Taste of Summer at The Village Grocer

A warm welcome indeed.

I recently had the pleasure of teaching my Taste of Summer cooking class at The Village Grocer in Unionville, Ontario.  As I entered the school and looked around the beautiful space, my jaw dropped when I noticed my menu displayed on a floor to ceiling size chalk board – “WOW” I thought, what a way to welcome your guest chefs!  The cooking school “classroom” was set up “Fit for a Queen”.  Quality at its finest, thanks to  Lynda and Karenthe beauty and brains who run the cooking school.  Their professionalism and attention to detail impressed me so much, I want to attend one of the many cooking classes The Village Grocer offers, as a “student”.  I was also able to have a quick visit with someone I have admired for years, and one of the hardest working people I know, Evan, the owner of The Village Grocer (and I don’t throw the term “hard working” around lightly).  I always feel such a sense of gratitude when I am given an opportunity to work for someone who has built a business (in this case a: culinary shopping experience empire) from the ground up – by working their a$$ off. Evan MacDonald is a very special man.  Last but not least; sharing my love, enthusiasm, and knowledge of food & cooking brings me a tremendous amount of joy. Professionally and personally.  I feel blessed to do what I love. Here are two of the recipes I prepared at my Taste of Summer cooking class at The Village Grocer.  Simple, summer, do-nothing recipes; exactly how warm weather cooking should be.  From my HAPPY, HEALTHY & VERY BUSY KITCHEN TO YOURS, ENJOY!

Kale & White Bean Dip 

My Kale & White Bean Dip. Served with flatbreads and crudités.

This recipe makes a healthy and tasty mid-afternoon outdoor snack served with pita wedges and veggie sticks.  For a spicier “dip”, add 1 tsp (5 mL) finely chopped chipotle peppers.

1 can (540 mL/ 19 oz) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups (500 mL) packed baby kale leaves OR finely chopped kale (thick stem removed)

2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) minced fresh garlic – or to taste

½ tsp (2 mL) cracked fresh pepper

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil

2 tbsp (30 mL) water

Whole grain crackers or whole wheat pita wedges and Crudités (veggie sticks).

Place kidney beans and kale in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until very well combined, scraping down sides of bowl when needed.   Add lemon zest, garlic, pepper and salt.  With motor running, drizzle in lemon juice, oil and water.  Pulse until very well combined.  Place in an air tight container for up to 3 days.  To serve: Place dip in serving bowl and enjoy with crackers and veggie sticks.

Other uses for this tasty dip: *Instead of meat, slather a layer of dip on your bread and load up with veggies for a delicious vegan sandwich. *Use as a “sauce” for grilled beef, chicken or salmon. 

Rosemary & Vanilla Cream with Fresh Berries 

Rosemary & Vanilla Cream served with Fresh Berries. This dessert was inspired by a rosemary & vanilla martini I sipped on about a decade ago.

End a warm weather dinner party with a fresh fruit dessert.

½ cup (125 mL) chilled 35% cream

½ vanilla bean scraped (*or 1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract)

2 tbsp (30 mL) Canadian maple syrup

1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh rosemary

2 cups (500 mL) mixed berries such as; sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

Place cream, vanilla, maple syrup and rosemary in a chilled mixing bowl.  Beat cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Divide fruit between four dessert dishes and garnish evenly with whipped vanilla cream. Makes 4 servings.

All recipes written and developed by Charmaine Broughton.  www.charmainebroughton.com

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Shake

1402328017489Thanks to FB and twitter, we all know by now there is a “National Day” for anything and everything edible.  Twinkie Day, Grilled Cheese Day, Oyster on the Half Shell Day and the list goes on.  Today, is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day (in the U.S.A.  BUT, any excuse to eat pie is a good one, eh?)! Strawberry Rhubarb happens to be my all time favourite 3.14 combo.  In honour of this “day” I put together a little something.  Don’t get too excited, it’s a post workout Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recovery Shake.  In other words: an excuse to get your sweat on.  Or, you could ditch the sweat, and the protein powder, and add vanilla ice cream instead.  Man, I’m brilliant!  Why did I not think of this before my morning trail run??!!??

Ontario strawberries are not quite in season yet, but thankfully I had some frozen berries hiding in the bottom of my freezer.  Outside my front door I have enough rhubarb to make all the Botox filled faces in Hollywood pucker.  Cheers to National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day.  From MY HAPPY, HEALTHY & VERY BUSY KITCHEN TO YOURS, ENJOY!

1 cup (250 mL) halved, frozen strawberries

½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh rhubarb

1 tsp (5 mL) minced fresh ginger root

¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon

1 tbsp (15 mL) liquid honey or Canadian maple syrup (*optional, if you find rhubarb a bit too tart, you will appreciate the added sweetness)

¾ cup (175 mL) water

1 scoop (30 g) vanilla flavoured protein powder of choice; whey, vegan or hemp

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until desired consistency.

