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Contest: Steak Stock at Ajax Downs

Attention local steak and ale lovers, have I a pair of smokin’ hot tickets for you! 

STEAK STOCK is happening at Ajax Downs Racetrack, 50 Alexander’s Crossing, Ajax, ON, on July 18th & 19th, which means exceptional Southern-style barbecue served along with Ontario’s best craft beers, great live music and the exhilarating, unique experience that is LIVE Quarter Horse Racing! Southern Ontario has been inspired by the deep south and it’s going to taste SO GOOD!

“Quarter Horse racing is special because it attracts the young with its focus on brute speed. It also attracts the cowboy in all of us with its western appeal.”          – Nick Coukos, Professional Handicapper at Ajax Downs

So, has attending the world famous Kentucky Derby been on your personal bucket list? It’s certainly on mine. Oh! the excitement, the food, the people, the big fancy hats! The Ajax Down’s STEAK STOCK doesn’t quite have the same traditions and regulations as Kentucky’s festival but this is still one excellent opportunity to unleash our inner cowboys and Southern belles — even if just for one weekend. 

That weekend includes a LIVE Chef vs. Chef BBQ Cook-Off, face painting (for the kids of all ages), a BBQ giveaway, musical performances from country/alt rock acts like Autumn Hill, Casey Spencer, Leah Daniels, Jack Connolly and many more, AND all of my favourite local brew makers and master meat smokers will be serving up their own unique pairing of beer + southern-style barbeque. Seriously, all of them will be there:

Kids are welcome, single day passes available. Come hang out with me on the greens, it’s going to be an amazing weekend! Tickets are currently available on the STEAK STOCK website OR I have two weekend passes for you to WIN. 

Consider this:

With BBQ, beer and music in mind, what would you name your very own race horse?

Comment below or tweet me @hotpinkapron, using the hashtag #AjaxDowns, your answer and I’ll add you to our random.org generated raffle. Be quick! Winners will be notified by Thursday morning.

hotpinkapron-pavlova-title
Dessert

All The Berries Pavlova

Top 5 reasons why Pavlova may be the perfect summer dessert:

1) It’s delicious

2) That crunchy meringue topped with a thick layer of whipped cream makes an ideal bed for ANY sweet berry growing nearby

3) It’s a crowd-pleasing dessert fit for kids of all ages, even the gluten intolerants can dig in

4) This isn’t a difficult recipe to master but a finished pavlova can create the illusion of professional sophistication. So soak in that praise because you’re fancy and amazing and a super talented baker and this pavlova totally proves it!

5) It’s meant to look ‘rustic’, which I believe translates to ‘the more imperfections there are the closer to perfect it is’

I truly put point #5 to the test this past weekend when I prepared a large meringue at home so I could drive it three hours north for a special family dessert at the cottage that night. My beautiful bundled meringue baby survived the drive — in a cake carrier, squeezed between sleeping bags and beach toys — but once we arrived and I opened the back hatch, the cake carrier shot out of our jam-packed van, fell to the ground and bounced, like three times, landing face down, broken into a gazillion pieces. 

My screams of horror echoed through the forest, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” 

broken-pavolva

*sad face emoji* Note: there is no mention of “place finished meringue in container and volley it into pavement” in the recipe. Ya, don’t do that.

Have you ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is preparing a pig roast? The BBQ rolls down a giant hill, sends the pig flying, it lands in a river, shoots out of a damn, so on and so on, and the entire time Homer is running after it yelling, “It’s still good. It’s still good.” Have you seen that one? That was me with my broken pavlova.

It’s just a little shattered, it’s still good, it’s still good.

Nothing a heaping mound of freshly made whipped cream can’t fix, right?!

There laid the next dilemma: I was at the cottage with a carton of heavy cream and no mixer, no blender, not even a whisk, only the fossil of an egg beater that was last used when Elvis was still King.

hand-blender

Nothing quite like a 100 year old egg beater to give your whipped cream that extra dose of homemade love.. sweat.. and tears. Seriously, those pioneer cooks must have been insanely strong. My modern day yoga classes have not prepared my little chicken arms for this.

alice-hand-blender

So I put the kids to work. There must be a life lesson here somewhere, something other than your mother’s forearms are weak and whipped cream is delicious.

All The Berries Pavlova
Serves 12
A crunchy meringue crust topped with light, fluffy whipped cream and ALL the berries of the season.
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr 45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
1 hr 45 min
Total Time
2 hr
235 calories
25 g
54 g
15 g
2 g
9 g
101 g
46 g
22 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
101g
Servings
12
Amount Per Serving
Calories 235
Calories from Fat 130
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
23%
Saturated Fat 9g
46%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 54mg
18%
Sodium 46mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 25g
8%
Dietary Fiber 1g
2%
Sugars 22g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
12%
Vitamin C
28%
Calcium
3%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
MERINGUE
  1. 4 large egg whites
  2. A pinch of salt
  3. 1 ¼ cups castor sugar (superfine granulated sugar that can be made by pulsing sugar in a food processor, blender or grinder)
  4. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  5. A few drops vanilla extract
TOPPING
  1. 2 cups of berries, washed and trimmed
  2. 2 cups heavy cream
  3. Mint leaves, for garnish
To prepare meringue
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw an 8" diameter circle on it.
  3. Separate your eggs -- careful not to have any yolk transfer to whites.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a whisk attachment, combine egg whites and salt. Begin beating at a low speed and slowly increase it to high. Gradually sprinkle in sugar and cornstarch and continue beating until satiny peaks begin to form. Stop the mixer once you feel your meringue has become stiff and shiny. Start to finish, mixing takes about 4 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle in vanilla and gently fold in using a rubber spatula.
  6. Mound meringue onto parchment and, using your drawn guide, gently shape it into a circle. Flatten the top and smooth your sides.
  7. Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and allow meringue to cool completely in the oven, for at least another 30 minutes.
Finishing Your Pavlova
  1. Prepare whipped cream: add chilled heavy cream to a mixing bowl. Using a whisk attachment, whip for 3 to 4 minutes on medium-low speed, until cream thickens.
  2. Spoon onto completely cooled meringue and top with clean and dry berries.
  3. Cut like a pie, into triangle slices and serve with sprigs of mint. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Before preparing your meringue, be sure to have everything ready and available. Have your sugar and cornstarch measured and the vanilla and rubber spatula at arms length because once you start a meringue you cannot stop and you need to focus on its texture and glossiness.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
beta
calories
235
fat
15g
protein
2g
carbs
25g
more
Adapted from Nigella Lawson
Hot Pink Apron http://www.hotpinkapron.com/
hot-pink-apron-pavlova-h01

Imperfect perfection. Pavlova may just be the perfect summer dessert — especially with all of the berries.

martinititle
Drinks

It’s Canada Day! Drink a Maple Syrup Martini.

To celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday I’m craving something sweet, a celebratory drink that brings me as much comfort and joy as my Canadian citizenship does. Peering into our liquor cabinet, a bottle of Nova Scotia’s IRONWORKS, distilled from Annapolis Valley apples, catches my eye and I know exactly what needs to be done.

maplemartiniv

Do you love apple pancakes smothered in real Canadian maple syrup as much as I do? Well then, have I the patriotic Canada Day martini for you.

Maple Syrup Martini
Serves 1
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Print
Prep Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
Prep Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
166 calories
26 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
294 g
13 g
24 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
294g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 166
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 13mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 26g
9%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 24g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 ounce vodka (IRONWORKS vodka can be substituted with other vodka but I can't promise it will provoke you to belt out the national anthem with the same amount of pride.)
  2. 1 ounce maple syrup (only the authentic, real mcCoy stuff here please)
  3. raw cane sugar to coat the mouth of the glass
  4. ice
  5. cocktail shaker
  6. martini glass
Instructions
  1. Add ice to your cocktail shaker. Measure and add vodka and SHAKE. IT. OFF.
  2. Sprinkle some of that cane sugar on a small plate. Dip your finger in the maple syrup and lightly coat the outside mouth of the cocktail glass, turn it upside down and gently spin it in the sugar to create an even coating.
  3. One more shake of your cocktail for good luck and pour into your martini glass. Sip and Enjoy!
beta
calories
166
fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
26g
more
Hot Pink Apron http://www.hotpinkapron.com/
I am so proud to be Canadian. This is one awesome nation with much to offer a growing family. I love our good manners, relaxed sense of humour and that openminded objectiveness that seems to only comes from living in one of the most multicultural countries in the world. The there’s our stunning countryside, rocky mountain tops, east coast seafood, black bears, the people, great beer, handsome Mounties, the good side of The Falls, poutine, Mike Myers, same sex marriage legal since 2005, the people, SCTV, lower crime rate, Neil Young, clean cities, did I mention how great the people are??

Yes, we are a friendly bunch here and fewer are more welcoming than Lynn and Pierre of the IRONWORKS Distillery in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. If you have yet to experience the seaside village of Lunenburg, go, GO NOW. Your boss will understand. This is a staple in the true Canadian experience. Once you arrive, walk up the main stretch of Lincoln Street to the old blacksmith shop sitting on top of the hill. This is were some of Canada’s finest artisanal liquors are distilled — including this clean tasting vodka that offers a hint of apple flavour with a subtle butterscotch sweetness at the end. Truthfully, I could swoon over their vodka, Bluenose rum tributes and that rhubarb liquor *so yum* all day but I have a Maple Syrup Martini to tend to. So, for more information, ordering details and more insightful directions than “top of the hill”, check out ironworksdistillery.com.

♫ Oh! Maple Syrup Martini!

Our drink and dessert in one.

True patriot love in all thy drinking needs… ♫

No.. no.. no.. Let’s do this right, in the most appropriately Canadian way to sing our national anthem: as Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, on the ice of a hockey game and interchanging between english and french. Hats off, hands on hearts, people.

Happy Birthday, Canada! Stay awesome.
Celebrate wisely, friends. Have fun, be safe and look out for one another — that’s the Canadian way. xo

All of that cocktail shaking has probably worked up an appetite. May I suggest making The Ultimate Canadian Poutine with homemade sweet potato fries, peameal bacon and Quebec cheese curds drowned in hot maple syrup? You’re welcome.

It just wouldn't be a Canada Day celebration without some variation of poutine.

It just wouldn’t be a Canada Day celebration without some variation of poutine.