Watermelon Caprese

IMG_0455Caprese salad is known for its display of the Italian flag’s colours, with its red tomatoes, green basil & fresh mozzarella. It’s is one of my all time favourite salads when the summer creates amazing tomatoes. We’ve been enjoying it over the last couple of summers using a buffalo Burrata instead of fresh Mozzarella.

This summer I started playing with the idea of switching out the mozzarella with another vegetable or fruit. Using thinly sliced watermelon in place of the white cheese, makes a delectable, fresh & summery salad. When a bit of Burrata is scattered over the top, it becomes a great summer version of Caprese. I use yellow or orange beefsteak type tomatoes, with dense interiors that have lots of flesh (mesocarp) with many small seed pockets. These contrast beautifully with the pink watermelon, reminding me of summer sunsets. Continue reading

Potato Crusted Quiche

IMG_6332I’ve been methodically going through my cooking files.   Everything is kept in legal sized hanging files, where I can jot things down on the folders themselves, such as cookbooks that offer a recipe that I use often, idea notes can be tossed in indiscriminately to a parent file.   I moved away from a recipe card box a long, long time ago.  I still have the recipes; they’re just in larger folders now.

As I work through the files, it gives me a chance to look at the whole of an idea, instead of a recipe standing on it’s own.  Sorting through my “breakfast” file, I’m reminded of the amount of milk to egg, for quiche, that works.  Little things like ratio are actually really important building blocks in developing a recipe.  If I know these things, then I’m able to be creative without messing with the core.  Of course, the ingredients you mix with the core can have an effect on the finished product, but it’s usually best to start with what you know.  It just makes for better science!

For this quiche, I use the core of ¼ cup of milk to each extra-large egg.  It has a good ratio of cheese to the other filling.  Which gives a recipe that is easy to switch some of the ingredients to create something new, or simply to make use of what you have on hand.

This quiche is an excellent meal.  It can easily be converted to a vegetarian version, and is naturally gluten-free.  The mashed potatoes that are used for the crust work best if they are a day old. Just make some the day before, if not using leftovers. 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

Arugula & Ricotta Dip with Lemon

IMG_3880Our island has a one-room schoolhouse, with children from Kindergarten to Grade 7.  Usually there’s about 16 children attending, and all ages spend the day together.  Having had two daughters go through this school, it’s easy to see why small classrooms, where children really know each other, are such a benefit.

Each winter we would host a large party for the school families.  We quickly learned that appetizer parties were the way to go.  There was always enough that the bigger eaters would be satisfied, while the smaller eaters could pick and choose a few things to make them happy.  I have a huge appetizer file to pick from, but this one always seems to make it to the table.

This dip is equally great with raw veggies, crostini or crackers.  It’s healthy, and if it’s all you eat, that’s okay.  Use it when you’re asked to bring an appetizer – no heating required, and it’s up to you what to serve it with. Continue reading

Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

IMG_3583I am always on the lookout for vegetarian main dishes that can hold their own on a menu.  Gone are the days of simple substitutions for animal protein, to satisfy the needs of a few vegetarians. As I’ve mentioned before, meat is just one of several dishes that go together to make a meal.  There should be at least one complex, wonderful vegetarian dish that everyone at the table looks forward to.  I had been trying a few ideas along the lines of grain cakes, when I received an issue of Canadian Living that showed their most downloaded recipe, Quinoa Cakes.  So look no further – these are amazing.  I may have switched an ingredient or two, and made a slight change, but only because I may have had a replacement on hand and also considered the merit of incorporating the pine nuts into the cakes instead of sprinkling them on top.

Okay, memory lane time.  As vegetarianism became more mainstream, and we were starting to hear the word vegan, I can remember cooking rice with chicken stock at an event, and questioning whether or not we should be using it for the buffet.  The answer – sure, it doesn’t have meat in it.  I switched to water and returned the packaged stock to the storeroom. Really?

Then there was a Groom’s Dinner BBQ we were catering back in the early 2000’s.  Out of about fifty guests, a dozen or so were vegan (wow – cutting edge guests!).  We were given long lists of wants and desires.  We started by cooking about 4 – dozen tofu & veg skewers, followed by similarly glazed chicken.  When we were about half way through service, we realized we were down to about 10 skewers.  Everyone wanted some!  We quickly covered the remainder with foil and asked each guest from there on in if they were vegan.  We had just enough.  Since then, any service that includes vegetarians or vegans, I serve a full service of a vegetarian or vegan main.  Really?  It is just part of a gracious service. Continue reading