It’s summertime & the living is easy….

As the saying goes – It’s summertime and the living is easy.  This is especially true when you have a glass of good wine in your hand!  To make your summer a breeze, here are five favorite refreshing summer recipes with suggestions of wines to uncork (or un-twist!). Cheers & enjoy your summer!


Coffee Steak Rub

While visiting Niagara last summer, Charlie Pillitteri of Pillitteri Estates Winery invited me to a backyard BBQ where he served his guests steaks using this unique dry rub. The coffee beans caramelize while BBQing, offering a rich earthy flavour that will be enhanced with a robust red wine. 


TIP: This recipe can be doubled and stored in a jar or Ziploc container in the fridge.


½ cup whole coffee beans
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup Montreal Steak spice
4 juicy steaks – any cut


With an electric coffee grinder, whiz coffee beans and peppercorns lightly.  The result should be a coarse mixture. In a bowl add ground mixture with Montreal Steak spice. Sprinkle mixture over steaks.  Gently rub into the surface of the meat, patting down to secure the coffee bean mixture in place. Flip steaks over and repeat on other side.

Cover steaks and place in fridge until BBQ is ready (The steaks can ‘marinade’ for a couple of hours or simply a few minutes).

Serve BBQ steaks to your liking.  Enjoy!


Steaks are best with a big bold red wine.  Try Carmenere from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or a Red Zinfandel from California. Enjoy!


Watermelon & Black Olive Salad
From Wish Magazine, Summer 2006 issue

This can be enjoyed as a side salad or thread watermelon cubes on a skewer with black olives and pour vinaigrette over top and serve as a kebab.  Refreshing with a crunch and a zing!


4 cups seedless watermelon cut in ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Place in a large salad bowl & set aside.

For Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon garam marsala (An East Indian spice mixture that generally includes coriander seed, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, tumeric, nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon.  Purchase a package of this spice mixture at an Indian grocery or health food store).

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil


Mix together all ingredients for vinaigrette.  Gently mix in vinaigrette to cover watermelon.  Chill until ready to serve. 


There are many flavours in this recipe.  Best with something light & refreshing like a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (same grape, different name depending on wine region made) or a dry Ros
é from France.


Windsurfing Squares
Tip: Wait to make this recipe until the summer months when your (or your neighbour’s) garden is overflowing with zukes!

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup Bisquick mix
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (fresh is preferable, but dried parsley will do)
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups thinly sliced zucchini


Add eggs to other ingredients and mix.  Fold in Zucchini.  Cook in a 9×13 greased pan.  350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  

Why is this recipe called Windsurfing Squares? 
The lore goes that friends of Debbie’s first nibbled on these savoury squares at the ‘Canadian Hole’ – a famed windsurfing spot in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina during a wonderful windsurfing trip.

Red or white wine is the question. Why not serve both?  Chill a lightly oaked Chardonnay or French Chablis (un-oaked Chardonnay) and pop the cork (or twist the cap) of a medium bodied red wine Gamay grapes – labeled as Gamay Noir in Niagara or Beaujolais if made in France.


Local Strawberry, Québec brie, pancetta, pistachio & rosemary pizza

Les Fougeres Restaurant & Gourmet Store, Chelsea Québec
Makes 1 large pizza

1 pre-baked thin pizza crust
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 pint fresh local strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
250 g Québec brie in chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced and sautéed in olive oil until soft
250 g pancetta, friend until crisp and broken into pieces
½ cup pistachios, shelled
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, choppe
Freshly ground black pepper, Maldon salt and orange zest to taste


Spread crust with an even layer of cream cheese.  Arrange strawberries, brie, onion and pancetta evenly over crust. Sprinkle with pistachios and rosemary.  Grind a little black pepper over the pizza. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and orange zest.



Bake directly on rack in middle of oven at 425 F for 7 to 8 minutes or until crust is golden and crisp and toppings are sizzling.

This recipe says ‘Rosé’ all over it!  If red or white is more your preference, try a Sauvignon Blanc or slightly chilled Pinot Noir.  Enjoy!


Peppered Lamb Medallions with Garlic & Dark Chocolate Sauce

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins selected this recipe to pair with June’s Savvy Selections – Black Prince Cabernet Franc.  Read Savvy e-Zine

Adapted from original recipe found in LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Winter 2009
Serves 4

1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp herbes de Provence
2 boneless lamb loins, chops or medallions (about 1 lb.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c unsalted or low-salt lamb or chicken stock
½ oz. dark bittersweet chocolate (70-80% cocoa), chopped

Combine pepper, herbes de Provence and 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Brush lamb loins with mixture.


Preheat oven to 200F.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pan on medium heat.  Add chopped garlic, lower heat and cook until the garlic is just golden.  Remove pan from heat.  Add stock and return to heat.  Bring stock to a boil and reduce to ¼ -1/3 C.  Add chocolate, stirring until melted.  Reduce heat to minimum.


While the stock is being reduced, grill lamb on BBQ 12-15 minutes, or until pink inside.  Transfer to a dish and keep warm in the oven as you finish the sauce.


Once the sauce is ready, slice the lamb into thick slices and pour over a tablespoon of sauce.  Timing is everything with this recipe, as you don’t want the chocolate sauce to overcook!


The trick with pairing this recipe is to make sure that the wine you serve does not overpower the chocolate sauce! Try a Syrah from France, or a Cabernet Franc from Niagara or red Zinfadel from California.



Cheers, enjoy these recipes & most of all have a great summer! 





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