Home for a Holiday – A Dispatch from Jonathan Duffy Davis in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

 A Muskoka SupperJonathan Duffy Davis here. I am home for a bit of a holiday and a visit with my family. Though I grew up in Toronto, Muskoka is where my family and I spend our time when I come back for a visit. Muskoka isn’t exactly the Great White North but it is rural (two deer just ran across the driveway when I began to type this paragraph– scout’s honour) and parts of it are quite untamed. A quick drive lands us in Algonquin Provincial Park, a 3,000 square-mile preserve of wilderness where the hardwood forests of the south yield to the conifers that dominate the near and far north. Muskoka is a place that I love: a place where the canoe is an icon and a true conveyance, where there are more lakes and rivers than a person could visit or know, a place where the air is crisp on August evenings and definitely smells like home.

When I’m home for a visit in summer, my family and I do much of the cooking outdoors. We cooked a fantastic supper tonight and since I have been a touch absent from the blog of late, I thought I would share some photos and some pseudo-recipes. These directions are going to be simple, as a supper menu should be simple when you’re on vacation.

Muskoka Summer Supper Menu

Grilled Peach and Sweet Basil Salad

Peaches-and-Cream Corn Grilled in The Husk

Cedar-Plank Rainbow Trout Glazed with Ontario Maple Syrup

Have a look at the gallery that highlights the three dishes in this meal, and read on for specific directions for each.

Grilled Peach and Sweet Basil Salad Directions

This simple salad is a great way to use ultra-ripe peaches and basil is their perfect companion. We have seen this fruit and basil combination in some of the dessert recipes of Mr. Dye. Grilling the peaches transforms a simple fruit-and-herb salad into something more satisfying and appealing – a sturdy side dish that stands proudly beside a main course of fish.

  • Halve and pit two medium peaches for each diner
  • Dress peaches with olive oil, salt, pepper
  • Grill over high heat until slightly charred and softened around the edges
  • Remove from heat, slice into thirds or quarters
  • Dress with more olive oil, coarse salt, cracked pepper, and a drizzle of nice thick balsamic
  • Garnish with freshly and roughly chopped basil

Peaches-and-Cream Corn Grilled in The Husk Directions

Peaches-and-Cream is an incredibly sweet variety of corn that produces kernels of two different colours. Rows of dark yellow kernels are interrupted by the occasional white kernel. Ontario markets are flooded with bushels of Peaches-and-Cream at this time of year. We have eaten corn three times in four nights! I bought the corn for tonight’s dinner out of the back of a pick-up truck – 6 cobs for $3.50. I’m sorry to say, So. Cal. Readers, that I have never seen this type of corn in our neck of the woods. There’s not much involved with cooking corn that is this good.

  • Place unhusked cobs of corn on barbeque over medium heat
  • Turn cobs when the husks begin to brown, turning several times to cook all “sides”
  • Remove from grill when the husks are completely browned
  • Let cobs sit for 2 – 3 minutes
  • Remove husks (with silicone gloves or asbestos hands – this corn will be hot!) and serve. I haven’t even been putting butter or salt on this stuff.

Cedar-Plank Rainbow Trout Glazed with Ontario Maple Syrup Directions

Other sources will tell you to soak your plank for 4 hours or more and I strongly disagree. The idea is that the plank will not burn if it is soaked. I feel that if you are going to go to the trouble of placing a piece of expensive lumber on the barbeque then you should certainly taste it. Don’t soak your plank and let the bottom char a bit. Your fish will be pleasantly smoky and you’ll thank me for it.

  • Rinse, but do not soak, an untreated cedar plank that is 1” thick and of suitable dimensions to accommodate your trout (or salmon) fillet. A 1.5 lb fillet provided a moderate serving for four of us this evening.
  • Place the fillet on the plank skin-side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Drizzle a tablespoon or so of Canadian maple syrup (you can use Vermont if you must) over the fillet and rub it over the fish to create a thin, almost imperceptible glaze.
  • Place the plank and the fish that rides atop over a low flame on your barbeque.
  • Close the barbeque and allow the fish to cook until it is firm and a dark, almost-crispy lacquer has formed on the surface – approximately 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Present the plank and fish together – slice and portion at the table.

Thanks for reading!

~ Jonathan Duffy Davis

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