Garrison’s Raspberry Wheat Beer Mustard

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that this in between season is hard. Those warm days are a wonderful taste of what’s to come and I’m scrambling to find my gardening gloves and plant my garden. Then comes the cold, gray, rainy days and I’m relieved I held off. I know summer is just around the corner, but I’m anxious for fresh, local fruit and capturing it in a preserve.

Luckily, there are options. Making preserves from frozen fruit is a great way to clear out the freezer and after a long winter, it’s exciting to sample sun-ripened fruit again! (Hitchhiking to Heaven has a great post about making jam from frozen fruit, including invaluable tips on how to store your fruit over the winter so you can have fantastic preserves for the future.)

Another option and one of my favourites is mustard. We eat a lot of mustard and enjoy its versatility. Like a fine wine, mustard gets better with age and starting now gives your mustard a chance for flavours to develop and deepen, just in time for the upcoming barbeque and salad season.  Mustard is one preserve that gets used up the fastest. We add it to vinaigrettes, slather it on grilled sausages, stir it in with tuna, pasta and potato salads, add it to pan drippings and a splash of wine for a quick and tasty pan gravy, slather it on bread for sandwiches and add it to our marinades. One of our favourites is honey mustard dip.

Garrison's Raspberry Wheat Beer Mustard

This mustard features the sweet and mellow Raspberry Wheat Beer from Garrison’s Brewery in Halifax, one of our favourite breweries. Paired with yellow mustard seeds, it’s a really lovely mild mustard. The recipe is direct from Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving and the recipe can be found online at the Ball website. I like the versatility and ease of this recipe as it allows you room to play around with different textures (smooth vs grainy), different colours of mustard seeds (black mustard seeds are bolder and spicier) and room to play with the underlying beer flavour, swapping a light beer for something stronger and complex. Or, swap the beer entirely and try a hard cider. Mustards are incredibly easy to make, have good storage length in the fridge and many can be canned.

To venture further into mustard making, consider these:


Thinking Outside the Jar: Buttermilk Cake with Plum Port Preserves

Buttermilk Cake with Plum Port Preserves. Is is coffee time yet?

It’s hard not to be jealous when I see pictures of gardens coming alive, forsythia and apple trees blooming and ramps reading for harvesting. This Easter, we awoke to 8 inches of snow, which was disheartening and somehow not surprising, given that we had the exact same thing happen five years ago. On the upside, this “Poor Man’s Fertilizer” is great for the gardens and hopefully all our fruit bushes will reward us.

While the garden is slowly reawakening, our family continues to grow and thrive. I’ve had to dramatically alter my expectations of what I can accomplish in a day, never forgetting that my kids “won’t keep.” Thankfully, my daughter loves to help me in the kitchen and you can count on her to happily dump cupfuls of flour or help stir dry ingredients together. You can also expect that she’ll take the pepper mill and grind you some fresh pepper or sneak bites of raw-egg batter when your back is turned.

I made two versions of the following cake recipe and even baking with a toddler, I had both cakes ready for the oven and the kitchen cleaned within 45 minutes. Total and complete score! Since my stomach revolts when I eat gluten and baby Sam’s system seems to revolt when I eat dairy and soy, I absolutely love a recipe that’s open to dietary interpretations and this one fits the bill. The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking’s Buttermilk Cake is a gluten-free riff of What Julia Ate’s original recipe, so my adaptations are an ode to them both. I chose a rhubarb preserve to play up the tangy note of buttermilk, but a conserve with dried fruit and nuts would be really tasty. Lots of room for interpretation!

Gluten and Dairy Free “Buttermilk” Cake

1 cup gluten-free all purpose blend (I use Land O’ Lakes recipe)

1/2 tsp xantham gum

1/2 tsp baking powder and baking soda

1/2 cup sugar (I used palm sugar)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp ground vanilla powder or extract

1 egg

1/4 cup any flavour jam

1. Stir dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.

2. Mix wet ingredients together.

3. Stir wet ingredients into the dry and spoon into a greased 8″ pan. Smooth and even out the batter. Spoon jam over batter and smooth.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

"Buttermilk" Cake with Rhubarb and Grand Marnier Jam

The second cake, I followed Hip Girl’s recipe exactly, substituting organic, unbleached flour for the gluten-free blend. It came out beautifully and had more of a lunar appearance. I topped this cake with a Plum Port Preserve and offered it as a get well gift for a friend. The richness of the plum and port should pair nicely with the cake and hopefully it tastes as good as it smells!

Lunar Goodness.

