Latest Event Updates
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.
Marinade: 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.
End-of-Summer Grilled Salad
DirectionsCut 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
Fresh Cranberry Apple Dip
DirectionsCoarsely 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.
As I stated in my introduction to my blog, I absolutely love to make bread. I am convinced that the process is healing to the soul, and will lift up the downcast spirit. It is so rewarding to stir together flour, salt, yeast, and liquid (henceforth known as The Basic Four), let the mixture sit until it rises into a beautiful airy cloud, then shape it and bake it into golden crackling loaves. The transformation is astounding.
I especially love crusty, chewy bread, and have long wanted to delve into the world of artisan bread baking, but never got around to it. The artisanal enjoyment was initiated on our first trip to Europe; ohhh, the breads and cheeses that assaulted our senses there! I still remember what our tour guide said to us as we were leaving France’s luxurious three hour gastro pleasures, and heading to Germany, the Land of Hard Work and Practicality. In a heavy, affected German accent, he pronounced, “No more creme sauces and croissants; ve vill now be entering Germany, vhere you vill get bredt and vater, and you vill be tankful!” We all roared with laughter and the phrase has stuck in our memories. And we were indeed very thankful for the chewy bread.
When a recipe for a no-knead artisan bread burst on the scene a few years ago, I was skeptical, but after reading the testimonials of soaring successes, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. So I watched the sale flyers and bought myself a cast iron Dutch oven to experiment with it. Oh. My. Word. I became an instant believer.
You simply stir together The Basic Four, cover it, let it sit for 12 – 24 hours on your counter, and bake it in a covered heavy baking dish in a screeching hot oven. It takes only 5 minutes to stir together, but you should allow at least an hour and a half for the baking process. If you want really detailed instructions, Simply So Good does a fantastic job of covering all the bases. I use less salt and heat the pot immediately with the oven for convenience’ sake.
To The Basic Four, I added a quarter cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, half of a Zestar apple, coarsely chopped, and half a cup of dried cranberries. After baking, I brushed the top of the loaf with maple syrup immediately after removing it from the pot. Presto. Basic turns into amazing in a fraction of time. Not that basic isn’t also amazing, depending on the moment. It definitely is amazing dipped in olive oil, herbs, and balsamic mixtures.
I have tried myriad combinations, both savoury and sweet. This one was developed about a week ago when I wanted to take advantage of our fresh apple season that is happening now AND I had beautiful dried cranberries here that I picked up at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala, Ontario. They do fantastic tours of their place. Do visit them if you have the chance sometime. We will be selling heaps of their fresh cranberries in time for Thanksgiving, since apples and cranberries are a thankworthy team. Then we freeze them until Christmas, and sell them frozen. We do fantastic tours of our farm too, by the way. It looks pretty these days with the apples waiting to be harvested.
Speaking of pretty, so is this bread. Just look at it. You can do this too.
I tried out the freshly baked bread on a friend and her 4-year-old, my oldest daughter and my 1-year-old grandson. Every single one of them approved it for the blog.
More pictures of other breads I’ve tried…click or hover on the pictures to see the descriptions. And that’s it. I’m stopping now. My keyboard is getting wet.
TRUE STORY: I was bragging this bread up to this very same friend last winter and telling her that it’s virtually foolproof. I promised her I would supply the bread if they had us at their place for dinner that Sunday. I baked an aged cheddar, garlic and cracked pepper loaf before church, took it along in the very hot pot and let it sit in the car. Well. What a sorry, deflated, soggy loaf I presented at noon. I hadn’t baked it quite long enough and the steam created a sauna for the bread as it cooled. Breads do not like saunas after they are baked. So this apple/cranberry loaf was to redeem both the bread and my baking skills in her eyes. I still claim that it’s foolproof, but not idiotproof, apparently.
The bread should be stored in a paper bag until it’s cut, then the rest can go into plastic, but it will lose its crisp crust and simply be chewy.
