On Vacation

Tomorrow I am off to Seattle to attend the International Food Bloggers Conference which should be loads of fun! After the conference is over I will be spending a few days exploring Seattle and all that it has to offer. What are the "don't miss" foodie things to do in Seattle after visiting the Pike Market Place?

After a few days in Seattle I am heading back to Canada but I will be stopping off in Vancouver for the long weekend before returning to Toronto. What are the "must do" foodie things in Vancouver after visiting the Granville Market? For some reason the japadogs keep popping up in my searches. :)

Time to finish packing. I'll be back in the kitchen and blogging after the long weekend!

Tomato and Basil Pesto Parmesan Tart

Tomato and Basil Pesto Parmesan Tart

Not too long ago I made a zucchini and sun dried tomato pesto parmesan puff pastry tart that I really enjoyed! I particularly liked how well the pesto worked on the tart and I could not help but think about how other pestos would also be fantastic on tarts. With all of the perfectly ripe local field tomatoes at the farmers market right now along with the recent inspiration to use basil pesto in a caprese salad I knew exactly what my next tart would be, a tomato and basil pesto tart. Tomato and freshly made basil pesto is one of those great flavour combinations and it was absolutely amazing on a bed of light, flaky and buttery pastry! The tomatoes slightly roasted on the top of the tart intensifying their flavour even more.

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

One of my favourite things about the summer is all of the fresh basil and one of my favourite things to do with the basil is to make basil pesto. Basil pesto is as easy to make and pureeing everything in a food processor and it captures the essence of summer perfectly. The easiest way to enjoy basil pesto is on pasta but you can also use it as a condiment and it adds a ton of summery fresh flavour to whatever you add it to and I particularly like adding it to sandwiches. Another great thing about basil pesto is that it freezes well so you can save some of summers essence for later. If you plan on freezing it omit the parmigiano-reggiano and add it when you thaw it out.

Peach Amaretti Crumble

Peach Amaretti Crumble

The farmers market has been flooded with fresh locally grown peaches these last few weeks and I certainly have been enjoying them. This weekend I got a few too many of them to finish in the week simply by snacking on them and it was about time that I got down to making something with them. Crisps, crumbles and cobblers are by far one of the easiest ways too use a lot of fruit and this crumble has been on my mind for a while. The main idea of this crumble was to use amaretti cookie crumbs to make the topping and to hit the peach filling with a splash of amaretto. To continue building on the almond flavours I added some slivered almonds to the topping as well. This crumble was as easy as cutting up some peaches, mixing the topping and baking it and the rewards of so little effort are amazing! The amaretti crumble topping was phenomenal and it went really well with the peaches. Of course, I absolutely had to serve the peach crumble with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream.

Tequila Lime Grille Chicken Burrito Bowls

Burrito Bowls

Burritos are one of my favorite Mexican dishes and they were on the top of my list of things to do with the tequila lime grilled chicken breasts but I was feeling a little lazy and decided to go with a deconstructed burrito or a burrito bowl instead. A burrito bowl is just what it sounds like; all of the contents of a burrito piled on top of each other in a bowl rather than wrapped up in a tortilla. Every once in a while I like to go with the burrito bowl rather than a burrito and when you make them by yourself you can control both the portion size and exactly what goes in it so you can keep it nice and light and healthy without compromising on flavour. For this burrito bowl I started with a base of cilantro lime rice made with a brown rice, some creamy and spicy seasoned black beans , a fresh pico de gallo and of course the tequila lime grilled chicken . I finished the burrito bowls off with a dollop of light sour cream and a touch of grated jack and cheddar cheese for that extra hit of flavour.

Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken

Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken

Tequila and lime chicken is super quick and easy way to cook up some chicken that is particularly nice in the summer when you can make it on the grill. One of the things that I really like about this recipe is that other than the tequila and the lime you can play around with the ingredients to change up the flavour profile. I often like to use chipotle chilies in adobo sauce for the source of heat or even a freshly ground chili pepper blend but in the summer with all of the fresh ingredients around it is hard to resist making it an all green sauce with jalapeƱos and a hit of cilantro. If you are in a hurry you can marinate the chicken for as little as a half an hour but over night is best. Another great thing about this tequila lime chicken is how versatile it is; you can use it in tacos, burritos, sandwiches and in the summer it goes great as a topping for salads to make a nice light meal.

