Although it still feels like summer, and we still eat outside when it’s sunny enough, fall is definitely here – back to school time makes me crave those classic dishes from my childhood: shepherds’ pie, chili, classy chicken, and spaghetti loaded with sauce. When we start getting back into the groove of fall schedules, I like to make a habit of preparing twice (or more) as much dinner as we need, and freezing the surplus for an almost instant dinner on another night. A classic bolognese is the perfect candidate for the freezer – and makes use of fall veggies in season, like garlic, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers, if you’re inclined to add any. Or roughly chop a bunch of veggies and skip the meat altogether for a vegetarian bolognese.
This recipe is fairly small, but can be doubled or even tripled for a larger batch – or bulk it up with extra veggies and tomatoes. Often when I have overripe tomatoes I’ll toss them in the freezer whole, then add them to sauces later.
Back to school time is cookie season for us – I don’t know whether I make them out of self-preservation or to fill lunchboxes. Everyone needs a little comforting treat when summer comes to an end, and I like baking a batch of cookies on the weekend to wrap and tuck into lunch boxes all week. Sometimes, when I’m really on the ball, I’ll make and freeze balls of dough so I have something to slide into the oven after school – there’s nothing like walking in the door after a long day and the house smells like chocolate. Bonus: with a stash of dough, you can bake a few at a time in the toaster oven, and not have a couple dozen to eat your way through.
To freeze and bake, freeze balls on a sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag; take them out, place them on a parchment-lined sheet and let them sit while the oven preheats, then bake as directed.
Brown butter seems to be all the rage these days — for good reason. Cooking butter in a pan so that the milk solids turn a golden brown gives butter a deep and nutty flavour. Brown butter is great over vegetables and adds a unique flavour to baking. We love putting it in this deceptively simple loaf cake. Read More
It’s back-to-school time, when schedules tighten up and there’s suddenly less time to get dinner on the table, but I have good news for you: the no-knead bread that took over the internet a few years ago also makes amazing pizza dough. You can mix it up the night before, and make pizza in minutes when everyone gets home and is ready to eat.
It makes for a wonderfully chewy, bulbous pizza crust – the dough itself is fairly sticky, so use flour to keep it from sticking to your fingers, and parchment or a silpat mat on your baking sheet, unless you have a pizza stone to cook it on.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (or use whole wheat, or half and half)
- 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (instant or regular)
- 1 tsp. salt
- In a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and let it rest on the countertop for 18-24 hours at room temperature.
- After that time the surface of the dough will be dotted with bubbles. Generously flour a work surface and scrape the mixture out onto it, gently folding it over itself once or twice, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Spread it out with your fingertips until it's a rough oval or rectangle (you may need to sprinkle the top with a little flour too, to keep it from sticking to your fingers), and set it aside while you get your toppings together and preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Spread the crust with tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, pesto or anything else you'd like to sauce it with, then top with your choice of toppings and grated cheese.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
If you’re like us, you’ve got plenty of zucchini hanging around your house right now and are probably getting tired of chopping them up and putting them in stir-fries. Which brings us to one of our favourite classic Best of Bridge recipes: our Chocolate Zucchini Cake. The zucchini makes this cake nice and moist, the chocolate chips give an extra boost of chocolate and a touch of cinnamon adds some complexity to the flavour.
This Chocolate Zucchini Cake first appeared in the original ladies’ 1984 book winners and you can now find it in The Complete Best of Bridge Cookbooks Volume 3. But here it is again for easy reference, because we know you need to use up at least some of that zucchini a.s.a.p. Read More
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.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla (optional)
- 4 thick slices day-old bread
- Cinnamon (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serves 4.
Granitas sound like they may be fancy, but in reality, all a granita is is a homemade slush. It’s a refreshing option for a summer dessert — the icy treat will cool you down on a hot summer day, but it’s lighter than ice cream or frozen yogurt. We like just eating granita out of a bowl with a spoon like a sorbet or serving them in a cocktail glass with a little bit of vodka or gin as a cool summer cocktail.
Watermelon is a classic granita flavour because the melon is so full of liquid that you don’t have to add any extra water or juice to make a slush. All you have to do is puree it, pour it into a pan, and freeze it. You’ll need to scrape it up with a fork as it’s freezing so you don’t end up with a big watermelon ice cube, but other than that, this cool treat requires very little work. Which is exactly how we like it in the summertime. Read More
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.
Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is a gin-based liqueur with an herbal flavour. It’s particularly popular in England, where it’s typically served in pitchers with lemonade (or, if you’re feeling less traditional, ginger ale) and chunks of fruit and cucumber. It’s a cool and refreshing drink that remains ubiquitous in the U.K. during the summer and also has a growing number of fans in Canada.
With blueberries so abundant in mid-summer in Canada, a jug of boozy punch that utilizes BC blueberries seemed to be in order. Blueberries work will with the herbal and citrus flavours in the Pimm’s and it’s always nice to have a fruity snack right inside your cocktail! Read More
BC blueberries are here! To celebrate, we made a batch of easy cream shortcakes on BT Calgary this morning, with berries in the dough as well as simmered to spoon over the split biscuits. Add some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you have a dessert that tastes like summer. All the berries are coming into season now, and would be fantastic piled on a freshly baked, crunchy-topped shortcake – here’s the recipe!
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.
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