Zucchini Pecan Loaf

zuchini pecan loaf- delish

It’s that time of year again, already! Sheesh, it’s almost August and it seems like it was June about five minutes ago.  Well, the good thing is the availability of  fresh, local produce. One of my daughter’s male friends keeps bringing me giant zucchinis–so I had no choice but to figure out a great recipe for Zucchini Loaf. This one is easy, really tasty and fairly healthy. It makes 2 nice big loaves, everyone likes it, freezes well…and uses up all those zucchinis that everyone keeps dropping off! Continue reading

Easy Afternoon Platter on the Patio

Since ‘chacuterie’ (prepared and preserved meats) seems to be the trend these days, this platter of cured meats and old cheeses was just the answer for an afternoon with company on the patio. Try to find a good local  source for some of these delicacies. I love to have some on hand in the fridge — great if company shows up unexpectedly…with a cold beer or nice glass of wine or a spritzer, it’s hospitable and tastes great too.  Put out some mustard, pickles and olives and Bob’s yer uncle. 😉

*For my local readers, these products come from our newest business on Rd. 38 “Seed to Sausage” – no antibiotics/hormones, ethically raised, etc. (amazing breakfast sausage as well). You can sample his products at the Sharbot Lake Farmer’s market (at the beach) on Saturday mornings from 9am-1pm. Continue reading

French Crêpes

blueberry ice cream filled crepe with yogurt and berries with lemon zest

ham and swiss filled crepe with mustard sauce

Crêpes are like very thin pancakes that you must handle a little more gently so as not to tear them. The batter is simple, but it needs to ‘rest’ at least an hour after you mix it up. They can be used in a myriad of ways – plain with maple syrup and butter, filled with fruit and cream or even used in savoury applications — ham and asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, chicken and broccoli in a cream sauce – the possibilities are limitless. The crêpes will keep well in the fridge or freezer, stacked with parchement paper in between. Continue reading

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

wild blueberry ice cream

Hello, I’m back!  While I was up north, I was able to procure some wild blueberries from the Powassen Farmer’s Market. They weren’t cheap…but I am committed to making Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream for a personal chef dinner for 12, so I really wanted to use wild blueberries– they are smaller, taste better (as in, they actually have flavour), no pesticides and they are perfectly seasonal and so Canadian. This recipe turned out a creamy, flavour-packed delicious ice cream– and I do consider myself an expert on the subject of ice cream.  I’ll be serving this with a blueberry/lemon poundcake. I think it’s going to be a nice ending to an elegant summer BBQ.  Well, if you have an ice cream maker collecting dust in the cupboard, get it out and make some ice cream. God knows it’s hot enough, eh? I think tomorrow will be a record hot and humid day, it’s  ice cream all the way. This is super easy to make!  Who knew?

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream

from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My House to Yours

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain before using) (I used fresh wild berries)
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon (or more, to taste, or play around with limes/lime juice)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream

*I will also be trying a dairy-free version with coconut milk

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, bring the blueberries, sugar, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice to a gentle boil. When the mixture is boiling and the berries start to burst, about 3 minutes, remove from heat.  Cool slightly.

Pour the mixture into a blender and puree until relatively smooth (it will never be completely smooth). Pour the heavy cream and sour cream into the blender and mix until  well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill completely in the refrigerator – probably 2 hours.

Pour into the bowl of your prepared ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

When ready, transfer to a plastic freezer container and place in freezer to harden, at least 6 hours.

Freeze in an air tight container. (will keep well for 2 weeks in freezer)

Remove from freezer 15-25 minutes to soften before serving.  Enjoy!!!

*would be amazing with a peach pie. Or a lemon pie. Or a cake. Or by itself. Or with chocolate sauce. It tastes wonderful.

berries, lemon, sugar, whip cream, sour cream

cook berries, lemon zest and juice and sugar for 3 minutes

the base -- berry mixture with cream added, refrigerate until very cold

pour into ice cream maker for suggested amount of time

enjoy! delightfully divine and creamy and super blueberry-y.

Nomad’s Rest Bed and Breakfast

A room with a view

I’ve had the pleasure to get to know the owner of a local B&B, Nomad’s Rest (Arden, Ontario), Linda Trembley. She is a passionate artist and person who loves people, art and food and manages to incorporate beauty into everything she does. Her bed in breakfast is beautifully designed, immaculately clean, soothingly comfortable with beautiful grounds. Linda will make you feel welcome with her warm persona and her delicious food which goes beyond breakfast.  You can find out more about it at her website. (click the ‘website’ word to go to her website)

Linda recently held an event, “Vernissage” – to showcase a young photographer’s work. (Savannah Cronk). I have been giving Linda some cooking classes over the winter and spring and together we put together a spread of delicious and elegant dessert bites for the art show. Enjoy this pictoral tour of the day.

