Images: Andreas Trauttmansdorff
Don’t miss a minute of these idyllic summer days. Whether you’re in the city or at the lake, savour the freshest fare alfresco, cottage style.
Some might feel that as a beautiful day of summer entertaining draws to a close, afternoon visitors should gather their things and gracefully make their exit. We beg to differ. In fact, that special time – when day turns to evening and candles are lit, outdoor lights glow, the air is soft and wine flows freely – summons a kind of formal relaxation that’s perfect for the hosts to move into a casually elegant feast easily prepared with the simplest ingredients and the freshest of flavours. This is no chips-and-dip meal cobbled together on paper plates and plastic cups. This is succulent lobster, delicately seasoned radishes and just-picked asparagus with tender herbs. This is summer at its best. This is bliss.
Recipe: Cedar-planked lobster tails with spicy lemon jalapeño vinaigrette
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup good quality olive oil, plus more for grilling
- 6 uncooked lobster tails (7 to 8 oz each),
- Halved lengthwise
- 2 untreated cedar planks (7" x 14" or similar), soaked in water for 2 hours
1 Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the pepper on the hot grill and cook until charred on all sides, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then remove the charred skin from the jalapeno and cut the pepper in half, discarding the seeds. Finely dice the jalapeno.
2 Place the diced pepper in a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar and sugar; cover and shake well to blend. Add the oil and replace the lid. Shake the mixture again until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3 Brush the cut side of the lobster tails lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the cedar planks on the grill, close the lid and heat for 4 minutes. Arrange the lobster tails, cut side down, on top of the planks. Close the lid of the grill and cook until meat is opaque, not transparent, and firm to the touch, about 8 to 10 minutes.
4 Serve the lobster tails with a drizzle of the lemon jalapeno vinaigrette on top and more on the side for dipping.
Tip: Cedar planks can be found in the fish department at most grocery stores. Soak them before use by fully submerging the planks in cold water for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe: White asparagus with fava beans & sorrel
- 1 lb thin white asparagus, peeled, with stems trimmed
- 3 lbs fresh fava beans, shelled
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sorrel
1 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water; set aside. Add the asparagus to the pot and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
2 Remove the asparagus from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place the spears in the ice bath to cool.
3 Remove and trim the spears diagonally into 2" lengths; set aside. Add the fava beans to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the beans to the ice water, cool and drain. Peel the outer membrane from the fava beans; set aside.
4 Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the sorrel to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the sorrel has nearly dissolved. Add the asparagus and the beans to the pan and heat gently until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
5 Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Tip: To peel the membrane from the fava beans, use your thumbnail or a small knife to pierce the rounded edge, then gently squeeze from the opposite side to release the inner bean. Fava bean pods will keep refrigerated for 3 days.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe: Roasted radishes with watercress and mint
- 1-¼ lbs medium-sized radishes, trimmed and quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups fresh watercress, washed and drained, thick stems removed
- 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the radishes with the olive oil in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2 Transfer to an oven-safe skillet and roast until golden and tender when pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes.
3 Remove the pan from the oven, add the watercress and stir until the watercress is slightly wilted. Stir in the mint and serve immediately.
Tip: Roasting radishes sweetens and mellows their flavour. Choose golf ball-sized radishes and quarter them for best results.
Makes 6 servings.