I love food. It’s almost a prerequisite for working at Chatelaine. But even if I wasn’t a foodie before I got here, sitting mere steps away from the Chatelaine Kitchen would have done the trick. Thanks to that proximity, I’ve really been flexing my culinary muscles and when my friend told me that he was having a barbecue, I thought this was a good opportunity to show the world what a great cook I’ve become. The world being about ten people and a few toddlers.
As the host was planning to serve large quantities of burgers and sausages, I decided to provide the vegetables and fruit. But instead of getting the usual veggie and fruit platter (hey, just because I love food doesn’t mean I love cooking all the time), I put together two sides and a dessert, which were incredibly easy to make. The great thing about summer is that there are many fresh varieties of produce available: crisp bell peppers, sweet cherry tomatoes, leafy dark green herbs and juicy, bright-coloured seasonal fruit. Here are the Chatelaine recipes I used.
This salad only took me five minutes to make – partly because it requires only seven ingredients (cherry tomatoes, parsley, oil, vinegar, sugar, dried oregano and dried basil), and partly because I recently learned a new trick for slicing tomatoes from our assistant food editor, Irene Ngo. The salad was so tasty and look at how beautiful it turned out.
I am a big fan of easy recipes that generate quick results, and that’s why I chose this recipe. This side dish has six ingredients, and thanks to Irene, I was able to core the bell peppers in no time, using another amazing tip, saving me from having to deal with all those pesky pepper seeds. Though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I chose to let the peppers marinate in the dressing (olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar, fresh oregano and garlic) for a couple of hours before putting it on the grill. The result was delicious sweet tasting peppers with just a hint of balsamic flavouring. My friends raved about this side dish and some people chose to add the grilled peppers to their burgers. Delish!
So the white-sangria jellies did not turn out as amazing as I thought they would. I wanted so badly for this dessert to be my piece de resistance, but alas I’m not quite the chef extraordinaire that I want to be. I used Gewurztraminer and used apple juice instead of white grape juice. The recipe only took about 10 minutes: While I waited for the wine to boil and the gelatin and sugar to melt, I got started on separating the already washed fruit into each cup. I let the gelatin mixture cool for a few minutes before I poured the liquid into each plastic cup and then refrigerated them for a few hours.
I think it would have tasted better if I had stuck to using grape juice instead of settling for the apple juice that was already in my fridge. Well, at least the appearance of these desserts were definitely a show-stopper. Note: make sure they are not in hand’s reach of any toddlers. In hindsight, I probably should have made a kid-friendly version. So my piece de resistance wasn’t so grand, but at least the appearance alone made people want to try it.
Watch: How to core a bell pepper