Taste of Summer at The Village Grocer

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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 

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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 

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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