Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup

I’m getting older you know!  But the benefit of this, is the chance to have a party.  So that’s just what my husband did for me this year on my recent birthday.   Along with my extra year of age, I also received many wonderful gifts that day.  One of which was a Mexican food basket that contained great items such as fresh tomatillos, corn husks and chipotle peppers in adobo. But the one ingredient that really got my attention was the dried hibiscus flowers.  I knew right away that I wanted to use this product for a blog post and set to work on making a lovely, richly infused Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup.

 

Dried hibiscus is just that, hibiscus flowers that have been dried, and probably most common for making tea.  When steeped, it has the most amazing deep purplish- red colour and tart berry like taste.  Perfect for beverages, hot or cold, jams, and sauces.  Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup is slightly tart and fruity with a hint of sweetness.  It’s amazing on pancakes, ice cream, cake, yogurt and fruit.  A little thicker than a simple syrup, but go on and stir it into a vodka cocktail, champagne or punch as well.  That’s if it makes it past the pancakes and ice cream of course…..enjoy!

Recipe source for Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup:  Compelled To Cook

Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 minutes 90 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 minutes 90 minutes
Strawberry Hibiscus Syrup
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 minutes 90 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 1/2 cups 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30-35 minutes 90 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan bring water to a simmer. Add dried hibiscus and bring back to a boil, stirring to soak all the hibiscus. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, allowing hibiscus to drain naturally without squeezing or pushing on it.
  2. Return liquid to the pot and add frozen strawberries along with any juice and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a steady boil and allow to cook, uncovered for 15-20 minutes, mashing berries with a fork or back of a wooden spoon to help them break down.
  3. Mix cornstarch with 1 tbsp cold water until dissolved. Add to syrup, stirring constantly until mixture is fully combined and has returned to a boil. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool to room temperature, then cool completely in the refrigerator to reach full thickness.
  4. Pour into sealable jars or airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks well sealed.
Recipe Notes

-Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of syrup.

Tomato Confit

Tomato Confit

Slow roasted, jammy and infused with garlic and herbs, Tomato Confit is delightful on crostini.  It’s my personal favourite way to enjoy it.  I find the subtly sweet tomatoes to be the perfect match with soft tart cheese, in this case, goat cheese.  The copious amount of olive oil, along with a long slow roast makes it all luscious together and a great addition to pasta, fish and vegetables.  

Thanks to Nigel Slater for this lovely recipe that I found in a copy of The Guardian.  I’ve made the recipe pretty much as written, other than being in my own words.  Sometimes things don’t need to be messed with.  The beauty of this Tomato Confit is its simplicity, and how only a few ingredients can be transformed into a versatile delight. It is concentrated goodness in a jar, and handy to have on hand. It will keep for a solid week in the refrigerator, giving you numerous possibilities for snacks and meals throughout the week. 

Recipe source for Tomato Confit:  Nigel Slater’s Tomato Confit

Tomato Confit
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3 cups 45-50 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
3 cups 45-50 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 1 hour
Tomato Confit
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
3 cups 45-50 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
3 cups 45-50 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3 hours 1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 260℉.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Wash and core large tomatoes. Cut a small X through the skin on the bottom of each tomato. Plunge tomatoes into simmering water and allow to sit for 40-60 seconds (you will start to see the skins slough off). Remove tomatoes to a cold water bath to stop the cooking. Repeat with remaining tomatoes. Peel skins off tomatoes by grabbing the flaps of the cut X.
  3. Cut large tomatoes in half horizontally and scoop out seeds. Place tomato halves, cut side up in a roasting pan.
  4. Wash cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Squeeze or scoop out seeds and scatter with larger tomatoes, tucking some in along side the larger ones. Tomatoes should be tightly packed.
  5. Trim herb stalks of any thick woody ends. Scatter herbs and garlic over tomatoes, pressing them down among the tomatoes.
  6. Lightly crush peppercorns and along with the sugar and salt, sprinkle over tomatoes and herbs. Pour olive oil evenly over tomatoes and roast for 3 hours.
  7. Pour boiling water into your sealable jars to help sterilize and warm them. Scoop hot tomatoes, along with herbs and garlic into jars. Top with remaining juice/oil. Screw on lids and allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate. If eating cold, allow to come to room temperature first, to allow olive oil to return to its original state.
Recipe Notes

-Seeding  the cherry tomatoes is tedious, but only takes 10-12 minutes once you get going.

