I had a great experience at the Smithsonian Resident Associate’s program Food Writing Class with Monica Bhide. I first came across Monica and her talents as a writer and chef at Svelt Gourmand (and made a little post about it) back during the May Blogathon.
Monica’s class was part honing our food writing skills and part creatively marketing our work to viable sources. The day ended with a fantastic panel discussion with DC area food writers and publicists that has sparked a few writing ambitions in my little heart.
Monica also spent a little time on the subject of recipe development, which inspired me to take my own recipe creations a little more seriously. A few tips I learned from Monica on recipe development:
Eat and drink a lot of different things and be curious! Develop your palate by cooking and eating many different things.
There’s really no such thing as an original recipe. For a recipe to be yours, you must have at least 4 ingredients different from other similar recipes, and use a different method of preparing or combining them.
If your recipe is adapted from someone else’s, say so – there is nothing wrong with working from a proven recipe and adding your own touches.
If you tasted a recipe and then figured out how make something very close to it, use the term “inspired by” and credit the place where you tasted it.
Get bored with the “same old”, and be willing to try almost anything! (more…)
There is nothing better than eating the fresh produce of high summer as simply and deliciously as possible. Having just got home from our 10-day honeymoon trip and having only a fresh veggie delivery and what staples were in my house, I threw together this delicious summer vegetable salad – try my recipe, or get creative and make your own!
What I had from my veggie delivery bag:
fresh green beans
What I had in my fridge/pantry:
a teeny bit of rotini pasta
salt & pepper
What the Monkey had growing on the balcony:
A few reject tomatoes with splits and/or blossom end rot, but at least half red and promising
A generous handful of Sungold and yellow pear grape tomatoes
Red sweet peppers
What I did with it all:
Lightly steamed/sauteed the green beans (snapped them into bite-sized pieces) in water, olive oil and salt; chopped all the tomatoes and one sweet pepper; boiled the rotini; julienned the basil. I cooled the beans and pasta and added it to a bowl fill of the chopped tomatoes, pepper, and basil. Salted and peppered to taste, and topped with generous grated Parmesan cheese. Simply delicious. It’s my side to easy baked tilapia filets.
Last week at the Mt. Pleasant Farmer’s Market I bought something new and tantalizing: merguez sausage. I’d never heard of it so I asked the vendor at the Groft’s Content Farm booth what it was.
He said, “It’s a spicy lamb sausage, reminds me of chorizo.” Sounded good to me!
I’ve since done a little reading and learned that merguez is a North African sausage made of lamb and sometimes a lamb/beef combination. Typical seasonings include sumac, cayenne, paprika and harissa. I also found a host of recipes to try that sound fantastic, from merguez with collards and couscous to merguez baguette sandwiches. I made merguez sausage with eggs and refried back beans one morning, and another morning I made black bean and merguez tacos on soft corn tortillas with salsa and tangy chopped purslane. I also want to try it broiled and sliced thin as a substitute for pepperoni on homemade pizza.
Check your local markets for this delicious sausage. I’ll add better photos and recipes to the recipe section as I make more scrumptious dishes.
Meatless Monday: Black eyed peas, brown rice, roasted potatoes and kale - I'm getting good at this!
I can’t praise more highly the humble bean. Jack knew what was what when he traded the family cow for magic beans.
My birthday is in January, and Zach took me on a surprise trip to a cabin in West Virginia. Hot tub, screened porch, gas fireplace, soft bed. Need I say more? We got snowed in. Best. Birthday. Ever. On our way to the cabin, we stopped at a grocery store nearby for foodstuffs (I forgot to mention the kitchen). In addition to breakfast items and popcorn, we bought steaks and as an easy side, a can of black eyed peas. Later, when snow had locked us into our winter retreat, I cooked that can of beans to accompany the steaks and they tasted so heavenly. (more…)
Everyone’s posting about blueberries – a sure sign of seasonal eating! Fresh summer blueberries from local sources are unbeatable, and so good for you. I’ve been getting a pint each week in my veggie deliveries. This weekend, my second-cousin and her husband and kids were visiting DC from New Orleans, and they joined us for a rainy morning brunch. I made wonderful sausages from the farmers market (fresh, natural pork has such a great flavor!) and pancakes from scratch with homemade blueberry syrup. I posted the syrup recipe in my recipe section (along with the easy pancakes) but then I noticed a slightly better suggestion at My Morning Chocolate – she includes a link to a similar recipe that adds a bit of lemon zest and vanilla to the syrup, which I think is a great idea. (I use a dash of cardamom instead of the cinnamon suggested in the MMC-linked recipe. Spice is the variety of life.)
So make use of those blueberries in all the creative ways you can. My pancake syrup was reprised this morning as oatmeal topping, and this evening I intend to eat more over some vanilla bean ice cream!
