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

Easy Sweet Corn Salad with Basil and Feta

White square plate with sweet corn salad with basil and feta cheese.

Fresh corn is such a distinctly nostalgic thing to eat. It’s attached to so many memories of heading sleepily home after a day at The Pinery, a provincial park lining several sandy beaches along Lake Huron. My parents would pull over at a roadside produce stand, the kind involving a strict honour system and a glass jar for payment, and come back with bags of fresh corn and peaches. Compared to my idyllic childhood experience of lazily prepping corn on a lawn chair in the backyard, still wearing my bathing suit in case the lawn sprinkler was turned on after dinner, husking corn in a small apartment is slightly less picturesque. Although any method of preparing the corn will work, I like to roast mine husk, silk, and all in my toaster oven; the corn is steamed and the rest falls away easily once its cooled down. Using apple cider vinegar for the pickled shallots makes the corn taste even sweeter and fresh basil offers, well, the amazing taste and aroma of fresh basil. You could use Cotija cheese or chevre if you prefer, but I like creamy Macedonian feta best of all. Since fresh corn is only available for a short amount of time you can definitely use good-quality frozen corn in its place, heat it up in a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet until just starting to char in spots. This salad goes with just about any summer meal you can think of; barbecued chicken, skewered vegetables with tzatziki, and watermelon are a few of my favourite accompaniments.

sweet corn salad with basil and feta:

Corn from 5-6 cobs of corn

3 shallots, finely minced

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 large handful of fresh basil + more for garnish, cut in a chiffonade

About 2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Add the corn to a large salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl combine the shallots with the apple cider vinegar; let stand for 15 minutes. Add the olive oil, mustard, basil, salt, and pepper to taste; pour over the corn. Finish the salad by sprinkling with the crumbled feta and extra basil, tasting to see if it needs and more salt or freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.

I know fall is fast approaching when my American Analog Set listening goes up, soon I’ll be walking around in warm sweaters at night listening to this album on headphones. For now, I perversely listen to them while preparing some of the summeriest food imaginable. Such a lovely melody, I can smell the autumn leaves already.

American Analog Set – Magnificent Seventies

Fiery Israeli Couscous Salad with a Creamy Avocado and Fresh Herb Dressing

Israeli Couscous salad with creamy avocado herb dressing

I have been away the past couple of months because I’ve been writing, writing, writing and then writing some more; this Edward Gorey illustration is an accurate representation of how I’m feeling these days:

edward-gorey

You know what helps when I feel this burnt out? Salads all.the.time. I’m a huge fan of salads that are sturdy, salads that will last a few days in the fridge without becoming mushy or soggy. This salad has a big bite which can be lessened by using roasted sweet peppers instead of roasted serrano peppers – both of which can be found conveniently packed into jars or can be roasted at home in a short amount of time. I’m also obsessed with fresh herbs, I think that fresh basil smells like the greenest, deepest, most intense liquorice heaven ever. Don’t be shy with the lemon juice in the dressing, plenty of lemon is the key to preventing the avocado dressing from turning brown.  Israeli couscous is perfect in this recipe, the dense chewiness is a satisfying foil to the bright zippy flavours of the remaining ingredients. Pearl barley and orzo make excellent substitutes if you can’t find Israeli couscous, I’ve tried it with both and been more than happy with the results.

fiery israeli couscous salad with a creamy avocado and fresh herb dressing:

1 1/2 cups of dried Israeli couscous, cooked in salted water according to package directions

1 medium cucumber, peeled in alternating stripes and cut into thin quarter moons

3 roasted serrano peppers, seeds removed and sliced into rough strips

2 roasted sweet peppers, seeds removed and sliced into rough strips

1 bunch of scallions, greens thinly sliced

Big handfuls of fresh parsley, basil, mint, and cilantro to scatter on top of the salad

1-2 Bird’s Eye chilies, sliced paper-thin to scatter on top of the salad

for the creamy avocado and fresh herb dressing:

1 super ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, loosely chopped

1 cup of fresh basil

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 cup cilantro

A few mint leaves

1/4 cup of Greek yogurt or Skyr

1 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Combine all of the salad ingredients except for the fresh herbs in a large bowl. Pulse together the salad dressing ingredients in a food processor, adjust seasonings if needed. Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad ingredients and toss until coated, transfer the salad to a shallow salad bowl and scatter with the fresh herbs and sliced chilies. Serve this salad at room temperature or while still cold, it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Music for writing and music for eating while taking breaks from typing tends to be either Nick Drake, Erik Satie, Glenn Gould’s Bach Variations, Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, and Brian Eno. Music For Airports instantly transports me back to early childhood, my mom used to play this album for my sister and I when we had our afternoon naps. Music For Airports is like the smell of rose hips and jasmine, things I associate with my mom’s room when I was growing up, particularly if she had been in there getting ready to go to work or out with friends.

