Warm Chorizo Sausage and Medjool Dates with Heirloom Baby Spinach Salad

Spring has finally arrived in southwestern Ontario, and our thoughts are already turning to summer dining.

We are blessed to be located in one of Canada’s most bountiful regions, where an abundance of locally-grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes are readily available throughout the growing season.

It’s one of the reasons why Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are famous for offering an inspired selection of fresh-from-the-farm salads.

This Warm Chorizo Sausage and Medjool Dates with Heirloom Baby Spinach salad is always a guest favourite.

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This Chorizo Sausage salad is a delicious combination of exotic flavours. 

Combining the spicy piquancy of Chorizo Sausage with the unexpected sweetness of Medjol dates and sun-dried apricots makes for an exotic combination that is hard to resist….

Try it for lunch, or a light dinner, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Chorizo Sausage Salad
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 Chorizo sausages cut into ½ pieces
8 Medjol dates, cut in half
3 oz. Heirloom baby spinach, red & green
4 tbsp. Sun-dried apricots cut in half
2 whole roasted red pepper, cut into spears
¼ sliced red onion
8 slices English cucumbers
8 baby tomatoes cut in half
Mix micro sprouts for garnish
Sherry-basil vinaigrette (recipe to follow) drizzled

Directions:
In a skillet sauté chorizo sausage, golden brown, finish in oven; add Medjol dates, roasted red peppers. Set aside; toss spinach with dressing, season with salt and pepper. Arrange spinach in centre of plate, garnish with sliced cucumber, baby tomatoes, Chorizo sausage mixture, red onions, purple radish sprouts.

 Basil-sherry Vinaigrette:
(Makes ½ cup)
¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. sweet sherry
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp. shallot minced
¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. ground pepper or to taste

Directions:
Whisk together oil, sherry, lemon juice in a small bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and refrigerate. Whisk or shake before serving.

What is your favourite summer salad?

The patios at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa are open for alfresco dining all summer long! 

10 tips for a stress-free dinner party

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to build relationships and create a circle of friends that will last a life time.

And since December is such a busy month for social occasions, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask Elm Hurst Inn & Spa’s executive chef, Michael Davies, for some tips to help you make your evening a night to remember – minus the stress!

Plan ahead
Create a menu, write a grocery list, and make sure you are well organized. Prepare a familiar recipe, perhaps with a new twist. If a dish can be made a day ahead, save yourself some last minute stress. If you’re hosting as a couple, divide the duties beforehand, to avoid any last minute arguments.

Use your best
Why wait to use your best china, cutlery and linens? Seize the moment and enjoy the occasion!

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Now is the time to use your table linens and good china!

Decorate your table
Fresh flowers or candles make an instant impression. But make sure people can see over them.

Start on empty
Always start the night with an empty dishwasher and bin. It will make clean-up so much easier!

Get yourself ready first
This way you simply have to slip off your apron to greet your guests.

Break the ice with some cocktails
When guests arrive, offer them something special to drink. This will set the tone and get  conversation flowing. It’s also a great opportunity to discuss who will be the designated drivers.

Skip the appetizer
Instead of serving a formal appetizer, offer stationed or butlered hors d’oeuvres. This gives you and your guests more time to mingle.

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Offer a delicious cheese platter instead of a formal appetizer.

Have a seating plan
To keep things interesting, guests should be seated boy/girl/boy/girl, and couples should not be seated next to one another.

Stick to two courses
A soup or salad followed by a main course is plenty, takes less time in the kitchen (both to prepare and clean up) and will give you more time to sit down and enjoy the meal.

Keep dessert simple
Choose a dessert that can be prepared ahead of time, or that only requires some last minute assembly. Try a delicious scoop of ice cream served with some fresh fruit, or an assortment of pastries from your favourite local bakery.

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A simple scoop of ice cream with a few fresh berries makes a wonderful dessert.

Remember – it’s about fun, not perfection. And if you simply don’t have time to do it all yourself, book a table at the Elm Hurst or Idlewyld for some delicious holiday dining.

From all of us at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa – Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2017! 

Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

When Chef Michael Davies first shared his Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe a few years ago it received rave reviews!

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Chef Davis’ Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are always a delicious treat! 

We’ve recently had several requests for a repeat…so here it is again – just in time for Halloween….

Harvest Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 35 large cookies

Ingredients:
– 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1 cup white sugar
– 1 cup golden yellow sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will do in a pinch!)
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– ½ tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp ground ginger
– ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
– ¼ tsp ground cloves
– 2 cups milk chocolate chips

mixing
Scare up a batch of these treats for Halloween! 

 

Directions:
– Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line them with parchment paper.

– Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy.

– Beat in eggs one at a time; add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree gently mix.

– Mix together all dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture slowly until all mixed. Add chocolate chips.

– Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are browned around the edges.

– Remove cookie sheets from the oven, allow to cool and rest for 2 minutes. Remove from tray with spatula, cool on baking wire racks.

– Cover with your favourite icing [optional]. We used buttercream and grated pumpkin.

These make a delicious after school snack paired with a glass of milk. Or enjoy with a cup of coffee, your favourite tea, or even hot apple cider.

Chef Michael Davies has been the Executive Chef at Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in Ingersoll, Ontario since 1996. His stepson, Chef Trevor Stephens is the Chef de Cuisine at Idlewyld Inn & Spa in London, Ontario. 

 

Build your own Charcuterie Board

The Charcuterie Board is one of the most popular summer dishes available at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa.

Our Charcuterie Boards feature delicacies like thinly sliced prosciutto, Bresaola, Capicola, Gorgonzola cheese, mixed grilled Caponata, glazed balsamic Cipollini onions, pickled vegetables, heirloom tomatoes and Kalamata olives, served with artisan mustard and grain harvest bread.

 

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A Charcuterie Board is a delicious way to dine on a hot summer night. (Photo: Elm Hurst Inn & Spa) 

Our Chef Davies explains that the word charcuterie comes from the French terms ‘chair’ (flesh) and ‘cuit’ (cooked). It refers to the art of making preserved, cured, and smoked meats, as well as sausages, terrines, and pâtés – usually from pork – and is one of the classical cooking techniques used to preserve food before the era of refrigeration.

Today, this culinary specialty is enjoying a resurgence as people rediscover traditional methods and local foods.

But you don’t need to have access to a gourmet deli to enjoy your own Charcuterie Board at home. Just follow these simple tips:

Start with a beautiful board
An eye-pleasing presentation will give your spread some extra appeal, so start with a wooden board or formal serving platter, a selection of mini serving bowls or dishes, cheese & pate knifes, and mini forks.

Include a variety of tastes and textures
When it comes to assembling your Charcuterie Board, anything goes!

Most boards include a selection of cured meats like salami, prosciutto, chorizo and sausage. Add some creamy pâtés or a terrine and a selection of your favourite cheeses. This is a great opportunity to try something local!

Pickled vegetables are a wonderful complement to meat and cheese. Go beyond olives and gherkins and try some marinated artichoke hearts, pickled green beans or cocktail onions!

Add something sweet
Yes, you’ll want some mustard on your board, but apricot jam, fig jam or even honey offer a sweet surprise.

You’ll also want to include some fresh and dried fruit and nuts!

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Don’t be afraid to include fresh fruits and jams….(Photo: Idlewyld Inn & Spa)

Go for gourmet bread & crackers
You can’t go wrong with a fresh, sliced baguette. But this is a great opportunity to try some of the delicious artisan crackers and flat breads available at most grocery stores. Don’t forget to include some gluten-free rice crackers!

Gather your friends…and enjoy alongside your favourite wine, beer or cocktails….

What is your favourite way to entertain in the summer? 

Visiting southwestern Ontario? Discover our historic Inns in Ingersoll, Ontario (Elm Hurst Inn & Spa) and London, Ontario (Idlewyld Inn & Spa).

 

Cajun Salmon & Sweet Potato ‘Flap Jacks’

With maple syrup season in full swing, we’ve asked Elm Hurst Inn & Spa’s Chef Michael Davies to share his delicious recipe for Cajun Salmon & Sweet Potato ‘Flap Jacks’ – featuring the world-famous Jakemans Maple Syrup.

Their farm is just down the road from the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa, and open all year!

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This salmon is sweet, spicy and delicious1

Cajun Salmon & Sweet Potato “Flap Jacks”
With Jakemans Maple syrup, Lime, Bourbon butter
Makes 4

Ingredients:
4             5oz salmon fillet, skin removed
4 tbsp    Cajun spice
2 oz        Chilled unsalted butter, cubed
4 tbsp    Jakemans maple syrup
1              Juice of lime
1oz         Makers Mark bourbon
1 tbsp    Chopped cilantro

Sweet Potato “Flap Jacks”:
2 cups     all-purpose flour
2 tbsp     Cinnamon sugar
2 tsp        Baking powder
1/2tsp    Baking soda
1/2tsp    Salt
1               Egg
1 cup      mashed sweet potato
1 ¼ cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp    ground cloves
1/2 tsp    ground mace

raw-ingredients
A great meal starts with fresh ingredients. 

To Prepare Flap Jacks:
In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients. Make a well, crack egg in centre. Mix well, add buttermilk and sweet potato. Mix batter, (add more buttermilk if too thick). Proceed to cook pancakes on griddle as you would regular pancakes.

To Prepare Salmon:
Sprinkle salmon with Cajun spice on both sides. In cast iron pan, heat a little olive oil and butter until butter turns brown, add salmon to pan and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and finish in 350 degree oven until just cooked. (Should be plump to the touch).

Prepare pancakes at the same time on a griddle while salmon is cooking.  Or, pre-make your pancakes and warm them up in the oven.

To Prepare the Sauce:
In the same pan as the salmon, add butter, melt until brown, add Jakemans maple syrup, lime juice, flambé with Makers Mark bourbon, and add chopped cilantro.

Plate presentation:
Place one pancake in the centre of a plate, set salmon skin-side down on top, and arrange some of your favourite seasonal vegetables on top, finish with the sauce. Enjoy!

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Bon appetit!

How do you like to use Maple Syrup in the kitchen?

 

 

 

Terrific Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

 

This delicious mid-winter soup is perfect for your Valentine’s Day dinner – or for any day. It’s a favorite of our Brides, and Chef Michael Davies has had many requests to share his recipe…Enjoy!

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This colorful tomato soup is an Inn favorite!

 

Tomato and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 large          red peppers, halved, de-seeded & chopped rough
1 small         Spanish onion, chopped rough
1 small         carrot, chopped rough
1                     celery stick, chopped rough
18oz              plum tomatoes
2                     cloves garlic, chopped
2.5 cups      vegetable stock (can buy ready-made)
2 tsp.            Sugar, optional
2 tbsp.          Tomato paste
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup           35% cream
2oz.              Fresh basil chopped

To Prepare:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place peppers, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and tomatoes on baking tray. Mix with olive oil. Bake for ½ hour or until vegetables are roasted & tender. Blend in tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
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Roast the vegetables on a large baking tray.

 

 

  1. Remove vegetables from baking sheet, transfer to a stainless steel pot. Add vegetable stock, simmer for 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  1. Taste for seasoning using kosher salt & ground black pepper and sugar if needed.
  1. Add cream and half of the basil and puree using a blender until smooth.
  1. Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of fresh chopped basil and a swirl of fresh cream.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at the Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and Idlewyld Inn & Spa!