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  • Get out the picnic baskets – July is here!

    My favourite part of July is that summer is now in full swing, which for most of us means the days are lovely and long, the kids are out of school, and we can all go a little off the rails and routines for a while. It’s also the high point of the year for picnics and barbecues - and with Canada Day and 4th of July in the same week there’s no excuse not to get out there, get barefoot, brave the mosquito bites, and enjoy the few weeks when we get to eat outside!

    This year my summer go-to’s are watermelon salads, cobblers with every kind of berry served with homemade…you guessed it ice cream. Every since I got my new ice cream maker I can’t stop, and now that summer is here why should I. Have you ever tried salted cantaloup ice cream? I had it for the first time at the Food & Wine Show in Aspen a couple of weeks ago along with some other amazing taste experiences. Homemade ricotta cheese is now all the rage so I’ll definitely be sharing that with you as an element in a salad.

    After Aspen we were in NYC at the mind dazzling Fancy Food Show which is never for the timid: you need your elbows out and your tastebuds ready to be bombarded with everything from crazy spicy Korean condiments, to smoked okra pickles, to toasted coconut chips. And while my own summer cuisine isn’t quite that exploratory, I always like to bring back a few tricks that I pick up at the big shows. Stay tuned for a month full of delicious and easy summer entertaining recipes.


Grilled New Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette

While they may become the warm, comforting staples of our winter diets all too soon, right now potatoes are one of the stars of fresh summer fare. This twist on an old classic takes potato salad from the ordinary to extraordinary with the zest of freshly squeezed lime juice and the smoky heat of chipotle peppers. But warning – this one is for those that like it a little on the spicy side! Be sure to grill the peppers until the skins begin to char, and the onions become very sweet as they cook slowly over the hot coals, so don’t try to hurry them. This recipe multiplies easily, so make a batch and it along with you to your next “end of summer” affair, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

Serves 4-6

  • 2 lbs (900 g) new potatoes, boiled until tender
  • light olive oil
  • sea salt and bepper
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salad greens – mizuna, frisee or watercress
  • 1 recipe Chipotle Vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp. (30 mL) chopped cilantro
Cut the potatoes into halves, or quarters if they are large, then slide them onto skewers for grilling. (Skewers are not necessary if the grill grates are close together).
Slice the onion into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick rings, keeping each section of the cut rings intact, then peel off the outer skin. Cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove the membrane and seeds, and pull away the stem. Add the garlic to a little olive oil and brush the vegetables then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Wash and dry the greens.
Place the vegetables on the grill, making sure the cut side of the potatoes and the skin side of the peppers are facing down to the heat. Turn the onions after about 5 minutes and i necessary move the peers and the potatoes to a cooler part of the grill while the onions continue to cook.
When the peppers are done, cut into strips. When the onions are tender and grilled on both sides, transfer to a bowl and toss with the potatoes, peppers, vinaigrette, and cilantro. Loosely arrange the greens on a platter, then spoon the vegetables over. Enjoy!


 Chipotle Vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) chipotle puree
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) sea salt
  • 5 Tbsp. (75 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) chopped cliantro
Combine the vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Whisk in the dijon mustard, chipotle puree, garlic and sea salt. Slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify.



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Ginger Lime Mojitos

If you’re like me, then you’ll agree that every good party deserves it’s own signature cocktail. We threw a “Taste of Havana” fête at our cottage over on Bowen Island one summer and, in keeping with the party’s Cuban theme, we decided to serve up mojitos…with a twist! Inspired by the delicious concoctions served at the Seabreeze Lodge on Hornby Island, these ginger-scented bevvies are refreshing, crisp, and have just the slightest hint of the unexpected – the perfect conbination for a superb summer sipper. Try them this weekend – I promise you’ll be back for more!

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb fresh ginger, peeled and cut into long flat pieces (more surface exposure=more flavour!)
  • approx. 2 cups fresh mint
  • 2 oz. of light rum – per drink
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • club soda (optional)
Ginger-Scented Simple Syrup

Place water, sugar and ginger into a medium sized non-reactive pan and heat on medium high until boiling. Turn off heat and let sit for at least an hour – the longer the better: overnight is best. Strain into a glass jar and refrigerate until needed. (strained syrup will keep for at least a month in the fridge)

Mojitos – per drink. Multiply as needed.

Pour 1 ounce ginger-scented syrup into a martini shaker. Add a handful of mint leaves, and muddle it together using a wooden spoon handle or the like. Add 2 oz of rum and 1 oz. fresh lime juice. Shake. Pour all over ice in a tall glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a slice of lime.


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Summer Spaghettini with Fresh Corn and Tomatoes

Local tomatoes and corn arrive in the markets at the same time of year and and are fabulous combined here in one of my favourite summer dishes: spaghettini tossed with tomatoes, corn and basil. What a treat! Go ahead and use any combination of local tomatoes, just cut the larger ones into big chunks. And get the freshest sweetest ears of corn you can as older cobs can be too waxy and starchy.

Makes 6 servings

  • sea salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (500 mL) fresh corn niblets, cut off 4 or 5 cobs
  • 4 cups (1 L) grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 lb (500 g) spaghettini
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely grated pecorino or Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tsp (5 mL) salt.

Meanwhile, in a heavy sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat; add the corn and heat through. Add the tomatoes; cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not let come to a boil.

Add the spaghettini to the pot of boiling water; cook until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and add to the corn mixture; toss to combine. Add the lemon juice, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, passing the cheese to sprinkle on top.

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