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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

This year, I’ve been spoiled by my grandmother – which is not unusual – except that I am now receiving a quarterly magazine with fresh, classic, and inspiring recipes from Normandy. It’s great, coming at a time when I am often at a loss for ideas since cooking for one is simply less fun than for two. It’s amazing how easy it is to get entrenched in routine in the kitchen, and this magazine has done wonders for me this year in getting me back into the exciting realm of cooking.

I love how this salad captures the flavours of summer, while being filling enough for a weekday lunch. I’d recommend making this soon, while the tomatoes are still sweet off the vine.

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Ingredients – for 4 servings

-1 Boursin cheese, garlic and herb
-1 boston leaf lettuce, washed and dried
-200g cooked Puy or French lentils (I cooked 1/2 cup in 2 cups vegetable broth for 25 minutes)
-1 pint ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
-1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 chicken breasts
-1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
-1 Tbsp honey
-3 Tbsp chicken cooking jus
-salt and pepper

Directions

Cook the lentils until tender but still intact, about 25 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Dice the chicken breasts. Heat the butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken. Cook 4-5 min per side until cooked through and golden. Season with salt and pepper. When the chicken is cooked, add 30mL of water to the pan and scrape the pan with a spatula to make the jus. Simmer until reduced and flavourful.

Coarsely chop the pistachios. Break up the lettuce leaves coarsely, add them to a large bowl with the lentils, the quartered tomatoes, the chicken, small spoonfuls of the Boursin, and sprinkle with the pistachios.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the chicken jus with the mustard, honey, vinegar and salt and pepper. Once it is smooth, add the olive oil one spoonful at a time while mixing. Season to taste and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately!

-Sitelle

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As Sitelle and I live a few hundred kilometres apart, it’s always a treat when we get together for dinner.  We had the pleasure of dining together last week, and I knew I wanted to cook something easy and fun involving the grill, as I was cooking for a small crowd (my parents and her fiancé joined in on the party!)   We started with her tasty kuri squash soup and ended with my favourite dessert of all-time, raspberry glacee pie. All in all it was a lovely escape from the hectic life of a medical clerk!

Shish kabobs are one of my favourites – and with all the gorgeous fresh produce (ripe cherry tomatoes! perfect yellow zucchinis! fresh red onions!) at the farmer’s market in Ottawa, I couldn’t help but be inspired. Who doesn’t love meat cooked by fire (not to mention veggies cooked by fire)??

I love the hint of rosemary in the marinade as it keeps the meat tasting fresh. Whenever I make these kabobs, I usually try to use a high-end cut of meat.  The marinade will tenderize the beef regardless, but as the recipe calls for little beef, it’s always special to splurge on the high-end nicely marbled cuts.  Feel free to mix up the type of veggies – the combination below is the classic choice in my family.

If you are feeding vegetarians too, it’s easy to simply leave off the meat on a skewer or two.  I usually have leftover veggies after threading all the skewers balanced with beef and veggies anyways.  With these extra veggies, I cook them on a separate skewer or simply in a large basket for the BBQ.  Charred vegetables make for great leftovers!

Classic Beef Shish Kabobs

The kabobs got eaten before I was able to snap a post-grilling pic, but here they are assembled and ready for the grill

Classic Beef Shish Kabobs

Serves ~6

Ingredients

For the marinade

3/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, pressed

2 tsp. granulated sugar

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 lb top sirloin steak, trim the fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

For the kabobs

2 red onions, cut into large wedges

24 cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed

2 zucchinis cut into large rounds

24 cherry tomatoes

2 peppers, cut into large 1-inch chunks

2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste

6-12 metal skewers (or if using bamboo, soak in water for half an hour)

Directions

To make the marinade: In a bowl, stir together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, rosemary, and pepper.  Place the beef cubes in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in the marinate. Seal the bag and marinade at room temperature for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight in the fridge.

About half an hour before you want to start grilling, combine the vegetables with the oil and seasonings.  Toss gently to combine. Place the beef in a bowl and discard the marinade.  Thread the beef and vegetables on the skewers, dividing them evenly, until the skewers are filled.  Start and end with a vegetable on your skewer as often the grill isn’t as hot near the edges.

Prepare a hot fire in a grill – either over hot coals or high propane. Place the skewers on the grill directly over the heat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, then turn the skewers with tongs. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes more for medium-rare or longer for well-done.  The veggies should be cooked but firm and nicely charred, while the meat should give easily when pressed.

To serve, slide the beef and veggies off the skewers onto a platter and enjoy.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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As the end of BBQ season is approaching, I wanted to share one of my family’s absolute favourites: a tangy BBQ sauce for pork ribs.  For me, the very definition of summer is enjoying these ribs on a hot summer night at the lake, preferably with corn on the cob and potato salad as sides!

