Summer pleasures with Ontario fruit

There are many summer pleasures – sun, blue skies, beaches, out door living and of course our own local ingredients. Some of these culinary treats come from the Niagara region  – peaches, nectarines and plums. The sweet, slurpy taste of a fresh Ontario peach is irresistible and has a relatively short season. Do not be fooled. Imports are not a patch on the seductive flavour of our own tender fruit still available in early September. To make the most of this unique taste, Foodland Ontario have developed some tantalizing recipes to encourage you to enjoy the superlative taste of these tender fruits while they last.

Spicy Chicken with Moroccan Flavours, Peaches and Quinoa

The aromatic flavours of Morocco – cumin, ginger and cinnamon – are a perfect combination with Ontario peaches and chicken.

Paste for Chicken:

2 tsp (10 mL) each, ground turmeric and sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp )7 mL) ground ginger and ground cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh black pepper
1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, ground cinnamon and cardamom
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs


1 cup (250 ml) quinoa, well rinsed and drained
2 cups (500 mL) water
1 bay leaf
4 peaches or nectarines, washed, sliced into 8 wedges
2 each, celery stalks, green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh mint, chopped


2 tbsp (25 mL) each, finely chopped onion, vegetable oil, cider vinegar and brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper and salt

Paste for Chicken: In a mixing bowl, combine turmeric, paprika, ginger, cumin, black pepper cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cardamom, salt, garlic and oil. Add chicken thighs and stir to coat with spicy paste. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or over night.

Quinoa: In medium saucepan combine quinoa, water and bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer covered 15 minutes. Remove from heat; fluff with fork and cool. Discard bay leaf.

Meanwhile, combine peaches, sliced celery, green onions and mint.

In food processor combine dressing ingredients: onion, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, curry powder and pepper. Puree until smooth. Combine dressing with cooled quinoa, peaches, celery, onion and mint.

Grill chicken thighs on medium high for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear or temperature reaches 165˚F (74˚C).

Serve hot chicken with the peach quinoa salad. Makes four servings.

Roasted Cauliflower with Peaches, Raisins and Mint

This versatile dish can serve as a salad or an accompaniment to grilled lamb or pork. If you wish, add a sprinkling of toasted pinenuts before serving.

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) ground coriander
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 peaches or nectarines, pitted and quartered
1/2 cup (125 mL) golden raisins
1 cup (250 mL) fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) sherry or red wine vinegar salt and freshly ground black pepper

In large pot of boiling water, cook cauliflower florets one minute. Drain and refresh in large bowl of ice water. Drain well.

In large bowl combine cauliflower coriander, vegetable oil and garlic, mixing to coat well. Tear off two large pieces of foil. Divide cauliflower mixture between the two pieces. Wrap and seal to make two packets. Place on grill over medium high heat; cook for 10 minutes turning once. Remove from grill; let stand five minutes.

In large bowl, combine cauliflower, peaches, raisins, mint, oil and vinegar. Season vegetables with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Makes four servings.

Plum Crepes with Cardamom Honey Whipped Cream

This makes a flavourful treat for brunch or dessert. Nectarines may be substituted for plums. If time is short, use commercial waffles to replace homemade crepes or simply serve the plums with the whipped cream topping.

Crepe Batter:

3 eggs, beaten
2 cups (500 mL) milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) melted butter
1 cup (250 mL) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

Plum or Nectarine Filling:

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
6 plums or nectarines
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) semi-dry wine such as Riesling
8 star anise (available in bulk barn)
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon rind
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream Topping:

1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream (35%)
1/3 cup (75 ml) liquid honey
1/4 tsp (1 mL) cardamom

Crepes: In mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, butter, flour and salt. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare crepes: In 8 inch (20 cm) non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with baking spray. Pour in about 1/3 cup (75 mL) batter, tilting pan to cover bottom thinly. Return to heat for about 1 minute or until bottom is lightly browned. Using spatula, flip crepe over and brown other side. Remove to plate. Repeat with remaining batter.

Plum filling: In heavy frying pan heat oil over medium high heat. Brown plums or nectarines about 2 minutes; sprinkle with sugar. Add wine, star anise pods and lemon zest to skillet and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook until plums or nectarines are soft, about 2 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove plums to heat-proof  bowl. Bring syrup to boil; boil until reduced by half, 5 – 6 minutes. Add lemon juice to syrup; pour over plums or nectarines. Cover.

Whipped Cream: Using electric mixer, whip cream on medium until thickened. Slowly add honey and cardamom, whipping until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

To serve: Remove star anise pods from plums. Place crepes or waffles on serving plates. Divide plum mixture among 8 crepes or waffles. Fold crepes over if using. Serve each with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes 4 servings (2 crepes each).

Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer

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