I’m going to uncomplicate my life and make room for the things I really enjoy: walks with my beau as well as my feisty schnoodle Molly, picnics and pyjama parties with my world’s-greatest grandkids, a posh tea party with my longtime friends, yoga at the vineyard where they give you a mimosa at the end of class, a backyard garden well tended and brilliant with colour and, best of all, simple and satisfying food cooked with love for my family.
sweet and spicy apricot chicken thighs
Sweet and spicy is always a good match for chicken thighs. Use orange marmalade instead of the apricot preserves, if you’d like. For 2 different versions, toss the chicken with hoisin sauce and a sprinkle of Sriracha or maple syrup and a sprinkle of tabasco sauce.
8 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Sriracha
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Rub chicken thighs with olive oil. Salt. Place in roasting pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Roast, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix preserves, vinegar, soy sauce and Sriracha sauce.
Brush glaze on chicken and roast 10 to 15 minutes longer or until chicken is cooked through.
Match: It’s time for a Gewürztraminer.
scallop and potato salad
10 small new potatoes
Butter, olive oil
1 lb sea scallops
1 bunch asparagus or green beans, trimmed
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Cut potatoes into cubes. Cook in boiling water about 5 minutes.
Melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil in large skillet; transfer potatoes to skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Melt 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sauté scallops until cooked through.
Meanwhile, cook asparagus or green beans in small amount of water in microwave until just tender.
Arrange salad greens on 4 plates. Top with potatoes, scallops and asparagus or green beans. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Match: Serve with Riesling.
scallop and potato salad vinaigrette
This may yield more than you need for the salad. Store remaining vinaigrette in fridge up to one week.
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a jar, shake garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add olive oil and shake again.
tex-mex black bean salad
A great vegetarian salad for hot summer evenings. I prefer lemon juice with my Tex-Mex food, but lime juice is more authentic. This is also good on top of cooked brown rice or quinoa. For extra protein, add cooked chicken, pork or beef.
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn, cooked and removed from cob
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, halved, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Broken tortilla chips, for garnish
Arrange black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro and green onions in rows on 4 plates.
Drizzle with Tex-Mex Vinaigrette (recipe below) and garnish with tortilla chips.
Match: Delicious with Mexican beer.
1/3 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp chili powder (or more), to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a jar, combine lime juice, sugar, chili powder and red pepper. Shake. Add olive oil and shake again.
easy sausage and rigatoni
Garden fresh, fast and easy. I like to make this with a combination of hot and sweet Italian sausage. If you’d like, you can chop the sausage into bite-sized pieces, but I prefer to keep it whole and cut it as I eat.
1 pound Italian sausage, hot, mild or a combo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 small sweet red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped with scissors in can
6 large leaves basil
1 bay leaf
1 box rigatoni, cooked
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
In oven-proof skillet [on stove burner? medium heat?], brown sausage in 1 tbsp oil. Add a small amount of water and roast sausage, uncovered, in oven 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in separate skillet, sauté pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender in remaining 1 tbsp oil.
Transfer vegetables to skillet in oven. Add tomatoes, basil and bay leaf. Cover and cook 20 minutes.
Remove basil leaves and bay leaf. Serve sausage with a side of rigatoni, all smothered in vegetables and sauce.
Match: Great with Chianti.
slow cooker beef sandwiches
Although we often think of the slow cooker as our go-to appliance for winter stews, it can turn out delicious, meltingly tender beef for sandwiches. I sometimes make dough for sandwich rolls in the bread machine to go along with this, or you can purchase ciabatta or your favourite sandwich rolls.
1 large onion, sliced
2 1/2 lb beef bottom round roast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cups beef broth
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
6 ciabatta rolls
Place onion slices in slow cooker. Place beef on top of onions. Sprinkle with garlic, thyme and pepper.
Add broth, 1/2 cup water and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and cook on low 8 to 9 hours.
Transfer meat to cutting board. Thinly slice across grain. Divide meat among ciabatta rolls. If desired, top with cooked onions.
Serve with juices on the side.
Match: Uncork a Malbec.
peach crumble for 2
As peaches come to the market, you may find yourself with more ripe peaches than you can eat. That’s the time to try this peach crumble. To peel peaches, drop into boiling water for a few seconds. Cool before peeling. Bake the crumble in individual ramekins. I’ve added chopped fresh strawberries or dried cranberries. The crumble goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
3 ripe peaches, peeled and diced
2 tbsp sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
In a bowl, mix peaches with sugar and cinnamon.
Spray 2 to 3 individual ramekins with buttery cooking spray. Add peaches.
In small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Pat on top of peaches.
Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until peaches are tender and bubbly.