Sweet Cornbread Cake Recipe with Summer Berries

Sweet cornbread cake recipe with summer berries is extra moist and delicious.

Make sweet cornbread cake your new summer dessert.

If you’re a fan of cornbread you know that it has a natural, wholesome sweetness. Slathered with butter and a little jam or eaten plain alongside soup it’s the only bread I know that can travel from breakfast to dinner to dessert.

Sweet cornbread cake recipe with summer berries is extra moist and delicious.

But a true dessert cornbread (in my books) needs to be a little sweeter than your standard recipe. That’s why I love this sweet cornbread cake recipe. It’s sweeter than my other cornbread recipes (has 10 Tbsp. of sugar) but still isn’t as sweet as a regular cake, which means the cornmeal taste isn’t lost. A little molasses  rounds out the flavour, and molasses is also drizzled on top for added stickiness.

Sweet cornbread cake recipe with summer berries is extra moist and delicious.

This cake needs no frosting. Simply serve it with sweetened fresh berries. Sweet cornbread cake suits all of your favourite summer fruit, from rhubarb compote to strawberries, raspberries, sliced peaches, blueberries…

 

Sweet Cornbread Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup fine or medium cornmeal, spooned in
  • 1 ½ cups flour, spooned in
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses, divided
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups milk or buttermilk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line an 8” baking pan with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. In another bowl beat the eggs with 2 Tbsp. of the molasses. Whisk in the oil, butter and the milk. Gently whisk the wet mixture into the dry, stirring just until no lumps of flour remain.
  4. Pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake about 45 minutes, until the edge of the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  6. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.
  7. Drizzle with remaining Tbsp. of molasses before serving.

This cake is delicious served warm.

 

 

New BBQ eBook | 15 Recipes That Suit Summer

BBQ eBook An easy-to-download eBook featuring 15 recipes that are just right for summer.

This free BBQ eBook is an easy-to-download eBook featuring 15 recipes that are just right for summer.

You might be surprised to discover just how well molasses suits summer. In savoury sauces and marinades molasses adds depth and flavour that’s just right for your favourite barbecued foods, including seafood. It’s a tangy-sweet addition to simple homemade dressings that will set your salads apart, and molasses adds an unmistakable flavour and wholesomeness to easy summer baking and other treats. In the free BBQ eBook we’re sharing 15 ways to help you unwind around the table with family and friends this summer.

Download the Free BBQ eBook

 

In this new eBook you’ll find:

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Grilled Nectarine Salad with Chipotle Molasses Dressing – a summer recipe contest winner

grilled nectarine salad with chipotle molasses dressing

Is there anything more lovely than grilled summer fruit on a salad?

In July we ran a recipe contest with Food Bloggers of Canada members. The challenge was to create recipes that suited summer, using molasses. There were three categories: Salad & Side, Barbecue Main Dish, and Something Sweet. This grilled nectarine salad was the winner in the Salad & Side category.

This grilled nectarine salad is the best thing I have eaten all summer — and I eat a lot of very good food. It’s gorgeous, with a chipotle molasses dressing that has a great sweet-with-heat balance. The nectarines soften when they’re grilled and the sugars caramelize a bit, which makes them irresistible. Both the dressing and the nectarine flavours go beautifully with the fresh, creamy goat cheese that you nestle in beside the fruit.

The recipe was created by Leigh-Ann Kearley of Sugar N’ Stuff Blog. (Leigh-Ann was also a finalist in our cookie contest last year with her Rum Runner Molasses Cookies).  Check out her site…She has loads of great molasses recipes.

Grilled Nectarine Salad with Chipotle Molasses Dressing

Serves 4

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (amount depends on how much heat you like.)*
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

 For the salad:

  • 2 nectarines, scrubbed, pitted and sectioned
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Mixed salad greens (enough for 4)
  • About 3 oz. soft goat cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

 To make the dressing:

  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a blender and let it run until everything is pureed

To grill the nectarines:

  1. Toss the nectarine slices in olive oil and ensure cut sides are well coated. Place cut side down in a grill pan and cook until grill lines form (1-2 minutes per side). Flip and repeat. Remove from grill.
  2. Toss salad greens with chipotle dressing to coat.
  3. Transfer to a platter and top with grilled nectarines and goat cheese rounds.
  4. Sprinkle with onions and drizzle with a bit more chipotle dressing

 *I use 1-2 tsp. worth of puree from the can of chipotle peppers

 Meet the other contest winners:

Blueberry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Blueberry bourbon barbecue sauce

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Feeding a Crowd with Ease – Recipes and Tips for Summer Celebrations

How to feed a crowd

Recipes and Tips for Summer Celebrations

I have no recollection of Canada Day celebrations when I was growing up and I think it’s because our summers were like one extended family picnic. Week days were spent at the beach and weekends and holidays were for family day trips.

These trips always involved great picnics.  We were often with our cousins and there were mounds of food. We’d have sandwiches, hard boiled eggs and cookies for lunch but then our moms would cook great feasts around fire pits for supper. The menu didn’t vary much which was partly why it was doable for my mom with seven kids in tow.

Beach and backyard meals and snacks don’t need to be complicated. After all, the whole point of these gatherings is to spend time with family and friends. Here are 5 tips of feeding a crowd with ease:

Choose make-ahead dressings & sauces:

Save time on the day of your gathering by making dressings and sauces a few days ahead of time. Make a double or triple batch so you have extras on hand for a few weeks

Molasses vinaigrette for Strawberry Spinach Salad:

strawberry-salad-1

Tip: Fresh tender greens are a great summer treat but they can wilt if left for a while with dressing on them. If your salad needs to hold up for a while choose sturdier greens like fresh baby spinach.

Skewers, or kabobs, are a great way to feed a crowd:

teriyaki salmon kabobs

Kabobs cook quickly and are easy to cook on the barbecue or in the oven. This Teriyaki Sauce recipe works well with salmon, pork and chicken so you could use one sauce recipe for all three types of protein.

Tip: Make large and small kabobs so guests can choose according to appetites and food doesn’t get wasted.

 

Serve Worry-free salads and sides:

potato salad in molasses vinaigrette non-mayonaise

Potato salad is a summer classic but mayonnaise and heat is a worrisome combination. Make this French-style Potato Salad (no mayo) to avoid mayonnaise.

Tip: Make it a day ahead to let the flavours meld and use fresh baby potatoes. They’re delicious and don’t need to be peeled.

 

Make Big-Batch Desserts:

strawberry rhubarb pudding cake

My mom was a master of finding big batch dessert recipes to feed a crowd. Sometimes it’s as simple as doubling a recipe. You can double this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pudding Cake and bake it in a 9”x13” baking dish or pan.

Enjoy Campfire treats even when there is no campfire:

chewy molasses crinkle cookies

These are the desserts I feed children at our gatherings. They’re easy and always a hit.

Tip: Put your kids in charge of making the oven s’mores for the other young guests. It will free you up to serve dessert to the adults.

Oven S’Mores with Chewy Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Indoor S’Mores – all the classic s’mores ingredients tossed together in a pan and chilled

s'mores bars

.

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Molasses Roasted Onions take Burgers from Average to Awesome

molasses roasted onions

Take your burgers from average to awesome on Father’s Day.

Caramelized onions are the easiest way to elevate just about any meal. When cooked for a long time, onions develop a rich, savoury sweetness that complements meats, cheeses and anything spicy. The recipe calls for a little balsamic vinegar (or cider vinegar) which balances the sweet and gives the flavour a bright edge.

Try these onions as a topper on beef, chicken or even salmon burgers. Leftovers can go on pizza.

Molasses roasted onions 5sm

Burger topper combos:

  • Extra sharp cheddar, grainy mustard & molasses roasted onions
  • Goat cheese, prepared pesto & molasses roasted onions
  • Blue cheese & molasses roasted onions

What burger topper combo do you suggest?

