Gluten Free

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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One of the first sets of cookbooks I began collecting as a young girl was the Company’s Coming set, produced by Jean Paré. She had great, easy-to-follow recipes, beautiful pictures, and easy conversation throughout. A lot of my first masterpieces date back to this collection, and certainly my love of trying new recipes grew through it.

This is my collection. I won’t show you all the cookbooks below and above it, or in my drawers. Does anyone else read cookbooks like novels, from cover to cover?

My Jean Paré collection, well-loved and well-worn.

One of my first books within the set was Soups and Sandwiches and I think my favourite recipe in the book was, and still is the Cauliflower Cheese Soup. It slides so easily down the gullet, it’s soothing, yet has a wonderfully full flavour. The toasted bread cubes on top add a delightful contrasting crunch. One day last week, one of my sisters was asking how to make it, and as mom and I were telling her how, our own hunger for it grew as well. I knew we still had some lovely heads of cauliflower at Martin’s, so I went home and quickly cobbled the soup together. The cauliflower is done now, but you can use frozen as well, and we still have tasty Bright’s cheese and Eby Manor milk, as well as the root vegetables, pears and apples. Remember this soup recipe next year when it’s cauliflower season and come on in to Martin’s!

Mom got her last little box of soup out of the freezer, and my sister made it too. So all three of us enjoyed it that night. As my husband was eating it, he commented three times (I was counting) on how good it was. Three things help to make this soup exceptional. A. The cauliflower is cooked in the chicken broth = Hello, flavour! B. You need to use a good quality medium or even sharp cheddar. More equals less with cheese; the sharper the flavour, the less quantity you need. C. The bread cubes on top. They lift this soup waaay beyond the ordinary. If you have homemade chicken stock, it hits the soup right out of the ballpark into the neighbour’s lawn. I didn’t have any this time, but it was still really good.

Cauliflower is in the cabbage family. It is generally started inside from seed, then the seedlings are transplanted outside after the danger of frost is over. After the heads begin forming, the plant leaves are tied around the head to promote “blanching” or whitening of the heads. To keep cauliflower white while cooking, do not add salt until it is done. 

Cauliflower Cheese Soup



  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, about 6 cups chopped (frozen cauliflower can also be used successfully)
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or stock (check ingredients for GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 – 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour (use 1/4 cup corn starch or potato flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups milk 
  • 1 1/2 cups grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese


  • 3 cups of stale bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes or coarsely grated (omit or use gluten-free bread to adapt to GF)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • fresh parsley, chopped


Cook cauliflower in chicken broth until tender. Do not drain. Cool a bit, then run through blender or use immersion blender in the pot to your desired smoothness. We like a few chunks in ours. I love my immersion blender for things like this. 

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until clear and fragrant. Mix in flour, salt and pepper. Whisk in milk by degrees, and stir until smooth. Heat on medium heat until it begins to boil, stirring frequently. You can be browning the bread cubes in butter either in a 350° F oven or in a skillet while this is thickening.

Turn heat to low. Add cauliflower, stir, then add cheese and stir again. Heat just until hot but not boiling. Ladle into bowls and top with a little sprinkle of cheese, fresh chopped parsley, and the buttered toasted bread cubes. Be comforted and well.





Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast

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Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
I grew up fishing. I fished with my dad, my grandma, my grandpa, and my siblings. I recall getting up as the sun was just beginning to peep over the horizon and going with Dad down the long hill in the woods behind us to the river. Back then it was probably the only thing in the world that could get me out of bed early voluntarily! Then we would wade through the long, dewy grass in the flats beside the river; the long fronds as high as my waist. Often we caught only shiners, small perch or rock bass or sometimes, ugh, a sucker. But every now and then, oh joy of joys!, we would catch a nice black bass. Then we would trek back up the hill with our catch (or not!). Dad would expertly filet them and Mom would dust them simply in flour, salt and pepper to pan-fry them. Boy, oh, boy that was tasty. Even though we were a large family, Mom and Dad made sure we got away on a vacation most summers. Usually it was to a cottage area, and Dad always made sure it included good fishing. As a result of these childhood experiences, nearly all of our Kraemer tribe loves fish to this day.

