Saturday, July 31, 2010

napa cabbage salad with peanuts and ginger

The final Everyday Food recipe made at the cottage was Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanuts and Ginger.

This one is quite a bit tastier than the napa cabbage salad from earlier this week with apples and caraway. The only thing I'd change about this salad is to maybe add some crushed ramen noodles.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

peach-blueberry cobbler

I've learned something very valuable while up here at the cottage - Bulk Barn is your best friend. I had planned on baking the Peach Buckle, so I brought all the necessary ingredients with me. Yesterday I decided to make a Peach-Blueberry Cobbler with the leftover fruit. With less than half the ingredients in the cottage, I was able to pick up the rest at Bulk Barn for less than $2. Super economical for such a dreamy dessert.

Sigh, it is so delicious! Buckles, slumps, grunts, clafoutis, cobblers - all the like are perfect no-fuss cottage desserts. Better than pie, in my humble opinion.

I halved the recipe because it would fit best in the cottage's Pyrex dish. I also made a cardinal baking sin, I used heart healthy margarine in place of butter! Never thought I'd see the day, but I love my grandma too much to be baking with food deemed off limits to her. She loved it! She's telling people about my cooking up here and said she's never eaten better and she's getting 'gourmet' meals! A bit exaggerated, but I'll take a compliment where I can get it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

grilled vegetable quesadillas with corn relish

Last I mentioned about L'Amis, I felt I didn't do justice to the great-ness of this farm stand. I found myself back again yesterday. This time for corn for last night's dinner of Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Corn Relish.

I think it's a tourist trap of a farm stand because it's situated right at the Lakeshore exit at HWY 11.

This is Owen's first little red wagon ride. This may be the Hummer of little red wagons.

Across the street is Billy Bob's Bait Shop. Not only do they sell bait and tackle, they also operate a snack shack where you can enjoy, North Bay's favourite snack food - the Pogo! I think they shouldn't shame themselves by associating with those wretched frozen boxed dogs, but should call them Corn Dogs! So much more appetizing.

Now, tell me they don't acknowledge themselves as a tourist trap with fanciful benches and unique photo ops.

For dinner we had Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Corn Relish.

These quesadillas are filled with farm fresh vegetables along with monterey jack cheese. We had some roasted chicken breast leftover, so I included that as well. This is my second day of barbecuing solo; I even changed the propane tank on my own. *proud* Because these quesadillas are grilled on the BBQ, I found they were a little dry for my taste. So the usual Mexican accompaniments (salsa, sour cream & guacamole) do very well with these.

Kind of odd, but this is my first time boiling corn and then removing it from the cob. I had to ask my grandmother how she does it just so I didn't mess it up. The corn relish was my favourite part of this meal! I don't know if it's because the peaches and cream corn fresh from the cob is perfectly in season, but this was so absolutely delicious. I may have been a little too generous with the green onion, but other than that it was dead easy and perfect for the season! Owen's version was yellow squash puree with chicken thigh which he LOVED!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

portobello burgers with bell pepper and goat cheese and napa cabbage salad with apples and caraway seeds

Last night I made Roasted Portobello Burgers with Bell Pepper and Goat Cheese with a side of Napa Cabbage with Apples and Caraway.

I know 'sliders' refer to mini-burgers, but I feel as though this portobello mushroom burger is a more accurate description of a 'slider'. Everything inside slips right out! With every bite, the two portobello mushroom caps slid and the roasted red pepper joined right in. Luckily, it was just Owen and I eating together, so as sloppy as it got I felt no shame. I wrapped my hands around the bun and held the entire thing firmly in place. I'm thinking there has to be a better way. Just one giant mushroom cap and a layer of goat cheese to act as glue between the mushroom and pepper? I don't know, but I do know that I'll make this again. The flavour was great and as I get older, I find myself passing up opportunities to eat beef burgers.

The napa cabbage salad was good. It tastes healthy in a way that might turn off people if you, say, brought this to a picnic. This one I may not make again even though it wasn't bad.

Monday, July 26, 2010

orange, roasted beet and arugula salad

Last night I made Orange, Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad for dinner.

