It’s the end of July and we’re well in to barbecue season. While my husband is usually the barbecuer in our family, I was excited to christen a new grill at the lake earlier this summer. Though the meal was simple, there’s still nothing quite like those grill marks and that smoky flavour. And opportunities to dress up any barbecue meal are always plenty.
We usually make burgers in batches and freeze them to have on hand for busy weeknights or to take for weekends away. This time, Wellesley Gourmet let us sample their tasty burgers. The chicken burger was my favourite – juicy and grilled to perfection!
To make our burgers a bit more “gourmet”, we gathered some of our favourites from the Never Enough Thyme store, including mango chutney, maple-chipotle BBQ sauce, onion marmalade, and pickled asparagus. It was a great mix that was perfect for kids and adults. The word “delish” comes to mind.
Making homemade burgers comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and recipes – some have sauces, seasonings and fillers, including eggs. But to really let the beef shine, many chefs prefer this three-ingredient burger. There’s no over-mixing, and as long as the beef is fresh and of good quality, the flavour is wonderful. Now is a good time to make friends with your butcher!
Whatever you choose to throw on the grill, enjoy your barbecue season! Don’t forget the variety of cheeses, buns, toppings, preserves and sauces available locally. You’re only limited by your imagination. Here are some ideas to get you started. Happy grilling!
- 750 g fresh medium or lean ground beef (you can mix your cuts to get the perfect mix of sirloin and chuck, for example)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
- Place ingredients in bowl and combine.
- Press into 6 patties.
- Place on preheated grill on medium.
- Cook approximately 6 to 8 minutes on each side – they will be firm to the touch when cooked through.
- Allow to rest for 4 minutes and serve on a toasted roll with your favorite toppings. We suggest some of the following combinations:
- Boursin cheese, bell pepper jelly and arugula
- mango, brie and chicken
- smoked cheddar, maple-kissed bacon, caramelized onions and BBQ sauce
- Portobello mushroom, goat’s cheese, roasted red peppers, pesto and baby spinach
Recipes can be sacred in families – closely guarded secrets, passed down through the generations, treasures only a select few may have the privilege of receiving from a grandma or a family friend. And at the same time, others like to share recipes and modifications we make in our own kitchens with others.
Honing a recipe can take time and requires playing with the recipe until it suits your taste, and more importantly, the tastes of your guests!
Such is the case for some recipes in the Never Enough Thyme kitchen that have evolved over time – some are still evolving! Taste is personal and the art of cooking can sometimes get lost if you follow the recipe exactly. Where is the love and your own personal touch?
Perhaps some wouldn’t agree, and I certainly come from the perspective of cooking for a living; but the danger of following a recipe to the point of no return loses the instinct of the act itself. There is a fine line between consistency and creativity and every person following the same recipe will have a different outcome.
Cooking from the heart takes instinct and courage and the masters of this are many moms who love cooking for their family. My own son, Aiden, tells me he loves my cooking, especially my chocolate chip cookies – a recipe I collected and have enjoyed for many years. But I bet a different mom with the same recipe would have different results, and her kids would love them too.
Collecting and sharing recipes is a gift. Here is just one recipe from our vast collection that we’d like to share with you.
Herbed Crepes with Smoked Salmon
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbsp. butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- pinch of pepper
- vegetable oil
- smoked salmon
- 3 tbsp. sour cream
- 1/2 block of cream cheese
- 1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
- 1/2 lemon, squeezed
- 1 tsp. horseradish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk eggs, milk, and melted butter together. Add the flour, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
- Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cream together the filling ingredients and set aside.
- Preheat a pan and pour in vegetable oil.
- Ladle crepe batter into pan. This will make a very thin pancake.
- Once golden on one side, flip to cook other side. Allow to cool when finished.
- Layer smoked salmon and horseradish cream inside crepe and roll it up.
- Refrigerate and cut into 1 inch slices when ready to serve.
The weather has been warm for a while now, and after the winter we had we’re sure you’ve had a barbecued dinner many times by now and were probably out on the ‘cue at the first sign of above zero temperatures.
The great thing about barbecuing is the variety you can get with just a few simple ingredients. You could barbecue chicken every night of the week, but depending on the spices you add (sweet versus salty), the sauce you douse it with (a glaze versus a spicy sauce), the way you cook it (with some smoke or maybe on skewers), and the side dishes you pair it with, the meal could be entirely different each time. And we’re sure that because of this fact you wouldn’t get sick of eating chicken.
The other part about barbecuing that’s great – besides the great flavour and being able to cook dinner outside – is the clean-up, which is slim to none. There will be the usual place settings, but otherwise, maybe just a flipper or a set of tongs and a sticky barbecue you may have to scrub. Whatever few dishes there may be, leave them for the dishwasher or for the next day and go put your feet up outside to soak in a few more rays of sunshine!
Barbecue sauce is simple and versatile with so many flavour combinations possible. If you’re looking for something different, made with some local ingredients and a few additional, stop by the Never Enough Thyme food shop for our in-house, homemade barbecue sauce, including maple chipotle, and maple Dijon – both made with local, Elmira maple syrup.
See you soon at 83A Arthur Street South in Elmira! Happy barbecuing!
Last month, we blogged about a few fish recipes as ideas for Good Friday – a time when many people enjoy fish. But fish doesn’t have to only be reserved for Good Friday, or even Fridays in general. In fact, it’s a healthy alternative to eating meat and you might consider incorporating it into your diet more regularly.
Fish especially doesn’t have to be the greasy, battered, fried variety that’s most commonly offered on pub menus. This salmon recipe is similar to the battered fish idea, but with a healthier twist, and was inspired by the flavours of spring.
Potato Crusted Salmon Fillet
- 1 Yukon Gold potato
- 4 salmon filets (6 oz. each)
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- Salt and pepper
- Peel potato and make long shoe strings with a mandolin; place in cold water to keep the potato from browning.
- Season salmon with salt and pepper, then drain and dry the best you can.
- Wrap the potato around the salmon and place pan on medium heat. Add butter and olive oil.
- Once the oil is hot, sear the salmon in the pan and allow it to brown on both sides.
- Place on baking tray lined with parchment.
- Bake in oven at 400˚F for approximately 12 minutes.
Serve with a seasonal vegetable and enjoy!
This year’s long winter seems to finally be over and we’re sure everyone is looking forward to warm breezes and plants starting to sprout in the garden. While I love having a garden and enjoying the benefits of fresh grown produce, it’s always a challenge for me as I never seem to have enough time.
Last year’s ice storm resulted in us having to cut down our 100-year-old maple tree, which has left the perfect spot for a vegetable garden. But, planting season also happens to be when our business picks up, so we never seem to get planting started when we should.
But, always trying to be positive – it’s a new year and we’ll try to give it another chance. I’m inspired by a photo of my Dad tilling the garden on the farm and the conversations we had in his garden. Many of his plants will make their way to our garden as well.
It won’t be a huge garden, but we’ll focus on plants that are easy to grow and herbs that we enjoy in our cooking. And with that inspiration in mind and bounty to look forward to, we welcome spring with this recipe for roasted asparagus – a seasonal vegetable that we enjoy each spring.
Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomato
- 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and peeled if needed
- 2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red onion, sliced into rings
- 15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- Goat’s cheese
- In a pot of boiling water, blanch asparagus for 2 minutes. Pull out of water and shock in a bowl of ice water.
- In a bowl, combine sliced onion and cherry tomatoes; add blanched asparagus and gently toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on tray lined with parchment paper.
- Roast in oven at 400˚F until warm.
- Place on a serving platter and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.
Easter is upon us and with that comes Good Friday. Many Christians and even some non-Christians continue to observe the tradition of eating fish on Good Friday. This stems from the Catholic Church, which fasts on Good Friday – not a full day fast, but allowing one full meal (smaller than a regular meal), and particularly abstaining from eating meat.
We’re still riding high from the Maple Syrup Festival a couple of weekends ago and continuing to find ways to experiment with the local delicacy, which is why we’re sharing this Good Friday “fish fry” recipe for pan seared halibut with a maple-ginger tamarind sauce, and saffron cardamom rice on the side. Fish Friday doesn’t have to be the same old battered or other more traditional variety – consider spicing it up this Easter!
Pan Seared Halibut with Maple-Ginger Tamarind Sauce
- 3 tbsp. clarified butter
- salt and pepper
- leeks, quartered from end to stem, lengthwise
- Portion the halibut into individual portions and dry with paper towel.
- Place clarified butter in pan; once it’s hot, place the halibut flesh side down.
- Sear and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
- Blanch leeks that have been washed in boiling water for 4 minutes and shock in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Drain well and season, wrap around the fish like a “belt”.
Maple-Ginger Tamarind Sauce
- 1/2 cup tamarind paste
- 1.5 tbsp. tamari or soya sauce
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. local honey
- Fresh ginger, the size of half a thumb, chopped finely
- 1 clove of chopped garlic
- Combine tamarind with hot water, strain and mash through strainer; discard the solids in the strainer.
- Add soya sauce, fish sauce, maple syrup, honey, garlic and ginger.
- Drizzle the sauce on the halibut and bake in oven at 375˚F for approximately 12-15 minutes.
