Archive for June, 2010

In honour of Canada Day, the summer 2010 issue of homemakers includes recipes from every province and territory. The recipe from Ontario is a strawberry shortcake with a twist – the cake is moist and redolent of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. I decided it was the perfect dessert for our friend Allan’s birthday dinner. Special thanks to Allan and Eileen for taking this wonderful photo!

To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, be sure to use butter that does not contain colour and vanilla that is a pure extract, not artificial.

Spiced Strawberry Shortcake


1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

5 eggs

1/3 cup sour cream or buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp black pepper

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon

¼ tsp each baking soda, ground cloves, nutmeg and salt

4 cups hulled and sliced strawberries

2 ¼ cups unsweetened whipped cream


Line 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In large bowl, beat butter with sugars until light and fluffy; one at a time, beat in eggs until light and creamy. Stir in sour cream (or buttermilk) and vanilla; batter will look curdled.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, pepper, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and salt; blend into batter.

Scrape into prepared pan, smoothing top; bake in centre of 300-degree F oven until skewer inserted in cake comes out clean, about 90 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Carefully lift cake from pan, remove parchment paper and transfer to rack; let cool completely. Can be wrapped in plastic and stored at cool room temperature for up to two days.

Slice cake. Spoon strawberries over cake slices and top with whipped cream. Makes 12 servings.

From the summer 2010 issue of homemakers

This caponata from the July 2010 issue of Food and Wine is wonderful on fish, but would also be great served with crackers as an appetizer.

I don’t have access to fresh fish very often where we live, so I grilled frozen sole fillets instead. Any mild-tasting fish would work well.

Many of these ingredients can contain additives and preservatives, including the tomato sauce, white wine, white wine vinegar, marinated artichoke hearts, green olives and capers. To find a white wine low in sulfites, check out the organic wines listed LCBO’s Vintages catalogue or website. The amount of sulfites in the wine is listed – my husband can tolerate wine with less than 10 parts-per-million. A good source of organic wines (and you can order it by the case and have it delivered) is Frogpond Farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake (

Spectrum brand white wine vinegar has no sulfites added and the marinated artichoke hearts and capers made by Unico are all-natural. Hunt’s Tomato Sauce is additive free, as are the Pilaros brand garlic-stuffed green olives, available at Costco.

The fish was delicious, served with roasted asparagus and steamed rice.


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing

4 tender celery ribs, diced (1 cup)

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2 pound marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons small capers, drained

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons shredded basil

Six 7-ounce skinless mahimahi fillets (or other mild-tasting fish fillets)


In a large, deep skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add the celery, onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until just softened, 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, wine, vinegar, artichokes, olives, pine nuts, sugar and capers and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced, 8 minutes. Stir in the basil and let cool. The artichoke caponata can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Rub the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 9 minutes. Transfer the fish to plates, top with the caponata and serve.

From the July 2010 issue of Food and Wine.

The potato salad is the real star of this meal, which is from the June/July 2010 issue of Cook’s Country. The preparation is unusual, in that the potatoes are thickly sliced and microwaved until the edges are just translucent. They are then grilled and tossed with a vinaigrette, roasted red peppers, capers and parsley.

The finished product looks beautiful – be sure to toss with the potatoes with the vinaigrette when they are still warm from the grill, so they soak in all the luscious flavours.

I served the pork and potato salad with coleslaw, for a very quick and satisfying weeknight meal. To avoid preservatives and additives in these recipes, be sure to use a white wine vinegar that has no sulfites added or that is labelled “contains naturally occurring sulfites”. Also be sure to scrutinize the labels of the roasted red peppers and the capers. I use Pilaros brand roasted red peppers and Unico capers.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Garlicky Potato Salad


2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 3/4 inch thick

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper

1/2 up drained jarred roasted red peppers, chopped

3 tbsp drained capers (rinse to reduce saltiness, if desired)

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 pork tenderloins (1.5 to 2 lbs. total)


Toss potatoes and 2 tbsp oil in a large microwave-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (leave a small opening to let steam escape) and microwave on high until edges of potatoes are translucent, 4-7 minutes, shaking bowl (without removing plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking. Meanwhile, combine vinegar, garlic, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/4 tsp pepper in large bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining oil until emulsified. Stir in roasted peppers, capers and parsley.

Combine 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper and remaining sugar. Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt/pepper/sugar mixture. Grill over hot fire until browned on all sides and meat registers 145 degrees, about 12 minutes. Grill potatoes until charred and tender, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer pork to cutting board and tent with foil. Toss grilled potatoes with dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Slice pork and serve with potato salad. Serves 4.

From the June/July 2010 issue of Cook’s Country

The herbs in our garden are tender and lush right now. The first round of cilantro is done but the second one is coming along nicely. The oregano, chervil, sage, rosemary, dill, mint, chives, tarragon, summer savory, marjoram and thyme are doing well and we are just days away from harvesting basil and flat-leaf parsley.

Summer Savory

Here’s a simple recipe from Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection that uses fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary on lamb chops. The chops are rubbed with the herbs, fennel seeds, garlic, salt and pepper and then quickly grilled.

Chops ready for the grill

I served these with pouch-grilled fingerling potatoes: On a double layer of heavy-duty foil, combine fingerling potatoes (halved lengthwise) with olive oil, some garlic cloves (unpeeled), coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh herbs. Fold foil into a pouch and grill over a hot fire, turning occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

Herbed lamb chops with pouch-grilled fingerlings

Herbed Lamb Chops


1 tbsp each of chopped fresh thyme, oregano and rosemary

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp salt

4 lamb chops, well trimmed


Mix together all ingredients and rub all over lamb. Grill, covered, on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until desired doneness, about 8 minutes for medium rare.

From Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection

I don’t cook with buttermilk very often, and, when I do, I usually end up throwing out at least half the carton. But I have seen so many chicken recipes lately that use buttermilk as a marinade that I thought I’d give it a try. After making this recipe from the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living, I think I’m a convert! I cut the recipe in half, because I was only cooking one chicken, and let it marinate for a full day. It was delicious – moist, flavourful and well-seasoned.

I served the chicken with an old favourite – the green bean and potato salad featured on the cover of the July 1994 issue of Bon Appetit. Laced with red onion and basil and dressed with a balsamic-mustard vinaigrette, this is a nice change from traditional potato salad. If you can’t find the recipe online, let me know and I’ll post it here.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken


4 cups buttermilk

15 garlic cloves

1 cup fresh rosemary or thyme

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 whole chickens (3 lbs. each), cut into 8 pieces each (then halve breasts on the diagonal)

Safflower oil, for brushing


Combine buttermilk, garlic, herbs, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Divide chicken between 2 baking dishes. Cover with marinade, turning to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.  Heat grill to medium with direct and indirect heat zones. Brush grates with oil. Remove chicken from marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Grill breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks, skin side down, over direct heat for 10 minutes. Flip, move to indirect heat, and grill, covered, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes. Grill wings over direct heat, flipping often, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serves 12.

From the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living

Canadian Living featured this recipe from its new barbecue cookbook in the June issue of the magazine, so I thought I’d give it a try. While the end result was quite tasty, I would make a few changes to the original recipe. First, I don’t really understand why the recipe suggests cutting the steak into strip prior to grilling. To me, this is a recipe for dry meat, not to mention how tricky it would be to keep the strips from falling through the grill grate. So I left the steak whole and sliced it after letting it stand, tented with foil, for 10 minutes.

The second odd thing about the recipe is that the salsa is pureed in the blender. I did this and, while the result was flavourful, it was a strange pink colour and runny. A coarsely chopped salsa would have been much better. The barbecued vegetables turned out fine.

Finally, because the recipe calls for soft flour tortillas, these are more like fajitas than tacos. But maybe I’m just being picky; they did taste good!

Steak Tacos


1 lb thin beef grilling steak, cut into 2-inch strips (I left the steak whole)
¼ cup lime juice
1 onion, sliced
2 sweet peppers, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp black pepper
6 flour tortillas

Serrano Salsa

4 tomatoes

2 serrano peppers, seeded (I used a jalapeno)
1 clove garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander


Toss together beef, lime juice, onion, sweet peppers, garlic and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes or, refrigerated, up to 4 hours.

