Category: summer

Comforting Cobbler

When it comes to summertime desserts, I tend to opt for all things simple and refreshing. Fruits are often the star, especially when they’re fresh and local. So, when I got my hands on a giant container of juicy blueberries last weekend, I knew that I had to make them into something special. In an act of perfect timing, I got the chance to sneak a peak at Canadian Living’s August cover recipe – a deliciously comforting blueberry cobbler.

If blueberry pie and cornbread got together and had a baby, this dessert would be their offspring! When a crispy, crumbly topping sits on top of a mountain of sweet blueberries, it’s a challenge not to devour it straight out of the oven. Not only does this comfort food taste as incredible as it smells, but it’s super satisfying to crack through the cobbler crust with your spoon for that very first bite!

You can whip yourself up one of these babies at home in no time flat, just follow the link below to take you to the original recipe on Canadian Living’s website.

Tip: top with a dollop of ice cream for an extra summery touch!

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Peaches and Cream (Grilled Peach Melba Sundaes)

What better way to test out our new BBQ than by grilling… peaches?! No but seriously. That’s exactly what we did last weekend. An unexpectedly delicious combination, the charred brown sugar and butter coating resulted in an explosion of flavour. We got so excited about it that we started grilling other fruits too. We tried out some pineapple, and I can’t wait to try grilling bananas next. I’m telling you, if you haven’t tasted grilled fruit yet, you really haven’t lived. Tossed into a fish taco, cubed up in a salad, on little toothpicks with cheese… the BBQ takes fruit to a whole new level! 

Alright, let’s get back to the peaches. So imagine this. Smoky sweet peaches. On top of vanilla ice cream. Drizzled with warm raspberry syrup. Topped off with fresh berries and a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds.
Yeah. You know you want it. 
This über summery dessert would look super cute all layered up in a mason jar, but I opted to serve it in crystal wine glasses instead, putting a fancy twist on a casual sundae. What a hit! I threw on a dollop of fresh whipped chantilly cream (I couldn’t help myself), and a dash of cinnamon. Perfection in a glass. 
Now now, I can’t take all the credit. Though the cinnamon was my idea, the whole recipe actually comes from Canadian Living’s wonderful July issue, on newsstands today! But just for you, loyal readers, I’ll include a link to the recipe below so that you can try it out yourself. It’s quick and easy, and looks as fab as it tastes. Throwing together a last minute brunch and don’t have time to make the raspberry syrup? Don’t fret. Some store bought jam would work in it’s place! Oh, and take my advice, top it with a dash of cinnamon. It brings all the flavours together so nicely. 
Peach pit removal tip: to remove peaches from the pits, slice down the middle and twist while the skins are still on. If your peaches are ripe enough, the pit should come out without much fuss! 
For the full recipe, click here. 

Savouring Summer (Sweet Potato Salad with Maple)

As I sit in the beaming afternoon sun, squinting to see my computer screen, sweating as if I’d just been to the gym for hours, one might see me and wonder why I don’t just go inside. The answer is simple: I’m trying my absolute hardest to absorb as much as I can of the last weeks of summer. Treating each day as if it is a mirage, knowing well that a Canadian summer is but a fleeting train filled with sunshine and happiness, I’m making a solid point to be outdoors as much as possible. Unlike many, I don’t complain that it’s 30 degrees C outside. I don’t complain that it’s humid. I don’t complain that I’m sticky and my skin is glistening with sweat. No, I don’t complain. Instead, I embrace it. I know fair well that in less than three months, the temperatures will dip to a number colder than the inside of my freezer, and I’ll be praying for these dog days to return. 
In the spirit of all things summer, I’ve been eating tons of salad. This afternoon, I decided that I should make something different than my usual spinach and whatever-is-around mixture. Opening my vegetable bin for inspiration, I spotted an almost forgotten sweet potato. Out of the corner of my eye, I also spotted my shiny new jar of Vegenaise. 
Sweet potato salad? 
Is that even a thing? 
It is now! (And is it EVER!)

Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Dressing (VEGAN!)
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
2 hot (or mild) cubanelle peppers (one large bell pepper would work too.)
2 lebanese cucumbers (1 regular cucumber would also work)
handful chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dijon mustard
pinch salt & pepper
Cook sweet potato as desired – I use the microwave to save on time, but I recommend chopping into cubes and boiling until desired tenderness is reached. Cool potatoes (to room temperature or colder.) Dice cucumbers and peppers. Combine with potatoes. In a seperate bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Toss dressing with salad and chopped cilantro. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.
Serve cold. 
Tip: For a more traditional “potato salad” flavour, add 1/2 cup of sweet corn kernels and 1/2 cup of chopped pickles, if desired.

