Category Archives: picnics

summer salad, oops.

Okay I am really horrible and it’s October and here is the salad I ate all summer and, really, I can’t believe I am quite this bad at blogging, but maybe this salad will make up for all my shortcomings. It would not be the first time I have fixed a problem with avocado, nor will it be the last.

This salad comes via Mark Bittman’s 101 simple salad recipes. I sometimes think Bittman is a bit much, but I do agree with his stance on lettuce (thumbs down!). Lettuce is overrated, and you don’t need it to make a delicious salad.

Basically, this salad tastes like summer and takes maybe eight minutes to make if you have a difficult can opener. It tastes better with fresh, boiled, corn, or, if you are the luckiest, with barbecued corn, but I usually use a can of corn. It works.

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  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 handful cilantro, diced

for the dressing:

  • 2 limes
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (This stuff is way easier to find than you’d think, and it is so, so good.  New staple!)
  • a bit of olive oil

This is a salad.  So, you know, toss the ingredients and then add the dressing.  I promise this is such a great salad but also works as a salsa-type condiment, I think I put it on a burger at one point and really congratulated myself on that one.  I guess it’s a bit late for barbecue season but next year, next year.

farmers market

Basically, in the summer, a food blog gets hard. Mostly I either want to eat burritos on a patio with a gin and tonic, or a pseudo salad of avocado and tomato with balsamic vinegar. Neither of these meals make for particularly exciting blog posts, as you can probably guess.

Summer, though, is also the best time for farmer’s markets. I love the weekly markets in the park, they are just the most romantic. But, they also don’t quite inspire recipes, but rather delicious meals that are maybe a little bit too easy.

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Most of this breakfast came from the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market. Grilled ramps, poached egg, delicious bread and seriously, for real, the most amazing ashen goat cheese from Monforte Dairy. This cheese! So incredible! But, you know, so good that any sort of recipe is totally unnecessary.

pickles

I love pickles.  Making pickles has been on my to-do list forever, but higher on the list is “not die of botulism” so I kept not making pickles.  But, then!  I found a lovely book on quick pickles at Good Egg, and the main selling point was not speed and ease, but the lack of botulism potential. Basically, because these pickles are not canned, you have to eat them within two weeks, which is a fair price to pay for life. I know that the likelihood of getting botulism is low, but I am unwavering in my fear, so this book is the best.

Okay, enough about botulism. I made pickles! This book is also pretty exciting because it gave me lots of exciting pickle possibilities. This first round, I made smoky pickled corn. The book is a bit overwhelming because the recipes call for a lot of ingredients, but then you look at it closely and see that 8 of them are spices, so it’s okay.

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  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled, whole
  • 2 red peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, cut in rings
  • 4 tomatillos, quartered (take off the paper skins!)
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 4 cups white vinegar (this was supposed to be white wine vinegar, but I misread it)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 4 dried fresh chilis, sliced
  • 4 ears of corn, cut into chunks

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic, peppers, onions and tomatillos until everything is softened.  Don’t brown them!  Set them aside, then bring all the other ingredients except the corn to a boil in a really big pot.  Boiling vinegar smells crazy, you might cry.  Add the corn once everything is boiling, and then let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies and bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat off and let everything cool.  Keep these in the fridge and eat them for 2 weeks, no more!

I had many fake ploughman’s lunches with these pickles, and was pretty into it.  Eat the corn rounds like corn on the cob, they are pretty spicy but pretty delish, I think.

delicious salad!

Spring is here and I’m pretending it’s summer. Basically, this means bare legs even though it’s too cold, subbing gin and tonics for whiskey, and eating salads so happily. Last week I made this delicious chick pea salad, and then I made it again, and then Annie made it for our cookbook club, and it just keeps getting better. The recipe is from Falling Cloudberries, which is beautiful but, as we decided, very liquidy. Annie and I both judiciously decided to substitute a tablespoon or two of oil instead of using a cup of oil. It works, for real.