I meal planned before I came up to the cottage so that I could continue working through the book. I just had to decide which recipes could work given the many cooking obstacles up here. Actually, these same limitations have made dinner making much easier so I can spend the most amount of time on the beach and not in the cottage kitchen. I prepped all the dressings before arriving because the cottage naturally wouldn't have a pantry stocked full of 5 different types of vinegar, 3 different types of oil and Dijon mustard. I have to live without fresh cracked pepper this week - oh the sacrafices ;)

Anyways, I picked up these beets at the farmstand down Lakeshore Road in North Bay called L'Amis. I was attempting to be all Francophone about it and saying the name as you would expect a french word would be pronounced. But the neighbours told me it's pronounced - "Lamb-ies". I'm left with so many beets I'm making Quick Pickled Beets this morning.

Back to last night's salad. It's delicious and I highly recommend it. Roasting the beet takes a bit of time, but everything else is just quick assembly. I really enjoy the flavour combination of roasted beet and orange. I think most people were aware of this combination, but I only discovered it since cooking though this book and I'll probably always use it from now on.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

peach and wild blueberry buckle

I'm up north right now. Do you know what being up north means for fruit? Wild Blueberries!! I'm totally obsessed!! I'm on a quest to pick them for free because a basket costs $30. You heard me right, 2 quarts at the North Bay Farmer's Market this morning. But if you haven't had wild blueberries, well, you haven't experienced a blueberry.

We grew up blueberry picking on jagged rocks in the bush as kids. I now understand why our parents took us - cheap labour! No, it really was fun. Well, according to my grandmother, the berries aren't as plentiful as they used to be, so it looks like I'm forced to dole out the dough to enjoy this treat.

It's well worth the price even just for a pint if you can bake with blueberries the same day, so I made the Peach Buckle recipe from Everyday Food and substituted a cup of peaches for blueberries. What an amazing dessert!

What it took to make it happen, well that's a story onto itself. Here is the cottage's hand mixer, avocado and still in its original box!

It gave off a slight burning odor when the motor ran for a couple minutes, but it got the job done. Next, I had to find a baking dish in the cottage where my grandma admits she hasn't baked in for years. Luckily, I found a Pyrex dish hidden away. Lastly, I had to use the cottage's gas stove from 1950 (I'd guess) which no one was sure if it was even temperature calibrated. I just took a chance and the buckle turned out amazingly! We enjoyed this out on the porch this evening, what a delightful cottage treat this turned out to be. There were five adults and this dessert was only half eaten.

Once I'm done blogging about this I'm going straight back to grab another serving. I'm on vacation so two desserts in one night is perfectly appropriate.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I started out with making strawberry jam and a few combined flavours like strawberry banana and strawberry rhubarb. Nuno was even thoughtful enough to take some time and create this illustration for my jam lid's. Pretty cute, eh? But, one of my main goals this summer was to make Apricot Jam.

It's my favourite type of jam because it's so versatile. I had no idea when I decided this just how simple it is. You wash, pit, chop and preserve! No straining or removing of the peel, which is really nice.

I made three batches. The first and last were the jam recipe supplied by Certo pectin and the second batch was from Fresh. Anna Olson's Apricot Preserves recipe was quite a bit more involved, but I wanted to make a special batch. I had no idea just how involved it would be until I realized I had to track down some lavender. As fate would have it, I was shopping at Harvest Barn looking for lavender when I discovered that up the road was a lavender cultivator.

This is Lavender Boutique located at the Great Mountain Centre on Niagara Stone Road and the people who run it are fantastic! I had no idea that I couldn't use ordinary lavender (like the kind that's growing at the side of my house), but they snipped me some culinary lavender and sent me on my way. No charge! Pretty nice, eh?

I am so happy with the result of Anna Olson's Apricot Preserves. It set up perfectly and the taste is so fantastic for special occasions like on a cheese plate or topping on a special dessert.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

spinach linguine with creamy walnut sauce and broiled spiced apricots with ginger whipped cream

Here is Spinach Linguine with Creamy Walnut Sauce.

This is very heavy and rich. I actually revised the recipe slightly when it called for a cup of heavy cream I used half whipping cream and half & half. I doubt there really is a difference because it seemed to work out great. The first night we had this I thought it wasn't bad, but not great. But having the rest last night, the flavour had improved so much. I kept a bit of the pasta liquid around for reheating the leftovers and it's a good technique for rehydrating pasta without making it soupy.

Then for dessert we enjoyed Broiled Spiced Apricots with Ginger Whipped Cream.

I honestly didn't think much of this dessert because it seemed too simple, but it is so incredibly delicious! It's the best apricot dessert I've ever tasted. This is honestly the easiest to make - in turn - impressive dessert I can think of. You all must try it... today... before apricot season is over!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

pondview estate winery

Lately Nuno's been commissioned by a local design agency to illustrate for a few wineries in the region.

