Green and Yellow Beans with Salami Vinaigrette

beans on oval plattergreen and yellow beansI like to think of green beans as the little black dress (LBD) of the vegetable world. Just as versatile as a LBD, green beans can get get dressed in so many different ways. Accessorized with dill, celery and an apple cider vinaigrette, green beans are casual and ready for a backyard BBQ. Adorn them up with blood oranges, hazelnuts and a sherry vinaigrette, and they are perfect for a formal dinner (pearls optional). Tart them up with spicy chiles, almonds and a soy- honey dressing and they are all set for a hot date.

When the baskets at the market are spilling over with green and yellow beans I get very excited. That satisfying sharp snapping sound they make when you break off the ends tells me that these beans are fresh from the field.

Traditionally in North America, veggies have been portrayed as a minor character on the plate, letting meat take center stage. However, chefs around the world are beginning to inspire us to flip that view around. Let vegetables shine on the plate , but use meat sparingly, to add some acidity, richness and fat. This recipe was created by Chef Josh Keeler from Two Boroughs Larder in Charleston, SC.ready to eat 625 sqAs I perused Chef Josh’s recipe, I did a double take reading the instructions. Put the salami in the blender. Really??? Remember that episode of The Chew when host Carla Hall wonders “Can you blend it?” and then proceeds to puree leftover chicken pot pie? Well, blended salami vinaigrette is way better than that. Surprisingly delicious. It adds richness and an unctuous quality to the beans. Let's get started 2The pureed dressing is a rather vibrant orange colour, thanks to the paprika, but don’t let it scare you. Press on!alarming dressing 2

tossing beansI decided to add a touch more salami , crisping up little cubes to use as a sort of meat crouton.crisping up salamiThe first time I made this we added chick peas to the dish to up the protein content. As my sister Bonnie says, “Chick peas make everything better.” For this photo shoot, I left them out.

Click here to print recipe for Green and Yellow Beans with Salami Vinaigrette.

Have some beans

 

Malted Chocolate Drumsticks

holding cone 625 sqready to eat 2 625 sqWhen I came across a recipe for Malted Chocolate Ice Cream in Bon Appetit Magazine, I instantly knew that I must create it for my charming friend Marla. Her guilty secret is a wild passion for Malteasers (chocolate covered malt balls). While her husband Ed and I prefer to poison ourselves with Twizzlers, Marla has always preferred Malteasers.

I made the ice cream and transferred it to the freezer. While cleaning up I licked the bowl to taste. I was instantly transported back to my childhood. Totally reminiscent of the chocolate Drumsticks of my youth. Usually the corner store only stocked Vanilla Drumsticks, but once in a while they carried the cones filled with a light chocolate ice cream. This malted milk ice cream reminded me exactly of those. I knew I had to recreate them!

The base for this ice cream requires a dozen egg yolks! Luckily, Marla made us an incredible Lady Baltimore cake that used a ton of egg whites, so the yolks were just sitting in the fridge the next day. It was meant to be!tempering yolksjpgThe hot custard melts the chocolate. melting chocolateBefore the liquid can go into the ice cream machine it needs to chill for a while in an ice water bath. chilling ice cream base in ice bathice cream for freezerWhile the ice cream was freezing, I tackled the cocoa-coffee crumbs. Bon Appetit magazine calls them “delirium inducing” and I have to concur!crumble ingredientsCocoa powder, ground coffee, flour, melted butter, sugar and ground almonds are combined and then spread out on a cookie sheet and baked in the oven until dry and crispy.

A dip in melted chocolate and then a roll in salted roasted almonds, because that’s how we roll around here. Extra deliciousness. Sweet and salty is just an awesome combo.dipping cones 1jpgdipping cones 2dipped cones 3Malted Chocolate Ice cream is scooped and cones are filled. scoopingA final dip in more melted chocolate and a finishing touch of cocoa- coffee crumbs!!dipping top in chocolate

Click here to print recipe for Malted Chocolate Drumsticks.holding cone 1ready to eat 1

Grilled Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad

plated 3 FWe’re not big on celebrating the “Hallmark Card Holidays” in our house. Valentines Day is just an excuse for me to bake, blog about and then gorge on photo shoot leftovers of gorgeous heart shaped cookies like these, or these or especially these!! Not that I really need a holiday excuse to bake cookies.

Mother’s and Father’s Day are customarily observed with the perfunctory card and a big hug. So imagine my surprise this year when each of my 3 children, totally independant of each other, presented me with gifts. Two days before, my youngest son gave me a delicate sterling silver chain bracelet. On Mother’s Day my oldest son handed me an impeccably wrapped and ribboned box that contained an elegant hand blown glass pitcher with a flavour infuser in the center. And then, 6 weeks after Mother’s Day, my middle child, (my daughter), left a fitbit on my desk.