Serrano Salsa: Core tomatoes and blanch for 1 minute; drain and peel. In blender (although I think it would be better roughly chopped), purée together tomatoes, serrano peppers, garlic and salt. Stir in coriander.

Grill steak, onion and peppers on greased grill over high heat, turning once, until onion and peppers are soft and grill-marked, and steak is rare to medium-rare, 3 to 4 minutes. Slice peppers. Serve steak, onion and peppers in tortillas with Serrano Salsa.

From the June 2010 issue of Canadian Living

This recipe for spicy grilled shrimp from the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living is meant to be an appetizer, but I thought it looked so good I served it as a entree. The sauce is a wonderful combination of sweet-tart flavours, with a blast of heat. In this recipe, half of the sauce is brushed on the shrimp during grilling and half is reserved for dipping. It was so good, we plan to try it with our next batch of chicken wings.

The recipe calls for Asian chili paste such as sambal oelek, which is off-limits in our house because it contains numerous chemical additives and preservatives. Sambal oelek is essentially a paste of hot peppers and vinegar, so I improvised by dissolving a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce. It worked perfectly. To avoid additives and preservatives, use only fresh lime juice and a fish sauce with all-natural ingredients, such as Thai Kitchen brand.

The arugula we are growing on our deck is at its peak right now, so I served the shrimp with a salad of arugula, toasted almonds and shavings of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, tossed with a lemon-balsamic dressing. The recipe is in the June issue of Everyday Food. Steamed rice on the side soaked up the delicious sauce.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp


For the sauce (makes ¾ cup)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)

1 tablespoon Asian chili paste (such as sambal oelek)

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

Coarse salt

For the shrimp

Safflower oil, for brushing

36 large shrimp (about 3 pounds), peeled and deveined (tails left intact; optional)

Coarse salt


Soak 12 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring.  Meanwhile, make the sauce: Bring sugar and lime juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest, chili paste, and fish sauce. Season with salt.  Make the shrimp: Heat grill to high. Brush grates with oil. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer; season with salt. Divide sauce in half; reserve half for serving. Grill shrimp for 1 minute; brush with sauce. Flip, and grill for 1 minute more; brush with sauce again. Flip, and grill, brushing occasionally with sauce, until opaque, 1 to 3 minutes more. Serve with reserved sauce. Makes 12 appetizer servings.

From the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living

I was planning to make lamb kabobs for dinner last night, but, alas, there was no lamb to be had at the butcher’s. I decided to use chicken instead, and now I’m very happy there was no lamb! This is another good recipe from Canadian Living’s new grilling cookbook The Barbecue Collection. The Indian-style turmeric-spiced yogurt marinade made the chicken pieces incredibly succulent.

The kabobs are served with kachumber salad, which is a lovely fresh-tasting salad of cucumber, red onion and tomato that is hot, hot, hot from the jalapeno and cayenne (love it).

To avoid additives and preservatives in these recipes, be sure to use fresh lime juice, as concentrates tend to contain sodium benzoate. The recipe for the marinade suggests draining the yogurt for 30 minutes, but I skipped this step. If you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes so they don’t burn up on the grill. Basmati rice is a perfect accompaniment.

Lamb or Chicken Kabobs with Kachumber Salad



1 cup Balkan-style plain yogurt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 lbs. boneless lamb leg or chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes


Drain yogurt in cheesecloth-lined sieve set over bowl for 30 minutes (this step is optional). Transfer yogurt to clean bowl, discarding whey. Stir in oil, garlic, ginger, spices, lime juice and salt. Toss with lamb or chicken until well coated. Marinate, refrigerated, for at least 15 minutes or up to 8 hours. Thread lamb or chicken onto skewers. Grill, covered, on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until done, about 10-15 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Kachumber Salad

1 cup chopped cucumber

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup chopped tomato

2 tbsp chopped coriander

1 green hot pepper, chopped

2 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp granulated sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

From Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection

The Daring Kitchen is a wonderful website for foodies who blog. Each month, a challenge is issued to the Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers who have registered with the site. Essentially, each Daring Cook and Daring Baker makes the challenge recipe and posts about it on the 14th of the month.