Tip: Make these a few days ahead and reheat them on the grill.

Molasses Roasted Onions

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions peeled and sliced thickly
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar
  • One sprig of fresh thyme (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Make a packet with tin foil and pour the ingredients in the foil. Wrap well and then wrap again in foil so you have a double layer.
  3. Bake in the oven at 350 F or on the BBQ over medium, for about 40 minutes.
  4. These onions store well. Make them ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to a week.

 

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Ginger Molasses Biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake

ginger molasses biscuits for strawberry shortcake

Bring on summer!

A classic biscuit-style strawberry shortcake is one of my favourite desserts. It’s a down-to-earth treat that always feels special, particularly when in-season strawberries are in the markets.

This is the dessert my daughter always requests for her birthday, although her birthday is in late January. I understand where she’s coming from though: strawberry shortcake represents the sun-baked promise of summer after a long cold winter.

ginger molasses biscuits

Ginger molasses biscuits are a delicious addition to your strawberry shortcake. The flavours of molasses and ginger pair beautifully with strawberries and whipped cream and the biscuits are just sweet enough to work in a dessert.

Healthy tip: For a lighter take on your strawberry shortcake, mix your whipped cream with Greek yogurt (half and half).  

Ginger Molasses Biscuits for Strawberry Shortcake

Makes about 10 3” biscuits

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cold milk
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger.
  2. In another bowl combine the milk and vinegar and let sit for five minutes.
  3. Cut butter into the dry ingredients, until butter is pea-sized.
  4. Stir molasses into milk mixture and pour over flour-butter mixture.
  5. Stir gently until barely combined.
  6. Scrape dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until dough comes together and is mostly smooth (about 10 times).
  7. Gently pat or roll out dough to ¾” thickness. Cut into rounds with a 3” biscuit cutter.
  8. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the fridge for an hour (if you have time).

When ready to bake:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Place biscuits in oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 400 F.
  3. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until done.

 

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Get Grilling with our FREE BBQ Basics eBook

Barbecue Basics 2015 sm

Our new BBQ Basics eBook makes it easy to get grilling

 

The BBQ eBook features 15 recipes for summer backyard favourites with a tasty twist. Many of the recipes offer easy variations to help you make them your own: Try different beer in the barbecue sauce, substitute a new kind of oil in the dressing recipe or change up the fruit in your summer gingerbread.

The eBook includes recipes for sauces, marinades, salads, dressings and desserts.

Download our new BBQ Basics eBook

In this new eBook we show how adaptable summer recipes can be, and how easy it is to incorporate new recipes into your backyard entertaining.

BBQ Basics eBook

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Molasses Marinated Broccoli Salad

molasses marinated broccoli salad

It’s always great to have a stash of salad recipes that venture from the lettuce sort. In fact, a group of friends and I were joking about a potluck I hosted where everyone, everyone, brought a salad. Fortunately they weren’t all leafy green salads.

You can make a great summer meal of salads when there’s a good variety of vegetables and textures involved (and you have laidback guests who are enjoying the wine). 

This marinated broccoli salad recipe from my sister-in-law Jane adds great variety to a potluck and is a welcome change from basic steamed broccoli.

It tastes especially good when it has had a chance to sit for a few hours to mellow the texture and flavour of the raw broccoli. What’s better, it can last in the fridge for a few days and maintains its crunch. Continue reading

Double ginger molasses ice cream and memories of the ice cream truck

 Double Ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

My earliest ice cream memories are of the sound of the bell on the ice cream truck.

I remember the thrill and anticipation.

But I don’t remember the actual ice cream truck. And I have no memories of actually buying an ice cream at the side of the road.

It all makes me wonder if there really was an ice cream truck in my neighbourhood. It makes me wonder if my older brothers and sisters were teasing me and my twin brother when they’d tell us they heard the bell and send us running to the end of the driveway.

Double ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

My next ice cream memories are of eating Dairy Queen Dilly Bars. I remember the swirl of the chocolate coating the feel of the first bite to crack through it. I can still picture drips of vanilla ice cream dribbling down the stick and I remember thinking it was a poor design to have that much ice cream balanced on one little stick.

I remember Neopolitan ice cream in a carton at my birthday parties. And I remember serving myself butterscotch ripple ice cream, searching out the veins of butterscotch.

I have vivid memories of Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor Maine and their homemade ginger ice cream (oh so creamy and studded with crystalized ginger). I used to order it in a dish so no dribbles would be lost as my husband and I roamed the streets of that pretty town.

And now I bring you to a brand new ice cream memory, my mom’s ginger molasses ice cream. Finally, after 14 years, I’m eating homemade ginger ice cream again, and I’m pretty excited about it.

 

Double ginger molasses ice cream with powdered and crystalized ginger

 

Ginger molasses ice cream

  • 3 cups 35% cream
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. powdered ginger
  • ½ cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
  1.  Bring 2 cups of the cream and the 1 cup of milk to a boil in a heavy saucepan.
  2. In another bowl whisk together egg yolks and molasses.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg-molasses mixture.
  4. Return the mixture to the saucepan until the mixture thickens and leaves a path on the back of the spoon ( 185°F)
  5. Remove from heat, whisk in the powdered ginger and remaining 1 cup of cream.
  6. Place custard in fridge till well cooled. (Can be made 2 days ahead)
  7. Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  8. Stir in candied ginger
  9. Freeze

Recipe adapted from our recipe for coffee molasses ice cream.

 

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Snow peas and red pepper salad and my family’s best ever surprise party

Snow pea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

For my mom and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary we managed to pull off a big surprise party, in their house, no less.

My mom is a very sharp woman and we were never able to sneak much past her when we were growing up, so for my six siblings and I to succeed with the surprise was a huge accomplishment.

Much was in our favour…

Conveniently, we had a big rowing regatta (the re-enactment of the Paris Crew race in Renforth) as a helpful decoy, a way to get mom and dad out of the house and reason enough for my twin brother, a former rower, to come home for the weekend. Another brother who was living in Minnesota was home for a visit too.

Snowpea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

But making the party a total surprise wasn’t without its near misses…

My brother who was tasked with getting mom out of the house (dad had gone ahead) to make way for the caterer had us all near heart failure when he didn’t arrive at the appointed time.

It was not looking good when suddenly, through the kitchen window I saw his car round the corner (practically on two wheels he was in such a hurry).

As he and mom drove out of the yard the caterer’s van came up our street.

Then, as mom and dad walked along the sidewalk toward their vantage point for the race, another brother and his family (surprise visitors for the party) drove right by, in their distinctive red car. My brother and his wife spied my parents but thanks to the commotion mom and dad didn’t notice.

And when mom and dad arrived home from the race to a yard full of cars they still didn’t suspect a thing. They assumed I had invited a bunch of friends over, until mom caught a glimpse of an old family friend through the window.

“What is Al Barry doing in our living room with a drink in his hand?” she said. “…Oh!”

Gotcha!

Snowpea and red pepper salad with walnut dressing pretty on a buffet table and so delicious

We had the party partially catered and then we all pitched in with extra appetizers and salads. That was probably the last time I made this salad. For years it made the family party rounds and then was somehow forgotten, only to be rediscovered a couple of months ago in and old hand-written cookbook of mine from the early 1990’s. I can’t recall the book it came out of but mom and I can both picture the salad, lovely and bright in a pretty blue pottery bowl on their dining room table.

Leafy salads are great but sometimes it’s nice to have a salad with a bit more crunch and colour, which is just what this salad offers.

