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KATB Blog

peach jam & mini scone ice cream sliders

It was a hot summer here in Toronto, and I have to say I’ve felt a bit of relief this week as the weather has dialled down just a couple degrees. Though it’s tempting to jump right into the excitement of autumn, with its cozy sweaters, chilly breezes, and warm spices, here at KATB were savouring these last few dog days of summer, as I am sure we will find ourselves knee-deep in snow in a blink of an eye!  

As if they knew we would all be itching for fall, our Ontario peach season was late this year due to the incredibly hot weather and extreme sunshine. Here at the jam factory, we have tested every type of peach we could get our hands on over the past few years - from firm, clingstone early season peaches, to warm climate Georgia peaches, and everything in between - and each type of peach makes a slightly different style of preserve. Now, we use exclusively one type of peach for jam making - the beautiful, fuzzy Loring peach - from one orchard (Jordan Valley Orchards in Niagara), from one harvest (the second pick of the season). With the perfect natural balance of acidity and sweetness, rich colour, and flesh that melts to velvety goodness when heated, you can’t get a better variety for jam making.

Typically harvested in mid-August, this year Lorings were not picked until the first week of September, resulting in a juicy, fragrant peach, bursting with a flavour, and blushed red skin from the end-of-summer sun. Thus, though slightly delayed, we couldn’t be more proud of this year’s Peach Collection, and to celebrate, we’re sharing one last summer recipe before it gets too cold up here in Canada for ice cream (but is it ever too cold for ice cream?) - Peach Jam & Mini Scone Ice Cream Sliders!


Ingredients:

1 jar of KATB Peach Jam (we recommend either Peach & Orange Blossom or Peach, Fresh Basil & Lime - save the Ichin Togarashi for your cheese boards)
1 pack of KATB Frozen Bake-at-Home Mini Scones
1 pint of your favourite vanilla bean ice cream

Method:

  1. In a pre-heated oven, bake your KATB Frozen Bake-at-Home Mini Scones according to the directions on the pouch.

  2. Scoop your vanilla ice cream into a medium bowl (one ice-cream-scoop-full per mini scone slider you are preparing.)

  3. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of peach jam into your bowl, and slice through the ice cream and jam with a knife to swirl the jam throughout. Place back into the freezer for 30-45 minutes to allow the ice cream to firm back up.

  4. By this time, your mini scones should be baked and rested to room temperature. Break each scone open, place a scoop of peach jam swirled ice cream atop the bottom half scone, and top with fresh peach slices and the top half of the scone. Enjoy!

  5. If you are entertaining and want to prepare these ahead of time, place the whole slider back into the freezer until it’s time for dessert. Remove from the freezer and serve!

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mini tea sammies, 3 ways!

 

There are a few things that transform just any old party into a tea party.  Tea cups are an absolute must (bonus points for vintage, mismatched and pastel!), tiered trays and lots of fresh florals certainly set the mood, and scones and jam must be present for tradition’s sake.  But, a tea party isn’t really a tea party without those tiny, little white bread sandwiches we all know and love!  The most classic choices are cucumber and butter, smoked salmon, chicken, and egg salad, but for us, the more beautiful, tiny, colourful, and intricate the better!  So, as a little supplement to our Pastel Garden Brunch we styled with Alyssa of Random Acts of Pastel (full photo set coming next week!), we wanted to share our spin on the classic tea sandwich, done KATB-style 3 different ways to add a little flair to your tea party table!

Tea Sandwiches 3 Ways

Ingredients:

Loaf of classic white Wonder Bread
1 fresh cucumber
1 pint of fresh strawberries
1-3 jars of KATB jam, preferably in a variety of colours
Lavender oil (we used this one from A L’Olivier)
Butter, at room temperature
Cream Cheese, at room temperature
Culinary-grade lavender blossoms
Fresh sprigs of mint
2.25” round cookie cutter

The tiniest heart-shaped cookie cutter you can find (we found ours at Bulk Barn!)

