Gin & Gooseberries

By | Gin, Gooseberries, summer | 5 Comments
It’s an exceptional summer in Toronto. The heat began early and by the time I returned mid-June it was very hot and humid. I love the heat, but the humidity can drain all your energy, so that by the afternoon all you want to do is snooze in a chair. The upside of all this heat is that it’s perfect weather for gin and tonic, my preference is Hendricks gin with sliced cucumber.
The heat has also made all the fruit in my urban garden ripen more quickly than usual. I managed to harvest some green gooseberries, the green ones have good acidity, which makes them a perfect foil for oily fish.
Most of my gooseberries changed colour before I could harvest them. This means my gooseberries are sweeter and softer than I like them but they can be eaten without cooking and make good desserts.
Instead of making ice cream, I prefer ice cream when it’s cold, yes it’s a quirk, that I can’t explain, but I do like ices and sorbets when it’s hot. I’ve been tinkering with this recipe since I first made it. Just gently cook 450 g / 1 pound gooseberries with 125 g / 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, stirring from time to time until soft and tender. Let everything cool slightly and then pass it through the fine grill of a food mill. Chill overnight before churning it in an ice cream machine.
You can make this recipe with green gooseberries, just check the sweetness and it will turn a paler shade of pink.

Jésus from Lyon

By | Dinner, Gin, Jesus, Lyon, Oxford, Sausage | One Comment

When friends come to dinner, they often ask what can they bring. Well, when Fran and Sidney asked what they could bring they happened to be in Lyon, so I said a dry-cured sausage. I was expecting a small sausage that you slice thinly and serve with pre-dinner drinks. Instead I received this magnificent specimen from the specialty charcuterie Bonnard.
I must point out the sausage was whole when it arrived. I immediately sliced it and we savoured it with gin in a martini and mixed with tonic. Not very French, but a great combination.

This sausage is known as a Jésus de Lyon. The size of a small melon, but pear-shaped,  its casing is held in place by a network of string. According to the The Oxford Companion to Food the name comes from the sausage’s resemblance to a baby in swaddling clothes! I think who ever named it must have spent too long drinking in a bouchon, the name for an informal, often family run, restaurant in Lyon.

Inside you can see it is a typical pork based sausage with a good amount of fat and spiced with black peppercorns. It is slowly cured and is flavourful and moist. Needless to say it has been disappearing quickly. With drinks and when you just need a little something to snack on. Thank you Fran and Sidney, you can come to  dinner anytime you want.

Surviving Summer

By | Cucumber, Gin, Hendricks, Humidity, summer, Toronto | 2 Comments

Sunday was the first official day of summer and pretty much on cue summer arrived in Toronto with a vengeance, 30C and humidity. I like the heat I grew up with it but it’s the humidity that is debilitating. It is exhausting moving through air as thick as molasses and constantly sweating. I never expected Toronto to be so humid – where are the palm trees and tropical flowers?
I sit at my computer the windows wide open to let in the cooler morning air and the fan blowing gently to keep it circulating. This works until about 2pm when the cool morning air is exhausted and the sticky air from the street invades the house and my computer is hot to the touch. This would be the idea time for a siesta but I am not good at napping so I attempt to catch up on some reading and think about a gin and tonic – the perfect summer drink beverage. The one pictured here is made with Hendricks gin, distilled in Scotland. As it says on the bottle this is “a most iconoclastic gin – it’s not for everyone”. Well it is definitely for me I love its taste and drink it with the recommended cucumber slices – it makes the humid Toronto summer bearable.