from Jude's Kitchen: 'baby' foods

Exotic Baby Lamb - Judie Steeves/Capital News
Exotic Baby Lamb
— image credit: Judie Steeves/Capital News

We’re enjoying the first young and tender corn on the cob of the season now, as well as sweet, tender baby beans and carrots.

And, there are lots of zucchini out in the garden and at the farmers’ markets and farm stands.

They come in every size because one day they’re baby ones that are delicious and cute in stir-fries or  briefly browned on the barbecue, and the next they’re mammoth creatures, good for hollowing out and stuffing with herbs and ground lamb or grating up for zucchini cake.

However you serve them, this is the season to load up on your fruit and vegetables, with all sorts of tender, sweet baby-sized ones around.

I also love Greek salads at this time of year, with young cucumbers and peppers, sweet tomatoes and onions, fresh basil, oregano and tart feta cheese to top it all off. What a meal. What can taste like cardboard in winter, is a heavenly mix of different flavours at this time of year, when everything is fresh from the garden—yours or someone else’s.

I admit it’s hard to pick favourites at this time of year, but baby new potatoes are right up there on my list, along with tomatoes that taste just like tomatoes!

And, all those fresh herbs that add such flavour to the simplest of meals are like green gold at this time of year for anyone who loves to cook—or eat.

Young lamb is now available from local ranches and farms too, and there's nothing quite like it.

In writing my book about letting what’s local and seasonal inspire you in your everyday meals, I found it difficult to hold back on the number of recipes for the summer and fall chapters, simply because they are such inspirational seasons with all the fresh ingredients calling out to you.

Jude’s Kitchen is available at bookstores as well as many shops where you can purchase our excellent local wines. Many of the 200 or so recipes include local wine pairing suggestions as margin notes by renowned wine writer John Schreiner.

Deep Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

No one will realize they’re eating their vegetables in this flavourful cake. You may make this in two loaf pans instead of the big round bundt pan with the trademark hole in the middle, and freeze one for a later date.

1/2 c. (125 ml)  butter

1/4 c. (60 ml) oil

1 1/2 c. (375 ml)  sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla

2 1/4 c. 560 ml)  flour

3/4 c. (175 ml) cocoa

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking powder

1 tsp. (5 ml) baking soda

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt

1 c. (250 ml)  plain yogurt

2 c. (250 ml)  grated unpeeled zucchini

3/4 c. (175 ml)  chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F and spray a bundt pan or two loaf pans with an oil spray.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar on high speed with an

electric mixer for two or three minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Beat in

the eggs and vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder,

baking soda and salt.

Add a third to the butter mixture and beat just

until blended; add half the yogurt and do the same. Repeat with

another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the sour cream, then

the rest of the flour.

Fold in the zucchini and

chocolate chips and pour the thick batter into

the pan or pans, smoothing the top. (I like to add a few more chocolate chips to the top).

Bake for an hour, until the top is cracked and springy to the touch.

Turn out onto a plate or cake stand while still warm.

Serves 8-16.

Exotic Lamb Chops

With the flavours of lemon and mint, ginger and curry, this is an unusual way to serve lamb, but one inspired by the fusion of a variety of cultures and one we found worked very well. With local lamb now ready for the barbecue, it’s terrific to be able to serve it with baby vegetables fresh from the garden as well. We enjoyed a glass of the Mission Hill Family Estate Pinot Noir with this; an excellent match with its peppery berry flavours and the exotic spicy taste of the tender lamb.

4 lamb steaks or chops

freshly-ground sea salt and pepper

1/2 large lemon

3 tbsp. (45 ml) fresh mint

1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh ginger

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) brown sugar

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) garam masala

Liberally grind fresh black pepper over both sides of the chops and add a sprinkle of sea salt.

In a glass bowl or casserole that will hold all the lamb, finely zest half a large lemon, mince the fresh mint and ginger and add the sugar and spice. Combine well, then add each chop, turning it to coat with the marinade.

Leave in the marinade for an hour or two, if possible, before barbecuing.

Barbecue over high heat for five to seven minutes a side, depending on thickness, or until still pink inside.

Enjoy with the first baby vegetables of the season, such as peas, carrot thinnings and nugget potatoes.

Serves 4.


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