Spring entertaining

You could smell the barbeques firing up all over last weekend as spring finally showed up, so it is a perfect time to welcome Tim Mackiddie to talk spring entertaining. Tim is the estate chef for Jackson-Triggs and Inniskilin Niagara Estates.

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Croque-Madame with “Niagara Gold” Cheese & Mustard Béchamel

Serves 4

4 eggs (fried to your preference)
16 slices of ham
1 cup Niagara Gold cheese, grated
8 slices of multigrain or sour dough bread
2 cups 2% milk
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole grain mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

To make Mustard Béchamel:
• Add 3 tbsp. of butter to a medium saucepot placed over medium heat, allowing the butter to melt.
• Once the butter starts to sizzle, add in the flour.
• Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
• Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
• Whisk the milk into the flour and butter mixture, combining thoroughly with no lumps.
• Place saucepot over low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a simmer.
• Simmer gently for 10 minutes, whisking to ensure the sauce does not stick to the pot.
• After 10 minutes, add in the whole grain mustard, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Keep sauce warm.

To make your sandwiches:
• Begin to build your sandwiches by placing 2 slices of ham and ¼ cup of cheese between 2 slices of bread.
• Butter the outside of the slices with the remaining softened butter.
• Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, adding the sandwiches once hot.
• Brown sandwiches on both sides (2-3 minutes per side).
• Transfer browned sandwiches to a baking sheet, and turn your oven broiler to high.
• Spoon ½ cup of your mustard béchamel over the top of each sandwich.
• Place under broiler until the béchamel is golden brown.
• While the sandwiches are under the broiler, fry eggs in a large frying pan to your liking.
• Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve with our spring herb salad.

– Recipe by Chef Tim Mackiddie, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery

Spring Herb Salad with Lemon and Honey

Serves 4

80 grams baby arugula
1 bulb fennel, fronds attached
1 bunch basil (green or purple)
1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch dill
1 bunch of chervil or parsley
1 bunch of chive
2 lemons, juiced (If possible, use Meyer lemons)
2 tbsp. quality liquid honey
2 tbsp. olive oil

To make your salad:
• Pick the green fronds from the fennel bulb and reserve.
• Cut fennel in half, vertically, and slice thinly. If possible, use a mandolin.
• Gently pick the leaves off of the basil, tarragon, dill and chervil. Set aside.
• Slice chives very finely.
• Combine arugula, fennel and herbs together, and toss.
• Add in lemon juice, honey and olive oil, mixing well.
• Finish by seasoning your salad with salt and pepper to taste.

– Recipe by Chef Tim Mackiddie, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery