Tomato Relish

Tomato Relish

What will you do with all those tomatoes?  Firstly, you need to start by making this lovely Tomato Relish.  It’s a little like bruschetta, but saltier and brinier from olives and capers.  Delicious with white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.  A quick and easy condiment that makes the most of those little red gems drooping from the vine.

With the onset of garden bounties, also comes the realization we’re quickly approaching the end of summer. I pause to think “where has it gone”, always gone in a blink here in central Alberta, and soon enough blogger posts will be filled with back to school specialties.  So make the most of the sunny, warm weather that’s left and enjoy seasonal fresh produce while you can.  Tomato Relish not only highlights fresh cherry tomatoes but also fresh herbs, reminding us that eating healthy and well is easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Recipe source for Tomato Relish:  Compelled To Cook

Tomato Relish
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
    Passive Time
    30-60 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
    Passive Time
    30-60 minutes
    Tomato Relish
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
      Passive Time
      30-60 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      1 3/4 cups 20-25 minutes
      Passive Time
      30-60 minutes
      Instructions
      1. Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir to combine. Allow to rest for 30-60 minutes prior to serving to help meld flavours. Makes about 1 3/4 cups and is best eaten the day it is made. Serve along side your favourite white fish, chicken, crostini or eggs.

      Cedar Plank Potatoes

      Cedar Plank Potatoes

      Want glorious potatoes, creamy on the inside, golden on the outside, without turning on your oven?  You will when you get a look at these amazing Cedar Plank Potatoes.  Mashed potatoes get amped up with a good helping of roasted garlic (also cooked on the grill if you want), fresh herbs and cream cheese.  They’re grilled golden on a cedar plank and can be fully prepped ahead, making them fantastic for entertaining.  But nobody needs to wait for that, right?

      What spurred me to these luscious little domes?  My new Napoleon grill of course.  My husband and I recently upgraded our backyard with a deck and outdoor gas fireplace. As luck would have it, some of the more expensive items came in under budget.  This left a little cash for the frills, like furniture and new grill. We decided upon a Napoleon LEX grill, which has been amazing so far.  I love it because it gets crazy hot, has a smoker accessory and searing burner.  Napoleon Grills also have a great user friendly website with numerous recipes, and that’s where I found this great recipe.  I couldn’t wait to try them, and you won’t want to wait either.

      I have to say, I didn’t really know how bad my old grill was until I fired up my new one.  We had the old one for at least 10 years, maybe longer.  A couple of parts had been replaced along the way and I figured it still had some life left.  I’m sure it did, but not a very good one comparatively to the new grill.  I guess we all adapt to what we know and sometimes don’t know any different, as was the case for me.  Today I give thanks to my wonderful husband for persuading me to purchase a new one.

      Recipe source for Cedar Plank Potatoes, adapted from Napoleon Grills Plank Smoked Mashed Potatoes

      Cedar Plank Potatoes
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        6-8 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        45 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        6-8 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        45 minutes
        Cedar Plank Potatoes
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          6-8 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          45 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          6-8 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          45 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          1. Peel potatoes and cut into 2" chunks. Simmer potatoes in lightly salted water until very tender 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes and return pot to low heat. Mash potatoes over low heat, allowing the potatoes to give off any excess moisture. Once potatoes are smooth, remove from heat and add butter, cream cheese, roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to mash until combined and creamy. Stir in fresh herbs.
          2. Preheat grill to medium high or 450℉. Scoop potatoes onto pre-soaked cedar planks using a 1/4 cup scoop, leaving at least an inch between scoops (can fit 6-8 per plank). Place planks on grill and cook for 15-18 minutes until hot and golden. Remove planks from grill and use to serve potatoes or gently place potatoes onto serving dish and garnish with additional fresh herbs if desired.
          Recipe Notes

          Potatoes can be cooked, mashed, scooped and chilled up to two days in advance. Simply remove from refrigerator and place on pre-soaked planks when ready to grill. Makes 12 1/4 cup scoops.

          To roast garlic, preheat oven to 350℉.  Cut the top off the head of garlic and place on a double layer sheet of foil.  Drizzle with oil and fold foil over bulb, crimping all edges to seal packet.  Place on a baking tray and bake for about 45 minutes until golden and soft. Alternatively, you can make roasted garlic on the grill, here's how Grill Roasted Garlic

          Zahtar Potato Salad

          Zahtar Potato Salad

          Zahtar or Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that I’ve not had the pleasure to work with a lot with over the years. It’s a real shame because I love it!  Earthy and nutty with hints of citrus makes it wonderful with so many foods.  Hummus and pita are probably the first things people think of when they associate it, but it goes way beyond.  Great with chicken, eggs and potatoes to name a few. I recently came across a Zahtar Egg Salad and figured why not incorporate it into a potato salad, and Zahtar Potato Salad was born. 

