Peach Melba Cordial

I have been following the British Larder for a few years and love all their recipes. Madalene and Ross have a restaurant in Suffolk, England and how I wish I could eat there. All the meals are made with fresh, in season ingredients. They are beautifully presented and the flavours sound amazing.

Their website is full of wonderful simple yet complex recipes. I think this is the first one I have made at home. Raspberries and peaches were in my refrigerator when this recipe came into my email.

I keep all my vanilla pods after scraping out the seeds. There is still a lot of flavour and they are rather expensive. I used 2 or 3 scraped vanilla pods for this and the flavour was perfect.

Peach Melba Cordial from The British Larder
  •  2 cups very ripe peaches, stoned and roughly chopped
  • 3 cups  sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
Place all the ingredients, apart from the citric acid, in a medium saucepan over a low heat and leave the pan uncovered. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then just leave the pan over the low heat for 20 minutes – the fruits are steeping during this time and the mixture does not need to boil. Don’t be tempted to increase the heat as this will change the flavour.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the citric acid and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Pass the liquid through a piece of muslin cloth into a bowl or jug (use the steeped fruits left in the muslin as a compote served over yoghurt for breakfast). Pour the cordial into sterilised bottles and seal. Keep refrigerated until needed. The unopened bottles of cordial will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Once opened, keep refrigerated and use within 1 week. Alternatively, freeze the cordial in portions (in freezer bags), then defrost and use as required.
Makes 1 - 2 quarts

Peach Melba Spritzer
For each serving, fill glass with ice, pour about half way with cordial and top up with soda water. For a sweeter drink, use carbonated lemonade. Decorate with fresh raspberries and peach slices. Serve

Peach Melba Collins
For each serving, fill glass half full with ice, pour equal portions cordial and gin, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Then add a few crushed frozen raspberries and a slice of fresh peach. Top the glass up with soda water, stir and serve.

Peach Melba Martini
Place martini glass in refrigerator to chill. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 part gin or vodka, 2 parts Martini Dry and 2 parts cordial. Shake vigorously. Strain into chilled glass and serve immediately. 


Backyard Barbecue Ribs

Honey apricot jam is delicious with ribs.

We are enjoying the summer and sunshine with a backyard barbecue with the Cooking Club this month. It has been screaming hot and turning on the oven is not an option today. Ribs are a favourite barbecue meat yet something I rarely make. As is my habit, I have tweeked the Cooking Light recipe. I have converted it to a dry rub rather than a paste. I have eliminated the slow cooking in the oven by keeping the ribs on the barbecue.

Barbecue is nicer when using charcoal but if you have a gas grill, soak purchased barbecue woodchips. Place them in a foil pan with holes poked in it and cover with kitchen foil. The smokey flavour is so tasty. You won't want to do this any other way. 

Ribs are to be tender but not with the meat falling off the bone. Low and slow heat is key. Brown over the coals and then move them to a spot on the grill that is cooler. Keep the lid on the barbecue and cook the ribs for up to 2 hours on the cool side of the grill.

Here is the rest of the menu

Backyard Barbecue Ribs

Rib Rub
2 tsp. ground ancho chiles
2 tsp. ground morasch chiles
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 lb. rack pork loin back ribs, trimmed

Soak wood chips in water for an hour, if using. Drain well. Place them in a disposable foil pan with holes poked in it. Set aside. Preheat grill to medium high heat using only the burner on one side of the barbecue.

Combine all ingredients, except ribs, in a bowl. 

Prepare the ribs by removing the silverskin on the back side of the rack. This will never tenderize with cooking and is best to be removed. Slip a sharp knive under if to loosen then take a towel in your hand to grab the skin. It will pull off quite easily. Discard.

Rub both sides of the ribs with the seasoning mixture. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before grilling.

Place foil container of wood chips on the cool side of the grill. Grill ribs on both sides on the hot side of the grill. As they are finished move off the direct heat. Reduce heat a little and let ribs slowly cook for about 2 hours. Keep the lid on.

When tender, remove from grill and serve.


Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce is great on your mixed grilled meats

Chimichurri sauce is just like a pesto. Lots of fresh herbs, garlic and a good quality olive oil. It matches with any meat from your grill. And it only takes a minute to make.

Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce
2 c. packed fresh Italian parsley leaves 500 mL
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 c. packed fresh oregano leaves 60 mL
1/4 c. red wine vinegar 60 mL
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes 3 mL
1/2 tsp. salt 3 mL
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 c. extra virgin olive oil 250 mL
Place parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute.
With the motor running, add oil in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, stir and season as needed. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Basil Pesto preserves summer flavour

Blogging takes a back seat in the busy summer market season. I am cooking a lot, every day, all day. Except when I take the occassional day off to garden or go for a drive. This is not my garden basil. It's from the market and so lovely.

Basil Pesto
2 cups lightly packed, fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pinenuts, toasted
½ cup nice olive oil
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
salt optional

Dry toast the pinenuts in a stovetop pan. Chop basil, pinenuts and garlic with olive oil in food processor until finely minced. Stir in parmesan cheese and more olive oil if necessary. Pack into a jar and float a little olive oil on top to help preserve the mixture. Or, freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray and store the ice cubes in freezer bags for later use.

 And just because my lilies are lovely and at their peak, here's a picture for you. Aren't they purdy?


A Drive in the Country - The Great Sand Hills

Rising at three in the morning wasn't as difficult as I had anticipated. I have been waiting for this day since I moved to southwest Saskatchewan five years ago. I have seen so many pictures of The Great Sand Hills but I want my own. The golden hour, that hour after the sun rises or before it sets, is the only time to photograph sand dunes.

My odometer read 140 kilometers by the time I parked my car. It was a long drive in the dark and when the sun did show itself over the horizon the push was on to find this spot. The countryside is so calm and verdant this time of year and day that the temptation to stop and snap photos was strong. I had driven all this way for the dunes so I only took a couple of green pictures.

I am not comfortable with cows. They are so big and they always stare. They were my greeting party. One momma cow had twins and I made a large loop around her in case she became protective with a stranger in the pasture. I'm sure she sees a steady stream of strangers all summer long but I wasn't about to take any chances, out here, alone, at six in the morning.

In my excitement to get to the dunes I forgot about changing my shoes. Drat. The pasture grass was dewy and the sand quickly coated the toes of my good walking Geox's. Oh well. The sand is powdery fine and the dune slightly steep. It was a new exercise for me or at least one that I had not done in a long time.

Too bad there are people footprints everywhere. Somehow I thought that by arriving early the wind would have taken care of yesterday's activity.

The park occupies almost 2,000 square kilometers but the birding trail was the only place that parking was allowed. That is enough for today. I will be back and hopefully it will be after a strong wind so I can feel completely alone on these dunes.

Today is a study in texture. Beautiful swirls and waves, curious trackings from insects and small animals and a few hardy plants provided enough to study on my first walk into this amazing landscape.

Most of the time I wasn't completely alone. Small and large herds of antelope grazed hardly noticing my presence. A doe with darling twins was less trusting. Hawks, foxes and songbirds kept me company. I only met one truck out in the dunes, a local. He stopped to be sure I was finding things all right.
The iconic cowboy boot arch watches over the parking lot from a hilltop.
A working ranch at the entry to the sand dunes area has an archway bedecked with antelope, deer and moose antlers.


Pea Shoot Topped Crostini

Pea shoots are in season and are at the farmers' markets. But what do you do with them? Their flavour is mild, their colour is bright and they are so pretty. Pea shoots can be sautéed in a stir fry. They can be puréed into a chilled summer soup, tossed into a salad or used simply as a garnish on a crostini.

Pea Shoot Topped Crostini

pea shoots
camembert or brie cheese
olive oil
roasted strawberry and rhubarb compote (find the recipe here)

Slice the baguette on the diagonal and lightly toast on a medium hot grill. Grill on one side only and remove. Brush grilled side lightly with olive oil and top with a slice of brie or camembert and return to the grill. Heat until the bottom is toasted and the cheese melts a little. Top with your favourite fruit compote or preserve. Garnish with pea shoots and serve.