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Summertime Strawberry Pie

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Nothing signals the start of summer like British strawberry season.  Perfectly ripe and juicy berries line the store shelves, and seasonal strawberry desserts replace the heavier cakes and crumbles that have featured on dessert menus throughout the winter months.

Strawberries are my absolute favourite summer berry, with raspberries following a close second. When I was pregnant I would eat entire meals consisting only of strawberries. I couldn’t get enough of them, and now my kid can’t either. Leave him alone with a punnet of strawberries and they’ll be gone in a matter of minutes.

Fresh strawberries

We’ve been growing strawberries in our garden this year, and they’re fantastically delicious.  Unfortunately they only ripen 3 at a time which is hardly enough to put on a bowl of corn flakes, let alone make up the bulk of a shareable dessert. Luckily I was able to supplement my own crop by making a trip out to Garsons Farm – a local produce farm where we could pick our own strawberries. Even though the shops are filled with strawberries at the moment, picking your own is so much better. Not only can you choose the ripest, reddest, juiciest strawberries, but it’ll occupy a 3 year old for over an hour! What more could I ask for?

Strawberry Pie

We left the farm with a huge basket filled to the brim of strawberries that were just screaming to be made into a pie.  Strawberry pie used to be my favourite when I was a kid. Chilled fresh strawberries in a sweet jelly topped with sweetened whipped cream. It’s so refreshing on a summery day.

I hadn’t had a strawberry pie in years, so I couldn’t wait to get home and make one with my pickings. This pie is super duper easy to make. In fact, the hardest part about it is waiting for the pie to set in the fridge overnight.

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie Recipe

This recipe is my mom’s from Canada, so uses powdered Strawberry Jello brand jelly for the base.  We don’t have powdered Jello in the UK, but we do have Hartley’s Jelly cubes which I find don’t gel as firmly as the Jello brand.  So if you’re in the UK, I’d  recommend increasing the jelly cubes to 1.5 packages.

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup (225g) Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 Quart Strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Pkg Strawberry Jello,or 1 1/2 Pkg Hartley's Strawberry Jelly
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Baked 9” pie crust, homemade or store-bought

Instructions

  1. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  2. Mash 1 cup of the berries; add enough water to make 2 cups and stir into the cornstarch and sugar mixture.
  3. Cook and stir until boiling. Boil 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add butter, Jello powder (or cubes) and lemon juice. Stir until the Jello powder dissolves. Chill until partially set.
  5. Spoon 1/3 of the jello mixture into pie shell. Top with the remaining berries, and spoon the remaining jello mixture over the berries.
  6. Chill until set. Serve with fresh sweetened whipped cream.
http://www.madewithpink.com/2015/06/strawberry-pie-recipe/

Strawberry Pie

If you find yourself with an abundance of strawberries this summer, here are a few more recipes ideas to help you use them up.

Strawberry Pie recipes

Strawberry & Coconut Milkshake
Pimm’s Salad
Chocolate Pomegranate Cake with Lemon Curd and Strawberries
Strawberry mascarpone tarts
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich
Strawberry Granola Frozen Yoghurt Bites
Strawberry Tiramisu

I’m submitting my strawberry pie to a couple of foodie blogger linkups this month as well.

Simple and in season

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Waitrose Summer Cupcake Mix Review

With the London 2012 Olympics well underway now, we’re right in the midst of the Great British Summer.  2012 has given us  the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Euro Cup Football, and now the Olympics.  What it hasn’t given us is good weather (insert sad face here). Even though this summer’s weather has been absolutely dismal, it’s been great to see how the residents of the UK have really come together to celebrate everything British.

Over the past few months I’ve seen loads of new British themed products released.  Some were traditional favourites, some were never seen before, and others were a perfect blend of old and new.