Most of my kids also love to eat fish, so when my daughter asked what we’re having for Sunday lunch on a rare weekend when she was home from college, I immediately thought of the salmon fillets I had tucked in my freezer for such a time as this. I had also promised to include apples in my next blog, sweet potatoes team superbly well with apples, and the rest, as Dad used to say, is history.

I found a recipe for baked salmon that I tweaked to adapt to the addition of sweet potatoes and apples. And I call it a “roast” because that word rings more sweetly in my ears than “bake” does. It sounds a lot more sophisticated, I think. And salmon is the epitome of fish sophistication, no?


It was simple; once again I made one sauce mixture that I divided between the meat and the vegetables, like I did in my last post. It worked out great; the salmon and the sweet potato/apple mixture roasted in about the same amount of time, and while they were roasting, we “spinached” the plates and set the table. Best of all, it tasted wonderful! Even Steve liked it. He did not grow up fishing. He grew up feeding hogs and picking apples, so guess what he likes to eat? Yup; you guessed it; pork. And apples. In fact, you could substitute pork loin or chops for the salmon in this recipe and it would be equally as good, I’m sure.

Isn’t this just so gorgeously Fall? We’ve got all these goodies at Martin’s. I am so lucky.


Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach

Sweet potatoes grow underground as tubers. I found it fascinating that Steve’s mom grew them in her garden, because I had understood that they are hard to grow. They are high in beta carotene, fibre, and rapidly digestible starch. In other words, they’re good for you, unless you’re highly diabetic. We also love them roasted whole in the oven or microwave and eaten with butter, salt and pepper. Are sweet potatoes and yams the same thing? As a a matter of fact, all yams are sweet potatoes, but not all sweet potatoes are yams. For an explanation of that cryptic statement, click here.

I used a Honeycrisp apple in this dish because you want to use a firm apple that will not turn mushy when roasted. Honeycrisp is an amazing apple that works well for just about everything you want it to do. It has taken the apple world by storm and turned it right side up again. We hear over and over from our customers, “I thought I didn’t like apples, then I had a Honeycrisp”. It is always crisp, very juicy, has a thin skin, and the texture of the flesh is almost like that of a Japanese or Bosc pear. It is also our most expensive apple by far, for several reasons. We call it the Cadillac of apples. Empire, Spy, Gala, Ambrosia, Russet or Crispin (also called Mutsu) all work well for a smaller pricetag.


Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast



Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast
Salmon, Sweet Potato and Apple Roast on a bed of spinach
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons from concentrate)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 Ontario garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I like grainy brown Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chili or Cajun spice (optional)


  • 1 1/2 lbs. (4 – 6 pieces) salmon fillets
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 large or 2 medium firm apples, washed, unpeeled (I used Honeycrisp)
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach, washed and dried
  • poppy seed dressing, or other dressing of your choice



Preheat oven to 450° F. Whisk or shake together all the sauce ingredients. Line two separate baking sheets with parchment or foil. Lay the salmon on one pan, skin side down. I cut my skin off; not half as expertly as Dad would have, I might add. Cut sweet potatoes and onions in 1″ chunks. Lay them in a single layer in the other pan. Cut the apple into 1″ chunks as well, but don’t add them yet.

Spread half of the sauce over the salmon fillets. Pour the remaining sauce over the sweet potatoes and onions and toss them lightly until coated. Put both pans in the oven and bake them for 15 – 20 minutes, based on the thickness of your salmon. While the meal is roasting, set the table and spread 1 cup of spinach on each plate. Test your salmon after 15 minutes by sticking a fork in the thickest part of the fish and twisting lightly. If it flakes and doesn’t look raw, it’s done. If not, give it another 5 minutes. At this point, add the apple chunks to the other pan and roast them for 5 minutes as the sweet potatoes finish. Remove both pans from the oven.

To serve, divide the sweet potato/apple mixture on top of the spinach, then top with the salmon. Pour any pan juices over the fish. We found there wasn’t a lot of juice left over so we drizzled a bit of poppyseed dressing over the spinach. Because we like heat, I also snipped a bit of dried red chili pepper over the fish. Laying a slice of lemon on top would also be gorgeous. Happy fishing!






End-of-Summer Grilled Salad

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End-of-Summer Grilled Salad
End-of-Summer Grilled Salad. Such an abundance of flavours and textures!

This is my farewell-to-summer salad recipe. I made it about a month ago, thinking I would save it to post next summer, but summer is extending waaaay beyond its normal Canadian boundaries, so I couldn’t resist sharing it now. Besides salad is good for you anytime, even if it’s a summer salad teetering on the cusp of Fall. We have all winter to feature beets, apples and pumpkins.

It all began very innocently: I was planning to make Grilled Peppers with Feta for our retail girls because we had such beautiful peppers at the store, and they are amazing marinated, grilled and stuffed with feta. I was telling them about our family’s introduction years ago to the cute, but hot cherry bomb peppers by one of our employees at market. He’s from Laos and told us how to cut off the top, hollow out the inside, sprinkle salt on the edges, then turn them upside down on a paper towel-lined pan to drain. This cuts down the heat factor. Then you stuff them with feta cheese and seasonings. I’ll tell you, our horizons have really broadened with our ethnic friends’ influence! We didn’t grow up eating hot stuff, but we love heat now. I make these cute, flaming delights once a year for our family.

One busy day this fall when I was assisting the girls at the store, I promised to make some for them. They agreed with reserved enthusiasm. I decide that to save time, I would employ the marinated pepper recipe that I love, using both sweet and hot peppers, and cut them smaller. It was a bit anti-climactic because the peppers aren’t very hot this year, due to all the rain they got during their growing season. But the girls loved them, and didn’t need to chase them down with milk.


Then I started thinking about all this delicious marinade, and the leftover peppers that I didn’t use. It hurts me to throw away perfectly good marinade that simply had peppers sitting in them for a few hours. It was a beautiful warm day, the grill was hot, I had other vegetables and chicken breasts thawing in my fridge. I marinated the vegetables in one bag and the chicken in another, and that is the backstory to the End-of-Summer Salad.

Note: You can use whatever vegetables you like that are grillable. That’s the beauty of salads! 


As stated above, peppers are hotter in a dry year. It makes sense that a pepper with a higher water content would be milder, right? Keep them in the fridge in a bag. I have discovered that a grapefruit spoon works wonderfully to scoop out the seeds in a hot pepper.  

For the Grilled Stuffed Peppers, simply marinate them, sear them, and melt a spoonful of the herbed feta mixture in the cavity. So simple; so good. 

End-of-Summer Grilled Salad



  • 2 sweet peppers
  • 2 – 4 hot peppers (I used cherry bombs)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 4 – 6 green onions
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of herbed feta cheese or mix your own like I did
  • mixed greens, washed and dried


  • 2 – 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good quality olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Cut peppers into halves, thirds or quarters, depending on their size. Cut zucchini in half crosswise, then again in half lengthwise. Leave the green onions whole. 

Whisk or shake together the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in one zippered plastic bag and vegetables in another. Pour half of the marinade into each bag, turning a few times to distribute it. Refrigerate and marinate for at least an hour, turning several times. Remove from the marinade and grill the vegetables quickly  on medium high heat. Don’t overcook them; you just want to sear them. Brush with remaining marinade. Remove the chicken from marinade and grill on medium until no longer pink inside. Again, brush with remaining marinade. I make a small slit in the fattest part of the breast to check doneness. Remove from the grill. 

To serve, slice the vegetables and meat and arrange on a bed of mixed greens. Add herbed feta cheese, drizzle with your favourite dressing, and say farewell to summer.



Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip

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Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip on Cream Cheese
A few weeks ago, I was asked by our head marketing guy, Peter, if I could develop a recipe that would feature our Martin’s Apple Chips. That sounded like an enticing proposition, so I started researching recipes. For weeks, images of apple chips danced in my head, spinning and twirling, accompanying granola (somebody beat me to that one), on top of pork loin (I’m definitely going to play with that idea. I love pork loin, and it’s so easy to dress it up. Don’t you agree that our chips would be great with pork loin?), and with cheese (cheese, yes, of course!)