Makes 1 (1 ¼ cup (310 mL)) serving.

*Recipe written and developed by Charmaine Broughton.  charmainebroughton.com

Twist On Butter Tart Recipes – Rogers Daytime

On Saturday, June 14th, 2014 I will be sitting on the judging panel at  Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland, Ontario.  An entire day devoted to stuffing my face full of Canada’s favourite dessert – and then deciding which one is “BEST”?  I really do have a great job!  I am super excited and very honoured to be part of this festival.  If you are looking for a “sweet” way to celebrate Father’s Day weekend, come join in the FUN in beautiful downtown Midland, Ontario.

What better way to end a fun butter tart segment on Rogers Daytime than eating my “twist on butter tart recipes”. With Daytime host Melanie, Elaine (*2013, runner up – professional baker category) Jodie James (*celeb judge), Barb (*festival founder), yours truly and Daytime host Alex. And yes, the cameras were still rolling as we were all indulging.

Here are a few “Twist on Butter Tart Recipes” I developed to help get the “raisin” rolling, and have YOU excited for an exciting weekend of food and fun at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival.  I am looking forward to meeting many of you on June 14th.  From my HAPPY, HEALTHY & VERY BUSY KITCHEN TO YOURS, ENJOY!

Gooey Butter Tart Brownies with Dried Raspberries & White Chocolate – Gluten Free

These sinful brownies won’t last long around a cottage campfire or back yard BBQ with friends.

1 (500 g) package, Gluten Free brownie mix (I use glutino – found in the health food section of most supermarkets), OR Chatelaine Magazine’s Brilliant Gluten Free Recipe *or your favourite regular brownie mix or recipe.

Butter Tart Topping

3/4 cup (175 mL) dark corn syrup

1/3 cup (75 mL) brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp (30 mL) brown rice flour *or 1 tbsp (15 mL) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried raspberries or raisins


2 oz (30 g) white chocolate, melted

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C).  Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Place brownie mixture in a parchment paper lined 8 X 8 inch square baking pan and set aside (*for best results spray parchment paper with cooking spray or brush with butter).  Place all filling ingredients (except for dried raspberries and white chocolate) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until very well combined (*or whisk with a fork in a large bowl).  Sprinkle raspberries evenly over brownie batter and pour butter tart mixture on top.  Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until top has just set. Remove from oven and cool completely.  For best results, refrigerate overnight before cutting.  Cut into 12 brownies and drizzle white chocolate evenly between brownies.  Store in an air tight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in freezer for up to 3 months.       


Coconut Butter Tart Sundaes

A simple “butter tart” inspired fresh fruit “sundae”.  Replace whip cream with 1 cup (250 mL) plain Greek style yogurt for a higher protein and lower fat dessert.

¼ cup (60 mL) each; dried blueberries, roughly chopped walnut halves and shredded sweetened toasted coconut

½ cup (125 mL) 35% whipping cream (chilled)

3 tbsp (45 mL) brown sugar

2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

½ tsp (2 mL) pure coconut extract

2 cups (500 mL) chopped mixed fruit such as; strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, sliced bananas

4 small waffle style bowls

2 tbsp (30 mL) Canadian maple syrup

Toss together dried blueberries, walnuts and coconut.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl beat whipping cream with brown sugar, vanilla and coconut extract until stiff peaks form.  To assemble: divide fruit mixture evenly between waffle bowls, top fruit evenly with whipped cream mixture, and divide walnut/coconut mixture evenly between bowls.  Drizzle maple syrup evenly on top of each.  Makes 4 servings.     


Brie Cheese Platter with Butter Tart Sauce

This divine “starter” is a guaranteed show stopper. It presents as beautifully as it tastes, and will have your guests raving for days. Serve as an appetizer or as a cheese course after dinner with Port.

1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar

½ cup (125 mL) Gay Lee butter

¼ cup (60 mL) corn syrup

½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda

½ cup (125 mL) whole salted peanuts (learn how I incorporate peanuts into my diet)

1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries

2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh rosemary

Pinch cayenne pepper

9 inch (1 kg) round double cream brie wheel, slightly warmed

Combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small sauce pot. Cook over medium heat stirring only once or twice until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Continue to cook for 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat and quickly stir in baking soda. Stir in peanuts, dried cranberries, rosemary and cayenne. Place brie wheel on a wooden cutting board or platter and pour caramel mixture over brie. Serve with an assortment of flat breads and crackers. Serves 12.

All recipes written and developed by Charmaine Broughton.  www.charmainebroughton.com