We’ve been having a lot of potluck dinners here – the best way to feed all 25 students in our program. And usually, people bring something typical of their home country: Somalian samosas, Brazilian brigadeiro and lots of cheese, bread and pasta from the Italians. This was all a reminder of how few, truly ‘Canadian’ foods there are, in comparison to other countries. As a result of this (and the small, basic grocery stores in my town), I brought a Panzanella salad to our last dinner: a Sicilian dish and very much not Canadian.
But I wanted to make something for a future dinner that was symbolic of Canada and something I was proud of. I asked my Mum to send me my grandmother’s butter tart recipe and today, feeling nostalgic for home, I set out to make them. All of Nanny’s recipes are amusing in that they include almost no instruction; she was an amazing baker who could make something (amazing) out of nothing, and her nonspecific recipes always emphasize that skill to me.
The whole process of making these tarts would best be described as ‘makeshift’. The grocery store didn’t have brown sugar, so I had to use cane sugar. And I remembered halfway through making them that, in fact, I did not own a rolling-pin. But they turned out very well and I’m excited to share them with my classmates soon.
I’m still feeling a little homesick, but making this recipe today helped me feel a bit closer to everyone back in Canada. The whole process brought me right back to past days cooking in my grandmother’s cottage kitchen and even cooking with my mum in our own. They are truly sweet memories – both in taste and in feeling.
(There is a recipe card at the end of this post for printing)
Nanny’s Butter Tarts
Makes 12 tarts
Ingredients: (I apologize for the measurements, you may need a scale for this)
For the dough:
285 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
140 g cold butter
110 g ice water
For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg beaten
3 tbsp melted butter
1 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
2. Put the salt and flour into a medium bowl
3. Grate the butter on top, add in the water and mix together just until it forms a ball. Let sit for 30 minutes
4. Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar, egg, butter, raisins and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside.
5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Get creative if you don’t have a rolling-pin (at least I used something local!)
6. Cut circles of dough to fit your pan or tins. These are better with thinner dough (1/2 – 1/4 inch)
7. Divide the filling between the tart shells
8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the pasty is browned and cooked. Enjoy!
- 285 g flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 140 g butter
- 110 g ice water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- 2. Add the flour and salt to a medium bowl
- 3. Grate the butter in and add the ice water. Mix just until it comes together and set aside for 30 minutes
- 4. Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, egg, butter, raisins and vanilla together in a small bowl
- 5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (you want it to be 1/2 - 1/4 inch thick)
- 6. Cut the dough into circles to fit your pan or baking tins
- 7. Divide the filling between the tart shells
- 8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the dough is browned and cooked through
This is hardly a recipe. It’s a fridge full of fresh summer fruit and a sweet tooth after work. It’s something to pop in your mouth while you’re making dinner and are too hungry to wait for it to be ready. It’s a little bit of sweet with a little bit of antioxidant. 4 ingredients to enjoy on a deck, porch or patio, savouring the simplicity of the season.
You can easily adapt this recipe based on how many cherries you’d like to make (I did 10)
10 ripe cherries
1/4 cup chocolate, or chocolate chips
About 3 tbsp peanuts (raw or roasted)
- Wash however many cherries you’re using
2. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and heat – on the stove or in the microwave – until melted, stirring often 4. Chop the peanuts as finely as you can. The smaller they are, the more easily they will stick to the chocolate.
5. Line a plate with parchment paper and assemble all ingredients. Dip each cherry into the chocolate, roll in the chopped peanuts, sprinkle with salt and place on the plate.
6. Let them set in the fridge and enjoy!
We always have a bar of good dark chocolate lying around the house. It’s something that’s cracked out with tea before bed, or as soon as you get in the door after a long day. A bar of dark chocolate was always included in my exam-studying-care-packages from home this year as well. Honestly, during exam season, my favourite part of the day was closing my books for the night and having a few squares of chocolate with a book or tv show. A reminder of home and a comforting treat, I consider it health food and will gladly eat some everyday! This recipe couldn’t be easier: 4 ingredients and no oven required, you’ll be eating your worries away in no time.
9 inch square pan (or really any pan or flat dish for that matter)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate (in any form: chocolate chips, bar or block)
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 tbsp shelled pistachios
1. Line your pan with parchment paper to easily lift out the bark once it’s set.
2. Measure out the chocolate and place into a microwavable bowl or double boiler. Melt, stirring often, until smooth3. Spread in an even layer into the pan4. Immediately sprinkle with cranberries, nuts and salt so that they stick to the chocolate
6. Let set in the fridge for about an hour, then cut into small pieces. Store in the fridge and enjoy!
When I was younger, I loved flipping through cookbooks and tagging recipes that looked exciting and tasty. I would never really consider the level of expertise they required; I just wanted to make something interesting. This yielded mixed results, but the fun, for me, was the cooking experience. I remember deciding to make an extravagant apple pie for desert one night, after finding the recipe in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook. And although I had never even made dough before, I decided to give it a shot and it actually turned out quite well. I continued to experiment with recipes and now pies have become a special occasion desert for us. This plum berry one I made on Monday night for Maggie’s arrival home from the UK. While I’m more hesitant to jump into complex recipes than when I was small, pie is something special I love to make, which is always much appreciated and well worth the effort.
Two pie crusts (I used Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee recipe which can be found here: http://www.marthastewart.com/317858/pate-brisee-pie-dough)
1 pkg (6 oz) raspberries
1 large handful strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together the fruit, lemon juice, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl.
4. Pour fruit into the crust, mounding it slightly in the middle.
6. Top with the second crust, in whatever way you like. I made a lattice pattern here but you just also just cover the fruit with the whole crust. 7. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and continue to bake, for another 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.