 

Snow peas and red pepper salad

  • ¾ lb. snow peas
  • ½ lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Walnut orange dressing:

  • 1 small clove of garlic, pressed
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. walnut oil (or olive oil)
  • Pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  1. Top and string peas.
  2. Blanch peas in boiling water for 1 ½ to two minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse immediately under cold water. Dry thoroughly.
  4. In ungreased skillet over medium heat toast the sesame seeds until lightly browned, shaking the pan often
  5. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake until well combined (or whisk together in a bowl)
  6. Toss vegetables with dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
  7. Serve immediately.

Many dear friends and family who were at that party years ago are no longer with us. It’s a good reminder to celebrate with people who are special to you every chance you get.

My family’s recipe for marinated tomato salad was also on the buffet table at the big surprise party. Here’s the recipe:

Tomatoes

Steak kabobs with molasses chili marinade and a risky surprise

Steak kabobs with molasses chili marinade

My friend Nadine took down a kitchen wall when her boyfriend and my husband were away on their annual fishing trip.

He had no idea.

It was a surprise, kind of like a gift to him.

All sorts of people were in on it which made the whole event even more exciting (and covert).  His mom and dad, brother and sister in law came from out of town to help and an electrician uncle came over too.

It’s hard to feed a crowd when your kitchen is in a shambles so I invited them all over for supper on Saturday night. They brought some food and I prepared a mishmash of dishes.

We had a big, fun family-style meal and joked that may be next year we could all take down a wall in my kitchen to surprise my husband.

Steak kabobs with molasses chili marinade

I had a two-pound sirloin steak from our local farmers’ market so decided to make kabobs to help it go further. This molasses chili marinade was a hit and tasted great the next day too.

Normally I would have cooked these on the grill but last weekend was not a barbecue weekend. We had record rainfall in my part of the province so I cooked the kabobs under the broiler.

Steak kabobs with molasses chili marinade

Steak kabobs with molasses chili marinade

Adapted from  www.cookincanuck.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs steak, cut in 1″- 1 1/2″ cubes

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together brown sugar, molasses, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, chili powder and pepper until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Place steak cubes in the marinade and toss them around with your hands until well  coated.
  3. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours, covered, tossing occasionally.
  4. If using wooden skewers soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Thread meat on skewers, leaving space in between the cubes so they cook evenly.
  6. Turn the oven to broil.
  7. Place the kabobs on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil 4-6 inches from the heat.
  8. Turn after 3-4 minutes and then check for doneness after another 3-4 minutes. Continue cooking to your preference.
  9. Reserve the marinade and simmer in a small pot for 10 minutes. Strain and serve with the kabobs.

Looking for more barbecue ideas to help sustain you through your kitchen reno? You might like our spice rubbed ribs with molasses slather.

Spice-rubbed ribs

 

Molasses lime grilled chicken and how to become an “oven” barbecue queen

Molasses and lime grilled chicken. A simple marinade with garlic, lots of fresh lime juice and zest, a touch of heat from the spice and sweet molasses

I used to be terrified of gas barbecues.

I’m not a timid person but the gas grills I grew up with were dangerous.

Singe-your-eyebrows dangerous.

That’s because the starter button was always broken. (When dad was away we kids  did not line up to light the barbecue.)

This is why:

We had to light the barbecue with a little match, reaching in that tiny side hole, all the while trying to keep our bodies stretched as far away from the barbecue as possible.

Turn on the gas. Step away. Strike the match. Reach it toward the tiny hole. Whoosh!

See what I mean?

Sometimes, something got a little singed.

That’s reason one.

lime 4

Reason two:

Our barbecue is stored in the garage so we set up a little wooden ramp to haul it out of the side door and onto the grass.

The distance between the kitchen and the barbecue is about 30 strides and includes a door and six steps.

I am not a lazy person but I honestly can’t be bothered running back and forth from the kitchen to the grill. Putting something on the BBQ is not like putting a cake in the oven. Stuff on the grill needs to be tended. So do things in the kitchen.

That’s why I do most of my grilling in the oven. It’s just practical.

I can’t be the only home cook who thinks the barbecue isn’t actually a convenience. Am I?

