Thursday, July 19, 2018

Honey Vanilla Peach Freezer Jam

There is no better season in Ontario than peach season! It's hands-down the best ever, and I'm willing to fight anyone who says otherwise. I go peach crazy as soon as the first local peaches appear, and find myself buying baskets of peaches every few days to keep up with my consumption. It's such a short season, so you really can't blame me for wanting to take advantage as much as possible, as well as extend the season in any way I can.

My trick for extending peach season this year is to turn those fresh and juicy wonders into jam that I can enjoy well into the fall and winter. Every single morning I start my day with an egg and toast, and being able to make peaches apart of that breakfast every day for the next eight months makes me giddy!

The freedom of playing around with different flavours was also what drew me to making jam. I wanted to infuse some other flavours into my peach jam to make it a little more complex and unique. When I think of some of my favourite ways to enjoy fresh peaches in the summer, they almost always involve honey and vanilla. I love making simple desserts with fresh peaches, by grilling them up and topping with a drizzle of honey and either fresh vanilla cream or French vanilla ice cream. To mimic those flavours in my jam, I substituted some of the white sugar for organic honey, as well as adding some pure vanilla extract.

While this jam is certainly sweet when trying straight from the jar, its perfect on top of buttery toast! Play around with different ways of serving this jam to make it your own! Think of glazing tarts, topping plain yogurt, or stirring into smoothies! Let me know how you play around with this jam in the comments below.

1 lb fresh peaches (about 2 cups chopped, or about 3 medium peaches), peeled, pitted and chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 package (57g) Original Certo Pectin Crystals
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
1/2 tsp Metro Irresistibles Pure Vanilla Extract

  1. Thoroughly wash enough jars/containers and lids that will hold approximately 1 1/4-pints of jam (most canning jars come in 1-pint, 1/2-pint, and 1/4-pint sizes) with very hot water, and dry thoroughly. Set aside. 
  2. In a medium saucepan set to medium-low heat, add peaches. Cook and crush using a potato masher. Mash until peaches have reached desired consistency (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Add lemon juice and pectin crystals and stir to combine. Bring to a boil at high heat.
  4. Stir in sugar, honey, and vanilla and return to a boil. Cook for 1-minute. 
  5. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 5-minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  6. Pour into warm, sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top to allow for expansion. Cover with lids and let stand at room temperature for 24-hours or until set. Keep jars in freezer for 8 months, or until ready to enjoy! Jam will hold in the fridge for about 3-weeks. 
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Kanye West - Ghost Town

Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls

My schedule is all over the place, and often means eating meals at odd times of the day (think lunch at 3:00 and often dinner at midnight...I know, it's not good!). With so much running around between commitments, it's so important to have quick and easy snack options on hand that can keep me satiated and energized throughout the day. I always like to keep nuts, yogurt, fruits, and veg on hand for that purpose, but a new healthy snack that has become a prominent feature in my kitchen is energy balls!

I have to admit, when I first tried making energy balls a couple years ago, they did not go successfully. I focused too much on health instead of flavour, which resulted in dry and flavourless balls of chia and coconut oil, that ultimately ended up in the garbage. The trick to making energy balls is striking that perfect balance between healthy and delicious! Inspired by the flavours in banana bread (another snack I love!), I created my Peanut Butter Banana Energy Balls that are just sweet enough to trick me into feeling like I'm enjoying a treat, but are packed with ingredients that will keep my body and mind feeling energized and alive!

Keep these energy balls on hand to enjoy for a midday pick me up, or a pre-workout energy boost that won't leave you feeling bogged down and sluggish.
1 overripe banana*
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles Organics Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2-4 dates, pitted and softened (adjust the amount depending on your sweetness preferences)
1 - 1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, frozen (freezing your chocolate chips allows them to hold their shape, giving the energy balls some texture)

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, add banana, peanut butter, coconut, flax, chia seeds, dates and 1-cup oats. Pulse until just combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl several times. Pinch the mixture between your fingers to test consistency. You want the mixture to be able to form into balls without being too sticky. If mixture is still very sticky and wet, add more oats as needed.
  2. Stir in frozen chocolate chips. 
  3. Using clean hands, form into 2 Tbsp balls and place in an airtight container. You should be left with 12-14 energy balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy throughout the week! 
*To quickly ripen bananas, separate individual bananas from the bunch and place on a baking sheet. Cook in a 300ºF oven for 25-30 minutes, or until black and shiny. Cool.

