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Monday, July 28, 2014

Fresh Grilled Fish

Jesse and Sam enjoy some refreshments after a big day on the water

Each summer, we look forward to a visit from our friends from Sackville, N.B.  When Owen, Sam and Jesse came to Wolfe Island this year, they brought perfect fishing weather.  So, armed with a box of dew worms and a lot of enthusiasm, we set out for a day on the water.  We hit a lot of the Schumacher boys "secret spots", but had the most luck just off the cottage point, drifting past the lighthouse. By the end of the day, Jesse had hooked the most fish, but it was Sam’s smallmouth bass that became dinner that night!
Sam and Owen worked hard to land this beauty!

Grilled Bass
We filleted the bass and rubbed it with a paste of olive oil, orange zest and fresh herbs.  We placed the bass in the refrigerator for half an hour, then grilled it for 5 minutes per side, with the closed barbecue set at MEDIUM. Using a grilling basket made especially for fish helps preserve the shape and makes turning the finely fleshed fish a lot easier. You do not want to lose a single morsel of this hard-earned feast!!

Maddy raids the garden
The only way that we could make this feast any better was by raiding the garden. The garden is bursting with everything “green” these days. We are eating peas and beans everyday, and the lettuce, kale and herbs are so plentiful that we dream of recipes that include them.  This is a very hardy salad that has a lovely fresh, piquant flavour, thanks to the apple and fresh herbs. It travels very well and stands up for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, so would be a good choice to take to a pot luck, on a picnic, or if you are invited to a friends cottage for the weekend.  It was perfect to bring along on our fishing trip!!

Quinoa and Kale Salad with Green Apple and Herb Vinaigrette

I cup quinoa
1 cup kale, remove tough spine and finely chop the leaves, pack into the cup
1 granny smith apple, diced
2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup toasted pumpkinseeds
1 lemon, zest for salad and juice for vinaigrette

Lemon and Herb  Vinaigrette:
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh Lemon juice
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp red chili pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare quinoa:  Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil in a large, covered saucepan. Add quinoa, cover, stir and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Vinaigrette:  Combine olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, basil, Dijon mustard, red chili pepper flakes,  salt and pepper in a blender and blend for 15 seconds.
Combine the cooled quinoa, finely chopped kale, green apple, green onions and lemon zest in a large bowl. Toss with Lemon and Herb Vinaigrette and garnish with toasted pumpkinseeds.
 Salad:  Combine quinoa, kale, green apple, green onions and lemon zest  in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
We stopped to visit our friend, Mike, the boat-builder, on Horseshoe Island

Monday, July 21, 2014


Happy Birthday, Nancy!

We’ve been experimenting this summer with grilling all kinds of fish and meat on a stick.  It is a practice that is found in cultures all over the world and has some great advantages:  they are easy to serve and quick to cook, can be seasoned and prepared ahead, and a little goes a long way.   They make excellent appetizers and can also star as the main dish.  They are extremely versatile as there are many flavour profiles that fit for the meat and the sauces.  These recipes come directly from this month’s issue of Fine Cooking. 

Turkish Lamb Köfte

For the Spice Mix
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pomegranate Yogurt Sauce
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the Köfte
1 pound ground lamb
1 medium plum tomato, seeded and minced
¼ cup finely grated red onion
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 medium clove garlic, minced
pinch kosher salt

wooden skewers, cut in half
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Combine all ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl.

In another small bowl, mix together the yogurt sauce ingredients and set aside.

Place the lamb, tomato, onion, pomegranate molasses, garlic and 1 tablespoon of the spice mix and salt in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly with clean hands.  Shape the lamb portions into small sausage shapes, and insert two skewers side by side.  This prevents the meat from spinning around as it would with a single skewer.  Transfer the skewers to a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1-24 hours. 

Preheat the grill on MEDIUM HIGH for 10 minutes.  Generously coat the grids with vegetable oil to prevent sticking, and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Grill the lamb until no longer pink in the center, about  6 minutes, turning for perfect grill marks. 

Arrange the cooked skewers on a platter, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds.  Serve with more sauce.