          I was not far off the mark thinking it would be delicious. The combination of briny, salty olives and creamy mayonnaise brings baby potatoes to life and makes for a great Mediterranean version.  Even though I prefer the  mayonnaise based potato salad, I did experiment with a warm salad version using olive oil to dress it instead of the mayonnaise.  It too was a tasty version of potato salad but I just couldn’t stop scooping up the creamier version.  Maybe because that was the way my mom used to make it and by far the type I’ve eaten most in my life. 

          The Zahtar I purchased contains salt, so I therefore found it was not necessary to add additional salt in this recipe.  If your Zahtar does not contain salt,  be sure to add salt to taste. You can also make your own if desired, here is a simple recipe from The Genius Kitchen

          Recipe source for Zahtar Potato Salad:  Inspired by Bon Appetit Mediterranean Egg Salad

          Zahtar Potato Salad
          Print Recipe
            Servings Prep Time
            5 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            12 minutes
            Servings Prep Time
            5 cups 30 minutes
            Cook Time
            12 minutes
            Zahtar Potato Salad
            Print Recipe
              Servings Prep Time
              5 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              12 minutes
              Servings Prep Time
              5 cups 30 minutes
              Cook Time
              12 minutes
              Ingredients
              Servings: cups
              Instructions
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and place pine nuts in a single layer on a small baking tray or pie plate. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, turning at least once until golden. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.
              2. Heat enough water to just cover the eggs and simmer gently for no more than 12 minutes. Drain and immediately cool under cold running water. Once cooled, peel and coarsely chop.
              3. Steam or boil baby potatoes in simmering lightly salted water until just fork tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on size. Drain and cool under cold water. Allow potatoes to drain thoroughly once cool.
              4. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, usually a baby potato cut in half or quartered makes for a nice size.
              5. In a medium size bowl stir together red onion, green olives, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, Zahtar and salt and pepper. Add chopped potatoes, eggs, pine nuts and cilantro. Gently stir into mayonnaise until combined. Serve immediately sprinkled with additional cilantro if desired. Can be chilled for several hours prior to serving if needed. Best served the day it is made.
              Recipe Notes

              -For time management, the potatoes, pine nuts and eggs can be cooked at the same time.

              -The Zahtar I used contained salt, so little extra salt was needed. However, if your brand does not include salt you will need to adjust seasoning to taste.

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burgers

              Did someone say bacon? Yes indeed, and you won’t want to let Father’s Day go by without firing up the grill for this amazing Bacon Jam Mozza Burger. Thick ground beef chuck patties topped with mozzarella and plenty of sweet and smoky bacon jam. Trust me, dad will be happy!

              So let’s talk meat shall we?  Even though the bacon jam in this recipe makes a statement, it’s the beef that’s gonna make or break your burger experience. We’ve all eaten the pre made frozen hamburger patties and we’ve all made hamburgers from regular ground beef, but let me tell you, there’s a better way to go.  

              Ground chuck my friends is the meat of choice for your beef burger.  Specifically, ground  chuck with a 20% fat ratio. This is a highly recommended ratio because it lends to a nice juicy burger without being overly fatty, which isn’t required with ground chuck because you can cook it to your liking of medium, medium rare…..not the well cooked mandatory standard for frozen patties or burgers made from regular ground beef that need to be cooked to a minimum of 160℉ for food safe reasons. Most butcher shops will carry ground chuck or will be super happy to grind it for you.  Even in my small community, where it is hard to find fresh bean sprouts, I was able to source ground chuck at Sylvan Quality Meats.  A simple call ahead landed me several pounds of ground chuck at an 80/20 ratio, neatly packed in 1 pound pouches.   

              So back to the burger….probably the two most significant differences between burgers made with ground beef and those made with ground chuck is flavour and tenderness.  Ground chuck yields a beefier taste and is tender due to the fat ratio and the fact that you can cook it similar to a steak, medium rare, medium etc.  This ability to serve the burger with a little pink in the centre lends to a more tender burger.   You could say beef steak rules apply in this case.  Plus, there’s no filler, additives, or excess salt, just good quality beef with tasty toppings.  What’s not to love about that? Enjoy!

