Green Pea Cakes with Apple & Fennel Salsa

IMG_6858Today, spring truly feels like it’s on our doorstep.  There are a few days in early spring, when it just feels like spring has really arrived.  Somehow in a matter of days the frogs are louder, and the birds are busier.  The horse pastures are vibrant green, while the crocii have opened up under the bursting forsythia.  The thermometer has moved into the double digits (celsius), and it feels sooo good!  To celebrate spring, and my sister’s birthday, I just felt the need to show it in food.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s, this is a very green dish, with a light, tart salsa in small mounds on top of bright green little pancakes.  I’m sure they should be called something like “Emerald Isles”.   Bonus: they work really well Gluten Free. Continue reading

Shaved Asparagus & Fennel Salad with Prawns

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Earlier this week, I prepared a dinner for six that I’d offered for our island’s annual fundraiser auction.  My original intent was for a homey 3-course dinner.  As the bidding kept going, and the price topped out at $400, I felt that I could do more.  My sister and I created a 6 course plated meal instead.

As I mulled over the menu, detailing it over and over again, I reminded myself that it was the end of August, and that the meal should speak to the time of year, when the evenings are cooler, the sun is set well before bedtime, and yet we are still desperate to hold on to some of the laziness that summer offers, even if just for a few more days. We’re looking forward to the arrival of fall meals, and eating them around the dining table, inside instead of out.

The meal started with a watermelon and heritage tomato amuse bouche, followed by this salad, moving to a chilled avocado bisque, followed by a plate with sautéed late summer vegetables and grilled chicken with fresh blueberry sauce, on to a plate with roasted mushrooms, shallots, and garlic with grilled strip loin and greens beans as we moved from late summer into fall, with the last dish being crème brûlée with pistachio meringues with an miniature fruit salad of early fall fruits.

Listening to the social chat of the guests, with the drawn out bits of silence as they tuck into the meal, is one of my favourite soundtracks, so easy to work away with it playing in the background. Continue reading

Warmed Olives with Citrus & Fennel

IMG_3323_2 I’ve always had a thing for olives.  When I was about eight years old, I can remember wanting big dishes of them with my birthday dinner.  The freedom to eat as many as I wanted was so exciting for me.

The texture and flavour are so appealing.  A few olives with some dry salami and crusty bread is pretty much a perfect lunch for me.

Even though there are so many varieties of olives available, this recipe brings them to a whole new level.  Whether you’re trying an imported jar of huge green olives, or are wondering what you’ll ever do with that can of pitted black olives, this works well for all.   The olives are heated in olive oil with citrus peel, fennel seeds and a pinch of chilies.  They’re served warm and the flavoured oil is fabulous soaked into bread. Continue reading