Brian Eno – Music For Airports

 

 

 

Slow Roasted Sweet Pepper and Baked Halloumi Salad with Oregano and Chilies

Slow roasted sweet peppers layered with slices of halloumi on a bright blue plate with decorative sprigs of halloumi cheese.

Salt is my kitchen constant. Sweet is fine enough, but nothing makes me excited to eat quite like the prospect of impending salt does. I don’t feel particularly worried about this obsession, I don’t eat very much pre-packaged food so most salt content is of my own doing. Like cheese curds, halloumi is delightfully fun to chew – the squeak brings a feeling of whimsy to such a well-respected ingredient. Often made with a mix of sheep and goat’s milk (Canadian domestic brands are often made with cow’s milk) and sometimes flecked with fresh mint, halloumi is a wonderfully adaptable protein to introduce into your recipe repertoire. For the purposes of this recipe and for overall ease I’ve opted to bake the halloumi here, but it is just as at home on the grill or in a hot skillet where it will hold onto its shape in quite an uncheese-like manner. I don’t often bother with removing the blistered skins from roasted sweet peppers out of sheer laziness, but I feel that in this case it really makes a difference when presenting and eating the salad. It’s just salty slabs of marinated cheese with the yielding sweet flesh of peppers, topped with a little additional balsamic vinegar and olive oil to bind it all together. This salad could serve 2 for lunch or 4 as part of a dinner, I would present it alongside a mixed green salad and maybe a small antipasti plate with charcuterie, olives, fresh figs, and ripe peaches. A bottle of well-chilled and fruit-forward Gewurztraminer wouldn’t be amiss, nor would a gin and tonic with a slice of cucumber peel wrapped round the inside of the glass.

Sliced Halloumi Marinating in Lemon Juice, Olive Oil, Bird's Eye Chilies, and Fresh Oregano

for the slow roasted sweet peppers:

4 sweet peppers

2 tsp. sherry vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Leave the peppers whole/with stems intact but pierce them in a few spots with a sharp knife. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, turning a few times to ensure even cooking. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the charred skin from the peppers and tear them into sections that are about 1 inch across. Drizzle with sherry vinegar and olive oil, allow to sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before using in the salad.

for the baked halloumi with oregano and chilies:

1 block of halloumi, sliced lengthwise in 1 cm pieces

Juice and zest from 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. olive oil

A small handful of fresh oregano leaves, roughly torn

3-5 Bird’s Eye chilies, halved lengthwise

Plenty of freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the halloumi in a single layer on a glass baking dish. Whisk together the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, oregano, chilies, and black pepper. Pour over the halloumi and allow to marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake the halloumi, preheat the oven to 400 degree. Once the oven is hot bake the cheese for 10-16 minutes or until browned, it should be soft but still retain its shape.

to assemble the salad:

Beginning with a piece of halloumi, layer the roasted sweet pepper strips and the cheese until the ingredients are all used up. This salad is perfect for playing individually, or layering it all up at once for an intimate salad for 2-3 people. Pour any leftover balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top and finish with sprigs of fresh oregano. Serve at room temperature.

I’m firmly entrenched in a delicate state of fake it til you make it, I’m wiping back tears at the most inopportune moments, feeling untethered and far away from everything and everyone. When I’m asleep I feel like I’m grasping at the darkness to make sure my eyes stay shut, when I’m awake I’m dreaming of the darkness. So I listen to music like Aurora’s amazingly present and self-assured album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend to feel connected to the moment in a way that only loud music can.

Aurora – Conquerer

 

Chopped Salad with Mango and Shrimp

Chopped Salad with Mango and Shrimp

I just got back from a beautiful vacation in Maui where I was fortunate enough to have spent a week by the ocean with my husband, mom, and sister. It seems remarkable that just a few days ago I was sitting by the water drinking tequila watching tiny crabs skim across the surface of the sand only to disappear again into their tiny hiding places. Besides reading paperback thrillers, lying around, swimming, and exploring the island I occupied my time with eating large quantities of food and drinking cocktails at inappropriate times of the day, because what’s the point of a vacation if you can’t spend your time doing relaxing and out of the ordinary activities? And speaking of, I even went swimming in the ocean (twice!) I ate poke, sushi, shrimp, fish tacos, tiny bananas, watermelon, barbecued salmon and steak, more fish tacos, gigantic American cheeseburgers, and drank  more tequila lemonades, Prosecco, J. Lohr chardonnay, malbec, vodka, mango daiquiris, and salty sweet sour margaritas  than I ever thought possible. In short, a perfect escape in a stunning environment. Now that I’m back in Vancouver I feel the need to give my waistline and liver a break, although it’s Friday afternoon and I can’t stop thinking about a chilled Boulevardier after work on a sunny patio and I’m pretty sure I’ll be making french toast later on tonight to accompany our viewing of Spotlight; it’s the thought that counts! This chopped salad with mango and shrimp makes you feel healthy just by looking at it, it’s components form a lovely rainbow of a meal that offers an interesting variation in texture and colour. The dressing is surprisingly spicy and slightly sweet. It perks up the lettuce, brings the sweetness of the mango to the forefront, and gives the shrimp the oomph it needs to shine. You could definitely use chicken or a mild flaky fish instead of the shrimp, I just happened to have a bag of cooked frozen shrimp in the freezer and although not authentic, I felt like it carried on the Maui vibe I’d been feeling all week. Avocado would be really tasty in this salad, as would chopped cilantro, roasted or fresh jalapeno, grilled pineapple, fresh papaya or peaches, or  even long elegant strips of endive. Basically, what you’re aiming for is a noticeable variety in colour and texture. Your ingredients shouldn’t all be crunchy and they shouldn’t all be monochromatic, this salad is meant to have a summery feel to it so get creative with your ingredients.

chopped salad with mango and shrimp:

About 1-1 1/2 cups of shrimp, cooked and roughly chopped into small pieces

1 large mango, diced

1/2 cucumber, partially peeled and cut into thick half moon pieces

1/2 red pepper, diced

10-15 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

2 stalks of celery, cut into thin half moons

1/4 red onion, cut into a very fine dice, soaked in cold water for at least 15 minutes and then drained

2-3 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped

2 cups iceberg lettuce, torn

2 cups green leaf lettuce, torn

2 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted

Assemble salad ingredients on a large serving platter. I like to lay them out in sections but do whatever feels and looks best to you. Drizzle with salad dressing and let sit for a few minutes before eating.

spicy ginger/chili/garlic dressing:

1-2 tsp. Sambal Oelek (depending on how hot you want the dressing to be)

1-2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or from a jar)

1 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together until emulsified (alternately, shake them all together in a jar for easy clean up and storage). This dressing also makes a great marinade for chicken or salmon so make extra if you’re so inclined.

I’m torn on the new Radiohead album. It’s good, I like it, but at the same time it all sort of blends together into not quite distinct songs. I think it’s definitely their most “dad rock” album, which I suppose is fitting and contextually accurate. There are obvious shades of Led Zepellin, a little bit of Nick Drake, lots of “The Bends”, and just enough paranoia to make it a true Radiohead album. I love this song, it’s so crazy and intense sounding, especially on headphones. I was on the bus the other day listening to this and I felt like I was in the middle of an Alfred Hitchcock scene.

Radiohead – Burn the Witch

Kitchen Sink Salad with a Creamy Avocado and Greek Yogurt Dressing

Broccoli, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, pickled peppers, cucumbers and a creamy feta and avocado dressing on a bed of lettuce.

I have some really nice memories of Sunday nights with my family that involve kitchen sink salads. My sister and I would often spend the afternoon outside, our outdoor activities depended on the time of year (destroying piles of raked leaves, making picnic table forts, pretending the hammock was a pirate ship, or constructing little houses out of sticks for toads). We’d come inside and clean up, maybe draw or read, and my parents would always be listening to music as they figured out dinner (yes, I was an early inductee into the world of music with dinner). Sometimes, our Sunday night supper would be a kitchen sink salad – a large wooden salad bowl filled with chopped broccoli, mushrooms, sweet peppers, little diced pieces of cheese, and whatever else needed to be used up in the fridge. That’s the magic of kitchen sink salads, you have the freedom to add whatever you want! I have such a soft spot in my heart for iceberg lettuce, I almost always have some in my crisper and I have so many memories of reading in bed with my mom and sharing a head of lettuce. We’d slowly peel the lettuce leaves away, crunching contentedly while totally absorbed in a book. Of course, I know that I’m looking at these memories through the lens of nostalgia, but they hold such a special place in my heart it’s hard not to experience them without it. Being a kitchen sink salad, the “recipe” part is really only used as a series of gentle suggestions. Think outside your fridge, too, and look in your cupboards or pantry. I’m a big fan of beans (canned or dried), roasted red peppers in brine, capers, grains, pickled hot peppers, and anything else that looks like it would be at home in a salad. This creamy avocado and Greek salad dressing is one of my favourites, but again, use what you love and whatever is convenient.

