Freezing Herbs

One of my favourite things to plant in the garden are fresh herbs.  They smell fabulous and always add a great punch of flavour to many dishes – BBQed meats, salads, pasta dishes, even drinks – the list goes on!  Unfortunately, we have a VERY short growing season, so the optimal time for using these lovely fresh herbs is short.  Some herbs are hardy and you can over-winter them inside (like rosemary), others are not as hardy and love the warmth and sunlight summer provides (like basil).

There are a couple ways you can prolong the use of these herbs throughout the year that don’t include the hassle of trying (and failing) to over-winter the plants:

  • Drying: it’s easy to dry all kinds of herbs in your house.  You can cut herbs into bunches and tie them with string to hang in a cool, dry place.  Visit Getty Stewart’s site for more info on drying and preserving herbs.
  • Another great way to preserve these herbs is by freezing them.  A regular ice cube tray is the perfect way to portion the herbs out.

 

You can strip the leaves off the stalks of the plant – above is rosemary and oregano.  The rosemary leaves are not chopped and the larger oregano leaves are coarsely chopped.  Fill the cube about half full – about 2 tsp of fresh herbs.

Beside the oregano, I have added some dill to the tray as well.  

Before sliding it into the freezer, you can add either olive oil or water to these herbs to help preserve them.  For this post, I added some extra virgin olive oil to the oregano and rosemary:

 
And water was added to the dill:

Fill the cubes until the herbs are completely covered.

Once they have frozen, you can easily pop them out of the tray and into a freezer bag, which makes it super easy to take one cube out at a time.  They can be used for pretty much anything – add them to potatoes before roasting or grilling them in a package on the BBQ.  Or, you can put them in a sauce on the stove top.  

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Greek Barley Salad

This colourful Greek Barley Salad is packed full of flavour, fibre, and veggies. Using barley as the base to this salad has the benefit of giving it a huge nutritional punch while also being easy to prepare.

Greek Barley Salad

The recipe is very versatile. You can use pot or pearl barley to make this salad and feel free to make extra barley to freeze for future use. Any veggies you have on hand can be added or substituted to make this salad your own. We strongly recommend making the salad dressing in a mason jar so that you can shake to mix the ingredients well – this is a fun task for kids too!

Greek Barley Salad

Greek Barley Salad
This colourful Greek Barley Salad is full of veggies and packs a nutritional punch. Serve it as a dinner side or as part of a healthy lunch.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Pot or Pearl Barley
  2. 1 English Cucumber, chopped
  3. 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  4. 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  5. 1 cup Baby Tomatoes, slice in half
Dressing
  1. 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  2. 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  3. 1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  4. 1 Tsp Oregano
  5. pinch Salt
  6. pinch Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine barley with 2 cups of water and cook until tender (about 40 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, combine salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Shake and set aside.
  3. When barley is cool, combine with cucumber, onion, pepper, and baby tomatoes in a large bowl.
  4. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad and mix to combine.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
 For more information about barley, check out our past post!

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How to Freeze Rhubarb

How to Freeze Rhubarb

It’s the season for rhubarb, are you ready?

Rhubarb may be a new vegetable for you (yes, it’s a vegetable!) or you may find yourself coming into a whole bunch of it thanks to a kind coworker or friend. Your next thought may be “what can I do with this stuff!” Never fear, we’re here to share how to freeze rhubarb so you’re able to enjoy it year round!

A few important things about rhubarb:

  • The leaves are poisonous so make sure to cut them off (you can compost them)
  • The stalks have a sweet and tart taste and are great in pies, crisps, and jam. You can also make stewed rhubarb to top your ice cream.
  • It has been said that spring rhubarb is nicer to work with because it’s less woody. Why not take advantage while the pickings are plenty!
  • You don’t need to do anything (i.e. blanch) to the rhubarb before you freeze it.
  • Frozen rhubarb can be used in almost any way that fresh would be used in but be sure to check your recipes notes if you’re unsure.

How do Freeze Rhubarb:

1. Trim rhubarb stalks off the plant as close to the ground as you can.

2. Trim off the leaves (toss or use in your compost bin) and wash your stalks.

3. Chop into small pieces (0.5-1 cm in width).

4. Place in a freezer bag or container and freeze as is – I like to portion into 1-2 cups and label as such.

How to Freeze Rhubarb

5. You can freeze them individually on a tray so that you can portion out what you like when you like. This way requires more space initially but can be more convenient for portioning in the long run.

How to Freeze Rhubarb

Find more rhubarb facts from Getty Stewart here.

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Lemon Cranberry Scones

Lemon Cranberry Scones

One of my favourite fresh spring tastes is lemon.  It holds the promise of spring and all the wonderful fresh fruits that are yet to come.  These lemon cranberry scones are the perfect complement to the cheddar chive scone recipe that we shared last week.  Not too strong, but still enough to taste, the lemon is the perfect partner for the tartness of the dried cranberry.

A perfect companion to a cup of tea, enjoyed on the patio!

Lemon Cranberry Scones

 

Lemon Cranberry Scones
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup cold salted butter, grated
  2. 2 eggs, beaten
  3. 1/3 cup buttermilk
  4. 2 cups flour
  5. 2 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/4 tsp salt (increase to 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
  7. 2 tbsp sugar
Add-ins
  1. 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  2. zest of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and dried cranberries.
  3. In smaller bowl, combine eggs and buttermilk and beat well.
  4. Grate butter into dry ingredients using a box grater. Gently stir into dry ingredients.
  5. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients. Stir to bring all ingredients together and to form a slightly shaggy dough.
  6. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Use your hands to bring together, if necessary, but try not to handle the dough too much. Pat into a circle approximately 8" in diameter and 1" thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven when the bottoms are a light golden brown.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Cheddar Chive Scones

Cheddar Chive Scones

Scones are one of the easiest types of quick bread to make so over the next couple of weeks we’re going to share two of our favourite scone recipes – one savoury, and one sweet! These Cheddar Chive Scones are the perfect savoury scone to highlight the fresh spring chives that are springing up.

This recipe is very quick to put together and makes 8 pieces. They are the perfect scone to serve with soup or salad or to eat all by themselves with some butter. We dare you to eat only one!

Cheddar Chive Scones

 

Cheddar Chive Scones
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/4 tsp salt (increase to 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
  4. 1 tbsp sugar
  5. 1/4 cup cold butter, grated*
  6. 2 large eggs, beaten
  7. 1/3 cup buttermilk
Add-ins
  1. 3/4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  2. 2 tbsp chives, choped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well.
  3. Combine the grated butter and wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine to form a shaggy dough.
  5. Fold in the cheddar cheese and chives.
  6. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and form into a circle 6-8" in diameter and about 1-1.5" thick. Cut into 8 pieces and transfer to baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes and remove from oven when they have a golden brown bottom.
Notes
  1. If the dough seems to dry, feel free to add a splash more of buttermilk.
  2. *Use a cheese grater to grate the butter to more evenly distribute it throughout the dough
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Creating a Cheese Tray

Creating a Cheese Tray

At any kind of party, there is really nothing better than a fabulous cheese tray.  With the beginning of May, comes endless brunches, barbeques, and spring and summer nights in which a cheese tray could do no wrong.

Here are a few simple ideas that can help make your cheese tray appealing to ALL of your senses:

  • It is always best to go for a wide variety of cheeses: this means you want some hard and soft cheeses.  You also want a variety of tastes: play around with mild, strong, and smoked cheeses.  These will provide some visual interest as well.
  • Cheese is not the only thing that goes on a cheese tray – add some grapes or some nuts, like walnuts and almonds to add some texture.
  • To take your cheese tray to the next level, add some salami or prosciutto, and some olives to make it more of a charcuterie board. 

The next thing you need is some sort of vessel, to get the cheese to your mouth.  My #1 go-to is the cracker!  The options are endless in the cracker aisle, so feel free to go crazy with flavour here.  If you don’t love the cracker like I do, a baguette or a ciabatta loaf will do nicely as well.

Creating a Cheese Tray  

For the cheese tray above, we used brie, edam, a double smoked cheddar, and a jalapeno monterey jack.  Using a ciabatta as our bread, and some nuts, dried fruit, and grapes to break it up with some texture and colour.  Other cheeses you could use could be marble cheddar, goat cheese, blue cheese, or a crotonese.  An Italian crotonese is a very hard, crumbly cheese with a similar nutty taste and smell to parmesan.

To help you create your own wonderful cheese tray, here are a few helpful tips!

Cheese Tray Cheat Cheet

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Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing

Having a go-to potluck worthy salad in your repertoire in always a great idea. Not only can you prepare it in a pinch but if you always have the required ingredients in your kitchen, you can make it any time you need. This spinach salad with a raspberry dressing is packed with flavour and contains many ingredients that you may already have on hand in your kitchen.

Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing

This salad is also incredibly versatile and can be made with any combination of veggies you might find in your fridge. The dressing we created for this salad is made using pureed raspberries, making it 400% fancier than any other dressing you could buy at the store! We always have frozen raspberries in our freezer and combined with a few other pantry staples you can create a restaurant worthy dressing in a split second!

Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing

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Spinach Salad with Raspberry Dressing
This spinach salad with a raspberry dressing is packed with flavour and contains many ingredients that you may already have on hand in your kitchen.
Course Salads
Servings
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Course Salads
Servings
Ingredients
Salad
Dressing
Instructions
  1. Mash up raspberries to form a puree. Combine in a mason jar with the other dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Shake up your dressing to ensure it's mixed and serve it with the finished spinach salad.
Recipe Notes
  • You can add or substitute any of the vegetables in the salad for what you have available in your fridge.
  • Feel free to roast the pecans before adding them to your salad.
  • Store your leafy greens properly to get the most out of them.
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Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

There is no better way to enjoy fresh seasonal veggies than by eating them in a salad, and the best way to enjoy a salad is by adding pasta to it.  Pasta salad is one of my favourite summer side dishes.  It is incredibly versatile and you can put any vegetable you want in it.

