Alberta Berries

Explore locally grown fruit this season

The January cold snap put paid to the idea of juicy Okanagan stone fruit this summer—peaches, nectarines, apricots. We may see some lovely Ontario fruit in the market, but why not go in a completely different direction? Alberta berries—haskaps, raspberries, saskatoons, strawberries, even black currants. Find at the farmers’ markets and you-picks across the province, or from your backyard. We thought we’d veer away from the crisps and pies (saskatoon pie forever and yes, there is a recipe on The Tomato website) to explore the more free-wheeling side of berry recipes—soups, salads, condiments, mains and yes, of course, some desserts, from chefs who know berries, including Julia Kundera, Zofia Trebaczkiewicz and Brad Smoliak.

Zofia’s Berry Morning Cake
I have successfully substituted 1 cup of the flour with almond flour or polenta for a more interesting texture. –Zofia Trebaczkiewicz, EPL Kitchen.

Pastry cream

3 egg yolks
250 g milk
25 g corn starch
60 g cream
50 g sugar
½ vanilla bean

Mix egg yolks with corn starch and 80 grams of the milk.

Pour the remaining milk, cream, sugar and vanilla into pan, bring to a boil. Temper yolks with hot milk mixture and once all mixed, heat continuously, mixing until thickened. Cover with cling wrap, cool and transfer into pastry bag.

Macerate 3 cups of saskatoons and raspberries with ½ cup of sugar and juice of a lemon.

Cake Batter

3 c spelt flour
2 t baking powder
lemon zest
1 T crushed red peppercorn
½ t salt
1 c brown sugar
200 g unsalted butter
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
⅓ c buttermilk or kefir
1 c sliced almonds

Cake Assembly
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, add room temperature butter and work into a crumble. Whisk eggs and buttermilk and add to crumble. Do not overmix. Spread ⅔ of the dough in a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Pipe the pastry cream over and add drained berries. Add the almonds to the rest of the batter and sprinkle over the cake. You will be able to see the berries peeking through the batter.

Bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

Gluten-free Berry Cornmeal Pancakes
The cornmeal adds a lovely texture and the baking powder and soda provide lift. Adapted from a recipe found on NYT Cooking.

½ c cornmeal
1½ c gluten-free flour mix
3 t sugar
1½ t baking powder
1½ t baking soda
1¼ t kosher salt
2½ c buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1½ c blueberries
oil for the skillet

Pre heat oven to 325ºF.

Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt together in a bowl. Using the whisk, make a well in the center. Pour the buttermilk into the well and crack eggs into buttermilk. Pour the melted butter into the mixture. Whisk all together, do not overbeat. Lumps are ok. Coat your blueberries in a teaspoon of gf flour so that they don’t sink, then stir them into the batter. The batter can be refrigerated for up to one hour.

Heat a large non-stick griddle or skillet, preferably cast iron, over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Turn up heat to medium-low and ladle ⅓ cup batter into the skillet at a time, do not overcrowd your pancakes.
Flip when bubbles rise to the surface, then cook until the bottoms are lightly browned (or until they start to smell heavenly). Repeat, you may have to add a bit more oil. Remove pancakes to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, and keep in the heated oven until all the pancakes are cooked. Or, flip on to a plate as you go, this depends on who is waiting for breakfast.

Serves 4.

Oatmeal Haskap Muffins
Zofia and Julia served these muffins at Four Rooms on Whyte Avenue. Delicious and easy, just what you want in a muffin.

2 c large flake oats
2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1 c brown sugar
1 c melted brown butter
2 c flour
½ t salt
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
½ t grated tonka bean (microplane). Optional, use cinnamon or vanilla instead
2 c haskap berries

Mix buttermilk with eggs, sugar and brown butter. Add oat flakes and let it sit for 30 minutes. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, soda and aromatics), then add the berries. Add the dry ingredients into wet, being mindful not to overmix and spoon into muffin cups.

