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summer

Cooler Corn: A Better Way to Corn on the Cob

Cobs of corn in a beer cooler ready for boiling water.

Update: You can find this recipe — along with about 75 other beer-related gems — in my new cookbook, The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook.

Every summer vegetable has its season and devoted fans. But peas, asparagus, or zucchini don’t get nearly as much cooking technique attention as corn does. Whether it’s what goes in the water–salt, sugar, and milk are all called for in different recipes–to how long passes between picking the cobs and when they hit boiling water. My newest method simply involves immersing the corn in boiling water inside a standard cooler and that got my attention both because it’s more convenient and more delicious. (more…)

Zucchini Blossoms

Tempura zucchini blossoms with kimchi dipping sauce

Some food, like asparagus, peaches, and tomatoes we wait all year for and are then treated to several weeks of excess. Deep-fried zucchini blossoms are good enough (and enough trouble to make) that I’m satisfied by a single meal.

Last year I used flowers from my own garden but I feel like this cut into the yield of actual zucchini so I bought a pint of them from the North York Farmers’ Market. One of the girls from Thames River Melons stand was nice enough to put together a container of still closed flowers for me so that they would stay fresh until I was ready for them three days later. They’ll also pick out one of their excellent watermelons for you timed to be ready when you want it.

I forgot to repeat one of the most successful tricks of last year’s version. If you’re not going to the trouble of stuffing the flowers (and I never have) it really is best to cut them in half along the vertical (longest) axis. This way the petals tend to splay randomly outwards and give the light batter an even more interesting texture. (more…)

Hot July Day in an Orchard

A couple weeks ago the lure of futuristic sex robots on the promotional invitation pulled me to Parkdale’s Parts & Labour for the Canadian launch of Svedka vodka. This most filtered and pure spirit is not my favourite spirit but I always try to keep an open mind where free alcohol is involved.

After we exhausted the list of Svedka-designed cocktails the bearded bartender at PNL was good enough to mix a vodka version of the modern classic Bramble for me and the two ladies beside me–who were much better at twisting his arm.  Ice, vodka (the original has gin), lemon juice, simple syrup, and sparkling water are stirred together before a blackberry liqueur is carefully poured over the top and berries are added as garnish. (more…)

A Season for Preserving

Preserving Group Shot 2009 (back row: serviceberry jam, fermented hot sauce, pickled carrots, dill pickles; front row: spicy nectarine chutney, spiced apples, beans and pearls, cottage garden pickle, pink applesauce; absent: tomato conserva)

Preserving Group Shot 2009 (back row: serviceberry jam, fermented hot sauce, pickled carrots, dill pickles; front row: spicy nectarine chutney, spiced apples, beans and pearls, cottage garden pickle, pink applesauce; absent: tomato conserva)

“Such a beautifully smelly task should be fun, I thought.”  -M.F.K. Fisher on her early memories of preserving, The Measure of My Powers 1912, from The Gastronomical Me.

Preserving can be a year-round activity even here in Canada.  Last winter I pickled jalapenos, preserved ginger and limes (separately), and made marmalade.  Truthfully though, the preserving adventures reach their peak intensity through August and September so this seems like a good time to catalogue the summer’s successes and quietly note the failures.

Serviceberry jam:  This early creation that used fruit gleaned from my parents’ front yard has been popular–both with friends and family and with Google searchers.  The overnight soak with lemon juice succeeded in rendering powdered pectin redundant.  The texture is jam-like though not as perfectly consistent as store-bought but I’ll live.  The freezer has worked out as a preserving aid because it means less cooking (no need for heat-processing to kill bacteria) and so far no significant taste degradation.  Next year: Larger batch. (more…)