Summertime, and the entertaining is easy

| July 6, 2019 | 0 Comments
Fruit-filled crêpes make a nice dessert or a fancy breakfast for special guests. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

Fruit-filled crêpes make a nice dessert or a fancy breakfast for special guests. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

It is that wonderful time to celebrate not only barbecue season, but the fresh fruits of summer. The variety and versatility of summer fruits enable them to be included in any course of a menu and at any time of day. My summer menus highlight recipes in which fruit stars. Presented with personal creativity, these recipes have proven to be winners.

Fruit-Filled Lace Crêpes
Makes 4 servings
Crêpes seem to make breakfast special. My Fruit-Filled Crepes always add a wow factor. Feel free to adjust the filling ingredients to suit your own taste and the resources you have on hand.

1¾ cups (430 mL) crêpe batter (recipe attached), divided
3 cups (750 mL) banana, sliced
2 cups (500 mL) fresh strawberries (stems removed and sliced) or other berries
1 tbsp (15 mL) orange-flavoured liqueur, optional
3 tbsp (45 mL) strawberry jam
¼ cup (60 mL) Double Ginger Sour Cream Sauce* or crème fraiche
3 tbsp (45 mL) creamy butterscotch dessert sauce or maple syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) toasted slivered almonds or chopped pecans, optional
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped chocolate, optional

Garnish (optional)
As desired, sprigs of fresh mint or whole fresh strawberries
½ cup (125 mL) maple syrup (for passing)

1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, prepare 4 large crêpes (diameter: 7-inch or 17-cm) using ¼ cup (60 mL) of batter per crêpe. Arrange each crepe on individual dinner plates.
2. With remaining batter, make 4 “lace crêpes,” using about 3 tbsp (45 mL) of batter for each crêpe. First, quickly drizzle a ring of batter about the same diameter as the prepared crêpes and then, continue to drizzle in a haphazard manner within ring to form a thin “lace” crêpe. Cook until top surface is set. To simplify the drizzling process, place the batter in a clean plastic squeeze bottle fitted with a medium-sized nozzle.
3. Using a pancake flipper, carefully peel lace crêpe away from skillet and turn crêpe over; cook second side briefly. Remove from skillet and stack on a plate, separating each crêpe with a layer of wax paper; set aside.
4. Place sliced bananas and strawberries in separate bowls; mix with liqueur.
5. Using about ¼ of total amount for each crêpe, spread strawberry jam evenly over each regular crêpe, add bananas and dabs of Double Ginger Sour Cream Sauce. Drizzle with butterscotch sauce, top with sliced strawberries, toasted nuts and chopped chocolate.
6. Top each fruit-layered crêpe with a lace crêpe enclosing fruit mixture between crepes.
7. Dust crêpes lightly with icing sugar and garnish with sprigs of fresh mint. Pass maple syrup at the table.
*Double Ginger Sour Cream Sauce: Makes 1/3 cup (80 mL): Whisk together 1/3 cup (80 mL) of sour cream, 1½ tbsp (23 mL) of chopped ginger in syrup, 1/3 tsp (2 mL) of ground ginger and if desired, 1/3 tsp (2 mL) of cognac. (Store sauce refrigerated for up to 10 days.)

Crêpe Batter/Crêpes
Makes about 2 2/3 cups (675 mL) of batter
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1½ tsp (8 mL) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp (pinch) ground ginger
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1½ cups (375 mL) milk, divided
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter or margarine, melted

1. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, sugar and ground ginger.
2. In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together eggs, yolks and 3/4 cup (about 180 mL) of milk.
3. Continuing to beat constantly, gradually add ½ cup (125 mL) of flour mixture, then remaining milk (3/4 cup or 180 mL) and remaining flour mixture (½ cup or 125 mL). Beat to form a smooth batter.
4. Beat in melted butter. If batter is not perfectly smooth, pass it through a course-mesh sieve.
5.  Allow batter to rest for at least 30 minutes before using.
6. Whisk batter thoroughly before using.


Quick Irresistible Barbecued Ribs make a tasty main course when served with some pretty rice pilaf on the side. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

Quick Irresistible Barbecued Ribs make a tasty main course when served with some pretty rice pilaf on the side. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

Quick Irresistible Barbecued Ribs
(with Star Anise)
Makes 4 servings

Many rib recipes involve slow cooking with the meat falling off the bones. However, if you want a quick recipe for pork ribs, this one is a crowd-pleaser. The recipe is particularly for those of us who enjoy “nibbling” the meat off the bones and don’t mind using our fingers — rather appropriate for casual al fresco dining. For best results, only use pork back ribs, which are not too large in size, and grill them to the perfect degree of doneness. Make sure the meat is no longer pink around the bones, but avoid overcooking. The star anise and grated orange zest make the flavour of these barbecued ribs a unique treat.

