Feta and Sesame Crostini with Honeyed Mint and Harissa Oil Drizzle

This little appetizer has it all - beautiful seeded red fife heritage bread from Boulangerie La Vendéenne, fresh mint from Pete's Fine Foods puréed with Cosman and Whidden honey, salty briny Nova Scotia feta cheese and nutty toasted sesame seeds all topped off with a drizzle of spicy harissa olive oil from Liquid Gold. I recommend serving with one of Nova Scotia's many fantastic ciders. I especially like the Rummed Cider from Planter's Ridge


Honeyed Mint Spread

1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked from stems

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

  • purée all ingredients in food processor - scrape into small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use

Feta and Sesame Crostini with Honeyed Mint and Harissa Oil Drizzle

slices of baguette, or other bread of your choice, lightly toasted

honeyed mint spread

feta cheese

sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan until golden and fragrant

harissa oil

  • top toasted bread with honeyed mint spread - add crumbled feta and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds - drizzle with harissa oil to finish

Harbourstone Sea Grill & Pour House

Nova Scotia Oysters - served on the half shell

Nova Scotia Oysters - served on the half shell

Tuna Sushi Tacos

Tuna Sushi Tacos

The Nearly Famous Seafood Chowder

The Nearly Famous Seafood Chowder

Goldwater Fish & Chips

Goldwater Fish & Chips

I met with Catherine Marshall, Director of Operations, and Trevor Simms, Executive Chef, of the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront to talk about photos for the Marriott's restaurant Harbourstone Sea Grill & Pour House. They told me the tale of how Harbourstone came to be - brainstorming the concept, the back and forth struggle to decide on a name, tweaking the layout and decor to match their vision while staying true to the natural surrounding elements of the Halifax waterfront. For them, Harbourstone is a labour of love.

theme : ocean, stone, seafood, lunch, horizontal for website

food styling & photography : Kelly Neil

Sweetsugarbean's Rhubarb Fool from 'All The Sweet Things' cookbook

Kathy and I were so excited to review our pal Renée's (aka Sweetsugarbean) new cookbook, All The Sweet Things, but sadly, our copy of the book didn't arrive in time for our shoot so we had to make do with some PDF excerpts sent to us by her publisher. Included in the PDF package was a selection of recipes we could make and had permission to share. We chose Renée's Rhubarb Fool, knowing it would be a stunner stacked with gorgeous layers of red rhubarb compote and fluffy white cardamom whipped cream.

We loved it so much that we made a video.

We love Renée!

Buy her book!

Ha.

Anyway, here's the recipe. So beautiful and soooo good.


Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream

A fool is a classic British dessert consisting of pretty poached fruit and cream layers. For whatever reason, it always makes me think of Nigel Slater and Agatha Christie—two of my favourite Brits ever. All sorts of combinations and permutations of fool abound (look at me busting out the math lingo!) but it’s best to use whatever fruit is in season. My rhubarb plant is terribly generous, so I like to simmer chunks of it with a little white wine and a vanilla bean. It’s a grand way to usher in warmer weather. I could have used straight sweetened whipped cream, but I fancied it up by adding a little ground cardamom. With its good looks and stunning taste, this is a great recipe to have in your back pocket for summer entertaining.

Serves 4–5

Rhubarb Fool

3 1/2 cups chopped (3/4-inch pieces) fresh rhubarb

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup white wine

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Cardamom Cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cardamom

11/2 cups whipping cream

1/4 cup full-fat sour cream

1/3 cup shelled and finely chopped pistachios, for garnish

To make the fool, place the rhubarb in a medium saucepan with the sugar and wine. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and then throw the pod in too. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down the heat to low, simmering away for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft, but still holds it shape. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard it.

To make the cream, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix together the sugar and ground cardamom on low speed. Pour in the whipping cream. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly beat in the sour cream.

Layer the cooled fruit and cream in pretty glass cups/jars—you want to see the gorgeous layers. Spoon some fruit in first, then some cream, then more fruit and end with a layer of cream. Cover the fools with plastic wrap and let them chill at least 1 hour before serving. Garnish with chopped pistachios just before serving.

These will keep, covered with either plastic wrap or their lids if you are using jars, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

This would make a lovely trifle, when layered with chunks of Classic Vanilla Cake.

Use the same volume of sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots or plums instead of the rhubarb in the compote. Reduce the amount of sugar to ¼ cup if you do so. Softer fruits will take less time to cook, so check those frequently after the first 5 minutes.

* recipe shared with permission

Wild Card Creative : Easter with Lightfoot & Wolfville Riesling

Talented food stylist, and my friend, Kathy Jollimore, and I have officially teamed up as Wild Card Creative.

Wild Card Creative.

What is that?

The answer is complex, yet simple, at the same time. 

Kathy and I both have babies - her little boy is almost 20 months old and my little girl just turned 10 months old. We both love the entrepreneurial lifestyle and what it offers to our children, and our families, from a 'spending time' perspective. 
We both love what we do and we've both come to the conclusion that, when given the opportunity to focus on wearing just one hat - Kathy food styling, me behind the camera - our creativity and skills have a chance to really shine.
Combining forces is something I think we've both felt made sense for a really long time, however, having babies threw a wrench into the spokes.

So the simple answer is - 

Currently, Wild Card Creative is a one-stop-shop for recipe development, prop and food styling, photography, videography, and some writing, however, the word 'creative' gives us freedom to evolve into whatever we want to be

We approached Lightfoot & Wolfville Wines about a collaborative shoot featuring their gorgeous Riesling. With the themes of 'Easter', 'light and fresh', 'pink and green', and 'small mid-afternoon gathering', L&W's Riesling was a no brainer.

For the shoot, I cured fresh Atlantic salmon with beets, fresh dill and citrus, which Kathy then styled as a show stopping little canapé with whipped feta, delicately sliced radishes, baby greens and 9-minute boiled eggs, all atop squares of Birdies Bread Co. homemade rye bread. Kathy also made a coconut cake, filled it with lemon curd and frosted it with hibiscus-infused buttercream. Finally, she made donuts and dipped them in rhubarb glaze and bedecked them with teensy dried roses, edible pink pearls and shaved white chocolate. Cadbury Mini Eggs, fresh tulips and a bunting I made out of burlap and a lace curtain from Value Village completed our pretty scape.


All in all, a good start for Wild Card Creative.

HALIFAX CURATED MAGAZINE : Spring 2017

L to R : No Boats On Sunday 100% NS Cider, Annapolis Cider Company Heirloom Cider, Elderkin's Traditional Hard Cider, Bulwark Original Cider, Sid's Wild Blueberry CIder, Planter's Ridge Rummed Cider

L to R : No Boats On Sunday 100% NS Cider, Annapolis Cider Company Heirloom Cider, Elderkin's Traditional Hard Cider, Bulwark Original Cider, Sid's Wild Blueberry CIder, Planter's Ridge Rummed Cider

Local Connections magazine has officially changed its name to Halifax Curated magazine and the biggest difference you'll see is that the magazine is now dedicated solely to food and drink.

For the current issue, I wrote about, styled and shot a selection of Nova Scotia hard cider.

My job is pretty great.