Browsing: Appetizers

Smucker’s

July7

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This weekend we recruited a crew of family members to help us assemble a solarium for the deck of our beach house. Although days are lovely and mild, the mosquitoes and sudden thunderstorms can severely cramp your style on the Canadian prairies without an option of this kind. By noon of the work day, what had been accomplished had to be disassembled and reassembled and by dinner time the last of the roof panels were just starting to slide into their place. A whopper of a thunderstorm was rolling in off the lake and the gang managed to get the last one in place and some chairs pulled in before a deluge began.

Meanwhile, I was taking stock of the ingredients that I had available to create some little sweet and savoury tastes to thank everyone for their efforts. I composed six pairings and these were the favourites:

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Savoury Apricot – an onion flatbread with a slice of parmesan salami folded into a compact triangle, a dollop of Smucker’s Apricot jam, roasted red pepper and a sprig of basil.

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Surprising Blueberry – a Raincoast Crisp Seed Cracker, a smudge of sour cream, a smear of Smucker’s Blueberry Jam, segments of lemon slices and a drizzle of maple syrup.

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Mexican Peach – a mini taco “scoop”, a creamy slice of avocado, a spoonful of Smucker’s Peach Jam, a wedge of roasted purple onion and a nip of cilantro.

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Nutty Apricot – a mini biscotti round, a glorious smear of Smucker’s Apricot Jam, a wedge of smoked gouda, a roasted pecan and a twig of rosemary.

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To say that the delectable offerings were well received would be a gross understatement.  Every single morsel was devoured instantly but not without glowing exclamations. Everyone had their favourites for different reasons, some preferring basil over cilantro, others loved the crunchy varieties and another pleased with the dairy-free options. All were impressed with the complexity of the tastes and how satisfying each little bite was in spite of its size. 

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We often entertain at our beach house and I am delighted that in the future, I can tap into my selections of Smucker’s fresh jams, add a fresh herb, a cracker, a bit of protein and voila, I can be back out into the solarium to sip my bevvie and rejoin the conversation. Life is good.

Kath’s quote: “And the Quangle Wangle said to himself on the Crumpetty Tree,–‘Jam; and Jelly; and bread; Are the best of food for me!”-Edward Lear

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Love-that is all.

Smucker’s Pairings are a simple, easy way to create delicious food combinations with jam and other ingredients, designed to help you discover how flavours mingle together for mouth-watering results. Each pairing has 5 ingredients or less, and s ready in less than 15 minutes. Because with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.  For specific information on our jam flavours and varieties, please visit www.smuckers.ca. 

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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Smucker’s foods of Canada via Mode Media Canada.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Smucker’s Foods of Canada.

Cream of the Crop

July4

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My projects as a food stylist are satisfying work-imagine being paid to grocery shop and spend part of the day in the kitchen. I don’t even mind the early mornings (once I get myself going, that is).   I get to meet fascinating people like other foodies, home economists, dieticians, cookbook authors and chefs.  My favourite Chef thus far has been the pleasure of working with Chef Michael Allemeir.  I knew that his recipes would be stellar and written with care.

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Here’s his impressive bio:

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Chef Michael Allemeier moved with his family to Hong Kong where he was smitten by the culinary bug at age 12.

He started his first official kitchen job at the St. Boniface Golf Club. He apprenticed with Delta Hotels and the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg. He has worked at the acclaimed restaurant Amici in Winnipeg; Executive Chef of Bishop’s Restaurant in Vancouver; Fairmont Hotels in the Wildflower Restaurant in Whistler; and Executive Chef of Teatro Restaurant in Calgary, where he won numerous awards.

In 2003, Chef Allemeier’s passion for food and wine pairing was realised with the call to Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley, where he launched the Terrace Restaurant, created a culinary school, private dining program, retail line of preserves, designed and built Canada’s first Varietal Kitchen Garden and many other initiatives for sales and marketing.

A Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC), which is Canada’s second highest professional culinary accreditation designation. Chef Allemeier is also a member of the international food and wine organization the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

He is currently pursuing his career-long passion as an educator. In 2009, he started as a culinary instructor at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). Currently, Chef Allemeier is a CMC (Certified Master Chef) candidate, which is Canada’s highest professional accreditation.

Chef Michael is a 1989 Red River College graduate and tells me of his fond memories working with Chef Tony of the St. Charles and Heinz Kattenfeld of Amici!

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Chef Michael is currently team up with the Dairy Farmers of Canada promoting their Summer Berries and Cream.  Check out their Anyday Magic website and vote for my friend Jeanine Friesen (aka Baking Beauties) in conjunction with this promo.  You could win a Stainless Steel Cookware set!

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I prepared two fabulous recipes for Chef Michael’s appearance yesterday on Breakfast Television.  With permission, I am sharing this fabulous salad.

"Waldorf" Berry Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Classic
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
An exciting twist on a classic summer salad. Celery, toasted walnuts, apples, mixed berries, all tossed in a creamy dressing - using half and half cream, sour cream and Greek yogurt.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) 10% half-and-half cream
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) sour cream
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1-½ cups (375 mL) diced celery
  • 1 cup (250 mL) toasted walnuts, lightly crushed, divided
  • 1 red delicious apple, cored, quartered and diced (skin on)
  • 1-2/3 cups (400 mL) assorted berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or quartered strawberries, if large)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 8 to 10 whole butter lettuce leaves
  • 10 to 12 celery leaves
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together cream, sour cream, yogurt, and lemon juice. Stir in celery, ¾ cup (175 mL) of the walnuts and apples. Gently fold in berries. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. In a bowl or on a serving platter, arrange lettuce leaves and gently spoon salad on top. Garnish with remaining walnuts and celery leaves.

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I sometimes take the left-overs from a TV appearance home with me for my family to taste but this one was whisked away by the staff on the TV set-it was that good!  After they got tastes of the second recipe “Berry Delicious Potato Salad” I packed up the rest for supper at the Beach House tonight.  A whole chicken with lemon and fresh sage leaves is in the crockpot and I am hoping that D will stop on the highway and pick up some corn.  Ah summer time…..

Kath’s quote: “A cup of coffee – real coffee – home-browned, home-ground, home-made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet,
neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a coffee is a match for twenty blue devils, and will exorcise them all.”-
Henry Ward Beecher

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Love-that is all.

“Go Barley” Go!

June19

In the spirit of the World Cup, I am inspired to write this blog post headline…..

I am fascinated by ancient foods especially those referred to in the Bible.  Add barley to that list as it is mentioned over 30 times-in fact there is archeological evidence that wild forms of barley were being harvested as early as 17,000 BCE!

In my recent efforts to increase my soluble fibre, I have been seeking out recipes for whole grains like barley.  In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, barley helps improves glycemic control and the soluble fibre helps with digestive health.  Barley is also a super food when it comes to vitamins and minerals, containing thiamine, niacin, folate, riboflavin, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and amino acids!  I feel better, just having typed this long list….

Barley is a local food and I love to see fields of graceful, long blonde haired stems, blowing in the farmer’s fields throughout Manitoba and the rest of the Canadian prairies.

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But the truth is, no nutritional food is worth knowing about if it doesn’t taste good.  I love barley’s unique nutty flavour.  In my enjoyable work as a food-stylist, I sometimes am recruited when a new recipe book is being launched.  Such is the case, with a gorgeous new book entitled “go barley-MODERN RECIPES FOR AN ANCIENT GRAIN” by Pat Inglis and Linda Whitworth.

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Linda and I have worked together before and she is a delight to work alongside and is the “Barley Queen” as far as her knowledge of the grain is concerned.

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The book itself is a perfect size and is packed with gorgeous photography that make you want to pick up a spoon or fork and break through the pages.  This is what ingenious recipe writing (and a good food stylist) can achieve. My favourite of the three recipes: Wild Rice, Barley, and Fruit Salad; Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler and Barley Tabbouleh, is the latter.