Thinking Outside the Jar: Elderberry Cream Hearts

Elderberry Cream Hearts

Now that my daughter is 2.5 we’ve been having such fun with holidays. She has a much greater understanding of the activities and rituals behind holidays and looks forward to them with anticipation. From her books and talks with her friends, she now understands Valentine’s is about cards, candy, hearts and “I love you’s”. Since this is her first year of really experiencing these holidays, I’m feeling compelled to really make the most of it and help make her first introduction to them really special.

After watching the Tedx Manhattan video about the effects of eating processed, food colour rich foods, I’m hesitant to let my daughter enjoy much of the candies that may come her way and so this treat was my attempt at using natural ingredients to create something nutritious and fun.  Debating between rhubarb and elderberry syrup as a base, I opted for the antioxidant rich elderberry syrup, mostly for its dramatic colour. When I canned this syrup, I intended to pour it over pancakes or add it to club soda, but I’ve done neither and my syrup is wasting away in the pantry. I like recipes that give preserves a new life!

Elderberry Cream Hearts

2 cups elderberry syrup

1 cup water

3 packets of powdered Knox gelatin

1/2 cup whipping cream (unwhipped)

1. Dissolve the packages of gelatin in a cup of cold water. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

2. Pour syrup into a small pot and bring to a soft boil. Remove from heat and add gelatin.

3. Pour in whipping cream and stir. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares or shapes.

** While I’m not 100% convinced elderberry syrup was the right choice, there’s something here and with some tinkering, we could  create something really fantastic. Perhaps my rhubarb syrup with orange zest or a mango juice with orange concentrate might taste good? Or, switching agar flakes instead of gelatin? Since this is my first attempt at making homemade gelatin, I welcome your suggestions and feedback!

Thinking Outside the Jar: Marmalazed Chicken Legs

In my sleep deprived sleep, I honestly typed marmalazed without realizing how it’s the perfect fit for this recipe. It’s marmalade used as a glaze for chicken legs; marmalazed.

I tend to use up preserves for other sweet things, like thumbprint cookies, as a cake filler or thinned for a glaze for quick breads. I almost always forget how preserves can be used for savoury purposes, especially as a glaze for meat. I really liked this glaze and when baked, it became caramelized and delicious spooned over some brown rice.

Marmalade Glazed Chicken

Yields enough glaze for a dozen chicken legs

1 cup orange marmalade

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce

Dash of hot pepper flakes

Touch of water to thin it out

In a small pot, combine ingredients and over low heat, stir until everything has come together. Taste and adjust to your taste. If you want to reserve the glaze as a sauce, bake in a smaller dish and pour over chicken and bake at 350 until chicken is cooked. If using this as a glaze, spread chicken out on a greased, tin foil lined baking sheet and coat legs with glaze. Bake at 375.  Enjoy!

End of the Year Spicy Marmalade with Kaffir Lime Leaf

The Makings of Something Great

I can’t think of a better way to cap off 2011 then with a preserve, especially this one. It represents the best of my year, a little spontaneous, a little spicy, definitely sweet and totally ready for celebration. I’m not sure what I’m most excited about, the fact that I managed to make this after a two month preserve-making hiatus, that I made this preserve quickly and while wearing a baby, or that it tastes delicious.

The uncanny clan are visiting with family near Toronto and a trip here always means one of our famous “ethno-grazes”, where we visit several spots in Toronto and load up on ethnic delights and refill our spice cabinet. This past trip meant a stop to Chinatown and returning with a big bag of kaffir lime leaves. While I normally reserve these leaves for my curries, one sniff and I knew I had a preserve in the making. Luckily, there were some lone oranges kicking around my father’s fridge that needed some love and some lovely dried chill peppers meant an interesting preserve could me mine.

It’s a very small batch, totally spur of the moment, but preserves can be that fabulous. While canning means more preparation with cleaning and sterilizing, but mini-batches means you can experiment and have a lot of fun discovering flavours you might like (or not!). I particularly liked this preserve and am looking forward to featuring this preserve over a chèvre and crackers for our New Year’s Eve celebration.

I opted for the largest orange in the fridge and sliced it using my favourite citrus slicing method a la Hitchhiking to Heaven. I tossed in about 1/4 cup of water and then added more orange juice as it softly boiled to prevent scorching, about 1/2 cup of liquid all total. Two small pieces of hot pepper were added and that was enough for a nice kick, but you can start judiciously and add more near the end if it’s not spicy enough. 4 kaffir lime leaves seemed the right amount, so adjust accordingly if you’re making a larger batch.