Apples? I like to use a firm, sweetly tart apple for this sort of thing. The first time I used Gingergold, this time it was Zestar, next time it will be Cortland or Honeycrisp. Always, always store them in the fridge in a crisper or bag. Do not store them with pears. The apples exude ethylene gas that will over-ripen the pears in a hurry.
Additions: When you’re ready to start baking, turn the oven on to 450° F. Immediately put a 5-6 quart/litre cast iron or other heavy oven-proof pot in the oven. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN, or it will smoke like crazy. Let it heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove bread from the bowl with a large scraper, and turn it out onto a heavily floured pastry mat or parchment paper. Flour the top of the loaf, then using your hands or two dough scrapers, curve the sides and tuck them loosely into the bottom so that you have a nice round loaf. Lightly cover again with the plastic and let it rest while your oven is heating. When the oven and pot have heated for 45 minutes, remove the pot and set on a heatproof surface. Remove cover, lift up the bread with the parchment or two dough scrapers and carefully drop it into the pan. You should hear the apples sizzle from the heat. Put the cover back on top, place the pot in the oven, and bake it for 30 minutes, still at 450°. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is deep brown. This apple version will be darker than the Basic Artisan Loaf is because of the whole grain flour and brown sugar. When it’s brown, take it out and immediately remove it from the hot pan with two sturdy lifters. Brush the top of the loaf with pure maple syrup. Cool on a wire rack. I dare you to leave it for more than 15 minutes. Chow down. It’s really good as is, but you can slather it with butter if you wish. Or Brie cheese, or maple butter, or apple butter … you name it. Makes 1 loaf.
Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf
IngredientsThe Basic Four
DirectionsStir together all the ingredients except the maple syrup in a glass or metal bowl big enough for the dough to double in size. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for approximately 12 – 24 hours. I often stir it together around 7:00 pm, then bake it the next morning.
When you’re ready to start baking, turn the oven on to 450° F. Immediately put a 5-6 quart/litre cast iron or other heavy oven-proof pot in the oven. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN, or it will smoke like crazy. Let it heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove bread from the bowl with a large scraper, and turn it out onto a heavily floured pastry mat or parchment paper. Flour the top of the loaf, then using your hands or two dough scrapers, curve the sides and tuck them loosely into the bottom so that you have a nice round loaf. Lightly cover again with the plastic and let it rest while your oven is heating.
When the oven and pot have heated for 45 minutes, remove the pot and set on a heatproof surface. Remove cover, lift up the bread with the parchment or two dough scrapers and carefully drop it into the pan. You should hear the apples sizzle from the heat. Put the cover back on top, place the pot in the oven, and bake it for 30 minutes, still at 450°. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is deep brown. This apple version will be darker than the Basic Artisan Loaf is because of the whole grain flour and brown sugar. When it’s brown, take it out and immediately remove it from the hot pan with two sturdy lifters. Brush the top of the loaf with pure maple syrup. Cool on a wire rack. I dare you to leave it for more than 15 minutes. Chow down. It’s really good as is, but you can slather it with butter if you wish. Or Brie cheese, or maple butter, or apple butter … you name it.
Makes 1 loaf.
The peach season is winding down, and I feel as though I must quickly post a peach recipe before it’s over. Also, I still need a dessert to round out the blog menu! You see, creating a food blog is different than putting together a cookbook. When you’re writing a recipe book, you assemble all the recipes and publish them all at once. With a blog, your head is swimming with ideas, but you publish them one at a time, lovingly and painstakingly. You may consider each recipe a gift, chosen carefully and handed to you with love at special occasions. Okay, enough with the gushing sentiments. I’ll stop before I have you all in tears.