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Pusha T - Santeria

Layered Mango-Strawberry Lassi-Inspired Smoothie

As the heat rises in the summertime, so does the heat level in the food I make, and I'm not talking temperature! There's something about a hot day that has me craving spicy food. While my tolerance for spice is pretty good, I've been known to push my own limits from time to time, resulting in me turning to shots of milk or yogurt to fan the flames on my tongue. Whenever I order in Indian food I'm reminded of how soothing a cold lassi can be after a hot-as-fire bite of curry. With that in mind, and my tendency for putting hot chilli oil on my morning eggs, I wanted to create a lassi-inspired smoothie that could aid in keeping my tastebuds happy and cool when enjoying my spicy morning eggs. With Ontario strawberries still in the markets, I wanted to combine the mango-flavoured lassi that I'm most familiar with, with a strawberry one in a unique way that would allow the flavours of each to shine individually.

I adore the flavour of honey that always shines through in the lassi's that I've tried, so I kept that consistent, using it as my sweetener. To switch things up a little bit, I also chose to use a lighter Greek yogurt to give the drink that same rich taste that I love in a lassi, but with a more viscous consistency that's easier to drink in the morning. While I had previously never tried any myself, I had read that there are some lassi's that can be infused with rose water, turmeric, or saffron. I loved the idea of really making that yellow colour pop against the pink strawberry smoothie, so I infused the honey with some saffron to give it that extra intensity.

Not only does this layered lassi-inspired smoothie look gorgeous, it's also delicious and cooling! I love the idea of serving this smoothie for an elegant outdoor summer brunch for friends and family. Let me know how you enjoyed this layered lassi-inspired smoothie in the comments below!

Tip: If you're shot on time, forget about layering and just toss all the ingredients together!

For the Mango Lassi Smoothie
2 cups Metro Irresistibles Frozen Mango Chunks, thawed
2 tsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 0º Plain Greek Yogurt
handful of ice

For the Strawberry Lassi Smoothie
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced
3 tsp Metro Irresistibles Organics Pure Honey
1/2 cup Metro Irresistibles 0º Plain Greek Yogurt
handful of ice

  1. In a blender or food processor, add mango chunks and blend until relatively smooth.
  2. In a small bowl add the honey and saffron threads and stir to combine. Add to blender with Greek yogurt. Blend until very smooth. Add a handful of ice, blend, and transfer to a container and set aside in fridge. Clean blender or food processor bowl.
  3. In a clean blender, add strawberries and blend until relatively smooth. 
  4. Add honey and Greek yogurt and blend until very smooth. Add a handful of ice and blend.
  5. Divide the Mango Lassi Smoothie between 2-4 cups (depending on the serving size you prefer). Using a large spoon to avoid the two smoothies from mixing, carefully spoon the Strawberry Lassi Smoothie over the Mango Lassi Smoothie. Serve immediately!
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Snail Mail - Pristine

Fish Tacos with Ontario Corn Salsa

Summertime is the season for food festivals, and I don't think there's any other dish that I associate with food festivals more than a delicious fried fish taco! Some of the best fish tacos I've consumed have been in the summertime, with friends and loved ones, enjoying a Toronto food festival. While food festivals are less my jam these days (or maybe just the long lines and lack of shaded spaces for my poor fair skin), I still love to enjoy a great fish taco in the summer inspired by my festival-going days, but now I make my own! Combining crispy fried fish with one of my favourite summer flavours in Ontario, fresh corn, my fish tacos are a great balance of flavour and texture, and are perfect for a hot summer night!

The corn salsa is key in this recipe, providing that much-needed hit of sweetness, freshness, acidity, spice, and texture to counteract the heaviness of the fried fish. The sweetness is found in those sweet and juicy Ontario corn kernels (there's nothing like them, is there?!) that are really the star of this salsa, and maybe even the whole dish! To dress my fresh grilled corn I like to add a pop of freshness from cilantro and tomatoes, some acidity and heat thanks to pickled jalapeños and their pickling brine, as well as lime, chilli powder, and red onion.

To balance out the rest of the flavours for our final taco, we turn to our toppings! Chipotle-Lime Aioli is a condiment that has become just as essential in my fridge as mustard and pickles, and it also works incredible in this taco to add a smokey and creamy element that ties the whole dish together. The remainder of the toppings can be adjusted based on your own personal preferences, but I enjoy the crunch from thinly sliced red cabbage, as well as lots of fresh cilantro, and of course hot sauce!

Make your corn salsa in advance to speed this dish up. Your tacos will come together so quickly you can even make them on a weeknight to give yourself a special mid-week treat! I hope you enjoy them as much as Chris and I did!

