Summer

Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com
Peach, Tomato Salad with Bocconcini
  Peach tomato salad with bocconcini - TheMessyBaker.com When a spring frost destroyed much of the tender fruit crops in Ontario, I was afraid I wouldn't see a local peach this year, let alone one that delivered a true peachy taste. Fortunately, I was wrong. While the size of the crop may not be large, the peaches are beginning to roll in, and they are sweet, flavourful and juicy. After the intense heat of the past few weeks, I couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven. Too impatient for ice cream (and with a cracked filling that made me temporarily sensitive to hot and cold food), I decided to make something very simple with my first batch of peaches. Something that would also let me experiment with the new basils I have in the garden. Alongside the opal, leaf, and Thai basils, I planted lime basil and -- get this -- lavender basil. While the lime basil had a bright, citrusy taste, the lavender version was surprisingly mild and had a floral scent that screamed out for peaches. So I obliged.
Stuffed zucchini blossoms
Baked Zucchini Flowers with Ricotta
Zucchini Flowers - TheMessyBaker.com This is a zucchini flower from The Family Plot. While we raised plenty of eyebrows planting the garden, we weren't sure we could raise so much as a baby carrot. Much to everyone's surprise, the beans are clawing their way up the poles, the radishes are duking it out for territory, and the tomatoes stagger under the weight of their green fruit. Meanwhile, the zucchini plants bloom quietly in a corner, hoping no one will notice until it's too late. Sorry, Zucchini. We're onto you. I've been itching to try zucchini flowers for years but haven't had access to the main ingredient -- ephemeral zucchini blossoms. Every summer, I feel a bit jealous as a I read the culinary triumph of others with their battered and deep fried blossoms, or their stuffed-and-pan-fried flowers. I nearly choke when food writers get "bored" with this precious ingredient and skip the cooking altogether, opting to sprinkle julienned blossoms into salads and soups as if they were nothing more than a common herb.
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Pecan Milanesas with Corn and Blueberry Salsa
Corn and Blueberry Salsa to atop Pecan Milanesas — TheMessyBaker.com Blueberries and corn? Really? Yes. In salsa? Oh my, yes. Make that a big, fat blueberry yes. The photographer in me loves the colour contrast. The eater in me loves the crunchy texture and sweet-sour flavours. Add lime and cilantro to the mix? Oh, I'm there. I'm so very, very there. In retrospect, I wonder why the combination surprised me. After all, cornmeal and blueberries are a natural match, so corn itself isn't a stretch. My surprise merely proves what I have long suspected — I'm missing a lot of culinary opportunities thanks to my near total ignorance of Latin cuisine. But all that's changing thanks to Sandra Gutierrez, author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America & the American South (University of Northern Carolina Press, 2011). What exactly is New Southern-Latino Cuisine? It's easier to tell you what it's not.
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Berry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes
By now, you've likely heard a lot about Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables written by Cheryl Sternman Rule and photographed by Paulette Phlipot.  You've likely seen some of its in-your-face photographs, read excerpts of the light-hearted writing, and possibly tried one of the delicious yet accessible recipes. If not, you've at least heard it's organized by colour, so the fruits and vegetables appear according to the rainbow, not course. But what you might not have heard is the story behind the book itself. Yes, Ripe is an unusual book, but not because of the obvious. Yes, the writing is crisp. Yes the photographs make you see food in a new way. Its sum is greater than the whole because of the unusual collaborative relationship between author and photographer. Look at the book's spine. It says "Rule & Phlipot." When I interviewed Cheryl, she explained how Ripe  came into being. And what happened before the writing and photography even began made all the difference to the outcome.
Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb with Yogurt
Strawberry-Rhubarb En Papillote
[caption id="attachment_7789" align="alignnone" width="500"]The strawberry-rhubarb en papillote is in the bag, heading for the oven -- The Messy Baker En Papillote (French for "in parchment") makes for tender rhubarb in no time.[/caption] As if Friday isn't reason enough to celebrate. Today is the first anniversary of Lynn Ogryzlo's The Ontario Table, and I'm one of her virtual guests. I'm pretty chuffed to be asked to take part. Not only do I enjoy a party, I like hanging out with Lynn, even if it is online. First of all, she spells my  name right. Granted, with a surname like Ogryzlo, you're probably sensitive to such things, but it still earns her bonus points. Secondly, she loves my  doughnuts, and last but certainly not least, she takes one of the most sensible approaches to eating local I've ever seen. Instead of giving you the stink eye if everything on your shopping list doesn't comply with the 100-mile diet, she simply issues a $10 challenge. The concept is easy. Each week, spend $10 of your grocery money on local food. That's it. Small (locally grown) potatoes, right?
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Recipe: Plum Lavender Jam

Plums and nectarines

I always thought I had a pretty good childhood. Each winter, my father would make a skating rink in the back yard, which we and our friends would use for noisy hours on end. And when we came in bright pink and shivering, Mom defrosted us with mugs full of homemade hot chocolate. I had a grandmother who let me eat dessert first and an aunt who invited us to her cottage each summer for long weeks spent doing absolutely nothing in a way only a pre-Space-Invaders child could do. If there was one thing missing from my youth, it was a dog. I now know the missing element was actually an orchard.
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Recipe: Roasted Radishes
  Radishes at the Farmers' Market - TheMessyBaker To observe my mother eating radishes is to understand that over-used phrase "living in the moment." They are not munched like baby carrots or popped into her mouth like grapes. They are consumed with quiet, focused deliberation. To begin, she sets a small bowl of radishes on the table beside her. They are scrubbed and trimmed, with just enough stem to form a handle. She then carefully pours a modest pool of salt on her plate before plucking a radish from the pile. Once she has selected a radish, she nibbles a tiny piece from the tip and dips the freshly exposed end into the salt. She then proceeds to eat the radish, crunching away with a look of peaceful concentration on her face. She doesn't talk. She doesn't touch the other meal items in front of her. She devotes herself fully to the radish. She repeats these steps until her allotment of radishes is gone. The rest of her meal them resumes.
Raspberry Peach Tart - TheMessyBaker.com
Raspberry Peach Pie with Frangipane
Raspberry Peach Pie about to go into the oven - TheMessyBaker.com While the daffodils have finally poked their heads through the earth, my freezer remains packed with containers of frozen fruit squirrelled away from last year's harvest. They're so precious to me, I save them for special occasions. Very special occasions. As along as the sooty, deathless snowdrifts maintain a Narnia-like hold on the Earth, nothing seems special enough. (Unless you are celebrating your 85th birthday. And then, I will bake you a raspberry pie upon request.) Of course, the weather eventually breaks and my fear of endless winter melts into a different form of  panic. How can use my frozen treasure before a) it goes bad or b) I need the freezer space for this year's bounty? So, with company coming -- very special company, I may add-- I put a dent in the inventory and got creative. The ginger-peach carrots were okay, but no worth writing about. I won't waste your time with the recipe. And I apologize to the peaches. They deserved better. The dessert? I redeemed myself with Raspberry Peach Pie.
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Fennel Salad with Golden Beets and Apples
Fennel Salad with Maple Candied Pecans - TheMessyBaker.com [box type="info" style="rounded" border="full"] Update: Sorry. The contest is closed. However, the fennel salad recipe remains open to anyone willing to give it a try. [/box] As one of the world's most gullible people, I hate April Fool's Day.  Apparently watching me scramble for the binoculars is a hoot. And my reaction when I discover the rare bird at my feeder is actually stuffed? Priceless. But it's not only family who gets a rise out of me. Last year a respectable Ontario food centre had me believing locally-grown hot-house pineapples were this close to hitting the stores. While the fake bird was private, I outed my pineapple ignorance publicly on Twitter. So, this year, to be safe, I decided not to open my email, read the news or pop over to any of the social networking sites before noon. But April Fools found me anyway. I had written this blog post a month ago. Having arranged a special April Fool's giveaway, I was on top of things and just sitting pretty until March ended. But when I went to my computer, the file was gone. I have never inadvertently lost a post in all my years of blogging. I've had the server crash mid-composition, but never has a saved file gone AWOL. Until today.
Raspberry Pie about to go into the oven - TheMessyBaker.com
Raspberry Pie

Raspberry pie is risky business. Jam-style diehards want theirs sweet, sweet, sweet, while people like me long for a slice that will pucker the palate. After all, the ice cream's supposed to smooth things over. Right? If the filling isn't stressful enough, then there's the crust...

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