Diced Caprese Salad

Stacked Diced Caprese Salad

The local field tomatoes finally made their appearance at the farmers market this weekend and I immediately picked some up. With the fresh ripe tomatoes in hand, the first thing on my mind was a caprese salad! A caprese salad or insalata caprese, is a salad consisting of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Because this salad is so simple, you want to use the best ingredients possible including perfectly ripened field tomatoes. Every year I look forward to tomato season when I can enjoy fresh caprese salads and I never tire of coming up with new ways to enjoy them. This time I diced both the tomatoes and the mozzarella and used my mini spring form pan to construct a layered stack. For the basil component of the salad I topped the tower with a dollop of freshly made basil pesto and garnished the plate with drops of basil olive oil. (I made the basil oil by pureeing some basil in the olive oil and then straining it.)

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Sweet Chilli Sauce

After I decided to serve some sweet chili sauce with my Thai style corn fritters I checked my fridge and found that I was running low on it. I was just about to add it to my grocery list when I though, I wonder if I could make this at home? A quick search of the web turned up this recipe for a sweet chilli sauce that I found on She Simmers . I certainly am glad that I took the time to look up the recipe and make it myself! Not only was it super easy to make but it was much better than any store bought variety that I have ever tried. The recipe is pretty simple with what you would expect to find in it including some chilies, garlic, sugar, vinegar and a bit of corn starch to thicken it up. I could not find either the red jalapeƱos or the red serrano chilies so I went with some long pointed hot red chilies that I could find and a few birds eye chilies to ensure that the heat level was up there. I also left the seed in for the extra heat and visual appearance. You should tailor the variety of chili and number based on your tolerance for heat, or your addiction to it. :)

Thai Style Corn Fritters with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Thai Style Corn Fritters with Sweet Chilli Sauce

Last weekend there was a corn roast at the farmers market signalling the beginning of the local corn season. With the amazing aroma of roasting corn and melted butter everywhere, I could not resist coming come with an arm load of corn. One of my favorites ways to enjoy corn is to just have it on the cob with melted butter and a touch of salt but it was clear that I was not going to be able to make it through all of the corn in time so I needed to use it in a recipe to help finish it up. Luckily I had a list of things that I wanted to do with corn and I had just been waiting for it to arrive. On top of that list was some Thai inspired corn fritters flavoured with homemade curry paste along with some green onions, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce. I immediately though of serving the fritters covered in a spicy peanut sauce but with the heat I wanted something a little lighter and a Thai sweet chili sauce sounded like it would be perfect. one of the things that I like most about these corn fritters, in addition to having an amazing flavour, is how some of the kernels on the outside start to get a little crispy taking on the texture of those partially popped kernels of corn in popcorn which is really nice. What a great way to usher in the start of corn season!

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Slaw

Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches just seem to scream summer to me but I always dreaded the thought of having the oven on all day when it was already so hot out. That all changed when I picked up a slow cooker as not only does it not radiate a lot of heat but it also produces perfectly tender pork every time. I had been craving some of that sweet, spicy, moist and tender bbq pulled pork for a few days so I dusted off my slow cooker and started to cook up some pork. This recipe is dead easy where you simply cook the pork in the slow cooker, pull it and mix some bbq sauce into it. You could make it even easier by using your favorite store bought brand of bbq sauce, but making your own is pretty easy and you get to make it just how you want it. This time I threw some chipotle chilies in adobo sauce into the bbq sauce both as the primary source of heat to add some smokiness. It just wouldn't be a bbq pulled pork sandwich without a generous helping of coleslaw thrown in and once again I went with the make your own option. I served the pulled pork sandwiches with a side of crispy sweet potato fries.

Blueberry Maple Pecan Cinnamon Buns

Blueberry Maple Pecan Cinnamon Buns

The farmers market was absolutely overflowing with cheap local blueberries this weekend and I picked up a lot of them. Although I will finish a lot of them off for breakfast on plain yogurt with a touch of maple syrup, I wanted to do something with them and I knew exactly what. I had been wanting to try doing a cinnamon bun stuffed with fruit or berries and I had originally planned on trying it with strawberries but they disappeared just before I got the chance and a blueberry version now sounded even better. The idea was basically to make cinnamon buns and where you add blueberries to the cinnamon layer before rolling them up. I figured that wild blueberries would be perfect for these cinnamon buns as they were smaller and rolling them up would be easier. I could have just gone with that but I kept thinking about how much I like the blueberry and maple flavour combination and so I decided to replace the sugar in the cinnamon layer with maple sugar and I then mixed some maple syrup into the cream cheese glaze. While I was adding things, I could not resist also adding some chopped pecans which also pair well with blueberries.

The blueberry maple pecan cinnamon buns turned out so amazingly well! I really liked how the blueberries in the cinnamon layer baked up in the buns with many of them bursting and spreading their blueberry goodness even further. The blueberry, maple pecan flavour combination was definitely a winner and it went perfectly in the light and fluffy buns. You can bake the cinnamon buns in several different ways to get different results. You can either leave them with lots of room to spread out when they bake or you can pack they in tightly next to each other to get thicker buns. I baked most of mine in a spring form pan and I put the extras in ramekins and the ones that were baked in the ramekins were my favourites by far.