Bake at 350ºF, until inserted toothpick appears almost dry (20 min).

Makes 6 muffins.

Zofia Trebaczkiwicz’s chłodnik litewski with raspberries.

Zofia Trebaczkiwicz’s chłodnik litewski with raspberries.

Chłodnik Litewski with Raspberries
There is a Polish tradition of summer fruit soups, such as strawberry with tomato and this delicious beet soup by chef Zofia Trebaczkiewicz. Think of it as the most amazing borshcht. Chef has listed many garnishes, use what you like.

4-5 med roasted beets, chopped
¾ c raspberries
4 T red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic
2 potatoes, boiled
1 c vegetable broth
750 gr kefir
250 g crème fraîche

Blend all ingredients until smooth and chill. Salt/pepper to taste.

Garnish with 2 finely chopped semi-pickled cucumbers (half sour), 4-6 sliced radishes, chopped dill, chives, basil, sorrel (any one or all). Finish with dill oil, popped dill seeds, feta, Aleppo peppers and a few raspberries.

Serves 2-4.

Strawberry Caprese Salad for One
An easy lunch for one. You could substitute burrata or even goat cheese or feta and add some salad leaves. If you don’t have any basil, use parsley or a combo of fresh herbs.

6-8 cherry tomatoes
6-8 strawberries
4-6 small fresh mozzarella balls
3-4 torn fresh basil leaves
healthy drizzle extra virgin olive oil
squeeze lemon juice
sea salt and fresh-cracked pepper

Place the strawberries, tomatoes and cheese in a bowl. Tear the basil leaves over and drizzle with oil and lemon juice. Add a twist of the pepper grinder and a good pjnch of flaky salt. Add spinach or lettuce leaves if desired.

Serves 1.

Strawberry Salsa
Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

1½ c strawberries, hulled and diced
¼ c finely diced red onion
½ jalapeño, finely chopped (remove seeds for a less spicy salsa)
¼ c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
lime juice
kosher salt

Combine strawberries, onion, jalapeño and cilantro in a bowl with a squeeze of lime juice. Season and refrigerate 15 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups.

Grilled Halloumi with Pickled/Fermented Strawberries, Hot Honey and Strawberry Vinaigrette
This is a recipe that we have recently worked with at the kitchen. I really love the fermented fruit element, but you could do a quick pickle instead. This salad works as well with burrata or grilled strawberries. –Zofia Trebaczkiewicz, EPL Kitchen

2 c or so salad leaves and herbs
12 slices Halloumi cheese

Place thick slices (⅓-inch) of cheese on a preheated and lightly oiled grill for 2-3 minutes per side until golden grill marks appear. Alternatively, place on preheated and oiled pan and cook till golden. Reserve.

For the pickled strawberries

small, ripe and firm strawberries
water, enough to submerge berries
1 t salt
6 T honey
6-8 white peppercorns
cinnamon stick
1 t brown mustard seeds
fresh tarragon

Place washed strawberries in a mason jar with the spices and tarragon. Mix warm water with salt and honey, let it cool and pour over strawberries until completely submerged—use a glass weight if needed. Store in a dark, cool place. They will be ready to use in 4-5 days. Place in refrigerator.

Alternatively, make a quick strawberry pickle:

½ lb strawberries, quartered
juice of half a lime
1 T maple syrup
1 T olive oil
¼ t wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 sm shallot, diced

Mix all ingredients and let the strawberries macerate for a few minutes.

Hot Honey
Bring a cup of honey and a couple (according to taste or heat tolerance) of Thai chiles to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and let the mixture infuse for about an hour. Strain and transfer to a jar.

Strawberry Vinaigrette

1 c ripe strawberries
½ c olive oil
½ c cider vinegar
2 T hot honey
1 t Dijon mustard
½ t salt and black pepper
1 t sumac
3-4 fresh chopped basil leaves /td>

Process first five ingredients in blender until smooth, then mix in the sumac and basil leaves.

