The clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life

Witness the clumsy dance of the colours and patterns of life, the sometimes-harmonic, sometimes-cacophonic combination of the silence and the noise all around, and the heroes and the helpless within.
Welcome to my little corner of The Mighty Interwebs, where it is not likely you will find anything profound (or even very interesting), but where you will find all manner of random. Life is a kaleidoscope of the weird and the wonderful, the awesome and the awful, the blessings and the bizarre, and the collision between them is what you just might stumble upon here if you stick around. Grab your favorite drink and come hang out with me if you dare.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bing Cherry Fritters

Bing Cherry FrittersServes: 6

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups Bing cherries, pitted
oil for frying
sifted powdered sugar

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the milk, egg yolks, oil, and lemon juice and beat until smooth. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, then gently fold them into the batter. Fold in the pitted cherries. In a deep, heavy saucepan, heat 3 inches of oil to 375F degrees. Drop a few tablespoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a very low-temperature oven. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. Serve at once, topped with powdered sugar

Serves: 6

Lemon Tart with Apricot Glaze

Tart Pastry Shell Recipe
1 1/4 cups of flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of butter chilled
2 tablespoons of ice cold water
Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture then using your fingers, roll the butter pieces into the flour until they are the size of small peas. Place the bowl into the freezer for 5 mins. Meanwhile fill a cup with ice and add water. Take the bowl out of the freezer and add 1 tablespoon to the flour mixture, mix with hands, then add 2nd tablespoon and mix. Slowly form a ball with the flour mixture. If it is too flakey, carefully add a 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time while mixing with the flour mixture after each addition. Finally roll out the flour pastry onto a clean floured surface. Transfer the rolled pastry to a 9″ tart pan and place in the freezer for 20 mins. Preheat oven to 425F. Cover the base of the pastry with foil and using a fork, poke several holes. Next bake in the oven for 8 mins, then remove foil and bake for an additional 8-10 mins until pastry is light brown and crispy. Remove and let cool.
easy lemon tart recipe
Easy Lemon Tart Filling
Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
Preheat oven to 325.
Fill a medium saucepan 1/4 full of water and heat to simmer. In a stainless steel bowl, strain the lemon juice to remove the seeds, and whisk in theeggs and lemon zest. Add the sugar, cornstarch and pieces of butter and place the bowl over the medium saucepan but do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. You can use a metal stand or prop the bowl on the edge of the saucepan with the simmering water. Stir until the butter melts and the filling is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 15 mins.
Place the prebaked tart shell on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the shell. Bake for 15-20 mins. It won’t completely set but will bubble and look more solid. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Apricot Glaze
1/4 cup of apricot jelly
Microwave apricot jelly until it boils (45 sec). Then pass through a fine mesh seive.
Lemon Tart Garnish
easy lemon tart recipeWhile cooling, prepare the garnish. Wash and dry a medium sized lemon. Using a paring knife, carefully cut lengthwise grooves (about 1cm wide) at regular intervals. You’ll need to make a V shaped incision to do this and be careful not to cut beyond the white rind of the lemon. After completeing 8 of these cuts along the lemon, place the lemon on a cutting board and cut a crosswise slice from the center of the lemon and place into the center of the tart. Slice the remaining lemon halves and cut the sections in half to create 2 semi circles. Place these semi-circle lemon pieces around the edge of the tart. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush on a coat of apricot glaze over the tart and pastry shell edges. Enjoy!

Almond Cake with Apricot Glaze

I made this for a weekend brunch, from apricots in my neighbourhood. The flavour combination of almonds with apricots was subtle, but lovely. I'd like to try this with a stronger citrus element, probably lemon in the glaze, but some lemon zest in the cake might add just enough excitement too.

Makes 1 10" cake


For the Cake:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 tsp almond extract
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted twice, then measured
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup apricot jam (I substituted stewed fresh apricots, unsweetened)
1/3 cup sliced almonds

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed apricot juice (about 8-10 apricots), strained through a sieve to remove pulp
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar/icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350* Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and almond extract until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream in small amounts, and blend well; add the lemon juice with the last addition.Pour half the batter into the prepared cake pan. Spoon the apricot jam over the batter in the pan, being careful not to let the jam touch the side of the pan. Sprinkle the almonds over the jam. Spoon the remaining batter over the almonds in the pan.Bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is lightly golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the apricot juice, sugar and vanilla. Transfer the cake to a cake stand or plate. Use a pastry brush to apply the glaze to the top and sides of the cake.

Update: Variation
Replace the apricot glaze with a lemon syrup by combining 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, to reduce the liquid to 1/3 cup. Add 3 apricots, sliced crosswise, and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of the cake. Brush the syrup on the top and sides of the cake.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Apricot Preserves

Apricot Preserves
1 kg of fresh apricots
1 1/3 cups of granulated suga
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

a heavy bottomed non-reactive pan (an enameled cast-iron pan is ideal, or a heavy stainless steel pan. Don't use aluminum or uncoated cast-iron.)
canning jars with rubber-seal jar lids.

Melt the sugar and water in the pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until clear and slightly syrupy. (Watch the pot at this stage or you might end up with a potful of hard crystallized sugar!)
Carefully sort and wash the apricots. Halve them and discard the pits, making sure to get rid of the stem end. (To halve them I just rip them apart with my fingers - far easier than cutting them with a knife.)
Optionally, crack open a few of the pits (just a few, no more than a small handful) with a nutcracker or hammer (wrap them in a cloth and smash), wrap them in some cheesecloth and put in the pot. This imparts an intriguing almond flavor to the preserves.
Put about half of the apricots in the sugar syrup and simmer until the fruit is almost falling apart. Put in the rest of the apricots and continue simmering until they are almost falling apart, but not quite. The whole procedure will take about an hour or more, depending on how soft your apricots were to start with.
Add the lemon juice and stir. Simmer an additional 5 minutes, then take off the heat. Take out the cheesecloth with the pits if you put them in.
(If the jam gets burned on the bottom at any point, just pour out the unburned jam into a fresh pot and continue cooking. Don't scrape the burned bits into the new pot!)

Preparing the jars and lids
While you are simmering the preserves, sterilize the jars and lids. There are a couple of ways of doing this. If your dishwasher can sterilize baby bottles, you can use that setting for the jars and lids. Otherwise use one of the following methods:

  • The traditional boiling pot of water: Bring a big pot of water to a boil, and lower the jars into it, immersing them completely. Follow up with the lids. Boil for a few minutes to sterilize. Take them out with clean tongs.
  • The low oven method: Put the washed jars and lids into an oven heated to about 230*F. "Bake" the jars for about 20 minutes, or until the water on them is totally dried out. Take them out carefully using tongs and/or a clean oven mitt.

Filling the jars
(When you are handling the sterilized jars and lids
, at no point should you touch the jars inside or on the rims, or inside the lids, as your hands are not sterile.)

To fill the jars, fill them up to the very rim with the boiling hot preserves, then immediately screw on a lid. Don't worry if some of the liquid spills - and whatever you do, don't try to wipe the rim. Now, leave the jars until you hear and see the lids "popping" - they should be indented. That's the indication that they are vacuum-sealed.
Once the jars are cool, wipe off any dribbles outside the jar with a damp cloth, and store in a cool, dark place. Remember that an opened jar must be stored in the refrigerator.
This will make about 2 small jars of preserves.

If they are a little runny don't worry. They will still taste terrific.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Apricot Coffee Cake

Apricot Coffee CakeThis would also be good with other tart and not super-juicy fruits, like rhubarb or plums.


For the Cake:
2 cups ripe apricots, washed and quartered
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
a dash of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup butter
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Topping:
1 tbsp crème fraîche (substitute heavy cream and/or sour cream)1 tbsp sugar
1 egg

Finishing Touch:
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 360*F and grease a 9'' cake pan, preferably springform. In a food processor, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and butter. Add in the sugar, and mix again. Add in the egg and milk, then mix again until just combined, avoid overmixing. Pour the batter into the pan -- it will be somewhat thick, so spread it around with a spatula if needed. Add the apricots on top, arranging them in a pretty circular pattern. In a small bowl, combine the crème fraîche, sugar and egg, beating them with a fork, and pour this mixture evenly over the top of the cake.Put in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden and the apricots are tender. Leave it in the turned off oven for another ten to fifteen minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving, warm, at room temperature or cold.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pansy Flower Cookies

These cookies are so pretty. They are just lovely for a garden party, a tea party, or a bridal shower. Serve with a nice cold pitcher of lavender lemonade for a beautiful and tasty summer treat.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tspbaking soda
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cream of tartar
3 1/2 cups flour plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
48 clean edible pansy blossoms (one per cookie

Pansy Flower Cookies
This photo is copied from the website where I found the recipe. I didn't capture an image of my cookies.

Cream the butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Mix in the eggs and sugar.Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the mixture, along with the vanilla. Sift the cream of tartar, flour, and salt together and stir into the creamed mixture. Mix thoroughly. Gather the dough and wrap in plastic wrap, chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to 1/8" thick. Cut out circles approximately the size of the pansy blossom. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the cookies with the egg whites. Place one pansy on top, spreading out the petals and topping with a bit more egg white. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and cook 5 minutes more. Let cool before serving.

Lavender Lemonade

When using any edible flower for consumption, be sure to use food grade flowers which have not been sprayed or treated with chemicals or pesticides. Do not use florist flowers.

Serves 6

A small handful of freshly picked and rinsed lavender flowers, or 1 tsp of dried lavender flowers
1 cup white sugar or honey, or to taste
2 cups boiling water for infusion
4 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 16-20 lemons)
3-5 cups cold water

Dissolve sugar in boiling water. Cut lavender flowers from stems and place in a large pyrex measuring cup. Pour sugar and water over the flowers. Cover and infuse for 30 minutes (or several hours). Strain the lavender-infused syrup and pour into serving pitcher, discarding the flowers. Stir in lemon juice, add 3 cups cold water. Taste and adjust for tartness. Add more lemon juice if it is too sweet for your liking, or more water if it is too tart. Add ice and more cold water until you reach the desired balance of concentration, bearing in mind that as the ice melts it will dilute the lemonade. Stir in zest of two lemons for a deeper flavour. Garnish with some thin slices of lemon and some lavender sprigs, if desired.