When August rolls around, I’m always scrambling to make the most of the last few weeks of summer before ‘back to school’ mode kicks in. This month has been ladden with road trips to Saskatoon, Kelowna and Edmonton and I’m about to take off to Vancouver for a few days as of tomorrow.
While I do have a parrot, I do not have any children, nor do I attend university, but I do run the cooking program Start From Scratch, so that’s how the ‘back to school’ feeling creeps into my life.
If you haven’t heard of the program before, Start From Scratch is a free 10 week cooking course for post secondary students in Calgary (MRU, U of C or SAIT) and Saskatoon (U of S). We take 30 participants in Calgary each semester and 15 in Saskatoon.(Start From Scratch alumni getting ready for service in the kitchen with Chefs Paul McGreevy and Dilan Draper.)
Now in our fourth year, the program is still a ton of fun. Just this week, we had a pop-up dinner in collaboration with Test Kitchen YYC where we brought some of our awesome alumni participants into the restaurant space to help cook and serve a coursed dinner to a full dining room. Was it scary? Of course! But, we pulled it off!
Now that summer is at its peak, you’ll be hard-pressed to walk past a community garden or glance into someone’s backyard (not in a creepy way!) and not see this vegetable growing strong and tall. While the hearty green leaves are great in a variety of ways – steaming, sautéing, left raw and thinly sliced – the stems can throw people for a loop.
I spent the August long weekend in Kelowna with some friends. In exchange for a comfy bed to sleep in, my friend Kerry Bennett and I, cooked our awesome hosts a big dinner on the Friday night. We served up a big platter of barbecued chicken, which I topped off with this fresh-tasting ‘salsa’.
When chard stems are sliced thin they give a nice crunch and add a brightness, not to mention some nice colour if you are lucky enough to have a handful of the rainbow variety. Anyway, enough from me! Try whipping this up some time this week!
I’m not going to lie. I took this picture with my cellphone – blasphemous, I know. Sometimes, you just cook things for the sake of enjoying a meal with your friends and leave your DSLR on the sidelines. I occasionally have to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that. Just breath, Dan. Just breath.
Anyway, back to the salad! Grilling romaine gives it a more robust taste and makes for a perfect summer dish. I think we can all agree that no matter how much we all love kale. It is definitely overused in the standard salad these days, so let’s give the green, curly guy a break this week, shall we?
When it’s prime summer weather and you’ve got a patio with a barbecue, there is no excuse not to be outside grilling up more than a few meals throughout the week and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing lately.
Romesco sauce is amazing with grilled vegetables. So, the other night I bought a pile of vegetables (scallions, cauliflower, tomatoes and some zucchini), invited some friends over and ate to our
hearts’ stomachs’ content. A nice, healthy dinner in the middle of The Calgary Stampede – which, I assure you, most Calgarians can attest is a rarity – so my mother should be quite proud.
This spin on romesco is a little on the spicy side. If you’re not a fan of heat, add-in less of the chipotle and a bit more roasted red peppers for a sauce that’s more mellow with just a touch of that sweet and spicy smokiness.
Well, it finally feels like summer is here. I mean, that’s what three whole days in a row without rain has got to mean, right? When it’s sunny outside, everyone likes a chill dessert – with a little bit of booze in it too. So, time to make some granita that’s a nice, vibrant red for Canada Day. How patriotic!
I’ve had The Kenwood Cooking Chef now for about two months and am still enamoured with the cooking abilities of this superhero mixer. Last time I wrote about it, I had it cook me up some caramelized onions and since then, have used it for a variety of berry compotes, curds simple syrups and more. Since it uses induction to heat the base of the mixing bowl, I find it gets the job done quickly with whatever I’m tossing in there.
I got a little sidetracked over the winter and spring and forgot to round-up the great recipes from different chefs I’ve chatted with in my ‘Behind The Line‘ column for Swerve since the new year. From talking with my pal, Chris Shaften (pictured) about moving to Kelowna to open Krafty Kitchen and Bar, to Chef Rogelio Herrera on the connection between social media and short attention spans in young chefs, there is always something interesting that comes up in conversation.
Aside from the candid talks, here are some of the recipes that Calgary chefs have shared with me over the past few months.
- Culinaire Soup Recipe Round Up and Start From Scratch!
- Swiss Chard Stem and Shallot ‘Salsa’
- Grilled Romaine and Chorizo Salad
- Chipotle, Cranberry and Walnut Romesco Sauce
- The Kenwood Cooking Chef and Vodka, Apple and Cranberry Granita
- Appetizers & Co.
- Calgary & Area
- Magazine Highlights
- Season 2
- Season 3
- Something Sweet
- Top Chef Canada: Taking The Challenge Home
- United States