Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars


You think I would have learned after my adventure with a basket of peaches last year. Yet, here I go again with another overflow of peaches and posts.

I like peaches, I really do. Sweet and juicy, the fuzz is a bit much for me after a bit, but fragrant and so completely summer, none the less.

With the smell of my last basket of peaches wafting throughout the dining room, I knew that this last layer had ripened to perfection. With simplicity and inspiration… and a need for sweetness during 3 o’clock coffee, this peachy goodness found it’s way to our plates.

& With a few left in the basket on this eve of back to school, perhaps a new trend will develop?
Fuzzy, juicy and local peach for the teacher? Or will it be the jam?

PEACH SHORTBREAD BARS

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
1/3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 Cup Vegetable Shortening, frozen or very cold, broken into pieces
Pinch Cinnamon

5 Peaches, about 2 cups chopped
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon Freshly Grated Ginger

Crumb Topping
1/2 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Earth Balance (Butter)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the flour, corn starch, confectioners sugar, shortening and cinnamon together in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse crumb which can be molded when pinched.
Press the dough into an 8″x8″ square baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes or until just golden around the edges.
Remove and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, halve the peaches to remove the stone then quarter before adding to a sauce pan.
Cover the peaches with the sugar and cook over a medium heat to release their juices and loosen the skins.
Remove the skins and discard if able and desired.
Mash the peaches with a potato masher, fork or hand held blender to roughly purée.
Add the grated ginger and sprinkle over the additional 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, stirring well.
Return to a rolling simmer, continuing to cook until thickened.
Cool while you combine the crumb topping.
In a small bowl mix together the 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Earth Balance with a fork until everything is evenly combined, moist and crumbly.
Pour the peaches over the prepared shortbread and sprinkle over topping.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

New Potato Salad With Scape Salsa Verde



Of course with a long weekend ahead I would be lost without a handy potato salad recipe, so here it is.
I’m sure not too many of you miss the heavy mayo laden with egg and celery version but not to fret, I’m sure it will still be offered – somewhere, you can just bring this along to the BBQ instead.

Easy, light and FRESH I’ve finally found another way to use up those tasty garlic scapes as the main ingredient in this salsa verde style dressing.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH SCAPE SALSA VERDE

3 Lbs New Red Potatoes
8-10 Garlic Scapes, trimmed
1/4 Cup Basil Leaves, packed
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, packed
1 Tablespoon Capers, about 30
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wash and boil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
Cook potatoes until just tender, or al dente, so you are able to cut through them easily.
Meanwhile, trim the seed buds from the top of the scapes and discard.
Combine the scapes along with the basil and parsley, pulsing to finely chop.
Add the capers, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar, continuing to blend while drizzling in the oil through the feed tube.
Scrape down from the sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain the potatoes. Once they are cool enough to handle quarter them into even sized wedges, unless they are very small.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl and add about half of the dressing at first. Toss well to coat adding more to your liking.
Serve at room temperature.

Want more potato salad? Try my other, Warm New Potato Dandelion Greens Salad, if you still have a few weeds that need eating from your yard.

Forbidden.


I never would have thought that summer BBQ’s would match up so well with Asian inspired salads.
I’ve tested this recipe a few times now at a few outdoor gatherings and I have to tell you, it held up pretty well beside the best of potato salads.

I’ve had this rice in my pantry collection for a while, you see I have a nasty habit of food shopping. Yes, admitted, I have more varieties of grains than summer sandles, which is so goes against all that is womanly. I just can’t help it though. Who knew there were so many types of quinoa, couscous or rice to be had and to hoard?

Black, or Forbidden Rice is an Asian heirloom variety of rice that is not glutenous and is very high in fiber as well as iron. It’s Forbidden name comes from it traditionally being served to the Emperors of Ancient China, thus being restricted from common consumption. Now, of course it can be found and even trademarked by a few different rice producers, sold in popular grocers and heath food stores.

Word to the wise though, check over your rice as you would lentils for forbidden objects, like pebbles. It’s heirloom and wholesome, right down to the ground it’s grown and what can get into it.

