Roasted Radishes and Bacon Topped with Skyr and Scallions

A brown shallow bowl full of roasted radishes, bacon, scallions and a small tablespoon of skyr on top.

These roasted radishes with bacon taste like pirogies and the skyr is a slightly more sophisticated take on the traditional sour cream (but by no means a superior take, sour cream is equally delicious). Skyr is an Icelandic dairy product, similar to a very thick yogurt but milder and sweeter tasting than Greek yogurt. I’ve been layering it with oats, honey, and blueberries in some very twee and tiny Mason jars for portable breakfasts during the work week. When radishes are roasted in a hot oven for the better part of half an hour they become similar to crispy potatoes, with a slightly crunchier texture and the benefit of a peppery bite. If you’re like me and find that no carbohydrate is too many carbohydrates may I humbly suggest a bowl of buttered egg noodles and big bowl full of lemon drenched Swiss chard covered with generous shavings of Ricotta Salata.

roasted radishes and bacon topped with skyr and scallions:

1 lb. radishes, halved or quartered so they’re all a uniform size

3 strips of bacon, cut into thin strips

2 tsp. olive oil

3 scallions, finely snipped

A large dollop of skyr (or sour cream, or Greek yogurt)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Toss the radishes, bacon, and olive oil to coat on a large baking sheet. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring the contents of the baking sheet once or twice – you want the contents to turn a beautiful deep golden brown.
  4. Serve piping hot, sprinkled with the sliced scallions, some additional pepper for good measure, and a dollop of skyr (or replacement of your choice).

Sunny Sunday afternoon music; a soundtrack to the sun filtering through the windows onto my navy blue couch next to a big glass of iced water, a blanket, and a book.

Real Estate – Beach Comber

 

Pasta with Bacon, Zucchini, and Creme Fraiche

Bacon and Zucchini Pasta

There are some nights when nothing will calm the stresses of your day except fat and carbs, nothing but a warm bowl of pasta covered in the comforting flavours of bacon, creme fraiche, and softly cooked zucchini. When I get home from work and it’s cold and raining I feel an instant need to have a hot shower and get into soft pyjamas. Once these immediate goals are accomplished I put on some music and return to the most pressing need of all, the need to cook with simple and filling ingredients in order to create a sensation of quiet domestic happiness (and this is a sensation I strongly crave after days filled with extroverted chatter.) Creme fraiche, a sort of high fat version of sour cream, is an easy addition creamy sauces as it gives a heavenly and rich mouthfeel but doesn’t carry the risk of separating when heated (unlike yogurt or lower fat sour creams.) You could substitute thinly sliced white button mushrooms for the zucchini and add fresh thyme and basil along with lemon zest and a quick squeeze of lemon juice. If you prefer an aged pecorino in place of the the Reggiano I humbly suggest a good sharp chunk of black peppercorn studded pecorino pepato.

bacon and zucchini pasta with creme fraiche:

3 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces (can be snipped with scissors)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 small zucchini, sliced into thin half moons

1 small red onion, sliced into thin half moons

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of dry white wine or dry vermouth

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1/2 cup of creme fraiche

1/2 tsp. red chilli flakes

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Juice of half a lemon

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Fresh parsley

200 g of dried pasta of your choice

100 g of Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely shredded (plus more for the table)

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta reserve 1/2 a cup of the pasta water to help thicken the sauce.

2. While the water is heating up cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crispy in a large skillet. Drain the bacon on paper towel and remove the excess bacon fat from the pan.

3. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the zucchini, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat until soft. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the chicken stock, white wine or vermouth, creme fraiche, bacon, chili, oregano, salt, a handful of Parmesan leaves, and kosher salt; allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes before stirring in the cooked pasta. Toss to coat and then toss again with the shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve in warmed bowls with extra child flakes, Reggiano, and fresh parsley.

My mom listened to a lot of Suzanne Vega when I was growing up. A lot of it I can remember as the soundtrack for when we would go on road trips to the beach at Grand Bend or Toronto. I would look at the liner notes over and over again in the passenger side of the car, watching the Ontario countryside flash by us as we drove down the highway. Or curled up in the backseat under a beach blanket, skin smelling like sunscreen and campfire, looking at the roaming lights created by lone car head lights in the wide open darkness of rural routes and apple orchards. Suzanne Vega was the first version of a cool person that I can think of really wanting to emulate (one day anyway, at the time I was only 10 years old.) I still want to be like her and I still love her music, I can listen to the album 99.9 F° over and over again without ever tiring of its initial pull; there’s something comforting about music and art that continues to protect as you (and it) gets older.