Waitrose has released two new cupcake mixes to help celebrate this years festivities.  They mixes are a fun twist on two British summertime classics – Eton Mess, and Bucks Fizz.  If you’re not from the UK, then you may not be familiar with either of those, so let me clarify. Eton Mess is a delicious dessert that takes fresh cut strawberries and crushed meringues and blends them together with sweetened whipping cream.  It’s delicious!  I made my own version of Eton Mess a few years ago, and you can get the recipe here.  And as for Bucks Fizz, it’s just the British version of what North American’s call a Mimosa – aka: Champagne and Orange Juice.


These cupcake mixes are a similar concept to the cake mix bags Waitrose released last summer (you can see my review of them here).  They’re a bit different than a regular Betty Crocker mix.  With these, the ingredients are already pre-measured for you which is great if you’re short on time, or preparing for a party and want to keep the mess to a minimum.  Also included in the box were the cupcake cases (as pictured on the box) which was a nice surprise, because they were actually very good quality and a nice design.  Unfortunately when the cake mix was sent to me the boxes arrived quite badly squished, and so did the cupcake cases.  The cases that came with the Eton Mess cupcakes were too badly squished for me to use them, but I managed to find some similar ones in my “collection”, although they weren’t as nice a quality as the ones that were included with the mix.

Both cupcake mixes do require you to add in a few ingredients of your own, just as you would a regular cake mix.  


The Bucks Fizz cupcakes called for the addition of the juice and zest of an orange, as well as an egg and some butter.  Also included in the mix was the icing sugar needed to make the icing, some candied orange peel and some popping candy to simulate the bubble in the champagne.  Unfortunately the popping candy in my mix must have had some moisture leak into it because it was just 2 big solid lumps of candy fused together.


The final result was a very moist cupcake with chunks of candied orange peel, and a lightly orange flavoured icing with additional chunks of candied peel and freshly grated zest.  I really liked these cupcakes, and I think with the addition of the popping candy they would really would have been excellent.  I was a little skeptical that there wouldn’t be enough icing for the cupcakes, but it made just the right amount.


The Eton Mess cupcakes were a strawberry cupcake with real bits of dried strawberry in them – no fakeness or artificial flavours – bonus!  The addition of an egg and some butter turned the strawberry mix into a very moist and delicious sponge that really allowed for the strawberry flavour to shine through.  Also included with the mix was a small packet of raspberry jam and some mini meringue pieces to sprinkle on the cupcakes that are topped with freshly whipped cream that you supply yourself.


Although I really liked both of these cupcakes, I did prefer the Eton Mess ones but would have preferred for the jam that was included to be strawberry rather than raspberry. I actually thought the raspberry jam tasted a bit chemically.


Overall I thought the new Eton Mess and Bucks Fizz cupcake mixes from Waitrose were excellent.  My only points of criticism (aside from the raspberry jam) would be a) that each mix only makes 6 cupcakes, and b) the price – at £3 per mix, these cupcake mixes are fairly expensive when compared to the other boxed mixes that make 18 – 24 cupcakes.  On the other hand, the £3 price tag (equivalent to £0.50 per cupcake) seems like a bargain when you compare it to the tins of Williams and Sonoma and Sprinkles cupcake mixes that I saw while on holiday in Canada which sold for $22 CDN + tax for a 12 cupcake mix (equivalent to more than $1.83 CDN (£1.18) per cupcake!).


So, would I buy these mixes again?  Probably. They’re great if you’re in a time crunch and are looking for a unique cupcake flavour to impress your friends and family.  You also don’t need to buy a large amount of ingredients that you might not use again (like the candied orange peel or meringue pieces).  I’d also recommend them to friends and family that aren’t really in to baking much.  If you really enjoy baking and experimenting with new recipes like I do, then you may just prefer to come up with your own Eton Mess or Bucks Fizz cupcake recipe from scratch.


If I was ranking these out of 5 stars, I’d give these 4.5

Cherry Almond Clafoutis


Ahhh cherry clafoutis…..  Sigh.  Why have I not made you before?  This post is somewhat embarrassing to write.  I’ve been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for years. Literally.  I’d seen them time and time again on foodie sites like Food Gawker and Taste Spotting, and always thought they looked so good.  I don’t know what on earth took me so long to make one, but it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I’d have to pit a gazillion cherries.  Plus, I was under the impression they were extremely time consuming and difficult to make.  My bad.  They’re super easy.  In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest things I’ve made in ages.  I think I’ll make this my default dessert for when company comes around.   

