Displaying items by tag: pastries and cakes

Wild leeks are a magical green because the fragile little bulbs are packed with so much flavour. You can eat them raw or cooked and they are delightful with chicken or fish. They sprout under maple trees - I have tried to grow them in our garden, but with little success. They self-seed, so you should pick judiciously because once you pull them, they don't return. I picked too many last year and now have none left!

If you cannot find wild leeks, substitute 2 ounces (60 grams) thinly slivered regular leeks, white and light green part only.


4 ounces (125 grams) goat cheese

3 tablespoons whipping cream

¼ teaspoon grated lemon rind

¼ cup grated Parmesan

¼ cup chopped pistachio nuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 sheets phyllo pastry

¼ cup melted butter

2 bunches wild leeks, trimmed and cut in half

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine goat cheese, whipping cream, lemon rind, Parmesan and pistachio nuts in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.

Cover leaves of phyllo with a slightly damp dish towel. Place first sheet on a flat surface and brush with melted butter. Place second sheet on top, butter and top with remaining sheet of phyllo. Cut phyllo stack into two 8-x-12-inch pieces.

Spread half of goat cheese mixture onto the bottom third of each phyllo stack, leaving a 1-inch border around the sides and bottom edge. Lay leeks across goat cheese. Roll over once to hide leeks, butter exposed phyllos, fold in ends and continue to roll.

Place strudel seam side down on a buttered baking sheet and brush with butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo stack and filling. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 long evenly spaced slits on the diagonal across the top of each strudel.

Bake for 15 minutes or until phyllo is browned. Using the slits as a guide, cut each strudel into 4 pieces. Serve with the herb salad. Serves 4 to 8, depending on appetite.



Local baby lettuces are perfect for this simple spring salad, but for ease add some to the packaged mixed herb salad that is available in produce sections. Toss in fresh tarragon, chervil and basil for a flavour hit.


4 cups mixed lettuce and herbs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil


Place salad greens in a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil in a separate bowl to make dressing.

Toss greens with dressing, season with salt and pepper and serve with strudel. Serves 4.

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Le Pain Quotidien (508 Eglinton Ave. W., Toronto, 416-485-3000) is part of a worldwide chain known for its excellent bread, croissants and the communal table down the centre. We adapted this lovely, lemony tart from their original French recipe; it is different from the version used at the Toronto location.

Fromage blanc, also known as quark, is a fresh cheese with the consistency of thick yogurt. If you can't find it, use a mixture of light cream cheese (it should be the soft deli-style cream cheese) thinned with plain yogurt. The pastry recipe makes enough for 2 tart shells. Refrigerate the extra dough for up to a week, or freeze until needed.



14 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1¼ cups icing sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2/3 cup ground almonds

Pinch salt

21/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg white

1 ounce (30 grams) white chocolate, melted


¾ cup whipping cream

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup full-fat fromage blanc

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 large eggs

3 egg yolks


Place butter, icing sugar, lemon rind, ground almonds, salt and flour into a mixer with a paddle attachment and blend for 1 minute or until butter is cut in and mixture has a sand-like texture. Add egg white and mix until dough just begins to come together. Knead dough into a ball, divide in half and wrap each piece in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Remove pastry from refrigerator and roll out to ¼-inch thickness on a floured work surface. Line a 9-inch tart pan with a removable base with the pastry. Use your fingers or leftover bits to seal any cracks - the pastry is fairly forgiving.

Cover pastry with parchment or foil, fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven, remove beans and parchment and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven, leave pastry to cool then brush inside of pastry base with a thin layer of melted white chocolate.

Place cream, sugar, lemon juice, fromage blanc, lemon rind, eggs and egg yolks in a food processor and blend. Whiz for 20 seconds.

Pour cream filling into a small thick-bottomed pan and heat over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture reaches 200 F (this is just below the boiling point). When the mixture starts to thicken, remove from heat and continue to stir. Pour into the pastry base.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes then chill for at least 1 hour. Serves 6 to 8.

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My mother used to make this all the time with leftover puff pastry. The quality of the puff pastry matters. Buy all-butter frozen pastry. Many bakeries, especially the French ones, sell superior pastry frozen by the pound. Serve with ice cream.


250 grams (½-pound) puff pastry, rolled out thinly to about 10-by-10-inch square

¼ cup apricot jam

1 egg white, frothed

Granulated sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut pastry into two 5x10-inch strips. Cut each strip in half so you end up with four strips and chill on a baking sheet.

