Unhelpful Recipes: What the Heck is a Fiddlehead?

This post is part of the ECM Fiddlehead Bloggers Hop! Be sure to check out the other fab posts on Fiddleheads from some other local bloggers.

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Until I moved to Atlantic Canada, I had never heard tell of a Fiddlehead – with the exception, of course, of the genuine article that’s found at the top of a violin. Typical Ontarian, eh? That first spring of my residence in New Brunswick, I began to see them around the Farmer’s Market and at the grocery store. Curious, I began to probe…

For those of you who have also been in the dark on this weird and delicious springtime green, a Fiddlehead is actually a type of fern. They’re only delicious while they’re young and curled so the window of the season is quite short. Sometimes you can spot them in the forest – but definitely wait until you get home to properly clean and cook them before eating.

Personally, I was taught all this great info within seconds of asking “What the heck is a fiddlehead?!” It seems my Maritime friends were eager to share in the secret delicacy. What I didn’t expect was to open up a great debate on the best way to devour these delicious green morsels. I’ve discovered that there are two schools of thought on the matter: Team “Butter is Better” vs Team “Tart and Tangy.”

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Edit: This picture is NOT an example of the genuine fiddleheads that are safe to eat. True fiddleheads are covered in a brown paperlike coating and are never fuzzy even as they grow. Shoutout to reader Rhonda for the wisdom that only a Maritimer would know!

Since, as you well know, I’m not really here to be of any help to any of you in this arena, I’ll just give you the two unhelpful recipes and let you make up your own minds.

Team Butter is Better

  1. Thoroughly rinse and drain fiddleheads. You’ll want to make sure you pull off the brown/white papery sheath to reveal just a fresh, green curl.
  2. Steam in vegetable steamer or over shallow boiling water.
  3. Toss with copious amounts of butter.
  4. Serve.

Team Tart and Tangy

  1. See above.
  2. See above.
  3. Drip on a vinegar of your choice. Personally, I like a nice balsamic but cider vinegar also works well in this context. But I’m not your mother. Use whatever vinegar you want.
  4. Serve.

I have to admit it: Fiddleheads are delicious either way (and many other, more complicated ways) but I’m definitely team Butter is Better. Butter forever! Butter for all! You might even want to add a wee sprinkle of parmesan, if you’re so inclined.

If you don’t like either suggestions, that’s fine too. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’m participating in the ECM blog hop, providing links to some other amazing local bloggers who will probably have much more detailed and helpful guides on how to prepare these curly tendrils. But we both know that’s not going to happen here on this blog.

Happy fiddleheading!

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Unhelpful Recipes: Low Carb Tiramisu Pudding

Tiramisu is my hands-down absolute favourite dessert of all time. BUT, it’s that time of year when everyone has committed to making dietary changes. Some are going no carb, some are cutting the sugar, and some people, like me, are still trying to eat as much coffee and chocolate flavoured desserts as is socially acceptable.

Hence, this delicious compromise.

The secret is about combining the classic flavours of tiramisu but removing the sugariest and carbiest components. For this version, I basically just removed the lady fingers and rum (but you have my blessing to continue to booze it up) and I also substituted ricotta for the more traditional (and better TBH mascarpone).

The inspiration:

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Inspiration from Lifeloveandsugar.com

The starting line up:

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Ricotta (1 cup), Greek yogurt (1 cup), whipping cream, whipped (237 ml), cocoa powder (spoonful), dark chocolate, shaved (most of the bar less several pieces, which were tested for quality control purposes), hot coffee (1 cup), gelatine (1 package).

The MVPs:

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I melted half of the dark chocolate and cocoa into the hot coffee then folded it into the Greek yogurt (lactose free! yay!) and ricotta.

The Moistmaker:

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I folded the whipped cream in last but it still lacked the pudding consistency that I was striving for.

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This was necessary to set the pudding, lest it became more of a tirami-soup.

Into the fridge:

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It took a couple of hours to set up to the desired consistency.

Et Voilà!

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Spoon into a fancy schmancy glass, top with more chocolate shavings and enjoy.

It was pretty delicious and it definitely captured the flavours of tiramisu. If I was to make it again, I’d nix the ricotta. It wasn’t really a necessary addition. I think the key is the creamy, chocolaty, coffee and the ricotta didn’t add much for that.

Have you made any tasty interpretations of classic dishes lately?

Krista

Unhelpful Recipes: Summery Italian Olive Oil Cake

I have something of a reputation for being bossy in the kitchen. I can’t help it! I can’t bear to know that something isn’t going to turn out the way I want it (due to someone else’s help…because goodness knows most of my attempts are disasters anyways). I guess I’d just rather it be my fault if things go south.

When I’m visiting friends and family, most are happy to stand aside and let me take over. This was the case last weekend when I was visiting a family member who happened to be celebrating his birthday. Obvi, this was my time to shine.

Being a hot, beautiful August weekend, I wanted a recipe that screamed summer. I came across this delicious recipe for Italian Olive Oil Cake and, after drooling all over my keyboard, I knew it was a winner.

If you remember some of my previous birthday cake attempts, you’ll recall I really struggle with editing. When I saw that this cake included so many components (whipped mascarpone cream, lemon curd, and a lemon berry sauce) I knew I’d found a recipe after my own heart. 

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The place I was staying obviously doesn’t share my obsession with excessive accumulation of kitchen baking and cooking tools, so I had to McGyver a few times to make do. There weren’t any major compromises; for example, I baked the cake in a skillet instead of a spring form pan.

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If you haven’t tried olive oil cake, get on it. Stat.

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Like I said, compromises were made.

I’ve been experimenting with various curd recipes over the years and here’s what I’ve learned: a yolks-only curd is better than using whole eggs, real lemons are a MUST, and ALWAYS lick the spatula.

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Here’s where I got to embrace the excess.

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The best part about this cake is the LAYERS. Cake, curd, cream, berries and repeat! Am I alone in wanting to eat cake for all meals of the day? Imagine tossing aside the granola and eating cake for breakfast? (I’m talking more than just muffins and pancakes, folks.)

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This cake was so good. It was seriously a challenge not to sneak bites of it during the whole visit.

What could you just eat for breakfast, lunch, and supper?

Krista