Bewared: I’ll admit this sauce has destroyed me for all other pork ribs.  After savouring this superior sauce, the overly sweet or overly spicy sauces you find at restaurants just never makes the cut in comparison.  What I love about this sauce is how easy it is to prepare, how the tomato caramelizes just so when grilled, and how there is a hint of sweet and spicy without those flavours overwhelming the rest.

The ribs take some effort to assemble – boiling the ribs, preparing the sauce, then grilling the ribs – but the first two tasks can be prepared a few hours (or even a day or two) before you get down to grilling the ribs. Certainly there’s no rush in assembly, and my grandmother (the champion-maker of this recipe) more often than not takes a swim in between steps.

I’m already counting down the days until it’s summer again, so I can chow down on these ribs!

The magic of these ribs is the sauce!   I can never get enough of it...

The magic of these ribs is the sauce! I can never get enough of it…

Country-Style Barbecued Ribs

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 pounds pork country-style ribs

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp prepared mustard

1 tsp salt

1 tsp celery seed

1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

Cut ribs in 3-4 rib portions. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven cook ribs, covered, in enough boiling salted water to cover till ribs are tender and cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Drain well.

Meanwhile, in saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil till tender, but not brown.  Stir in tomato sauce with brown sugar, lemon juice, Worchestire sauce, mustard, salt, celery seed, and pepper. Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Grill ribs over slow coals until charred, about 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. While grilling, brush ribs with sauce so they are well coated.

Serve ribs with the extra sauce and your favourite summer sides such as potato salad, asparagus,  or corn on the cob.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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With the sun shining and the temperature soaring into the high 20s, it’s hard to believe its already Fall.  I love the changing of the seasons, especially when the weather is so mellow.  As the sun glistens on my bike ride home, I soak in the rays while admiring the leaves starting to turns.  Even better, the farmer’s markets are bustling, bursting with produce.

Who doesn't love peaches and raspberries?

Who doesn’t love peaches and raspberries?

I’ve been home visiting my parents, and this past weekend we celebrated my mother’s birthday. She is a raspberry addict, so her birthday dessert just had to have an infusion of raspberries.  We had a beautiful basket of peaches that were perfectly ripe and also needed eating, so I decided to combine the two for a special treat.  I happened upon a recipe for raspberry peach crisp from Averie Cooks and it seemed like the perfect choice to combine the peaches and raspberries for our celebration.

The crisp itself was delicious, full of bold flavours that complimented rather than overwhelmed each other.  The raspberries’ tartness stood out beautifully with the smooth peaches, a delicious combination I’ll most certainly have to try again!  I loved the fresh flavours along with the ease of assembling – it took a mere 10 to 15 minutes.  And who doesn’t love a crispy oatmeal topping?

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Raspberry Peach Crisp

Ingredients

Fruit Filling

2 1/2 heaping cups diced peach chunks (about 5 medium ripe peaches)
1 1/2 heaping cups raspberries (I used fresh, but the original recipe says frozen is just fine)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Crumble Topping

6 tablespoons salted butter, cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch pie dish.

For the fruit filling: In a large bowl, add the peaches, raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch.  Toss gently to combine and place in pie dish

For the crumble topping: Place the brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until small pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the fruit filling.

Place pie dish on a cookie sheet (in case there’s an overflow as it’s cooking) and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Crisp is ready when it is bubbling vigorously along the edges of the pie plate and the topping is golden browned.

Cool on a wire rack.  Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Bon appétit!   Catherine

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As a senior medical student, I am learning the foundations of being a good doctor, spending anywhere between 40 and 90 hours each week in the hospital.  While I generally love my work, it often leaves me drained and pinched for time (especially after a 26 hour call shift!)  My meals have therefore become simpler (and make in abundant quantities to last a few days), but I haven’t stopped cooking.  I have been guilty of neglecting Gourm(eh)? over the past year, but hope I can make up for it with a few summer recipes over the next few months!

One of my favourite things is receiving my biweekly organic food boxes from Front Door Organics.  They deliver gorgeous fruits and veggies right to my front door – and in the summertime, I love choosing their local Ontario produce.  It’s always a treat finding veggies you just can’t get at the grocery store, such as sweet purple carrots, colourful watermelon radishes, and tangy micrograms.

I love potato salad all year round, but in the summer I try to avoid heavy mayonnaise dressings. The recipe in my most recent food box caught my eye.  Inspired by local veggies now in season, their potato salad has a light lemony vinaigrette.   Below is a modification of their suggested recipe of the week – Simple Summer Salad with Green Beans & New Potatoes.  Being an omnivore, I substituted their cubed smoked tofu with bacon, but it would be easy to return to their vegan recipe.

This summer salad was delicious.  I was too excited to chill this recipe for 30 minutes before trying it, but it was even better cold as leftovers the next day after the marinade had mellowed the salad.

Summer Potato Salad

Potato Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

(4-6 generous servings)

Ingredients:

SALAD MAKINGS

  • 1 pound new potatoes, halved
  • 1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, coarsely chopped
  • 2 green onions, minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup olives, sliced
  • 2-3 tbsp capers
  • 5-6 slices of bacon, cut into bite size pieces (or 1 cup cubed smoked tofu)

VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped herbs (such as basil, parsley, and tarragon)
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt

Directions:

To prep the salad ingredients, start by boiling the new potatoes in salted water until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain and immerse potatoes in an ice bath to cool. Blanch the zucchini and green beans in salted water for 1-2 mins, then drain and also immerse in an ice bath to cool.  Remove veggies from ice bath and allow to air dry (don’t keep them in the ice bath for longer than 2-3 minutes to avoid getting soggy).

Meanwhile, cook the bacon and prep the other veggies.  Place all the salad makings together in a large bowl. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together, then pour over the salad.  Gently mix. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Farmer’s markets are one of my favourite places to visit. I enjoy how markets allow me to meet the people who grow the greens, raise the laying hens that produce eggs, and who produce anything else that catches my eye.

There’s another important reason why I enjoy markets so much: I draw inspiration from everything I see, and I like to challenge myself to cook  vegetables or fruit I am less familiar with. This past weekend I attended the Sweetwater Music Festival in Owen Sound, and since I did not have any concerts to attend in the morning G. and I went to the farmer’s market to explore what local products were available.

At one of the vendors, a basket of tomatillos caught my eye, and I remembered a bunch of cilantro in my refrigerator in Ottawa.

Back home, I drew inspiration from the beautiful sunny weather, despite the cold, whipping up a tangy spicy green salsa for a lunch BBQ at my neighbour’s place. In the end, I was invited to play some board games another time, “as long as [I] make that salsa again!” I’ll leave it to you to try it, and see if it measures up to its reputation as an immediate “invite-granting” commodity!

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Ingredients – An appetizer for 8, as long as there are enough tortilla chips!

-1 lb Tomatillos, peeled and washed

-3 Shallots, peeled and quartered

-2/3 Cup fresh cilantro leaves

-Juice from 1 lime

-4 Dried red chilli peppers (or more or less to taste)

-Tiny pinch salt

-Tortilla chips

Directions

Preheat the broiler while you peel and wash the tomatillos and prepare the shallots. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place 2/3 of the tomatillos and two of the shallots on the sheet. Make sure none are touching (they roast better that way). Broil for 7 minutes, then turn the vegetables and broil on the other side for another 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the remaining raw tomatillos and shallot, and place in a food processor (or blender). Wash the cilantro and place in the food processor as well with the hot chillis and juice from half of the lime.

When the veggies are done roasting, place them in the food processor as well, then coarsely blend it all. Add a pinch or two of salt, and some additional lime (to taste).

Place in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips – or alternatively, serve on burgers hot off the grill!

-Sitelle

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Several posts ago I wrote about peanut butter-based snacks. I love peanuts and peanut butter so much. Although there is a risk of peanuts carrying aflotoxin (you know, on those really gross-tasting peanuts), the Canadian food supply keeps them at acceptable levels. Peanuts were my dietary staple in The Gambia. I’d grab a bag of roasted peanuts on the road; I’d pick them in the fields with the women and we’d carry them home in big buckets on our heads; we’d hull them on raised concrete platforms with a nut in each hand which we’d whack on the concrete and remove from the shell, with a big pile between our knees that never seemed to end. Peanuts are the way of life there. I ate them every day.

To make peanut butter, simply roast your peanuts, squeeze them in your hands to remove skins when they have cooled, and then place them in a blender or food processor or food grinder and let it spin! The longer you go, the smoother it gets. Add a teaspoon or two full of vegetable oil if it is not liquid enough – that will depend on the variety of groundnut you have! Adding a pinch of salt will bring out the flavours more if you’re interested.

Upon my return, I’ve craved peanuts big time. Thanks to my lovely host families, I had a plentiful supply, despite my distance. I quite enjoyed roasting them and turning them into peanut butter, before they were transformed into the delicious snacks and meals which I’ve already started posting including the Domoda and the Chocolate Kickers, and this childhood favourite snack of mine, these peanut butter logs.

Ingredients – three 4-inch logs (approximately)

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer the ‘just peanuts kind’, which you can buy or make yourself with a food processor or blender – simply follow the instructions under the picture)

4 Tbsp honey

5 Tbsp milk powder (or 7 Tbsp if instant), or more as needed

2-3 Tbsp desiccated coconut

Directions

Mix all ingredients together using a strong fork or whatever works for you. Place a third of the desiccated coconut on a sheet of parchment paper, and spread evenly. Form a third of the mixture into a log, and roll in the coconut. Place in parchment paper or wax paper and freeze.

Slice once frozen, and serve immediately for an energy-packed snack!

You can also add dried cranberries or mini chocolate chips for extra punch.

Hope you enjoy these!

-Sitelle

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