Monthly Feature: Vanilla


Vanilla: A Rich Holiday Treat

Vanilla. That warm, seductive flavour that’s perfect for winter. Vanilla pairs beautifully with a variety of drinks, desserts and savoury dishes, like a Vanilla Squash Risotto.

This month, in honour of Christmas and because we’re all short on time as we count down to the holidays, the recipe is quick and easy and perfect for last minute gift giving: Vanilla Sugar.

1 vanilla bean pod
2 cups granulated sugar

Slice vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape seeds into a container. Toss in scrapped vanilla pod and stir all together. Store sugar mixture in an airtight container, decorate with a fancy tag and within minutes, you’ve got a delicious last minute gift.  The “caviar” of the vanilla pods adds a touch of gourmet and looks incredible against the white backdrop of the sugar. Vanilla sugar can be replaced in any recipe where sugar is required, such as hot cocoa or sprinkled, sprinkled on top of sugar cookies or used in a rice/bread pudding.

In honour of vanilla, we’re taking 15% our Peach Vanilla Jelly. Local Siberian peaches with real vanilla bean caviar are a rich combination. Try it today!


Monthly Feature: Walnuts

Photo Courtesy of Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

From October to June 2011, uncanny will feature one ingredient and an accompanying discounted preserve and a recipe to help get us through the long, cold months of winter.

First in our series of specials was cranberries and next up is walnuts. One of the characteristic signs of the approaching holidays are bins of walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and more at the grocery store. Of all the nuts, walnuts are my personal favourite. They’re meaty, earthy, hearty and pair wonderfully with almost all fall fruits and vegetables.

For this month’s savings, uncanny has an incredible jar of Sour Cherry Walnut Conserve at 15% off.  This hearty conserve is chock full of walnuts, chunky sour cherries and a splash of kirsch to draw it together; it’s totally indulgent and perfect for a cold winter morning when you need that little extra luxury. Can you imagine coming in from a morning spent shoveling the drive-way and greeted with a steaming mug of coffee and this conserve spooned over a croissant? Doesn’t get much better than this.

Walnuts are not only delicious in a conserve, but equally at home being the star of the show. Holiday entertaining can be quick and easy by having some candied walnuts on hand to throw in a pretty dish and set out for guests to enjoy. Here’s a recipe I tried last year with walnuts and loved the results. The combination of Indian spices and a touch of sweetness made them so delicious and totally addicting. If you’re looking for something quick and easy, try these from Canadian Living:


    3 cups unsalted walnuts (or cashews, as the original recipe uses)
    3 tbsp  brown sugar
    2 tsp  sea salt or pickling salt
    2 tsp curry powder
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/4 cup water
    1 tbsp butter, melted


On parchment paper-lined or greased rimmed baking sheet, toast cashews in 350°F (180°C) oven until fragrant and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the sugar, salt, curry powder and cumin; set aside.

In saucepan, bring water, remaining brown sugar and butter to boil, stirring constantly. Add cashews, stirring to coat; simmer until no liquid remains, about 3 minutes. Add to spice mixture; toss to coat well.

Spread nuts on same baking sheet; roast until coating is dry and slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack. (Make-ahead: Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)


Monthly Feature – Cranberries

As the weather turns colder, how about something to warm you up? How about a special! Each month from October to June, I’ll highlight a preserve or two, using a key ingredient of the season, provide flavour notes, a recipe and a discount on selected preserves.

First Up: Cranberries.

The perfect sweet and savoury berry. One of my favourite ways to enjoy cranberries, aside from a preserve, is in a crisp. Sliced firm apples, sparkling red berries and a crunchy oat topping make for a hearty and rustic dessert that’s easy to whip up. Here’s my favourite apple crisp recipe:

Apple Cranberry Crisp

1 1/2 cups large flake oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4-6 Cortland Apples
1 1/2 cups cranberries

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Peel apples, slice and toss together with cranberries. Mix dry ingredients together, add in melted butter to form the topping. Sprinkle a scant amount of topping on the bottom of your pan, add apple-cranberry mixture, pour topping over top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until apples have softened and top has browned (if you like the top crispier, put it under the broiler for a couple minutes, just watch it doesn’t burn).

* This recipe is very adaptable. Different apples will yield different results: Granny Smith’s won’t break down, so if you prefer a firmer apple and more texture, these are your apples. Cortland’s are lovely because they are so sweet and pair nicely with the tart cranberries.  Amazing with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Now onto the savings. Until mid-November, our delicious Cranberry Apple Butter and Sage and Thyme Cranberry Chutney are 15% off! Enjoy our cranberry apple butter spread over your morning muffin or mixed with cream cheese and spread on bagels. Our cranberry chutney is a generous mixture of local cranberries, Gravenstein apples, garden fresh sage and thyme, which combine with the sweet tang of a chutney and is at home alongside a holiday turkey, spread on a leftover turkey sandwich or spooned on top of brie and baked at 300 degrees until cheese has softened. The perfect holiday preserve!