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Monday, August 25, 2014


Is there anything more joyous than a baby shower?  Of course the best thing about them is being introduced to a beautiful new person who has recently entered your world. After that, everything is a bonus – getting together with family and friends, giving support to new parents and the icing on the cake is the food that is guaranteed to be delicious-especially in our family! The recent arrival of twins to our family was certainly cause for celebration, and celebrate we did, with a shower menu that was super fun and tasty. As always, being organized is the key to being able to enjoy your party, so there was advanced preparation for most dishes, as well as some easy finger foods, fresh off the grill!

 Asian Deli Noodle Salad with Sweet Chili and Tahini Dressing

We have created this noodle salad for our families and friends who deal with a variety  of food sensitivities and allergies. The rice noodles, peanut- free dressing, absence of dairy etc. all add up to a terrific salad that everyone can enjoy. We even made the dressing using soy-free, gluten-free soy sauce! The packaged broccoli slaw is a time saver and adds some terrific crunch and nutrients to this salad. 

Asian Deli Noodle Salad:
200 g package of rice noodle, cooked as instructed, rinsed and cooled
1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
1 english cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 package broccoli slaw
2 cobs of corn, grilled and niblets removed from the husk
4 green onions, chopped
¼ cup mint, chopped
¼ cup thai basil, chopped
 ¼ cup sesame oil, to coat noodles after they have been cooked , rinsed and cooled
Combine prepared cooled noodles, vegetables and chopped mint and thai basil in a very large bowl and toss with sesame oil. This will help to prevent the noodles from absorbing too much of the dressing. Then, toss noodles and vegetables with Sweet Chili and Tahini Dressing.
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
¼ fresh pea shoots

Sweet Chili and Tahini Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup fresh coriander, chopped
¾ cup Thai sweet chili sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed, plus the zest of the lime
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tahini (or seed butter)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp srihachi sauce
¼ cup water or lime juice , to adjust consistency
Place chopped ginger, garlic, green onions and coriander in a blender or food processor and process for 15-20 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and process for 15 more seconds.

Hostess with the mostest!!
Coconut/Lime Chicken Skewers with Peanut Dip and Fresh Crudite
This is a guaranteed success for all occasions. We make it every chance that we get, since it is healthy and delicious. Everyone loves the cocunut/lime flavours of the marinated chicken and the spicy dipping sauce! 

Coconut/Peanut Dip with Red Curry
  1   tsp olive oil
  4   cloves  garlic – finely minced
  2   tsps  red curry paste
*3   tbsps peanut butter (substitute tahini or nut spread)(50 ml)
  1   can  coconut milk
 *1   tbsp soy sauce(soy free seasoning sauce-coconut based)
  1   tsp brown sugar
  1 1/2 tbsps rice vinegar (25 ml)
  juice of 1/2  lime
   salt and pepper, to taste
*substitutions for special needs diets
Cook garlic and red curry paste in olive oil. Add rice vinegar, brown sugar and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Add peanut butter and whisk gently. Reduce over low heat until thick. Watch carefully, as this sauce burns easily. Add lime juice and salt & pepper.
For the chicken skewers:                                 
1       can  coconut milk
2       fresh limes -- juice and zest
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breasts -- sliced  into ½-inch thick strips
24   bamboo skewers
Prepare chicken by cutting into 1/2 inch strips.    
2   red peppers, cut into julienne  
3   carrots 
 3 celery stalks
1 cup grape tomatoes


In a large glass bowl, combine coconut milk, lime juice and lime zest and add chicken strips.
Allow to chicken to marinate, covered, in the refrigerator  for 2 hours, or overnight. Meanwhile,  soak bamboo skewers in water, so they will not char while grilling.

Preheat the barbecue on HIGH, and brush grids with oil to prevent sticking.  Thread chicken strips onto skewers.  Place the the skewers on the hot grids and reduce heat to MEDIUM. Grill approx 2 minutes per side, turning once.
Serve chicken skewers with dip and crudite.  ENJOY!
Classic shower delicacies 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Indian Chutneys to Accompany Grilled Dishes

Mandel's secret spice blend
For the past few weeks we have been returning to traditional Sunday dinners of rotisserie chickens.  It is so easy, and comforting, and yields great leftovers to set you up for a week of healthy soups and salads.  One of our weekend guests, Mandel,  brought the most wonderful gift of his own special Chinese spice mix….so far we know it contains Sichuan pepper, aged tangerine zest, cinnamon, ground coriander and cloves, but we have yet to wrestle the complete recipe from him….and we have been using it as a rub for our chicken.  

My cousin Jannaca also came for a little visit, and spent an afternoon teaching me how to make some Indian chutneys that compliment any grilled meats, vegetables, or pappadums.  Having lived and cooked in India for 25 years, she has honed her skills with these fragrant spices and wonderful flavours.

South Indian Coconut and Cilantro Chutney

½ cup shredded coconut
4 teaspoons split chana dal (split chickpea dal), dry roasted
2” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 thai green chilies, minced or ½ teaspoon crushed red chilies
coconut milk
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons split urad dal ( Indian split black dal that is actually white!)
2 tablespoons curry leaves
pinch of asafetida powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil
lemon juice and salt, to taste

Dry roast the chana dal in a small pan until it starts to turn brown, then remove from heat.  Let cool slightly, then finely grind in a spice grinder.  Set aside.
Chana Dal

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the coconut, chilies, cilantro and ginger, adding a little coconut milk until it comes together in a smooth paste. Add the ground chana dal and pulse together once more.

Heat the coconut oil in the same small pan until it is hot.  Add the mustard seeds and urad dal.  Cook until they splutter and the dal begins to turn brown.  Then add the asafetida powder and curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.  If you are using red chili flakes, add at the same
Urad Dal
time as the asafetida powder and curry leaves.

Pour these fried spices into the coconut-cilantro mixture and combine.

Add salt and the juice of half a lemon and mix.

Serve at room temperature as the coconut oil congeals in the refrigerator.  This chutney may be frozen and eaten later.  

South Indian Tomato Chutney

1 medium red onion, diced
1 “ piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
a pinch of asafetida
1 or 2 Thai green cilies, minced, or ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
5 ripe tomatoes, or 5 canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split urad dal (Indian split black dal that is actually white)
1 tablespoon curry leaves, crushed
salt, to taste

Peel and chop the tomatoes into pieces.  Prepare the onion, ginger and chilies.  Measure the spices and have them ready.

Heat half the oil in a small frying pan.  Add the asafetida first and fry for a few seconds.  Add the onions and fry until golden, adding the ginger and chilies shortly before the onions are brown.  Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, then grind this mixture in a blender or food processor.

In a separate small frying pan heat the remainder of the oil and heat.  Add the mustard seeds and dal and cook until the seeds start spluttering and the dal turns brown.  Then add the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds.  Remove from the heat and add to the tomato mixture.  Add salt to taste.

Peach Chutney

6 peaches, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil
1 small red onion, diced
1” piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3-4 cloves, ground 
1 black cardamom, ground
2" piece cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Prepare the peaches and set aside.  Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the ginger and mustard seeds and cook until mustard seeds begin to pop.  Add the cinnamon stick, chili flackes, cloves and cardamom and stir for 30 seconds, or until very fragrant.  Add and stir in the prepared peaches, vinegar and salt.   Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.   Add the brown sugar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Let cool before serving.  Can also be put into sterilized jars and stored as jam.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pulled Pork Poutine

 August has been a  crazy, wonderful month so far, with family gatherings rolling from one into the next. The Wolfe Island Family Ball Tournament drew  the full range of family to our cottage, from Grandma, to brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews........ Too many to count. This meant that meals flew in and out of the cottage at break-neck speed as well.
Champions heading into the finals!
  With the Wolfe Island Music Festival happening this weekend, our kids and their friends were given orders to do some grocery shopping and come prepared to make their meals outside, using our extra Broil Kings. It was a popular idea, with everyone pitching in to make their favorite dishes- to serve 20 people!  In true collaborative spirit, we came up with a fabulous feast on Saturday night. We had no idea what we were going to make, until everyone put their food and ideas together. As I always say, when in doubt, make pulled pork.  As it turned out, one of the highlights  of the meal was the Pulled Pork Poutine –the recipe follows! It was an innovative way to combine 2 of our basic barbecue go- to dishes, pulled pork and roasted potatoes, to feed a crowd!  


