Grilled corn salad with seared scallops

A burst of summery colours and flavours!

I know most people measure seasons by the weather but my seasons are all about food. I love to cook with whatever is fresh and local and while I’m a little sad when one particular crop is no longer available at the farmers’ market, it’s reassuring to know that for many months, something else equally delicious is coming into season. I spotted the first local corn at the market yesterday and that served as the inspiration for this dish. The corn salad is super tasty on its own and would make a great vegan side dish but if you’re into scallops, don’t miss out on this amazing flavour combo. The tangy vinaigrette is a lovely counterpoint to the sweet corn and scallops; I made a full recipe and my husband and I ate the whole thing in one sitting. If you’re a fan of grilled corn you might also love this grilled corn, zucchini and carrot salad with lime vinaigrette  or this tasty grilled corn and tomatillo salsa.

grilled corn on the copy grape tomatoes caper vinaigrette and seared scallops

Ingredients

  • 6 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (1 pint / 500 mL) grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) finely shredded basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) hot water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 pounds (685 mL) sea scallops (about 30)

Method

  • Preheat barbeque to medium. Remove husks and silk from corn cobs. Brush lightly with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil then grill for about 15 minutes, turning often, until kernels are tender and very lightly charred.
  • Let corn cool for a few minutes then use a sharp knife or corn stripper to remove kernels from the cobs and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.
  • Add the halved tomatoes and green onions to the bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. The undressed corn salad can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours.
  • In a blender, puree the shallot and capers with the vinegar, hot water and Dijon. With the blender running, slowly add 6 tablespoons (90 mL) of the olive oil until combined. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle over the corn salad. Add shredded basil leaves and toss gently.
  • Heat remaining tablespoon (15 mL) of oil in a large frying pan (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat and add just as many scallops as will fit in a single layer without crowding (you may need to cook in two batches depending upon the size of your pan). Cook for 2 minutes then flip and cook 2 minutes more. Remove to a warm plate and repeat with remaining scallops.
  • Divide corn salad among four serving plates. Top with cooked scallops and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main course or more as an appetizer.

Sweet scallops and grilled corn paired with a tangy caper vinaigrette

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Berry burst lemonade

A refreshing summer treat! 

There’s not too many things I find more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than icy cold lemonade, and when it’s made with fresh berries it’s even better. Muddling (gently squashing) the berries releases some of their flavour into the lemonade without overpowering it. I like to serve this drink with spoons available so people can scoop out the fruit at the bottom of the glass and enjoy it. I like to keep a jar of simple syrup on hand in the fridge so I can mix up a single glass or a whole pitcher of lemonade whenever the mood strikes; simple syrup is great because it dissolves quickly when mixed with the fresh lemon juice and it’s easier to control the sweetness of your drinks. Of course, you can ‘spike’ this lemonade with gin or vodka if that’s your preference.

For picnics, I’ve got a great trick that will keep the mixture cold without diluting it. The night before, freeze the freshly-squeezed lemon juice and the simple syrup in ice cube tray. When packing your picnic, find a vessel with a tight lid (large canning jars are great) and in it, combine an equal number of lemon juice cubes and simple syrup cubes, then add the appropriate amount of plain ice cubes and water (using a bit less water and bit more plain ice than normal), slightly crushed berries and lemon slices. The cubes will thaw enroute so you’ve got perfect lemonade to enjoy in an hour or two. Be sure to give the mixture a gentle shake before serving. If you enjoy this recipe, you might also like this tasty sparkling ginger-mint lemonade.

freshly squeezed lemon juice simple syrup and fresh berries

Ingredients – simple syrup

  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) white sugar

Ingredients for one 8 ounce / 250 mL glass lemonade

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) simple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) fresh berries (blueberries or raspberries are my favourites)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold water (regular or sparkling)
  • 2 lemon slices, halved
  • Ice cubes

Method

  • Make the syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Transfer to a heatproof jar; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • To prepare one glass of lemonade, combine 3 tbsp each of the syrup and lemon juice in a glass. Add the berries and muddle or crush them slightly with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the water and lemon slices and stir gently.
  • Add ice to fill the glass and serve immediately.
  • If making a pitcher, follow the same process but use greater quantities of the ingredients, in the same proportions.

simple syrup fresh lemon juice and berries make for a refreshing drink

 

 

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London Fog Gelato

One unusual ingredient makes the creamiest gelato ever!

I’ve been making gelato at home for quite a few years and have always been quite happy with the finished product….but I just learned a nifty little trick that has taken my gelato from great to outstanding! I’ll share the secret: add a few tablespoons of top quality extra-virgin olive oil to the custard mixture prior to freezing and you’ll get the creamiest, most delicious gelato ever. I’ll never make it another way now! My family prefers gelato to ice cream because it’s typically less sweet, lower in fat and served at a warmer temperature due to its increased density, making it easier to eat and more flavourful too. While we love vanilla and fruit-flavoured gelatos, this version – inspired by one of our favourite coffee shop beverages – is truly outstanding. Top it with a few edible flower petals and you’ve got a delicious, elegant dessert that is sure to impress.

Gelato infused with earl grey tea

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use such as salted caramel meringue bites)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) good quality vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) top quality olive oil (I used Oleiva Premium)

Oleiva premium olive oil makes the creamiest gelato ever

Method

  • Heat milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until steaming but not boiling. Stir in tea leaves and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve or cheesecloth and discard tea leaves.
  • Combine milk, cream and sugar in large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often.
  • While the above mixture is heating, whisk egg yolks and salt together in medium-sized, heat-proof bowl.
  • Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the eggs, and then return the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until custard reaches 185°F.
  • Immediately strain custard through a fine strainer or cheesecloth into a heatproof bowl. Add vanilla extract.
  • Place the bowl inside a larger bowl that has been partially filled with ice water. Stir the mixture every 10 minutes or so until it is colder than room temperature.
  • Stir in olive oil and transfer the mixture to a smaller container. Cover and refrigerate until very cold (at least 4 hours; overnight is ideal).
  • Freeze gelato in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, you can freeze it in a metal pan, stirring every 5 minutes or so for a more uniform texture.
  • Pack into a freezable container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 4 cups (1 litre).

premium olive oil and earl grey infused milk make the best gelato ever

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Healthy honey-garlic cauliflower bites

Air fryer makes these nuggets fast, fat-free and flavourful

I have a new Gourmia air fryer and I’m slightly obsessed with cooking all the things in it. I was a little skeptical at first but after my first batch of sweet potato fries turned out really well, I was hooked. I’ll have more air fryer recipes coming your way soon but for now I’m delighted to start you off with this one. These cauliflower nuggets are irresistibly delicious, with their crunchy exterior and lick-your-fingers-clean sauce. You can easily coat the cauliflower nuggets and refrigerate them until you’re ready to cook, if you’re a make-ahead kind of person like I am. You can also bake these bites in a conventional oven for 20 – 25 minutes at 400F if you prefer. If you like this dish, I highly recommend you try my roasted cauliflower with spicy peanut sauce which you can also prepare in an air fryer or conventional oven.

cauliflower nuggets with honey-garlic sauce

Ingredients

Cauliflower

  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Honey-Garlic Sauce

  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) water, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) Sriracha (or more, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cornstarch

To garnish: sesame seeds and finely chopped green onions or chives

Directions

  • Preheat air fryer to 400F.
  • Cut cauliflower into bite-sizes pieces (about 1 inch/2.5 cm).
  • Put beaten egg in one bowl and Panko in a second bowl.
  • Dip cauliflower pieces in egg then roll in Panko until evenly coated; place on a baking sheet until they are all coated.
  • Carefully transfer half of the coated cauliflower pieces to the air fryer’s basket, placing them in one layer with a little bit of space between each one. Re-insert the basket into the machine. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  • Check after 15 minutes to see if cauliflower bites are golden brown on the outside. Cook for up to 5 minutes more if needed.

  • While cauliflower cooks, prepare sauce by putting honey, garlic, 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the water, soy sauce and sriracha into a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • After 5 minutes, put remaining 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir to blend, then add to sauce in pot. Increase heat and stir as mixture comes to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, until thickened, then remove from heat.
  • Shake cooked cauliflower out of the airfryer basket onto a clean baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until the second batch is cooked, following the above process.
  • Transfer all the cooked cauliflower onto a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over top. Add garnishes if desired and serve hot.

Serves 2 – 3 people as a main course or 6 – 8 as an appetizer.

Healthy honey-garlic cauliflower bites

Note: I received a Gourmia Air Fryer to test, but ideas and opinions are, as always, my own. 

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Scrumptious spinach, feta and caramelized onion biscuits

Easy assembly makes for a speedy, satisfying brunch or lunch dish

I decided the other day that if I were ever to launch my own food truck, it would serve just one thing: biscuits! I just can’t stop making and eating them, for which my family is eternally grateful. I occasionally make old-fashioned ‘plain’ biscuits but often I get a little fancy. Some of our favourite sweet variations include  cheddar and apples and coconut and mango. For savoury biscuits, this taco-inspired version is a real crowd-pleaser, as are these pizza biscuits, but I think this new Mediterranean-inspired combo is the best yet. Quick biscuits are a snap to make and can even be frozen after shaping but prior to baking, if that’s how you roll (pun intended). We love this on their own but they would also be great as part of a brunch or lunch buffet, as an ideal accompaniment to salads or soups.

Constantly Cooking spinach feta caramelized onion biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 4 teaspoons (20 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cold butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cold milk
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) extra flour, for work surface
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup (250 mL) crumbled feta
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tzatziki, to serve

Method

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and turning brown (about 15 – 20 minutes). Transfer onions to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Make biscuit dough by combining flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  • Using a box grater, shred the cold butter into the flour mixture. Toss with a fork or your fingers to evenly distribute butter into the flour.
  • Add milk and stir until just combined.
  • Scatter a little flour on your work surface and turn the dough out onto the floured area. Knead 8 – 10 times until dough comes together; note that it will still be somewhat sticky.
  • Lift up the dough and scatter more flour on the work surface. Use your hands to flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 9 x 14 inches (22.5 x 35 cm). Lift the dough up as needed and scatter a bit more flour to keep it from sticking to the work surface.
  • Working with a long side of the rectangle closest to you, spread the caramelized onions on the dough, leaving a 1.5 inch (4 cm) border free at the top.
  • Scatter spinach, then oregano, then feta over the onions; sprinkle pepper over it all.

  • Starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a cylinder, pressing on the border to seal the roll.
  • With a sharp knife, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices; lay them flat on the parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.

  • Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until biscuit dough is puffed and brown.

  • Serve hot or at room temperature, with tzatziki.

Makes 14 biscuits.

Quick biscuit dough stuffed with spanakopita-inspired filled

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Strawberry recipe roundup

Sweet and savoury dishes made with a favourite fruit!

As a champion of eating locally and seasonally, I tend to get a little carried away when my favourite foods arrive at the local farmers’ market. This week it’s been my own personal strawberry festival. I keep telling myself I won’t go buy any more yet, there I am the next day, buying “just one more basket”. Oh well, fruit is good for us, right? Here’s a roundup of some of my favourite strawberry recipes, in case you’re looking for some fresh inspiration. Click on the titles below to link through to each recipe.

a collection of strawberry recipes

Smoked Salmon and Strawberry Salad

Salad with smoked salmon, strawberries and goat cheese makes a great brunch or lunch dish.

Grilled Strawberry Daiquiri

Strawberry-Rhubarb Scones

Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa

Super Strawberry Ice Cream

Quick Pickled Strawberries

quick pickled fresh strawberries

Grilled mini strawberry shortcakes

cupcakes grilled and filled with whipped cream and strawberries

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Grilled mini strawberry shortcakes

A fun twist on a favourite summertime dessert!

I don’t know why I never before thought of using cupcakes for strawberry shortcakes. They’re easy to make and the perfect size and shape. I took things one step farther by grilling the split cupcakes – an optional but absolutely delicious twist. I love this cupcake recipe because it makes just a small batch and they are very moist and flavourful. You can bake the cupcakes ahead of time and store tightly covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the freezer for a month, making this the perfect, easy dessert for summertime entertaining. While strawberries are a classic filling, any fresh fruit would work well in this sweet treat.

cupcakes grilled and filled with whipped cream and strawberries

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk

Topping

  • 1 pint (500 mL) fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) white sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

Method

  • Make the shortcakes by preheating oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin tin compartments with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for one minute. Add the vanilla and melted butter and beat until well combined.
  • Add half the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk, and beat until just combined. Add the remaining flour and beat until evenly blended.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (fill each about 2/3 full). Bake for 15 – 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • While cupcakes are baking, rinse berries and place on a paper towel to dry. Hull and slice berries into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and stir gently; set aside.
  • In another bowl, beat whipping cream until peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  • Remove cupcakes from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
  • When ready to assemble, preheat barbeque / grill to medium-hot (350F) (or use a heavy duty pan on the stove). Slice the cupcakes in half horizontally and lightly butter the cut sides.
  • Grill the cupcakes, cut sides down, for 3 – 4 minutes until light grill marks appear.
  • Put the bottom sections of the grilled cupcakes on a serving platter, grilled sides up. Top with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. Place the tops on, grilled sides down, then add more whipped cream and berries.
  • Serve immediately.

Makes 12 mini shortcakes.

cupcakes split grilled and filled

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