To serve: Assemble salad of preferred greens and herbs and lightly toss with fresh strawberry vinaigrette. Place grilled halloumi on the greens. Top with the fermented strawberries and hot honey.

Serves 4.

Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine Strawberry Sauce
This recipe comes together quickly but does require a bit of work right at the end. Worth it for the flavours. The coriander, strawberry, red wine combo is fantastic with pork tenderloin. Adapted from a recipe by chef Alex Hrabovsky, Food & Wine Magazine.

½ lb pork tenderloin
1 T coriander seeds
1½ t kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ t black pepper
2 c hulled and halved fresh strawberries
1 t granulated sugar, plus more to taste
2 T canola oil
1/3 c finely chopped shallot
¾ c dry, fruity red wine
1½ c chicken stock
3 sprigs thyme
3 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400°F. Let pork tenderloin stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, crush coriander seeds with a mortar and pestle or small heavy skillet until coarsely ground. Stir together crushed coriander seeds, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Toss together strawberries and sugar in a separate bowl; set aside.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof stainless steel skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle coriander mixture over pork, pressing lightly to adhere. When oil is just smoking, add pork to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until pork is browned all over, about 8 minutes. Place the strawberries around pork.

Transfer skillet to preheated oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of pork registers 130°F, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200°F. (Do not remove skillet from oven.) Continue to roast pork and strawberries until thermometer registers 140°F, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board, reserving strawberries and pan drippings in skillet. Cover pork loosely with aluminum foil.

Return skillet to heat over medium-high. Add shallot to pan drippings, and cook, stirring often, until the pan drippings are slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring and mashing strawberries with a spoon, until sauce has thickened enough to hold a clean line when a spoon is dragged across bottom of pan, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in chicken stock and thyme sprigs and bring mixture to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick enough to coat back of spoon, 13 to 17 minutes. Pour sauce through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids. Place saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter, and cook, whisking constantly, until butter is fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and season strawberry sauce with salt and sugar to taste. Cut pork into slices and serve with strawberry sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Haskap Rosemary Sauce for Salmon
Adapted from a recipe found on the Rosy Farms website.

½ of 1 shallot, chopped fine
1 t olive oil
1 c haskap berries
1 T water
1 T champagne or white wine
2 t fresh rosemary chopped
pinch salt and pepper

Sauté the shallot in the oil until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium low heat until the berries are soft and the sauce is fragrant. Check seasoning. To serve, puddle on the plate and place roasted salmon on top.

Serves 2-4.

Haskap with Chilies in Adobo Marinade
This is delicious with bison, elk or beef. Also delicious with chicken or pork but it does colour the meat.

6 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo, stemmed, plus 2 tablespoons of sauce from the can.
5 g cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lg strip orange zest
1 c haskap (or blueberries or saskatoons)
¼ c fresh lime juice
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T tomato paste
1 t dried oregano
1 t ground cumin
½ t freshly ground pepper

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and simmer over high heat until reduced by one-third, about 8 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and puree until smooth. Let cool before using.

Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

Julia’s Panna Cotta with Summer Fruit

Julia’s Panna Cotta with Summer Fruit

Julia’s Panna Cotta with Summer Fruit Sauces
Julia Kundera, chef at the Out of Bounds restaurant at the Cattail Crossing Golf & Winter Club, is a flavour maven. Along with her sister Zofia Trebaczkiewicz, they have had a major impact on the Edmonton food scene for many years. We love their cooking! This is a sturdy panna cotta technique and, with the three sauces, you will have a summer of lovely desserts in your repertoire.

Panna Cotta

2 c heavy cream
¼ c sugar
vanilla bean extract
1 env powdered gelatin
cold water (enough to bloom the gelatin)

Heat the cream and sugar together until dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Lightly oil 4 or 6 custard cups with grape seed oil. Sprinkle gelatine over cold water and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Pour the very warm cream mixture over gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Divide into prepared cups. Wrap with saran and chill until ready to serve.