Cucumber & Lavender

  1. Using a sharp knife or mandolin, slice your cucumber as thin as possible crosswise.
  2. Spread a thin coat of butter on your slices of white bread, and delicately place your cucumber slices in one layer to create a mosaic effect, overlapping the crusts.
  3. Then, using a sharp knife, cut through the cucumber and bread into your desired shape.  We chose squares for our cucumber sammies, and got 1 sammie out of each piece of bread.  Tip: if you find that your cucumber slices are slipping as you try to cut through them, place the whole palm of your (clean) hand on top of your sammie to hold everything in place as you cut.  Don’t be nervous to press down a little bit - the Wonder Bread will bounce right back!
  4. Set aside…

Strawberry & Mint

  1. Spread a thin layer of butter on a couple slices of Wonder Bread, then cut off the crusts and into 3 long rectangles.
  2. Using a sharp knife, hull the greenery from the top of your berries.  Sit them on their “heads,” slice them thin, and, keeping them in their original order, use your fingers to carefully fan the slices and place them on each rectangle of bread.
  3. Set aside…

Stained Glass Jam Sammies

  1. For these little gems, you will get one sammie per every two pieces of bread.  So, for three sammies, arrange 6 slices of bread on your cutting board in a 2x3 grid.
  2. Using the circle cutter, cut rounds out of all of the pieces of bread - 3 for the bases of your sammies, 3 for the tops.  Then, cut hearts out of only 3 (half) of the rounds.
  3. Spread your cream cheese on each of the bases, then add a dollop of jam and give it a slight spread with the back of your spoon.  Be careful not to spread the jam too close to the edges, or you will have a messy tea sandwich.  Also, using a variety of different types of preserves will add visual beauty and colour to your display!
  4. Place the heart-cut-out tops on top of each base, and press gently to “seal” the sammie and push the cheese and jam to the outer edges.

And now, for the grand finale!

When you are ready to serve your tea sandwiches…

  1. Drizzle a small amount of lavender oil over your cucumber mosaics, and a little sprinkle of lavender blossoms,
  2. Pluck the tiniest leaves and any flowers from the tips of your mint sprigs, and place prettily on your strawberries…
  3. Load all of your tea sammies onto your tiered tray, serve, and enjoy! Pinkies up!

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marmalade glazed bbq chicken & sweet gin tea

Last weekend, Kitten and the Bear had the pleasure of being the guest chef at our friends Food & Liquor’s weekly summer BBQ series!  It was such a blast, and allowed us to do something new and different from our normal routine.  A big thank you to everyone who came out and joined us for the end of summer fun!  

While preparing our little jam & tea themed BBQ menu, we realized that this would be a great chance to share some different ways to use jam to spice up your standard BBQ offerings.  Of course, in typical KATB style, we also couldn’t resist the opportunity to style a rustic backyard BBQ, perfect for this beautiful time of year when summer begins to give way to the first hints of autumn.  Pops of bright yellows and rich golds, fresh fruit and greenery transform a simple picnic table to a BBQ fit for a jam and tea queen!

Sweet Orange Marmalade Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

6 humanely-raised chicken legs, skin-on
3 tbsp KATB Sweet Orange & Honeyed Whisky marmalade
1 tbsp dry white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, about 1 tsp chopped finely
Sea salt

Method:

  1. Sprinkle your chicken legs generously with salt, set aside.
  2. To make your marmalade glaze, combine marmalade, white wine, olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic and an additional sprinkle of salt (about ½ tsp) in a small jar or bowl.  Shake (or whisk) vigorously to thoroughly combine.
  3. Oil the grill with a heat-proof grill brush to ensure your chicken legs won’t stick. Then heat up your BBQ to about medium-high heat.
  4. Begin to sear off your chicken, starting with skin-side down - this will be your “presentation” side, so allow the chicken to cook until the chicken lifts easily off the grill and you have nice, neat grill lines, about 5-8 minutes with the grill top closed.  Then, open, flip the legs, and sear on the bottom side for about 5 minutes, closed.
  5. Lower the heat to medium-low, and transfer all of the chicken legs to the top rack of your grill so they are off the direct heat.  Paint on your glaze, making sure to get some slices of orange, herbs and garlic chunks on there.  Close the grill, and cook for about 15 minutes, basting with more and more glaze about every 5 minutes.
  6. Your chicken will start to look more and more golden brown and delicious as the sugar in the jam and wine caramelize.  We recommend checking your chicken with a meat thermometer to ensure its doneness -  chicken is fully cooked at 165 F degrees.  At this point, remove from the grill, and allow to rest about 3-5 minutes.
  7. We served our marmalade glazed chicken alongside classic potato salad, fennel slaw, and a KATB mini scone, but any and all of your favourite BBQ sides will pair perfectly! Enjoy!
KATB Sweet Gin Tea

recipe created by Nigel French of Food & Liquor, yields about 4-6 drinks

Ingredients:

4 tbsp strong black tea (such as Bold Breakfast from Sloane Fine Tea) steeped in 1 L of water
1/4 L gin (we used Beefeater)
1 1/2 oz Cointreau
small splash of Galliano

soda water
lots of ice
beverage dispenser or punch bowl

Method:

  1. Brew your tea leaves in 1 L of boiling water for about 10 minutes, or until you have a strong, aromatic infusion.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a beverage dispenser or punch bowl, adding the Galliano last in small splashes to-taste.
  3. Pour over ice and top with soda water for a bit of bubbles, and enjoy!

