Instant Pot Chicken Stew with Crispy Radishes

Pureed vegetable base topped with shredded chicken breast, crispy radishes, and pulled chicken breast in a square white dish.

I’ve got to admit, it wasn’t love at first use with my Instant Pot. Especially when it came to braises (something for which the Instant Pot is often praised). My short ribs and pot roast kept coming out stringy no matter how much I tinkered with the settings and the time. I was convinced the Instant Pot would become a gigantic beast of an ill-used kitchen gadget, taking up what felt like my entire kitchen counter. However, I found my opinion changing the day I began developing this recipe for Instant Pot chicken stew. It calls for an entire chicken so you’ll have leftovers to make stock; just throw the bones and remaining flesh into a resealable bag and toss it into the freezer for future stock-making.

The Instant Pot is perfect for stews and this chicken stew is no exception. The Instant Pot comes with a trivet but frankly, I’ve never had any luck creating a true “rotisserie style” chicken using wet heat. This recipe yields fall-off-the-bone meat, an ultra-creamy base (without any dairy!), and is finished with a simple pan fried crispy radish topping. Rich, comforting, and pleasantly peppery from the radishes; this is one Instant Pot recipe that I keep returning to.

Pink bunch of radishes with green leaves on a pink background.

Making Instant Pot chicken stew with crispy radishes

  • Use a small chicken weighing between 3 and 5 pounds for best results and a shorter cooking time (this will also ensure that the chicken fits in your Instant Pot).
  • Make sure you brown the chicken on all sides in a generous amount of olive oil before pressure cooking – it will add plenty of flavour to the chicken, the stew as a whole, and the vegetables (particularly the radishes!).
  • Since I am rarely organized enough to take homemade chicken stock out of the freezer in time (and since I don’t own a microwave), I use Better Than Bouillon’s Roasted Chicken concentrate every time I make this recipe. If I have any white vermouth or dry white wine kicking around I’ll add a splash of that, too.
  • The stew vegetables can be pureed or left as-is depending on your preference. If you’re planning on skipping the blending component I would cut them into smaller pieces before adding to the Instant Pot.
  • Try to find healthy radishes with their greens still attached. Radish greens are delicious when cut into a thin chiffonade and added at the last minute.
  • This recipe for Instant Pot chicken stew works best if all chopping prep is done beforehand. Turn on some music and get your mise en place on!
Orange chicken stew base topped with crispy radishes, pulled chicken breast, and parsley. The stew is in a square white dish sitting on a red and white patterned plate. The background is red and loose parsley is scattered over the scene.

Instant Pot Chicken Stew with Crispy Radishes

Yields:

4-6 servings, depending on the size of the chicken

Pink radishes on pink background.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, skin left on, untrussed, and giblets removed

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Roast chicken seasoning (optional)

Olive oil

1 bunch of radishes, washed (cut the radishes into a fine dice and cut 6 radish leaves into a fine chiffonade)

Fresh parsley, minced

3 cups chicken stock (or a combination of chicken stock and white vermouth or dry white wine)

3 carrots, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 sticks of celery, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 shallots, peeled and halved

6 cloves of garlic, smashed but left whole

1 Tbsp. corn starch

Juice from 1 lemon

Special equipment:

Instant Pot

Cutting board

Sharp chef’s knife

Long-handled kitchen tongs

Silicon or wooden spoon

Whisk

Immersion blender

Method:

  1. Begin by generously seasoning both the inside of the chicken and the outside with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, and optional chicken rub or seasoning.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to sauté on medium heat and add another drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Using long-handled kitchen tongs, carefully place the seasoned chicken breast-side down in the Instant Pot and brown for 5 minutes. Repeat on all four sides of the chicken until the outside is crispy. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add the diced radishes to the hot oil and continue cooking until they become crispy (about 5 minutes). During the last minute of cooking, add a sprinkle of kosher salt and the radish greens. Use a long-handled spoon or spatula to remove the crispy radishes from the hot oil and set aside.
  5. Finally, add the carrots, celery, shallots, and smashed garlic to the Instant Pot and cook for a few minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in the stock or stock and white vermouth or dry white wine mixture.
  6. Place the browned chicken back into the Instant Pot, nestling the bird in with the vegetables and stock. Set the Instant Pot to manual and pressure cook (using the slow release) until cooked. I use small chickens so they usually take about 19-20 minutes once the Instant Pot has come to pressure. This handy chart is great for determining Instant Pot cooking times.
  7. Once the Instant Pot is done cooking the chicken, carefully remove the lid and transfer the chicken to a clean plate or cutting board. You may find that the chicken falls away from the bone almost immediately, so make sure you get any small bones out of the vegetable and stock mixture.
  8. Remove about a 1/2 cup of stock from the Instant Pot before blending the rest of the stock and vegetables until smooth (or as smooth as you’d like) with an immersion blender.
  9. Whisk the cornstarch into the reserved stock until it forms a slurry. Pour the slurry into the blended vegetables and whisk until combined and the mixture begins to thicken, adding the lemon juice to brighten up the entire dish.
  10. Plate the Instant Pot chicken stew by ladling the base mixture into a shallow bowl. Add the cooked chicken, a generous scattering of crispy radishes, a handful of minced parsley to serve.
Small jar full of diced radishes and radish greens on pink background.