-Will keep for a solid week in the refrigerator.

-Makes approximately 3 cups.

Tomato Relish

Tomato Relish

What will you do with all those tomatoes?  Firstly, you need to start by making this lovely Tomato Relish.  It’s a little like bruschetta, but saltier and brinier from olives and capers.  Delicious with white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.  A quick and easy condiment that makes the most of those little red gems drooping from the vine.

With the onset of garden bounties, also comes the realization we’re quickly approaching the end of summer. I pause to think “where has it gone”, always gone in a blink here in central Alberta, and soon enough blogger posts will be filled with back to school specialties.  So make the most of the sunny, warm weather that’s left and enjoy seasonal fresh produce while you can.  Tomato Relish not only highlights fresh cherry tomatoes but also fresh herbs, reminding us that eating healthy and well is easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Recipe source for Tomato Relish:  Compelled To Cook

Tomato Relish
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
30-60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
30-60 minutes
Tomato Relish
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
30-60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
Passive Time
30-60 minutes
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Allow to rest for 30-60 minutes prior to serving to help meld flavours. Makes about 1 3/4 cups and is best eaten the day it is made. Serve along side your favourite white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.

Almond Peaches

Almond Peaches

These amazing Almond Peaches are adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Nigel Slater.  Tender peaches with a thick layer of almond crumble, the kind that has enough butter to make it packable.  It’s the best kind, baking up golden and crunchy. I’ve made the recipe with the opt ins that Deb suggests, such as the oatmeal and cinnamon. I enjoy the oatmeal in the mix, and it gives me the rationale I need to eat them for breakfast.  The almonds retain their crunch and provide a wonderful nutty taste that plain oatmeal just can’t deliver.  Almonds, butter and sugar make the most amazing topping, and what better way to enjoy it, than on fresh peaches. I’ve chosen to cook mine in a cast iron skillet on the grill, enjoying a warm dessert without heating up the house during the summer.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, I make the almond topping and bake it over sliced peaches like a fruit crumble and eat it with yogurt for breakfast.  Definitely on the dessert end of the scale for breakfast, but trust me, adding tart yogurt makes one heck of a yummy breakfast. I’ve made the crumble numerous times, using it on both sliced and halved peaches, but almost always, it’s made for myself (I’m selfish that way), for breakfast, with yogurt, vanilla or coconut Greek yogurt to be precise.  Believe me, it’s a breakfast worth getting up for, and you just might become as selfish as me.  But don’t get me wrong, this recipe is a simple, yet delicious dessert with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Recipe for Almond Peaches adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Almond-Crisp Peaches

Almond Peaches
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Almond Peaches
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 peach halves 20-25 minutes
Cook Time
40-50 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: peach halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill or oven to 350℉. If using grill, turn on side burners only, cooking peaches in the centre over indirect heat.
  2. Using a food processor, blend almonds, sugar and spices until a course crumb is achieved. Add oatmeal and pulse several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is evenly mixed and crumbly.
  3. Wash peaches, cut in half vertically and remove pit. Lay peach halves cut side up in a cast iron skillet, trimming bottom slightly if needed to make peaches sit flat. Scoop 3tbsp (lightly packed) crumb mixture onto each peach half. Press down mixture until flat and covering entire peach half. Place in centre of grill using indirect heat or alternatively place in oven and cook for 40-50 minutes until peaches are tender and crumble is golden and crisp.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly for warm peaches. Serve with ice cream, sweetened whipped cream or yogurt.

Zahtar Potato Salad

Zahtar Potato Salad

Zahtar or Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with a lot with over the years. It’s a real shame because I love it!  Earthy and nutty with hints of citrus makes it wonderful with so many foods.  Hummus and pita are probably the first things people think of when they associate it, but it goes way beyond.  Great with chicken, eggs and potatoes to name a few. I recently came across a Zahtar Egg Salad and figured why not incorporate it into a potato salad, and Zahtar Potato Salad was born. 

I was not far off the mark thinking it would be delicious. The combination of briny, salty olives and creamy mayonnaise brings baby potatoes to life and makes for a great Mediterranean version.  Even though I prefer the  mayonnaise based potato salad, I did experiment with a warm salad version using olive oil to dress it instead of the mayonnaise.  It too was a tasty version of potato salad but I just couldn’t stop scooping up the creamier version.  Maybe because that was the way my mom used to make it and by far the type I’ve eaten most in my life. 

The Zahtar I purchased contains salt, so I therefore found it was not necessary to add additional salt in this recipe.  If your Zahtar does not contain salt,  be sure to add salt to taste. You can also make your own if desired, here is a simple recipe from The Genius Kitchen

Recipe source for Zahtar Potato Salad:  Inspired by Bon Appetit Mediterranean Egg Salad

Zahtar Potato Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
5 cups 30 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 cups 30 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Zahtar Potato Salad
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
5 cups 30 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
5 cups 30 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and place pine nuts in a single layer on a small baking tray or pie plate. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, turning at least once until golden. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.
  2. Heat enough water to just cover the eggs and simmer gently for no more than 12 minutes. Drain and immediately cool under cold running water. Once cooled, peel and coarsely chop.
  3. Steam or boil baby potatoes in simmering lightly salted water until just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on size. Drain and cool under cold water. Allow potatoes to drain thoroughly once cool.
  4. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, usually a baby potato cut in half or quartered makes for a nice size.
  5. In a medium size bowl stir together red onion, green olives, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, Zahtar and salt and pepper. Add chopped potatoes, eggs, pine nuts and cilantro. Gently stir into mayonnaise until combined. Serve immediately sprinkled with additional cilantro if desired. Can be chilled for several hours prior to serving if needed. Best served the day it is made.
Recipe Notes

-For time management, the potatoes, pine nuts and eggs can be cooked at the same time.

-The Zahtar I used contained salt, so little extra salt was needed. However, if your brand does not include salt you will need to adjust seasoning to taste.

Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal

Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal

Christmas morning is fast approaching and it brings along with it a day indulgent in food and drink. Give your day a little sanity with healthy Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal. Perfect for a hectic Christmas morning because it’s quick, easy, and feeds a small crowd, leaving you time to enjoy opening gifts, and spending time with loved ones. Healthy yet hearty enough to carry you through your day until the overeating of turkey and dressing ensues.

Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal is packed with fresh apples, dried cranberries, and spices, filling your kitchen with the aroma of baked apples and spice. The crumbly nut topping makes it indulgent and super delicious. It’s particularly tasty served warm with a dollop of yogurt or a splash of milk. Enjoy!

Recipe source for Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal:  Compelled To Cook

Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
25-28 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
25-28 minutes
Baked Apple Cranberry Oatmeal
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
25-28 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
25-28 minutes
Ingredients
Baked Oatmeal
Topping
Servings: people
Instructions
Baked Oatmeal
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and spices.
  3. Peel and core apples, cut into 1/2" chunks, add to bowl. Whisk in oatmeal and baking powder. Stir in dried cranberries and nuts. Pour into a greased 9"x9" or 7"x11" baking dish.
Topping
  1. Combine all ingredients until crumbly using a fork, pastry cutter or mini food processor. Sprinkle evenly over oatmeal.
  2. Bake for 25-28 minutes until set and golden in colour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with milk, cream, or yogurt.
Recipe Notes

If opting for gluten free, pulse 1/4 cup large flake oatmeal in a grinder until broken down and flour like or use gluten free flour.