Grilled French Toast

Most often, backyard barbecues are fired up to cook meat – burgers and steak, generally – and almost always used at dinnertime. It’s a shame that such a useful cooking tool rarely sees its full potential – outdoor grills provide high, direct heat that’s ideal for cooking much more than burgers. The fact that cooking outdoors doesn’t heat up the house makes me want to use it all times of the day – including the morning, on weekends when we linger over breakfast.

All types of bread work here, but make sure it’s cut thick – sourdough, multigrain, challah and raisin bread are all delicious, or try cinnamon buns, cut in half crosswise. Whichever bread you choose, it should be at least a day old – fresh bread tends to make mushy French toast. To top it off, grill some peaches, mango or other juicy stone fruit – cut in half or in wedges, pit them and place cut-side down on the grill until softened and grill-marked. Slice overtop, letting the juices mingle with the maple syrup.

Grilled French Toast
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Ingredients
  1. 2 large eggs
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
  4. 4 thick slices day-old bread
  5. Cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a shallow bowl, stir the eggs, milk and vanilla together with a fork. Brush the grill with oil and preheat it to medium-high.
  2. Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture, coating both sides well and letting it soak in. Pick up the slices and let the excess egg drip off; then place them in a baking dish to take them outside. Sprinkle them with cinnamon if you like.
  3. Grill the French toast until it’s until on both sides, about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second, flipping as necessary. Close the lid to create an oven environment, which will help them cook through. Serve them right away with syrup and fresh fruit, or keep them warm on the top rack of the grill or in a 200°F oven while you cook the rest.
  4. Serves 4.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Saskatoon Peroghies

If you live on the prairies, chances are you’ve had saskatoons in something – pie or jam, probably, and maybe even in sweet peroghies. Saskatoons (the city was named for them) are hardy shrub berries, less juicy but similar in look, shape, colour and flavour to a blueberry, with more pulp and slightly thicker skins. Botanically, saskatoons are in the same family as roses and apples; the wee purple ones come into season sometime around August, and if you don’t have a secret picking spot, keep an eye out for them next time you’re out on a hike or at the dog park. Some local grocery stores sell them frozen, too.

There is perhaps no dish more prairie-influenced than peroghies stuffed with saskatoons. Eat them for dessert, boiled and then cooked until golden and crisp in a hot pan with butter, topped with sour cream, crème fraîche or vanilla yogurt. They’re also delicious for breakfast or brunch.

Saskatoon Peroghies
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Dough
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp. salt
  4. 3/4 cup milk
  5. 2 Tbsp. butter, melted, or oil
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 1/3 cup water
Filling
  1. 2/3 cup sugar
  2. 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  3. 2 cups fresh or frozen saskatoon berries
  4. butter, for cooking
  5. sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl stir together the milk, butter and egg; add the water about a third at a time, until you have soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead it about 10 times, then cover with a towel and let rest on the countertop for 20 minutes.
  2. To make the filling, stir together the sugar and flour; shake over the saskatoons and toss to coat. On lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut into rounds. Stretch each round slightly; fill with a spoonful of the saskatoon mixture, ensuring you get some of the sugar-flour in there as well. Pull the dough over filling into semicircle; pinch edges together to seal. Cover with tea towel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Freeze in a single layer or cook immediately.
  3. To cook, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and cook the peroghies (fresh or from frozen) in batches, until they float to the top and the dough is tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a generous dab of butter. With a slotted spoon, transfer the boiled peroghies to the hot pan and cook until golden and crisp on each side. Serve with sour cream or crème fraiche.
  4. Makes about 3 dozen peroghies.
The Best of Bridge http://www.bestofbridge.com/

Liege-style Waffles

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.

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Maple Walnut Granola

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.

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Buttermilk Biscuits

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Everyone should know how to make a biscuit. They’re infinitely versatile – perfect for serving alongside soup, stew or chili, for turning into a sandwich or when you need to serve up some sloppy Joes. They can be made sweet for weekend mornings, or savoury with the addition of cheese, roasted garlic or fresh herbs. I like mine plain, served warm with butter and honey or jam.Read More

Gail’s Cantuccini

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Gail Hall has been a positive force on the Alberta culinary scene for decades – she was an award-winning caterer, broadcaster, food writer, educator and international culinary tour guide who knew everyone and shared everything from her cooking school and loft on 104th Street in Edmonton. We’ve known her for years, and like most others who knew her, have been inspired by not only her work, but her infectious energy and enthusiasm. She has done so much to build our culinary community, to teach home cooks and support new (and established) chefs.

Sadly, Gail passed away in November, but this past weekend her husband Jon along with her many friends and family members held a celebration of her life – a potluck, of course, and we baked a batch of her almond biscotti to bring along. Thanks Gail, for all the delicious things you’ve shared, and for bringing so many people together around the table.

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