Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

I arrived home from Nova Scotia to an empty refrigerator.  Panicked, I moved to my cupboards only to find them as barren as my fridge.  I then succumbed to jetlag and shamelessly broke down and ordered sushi.  The next day dawned and all I had to show for the $30 I spent the night before was some sad day old sushi.  I knew I could not survive on takeout forever, my pocket book couldn’t handle such abuse, but I really didn’t want to go to the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in Toronto can be an extreme sport.

Peaches

Have I ever told you how much I hate grocery stores?  Well, I hate them!  I know it’s an odd thing for a foodie to say, but I do.  I love markets (I love that Toronto has so many of them), but I think grocery stores are the devil.  They’re always freezing, the staff is disinterested, other shoppers are oblivious (especially on Saturdays) and I always seem to select the worst possible cart.

Peach with Pit

My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about it.

But what else could I do, eat old sushi?  So I mustered up my courage, took a deep breath and threw myself into the fray… I should probably mention I’ve been on a war movie kick lately.

Red Pepper

I didn’t even have a list.  I was determined to give each isle one shot to inspire me or seduce me with an exceptional buy.  There was no plan; I was more or less blindly pulling things off the shelves.  When I got home I surveyed my loot and scratched my head.  What on earth could I make with all this stuff?  Well, the answer was this salad.  I started with some gorgeous Ontario peaches and the rest wrote itself.  A base of peppery greens, a red bell pepper, a bit of cucumber, some raw cashews and, of course, bacon.  Incidentally, I actually found the bacon in the fridge.  I can always rely on my beau to replenish the all important bacon supply.  Dish soap on the other hand…

Chopped Cashews

The dressing was made with a dollop of my aunt’s homemade strawberry jam (made with Nova Scotian strawberries), some rosemary, and garlic.  I married these bold flavors with some flax seed oil and balsamic.  I watered the jam down a touch to give the dressing the proper consistency.

Bacon

Not surprisingly my beau was a bit apprehensive about the peaches, but he came around and wound up liking the salad quite a bit.  I, on the other hand, think I’ve found the salad of my dreams!  I really dug this salad!  Peaches and bacon laced with punchy accents of rosemary on a bed of peppery greens; what could be better?

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches

Give this salad a try before the peaches go out of season.

 

Green Salad with Bacon & Peaches: Serves 2

2 cups mixed greens (I used baby spinach and arugula)

1 peach, stoned and sliced

¼ red bell pepper, sliced

1/6 cucumber, sliced

¼ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped

4 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped

Strawberry Rosemary Vinaigrette:

1 ½ tbsp strawberry jam

2 tbsp water

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup flax seed oil

4 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small bowl whisk together jam and water.

Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.

Place all salad ingredients (except the cashews) in a large bowl and pour in the dressing.

Toss until the ingredients are evenly distributed and coated with dressing.

Serve salad sprinkled with cashews.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

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I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Purple and White Cabbage

Today’s recipe made an appearance at my brother’s birthday bash this past weekend and while it can certainly stand alone as a perfectly seductive side, I choose to used it as a topping for a saucy pulled pork sandwich.  Sadly, you won’t find the pulled pork recipe in this post; I’m saving that for later.   I thought I’d get the less interesting component out of the way first and wow you with the sandwich later.

Shredded Carrots

I’m trying to build hype.  Is it working?

I also thought you might like a break from the boozy decadence that has recently invaded my blog, much to the chagrin of my waistband.   I thought this might be a good way to illustrate that I do still possess a small amount of will power and I’m still as health conscious as ever… just ignore the fact that this coleslaw dressing is mayonnaise based.  Okay?

Green Onions

Look!  Green things!  Aren’t you proud?!

I apologize for pulling the whole annoying cliffhanger thing on you, but I promise you’ll get closure eventually.  This won’t be anything like the last episode of My So Called Life. I promise I will not leave you with endless questions that wind up haunting you for an embarrassingly long time.

Seriously!  Did she choose Jordan or Brian?!  Someone has to tell me!

Cilantro Lime Dressing

Not only does this zippy little coleslaw contain all the makings of a damn good slaw, it has a few finer details.  The dressing contains jalapenos and cilantro, the slaw itself is studded with pepitas and the dish is accented with a splash of lime juice that brightens the overall flavor.  The pepitas deliver a different kind of crunch than the cabbage, making for a very satisfying contrast of textures.  I’ve never put nuts or seeds in any of my coleslaws before, but I can guarantee you this will not be the last time I do.  The jalapenos deliver a hint of spiciness, while the cilantro is savory and cooling.  All in all this taste profile makes for a very interesting slaw, one that I will no doubt be repeating over and over again.

