Summer is finally around the corner and our food palate is about to get a whole lot fresher and more local. A hot day calls for summer foods – I call them ‘cool foods’. Some warmer cultures around the world believe that hot foods cool off the body – that’s hot as in spicy, not hot as in temperature. It works at times but I still like having something cool to refresh my body on a hot day. More so, I love food full of flavour that is light yet satisfying.
The following recipes are tried and true – perfect for a barbecue setting, kids in the backyard or just putting your feet up and enjoying our valley views.
Banana ‘Ice Cream’ with Sweet & Salty Almonds
4 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin rounds;
30g (1¼oz) finely chopped roasted almonds;
2 tsp plus 2 tbsp good-quality maple syrup;
Pinch of coarse sea salt;
120ml (4fl oz) unsweetened almond milk;
1 tsp pure vanilla extract;
1. Freeze the banana slices in a single layer on a tray or plate lined with parchment or wax paper. Once the slices are frozen, use them immediately or keep frozen in a zip-top plastic bag or airtight container for up to a month.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the almonds with 2 tsp of the maple syrup and the pinch of salt and set the mixture aside.
3. Combine the frozen banana slices, the almond milk, the remaining 2 tbsp of the maple syrup, and the vanilla in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is the texture of soft ice cream, scraping down the sides as necessary. Don’t worry if the mixture is not totally smooth at first – once the bananas start to break down and defrost in the food processor, they’ll give in and the ‘ice cream’ will take shape quickly.
4. Spoon the banana ‘ice cream’ into bowls immediately and sprinkle each serving with a bit of the almond mixture.
Greek Puff Pastry Chicken
3 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 egg yolk
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons oregano pesto
1/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled herbed feta cheese
1 frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed, cut in half
1. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine crushed garlic and egg yolk. Place chicken breasts in a shallow glass dish and spread both sides with egg mixture. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight (recommended).
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
3. Place one half of the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured board. Place 1/2 cup spinach in the center of the pastry sheet. Remove one chicken breast from marinade, shaking off any excess, and place on top of spinach. Spread 1 tablespoon pesto over chicken, layer with half the sundried tomatoes, sprinkle with half the feta cheese, and top with 1/2 cup spinach. Fold pastry sheet around chicken, using fingers or fork to seal pastry seam. Place chicken seam side down on baking sheet. Repeat steps with the second half of the puff pastry sheet and remaining chicken breast.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting through center of chicken breast; if juices run clear, chicken is cooked.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savour fabulous seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages including B.C. wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape.