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from Jude's Kitchen: summer favourites
With the longest day of the year tomorrow, and the official start of summer, I’m delighted to be able to consider lighter, healthier meals, and the rhubarb season.
June 20 is the Summer Solstice, when the hours of daylight are longer than on any other day of the year, and when they begin, almost imperceptibly at first, to get shorter.
I love it in summer when the sun can stay up longer than I can; when the first sunbeam bounces off my eyelids just before 5 a.m.; even though I’m reluctant to leave it at night and hit the hay while it’s still light outside.
Contrast that with winter days when I have to haul my rear out from under that warm quilt and poke my feet into cold slippers in order to go and walk on slippery, icy walkways in the dark before leaving for work in the dark; then come home in the dark, after a day in the office under artificial lights.
That’s why I’m jumping for joy now.
So, to celebrate, I’m into fresh, light, delicious foods, instead of the heavy stews and casseroles of winter.
We’ve been really enjoying the tender greens from the garden, along with all the bright-flavoured first herbs of summer. It’s time to begin trimming them off to dry some for winter, before they blossom. Fresh, young growth will replace what you’ve cut. A good rule of thumb is to cut oregano back by about a third, and thyme should be trimmed off now before it flowers, for drying.
There are lots more recipes using fresh, local herbs in season in my book, Jude’s Kitchen, available wherever books are sold.
By the way, congratulations to junior chef Jenna Angle for bringing back top honours to the Okanagan from Halifax and the National Conference when she won the title of Canadian Junior Chef of the Year.
Dianne’s Apple Rhubarb Loaf
You can even serve this to those who don’t think they like rhubarb. A scoop of ice cream on top makes a nice dessert.
1 1/2 c. (375 ml) rhubarb
1 1/2 c. (375 ml) apples
3/4 c. (175 ml) sugar
1/2 c. (125 ml) oil
3 c. (750 ml) flour
1 c. (250 ml) nuts
1 tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml) salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 F, and lower oven rack to the lowest position.
Grease the bottoms of two loaf pans.
Combine finely-chopped rhubarb and apples with sugar, oil and eggs.
Stir in remaining ingredients (you can use chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) and divide the batter between the two pans.
Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a loaf comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes on a rack before removing from the pans to fully cool before slicing.
This can be refrigerated for up to a week or put into the freezer.
Makes two loaves.
Den’s Italian Spud Salad
There are all sorts of variations on the familiar potato salad. This one incorporates some Italian ideas, but it’s also light on the heavy ingredients, so it’s better for your health and your heart than some recipes for potato salad. You could leave out the eggs if you wish.
2 hard-boiled eggs
4 c. cubed red potatoes
2 stalks of celery
4 med. green onions
1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh parsley
2 tsp. (10 ml) fresh tarragon
1 tbsp. (15 ml) hot pepperoni
black olives, to taste
1/4 c. (60 ml) fat-free plain yogurt
1/4 c. (60 ml) light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. (15 ml) malt vinegar
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dry mustard
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) sea salt
Hard boil a couple of eggs and let them cool. Peel and cut into large chunks and set aside.
Steam or boil cubes of scrubbed but unpeeled, red potatoes until just tender; then drain and cool.
Slice celery and green onion and mince fresh herbs and pepperoni.
In a large serving bowl, combine the cold potatoes with celery, onions, herbs and pepperoni, saving back half the fresh parsley to garnish the top.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined, then gently stir into the potato mixture.
Top with hard-boiled egg pieces and black olives, then garnish with the remainder of the fresh, chopped parsley.
Refrigerate for a half hour or so before serving.