Pepitas

This coleslaw was made for the summer and with the summer days threatening to leave us for another whole year, I suggest you strike while the iron is hot (believe me, it really is hot, my air conditioner is broken) and whip this little number up for you and your lucky dinner guests.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

Give it a try!

Cilantro Lime Coleslaw: Serves 12

½ purple cabbage, chopped

½ white cabbage, chopped

2 cups carrots, shredded

½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

12 stalks green onion, sliced

2 jalapenos, diced

1 cup unsalted pepitas

1 cup of buttermilk

½ cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo)

3 tbsp sweet relish

1 tbsp vinegar

Juice of one lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large bowl toss cabbage, carrots, green onions and pepitas together until combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together, mayonnaise, buttermilk, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, relish and vinegar until combined.

Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine.

Taste and season with salt and pepper according to preference.

Chill until ready to serve.

Everyday Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Life on the farm can sometimes feel like a marathon, an incredibly pleasant marathon, but I marathon none-the-less.  Several of my family members have cottages on the property and, since this place is considered to be party central, my social calendar is more active here in the boonies, than it is in the fast paced city.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Yesterday I was subjected to an afternoon of Caesars in the sun, followed by a lobster dinner!  This morning I woke up early to make pastry for a birthday brunch for my cousin, I’m told there’s an epic card game on the horizon and, of course, we must take advantage of high tide.

Fresh Veggies

My life is so hard!

It’s lovely visiting various branches of the family and staying this active, but I can’t help but feel slightly frazzled.  I don’t like to neglect my blog duties, but unfortunately the Internet up here is shoddy at best and my cell phone is currently about as useful as a paperweight.  It’s nice to throw off the shackles of the modern world, but it can be detrimental when you’re cyber life is so active. I’m not one to complain, I’m extremely happy to be here, but if I seem slightly distracted you’ll have to forgive me, I’ve made plans with eight different relatives today.

Feta

Somehow I managed to throw together this pasta salad together yesterday and I’m so glad I found the time.  It’s a bit of a fusion dish; vaguely Italian with Asian undertones.  I know it’s strange but, yes, the two can coexist.  Oh, and I guess the feta makes a little bit Greek, so this salad is a mutt, just like me.  Since Mutt Pasta Salad doesn’t have such a good ring to it, I feel Everyday Pasta Salad is just as fitting a title and a whole lot more appetizing.

Crumbled Feta

Pasta salad is among my favorite summertime dishes.  It’s easy to make, it improves after sitting over night, and it’s easily the most refreshing solution to even your most dire summertime food emergencies.

Pasta Salad

So, throw this together this weekend, just in time for the eight BBQs you agreed to attend.

Enjoy!

Everyday Pasta Salad: Serves 6-8

4 cups uncooked pasta

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

½ red onion, diced

1 cup feta, crumbled

1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved

1/4 cucumber, diced

½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lime

4 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil over medium high heat.

Salt the water and add the pasta.

Cook for 9-12 minutes until tender.

Drain and coat pasta with olive oil and garlic.

Set aside to cool.

When pasta is cool, place  it in a large bowl and add veggies, cheese and cilantro.

Add lime, ginger, and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to coat.

Chill until ready to serve.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom and Brie Sandwich

Mushrooms, Brie and Arugula

Happy Thanksgiving my fellow canucks!  You will have to forgive my somewhat lackluster display of holiday spirit.  There is not a single Thanksgiving recipe on my blog.  There are some that would be most welcome at any holiday table, but none that exclusively scream Turkey Day.

Mushrooms

To make me feel truly ashamed of myself, the good people over at Tasty Kitchen wrote up a lovely piece on the Canadians on their site and included yours truly. Such a wonderful gesture bestowed on a lazy blogger that has basically been MIA since September. I am trying to adjust to a different lifestyle and juggling two jobs and this blog is an exhausting endeavor, but bare with me, I’ll get this sorted out if it kills me.

Brie

I know I’ve been a horrible tease. I leave, announce I’m back and then I leave again. I realize it will take sometime to rebuild the trust between us dear reader, but I think, in time, we can move past this thoughtlessness and be stronger for it.

Multi-Grain Bread

The first step towards healing is this Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich. If anyone crossed me and then offered me this tasty treat I would definitely rethink excommunicating them.