Let the mixture softly boil until the orange slices turn to mush when you squish them between your fingers, or eat a slice and when its softened to your liking, add your sugar (I added to taste).


To try this yourself:

Spicy Marmalade with Kaffir Lime Leaf

Yields: 1 cup

1 large orange, cleaned and scrubbed, quartered with the middle pith removed and thinly sliced

4 kaffir lime leaves

1 inch piece of dried hot pepper

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water/orange juice (approx.)

1. Combine orange slices, hot pepper and kaffir lime leaves and water/juice and bring to a low simmer, cover and stir occasionally, about 40 minutes.

2. Put a dish in the freezer to test for gel point.

3. When you’re happy with the softness of your citrus, add sugar and increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the set point is reached. Remove hot pepper and lime leaves. Enjoy!

Thinking Outside the Jar: Cranberry Preserves

Since the arrival of our son, Samuel, life is definitely hopping! Before his arrival, I made up a batch of Cranberry Preserves, a la Linda Zeidrich, a lovely baked preserve that keeps the berries whole and imbued with lovely citrus flavours. What I love most about this recipe is its adaptability – you can either can it or store it in the fridge for up to a month. I chose the latter, since I had some big plans with the preserves and today, my first day of being alone with two kids, I managed to whip up this dessert using the stored Cranberry Preserves, but any kind of cranberry sauce will do.

For my American buddies, you may have plenty of leftover cranberry sauce and this is just one way to use it up besides pairing it with turkey. For my gluten-free/grain-free/dairy-free buddies, this cake is for you! The cake is beyond delicious and really easy to prepare. Enjoy!

Cranberry Preserves

German Chocolate Cranberry Cake

Recipe courtesy of a friend.

100 grams unsalted butter (or dairy-free margarine, if needed)

100 grams sugar

3 eggs, separated

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp baking powder

150 grams almond flour

1  348 mL can whole cranberry sauce or equivalent home made

250 mL whipping cream, whipped (or whipped topping, if going dairy-free)

Dark chocolate shavings for topping.

1. Mix butter, sugar and egg yolks until they are frothy.

2. Add cocoa powder and baking powder, then almond flour.

3. Whip egg whites until stiff then fold into above mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes in a greased spring-form pan and when you take it out, spread the cranberry sauce immediately over the top.   Cool.   Spread with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Serve.

** Since I’m going dairy-free, I cut an individual slice and topped it with whipped topping and dairy-free dark chocolate, but feel free to slather the top of the cake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings before serving. **

As a side note, here are a few things I’ve learned about cooking with a toddler and newborn:

1. Wear your baby.

2. Now is the time to have “mise en place”! As much as you’d love to tackle a recipe from start to finish, chances are mayhem may ensue and you’ll get called away from your recipe. If you’ve got all your ingredients in place, it’ll make finishing that recipe even easier when you have a minute.

Mise En Place is Critical

3. Toddlers need to be watched like a hawk. No matter how many times I mentioned how we’d have cake when it was finished, I turn my back for a second and my 2 year old has eaten a big chunk of cake dough. Let’s hope those farm-fresh eggs won’t do any harm.

Preserving Tradition: Part II

Guyanese Fruit Cake

I’m very excited to follow-up on this post from mid-September about a family tradition of a rich and dense Guyanese fruitcake. I decided to up the baking time by a couple weeks in case baby makes a timely appearance and I was just so excited to see how this cake would work out. While the cake recipe comes from Canadian Living I was able to nab the original recipe, which was really helpful as it turns out there is not one but two different kinds of icing!

According to the recipe, various dried fruits are pulsed in the food processor and soaked in rum for almost 2 months, stirred daily and continuously topped with rum. Life got in the way and the mixture was lucky to be stirred once a week, but I always ensured it was covered in rum.

Here is the entire recipe, mostly from Canadian Living with some family adaptations to the icing.

1 3/4 cup raisins

1 3/4 cup currants

1 1/2 cup prunes

1/2 cup candied mixed peel

2 1/2 cups rum

1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter

3 eggs

1/2 tsp almond extract (I used my homemade cherry pit liqueur a la What Julia Ate)

2 cups all purpose flour (I made mine Gluten Free using this flour blend mixture from Land O’ Lakes)

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cloves and nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup chopped red glace cherries

Roll/Tube of Marzipan

3 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup water

1/8 tsp almond extract

1. In a food processor, pulse dried fruit together until it forms a thick paste. Move to a deep bowl and stir in 2 cups of rum. Cover and let sit for up to 2 months. Stir occasionally and add more rum to keep the fruit mixture covered. This step was covered in this blog post.