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I left it for D’s dinner last evening with a grilled chicken breast and just now I crumbled some feta on top for a refreshing (from fresh mint) and yet satisfying lunch.

D with his sweet tooth, loved the Cobbler and I am planning on making the Ole Fashioned Ginger Snaps for him and the Sunflower Barley Crackers for me.

With Linda’s permission, here is the Barley Tabbouleh recipe, just to whet your appetite until you get a chance to buy the book or check out their website: Go Barley.

Barley Tabbouleh
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Garnish this Middle eastern dish with mint leaves and serve it icy cold as a salad or as an appetizer with crisp bread. Add the tomatoes just before serving to keep their firm texture and taste.
Ingredients
  • 1 c pot or pearl barley
  • 2 c water
  • 1 c chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ c chopped fresh mint
  • ½ c chopped green or red onion (I used red)
  • 1 small cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • ¼ c fresh lemon juice
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¾ t salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma)
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan over high heat, combine barley and water; bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer; cover pan and cook for 40 minutes, then chill.
  3. In a large bowl, combine chilled barley, parsley and mint.
  4. Add onion and cucumber.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice , cinnamon, salt, and pepper; pour over barley mixture and mix well, then refrigerate.
  6. Shortly before serving, stir in tomatoes.
  7. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Kath’s quote: “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey.” Deut 8:7-8

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Love-that is all.

We Raised Them Right

June5

I recently came upon a statistic about 18-34 year olds depending primarily upon processed and pre-made food and the reason for this being that "from scratch" cooking was not modelled by their parents.  I commented in a recent post, that this was not the case in my family and a couple of weeks ago we had dinner with three other couples where this was not the case either.  In fact, one offspring is a gold-plate chef and two others have sons who are not chefs, but professional cooks.  I recounted our evening together and pondered what we had all done "right" to ensure that our children were comfortable in the kitchen. laura9 One couple was in from Toronto for the weekend and staying with another couple.  One half of the hosting couple was about to celebrate a monumental birthday which was our reason to get together.  None of us wanted the hosting couple to go to a whole lot of trouble because, the dinner was in their honour after all.  In addition, the visiting couple did not want to spend their short time grocery shopping and in an unfamiliar kitchen so I suggested that we order in.  Consensus was that even considering the concerns noted above, it would still be better if we all cooked and contributed ourselves and so..... laura1 laura2 The menu was decidedly simple: D and I provided little plates of sausage, cheese bread, olives and other brined items. laura3 At the appointed time, R fired up the grill showing me how he first brushes the grills with oil and hot sauce to neutralize any flavours from previous use. laura4 First he marinated the salmon in soya, balsamic vinegar and sarachi sauce.  He called the fish "Iphone Salmon" because the trick was to flip the fillets, precisely when his Iphone signalled, to ensure even cooking without over-cooking.  The lid of the grill was lowered for intervals and the cuts were placed crosswise on the grill each time they were flipped to decorate them with the precise cross-hatch marks. laura5 The result?  Perfection! laura6 The salmon was accompanied by boiled baby potatoes tossed in butter and fresh dill, laura7 grilled asparagus laura8 and the lightest, freshest tasting bean salad, I have ever tried.  I am not typically a bean lover but this one was sensational.  So much so, that I had to get M's recipe:
Marie's Very Fresh Bean Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
has a Mexican flare
Ingredients
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1 tin black beans
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1½-2 c Edamame
  • 3-4 small hothouse cucumbers, cut into small cubes
  • ¼ c fine cut green onions (only the green part)
  • ½ red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 c cilantro or Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • ½ t cumin
  • ground chili powder to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Make sure all the beans are drained, rinsed and dried off.
  2. Let them sit on a while on a kitchen towel and use paper towel to soak up excess moisture.
  3. Worth the effort, so that the beans can soak up the flavours of the ingredients.
  4. Toss together all ingredients.

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 Influencers of the next generation of “real” food eaters.

