August 2, 2017
We’re into the heat of summer, and have been coming up with ways to cook without having to turn on the oven. The grill is a good alternative, and we’ve rediscovered the pleasures of a simple homemade cheeseburger, grilled quickly and topped with cheese, served on soft buns with greens from the garden and ripe tomatoes from the Cucumber Man, and eaten on the back porch. (And if it isn’t too hot, I’ve been known to make a batch of brioche buns - the warm weather is conducive to dough rising, and I shape half the batch into small burger-sized buns and the rest into long buns for hot dogs or sausages.)
Quick stovetop meals are also pretty great when it comes to not generating too much heat —we’ve been loving Asian noodles lately, topped with a spiced beef or pork mixture and chopped peanuts, almonds or cashews. They’re fast to pull together and easy to eat with chopsticks on the patio — best of all, you can double up the meat mixture in a recipe like DanDan noodles, and freeze some for another day. All that needs to be done to get dinner on the table is to pop the meat in the microwave (or break it up and warm it through in a skillet), cook some noodles and top the whole thing with fresh cilantro or some chives from the garden.
We’ve also been getting creative with salads, making interesting slaws and chopped salads that won’t wilt, and can be stored in the fridge or brought to picnics and potlucks. And because it’s watermelon season, we’ve been making watermelon salads on the regular - they don’t keep or travel well, but are perfect for assembling quickly and eating on a hot day. Cubed watermelon, fresh mint or basil, crumbled feta and a drizzle of balsamic reduction, which I like because it holds up better than straight-up balsamic, which can get watery. (I like Nonna Pia’s, which is made in Whistler.) Honestly, I could eat watermelon salad every day of July and August. Watermelon is also a crunchy-sweet and delicious addition to salsa, with tomatoes, cilantro, lime, jalapeño, purple onion, black beans and corn. If we have any leftover watermelon I blitz it into smoothies or all-fruit slurpees - since they’re so high in water, they blend beautifully. If you blend and strain it, you wind up with watermelon juice that tastes like summer in a glass. Try it with some lemonade and a handful of raspberries, too! I love cool, fruity drinks that are actually made with real fruit.
Keep cool this week everyone!
lean ground beef
Charcuterie is the ultimate food. A combination of cured meat, cheese, sauces and compotes, olives, nuts and other nibbles, charcuterie makes a brilliant appetizer, or...
Chef Dale MacKay shows how to prepare the perfect charcuterie board to make a cultured, old-world impression.
It’s perhaps best known for morphing into a glowing lantern at Halloween but pumpkin is so much more than a prop.