2. In a heavy saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of brown sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Do not add water. Stir frequently and let it come to a boil for 1 minute. While it’s considered the “burnt sugar” step, I stirred frequently and moved quickly so it wouldn’t have an acrid, burnt flavour. Once it’s boiled, move fast and pour it into your dried fruit/booze mixture. It’ll harden quite quickly, which is alright. Stir to break up chunks.

Getting there…

Next, boil for 1 minute and move quickly to pour into dried fruit mixture.

3. Mix flour, baking powder, spices and chopped almonds together. Set aside.

4. In a deep mixing bowl, combine the butter and remaining brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs in one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add in extract.

Eggy, Buttery, Sugary Mixture

4. Carefully stir in half of your dried mixture, stirring until well incorporated before adding more flour mixture.

Nearly There.

5. Stir in dried fruit/burnt sugar mixture and chopped glace cherries.

6. In a double parchment paper lined, 9″ springform pan, pour your fruitcake and smooth top. My pan was non-stick, so I only lined the bottom of the pan, but if need be, line the entire cake pan with parchment paper. Nothing would be worse than waiting this long and working this hard to have your cake stuck to your pan! Bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours, covering with tin foil in the last hour if your cake is getting brown too quickly.

Ready for the Oven.

7. The cake is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides and a toothpick comes out clean. Leave it to rest about 10 minutes before poking holes in the cake with a skewer and brushing more rum on the cake. Leave the cake to rest in the springform pan for a full 24 hours.

8. After the cake is rested and removed from pan, top the cake with a layer of marzipan. I cheated and bought some premade marzipan that was rolled on the top.

Marzipan Layer.

9. Fill the sink with hot water, spoon 3 cups of icing sugar into a pot and gently rest in the hot water. The heat will help cook off the flavour of the cornstarch (or so says my family recipe!). Stir in 1/4 cup warm water and a splash of almond extract. Stir until smooth and while it’s still warm, spoon over the top of the cake, not worrying whether some glaze falls on the side of the cake.

10. Cover the top with parchment paper and then tin foil. The cake can be stored at room temperature for 3 months in an air-tight container, or freezes really well.

Ice Ice Baby

So there you have it! It’s a fair amount of work, but the results are impressive and the taste is incredible. Plus, the bulk of my Christmas baking is now complete.

Goat Cheese – Take 1

I love making preserves, I really do, but after hundreds of different kinds made I’m itching to break into different forms of preserving and one of my stated goalsis to branch off into cheesemaking.This is take 1 of the Great Cheesemaking Experiment and thanks to the wonderful blog notes from maggie’s farm, I had a wonderful recipe and tutorial. I made a very scaled back version of her recipe, but was still satisfied with the amount it made. Maggie suggests really fresh goat milk and since I’m a member of a CSGS (Community Supported Goat Share), I pick up my freshly pasteurized goat milk every Saturday morning for the incredible price of $2.50/L. I figured even if the cheese didn’t work out, it was hardly a risky financial venture. (For more interesting information on CSGS and the trials and tribulations of my local goat farmer, see the CBC article and video found here.)

Sunday afternoon, in went the litre of goat milk into a medium sized pot set over low heat (my range goes from minimum to 5 and I kept it around a 1.5). If you have a candy thermometer it comes in handy as mine had the attachment to rest on the side of the pot, unlike my meat thermometer. Stir frequently. Your goal is 175 degrees, which takes about 30-40 minutes to reach.

How It Begins

Once it has reached the proper temperature, we dropped it down to the minimum heat setting and kept it there for 10 minutes before removing from the heat and stirring in 1/2 ounce of white vinegar, covered the pot and let it sit for five minutes. Realizing it wasn’t enough to separate the whey from the curds, we added an extra 1/4 ounce for a total of 3/4 ounce of white vinegar. We covered the pot for another five minutes and was rewarded with this:

Separating the Curds from the Whey

We poured it into a fine mesh cheese cloth, hung it from a cupboard knob and let it drip overnight. Easy peasy.


Mr. Uncanny went ahead and mixed in the salt the following morning (with unknown quantities, I was a little groggy and pre-coffee and didn’t think to ask). Shaped it and threw it in the fridge and I enjoyed a little hunk of it tonight with some cranberry preserves. It was a delicious, mild cheese that adapted itself well to sweet and savoury. It did lack the distinct tang you expect from a goat cheese and reminded me of a paneer. Still, as from maggie’s farm points out, you’re a cheesemaker and that’s a pretty fantastic accomplishment!

