Ultimate S’mores

We are living in a time of some amazing culinary experimentation. While culinary mashups are nothing new, witness the Turducken, which has it’s roots in ancient Roman times, some creations have gone a bit too far.

While I love nothing better than a bowl of Cheetos and a glass of wine for dinner, I am not keen to give Cheetos Macarons a try anytime soon. Nor will Goat Cheese and Peanut Buttercup Fries be passing these lips… not ever!

However, I firmly stand behind Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches, and will even stand in line for the Cronut (and anything else that genius Dominique Ansel dreams up!).

So, in the spirit of culinary creativity, I bring you The Ultimate S’moretoasted 2 625 sqready for smores 1Because it’s summer! Because it’s crazy delicious! Do I really need an excuse for taking my favourite Passover snack, Matzoh Crunch and turning it into that summertime staple, the s’more? Instead of using matzoh, I substituted Saltine crackers.saltinesI cooked butter and brown sugar until it resembled molten hot lava and poured it over a layer of saltines.molten gold spreading caramelI baked it until it was bubbling and then I covered it in bittersweet chocolate and marbled in some white chocolate, just because it’s so freaking beautiful.chocolate

Then I toasted some marshmallows and sandwiched them between the caramel chocolate coated crackers.  toasted 625 sqIf you are a purist, like my youngest son, you may prefer them raw!raw 3If you are watching your carbs, perhaps an open faced sandwich is the way to go.open facedHowever you enjoy summer, including the Ultimate S’mores in your celebrations is bound to make it a lot sweeter.

Click here to print recipe for Ultimate S,mores.

stacked smores 1

Warm Broccoli Salad

three broccoli headsthree small and one large black plateWhile broccoli might not be the first vegetable you think of for a summer salad, let me be the one to convince you otherwise. With the addition of a warm garlic vinaigrette and a garnish of grated hard boiled eggs and crunchy salty rye bread croutons, it’s the perfect warm weather side dish.

Start with hard boiling the eggs. I am a hard boiled egg pro. No green or grey rim around the yolk ever! It was my responsibility to hard boil a gross (don’t see that word used very much anymore! ) of eggs every morning at my very first restaurant job. Here’s how to make perfect ones every time. Place eggs in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Put lid on pot and remove pot from the heat. Let sit, covered for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse eggs under cold water and peel as needed. hard boiled eggsNext, dissect the broccoli. three preparationsPeel the stems and cut into diagonal coins. peeling stemsslicing stems on diagonalCut the head of the broccoli into thick 1/2 inch planks. These broccoli planks remind me of the storybook character Flat Stanley. If you have never heard of him, check out this link. I have always wanted to possess this super power of making myself totally flat so that I could slide under locked doors and snoop where I shouldn’t! What super hero power do you wish you had?slicing planksAs you slice the planks, little bits of florets will fall off. Set them aside for boiling or steaming. They are too tiny and tender for roasting. 

A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the sliced stems and flat planks ready for roasting.ready for roastingToast some rye bread croutons while the broccoli is roasting. croutonsWhisk together a warm garlic-mustard vinaigrette.garlic vinaigretteArrange the roasted and steamed broccoli on a platter. Drizzle with the tangy dressing and garnish with the egg and croutons. Each bite is a perfect combination of textures and flavours. The roasted broccoli brings a charred, smoky bite. The verdant steamed broccoli adds a bit of freshness. Hard boiled eggs add creaminess and the rye croutons add salt and crunch, always welcome at any party. The tangy Dijon garlic vinaigrette wakes up your taste buds. round black platter

Click here to print recipe for Warm Broccoli Salad.

white rectangular plate

Maple Macadamia Milk Chocolate Cookies

Milk and Cookies 3My husband arrived home from work last week with a gift for me. From the sound of my squeal when I opened the package, you would have thought the box held a large square cut diamond ring. Nope. Just a jar of maple salt.

Yes, I said maple salt!! Who knew? My mind was reeling with the possibilities. Maple glazed chicken thighs finished with a sprinkle of  maple salt, salmon with a maple soy glaze and strewn with a light dusting of maple salt, maple salted pecans? I settled on maple macadamia milk chocolate cookies, finished with a fine mist of maple salt. mise en place 2Maple syrup would be the natural addition to give these cookies a serious maple bent, but too much syrup would make the dough too soft and liquidy. The solution was to add maple extract to the dough. I added almost 1 1/2 teaspoons and it was perfect.