Finally his first job is complete; an illustration for Pondview which is featured on their website, all their promotional material and on every single wine label!

This winery is located between Virgil and Niagara on the Lake (behind Niagara Stone Road). We are local and got lost trying to find it because our GPS and Google maps didn't seem to properly identify the address. I ended up using the 'Ontario's Wine Route' map and it cleared everything up. I've included the Pondview portion of the map.

Driving toward N.O.T.L. down Niagara Stone Road (marked 55 on above map), make a right at Four Mile Creek Road. There are signs for the winery here. Less than 1 km is Line 2 and make a left. Follow through the subdivision and you'll find Pondview.

We paid a visit this past weekend to see what they were all about.

One of the owners gave us a tour and we sampled a couple wines. They were good and I look forward to visiting again in the future when they are even more established.

Monday, July 19, 2010

olson indy weekend

Having Nuno help in the kitchen on the weekend really makes it easy to knock off something greater than Everyday Food. During the week I can handle making dinner from Everyday Food recipes, but when we want something a little nicer for the weekend we can turn to Anna Olson's collection of recipes. There was so much cooking and baking from Anna's books going down this weekend, it may take me a few posts to get through them all.

This is Saturday night's dinner of Marinated Flank Steak Salad. Oh my gosh - delicious, delicious, delicious. That's all I can say. I love Anna Olson's creative salad ideas I honestly wonder if I'll ever make a regular green salad again. The dressing was so truly delicious despite subbing in fresh basil for the recommended tarragon and a white onion instead of red. It made so much I really look forward to keeping this dressing around for future salads.

The next morning I found Nuno working on Chocolate Griddle Cakes with Cinnamon Peaches. I know... I married the perfect man when he can bang out a recipe like this as a treat. And he nailed it! They tasted like brownies. But we noted that the griddle cakes are slightly bitter and require the cinnamon peach dressing. If you haven't jumped into buying peaches yet, they are totally ready and delicious. They remove from the stone perfectly, peel nicely, are super juicy and have the most gorgeous peach colour with deep red streaked through the flesh.

From Fresh, this is Icewine Sabayon with Summer Fruits. I think this might just be the most extravagant dessert I have ever made. Sounds rich and uses rich ingredients. Luckily, with Katie working at Inniskillin, there is always a bottle of ice wine available at my parents house. I used Inniskillin Riesling ice wine for this dessert. The fruit combination is all locally grown strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and apricots. This is one dessert I'd love to serve for out of town guests.

Since the sabayon took 6 egg yolks, the left over egg whites were used in a doubled a batch of Coconut Macaroons from Everyday Food. Macaroons are my favourite cookie and I have so many people giving me their 'best' macaroon recipe, but this one seemed golden because of it's simplicity. Yep, too simple for me to bake correctly, here is how they turned out:

What a disaster! Not a complete disaster though because they are actually quite tasty if not on the ugly side. But I have to wonder where I went wrong. I've read and re-read this recipe and am still baffled. It looks to me like I'll have to add quite a bit more coconut to this recipe in the future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

salmon, green bean and cucumber salad and rice salad with raisins and radicchio

Here is last night's dinner of Salmon, Green Bean and Cucumber Salad and Rice Salad with Raisins and Radicchio.

It was like eating at a spa! Yep, this is good-for-you food and it really was super tasty. The sesame oil flavour is so delicious in the Salmon, Green Bean and Cucumber Salad. The Rice Salad with Raisins and Radicchio was a great surprise. It held up great the next day. I think this salad tasted better the second day. I'll definitely make this one again in the future.

It also worked out wonderfully for Owen's puree which was straight up unseasoned portions of salmon, green beans and cucumber. Salmon is his all-time favourite food, so he just loved this concoction.

Friday, July 16, 2010

blueberry-yogurt smoothies and ice cream fun!

Every morning this week I've been feverishly working on a different ice cream & frozen yogurt. This past Monday I received my copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz at my doorstep. I'm totally inspired by these recipes because the amount of effort and ingredients are minimal and the results are awesome.

I'm up blending and pureeing and freezing while simultaneously making breakfast. It's super easy - like 15 minutes easy! If you asked me a year ago if I wanted to take out the food processor and make ice cream I'd never have agreed. But since it's my most used appliance right now (making Owen's meals) it fits right into my current lifestyle.
Not only that - I'm at the local fruit stand every other day picking up short seasoned fruits (cherries, raspberries etc.). Making jams is VERY difficult with a little one to take care of, so my solution to preserving the fruit is to make ice cream and store them in the chest freezer.