What I’m listening to

Sol Seppy, AKA Sophie Michalitsianos, has only one album but it’s one that I’ve been listening to faithfully, hoping we’ll get an encore, ever since it debuted. Dreamy, whimsical, heavy, hopeful, shoegazey, a quietly stunning thing of intense beauty. A former touring member of Sparklehorse, Sol Seppy never fails to improve any mood or and space. An album that feels like it has a beginning, a middle, and a somewhat magical ending: This might just be what you need most as the January blues settle in.

Sol Seppy – Wonderland

Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

Pear and blackberry sauce is layered with white skyr and granola to make a colourful parfait.

I’m always overbuying fresh fruit. I know, I know (I know) – buy produce as needed and err on the side of less not more in order to prevent food waste. But sometimes fruit just looks so beautiful sitting on display at the grocery store that I’m able to convince myself that yes, I can eat three pomegranates and an entire box of clementines by myself in one week (my husband likes to eat apples and that’s about the entire extent of his fruit repertoire). What inevitably ends up happening is one of two things: I freeze what can be frozen or I make a fruit sauce such as this super easy pear and blackberry Sauce.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of eating fresh applesauce you know how vastly superior it is to the jarred stuff. Pear sauce is made the exact same way as applesauce and offers plenty of not-too-sweet flavour that pairs well with foods that are sweet, tart, and even savoury. Blackberries give the sauce a gorgeous rose colour and a layer of deep jamminess reminiscent of a particularly fruity Beaujolais (and in fact, you could skip the clementine juice and use red wine in its place).

A white and blue china dish holds bright pink pear and blackberry sauce, a pear and blackberry parfait made with skyr and granola sits next to the dish in a clear glass. Both dishes sit on a purple background with colourful paper tassels.

Making Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

  • This easy fruit sauce recipe is a great way to use up pears that are veering into very mushy territory. This is something which I find particularly useful as I find that pears always seem to go from hard-as-a-rock to unappetizing and way, way too soft within the stretch of a single day.
  • Likewise, you can use that carton of blackberries that’s been languishing in the back of your fridge for the past week. Wash the berries just before using with a very gentle stream of cold water, removing any moldy or berries that are too far gone. Incidentally, strawberries and raspberries are also delicious in this fruit sauce.
  • Frozen blackberries can absolutely be used in this recipe and can be added while still frozen.
  • For fruit sauces (and rice pudding) I like to use a flavoured tea bag in place of the traditional cinnamon and nutmeg. I’ve been doing this for a while and it always adds a lovely warmth without being overwhelming (I like to use Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice).
  • You can use a food mill, food processor, or immersion blender to get a wonderfully smooth texture. If you like your fruit sauce extra smooth you can push it through a sieve with a spatula after it’s been blitzed.
  • This pear and blackberry fruit sauce will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it in an ice cube tray and add the frozen fruit sauce to smoothies.
A white and blue china dish holds bright pink pear and blackberry sauce, a pear and blackberry parfait made with skyr and granola sits next to the dish in a clear glass. Both dishes sit on a purple background with colourful paper tassels.

Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

Yields:

4 servings (or more, depending on how the sauce is being used)

Ingredients:

2-3 very ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup blackberries

Juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange

1 Tbsp. honey

1 apple cinnamon teabag

Special Equipment:

Sharp chef’s knife

Cutting board

Small lidded saucepan

Food processor, food mill, or immersion blender

Method:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a small lidded saucepan.
  2. Over medium-low heat and with the lid on, allow the fruit to cook down until completely softened (this takes anywhere from 8-15 minutes depending on how ripe the pears are).
  3. Bring the cooked fruit to room temperature and refrigerate for a few hours or ideally, overnight (with the teabag still in).
  4. When you’re ready to blend the fruit and any residual juices remove the tea bag and blitz until smooth.
  5. Serve the pear and blackberry sauce cold or hot.

Ideas for Serving Easy Pear and Blackberry Sauce

  • In a parfait layered with skyr or Greek yogurt and your favourite granola or muesli.
  • Drizzled onto French toast (maple syrup is optional but it is fantastic).
  • With pork chops or pork tenderloin.
  • Add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and let sit overnight for a super satisfying but not too heavy breakfast.
  • Stirred into regular or overnight oats.
  • Add a teaspoon of pear and blackberry sauce to a glass of sparkling wine and give it a gentle stir before serving.
  • Freeze and add to smoothies.
Pear and blackberry sauce is layered with white skyr and granola to make a colourful parfait.

What I’m listening to

It’s a nasty afternoon out there in Vancouver today. I’m talking sideways rain, high winds (forget about using an umbrella, I already tried it), and thick grey rainclouds that are completely blocking the mountains from view. In other words: perfect weather for drinking tea and listening to Billie Holiday. I love the Pacific Northwest and I love the rain in particular and now that I’m home from running errands in the blustery weather I can sit at home and wrap myself up in her music like a comforting blanket. So if you’re reading this and it’s raining may I suggest you do yourself a favour and make some easy pear and blackberry sauce while listening to some Billie Holiday?

Billie Holiday – Don’t Explain

Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Slate serving dish piled high with pan seared maple Brussels sprouts and bacon.

I haven’t always cared for Brussels sprouts. In fact, I am somewhat ashamed to say, the entire cruciferous vegetable family is fairly low on my list of likes. I will, however, make an enthusiastic exception for these maple glazed pan seared Brussels sprouts with bacon. I mean, with a name like that how could I not?

Growing up, my mom loved making herself a big plate of lightly steamed sprouts that she would then drizzle with a generous amount of melted butter, salt, and freshly ground pepper. This was a special meal for her to enjoy in bed while she read a copy of House Beautiful magazine and I have her to thank for my love of eating weird things like an entire head of iceberg lettuce in bed with something good to read and a cup of tea. I’ll admit that my opinion of Brussels sprouts has shifted towards semi-favourable over the last decade and I believe I have only the Maillard reaction and this recipe for sweet and peppery pan seared and maple glazed Brussels sprouts with bacon to thank. Besides, what’s better than the addition of maple syrup and bacon to pretty much anything?

Tips for the best maple glazed Brussels sprouts

  • Use the biggest cast iron pan you have: I have a 12″ cast iron pan that weighs about 500 pounds (I live in constant fear that one day I’ll clumsily drop it onto my foot) and I use it almost every single day. It’s the perfect size for large dinner parties and family get-togethers; once I’m done washing it with warm water and a soft cloth I store it in the oven to save precious counter and cupboard space along with my baking sheets and Silpat collection.
  • Keep a steady temperature. Cast iron pans are fantastic at maintaining a steady temperature but it’s important to know that they also cling to that heat long after they’ve been removed from the heat. For this reason, I like to cook these maple bacon Brussels sprouts at just a smidge over medium heat (this is also helps to ensure the sprouts are completely cooked through).
  • Trim your Brussels sprouts with care. Trimming Brussels sprouts is hardly an exciting job but nonetheless it’s one that needs doing. I claim this time as my own and listen to audiobooks or music (of course) and consider careful trimming of any kind of vegetable an exercise in mindfulness.
  • Give the bacon a head start. Whether you use thick cut bacon or pancetta, it’s important to give it a head start in a hot pan to a) render more of its tasty, tasty fat and b) get it nice and crispy. If using regular bacon I suggest cutting it with kitchen shears directly into the hot pan.
  • Use real maple syrup: I have a childhood weakness for Eggo waffles with corn syrup and butter so I understand the appeal of non-maple syrups but for these maple bacon Brussels sprouts you really want that maple flavour to shine through.

Maple Glazed Pan Seared Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Yields:

Enough for 4-6 servings as a side dish

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, cut in half with the bottoms trimmed (remove any yellow or slimy outer leaves)

4-5 slices of extra thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces (or the rough equivalent of Italian pancetta)

3 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil

3 Tbsp. maple syrup

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Special equipment:

Large cast iron skillet

Measuring spoons

Wooden or silicon cooking spoon or spatula

Method:

  1. Preheat a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat for several minutes before adding the cut up bacon. If your cast iron pan isn’t 100 percent seasoned you can drizzle a small amount of neutral oil into the pan before the bacon is added to keep it from sticking.
  2. Cook the bacon for 5 minutes or until it’s just starting to crisp. Add the Brussels sprouts and stir to coat with the bacon fat. Lower the heat to medium.
  3. Mix together the oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts and bacon. Stir every couple of minutes but not too often, you want that lovely browning to start happening and this requires patience.
  4. Once the Brussels sprouts are beginning to brown in spots and the oil and maple syrup mixture has simmered down to a thick glaze they’re done. You can serve these maple bacon Brussels sprouts straight from the pan or transfer them to a serving plate (just be sure to place the pan on a sturdy trivet to avoid burning a whole in your tablecloth, not that I would know anything about that).

What I’m listening to

Do you ever listen to music so powerfully nostalgic it feels like your heart is breaking? Like you’ve left childhood and can never go back? I’m sure there’s a beautiful Scandinavian word that describes this exact phenomenon, but for now I’ll have to describe it as a deep yearning for things past. As someone who was born in Stratford, Ontario (where Loreena McKennitt lives and makes music) her music has always been an integral part of my life during the winter months. Her album To Drive The Cold Winter Away is stunning and mysterious. It makes me think of snow and candlelight and Waldorf Advent calendars and eating large amounts of winter clementines. Are you looking for something to listen to that’s borderline Christmas but not quite? If so, give this album a try. It’s beautiful, it will make you feel like a small child again, and it will warm your spirit through and through.

Loreena McKennitt – Snow

Cannellini Beans, Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions (With Optional Egg On Top)

A round white bowl on a red background filled with cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and pearl onions, a thick gravy, and topped with a crisp egg and crostini.

I know, I know. I really, truly know. “Put an egg on it!” has become the mantra of millennial home cooks everywhere (hey, we had to eventually move past putting a bird on it, okay?). Leftover pizza? Put an egg on it! (Actually do this, it’s really good). Have some plain, cooked oats kicking around? Honestly, put an egg on it. This thick, ultra-savoury cannellini bean, tomato, and cipollini onion concoction? Definitely put an egg on it. I first started making this recipe (courtesy of my much-used and very dog-eared copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) near the beginning of the summer. One evening, a few hours before hosting a dinner party that hadn’t gotten out of the planning stages yet (as my dinner parties are wont to do), I revisited this gorgeous little recipe. As expected, the recipe was simple to prepare and a huge hit with my guests (thanks, Deb!). Over the course of the summer I’ve done some tinkering with the recipe, nothing too over-the-top, but a few subtle changes have been made. I like to add a good glug of white vermouth or a super-dry white wine, I think it enhances the bright flavours of the tomatoes and adds complexity to the earthy cannellini beans and cipollini onions. I also like to add several sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, I just leave them whole and remove the woody sprigs before serving. And speaking of serving, I like this dish best when it’s piled into a large, shallow serving bowl and accompanied by olive oil-brushed, thinly sliced crostini. The egg is used to revive any leftovers, although the way this lovely stew-like concoction disappears when placed in front of guests leaves me with no choice but to recommend a) sneakily hiding some away right in the back of your fridge off the bat or b) doubling the recipe.

cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions (with optional egg on top):

1 bag (or 1 lb.) cipollini onions

1 15-ounce tin cannellini beans, drained

1 1/2 lb. tomatoes (Roma, cherry, heirloom, whatever you’ve got!)

1 head of garlic, left whole but with the top part cut off so that the cloves are just visible

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vermouth or dry white wine

1 Tbsp. sugar*

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

A few sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano

Olive oil-brushed crostini

Eggs

*If using fabulous, in-season tomatoes you may not need the sugar.

