September's coming soon

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
The bright tide forever drawn
Could not describe nightswimming"

- from "Nightswimming," by REM

September is indeed coming soon, and I was looking for one last entree recipe this week that would be perfect for summer's end. I wanted to make a pasta dish that featured the zucchini and corn that are at their best right now. And I found exactly that, with pesto, bacon and grated parmesan to give it a bold flavour.

I scaled down the pasta from the original a little because I wanted the vegetables to shine, and they did. This recipe makes a large batch, but it's also perfect for next-day lunch leftovers, served at room temperature.

Zucchini, Corn and Pesto Fusilli

Adapted from Epicurious
Note: recipe could be halved


6 bacon slices
3 cups dry fusilli (or similar pasta)
3 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob
2 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped (1/2" pieces)
1 container (approximately 7 ounces) basil pesto
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Cook bacon in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp. Drain on paper towels; discard drippings from skillet.

Meanwhile, cook fusilli in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then add vegetables to pasta in pot. Cook, partially covered, for 2-3 minutes (the water will stop boiling, and that's okay). Drain.

Add pasta with vegetables to skillet, along with pesto and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and toss. Season with salt and moisten with additional cooking water if necessary.

Top with crumbled bacon and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve warm (although room temperature leftovers the next day are also superb).

No dress rehearsal

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"First thing we'd climb a tree and maybe then we'd talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life"

- from "Ahead by a Century," by The Tragically Hip

Lately when I read the news, I'm reminded of how many things disunite us. The headlines are full of "us and them" stories, and tales in which we see the worst of humanity. So it's a reason to celebrate when something happens that pulls us together.

Last night was the final concert of The Tragically Hip, one of the most beloved Canadian bands ever. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, is often called the poet laureate of our country. When Downie announced earlier this year that he had inoperable brain cancer, and this summer's tour would be their last, we mourned this band that told us so many stories about ourselves.

The Hip has been together for over 30 years. They sing about uniquely Canadian people and events - Bill Barilko, Hugh MacLennan, David Milgaard, the FLQ kidnapping. They unite people across the country, rural and urban, and across generations. On our first wedding anniversary, Andrew and I danced to "Boots or Hearts" at a work event; now our youngest daughter performs a brilliant air vocal of the same song.

Last night our national broadcaster, the CBC, aired the show commercial-free on TV, radio, and via streaming. Andrew and I watched from our back yard; many others saw it in public squares or at pool parties - or at a viewing party at the Rio Olympics.

At a time when many things tear us apart, it was a privilege to be one of millions of Canadians paying tribute to someone who unites us.

"It was in Bobcaygeon
I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves, one star at a time"

- from "Bobcaygeon," by The Tragically Hip

Raspberry Chocolate Tart
(adapted from Epicurious)


1 1/2 cups chocolate water cookie crumbs
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp sugar


1 1/2 pints (3 cups) fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar (first amount)
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
1/2 chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (second amount)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam


For crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter and sugar until evenly moistened. Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack..

For the filling, combine raspberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp water and lemon juice in processor and puree until smooth. Pour puree through strainer set over medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard seeds in strainer. Combine mascarpone, heavy whipping cream, vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in another bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in raspberry puree and spread filling evenly in cooled chocolate crust. Cover and refrigerate tart overnight.

Arrange fresh raspberries in concentric circles atop tart. Stir raspberry preserves in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted to form glaze. Brush glaze over fresh raspberries. Refrigerate tart at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Remove tart pan sides, place tart on platter, and cut into slices and serve.

Toronto in the summer

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A sunny day, a delicious picnic lunch, a beautiful skyline, a family walk, a father-daughter game of catch. And most of all, the girls on break from their camp jobs, for a rare summer day at home. Just a few of the things that made last Monday such a special day. (Apparently you are never too old to visit the ice cream truck, and that is a good thing.)

These peach bars would be a fabulous addition to any picnic, whether it's down by the lake or in your own backyard. What I love about this recipe is that it makes a small but delicious batch - just enough to enjoy for a few meals without feeling guilty. These bars are truly a portable slice of summer!

Peach Pie bars
(adapted from Dessert for Two)

3 small slightly underripe peaches (note: just ripe is fine too)
1 Tbsp Scotch whiskey
1 Tbsp brown sugar
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper.
Peel the peaches and slice them into 1/4" thick slices. Place them in a bowl and pour the whiskey and brown sugar on top. Let soak while you make the crust.
To make the crust, combine the butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Place 1/4 cup of the dough aside, then press the rest in the bottom of the loaf pan. Pack it firmly and evenly.
Stir the cornstarch into the peach mixture, then pour the mixture over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough on top.
Bake 35 - 40 minutes, until fragrant and golden brown. Let squares cool completely before cutting.
Makes 8 bars.