For the Ontario Corn Salsa
3 ears Ontario corn, husks and silks removed
1/4 - 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, finely chopped (adjust the amount depending on the level of heat you prefer)
1 Tbsp pickling brine from pickled jalapeños
juice from 3/4 of a medium lime
1/4 cup red onion
1 small tomato, small dice
1/2 tsp chilli powder
light drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Fried Fish
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp chilli powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
kosher salt
3/4 cup beer (lager works great!)
1 large egg
peanut oil, for frying 
1 lb cod, cut into 8 even pieces (may substitute other white fish)

To Dress Your Tacos
6-8 corn tortillas
Metro Irresistibles Chipotle-Lime Aioli
fresh cilantro
red cabbage, thinly sliced
hot sauce

Ontario Corn Salsa
  1. Preheat BBQ or grill pan and lightly oil. Place corn directly on grill and cook about 2 min per side. Cool.
  2. Cut corn niblets from cob and place in a medium bowl. Reserve your corn cobs for another use (how about making corn broth for a chowder!).
  3. Add pickled jalapeños and pickling brine, lime juice, red onion, tomato, chilli powder, and a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Cover and transfer to fridge until ready to dress tacos.
Fried Fish
  1. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, paprika, chilli powder, black pepper, and kosher salt. Transfer half of the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add the beer and egg to the mixture in the large bowl, and whisk until smooth.
  3. In a large pot (I used a dutch oven) or wok, add peanut oil so it reaches 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the pot. Heat oil to 350ºF. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 250ºF, and line 2 baking sheets with paper towel and a wire rack. Place one in the oven or toaster oven and the other at the stove.
  4. Place all of the fish pieces in the large bowl with the beer batter and stir to coat.
  5. Working one at a time, pick up a piece of fish and allow any excess batter to drain off. Place into the medium bowl with the dry mixture, and toss to lightly coat. Carefully place in the hot oil (letting the fish fall away from you) and fry until evenly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Place on the stovetop wire rack to drain, and lightly salt. Transfer to the prepared pan in the oven to keep warm. Continue with remaining fish, making sure to not crowd the oil.*
* I like to work with two pieces of fish frying in the oil at a time. Crowding the oil will drop the temperature, resulting in an oily batter.

  1. To assemble your tacos, heat tortillas (one at a time) for 1-2 min per side in a medium pan at high heat. 
  2. Squeeze about 1-2 Tbsp Irresistibles Chipotle-Lime Aioli on top of tortilla, and top with fried fish, corn salsa, cilantro, cabbage, and hot sauce. Enjoy!
This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario. 

Listening To:
Let's Eat Grandma - Falling Into Me

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ontario Black Cherry, Feta, & Arugula Salad

The time for Summer salads is here! One of my favourite ways to utilize the abundance of fresh fruits over the summer months in Ontario is with beautiful summer salads, and I'm not just talking about fruit salads! I adore the way the flavours of fresh and juicy Ontario fruits play against the peppery heat from arugula, and either a salty bite of feta cheese, or a creamy taste of fresh mozzarella or burrata. These types of salads are uncomplicated, while still being interesting, beautiful (both visually and in it's flavour!), and are just so damn delicious you'll want to enjoy one every day!

I'm not including an exact recipe here, instead choosing to give you a guideline, as summer salads are all about utilizing what you already have on hand. This recipe was inspired by a big ol' bag of fresh Ontario cherries that I wanted to eat for more than just dessert and snack. While mixed greens are an easy option to have on hand in the summer months, I opt for keeping arugula in my crisper, as I find that peppery hit to be a more exciting contrast from the sweet flavours from the fruit. With sunflower seeds already on hand in my cupboard, I chose to sprinkle a few of those over for some crunch, but I actually think pumpkin seeds (sometimes labelled as pepitas) would be an ideal seed for this dish. Play around with whatever fruits, produce, nuts, and seeds you have in your kitchen or in your garden and find a summer salad that suits your tastebuds! Let me know what creation you've made by telling me about it in the comments, or sending me a pic through Instagram (you can find me @gingerrosefood). Looking forward to seeing your summer salad creations!

Note: I have not included specific measurements, as I encourage you to work with what works for you!
pea shoots
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
Ontario black cherries, pitted and cut in half
feta cheese
salted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
fresh ground pepper
Maldon Salt


  1. In a small bowl lightly drizzle the arugula and pea shoots with olive oil and balsamic. Toss together gently with your fingertips. Place along serving dish (I like to use a platter as opposed to a bowl so the other ingredients don't fall to the bottom).
  2. Top the dressed greens with cherries, feta cheese, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, fresh ground pepper, and Maldon Salt. Serve immediately.
Listening To:
Summer Games - Drake