When It’s Too Hot to Cook…

20 07 2011

Temperatures are soaring in central Canada

Much of central/eastern Canada and the United States is currently engulfed in a heat wave that looks as though it’s only going to get worse in the days ahead!  Even those of us fortunate enough to have decent air conditioning don’t really feel like turning on the stove.  Standing over a hot grill outdoors isn’t much more appealing. Here are a few of my favourite ‘no-cook’ ideas for keeping the kitchen cool when the temperature soars:

Seafood Salad with Buttermilk-Avocado Dressing – Pick up some cooked seafood at the fish market and pair it with a cooling avocado-based dressing.

Asian Summer Slaw – Bagged coleslaw makes this delicious Asian-style salad a snap to put together.

Asian Summer Slaw

Crab and Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes – You can make these as hors d’oeuvres or use larger tomatoes for an elegant main dish.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette – Dress up summer’s best tomatoes with tangy goat cheese and a simple vinaigrette.

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad – Cool crème fraîche and cucumbers are delicious with smoked salmon and fresh dill.

Guacamole with chips – A summer classic. Serve with frosty margaritas!

Guacamole

Caprese Salad – If you have great tomatoes, dinner doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Chopped Antipasto Salad with Italian Vinaigrette – Some Italian favourites – in salad form!

Rotisserie Chicken – Pick up a rotisserie chicken at your favourite deli or supermarket and try these delicious ways to use it.

Duck Confit Salad with Fresh Raspberries – Shredded duck confit and fresh raspberries make an elegant and unusual dinner.

Sandwiches – Use summer’s bounty to make tasty and refreshing sandwiches. Tomato, cucumber, onion and lettuce all pair well with your favourite meats and cheeses.

Peach Tiramisu – An elegant no-bake dessert

Fresh Fruit – One of the best things about summer is that the fruit is so good, it doesn’t require much embellishment. Of course, a little fresh whipped cream on strawberries or peaches never hurt!

Peach Tiramisu

Bon Appétit and Stay Cool!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Old Fashioned Lemonade

17 07 2011

Freshly squeezed lemonade is a great way to beat the heat!

We’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave in Southern Ontario and it’s the type of weather that calls for an ice cold glass of lemonade. A couple of years ago I featured a recipe for Tuscan Lemonade that has been quite popular. However, because it has liquor in it, obviously it’s not suitable for children. This family-friendly recipe will appeal to everyone (and you can always add a splash of your favourite bourbon, rum or vodka if you’re entertaining!).

I prefer a lemonade that is quite tart and bold – you can always adjust the amount of sugar and water slightly to taste. I used quite large lemons – if you can only find smaller ones, use a few more. Small inexpensive juicers can be found at most kitchen stores or you can squeeze them by hand but it may take a while!

Old Fashioned Lemonade

Makes about 8 cups

  • 12 large lemons (for three cups of juice)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups white sugar (to taste)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tray of ice cubes (about 14 cubes)
  1. Juice eleven of the lemons – they should yield about 3 cups of lemon juice. Pour the juice into a large pitcher through a strainer to get rid of any seeds and pulp.
  2. Slice the remaining lemon into slices and remove any seeds. Set aside.
  3. Stir 1-1/2 cups of sugar into the lemon juice until it fully dissolves. Add the water and stir to combine. Adjust the sugar and water to taste if necessary.
  4. Empty a tray of ice cubes into the pitcher and add the lemon slices.

Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Garlic Scape Butter

8 07 2011

Garlic scape butter

A couple of days ago I wrote about finding garlic scapes at a farmers’ market in Bala, Ontario. I prepared a delicious and simple pasta dish with some of them but there were still a few scapes left over. At $1 for a good sized bunch of scapes, they’re a pretty good deal!

I decided to make some garlic scape butter and used it to make garlic bread to accompany the pasta. It only takes a minute to whip up and is very versatile. In addition to broiled garlic bread, you could use the butter on corn-on-the-cob, to finish steamed or grilled vegetables, with pan sautéed fish, on baked potatoes or just serve it with plain bread.

