Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Every summer brings a new favourite salad recipe for me, and this is the 2016 winner. Full of my favourite ingredients (arugula! goat cheese! roasted beets!) it's one I've enjoyed several times already this summer. Whether I serve it as a salad entree on a warm evening, or take to work for a healthy lunch, it's a terrific addition to my regular rotation!

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

(inspired by Half Baked Harvest and Barefoot Contessa)

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

6 golden beets
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of half an orange

2 1/2 cups dry rotini or other short pasta
6 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
2 small zucchini (preferably one green and one yellow), halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
2 ears corn, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
2 cups arugula, lightly packed

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to use.

For the beets, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tops and roots of the beets and peel them with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 8 segments, and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula to ensure they're evenly cooked. Remove from oven and toss immediately with balsamic vinegar and orange juice.

For the salad, prepare rotini according to package directions.

If using ears of corn, boil for 1-2 minutes then remove corn from ears. If using frozen corn, boil for 1 minute.

Crumble the goat cheese in a large bowl, and add the hot pasta. Add vinaigrette and combine until the goat cheese has melted. Add zucchini, corn and arugula. Add beets on top, and serve warm or at room temperature

Raspberry, cream and crumbles

Sunday, July 24, 2016
This amazing dessert is my new favourite. It lets the perfection of summer fruit shine, and just dresses it up a little with brown sugar whipping cream and delectable crumbles. It couldn't be easier, either - it literally takes ten or fifteen minutes to make all the components. Even better, the recipe makes extra whipping cream and crumbles so you can enjoy it over several meals. (The whipping cream is stabilized by the addition of creme fraiche or sour cream, so it will keep in the fridge for a few days.)

If you love fruit desserts but don't want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen making them, this recipe will be the best addition to your repertoire this summer!

Raspberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt)
1/4 cup whole wheat or graham flour
1/2 cup plus 2-3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

2 pints or about 4 cups

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place melted butter in a large bowl. Stir in brown sugar and honey. Add baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt, and stir to combine. Add whole wheat flour, stir again, then add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Stir until all flour is incorporated and mixture forms large and small crumbles. If needed, add 2-3 extra Tbsp flour to achieve this.

Spread crumbs on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then stir them around so they bake evenly. Bake another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Let cool in pan on rack. Crumbs will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for at least a week.

Using a clean bowl and whisk, whip cream and brown sugar until it hold soft peaks. Whisk in creme fraiche or sour cream and vanilla. Keep chilled until needed.

Fill a small dish a little over halfway with raspberries, generously dollop on whipped cream and top with a couple tablespoons of graham crumbs.

Classic potato salad

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I don't normally make mayonnaise-based potato salads, but I made an exception for this wonderful variation. The richness of the mayonnaise is cut by creme fraiche, and the combination of coriander, lemon, and cider vinegar give it a delicious piquant flavour. With the generous addition of hard-boiled eggs, the salad represents the best of two picnic favourites. I'm a big fan of cookbook author Susie Middleton, who has never steered me wrong with a recipe, and this classic potato salad is yet another winner.

Make this for the next picnic or potluck dinner you're invited to - and hope it isn't all gone before you fill your plate!

Classic Potato Salad
(from Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4” pieces
kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp ground coriander
Freshly ground black pepper
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and sliced
2 long ribs celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp sliced fresh chives

Put the potatoes and 2 tsp salt in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain carefully in a colander, rinse briefly with cool water, and spread on a clean dishtowel to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, cider vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, ground coriander, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Add the cooled potatoes, eggs, celery, onions, most of the parsley, and most of the chives. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt over all. Gently mix everything together until well combined, breaking the eggs apart as you mix. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining parsley and chives. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

A plum assignment

Sunday, July 3, 2016

"I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold"

- William Carlos Williams, "This is Just To Say"

I'm very grateful that nobody ate the plums that were on the counter, which I was saving to bake with. Especially grateful because I've never baked with plums before, and this recipe made a convert out of me. The jammy filling is delicious and sweet, and makes a perfect foil for the crisp base and topping. Now the only question is this: can I justify saving one of these for breakfast?

Plum Oatmeal Bars
(adapted from Canadian Living)

Makes about 20 bars

3 1/2 cups chopped firm ripe red or black plums (about 5)
3/4 cup sugar (first amount)
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1/3 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (second amount)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed


In saucepan, bring plums, 3/4 cup sugar, orange zest and orange juice to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until plums are tender and beginning to break down, about 12 minutes.

Whisk cornstarch with 2 Tbsp water; stir into plum mixture. Bring to boil, then cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Scrape into bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. (Can make up to 24 hours in advance.)

While plum mixture is chilling, in large bowl whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and salt. Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Firmly press half the oat mixture into bottom of parchment-paper lined 9" x 9" cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 20 minutes. Remove and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Spread plum mixture over crust. Gently press remaining oat mixture into small clumps and sprinkle over plum mixture. Bake at 350 degrees until topping is golden, 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely on board, then chill before cutting. Cut into 20 bars.