This recipe was adapted  from the Lindt chocolate web site.  The dough came together quite quickly in my stand mixer.adding flourI formed one round log and one square log (check out this video if you need help forming a square log). If you are impatient like me, freeze for 2 hours. If not, chill dough in fridge for 6 hours or even overnight. rolling into a logforming square logSlice, top with maple salt or just regular fleur de sel, and bake.slicing 2sprinkling with maple saltBe patient and let them cool completely before tasting. They spread quite a bit in the oven. They are quite thin and you will be utterly surprised that such a thin and delicate cookie can pack such a wallop of deep maple flavour. Buttery and crispy, these cookies are really unique. The tiny crystals of maple salt crunch delicately between your teeth and keep you craving more. Milk and Cookies 1You can find maple salt online at Saltworks (in the USA), or at Maison Côté in Canada.

Click here to print recipe for Maple Macadamia Milk Chocolate Cookies.Milk and Cookies 2

Smoky Roasted Gazpacho Soup

2 green bowls FIt probably wouldn’t shock you to learn that I am a very organized person. Each spring, I dump out the stale spices in my alphabetized drawer and buy fresh ones. The only one I never have to toss is the smoked paprika. I go through that stuff on a stunningly regular basis. It make everything taste better. It typically sneaks it’s way onto roasted vegetables, like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, squash and carrots. I recently made a smoked paprika and garlic vinaigrette  that took roasted broccoli to another dimension.

Smoked paprika has that transcendent ability to take a dish to a very delicious new height.3 bowls on yellow platesThis soup was adapted from a roasted vegetable gazpacho that I stumbled upon while browsing through Donna Hay’s Modern Classics: Book 1. I have most of her books and regularly use them for styling and photography inspiration. Her collaboration with photographer Con Poulos has created multitudes of awe inspiring images.

Donna’s soup was heavy on the roasted red peppers and light on the roasted tomatoes. I flipped this because I love tomatoes way more than peppers. When I saw the addition of smoked paprika, I knew I had to try it.tomatoes and peppersquartering tomatoesroasted pepperspeeling peppersblendingAfter blending I took a taste and decided that the heat and smoky flavour needed to be boosted. A teaspoon of my favourite chipotle tabasco made all the difference! Additional smokiness without painful heat.one white bowlI diced up some red peppers and cucumbers to garnish the soup and served it with some grilled    sourdough for dipping. After chilling in the fridge overnight the soup was even richer and deeper in flavour the next day. one green bowl

Click here to print recipe for Smoky Roasted Gazpacho Soup.

one yellow bowl F


Killer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

ready 625 sqSome days, it seems like the world is covered in jagged, sharp edges. Nothing goes smoothly and everything irritates you. When you wake up on the dark side of the mattress, plan on having this grilled cheese sandwich for dinner.

Gooey, crispy, salty and buttery, it comforts like nothing else can.

This sandwich is based on the “Grilled Cheese with a Twist” I ate at Milk Truck’s Smorgasburg location a few years ago. Crafted from aged Wisconsin gruyere, champagne vinegar pickled onions and  whole grain Dijon mustard on Blue Ribbon Bakery Jewish Rye, it was a revelation for me. I have put caramelized onions in my grilled cheese before, but never pickled onions. The sharp tang of the vinegar cut right through the rich fatty cheese and created such flavour balance.

I substituted shallots for onions, because they are sweeter and milder. pickled shallots For my version, I decided upon a combo of cheeses. I used mild, buttery Fontina because It melts like a dream and gives you a really ooey gooey center. Gruyere adds really earthy, nutty flavours to the sandwich. And, rounding out my cheese trifecta was classic mild cheddar. Don’t be tempted to use “old” or “sharp” cheddar for this. It is too dry and crumbly to melt properly.making sandwiches 2A smear of Dijon mustard adds an unexpected tang. I also added a layer of thinly sliced Honeycrisp apple. It added a welcome crunch and tart-sweet component. If you are lucky enough to live in Ottawa, please, please, please, use Rideau Bakery rye bread!

You get much more even browning when you butter the bread, rather than melting the butter into the pan. A very light sprinkling of salt on the buttered bread, before cooking, adds a bonus oomph! But feel free to leave it out if that’s how you roll. I promise not to judge. The key is to cook it low and slow, so that you get it brown and toasty on the outside and completely melted in the center. A lid on the pan will help with thoroughly melting the cheese.cooking


sliced closeup

Click here to print recipe for Killer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

on black platter