I have been busy soaking it all in: seasonal fruits and vegetables, the farmers’ market in Toronto and Boston, festival dishes from the Caribbean, and above all, the joy of assembling fresh ingredients, rather than “letting it all stew” as we do in the wintertime. Summer is foodie heaven, as I am sure many would agree.
I start my theme of summer food experiences with my latest “cook-off”, where I and a faithful accomplice get together, plan a menu, shop for the ingredients, and prepare a meal together for family and friends, who, at their pleasure or peril, sample dishes we’ve put together for the first time. They call themselves guinea pigs, but I like to refer to them as “test kitchen experts”.
To me, summer ingredients are as follows: fish, potatoes (for salad, of course), tomatoes, and fresh herbs. In other words, fewer ingredients and a heavy reliance on food freshness. The farmers’ market is a great place to start, as there is a greater tendency to bring in seasonal and the freshest ingredients. Currently, every city in Canada has a farmer’s market going, so consider slinging your reusable bag over your shoulder (or in my case, using a Rolser) and making a trip down.
Our summer menu for the joint “cook-off” included the following:
1) seared tuna on a bed of endives and julienned carrots, with sesame oil dressing
2) Curried Potato Salad – If you are fortunate enough to live in Ontario, you have access to a copy of one of the best free publications available, namely the LCBO Food and Drink. If not, you can easily get their recipes online. I am always inspired.
3) Beef and Aged Cheddar Sliders, served on a ciabbata bun with pickled onions and arugula
4) Eggplant, Tomato, and Garlic (all 20 cloves of it) Dip, served on rye bread and topped with egg – its inspiration is a Persian dish called Mirza Ghasemi
Accompanying these delicious finger foods was an abundant supply of mojitos, made with garden-grown mint!