The meals I make are based on cravings, whims, and energy level. There’s not a lot of weekly planning that happens. Part of the reason stems from my love of grocery aisles and local markets. I like discovering new foods and walking past fresh produce and cheese and warm breads — and more cheese — which inspires me to make something.
Since I’m occasionally time-crunched and also just plain sick of thinking up creative meal ideas when bootcamp starts in less than one hour and there’s a grade four diorama of a pioneer village to finish, frittatas are a simple go-to. It’s like breakfast for dinner, except that card gets played a lot and gets old.
Frittatas can be made from almost any blend of vegetables, meat, eggs, and cheese using only one pan. This one combines the superfood spinach with home grown oregano, green onions, and feta.
Wash and chop the spinach into medium-sized pieces. Chop three green onions.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over a low-medium flame. Toss in green onions and spinach.
Cover and cook until the spinach is softened. Approximately five minutes.
Stir in 3-4 pinches of salt and 4 turns of fresh pepper mill. Add the minced garlic and cover for another two minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and the remainder of the pepper. Sprinkle ½ the chopped oregano into the egg mixture.
Pour the eggs over the spinach, add the feta, and top with the remaining oregano.
Reduce heat to low, cover the frittata, and cook until eggs are firm. Cooking time will be approximately 10 minutes.
Serve hot with a side of sliced tomatoes drizzled with a vinaigrette.
Summer is imminent and that means harvesting the bounty of our backyard vegetable gardens or enjoying delicious, locally grown produce finally available in stores. One of the easiest vegetables/fruits — tomEHto/tomAHto — to grow and enjoy are tomatoes. There are dozens of varieties and I try new ones every year, along with replanting a few favourites. Besides planting medium-sized tomatoes perfect for salads or ratatouille, I add one or more types of bite-sized ones. Sometimes these even make it back to the kitchen. It's difficult, they're so good.
Once the vegetables/fruit starts to ripen it's tomatoes every day. Enter bruschetta because YUM!
It’s rare for bruschetta to miss the mark. After all, the garlic, tomato and olive oil combo make it a perfect complement to most anything and it’s a quick appetizer to make ahead for parties and backyard barbecues. I like to serve it with fresh Parmesan because cheese makes everything better.
Chop tomatoes into quarters or eigths, depending on their size.
Chop basil finely and add to tomatoes.
Combine the garlic, olive oil, baslamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour over tomato and basil mixture.
Adjust salt and pepper to prefered taste.
Let the mixture sit for at least one hour for the flavours to deepen.
Serve on crostini and top with fresh-shaved Parmesan. Or eat it by the spoon. I’ve heard that works too.
Several years ago we travelled to British Columbia. During our trip west we made a stop in Pemberton to visit family and friends and fell in love. Beyond the beauty of a valley surrounded by mountains and crisscrossed by clear rivers, beyond ranches and wildlife and towering trees, beyond one of the most beautiful places in Canada, we found … the best burger in the history of hamburgers.
When we returned from that trip we spent a fair bit of time telling anyone who would listen — and even those who weren’t too keen — that the best burgers anywhere were served up at Mile One Eating House in Pemberton, British Columbia. Last summer we made a return trip and brought my brother and his family. They loved the burgers so much we ate dinner at Mile One four out of seven nights.
What’s so amazing about these burgers? Magic.
Also, a kitchen team led by a chef who cares about what they serve their patrons and believes in sourcing great products close to home. What’s so terrible about these burgers? They’re in British Columbia and we’re in Ontario.
I’m not saying my burgers are a duplicate of what you’ll eat if you’re lucky enough to make it to Pemberton, but they’re the best I could do from memory. And according to my family, they’re pretty damn good. Here’s my ode to the Hillbilly Deluxe from Mile One.
This is where I write nothing (or almost nothing) because when it comes to burgers it’s all about letting the flavour of the meat come through. The most important step is buying a good quality ground chuck or medium ground beef. Those two options have the best flavours in large part because of the higher fat content. Extra lean means extra bland.
Form the meat into large meatballs (tennis ball-sized) and flatten into a 1–1.5-centimeter thick patty. Using your thumb, make a depression in the center of the patty. This will prevent the burger from puffing up during cooking.
Season one side of the burger with 2 large pinches of coarse salt and 3-4 turns of the pepper mill. Place seasoned side of patty down on the BBQ and season the other side.
Don't press down on the meat with a spatula. You’ll squeeze out all the juice. Your spatula is for flipping, so flip over those burgers after approximately 5-6 minutes and cook for another 4-5.
Makes 10 burgers.
Serve the burgers on brioche buns. The slightly sweet taste of the bread along with its light texture makes it a perfect complement to the meat and toppings.
Slice ¾ large, sweet white onion.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet and cook the onion over medium heat.
Add ½ cup beer. I used Hop City Big Mouth Pale Ale and then had to drink the rest. Cook until onions are slightly browned and soft.
Blend minced garlic with the egg yolk. Slowly pour in olive oil, beating with a fork.
Add salt and lemon juice and mix well.
Combine 6 tablespoons of mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought) with 4-5 tablespoons of aioli and blend well using a fork.
To build the burger spread 1-2 tablespoons of aioli mayonnaise on the bottom half of the bun, follow with two pieces of sausage, the burger patty, and top with cheese curds and caramelized onions. Finish off with one slice of tomato and lettuce. Dig in.
Serve with a side of fresh feta asparagus.
For a delicious finish to your BBQ, prepare a peach-blueberry crumble for dessert.