Cooking Classes


Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce is great on your mixed grilled meats

Chimichurri sauce is just like a pesto. Lots of fresh herbs, garlic and a good quality olive oil. It matches with any meat from your grill. And it only takes a minute to make.

Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce
2 c. packed fresh Italian parsley leaves 500 mL
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 c. packed fresh oregano leaves 60 mL
1/4 c. red wine vinegar 60 mL
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 3 mL
1/2 tsp. salt 3 mL
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 c. extra virgin olive oil 250 mL
Place parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute.
With the motor running, add oil in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, stir and season as needed. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Basil Pesto preserves summer flavour

Blogging takes a back seat in the busy summer market season. I am cooking a lot, every day, all day. Except when I take the occassional day off to garden or go for a drive. This is not my garden basil. It's from the market and so lovely.

Basil Pesto
2 cups lightly packed, fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pinenuts, toasted
½ cup nice olive oil
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
salt optional

Dry toast the pinenuts in a stovetop pan. Chop basil, pinenuts and garlic with olive oil in food processor until finely minced. Stir in parmesan cheese and more olive oil if necessary. Pack into a jar and float a little olive oil on top to help preserve the mixture. Or, freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray and store the ice cubes in freezer bags for later use.

 And just because my lilies are lovely and at their peak, here's a picture for you. Aren't they purdy?


A Drive in the Country - The Great Sand Hills

Rising at three in the morning wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated. I have been waiting for this day since I moved to southwest Saskatchewan five years ago. I have seen so many pictures of The Great Sand Hills but I want my own. The golden hour, that hour after the sun rises or before it sets, is the only time to photograph sand dunes.

My odometer read 140 kilometers by the time I parked my car. It was a long drive in the dark and when the sun did show itself over the horizon the push was on to find this spot. The countryside is so calm and verdant this time of year and day that the temptation to stop and snap photos was strong. I had driven all this way for the dunes so I only took a couple of green pictures.

I am not comfortable with cows. They are so big and they always stare. They were my greeting party. One momma cow had twins and I made a large loop around her in case she became protective with a stranger in the pasture. I'm sure she sees a steady stream of strangers all summer long but I wasn't about to take any chances, out here, alone, at six in the morning.

In my excitement to get to the dunes I forgot about changing my shoes. Drat. The pasture grass was dewy and the sand quickly coated the toes of my good walking Geox's. Oh well. The sand is powdery fine and the dune slightly steep. It was a new exercise for me or at least one that I had not done in a long time.

Too bad there are people footprints everywhere. Somehow I thought that by arriving early the wind would have taken care of yesterday's activity.

The park occupies almost 2,000 square kilometers but the birding trail was the only place that parking was allowed. That is enough for today. I will be back and hopefully it will be after a strong wind so I can feel completely alone on these dunes.

Today is a study in texture. Beautiful swirls and waves, curious trackings from insects and small animals and a few hardy plants provided enough to study on my first walk into this amazing landscape.

Most of the time I wasn't completely alone. Small and large herds of antelope grazed hardly noticing my presence. A doe with darling twins was less trusting. Hawks, foxes and songbirds kept me company. I only met one truck out in the dunes, a local. He stopped to be sure I was finding things all right.
The iconic cowboy boot arch watches over the parking lot from a hilltop.
A working ranch at the entry to the sand dunes area has an archway bedecked with antelope, deer and moose antlers.


Pea Shoot Topped Crostini

Pea shoots are in season and are at the farmers' markets. But what do you do with them? Their flavour is mild, their colour is bright and they are so pretty. Pea shoots can be sautéed in a stir fry. They can be puréed into a chilled summer soup, tossed into a salad or used simply as a garnish on a crostini.

Pea Shoot Topped Crostini

pea shoots
camembert or brie cheese
olive oil
roasted strawberry and rhubarb compote (find the recipe here)

Slice the baguette on the diagonal and lightly toast on a medium hot grill. Grill on one side only and remove. Brush grilled side lightly with olive oil and top with a slice of brie or camembert and return to the grill. Heat until the bottom is toasted and the cheese melts a little. Top with your favourite fruit compote or preserve. Garnish with pea shoots and serve.

Making Cherry Bourbon Liqueur

Cherries herald in the season. They are the first orchard fruit in a progression of summer's most treasured flavours. The season is all too short. As a child my mother would 'put up' a case of every fruit that came out of the Okanagan. We loved canned Okanagan fruit, especially cherries.

I no longer do this. Perhaps it is time to rethink before cherries are done. This recipe seems to easy to be true. I am making only a small jar to try it out. But hey, what's the downside? A jar of bourbon soaked cherries and a bit of bourbon that may taste like cherries. Really. There is no downside to trying this recipe.