Since our Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner and our US friends are looking forward to celebrating it next month, my thoughts kept veering towards a party food. Plus, Christmas is coming! We had just toured Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh a month ago, we grow apples here, and we sell Bright’s Cheese. That’s a pretty good local trio right there. And so this Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip came into being.

It’s a sweet and savoury, slightly spicy dip with two options for serving it; over cream cheese, or as a salsa with feta cheese stirred in. The day I made it, I took both versions in to our offices and the retail store staff to get a consensus on the favourite. Well. The favourite split cleanly down the middle, with nearly all of the samplers saying they like both. And wow, did the apple chips ever bring it to life! We tried both the original and cinnamon chips, and the simplicity of the original definitely showcased the dip best.

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Feta
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Feta
So…I’m happy to feature both variations. I used fresh cranberries, but frozen would work just as well. I buy a big bag from Martin’s and keep them in my freezer all year because I never know when a craving for cranberries will strike. I used four types of peppers to add a bit of heat and spicy flavour, and you’ll never believe this, cilantro. Yeah, you heard me. What can I say? I had a weak moment; I actually felt it would enhance the flavour. I was right, too.

One more, because it’s so pretty and our photographer, Sary, took such beautiful photos…

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin's Apple Chips
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin’s Apple Chips
Cranberries are grown on very low bushes in northern climates. The fields they grow in are called bogs or marshes. In order to harvest them more easily, the bogs are flooded so that the plants and berries lift. Then they are raked off and sorted. I learned that a properly ripe cranberry will bounce; if it doesn’t it will be rejected. They can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks, then they should be frozen.

We begin harvesting early apples at the end of August, and continue until the end of October. We are in the ‘eye’ of the apple harvest storm from the middle of September until the end of October. For a fun little infomercial on our apple harvest, watch this. To see the apple chip process and our own personal bee, click here, then click the arrow in the centre of the page.

Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip


Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin's Apple Chips
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip with Martin’s Apple Chips
  • 12 oz. bag (3 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ of a medium crunchy apple (Honeycrisp, Ambrosia or Gala are great in this!)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or flakes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup


  • 2 250gr. bricks of cream cheese or ½ cup feta cheese



Coarsely chop fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to thaw the frozen berries). Finely dice washed and cored apple, green onions, and jalapenos. If you like lots of heat, leave seeds and membranes in the jalapeno; if not, remove them. Combine all of these fresh ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except the cheese and stir together lightly. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, and up to twelve hours. Drain thoroughly, place two bricks of cream cheese on plates and top with the drained topping. Serve with assorted dippers, including our very own Martin’s Apple Chips!

Variation: Instead of using cream cheese, stir ½ cup of crumbled feta cheese into the drained topping and serve as a salsa. Or do one of each, cutting back to one brick of cream cheese and ¼ cup of feta.

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Salad

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Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Salad

When I think of corn, I remember rows and rows of it in our Shop Garden. When I remember the rows in the Shop Garden, I recall picking the corn, and hearing the satisfying crack as the cob snapped off the stem. I remember emerging from the patch with corn tassels in my hair and arms itchy from the hairy, bristly leaves. Then came the next family project, shucking bushels and bushels of the stuff, with Dad helping us and telling us stories while Mom expertly cut the kernels off the cobs. As our hands grew and steadied, we were allowed to help cut it off. It was like a rite of passage; once you were able to cut off corn to Mom’s specifications, you were an adult. There was a knack to it, you see. It had to be cut close enough to the cob that you weren’t wasting any of that precious commodity, but not so close that you were shearing off the hard gristle from the centre of the cob. And finally, it was quickly blanched, cooled and bagged for the freezer, to be hauled out and served later in the season.

I’m lucky, though, I just tell Steve how many dozen cobs I want Martin’s to set aside for me, and presto, we have beautiful sweet corn appearing at our back door with no itchy arms or corn tassels in our hair. We had a family Corn Day recently and I, as the matriarch of the clan, was telling the cutters not to cut it too close to the cob, but still close enough. Since it was a cloudy, drizzly day we did it inside, but the stories flowed freely as the cobs were denuded of their kernels.