I recently registered as a Daring Cook and June was my first challenge – pâtés and bread. I was quite apprehensive because the challenge included baking (which I consider to be one of the black arts). But I am happy to say that the French baguette turned out beautifully – with a very crisp crust and soft, slightly chewy interior. If you try the recipe, keep in mind that you must begin the starter the night before you want to bake the bread.

I made the Tricolour Vegetable Pâté, which also turned out very well. I could not find cannellini beans that did not contain chemical preservatives, so used Eden organic navy beans, which were just fine. Although the recipe said to mash the bean layer, I used the food processor to make it smooth.  For the red pepper layer, I used Pilaros brand roasted red peppers, which have no artificial ingredients.

When I make this recipe again, I will make the bean layer smaller and increase the amount of pesto, so that the green layer is larger.

But, all in all, this was a great challenge that I enjoyed. And I’m still amazed that the baguettes turned out so well!

French Baguette

Yield: Three 16″ baguettes


1/2 cup / 120 ml cool water

1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 cup / 240 ml flour


1 tsp / 5 ml active dry yeast

1 cup to 1 1/4 cups / 240 ml to 300 ml lukewarm water*

all of the starter

3 1/2 cups / 840 ml flour

1 1/2 tsp / 7 ml salt

*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.


Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water, then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly.

Mix active dry yeast with the water and then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you’ve made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer.

Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15″ log.

Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans.

Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they’ve become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450ºF (240ºC).

Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8″ vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.

Bake the baguettes until they’re a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2″, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.

Tricolor Vegetable Pâté

Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan

Line your pan with plastic wrap, overlapping sides.

White Bean Layer

2 x 15-ounce / 900 ml cans cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained thoroughly

1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp / 15 ml olive oil

1 tbsp / 15 ml minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

2 garlic cloves, pressed

Mash beans in large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and garlic and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread bean mixture evenly on bottom of prepared pan.

Red Pepper Layer

7-ounce / 210 ml jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, chopped

3/4 cup / 180 ml crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)

Combine peppers and feta in processor and blend until smooth. Spread pepper mixture evenly over bean layer in prepared dish.

Pesto Layer

2 garlic cloves

1 cup / 240 ml fresh basil leaves

1 cup / 240 ml fresh Italian parsley leaves

1/4 cup / 60 ml toasted pine nuts

3 tbsp / 45 ml olive oil

1/2 cup / 120 ml low-fat ricotta cheese

Mince garlic in processor. Add basil, parsley and pine nuts and mince. With machine running, gradually add oil through feed tube and process until smooth. Mix in ricotta. Spread pesto evenly over red pepper layer.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To unmold, invert pâté onto serving platter. Peel off plastic wrap from pâté. Garnish with herb sprigs and serve with sourdough bread slices.

I usually prefer to buy a good steak and just grill it with salt and pepper, but thought I’d try this Grilled Steak Diable from Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection, which calls for overnight marination of a thick sirloin. It turned out well, although most of the mustard-pepper crust stayed on the grill instead of the steak!

People who are sensitive to or allergic to sulfites need to be careful with red wine. My husband can tolerate wines with a sulfite content of 10 parts-per-million (ppm) or less. The LCBO’s Vintages catalogue and website list the sulfite content in their organic wines. To avoid additives and preservatives in this recipe, make sure your Dijon does not contain white wine, colour, sulfites or sodium benzoate. I served the steak with sauteed corn and grilled vegetables.

Grilled Steak Diable


1 lb. beef sirloin steak, 1-1/2 inches thick

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 bay leaf, broken into pieces

1/4 cup dry red wine

4 tsp olive oil

4 tsp black peppercorns

4 tsp Dijon mustard

sea salt


In large dish or resealable bag, combine steak, thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Whisk wine with oil and pour over steak, turning to coat. Marinate, refrigerated, overnight or up to one day, turning a few times. Bring to room temperature. Coarsely crush peppercorns. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry. Brush mustard all over steak; sprinkle with peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Grill, covered, on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until desired doneness, about 10 minutes for rare or 13 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board, tent with foil and let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. Season with sea salt to taste. Serves 2-3.

From Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection