Summer is too short to spend it labouring in the kitchen or worrying about whether your outdoor décor will stand up to the elements. Fortunately, an abundance of hard-wearing products that do double duty indoors or out, and quick, delicious recipes that rely on seasonal produce means you don’t have to.
Solid wood is one material time-tested for indoor or outdoor living. Many of the beautiful pieces from Artemano www.artemano.ca can, for example, be used on a patio or balcony. Placed inside, they instantly add a touch of natural, organic beauty.
A great graphic indoor/outdoor rug from a retailer like Lowe’s www.lowes.ca can define a space — either on a backyard patio or family room. Add comfortable seating, and accessorize with decorative string lighting and flowering plants (although I am loving ferns these days) in lightweight pots, so that when you want to create a garden-like feel inside the home, it’s easy to move them indoors.
There are also terrific maintenance-free faux options these days. HomeSense www.homesense.ca is a great source for this, and for colourful unbreakable serve ware.
When it comes to cooking, it makes sense to look for easy dishes that make delicious local produce the star of the show. I’ve drawn rave reviews, for example, with the Cider Cheesecake with Maple Pecan Crust (recipe below).
The secret ingredient is Molson Canadian Cider molsoncanadian.ca/en/cider-beer/index, which is made with Canadian apples. It gives a wonderfully light texture and flavour to the cheesecake. It’s also, however, lovely on its own over ice, mixed with ginger beer or a strong hoppy beer, and with crushed mint in it.
To switch it up a bit, omit the pecans on top and pile with whatever fruit is local and fresh.
TIP: With my first basket of Ontario peaches, I made a version using the stone-fruit flavoured cider, and switched out the pecan for toasted almonds. Delish. TIP: I’ve also used individual mini spring form pans to make small versions and garnished each differently. Easy to do, and it makes for a great presentation.
Cider Cheesecake with Maple Pecan Crust
What you need:
250 ml (1 cup) Molson Canadian Cider
180 ml (¾ cup) sugar
250 ml (1 cup) pecans, ﬁnely chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) ﬂour
30 ml (2 tbsp) melted butter
30 ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup
500g (1 lb) cream cheese at room temperature
125 ml (½ cup) sour cream
125 ml (½ cup) ﬂour
2 ml (½ tsp) vanilla essence
Pomegranate for decoration
Maple roasted pecans:
250 ml (1 cup) pecans, halved
75 ml (1/3 cup) maple syrup
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 160oC (325oF).
In a pan, bring the Molson Canadian Cider and sugar to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool.
In a bowl, mix the pecans, ﬂour, butter and maple syrup. Press into a 20 or 23 cm (8 or 9 inch) diameter spring form pan.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese and sour cream. Add the ﬂour, eggs and warm syrup to the Molson Canadian Cider and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Allow to cool completely at room temperature and then refrigerate for 1 hour before turning out. Decorate with maple roasted pecans and pomegranate.
Maple roasted pecans:
Place pecan halves in a baking dish and roast for 10 minutes.
In the interim, heat the maple syrup on medium heat. Allow the syrup to come to a boil and reduce to a thicker, toffee-like consistency.
Add the pecans to the hot boiling syrup, stirring to coat. Continue to heat until the syrup sticks to the pecans and there is no residual syrup left in the pan.
Spread on a baking sheet overlaid with parchment paper and allow to cool.