Sunday Summer Salads & Celebration

It’s Sunday and it’s so hot and humid in Toronto, the humidex is probably about 38 degrees Celsius outside, the equivalent about near 100 degrees Farenheit like you just walked into the steam room at the gym.

It’s one of those days when you don’t want to cook because it’s just going to heat up the kitchen, however it was my daughter’s graduation lunch and hungry guests would be arriving shortly.

My menu plans included grilled rosemary, fig and black pepper sausages, chicken with sun-dried tomato sausages and Debrecienes purchased at our local butcher shop, Meat on the Beach on Queen St. East in the Beach.  As sides, I went with a couple of hearty but fresh and easy to make salads – orzo with porcinis, wild mushrooms, truffle oil and parmesan Reggiano and a great market salad recipe that I found on one of my favourite food sites, Epicurious.com.

The orzo dish is actually intended to be eaten hot, with the parmesan Reggiano melted with butter and truffle oil.  While I love butter and truffle oil, I decided to use the truffle oil and avoid a lot of calories from the butter.  The taste is just as good and not so rich for such a hot day. I modified the recipe by adding the truffle oil while the dish was hot letting it cool and then tossing in the parmesan and garnishing with parsley before serving.  It is great served at room temperature.

The market salad is much like a Nicoise salad minus the tuna, very hearty with potatoes, olives and green beans.  The simple dressing of  red wine vinegar, shallots, Dijon, olive oil and fresh thyme emulsified really well and clung to the vegetables well without it tasting heavy and greasy.  My daughter’s request from my brother for a graduation gift was that he make coleslaw, one of her favourite dishes.  He did and brought a wonderful corn bread right out of the oven.

Over the past several summers since my daughter’s fourteenth birthday, I’ve taught her sugar craft, cake making and decorating.  We’ve made an elaborate cake every year for her birthday, she’s also done some cakes for her friends’ sixteenth birthdays.

As a finale, my daughter brought out the graduation cake that she’d been working on all week.  This is the first cake that she designed, decorated and baked on her own.  A lovely creation in her favourite colour pink, decorated with gum paste flowers and a graduation cap that she designed all her own.  The cake was a moist chocolate buttermilk layer cake filled with a Nutella buttercream.  If you’ve read my blog for some time, you know that Nutella is one of my favourite food groups!  This is how her cake turned out.

It’s amazing how an afternoon can just breeze by when you’re in the company of friends and family around a good meal.  Lunch on a Sunday I think, is more relaxing than any other day during the week.  I also love that we ate, were full, dishes done and everything cleared up by 4:30 p.m. and ready for a leisurely Sunday evening.

Enjoy your week, back with more stories soon.  Happy eating, friends!

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