In the last two, maybe even three years, I haven’t bought a single jar of pre-made salsa. Nothing tastes better than a homemade version and it is the simplest snack to put together. No cooking required, homemade salsa never ceases to impress and the combinations are endless.
At this time of year I always have tomatoes on hand. They are simply irresistible with their heirloom shapes, golden yellow and oranges, bright and captivating reds, which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My heart skips a beat whenever I see them on display at the market, isles and bushels lining the rows of vendors. During the off season, I like using the small grape variety because they remain sweeter than the larger counterparts.
My basic salsa recipe is another way for me to use up some leftover vegetables in my fridge. Use this as a guide and have fun with it!
Fresh Tomato Salsa
- 2 cups of diced tomatoes
- ½ diced cucumber, zucchini works well too
- 1 tbsp to ¼ cup pepper, hot or sweet, or both
- ¼ cup onions, use any variety you have on hand
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ lemon juiced, or a vinegar of your choice
- Something spicy like chilli flakes or hot sauce to taste
- Some chopped fresh herbs, like cilantro, parsley, basil, or dried if in dire straights
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Begin by chopping, dicing and mincing all you fresh ingredients and combining them in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and a generous pinch of salt to help draw out some of the juices from the vegetables. Add your chosen chilli flavour, herbs, spices and olive oil. Mix well, taste and adjust your seasonings.
There is tons of room to pay around here, but here are some of my favourite spices and herbs combinations.
- A classic salsa that reminds you ofMexico: cilantro, cumin and hot smoked paprika
- Try mixing in different nuts and seeds: parsley, chopped pistachios or pumpkin seeds, hot chilli flakes
- Or add extra sweetness with fresh fruit: mango, pineapple, kiwis, grapes, apples… all work well!
What better way to use seasonal berries and fruit than in a parfait. Once again we are keeping these fantastic ingredients in their simplest form possible. In today’s post, behold the tiny Quebec blueberry, ready to burst out their purple sweetness.
This parfait is raw and hits anyone’s sweet tooth. The first step and most complex step (if you can call it that), is to make the cashew cream. For this recipe you do need a blender that will be able to whip up the cashews and water into thick creamy mixture.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp of raw coconut nectar (or agave or honey or maple syrup work well, adjust quantities to taste)
- 1 pinch of sea salt
Making cashew cream is much like making nut milk, without the straining and with less water. You can choose to soak the cashews from 2 to 8 hours in filtered water, but if you need a dessert quickly then this recipe works just as well without the soaking process and rinsing.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until you have a smooth, thick and creamy mixture. The pinch of salt is what helps balance out the flavours. Give the mixture a taste, and adjust sweetness as desired. I usually start with only one tablespoon of sweetener and add more if needed. The cashew cream keeps for up to 4 days in the fridge.
You can use this cashew cream in so many different ways. When I have some on hand, I add a spoonful to smoothies to add sweetness and a creamy texture. It is also my base for my raw pie filling, to which I add ½ of coconut oil for extra richness and a cup of fresh fruit. Most of the time I keep some in a jar in the fridge for easy to assemble desserts, and that is exactly what I’m going to show you now with this parfait made with local blueberries from Quebec.
I recently got the chance to play around with the Flip camera and I put together this little video here. Okay, there is some background noise, no fade in or fade out, and the flow isn’t perfect…. But, for my first ever self-recorded video I am pretty excited!!!
Let me know what you think and if you like it let me know! In which case there will be more to come. =)
Last but not least, here is how you assemble a Raw Cashew Cream Blueberry Parfait!
With summer winding down, this really is a bittersweet time of year. Vacations are over, it is time to head back to work or school and jumpstart the routine. It is also a time when the fresh picked corn stands start sprouting along country roads, and magically appearing in my weekly CSA basket. For the freshest corn, all you need is a pot of boiling water to quickly blanch the corn, some perfectly creamy organic butter and sea salt (fleur de sel for a fun crunch is my favorite).
I still remember spending a weekend at a friend’s farm years ago (I think I was still a teenager then), a bunch of us peeling away the corn husks in the late afternoon sun, feeling a certain crispness developing in the air. Standing around the boiling pot sitting atop the campfire, we were just waiting for the first corn on the cobs to be lathered in butter for us to dig our teeth into the hot sweet kernels, butter running down ours chins. Now that is how you eat your first corn on the cob of the season!
And other times you try different things; that is how I came up with this simple recipe.
Lemony Grilled Corn Salad
Simple flavours and ingredients can be the best of surprises sometimes. Take fresh sweet corn, fragrant lemon and olive oil, earthy parsley, a touch of salt and pepper – a combination that is not to be missed!
- 3 ears of corn
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp of olive oil (or 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring up your grill to medium-high and cook the husked ears of corn until you get some colour on all sides, about 15 minutes on the grill. Finely chop your parsley, zest the lemon, and combine in a mixing bowl.
Once the corn is grilled, coloured and cooked, remove the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and cutting along the base of the grains. Mix the kernels with the parsley and lemon zest. Add the juice of half the lemon, the olive oil (and butter is using), a pinch of salt and pepper. Combine well and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.
Makes 4-6 portions, great as a topping for soups, tacos, chilies, curries – such fresh flavours like these can be paired with almost anything.
How do you eat your fresh sweet summer corn?
Sorry folks, this week is a hectic one and therefore this post (and recipe) is a quick one. I am getting ready head up to Tremblant for my Half-Marathon and amidst the countless other things I have going on im my life, I still choose to make time to cook (or uncook in this case).
One week to go before the race, I decided that I would be very diligent about my nutrition and try to stick to 90% rawfood, see how I feel and evaluate how my training goes. Honestly though, I haven’t been very good lately. With lots of social events it is easy to get off track and indulge a little too much when eating out in all the fabulous restaurants Montreal has to offer… Icehouse, Kazu, Arepera and Qing Hua just to name a few…
Monday rolled around – 7 days until game day- and a plentiful CSA delivery that remained almost untouched. In that basket came a few turnips that I had no idea what to do with. I usually toss them into stews and soups, but this summer has been way too hot to even contemplate making soup.
Raw turnip? As if! but I had to try it. Out came the peeler. Out came the grater and I started shredding. I stuffed a little bunch of grated turnip in my mouth and discovered a surprisingly fresh, crisp peppery-ness that goes right up your nose the same way wasabi or some strong mustards do. Lots of character but in a good way – who would have thought that a humble turnip would have so much character! Attitude aside, dinner was served in no time flat .
Here’s the recipe for shredded turnip. I served it on top of a simple green salad with quinoa, but would be so nice on top of burgers or hot dogs for something different to try during these last BBQs of the summer.
Shredded Raw Turnip Salad
- 1 raw turnip
- 1/2 of a red onion
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp raw honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey until smooth. For these ingredients to be raw they need to be unpasterized and cold pressed in the case of the oil. These are fairly common to find, just make sure you read the labels carefully.
Peel the turnip and grate it. Thinly slice the red onion. Toss these ingredients with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve! You can aslo toss in some herbs to add some greenery to your salad, such as parsley or cilantro would work nicely. One turnip makes enough as a main ingredient to serve 4 people, or more if using it as a side or condiment.
Every year my family gets together for a summer weekend party, filled with inside jokes, great food, fun in the sun and sometimes someone gets thrown into the water fully dressed. Lucky me, I come from a family of serious foodies. We all love to cook and experience with new recipes and ingredients. I am inspired by each and every one of them for all the diversity they bring to the table. Sure, sometimes it’s not easy to coordinate when you have about a dozen people contributing snacks, drinks and dishes – in the end it all works out.
The debate is always what to bring. The main is often planned well in advance (and there will be a special blog post dedicated solely to this main), therefore all that is left to do is put together salads, sides, apps, snacks, etc.
For a while I’ve wanted to experiment making a watermelon gazpacho, and now I had the perfect occasion to test out a recipe.
- 1 red onion, finely diced – about 1 cup
- 4 celery stalks, diced – about 1 ½ cups
- 2 cucumbers, diced – about 3 cups
- 3 large tomatoes, diced – about 6 cups
- 2 bell peppers, diced – about 1 ½ cups
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2.5 liters of watermelon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
So here it goes… this recipe easily feeds 12 to 16 people as an appetizer. Though I have included fixed measurements, what is important to note is the proportions so that you can cut the recipe is half or multiply it depending on how big or small your family is. When shopping for vegetables, go to your local farmers market so that you can get the freshest ingredients, and play around with colours and try using a variety of tomatoes – this really gives the dish a lot of subtle dimension.
In a large bowl, combine the finely diced red onion with the lemon juice and a couple pinches of salt and set aside for about 20 minutes or while you prep the remainder of the vegetables. When prepping the other vegetables, cut them up into a small dice and more or less the same size. Strain the juices, keeping only the onion. Combine all the diced vegetables, crushed garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and spices.
Slowly add the watermelon juice until the mixture is as chunky or soupy as you desire it. To make the watermelon juice, cut up a melon and process the flesh in a blender until liquid. You shouldn’t have any problem blending the fruit. If you do, simply grab a large wooden spoon and smash the watermelon a bit before turning on the blender.
Once all the ingredients combined, refrigerate and allow the flavours to mingle for at least an hour before serving. You can also make this up to 24 hours before serving. Serve cold and garnish with chives or croutons.
As the evening progresses, wine glasses are filled, dishes are passed around, tasted and recipes discussed.
Finally the night falls, a campfire is lit, the acoustic guitar is played, we all sign along out of tune, and so begins the marshmallow roasting competition…