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  • Easter, Birthdays, and Cookbooks – oh my!

    April is such a fabulous month because everything, including us two legged creatures, comes out of hibernation. And it’s about time! Although we’ve had a very mild winter here on the West coast – Spring skiing in February? - it’s been an incredibly long winter for all of our friends back East. I know we’ll all be relieved to see the rains (and snows) retreat and the temperatures start to rise.

    Now as everything in the garden wakes up, the Cherry trees on our street have their full party dresses on, and the crocuses, narcissus, hyacinths and tulips are in full bloom. With all this colour around us, it’s time to stop wearing black and grey and put a little “Spring” into the wardrobe as well as on the plate. Local produce is starting to show up at the farmer’s markets signaling an end to the long run of tubers and roots and the beginning of the fresh Spring hues of green leaves and ruby reds.

    I don’t know about you, but I go crazy for leeks, asparagus and rhubarb at this time of year, and this month I’ll be sharing interesting ways to feature them: stay tuned for Asparagus Soup with Home-Made Crème Fraiche, and Perfect Rhubarb Crumble amongst other delicious delights.

    Easter is late this year falling on the same day as my birthday. I think I’ll bow to the Easter Bunny and not count this one…yippee, no getting older this year! I will however still enjoy my birthday feast: Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Olive Tapenade Crust and Crispy Golden Rosemary Potatoes will be on my menu along with my mother’s Heavenly Pie - an ethereal combination of meringue, cream, and lemon curd.

    On top of everything else we are doing the photo-shoot for my new cookbook on Desserts that will be out in the Fall. Stay tuned for teasers from that on our Facebook page and Twitter!

    Lesley

Greens with Crispy Proscuitto & Cambazola Croutons

A friend/client first told me about proscuitto instead of bacon in her salads. It adds a great salty component and is fabulous paired with the rich creaminess of Cambazola and the sweet yet tart tang of these port soaked cherries. Ask your butcher to slice the proscuitto medium thin and preferably from the flank which will give you the perfect sized pieces for a pretty presentation.

Serves 8

  • 8 slices of proscuitto
  • 8 slices of baguette
  • 8 oz. (227 g) Cambazola
  • 1 head read leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup (240 mL) late-bottled vintage port
  • 2 tsp. (10 mL) grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) good quality red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (240 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, cook the proscuitto in a single layer until crispy. Drain and set aside.
Lightly toast the baguette slices. Place them on a baking sheet and top each with 1 oz (30 g) of Cambazola. Set aside.
Wash, dry and break up the lettuces and the watercress. Place in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, simmer the cherries and port until the cherries are plump and approx. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of liquid remains.
In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, cherries, port and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens and toss until well coated. Divide among plates.
Broil the baguette slices for approx. 1 minute or until the cheese is just bubbling. Place one crouton on each salad. Place a piece of proscuitto at an angle to the crouton and serve.

Maggie’s Grandma’s Ginger Snaps

It is a universally well known fact that grandmothers make the very best cookies. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I suspect it has something to do with the amount of love that gets mixed into each batch they make. This recipe comes from our team member Maggie’s grandma and are that perfect blend of crispy chewy goodness. Dip them in a hot cup of tea for that perfect afternoon pick me up. Leave us a note in the comments, we’d love to hear which cookie you most remember your grandmother making for you – with extra love stirred in of course!

  • 3/4 cup (187 mL) shortening
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. (60 mL) molasses
  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) sea salt
  • 2 tsp. (10 mL) ginger
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
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Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl mix all of the wet ingredients together thoroughly. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix together well.
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Scoop out tablespoon sized portions of the dough and roll into balls. Dip each ball into crystallised sugar and place on lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until just firm in the middle. Cool completely on wire rack and enjoy!

 

Rhubarb Crumble with Ginger Rhubarb Gelato

Rhubarb season has arrived! This is always the first indication for me that summer is actually on its way, albeit a few months off. Rhubarb’s ruby red tones and glorious fresh flavour are the first of the summer ‘fruits’ to hit the market stalls – a lovely preface for the strawberries, raspberries, and other jewel toned lovelies still to come. I think a crumble is one of the nicest ways to enjoy many of the summer fruits, and here the soft tartness of the rhubarb and the crisp sweetness of the crumble are, to me, the perfect combination, but you can swap out the rhubarb for any other fruits with fantastic results.

And you know what goes well with rhubarb? More rhubarb! And a little ginger as well. If you want a winning combination, try this with our Ginger Rhubarb Gelato. If you haven’t time to make that, so good quality vanilla will be almost as good.

rhubarb crumble
Crumble

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Filling

  • 6 cups rhubarb cut in ½” slices
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup +2 TB all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel

For crumble, cook butter in large skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring often – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Add flour and stir until moist clumps form. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

For filling, toss rhubarb with sugar, flour and lemon zest in bowl to blend. Let stand until the filling looks moist, stir a couple of times.

Pour the rhubarb filling into a gratin dish Sprinkle the crumble on top. Bake 45 – 60 mins or until filling is bubbling and crumble is crisp and golden. Cool  10 – 15 minutes before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature with Ginger Rhubarb Gelato

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