Molasses and lime grilled chicken. A simple marinade with garlic, lots of fresh lime juice and zest, a touch of heat from the spice and sweet molasses

Molasses and lime grilled chicken

Marinade:

  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 1 ½ limes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • 1 Tbsp. Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. chipotle powder (or 1 Tbsp. chili powder)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

 

  • About 3 lbs. chicken pieces, skin on
  1. In a small bowl combine the marinade ingredients.
  2. Arrange the chicken pieces in a glass baking dish and pour over the marinade.
  3. Let chicken marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to three hours.

To cook:

Oven method:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place dish with chicken (marinade and all) in the oven and bake, basting often, until done (about 30 minutes but will depend on size of your chicken pieces).

BBQ method:

Preheat grill to medium, turn off one burner and place chicken pieces on “off” side of grill. Close lid and cook until done, turning often.

Recipe slightly adapted from www.alldayIdreamaboutfood.com

molassed and lime grilled chicken with chipotle powder

Have you tried our Finger lickin’ oven barbecue chicken with molasses slather?

One more thing…

If you’re in search of family-friendly food that’s easy to prepare, healthy and tastes good, then sign up to receive blog posts by email. The sign-up form is on the top right hand side of this page. We’d love to send you our monthly newsletter too. Our Making Life Delicious newsletter includes cooking tips, menu ideas and featured recipes. Here’s the link to our monthly email sign-up form.

 

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Oven BBQ chicken

Julie’s rhubarb barbecue sauce

rhubarb barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet

I still have a bit of rhubarb in the fridge and plan to raid a friend’s patch on the weekend so I’ll have some in the freezer. When it’s snowing in February I like to make summer pies and pretend…

In the meantime I’m enjoying using up lots of fresh rhubarb and settling into the summer-ish weather that has finally come our way. My kids have been swimming in the river and the brook, they’re wearing shorts to school and I have stocked up on sunscreen.

rhubarb barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet

But we haven’t pulled the barbecue out yet.

I love the idea of barbecuing but I lack talent and know-how. There is also the fear factor.

May be it was one too many half-cooked, half burned chicken legs at community barbecues while I was growing up. Although more than likely my aversion is related to the jury-rigged gas barbecues I grew up with.

Why is it the handy starter button always conked out?

We’d end up poking a lit match through the little hole in the side of the BBQ, and hope for the best.

There are videos on YouTube of people who do things like that.

As a result, I do a lot of “oven” barbecuing. Works for me.

rhubarb barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet

Now let me tell you how great rhubarb is in a BBQ sauce. The sour, puckering flavour of rhubarb is a perfect foil for the tangy sweet of molasses and the cooked rhubarb gives the sauce lovely texture. This recipe would work with frozen rhubarb too.

 

Julie’s Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce recipe

Slightly adapted from Dinner with Julie blog

  • 2-3 large stalks of rhubarb, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  1. In a small saucepan simmer the rhubarb with the water until the rhubarb is very soft.
  2. In a medium pot sauté the onions in the oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Add the rhubarb mixture along with the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer; cook for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
  4. Puree

Makes about 2 cups. From Dinner with Julie

rhubarb barbecue sauce is tangy and sweet

Try my Uncle George’s Beer Barbecue Sauce recipe

Beer barbecue sauce recipe

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Chipotle beer marinade & how to BBQ the perfect steak

Chipotle beer marinade for steak

I am no barbeque expert. In fact, I’m very much a beginner. I like the idea of cooking outside but it makes for a lot of running in and out of the house. If there were two of me I’m sure I’d get better at it.

But, I have an expert teacher two doors down. My brother-in-law, Phil, is an extraordinary grill master.

Last weekend he gave me a tutorial on how to barbeque the perfect steak:

  • Preheat grill to 350 F. Lay the steak on the grill at an angle (makes the grill marks look nicer).
  • Cook for 2 minutes and flip.
  • Cook 2 more minutes and flip again, rotating 90 degrees (so you get the crisscross grill marks).
  • Cook 2 more minutes and flip one more time, again rotating 90 degrees.
  • That’s it, eight minutes for your average steak. Thicker steaks will take a little longer.

Chipotle beer marinade for sirloin steak

  • 3 tbsp canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce pureed
  • 3tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 3 tbsp Crosbys Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn, crushed
  • 3 bottles of dark ale
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2-2 ½ lbs sirloin steak
  1. Combine all ingredients (except the steak). Divide the marinade in half.
  2. Place steaks in a heavy- duty resalable plastic bag or shallow glass or ceramic dish, add half the marinade and refrigerate overnight or for several hours.
  3. Remove meat from marinade, pat dry with paper towels and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Take the unused half of the marinade and place in saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until marinade is reduced by half. Use the marinade to glaze the meat near the end of its time on the grill.
  5. Preheat grill to 350
  6. Lightly oil the grill.  Place meat on grill and cook for 2 minutes and flip. Cook 2 more minutes and flip again. Cook 2 more minutes and flip one more time. (8 minutes in total). Apply glaze during final 4 minutes of cooking.
  7. Transfer steak to cutting board or tent in foil and allow to rest several minutes. Cut in thin slices across the grain of the meat. (Try not to cut it in uneven slabs like I did below).

Serves six

Chipotle beer marinade for steak

I confess I took a shortcut with this recipe.  I was missing a few things so for the marinade I only used the first nine ingredients (omitted that carrots, celery, bay leaves, celery salt and cilantro) and I used amber ale because that’s what we had). That’s summer for you. Isn’t it great to have recipes that can handle shortcuts? The flavours are deeper when you make the recipe properly but the shortcut is pretty darn good too.

What’s your perfect way to barbeque a steak, or any meat for that matter?

Bourbon molasses salmon – simple with a little panache

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Much of what I love about summer has to do with simplicity. No school lunches to pack, no socks, fewer washes and less clutter by the back door. My kids would be happy to live in their swim suits (even though they don’t go swimming every day) and “bedtime” is a very fluid term.

I still like to eat well though I just don’t want to spend too much time inside.

That’s where a marinade comes in handy. It takes about five minutes to pull together and then you can let it sit while you do something else. If you only have 30 minutes to let it marinate that’s okay too. Fish cooks quickly (whether prepared on the BBQ or in the oven) and pairs well with raw veggies and cold grain salads. (Try it with marinated tomatoes!)

I still don’t have the hang of grilling, especially fish. (Those lovely grill marks on the salmon in the photo are courtesy of my friend Nancy and her big green egg.) But I keep trying and have discovered that even BBQ messes are tasty.

Any BBQ tips? I could use a little help…

Bourbon molasses salmon

  • 1 lb fillet of salmon, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine salmon and marinade ingredients in a dish or Ziploc bag and let marinate for 2-3 hours (refrigerated).

Cook on a 450 F barbeque, starting on the skin side. (Four to five minutes on each side should give you a moist salmon) This can also be cooked in a 450 F oven, if you’re BBQ-challenged like I am.

 

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Marinated tomato salad with garlicky paprika vinaigrette

Tomatoes

 Some women are crazy about shoes but for me it’s tomatoes. Fresh, local, field-ripened tomatoes. When they’re in season I can’t get enough of them.

I grew up eating this marinated tomato salad at big family parties where the food was laid out on the dining room table and served buffet style. Nestled in among the plates of ham and potato salad this salad was stunningly beautiful and added a welcomed variety to the standard fare.

To add substance nestle slabs of feta or fresh mozzarella in among the tomatoes. Be sure to serve it with crusty bread to sop up all of the dressing.

When summer tomatoes are at their peak this is my favourite way to eat them.

