyone else who thinks that peaches aren’t as fuzzy as they used to be? I seem to recall that when I was a child the peach fuzz was thicker and scratchier.

 

 

 

A drizzle of maple syrup (the “real stuff, the stuff that comes from trees” as our GS once told us),  added the finishing touch.

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A Currant Event

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This story had its beginnings many years ago when, as a child, I went with my parents to my great uncle’s farm to pick currants – both black and red. I remember being told that the black ones were to be picked individually. It was easier to pick the red ones because  they could be picked with their stems attached. I’m not sure how much I helped filling the baskets but it is a fond memory and I have loved black and red currant berries ever since.

Three years ago a DF gave us three black currant bushes to plant. I knew not to expect any fruit the first two years, so it was exciting to discover tiny green blossoms on the plants this spring and even more exciting was the fact that bees were buzzing from flowers to flower. Over the weeks since I have checked the progress of our very first currant crop, watching the berries turn from green to red to black. Finally, it was time to pick. Under the blazing July sun I sat at each bush and carefully picked the fruit sampling the odd one or two. Blackcurrants-2

When I had finished I’d managed to half fill a 3L basket – not bad for a first crop.

Black Currant Syrup

300g black currants

125 ml raw honey

150 ml water

juice from 1/2 lemon

Wash the black currants and remove any green stems that may still be attached.

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and cook very gently over a low heat for two hours.Blackcurrants-3

Line a sieve with cheesecloth, and suspend the sieve over a large enough pan to contain the  juice.  Pour the cooked berries into the cheesecloth and allow them to drip overnight:

The next day pour the strained syrup into a sterilized jar and store in the refrigerator.

This yielded 250ml of syrup, (and about an equal amount of mashed berries):

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Enjoy the syrup as a refreshing cordial: add a  large spoonful to sparkling water and ice.

The mashed berries: well I plan to mix a generous spoonful with my favourite unflavoured yogurt.

Black currants are an excellent source of vitamin C –  better than oranges!

A Rite of Spring

Way back, when those lovely spring days seemed to last forever, one simple pleasure in our garden was to pull out a stalk or two of this beautiful vegetable, called rhubarb. We’d dip its end in a handful of sugar and munch away enjoying the lovely combination of tart, sweet and crunch.

I suppose it is this nostalgic fondness for rhubarb that made me delighted when a DC offered to dig up a few crowns from his patch so that I could grow my own. Now my rhubarb has been in place for  three years and is well established and vigorous. This past weekend I pulled a large bundle of stalks, discarded the noxious leaves and proceeded to prepare my version of Rhubarb-Strawberry Crumble.rhubarb-1

The Recipe:

6-8 rhubarb stalks

1 quart strawberries, sliced (I used frozen ones)

1/3 cup cornstarch

1 cup sour cream

1 cup granulated stevia (for baking)

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Trim  the root ends (the white-ish part) from the rhubarb stalks, and discard.  Chop the stalks into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine the rhubarb pieces with the strawberries in a greased 1 1/2 quart ovenproof casserole dish. Mix together the cornstarch, sweetener, cinnamon and sour cream and pour over the fruit mixture.

Crumble together 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten free all-purpose flour), 1/4 cup Demerara sugar, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon with 1/4 cup softened butter ( or coconut oil), until the mixture is well blended. Distribute evenly over the fruit – sour cream mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

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This makes about 6 generous servings. Enjoy!

Tip: When using a stoneware or pyrex-type baker, place it on a metal baking sheet before putting in a pre-heated oven to avoid thermal shock.

What childhood memories do you have, if any, about enjoying the spring garden?