              Recipe source for Bacon Jam Mozza Burger has been inspired by: Epicurious Whiskey Bacon Jam

              Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
              Print Recipe
                Servings Prep Time
                4 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                60 minutes 3 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                4 people 30 minutes
                Cook Time Passive Time
                60 minutes 3 minutes
                Bacon Jam Mozza Burger
                Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  60 minutes 3 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 30 minutes
                  Cook Time Passive Time
                  60 minutes 3 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Bacon Jam
                  Servings: people
                  Instructions
                  Bacon Jam
                  1. Chop bacon into 1/4" dice. Heat a large sauce pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add diced bacon and cook uncovered until crisp and rendered, stirring often. Scoop out bacon onto a paper towel lined plate, leaving behind approximately 2 tbsp of bacon fat.
                  2. Reduce heat to medium and add chopped onion. Cook uncovered until softened and starting to caramelize, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients including cooked bacon and heat to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes until mixture is "jammy"
                  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. If you like a chunkier texture, serve bacon jam as is. If you prefer a jammier texture, add 1/2 the bacon jam to a food processor and pulse several times to break down bacon. Stir together with unprocessed half and serve. Yields an approximate 1 1/4 cups of bacon jam and will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to one week. Rewarm gently prior to use once it has been chilled.
                  Burgers
                  1. Preheat grill to medium high.
                  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Weight ground chuck into 6 ounce portions. Form each portion into 4 1/2"-4 3/4"patties using a press or your hands, making sure not to overwork the meat. Using your thumb, make an indent in the centre of each pattie. Place formed patties onto parchment lined tray and lightly brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
                  3. Place patties onto grill and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes per side for medium or 140-145℉. Flip patties only once. Remove from heat onto a plate and top with cheese. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for about 3 minutes, giving the meat time to rest and the cheese time to melt.
                  4. While burgers are resting, toast buns and warm bacon jam. Assemble burgers with bacon jam and other toppings as desired and serve immediately.

                  Ginger Pear Sorbet

                  Ginger Pear Sorbet

                  Ginger Pear Sorbet is cool, refreshing and the most perfect dessert for those hot summer days. To make it even better, there’s no ice cream maker required and only a few ingredients. 

                  For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of Bon Appétit magazine.  Not only for the great recipes, but because it’s a little bit of quiet time that happens when I sit and thumb through a copy.  You might find it odd that I keep every copy when all the recipes can be found on the Epicurious website and/or App. It’s because I definitely prefer to sit quietly with the magazine and a glass of wine.  As a blogger there’s more than enough time already spent on the computer.

                  The website however, provides reviews on the recipes which I find helpful when making alterations and adaptions.  For this lovely Pear Sorbet many of the reviewers made note that it was on the sweet side and a little flat in flavour even though some found the ginger to be too much.   As luck would have it, I was only able to find pears in light syrup instead of heavy, which in turn helped out with the sweetness problem.  The advice on flavouring was also heeded and I opted for lime juice instead of lemon and added fresh mint.

                  I definitely found the reviews helpful and rather liked reading the views from people who have actually made the dish. I was very pleased with the results from my modifications and find that it’s quite lovely with the changes. Easy to prepare, which is nice for those hot summer days when nobody wants to be working in a hot kitchen. It’s not too sweet and has a hint of ginger and mint for a refreshing finish to your meal. Enjoy!

                  Recipe for Ginger Pear Sorbet adapted from: Epicurious Ginger Pear Sorbet

                  Ginger Pear Sorbet
                  Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 20-25 minutes
                  Passive Time
                  7+ hours
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 20-25 minutes
                  Passive Time
                  7+ hours
                  Ginger Pear Sorbet
                  Print Recipe
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 20-25 minutes
                  Passive Time
                  7+ hours
                  Servings Prep Time
                  4 people 20-25 minutes
                  Passive Time
                  7+ hours
                  Instructions
                  1. Line a shallow dish or pie plate with plastic wrap. Strain the juice off the pears and to the juice add sugar, ginger, lime zest and lime juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Spread pear pieces in a single layer in pie plate. Pour juice over pears and freeze for at least 6 hours.
                  2. Flip over pie plate onto a cutting board to remove pears and remove plastic wrap. Cut into large chunks and place in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add chopped mint and pulse until combined. Spread pureed pears into a clean container and freeze for at least an hour. Scoop into dishes and garnish with additional mint leaves if desired. Serve immediately.
                  Recipe Notes

                  Puree can be made and frozen covered for up to two days in advance.