Mixed Berry Cupcakes

Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry CupcakesMy blog has been a place to store some wonderful memories.  So, leading up to my wedding to the wonderful Jonathan Pinto – I will document some more memories.  It’s funny how memories and food are so closely tied together.  There is a great deal of lead up time and excitement that a wedding brings.  I’m sure I will be busy with details and planning.  I will also make time to bake some cookies or scones and share a few stories.

Today marks my last day of volunteering with an amazing grade 2 class in Windsor, Ontario.  I have been volunteering since March, and I will miss them.  I will be volunteering again in September though, with a junior kindergarten class!  It should prove to be tons of fun and high energy.

I love cupcakes for celebrating – and I really want to celebrate all that I have learned from the grade 2 class.  As well, to thank them for sharing all of their stories, reading with me, and allowing me to teach them a math lesson tossed in there.  I have enjoyed watching them learn, grow and tell their stories.  I believe literacy is important because no matter what career you are in, it is important to be able to communicate your interests, what you are passionate about, and as an individual to tell your story, as you move throughout the world.

Countdown to the wedding: 15 days! (Not including today or the day of June 22)

Mixed Berry Cupcakes

with Vanilla Icing and Confetti Sprinkles

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

½-1 cup pureed raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, strained

Instructions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out cupcake papers and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.  In a food processor or blender puree 1-2 cups of mixed berries that will be reduced to about ½-1 cup.  With a strainer, strain the puree to get ride of the seeds.

4.  In your mixer combine the sugar, canola oil, vanilla extract and eggs.  Then add in the buttermilk and strawberry puree.  Add lemon zest.  Slowly add in the flour mixture.

5.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center (20minutes).

6.  Cool before icing.

Buttercream Icing – from Canadian Living Website

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 5 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preparation

In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Alternately beat in sugar and cream, making 2 additions of sugar. Beat in vanilla. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours; let come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Beat slightly before using.)

Mango Chutney Restaurant and Oatmeal with Fresh Berries

Last week Jonathan took me to the Mango Chutney in Cambridge and it was fantastic.  It serves North Indian cuisine that had just the right amount of spice and flavour.  Jonathan had a small bowl of julienne green chiles to add to his meal as I don’t eat as spicy as him (“..Yet,” he adds.)  We ordered the feast for two, which came with fresh warm naan, basmati rice and three different types of curry.  It was all very flavourful and fresh.  Jonathan mentioned that each of the curry bases were different – which is often not the case at some North Indian restaurants.

The atmosphere was inviting, fresh and expertly decorated.  I loved the intricate, colourful patterns on the throw pillows that were arranged on the bench seating. We will definitely go there again!

Of course, it does not hold a candle to the delicious South Indian cuisine that Jonathan’s Mom and Dad prepare with such love.  Once I learn the art to their expert cooking I will try and share it.  For now I am still a beginner when it comes to making South Indian dishes.  I truly believe that it is an art to get the proper flavours and proportions of each spice.

RAITA
Whipped yogurt with cucumber & green coriander leaves.

BASMATI RICE & WARM NAAN

BUTTER CHICKEN
Clay roasted boneless chicken cooked in tomato sauce – Mango Chutney’s butter chicken is cream free.

LAMB CURRY
Boneless lamb cooked to perfection with special spices.

SHAM SAVERA
Spinach and cheese rolls in a mildly flavoured tomato sauce.

As for my own cooking projects this weekend, I made banana and pineapple muffins that did not turn out very well.  I will have to try again, because I am sure they could be lovely.  My next project was oatmeal with berries on top.  I followed the directions for the oatmeal and then sprinkled beautiful, nourishing, fresh berries on top and let the natural sugars work their magic.  It was a delicious breakfast and the photos turned out so well that I just had to share.  It is an easy and super healthy breakfast – with no sugar added!

Bumbleberry Pie – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday and to celebrate my family invited over my Grandma and Auntie Andrea.  For dinner my Dad barbequed turkey and beef burgers.  The dessert I made is a family favourite – bumbleberry pie.  All of the ingredients for the pie happened to be in my Mom’s pantry.  The berries I used were half fresh and half frozen.  Once strawberry season comes I plan to make Jonathan help me go strawberry picking.  Making a pie for the blog had been on my baking to-do list for a while, so I was delighted to make this scrumptious pie.

The recipe I used was from my Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook that Jonathan gave me for my birthday.  At the back of the cookbook was a recipe for a butter and cream cheese pie crust.  Within the pages of this wonderful cookbook I found a picture of a pie that inspired me to use heart shapes as the top pie crust.  My Mom has always made wonderful bumbleberry pies, so I thought I would give her a break from the kitchen on Mother’s Day.  The recipe I used based on the blueberry pie recipe from Martha’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook.  (My Mom has the Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook as well, and her version has been well used over the years.)  The pie turned out perfectly golden and delicious. 

One of the debates we had when talking about pie filling with my Grandma, Aunt and Mom at dinner, was about cornstarch versus flour as a thickener.  I used cornstarch in this pie recipe, but the consensus was that flour is better for thickening pie filling.  So, I will try that next time.  My sister Laura also helped with this Mother’s Day pie.  She helped with cutting the hearts and arranging them on top.  In the second picture below you will see a round piece of metal, it is one of my Mom’s many kitchen gadgets.  What it does is prevents the outside crust from burning to a crisp.  It comes with a round base piece that catches any pie filling that might drip over the edge.  The baking gadget does wonders, as the pie crust was perfectly cooked.

Last night at dinner my Mom told a story about when she and my Dad were first married and they had a brand new chest freezer.  As fresh fruit came into season that summer, the chest freezer was quickly filled, almost entirely with pies.  So, there is a genetic urge in my family to bake pies and sweet desserts.  Jonathan, you better watch me carefully in your kitchen, I might just fill up your freezer with pie!

Cream Cheese Pie Crust Recipe (Make sure you double the recipe below if you are making a pie with a bottom crust and a top crust. )

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Directions

  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes and then place with flour and salt mixture in food processor and pulse until crumbly.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together.  Pulse in food processor to combine.
  3. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using your hands or a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  4. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bumbleberry Pie Filling

  • 7 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (if you are using frozen, let the berries thaw in the refrigerator and drain excess liquid from the bottom.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch or flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions

  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired.  Place back in the refrigerator to keep cool while you are making the pie filling.
  2. For the hearts roll out remaining dough in the same manner; and then use a cookie cutter to create two sizes of heart shaped crust.
  3. Place berries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into pie plate with crust and mound berries slightly in the center.
  4. Arrange larger sized hearts around the edge of the pie plate on the berries, then add smaller hearts when you get closer to the middle.  Make sure to leave a few spaces between the hearts to allow steam to escape from the pie.
  5. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third.
  6. Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes and until crust begins to turn golden.
  7. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.