Like I mentioned before, part of what was really holding me back from making a cherry clafoutis was pitting all those cherries.  I’d been buying cherries all summer for Jayden and I to eat.  I was pitting them in a couple of different ways – by scoring an “x” on the top and bottom with a knife, and then pushing out the pit with a straw or chopstick, or by simply cutting them in half and picking the pits out with my fingers which was horribly messy and forced me to get my hands dirty.  I hate getting my hands dirty.   

Just when I thought I was going to have to resort to trying out another DIY cherry pitter method (there’s a bunch of suggestions here on my Pinterest board), I was contacted by the folks over at OXO Good Grips to see if I’d like to try out their new version.  So thank goodness for my new OXO Cherry pitter which made the whole pitting process quick and easy.


The cherry pitter made doing the job so much easier!  And I was really impressed with how well it was designed – there’s a little switch at the back that locks the pitter into a closed position so that the spikey bit doesn’t get caught on everything in my gadget drawer.  It’s also got a splash guard on it, which I think should be essential on every cherry pitter no matter what brand it is.  The splash guard was amazing and confined all the splatter and mess  which meant that my Julia Child recipe book I had sitting near by was spared from any straying cherry juice.  And rather than taking 20 minutes to pit all the cherries, it only took about 2 minutes. 

Splat!

Even though I’d been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for ages, I’d never really settled on a recipe.  Sure all the clafoutis photos on Food Gawker and Taste Spotting looked delicious and I’d probably “favourited” about 50 different pictures, but I couldn’t decide on which recipe I should try.  So, I went back to basics and decided to go with Julia.  You really can’t go wrong with a Julia Child recipe can you?  


I had done a tiny bit of research on cherry clafoutis before I made mine, and the one thing that stood out was that the really authentic French recipes told you NOT to pit your cherries.  Why?  Because supposedly once baked, the cherry pits release a subtle almond flavour that gives the clafoutis a really nice flavour.  I opted to pit my cherries, and then add a bit of almond extract to compensate.  The result was absolutely delicious.  The almond flavouring really complemented the sweet juicy cherries and syrupy clafoutis.  I was amazed.  Why on earth had I not made this before?  It’s seriously easy to make.  Pit your cherries, throw the rest of the ingredients a blender for a couple minutes, pour and bake.  That’s pretty much it.


Cherry Almond Clafoutis
(Slightly adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cups (295ml) milk 
2/3 Cup (150g) Sugar, divided 
3 eggs 
1Tbsp Vanilla Extract 
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/8 tsp salt 
2/3 Cup (83) Flour 
Butter for greasing 
3 Cups Pitted Cherries
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Instructions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC), and lightly butter a 7- to 8-cup baking dish or pie plate. Wash and pit your cherries.  Set aside.

2. Place milk, 1/3 cup (75g) sugar, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and flour in a blender and blend at high speed for 1 minute.  Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter into the greased baking dish. Place the dish in the hot oven for about 7-10 minutes until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat.  

3.  Place the cherries evenly over the batter and sprinkle the remaining sugar over top. Slowly pour the rest of the batter over the cherries and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon if needed.  Place the dish in the middle of the oven and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes until done. The clafouti is done when it has puffed with a golden brown top, and when a toothpick or knife is inserted into its center and comes out clean.

Let the clafoutis cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes) before sprinkling top with powdered sugar just before serving.  


The clafoutis is best served warm, but I’ll admit to eating a left over slice straight out of the fridge and it being equally delicious as it was warm.

I realise that cherry season is nearing an end, but if you can get your hands on some I would definitely suggest making this dessert.  I plan on making it once more before all the cherries have completely disappeared from my local supermarket.  But if you’re too late you can also substitute the cherries for pretty much any other fruit such as pears, plums, apples etc and make a different version of clafoutis.

With thanks to OXO Good Grips for the cherry pitter, which will now double as an olive pitter during the winter months!

Raspberry Ripple Fudgesicles


Have I mentioned before that the summer weather in the UK has been relatively non-existant?  I’m not lying, it’s been dreadful.  Thankfully I managed to escape the clouds and rain with a few holidays to sunnier destinations (unfortunately not the ones with palm trees).  


Most recently I returned home from my annual birthday trip to Paris, which just happens to be my favourite city in the world.  I just love it.  We go every year and spend the entire time just wandering around through all the different neighbourhoods, stopping every few minutes to press our noses up against the window of yet another patisserie shop to admire the beautiful cakes and pastries on display.  Paris pastries are a thing of beauty.  I love them, and plan to try and recreate a few that really caught my eye while we were there.  


We’ve been lucky enough to have a few hot days in the UK recently, so I thought I’d break out my Zoku Quick Pop Maker while I had the chance.  For those of you not familiar with the Zoku, it’s a popsicle (ice lolly) maker that allows you to make your own frozen pops in under 10 minutes.  The flavour combinations you can make with the Zoku are endless. And because they freeze so quickly, you’re able to layer them and even make filled ones like the creamsicles that were my favourite when I was a kid.

Another of my favourites were fudgesicles – a dense and chocolatey frozen pop, chock full of deliciousness.  They don’t have fudgesicles in the UK, and I’d been dying for one every summer since I moved here.  I’d also been dying for a slice of a raspberry and chocolate tart that I’d seen in one of the patisserie windows while I was in Paris.  Except I’d only been “dying” for a slice of that for a week, not four years like the fudgesicle.  With all that dying going on it’s amazing I’m still alive.  I’m so dramatic. 

In the end I combined my two death wishes into one, and came up with something pretty amazing.  I’m calling it the raspberry ripple fudgesicle.  It’s the perfect combination of slightly tart raspberries and fudgey chocolate.  


The only thing I have to caution you about with these raspberry ripple fudgesicles is that they don’t freeze as quickly as most other popsicle recipes, but that’s what makes them fudgey.

To make these you’ll need to freeze your Zoku pop maker for at least 24hrs as recommended by the manufacturer, and then follow the recipe below:

Raspberry Ripple Fudgesicles
Makes 6 Zoku Pops

Ingredients:

20g Dark Chocolate
1 1/4 Cups Chocolate Milk
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup (or Golden Syrup)
6 Tbsp Sugar
1/8 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 Cups Raspberries (fresh or thawed from frozen)
3-4 Tbsp Sugar 

Instructions:

1.  Chill Zoku Pop Maker for a minimum of 24hrs in the freezer

2. Melt the dark chocolate over medium heat in a small saucepan, and then add the chocolate milk, cocoa powder, corn syrup, sugar and vanilla.  Stir until well combined and continue to heat until all the ingredients are well dissolved.  Do not bring to a boil.  Pour into a sealable container and refrigerate until cold – approximately 3 hours (this will speed up the freezing process).

3.  While your chocolate mixture is chilling, combine the raspberries and sugar (feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste) together and puree using a blender.  Set aside.

4.  Once your chocolate mixture is fully cool, get your two mixtures ready and take your Zoku pop maker out of the fridge and place the sticks in as your normally would.  Pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of  the chocolate mixture directly into the bottom of each cavity of the Zoku maker.  Wait several minutes until the chocolate mixture is thoroughly frozen.  Next your 1-2 tablespoons of the raspberry mixture into each cavity and wait for them the freeze.  Repeat the same steps as your did previously  in order to create the frozen layered pops.  Make sure your pops are thoroughly frozen before attempting to remove them.  If they’re not frozen enough the pops will not release from the Zoku pop maker properly.  Repeat above steps with the remainder of your ingredients.