The only part I dislike about making frozen desserts is straining. It's quite boring and painstaking having to slowly sieve the blended mixture but it is SO worth it. It produces the creamiest texture and is a step I just can't avoid.

This is Sour Cherry Frozen Yogurt. This flavour is very evocative of cherry pie and is a total flashback to my youth.

This is Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream. This is so decadent! One and a half cups of whipping cream will do that but it's worth it! Nuno and I were both totally struck by the flavour. Not only is it over the top amazing, it's a flavour of a dessert we ate in the past. We think we've nailed it to a dessert we once had at a wedding, only it may have been a mousse.

I'm also really enjoying making Owen's purees from the amazing bounty of fresh fruit. Our current favourite is pureed apricots and apples. This is one combo I'll always taste test before feeding to him ;)

Now for yesterday's breakfast where I decided to make Blueberry-Yogurt Smoothies from Everyday Food for all of us. They were great, but I didn't like the temperature of mine so I threw it in the fridge to chill. I then moved on to making the frozen dessert of the day, Blueberry Frozen Yogurt. It then dawned on me that I could just take my uneaten smoothie and turn it into frozen yogurt. I strained it and voila - breakfast!

It really didn't feel like a healthy thing to eat, but it is. Banana, blueberries and plain yogurt - you don't get much healthier or delicious.

Yep, this $20 ice cream maker is a keeper. What an awesome investment!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

german potato salad, radicchio and endive slaw, arugula with avocado, blackberries and feta

Ever wonder what to have with a sandwich for dinner? A salad... or try three! That wasn't the plan, but sorta just happened that way based on what I had lying around yesterday.

This is Everyday Food's German Potato Salad. Very quick, simple and good. If I make this again in the future it will have to sit overnight to intensify the flavour a bit.

Another quick salad is Everyday Food's Radicchio and Endive Salad. Same as above, quick, simple and good. It made a ton! Too bad it only lasts a few hours.

Finally, the show stopper! Visually and flavourfully above all the rest is Anna Olson's Arugula with Avocado, Blackberries and Feta. This is so surprisingly delicious I can't wait to have it again for next day lunch. I have to admit, I fully expected this salad to be that delicious. When we saw the Olson's cooking demo at Inniskillin they sampled the Corn and Blueberry Toss from Fresh (which my mom made this past weekend) and this unusual flavour combination is out of this world. I think it is a new summer staple in my family because we all love it. When we eat it we just sit there saying how good it is.

Having this many unrelated salads together in one meal felt very summery. Like a potluck or a family gathering. In hindsight, we should have eaten at the picnic table in the backyard, it would have been a perfect meal for it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

big day tomorrow!

Hey Aunt Katie!!

Can't wait to play at the water park with you tomorrow and try on my new hat!

beef skewers with horseradish dipping sauce, watercress and cucumber salad, potato and prosciutto kebabs with green goddess dressing

Ever since I saw Anna and Micheal Olson at Inniskillin, I realized how her 'Fresh' book is perfect to work through as well. It applies so well to Niagara's seasonal produce that I'm taking a bit of a release from Everyday Food and incorporate Anna Olson's collection as well.

Last night's dinner was pretty much a weekend stunner of a meal. I wish we could have had this on a Saturday night, but it was a real treat for a Tuesday.

Everyday Food's Beef Skewers with Horseradish Dipping Sauce, Watercress and Cucumber Salad and from Anna Olson's 'Fresh', Potato & Prosciutto Kebabs with Green Goddess Dressing.

This meal illustrates how Everyday Food has it's own set of issues compared to Fresh.
I went to R&J Meats, a butcher a block from my house for the meat. The recipe asks for Flat Iron Steak (shoulder top blade) and the butcher had to go over a few different meat options that might be similar to what I was asking for. This has happened a couple times because the Canadian beef industry and it's standards differ from the U.S. I ended up with sirloin, a much pricier cut of beef, but felt it was worth it because these kebabs are all meat.

Now on to my issue with Fresh. When assembling the Potato & Prosciutto Kebabs, both Nuno and I were puzzled by the technique for skewering them. The explanation in Fresh wasn't clear and there wasn't a photo to help guide us. The other issue I have with this recipe is that the skewers spend only a couple minutes on the BBQ, and that is not enough time to cook the red onion. I enjoy onion on a kebab when it's soft and caramelized, but these skewers just didn't allow time for that to happen without charring the proscuitto. I also found that buying lean proscuitto is only good if you are eating it as-is. If your going to cook it into a meal a bit of fat marbleization is a good thing.

Watercress was very difficult to find. I shopped at the largest grocery store, Superstore, looking for it and even they didn't have it! It must be out of food style right now. Luckily Harvest Barn carries it! They also carried all the herbs I needed for the Green Goddess Dressing. I was very much looking forward to making the dressing and keeping it around for my veggie snacking. And if I didn't travel around enough for this dinner, I also purchased my prosciutto at Pupo's (Welland grocery store I was raised on). My mom discovered that they carry the leanest and most delectable prosciutto, cut on-site of course.

Some notes about this meal:
• I discovered that watercress is so peppery, it's almost a bit too pungent for my taste. I'd rather just eat arugula.

• The beef kebabs were nothing short of incredible! Easy and tasty. The horseradish mayo, well, you haven't lived till you pared beef and horseradish - but I'm sure you know that already.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

bean, corn and tortilla salad

Last night we had Bean, Corn and Tortilla Salad.

I've been looking forward to this recipe for a while and holding back on it because it seems like a perfect summer salad. Yep, it's so refreshing in this warm weather.

There is a taco salad at Wendy's I've picked up a couple times. It includes many of the same elements of this salad, but you pour their chili on top. It's huge! Well, this is a way more refreshing and restrained version of that salad. It's so much better for you and the environment (you should see all that get's thrown away from the packaging of Wendy's taco salad!).

Love it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

food chronicles of sarnia

There are two food related places I found myself visiting daily while in Sarnia.

First was Coffee Lodge for my morning coffee. I'm not into flavoured coffees, but this place does it *so* right. While there I had Jamaican Rum and Snickerdoodle flavoured coffees. I always stock up on beans on my way home. Their mapled moca java is so amazing I ended up purchasing 5 lbs!

Secondly I found myself always returning to Sunripe.

Sunripe is a locally owned high-end market. I can only describe it as Harvest Barn jacked up. Or a smaller-scale Whole Foods. They do not sell hardly any boxed/pantry goods, mostly farm fresh produce, on-site prepared foods, deli, artisan cheeses and baked goods. Everything about this place is esthetically pleasing. If your looking for cooking and baking inspiration, this is it! I have returned home with a Mexican Fiesta Dip, Cheese Onion Bagels, Coconut Macaroons, Flax Trail Mix and 7 Grain Salad. I'm so surprised I didn't buy more!

icebox peanut butter cup and icebox cherry amaretti

Upon my return home I plowed through a couple more icebox dessert recipes. Both are so incredibly delicious in very different ways. Icebox Peanut Butter Cup is sweet and decadent. It's perfect for a sweet tooth. The Cherry Amaretti is way more sophisticated and seasonal.

Icebox Peanut Butter Cup
(makes 2)

Blend 3 tbsp creamy peanut butter with 1 vanilla pudding cup until fully incorporated

1 Kraft Peanut Butter Thinsations

2 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (one crushed)

Layer Cool Whip

Layer Famous Wafer (whole)

Layer Chocolate Pudding
Layer Cool Whip

Layer approx 4
Kraft Peanut Butter Thinsations Cookies
Layer Vanilla & Peanut Butter Pudding

Layer Crushed Famous Wafer and rest of
Kraft Peanut Butter Thinsations, mixed
Layer Cool Whip

Top with Crushed Peanuts

Cherries are in season and I bought a huge basket this weekend from Quiet Acres Fruit Stand. (located at Lakeshore Rd. & East West Line N.O.T.L.). Aren't they gorgeous? They almost glow from within.

I happened to also purchase a box of amaretti biscuits while grocery shopping this week, so I put them together to make this delicious and classic combination of Cherry & Almond!

Icebox Cherry Amaretti

Small handful of cherries, pitted

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp amaretto

Steep cherries in sugar & amaretto for 5 minutes
Blend one vanilla pudding cup with a few drops of almond extract

Any layering option is great here. Here's what I did for this dessert,

Layer Crumbled Ameretti

Layer Vanilla Pudding

Layer Steeped Cherries

Layer Cool Whip
Layer Crumbled Amaretti

Layer Vanilla Pudding

Layer Steeped Cherries
Layer Cool Whip
Layer Crumbled Amaretti

Layer Vanilla Pudding

Layer Steeped Cherries
Top with sprinkle of Amaretti and Sliced Almonds