Fold two strips in half lengthwise and, with scissors, cut slits, ½-inch apart, leaving about 1 inch at the ends.

Spread 2 tablespoons apricot jam down the centre of one strip. Paint with egg white all around strip.

Place the cut sheet on top and seal edges.

Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Bake for about 18 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a cookie sheet then remove to a rack. Cut in pieces. Serves 4 to 6 as a dessert or more as a little nibble.

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These no-bake tartlets are easy to make and sophisticated to eat. I bought amaretti cookies at the supermarket, combined the crumbs with butter and made a sensational base.

You can use the base for any kind of cream or fruit filling. Double or triple the recipe if desired.


¾ cup amaretti cookie crumbs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup chopped strawberries

½ cup mascarpone

3 tablespoons whipped cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon grated lime rind


6 to 8 strawberries, sliced

2 tablespoons red currant jelly, melted


Oil four wells of a muffin tin and line each with plastic wrap.

Combine cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl. Divide between the four prepared muffin wells, pressing crumbs into bottom and up sides to form a crust. Chill until firm.

Combine chopped strawberries, mascarpone, whipped cream, sugar and lime rind in a mini-chop or food processor and process until well combined.

Divide between crusts and chill until firm.

Decorate each tart with sliced berries. Brush with melted jelly. Serves 4

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Cherry pie is my favourite pie and perhaps my favourite dessert. When my family first immigrated to Canada from Scotland, I became addicted to it.

Those tart, jewel-red cherries suspended in a thick cornstarch glaze surrounded by flaky pastry gave me comfort while I tried to learn to adjust to life in Canada.

My addiction did little for my waistline, but lots for my emotional stability. Quick-cooking tapioca works best if you whirl it in the food processor or mini-chop to make it more flour like.


1 recipe short-crust pastry (recipe below)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

Pinch salt

5 or 6 cups pitted sour cherries


Preheat oven to 450 F.

Divide pastry into two equal portions. Roll out one half and line a 9-inch pie plate leaving a one inch overhang. Reserve other portion of dough. Chill pie crust and remaining dough until needed.

Combine sugar, tapioca and salt in a bowl. Place cherries in a large bowl and toss with sugar mixture until coated. Fill chilled pie shell with cherry mixture.

To make lattice top:

Roll reserved pastry to 1/8-inch thick. Using a ruler and a pizza wheel, cut 16 ¾-inch strips. Lay 8 strips across the pie in one direction, leaving about ¾-inch gap between strips. To weave a lattice crust, gently fold back every other strip starting with the first strip on the left. Lay one strip of dough across top end of pie, perpendicular to original strips. Replace the folded strips.

Starting with the second strip from the left, fold back alternating strips. Lay another strip of dough parallel to the first crosswise strip, leaving ¾-inch of space between. Replace folded strips. Continue folding back alternating strips until lattice is woven. Or just lay one set of strips on and place the other on top.

Trim all pastry to about ½-inch overhang. Moisten the bottom crust with water and lightly press strips to it to seal together. Fold bottom crust overhand over the lattice ends and pinch together, making either a fluted or plain crust edge.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour more or until juices are bubbling and thick. Serve warm or cold.



This flaky short-crust pastry is perfect for all fruit pies. Use trans fat-free shortening or all butter.


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup trans fat-free shortening, cut in pieces

1/3 cup cold water

1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice


Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Combine water and vinegar or lemon juice. Add enough liquid to gather pastry into a ball and knead together for 1 minute. Divide dough into two equal portions.

Alternatively, place flour, salt, butter and shortening into a food processor. Pulse together. Add liquid but do not let pastry form a ball in the processor. Knead it together on a floured board by hand. Roll out as needed or wrap in plastic wrap and chill.

Makes enough pastry for one 9- or 10-inch two-crust pie

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Add a cup of blueberries to the batter for fabulous blueberry pancakes. These are thin crepe-like pancakes, not thick ones.


1 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup water

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil


Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk, water, egg and vegetable oil. Do not over mix. Batter should have some lumps.

Heat an ungreased griddle or non-stick skillet on medium heat. Measure ¼ cup mixture and pour on griddle. Cook until pancake is browned underneath. Flip over and cook second side. Makes 12 pancakes.

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Cam Smith and Dana Ewart are two enterprising Torontonians who used to work for uber chef Chris McDonald at the former Avalon restaurant. They were attracted to the nascent food and wine scene in the Okanagan and opened Joy Road Catering to showcase the area's food and wine.

