Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Caprese Salad with Tomatoes, Basil & Bocconcini

The ultimate summer salad, a classic Caprese Salad involves slicing hot house tomatoes and layering them between slices of perfectly ripe Buffalo Mozzarella, and garnishing with fresh basil leaves. By using small bite size bocconcini and mini red and yellow campari and cherry tomatoes tossed with some olive oil, sea salt and fresh basil, the classic flavours of this mediterranean Insalata Caprese is perfect for serving a large group of friends, as part of an al fresco lunch.

Caprese Salad with Tomatoes, Basil & Bocconcini
Serves 8

200 gram tub of mini Bocconcini, drained
2 pints mixed campari and cherry tomatoes: red and yellow
1 handful fresh basil, julienned and sprig for garnish
1 tbsp olive oil
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Slice the campari and cherry tomatoes in half and place in a mixing bowl with the drained bocconcini. Season with olive oil, sea salt and some black pepper and toss to coat with the julienned basil. To serve, pour the mixture into a decorative bowl and garnish with a sprig of basil.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Spencer's at the Waterfront: Dining on Burlington Bay

Located on the Burlington lakefront, Spencer’s at the Waterfront offers lovely, panoramic views of Burlington Bay and Lake Ontario. Warm and welcoming with a natural wood and earth tone interior, diners can enjoy the sparkling lake view from inside Spencer's newly renovated dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows, or from the picturesque outdoor terrace, perfect for summer dining. Tucked away in the award-winning landmark building by Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, Spencer’s on the Waterfront has been a signature restaurant in downtown Burlington for the past decade. The property is well-known for its ship-shaped observatory encased with 30 foot, floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook Burlington’s parklands and waterfront. 

As part of the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary, Pearle Hospitality refreshed Spencer’s brand to focus on fresh seafood and a daily changing Market Board features everything from halibut from B.C. to pickerel from Ontario’s Great Lakes. Whatever the fishermen are catching, that’s what’s for dinner. The market board is also accompanied by a menu that features craft cut steak, chilled seafood and a great selection of appetizers and sharing plates, such as Fried Humboldt Squid with gochujang aïoli, East and West Coast Oysters and spectacular Deluxe Seafood Tower which at $125 amply serves 4-6 people. On the weekend, Spencer's serves it's famous Sunday Brunch with unlimited Mimosas, seafood, salads, pasta, cheese board, artisanal breads, roast beef, salmon and chef's station with Eggs Benedict and made-to-order omelettes. Water and sky: the serene and naturally romantic backdrop of Spencer's waterfront naturescape promises a dining experience that changes with the seasons.

Spencer's bartender mixing a Mint Julep

The newly renovated interior with a modern nautical theme by Toronto design firm Addax

Rosé Sangria

6 oz Beef Tenderloin brushed with red wine butter and served with potatoes and farm inspired vegetables

Brunch Mimosa

Spencer's Sunday Brunch with fresh east coast oysters, shrimp, snow crab and more

Canadian Seafood Bake 
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Spencers

2 large onions
2 tbsp old bay seasoning
16 small new potatoes
8 bottles of Mill Street Organic beer
2 andouille sausages
2 1 1/2 lb Canadian lobsters from Nova Scotia
12 medium sized Manila clams from BC
16 blue PEI mussels 
2 cobs of corn, cut in quarters
1 baguette
1/2 lb butter - half for cooking half for drawn butter

In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and old bay spice. Sweat onions until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add new potatoes and andouille sausage, stir to combine. Add Mill Street Organic beer or beer of your choice, and bring to a simmer. Once the beer is simmering, add the lobsters to pot and cover tightly with a lid for about 6 minutes. Remove the lid, add the clams followed by the mussels and corn. Cook until the clams and mussels are open, the remove the lobsters from pot, and crack the claws and tail. Serve in large deep platter with drawn butter and warm bread for guests to share.