Marinated Tomato Salad 

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs (oregano, basil, chives…)

Marinade*:

  • 2 tsp spice mix (see recipe below)
  • 1 tsp Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Salt & pepper

Spice mix

  • 2 ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ – ½ tsp dried chipotle pepper or cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  1. Slice the tomatoes and lay them in a dish that’s deep enough to accommodate the marinade without it dribbling over the sides.
  2. Pour over the marinade and let the flavours blend for a couple of hours. Sprinkle with herbs before serving.
  3. If you’d like to make this a bit more substantial nestle some slabs of feta in among the tomatoes. Or you can serve grilled feta on the side.

*You’ll have way more marinade than you need so save the extra to use as a salad dressing.

 

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Beer barbecue sauce with molasses – let summer begin!

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This homemade beer barbecue sauce with molasses is simple and so flavourful. Use it on chicken, steak, vegetables, whatever. It’s great for oven “barbecuing” too.

This is that last day of school for my kids so the official kick off to summer in my books. The occasion calls for a summer barbecue to celebrate two months of freedom and a break from the morning rush.

This beer barbecue sauce recipe came from my Uncle George decades ago. He was very into grilling and we were not so this recipe helped us along. I can’t say we ever became a family of barbecue aficionado but our meals made on the grill could pass with a push.

I have always felt out of my element cooking with the barbecue so more often than not default to “oven” barbecuing. I suspect the distance between the kitchen and the barbecue is much to blame since all of that running back and forth to manage things cooking in both places is often more effort than it’s worth. Still, I have somewhat mastered the art of indirect cooking on our backyard grill. It’s a wonderful method for half chickens and is more relaxing since there is no need to hover over the flames. Instead you simply heat the grill to medium, turn off one side, place the chicken on the “off” side and close the lid. There is a little moving and flipping required from time to time since the side of the bird closest to the heat cooks more quickly but still, it’s fairly low maintenance.

When the chicken is pretty much cooked through I apply a few layers of this sauce during the final 10 minutes or so of cooking.

To change up this recipe use different types of beer. We have always made beer barbecue sauce with a locally brewed lager but I had a note from someone who tried it with a sturdy stout beer and had great success.

Beer Barbecue Sauce with Molasses

  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (look for gluten-free if nexessary)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup beer
  1. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp. of oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes. (Sauce will thicken as it cools.)
  2. Brush barbecue sauce on grillables during the last few minutes of grilling.

Nutritional info: Per Tbsp. Calories: 24, Fat: 0 g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 29.5 mg, Carbs: 5.4 g, Sugar: 3.3 g

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Spice rubbed ribs with molasses slather

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When I read through this recipe I can’t help but think of a day at the spa. (A nice hot soak, an all-over scrub then a soothing massage…)

These ribs are a cinch to make, even for a first-timer like me. And they’re fun to eat. Messy. But fun. After the braising step they could be cooked on the BBQ if you want to move things outside.

This recipe is a variation of the recipe for  finger-licking oven BBQ chicken that I posted a while back. Both are an adaptation of a recipe from Food & Drink magazine and as you can see, the possibilities with the spice rub and the slather are  endless. Who knows what I’ll try it on next…

Spice rubbed ribs with molasses slather

  • 2 racks of back ribs (4-5 pounds)
  • 1 cup of beer (or 1 cup broth or stock)

Spice Rub:

  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

Slather:

  • ½ cup Crosby’s Fancy Molasses
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Braise: Remove membrane covering the bony side of the ribs. In a large roasting pan lay ribs in a single layer meaty side down. Pour over the beer, cover well and braise at 325 F for an hour.

Rub*: Remove ribs from pan and rub with the spice mixture. Cut into single ribs. Line a large roasting pan with foil or parchment paper. Place the ribs in a single layer, meaty side up. Bake uncovered at 300 for 15 minutes (Can flip half way through). Drain fat from pan.

Slather*: Combine slather ingredients and coat meaty side with a third of the sauce. Bake ribs uncovered another five minutes. Baste again and bake another five minutes.

Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

*You can combine the final two steps into one (rub & slather) and finish the ribs on the barbecue over medium heat.

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