Partridgeberry Blintzes in a Blizzard

Corner Brook doesn’t exactly have an abundance of weekend brunch options. Sure, you’re likely to find the odd waffle here, and your choice of bacon-and-egg deals at your drive-thru of choice, but neither option satisfies a Sunday morning urge to banquet.

And sometimes it blizzards. In March. Leaving you with no other choice but to stay in and make these:

Labrador Partridgeberry syrup drizzled over cinnamon-scented ricotta blintzes — tell me, can a weekend morning get any better?

To give the blintzes a more local feel,  I used Pure Labrador’s Lingonberry preserves, known in these parts as Partridgeberry jam. Whatever the name, Partridgeberries are an excellent alternative to using expensive, out-of-season berries, while brightening both palate and plate.

What’s more, these blintzes come in handy when hosting friends and family (you can even get a blintz-assembly-line going, which makes for quite the communal brunch experience). Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon-Scented Ricotta Blintzes with Partridgeberry Syrup

(Makes about 10 blintzes)

Preheat oven to 200°

Whisk together:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 t baking powder

Pinch of salt

In a separate bowl whisk:

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry, whisking continuously to incorporate. Stir in 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Make Crepes: Melt butter in a non-stick skillet until hot and its foam subsides. Spoon two tablespoons of the blintz batter onto the frying pan and swirl to create a thin crepe. When the crepe begins to bubble (after about 1 minute) flip it over and brown the reverse side (for about another minute).

Meanwhile: Combine 3 cups of ricotta with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. As the crepes finish in the pan (here is where you can start the assembly line), spoon 1 tablespoon of the ricotta spread onto the middle of the crepe. Fold into a rectangular packet and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. When all the crepes are ready, transfer them to the oven.

Prepare the Syrup: In a saucepan, simmer 1/2 cup of Lingonberry/Patridgeberry preserves with 1/2 cup of pure, maple syrup (don’t use any substitutions here or the syrup will be too sweet) over medium heat until heated through and slightly reduced.

When the syrup is finished and the blintzes are warm, place two blintzes on each plate. Drizzle syrup over the blintzes and dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.

Enjoy before someone else tries to steal one off of your plate!

(Recipe generously adapted from Food and Wine)

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Stormy Weather Spice Rack – Part One

One key to eating and living well in Corner Brook is to keep a well stocked spice rack. You never know when you’ll wake up to this:

Frosty Prospect

Saturday’s endless ice and rain, howling winds and blowing snow was enough for a self-declared snow-day — the perfect excuse to channel warmer climates indoors. The morning began by opening a bag of recently selected spices from Corner Brook’s delightful bulk store/café, More for Less:

 

More Spice -- Less Freezing

Together, ginger, cinnamon, black and white pepper, cloves, and cardamom pods will lift your spirits instantly, transporting you from the doldrums of winter to the spice markets of India.

And when you add these lovely charms…

 

Star Anise - the spice rack's beauty queen

…and 6 cups of water…

 

Spices + Water = Magic

…you’re well on your way to a magical Chai Latte.

Boil the spices for 10 minutes (if you haven’t died and gone to heaven from the tea’s sensational aroma), then add 6 bags of high-quality black (Darjeeling) tea…

 

Almost Tea-Time

…and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add a 1/2 cup of honey or cane sugar. Stir, taste, and correct the spices according to your own preference, then simmer the brew for 5 minutes.

While the tea is hot, strain and fill half a mug with the tea. Top the mug with warm milk or soy, and presto:

Fresh Chai-Latte

Your own delicious cup of Chai (and none of the risks of stepping outside to the coffee shop — or to India).

What’s even better?

Canned India

The tea (along with its spices, but not the milk) stores well in the fridge for about a week. So, if the week’s forecast is (as is common in Corner Brook) uncertain, you have no excuse not to live well indoors. At least until the sun comes out again.


Between an Aubergine and Asparagus Or: Requiem for Autumn

Perhaps you’ll agree that the least inspiring season is that dangling period when winter loses its magic and the only hope for spring is the occasional dripping icicle. The promise of spring brings with it the promise of leeks, spring onions, asparagus, fiddle-heads, and mushrooms. But in February, March, and even April, these delights (at least in most of Canada) seem like a distant hope. Blizzard conditions can send you indoors to cook hibernation fare one day, while a surprise spike in the mercury can leave you craving pesto, salads, and Sauvignon Blanc the next. The season is filled with unsettling indecision about what to cook.

Autumn sits on the opposite end of this dangling season. Like spring, it is filled with endless varieties of fresh culinary inspirations, and like spring, it is impossible to recreate the appetites it stirs.

Corner Brook is a delightful place to be during the Autumn season. Just as the Humber Valley ripens into a New England-like, post-card-worthy tableau…

…so too, does the West Coast Farmer’s Market ripen with delights. The market is, by most comparisons, small, but it runs until late October and every week there’s something new to love and cook.

Like fresh eggplant and the local “Jam Man’s” raspberry jam:

Large tubs of Newfoundland Wildflower Honey:

Fresh tomatoes, perfect for a light salad with a few splashes of olive oil,  balsamic vinegar and goat cheese:

Later in the season, the bounty expands:

Local apples, apple cider, and sweet, sweet pumpkins.

So, you see,  autumn one has all the resources for endless culinary magic. Like hot-toddy cider, and baked apples with cinnamon and creme fraiche:

and delicious home-made pumpkin pie:

Oh, pumpkin pie, how we miss you.

Let’s not forget, autumn in Newfoundland is famously Moose-hunting season. And although you may only find the occasional Moose burger at the Farmer’s Market, you are likely to run into someone who will be only too willing give you a chunk of their beast for a delicious home-made Moose Bourguinon (eat your heart out, Julia Child):

Alas, for now, our counters lack the fresh wonders of autumn and its local market goods, and wait impatiently for the first signs of spring and all its delightful possibilities.