FORBIDDEN ASIAN BLACK RICE SALAD

2 Cups Black Rice, picked over
3 Cups Water
1 Yellow Pepper, finely diced
1 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Large Carrot or a Handful of Baby Carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped
Handful Thai Basil, about 10 leaves chopped

DRESSING

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger, about a 1 inch knub
1 Clove of Garlic, finely minced
Zest of One Orange
Juice of One Lime
3 – 4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar, or to taste depending on how sweet you like things

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, zest, lime juice and agave with a whisk or a hand immersion blender until smooth. Reserve.
Check the rice over for pebbles or other impurities.
Rinse the rice, then leave it to soak for about 5 minutes. Drain well and add to a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the rice with the 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat for a low simmer and cover for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave it covered for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle over the prepared dressing then add the diced pepper, carrot, scallions and basil.
Toss well to combine the vegetables with the rice.
Garnish with additional citrus zest or basil leaves if desired.
No need to cool. Best served at room temperature, making it a perfect summer outdoor salad.

Baby Spinach Greens With Grilled Pears and Caramalized Onion Dressing


Of course this time of year just about any spring greens from the market will be great, but baby spinach is something I always have on hand.
Where it’s not exactly your throw it together tossed salad, the onions are pretty much low maintenance to caramelize and this dressing is worth the wait.


CARAMELIZED ONION DRESSING

1 Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
Pinch Salt
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 Cup Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Turn heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sliced onion to a sauté pan. Once they begin to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low, toss and add salt.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, sticky and golden; 20-30 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce slightly, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool.
Add onions along with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, maple syrup and water to a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth. (If your onion was large and you find that the mixture is too thick for your liking, you can add more water about 1 tablespoon at a time to thin.)
Taste and add additional salt if desired.
Serve from a squirt bottle, if you have one

Preheat the grill to medium.
Slice 2 bartlett pears into wedges and lay onto the grill, cooking for about 1 minute.
For the fancy-schmancy grill marks, rotate the pear slices 1 quarter turn, cooking for another minute.
Flip and repeat for the other side. Pears should be hot but not cooked through.
Toss greens, adding a handful of walnuts and dried cranberries. Top with the grilled pears and drizzle over prepared dressing.

Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


Cedar planks, not just for salmon anymore. Really.
Our last guest came with the spring and with that, sparks the BBQ. It might still be a bit early to eat outside, but who can resist the flame that is the official call of nicer weather?

Having grilled on cedar planks before, I’m already fond of the fantastic smell and extra flavour it lends to food. They seem to be gaining in popularity so finding a board isn’t nearly as difficult anymore asmost grocery stores with a fish department tend to carry them.

The idea for the smoked asparagus soup came a little haphazardly. I was planning on grilling the asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil but as it was the first grill of the season the flames were uneven and the safest place not to char my freshly picked spears was up on the board.

The flavour was subtle and amazing, a perfect enhancement for an already pretty great vegetable. The soup came from the left overs of the greedy three bunches that I decided to cook up for a dinner of four. After tasting it, I’m not only going to be trying this asparagus in other things like quiche, but with other vegetables too!

SMOKED ASPARAGUS SOUP

1 Bunch of Asparagus, 20-25 medium sized stalks, trimmed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed and finely diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 Cups Vegetable stock
1 Medium Yukon Gold or Russet Potato, peeled and diced
scant 1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice or to taste, optional.

Submerge your cedar plank in water anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the thickness and your timing.
Preheat the grill over a medium high heat.
Trim asparagus and lay in aluminum foil.
Drizzle over balsamic vinegar and 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil; wrapping the foil to cover.
Place the asparagus package on the cedar plank, reduce the flame and close the lid of the bbq.
Grill for about 10 – 15 minutes, checking intermittently until tender.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large stockpot to sweat the leeks and garlic until soft and translucent but not browned; about 3 – 5 minutes.
Add the diced potato and cover with the stock.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are softened.
Remove the best spear tips from the asparagus and reserve for garnish.
Roughly chop the remaining smoky asparagus, add to the simmering soup.
Continue for another 3 – 5 minutes to cook through to merge flavours.
Transfer soup to a food processor or using a immersion blender, combine until smooth.
Season to taste with salt. Stir in lemon juice, if using.
Top each serving with reserved asparagus tips and drizzle over extra virgin olive, basil or leek oil.