This is one of those dishes that works  best when you draw from your arsenal of easy, everyday recipes.
What you need is: pulled pork, roasted potato wedges, cheese curds and gravy. We had to resort to using cheddar cheese curds, although Andy and Dylan, who live in Montreal tell us that poutine aficionados would never use orange curds! But, as previously stated, this was a “make a meal out of what you have” night, so since orange cheese curds were available, that is what we used!  (This is a style of cooking that you quickly master when you live on an island!)
Follow the link to our previously published recipes for Pulled Pork.

   Grilled French Fries

  3        pounds  potatoes
  4        tablespoons  olive oil
            salt and pepper

Preheat barbecue on HIGH for 5 minutes, adjust temperature to MEDIUM
 Scrub potatoes and pat dry. Slice into wedges, keeping skin intact.  If preparing ahead, soak in a large bowl of water.  Drain well, pat dry and proceed with the recipe.               
 Toss in a large glass bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
 Spread evenly over an oiled and salted Grill Topper, or baking sheet, and place directly on top of grids. Grill for 30 minutes, turning once or twice until golden and crispy.

For the gravy : we used the drippings from the diffuser pan.  It is essential to start with a very clean pan. Monitor the water level, making sure that it doesn’t dry out. Towards the end of the cooking time, let some of the water cook down.  Upon removing the pork from the smoker, we pulled out the diffuser pan and let it cool, while the pulled pork rested, wrapped, for a few hours(as directed in the recipe). We had about 2 cups of liquid left, after skimming off the fat from the drippings.
Pour the drippings into a medium sauce pan, and bring it to a boil. Mix a slurry of ½ cup of cold water and  1 ½ tbsp of flour in a glass jar, shaking well to mix. Slowly combine the flour slurry with the pan drippings, whisking well and continue to stir until the gravy thickens. Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Let cool slightly.
Assemble the poutine by placing a layer of roasted potato wedges on a LARGE platter. Top with a layer of pulled pork, then a layer of cheese curds. Over top of the cheese curds,   ladle the gravy until the  platter is covered with a shallow layer of gravy- DIG IN!!!

Ben prefers Pulled Pork Poutine to birthday cake!

The girls enjoy the beers while the guys(and mom) make the dinner!
Masters at setting the table!

Grandmas favorite hiding spot-on the screened porch with her puzzle.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Geoff's Grilled or Smoked Oysters

This beautiful Civic Holiday weekend was a fun and busy one for both of us.  On Wolfe Island, Kris and her family were involved in a base-ball tournament and a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  Kris was cooking for a crowd while dodging thunder and lightening storms.  At Oak Island, Andrea was celebrating her birthday with family and friends.  Her children prepared the most gorgeous dinner of deep fried stuffed zucchini flowers, smoked wild salmon with a lemon beurre blanc sauce, Island potatoes, a stir-fry of all the delicious veggies from the garden, a roasted vegetable and quinoa salad, and a kale salad with dates and hazelnuts.  But you’ll just have to take our word for it, because despite all intentions to photograph every beautiful dish, Andrea’s memory card was not in the camera!!  Rats! 

Thankfully, Geoff and Christina were also whipping up some delicious dishes, and have generously shared their recipe for oysters.  In fact they have made these several times this summer on the Broil King Keg and the gas grill, and they find the results are equally delicious.

Geoff's Grilled or Smoked Oysters 

6  tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch of green onions, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Tabasco
2 dozen oysters on the half shell

In a skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the green onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, 8 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the garlic, lemon juice and Tabasco. Soften the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and combine thoroughly with the onion mixture. Season with salt. 

Heat grill to medium heat or heat the Keg to around 350. Shuck oysters immediately before grilling or smoking. Place a dollop of scallion butter on each oyster. Grill or smoke the oysters over medium heat until just cooked through and the butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve right away on a bed of kosher salt to prevent from spilling. 

MAKE AHEAD The Tabasco-onion butter can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let soften before using.