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prince edward county travel guide

There have been few places that have captured our hearts and imagination quite like Prince Edward County.  Bobby and I took a little road trip to visit last week, and though we were excited after hearing so many great things about this place, we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for the summer magic that awaited us!

An easy, enjoyable 2-2.5 hour drive due east of Toronto, PEC is located in Southern Ontario surrounded by Lake Ontario to the south, with the Bay of Quinte to the north.  If you choose to drive in from the north, it truly feels like you’re entering another world as you drive over the bridge and onto the island.  Long settled by indigenous peoples, however the most significant change to the landscape came shortly after the American Revolution when the Crown granted land to some of the earliest United Empire Loyalists - British supporters - as compensation for land lost to the newly founded Thirteen Colonies.  Thus, large, stately, and ornate Loyalist farmhouses dot the landscape of Prince Edward County, set on pristine rolling pastures with pastoral vistas.  

Many of these homes have been restored back to life as B&Bs, artisan food producers, distillers, and, most notably, wineries (over 30 and counting!)  Outside of its geographic beauty, one thing about PEC that makes it truly unique among Canadian cottage country regions - it is bursting with endless fun-in-the-sun day-trips galore.  At only about 65 km at its widest point, literally anything you would want to do on the island is within a 20 minute drive if you’re accommodations are relatively central.  Rather than vacationers bringing provisions from the city and staying at the cottage, this fosters a “get up, go out and explore” vacation culture, and only adds to the general excitement and support for County’s small businesses.  

Lake on the Mountain Resort & The Miller House

Located just east of Picton on a small strip of land between the Bay of Quinte and Lake on the Mountain, this may be one of PEC’s most enchanting properties.  Featuring accommodations (either private 1-2 person lakeside cottages or B&B style), 2 restaurants (one traditional, one cheese & charcuterie boards only), and a craft brewery, we couldn’t recommend Lake on the Mountain enough.  Stay at the adorable (and affordable) cottages and enjoy a daily dip in the crystal clear waters purified by underground limestone, or swing by The Miller House for cheese and wine, and watch the sun set over one of the best views in the County.

The Lighthouse

When you go back twice in 4 days, you know it’s good! Tucked in the corner of the Picton Harbour Inn, this casual and family friendly restaurant serves traditional, home-style breakfast and lunch.  Go for the Big Bay Breakfast and add chocolate chips to your pancakes - you won’t be disappointed!  For lunch, you can’t go wrong with the Monte Cristo - a ham and melted cheese sandwich using French toast for the bread, paired with a helping of signature house-made coleslaw.

Picton / Coriander Girl

A trip to PEC wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down one of the County’s bustling downtown strips, lined with the most adorable shops, complete with a retro movie theatre!  Be sure to pop in to Coriander Girl, our best bbs and Parkdale neighbours, who have opened up a Main Street, Picton outpost of their infamous Queen West location.  Complete with local blooms, pretty stationary, and select vintage pieces, bursting with their signature charm with an added dose of County living.

Bloomfield / Slickers Ice Cream Shop

Aptly nicknamed the “doily of the County” by a local friend of ours, this tiny downtown strip is quite possibly the quaintest and most adorable village in all the land.  Only about a block long, Bloomfield’s boutiques, B&Bs, and cafes are housed in historic Loyalist and Quaker properties, featuring elegant and graceful architectural details and well-tended gardens.  Don’t miss the homemade ice cream from Slickers, the bright yellow ice cream shop on the corner where, I’m sure, there will be folks hanging outside with their cones.  Our recommendations?  “Campfire,” (tastes like burnt marshmallow), and “Apple Pie” were our faves!

The County Cider Company

Sip seasonal ciders and gaze out over the vineyard at the lake in the distance - can life get much sweeter?  This family operated estate winery crafts hard cider with 12 different varieties of apples grown on the family farm and nearby orchards, available for a guided tasting in the original stone barn, built in 1832.  Take advantage of the dramatic view and enjoy a light lunch on the lovely patio, nestled right into the vineyard.

