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

Cucumber Salad with Radishes, Chilies, and a Sweet Soy Dressing

Rectangular plate with cucumber, radish, and chilies garnished with cilantro. On a white, slate, and red tablecloth.

Last week I had the biggest craving for a cucumber salad made with sour cream, yogurt, and fresh dill. I followed a recipe I found online and as excited as I was to eat it, the taste was far too rich and almost cloying – I wanted a crunchy salad with vibrant flavours, not wisps of cucumber floating limply in a creamy pool of dressing. I’ve had really good cucumber salads in the past, so I know they’re a real that actually exists, but the experience led to my thinking about other cucumber salads that would still have that crunchy texture and sweet, tangy, and salty taste. I lost interest in the dairy and instead looked to the classic combination of dark sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey for an equally effective but simple dressing – much lighter overall but definitely bigger in flavour. The fresh dill became cilantro and I added thin slices of radish, scallion, and tiny red chilies to add a peppery heat and a beautiful contrast to the cool green cucumber slices.

cucumber salad with radishes, chilies, and a sweet soy dressing:

4 Lebanese cucumbers, skin left intact and sliced into thick half-moons (or, use 1 peeled and de-seeded English cucumber)

4 radishes, cut into paper-thin slices

4 scallions, whites and greens cut into thin slices

2-3 small red chilies, sliced thinly (include seeds for maximum heat)

1 large handful of cilantro, roughly torn into small pieces

2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce (or tamari)

1 tsp. honey or sugar

  1. Combine the cucumber, radishes, scallions, chilies, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey and pour over the salad ingredients. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving, although the salad can sit for a few hours (dressed) before eating.

Oh, my heart.

If you’re a Canadian reading this blog you’ll know what I mean when I express that small, sad utterance. Gordon Downie, poet and singer for The Tragically Hip, played his (possible) final concert on Saturday night in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma earlier this year and made the decision to tour Canada with The Hip one last time – marking an overwhelming and emotional month of live music that has managed to pull Canada together as a community despite its vast geography and problems, in a way that transcends patriotism into something much deeper. It’s difficult to explain their music to non-Canadians, rightly or wrongly we’ve claimed them as our own and our relationship to The Tragically Hip is deeply personal and one we feel needs protecting. If you want to watch their final show, bursting with presence and a shaking hand in the face of impending death, CBC broadcast it live and the whole country gathered around TV screens, in parks, and in local theatres to take this deep breath together. Screaming in the face of all our certain fates and raging against the dying light, the show was spectacular.

And so, if I had to pick, and it’s very difficult, I would say that the song Lofty Pines off of Downie’s solo album Coke Machine Glow will be my pick for this entry. I listened to a lot of Tragically Hip over the weekend, but on Sunday I wanted the softness of this particular record. The real Lofty Pines Motel is now permanently closed, but I’ve driven past it several times when it was open on the way to my aunt and uncle’s cottage in the Muskokas. This song is lazy and drawling in the sense that it immediately floods in the smell of pine, the orange needles littering the ground which opens your ears to the cracking sounds of a dry forest floor, while at the same time muting the forest as though it was covered in a soft blanket. Barring a deeper reading of the lyrics, this song makes me feel like I’m lying on a bed in a wooden cottage, reading a bad cottage book, smelling the outside through the screen window.

“Well, I dreamed of the Lofty Pines-
at least what I thought they were-
standing in the forest after nighttime,
swaying so cool and sure.
Sure had never been so wrong;
sure like the title of the perfect song.”

Gordon Downie – Lofty Pines

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

 

Big Green Salad for a Crowd

Big oval bowl full of green salad and radishes.

American Thanksgiving! Or, Thanksgiving, as my friends and family in Washington state call it. I’ve been in Seattle for the past five days eating numerous reincarnations of turkey and all of the accompaniments: two dinners on Thursday, leftovers on Friday, and slightly hungover turkey hash brunch on Saturday. This has been a delicious journey, especially since my family has never been keen on traditional Thanksgiving fare (let’s make it clear that I’m in no way complaining about roasted prime rib and Caesar salad being the usual suspects). So when I received the main dinner coordination plans it looked as though everything absolutely essential to an American Thanksgiving feast had been accounted for; pumpkin pie, turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes – it was all taken care of. I decided I wanted to bring a gigantic, beautiful, and crisp green salad to Thanksgiving dinner using a combination of really pretty greens to get the meal off to a gorgeous start. I make green salads all the time, always using different ingredients but generally sticking to the same basic tenets which are a) to make sure your greens have been carefully washed, dried, and chilled and b) to mix the dressing right in the bottom of the bowl and then toss it with your hands. I also like to ensure my vegetable and fruit additions are sliced very thinly so that they can be more easily tossed into the leafy greens. On that note, I also like to soak my red onion slices in water or lemon juice once they’ve been sliced, there’s nothing that ruins a salad faster for me than the taste of acrid burning onion.

