Canada Day falls mid-week this year

Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Fire up the grill this Canada Day

July 1 is the perfect day to enjoy some al fresco dining

Canada Day falls mid-week this year, so no long weekend — although many will take one anyway.

We celebrate our “Canada, Strong and Free.” There will be public celebrations in every town and city across this great nation as well as individual parties, picnics and barbecues by individuals and families. More hot dogs, burgers and potato salads will be served on this one day than in all of June, but perhaps you may want something a little different; perhaps the juicy, full-of-flavour lamb burger below.

Kids and adults alike will devour the appie hot dogs, the rib dish can be made up to two days in advance, and the homemade ice cream is a wonderful dessert with chunks of buttery shortbread and a sweet butterscotch ripple that tastes just like Canada’s favourite tart. If you like raisins or pecans in your butter tarts, swirl a small handful into the ice cream when you add the butterscotch and the cookies.

Take some time this Canada Day to reflect on the values and gifts that are ours — they have come with much sacrifice by those who came before us. Happy Canada Day to you all!

Bacon Wrapped Doggies

with Cheese Dip

1 package bacon

1 package hotdogs

1 cup Cheez Whiz

2 Tbsp. minced pickled jalapenos

2 Tbsp. salsa

Cut hot dog and bacon into thirds and wrap each hot dog bit in bacon and place seam side down in a shallow baking dish. Cook in preheated oven at 400 F for 20-25 minutes, until bacon is crisp. Arrange on a plate.

For sauce, in a microwavable safe bowl, place Cheese Whiz, jalapenos and salsa, mix well and cook for 30 to 45 secs until cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound ground beef

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (16 ounce) container Greek yogurt

1/2 lemon, zested

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices

4 slices green tomato

4 ciabatta sandwich rolls, sliced horizontally

1 (8 ounce) package feta cheese, sliced

8 baby arugula leaves

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate.

Mix ground lamb, ground beef, mint, ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Divide evenly into four portions and shape in to large patties. Set aside.

Mix Greek yogurt, lemon zest, 1 clove garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Cook the lamb and beef patties on the preheated grill until the burgers are cooked to your desired degree of doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for well-done. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the centre should read 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Place slices of onion and green tomato on the grill. Cook until lightly charred, about 1 minute on each side.

Spread yogurt sauce over the sliced ciabatta rolls. Assemble each burger by placing the patty on the roll, and dividing the feta cheese slices over the patties. Top with a slice of grilled tomato, grilled onion, and 2 leaves of arugula, followed by the top half of the roll.

Butter Tart Ice Cream

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1-3/4 cups whipping cream 35%

1-1/2 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup chopped shortbread cookies

In heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk egg yolks with granulated sugar until combined. Whisk in 1-1/2 cups of the cream, the milk and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and distinct trail remains after finger is drawn across back of spoon, 10 to 15 minutes (do not boil).

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into 9-inch (2.5 L) square cake pan; place plastic wrap directly on surface of custard. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 1/2 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container, with plastic wrap directly on surface, for up to 24 hours.)

While custard is chilling, in saucepan, cook brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring, until butter is melted and brown sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining cream. Scrape into heatproof bowl; let cool to room temperature, about 1-1/2 hours.

Process custard in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon one-third of the ice cream into large airtight freezer-safe container; drizzle with one-third of the brown sugar mixture and sprinkle with one-third of the cookies. Using tip of knife, swirl together. Repeat layers twice, swirling between each. Freeze until firm, 4 to 6 hours.

Easy BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs

3 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons ground mustard

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 full racks baby back pork ribs (about 5 to 6 pounds; any pork rib will work)

For the barbecue sauce:

1 1/2 cups ketchup

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup light or dark molasses (not blackstrap)

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons paprika

Place all of the ingredients except the ribs in a medium bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

Cut 4 (24-by-12-inch) pieces of aluminum foil; set aside.

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels. Remove the thin membrane attached to the underside of the ribs. Cut 1 rack in half crosswise and place the 2 pieces side by side on a sheet of foil. Repeat with the second rack and a second piece of foil. Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the spice rub. Pull the foil up and over each set of ribs to create 2 completely enclosed packets. Place the packets side by side on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet tightly with the remaining 2 pieces of foil. (At this point, you can roast the ribs immediately, but for the best flavour and texture, refrigerate them for up to 24 hours.)

Heat the oven to 325 F and arrange a rack in the middle. (If you rubbed the ribs in advance, remove them from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature while the oven is heating, at least 20 minutes.) Place the ribs in the oven and roast until fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the flavours have melded and the sauce has reduced to about 2 cups, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to grill.

To grill the ribs, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (350 F to 450 F).

Remove the ribs from the foil, place them meaty-side up on the grill, and brush them with some of the sauce. Cover the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the ribs and cook another 5 minutes. Continue to cook, flipping and brushing every 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the ribs are heated through and have grill marks, for a total grilling time of 20 minutes.

Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut the racks between the bones. Transfer the remaining barbecue sauce to a serving bowl and serve with the ribs.

Game plan: You can make the ribs through step 7 up to 2 days in advance. After roasting, transfer them to a large, shallow container, set aside to cool for about an hour, then cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to grill, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour.

The sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Let it come to room temperature before using.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

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