Okay, so 2 months later I am adding my notes. The bourbon was a lovely red colour but no noticeable cherry flavour. It still would make a nice manhatten though. The cherries were so strongly bourbon flavoured that I couldn't use them as a garnish for my cocktail. Perhaps chop and add to a cherry pie with more cherries? Oh well. It had great potential.

Cherry Bourbon Liqueur

a jar
enough pitted cherries to fill the jar about one quarter full
a good bourbon

Place pitted cherries into a clean jar to about the one quarter mark. Fill to the top with bourbon. Seal tightly and leave at room temperature for one month. Store in a cold room or refrigerator until used. Will keep a long time.

That was easy. The hard part is waiting a month before tasting.


Shrimp and Cheese Grits

I spent five months housesitting in Tennessee a few years back. I learned to cook with collard greens, okra and attended more than a few church potlucks. Southern food is comfort food at its best. Grits might not be so easy to find up here in Canada but if you ever see them, snap them up. They are a quick and easy nutritious meal. This recipe is an all time favourite.

Shrimp and Cheese Grits
Grits are a truly American food. They are made from dried yellow or white corn that is ground and then boiled. It can be purchased in its original form that is long cooking or quicker cooking varieties. This dish was considered a basic fisherman’s breakfast during shrimp season. Now it is served at any meal either as a side dish or the main course. Polenta or cornmeal can be substituted for grits but they are more finely ground and will produce a creamier dish.
2 c. water 500 mL
2 c. half and half cream 500 mL
2 tbsp. chopped red pepper 30 mL
1 tsp. salt 5 mL
1 c. stoneground grits 250 mL
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese 250 mL
2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
Pepper to taste
Bring water, cream, butter, red pepper and salt to a boil in a 3-qt. (4 L) saucepan. Whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook stirring often, about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Season with pepper, to taste.
2 bacon slices
1 lb. peeled, medium-size raw shrimp 500 g
1/8 tsp. salt 1 mL
1/4 tsp. pepper 2 mL
1/4 c. all purpose flour 60 mL
2 tsp. oil 10 mL
1/2 c. chopped green onions 125 mL
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. chicken broth 125 mL
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 30 mL
1/4 tsp. hot sauce 2 mL
Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp, remove and drain on paper towels, reserving one-teaspoon (5 mL) drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.
Season shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Sauté green onions 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over the hot grits. Garnish with crumbled bacon and serve with a hot sauce such as sriachi. Serves 4. (Adapted from Southern Living)


Crostini with Oven Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb Compote and Pickled Radishes

Our virtual supper club is off to a beach picnic this month. As I write this the weather is scorching hot and I actually wish I was at the beach.

It is my turn to make the appetizer and rather than finding a recipe, I am working with what I have in my kitchen to pull this together. Strawberries made their first appearance at the market this past Saturday. Of course, radishes have been ready for some time now. Ditto rhubarb. Pea shoots also made their first appearance. Voilà. Put them all together and this is what you get. Next time I would place a thin slice of brie on the toast before adding the toppings.

Radishes are not my favourite vegetable but I have been wanting to make pickled radishes for quite some time. This is a quick and simple recipe. I made only one jar. I love the way the vinegar turns a blush colour. It is so pretty.

Let's take a look at the rest of the menu...

Susan of The Spice Garden brings us a main course of Lemon Ginger Fried Chicken. Yumm.

Jerry of A Life, Lived is bringing a side dish. Zucchini Ribbons with Lemon and Pecorino. No doubt this is inspired from his recent trip to Italy. Wish you were still there, eh Jerry?

Sandi of Whistlestop Cafe Cooking is bringing dessert. It is a lovely Lemon Polenta Cake with Summer Berries. No doubt this is also inspired by her recent Italy trip.

Val of More Than Burnt Toast compliments our menu with a Cherry Peach Sangria. What better than sangria for a beach picnic. 

Wow. I wish this was in real time. The menu sounds delicious.

Pickled Radishes
1 cup radishes, finely sliced
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
Slice off the tops and bottoms of the radishes, then use a sharp chef's knife or mandoline to slice the radishes into very thin rounds. Pack the rounds into a 250 mL (8 ounce) canning jar. Top with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds.
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, maple sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, then pour the mixture over the radishes.
Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Let the pickles sit over night before using. They will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Oven Roasted Strawberries and Rhubarb

1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons maple sugar

Select young tender red stalks of rhubarb. Chop into 1-inch lengths. Remove the stem from strawberries and slice in half. Toss rhubarb with one tablespoon of maple sugar. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Place strawberries on the other side of the same baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle with the remaining maple sugar. Roast at 350 F for about 10 minutes or until tender. Mix together and serve.

Assemble the crostini by toasting the focaccia or baguette slice on the grill until lightly browned. This can be done in advance. Top with a slice of brie, then the fruit compote and then the pickled radishes. Garnish with pea shoots.