My first thought was that my husband told the kids he was leaving me for a younger faster version and hadn’t gotten around to telling me yet. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was dying and no one had the guts to break the news to me. But no, the husband vowed he was in it for the long haul and I felt perfectly healthy. Turns out, they just wanted to show me how much they love and appreciate me. Awww. Sweet!!

Guzzling mint-strawberry-cucumber flavoured water and wearing the fitbit make me believe I am healthier already. I decided to go with the flow and assembled this healthy, insanely delicious salad I discovered in the June 2014 issue of Chatelaine magazine.

Already armed with some gorgeous local zucchini, I was prepared. zucchiniI sliced the fatter zucchini on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick planks. The little ones I just sliced in half, lengthwise. slicing green zucchini on diagonalA package of Halloumi cheese gets sliced into 1/2 inch planks as well. slicing halloumiI whisked together a dressing with white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.lemon juice FEverything gets treated to a generous glug of good olive oil, some Kosher salt and pepper (no salt for the cheese!, it’s salty enough already.) The zucchini get grilled until deeply golden brown. I pan fried the halloumi since it can stick to the grill. A can of chickpeas and some fresh mint and parsley and lunch is ready. plated 4FI think that eating raw zucchini is about as pleasant and flavourful as chewing a sponge. But bathe it in olive oil, salt and pepper and let it get grill kissed and something magical happens to the taste and texture. It becomes silky in texture and almost meaty in substance. And if you have never had fried halloumi cheese before, well, let’s just say you are in for a real treat. It is salty, slightly rubbery and squidgey. While that may not sound like the most appetizing description, trust me, it is delicious. It sort of squeaks between your teeth when you chew it and it is very addictive. plated 2F 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad.

Inspiration

Happy Blogiversary to me. This is my 300th post! When I look back at my first post, It seems hard for me to believe I have been at this for over 6 years. This journey has been one of self discovery as well as one heck of a huge learning curve. With each post I learn something new and develop skills I never knew I had the capacity for. The most joyous thing about blogging is the readers. Connecting with strangers out there in the blogosphere is really incredible. (Also, it’s a great way to hear from your family!) Thanks so much you guys, for continuing to subscribe, read and leave me comments! Bloggers live for the comments. It means we are not just spewing off to an empty vacuum. Someone is out there listening.

For my 300th post I though I would talk about inspiration. People always ask me how do I think of subjects to blog about. Where does my inspiration come from?

Sometimes it comes from obvious sources, like travel to FloridaThe Amalfi Coast or South Africa. At times the nucleus of an idea forms as I am just going about my daily routine, perhaps at spin class or even something as mundane as sitting in the bathroom.

Life’s little challenges along the way can often provide inspiration as well. My son’s gluten intolerance spawned this post, and empty nest syndrome inspired this one. Once in a while sheer greed gives rise to a post, such as this one about a Chip Stand Crawl. Often the spark is my excitement to share an awesome new recipe I’ve discovered and can’t believe I have ever lived without before, like Double Coconut Granola. And then, once in a blue moon, lightning strikes, literally!

A visit to Parkdale Market yesterday left me feeling very inspired. Stay tuned for posts about all these gorgeous vegetables.

zucchini

green and yellow beansstrawberriespurple cauliflowerwhite cauliflower

 

Canada Day Pizza

unbaked 2Happy Canada Day! For 148 years old, the old broad’s in pretty good shape. As I survey the state of the world around me, I feel supremely grateful to be living in this beautiful country.

Many Canadian families commemorated the day with a 2-4 of Labatts, a Timmie’s double double or perhaps one of these awesome treats. Here at our cottage we celebrated with a  pizza decorated like the Canadian flag, because that’s just how we roll. My daughter sent me this photo of an American Flag pizza and said we should make a Canadian version. american flag pizza 2I’m always up for a culinary challenge. The dough should be made at least a day or two in advance. The slow rise in the fridge allows the flavours to develop and the end result is a crust with a nutty flavour and a satisfying chewy texture. dough ingredientsadding warm water to yeastWithin 10 minutes, the warm water has activated the yeast and it’s all bubbly.bubbling yeastmixing doughThe sauce for this pizza couldn’t be simpler. Just blend everything together . No cooking required. Anchovy paste is the secret ingredient that gives incredible depth of flavour, but not a fishy taste.sauce ingredientsThe dough gets stretched flat in a well oiled 13 x 18 inch sheet pan. If the dough refuses to stretch, and keeps springing back, wait about 10 minutes and try again. It’s like a toddler having a temper tantrum. Just walk away and come back after it’s had a chance to relax.stretching pizza dough 1stretching pizza dough 2Sauce goes next. Then a layer of shredded mozzarella and a grating of Parmesan.saucing grating parm 2We used a maple leaf cookie cutter to help us form the roasted grape tomatoes into a leaf shape. Two rows of thinly sliced raw plum tomatoes made a pretty red border.fixing leaf shape 2fixing leaf shape 3Happy Cannabis Day. Sort of looks more like a cannabis leaf than a maple leaf!unbaked

Click here for recipe for Canada Day Pizza.

baked