Farmer’s Market Report – September 14th, 2009

14 09 2009
Ontario Grapes

Ontario Grapes

I didn’t post a Farmer’s Market Report last week but I actually visited three or four different ones.  I was on the quest for decent tomatoes, which have been difficult to find this year due to poor weather earlier in the summer.  I did find a few that were okay but sadly, many more that were disappointing.  However, there are were a lot of other great finds as summer draws to a close:


I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I had never tried Ontario grapes (except in wine, of course, but grapes used in wine production are different from edible grapes). It seems I’ve been missing out!  I bought some seedless Coronation grapes last week and they were fantastic.  They tasted like grape juice but with a bit of a sour finish.  It was almost like eating sweet and sour grape candies.  They were so good that I went back and bought more.  Highly recommended as a snack or as part of a cheese plate.

Corn, Peaches and Peppers

Corn and peaches are still going strong.  The peaches this year are quite good and I’ve been enjoying them in desserts and out of hand.  I have a few that are getting soft so I may puree them into juice so I can enjoy some Peach Sangria on a late summer afternoon.  All of the corn I’ve had this year has been good and I’ve enjoyed it both on the cob and in salads.  There were lots of red bell peppers and shepherd peppers available, perfect for making Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Thyme Croutons.

Fall Produce

Despite the fact that fall is my favourite season, I’m a bit saddened this year to see typical autumn vegetables at the market such as squash, Brussel sprouts, apples, pears and leeks.  Summer seemed to pass quickly this year and I’m not ready for fall quite yet! Luckily, the weather in Southern Ontario is the best it’s been all year so hopefully that will allow us to enjoy what’s left of the season for a little while longer. As soon as the days turn cool, my thoughts will turn to braising, roasting and hearty fall dishes such as Leek and Ham Tart, Braised Short Ribs and Apple Caramel Tart.

There’s no need to lament the end of summer just yet – there is still a week left in ‘official’ summer and hopefully the good weather will extend the season even longer.

Until next week…


Peach Tiramisu

8 09 2009


A basket of Niagara peaches at a roadside farmstand

A basket of Niagara peaches at a roadside farm stand

Tiramisu is one of those desserts that became a victim of its own success.  It’s delicious when made properly but became so popular in restaurants that people got tired of it.  Like crème brûlée and molten chocolate cake, tiramisu became ubiquitous on menus in the 1990’s/2000’s and mediocre versions of these classics turned many people off for good.  However, it’s time to revisit tiramisu: my seasonal version is easy to prepare, requires no baking (perfect for hot days when you don’t want to use the oven) and is impressive in both presentation and taste.  Whenever I make it, it gets raves.

The key to this recipe is to use peaches that are at their peak: ripe, juicy and tender. If your peaches are too firm, leave them on the counter for a couple of days to soften up.  There’s no need to remove the skin but if you’d prefer to do so for presentation purposes, visit  Kitchen Tip of the Week: How to Peel Tomatoes and Soft Fruit for instructions.  

This recipe makes individual desserts, which are a fun and impressive way to present it.  It can also be made as one large family style tiramisu.  The servings don’t look as nice on the plate but it will taste fine.

Peach Tiramisu

Makes 4 individual desserts

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ cup chilled whipping cream
  • ½ cup amaretto liqueur
  • Approximately 10 large ladyfinger biscuits (savoiardi)
  • 2 large peaches, pits removed and cut into thin slices
  • Mint leaves, for garnish – optional
  • 4 martini glasses or other glass dishes suitable for serving the individual desserts

Making the Mascarpone Cream:

  1. In a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, 3 Tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  2. In a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until whites are frothy, glossy and form soft peaks. Set aside.
  3. In another metal or glass bowl, beat whipping cream and 1 teaspoon sugar until it forms stiff peaks (do not overbeat).
  4. Add egg whites and whipped cream to mascarpone cheese. Carefully fold in until just combined – do not mix vigorously.

Assembling the Desserts:

  1. Set out the four serving dishes. Spoon a small amount of mascarpone cream into the bottom of each one.
  2. Pour amaretto liqueur into a shallow bowl. Dip ladyfingers quickly into amaretto, just enough to moisten them (do not sit them in the liqueur or they will go soggy). Break biscuits as necessary to fit into serving dishes and layer over mascarpone cream.
  3. Top biscuits with peach slices and add another layer of mascarpone cream. Continue layering amaretto-soaked ladyfingers, peaches and cream, finishing with a layer of cream on the top.
  4. Refrigerate and let rest for at least 2 to 3 hours so biscuits have time to soften and the flavours can develop. Garnish with peach slices and mint leaves (optional).

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on

Individual Peach Tiramisu

Individual Peach Tiramisu

Artichokes with Lemon-Garlic Dip

4 09 2009


Ontario grown baby artichokes.

Artichokes are grown in Ontario? Yes they are!

I love artichokes and artichoke hearts. However, I don’t eat them very often for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I find fresh artichokes intimidating to prepare and eat. They’re beautiful to look at but I’m never sure what to do with all those leaves sticking out of them.  I usually eat them as part of an antipasto platter or in dips made with jarred hearts.  The second reason I don’t eat them is that I tend to focus on local produce in the summer so I don’t really think about them when I’m surrounded by local corn, tomatoes, peaches, etc.  However, all of that changed yesterday at the farmer’s market when I discovered this: artichokes are grown in Ontario.

For some reason this surprised me.  I’ve driven through Castroville, California which is the Artichoke Center of the World, growing 75% of U.S. artichokes.  Naturally I associated artichokes with California’s warmer climate and it never occurred to me that they might grow here.  I spoke to the farmer selling them and she told me that they are grown as annuals in Ontario (as opposed to perennials in California) and are started early in a greenhouse.  

An artichoke growing in Castroville, California

An artichoke growing in Castroville, California

The ones I bought were baby artichokes, which are smaller and more delicate than full sized ones.  Another surprise is that baby artichokes are very easy to prepare. Just trim the stem, peel off the toughest outside leaves, cut off the top 1/4 of the artichoke and steam the tender yellow heart.  The website provides excellent step-by-step photos and videos that are very helpful. Once you’ve steamed them, let them cool.  Serve with a delicious lemony-garlic mayonnaise that pairs beautifully with the tender hearts. If you can’t find fresh artichokes to steam, serve the dip with jarred or canned artichoke hearts.

Lemon-Garlic Dip for Artichokes

Makes 3/4 cup


  • 3/4 cup Hellman’s or Best Foods style light mayonnaise 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 small garlic clove, very finely minced
  • Lemon zest strips, to garnish (optional)
  • Toothpicks to dip artichokes
  1. In a bowl, add mayonnaise, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and garlic.  Stir to combine thoroughly.  
  2. Arrange cooked artichokes on a platter and pour dip into a side dish.  Garnish with lemon zest strips if desired.  Use toothpicks to dip the artichokes in the mayo.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!


Steamed baby artichokes with Lemon-Garlic Dip

Steamed baby artichokes with Lemon-Garlic Dip