Blueberry Picking

Across the street from the County Cider Company there are a handful of pick your own berry farms, which offer blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry picking when in season.  We were lucky enough to stumble upon Little Highbush Blueberry Patch for the first pick of the year, when the berries are as big as marbles and sweet as sugar.  There’s little quite as satisfying as a pint of blueberries picked right off the bush, a tasty snack for the rest of the day’s adventures!

66 Gilead Distillery

Quite possibly the most stately property in the County, this craft distillery is located in an ornate second empire home built in 1874 by a wealthy hops grower, perched on an 80 acre farm complete with the original hops drying barn.  The cutest chickens roam the grounds freely, adding to its charm.  Get your afternoon buzz going, and taste a number of truly finely crafted spirits - from their award winning gin (infused with juniper and lavender grown on the property), to pine infused vodka, barrel aged offerings including delicately spiced rum, Wild Oak and Crimson rye whiskies, and even two different types of shōchū (a spirit similar to sake).  The gin is easy to drink and superbly well balanced, but tuck a bottle of the Crimson Rye away in your bar for the colder months...aged in PEC Pinot Noir barrels, it is sure to light a fire in your belly on our cozy Canadian winter nights, and remind you of your summer adventures to boot!

The Lavender Farm

Perfect for a quick stop in between wineries, the lavender farm is certainly a sight to behold, their rolling fields blanketed in majestic shades of purple as you drive past. The gift shop is sweet as can be, with all sorts of lavender infused goodies from lotions to ice cream, soaps to culinary-grade blossoms.  Stroll through the field and explore all the different types of lavender (who knew there were so many!), and you can even purchase a lavender plant or two to take home.

Norman Hardie Winery

As if compelling you to appreciate the majesty and bounty of his land, you must drive down the path from the road, surrounded by endless rows on grapes on either side, to find the winery set deep within the vineyard.  Receiving countless accolades from the international wine community, if there is one vineyard to visit in PEC, Norman Hardie is certainly at the top of the list.  Having chosen select sites with a magical combination of clay and limestone soil, the mineral-rich terroir of Norman Hardie vineyards paired with a delicate, hand-crafted approach to winemaking has led to some of the finest wines in the New World.  The addition of a wood fired pizza oven, cranking out the County’s best thin crust pizza (with recipes developed by top chefs from Toronto’s Terroni and Pizzeria Libretto) truly takes this casual and approachable vineyard experience to the next level.  Enjoy a light lunch overlooking the dramatic grounds, a scene right out of Burgundy.  Then head upstairs to the tasting room, where the unique split level architecture allows you to walk right out into the vineyard - apparently an important part of the thesis here.  Don’t miss the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,  quintessential cool weather varietals perfectly paired to the pizza and ambiance, but the bottle to take home is the County Pinot Noir, made exclusively with grapes from the very vineyard you’re standing in, and the only one not available in the LCBO.

Sandbanks Provincial Park

Be transported to a tiny retro surf town as you drive from Picton due south to the Sandbanks Provincial Park.  The ornate farmhouses and rolling pastures give way to pine tree-lined roads, which occasionally break for a little ice cream shop, surf shop, or sandwich joint adorned with brightly coloured hand-painted signs.  Famous for its wide, picturesque sandy beaches - untypical of the Lake Ontario shoreline - and therefore a great spot for camping, swimming, and getting your tan on Floridian style. 

Wellington / The General / The Drake Devonshire

Situated directly on the shores of Lake Ontario at almost exactly the centre of the island (width-wise) just east of the Sandbanks, Wellington is the most central hub of Prince Edward County.  Akin to the traditional beach-y vacation towns of the east coast such as Cape Cod and the Jersey shore, tiny, colourful bungalows line narrow one-car-wide streets that lead down to the water from the main drag.  Be sure to grab a third-wave-quality coffee at The General, our Toronto besties that took their much loved Roncesvalles coffee shop, Local Hero, out to the County.  This is also the setting that the infamous Drake Hotel chose for their County outpost!  Stay in their architecturally marvellous accommodations, or, as the Drake does so well, drop by anytime, any day, any hour for breakfast, lunch or dinner, drinks or snacks, and stare off into the distance across the lake through floor to ceiling windows which make up the entire back wall of the dining rooms.