Saffron Cardamom Rice
- 3 tsp. butter
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 4 tbsp. dried cranberries
- 2 tsp. maple syrup
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. crumbled saffron threads
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ¼ cup toasted pepitas (hulled vpumpkin seeds)
- Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice and stir 2 minutes.
- Add water, cranberries, syrup, salt, saffron, cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat; let stand covered 10 minutes. Stir in pepitas.
Enjoy! Happy Easter from our kitchen to yours!
Something I remember well from a trip to New Orleans a while back was the new food flavours to savour in the Cajun cooking. A fish fry doesn’t have to be the traditional, battered and greasy type. Nor does it have to be paired with chips, as is the case with this meal with an avocado salad on the side. So why not try this Cajun-styled blackened fish this Good Friday? Or any other day! The heat may just help you warm up.
- 1 lb. firm-fleshed fish: tuna, salmon or halibut
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- Seasoning mix:
- 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- 3/4 tsp. white pepper
- 3/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
- Cut fish into half-inch thick pieces. Let the fish come to room temperature before blackening.
- Mix the seasoning ingredients together.
- Heat cast iron skillet until it is extremely hot, just short of seeing white ash forming on the bottom of the pan.
- Just before cooking, brush the fish with melted butter until it is evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the mix over the buttered fish and place in hot pan.
- Place 1 tbsp. of melted butter on top of the fish (be careful, the butter may flame up).
- After 2 minutes, turn the fish over and place another tbsp. of melted butter over the fish.
- Cook on high for another 3 minutes. The fish should be firm to the touch. It will give slightly, appearing opaque and flakey.
- Cook one piece at a time and wipe the pan out when it is done – the more practice you have cooking fish, the better it will get.
- Half a ripe avocado, diced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 dashes of your favourite hot sauce
- 1/4 red and green pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp. red onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.
Whether you call it Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (in French), the day of eating breakfast for dinner is happening tomorrow. It’s the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent, which is determined by Easter, and therefore, changes from year to year.
Since Pancake Day is the last day before Lent – the season when many people give up indulgences, like fatty foods – the day is often associated with eating rich, fatty foods before fasting, particularly starchy pancakes slathered in butter and syrup. Yum! We’re no stranger to syrup here in the home of the largest syrup festival in the world, coming up in April.
Traditionally and historically, pancakes were made for this feasting day because it was a good way to use up eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of fasting began, so they wouldn’t spoil. While the reasons may have changed, for many, Pancake Day is still a great opportunity to share some indulgent treats with family and friends before getting your diet back on track with those resolutions you made in January.
But with better refrigeration and more recipes to choose from, you don’t have to limit yourself to just pancakes. Why not think outside the box of pancake mix and make some savoury crêpes or southern-style sweet potato pancakes, which are more dinner fare than traditional pancakes. And of course, every good pancake meal goes great with sausages, but you don’t just have to use breakfast sausages. One of our new personal favourites is the apple butter sausage from Wellesley Gourmet, or the classic country sausages at Stemmler Meats & Cheese in Heidelberg.
Whatever you choose to do, there are lots of great dinner options for a savoury take on this traditionally sweet meal. Enjoy!
Throughout the Christmas season, we cooked our fair share of meat and potato meals, so we’re excited for some change and are sure that everyone else is, too. A new year always brings resolutions and a desire to get back to status quo – or even better than status quo. This also often includes a healthy lifestyle.
We’ve been busy in-store making healthy casseroles and soups. It may be a challenge to do a complete 180 toward healthy cooking, but small changes can help create a path to success, and we’re starting in the kitchen.
- 4 C chicken stock
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 C cornmeal
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 1/3 C butter
- 1/3 C grated parmesan
- In a heavy saucepan, bring chicken stock and salt to a boil and gradually whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Add chopped thyme.
- Cook polenta over moderately low heat (it should be barely boiling), stirring constantly until it’s thick and pulls away from the side of the pan (about 40 minutes for cornmeal and about 15 minutes for instant polenta).
- Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
- Stir polenta just before using. It will keep warm, covered, about 20 minutes.
- Makes about 3 cups.
Mushroom chicken breast
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1-1/2 C forest mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 of a red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 C white wine
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- Salt and pepper
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sear in hot pan, skin side down first.
- Place on baking sheet and bake in oven at 400˚F for approximately 18 minutes.
- In hot pan, add oil and sauté mushrooms, add onions, garlic and salt and pepper.
- Once the onions have browned, deglaze with white wine and reduce until the liquid evaporates.
- Add 2 handfuls of spinach and toss. Serve over baked chicken breast.