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Summertime fruit salsas

In my column about strawberries, I prompted you to try making a strawberry salsa and gave you some direction on how to go about doing so. Fruit salsas are so fresh and delicious, and a perfect way to compliment the summer grilling season.

So much so, that I am giving you two more fruit salsa recipes to help bring excitement to your next backyard grilling adventure.

These are perfect on a variety of grilled meats and seafood, or simply on their own served with tortilla chips.

It's strawberry time

Summer is here and strawberry season is one of the most celebrated times of the year for lovers of this luscious red fruit. I always buy an abundant amount of all fruit when it is in season, and strawberries are no exception.

Although strawberries seem to be available throughout the entire year, thanks to our friends in the south; they are not as good as the ones we get fresh right here from our local farmers.

Imported strawberries from warmer climates have usually been cultivated in a way, which produces a larger and firmer berry more durable for transport.

Where are you getting your information from?

My son is 13 years old and I have noticed that over the past year he has started devoting more attention to his appearance.

He recently asked me for a couple of spoons that he could put in the freezer.

“Why do you want to put spoons in the freezer?” I asked.

“Because if I put the frozen spoons under my eyes, it will eliminate the bags under my eyes when I wake up in the morning,” he replied.

I was flabbergasted. “You're only 13 years old. You don't even have bags under your eyes! Where did you learn this from?”

Trust the reliable butcher

Whenever I make meatballs or burger patties from scratch, an ingredient that I always use is ground chuck.

Ground chuck is not the typical ground beef you can easily find at any major grocery store—it can only be found at butcher shops.

It has a higher fat content and a much beefier flavour; a secret ingredient among chefs you could say.

My regular favourite butcher is about 10km away from my house.

Recently however, I needed ground chuck and I was in a bit of a hurry, so I decided to go to a closer, unfamiliar butcher shop instead.

My famous sausage, fennel pasta recipe

As a cookbook author and culinary instructor, I write a lot of recipes.

Probably the most favorite pasta recipe of the masses would by my famous sausage and fennel pasta.

This recipe is in my most recent “best of" cookbook, called "The Best In Your Kitchen.”

How it became “famous” is that I have made it for years for family gatherings and everyone always asks for the recipe.

My response was always “I don't have it written down-it's just in my head!” So finally I put it to paper.

The best guacamole for Cinco de Mayo

I love experiencing the tastes of different cuisines and I use any excuse I can find to switch things up a bit at the dinner table.

Celebratory dates from around the globe are perfect for this and May fifth marks Cinco de Mayo—a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayois Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually on Sept. 16. Cinco de Mayois simply Spanish for Fifth of Mayand is a regional holiday that commemorates Mexico's defeat of the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Butter is just better

When it comes to cooking, baking, and mealtime, butter has a definite role in the kitchen and at the dinner table. I know that even mentioning the comparison of butter to margarine is going to stir up a lot of opinions, but I am going to express my view anyway.

We use butter in our home on a daily basis for cooking, baking and serving and I cannot even remember the last time margarine made its way into my refrigerator. In my opinion nothing is better for flavour, richness, melt ability, texture, and in moderation, health benefits.

April Fool's Day prank

More and more companies every year seem to be getting on the bandwagon of pulling April Fool's Day pranks on April 1st.

WestJet has been doing this for a number of years now, and I especially enjoyed the one from Honda Canada this year with the “polite horn” for Canadians. If you haven't seen these yet, they are a search away on the internet.

This year I decided to join in the fun.

My top 10 'secret' ingredients to transform recipes

We all have them: our secret ingredients that transform recipes into one-of-a-kind creations that are to die for. This is what keeps food exciting at the dinner table and makes it unique to us.

Although these top 10 of mine officially won't be a “secret” anymore, I am happy to share them with you:

  • Blueberry jam

Beef or other red meats such as lamb or various game meats always will benefit from a little something bold and sweet. Blueberry jam is my “go to” ingredient for burger patties, chili, stews, etc.

Gourmet picnic ideas for summer

How many people are tired of the same old picnics items? Do memories of bland potato salads and boring sandwiches persuade you to buy fast food or, worse yet, keep you locked indoors?

Whether it's a romantic picnic for two or a family outing, easy-to-prepare gourmet ideas will liven up your picnic basket for this holiday long weekend.