As I am sure you can imagine, this list is by no means all inclusive.  I could go on and on!  Pre-packed vineyard picnics at The Grange, a very civilized sparking wine tasting at Hinterland, the adorable Mustang Drive-In movie theater, a county drive and photo-op at Sunydale Farms’ sunflower fields, or cheese tasting at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co., there is no shortage of fun things to do in PEC.  Take a peek at Visit the County, PEC Chamber of Commerce, and PEC Wine Growers Association  for more complete listings and information on local businesses and community happenings, and we wish you a lovely and relaxing holiday in Prince Edward County!

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apricot rose jam with #pastelcraftclub

When my dear friends Alyssa (from Random Acts of Pastel) and Paige (from Studio Bicyclette) approached me to be a part of their #PastelCraftClub for a special one-on-one jam making session to share on their blogs, I jumped at the chance.  Spend some quality time with two of my favourite ladies, make some beautiful imagery, cook up delicious things, AND spread some tips and tricks for jam making at home? Sign me up!

Every fruit preserve is equal in my eyes, but after a bit of deliberation I decided to share not only one of the most seasonal fruits at the market right now, but also my personal favourite jam to make of the whole year!  Apricot jam is easy to prep (little to no chopping involved), intuitive to cook, bright and beautiful to look at, pairs perfectly with a variety of different flavour embellishments, and is a delicious addition to any pantry.

There are many different varieties of apricots that debut throughout the growing season, each of which have unique colours, textures, and flavour profiles.  From tiny yellow Pattersons (which we used for this shoot) to large blushed Rivals, to the most famous and rare jam-making variety Blenheims.  In California specifically, some growers are even experimenting with cross-pollination to produce unique stone fruit hybrids for added diversity and a breath of fresh air in our produce market, which has been dramatically simplified over the past couple decades for economic purposes.  Apriums, pluots, plumcots are all apricot/plum hybrid cultivars which inherit characteristics quintessential of their heritage.  In early summer, the most popular of these are the “velvet” varieties - including blackgold, and red velvet apricots. Actually apriums of 75% apricot and 25% plum, their velvety apricot-like flesh is paired with a tart, sour skin, a nod to their plum lineage.

Ontario apricots, set to debut in late July, have their own special characteristics due to our harsh northern climate.  Of course, Ontario fruit is harvested later in the summer months, featuring a more full-bodied apricot flavour with hints of tangerine.  Their denser flesh that is more resistant to breaking down when heated can be attributed to generations of growth in a northern climate as well as their freshness and short transport compared to the lengthy, refrigerated drive from California.  The end result yielding a more fruit forward, chunky preserve.

Alyssa, Paige and I had such a blast together in the kitchen, and it was an absolute joy to be able to share a little bit of the art of jam making with them, and now with you! So without further ado, scroll down for my Classic Apricot Jam recipe embellished with rose petals! I've also shared some easy peasy canning instructions to take all the stress out of preserving.  

Oh, and be sure to head over to Random Acts of Pastel and Studio Bicyclette for more recipes from local makers in the #PastelCraftClub, bright OOTDs, and other darling lifestyle goodness!

Ingredients:

5 lb apricots of any variety, pit removed (we used small yellow Pattersons, about 45-50 apricots)
2 lb sugar
4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons worth)
A small handful of food-grade dried rose petals

Equipment (suggested):
Traditional Mauviel copper confiture pan (available by special order through Kitten and the Bear) or wide double-bottomed stainless steel pot
Home canning kit

Method:

Day 1

  • Wash, then slice your apricots in half and remove the stone from the center.  We left our apricots in halves, but if you have larger, firmer fruit, you can cut once again in half to make 4 cubes.
  • Add the apricots, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice to a non-reactive mixing bowl, toss thoroughly, and cover.
  • Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2*

