For many that know me well, you know how much I love to cook for big gatherings. Eating with family and friends is one of the most joyous past times that is sure to bring everyone together. Even that 2nd time removed auntie you only see once a year and makes a point telling you how much she dislike’s your watermelon salad (no judging on watermelon lovers or haters for that matter).
We love living at the lake for the summer and since this hockey family of 5 spends 8 months out of the year in cold frosty arenas across Ontario, you bet your bottom dollar that this mama is heading north to a dock come summer. When you have a cottage, you tend to have a lot of ‘friends’ that come from near and far to visit you, in the great white north and we love entertaining so we normally go with “The More, the Merrier Moto'“. I don’t know if we are the only family on the planet that banks great memories tagged along side with food (or we are just obsessed foodies) but it seems to be the case in our house. I often remember that amazing cottage trip weekend paired along side that rib roast dinner on the BBQ or best ever wild blueberry pie or that time we smoked ribs for hours on the deck by the water and they were fall off the bone delicious. When I first moved to Muskoka, 15 years ago this was one of the first books ‘Best Summer Weekends’ By; Jane Rodmell I bought (way before Pinterest recipe searching was a thing). This recipe book is filled with delicious easy summer food, honestly there is nothing in this book my family doesn’t like and our guests love these dishes they are a go to for a win with little time and easy to reach for ingredients that we already have in the pantry.
Summer only comes once a year. Make it count.
Summer days and weekends are best spent outside. That's when cooks look for recipes that can be easily prepared and served at the cottage or at home, in the country or in the city.
Those recipes and more are all right here, in Best Summer Weekends Cookbook. This edition combines the best of the popular Summer Weekend Cookbook and More Summer Weekends Cookbook and adds seventy-five new recipes. Whether entertaining neighbours or guests staying for the weekend, cooking for the family, or hosting a once-a-summer everybody come gathering, this compendium will become an indispensable kitchen companion, and at 352 pages, it is a superb resource.
Each recipe also has ideas for variations and substitutions for those times you don't have a particular ingredient on hand. Make-ahead tips reduce kitchen work so you can enjoy your guests' company. The appetizing colour photographs will make it hard to resist trying every dish. A new collection of Quick Tricks will help you produce fabulous dishes fast.
Here are some of our family favourites
This spicy appetizer got it’s name the pepper halves look like the ubiquitous green canoes you see all over Ontario’s cottage country.
12 Large Fresh Jalapeno peppers
1 1/2 cups Old Cheddar cheese (finely grated) (375ml)
1/4 Mayonnaise (60ml)
1 Green onion
1 Stalk Celery
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (2ml)
1 Egg beaten
1 Cup season dry breadcrumbs (250ml)
Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove ribs and seeds.
Mix cheese, mayonnaise, onion, celery and Worcestershire sauce. Fill peppers with cheese mixture, pressing down on top to flatten. Chill for 20 mins.
Roll each pepper in beaten egg, then dredge in bread crumbs to coat throughly. Place on baking sheet.
Bake in preheated 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for 10-12 minutes, or until canoe tops are slightly crisp.
Makes 24 pieces
Leave the stems on the peppers. They make a nice handle for easy dipping and eating
If you are skin sensitive, wear gloves while handling the peppers.
Three-Pepper Chip Dip
Combine 1 cup (250ml) sour cream, or half sour cream and half yogurt, with 1/2 cup (125ml) finely chopped sweet red pepper, 1 tsp (5ml) finely chopped jalapeno pepper, and 1 tsp (5ml) chilli powder. Add a dash of hot sauce for good measure, and a little salt. Allow the dip to sit a while before serving so the flavours will blend-the longer it sits, the hotter it gets.
Mediterranean Barley Salad
Often overlooked as a salad or a pilaf ingredient, barley adds nutty favour and makes a nice change from other grains. Here’s it combined with fresh and sun dried tomatoes, colourful peppers, and feta cheese to create a salad rich in favour and substance- suitable as a main dish for vegetarian guests.
2 Cups Vegetable or Chicken stock (500ml)
1 Cup Barley (250ml)
2 Medium tomatoes seeded and chopped
3 Green onions finely chopped
1/2 each Red and Yellow pepper seeded and chopped
1 tbsp fresh Oregano chopped (15ml) or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley chopped (125ml)
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 Feta Cheese (60ml)
1/4 Pine nuts, toasted optional (60ml)
Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Slowly stir in barley, cover pan, lower heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the grains are just tender and the liquid is absorbed. Fluff grains with a fork and turn into large bowl to cool.
Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for about 15 minutes to soften. Finely chop and add them to the cooled barley along with the fresh tomatoes, green onions, peppers, oregano, and half the parsley. Toss together gently with about half the balsamic vinaigrette, reserving the rest.
Before serving, lightly toss the salad, taste, and adjust with salt and pepper and additional vinaigrette as required. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta, pine nuts (if using), and the rest of the parsley.
The salad can be prepared several hours ahead through Step 2 and kept covered in the refrigerator. Add the cheese and nuts before serving.
If you like, tear up 2 cups (500ml) of crisp greens such as watercress, arugula, and endive and fold them into the grain mixture. Or serve the salad on a platter lined with greens.
Crisp Corn Drumsticks
Delicious cold or hot, these mildly seasoned chicken legs are great for a quick supper or picnic. They’re easy to eat out of you hand, and kid-friendly. (Use lesser quantity of cayenne if your’e making them for kids.)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup Milk (125ml)
12 chicken drumsticks
1/3 cornmeal (75ml)
1/4 flour (60ml)
1 tbsp ground cumin (15ml)
1 tsp paprika (5ml)
1 tsp dried oregano (5ml)
1 tsp salt (5ml)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (5ml)
1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne (2-5ml)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (30ml)
Crush garlic into the milk. Pour the garlic-flavoured milk over the legs and allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine cornmeal, flour, and spices. Toss legs in cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess.
Coat a large, shallow baking pan with the oil. Arrange legs in a single layer in the pan. Set on rack in the upper third of a preheated 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven. Roast for 30 minutes, turn pieces, and continue to cook until the coating is crispy and nicely browned and the meat is cooked through, 10-15 minutes longer. Serve legs hot, or place on a rack to cool, then wrap well in foil or plastic, or store in an airtight container. Refrigerate until serving.
Crispy Corn Chicken Fingers: A surefire hit with kids. Pound 2 boneless chicken breasts lightly to flatten and cut into strips (1 breast makes 8 fingers). Marinate strips in garlic-flavoured milk, as above. Combine cornmeal, flour, oregano, salt, and pepper as for drumsticks. Replace other spices with 1/4 cup (60 ml) grated parmesan cheese. Roll the chicken strips in the mixture one at a time. Place in a single layer in a well-oiled roasting pan. Cook for 10 minutes in a preheated 400 degree F (200 degree C) oven, then turn and cook 5 minutes longer. Check for doneness, cooking an additional few minutes if necessary. Serve hot with the kid’s favourite dipping sauce. Serves 4