Sundried Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Sundried Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I had some sun dried tomato pesto left over from the zucchini and sun dried tomato pesto parmesan tart and I figured that it would be just enough to use in a grilled cheese sandwich. Not too long ago I ended up with some leftover spinach pesto and I had been experimenting with grilled cheese sandwiches at the time and naturally the spinach pesto grilled cheese sandwich was born. I really liked the way the pesto worked in a grilled cheese sandwich and I had just been itching to try it again so I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the tasty left over sun dried tomato pesto.

Although the basic grilled cheese sandwich is pretty simple, there are endless ways to make them more exciting from simply changing up the cheese to adding extra flavours. With the primary ingredient of this sandwich being the sun dried tomato pesto, I was thinking tomatoes and for a cheese the natural choice seemed to be mozzarella. With the tomatoes and mozzarella on my mind I started thinking about caprese salads and as luck would have it, I also had some fresh basil left over from the tart and with that my sandwich was finished. Once again, I was throughly impressed by how amazingly well the pesto worked in a grilled cheese sandwich! The sun dried tomato pesto just packed the sandwich full of flavour and the basil brought a hint of freshness. The melted cheese brought everything together and the toasted, buttery, golden brown bread finished things off perfectly.

Zucchini and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Parmesan Tart

Zucchini and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Parmesan Tart

A little over a year ago I made the asparagus and gruyere tart for the first time and I was immediately hooked not only to that particular tart but the whole style of tarts. These simple premade pastry tarts are so easy to make and they always taste great! You pretty much just roll out some puff pastry or oil up a few sheets of phyllo dough and then top it off rather like a pizza with sauces, cheeses and vegetables. Despite the fact that the topping options are near endless I have been enjoying highlighting a single in season vegetable like asparagus, tomatoes or zucchini. One of my favorites so far has been a zucchini and feta ricotta tart so when I came across a zucchini and sun dried tomato pesto parmesan tart on Cook Sister it made it to my meal plan as soon as the local zucchini was in!

In my opinion, you really can't go wrong with a flavour packed sun dried tomato pesto so I already knew that this tart was going to be a winner. Knowing that the sun dried tomato pesto was going to be key to this dish I set about making my own and homemade pesto is actually rather easy. Although you could mash everything up in a mortar and pestle as is traditional, it is much easier to just throw the ingredients into a food processor and puree them. One of the things that I like so much about making you own pesto is that you can experiment and change up the flavours each time by using different nuts, cheeses or even adding new things like say a splash of balsamic vinegar. With tomato season just around the corner you could even make you own oven dried tomatoes for use in this pesto.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Pestos are really easy to make and I always enjoy playing around with different flavours. One of my favorite pestos is this sundried tomato pesto which is as easy to make as throwing everything into a food processor and pureeing. In addition to being super simple to make this pesto is just packed with flavour! I like using pestos like this in pasta or as a condiment in sandwiches.

Chiles Rellenos

Chile Relleno

Chilis rellenos, or stuffed chilis, have been on my to try list for a while and when I came across some poblano peppers at the market this weekend I knew that it was finally time to make them. Common stuffings for chiles rellenos include cheese and picadillo and although a simple melted cheese filling sounded good I was more in the mood for a picadillo filling. Picadillo is a dish consisting of a ground meat with a tomato sauce, raisins, olives and almonds that has an amazing blend of sweet and savoury that I figured would go really well in the stuffed chiles. In addition to using the tomato sauce in the picadillo, chiles rellenos are often served in a tomato sauce and with this in mind I went with a pretty simple ranchero sauce that could be used in both places. Although it is not required, chiles rellenos are commonly dipped in an egg based batter and fried until nice and golden brown and crispy. At this point the chiles rellenos were pretty much done but I was still thinking about that melted cheesy filling that I had passed up on and I thought, why not cover them in melted cheese? I quickly pulled out a baking dish, threw in the chiles rellenos, covered them with the remaining ranchero sauce and cheese and baked them until the cheese had melted.

The chiles rellenos turned out amazingly well! The combination of the sweet and savoury picadillo filling along with the mildly hot and smoky roasted poblano peppers and the melted cheese and ranchero sauce was out of this world! This was my first time using an egg based batter and I was quite impressed by the light, airy and crispy texture that it produces. Although the chiles rellenos took a bit of effort to make they were so worth it in the end and I will definitely be making these again!

Tip: These chiles rellenos are rather labour intensive but you can make the tomato sauce and the picadillo filling the day before and greatly cut down on the amount of time and effort required on the day that you make them.