  • Line a clean baking sheet with clean, dry jam jars, and put into a 250 F oven.
  • Transfer your apricot mixture into a traditional copper jam pan, or wide stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum, as it will give your jam a dull colour, metallic flavour, and make it difficult for your jam to set).
  • Heat on high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan every couple minutes to avoid hot spots.
  • Your jam will come up to a boil and begin to foam.  Continue to cook, manipulating the burner heat to be at the highest heat possible without your jam boiling over.  The goal with all French style jam making is to have the highest possible heat, the most amount of evaporation, and the shortest time on the stovetop.  This results in a brightly coloured preserve with a fresh, fruit forward flavour.  Thus, this stage of cooking should only take approximately 20 minutes, depending on your pot choice and stovetop.
  • The foam will begin to fall, and you will notice that the fruit has started to get soft, puffy, and has begun to break down.
  • Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of your pot every couple minutes to avoid scorching, however not so often that you don’t allow to jam to come up to temperature and cook on its own.  
  • You will notice that the jam looks more homogenous, and the bubbles are now smaller, and more evenly distributed over the surface of the jam.  As your jam gets closer to being done, you may have to reduce your heat slightly or stir slightly more often.
  • To test for doneness, turn off the heat and scoop a representative sample of jam with a metal teaspoon.  Place the spoon in the freezer for approximately 3 minutes, keeping the pot of jam off the heat in the meanwhile. After 3 minutes, gently nudge the preserve with your finger to check the texture, and tip your spoon and see if it runs.  You can also push the pot of jam, which has now cooled ever so slightly, with a spoon or spatula to see if a skin has formed.  When you lift your spatula out of the jam, it should “sheet” rather than “drip”.
  • If you feel as though your jam should still be thicker, cook for another 5 minutes and test the jam again.  If it is done, skim off any remaining foam and stir in your dried rose petals, adding a little bit at a time to be appetizing and aesthetically appealing.
  • Remove your jars from the oven, and replace with your caps (set a timer for 10 minutes).  Using two heat-safe pitchers, scoop a pitcher full of jam out of your pot with one, and pour directly into the other.  Then, use this pitcher to portion out your jam into your sanitary jars.  I highly recommend purchasing a standard home canning kit such as this one, as a canning funnel and ruler makes this a lot easier.
  • Fill each jam to ¼” of headroom, or the first notch of your headroom gauge.  Wet a clean sheet of paper towel with hot water, and ensure there isn’t a single speck on jam on the rim or in the threading of your jars.  
  • Your caps can stay in the oven during this entire process, however ensure that they have been in the oven for *at least* 10 minutes.  Cap all of your jars according to the directions for your specific style of jar (mason or lug), and return to the oven for exactly 10 minutes.
  • Remove your jars from the oven carefully, space an inch or two apart, and allow to sit undisturbed for 24 hours to ensure a perfect set.
  • Enjoy!  This jam will keep up to 1 year sealed in your pantry (out of direct sunlight), or 3-6 months open in your fridge.

Get creative!  Apricot jams pair perfectly with a number of fun flavour embellishments. Some of my favourites are vanilla bean, amaretto, lavender, rose, kirsh, citrus zest (orange, lemon, tangerine), warm spices (cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, anise, nutmeg), brandy, ginger, and saffron.  Any spirits, petals, floral waters, zests, extracts and herbs should be added at the very end of cooking, while dried spices (ground or whole) should be added at the beginning to allow for a thorough infusion.

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make any jam into a jam-sicle

It seems summer is here early this year in Toronto, and nothing says summer like ice pops!  Equally thirst-quenching, sweet-tooth-satisfying, and bursting with nostalgia, there’s nothing quite like reaching for a ice cold, fruity, homemade treat on a hot summer day.  One of the things we love most about ice pops is the ability to flex your creative muscles, dreaming up all sorts of fruit filled concoctions with little to no chance of the end result being anything but delicious!  

Because we don’t use any commercial stabilizers, gel-ifying agents, or added pectin in our preserves, they can be used for all sorts of kitchen magic - from dissolving beautifully into iced tea as a natural sweetener and being shaken into craft cocktails, to baking into pastries and (to our amazement I might add) as a perfect base for ice pops!

So far this summer, we’ve recipe tested all sorts of different jam flavours, and they all work beautifully.  So grab your ice pop mold (we used these and these), and get freezing!

Ingredients:

1 part your favourite KATB preserve
2 ½ parts tepid water
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Method:

Simply add 1 part KATB preserve with 2 ½ parts water and stir to dissolve completely.  Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to your personal taste. The acidity of the lemon will brighten the fruit flavours and balance out the sweetness of the jam.  Pour into your ice pop molds, evenly distributing any chunks of fruit.  Freeze for about 24 hours to ensure your ice pops are deep frozen to the core.  

P.S. don’t be afraid to get creative!  Fill your molds part-way, freeze, and mix up a second flavour to create layered pops, or stick edible flowers down the sides before freezing for a pressed flower effect. The ice pop is your oyster!

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all about ontario rhubarb

Each and every year, we’re astounded by the excitement that the rhubarb harvest brings for customers and culinary professionals alike.  Rhubarb is the very first local “fruit” to appear at the market, and truly marks the beginning of the Ontario growing (and jam making!) season.