Big green tossed salad in an oval bowl with radishes and red onion

big green salad:

1 packet of arugula, washed and dried completely

1 packet of baby spinach, washed and dried completely

1 packet of watercress, washed and dried completely

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, torn into large pieces

1 bunch of radishes, sliced into thin half moons

3 stalks of celery, sliced into thin half moons

1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly, soaked in water for 20 minutes, and then drained completely

1 English cucumber, partially peeled in strips, sliced, and then drained on paper towel for 20 minutes

1 bunch of fresh basil, cut in a fine chiffonade

1 bunch of fresh mint, torn into small pieces

1/4 cup of dried cherries or cranberries, snipped into small pieces with scissors

Juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1/3 cup fruity olive oil

Kosher or sea salt to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Whisk together the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, and olive oil in the bottom of a large salad bowl adding a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste. Add the leafy green portion of the salad first, tossing with your hands to coat with the dressing. Add the sliced vegetables next, continuing to toss the salad with your hands. When all of the salad ingredients have been coated with the dressing top the salad with the fresh herbs  and dried fruit. Adjust for seasoning and serve.

As for musical accompaniment to my salad making, I have to admit that it was primarily good old fashioned conversation in this case; I would argue that it’s the most important part of a celebratory meal. The common denominator that brings us all together.

Warm Radish Salad with Bacon and Toasted Almonds

Sautéed radish salad with iceberg lettuce and toasted almonds

This radish salad is an ode to the Cobb salad, a chic but simple reimagining of one of my all-time favourites. While it shares the same presentation and some important ingredients (iceberg lettuce, creamy dressing, and crumbled bacon) this salad is composed of fresh components that are lighter than traditionally called for. If you’ve never had sautéed radishes you’re in for a treat, they take on a flavour similar to  peppery potato wedges and their bite is largely reduced by spending ten minutes in hot fat. You can either get fussy and plate this individually (really impressive for a lunch dish with some good bread and a wedge of aged cheddar), or you can spread all of the ingredients across a large shallow platter in a sort of green and red rainbow. If you’re serving it on one big plate I would suggest decanting the dressing into a pouring vessel and letting your dinner companions help themselves, this will prevent the salad from becoming soggy if it sits out for any length of time. The red onion can be substituted for any kind of onion, shallots and scallions work particularly well, and the almonds can be replaced with toasted pine nuts, sunflower seeds, or pistachios. If this salad is being served as a main course I would add sliced hardboiled egg and some poached chicken breast as well as some crumbled Buttermilk Blue cheese.

warm radish salad with bacon and toasted almonds:

(makes enough for 2 large salads)

2 pieces of bacon

1 tsp. butter

1 1/2 cups of sliced radishes

1/2 a small red onion, sliced into thin half moons

3 cups of iceberg lettuce

3 cups of mixed salad greens

2 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted in a pan over low heat

Greek Yogurt and Basil Salad Dressing

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

  1. Cook the bacon in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towel, crumble when cool.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter to the remaining bacon fat and add the radish slices and red onion. Stirring occasionally, cook for about ten minutes or until the radishes begin to turn brown and crisp up. Remove from heat.
  3. Arrange the iceberg lettuce and salad greens in alternating stripes of green. Next add the radish and red onion mixture for a bright pop of colour. Top with crumbled bacon, toasted almonds, fresh chives and parsley, and then the dressing. Finish with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper to compliment the radishes).

I love how Damon Albarn has matured as a songwriter, I’ve always appreciated Blur’s mellower catalogue as an antidote to their largely manic library of music. Luckily, Albarn still manages to charm with his mopey voice and minimal score.

Damon Albarn – Lonely Press Play