Creamy Potato & Bacon Soup

Creamy Potato & Bacon Soup

Uncomplicated and quick to come together, this recip takes the stress out of deciding what's for dinner, as long as you've got a few basics kicking around your fridge.   You can definitely make this with water, but chicken stock will add in some extra body and nutrients.   Make sure you cook it enough so that some of the potatoes begin to fall apart---this is what give it some creaminess!  We avoid blending potato soup as this foolproof recipe ensures you don't end up with a gluey mess.  The bacon is just one of the many garnishes you can add to this--top with dill, green onion, diced jalapeno peppers, sour cream or cheese!

6 slices (thick) bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
2 tbsp. butter 
1 small onion, finely diced 
1 celery rib, finely diced 
1 large bay leaf (fresh if you can find it!) 
2lb. yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and diced (6-8 cups total diced potatoes) 
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
8 cups water or chicken stock 
salt and pepper, as needed
1 cups milk or cream 

  1. Preheat your favourite soup pot over medium heat.   Fry bacon in butter until just crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving all of the delicious fat behind.  
  2. Stir onions into fat, seasoning lightly with salt.  Sweat until soft but not brown.  Stir in celery and sweat just the same.  
  3. Stir in bay leaf, potatoes, thyme sprigs (those little leaves will fall off, and you can remove the stems later) and enough stock or water just to cover.   
  4. Bring up just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are nice and soft.  At this point, use a wooden spoon to 'mash' a few of the potatoes up against the side of the pot to give the soup some cohesiveness. 
  5. Turn off the heat and slowly stir in milk or cream. 
  6. Taste for seasoning, adding a few grinds of black pepper if you like, and serve garnished with the bacon and any other garnishes you like!  



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Classic Broccoli Salad (updated)

Classic Broccoli Salad (updated) 

Shopping at the market when heads of fresh, local broccoli are under $3 you're tempted to stock up, but there's only so much steamed broccoli you can eat.  Insert the classic broccoli salad.  There's a reason everyone has had it once in their life, it's delicious!   We've updated it just slightly to replace the raisins (you're welcome raisin haters) with a local Honeycrisp Apple.   We've also made the dressing with a little sour cream to tang it up and lighten it up.   Also, do not omit rinsing the onions under cold, running water.  It's a game changer!  With practice, you can whip this together in the time it takes to fry the bacon!

6 strips bacon 
1 head really fresh broccoli
1/2 large honeycrisp apple, diced 
1/3 cup salted & roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup grated old white cheddar cheese 
1/2 small red onion, finely diced

3-4 tbsp. white vinegar (taste and decide) 
2 tsp. sugar 
2/3 cup mayonnaise (full fat) 
1/3 cup sour cream (full fat) 
Salt & Pepper 

  1. Dice and fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. 
  2. Meanwhile, cut broccoli into small florets and place in a large mixing bowl with apple, sunflower seeds & cheese. 
  3. Place diced red onion in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold, running water for 10-20 seconds.   Add to the bowl along with the now crisp bacon (add in some of that delicious bacon fat!). 
  4. In a small bowl whisk together vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Whisk in mayonnaise, sour cream and a good amount of salt & pepper.  
  5. Toss dressing with broccoli etc. 
  6. Allow it all to come together in the refrigerator (the vinegar is there to soften the texture of the broccoli) for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Leftovers keep well for a couple of days.   

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Bacon & Wild Mushroom Crostini

Bacon & Wild Mushroom Crostini 
Serves 4

Want to get your kids to eat mushrooms?   Or anyone for that matter?  This is the recipe to use!   The revolutionary cooking method uses WATER for the most crispy and caramelized of mushrooms.   If you thought garlic mushrooms involved frying garlic in butter and adding in mushrooms, think again.  This method reverses those flavours to get the most out of the mushrooms first, then shines them up at the end with butter, garlic, shallots & herbs.   And of course we prime the pan at the beginning with some bacon!  