  1. Prepare the cipollini onions by boiling a large pot of water. Slice off the tips of the onions and plunge them into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and then drain, rinsing the onions with cool water so that you can handle them without burning yourself. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the cipollini peppers out of their skins and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. On a large, rimmed backing sheet or roasting pan, spread the tomatoes (leave whole and pierce with a sharp knife if they’re quite small or halve if using large tomatoes). Add the cipollini onions, cannelini beans, and the head of garlic (leave intact while roasting).
  4. Generously coat the vegetables and beans with the olive oil, white vermouth or white wine, and sugar, using your hands to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly covered. Season generously with salt and pepper, topping with the fresh herbs.
  5. Roast everything for about an hour, using a spatula or wooden spoon to stir every 20 minutes or so. The ingredients should be blackened in spots and fork-tender, meltingly soft. The pan juices are what makes this dish, so be sure to save them.
  6. Remove the baking sheet or roasting pan from the oven and let the contents come to room temperature. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mix in with the other ingredients. Stir in the cannellini beans and allow to sit until the mixture comes to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve the roasted vegetables and beans piled onto a serving bowl with thinly-sliced crostini.
  7. Reheat the next day and add a crispy or poached egg, the yolk should be soft enough that it thickens the leftover tomato sauce as they melt together.

This song is tight as a wire, epic in scope, and vibrating with gigantic, bursting emotion. Interestingly, Perfume Genius is one of the few bands with vocals I can listen to when I’m writing (I usually find lyrics too distracting when I work). And of course, when I’m cooking (which is often part of work, anyway). If Perfume Genius is new to you (in which case I’m very jealous you can hear everything for the time), think PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Wild Beasts, Kate Bush, and a tiny hint of Hawksley Workman without his annoying Canadian celebrity bravado.

Perfume Genius – Slip Away

 

Cannellini Bean, Wild Rice, and Grapefruit Salad with Fresh Mint and Parsley

Cannellini bean salad in a round white bowl on a batik-print tablecloth with yellow cloth napkin.

Are you ever in need of virtuous food? After a weekend spent drinking Rosé-Aperol Spritzes (thank you Bon Appetit a million times over for this super simple, not overwhelmingly boozy cocktail!) and eating about a hundred za’atar-spiked chicken thighs, massive amounts of cheese, and birthday cake? No? Just me? Okay well in that case here’s a totally delicious, totally portable, and totally great salad to have sitting in your fridge for a few days. Made from creamy white cannellini beans, wild rice (or any other grain you have handy) this unique salad is punctuated with an entire bunch of thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley, fresh mint, and the juice and flesh of a pink grapefruit. I like to serve this substantial salad on a bed of arugula, its peppery bite is the perfect foil to the wonderful blandness of the beans and the bittersweetness of the grapefruit but it could also be served with chicken, shrimp, or a piece of poached or grilled fish. Cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley is also an ideal bean salad for school and workweek meals and you’ll find that this recipe can be easily pre-portioned into containers or jars for a full week’s worth of lunches. Feel free to halve this recipe if desired, I tend to make it for bigger crowds and have gradually adjusted the amounts needed to compensate for larger numbers.

cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley:

2×425 gram/15 ounce cans white cannellini beans

1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled (or any other grain you prefer)

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and thinly sliced

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 grapefruit, cut in half and flesh removed with a paring knife (reserve all juice)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. allspice

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  1. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans in a colander, let them sit as you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl or shallow serving platter, gently combine the rinsed cannellini beans, wild rice, parsley, scallions, and mint. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the grapefruit flesh and juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, allspice, salt, and black pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  4. Pour the grapefruit juice dressing over the cannellini bean mixture and use a large spoon or tongs to coat the salad ingredients.
  5. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving or store in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.

Part of me is like, YES! THE RETURN OF HOPELESSLY AUTUMNAL MUSIC IS HERE! And then part of me is like, NO ASHLEY, YA GOTTA HOLD ONTO TO THOSE GOOD SUMMER VIBES. I’ve been listening to lots and lots of the sweetly twee, surf rock-beachy-lo-fi wonderfulness of Fazerdaze lately and I feel like it’s extending summer if only for just a little bit (the very much-needed rainfall here in Vancouver is imminent, a sort of “will she or won’t she?” situation.) I’ll look to the title of this song for a good reminder to take it slow because we haven’t quite reached the dark months yet.

Fazerdaze – Take It Slow

Warm Eggplant and Zucchini Salad

Cooked eggplant and zucchini salad topped with beetroot hummus, Greek yogurt and chilies. The salad is in a large white bowl, garnished with a sprig of mint, and laid out on a black and white striped tablecloth.