So did we have some fun?  Absolutely!  We were entertained by the antics of the bearded fellow with the parasols stuck into his whiskers.  He kept disappearing into their home and coming back out attired as famous bearded men-think: ZZ Top, Moses, Duck Dynasty, etc.  (Perhaps some wine was enjoyed as well).

Kath’s quote: The basic thing a man should know is how to change a tyre and how to drive a tractor. Whatever that bearded dude is doing on the Dos Equis beer commercials sets the bar. That’s your guy. Every man should be aiming to be like him. The beard is just the tip of the iceberg.”-Timothy Olyphant

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Happy Birthday to Me!

June3

In our family birthdays are a big deal and it is not because of the lavish gifts that we bestow upon each other.  I think that it is because of the care that goes into the celebration.  Take this weekend for example.  My birthday fell on a Friday which typically means that I have a longer break from my computer on some sunny patio with friends.  This year though we spent 2/3rds of the day on the road.  First driving in from Regina and then after a quick turn around right out to our beach house for the weekend.  Besides a salad that I ate in the car and a bowl of chicken soup that we shared with our grandbaby, there was not a lot of focus on food or merry-making.  But on Sunday afternoon, D scooted into the city early so he could start with supper preparations.

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He didn’t have any trouble knowing what meat would be the main, just how to prepare the pork chops that he knows that I love.

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In addition there were savoury grilled potatoes;

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my favourite grilled eggplant

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and also grilled zucchini and onions.

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Sister #3 contributed the salad and everyone loved it so much, that I am sharing the recipe here.

Birthday Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Originally titled Winter Salad.
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • ½ c sugar
  • ⅓ c lemon juice
  • 2 t grated onion
  • 1 Dijon mustard
  • ½ t salt
  • ⅔ c canola oil
  • 1 T poppy seeds
  • Salad:
  • 1-2 heads romaine lettuce, torn
  • 4 oz. cubed Swiss cheese or other
  • 1 c cashews
  • ¼ c cranberries
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 1 unpeeled pear, cubed
Instructions
  1. Mix dressing with a whisk. Makes lots. Use about half.
  2. Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing.

All the food was lovingly prepared and The Frenchman picked up a banana log Jeanne’s cake which is my absolute favourite.  But the highlights of the weekend were the following:

  • Last year I was in Philadelphia for my birthday and although I love to travel to and dine out in various cities, my favourite spot at the end of May is the lake.  The smells of the forest, the surprising warmth of the beach, the new growth everywhere-I can’t get enough.  We live very simply at the beach house and it was only a year ago that we got an indoor biffy.  What a lovely treat when you are all sleepy and cozy from watching movies and drinking wine, to know that you don’t have to make the trek outside one last time before bed.
  • We got to take the Wee One as both J1 and J2 had commitments.  We were thrilled with how easily she just slipped into “lake” mode with us.  In the mornings when D an J1 are off playing tennis and J2 is catching up on some sleep, I walk with the Wee One for her hour nap.  She has this lovely chariot stroller that can be pushed on wet sand and so both mornings, we spent the time on the beach; she singing to herself and watching the birds and the water until she fell asleep and me just basking in the warmth and so happy that spring and the promise of summer had come again to the Canadian prairies.

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  • As is our tradition at a birthday dinner, everyone took a turn sharing what they loved about the birthday girl (me).  This is the most precious gift of all, not only because it is lovely to be in the spotlight every once in a while but because of the beautiful words that my family blessed me with.  Not only was our Mom and Sister #3 there to celebrate with us but Daughter #2 skyped in from Colombia where she is away studying.  Although we felt funny eating in front of her, she visited with us throughout our entire dinner!  I love technology when it brings people together.

In our home, we find something to celebrate most days or at the very least most weekends BUT birthdays are a special opportunity to give and receive love.  Make the most of every opportunity as birthdays also remind us that our days are finite.

Kath’s quote: “That outdoor grilling is a manly pursuit has long been beyond question. If this wasn’t firmly understood, you’d never get grown men to put on those aprons with pictures of dancing wienies and things on the front and messages like ‘Come ‘n’ Get It'”.-William Geist

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Love-that is all.

 

 

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