With only a few more weeks until summer’s officially over, but with fairly long days still, take the opportunity to enjoy getting together with friends and family for a relaxing evening on the patio or around the barbecue, before it’s packed up for the season.
Since we now have a number of seafood stores full of in-season, fresh fish from what advanced transportation has made ‘nearby’ seashores, take advantage of what they have to offer, including local, hand-peeled shrimp from the Pacific coast of B.C.
These little morsels are delicate in flavour and have a firm texture for creating a compelling appetizer or salad, so let your imagination run wild with them.
At this time of year there’s a bounty of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs that can be overwhelming when it comes to deciding which to select for a meal. It’s enough to turn a person to canning, drying, freezing or to making herb-flavoured vinegars and oils to preserve that full flavour for when winter’s swirling snowflakes around the barren garden.
That was also the feeling of a group of four junior chefs from across Canada who recently spent two weeks here working with local chefs and learning a bit about working with the freshest possible raw materials—often from the kitchen garden just outside the restaurant!
That was a revelation for these young chefs working in Toronto and Lethbridge, Muskoka and Regina, but who were determined to return home and plant gardens after their visit.
To celebrate their experience here, they spent a day on the farm of the Djordjevich family in Kelowna, surrounded by fresh tomatoes, eggplants, squashes, cucumbers, plums, apricots, grapes, beans and greens, with permission to help themselves in creating an outdoor feast for their local hosts, including an ingredient they’d brought from their culinary region.
With red lentils, maple syrup, mustard and sunflower seeds from across the country, local chicken and wild boar and trout, they put together a feast for all senses and served it amongst the fruit trees, vegetables and vines on the farm.
I’m thinking that Melanie, Candice, Kimberley and Ryan won’t soon forget their Okanagan experience with Chefs Rod Butters, Willi Franz, Jesse Croy and Bernard Casavant. It sounded to me like this was a career-changing adventure for them.
Congrats to the Okanagan Chefs Association for stepping up to the plate and offering to be the first region to host what is sure to become an annual exchange for young chefs.
For lots more recipes using local ingredients in season, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen at local bookstores and wine shops.
Shrimp Spirals with Spinach & Herbs
These are delicate-flavoured and refreshing as an appetizer, filling as a snack and they look really attractive as your contribution to a party. A nice dry sauvignon blanc would go well with these.
4 oz. (120 g) soft cream cheese
1 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. (5 ml) lemon juice
2 green onions
1 tbsp. fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) hot pepper sauce
4 oz. shrimp
handful of baby fresh spinach leaves
large whole wheat tortillas
I use whipped cream cheese, but if you use a brick, warm it up a little to soften it first.
Beat it with mayonnaise, lemon juice, minced green onions and fresh parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and my favourite hot chili sauce, Sriracha, until thoroughly mixed.
Carefully stir in fresh shrimp so you don’t mush them up too much. Unless they’re very small, cut them in half first.
Lay a tortilla out and spread it with the shrimp and cheese mixture. Cover that with baby spinach leaves, except across the top of the tortilla, which will be the last bit you roll up, because you want the cream cheese mixture to help stick the rolled-up tortilla together.
Tightly roll up the tortilla and slice it into rounds, arranging the shrimp spirals on a platter or serving plate.
Sprinkle with a few parsley leaves.
Feta Spread or Dip
This fresh-tasting, tangy dip is great on crackers, pita crisps, fresh pita triangles or chunks of fresh sweet pepper or cold cooked prawns. This Greek-inspired dip is nicely matched with the Mission Hill Family Estate 2011 Riesling, with its fruit flavours and nicely balanced, fresh acidity.
1/2 c. feta 125 ml
1/4 c. (60 ml) red onion
3 tbsp. (45 ml) fresh parsley
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh oregano
1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil
2 tsp. (10 ml) lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Crumble feta cheese and very finely chop red onion.
Chop fresh herbs.
Toss all ingredients together with the lemon juice and olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Top crackers or pita bread with this, or scoop up a bite with pita crisps.