There are few ways in which I consider myself stereo-typically Canadian. For example, I’m not obsessed with hockey (unless it’s the winter Olympics; then I’m annoyingly into it). I don’t pronounce “house” or “about” as “hoose” and “aboot”, which are two of the first words many ask me to pronounce when they find out where I’m from. I hate the winter. And although I’m a patriotic Cape Bretoner, I wouldn’t be the type to sing Canada’s praises all the time (especially considering the current government).
Some areas where I’m proud of my country? Well, I think we have produced some of the world’s best musicians (think less Celine Dion and more Neil Young) and comedians (John Candy’s my personal fave). Our beer is actually really good – and I’m not talking about Moosehead or Molson Canadian, I’m talking Blanche de Chambly and Alexander Keith’s and the amazing micro-brews you’ll find across the country (like this one in Cape Breton).
Also, I’m mad about Canadian food. We have some of the most innovative chefs in the world. Take a look at the multiculturalism that makes up our population – take all that ethnicity and throw it in a pot: that’s Canadian cuisine. Our chefs and restaurants don’t necessarily get the global attention they deserve, but I kinda like it that way. We don’t have Michelin stars in Canada and we’re not on the World’s 50 Best list (yet!), but I also find Canadian chefs aren’t bothered by trying to be the best. They always do their best, though, and it shows. I was certainly taught by some great chefs.
That almost turned into a sermon, and I’m nowhere near where I wanted to get to with this post.
I love maple syrup!
In Canada, most people think the province of Quebec does maple syrup best. I almost completely agree. I really, truly love Cape Breton maple syrup, though. And don’t try telling me it’s all the same – it isn’t.
Like a fine wine, maple syrup is different every year depending on lots of external factors: temperature, whether it’s been a mild winter, whether the spring came early, and so on. You can get light, medium or dark syrup depending on how hardcore your love of the sweet stuff is. Maple syrup is serious business.
My parents were kind enough to bring some Cape Breton maple syrup for me when they came to visit. Yesterday I was down to half a cup and wondering what to do with it when my mind wandered to the blueberries I had in my freezer. Then I remembered that an entire summer had gone by without blueberry grunt (only my most favourite summer dessert). Blueberries and maple syrup are bff’s, so I decided to stew the two ingredients together for the grunt.
What is a grunt? It’s a traditional Nova Scotian dessert that’s almost identical to a cobbler. The big difference is the biscuits (in this case we’ll call them dumplings) are steamed instead of baked. Instead of a sweet, crumbly topping you have a soft, pillowy one. It’s divine. I like to serve my blueberry grunt with crème anglaise or Chantilly cream.
Maple Blueberry Grunt
For the sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup good quality maple syrup
rind of half a lemon
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Splash of good quality vanilla
For the dumplings:
2 cups AP flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
About one cup of buttermilk
- In a saucepan or dutch oven, add the blueberries, syrup, brown sugar, lemon rind and vanilla. Place the pot over medium heat and cook the berries until soft (mix often with a wooden spoon to avoid burnt sugar! I’ve made that mistake…).
- In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients for the dumplings. Rub the cold butter into the mixture until coarse crumbs are achieved.
- Gradually add the buttermilk while mixing until you have a sticky, soft dough. Add more buttermilk if the dough appears dry – this should be slightly drier than a muffin batter and stickier than scone dough.
- Drop dough on top of the berries by the spoonful. Cover the pot with a tightly fitted lid, turn the heat down so the berries/syrup don’t burn and leave for 15 minutes. In this time, the dumplings will steam.
- The dumplings will be fully cooked when they bounce back when lightly touched. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with crème anglaise or Chantilly cream. Serve warm.