For many parts of the Prairies, the May long weekend signals the official beginning of summer and barbecue season.
Even if you have used your barbecue all winter, it is good to check it over and be sure it is in good condition for the season ahead.
Food safety can take on added significant during hot summer days, and meats, dairy, salads with mayonnaise dressings and baked goods with cream fillings and icings should always be kept out of the danger zone of 40 F (4 C) to 140 F (60 C). Bacteria can grow in this temperature range and in as little as two hours, your food can become dangerous.
Avoid cross contamination. Use clean kitchen tools and serving plates for the cooked meats. Never use the same utensils as you used when it was raw. Keep raw meat away from other foods, including vegetables.
Wrap separately so juices don’t leak out into other foods.
Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat.
Frozen meats should be thawed in the refrigerator and not on the countertop.
Cook thoroughly and use a digital food thermometer to check doneness. Colour alone is not a reliable indicator that meat is safe. Bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and Campylobacter are killed by heat. Keep hot food hot until served.
Always clean your digital food thermometer in warm, soapy water between temperature readings to avoid cross-contamination.
Smoky baked beans
- 6 slices apple-smoked bacon
- 1 1/2 c. chopped onion 375 mL
- 1 1/4 c. barbecue sauce 310 mL
- 3/4 c. dark beer, optional 175 mL
- 1/4 c. light molasses 60 mL
- 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard 45 mL
- 3 tbsp. dark brown sugar 45 mL
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika 5 mL
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 30 mL
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce 15 mL
- 6 16 fl. oz. cans white navy beans, drained 500 mL
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain.
- Transfer 2 1/2 tablespoons (37 mL) bacon drippings from skillet to large bowl. Finely chop bacon and add to bowl. Add onion and next seven ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in chipotle chillies. Stir in beans.
- Transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch (22 cm x 33 cm x 5 cm) glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about one hour. Cool 10 minutes. Adapted from Bon Appetit.
Loaded baked potato salad recipe
- 4 lb. russet potatoes 2 kg
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil 15-30 mL
- 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 45 mL
- 1 c. mayonnaise 250 mL
- 3/4 c. sour cream 175 mL
- 1 tsp. each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 5 mL
- 1 lb. bacon, cooked, cooled and chopped 500 g
- 6 green onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 c. medium cheddar cheese, shredded 375 mL
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
- Place the cleaned potatoes on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet and pierce four or five times with a fork.
- Lightly coat with olive oil and cook for 50-60 minutes or until fork tender.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Remove the skins and cut the potatoes into one-inch (2.5 cm) chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the apple cider vinegar and let rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet, drain and let cool. Crumble into bite-size pieces.
- Mix the mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl and season with the kosher salt and pepper and then add to the potatoes. Stir in the bacon, green onion and cheddar cheese and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for three hours up to overnight before serving.
The best garlic bread
- 1 large loaf Italian bread
- 1 c. butter, softened 250 mL
- 3/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese 175 mL
- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 7 mL
- 1 tbsp. parsley 15 mL
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper 1 mL
- 1/8 tsp. salt .5 mL
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Cut large loaf of Italian bread in half lengthwise.
- In a medium bowl, combine butter, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley, pepper and salt. Beat until fluffy.
- Spread on bread. Wrap and seal bread tightly with foil.
- Bake covered for 10 minutes. Uncover, leaving on top of foil and bake an additional five minutes until bread is golden brown.
- 4 heirloom tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. fresh pineapple sage or basil, chopped 15 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper 2 mL
- 2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
- 1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar 15 mL
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and toss them with the remaining ingredients except balsamic vinegar.
- Arrange on a plate and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.
Green onion and asparagus salad
- 1 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus 750 g
- 8 green onions
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil 60 mL
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 30 mL
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled
- Using a vegetable peeler, shave off the skin from the bottom three inches or so of each asparagus stalk, so they cook evenly. Snap off the hard stubs at the bottom — they’ll break naturally at the right point as you bend the bottom of the asparagus.
- To prepare scallions, trim the roots and the wilted ends of the green leaves. Peel off the loose layers at the white end so the scallions are all tight, trim and about 15 centimetres long.
- Bring enough water to cover the vegetables to a boil in a wide, deep skillet and add the asparagus and green onions.
- Adjust the heat to maintain a bubbling boil and poach the vegetables, uncovered, for about six minutes, or more, until they are tender but not falling apart, and cooked through, but not mushy.
- To check doneness, pick up an asparagus spear by its middle with tongs. It should be a little droopy, but not collapsing.
- As soon as they are done, lift out the vegetables with tongs and place them in ice water to cover. Drain, then spread on kitchen towels and pat dry, and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt over them.
- Slice the asparagus and the green onions into one-inch (2.5 cm) lengths and pile them loosely in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the top, and sprinkle on the remaining salt and several grinds of black pepper.
- Toss well, but don’t break up the vegetables. Quarter the eggs into wedges and slice each wedge into two or three pieces. Scatter these in the bowl and fold in with the vegetables. Taste and adjust the dressing. Chill the salad briefly, then arrange it on a serving platter or on salad plates.