Technically a vegetable, the celery-like stalks of rhubarb are generally treated as a fruit, traditionally being used for baked goods such as pies, crumbles, and jam of course!  In the early springtime it surfaces as several pink and green ombre stalks growing straight out of the ground, with large, fan-like leaves (which happen to be poisonous when eaten, so be wary!)  Extremely bountiful and easy to grow in our northern climate, rhubarb is a beautiful and productive addition to any Canadian garden. To harvest your plant, simply yank on one stem as close to the soil as possible while holding the rest of your plant in place at its base. Voila- fresh rhubarb for all!  

Raw and on its own, rhubarb is very tart and sour.  Personally, I love it sliced thin and tossed into summer salads (similar to using green apple), or diced into hearty chunks and dipped in sugar. For jam making in particular, rhubarb lacks natural pectin content and falls apart quickly when heated, yielding a softly set, compote-like preserve. Blending with other summer berries however (strawberries being the classic pairing) lends a more vibrant colour, as well as additional pectin for a more fruit forward, complex texture.  

If you are in Ontario, we exclusively use fresh rhubarb from Lennox Farm.  They have a lovely farm stand that’s definitely worth a sunny Springtime visit if you have the chance!

Without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for rhubarb jam making at home:

  • Always use the freshest stalks you can find- still firm rather than droopy!
  • The pinker your rhubarb, the richer and redder your jam will be.  More colourful rhubarb varieties grow as the season progresses, so I like to make my berry/rhubarb blends early in the season, and pure rhubarb preserves later for the richest, most appealing colour.
  • Dice your rhubarb in large chunks to ensure you retain pieces of fruit in your final product, but not so long that you end up with an overly stringy preserve.  My general guideline is cross sections the length of a standard teaspoon, so when you scoop out your jam, the rhubarb fibers fit nicely on your spoon. Also, there’s no need to cut your stalks lengthwise- save a bit of time and effort, as these will fall apart naturally. Your rhubarb jam will likely start off looking like a fruit salad, but don’t fret, it will turn into jam before your eyes, I promise!
  • No matter what proportion you use, always mascerate your rhubarb in sugar and lemon juice overnight before cooking, especially if you are using our local tough outdoor grown varieties.  This will ensure that your preserve will retain rhubarb’s quintessential stringiness, without being overly fibrous.
  • Though strawberry rhubarb is a classic and tasty combination, don’t be shy to try other blends such as raspberry or cherry, or allow the delicate tartness of rhubarb to shine on its own in a pure fruit preserve!
  • Rhubarb jams balance beautifully with a number of creative flavourings: some of my favourites include rose, vanilla, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, citrus zest, and maple, or even savoury options such as bay leaf, smoke, or peppercorn (these make a delicious cheese board preserve or glaze for BBQ or roasted meats.)
  • Most of all, have fun and jam on!

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introducing: freshly picked prints!

introducing: freshly picked prints!

I’m sure you can tell, we like to make things pretty around here.  Whether it’s adorning a wall with vintage planters, mirrors and thrifted floral artwork, or setting a table with the loveliest china we can find, we can’t help but dress up the world around us.  With so much beauty blossoming this time of year, we thought, why not bring the outside in, and beautify your desktop!  Thus, in collaboration with our very own Melody Tam, illustrator and designer extraordinaire, we bring you a new seasonal blog series, Freshly Picked Prints to make your tech *berry* sweet!

This month, we chose to create some cute, springtime graphic patterns using our signature emojis (also found on our Jam & Tea Pin Sets!)  Simply click the pattern, then right-click the newly opened image and save for Falling Teacups, Lemons & Lavender, or Strawberry Blossoms, sized to perfectly fit your computer desktop, tablet, or smartphone!

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tea in the garden cocktail

tea in the garden cocktail

Mother's Day is right around the corner, and we are so excited about the jam and tea themed menu we’ve dreamt up for our Mother's Day Afternoon Tea that we wanted to share some of the highlights with you here.

Finally, Spring  is in the air!  As I’m sure you can imagine, this is one of our *berry* favourite seasons here at the jam factory.  Not only can we leave the door open with the beautiful, clean Canadian air filling the shop, but we begin to have all of the springtime bounty at our fingertips. The most flavourful berries and stone fruit of the year start to show up at the market, and thanks to all of the amazing growers that we work with, we also have the opportunity to get our hands on fresh petals- rose, violets, and elderflowers, all of which show their beauty during this sunny season.

What better way to celebrate the gorgeous weather than a tea-themed cocktail that promises to transport you to afternoon tea in an English garden?