This gorgeous summery recipe is the very definition of food flexibility; it can be a warm, silky soft salad or a rustic, satisfyingly chunky dip. Eggplant and zucchini are sliced into fat rounds and pan-fried in a hot cast iron pan or, for all my lucky readers who have access to a barbecue, grilled outdoors. Add plenty of fresh herbs, pickled red onions, capers, and a zesty red wine vinegar dressing and the result you’re left with is a dish that’s equally perfect for lazily eating at a beach picnic or for picking away at while anxiously watching Sharp Objects in the dark (literally to prevent bugs from flying into my apartment and metaphorically, just how is this show going to wrap up without any loose ends?) What this recipe does require is time; time to let the vegetables reach the warmish side of room temperature, time to let the flavours mingle, and time to decide what you’re going to serve with this salad. In the picture above I’m leaning towards a more salad-like interpretation of the recipe, serving it with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt and beetroot hummus. If you’re planning on using this recipe as a warm eggplant and zucchini dip I gently (but fervently) urge you to buy the freshest pita bread you can find (or make your own if you’re a fan of homemade baking projects) to use for scooping up big piles of the stuff.

warm eggplant and zucchini salad:

1/4 cup (plus a little bit more) olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

1/2 large red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh mint, loosely torn

1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely torn

2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch dried red chili flakes

Kosher or Maldon salt, to taste

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

*Slicing the vegetables on the diagonal will create more surface area for them to cook.

  1. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet. Warm over medium-high heat until the oil just begins to sizzle.
  2. Working in batches, pan-fry the sliced eggplant and zucchini until golden brown on each side. The eggplant will soak up a lot of oil, so you may need to add extra in between batches. Don’t crowd the skillet, the eggplant and zucchini pieces shouldn’t touch each other. Remove the vegetables from the hot oil and drain on pieces of paper towel.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the red onion slices and red wine vinegar. Set aside.
  4. When the eggplant and zucchini are cool enough to handle, cut them into a rough dice. Add them to the red onion and red wine vinegar mixture.
  5. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients, tasting for seasoning before and after the salad has had a chance to sit. Let the salad marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours before eating.

So we went to see Beach House on Sunday night at The Orpheum (my favourite concert venue in town!) and I’m SO glad we got there early enough to catch the opener, Sound of Ceres. In fact, I think I preferred the Sound of Ceres show out of the two performances; the visuals, the sound, and the vibe were 100 percent gorgeous. They reminded me of so many of my loves: Broadcast, Slowdive, Elizabeth Fraser, The Ruby Suns, and Royksöpp. If you love ethereal, space-aged dream pop then give everything else they’ve made a listen, it’s a total pleasure and a treat.

Sound of Ceres – Ember Age

Composed Summer Tomato Salad

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl.

When you’re in the thick of it (tomato season, that is) you don’t actually have to do anything to tomatoes. Yes, you can stack them up with thick slabs of buffalo mozzarella, heaping dollops of burrata, a smear of ricotta, your best balsamic reduction, and a drizzle of the fruitiest olive oil in your pantry but you can also haphazardly cut them into chunks, sprinkle on some Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper and call it a day. That’s the thing with heavily ripe heirloom tomatoes, they’re a rare, gorgeous gift we only receive once a year* and when we have them, we need to make the best of them (however that may be.) I’ve been eating tomatoes nonstop this week, usually with a baguette that’s been heavily coated with fresh goat’s milk cheese and maybe some chili flakes. We’re in the middle of a heat wave in Vancouver, no one has air conditioning, and I live in an apartment without the faintest hint of a cross-breeze so I’m thankful for the ease that is fresh tomatoes on multiple levels. Here’s how I’ve been enjoying local tomatoes most nights; with a sense of playfulness based entirely on ingredient improvisation and of course, shining a spotlight on the natural flavour of the tomatoes. You’ll notice I don’t use any oil or vinegar here, feel free to add either or both if you like a more traditional salad.

*Unless, of course, you live somewhere perpetually warm and sunny (which Vancouver is definitively not.)

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl with baguette slices and goat cheese.

composed summer tomato salad:

Big ripe summer tomatoes, cut into slices or chunks

Pinch of salt (I like kosher or Maldon)

Pinch of white granulated sugar

Fresh basil, cut into a loose chiffonade

Shaved parmesan

Dried chili flakes

Freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and white sugar. Let sit for 15 minutes. Give the tomatoes a little stir. Top with shaved parmesan, dried chili flakes, and freshly cracked pepper. Eat at room temperature with a glass of lightly chilled pinot noir. Enjoy!

Yellow tomato salad on a white heart-shaped plate on a blue background.

I’ve been listening to Chopin nonstop for about a week – it’s calming and it’s beautiful and I can write at the same time (when I’m writing professionally I find it difficult to listen to music with lyrics at the same time.)

Chopin – Nocturnes