Nothing embodies the flavour of summer more than fresh, sweet, ripe strawberries. And right now the fields are full of these gorgeous little ruby red gems! So many varieties to choose from and almost as many ways to prepare them – try them on the grill skewered between plump chicken breasts and tangy red onion, as a filling for Strawberry Shortcake, or on vanilla ice-cream with a touch of fresh cracked black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic reduction…oh my! And the best way to keep that sweet summertime flavour all year round is to preserve the little darlings in a delicious home-made jam. This recipe is a low-sugar variety that relies more on the ripeness of the fruit than on an artificial sweetener, and the natural compliment of the vanilla enhances the flavours making it even more strawberry-y. Use fruit that is at its very ripest: farmers markets and berry farms often sell off ‘jam flats’ of imperfect and over-ripe fruit.
There are several different brands of natural pectin, but the Pomona line offers a different mix that achieves gelling with a natural calcium component rather than sugar content, allowing for true low and no sugar preserves. The ingredients below use a full package of pectin: follow the Pomona instructions if varying quantities.
Makes 18 x 1 cup (250 mL) jars
- 9 lbs (4 Kg) ripe strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters (little ones can be dropped in whole)
- 4 lbs (1.8 Kg) organic cane sugar
- 1 cup (250 mL) real vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 pkg. Pomona natural fruit pectin
Prepare strawberries and place in a large, heavy bottomed non-reactive pot along with sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. Add in Pomona calcium water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add in pectin as per package instructions. Continue to boil for an additional 2-3 minutes stirring continuously to avoid burning.
Test gel by placing a plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Once the plate is very cold take it out and place a small teaspoon of jam onto the plate – the jam should set into a gelled form within 20 seconds. If the jam is mot gelling, return to heat and boil for another 4-5 minutes. Test again. Repeat until gel is achieved.
Pour jam into sterilised 1 cup (250 mL) jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Water process at full boil for 10 minutes in a canning pot. Remove from water and ensure seal is achieved. Jam will be good for up to 6 months in well sealed jars. Enjoy!
Time to fire up the grill and dig into the flavours summer! Pork ribs always seem to take centre stage when it comes to barbecuing ribs, but beef ribs are more substantial and will more than satisfy the meat eaters in your family. This barbecue sauce recipe yields 4 cups (1 L), so you’re going to have extra. You’ll use about half the sauce for the ribs, so place the remainder in a covered container in the fridge for future use. It will keep refrigerated for at least four weeks – handy for brushing on chicken breasts or pork chops. If you use a little more than half, just don’t put your basting brush into the container of extra sauce; pour out what you might need in advance. Trust me, you’re going to want to dig in and get your hands messy when eating these, so serve with little bowls of lemon water on the side and ENJOY!
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 6 lb (3 kg) beef ribs
- 2 stalks celery, cut into 4-inch (10 cm) lengths
- 3 carrots, cut into 4-inch (10 cm) lengths
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 black peppercorns
- Sweet Dark Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the ribs, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Cover the ribs with cold water and place over medium heat. Simmer for 2 hours. Drain ribs; discard the veggies, bay leaf and peppercorns. The ribs can be cooled, covered and refrigerated overnight.
Preheat the barbecue to medium-low or preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Brush as much Sweet Dark Barbecue Sauce as you like over the ribs and grill or roast, turning and basting occasionally, for about 1 hour.
Sweet Dark Barbecue Sauce
Makes 4 cups (1 L)
- 4 cups (1 L) ketchup
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) white vinegar
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) packed brown sugar
- 1/4 onion, minced
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) celery seed
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cumin
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter
In a bowl, combine the ketchup, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sugar, onion, celery seed, garlic, pepper and cumin; bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
When summertime hits, playgrounds come to life, beaches fill up, and barbeques all across the nation get rolled out for feasts and fetes. The next time you plan to fire up the grill why not try something a little different than your regular steaks or hamburgers? Pulled pork can seem a daunting dish, but other than the extended cooking time, nothing could be simpler – and the results are well worth the wait! Melt in your mouth, full, complex flavours will make this a new family favourite. Serve these up in mini for one-bite snack sized goodness, or go whole hog with full sized buns, side salad, corn on the cob, and tangy slaw for a delicious full-meal deal.