Suzanne Vega – Rock in This Pocket (Song of David)

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Greens and Bacon

whole wheat spaghetti kale bacon

This whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon is the happy result of an experiment in emptying out my fridge. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I’ll need a near empty fridge for groceries; I’m hosting a dinner for 12 on Sunday evening and I’m going to be cooking some amazing food (but no turkey, I’m at best indifferent towards turkey.) This recipe that follows is flexible in its use of ingredients: use any kind of pasta you would like, use broccoli/spinach/Swiss chard/arugula and adjust cooking times as necessary, use a different type of cheese and experiment with different textures and flavours, etc., etc. The egg could also be omitted, but I love the creamy texture that follows when a soft boiled egg is cut open over a bowl of pasta. Getting creative when I feel stumped in the kitchen at the end of the day can be very therapeutic. Maybe it’s because the sensation of repetitive movement is comforting to me, but quietly concentrating on chopping up vegetables is an immensely calming experience each night. Each time you allow yourself to be playful in the kitchen you are fostering your culinary instinct so that on those nights when your cupboards look bare you won’t be quite as devastated but rather tentatively excited.

whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon:

(this serves 3-4 people)

About 8 oz. of whole wheat pasta

2 strips of bacon, cut into very thin strips

1 tsp. olive oil

3 cups of kale, destemmed and cut into fine ribbons

5 small bok choy, rinsed and cut into thick pieces (separate ribs from leaves as they take longer to cook)

1/2 cup of stock (I used beef stock, chicken or vegetable would also be good)

1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade

One egg for each person, soft boiled*

Shaved Parmesan or Grana Padano

Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste

1. Cook the whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions while you’re making the rest of the recipe, it will take the same amount of time if your ingredients are prepped ahead of time.

2. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a saucepan with a fitted lid until crisp (leave uncovered while cooking the bacon.) Drain on paper towel.

3. Discard bacon grease from the pot and add olive oil, kale, and bok choy ribs. Stir to coat with the oil before adding the stock. Cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and fresh basil, cook for 1 minutes before taking off the the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Combine the greens with the pasta, tossing to combine. Serve with a warm soft boiled egg  broken over the pasta with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

*To soft boil an egg: bring a pot of water to a rolling simmer. Carefully lower the eggs one at a time into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes depending on how set you like your eggs. Remove eggs from the hot water and run under cold water for 1 minute. Peel immediately  but be watch your hands as the eggs will still be ver hot.

When I think about it, a lot of the music I like as an adult is a natural extension of the melodic emo I was really into as a teenager. I still love Sunny Day Real Estate and The Appleseed Cast and I think that bias shows when I listen to bands like DIIV, this whole album resonates with my experience of high school seamlessly. Now it’s what I listen to when I’m running through the leaves at 7:30 on dark October nights. There’s something comforting to be said about being in a cocoon of music in the dark, feeling completely invisible as you pass other people.

DIIV – Past Lives

Roasted Potato Salad with Green Beans and Bacon

Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad

This recipe began as an effort to use up roasted potatoes and green beans that I had served with a slow cooker pot roast the night before. It was inspired by a recipe for a French potato and green bean salad I remember making on repeat when I was in university, I’ve often though of it but until now have yet to recreate it. I added in the crispy bits of roasted bacon as an extra flourish, the salty bite of the pork combines with the acidic tang of the red wine vinegar with serendipitous results. When I make potato salads with an oil and vinegar based dressing I like to up the ratio of oil to vinegar so that they are 1:1, the starchiness of the potatoes seems to absorb some of the shock from what otherwise might be a too tart dressing. Other things I’ve added to this salad include romaine lettuce, capers, tinned Italian tuna in olive oil, chickpeas, and Adzuki beans. Although this should rest for a few minutes after it’s prepared, know that the texture of the potatoes begins to deteriorate fairly rapidly after the dressing is applied (although it just turns into a delicious albeit slightly softer leftover lunch.)

roasted potato salad with green beans and bacon:

1 lb. small red skinned potatoes

1 lb. green beans, lately I’ve been sing hericots verts because the little grocery store by my house has been selling them for a great price

3 slices of bacon, cut into a small dice

Grapeseed or vegetable oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 cup of flat leaf parsley, roughly torn

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle generously with grapeseed or other neutral oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 minutes before adding the green beans and bacon to the pan, stirring to coat with oil before roasting for another 20-25 minutes.

2. Transfer to a large bowl and let the potatoes, green beans, and bacon come to room temperature before continuing with the recipe or refrigerate for future use. Slice the roasted potatoes and green beans into smaller pieces before adding in the shallots and parsley.

3. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, and freshly cracked pepper before pouring the salad dressing over the potatoes and green beans and allow to sit for at 15 minutes before serving either cold or at room temperature.

In this particular instance, I served the salad with grilled cheese made from the leftover shredded pot roast and 3 year old Isle. aux Grues cheddar.

Grilled Cheese

I have found a new musical infatuation! Snowbird sounds like a slightly folksy and simultaneously shoegazey version of the Cocteau Twins with an English translation (as it should be, former member Simon Raymonde has a shining place in this band.) The whole record is lovely and ethereal and I genuinely found it difficult to choose a favourite song for this entry, I think at the moment this would be the most listened to song on the album (although this is actually part of an included remix album of Moon.)

Snowbird – Porcelain (RxGibbs remix)