Classic Mint Julep
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Spencers

8 oz Bulleit Bourbon
4 oz simple syrup
12-16 mint leaves
Crushed ice

Tear and place mint leaves in the bottom of 4 chilled julep glasses. Add the bourbon and simple syrup then fill the glasses about 1/3 full with crushed ice and stir slowly. Fill the glass with ice until it comes over the rim, resembling a snow cone. The glass will become frosty. Garnish with a mint sprigs.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Tart with Streusel

This gorgeous Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Streusel Tart is a cross between a tart and a clafoutis, and is absolutely delicious. The sweet butter crust is made with ground almonds, flour, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, a little salt and butter, which are all blended together in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. The resulting crumble is pressed into the base and up the sides of a greased springform pan, then baked for about 20-25 minutes. Once the crust has cooled, chopped pitted plums, raspberries and blueberries are scattered along the bottom, although any combination of stone fruit and berries would be great. A simple custard of eggs, cream, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg is then whisked together and poured over the fruit. The remaining streusel is sprinkled over the fruit and the whole tart is baked at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, until the custard is set and the crust is golden brown. The crisp buttery almond crust is extraordinary — a crunchy cookie-like sweet shortbread — which compliments the tart fruit and creamy clafoutis-style custard beautifully. A fabulous dessert, this Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Streusel Tart is a real winner.

Raspberry, Plum & Blueberry Tart with Streusel Topping
Serves 6-8

3/4 cup unsalted butter - 1 1/2 sticks - chilled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup blanched almonds 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided plus 1 tbsp
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar 
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
3/4 tsp salt 
4 medium ripe but firm plums
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1 large egg yolk 
2/3 cup light cream 
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with room temperature butter or olivina and set aside. Place the ground almonds in a food processor and pulse until medium fine. 

Transfer the nuts to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix until just combined. Add butter, and mix on low speed until the crumble begins to stick together, about 2 to 3 minutes. Press 3 to 3 1/2 cups of the crumble into the bottom of the prepared pan and to about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan to form the crust. Set the remaining crumb mixture aside.

Transfer the crust to the oven and bake until it appears to be set, about 20 to 25 minutes, then set aside. Watch to ensure the crust doesn't burn.

Slice the plums in half, remove pits and slice into eighths. Scatter the raspberries, blueberries and sliced plums onto the cooled crust and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup flour + 1 tablespoon flour, plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk in the 2 eggs, egg yolk, cream, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg, and mix until blended. Pour the custard over the fruit and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Transfer the tart to the oven and bake until the custard has set and is slightly golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let rest at least 25 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with a bowl of whipped cream, Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream to be completely decadent.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Gobi Matar: Indian Cauliflower, Peas & Kari Leaves

A staple in most Indian restaurants, Aloo Gobi is an aromatic combination of spiced potato (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi), made even more popular with Gurinder Chadha's 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, a wonderful heart-warming comedy about bending the rules to reach your goal. The film follows two 18 year old girls who have their heart set on a future in professional soccer, as opposed to finding a nice Indian boyfriend, settling down and cooking the perfect chapatti. There is a quirky cooking segment at the end of the film where the director of the film, Gurinder Chadha, makes her personal recipe for Aloo Gobi with the help of her outrageously interfering mother and auntie. Ever since I saw that segment, I can never make this dish without smiling. With its rich texture, complex flavours and intoxicating aroma, Gurinder's recipe for Aloo Gobi has been adjusted without potatoes for a sensational Gobi Matar, an equally delicious yet low-fat carb-free version of the original.

Gobi Matar - Indian Cauliflower & Peas
Serves 2-4 

1/2 cauliflower 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1/8 tsp asafoetida 
1 tbsp black mustard seeds 
1 tbsp kari leaves 
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste 
1 tbsp chopped herbs for garnish, optional

Separate the cauliflower into small florets, about 1 to 2-inches. Warm the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add the asafoetida, then a second later, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the kari leaves and stir to combine. Then add the cauliflower, turmeric and some salt to taste. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the cauliflower is well coated with the spices and begins to brown slightly. Add 1/2 cup of water, and as soon as it starts to bubble, add the peas, cover the pan and turn down the heat to med-low. Cook 10-15 minutes more until the cauliflower is soft and cooked through. Sprinkle with some chives or cilantro leaves and serve. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Grilled Maple Salmon with Tamari & Sesame Oil

Succulent, moist and enormously flavourful, Salmon is also one of the most nutrient rich and versatile fish around. It's also one of the healthiest. Low in saturated fat and calories, but high in protein and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, Salmon is a near perfect food — in my mind anyway. One of my favourite marinades features pure Canadian maple syrup, a natural sweetener that is more nutritious and healthier than sugar, plus Tamari, which has a richer, smoother, more complex flavour than ordinary soy sauce, and fragrant nutty sesame oil. Grilled outdoors until the fish is just cooked through, this is a dish we devour each and every week during the summer.

Grilled Salmon with Maple Syrup, Soy and Sesame Oil 
Serves 2

2 6-oz organic salmon fillets, with skin on
2 tbsp Canadian maple syrup
1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce 
1 tsp sesame oil

Combine the maple syrup, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small baking dish, then add the salmon, turning it well in the marinade, then set skin side down. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour. 

Preheat the barbecue to medium-high and cook the salmon, skin side down for  8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked. To serve, transfer to warmed dinner plates and garnish with fresh herbs.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Herb Marinade

Butterflied leg of lamb which cooks quickly and evenly on the grill, is split down the centre, then unfolded and spread open to resemble a butterfly. Gently massaged with a simple marinade of fruity olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, the lamb should be allowed to slowly marinate for a few hours for the robust flavours to work their magic. Perfectly designed for the grill, this butterflied leg is best barbecued for about 10 to 15 minutes per side for medium rare, for a perfectly pink centre enveloped with a flavourful herbed crust. Succulent, juicy and bursting with flavour, this is one of our favourite summer recipes, and absolutely delicious served with a heaping bowl of tzatziki and tangy Greek Salad.

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Serves 2

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 butterflied leg of lamb, about 1 lb, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 lemon, fresh parsley, oregano and sage for garnish, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Place the lamb in a large shallow dish with the marinade, and turn to coat. Cover with cling film and let marinate 1 hour at room temperature, turning a few times.

Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high, then grill the lamb about 10 to 15 minutes per side for medium rare. Allow the lamb to rest covered, about 10 minutes to allow the juices to retract before slicing against the grain where possible. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Grilled Asian-Style Chicken Breasts

A sensational marinade for poultry, this fragrant Asian-inspired recipe is perfect for satays, cornish hen, chicken breasts or plump juicy thighs. With a sweet delicate flavour, the marinated chicken caramelizes beautifully on the grill, allowing the intoxicating character of the marinade to shine through. Basting the chicken while on the grill ensures that the chicken stays moist and flavourful, as well as producing attractive grill marks for lovely presentations, such as this healthy summer salad with grilled zucchini, campari tomatoes, fresh mint, sliced lemon and peppery baby arugula with the fresh off the grill chicken breasts nestled on top. Fabulous served with a bowl of cold creamy tzatziki, this versatile salad could be adapted to include a rainbow of your favourite seasonal vegetables from grilled asparagus, sweet peppers or vitamin rich sliced avocado.

Grilled Asian-Style Chicken Breasts
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, bone-in and skinless
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy 
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp fish sauce

Slice the chicken breasts in half and place into a bowl with all the marinade ingredients, then cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Preheat an outdoor BBQ to medium high and grill the chicken breasts for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until golden brown and they have nice grill marks. Delicious served with some grilled vegetables or a light green salad.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Backhouse: Integrated Cool Climate Cuisine

Backhouse is a culinary journey that celebrates the imagination and diversity of Niagara through Chef Crawford's continuously evolving tasting menus. Voted as Best New Restaurant by Air Canada enRoute magazine, Backhouse offers an 18-seat chef’s bar where guests can engage with and watch the chefs in action, with an open-fire brick oven and wood-fired grill that provides the setting for the restaurant's continuously evolving tasting menus and what they call integrated "cool climate cuisine", a nod to the regional focus of the menu. They also describe it as integrated sustainable cuisine because the staff farmer grows vegetables and herbs for each dish. The kitchen uses everything, from carrot tops and imperfect seconds that less creative types might toss in a green bin, to create syrups, preserves, mains and sides. An exquisite restaurant built on love by locavores Bev Hotchkiss and her husband chef Ryan Crawford, the couple are totally committed to integrated cool climate cuisine and own a 2-acre farm where they source seasonal and locally sourced ingredients where staff tend to and deliver vegetables still warm from the sun, and preserve the rest for the winter months. 

They also source ethically raised meat, have their own in-house butchery and cook over an open fire. They hand-craft and bake fresh daily our sourdough bread; produce their own cheese and culture their own butter, and source local fruits and nuts for their house-made desserts — all in the hopes of bringing guests the best possible culinary journey. Chef Crawford makes his own prosciutto, and vegetables are roasted in front of the fire and poultry is often smoked or roasted at the back of the massive wood-fired grill.  The chefs even haunt old Niagara orchards, chain-saws in hand, for firewood. The bar and wine program employs a bar chef and lead sommelier, ensuring inspiring craft cocktails and a detailed and heavily-curated international wine list that sources small producers from around the globe. An exquisite restaurant built on love by locavores Bev Hotchkiss and her husband chef Ryan Crawford, their busy celebrated restaurant is named using Bev’s grandmother’s surname, a lady who wanted to be a nurse and wasn’t able to. She inspired them to always follow their dreams and the dynamic husband and wife team haven’t looked back. 

Voted as Best New Restaurant by Air Canada enRoute magazine, Backhouse offers an 18-seat chef’s bar where guests can engage with and watch the chefs in action

Chef Crawford

Pasta Carbonara with Meggs duck egg, duck confit, english peas and pecorino

Saugeen Ojibway First Nation White Fish Crudo with edible nasturtiums

Pearl Morissette Cuvée Cabernet Franc, of which only 192 cases were produced

Rich dark purple in colour, this is a wine of deeply-rooted structure and classical dimension

Bird on a Wire - Wood Fired Heritage Chicken with grilled oyster mushrooms and shishito peppers

St. John Beausoleil Rosé, the private label of Fergus Henderson's restaurant St John in England

Grilled Beverly Creek Lamb with green beans, garlic mousse and basil and feta salsa verde

The Backhouse cheese menu boasts the largest selection in Canada of locally sourced Ontario cheeses

Flight of 5 cheeses:

Stratus Winery Botrytis Semillon, the perfect dessert wine with a luscious honeyed combination of ripe pineapple and guava

Locavores Bev Hotchkiss and her husband chef Ryan Crawford

Pan-Fried Featherstone Duck Breast with Dillon's Vodka Laced Niagara Sour Cherries
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Ryan Crawford, Backhouse, Niagara-on-the-Lake

2 cups Niagara sour cherries, pitted

1 tbsp Featherstone Verjus
3 tbsp Dillon's Method 95 Vodka
2 to 3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp farm fresh butter
4 small duck breasts, individual portion size
1/2 cup Featherstone Cabernet Franc or another dry red wine
2 tbsp farm fresh butter
salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Toss the cherries in a saucepan with verjus, vodka and sugar. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes. 

Using a sharp knife score the skin and fat of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern being careful not to cut into the breast meat. Season with salt on both sides. Place all four breasts, skin-side down in a cold, non-stick skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the duck breasts for approximately five minutes, basting with the duck fat that accumulates in the pan, then turn them over and continue to cook for four minutes. 