For dry rub:
- 3 Tbps (45 mL) coarsely ground black pepper
- 3 Tbps (45 mL) packed dark brown sugar
- 3 Tbps (45 mL) paprika
- 2 Tbps (30 mL) coarse salt
- 1 Tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper
- 2 untrimmed boneless pork shoulder halves (also known as Boston butt - about 6 pounds Total)
- 1 cup (250 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) water
- 2 Tbps (30 mL) Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbps (15 mL) coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 Tbps (15 mL) coarse salt
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil
- 12 soft hamburger buns with seeds, split
- Carolina Red Barbecue Sauce
- Tangy Coleslaw
Make dry rub:
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend.
Place pork, fat side up, on work surface. Cut each piece lengthwise in half. Place on large baking sheet. Sprinkle dry rub all over pork; press into the meat, cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
Heat smoker or BBQ to 250 F. Place pork on rack in smoker or BBQ, cover with foil and cook until internal temperature of meat reads 165 F. when thermometer is installed into the centre. Brush with cold mop every 45 minutes until cooking is complete – approx. 6 hours in total.
Serve on soft buns topped with tangy slaw. Enjoy!
Two great summer treats that go great together? Ripe cherry tomatoes and fresh BC (or other) prawns! We have all made or at least eaten the traditional bruschetta with tomatoes and garlic, but this is hardly anymore work and the results are sublime. Try serving these with a salad of mixed greens for a luncheon or starter course. To serve as an appetiser, simply slice the baguette into rounds, grill lightly and place mixture on top. Voila!
Makes 4 servings or 4 dozen appies.
- 1 lb. (455 g) fresh prawns, shelled
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) capers
- 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) fresh, minced basil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp. (60 mL) olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) assorted tomatoes, diced if larger tomatoes are used
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 baguette or ficelle, sliced in half and grilled for entrees or sliced into into 1/2″ (1.2 cm) thick rounds and grilled for appies
Blanch prawns in 10 cups (2.4 L) of water until they are just cooked: approx. 2 – 4 minutes. Place in a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Drain. When they are cool, chop the prawns into 1/4 inch (.6 cm) pieces.
Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, basil garlic, police oil and tomatoes. Season with sea salt and pepper. Mix in the prawns. Spoon topping onto grilled baguette. Serve immediately.
You might think that mussels are something only to be ordered up with a side of frites at the bar of your favourite fish house, but making them at home is easy, quick, and equally as delicious. From start to finish this dish takes no more than 15 minutes and has all the complexity of flavours promised from a classic French dish. Be sure to get fresh mussels and have your fishmonger save you the irritation and de-beard them before you take them home. Serve with a crisp dry white wine and some crusty bread and Voila! a meal fit for the best bistros served up fresh in your own kitchen.
Makes 8 appetizer servings or 4 entrees
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) dry white wine
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red bell peppers
- 4 lbs (1.8 Kg) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 3/4 cup (187 mL) whipping cream
- 5 tbsp (75 mL) Pernod or other anise liqueur
- 5 tbsp (75 mL) chopped fresh parsley
Combine sliced leeks, dry white wine and red bell peppers in a large pot. Add mussels. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot and cook mussels until open – about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to medium bowl (discard any mussels that do not open) and keep warm.
Add whipping cream and Pernod to pot; boil until liquid has slightly reduced – about 4 minutes. Mix in 1/2 of the chopped parsley. Return mussels and accumulated juices to pot. Simmer until mussels are warmed through – about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Place mussels in serving bowls with broth and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Serve with crusty bread for dipping