 

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Pasta Salad
Course Salads, Side Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pasta Salad
Dressing
Course Salads, Side Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pasta Salad
Dressing
Instructions
Pasta Salad
  1. Bring a large pot with salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Rotini will take about 8-10 minutes for an al dente finish.
  2. Shred carrots and chop green onions. Prep all your vegetables for the salad: wash, core and seed, and chop. If using broccoli, the salad will turn out better if the broccoli is steamed for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and cool until room temperature. You can just leave the pasta until it's cooled, or to finish quicker, you can run some cold water over the pasta until it's a good temperature.
  4. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
Dressing
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl or measuring cup. When salad has been combined, dress the salad and mix thoroughly. If desired, crumble some feta cheese over the top.
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How to Store Leafy Greens

How to Store Leafy Greens

I don’t know about you, but too often I’ve bought a bag or container of spinach only to have half of it rot on me in the fridge. After learning few tips and tricks I’m able to better store my leafy greens to save money and extend their shelf life.

Today we’re going to share some of our favourite tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way for how to store leafy greens. When we use the term ‘leafy greens’ we’re talking about any leaf type produce, including: spinach, all types of lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, and beet tops. Whether from your own garden or the store, leafy greens should be stored properly to extend their shelf life and save you money!

Storage Temperature

We keep all of our leafy greens stored in the fridge. Warmer, room-temperatures are the perfect place for greens to start the rotting process. They are already very delicate and cooler fridge temperatures help them to last longer.

Air Flow

Another important thing to remember is air flow. Lots of air flow is necessary or the greens will start to rot in their packaging. There are a few ways you can increase air flow around your leafy greens:

  • Using vegetable produce bags (Ziploc brand). They have small holes in the bag to allow the greens to breathe. Avoid adding overly wet vegetables to these or the liquid will come through (think: tomatoes).
  • Keep greens in the bag they come in but cut the top off and ‘plump’ the bag to give the greens more room. Many of the bags you buy greens in are already breathable.
  • Keep greens in the plastic box-type container they came in. These boxes also have holes that provide some airflow. Be sure the leaves don’t get packed in or they will begin to rot underneath.

How to Store Leafy Greens

Moisture Control

Finally, controlling any excess moisture will help to extend the shelf life of your favourite greens. Excess moisture will collect on leaves and create a perfect place for them to start rotting. Adequate air flow helps eliminate moisture, but you can also adding a piece of paper towel to absorb any excess moisture or use a towel to dry off heartier leaves like kale or romaine lettuce. If you like to wash your greens before you put them in the fridge make sure they are dry before you store them!

How to Store Leafy Greens

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Ham and Leek Quiche

Ham and Leek Quiche

With spring now upon us, we get to enjoy a whole new crop of vegetables.  Leeks are a great spring vegetable which can be used in many different ways.  Here, we have developed a very tasty quiche that you can use them in, as well as your leftover Easter ham.

 

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Ham and Leek Quiche
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Pastry
Filling
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Pastry
Filling
Instructions
Pastry
  1. Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and cut into dry mixture with pastry cutter or two knives. The mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, beat together egg, vinegar, and cold water. Add to the flour mixture and stir together roughly with a fork so it comes together. You don't want to work the pastry too much; it's okay if it looks a bit shaggy when you're finished bringing it together.
  3. Flour your work surface and turn out the pastry. Cut in half and work with one half at a time. Roll until pastry is about 1/4 inch thick. Once the pastry is rolled out, carefully use the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Gently press the pastry into the edges of the plate and leave any extra around the edges until it has been filled. The pastry is quite resilient, so if it cracks it can easily be repaired simply by bringing the two edges together and pressing. The key is to move as quickly as possible - you don't want to leave the pastry on the counter for too long once it has been rolled.
Filling
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Once the pastry is ready, prepare your leeks. Wash and trim the dark green leaves. Slice thinly, about 1/8" thick, and saute over medium low heat until softened. This may take about 10-15 minutes and you can add some salt to draw out excess moisture. This will reduce the chances of your quiche turning out soggy.
  3. Prepare ham by trimming excess fat and chopping into 1/2" pieces. The bottom of the pastry should be well covered with ham.
  4. Break eggs into a bowl and add milk. Whisk together very well. You don't want any little pieces of yolk visible in the mixture. Season with freshly ground pepper. You can trim the edge of the pastry now, if needed.
  5. Once leeks are finished, add to the pie plate and pour egg mixture over top. Place pie plate onto a cookie sheet, just in case the quiche bubbles over. Slide into oven and bake for 50-55 minutes. The filling will be set, but not solid. It should be a light golden brown on top and the pastry will be golden around the edges.
Recipe Notes

The pastry recipe is good for 2-9-inch pie crusts.  Any extra pie crust can be stored in the fridge (up to 1 week) or freezer (up to 1 month), until you are ready to use it.

 

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