Breakfast, lunch and dinner: peaches three ways

Olivia Schneider

Last time Mom and Bob visited Nova Scotia, they brought me a basket of Ontario peaches. For as long as I can remember, peaches have been my favourite fruit. I have many August memories of stopping at local produce stands or stores to pick up fresh peaches on the way home from Niagara-on-the-Lake. I think one of Mom’s specialties is spotting roadside produce stands—and convincing the driver we need to stop and get more fresh fruit and veggies.

blog peachesPolishing off baskets of fruit as a family isn’t hard, but for those of us who live alone, it’s not as easy, and I’m definitely guilty of throwing out produce. It’s a terrible habit, so obviously I try not to do it. Usually I restrict my grocery shopping to buying  only a few fruits and veggies at a time. For example, I’ll buy three apples instead of a giant bag. Financially, it’s probably not the best, but it limits waste.

But here I was, with a delicious basket of peaches and a boyfriend who had temporarily decided to stop eating fruit. So I did the only thing that made sense. I ate peaches somewhat obsessively until the basket was empty.

Here are some of my favourite meals from my Peach Week. They’re pretty simple, so I’m going to try to get away with posting three recipes in one post. Is that cheating?

  blog peach smoothie

Breakfast: Peach ginger smoothie

In high school, we used to go to the Queen’s Common Grounds and get bagels and smoothies for lunch. Once I got into university, I realized smoothies are really a full meal in a glass, and not a drink accompaniment. They’re a breakfast favourite for me when I’m running out the door to class, work or the gym. I happen to love smoothies with greens, but I know for some people the concept is a little gross.

1 peach

½ inch fresh ginger

1 to 2 tablespoons hemp seeds

1 tablespoon ground flax

1 handful of spinach

¼ to ½ cup almond milk

Blend well.

blog peach salsa

Lunch: Fish tacos with peach salsa

 I’ve recently fallen in love with fish tacos. My recipe is simple: I just pan-fry white fish with some citrus, and top my tacos with some veggies, homemade salsa and greens. For Peach Week I used haddock, avocado, arugula and peach salsa. The peach salsa was delicious with the fish, but also delicious on its own. I made a second batch, and ate it with corn chips. The salsa recipe was modified from the Love and Lemons blog (http://www.loveandlemons.com/2012/06/27/peach-salsa-recipe-with-mint/).

1 peach, diced

1 green onion, diced

½ lime, juiced

Mint or cilantro (I used cilantro with the tacos and mint with the corn chips)

Red pepper flakes to taste

Mix everything in a bowl. The lime juice will keep the peach fresh for at least a day or two.

 blog peach salad

Dinner: Arugula salad with grilled peaches

On the last week of my university internship at CBC radio, we had a cheese expert come on the show. And with him he brought over a dozen types of local cheese. It was the first time I had ever tried blue cheese, and I loved it! I’ve been sticking to pretty mild blue cheeses until I become more adventurous. The one I used for this salad is called King James.

Arugula

Toasted walnuts

1 peach, cut into segments

Blue cheese

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

First, I toasted my walnuts on the stovetop in a non-stick pan. After they were toasted, I set them aside. I placed the peach segments cut side down in the same pan. I let one side cook for 2 to 3 minutes then I flipped the peaches to cook the other side. Once the peaches were warm, I put those, the walnuts, the crumbled blue cheese and the hemp seeds on a bed of arugula. I drizzled the salad with olive oil and lightly seasoned it with salt and pepper. I thought about making a more complex dressing, but the peaches were so juicy, I really didn’t need to.

Olivia lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she enjoys making fast-but-good meals on a budget, and exploring new restaurants and recipes.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

    After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Advertisements

Seaside brunch in a hurry

Text by Sharon Jessup Joyce; most photos by Olivia Schneider

Blog - seaside brunch the finished table

The plan was for Olivia and Ben to get to the Nova Scotia house around 10 on Sunday morning, so Bob and I – and Spenser, the Wonder Wheaten – would have a chance to sleep in a bit after our two-day drive from Ontario. Olivia and I could take our time putting together an over-the-top Sunday brunch: pan-fried fresh haddock, home fries, grilled veggies, cheese-and-chive biscuits, and fruit crisp. Bob and I had stopped at Masstown Market in Central Nova to pick up local fruits and vegetables and fresh haddock.

But by Sunday morning Spenser was vomiting and lethargic, so we rushed him to the regional veterinary emergency hospital in Dartmouth, nearly an hour away, telling Livy that she and Ben should sit tight in Halifax and wait to hear from us. After a few hours of tests and care there was good news: the results were normal, and the symptoms were subsiding. The bad news? It was noon, and we were still in Dartmouth. Bob, Ben and Stewart had a 3:50 tee time in Chester, another hour west of our house. And Livy needed to get back to Halifax by 4 to go to work.

blog - seaside brunch Livy holding veggiesWe talked about cancelling brunch, but we had those nice fresh ingredients, and we had all been looking forward to it. Livy and I agreed to strip the menu down to fast and easy, and we promised the guys they wouldn’t miss their tee time.

When we got back to the house, the first priority was to send Bob upstairs for a rest. After doing all the driving on our two-day trip, he had gallantly taken sick-dog duty through the night, while I slept obliviously on. He wasn’t going to get through the meal, let alone a round of golf, without a nap.

blog - seaside brunch raw haddockLivy and I set our stopwatches and, with help from Ben, buzzed through a simplified menu. The pan-fried haddock was too fiddly to cook quickly for four, so it was BBQ time, with grilled cedar-planked salmon with maple sugar and mustard; haddock en papillote with lemon, olive oil and Italian herbs (okay, it was Williams-Sonoma pizza seasoning, actually – we keep limited ingredients at the Nova Scotia house – but it tasted great); and grilled veggies that included pearl onions, sweet peppers, patty pan squash, zucchini, carrots and mushrooms, seasoned – no time to marinate – with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and fresh thyme. We also scrapped the biscuits and instead put together a simple garden salad with lots of basil. Fruit crisp was out. Instead, dessert would be a fresh fruit plate of local strawberries, cantaloupe and watermelon, and green table grapes we brought from our garden in Kingston.

blog - seaside brunch fruitFinally, we reluctantly decided to pull the plug on mimosas. To spare Spenser another round trip to the city, Livy would now be driving Ben’s car back to Halifax in time for work, while Ben would catch a ride home with Stewart. So we’d all join Livy in sparkling water.

Somehow, our lavish brunch had turned into spa cuisine.

We decided to inject a bit of self-indulgence back into the menu by keeping the home fries: baby yellow-fleshed potatoes sliced into quarters and sautéed with onion, olive oil, salt, pepper, lots of mild smoked paprika and just a touch of chipotle chili powder.

blog - seaside brunch potatoesWhen the potatoes are either new or raw – or both, as these were – you can counteract their tendency to cook slowly by adding a bit of broth or water to the skillet after the cut side has formed a golden-brown crust, and then covering the skillet just until the potatoes have absorbed the liquid. It was a trick we needed, to make sure the potatoes would be ready in time. But Livy and I knew the home fries were a good idea when Ben came back into the kitchen from lighting the BBQ and said, “Mmmmm. What smells so great?”

blog - seaside brunch Livy and BenIn the end, it was a perfect brunch. We ate on the main deck, and everything from the food, to the sunshine, ocean view, and fresh breezes – not to mention the company—was wonderful. Bob and Ben insisted they felt well fuelled as they ran out the door at 2:30 to make their tee time.

We had already set aside some of the grilled veggies for Livy to take home. The only thing left of the food on the table was a bit of fruit, which Bob had as a snack when he got home. Oh, and a smallish piece of haddock. I rinsed it thoroughly to remove the seasonings and fed it to Spenser, who was feeling better. He thought it was almost as good as pan-fried.
Spenser enjoys Peggy's Cove

Sharon lives in Kingston, Ontario – though she really wants to live in Nova Scotia – where she dabbles in the domestic arts and eats very well.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Arugula salad with warm figs & Marimekko

Jesse Donaldson

Blog - arugula fig salad with Marimekko napkins 1

The Market

Last Friday I was working from home (read: last Friday, I went to St. Lawrence market). The market is quite far from my house – especially with an armload of obscure cheeses and freshly ground meats – so I don’t get there often. However, when I do make the trek I routinely visit the same stands; my most recent visit was no exception.

First, I grabbed a bag of arugula. It’s spicy, fresh, and seems to last forever in the fridge. Then, like a homing beacon, I found free samples of Bouq Emissaire – a raw-milk goat cheese, from Quebec, covered in an ash rind. The cheese has an earthly, almost flat flavour; I found it to be quite different from the goat cheese I typically purchase. Finally, I circled back to the produce section where an (overly) enthusiastic vendor was handing out free figs to marketgoers. Needless to say, the figs were crazy good and I happily payed $5 for an entire carton. I left satisfied, but it wasn’t until I got home that I realized my impulse purchases would combine into a delicious salad.

