Monday, August 27, 2012

Caprese Salad

I get a little giddy every time tomato season hits. During most of the year, tomatoes still remain a staple of my everyday cooking but I look at them with less of a loving eye. They don't come close to what what they taste like at this time of year and often feel bland and uninteresting. Plump, heirloom tomatoes at their peak are a whole different story - they can happily be enjoyed .with a simple drizzle of good olive oil, some fleur de sel and a few speckles of cracked black pepper only, and I often just snack on them with a few speckles of salt.

During the wintertime, produce has to be cajoled a little more to be turned into a warm, comforting meal - but we have it easy when tomatoes taste this good. They are the undeniable star of the show. This simple salad - my all-time favourite - is made nestling milky buffalo mozarella with thin, meaty tomato slices. These gorgeous, uneven gems were purchased from the farmers' market a Liberty Village and surely didn't disappoint. I added some fresh basil leaves (picked from our very own urban garden/balcony!) and a few salty, cured olives. I really can't think of a better summer lunch and I know I will be eying this photo with envy in a few weeks from now.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have you ever had a puffball?

This weekend, as I was strolling through the St Lawrence Market for some seasonal produce my eyes landed on this unusual specimen: a puffball! These large, rounded cream-coloured gems - part of the mushroom family - were my market-find of the day. I had never seen these anywhere before (have you?), but after a little research I knew exactly how I would be serving them.

Puffballs can be cooked much in the same way as regular cremini or button mushroom, although they have more of a soft, spongy, marshmallow-like texture. They reduce a lot when cooked and are best enjoyed warm. Even though I stocked up on heirloom tomatoes, golden beets and wild blueberries for the week, I was most excited about these over-sized cartoon-worthy goodies.With a little white wine, herbs and garlic, they make a perfect side dish. They soak up flavour with ease and plump up when cooked with wine.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Burgers

This summer has been a busy one so far - after a trip to Boston, a week in the South of France and working on the holiday issues of Canadian Living, the warm sunny days have quickly gone by! We're on to working on our January 2013 issue, with a plethora of wintery comfort foods on the list. It's always a little bit of a challenge to project yourself to the cold, winter days at this time of year and remember the foods that you crave when the snow is falling and plush scarves are a daily part of your routine. There's such a meticulous process to the making of a magazine - in this case from recipe creation, to re-testing, to editing, and editing some more, to styling, shooting and designing the final page as it will be seen and flipped through by readers.

This lengthy process explains why we prepare our issues so many months ahead of time!

When I get home from a day of January-in-August, I fall right back into my normal summer schedule, and cook with seasonal foods. This time around, it's classic, burgers, pilled high with sauteed mushrooms, melted aged cheddar cheese and a couple slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes, with some fleur de sel and freshly cracked black pepper. Sweet summer heirloom tomatoes with their vivid hues and uneven shapes add a good dose of sunniness to these burgers - a flavour I know I will miss come fall.

What do you like to add to your burgers?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shallot and Goat Cheese Tarte Tatin

Little beats the perfection of a classic Tarte Tatin. Serve it warm with a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and I'm sold. The culinary technique behind this staple dessert can be applied to many different types of fruit but also works wonders with savory flavours. As long as your filling has a sticky, caramelized consistency and that you top the tart with flaky puff pastry you can't really go wrong.

The only tricky part is to invert the dish once it's cooked. The beauty of a Tarte Tatin comes from the way it is cooked - with the puff pastry tightly nestled on top of the dish- the filling will bubble away while the dough can slowly crisp up without getting soggy. My best advice is not to over-think it when times comes time to invert the dish- simply run a pairing knife around the edges of the tart, top the tart with your platter (or a cutting board) and flip it over in one confident go. If a few sticky filling pieces stay lodged in your cooking vessel, gently free them and arrange on top of your dish.
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