Preserving Summertime (Strawberry Rhubarb Jam)

As any Montrealer can attest to, the extremely short duration of the summer season is a bittersweet affair. The bitter portion? The fact that Summertime takes, what seems like, an eternity to arrive after a long, brutal winter, and then disappears in what often feels like an instant – leaving us occasionally to wonder if the entire thing was just a dream. The sweet part? The season is around for such a short period of time that it is welcome with a gushing appreciation for it’s sheer existence.  We try then to soak in as much as humanly possible – leaving work a little bit earlier, staying out a little bit later, lounging for a little bit longer. Because, before we know it, we’ll be lacing up our boots once again and crunching through the fallen leaves before we spiral into another seemingly eternal ice age.

In the spirit of things bittersweet, as well as the desire to preserve Summertime, I’ve made a sweet and tangy delight – strawberry rhubarb jam. A traditional summery fruit combination – make enough of this and you can taste the season all year round.

This jam is a wonderful accompaniment to yogourt, ice cream, toast, or, if you’re feeling a little rebellious, as I have been lately, simply eat it with a spoon.
Straight out of the jar.
Go ahead – I won’t tell.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

what you’ll need
1 cup white sugar
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 packet liquid pectin (available in the baking section of the supermarket)

for canning
4 to 5 medium-size (250ml) Mason jars, lids and ring closures
Tongs/jar lifters
Labels if desired
(all available at Canadian Tire, or any good kitchen store)

how to do it
combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until fruit is soft. Do not overcook, as your jam will turn unappealing colours and lose it’s flavours! Skim the bubbly pink stuff off of the top as much as possible. This froth will liquefy in your jam and will interfere with the consistency once canned.

While fruit is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil to sterilize jars.
Remove jars once jam is ready and fill, while jars are still hot and jam is hot, leaving a 1-inch space at the top. Seal with lids and secure with rings. Leave to cool on the counter.

Once jars are cool enough, you can keep them in the fridge until ready to use – if canned and sealed properly, jam will be shelf-stable for about a year. Perfect time – just until the next strawberry harvest!

If you’ve never canned before, don’t be afraid! It’s easy peasy! Visit http://bernardin.ca for more information about heat processing, and some other great jam recipes. This isn’t a plug, but hey, Bernardin, if you’re reading this and feel like sending some free jars my way, I wouldn’t be opposed!

Summer Slaw (Creamy Sesame Coleslaw)

Any time that I feel as if I’ve overeaten, or when I’ve drank too much, I find myself attempting to compensate the following day by consuming ridiculous amounts of vegetables, taking multivitamins, and drinking green smoothies.

Today has been one of those days.
The only problem? I was super hungry, and craving something creamy.
My fridge brimming with a medley of fresh fruits and veggies, I concluded that a salad with a creamy dressing would perfectly satisfy this craving all while ensuring that my veggie intake for the day remained at an all-time high.

Inspired by a bagged Asian-style salad that I tried out recently, I decided to make a creamy asian coleslaw – and to take it up a notch, I made it vegan! Now, I know what you non-vegans are thinking. How can you make something creamy without actual cream? The answer to this perplexing question- Vegenaise and tahini – a match made in vegan heaven!

Creamy (Vegan!) Sesame Coleslaw
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need 

for the salad
2 cups chopped mixed cabbage greens
1/2 cup asian-style fried noodles (such as these: La Choy Chow Noodles)
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsp slivered roasted almonds

for the dressing
4 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp tahini
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar
salt & pepper to taste

how to do it
Combine cabbage, noodles, cilantro and almonds. Whisk dressing ingredients together until creamy. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

Note: if preparing ahead of time, only add noodles in just before serving, otherwise they will be soggy. Nobody likes a soggy noodle.

Dress Up (Sweet & Tangy Sesame Dressing)

I am aware that you don’t make friends with salad, however… nobody’s ever said that you don’t make friends with salad dressing! This dressing, my friends, is heaven in a mason jar. This dressing, my friends, will make even those salad-haters (you know who you are), want to eat salad. This dressing, my friends, could even be used on things other than salad. (OH! THE POSSIBILITIES!).

This dressing is it.


Having gotten myself into the daily habit of coming home to eat organic carrots dipped straight into the tahini jar, proceeding to declare that this indeed consists of an acceptable dinner (because, you know, it’s summer, and really, who wants to turn on the oven, or move more muscles than needed?) I’ve  decided that I should use my newfound love of sesame paste to experiment.

Inspired by the dwindling contents of my fridge, some vegetables that needed to be consumed, and a craving for something nutty, I concocted this sesame-soy-blow-your-mind-baby.
World, I introduce to you the best salad dressing in existence.
Oh yeah, and the salad I made is pretty decent too.

Sweet & Tangy Sesame Dressing 
on Beet & Citrus Salad

what you’ll need


salad:
1 cup arugula
1 medium beet, sliced thin
1 tangerine, segments cut in half
2 tbsp hulled sunflower seeds
4 radishes (if desired)

dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
3 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce


how to do it


Combine all salad ingredients. Whisk dressing ingredients all together. Pour about 5 tbsp of dressing over salad, or more, to taste.