Comfortable and elegant

cozy and restful

peaceful dining area

brownie lollipops, white choc raspberry cheesecakes, jam filled pufflets

lemon drop cookies

these brownie lollipops (without the sticks yet) were so cool looking and delicious

strawberry soup shooters with black pepper

watermelon mojitos

A lovely day was had by all 🙂

Swedish Birthday Cake

Swedish Birthday Cake

I came across this recipe from a Swedish friend of the family, Margitta.  She is well-known for her culinary skills and my daughter, Emily,  spent a week in Stockholm with Margitta in May, so I felt inspired to make this cake for my birthday. It is deliciously different from our North American perception of birthday cake, easy to put together, and classy in it’s presentation. It uses an odd sized pan — 12×4 inch loaf pan –I picked one up at a kitchen store for $10, but if your feeling brave, try it in your regular 9×5 loaf pan and let me know the result.  It is 3 layers of strawberry/banana/whip cream in a vanilla cake, and it’s absolutely delicious. It will serve 8-10 people, so  try it at your next birthday celebration – the recipient will feel extra special and  everyone I served it to -and  I’ve made it twice so far — loved it.

Swedish Birthday Cake

from Margitta Wendin

serves 8-10

For the cake:

3 large eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup cream or milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line pan with parchment paper (holding paper to pan with a few dabs of butter). Spray parchment with non-stick cooking spray. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Beat butter and sugar until combined, then add eggs, one at a time, and mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extract and mix until combined. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add to sugar/egg mixture alternately with cream, ending with flour. (Flour = 3 additions, cream = 2 additions). Mix until well combined.

Pour into prepared pan, bake 40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan, and let cool on rack. When fully cooled, slice into 3 even layers using a serrated knife.  Make filling and topping. Assemble. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

cake baked but not filled

slice into 3 layers with serrated knife

For the filling and topping:

500ml 35% whipping cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup strawberries, mashed, or strawberry jam (I used freezer jam)

1 banana, grated

a few sliced strawberries or some mandarin slices for garnish

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and vanilla, continue to beat until firm peaks form.

Place first layer of cake on platter and top with mashed strawberries or strawberry jam and spread with about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Top with second layer. Grate banana into about 1 cup of whipped cream. Mix and apply to second layer. Top with 3rd layer. Cover completely with remaining whipped cream, top with sliced berries or mandarins.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy! Excellent cake when strawberries are in peak season.

strawberry jam, banana, cake, whipped cream. Easy and delicious.

apply berries and cream to first layer

mix grated banana and whipped cream, apply to second layer

top with third layer, then apply whipped cream all over.

top with berries, finished product

layers of awesomeness

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil

yellow pepper soup with smoked paprika oil

If you’ve been missing soup lately because of all the barbequing, this is just the soup to fill the void, make you happy and soothe your soul. The title makes it sound complicated, but it’s as easy as hell.  * Smoked paprika is a Spanish form of paprika (made from red peppers) which has a smoky flavour and is (widely) available in sweet or hot. Try a specialty store if your grocery store doesn’t carry it.

I was wondering what to do with a few big yellow peppers I had and am so glad I made this. The soup is a nice, bright, summery colour; the drizzle of smoked paprika oil makes it look gourmet — and you won’t believe how amazing it tastes!  The soup itself is mildly flavoured with a nice texture, but the smoked paprika oil (which takes about 4 seconds to make) totally blew me away with the intensity it added. A smoky and spicy ‘pop’ in your mouth with every bite.  I absolutely loved it and even the picky people in my life enjoyed it. We ate it in small bowls for lunch for a few days with a salad – perfect. Try it — I know you’ll love it. Then, at your next dinner party, serve this as an starter – I’m going to, it’s that good. (and super easy to make). Keeps well for 3-4 days in the fridge, and I thought it tasted even better the second day.

Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup with Smoked Paprika Oil

adapted from foodnetwork.ca

makes 6-8 servings

For the Smoked Paprika Oil

1 tsp smoked paprika (hot or sweet– I used hot and it was great)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the Soup

3 large yellow peppers, halved and cored

1 large onion, diced

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tbsp olive oil

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste

For the Smoked Paprika Oil

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil over low heat. Add the paprika, mix and remove from the heat. Set aside. Pour into a small bowl.

For the Soup

  1. With the rack in the top position, preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the peppers cut side down on the cookie sheet. Brush with oil and broil until the skin blisters and blackens, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with foil. Let cool. Pull off the skin and cut the flesh into cubes.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook  the onion in oil until softened. Add the broth, peppers and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. In a blender or with an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with smoked paprika oil.

    roast, peel and chop peppers

    peppers, potatoes, onions and broth

    puree with immersion blender or use a traditional blender

    smoked paprika oil