Acadian Rappie Pie

statue to Evangeline Acadian Rappie Pie

Longfellow’s Acadian heroine Evangeline stands in Port Royal.

The Acadians have kept French language and culture alive in Maritime Canada. And they took these to Louisiana where it still survives as Cajun. But somehow, Louisiana never inherited their real culinary gift –  Acadian rappie pie.

In 1605, Sieur de Mons and his cartographer, Samuel de Champlain, began the first settlement of Port Royal. This is the oldest settlement in North America apart from St. Augustine, Fla.

The beauty of the Bay of Fundy and its sheltered harbour had long been known to the Mi’kmaq people who had lived here for centuries. The French and Mi’kmaq began a long and enduring friendship in the land that became known as Acadie, possibly from the classical name, Arcadia – a place of lasting peace. And the French settlers here were Acadians. Continue reading

Welsh Cakes

welsh cakes with currantsWales is tiny but mighty. It seems to have more castles per capita than any other place in the British Isles. And it is a country of poets, dreamers and cooks. One of my favourite accompaniments to a cup of tea are Welsh cakes. Made with currants, these small little griddle cakes are perfect for a quick nibble with a cuppa. And of course, they are always served on St. David’s Day to honour the patron saint of Wales

Traditionally, these are griddle cakes – that is they aren’t baked in an oven but cooked on a griddle. Garth uses an electric frying pan because it’s easier to control the temperature. One other tip is that one sometimes finds currants have seeds. Make sure to use seedless currants.

My recipe comes from the kitchen of R. Mair Greaves, mother of my friend Garth who kindly shared this family recipe with me. He makes these every year and shares them with friends. It’s a treat we all anticipate when St. David’s Day draws near.

Prep Time: 1  – 1½ hours  Servings: 5 – 7 doz.

Ingredients:

  • 3       Cups      Flour
  • 1   Cup        Margarine (2 squares) or Butter (1/2 lb) – I recommend butter
  • 1 ½ tsp        Baking Powder
  • ½  tsp          Baking Soda
  • ½  tsp          Salt (just a pinch really)
  • 1 Cup          Sugar
  • 1   Cup        Currants
  • 2                 Eggs large size
  • 6  Tbsp       Milk (not quite full for each Tbsp)

Directions:

Blend/rub the butter into the flour. Add all the other dry ingredients. Beat milk and eggs together separately, and then add to the dry ingredients. Add the currants.

Mix into a stiff paste and form into a round ball. Roll the dough out and cut into rounds a using serrated cookie cutter on a floured surface.

Cook slowly on an Electric Fry pan/Cast Iron skillet at 200 – 250 F.

A final note from Mrs. Greaves says: You should wait until they cool before eating but it’s up to you – hot currants will burn your tongue! By the way, they freeze very well.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Buffalo chicken wings come in dozens of different ways. These, from McCarthy’s in Buffalo, are topped with their special sauce and crumbled blue cheese.

The first time I tried chicken wings, I was hooked.  It was 35 years ago and we had taken our children to Art Park, across the border in Lewiston, New York.  Art Park is a marvelous resource for families with live theatre, story-telling and craft areas.

On this particular occasion, we stopped for dinner at Apple Granny – a restaurant still to be found in Lewiston – and we ordered chicken wings. What arrived was a plate of perfectly cooked wings smothered in a rich red, spicy sauce. Delicious! I asked the chef how he made it and he cheerfully shared his recipe. It’s remarkably easy. Continue reading

Fresh Fruit Tart

fresh fruit arranged in a tart - Use your food processor to make this in a matter of minutes.

Fresh fruit tart is an attractive dessert and it tastes as food as it looks.

One of my favourite recipes, this fresh fruit tart is easy to make, looks spectacular and tastes delicious. As far as I’m concerned those are the three criteria for a perfect recipe. This was the first recipe I ever learned to make in my very first food processor – a Cuisinart that I spent an unconscionable amount of money to buy back in 1977. It was well worth every penny. Use your food processor to make this in a matter of minutes.

For the pastry:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold, cut in pieces
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar

Preheat over to 400 F.

Add the dry ingredients and the butter to the bowl of the food processor. Process until the butter is cut into the flour….about 10 seconds. Keep the machine going and pour the vinegar through the feed tube. Keep processing until the dough forms a ball. (It will form a ball, just keep it going)  Don’t over-process.

Note: You can do this by hand as well. Just cut the butter into the flour and rub until it forms crumbs. Add the vinegar and blend with a fork to form a ball.

hands pressing dough into the edges. Fresh fruit tart

Press the dough along the edges to form the pretty fluting.

Press the dough into the bottom of a 9 inch flan pan with removeable bottom. (For an 11-inch pan, use 1 1/2 times the ingredients.

pastry in oven Fresh fruit tartBake at 400 F for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack. Lift the removable bottom from sides. Place on pretty plate and fill.

Fruit Filling:

Choose contrasting colours of fruit – blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, strawberries, are all pretty. You can use apples if you slice them thinly (with skin on) and overlap them prettily around the circle. Wash fruit and set out to dry thoroughly. If using strawberries or grapes, choose smaller ones or cut them in half.

Brushing glaze on fruit

Brush on the glaze

When you’ve arranged fruit, brush with the glaze to prevent the fruit going brown and give it a pretty glow. Mash about a dozen berries with about 1/4 cup water. Bring to a gentle boil and strain out the liquid. Sprinkle with 1/2 packet of gelatin – about 3 gms. And stir until completely dissolved. Use a pastry brush to brush this over the fruit.

Nectarine Pie

lattice nectarine pie

Nectarine pie is bubbling with juicy nectarines

Nectarines are a really delicious blend of peaches and apricots. This beautiful fruit manages to capture the best of each of its parents in a beautiful flavour profile.

Frankly I’m happy to just eat them as they come, but my family really likes nectarine pie. It’s a slightly tarter version of classic peach pie. And it’s irresistible. In the Fall, when the fruit isn’t quite as pretty and may have more bruises from the colder weather, it’s a great way to still have this delicious flavour on the menu. And unlike peaches, you don’t have to peel nectarines!

For the Crust:

Make your own favourite pie crust recipe. This is mine:

  • 12 ounces all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 8 ounces cold shortening, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup cold water

I make mine in a food processor – it’s easy peasy. Just put all the ingredients except water into the processor and process quickly until it’s crumbly. Add water a little at a time through the spout and process for a few seconds each time. Do this until the dough forms a ball. It should be stretchy and able to be rolled.

nectarines cut for pie Nectarine filling:

  • 3-4  pounds ripe nectarines, approximately 7-8
  • 1 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • a grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Slice the fruit in half and remove the pits. Place the nectarines flat side down and cut each half into three slices. In a large bowl, toss the slices with the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Leave for about 5 minutes, then add the cornstarch and lightly toss again.

On a generously floured surface, roll out just over half the dough and line your pie pan. Roll the second Carefully place in a 9 1/2 inch pie pan. There should be a slight overhang. Add the nectarine filling.

Roll out the remaining dough to about 10 inches in diameter. With a pizza slicer or sharp knife, cut even strips. Layer the strips in a decorative lattice pattern. Fold the bottom overhang over the strips and gently crimp the edge of the crust all around.

Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is browning at the edges and the filling is bubbling.

Cool to almost room temperature and serve with some vanilla ice cream.