I drizzled the figs with a Liquid Gold raspberry balsamic (which I stole from Aunt Sharon’s house), and stuck them in the oven for a few minutes. From there, I sloppily threw the figs on a plate of arugula, then added goat cheese, olive oil and a bit of pepper. I sometimes forget that seasonal, fresh ingredients don’t need a lot of fuss to be delicious!

Blog - arugula fig salad with Marimekko napkins 2

Marimekko

Aunt Sharon, I know you think goat cheese tastes like… goats… but maybe this will make up for my hideous cheese use! Many months ago, Aunt Sharon and I went to the Textile Museum of Canada to check out an exhibit featuring the Finnish-based designer, Marimekko. The prints are bold, with a striking use of colour. Consequently, I was very excited to find out that my local furniture store sells Marimekko kitchenware! The paper napkins in the photo show off the iconic Unikko pattern.

Jesse is a twenty-something-year-old, living in Toronto, who would sooner sell her boyfriend’s possessions than cut the grocery budget.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

    After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Brunch for one

By Summer

I’m not a morning egg person. I like eggs many ways, just not for breakfast. From the simple scrambled or poached, to a quick boiled egg on the go, to a more sophisticated clafoutis or frittata. I’ve even served omelettes at a dinner party.

In fact, my friend Etienne recently told me that the best meal he’s had at my place was the time I served omelettes and salad. I had invited him and his brother over to help me finish putting together a large piece of furniture, and I was feeling particularly lazy about what to serve them for dinner. Eggs it was. I think I may have thrown some ham in the omelettes, to make the dish a bit more manly. After all, they had brought power tools. But there it was: all the other dinners I had slaved over, and the omelette was the most memorable.

blog - brunch for 1

One of my favourite ways to eat eggs is in the form of a sort of hash, with whatever I happen to have in the fridge. My latest throw-together brunch involved leftover (rather overcooked) boiled baby potatoes, avocado, tomato, and olives, with a couple of poached eggs on top.

I go through major food phases. Right now, I am addicted to tomatoes, avocados and olives. Throw in some pan-crisped potatoes and freshly poached eggs and you have the perfect Sunday summer brunch.

It’s this easy:

(1) Slice up some leftover potatoes(even leftover mashed potatoes) and root veggies, and fry in a pan with olive oil. Add whatever seasonings you feel like: herbs, smoked paprika, whatever. Don’t forget the salt.

(2) While the veggies are sizzling, poach your eggs.

(3) Root around in the fridge for anything else you want to add: olives, avocado, tomatoes, wilted greens, cheese, salsa…all of the above.

(4) To throw it all together, nest the eggs on top of the refried veggies and tuck around all the other fixings. Season, grab your Bloody Caesar and enjoy.

Summer lives in Switzerland. In her spare time, she is either on her bicycle or in her kitchen.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Mediterranean feast

Olivia Schneider

This week, we planned to have a Mediterranean feast at the Hackett’s Cove house in Nova Scotia.  Keftedes (Greek meat patties), dolmades (grape leaf rolls), Greek roasted potatoes, lubiyeh (Lebanese green beans), fattoush (a Lebanese salad) and tzaziki. Mom packed up some  grapes and their leaves, as well as Greek thyme, from our family’s Kingston garden, and brought them to the East Coast. I’ve made grape leaf rolls once before, and I was excited to try them again.

But the  za’atar was mouldy; our trusty Pete’s Frootique (a wonderful specialty grocery store in Halifax) had, unusually, failed us. It was clear we wouldn’t be eating fattoush for dinner. So we omitted the mouldy za’atar pita crisps and—allowing Pete’s to redeem itself—added some of the spectacular feta Mom picked up from Pete’s earlier in the week. Bob and Mom had also bought some perfect produce  the day before from their small but well-stocked local farmers’ market (every Tuesday afternoon from May to October in Tantallon, NS).

Most of the recipes we used were Mom’s, or came from joint decisions we made,  based on what we had in the house, and how much work we were prepared to do  (less as the afternoon wore on). The grape leaf roll recipe came from the blog Shiksa in the Kitchen.  I was really happy with her recipe and directions.

I hope you enjoy our photos as much as we enjoyed the meal! I’m sure, as you’re reading this, Bob, Mom and I still smell vaguely of garlic.

Ready to start: grape leaves, par-cooked rice, diced onion, and fresh mint and dill. We didn't have pine nuts, so we just omitted them.
Ready to start: grape leaves, par-cooked rice, diced onion, and fresh mint and dill. We didn’t have pine nuts, so we just omitted them.
Blanched grape leaf with a spoonful of filling.

Blanched grape leaf with a spoonful of filling.

Ready to serve, after being simmered in vegetable broth, lemon juice and olive oil.

Ready to serve, after being simmered in vegetable broth, lemon juice and olive oil.

The beef flavour in our keftedes was lightened by lots of herbs - this time  mint, parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and oregano - and lemon juice.

The beef flavour in our keftedes was lightened by lots of herbs – this time mint, parsley, basil, cilantro, dill and oregano – and lemon juice.

With diced onion, garlic, salt and a beaten egg, keftedes are ready to be shaped.

With diced onion, garlic, salt and a beaten egg, keftedes are ready to be shaped. You can see how much chopped herb we used.

Bob grilled these (definitely taking them to the next step), so they are larger and rounder than usual.

Bob grilled these (definitely taking them to the next level), so they are larger and rounder than usual.

A hybrid Greek-Lebanese salad, with romaine, cucumber, tomato, parsley and mint, dressed with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt. And topped with feta - lots and lots of feta!

A hybrid Greek-Lebanese salad, with romaine, cucumber, tomato, parsley and mint, dressed with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt. And topped with feta – lots and lots of feta!

Greek potatoes are slow roasted with olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano and salt. Lebanese beans are simmered in olive oil, fresh tomato, onion, garlic, salt and spicy globe basil.

Greek potatoes are slow-roasted with olive oil, lemon, garlic, oregano and salt. Lebanese beans are simmered in olive oil, fresh tomato, onion, garlic, salt and spicy globe basil.

Full disclosure: we didn't actually eat these grapes, which Mom and Bob brought from their Kingston vines, until the next day.

Full disclosure: we didn’t actually eat these grapes, which Mom and Bob brought from their Kingston vines, until the next day. (Yep, that’s the ocean you see between the stands of trees.)

The feast! Mom worried that we didn't have the Donvier yogourt cheese maker, but we used Oikos Greek-style 2% yogourt, which stayed thick and creamy even with the addition of grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, mint and dill.

The feast! Mom worried that we didn’t have the Donvier yogourt cheese maker to thicken the yogourt, but we used Oikos Greek-style 2% yogourt, which stayed thick and creamy even with the addition of grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt, mint and dill.

Olivia lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she enjoys making fast-but-good meals on a budget, and exploring new restaurants and recipes.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

Stuffed tomatoes

Susan Jessup

I had a flat of big meaty field tomatoes in my trunk, fixing to spoil, when my battery died again….the car’s, not mine. One junior farmer, one good friend, the Wild Oat’s walk-in fridge, a new battery installed by the good friend and me (la di da) , along with the goodwill of several others. The result? An international body of artists in retreat on whisper-quiet land in Poltimore, Quebec will have their stuffed tomatoes, Chez Eric style, for dinner. Chez Eric from the days of Rosanda, Clare and me running the ship. Brad Robinson, resident food-grower, stuff-fixer, and just general guardian of the cafe and land around, would bring in a “few things from the garden” for my dinner prep. The few things in August and September often included a glut of tomatoes, and this was a favourite to be served as side dish or main.

Blog - stuffed tomatoes

Ingredients

Large and not perfect tomatoes
Caramelized onion or minced scallion
Fresh herbs
Leftover rice or quinoa
Some cooked lentils or bits of sausage or bacon (you get the idea)
Mushrooms are nice too (saute first)
Leftover corn, chopped green beans….it goes on
Stock if you have it
A splash of the wine you didn’t finish last night, or beer, or cider
Olive oil
Sharp cheese
Crushed pumpkin seeds, or not

Directions

1. Set the oven to 375 F.
2. Wash the tomatoes and remove the tough fibrous bits from the top.
3. Cut the top third off and reserve (these rounds will have the donut hole).
4. Gently scoop the insides of the tomatoes onto a cutting board and chop up the meat.
5. Mix the tomato innards with your favourite protein, mushrooms, onions or scallions, and rice or quinoa (leftover polenta is very good too).
6. Add a little stock, wine or beer, chopped herbs, salt and pepper, olive oil.
7. Pierce the tomatoes a few times so they don’t burst in the oven, but they’re fabulous even if they do (support staff prayed one or two would do just that, knowing that I would only plate the ones that remained intact).
8. Set them in an oiled, heavy casserole or large pan.
9. Pour a little more wine or beer around the tomatoes.
10. Top each tomato with cheese and crushed pumpkin seeds.
11. Dust with salt and pepper.

Bake until the tomatoes are soft and beginning to collapse, the cheese and pumpkin seeds are becoming golden brown, and they are smelling ridiculous!

I often served them on wilted greens with toast points.

Susan is a culinary arts instructor, Cordon Bleu- trained chef, and back-to-the-dirt food activist in the Ottawa/Outaouais region.
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

    After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

My kryptonite

By Alysha

“Noodles with butter, please!” My 3-year-old niece Vaila and I chime in unison. Cue eye roll from my brother Justin (directed at me, of course).

It is a widely-known fact that I eat noodles with butter at least once a week, usually more if I’m being honest. OK, at least three times a week. You happy?

It’s my go-to meal of choice. Oh, are we celebrating? Noodles with butter. Rough day? Noodles with butter. And I have no shame – I will order it in a restaurant and chastise the kitchen if they don’t get it right (are we not past garnishing EVERYTHING with parsley?)

I wish I could tell you that my love of buttery noodles evokes some early childhood memory of being in the kitchen with a beloved family member, but that’s just not the case. This particular love affair started much later in life – about three years ago. It wasn’t love at first sight. But it was definitely love. I grew to appreciate how steady this meal is. It never lets you down. And chances are, you always have what you need on hand to whip it up.

But I’m not alone. You wouldn’t believe how many recipes there are for what one would assume is a pretty straightforward application of the two obvious key ingredients: noodles and butter. And before you get all uppity with me and start throwing around heavyweights like parmesan and lemon zest – I should point out that I am a purist. Noodles and butter. That’s it. Pure and simple comfort food.

Blog - butter and noodles 1

So at 8:30 last night, after wandering my local Whole Foods market for what seemed like an eternity, after having worked what felt like the longest day ever, I was in desperate need of inspiration. I know what you’re thinking. And believe me, I was too. Noodles and butter had been on my mind since noon. I was just feeling guilty, having eaten it twice already this week. So I picked up a few random veggies (sweet local corn, pattypan squash, heirloom tomatoes and some beautifully, fragrant basil) to ease my conscience, and practically skipped home, already tasting the chewy, salty buttery noodles slide down my throat.

But then once I got home, something strange happened. I was putting away my groceries (since I clearly wasn’t intending to include them in my dinner that night) when a lonely sweet onion caught my eye. It looked so sad sitting in the crisper. So I whipped it out, sliced it up, threw it in a pan with some olive oil, and started it on its way to caramelized glory.

Feeling inspired, I peered warily into my bag of heirloom tomatoes. Next thing I knew I was slicing into the perfumed, meaty gems of summer perfection and adding them to the pan. Then almost rapid-fire went in the pattypan squash and a few handfuls of the fresh, juicy sweet corn that was practically bursting as I shaved it off the cob.

As I stood back to examine my handiwork, eyeing the pan suspiciously, I was still not convinced. This would be a SIDE dish, I told myself. No mixing. But you can probably tell what happened next…

First it was the rich, creamy butter, cautiously sliding into the pan to join the ensemble, then the cracked pepper, lemon zest, and of course a few impetuous handfuls of the most finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and julienned basil.

The aroma was intoxicating. A combination of the caramelized onions, sweet luscious corn, licorice-scented basil, and the succulent tomatoes. I was done for. Will power, or whatever you want to call it, gone. In, without another second of hesitation, went my (up until that point) unadulterated noodles. And I didn’t feel an ounce of regret. A few glugs of pasta water, and the sauce had reached perfection.

It was delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed every last bite. I had leftovers and ate them for lunch today, and I wasn’t disappointed – it was almost better today. (Hey, STOP that. Stop counting how many pasta servings that’s been for me this week.)

There is no recipe here. There is no lesson on how my tastes have matured, or how my noodle portfolio has expanded, or how I have reformed my ways and eat noodles less often. It’s just a simple tale of how a few humble ingredients can bring such immense pleasure, time and time again.

Superman had his. I have mine. What’s yours?

Alysha lives at Whole Foods in Vancouver. Her life is two parts Carrie Bradshaw, one part Bridget Jones. 
Welcome to our family’s discussion forum on food. If you’d like to submit a post, please consider yourself family, and email us at familyfoodforum@gmail.com.

    After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”

– Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance