Super Simple Blueberry Tarts

Blueberry tarts

I made these last weekend, when we were invited over at the last minute to have dinner in our friends’ back yard. I wanted to make a pie, but there wasn’t time – and my crammed freezer had half a package of frozen tart shells left over from something or other that I kept having to move so I could close it, so I decided to solve two problems at once.

Most berries are sweetened and thickened with sugar and flour or cornstarch before being baked in a pie; in this case, the tart shells get a quick 10 or so minutes in the oven to get toasty while you simmer some berries on the stovetop with those same ingredients, reserving half the berries to stir in at the end so that they burst and pop and retain their juice. You then satisfyingly spoon the berry filling into the tart shells, and you’re done.

You could, I’m sure, spike the filling with lemon zest or spoon it over lemon curd, or top your filled tarts with a dollop of cream. But they were perfectly awesome straight up, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – so awesome in fact that I made another batch a couple days later, when my parents were stopping by for dinner. It’s the sort of dessert that demands – or rather politely asks, in a casual, summery sort of way – to be eaten outside.

Super Simple Blueberry Tarts

1 dozen frozen tart shells

Filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375F. Put the tart shells on a baking sheet and slide them into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Take them out.

Meanwhile, put half the blueberries into a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to the berries along with the lemon juice and bring to a simmer; cook for a few minutes, until the berries burst and soften and the juices thicken. Once it comes to a boil, make sure it cooks for a full minute to maximize thickening potential and make sure it’s not starchy.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining blueberries. Let sit for a minute to cool slightly, then spoon into the tart shells, piling them high.

Makes 1 dozen blueberry tarts.

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July 27 2015 | dessert | 4 Comments »

Calgary Folk Fest: an Eaters’ Guide

prince's island
Slowfood collage 1

Most summers, we’re out in Tofino when the Calgary Folk Music Festival takes over Prince’s Island in the heart of Calgary. The festival is legendary, drawing musicians from around the world and inspiring Calgarians to stick around and plan their holidays around FolkFest weekend.

From the time it first showed up on my radar, I knew it for the food – the curries and Joy’s ginger beer, in the early years. This year is the 36th annual, and they’ve outdone themselves – besides the 76 bands from 16 countries on 8 stages playing concerts and holding workshops and collaborative sessions, there are some seriously fantastic local eats. (And drinks, of course – you’ll find Big Rock in the ultra-popular beer garden.)

Taiko Taco
cfmf 1

People know it for the running of the tarps – I go for the eating of the food. I work up an appetite walking or biking down, and then navigate the food lineups. If you go early, they’re not bad – but even once they start snaking down the path, they move quickly – and it’s such a great atmosphere down there, that even standing in line is a good time. (And hey, there’s live music everywhere.)

folkfest 1

This year – their 36th – the food offerings are better than ever; in addition to a dozen or so food trucks lining a stretch from the main entrance to the main stage – including Cheezy Biz, Yummy Yogis and Avatara (the crispy pizzas I saw walking by all night) – Naaco launched their first east Indian pop-up, Ishk, next door to their truck. Also: Popsicles from Top Pop! Churros and Chai!

ishk
Naaco

Of course Slow Food Calgary always has a presence there – and like the CFMF food scene itself, each year it gets better. They’re in a tent you can’t miss as soon as you come in the main gates, by the bike park – a great team of local chefs, producers and volunteers working to bring the best Calgary has to offer.

slow food tent 1

Last night dinner was courtesy of Sidewalk Citizen – big plates of shaved greens with local roasted duck, tart plums, sprouted lentils, ricotta cheese, pickled shallot and grainy mustard vinaigrette served with a slice of Aviv’s sourdough.