In the evening, the sun came out and we had a campfire, roasting the corn on the grill while the salmon fillets cooked over the fire. We ate the corn with a Mexican Street Corn sauce which made it taste delicious. Since the Mexican cotija cheese is hard to find here, I substituted feta. The texture is similar and it still tasted great. I made sure to grill extra corn because I wanted some for this Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Salad, which is also amazing. To grill it, I simply remove a few of the outermost husks, then place the corn on the BBQ and grill it covered for about 20 minutes, turning it a few times to cook each side evenly. If you don’t have time to grill it, or can’t for some other reason, you can achieve a similar flavour by thawing and draining frozen corn, then sautéing it in a dry skillet until it begins to brown.

I have served this salad times without number and it is always received with gusto. It is especially good served with foccacia, naan or some other flatbread. Grill some fresh peach or apple halves or pineapple wedges for dessert, drizzle with a fancy balsamic, honey or maple syrup, add some cinnamon and some ice cream, and you have a delightful summertime meal.


We used to grow acres of sweet corn here at Martin’s and I learned from that time that quickly cooling down the cobs after picking is critical to maintaining flavour and crispness, especially if you aren’t able to use it all immediately. We had a big vat of cold water that the bins of freshly picked corn would be dunked into before hastening them into the coolers. This way, the corn can easily stay fresh for days without losing flavour or crispness. I am wary of wagons of sweet corn for sale beside the road that have been sitting in full sun for hours.

Chicken, Corn and Black Bean Salad


  • 1/3 cup olive oil (you can use whatever oil you like best) IMG_20170704_183845338-1
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (parsley for me, thank you), finely chopped
  • 1-3 teaspoons honey (it’s your call on the sweetness level here)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or chili pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups grilled chopped chicken (cooked is okay too, just not as flavourful)
  • 19 oz. (540 ml) tin black beans, rinsed and drained (I use half of this amount)
  • 1 cup of cooked (or grilled) corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of thinly sliced red or green onions
  • 1 medium bell pepper, sliced or diced
  • Bed of torn lettuce (I like a mixture of leaf and romaine)
  • Chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • Shredded cheese


Combine the first eight ingredients to make the dressing. This can easily be made ahead, in fact it should sit for at least thirty minutes for the flavours to blend. Place the torn lettuce on a large plate or flat-sided bowl; top with the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. Sometimes I create rows, sometimes wedges, circles, random sprinkles; it’s your choice. Drizzle with the dressing just before serving and stir lightly to distribute the ingredients.

Parsley Lime Chicken in Cream

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One of my favourite things to plant in the spring is my herb pot. In my opinion, herbs add life to any blah, drooping, weary dish. This summer has been especially friendly to my pot, and, I might add, to me, with regular rains to keep it looking lush. I can shear off a big bunch of them one day, and voila! By the next week there’s another armful of them waiting

I love pretty much any herb, with the exception of cilantro. Cilantro and I have agreed to co-exist, if not warmly, at least peacefully. Parsley is an old friend that goes way back and is useful in many ways. Curly parsley is the prettiest; flat-leaf Italian parsley delivers more punch. One of my favourite ways to consume parsley is in melted butter over new potatoes.

I was planning to grill chicken breasts and sweet corn one night, but it rained, so my plans changed. I browsed recipes and came across one that looked promising, except…cilantro. Parsley, especially flat-leaf parsley, is an agreeable substitute, though, so without much pause, I continued on. It was a success, unlike the rum/vanilla substitution in my Rhubarb Pancakes. So you see, sometimes it does work! Thyme also works well with chicken, but if you insist on using cilantro, go ahead.

I have gotten into the whole liquid-reduction thing in sauces like this; it eliminates the need for thickeners like flour, which is a good thing if you’re cooking gluten-free. You simply add broth, wine and/or cream to the skillet and cook it down until it’s the thickness you want, usually about a third or half. I browned the chicken, made the sauce, then baked the chicken in the sauce for 40 minutes.

I still served it with sweet corn, and spooned some of the sauce over fresh broccoli. We have beautiful herbs, corn, broccoli and cauliflower at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm right now. And so much other good stuff, I can hardly cook it fast enough, let alone blog about it all.

Herbs are a key to adding culinary bling (eye appeal) to your food, as well as flavour. Check how much they spread before planting them. Some of them, such as parsley, basil, and mint, will happily take over the whole pot or bed! 

