Rhubarb Curd Bars

Rhubarb Curd Bars on Foodess

Ok, I realize these Rhubarb Curd Bars are hot on the heels of a Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake recipe, but I told you I’m obsessed with rhubarb, so I’m not really sorry.

If you try these, you won’t be sorry either.

What we have here is a luscious rhubarb curd – with only just enough sweetness to take the edge off – smoothed over a buttery shortbread crust, in a rhubarb bar that will blow any rhubarb fan’s mind.

Rhubarb Curd Bars on Foodess

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess

From May to September, most of my dinners consist of vibrant seasonal produce and quick-cooking proteins, flavourfully dressed and tossed on a hot grill. To kick off my favourite cooking season, I’ve got a whole slew of important tips for perfecting your high-heat, open-flame cooking game – so that you never have to suffer through a dried-out chicken breast or flame-kissed eyebrows again!

I’ve partnered with Walmart for this post to showcase their lush fresh foods section. Have you visited a Walmart Supercentre lately? They have a huge selection of high-quality, local fruits and vegetables, meats, etc. The juicy steaks you see in the photos are their 100% Canadian Angus Beef Striploin (and the asparagus is from there, too)!

Without further adieu, here are my 10 simple steps to make you a master of the gas BBQ. Or gasmaster, if you prefer. :)

1. Take the chill off. Let your steaks, chicken pieces, pork chops etc. come to room temperature before you start – I usually give it 30 minutes, longer if it’s something particularly thick. When you put cold food directly on the grill, the outside is likely to burn before the inside reaches the desired doneness.

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess

2. Fire up! Early. You should ignite the BBQ, close the lid, and let it preheat for a full 10-15 minutes before you go near it with food. An inadequately preheated grate will lead to stuck-on food, and nothing is sadder than a beautiful piece of salmon having the skin torn because it got stuck.

3. Brush and oil the grates once hot. The pre-heating stage will char any stuck-on residue from your last grilling adventure, making it easy to remove with a stiff-bristled grill brush. Once clean, use tongs to dip a wadded-up paper towel in oil and lightly coat the grates. Also done to avoid sticking!

4. Use both direct and indirect heat. As long as your grill has two or more burners, you can take advantage of different cooking zones. The direct heat area is where the flame is lit directly beneath, whereas the indirect area has no flame lit (but with the lid closed, it stays plenty hot!). This is important especially for thicker cuts, or higher-fat options, like skin-on chicken. Get the outside crispy with a quick turn over direct heat, then move it to the no-flame zone to cook through. This way, you bypass potential flare-ups and get to keep your pretty eyebrows. Plus, you can avoid the dreaded blackened outside-undercooked inside scenario.

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess-1-310 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess

5. Use a thermometer. It can be tricky to judge the doneness of meat/fish/poultry just by looking. There are some tricks, like pressing down on the surface to see how firm it is, but it’s easy to make mistakes. A thermometer takes out all the guesswork, and is in indispensable tool to stepping up your grilling game. Here’s a list of optimal internal temperatures – print one out and stick it beside your grill for easy reference all season. I think it’s worth investing in a leave-in thermometer that beeps when the food reaches the temperature you programmed. But you still need a second thermometer to check other pieces to make sure they’re all the same (remember to clean the probe in hot, soapy water each time you check, before you stick it in another potentially cooked piece). Moist chicken breasts, flaky fish, and medium-rare steaks every time!

6. Man (or woman) that grill! The fact that you’re using super-high heat means that things can go south quickly if you step away for a few minutes to whisk a salad dressing or set the table. Have everything prepared in advance (or even better, delegate!) so that you can be present with your gorgeous steak the whole time it’s achieving those luscious grill marks. (Whoa, my stomach just rumbled out loud!). If you are grilling a multi-step dish (like a grilled pizza, for instance), have all of your ingredients prepped and pre-measured, sitting within arm’s reach for when you need them.

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess

7. Don’t press or peek or flip! When you’re hungrily standing by your barbecue, it can be hard not to want to do something, but have patience (and/or a drink). Never, ever, ever press down on burgers (or anything else), or all those precious juices will be lost to the fire. Wait to flip your food until it releases easily – forcing it will cause tearing! The food will move without resistance once it’s properly browned. Resist the urge to continue flipping multiple times, too – let it sit on the heat to develop nice, caramelized grill marks. And if you’re cooking something that’s going to take a while (like bone-in chicken), follow the recipe’s instructions for cooking times, without opening the lid multiple times to peek: all you’ll be doing is letting the heat escape and tacking minutes onto the total cooking time.

8. Hold off on the sweet stuff. If you plan to slather your fare with a sticky barbecue sauce, wait until the last few minutes of cooking. Sugar burns quickly and can cause the outside to char to the blackest of blacks if you brush it on too soon. If you want to make sure your food is deeply infused with flavour, your best bet is to apply a rub, or use a marinade. Mop on the sauce last.

9. Let it rest. For heaven’s sake, don’t cut into your perfect medium-rare work of art the second it’s removed from the grates, no matter how hungry you are! Meat needs some time off of the grill for the fibres to relax, allowing the juices to redistribute throughout – yielding a juicy bite. If you skip this step, the juices will run all over your plate (and out of your steak/chicken/pork chop/fish) the second you cut in. So lovingly place your cooked food on a serving platter, cover it loosely with foil, and finish your beverage while you give it 5 minutes to become perfect.

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess

10. Think outside the bun. I toss everything from green onions, to halved peaches, to firm cheese, to skewered cherries, to flatbread dough on the grill! Up the ante on your char-marked delight by visiting a farmer’s market or your local Walmart Supercentre’s fresh food section, and get creative! Small foods should be either skewered (I love my basic metal skewers, but you can use wooden or bamboo – just soak for 30 minutes first) or tossed in a grill basket to prevent them from falling through the grates. Serve grilled fruits with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum yum!

What will you be tossing on the barbecue this summer?

This post is sponsored by Walmart Canada, as part of the Walmart Fresh program. In exchange for this review, I have received special perks in the form of products and/or compensation. All opinions on this blog are my own.

Thank you wholeheartedly for supporting me in my collaborations with the hand-picked sponsors that keep the Foodess kitchen running!

10 Tips to Improve Your Grilling on Foodess flp_pov2_partner_Walmart

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake

Strawberry-Rhubarb Yogurt Cake on Foodess

Yesterday was Theo’s 2nd birthday! I can’t believe another year has passed. The first year crawled by, but the second just flew. We didn’t have a big event this time, just a little picnic on the grass by the beach. We tied a balloon to Oliver’s collar and called it a party.

(It was actually pretty funny, because he’d disappear out of sight to take a dip in the ocean, and reappear minutes later with other dogs chasing him trying to catch the balloon. We only prayed he wouldn’t try to out-swim the balloon as it floated behind him… ha!)

I made a chocolate cake, but you don’t need to see that again. I still wanted to share a cake recipe to celebrate, so made another one – this Strawberry Rhubarb Cake.

Introducing Five Canadian Cheeses

Canadian Cheese on Foodess-1

I’m excited to have partnered once again with Dairy Farmers of Canada to feature Canadian cheeses made from 100% Canadian milk – because, as you probably know, I love cheese – and I buy from local cheesemakers as much as possible to support the Canadian dairy farmers and economy.

Today I’m showcasing five cheeses. From this selection, I’m hoping you’ll help me pick one that you’d like me to feature in a dessert… with a video! You’ll get to see me geek out over the recipe rather than just read about it. :)

Because I’ll be using the winner in a sweet recipe, the five Canadian cheeses I chose are dessert-friendly. From top to bottom in the above photo, you have Ricotta, Mascarpone, Brie, Quark and Cream Cheese. Several are pretty similar, so I thought you might like to get to know them better to understand their differences.

Garlicky Greens + Sausage Penne

Garlicky greens and sausage penne on Foodess

This morning I put on a flowy white maternity tunic. Theo (my almost two-year-old) starting jumping with excitement as we left the apartment, pointing at my torso and squealing, “Mama SNOWMAN! Mama SNOWMAN!”.

He wasn’t wrong.  With a round head perched on boobs atop a big belly, all swathed in white, I really did have three round tiers.  There’s really nothing like a toddler’s observations on your appearance to make you feel sexy, eh?

Just thought I’d share, in case anyone was questioning their own wardrobe choice for the day – it could be so much worse.