Because I did not make a single strawberry shortcake this year, I vowed that peach season would not skid past without a peach blackberry version. In my mind, peaches and blackberries fit together like sunflowers and bulrushes in a fall bouquet. You can have them separately, but the two together add a stunning Wow factor, both in looks and flavour. Yesterday I was in at our store and got a basket of peaches and a quart of blackberries to pair together in some goody. Last night, we had a special family dinner in honour of our youngest going away to college, and moving out for a year. Voila! My reason to make this shortcake was born.
I love shortcakes, especially the biscuit variety. In fact, I love all things biscuit-related: scones, shortcakes, and biscuits themselves. On our honeymoon, we spent some time in the South, where I learned how to make a proper biscuit that does not have the texture of sawdust. You’ve all had those, I’m sure; the kind that come out your nose if you sneeze. Or like one I had at a High Tea at a heritage homestead that flew off the table when I tried to saw it asunder to butter it and landed on the grass with a thud, with nary a dent or a crumb out of place. Nope, my biscuits have to be flaky yet moist; crusty yet soft. Sometime, I will share that recipe with you. Meanwhile, here’s the shortcake.
The key to any biscuit-type recipe is to cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the crumbs are a little larger than a small pea. This helps to create the flakiness. Now stir the liquid in with a fork, swirling from the outside towards the centre, just until the dough gathers together. Lastly you tip it onto a floured surface and gently knead it with the heels of your hands (that’s where your hand meets your wrist) about 20 times. Pat it and shape it, and mark it with B. Hmm, how much do you bet that old nursery rhyme was written about shortcake?
Peaches should be firm when you buy them, with good colour. They ripen quickly, so if you buy them ripe, they will be over-ripe by the next day. Spread them out on a towel or newspaper at room temperature to ripen. They are ready to use when the shoulders around the stem end depress when you press them slightly. Ideally, they will be ripe within two days.
Your supplier will thank you if you do not squeeze them before buying. We would cringe when customers did that at the market, then ask “Why are these peaches so hard?” In our heads: “Ummm, ma’am, do you have any idea what these peaches would look like if they were soft and you squeezed them like that?” But of course we didn’t say that. We’d just smile and reply sweetly with information on ripening peaches.
Shortcake: Topping: In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the shortcake. Cut cold butter into 1″ chunks, then cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in the sour cream. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture holds mostly together. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 20-25 turns, or until starting to smooth. Roll or pat into an 8″ circle on a lightly greased pizza pan. Cut a 2″ hole in the centre to form a ring. This hole keeps the shortcake from having a doughy centre. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lightly browned. It will expand and puff up. Cool until ready to use. Put all topping ingredients in a small deep bowl and whip until stiff. Just before serving, slice shortcake into two layers. Spread cream on bottom layers, saving a little for top garnish. layer most of the fruit on top of cream. Carefully place the top layer of shortcake over fruit. Garnish with remaining cream, fruit and the little cutout. Cut into 8 wedges to savour the fine tastes of summer!
Peach Blackberry Shortcake
DirectionsIn a large bowl, combine sliced peaches, blackberries, sugar and Fruit Fresh, and toss very lightly. Chill until ready to serve. Preheat oven to 425° F.
In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the shortcake. Cut cold butter into 1″ chunks, then cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in the sour cream. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture holds mostly together.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 20-25 turns, or until starting to smooth. Roll or pat into an 8″ circle on a lightly greased pizza pan. Cut a 2″ hole in the centre to form a ring. This hole keeps the shortcake from having a doughy centre. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lightly browned. It will expand and puff up. Cool until ready to use.
Put all topping ingredients in a small deep bowl and whip until stiff.
Just before serving, slice shortcake into two layers. Spread cream on bottom layers, saving a little for top garnish. layer most of the fruit on top of cream. Carefully place the top layer of shortcake over fruit. Garnish with remaining cream, fruit and the little cutout. Cut into 8 wedges to savour the fine tastes of summer!
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)
- 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
DirectionsCombine 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.
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!
DirectionsTurn 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.
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
DirectionsToss 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.