Spiced Chicken Skewers

IMG_8329These little chicken skewers are so moist and flavourful, that no dipping sauce is required, or wanted. Served with a trio of summer salads they make for a lovely al fresco meal. The meat is good served cold in a salad the next day for lunch, or using a smaller skewer, and threading on only one piece of chicken, they are great as an appetizer, year round. Continue reading

Persian Potato Cakes ~ Kookoo

IMG_8422We went out in the boat this week for a late afternoon trip over towards the Secretary Islands.   So often the channel between Thetis and the small island group is very choppy, but that day it was beautifully calm. We were able to look at all the amazing rock formations, centuries old yew trees, and an abundance of seals.

It’s rare not to see a seal when you’re in these waters, but there were more than usual. Whether they were resting on rocks or in the water, they were all around. I suppose the fishing was good!

It was a lovely prelude to our fish & chips at Vesuvius, trying to squeak another wonderful dinner at the Seaside Restaurant before the days are too short.

The trip back was full of a late summer’s evening light, resting on the sandstone cliffs of Tent & Penelakut Islands. We could all feel the bit of chill in the air, reminding us that autumn isn’t far off.IMG_8314

September is our month for getting all those outside jobs done before fall really does set in, easy suppers, served late, and quickly getting back outside to do evening chores before dark. Meals have to be quick on these days, so I’m always looking for new ways to make that happen. Working on the middle-eastern menu for the island’s recent Summer Soiree, I found the lovely Persian vegetable & egg cakes called Kookoo. They are so versatile, and easy to make. We did a potato version as one of the appetizers. Our Gypsy-King musician, Barra, was so excited to have these treats from his heritage. His enthusiasm made them a hot item!

Somehow I’ve gone from centuries old yew trees and seals to middle-eastern traditional cuisine, but it all fits; a dish that is new to us, but traditional to others. It’s all about where we come from, and where we are today. Continue reading

Spicy Carrot Dip

IMG_7993We are in the midst of having the exterior of our house painted. A few years ago we painted the barn, checking that we liked the colours we’d chosen. We decided to change the door colour, yet we haven’t gone to the back of the barn to re-do the stall panels. The only time we see them is when we’re doing chores, and when we’re there, we can’t see any of the other outbuildings, so they’re not really a big priority. However, I will re-do them at some point. Last summer all of the other outbuildings were painted in the refigured colours. By doing them ahead of the house, we were able to watch how the colours worked throughout the year, and if they were truly the colours we wanted. On rainy or cloudy days the house in its old worn colour looked so drab, while all the other buildings now had a warm & happy glow.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

The woodshed sporting the new colours, except for the gate, which will stay weathered.

Once the final decision on colours was made, a painter was hired. Someone who is willing to deal with all the detail we’d built into the house, as well as a bit of fearlessness to paint our 41’ roof peak.

Although I’m horrible about heights, and have had some anxiety issues while he’s up at the top of 40’ ladders, I am thrilled with how it’s looking.   Of course, all this has been going on while we move through an extremely busy summer. I seem to be in the kitchen for a long spell each day, figuring out recipes, doing test batches and so on. Perhaps I’m being energized by the attitude of the painter. Let’s get it done!

Here’s my take on a Spicy Carrot Dip that we’ll be serving as part of the appetizer menu for this year’s Summer Soiree & Art Auction. It is a beautiful colour (this summer is all about colour!), with a rich, warm spiciness that is lovely with a bit of flat bread. Continue reading

Wedge Salad Appetizers

IMG_5938Appetizers are a mainstay of holiday parties, lots of cheese, phyllo, puff pastry, tarts, crackers and meats.  If we’re lucky there are bowls of olives & pickles, and some raw veg to balance things out.  I think that adding a cold crisp salad is a perfect foil for the rest of the menu.

Recently I was invited to a party that was to embrace the 50’s & 60’s. Most of my time in those periods, was toddling around in nappies, skinning my knees while learning to ride a bike, watching my mom go crazy for the Beatles, and my sister becoming a hippy.

My only true memory of foods of that time was when mom & dad would have Bridge night.  A group of 8 or 12 neighbours would play once a month, rotating houses.  I well remember getting up early the next day and scavenging through the living room, eating leftover AD mints, black olives, gherkins, and the ultimate, broiled spam & cheese on open dinner rolls.  Mom would grate spam, and cheddar (not even Velveeta), mix with mayonnaise (never Miracle Whip) and then spread this on top of dinner rolls.  Broiled just until the cheese melted and the spam sputtered, they were absolutely decadent.

Okay, so my tastes have changed somewhat from when I was eight.

The Wedge Salad was an ever-present menu item for the 50’s & 60’s.  It lost favour when Romaine started edging it out in the 70’s, and open leaf lettuces with vinaigrette started to take over.  The lowly iceberg lettuce has always remained on the produce shelves because it has some amazing qualities.  First off, no other lettuce can replace its crispness.  It holds up well to tossing, and works well with other lettuces to give your salad some lift.  It also seems that the iceberg lettuce of today, is more open and green than the ones of even 20 years ago, which is great.

The lettuce is what makes this appetizer fresh & crispy, and a wonderful addition to an appetizer buffet.  The recipe is followed with notes on plating a basic Wedge Salad, if you want to go traditional. Continue reading

Quinoa Bites

IMG_3956This is a simple adjustment to the Quinoa Cakes recipe. I was catering a small memorial event, and was planning a vegetarian appetizer buffet.  The quinoa cakes are so yummy, and I thought that if I could get them to hold together in a small patty, that they would make a great appetizer.  Over the next couple of days, I got a few e-mails asking for the recipe.

Last night I offered them at a reunion party.  They presented so well, and made a good addition to the other items on the buffet.   Continue reading