Slow food at Folkfest 3

The menu is different every day this weekend, and the lineup includes jerk roasted chicken carnitas with green bean summer slaw, smoked chickpeas and green crema from River Cafe, Market’s honey tomato glazed braised lamb ribs with potato salad, wine braised beef brisket on sundried tomato pasta salad from Soffritto, the Coup’s skewered and grilled cherry tomatoes, peppers, radish and smoked tofu wrapped in whole wheat pita with Greek salad and herb tzatziki, Cornerstone Music Cafe’s pork chorizo sausage on wild rice, lentil and kale salad with peaches, almonds, and Brassica mustard vinaigrette, and from Slow Food Calgary, whole wheat pitas with turkey confit, roast veggies and tossed green salad with saskatoon berry vinaigrette and the Slow Food Best Breakfast – buttermilk biscuits with pork sausage, eggs, 1608 cheese and tomato jam. Seriously.

Made by Marcus

And snacks! There’s a freezer stocked with Made by Marcus ice cream bars – W chose chocolate almond over birthday cake – and there are bags of Poppycock from Double Elle Bakery and scones, brownies, cookies and granola bars from the Slow Food kitchen. You can even pick up paper bags of fresh fruit – BC peaches on Thursday night – from Sunnyside Market.

Slow food at Folkfest 2

(Slowfood Calgary is also working with Sunnyside Market, Amaranth Whole Foods Market, Community Natural Foods, SPUD, Lambtastic, Highwood Crossing, Spragg Pork, Blue Mountain Bio-Dynamic Farm, Greens Eggs and Ham, Winter’s Turkey, County Thyme Farm, Saskatoon Farm, Chinook Honey, Grainworks, Seeds to Greens, Mans Organics, Mans Eggs, Heritage Harvest, Poplar Bluff, Bowden Farms, Broxburn, Vital Greens, Gull Valley, Trails End Beef, Top Grass Beef, Layalta Gardens, Leaf & Lyre, Cucumber Man, Sudo Farms, Seasons Harvest, Basil Ranch, Fairwinds Farm, Edgar Farms, Schipper Farms, Peasant Cheese, Blush Lane, Naked Leaf, Eight Ounce, Webber Mountainside Farms, Galimax Trading, Brassica Mustard, Sprouting Roots, and SAIT Hospitality – a great lineup of local food representing our culinary scene.)

Slow food at Folkfest 3

Tucked in between the trucks, Empanada Queen is onsite serving up their amazing hand-made empanadas. (Offsite, they’re in a teeny strip mall on Manilla Road, just off Blackfoot Trail and 42nd Ave SE, where their empanadas are made to order – they also make chorillana, freshly cut fries topped with a sautéed mix of egg, onions, beef and chorizo, like Chilean poutine.)

phil seb 3

Phil & Sebastian have two tents, for all your caffeine needs – the location by the main stage is even serving up affogatos – a scoop of vanilla Fiasco gelato, topped with a shot of espresso. (W opted for a blue raspberry sno-cone.) Is there a better way to have your coffee in late July?

Snow cone + affogato

I also love the cold brew stubbies – in coolers, on ice.

Phil & Seb cold Brew

Kids under 12 are free at Folkfest – W came along, and chose a ham and cheese crepe, folded into quarters so that it could be eaten out of hand. I have to remember this one – we make crepes in the mornings all the time out in Tofino, and this particular combination has great beach potential.

Crepe

Also worth noting: CFMF’s green efforts. I love their plate policy – pay a $2 deposit when you get a dish that’s served on a (heavy plastic) plate, and when you’re done, return it to any plate tent to get your $2 back. Garbage bins are sealed and visitors are directed to compost and recycling bins in an attempt to make it a zero waste event, and there’s no bottled water being sold on the island – bring your own water bottle and there are portable water stations around the park to fill them from. (Which have built-in water fountains, too.) The CFMF recycles materials from cardboard to organics, provides tree seedlings to participants to offset carbon emissions, uses compostable cutlery and dishware. Their waste diversion rate has increased by over 45% since 2008, when the festival began measuring its total waste production – increasing steadily to 80% in 2014.

cfmf 2

The festival runs through this weekend – you can check out the artists here and the schedule here – but to check out the food, you gotta get down there.

I love showing off the place I live – thanks to Travel Alberta for helping me do it! As always, words and opinions are my own.

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July 24 2015 | eating out | 2 Comments »

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