kitchen sink salad with a creamy avocado and greek yogurt dressing:

1/2 avocado

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice and zest of half a lemon

1 large bunch of fresh basil, parsley, and/or cilantro

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 head of broccoli, segmented into small florets and blanched in boiling water

12 grape tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters depending on their size

1 cup of cucumber, cut into thick(ish) half or quarter moons

3 scallions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno or pepperoncini peppers, finely diced

About 1/4 cup of crumbled feta or fresh goat cheese

Iceberg lettuce (or any other crisp, sturdy lettuce)

Put the avocado, Greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and fresh herbs of your choice in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste, giving it a final blitz when you’re happy with the seasoning.

Place all of the remaining salad ingredients in a large serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss to coat. Enjoy a giant bowl of this salad, feeling good that you’ve found a use for all the odds and ends in your kitchen.

I grew up in a Leonard Cohen household and this song is a fitting tribute to childhood Sunday dinners. I still think this song is as mysterious and hauntingly beautiful as I did when my mom and dad would listen to it while making supper. This song especially makes me think of dark winter nights, clean crisp sheets, the smell of our fireplace, feeling anxious about Monday at school, my parents before they divorced, reading Tintin in bed, and my beloved childhood pet cat Peter.

Leonard Cohen – Famous Blue Raincoat

 

Asian Inspired Bright Steak Salad

Steak salad arranged on a white plate in a colourful presentation containing purple cabbage, greens, tomatoes, red peppers, and slivered ribeye steak. On a flowery tablecloth.

I like my steak really, really rare; not quite blue, but the closest shade possible (a particularly rosy shade of indigo?).  I generally make steak about once a month, I can go weeks without red meat and then suddenly I need the rarest, bloodiest, still perfectly pink red inside and seared on the outside steak I can get my hands on. Last week I treated myself to a ribeye steak that was so massive not even ravenous and particularly carnivorous Ashley could finish it. Steak sandwiches are always a good way to use up a leftover steak, but I suppose I was hankering for something slightly lighter (after all, I had to make buttery wish mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms to go with my steak dinner), and this steak salad was born. Marinating the steak after it’s been cooked gives it marvellous complexity and intense flavour, especially if you can give it a significant time in the fridge before you prepare this recipe. I wanted this salad to have tons of crunch and tons of colour but feel free to use my suggestions as a guide only, you can use any kind of vegetable or leafy green you’d like. I think salads like this are functionally best when presented on a shallow serving platter, this way the heavier salad ingredients and the dressing won’t sift down to the bottom of the bowl. You can also take this salad to work or school with you, just keep the steak and it’s marinade separately in a tightly lidded container and add right before you eat your lunch. Alternately, if eaten at home or on a picnic, this salad is fantastic with a really cold glass of dry Prosecco – the brightness of the salad is perfect with the crispness of the wine.

asian inspired bright steak salad:

1 ribeye steak, prepared your favourite way and at room temperature or cooler

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. finely minced ginger

2 tsp. garlic and chili sauce

1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil

2 small heads of bok choy, cut into fin ribbons

1 cup of shredded purple cabbage

1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced

1 red sweet pepper, thinly sliced into strips

2 cups of green leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces

1 jalapeño pepper, sliced very thinly

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered

3 scallions, snipped into small pieces

A large handful of cilantro, torn into small pieces

A large handful or fresh basil, torn into small pieces

  1. Slice the steak very thinly on a cutting board, I find that a good carving set is essential for creating extra thin slices.
  2. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili sauce, and sesame oil in a medium-sized glass container. Add the steak pieces and marinade for at least an out but up to overnight.
  3. When you’re ready to eat you salad arrange the bok choy, purple cabbage, cucumber, sweet pepper, green leaf lettuce, jalapeño pepper, and grape tomatoes on a large, shallow serving platter. Add the steak slices and pour the marinade over the salad to coat. Gently toss to coat the salad with dressing and finish the salad with a generous sprinkling of cilantro and fresh basil before serving.

 

Intentionally operatic and beautiful, Austra reminds me so much of the best of best: Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos, and Elizabeth Fraser. Cinematic, atmospheric, lush, and darkly moving – I wish I had Austra in high school, because I know I would have a band photo up in my locker amongst all the other aforementioned greats.

Austra – The Beat and Pulse