We attended a winemakers dinner at an eclectic inn called God's Mountain Estate situated on a cliff overlooking Okanagan Lake. Dana and Cam matched the exceptional but simple food with very credible wines from Wild Goose Winery.

The Apple d'Or bed and breakfast in Naramata, where we stayed, served these wonderful galettes, which Dana also sells at the Penticton market, going through 300 or 400 each market day. In the following recipe Dana uses part salted butter and part unsalted. We used all unsalted.



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water


1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

4 large ripe peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice


Combine flour, salt, sugar and butter and pulse in a food processor, or cut the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives until it is the size of small peas. Sprinkle in just enough water to bring dough together. Use your hands to gather dough into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Cut dough into 4 pieces and roll on a floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick. Rounds will be about 7 inches in diameter.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine sugar and flour. Add peaches and lemon juice and toss to coat. Set aside.

Place rolled out dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pile peaches in the centre of each pastry round, leaving a 3/4-inch border around the peaches. Loosely crimp pastry so that you have an edge that stands up about 3/4 of an inch all around the peaches. Use your hands to fold the pastry edge in towards the centre to enclose peaches slightly. This will prevent pastry from collapsing.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and juices are bubbling. Makes 4 galettes.

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Every parent wants their allergic child to have birthday cake that is moist and delicious. And dairy-free cakes so often taste like cardboard. Here is one that will have the kids and adults asking for more. Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can find and read the ingredient list carefully to make sure it doesn't contain any milk solids.


¾ cup water

4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon corn syrup


Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the base of a 9-inch round spring-form pan with parchment paper.

Place water and chocolate in a heavy pot over medium-low heat and stir until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is well combined. Stir in oil and vanilla and set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir with a fork until uniform. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Pour vinegar on top of batter and use a fork to incorporate it into the batter as quickly as possible. There will be pale swirls in the batter from the baking soda and vinegar reacting. Stir just until vinegar is evenly distributed. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Let cake cool in pan. Run a knife around the edge to loosen. Remove sides of pan, carefully invert cake onto a plate, remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment paper. Use another plate to turn cake right side up.

Place cake on serving plate and make glaze.

Place chocolate, water and corn syrup in a small heavy pot over medium-low heat and stir until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is shiny. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or until it has thickened slightly, and then spoon glaze evenly over top of cake. Serves 8 to 10.

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Blue or prune plums make a lovely colourful filling for the strudel. You could substitute larger plums or peaches. Peaches need an extra 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs as they are juicier.



3 cups quartered and pitted blue plums

1/2 cup sugar

¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs

¼ teaspoon cinnamon


8 sheets phyllo dough

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup ground almonds


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine plums, sugar, breadcrumbs and cinnamon. Reserve.

Layer phyllo on counter and cover with tea towel. Remove first sheet, brush with butter. Combine sugar and almonds and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon over sheet. Top with second sheet, butter and sprinkle with sugaralmond mixture. Repeat with remaining sheets. Place plum mixture about 2 inches from the long edge and 1 inch from short edge. Fold in short sides and roll phyllo into a strudel shape. Brush with butter and cut 3 slits on top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until top is browned and plum mixture is cooked. Serves 4 with leftovers.

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A sensational end to any meal.



1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon lemon juice


2 pounds firm, ripe Bartlett pears (about 3 large pears)

1 teaspoon ground star anise, optional

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

¾ cup sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt


Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Combine water and lemon juice and sprinkle just enough over mixture to bring dough together. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch circle and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Peel and core pears and slice into 8 wedges each. Toss with star anise, lemon juice and candied ginger.

Place butter and sugar in a heavy 10-inch oven proof skillet over medium heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until sugar is beginning to caramelize. Remove from heat.

Carefully arrange pear wedges, spoke fashion, on top of the caramelized sugar, placing each pear wedge, with the rounded side down and the pointed end toward the centre of the skillet. Return pan to stove, turn heat to medium low and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, carefully turning pear pieces as needed, until they are slightly translucent and beginning to caramelize at the edges. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay pastry on top of pears, pressing edges in around the pears. Make 4 slits in pastry to allow steam to escape. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until pastry is golden and caramel is bubbling around the edges.

Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes or until caramel has cooled and thickened. Cover pan with a serving plate and carefully invert tart onto plate. Serves 6 to 8

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