2 racks pork back ribs (each rack: about 1¾ lbs or 800 g)
¾ tsp (4 mL) finely grated orange zest

1½ cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125mL) soy sauce
6 tbsp (90 mL) hoisin sauce
3 tbsp (45 mL) peeled and grated fresh gingerroot
1½ tbsp (23 mL) finely chopped fresh garlic
2½ tsp (13 mL) finely ground star anise

1. Cut racks into individual ribs; transfer to 2 large plastic bags.
2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. (Note: Set aside 1/3 cup (80 mL) of marinade to be offered at the table.)
3. Pour remaining marinade equally over ribs in plastic bags. Remove air and seal bags securely. Turn ribs in marinade to coat thoroughly; refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 36 hours, turning bags of ribs from time to time.
4. Before cooking, remove ribs from refrigerator and allow to come closer to room temperature.
5. Thoroughly drain marinade from ribs and discard used marinade.
6. Oil ribs very lightly on all sides and place on a well-oiled preheated (medium-high) grill with bone side down and immediately reduce heat to medium (or slightly lower). Turn ribs as browning occurs and a stable crust is formed (about 5 to 6 minutes). Try to keep lid closed as much as possible, and oil grates again if required.
7. Continue to grill ribs, turning occasionally for about another 3 to 5 minutes until meat next to the bone is no longer pink. However, if meat is still pink, reduce heat to low and cook ribs until done. The total cook time should be eight to 10 minutes.
8. Immediately transfer ribs to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil (shiny side down).
9. Serve ribs arranged artistically in a vertical pile. Sprinkle sparingly with grated orange zest.
10. Offer reserved marinade at the table to be drizzled over ribs only if desired and according to individual tastes.

Watermelon Salad with Sesame Balsamic Sauce can be an appetizer or part of a fruit plate at breakfast. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

Watermelon Salad with Sesame Balsamic Sauce can be an appetizer or part of a fruit plate at breakfast. (Photo: Larry Dickenson)

Watermelon Salad with Sesame Balsamic Sauce
Makes 4 servings

Take advantage while watermelon is at its best. This chilled watermelon salad profiles a complex dimension of flavours, textures and colours; however, it is easy to prepare. Present this recipe as an individual fruit plate for breakfast, as an appetizer particularly for al fresco dining, or in a reduced quantity as a palate cleanser salad for an elegant dinner party. To maximize the flavour of this salad, it is essential that the watermelon be served chilled.

¼* of a regular-size seedless watermelon, chilled
½ cup (125 mL) of Stilton cheese or ¾ cup (180 mL) of feta cheese
To taste, salt
To taste, small (or torn) fresh basil or mint leaves
1 1/3 tbsp (20 mL) toasted pine nuts (or ¼ cup/60 mL of walnut pieces)
4 sprigs of fresh mint and/or basil

Sesame Balsamic Sauce
2 to 2½ tbsp (30 to 38 mL) sesame oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) Balsamic Vinegar Syrup**

1. Make the Sesame Balsamic Sauce by whisking sesame oil into Balsamic Vinegar Syrup to create a fairly thick, syrupy drizzle that, when applied, will retain a thread-like path.
2. Cut the ¼ watermelon crosswise into 2/3-inch (1.5-cm) slices. Take the 4 larger central slices and cut each into 3 wedges of equal size. Keep melon slices chilled until ready to serve. Reserve leftover pieces of watermelon for another purpose.
3. For 4 individual servings, just before serving, arrange 3 watermelon wedges artistically on each of 4 separate dinner plates.
4. Sprinkle watermelon slices and plates with crumbled cheese; season very lightly with salt. Whisk the Sesame Balsamic Sauce very well as it tends to separate. Immediately drizzle about 1½ to 2 tsp (8 to 10 mL) of sauce over each serving of the watermelon salad. Scatter plates with nuts.
5. Garnish salads with sprigs of fresh mint or basil and serve promptly.

* Total weight of the ¼ watermelon: 2½ lbs or 1.2 kg.
** To make about 3½ tbsp (53 mL) of Balsamic Vinegar Syrup, place 1/3 cup (80 mL) of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of granulated sugar in a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a silicone spatula until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to simmer, stirring constantly until the reduced syrup coats the back of a regular teaspoon well (i.e., until reduced to about 3½ tbsp. or 53 mL). Remove from heat immediately, allow to cool and refrigerate to thicken.

Margaret Dickenson is a cookbook author, TV host, menu/recipe developer and a protocol, business and etiquette instructor.

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Category: Delights

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Margaret Dickenson wrote the awardwinning cookbook, Margaret’s Table — Easy Cooking & Inspiring Entertaining (

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