As the duck fat accumulates in the pan, tilt the pan towards you and spoon out excess liquid not needed for basting. Using tongs, turn the breast on its sides to evenly sear the meat on the side surfaces then remove the breasts from the pan and transfer to a baking sheet. Finish the cooking in the pre-heated oven, about eight minutes. When done, place duck breasts on individual dinner plates and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, pour off all the duck fat from the hot skillet and add the red wine. Increase the heat to medium high and reduce the wine to half, scrapping the bottom of the skillet to release the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Add the cherry/vodka mixture and heat just to the barely simmering point for five minutes to poach the cherries. If necessary, add a few teaspoons of the reserved cherry juice. 

Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon and divide them equally over top and around the duck breasts. Add the butter and boil the sauce rapidly to reduce and thicken slightly, about three minutes. Correct the seasoning. Spoon the sauce over each duck breast.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peach, Blueberry & Arugula Salad with Feta

This healthy and colourful Summer Salad makes the most of fresh ripe Ontario peaches and wild blueberries when their at their peak during the hot humid months of July and August. Scattered over a bed of peppery baby arugula with some chopped celery and crumbled Greek feta with a drizzle of olive oil or simple vinaigrette is all that is needed to dress this gustatory ode to summer.

Peach, Blueberry & Arugula Salad with Feta
Serves 4

4 cups wild baby arugula
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into slices
1/2 cup wild Ontario blueberries
1/4 cup Greek feta, crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil 
1/2 tsp Maldon salt

Please the arugula on a large platter and top with the sliced peaches, chopped celery, wild blueberries and crumbled feta. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a dash of Maldon salt, if desired.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Coronation Salad with Onion Sprouts & Pecans

Originally, Coronation Chicken, or Poulet Reine Elizabeth, was made for the coronation banquet of Elizabeth II in 1953, but it is said to have been partly inspired by a similar and earlier recipe known as Jubilee Chicken, made for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, which mixed the chicken in mayonnaise and curry. Created by the founder of Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Rosemary Hume – rather than her better-known business partner, celebrity florist Constance Spry, as is often claimed – Coronation Chicken was a deliberate and tactful compromise between the luxurious and the thrifty for a country still under the dreary yoke of postwar rationing. The original recipe was published in the newspapers ahead of the coronation so that the 'common' people might partake of what their new queen would be eating on her very special day.

Modern Coronation Chicken Salad
Serves 6

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp mild curry powder
2 tbsp sunflower oil
salt and pepper
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
6 stalks celery, very finely chopped
1 container of onion, pea or clover sprouts
1/2 cup pecan, toasted

4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup mango chutney
2 tbsp curry powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the chicken with oil, curry powder, salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until cooked through. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then pull into bite size pieces. Allow to cool completely before adding to your salad.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing very well. Mix the cooled chicken, celery, grapes, and half the alfalfa shoots with the dressing. Serve the Coronation Chicken Salad over mixed salad greens and garnish with alfalfa sprouts, grapes, pecans and some diced celery.

Original 1953 Coronation Chicken
Serves 6

The original coronation chicken recipe, concieved by Rosemary Hume for Elizabeth II's Coronation lunch in 1953 

2 medium chickens
1 carrot
Thyme, bay leaf, parsley and 4 peppercorns to flavour
1 dessertspoon curry powder
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 glass red wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp apricot purée
2-3 tbsp whipped cream

Poach two chickens for 40 minutes in water with the carrot, a splash of wine, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and four peppercorns. Cool in the liquid then remove the meat from the bones. To make the sauce, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add two tablespoons of chopped onion. Cook gently for three minutes then add a dessertspoon of curry powder. Cook for a further two minutes. Add one teaspoon of tomato purée, a glass of red wine, 3/4 wineglass of water, one bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Then add a pinch each of salt, sugar and pepper, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and cool. Add slowly to the mayonnaise, then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of apricot purée. Season again – the sauce must not be too sweet. Finish by adding 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream. Add only enough sauce to coat the chicken lightly, then eat it with a rice salad or serve in sandwiches. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Treadwell: Superb Farm-to-Table Cuisine in Niagara

Stephen Treadwell is one of Ontario’s food stars. Formerly the head chef at Queen's Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Auberge du Pommier in Toronto, Treadwell brought the European concept of 'farm-to-table' dining to Southern Ontario more than a decade ago, sourcing regional suppliers such as Cumbrae Farms and Best Baa Dairy within an easy transportation distance to the restaurant. The father and son team are vocal and passionate about emphasizing the best artisan producers of Southwestern Ontario, and their restaurant is a showcase of local farmers, producers and vintners. It's simple, perfect food, and allows the ingredients to speak for themselves. 

Whether it’s locally grown and organic 'Harvest 365' Heirloom Tomatoes with 'Monforte' water buffalo fresco focaccia croutons, 'Marc's' Wild Mushrooms, 'Pingue’s' 24 month aged prosciutto or 'Cumbrae Farms' Pork Tenderloin with pork belly, crispy pancetta, creamy polenta, pink peppercorns and charred radicchio, the food has provenance, is perfectly prepared, beautifully presented, and absolutely delicious. “When you have control over the creative aspects of a restaurant, you have control over the source of your ingredients,” said Treadwell. “Even cooking in this region for as long as I have, I have been wonderfully surprised by all the incredible ingredients we have found for the menu.” Combined with Sommelier James Treadwell's spot on wine recommendations and a staff that is friendly, attentive and knowledgeable, Treadwell Farm-to-Table Cuisine is undoubtedly the finest place to dine in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but with the Shaw Festival venues a short walk away, reservations are essential.

The outdoor patio is lovely on a warm summer evening

Treadwell's dinner menu features farm-to-table cuisine

Our wine server pouring a glass of Megalomaniac Bubblehead Sparkling Rosé

it a hint of sweetness, this sparkling Niagara bubbly is made in the traditional method of Champagne, and has a cranberry, raspberry nose and palate from the Pinot Noir base

Ravine Vineyard Sparkling Brut is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Lime Fromage Sorbet and Puff Pastry Cheese Straw

Enjoying a glass of Leaning Post Rosé with dinner

Cumbrae Farms Pork Tenderloin served with Pork Belly, Crispy Pancetta, Creamy Polenta, 
Pink Peppercorns and Charred Radicchio

Indian Spice Dusted West Coast Halibut served Curry Roasted Peanuts, Summer Vegetables 
and Cilantro Lime Yogurt

Heirloom Tomato Tarts
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Stephen Treadwell

7 oz Monforte Belle sheep’s milk cheese or chèvre
1 1/2 lb lbs selection of heirloom tomatoes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fleur de sel
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp 15-year-old balsamic, or similar

Tart Dough:

3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp orange zest
1 cup flour
3/4 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup toasted panko crumbs 

Basil Purée:

1 cup basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
2 ice cubes

For the basil purée, add all the ingredients together in a mini food processor and purée until smooth, and set aside. The ice cubes will prevent the basil from turning grey in the process.

For the dough, mix the butter and sugar together. Add the orange zest, flour, ground almonds, and panko crumbs to form a dough. Mix, being careful not to overmix. Roll the tart dough into six 4-inch balls. Work the dough with your fingers to create shells approximately 1/8-inch thick and press into individual tart shells. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover the tarts with baking paper and beans and cook “blind” approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Let the shells cool.

Mix the basil purée with one tablespoon of the Belle cheese to create a spreadable mix, then lightly coat the base of each shell with a little of the basil mixture. In a large bowl, season the tomatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper. To intensify flavours and vary textures, blister some of the smaller tomatoes in a hot pan using a little extra-virgin olive oil, and then season with fleur de sel and black pepper.

Arrange the blistered and raw tomatoes inside each of the tart shells. Garnish with a “quenelle” of the Belle cheese — to form a quenelle, shape the cheese between two teaspoons to create an almond-shaped lozenge. Place in the centre of the plate, and spoon extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic around the tart. Finish with a sprinkling of fleur de sel as desired.