Garlic bread made with garlic scape butter

Garlic Scape Butter

Makes about 1/3 cup

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 garlic scapes, each about 20″ to 23″ long – discard the flowering ends and cut the scapes into 1″ pieces
  • 1 oz. (28 grams) parmesan cheese, grated (will equal about 1/4 cup once grated)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or dry white wine
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a food processor or the chopping cup of a hand blender, add all ingredients. Pulse until the butter is smooth and the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stopping to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula as nessecary.
  2. Butter will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

To make garlic scape bread:

  1. Slice a baguette or ciabatta loaf lengthwise down the middle. Spread a generous amount of butter on each half. Heat the broiler and place the oven rack in the highest position.
  2. Place the buttered bread slices on a baking sheet and broil until browned and bubbling (watch carefully – it only takes about a minute!).

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Ciabatta loaf with garlic scape butter





Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

6 07 2011

Garlic scapes at the Bala Farmers' Market

It’s finally July – the month when the summer markets really start to hit their stride. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a bit of time traveling over the past few weeks, including spending a wonderful few days in the beautiful Muskoka region of Ontario. One of my favourite things about driving through rural areas in the summertime is stopping at roadside markets and fruit stands. As luck would have it, the community of Bala was having a farmers’ market the day we were there so of course, I had to check it out.

In addition to strawberries, asparagus, peas, blueberries and rhubarb, I was excited to see garlic scapes at the market. Garlic scapes are the tops of the garlic plant and can sometimes be found at farmers’ markets in last spring and early summer (unfortunately, you probably won’t see them at supermarkets). They are long and curly and have a sweet, garlicky flavour. Scapes are very versatile and can be used like garlic in dishes such as stir fries, egg dishes, pastas and salads. They can be cooked or eaten raw and you can use the flowering ends as garnish.

Fresh peas are another early summer favourite of mine. They add a sweet burst of flavour to dishes or can be eaten simply cooked with a dash of salt and a bit of butter. The key to fresh peas is to cook them quickly and simply (they are also delicious raw) so don’t overcook them! When shelling peas, discard any peas that have grown large and have split – I find they can have a slightly off, ‘metallic’ flavour. Unfortunately, peas aren’t terribly efficient: I shelled 45 pods to yield just under a cup and I found a few pods with only one pea in them! However, their delicate flavour it worth the effort if you’re looking for a taste of summer. You can always use frozen baby peas to save time. Avoid canned peas – they don’t have the right sweetness or texture!

Cosmo's Smoked Meats - they make a fantastic dry smoked back bacon

A Few Helpful Tips:

  • This recipe is all about the quality of ingredients so use the best you can find. The sauce lightly coats the noodles – it’s not drowning in sauce. You can reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water before draining to add to the pasta if it looks a little dry. The entire dish comes together very quickly once you have your ingredients prepped.
  • I used a dry smoked back bacon from Cosmo’s Smoked Meats and it had a nice dry texture and smoky flavour. You can use any kind of double smoked slab bacon or smoked ham. Of course, regular strip bacon will work in a pinch but won’t have quite the same flavour or texture.
  • I also used fresh fettucine from the refrigerated case at the supermarket. For 500 grams/1.1 lbs. of fresh pasta you can substitute about 8 to 10 oz./226 to 284 grams dried pasta of any shape you prefer.

Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

Makes about 4 to 5 servings

  • 1 lb. (500 grams) fresh long pasta such as fettucine or linguine (or use 8 to 10 oz./226 to 284 grams dried pasta)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 oz. (142 grams) smoked slab bacon or smoked ham, cut into a 1/2″ dice
  • 3 garlic scapes, each about 23″ long, chopped – reserve the flowering ends as garnish
  • 3/4 cup fresh shelled peas (from about 40 to 45 pods)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 oz. (28 grams) parmesan, grated (will equal about 1/4 cup packed when grated)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a large pot of water to cook the pasta. While the water is heating, prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the bacon or smoked ham and brown until slightly crisp around the edges, about two to three minutes (if you’re cooking raw bacon, it will take a bit longer). Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Put the pasta into the boiling water to cook according to package directions. Drain once cooked.
  4. Add the chopped garlic scapes and peas to the skillet and sauté for one minute. Pour in the chicken broth and cook for another minute. Add the butter and stir until melted and return the bacon to the pan.
  5. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Stir in the grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a garlic scape if desired. Suggested accompaniment: Bread with Garlic Scape Butter.

Pasta with Bacon, Peas and Garlic Scapes

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.