Behold: Goat Cheese!

I wonder what’s next…

Prune Plum Conserve

After talking about and seeing recipes for preserves with prune plums, I was delighted to finally find some at the grocery store. Having made a Blue Plum and Port jam, I was happy, but not over-the-moon happy like I was with last year’s Prune Plum and Port Jam. Prune plum jam is robust and rich and to me is perfectly suited to the holidays.

While the majority of my 2 lbs went to the soon to be Port jam, I saved the other half pound to try my hand at a homemade conserve. It’s ideally suited if you need something quick and don’t want to bother with storing the conserve long term, or just double or triple the recipe for a larger batch and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

The Makings of Something Great

Prune Plum Conserve

Yields: Approx. 1 cup

1/2 lb prune plums, pitted and diced

4 dried apricots, diced

1 tsp lemon juice

Scant 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp water

1 tbsp Grand Marnier

1. Combine plums, sugar, cinnamon, water and lemon juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil, stir occasionally until plums and dried apricots have softened. Continue to cook gently until the gel point has been reached (thereabouts, I like a soft set).

2. Add in walnuts and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes. At the end, add in your Grand Marnier and remove from heat.

This Conserve Really Sparkles with Flavour

I’m storing this in the fridge, with the cinnamon stick for added flavour. I intend to make this again when I’ve replenished my stock of prune plums. There are a variety of textures, from the soft plums, to the harder walnut pieces. The splash of Grand Marnier adds a great citrus flavour and I can’t think of a better holiday jam to tuck into a last minute gift basket. I tried mine stirred into plain yogurt and it was heaven.

Feel free to play around with the flavours – maybe a dash of nutmeg? Cardmamom? A little spice bag with all spice, cloves, citrus strips and cinnamon sticks? Lots of room to expand here. Enjoy!



To make this recipe safe for canning, increase the acid. When canning, I multiplied this recipe for my 3.5lbs of prune plums and added 3 tbsp. of lemon juice (1 tbsp of lemon juice for every 2 lbs of low acid fruit, according to Linda Zeidrich), the extra acid to account for the dried apricots.



Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

I keep meaning to slow down. I *want* to slow down, I really do. All those prenatal exercise videos keep staring at me and my prenatal clinic keeps reminding me about signing up for labour preparation classes (like I need a reminder of how it’s going to go – its labour! It’s long. It’s painful. It’s not for the faint of heart,  but you get a cool present at the end.)

So, I jokingly blame canning and preserving bloggers for keeping me from nesting. Particularly bloggers much further south of me that come into their fruit season a good 3-4 weeks ahead of me. I’m taunted by some drool-worthy food photography and the most incredible sounding recipes with bold combinations that I just keep squirreling away until my turn arrives. Everyday I seem to be canning just one more preserve, while I tell myself that eventually I’ll get around to preparing for 2.0’s arrival (in a way, I am preparing, right?!) Besides, I’d take a well stocked preserves pantry over a pristine nursery any day!

So, I present this gem of a jam – Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam. Initially inspired by Buffy and George’s recipe for Peach Jam with Honey and Earl Grey Tea, my jam is a riff on theirs and makes use of an ingredient I’ve been longing to try for years: loose leaf tea. I loved the colour of their jam and how the brightness of the peach was still intact and yet the subtle tea flavour still shone through. If you haven’t tried preserving with tea, give it a whirl. This jam had the lovely aroma and flavour of green tea, without being too tannic or punchy. It was delicious on an afternoon scone and I think the floral peach and Jasmine tea combo is a winner.

Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

Honey Jasmine Tea and Peach Jam

Adapted from: Peach Jam with Honey and Earl Grey Tea from Buffy and George

4 cups peeled, chopped peaches (if you want a smoother texture, mash with a potato masher)

1 tsp good quality loose leaf Jasmine Green Tea

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 tsp calcium water

3 tsp Pomona’s pectin

1. Combine chopped peaches with 4 tsp of Pomona’s calcium water, loose leaf tea and lemon juice in a large preserving pot/pan. Let stand for 10 minutes, giving the tea time to rehydrate.

2. In a bowl, measure out your sugar and stir in 3 tsp of Pomona’s pectin. Measure honey and reserve.

2. Bring peach mixture a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar/pectin mix and reserved honey. Boil for another 2 minutes. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars with 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes. Enjoy!