Cocktail for Canada Day

July 1, 2009

Campari & SodaSince Italian bitters such as Campari and Cynar are bringing Milanese flare to fancy urban lounges and patios this summer, bitters seemed like the perfect place to start when I considered developing a Canada Day Cocktail.

I love the dry, quenching taste of a classic Campari and soda like the one pictured here (Thanks for another great photo, Tracy Cox!) but I wanted to make something even more summery for our country’s birthday. In the end I combined yummy, cold watermelon with campari to create this Campari Canadiana pitcher drink that you can share with friends. Cheers!

Campari Canadiana

1/3 cup (75 mL) campari
1/3 cup (75 mL) sweet vermouth
3 cups (750 mL) watermelon chunks
2 cups (500 mL) crushed ice

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until slushy and evenly combined. Serve in tall glasses with a straw and a stir stick. Makes 6 servings.

Classic Campari Cocktail

ice
1 oz (30 mL) campari
1 oz (30 mL) sweet vermouth
1 orange wedge
soda

Fill a double old-fashioned glass almost full with ice. Add the campari and vermouth and squeeze the orange wedge over the glass. Top with soda and garnish with the orange wedge.

Do you have a special Canada menu or drink that you serve every year?


Perfect weather for grazing

June 24, 2009

I love the extended daylight we have at this time of year. I feel so much more motivated to get out and do things. Unfortunately, it also seems to lead to less impetus to cook a full meal between the hours of 5 and 7 pm. In fact, it’s this time of year when we seem to nibble and nosh pretty much all evening. A yummy salad around 6:30 pm; some grilled Korean short ribs at 7:30 pm (or when Oliver takes a break from shooting hoops in the drive way with his friends); a bowl of strawberries with ice cream at 9 pm…..it’s an extended meal time pattern that just seems to work at this time of year.

My old friend Julie Van Rosendaal obviously follows a similar pattern. If you read her blog Dinner with Julie, you’ll know that her life is truly hectic.  She has a vibrant media career with crazy hours, a toddler and an abundance of charity commitments that keep her going hither and thither.  Through it all she manages to create, photograph and post some of the yummiest and best recipes in Canada. Besides being part of the new superstar blogger project Good Bite, she’s also just released an updated, newly formated version of one of her books and the timing, for me at least, couldn’t be better. Grazing: A Healthier approach to Snacks and Finger Foods is packed with just the kinds of foods I need for summer. From cheesy black bean dip to hoisin pork lettuce wraps, this collection of snack foods is going to get a lot of use not only next week on Canada Day but all summer long.

I asked Julie what snacks she recommends for this weekend and on Canada Day and she suggestee totally on-trend but still proudly Canadian Dukka Salmon Sticks:

Dukkah Salmon

Dukkah

Dukkah is a fantastic blend of spices and nuts that you could eat out of hand or sprinkle on salads, but its intended serving method is to put it out in a shallow bowl alongside crusty bread and good olive oil; you dip the bread into the oil and then into the dukkah. So since there is dipping action involved, here it is. If there is a snack out there that’s good for your heart, this is it.

3/4 cup hazelnuts or whole almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. cumin seed
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and roast for 5-10 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Transfer them onto a tea towel, fold the towel over and rub them to remove as much of the skins as you can; set aside to cool. (If you’re using almonds, toast them but don’t worry about removing the skins.)

In a dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until golden and fragrant. Transfer to a bowl. Add the coriander and cumin seeds to the pan and toast until they begin to pop; transfer to a food processor with the hazelnuts and pulse until finely ground, then add to the sesame seeds and stir to combine them. Season with salt and pepper and blend well.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Per tablespoon: 55 calories, 5.1 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 1.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 1.8 g protein, 1.8 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.7 g fiber. 76% calories from fat

Honey, Ginger & Sesame Salmon Sticks

To me, these are like candy on a stick; I’d eat the whole lot if no one was around to fight me for them. Salmon is a fatty fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels and seem to have a protective effect against some forms of cancer.

1 1/2 lbs. salmon filet
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp. finely grated ginger
Sesame seeds, toasted, for sprinkling

Cut salmon into big bite sized pieces. Combine the honey, soy sauce and lime juice in a bowl or large zip-lock bag. Add the salmon and stir or shake to coat well. Cover (or seal) and refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least one hour if that’s all you have time for.

When you’re ready to cook them, thread each piece of salmon onto a bamboo skewer that has been soaked in water for at least 10 minutes. Grill over high heat for a couple minutes per side, until just cooked through, or broil for 3-4 minutes. Don’t overcook them or the salmon will dry out.

Place the sesame seeds in a shallow dish and dip one side of each skewer in the seeds to coat, or sprinkle them overtop. Serve immediately.

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen salmon sticks.

Per stick: 95 calories, 2.5 g total fat (0.6 g saturated fat, 0.9 g monounsaturated fat, 0.9 g polyunsaturated fat), 9.5 g protein, 9.6 g carbohydrate, 24.6 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber. 23% calories from fat

Honey-Mustard Salmon Sticks: add 1 Tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard to the marinade mixture instead of the ginger.

Honey, Garlic & Ginger Sesame Chicken Sticks: add 4 crushed cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the marinade, and use skinless chicken breasts or thighs in place of the salmon. (They’ll take a little longer to cook.)

Dukkah Salmon Sticks: don’t marinate the salmon at all, but cube, brush with a little oil and cook it on skewers as directed. Instead of sesame seeds, dip each piece into a shallow dish of dukkah

Recipe, variations and photo reprinted with permission of the author from Grazing: A Healthier approach to Snacks and Finger Foods (Whitecap 2009).


Canada cooks!

July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Well, my table is all set and I’m taking the day off to celebrate the birthday of my wonderful homeland. While I bask in the sunshine, I point you to two great blogs that are celebrating Canadian Cuisine today.

Jasmine and Jennifer are two well-known Canadian bloggers who have divided Canadian cuisine into sweet and savoury categories. They’ve canvassed their readers and today they’re showcasing the foods that their readers say make Canada taste great. The event is called Mmm….Canada and I hope you check it out:

• Jennifer explores the sweet side of Canada at Domestic Goddess.

• While Jasmine showcases the savoury goodness of Canadian cooking at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict.