A bubbly fruit crisp is the ultimate summer dessert – easy to assemble using whatever fruit happens to be in season, no fussing with pastry in the heat, and a sweet, crunchy topping that’s easy to mix together. It makes the very best vehicle for ice cream.
Berries are perfect contenders – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries – whatever grows well where you are. We love all of them paired with rhubarb, which makes for a sweet-tart crumble. You can even assemble the fruit and bake it when you’re sitting down to dinner, so that it’s warm when it’s time for dessert.
Dried lavender — the kind that can be added to baked goods to give it a distinctive flowery taste — is becoming more and more readily available across the country. But once you’ve got your hands on a jar of these little purple buds, what do you do with it? A little bit of lavender goes a long way; the flavour is strong and you have to make sure it complements your other ingredients. That said, if the flavour appeals to you, a pinch of lavender can take an otherwise ordinary dessert from plain to special occasion-worthy.
We’re big fans of blondies. Like brownies, they’re chewy and delicious, but without the fudgey-ness there’s more room to play with different flavours and add-ins. These blondies combine lavender with good ol’ butterscotch chips for an easy, but slightly fancier treat. Read More
During the summer months, I tend to overload on the greens – my fridge is always packed with asparagus, broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, and all those good things that grow so well (and are so cheap) at this time of year. Inevitably, some of those things get wilty and wind up in the freezer, and once in awhile I pull a bunch out and simmer it into soup. After all, salads aren’t the only way to get your greens! I particularly like making this with aged white cheddar – and a handful of kale or spinach would do well in it, too.
During the summer months, I’m all about easy appetizers that can be pulled together in a minute and a half and brought out to the patio with a cold bottle of rosé. Cheese is almost always my go-to, and we have so many amazing Canadian cheeses to choose from. I’ve even been known to slide a small wheel of Brie or Camembert into the oven while it’s hot for us to nosh on with a chunk of baguette and plate of charcuterie for dinner al fresco. It’s real fast food.
I thought of this because of the abundance of herbs currently in my garden – you don’t need a recipe so much as an easy formula: slice the top off a small wheel of Camembert or Brie, put it into any sort of ramekin or heat proof dish, top with a few sprigs of fresh herbs (like rosemary and thyme), a drizzle of oil and a good grinding of black pepper.
Slide it into the oven (or onto the back shelf of the barbecue, where you keep buns and such warm) until it’s gooey, and serve with crusty bread, tiny potatoes, or really anything you might eat with cheese. It’s even amazing as a side with a grilled steak. It’s easy being cheesy!
Cauliflower is such a great vegetable — it’s substantial enough to anchor a vegetarian meal and also makes a hearty side to go alongside a piece of grilled fish or meat. The other handy thing about cauliflower is that the flavour is mellow enough that you can use it as a vehicle for a number of different sauces, be it a classic cheese sauce or something hot and spicy. We love cauliflower with a garlicky tahini dressing, made even more flavourful with a dash of hot cayenne pepper. Read More
Summertime is beverage season, and while I’m not against the occasional slurpee, there’s too much in the way of Kool-Aid, pop and other sugary drinks that are so heavily consumed throughout the hot summer months. My standby is homemade lemonade, jazzed up with fresh herbs, ginger or sliced cucumber. Lemons are classic, of course – but limes and even grapefruit can be added to the mix to shake things up a bit, so to speak.
To make your own lemonade concentrate, bring equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. (I usually do a cup of each.) Stir to dissolve the sugar, and if you want to add flavour, grate in some fresh ginger, toss in a few stalks of chopped rhubarb, or a handful of mint, rosemary or thyme, and strain before serving.
Your lemonade concentrate will keep up to a couple weeks in the fridge; to make a pitcher or glass of lemonade, add water or sparkling water to taste, and a handful of ice. (This concentrate also works well with lime juice, and makes a fine mojito or addition to a gin & tonic.)
There are few summer salads I enjoy as much as one made with chunks of cool, crunchy, sweet watermelon and salty, briny feta, punctuated with leaves of fresh mint from the garden. It’s as easy as salads get, and looks amazing on a shallow platter on the table. Because watermelon has such a high water content, the salad is refreshing – and easy to get on your fork, unlike spring greens on a hot day.
I like to drizzle mine with a balsamic reduction, which you can make yourself by simply reducing balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until it reduces by about a half, or buy by the bottle at most grocery stores. It holds onto the watermelon and feta better, without getting runny like straight up vinegar can.
The extended family came over for an impromptu dinner tonight – my nephew made burgers, and I scoured the house for something to make a salad out of. We had no greens, or kale, or anything green, really – but we had tons of carrots, and I remembered a grated carrot salad we ate at various events when I was a kid, and so I tried to recreate it. It was easy to grate two large carrots, dice an apple, add a handful of raisins and dress the whole thing with rice vinegar, salt and pepper, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of mayo. And it turned out to be delicious on burgers, too.
This time of year we crave things that are fresh and green and it doesn’t get any fresher or greener than a homemade herb-packed pesto. This pesto is made of easy-to-find ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes — whenever you need a little something extra to go with a springtime meal. Serve it with grilled chicken or fish, with hot pasta (or in a cold pasta salad), as a sandwich spread, or even as a dip. Read More
On a trip to Waterton last weekend to help kick off the third annual food festival (it’s on now, until June 4!), I was thrilled to finally visit Waffleton, the new(ish) waffle shop founded by the creators of Wieners of Waterton. Not only do they have divine buttermilk waffles made with batter they raise overnight, they also make real Liege-style waffles, which are dense and chewy, made with rich, buttery brioche dough and pearl sugar. I’ve always wanted to give them a go, and so I finally managed to – they’re easier to make than you might think, and definitely worth the effort. If you can’t make it to Waterton (a wonderful summertime destination), make some at home like they do at Waffleton – topped with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
Like zucchini, many of us see an abundance of beets over the summer, and no family can live on borscht alone. We love boiling and then pureeing beets and tucking them into a cake for extra moistness, colour, and flavour. If you go for a non-chocolate cake the beets will turn it a nice pink flavour, but beets and chocolate go together so well, we couldn’t resist melting some chocolate chips for this bundt cake, which can easily be carted along on a picnic. Read More
This seems like a classic Best of Bridge recipe – homemade doughnuts made from a recipe handed down over generations. After all, you only make doughnuts when you have friends and family around to eat them. Olie Bollen are traditional Dutch apple and raisin fritters – the easiest kind of doughnut to make.
There’s no need to roll and cut them, you can simply drop spoonfuls of dough into the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp. Experiment with other fruit in season, too – ripe peaches are delicious, just pat them dry if they’re overly juicy. This recipe comes from a friend of a friend of a friend, who says it was her grandmother’s specialty. Serve them as an after school snack if you have extra hungry kids in the house, or for brunch when you’ll have more people around the table. They’re best warm, doused in powdered sugar.
Pasta carbonara (also known in less fancy circles as “bacon ‘n’ eggs pasta”) is delicious, but in the springtime, it’s nice to lighten up the classics with some green veg. This version of carbonara brings in Brussels sprouts and asparagus for some spring flavour. If you have a food processor, use it to get your sprouts nice and thin — if you don’t have one handy, just trim off the ends and loose outer leaves (and wash them!) and slice them as thinly as possible with a sharp knife. Read More
Homemade granola is a virtuous thing. A handful of it will ward off hunger (I keep a ziplock baggie of it in the car at all times) and layering it with some homemade or local Bles Wold vanilla yogurt and frozen berries will give you the healthiest breakfast imaginable. It also makes great muesli, if you stir it into some yogurt along with a grated apple, and pop it in the fridge overnight. Homemade granola also makes a great gift, encased in a big glass mason jar. And it’s far more expensive than most granolas you find on store shelves.
Best of all, you can customize it with dried fruit and chopped nuts, and flavours like vanilla or maple extract, cinnamon or ginger, according to your taste.