Photographs and Video by Brigitte Bouvier
When barbecued steaks start to become boring, organize a potluck hors d’oeuvres party
Barbecue, the summer cottage culinary staple, is great, but after a couple of weeks, it can become tired. It may be the easiest way to feed hungry mouths quickly, but how many burgers can one eat?
It’s a challenge we face at my husband’s family cottage. It’s unusual if there are fewer than 15 people at dinner any night during July and August. Sometimes, there can be more than 25 every night for days on end. So how does one feed that many people, all of whom have a passion for good food, without slaving in the kitchen all day?
My sister-in-law, Julie, who runs the food show at the cottage, has come up with some creative ways to ensure she doesn’t spend all day in the kitchen planning and preparing meals.
A family favourite is one-bite night where everyone produces at least one canapé for the crowd. It’s a no-fuss way to enjoy full flavours in little mouthfuls and it also means everyone gets to offer something they love — children included.
For cottage neighbour and annual guest Dominique Laframboise, it’s a chance to pull out an old, easy-to-prepare favourite based on artichoke hearts, that brings back memories of her first grown-up cocktail party. “A male friend of mine served this at his party when we were all about 17 years old,” she recalls. “It was a recipe from his mother and I remember being so impressed.”
My mother-in-law, Ricki Klotz, is the Queen of the Canapé. She has endless excellent recipes up her sleeve, but the recipe for pear and cheese tarts she shares here is a real crowd-pleaser for young and old. “Several years ago, I was a member of a committee that met frequently to organize an event,” she recalls. “After the event was over, we realized that we would miss our many planning sessions so decided that we would continue (to meet socially) over hors-d’oeuvres and wine. Many of my best hors-d’oeuvres come from these wonderful evening get-togethers.”
Cousin Jasmin von Teichman suggests an interesting twist on conventional bruschetta, by adding cheese and a small slice of crispy bacon. “This is still a very easy recipe,” she says, “with the lovely flavour of basil and fresh tomatoes, but the bacon adds a little surprise.”
Who knew that cheese could be cooked so many ways on a barbecue? For family friend Kim Guntzel, it’s Camembert that scores a bull’s-eye when baked on the barbecue on a cedar plank. “I love to prepare this dish when the pears are fresh from the orchard,” she says. “On a hot day, the onion and pear mixture can be prepped on an outdoor burner. This is best done on a charcoal barbecue, but is also delicious on a gas grill.”
We’ve had some great tastes over the years, including miniature lamb burgers, tiny pancakes and plenty of prosciutto-wrapped everything. What follows are some recipes shared by cottage stalwarts who gather annually from Europe and across Ontario and Quebec. They are all easy to prepare in a far-from-gourmet kitchen or on the barbecue.
Dominique Laframboise’s Artichoke Tarts
Makes about 36 bites
- 1 jar (14 oz/397 mL) artichoke hearts
- 1 cup (250 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise
- Store-bought tart shells
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Roughly chop the artichoke hearts in a food processor.
- Add cheese and mayonnaise and process until semi-smooth.
- Put the mixture into tart shells (store-bought or homemade) and bake for five minutes.
Jasmin von Teichman’s Bruschetta with Bacon
Makes 12 to 16
- 6 large, fresh ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves
- Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise
- 12 to 16 crackers or crostinis
- 3 slices of bacon, cooked to crisp, each cut in 4 pieces
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Dice tomatoes. Combine with basil leaves, salt and pepper. Sit mixture in a sieve so the juices drain out.
- In a separate bowl, mix equal parts mozzarella cheese and mayonnaise.
- Place a spoonful of the tomato mixture on a cracker, top with cheese, top with bacon.
- Bake 8 minutes.
Julie Klotz-Smith’s Caramelized Onion/ Cheese Puffs
Makes about 30 portions
- 2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) brown sugar
- Dash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 1 packet puff pastry, rolled out and cut into 4- to 5-cm rounds using a cookie cutter or top of a small glass
- 1 cup (250 mL) cheese, either blue cheese, goat cheese or feta
- Heat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place the olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat to cook the onions until soft.
- Add the brown sugar as the onions soften.
- After two minutes, add balsamic vinegar.
- Cook until soft and sticky, being careful not to burn.
- Place the puff pasty rounds on a baking tray and cook 10 minutes with a second tray on top. This allows the pastry to cook but avoid rising too high.
- Place a spoonful of onion on each pastry round and top with cheese.
- Return to oven and heat for three minutes until cheese is soft. Eat immediately.
Sierra Smith’s (age 11) Peanut butter and Banana Wraps
Makes about 40 small rounds
- Peanut butter
- 4 to 6 soft flour tortillas
- 2 to 3 bananas
- Spread peanut butter on a tortilla, cut bananas in half length-wise and place one half at the edge of a wrap and roll up the wrap tightly.
- Cut into 3-4 cm slices, serve.
- Variations for children include jam and bananas, jam and strawberries, Nutella and berries.
Variations for adults include herbed cream cheese with slices of meats and roasted red peppers or cream cheese, smoked salmon and asparagus.
Maria Grünewald’s Crab or Shrimp Dip
Makes 12 to 16 rounds
- 2 cups (500 mL) cooked crab meat or chopped large shrimp
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons (25 mL) lemon juice
- Chives, to garnish
- Combine ingredients except chives, and spoon onto crackers or siljan cups. Garnish with chopped chives.
Spencer Smith’s (age 13) Miniature Caesar Salad
Makes 20 rounds
- 1 head of crisp Romaine lettuce
- 4 slices of bacon
- 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
- 1 cup (250 mL) Parmesan cheese, to garnish
- For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (25 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) anchovy paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 2/5 teaspoon (2 mL) Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons (50 mL) mayonnaise
- To make the dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl, adding mayonnaise last, then whisk until smooth.
- Slice baguette thinly ( - to -inch thick) and place under broiler to toast (watch carefully to avoid burning).
- Fry bacon until crisp and then crumble.
- Tear the lettuce into very small pieces.
- Combine all ingredients and toss. Place on baguette and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Julie Klotz-Smith’s Mushroom Stilton on Baguette
Makes 12 rounds
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 knob butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (15-25 mL) olive oil
- 2 cups (500 mL) chopped mushrooms (portobello, crimini, wild, button)
- A good knob of Stilton cheese
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup (50 to 125 mL) heavy 35-per-cent cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons (25 mL) parsley, finely chopped
- Crush the garlic cloves and soften in a hot pan with the butter and olive oil.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until soft and caramelized a little, about 3 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Once mushrooms are cooked, turn down the heat and add the Stilton to melt slowly. Stir in cream until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper.
- Serve on baguette or garlic toast rounds and garnish with parsley.
Ricki Klotz’s Creamy Cheese Pear Tarts
Makes 12 tarts
- 1 cup (250 mL) store-bought goat cheese with herbs
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) pears, finely chopped and peeled
- Pinch, black pepper
- 1 package of square wonton wrappers
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) red pepper jelly
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Mix cheese, pear and black pepper well.
- Line muffin tin cups with wonton wrappers.
- Spoon in cheese-pear mixture.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is soft and bubbly and the wonton wrappers are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, add a dollop of red pepper jelly and serve.
Kim Guntzel’s Barbecue Camembert with Pears
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) white wine
- 2 cups (500 mL) thinly sliced pears
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small (4-inch/10-cm) wheels of Camembert
- One 12-inch untreated cedar plank, well-soaked in water (12 to 24 hours)
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, add the onion and cook until softened.
- Add half the brown sugar and continue cooking over medium heat until well-caramelized, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in white wine, remaining brown sugar and pears.
- Cook, stirring often until mixture is thickened and pears are soft but still intact, about 5 minutes.
- Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat.
- Remove cheese from wrapper and slice the rind off the top (a sharp serrated knife works well for this).
- Place cheese on the cedar plank, and divide the onion and pear mixture evenly between both rounds, mounding on the top, covering to the edges of the cheese.
- Preheat barbecue to 375 to 400°F (190-200°C). Place plank on grill and cook 5 minutes. The wood will get charred, which is fine, and gives the cheese a great cedar flavour. If the wood ignites, just spritz with a spray water bottle. Cheese is finished cooking when it is browned on the sides, but before it leaks, so check it a couple of times after the 3-minute mark.
- Remove the hot plank and cheese carefully from the grill and serve at once with fresh sliced baguette and a fresh, crisp white wine.