Pimm’s Punch

18 08 2011

Pimm's is available at many pubs and bars in London

I recently returned from a wonderful weekend in London, England (just before the terrible riots that rocked the city). My husband and I spent the week sightseeing, shopping, attending the theatre and, of course, eating and drinking. One of the drinks that is quite popular in London is Pimm’s No. 1, a gin-based liqueur that is often mixed with lemonade and soda.

Pimm’s is a quintessentially British drink; it’s enjoyed at Wimbledon and the Henley Royal Regatta and is popular in bars across Britain. We enjoyed a delicious cocktail made with Pimm’s, lemonade and fresh fruit while enjoying some tea sandwiches during a break from shopping at Harvey Nichols. It’s a wonderfully refreshing summer drink and can be served by the pitcher, making it a great choice for entertaining.

I was surprised to discover that Pimm’s No. 1 is readily available at LCBO stores in the Toronto area (unfortunately, I don’t know about other areas – ask at your local liquor store). You can usually find it with liqueurs or near the gin section. While cucumbers are a traditional garnish, you can use whatever fruit/berries are in season. At this time of year, blackberries and raspberries might be nice additions.

Pimm’s Punch

Makes about 5 or 6 tall drinks

  • 1-1/2 cups (12 oz.) Pimm’s No. 1
  • 3 cups (24 oz.) lemonade, homemade or store bought
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 oz.) lemon-lime soda (ie. Sprite or 7-Up) or gingerale
  • Ice

Garnishes:

  • Mint leaves
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Lemon wedges
  • Orange wedges or favourite fruit/berries
  1. In a large pitcher, combine the Pimm’s, lemonade and soda. Stir to combine
  2. Add ice and garnishes.
  3. Use a large spoon to control the garnishes and ice while pouring into tall glasses.

Cheers and Enjoy!

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

Pimm's Punch makes a refreshing summer tipple

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Summer Lasagna with Vegetables, Sausage and Pesto

2 08 2011

Summer Lasagna with Vegetables, Sausage and Pesto

Farmers’ markets are at their peak right now and almost anything that grows during the summer is now available. To take advantage of the bounty, why not make this lasagna which is packed full of summer herbs and vegetables? It’s the perfect dish for entertaining because you can assemble it in advance and bake as guests arrive. The various components take a bit of time to pull together but it’s pretty straightforward and the effort is well worth it. The recipe can also be adapted to suit vegetarians.

Summer Lasagna with Vegetables, Sausage and Pesto

Serves 6 to 8

For a vegetarian version, omit the sausage and double the vegetables.

Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Sausage and Vegetable Sauce:

  • 3 mild Italian sausages
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced eggplant (about ½ small eggplant, cut into a ½” dice)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (cut into a ½” dice)
  • ½ small red pepper, diced
  • ½ small yellow pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 fl. oz. (796 ml) can whole tomatoes
  • 5.5 fl. oz. (156 ml) can tomato paste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt to taste

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups whole or 2% milk
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt, to taste

For Assembly:

  • 3 to 5 fresh lasagna sheets (or more to fit the pan)
  • 5 oz. mozzarella, grated (equals about 1 cup loosely packed when grated)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

To Make the Pesto Sauce:

  1. In a food processor or processor cup of a hand blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Make the Sausage and Vegetable Sauce:

  1. Remove sausage meat from casings. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet or enameled cast iron pot. Add sausage meat and cook until just browned, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove sausage from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onion to the pan and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chopped basil and red pepper flakes and cook for another two minutes.
  3. Pour in tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Add tomato paste and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes until it is thick (béchamel can be prepared during this time – see below). Season tomato sauce with a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Set aside until ready to use. Sauce can be refrigerated up to two days.

To Make the Béchamel Sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat butter on medium-high until just melted. Add flour and quickly whisk into the melted butter. Reduce heat to medium and cook flour mixture for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  2. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken and add another cup of milk. Continue until all milk has been added. Add nutmeg and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.

Assembling and Baking the Lasagna:

  1. In the bottom of a baking pan measuring 7” X 11” X 2” (2 quarts), spread a thin layer of pesto sauce. Cover with a thin layer of tomato/sausage sauce and top with a drizzle of béchamel.
  2. Place a fresh lasagna noodle on top, cutting sheets to fit the pan as necessary.
  3. Repeat the process: pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel, noodles/pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel, noodles/pesto, tomato sauce, béchamel. Top with shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan. Lasagna can be refrigerated until ready to bake, up to two days.
  4. To Bake: Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake lasagna for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and beginning to brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!
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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.





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.





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.





Sully’s Favourite Strawberry Shortcake

27 06 2011

When local strawberries appear at the markets, why not make strawberry shortcakes?

It’s finally summer!  When I was a kid, the beginning of summer meant the end of school, warm days at the beach and the start of strawberry season. My grandfather, Ralph (Sully) Sullivan had a camp on Washademoak Lake in New Brunswick and we would pick strawberries nearby. One of his favourite desserts was strawberry shortcake and my mom would whip up some biscuits and whipped cream to enjoy with the freshly picked berries. There is a reason why it’s a classic dessert – the combination is unbeatable!

Sully’s Favourite Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 6 shortcakes (there will be extra biscuits so just prepare more strawberries and cream for a larger yield)

Biscuits:

Makes 12 to 15 small biscuits – extras can be frozen

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the countertop
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Strawberries:

  • 6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • Sugar, to taste

Whipped Cream:

  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream (35% M.F.)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To Prepare the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Using a wire pastry cutter (or two sharp knives), cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles small pebbles.
  4. In a measuring cup, add the egg and milk and whisk together with a fork until smooth. Pour the milk/egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir briefly until it just comes together as dough.
  5. Sprinkle a small amount of flour onto a clean countertop or pastry board. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gently knead for about ten seconds. If the dough is very wet, add a bit more flour.
  6. Gently pat the biscuit dough into a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) thick. Using a cookie cutter or the top of a wine glass, cut the dough into 2″ circles. Re-shape the leftover dough and cut out more biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits in a pie plate so they’re just touching each other. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let the biscuits rise at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  8. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes in a 450 degree oven or until the tops are browned.
  9. Extra biscuits can be frozen and thawed at room temperature before using. (They’re also great with jam for breakfast!)

To Prepare the Strawberries:

  1. In a large bowl, add the berries and sugar to taste (the amount will depend on how sweet the berries are). Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before using. Note: You can mash them slightly with a potato masher if you prefer a juicer sauce.

Whipping the Cream:

  1. Place a metal or glass bowl (do not use plastic) and beaters in the freezer to chill about 30 minutes before beating the cream.
  2. Just before assembling the shortcakes, remove the bowl and beater from the freezer and pour the cream into the bowl. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the cream on high until it begins to froth.
  3. Pour in the vanilla and add the sugar, one teaspoon at a time, while continuing to whip. Continue whipping the cream until it forms still peaks. Do not over beat.

To Assemble the Shortcakes:

  1. Split six biscuits in half through the middle and place the bottom of each in bowls. Spoon a half-cup of the sweetened berries over each biscuit bottom.
  2. Place the top of the biscuit on the berries and top with another half-cup of the strawberries.
  3. Spoon a generous dollop of whipped cream over each serving. Garnish with a strawberry if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

A version of this recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.

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Strawberry Shortcakes are a summer classic