*If you are impatient like I was and don’t wait for each layer to freeze fully before pouring the next, you’ll get the wonky pattern that’s shown in the photos.  The first time I made these, I waited longer in between pouring each of the layers which resulted in perfectly flat and level layers.


So there you have it – my own twist on a French and a Canadian classic, both blended together to make one delicious frozen treat.  Now all we have to do is wish for the sun to find it’s way back to the UK!

Edible Olympic Torch Cone Cakes

There’s been a great deal of excitement building up around the world, and here in the UK – especially in the London area as the city and it’s residents get ready to host the 2012 Olympic Games.  


I’ve always been a big fan of the Olympics.  There’s just something about them that allows me to get sucked into the hype and watch sports that I would never normally watch, and get really genuinely excited about them. Like the Triple Jump or the Canoe Slalom.  I mean really – who watches those on a regular basis? It seemed like the hype and excitement around the Olympics in the past few weeks leading up to today wasn’t as high as I had anticipated it to be, but as the Olympic torch made it’s way closer and closer to London the excitement did seem to build.  
 

Last Friday the torch relay past through the town where I live (a 30 minute train ride outside of London).  Although I was working and not able to watch it in person, my husband and son were front and centre while it made it’s way down a street near our home.  My husband took the photo above as the torch bearer ran past them.  

I think it’s pretty cool to know that the Olympic flame above is the same flame that was originally lit way back in May in Athens Greece, and that it has past from torch to torch without ever going out.
 

I created some fun little edible torches in honour of the Olympic flame making it’s way through Greece and the UK, and into the Opening Ceremonies tonight where it will burn brightly above the city of London for all the world to see for the duration of the Olympics.

These edible torches are made with mini ice cream cones that I picked up a couple weeks ago while on holiday in Canada.  I filled them with cake ball mixture and sprayed them with edible gold lustre spray before topping them off with a buttercream flame.  Pretty cute huh!?


Edible Olympic Torches

20 mini ice cream cones
9 inch round cake (baked), chocolate or flavour of your choice (equivalent to half of a boxed cake mix)
3 – 4 Tbsp chocolate icing (I like to use pre-made icing because it holds up better in the summer heat)

Edible Gold Lustre Spray

1 1/2 cups white buttercream icing
Red, orange and yellow food colourings
Piping bag
Large star tip nozzle
1.  Crumble your cake into a large bowl, and add in 3-4 tablespoons of icing. Mix together until they’re well combined, and form a dough like consistency.
2.  Form a small amount of the cake dough into a cone shape, and push it inside the mini ice cream cone so that it’s flush with the top of the cone.  Repeat until all of the cake dough and cones are used.
3.  Line the cones up on a cutting board, cake side down and spray with edible gold lustre spray making sure to coat the entire cone so that it’s nice and golden. Set aside and let dry.

4.  Divide your white buttercream in half.  Tint the first  half orange, and divide the second half into two.  Tint half of the second half yellow, and the other half red.  Imagine that the inside of your piping bag has 4 sides.  Coat 2 opposite sides with the orange icing, and coat the other sides with the red and yellow icing.  The majority of your piping bag will be filled with orange icing, while one quarter will be filled with red, and the other with yellow. 

Pipe the multi-coloured buttercream swirls onto the tops of your cake filled cones to create mini torches.
I used an black food marker to write 2012 on some of my cones.

If you’re planning on having an Olympic viewing party these torch cones would make the perfect addition.  If you’re not able to find the mini ice cream cones, you can make similar golden torch cupcake cones by baking the cake directly in a regular size flat bottom ice cream cone.  When they’re done baking simply spray the cones gold and ice them using the same steps as above.
I’ll be watching tonight’s Opening ceremonies and celebrating with a few of these edible torches.  I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks have in store for us, and I’ll be cheering on both team Canada and team GB.  We’re going to try and get out tomorrow to watch the road cycling race which will pass the area near we live.  How exciting! 
How will you be celebrating the games?  Do you have any viewing parties planned?  Have you been lucky enough to get tickets to an event? 
I’ve got another Olympic themed dessert in the works, so keep watching for it!