Black Currant and Raspberry Sauce
This recipe works well with saskatoons too as they also have a lot of pectin and do not need thickening. Both are beautifully balanced with the raspberry.

2 c black currants
juice of a half lemon
100 g sugar
1 c raspberries

Bring lemon juice, sugar and currants to a boil and simmer until almost broken down. Cool and mix in the raspberries.

Haskap and Rose Sauce

2 c haskaps
2 c sugar
1 T rose water
1 c wild rose petals, washed and dried

Simmer haskaps with 1 cup of sugar and the rose water on low heat until juices are released. Process the other cup of sugar with rose petals in food processor, then spread on a baking sheet to dry for 24 hours. Sprinkle panna cotta with the rose sugar and serve with the rose haskap sauce.

Chamomile Strawberries
Strawberries macerated with elderberry syrup or balsamic vinegar flavoured with elderberry syrup are also a favourite.

2 c strawberries, hulled and sliced
¼ c honey
1 T organic chamomile flowers
lemon zest
¼ c water

Place honey, flowers, zest and water in a pot and bring to boil. Simmer 2-3 minutes until thickened. Cool and pour over strawberries.

Berry Clafoutis
A simple batter, much like a crepe batter, is poured over fresh raspberries and blackberries in a butter and sugar-lined dish. Baked until bubbling, with a light golden crust and served warm with crème fraîche. So easy and so good! –Brad Smoliak

butter for pan
1¼ c whole milk
1/3 c + 2 T sugar for pan and top
3 lg eggs
1 t vanilla extract
¼ c flour
pinch salt
several grinds of coarse ground pepper, it brings out the flavour of the berries
1½ pints raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, or a mix of berries.
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Lightly butter, then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar into medium size baking dish with sides at least 1½-inches deep.

Place milk, ⅓ cup sugar, eggs and vanilla into a medium bowl and whisk together until very well blended. Add flour, salt and pepper and whisk until frothy.

Pour ½ of the batter into the baking dish and sprinkle on the fruit. Add the rest of the batter. Smooth batter over the fruit with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the top.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the top is puffed and browned and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with slightly sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream. Best served warm.

Serves 4.

British Summer Pudding
The quintessential British pud makes the most of seasonal berries. It’s a bit of a fiddly construction project but the taste and the look are worth it. Use the best white bread you can find or brioche. Adapted from Olive Magazine.

5 c fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered (plus more for garnish)
6¾ c fresh raspberries (plus more for garnish)
2 c fresh blueberries (plus more for garnish)
1 c granulated sugar
3 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
¼ t fine sea salt
12-14 slices day-old white bread, slices crusts removed, or brioche

Stir the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and salt together in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature until berries become very soft and release their juices, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, line a 2½-quart bowl (about 8 inches wide and 4 inches deep) with plastic wrap; set aside.

Pour the berry mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and reserve the juices. Brush ½ cup reserved berry juice evenly over 1 side of the bread slices using a pastry brush (you want the bread slices to be dyed from the juice). Stir macerated berries and up to 1 cup juice in a large bowl, set aside. Reserve any remaining berry juice for brushing on finished pudding or for another use. Arrange bread slices, juice sides down, in the prepared bowl, covering the bottom and sides of bowl, overlapping and trimming bread slices as needed.

Carefully transfer the berry mixture to the bread-lined bowl, tightly packing it in. Arrange the remaining slices and any trimmings, juice side down, on top of berries to completely encase the filling, tearing bread to fit as needed.

Place the bowl on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then top with a plate that fits inside the lip of the bowl. Place 2 large cans (or equivalent) on the plate to compress pudding. Chill pudding in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, remove canned goods, plate and the top plastic wrap. Invert bowl onto a large rimmed platter. Remove bowl; and peel away the plastic wrap. Brush the pudding with additional berry juice, if needed, to touch up. Garnish pudding with berries.

Cut into thick wedges and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Serves 6-12.