Mushrooms, Basil

These days I find myself strapped for time. I often have to hit the kitchen running. Lately, grilled cheese has been a favorite of mine. Easy, quick and wonderfully cost effective.  Give me a bowl of hot tomato soup and gooey grilled cheese on a rainy day and I am one happy camper. This open-faced number is riff on this foul weather classic.

Warm Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

This sandwich is not grilled, instead the cheese melts into freshly toasted bread.  It liquifies further still when the cheese is crowned with an avalanche of freshly sautéed mushrooms and garlic. If this weren’t heavenly enough, this gorgeous concoction is completed with a halo of peppery arugula. Serve this bad boy up with a hot bowl of soup and consume with a knife and fork.

Open-Faced Mushroom Brie Sandwich

Simple, satisfying and ready to eat in fifteen minutes flat, this sandwich is the perfect treat after a long draining day. Let’s face it; you’ve clocked way too many hours in the kitchen this weekend. After the excitement of Thanksgiving the Warm Open-Face Mushroom Brie Sandwich is just what the doctor ordered.

Warm Open-Face Mushroom and Brie Sandwich: Serves 2

2 slices of Multi grain Bread

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade

6 slices brie cheese

2 handfuls of arugula

Directions:

Turn your oven to broil.

Brush 2 tbsp of olive oil on both sides of the bread and broil until golden brown flipping halfway through.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until browned and fragrant.

Remove bread from the oven and immediately place brie on top.

Split the mushrooms amongst the two slices of bread.

Sprinkle with basil.

Top with arugula.

Serve with a piping hot bowl of your favorite soup.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Butter Basil Biscuits

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There now, I wasn’t gone that long, and you all faired very well without me I have no doubt.  I’m pleased to say that I am back, and ready to re-enter the kitchen once again.

Sweet Onion

I’m so glad I took the break; it made me really miss this little food haven of mine.  Now that I am refreshed and have my head somewhat above water, my brain has inundated with so many fantastical food ideas that my head is getting a little noisy.  Confusing for me, but awesome for you!

Thyme

This week’s recipe is actually an adaptation of three recipes out of The Joy of Cooking, the classic jack-of-all-trades cookbook.

Butter

I wouldn’t recommend stringing three recipes together.  It smacks of inexperience if not plain stupidity, but since my common sense evades me more often than I’d like to admit I went ahead with this hair-brained scheme.

Basil Leaves

I am so glad (and relieved) to say against all odds it turned out beautifully.  Sure there were snags, but I am confident I’ve identified the problems and they shouldn’t trouble you if you choose to replicate the recipe.

Basil Chiffonade

The stars of this saucy show are the always-unassuming sweet onion, a few slices of smoky bacon (get the reduced sodium, I read some alarming statistics about North American sodium intake today, and it gave me the willies), and some adorable buttery basil biscuits.

Bacon

Essentially the onions and bacon come together in a creamy thyme spiked sauce, topped with a delightful little biscuit then baked until their tops are an inviting golden brown.

Basil Biscuit Dough

They flavor of these puppies is gorgeously savory.  The onions were so tender they melted on my tongue while the sauce warmed me with soft hints of thyme and a delectable smokiness supplied by the bacon.  I served them alongside I nice roast beef, but honestly I don’t remember a thing about the beef, these gems really stole the show.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Bacon

Perfect for the approaching cold weather and fairly easy to prepare, Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits is the picture of culinary beauty.

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits

Creamed Sweet Onion with Buttery Basil Biscuits: Serves 4

1 Sweet Onion, halved and sliced

4 strips of bacon

1 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 cup chicken broth

¼ cup white wine

1 tbsp of butter

1 tbsp flour

¼ cup half and half

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°

In a heavy bottom pot fry bacon over medium heat until crispy.

Remove from pot and leave to cool on a plate lined with paper towel.

Spoon off the bacon grease leaving 2 tbsp worth in the pot.

Add the olive oil to keep the fat from burning and toss in the onions.

Sautee for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in broth and add the two sprigs of thyme.

Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce heat and leave to simmer covered for 5 minutes.

Once onions are tender add white wine and leave to boil until the liquid is reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat.

Whisk in flour until it forms a paste.

Slowly whisk in half and half until combined.  Remove from heat and add to the onion mixture. Stir until thickened.

Remove from heat and set aside.

Spoon into 4 ramenkins and top each with an uncooked biscuit.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for ten minutes before serving.

For the Biscuits:

1 ¾ all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade

¾ half and half

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Add butter and basil.

Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles a coarse meal.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the half and half.

Stir until the dough comes together.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface.

Flatten dough to ½ an inch thickness.

Using a 2 ½ biscuit cutter cut out 12 biscuits.