-Serves 2-
Ingredients:

3 oz Dillon’s Unfiltered Gin 22
1 oz Lillet Blanc
5 dashes of Rhubarb or Cucumber Bitters
1/2 oz Wildflower Honey Syrup (4:1 ratio of honey to water, heated to a simmer then cooled)

1/2 tsp Jasmine Pink Lemonade loose leaf tea from Sloane Fine Tea
Edible Dried Rose Petals or Lavender Blossoms
Cucumber Ice
Sugar
Fresh Cucumber for garnish, sliced as thin as possible

Method:

  • To make cucumber ice, add 1 large cucumber and splash of water to a food processor.  Blend completely, and add to 1 L of water.  Allow to infuse for 2-3 hours.
  • Filter the cucumber water through a fine strainer, and pour into an ice cube tray.
  • Allow to freeze overnight or until completely solid.
  • To make floral dust to rim your cocktail coupes, add a tablespoon of dried flowers of your choice and a small pinch of sugar to a mortar and pestle. Grind until completely turned to dust.  
  • Pour onto a small plate or teacup saucer, and add a teaspoon of sugar for sweetness and crystalline texture.  
  • Using a small wedge of cucumber, moisten the rim of your glasses, and gently dip into floral dust. Set aside in a safe place.
Time to party!
  • Combine Dillon's gin with the Jasmine Pink Lemonade tea leaves in a small bowl.  Flash infuse at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, then strain directly into your cocktail beaker.  
  • Continue to add the Lillet Blanc, bitters, and honey syrup.
  • Fill ¾ of the way with your homemade cucumber ice, stir thoroughly for approximately 1 minute, or until sufficiently cooled.
  • Strain through a julep into your floral rimmed coupes. Garnish with a thinly sliced cucumber wheel, and enjoy!

Cheers to Springtime and fresh florals!

Barware available through Cocktail Kingdom or BYOB Cocktail Emporium.

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baby bacon, egg & cheese breakfast sammies

baby bacon, egg & cheese breakfast sammies

When we first opened up our shop in Parkdale, our mission was to create a jam palace, filled with every fruit preserve you could imagine- a lineup of rotating seasonal creations with truly unique flavour combinations. But what paired well with fruit preserves?  Well scones and tea of course!  And so with a lot of love and care, our signature buttermilk scone was born. Little did we know that our simple, traditional recipe was about to take on a life of its own, quickly becoming  just as much a part of Kitten and the Bear as our jam!  

There’s absolutely nothing that compares to pulling a warm tray of scones out of the oven. The smell of melted butter and caramelized sugar swirls around you, and even though your fingers are burning trying to touch the hot pastry, you simply can’t wait to break them open and enjoy the rich steam escaping from that flaky inside.  

We wanted to bring this special bakery experience into the comfort of your home, so we recently launched our Frozen Mini Scones for you to take and bake. Roll out of bed, pop a couple scones in the oven (dressed in pjs of course), and fill your home with the smell of freshly baked pastries like we do here at the shop bright and early each morning.  

Always on the hunt for more excuses to eat a batch of scones, we have come up with a bunch of mini scone hacks that we are so excited to share with you! We weren’t sure where to start, but after some deliberation we went with a  classic- the Baby Bacon, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sammie!

-Serves 2-
Ingredients:

1 pack KATB Frozen Bake-at-Home Mini Scones
4 farm fresh eggs
4 strips artisan cured bacon
Fresh chives
Your favourite cheese (we love aged cheddar)
Condiments & seasonings of choice (we’re into a sprinkle of Old Bay & jam)

Method:

  • Remove your Frozen Bake-at-Home Mini Scones from the package, space evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 F.  When you notice that the scones have started to turn golden brown (about 15-20 minutes in) rotate the tray and take the opportunity to place a small slice of cheese atop each scone.
  • While your scones are baking, fry up your bacon strips and set aside on paper towel to drain.  
  • When the scones are evenly golden brown and cooked throughout, remove them from the oven and immediately sprinkle with freshly chopped chives (so they stick).
  • Prepare eggs to your liking-  my favourite is softly scrambled with a splash of milk whipped in, but Bobby & Alena prefer sunny side up!  
  • Break each mini scone in half, and build your sandwich to your personal breakfast satisfaction- stack your eggs, bacon, cheese, a sprinkle of Old Bay and a dollop of mayo, jam, ketchup, or any other condiments of your choosing.  
  • Place the cheesy top half of the scone on your mountain of brunchy goodness. Your sammies should still be hot enough to melt the cheese inside, however if they have cooled off too much, feel free to return them to the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy into the afternoon! 

 

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