Kale and Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastries

A pale green plate with 2 Kale and Ricotta Spinach Puff Pastries resting on top of 3 kale leaves.

These delightful little puff pastries look impressive but couldn’t be simpler to make thanks to the wonders of frozen chopped kale and pre-rolled puff pastry sheets. I like to make these whenever an appetizer emergency strikes as I usually have all the ingredients handy (and by appetizer emergency I mean when I realize halfway through a glass of wine that I haven’t eaten all day). I’ve used feta, Boursin, and fresh goat cheese in place of the ricotta, but there’s something about the delicate pillowy texture ricotta that I feel is perfectly copacetic with the rest of the ingredients. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer at the same time as the kale and forget about them for a half or so until they’re both defrosted. If you can’t find frozen chopped kale feel free to use spinach instead (or any other green you can find in the freezer section). I should add that these make excellent cold or reheated leftovers, just brush them with some melted butter and heat in a warm oven for 5-6 minutes.

kale and ricotta spinach puff pastry:

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge or at room temperature

About 250 grams of frozen kale, thawed and squeezed out of all excess moisture

1 clove of minced garlic

1 shallot, finely diced

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 eggs

A couple of gratings of fresh nutmeg, or a pinch of dried

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix together the thawed and thoroughly drained kale, garlic, shallots, ricotta, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg, and one egg until totally combined. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the puff pastry onto a baking sheet, using the attached parchment paper as a base. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter slice the puff pastry into 9 squares.
  4. Using two spoons evenly distribute the kale mixture into the centre of each square, you might not need the entire mixture (in which case, extras can be used as the base for a super tasty quiche).
  5. Carefully fold the corners of each puff pastry square into the centre and pinch together, it’s okay if you need to stretch the dough a bit to get the corners to stay together.
  6. Whisk the remaining egg and brush onto the puff pastries with a pastry brush. Bake for 25 minutes or until the puff pastries are nicely and lightly browned. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

And just because I saw Slowdive AKA my favourite band of all time just a few weeks ago (although it feels like a million years ago now) I’ve been listening to their latest album with the frequency of a fan obsessed. I think this song is so beautiful, I’m so happy I got to see them play it live. Just some very lovely shimmery shoegaze for a rainy afternoon.

Slowdive – Sugar for the Pill

Big Crunchy Winter Salad with a Maple Balsamic Dressing

Big crunchy winter salad on a square white plate with maple dressing.I can’t stop eating crunchy things lately. The other night I had a late-night dinner of barely roasted green beans and sea salt and the following day I was eyeing all the crunchy ingredients in my fridge, wondering how I could combine them all into one ultra-crunchy meal. This big crunchy winter salad is the result of all that wondering; composed of red cabbage, raw kale, broccoli stalks, apple slices, pomegranate seeds, celery, and toasted almonds this salad really lives up to its name. I know fruit in salad is highly contested, but I love the combination and ended up topping the salad with a maple balsamic dressing and a sprinkling of chunky sea salt. Ordinarily I would have used dried apricots in this salad, but I had a bright orange apricot and almond cheese plate add-on that I forgot to use so I chopped it into thin strips and used that instead. This salad will keep with its dressing on for several hours in the fridge so feel free to periodically nibble away on it until it’s totally gone.

big crunchy winter salad:

About 1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced or grated red cabbage

About 1 cup of very thinly sliced kale, ribs removed (give them a good massage with some olive oil and lemon juice if they’re particularly tough)

3 celery ribs, very thinly sliced on a diagonal

1 broccoli stalk, peeled and julienned (I used my handy-dandy julienne peeler for this)

1/2 an apple, very thinly sliced (dip in lemon juice to prevent browning if the salad will be sitting out for any length of time)

1/2 cup of toasted almond slivers or slices

5-6 dried apricots, cut into matchsticks

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Layer all of the salad ingredients on a large serving platter or in a salad bowl. Drizzle with the maple balsamic dressing and add a sprinkling of chunky sea salt such as fleur de sel on top of the salad before eating.

maple balsamic dressing:

1 Tbsp, maple syrup

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Whisk together the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar before slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Big crunchy winter salad on a white plate.

As a writer I find myself alone a LOT of the time during the day, which means I seek out audiobooks and podcasts when I’m not doing work that requires constant attention to order and word arrangement. There are also times when I’m by myself and I need to listen to something that will pump me up, usually in the form of a one-person dance party in my kitchen – and this is a good example of music that keeps me going when I’m feeling lonely. The Knife can be pretty inaccessible but damn, when they’re on they’re on!

The Knife – Silent Shout

Harvest Salad Bowl with Roasted Vegetables, Pistachios, and a Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing

A white square plate full of mixed raw and roasted vegetables on an orange and blue background.

Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone and once again we celebrated with a non-tradional beef tenderloin in lieu of turkey and, while that particular bird has never been a family-favourite, we still stick to a routine of roasting whichever autumnal vegetables look best at the grocery store. This explains why I now have an abundance of roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and beets just begging to be added to big and beautiful salad bowls such as this one. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredient options, I picked these ones because they make me feel as though I’m eating a rainbow and frankly, I already had them in my crisper. The pistachios could be any salted nut or seed, their saltiness against the sweetened roasted vegetables is the really important thing (which is why I’ve added a small crumble of feta to the dressing). You could really use any sort of dressing but I think the creaminess of this particular version really complements the roasted vegetables and provides a pleasant contrast to the crisp raw vegetables.

harvest salad bowl with roasted vegetables and pistachios:

An assortment of leftover roasted vegetables, especially brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and beets (or choose from a long list of other options including yams, sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, or new potatoes)

About 1 cup of shredded purple cabbage

1 carrot, grated

4 grape tomatoes, quartered

1 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds

1 Tbsp. pistachios, chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

creamy lemon basil dressing:

1 heaping Tbsp. Greek yogurt

1 heaping Tbsp. sour cream

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. olive oil

About 2 Tbsp. crumbled salty feta

A couple of basil leaves, cut into a fine chiffonade

Juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake until completely emulsified.

Arrange the salad ingredients in a shallow bowl, layering the pistachios, scallions, and pomegranate seeds on top. Drizzle with the creamy lemon basil dressing and enjoy the rainbow of fresh flavours that is your harvest vegetable salad bowl!

A small white bowl full of salad dressing and garnished with a small basil leaf on an orange and blue background.

This song has a way of making people happy very quickly. A few years ago I was in Ontario visiting my dad and stepmom and we were driving around running errands when this song started playing from my iPod. We ended up driving around the block about ten times so my dad could get in repeated listenings and sing-alongs. We also played this song at our wedding, which (and I’m not trying to brag) was one of the best dance parties ever and people went crazy. I have it on a playlist full of very random songs and whenever Heart and Soul comes on it’s almost impossible not to have an in-the-moment one-person dance party right there and then, especially if you’re in the kitchen chopping vegetables.

Huey Lewis and The News – Heart and Soul

Warm Roasted Potato Salad with a Crispy Egg

 

Warm roasted potato salad topped with a crispy egg on a square green plate with a purple background.

I love potato salad and I’m not snobby about it. I’ll eat deli-style mayo-based potato salads any day, and I’ll certainly eat a warm potato salad with a tangy sweet dressing like the one. I think that roasted potato salads are notably more autumnal than their creamy counterparts and this recipe is living proof (in that, I have been eating it frequently ever since the first tinge of fall crept into the air). Many potato salad recipes, of the warm sort or otherwise, contain a couple of hard-boiled eggs to lend a creamy texture to the finished product. The truth is that I hate peeling eggs and will do almost anything to avoid doing it and as a result I’ve decided that topping a roasted potato salad with a crispy egg is the next best thing, especially if you fry them in any hypothetical bacon fat you might have lying around in your freezer. As with many of the recipes I post, you can consider this recipe a jumping off point. In the past I’ve had great success with the addition of finely diced cornichon, crumbled feta cheese, pancetta, and niçoises olives (so, basically anything salty). You can even use leftover roasted potatoes and skip the first step altogether, just let them sit out of the fridge for an hour or two so that they come to room temperature.

warm roasted potato salad with a crispy egg:

16-20 new potatoes, scrubbed and halved

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

6 radishes, halved and very thinly sliced into half moons

2 ribs of celery, very thinly sliced

1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped

Big handful of fresh dill and parsley, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. white sugar or 1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and plenty of freshly cracked pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1 egg per person

Small amount of bacon fat (if you have it), or any other type of fat that the eggs can be cooked in

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the halved potatoes with the olive oil and kosher salt before spreading them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, flipping the potato halves over with tongs a couple of times to ensure even roasting. Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan warm the vinegar, paprika, white sugar or honey, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste over low heat. Pour the olive oil into the saucepan in a thin stream, whisking constantly so that the dressing emulsifies.
  3. Add the radishes, celery, scallions, capers, and fresh herbs to the warm potatoes. Drizzle the also-warm dressing over the salad, using a spatula to gently combine the ingredients. Taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted.
  4. Heat a small amount of bacon fat over medium-high heat in a lidded skillet. Fry the eggs for a minute or two, covering with a lid so that the whites will cook. Carefully remove the eggs and place on top of the plated warm potato salad, adding an extra scattering of fresh herbs before serving.

Small white ramekin with thinly sliced red radishes on a purple background.

Pretty little Beach Boys-inspired song that I forgot about until my sister came over and started playing random music off of my computer. She’s the biggest AC/Panda Bear/Avey Tare fan I’ve ever met and I don’t think I’d listened to Panda Bear’s Person Pitch in several years; thank you Gabrielle!

Panda Bear – Ponytail

Zucchini, Caper, and Parmesan Naan Pizza

A naan pizza on parchment paper covered in thinly sliced zucchini, capers, parmesan cheese, and parsley.

I always keep a bag of naan in my freezer for those times where I’m cooking for one and I want a personal pizza or flatbread in under 20 minutes. I don’t have to worry about the annoying process of stretching out pizza dough (I know, I know, it’s supposed to be fun but I have very little patience with anything dough-related) and naan is the perfect size for a pizza meant for one person. This zucchini version comes together quickly, especially if you have a mandolin for the slicing, and the tanginess of the capers, the nuttiness of the parmesan, and the garlicky olive oil blend together effortlessly to form a naan pizza with big flavour and a very short list of ingredients.

zucchini, caper, and parmesan naan pizza:

Naan bread

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

A small handful of parsley, chopped into tiny pieces

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Very thinly sliced zucchini, enough to cover the naan with some overlap

1 tsp. pickled capers, chopped

Parmigiano-Reggiano or other very firm and flavourful cheese, finely grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a a generous pinch of kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Using a pastry brush, coat the naan with a generous amount of the oil and garlic mixture making sure to leave some for the brushing on top of the zucchini.
  4. Place the oil-brushed naan on a parchment-lined baking tray and warm in the oven for about 5-6 minutes or until the naan is just starting to crisp up. Remove from oven.
  5. Layer the zucchini slices on the naan with a slight overlap and brush with the remaining garlic and parsley oil. Scatter the chopped capers over the zucchini and top with a fine layer of parmesan.
  6. Broil the zucchini naan pizza for a couple of minutes, making sure the edges don’t brown too much and the cheese begins to melt. Slice into three pieces with a pizza cutter and enjoy while hot or at room temperature.

Close-up photo of olive oil with parsley and garlic.

When my sister told me about this album I didn’t believe it existed, which is ridiculous in retrospect because why wouldn’t this be a real thing? This is the first remix on the album and in my opinion it’s the best one. I mean, I already listen to Enya without shame on my own but the combination of Enya as well as Dntel results in an ethereal layering of voices and warmth that makes for a beautiful listening experience.

Dntel – After Ventus (Enya Mixes)

Spicy Pickled Watermelon Radish

Thinly sliced watermelon radish on a white background with parsley.

This recipe for pickled watermelon radish follows a very basic method for making refrigerator pickles and can easily be used to pickle any other crunchy vegetable. Watermelon radishes are so delightfully twee in appearance and the pickling process renders them a delicate shade of rose, making them look absolutely gorgeous laid out on a cheese or charcuterie board. These pickles need to sit for at least 48 hours before they’re ready to eat and can potentially stay in your fridge for a whole month, although it’s doubtful they’ll hang around that long.

spicy pickled watermelon radish:

2-3 watermelon radishes, sliced as thinly as possible into rounds

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1-2 dried whole chiles

1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

1/2 cup of unseasoned rice vinegar

1 cup of water

1/3 cup of white granulated sugar

  1. Prepare 1 medium-sized canning jar by washing it in very hot, soapy water and allowing to hand-dry or running it through the dishwasher.
  2. Add the mustard and coriander seeds and dried chile pepper to the jar.
  3. Bring the vinegars, water, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (how’s that for accidental alliteration?).
  4. Pour the hot brine over the sliced watermelon radish leaving a couple of centimetre’s space at the top, carefully applying the lid and smoothing out any air bubbles so that a tight seal is formed.
  5. Store the pickled watermelon radish in the fridge and let them sit for at least 48 hours and up to a month.

It’s another bright and sunny day in Vancouver and frankly speaking, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a precipice looking down into 6 months of rain and scatterings of damp snow. I’m hanging on by listening to the sunniest music I can get my hands on (and, I’ll admit, maybe secretly playing my autumn favourites ahead of time). If you feel like upping the dreaminess of making homemade pickles out of watermelon radishes then I’d highly suggest creating kitchen ambience with this sunny little album. It’s an effortless listen, pairing well in the mornings with a cup of tea or with a cold Ting and whatever-you-fancy cocktail later in the day.

Vince Guaraldi & Bola Sete – Y Sus Amigos (full album)

 

Easy Oven Ribs

Ribs with scallions, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce in small dishes on a rectangular plate.Living in Vancouver (or any other ridiculously expensive city) means that owning the actual space and equipment to barbecue is a luxury. I wish I could go back in time and remind younger me of this fact, I would have been on the deck barbecuing every single meal all year long. I used to think that tasty ribs cooked in the oven were a contradiction in terms, which is silly when you think about it – ribs taste delicious however they’re cooked! I’ve been using my dear Uncle Howard’s rib recipe for a couple of years, it doesn’t feel like a real family gathering until he’s handed me the perfect spicy Caesar. He’s cautioned me on the fact that people think boiling ribs to soften them up is a taboo practice which is baffling to me, as this recipe makes the tenderest and most flavourful ribs I’ve ever tasted. Regardless, I’m here to tell you that delicious ribs can be made in your oven and best of all, the recipe can be completed in small steps well-ahead of time. The type of rib you choose isn’t exceptionally important, what you’re looking for is plenty of meat and a minimum of dangling excess fat and sinew (also known as silver skin). You can make your own barbecue sauce or buy it, I find that if I’m having a large dinner party it’s easier (and cheaper!) to buy store-bought barbecue sauce. I think that ribs are best when served with coleslaw and corn on the cob, this isn’t a rule by any means but I’ve never had ribs that didn’t taste heavenly when they were served with either or both of these two sides.

Easy Oven Ribs 2

easy oven ribs:

As many ribs as you need per person, err on a larger amount and you’ll (fingers crossed) have leftovers

3 lemons, rinsed under very hot water to remove their bitter and waxy flavour

1 whole head of garlic, each clove smashed to remove the skin and left whole

1/2 cup of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. whole peppercorn

Barbecue sauce

  1. Heat a very large stock pot over high heat about two thirds full of water. Add the lemons, garlic, salt, and peppercorns.
  2. Carefully remove any of the tough silver skin found on the ribs, this tough tissue should be loosened at one end and then torn from the ribs in one piece.
  3. Add the ribs to the boiling water, turn the heat down to simmering, and cook for one hour.
  4. Remove the ribs from the boiling water and lay on a large baking pan, transfer the meat to the fridge and allow to cool down completely (I like to leave them overnight).
  5. Take the ribs out of the fridge about half and hour before broiling and preheat the broiler. Brush ribs on both sides with barbecue sauce using a pastry brush, brown under the broiler until the sugars start to caramelize, flipping with tongs so that the both sides can begin to brown and sizzle.
  6. Remove the ribs from the oven and serve with coleslaw, corn on the cob, watermelon, or any other summery side you prefer.

What can I say? I’ve been listening to The Cars almost non-stop the past week.

The Cars – Drive