This pan of bacon-y goodness can be served on crostini (which we lightly toast in bacon fat) or is perfect tossed with pasta and a bit of cream, or on top of a steak.  One of our kids just likes to eat a bowlful of this mixture.   

This is your opportunity to try different types of mushrooms, available at specialty stores or your local farmer's market.  Oyster mushrooms come in clumps that you simple tear into manageable sized pieces.  Shiitake mushrooms add a lot of texture with their natural density.  If you can get your hands on lions mane mushrooms, they are a real treat (and check out all the health benefits!)   And of course your portabella (do not skip the technique below!) and cremini are readily available and necessary to carry all the flavours.   

3 slices bacon
1 1/2 lbs mixed wild mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1 large shallot
1 sprig rosemary
3-4 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp. Butter
8-10 baguette slices
2 tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Chop bacon and add to pan to render.
  3. Once crisp, remove to a bowl.
  4. Slice bread and add to bacon fat in pan to toast, adding a little butter/oil if necessary. Remove and set on a platter.
  5. Slice mushrooms.
  6. Add a little oil to the pan, followed by mushrooms. Sizzle on high heat, then add a good splash of water, about 1/4 cup.   Cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes.  You will hear your pan change sound as the water evaporates.   Lower heat once this happens and cook a further 1-2 minutes to ensure all water is evaporated and mushrooms are getting crispy.   
  7. Slice garlic & shallot, chop rosemary & thyme.  
  8. When mushrooms are crisp, stir in butter, garlic, shallot, rosemary, thyme & bacon. Cook for about 2 minutes then top on bread.
  9. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

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Buttermilk Chive Dressing

Buttermilk Chive Dressing
Makes about 2 cups

Always in our fridge, this quick, easy & versatile dressing is light & creamy dressing, but without any preservatives, thickeners, gums, or things you don't necessary need or want when dressing fresh, local produce.   

Be sure to source out high-fat, good quality buttermilk.   Harmony Organic brand is our go-to, but if you can't find a higher fat buttermilk, here's a couple of options:  replace 1/2 cup of the buttermilk with sour cream, OR increase the amount of mayonnaise to 4 tablespoons.   

Fresh garden chives were an easy grab for this, but dill, parsley or even a bit of spring onion would work well.   The key is fresh lemon juice and a really good amount of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.   

This dressing is ideal on buttery lettuces or spinach, but add in some blue cheese or cheddar cheese and dress that broccoli-bacon salad, or a wedge salad with steak!   

1 clove of garlic, cut in half for easy blending
Juice of 1 lemon 
1 tsp. good quality sea salt
5-6 turns of freshly ground black pepper 
1 tsp. Dijon mustard 
2 tbsp. mayonnaise 
a good handful of snipped chives 
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk 

  1. Place garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, Dijon, mayonnaise and chives in your blender.   Blend until smooth, 30-45 seconds.  Add just a little of the buttermilk if you need to accomplish this. 
  2. Just stir in buttermilk (or blend for 2 seconds).  
  3. Pour into a jar and enjoy! 
  4. Will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator. 

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Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara
A reminder when life gets busy, whip up this dinner with ingredients you most likely have on hand!  
Serves 2, can be doubled

250g pasta (spaghettini)
1⁄4 lb/6 slices bacon
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
plenty of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup grated cheese (parmesan or romano) plus more for serving

  1. Fill a large pot with water and put it on to boil
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add bacon, butter & olive oil
  3. Fry over medium-low heat until fat is rendered but not overly crisp.
  4. In a medium sized bowl add eggs and scramble well  with salt and plenty of black pepper.  Whisk in 1⁄2 the  cheese.
  5. When water comes to a boil add about 3 tbsp. salt  and cook pasta until al dente, about 7 minutes.
  6. Work quickly to finish the dish: remove cooked pasta  from water with tongs directly into hot pan with bacon and butter. Toss well and then add pasta and bacon into the eggs. Toss well, adding about 1⁄2 cup pasta cooking water.
  7. Serve immediately topped with more cheese and freshly ground black pepper

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