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  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 red onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 hot chili peppers
  • 3 scallions
  • handful coriander
  • handful parsley
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 handfuls of feta
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Salads are salads and I don’t really believe in serious measurements when it comes to salad.  Add more of anything you love, and you will probably love it more.  Fry the diced onions, garlic and peppers, season them and let them cool as much as you can.  Add in the chick peas (the author recommends peeling the skins off but that feels like a lot of work for a meal that would otherwise take ten minutes), the chopped greens, the feta and the lemon juice.  I think feta is kind of a lame cheese, so I subbed in oka once, and do not recommend it.  Stick with the feta!  This is a good salad!

panzanella

I used to work at Chez Piggy in Kingston, and learned lots about cooking and working in kitchens.  The big thing for restaurants is trying hard not to throw out food, but at the same time serving fresh food. Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential tries to do a big exposé on daily specials and how they’re just ways to sell ingredients that are about to go bad, but it’s pretty much common sense and you can be the lowly dessert girl (and, later, the lowly line cook) and still see how this works. Or, you know, you can just think about it. Anyway, bread was a hard one at Chez Piggy, there was a sister bakery, where I later worked, that made all the buns and breads for the restaurant, and so there was basically always too much bread. And day-old bread didn’t cut it. One of the ways to get through this was panzanella, a pretty delish bread salad. Sometimes I want this bread salad so much that I can’t wait for my bread to go stale. This happened this week, so I toasted slices of a baguette to dry them out.

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The recipe is easy and quick, but made better if you take some time with it.

  • dry bread (I always vote for a ciabatta, it’s crusty and soft, but this time I used a demi baguette and it was better than okay)
  • two bell peppers
  • tomatoes
  • jarred artichoke hears
  • capers
  • red onion
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

If you’re using fresh bread, toast it, rip it into pieces (rustic!) and leave it out as long as you can.  If you have time, slow roast the tomatoes as long as you like.  I used grape tomatoes, and roasted them with olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper for about an hour and a half.  For the last fifteen minutes, I threw in a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Grill or roast the sliced peppers and onions.  Chop the artichokes.  Mix everything together in a bowl.  The oil and vinegar from the tomatoes should be enough to coat everything, but you really want a lot of sauciness.  Add more oil and vinegar if you want more.  I also threw in half an avocado and some cheddar, because everything is better with avocado and cheese.

This gets better after a day or so, and would make a great picnic.  The weather has been amazing lately, so maybe maybe this is a possibility for next week!

wedding! tomatoes!

Emma and Tiff got married!  It was the best!  So fun, so pretty, so delicious, so wonderful!  Again, the best!  They are two of the most fun people ever to cook with, and they probably had the most fun making a gillion jars of tomato butter for wedding favours.  There are a few important things to know about tomato butter: 1) it’s delicious. 2) there is no butter involved. 3) it is especially delish with grilled cheese.  So good!

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The recipe comes from the Pan Chancho cookbook, and is pretty easy.

  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 28 ounce cans of diced tomatoes (with juice!)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 cm-long stick of cinnamon

Put the cloves, allspice, and peppercorns in a big tea ball, and put it, along with everything else in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and boil gently for 30 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, and simmer stirring pretty often, for about an hour and a half.  Take out the cinnamon stick, then cook for another 3 to 3 and a half hours, until the mixture is thick and jammy.  Cool the butter, and put it in a pretty pretty mason jar.

Thanks Emma and Tiff for such a fun wedding!

rosemary lemonade

Oh, it’s good to be back! September is totally the new August for me, as I lost my last official summer month somewhere between an archive and a Subway franchise. Yes, it was a month of six-inch Veggie Delights. But! Not anymore! I actually made this lemonade weeks ago, before heading to Alberta, and it’s part of my new “do not waste fresh herbs” goal.

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Stuck with two days and a bunch of rosemary for the zucchini soup, I opted to try out a fresh lemonade. Bonus: I made more than I could drink in four days, and it’s still good, weeks later (I hope!).

Anyway, super easy, very pretty, also delicious.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 lemons
  • ice

Boil the water and the sugar together to make simple syrup, which basically just means dissolving the sugar entirely. While the mixture is heating up, add the rosemary, pulled from the sprig. Once it’s boiled, take the rosemary out – it should smell very strongly of rosemary. Juice the lemons while the heated mixture cools, then add the juice and the simple syrup and ice.
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