Japanese Chicken Kebabs

For the marinade:
1/3 cup tamari
¼ cup sake
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 ½” pieces
12 medium green onions, but into 1 ½” pieces
36 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
For the garnish:
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
chopped green stems of scallions

Combine the marinade ingredients in a glass dish and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the prepared chicken thighs and let stand ½ hour.  Thread the chicken, mushrooms and green onion pieces on skewers in alternating patterns. 

Preheat the grill on MEDIUM HIGH.  Brush the grids generously with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.  Reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Place the skewers on the barbecue and cook for a total of about 8 minutes, turning and basting with a small amount of the marinade. 

Meanwhile, bring the remaining marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, and cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until slightly thickened. 

To serve, sprinkle with chopped scallions and sesame seeds and drizzle with thickened sauce.

Happy Birthday, Geoff!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Grilled Prime Rib of Beef

You could not find 2 better helpers!
Expecting a large group of people for dinner? Make it as easy as possible on yourself by preparing a show-stopping main course, and fill out the rest of the meal with prepared-in-advance salads, that can be eaten hot or cold. That’s what we did this weekend when all of the Schumachers gathered at Wolfe Island- who wants to be cooking when everyone else is swimming, fishing, boating, golfing etc.? There was also a big art installation being planned.  Our feast on Saturday night featured Grilled Prime Rib of Beef, some home grown vegetables and herbs, savoury corn bread and rhubarb from Bruces garden for the Rhubarb Crisp.
Pepper guards the corn bread!

Prime Rib of Beef for 16 people

16 lb prime rib roast
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ cup fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, thyme and oregano)

Have your butcher cut out the bones and tie them back on. This makes it easier to carve while maintaining the protection and flavour that the bones add while grilling!

Multi-tasking on the grill!
Prepare the barbecue for indirect cooking over a drip pan. See Grilling Charts .  Temperatures vary according to weather conditions.  Be sure to use a meat thermometer to monitor the progress. We cooked this 16 pound prime rib roast at 250-275°F for 2 hours, then turned off the grill for an hour to let the roast rest. We relit the barbecue an 90 minutes before eating and cooked it for another hour at 250-275°F, then removed it from the barbecue and let it rest under a foil tent for another 30 minutes. The internal temperature of this perfectly cooked rare roast was 125°F!

Blueberry Vinaigrette
We raided the garden for greens, onions, fresh peas and herbs for our big green salad. The blueberries in Bruces orchard are not quite ready to eat, but watching them grow nudged Abby toward the idea for this Bluebery Vinaigrette. 
Taking a break from raiding the garden!

½ cup blueberries
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process for 10-15 seconds, until thick and creamy.

Red Quinoa  Salad with Mangoes, Broccoli and Roasted Red Peppers
We love the healthy fresh flavours of this salad, and therefore keep the dressing very minimal and dry.
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups organic red quinoa
3 ataulfo mangoes, peeled and diced
1 cup broccoli, freshly picked, chopped
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and diced
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 limes (1/4 cuo)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp Tabasco sauce
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add caption
Setting out for a moonlight cruise
Putting in the swimming raft

Getting ready to create!
Pepper gets left behind again

Monday, July 7, 2014

Grilled Rack of Venison with Roasted Garlic and Red Wine Sauce

This week's guest blog is courtesy of Jannell Lo  and Reid, who prepared this amazing dinner for us at the cottage.  We are so lucky to have kids who enjoy playing with their food as much as we do.  And Jannell's skills take it up to a whole new level.  Thanks, guys!

Grilled Rack of Venison with Roasted Garlic Red Wine Sauce

If you are looking for an alternative red meat, venison is the perfect hybrid of your standard beef and lamb - and it’s healthier too!

⅔ cup olive oil
⅓ cup grapefruit white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
4-5 sprigs thyme
4-5 sprigs rosemary
4 cloves garlic, crushed
a dozen dried juniper berries, crushed
freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, white balsamic and red currant jelly until emulsified. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs. Crush and add garlic and juniper berries to the mixture. Add pepper to taste. Marinate the venison rack  in an airtight bag or a covered casserole dish for 2 hours.

Roasted Garlic:
1 head garlic
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.
Place garlic head on tin foil (large enough to wrap it) and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Wrap garlic head in the tin foil and bake on a sheet for 30-35 minutes.
Let cool.

Roasted Garlic Red Wine Sauce
3 shallots, sliced thinly
1 bayleaf
1/2 cup red wine
2 1/2 cups beef stock (you can use bouillon and water)
2-3 sprigs thyme
2-3 sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons red currant jelly
1 head roasted garlic, skin removed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Before getting this started, preheat the grill to 375F. You can cook the sauce and the meat simultaneously.

In a saucepan, saute shallots at medium heat (with the bayleaf) until translucent in colour. Deglaze the pan with red wine to lift up all those wonderful brown bits from the bottom. Let most of the alcohol evaporate before adding the beef stock. Add the rest of the ingredients (thyme, rosemary, red currant jelly, roasted garlic, salt and pepper) and let the sauce reduce to ¼ of the original volume on low heat, around 20-30 minutes. Strain. If you want a thicker sauce, you can add a cornstarch slurry and adjust to your liking.

For the venison, cook for 12 minutes (6 minutes per side) at 375-425F. Let  it rest for 6 minutes off the grill. Cook for another 12 minutes (6 minutes per side) to reach medium-rare. Take off and rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve with classic ratatouille and your favourite mash recipe.

Monday, June 30, 2014


We were so happy to welcome Reid and Jannell home from Asia this Canada Day weekend!  They were both super excited to have some meat and the first thing they wanted to have was a good old grilled burger with their soup. 

Fresh from the garden Green Pea Soup

This soup is a favorite, both for it’s delicious fresh flavours, and for the lovely smooth texture.

10 quarts fresh green peas (about 
5 cups hulled)
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 large yellow onion, diced
¾ cup celery, including leaves, chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil

8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup greek yoghurt
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup fresh chives, chopped

Pour olive oil into a large stockpot and add lettuce, onion, celery and parsley. Saute gently, until tender- this should take around 5-7 minutes.  Add 4 cups chicken stock, 3 cups hulled peas, bay leaf, salt and cayenne pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the peas are soft, but not mushy. Keep a close eye on them. Remove the lid, take out the bay leaf and set aside to cool for 15 minutes, then puree in small batches in the blender or food processor.
Meanwhile, place the remaining chicken stock in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the remaining 2 cups of peas until they are tender-crisp, approximately 5-7 minutes.  Add them to the pureed soup.
For the garnish:
Finely chop the chives and mint, stir into greek yoghurt and set aside until the soup is ready to serve. Place a dollop of yoghurt into the centre of each bowl/cup of soup.

Stuffed Leg of Lamb on the Keg

2 de-boned legs of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped garlic scapes
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a sauté pan over MEDIUM LOW heat, and add the olive oil, then the scapes.  Saute until fragrant and just tender, then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds more.  Remove from heat and add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper.  Let cool slightly. 

Lay the lamb out on a carving board.  Stuff the scape mixture into the crevices and then scatter over the surface of the meat.  Roll up the meat and tie securely with butcher twine.  Sprinkle the surface of the meat with pepper.

Meanwhile, light the charcoal in the Broil King Keg.  When the coals are glowing, scatter with some apple wood chips, place the diffuser in the Keg, and fill it with hot water.  Replace the grids and set the lamb roasts on the Keg.  Set to 2 and 2 for a temperature of about 225°F. 

At this point, do not make the mistake we did by cranking up the heat too high and going to our friends’ cottage for some lovely cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for a few hours with no-one on site to check the temperatures!  I’m afraid we overcooked these lovely roasts, though they had a nice smoke ring and were tender and flavourful.  Had we stuck with the 225°F for 3 hours it would have been perfect!

Carve into thick slices and serve with mint jelly.

Our garden was brimming with fresh broccoli and we made a healthy raw salad to accompany the lamb:

Broccoli Salad with Avocado Dressing

A few crowns of broccoli, separated into bite-sized florets
½ red onion
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

for the dressing:

1 ripe avocado
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
juice of 1 lime
handful fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the flesh of the avocado and all the remaining ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Whir until completely smooth.  If it is too thick, add some white balsamic vinegar or water to thin it a little.

Toss everything together in a medium bowl.