They can be dried or frozen to use in the winter. I have frozen stems of herbs and chopped off pieces to use in soups, etc.


Parsley Lime Chicken in Cream


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about half a Persian lime)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • Chopped parsley, thyme (optional), lime wedges for garnish
  • Seasonal side vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans, asparagus, carrots; you name it!


Turn oven on to 375° F. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Place chicken breasts in hot oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Quickly brown them on each side until they are a deep gold colour. They don’t have to be done; browning adds ever so much more flavour. Transfer them to a 7″ x 11″ baking dish. Squeeze the lime (or drizzle juice) over the chicken. In the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and soft, then add the whipping cream and red pepper flakes. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about a third. Pour over the chicken in the pan. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Meanwhile, you can be steaming the broccoli and boiling or roasting the corn, or prepping your salad.

Spoon some of the liquid over the broccoli and sprinkle everything with chopped parsley to serve. Garnish with a lime wedge.


Garlicky Green Beans

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This is the time of year when new things seem to literally spring out of the ground and off trees, and with a snap of our fingers, a bit of toil or money, can be conjured into our kitchens.

Two of those things are on our menu frequently here, in various forms. Fresh green beans and fresh garlic: who can resist such a tastebud-tingling combination? They accompany everything beautifully; they add colour to any dish, and they’re quick to put together.

When I say fresh garlic, I’m talking wet, sticky, pungent garlic; the real deal. When we were visiting England in 2011, the land of cutsie, corny names like Bangers ‘n’ Mash, Stinking Bishop Cheese, The Wibbly, Wobbly Bridge (seriously! believe it; it’s true), Duttons for Buttons, and Fat Rascals, we saw a sign above a basket of fresh garlic that read “Wet Garlic”. Immediately Steve and I looked at each other and exclaimed, “Of course! That’s exactly what it’s like!” Ever since, I think of the freshly harvested undried garlic as “wet garlic”. Forget that anemic Chinese stuff that you need to use three of to get any sort of flavour. This is for serious garlic-lovers.


So last night I took three handfuls of fresh Ontario green beans, one for each of us; washed them, cut off the stem end, and threw them into my medium sized frying pan with a wee dram of water, and a teaspoon or two of olive oil. I pried out one clove of garlic, finely chopped it and sprinkled it in with the beans, along with a tablespoon of chopped onions. I covered it, but kept the lid ajar (this keeps the beans green), and cooked them until they were starting to turn bright green. Then I removed the lid, and finished cooking them as the liquid reduced and the beans started frying a bit. Grate salt and coarse pepper over the lot, and you have a scrumptious side dish. Sometimes I add crumbled bacon or quartered cremini mushrooms. This time I served them with chicken schnitzel, new potatoes with fresh parsley butter, and a slice of a lovely ripe heirloom tomato. It was a meal fit for the Queen! Next time I should invite her.

By the way, I do love England; it’s a mystical, magical country full of Charles Dickens, Beatrix Potter, William Shakespeare, Beefeaters, Sherlock Holmes, Jane Austen, the Bronte’ sisters, and The Phantom of the Opera. It made me remember books from my childhood and youth, and lots of history lessons coming to life. It’s a country of contrasts and paradoxes. Also, sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.


Garlic is planted in the fall and left out over winter. It is harvested at the beginning of July, then dried for several weeks on racks. The dried stuff is brought out for sale after the “wet garlic” is sold.

Typically dried Ontario garlic is twice as pungent as the Chinese stuff; “wet” up to thrice as garlicky. Keep dry garlic at room temperature; wet in the fridge in a bag.


Garlicky Green Beans


  • 1 quart (4 cups) fresh green beans, washed and stem end removed
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, butter, or bacon drippings
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings: crumbled bacon, shredded cheese or fried mushrooms


Toss beans, garlic, onions and water into a medium to large frying pan. Cover partially, leaving lid ajar for steam to escape. This will help to keep the beans green. Cook quickly until liquid evaporates, then remove lid and stirfry the beans until they are just beginning to brown slightly. Top with desired optional toppings, then grind salt and pepper coarsely over all.