I mentioned that I’d saved up fresh veggie scraps as part of my food expenses exercise. About three weeks worth provided me with bits and ends and scraps of zucchini, bell peppers, cilantro stems, a few mushrooms, turnips that went soft before I ate them, spring onion ends and stems and a soft apple. (I stored them in in a tupperware in the freezer so they’d stay fresh.) With those ingredients, plus a little fresh garlic, salt and pepper and the recipe below, I made two quarts of delicious Scrap Veggie Stock. I used some in my black bean soup last night with excellent results. Overall, it took about 5 minutes of prep for cooking, and an hour of tending while it boiled. Once cooled, another five minutes to put it into jars. It’s now in the fridge ready for soups, sautees, rice, etc for the next couple of weeks. (more…)
When the Monkey and I visited friends in Manhattan last weekend, one (of many) highlights was a great taco restaurant in the East Village. We had these amazing grilled spring onions called Cebollitas. The monkey tracked down the recipe, just in time for the abundant spring onions at the farmers markets all around us. I bought a ton of spring onions this morning so we can make more of this very easy and oh-so-tasty spring side dish.
Tasty bunches of spring onions just waiting to be grilled!
Wash several bunches of fresh spring onions and peel off the outermost layer, slice the root end off, and cut the greens about 4 inches above the bulb. If there’s another 4 inches of nice thick green stem, cut that, and discard the tapered tips.
Put all the onions into a bowl and drizzle with olive or grapeseed oil (grapeseed oil tolerates higher temps). Sprinkle with just a bit of kosher or sea salt, and splash a little liquid smoke over the onions to make up for the fact that these onions are not really getting grilled.
Heat a non-stick skillet – a grill pan if you have one – to medium-high heat, and toss in the onions first (add any green stems you kept a few minutes later so as not to overcook them). Let the onions cook till they become tender, and let them brown here and there (so don’t overstir them – you want just a little char in a few places). When the onions are tender and the stems are wilted, squeeze fresh lime juice over them (as much or little as you want – I used one whole lime). Serve hot.
We had these with hamburgers – so I heated the oven to about 250 while I cooked the onions, and when they were done I put them in the oven to stay hot, and I cooked the hamburgers in the same grill pan so they could soak up the smokey onion goodness. Yum!
In New Orleans, red beans and rice is a Monday dish.
Monday used to be washing day, and red beans could simmer (with a little leftover meat from Sunday’s ham) all day, while mamas attended to the laundry. I’m sure those mamas didn’t love washing day, but to be honest, I’d LOVE a Monday with nothing to do but the laundry and simmering some red beans. Lacking the opportunity to spend the day in domestic pursuits, though, I make do by quick boiling the beans in the morning while I’m making our lunches, then leaving the beans to soak all day while I’m at work. Once home, I can bring them back to a simmer and add the goodies that make Creole red beans such a savory dish.
I wish I could find red beans like this!
My Red Beans & Rice
2 lb bags of red beans (small red beans or red kidney beans, and in a pinch, pintos are fine)
Rinse the beans and use the quick boil method described on the bag – soak – once you’re ready to cook them, bring them to a simmer and add:
Salt – I never know how much
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 of a yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
A few splashes of pepper sauce*
After an hour, add the optional meat that will sorta blow your meat-free Monday, but not by too much. It’s not like you’re eating a hamburger. We use Andouille sausage, but I gotta tell you, you’re only making my recipe if you’re lucky enough to have Andouille from Jacob’s in La Place, LA, just outside New Orleans. If you don’t have this Andouille, I’m sorry. Go ahead and make red beans but know they’re not the thing I’m talking about here. (more…)
Maybe you’ve heard: The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide.
Or maybe you’ve heard this: Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Seems simple enough to me! Today I’ll post a sample meat-free menu for the typical meat-eater (I recognize many people already eat meat free most of the time and this won’t seem like a big deal, but for others of us, it’s a transition, and I hope to show how easy it can be).
Dinner at my place tonight will be: sauteed portabella mushrooms with onion, a kale & cannellini bean ragout, corn on the cob and fresh asparagus. My choices are dictated partly by what needs to be eaten in my fridge (the kale and the mushrooms) and partly by what will make a substantial meal (the kale ragout is dense and flavorful, and portabella mushrooms are dense and meaty in texture). Adding a couple more veggies ensures our tummies are full and our senses are sated. The corn will be roasted, and the asparagus sauteed with butter. I often cook with chicken stock, but for meat-free Monday, I use vegetable stock instead – it’s very flavorful and does the trick just fine.
As part of the Blogathon for the month of May, all participants are blogging today about their own favorite blogs. Since I’ve made two recent posts on favorite food advocacy blogs, and favorites among the Blogathon participants, I’ll post just a few of my go-to links for recipes when I need inspiration or help with a new dish, especially when looking for meat-free recipes.
Start with Meatless Monday. In addition to lots of recipes, their “About” section has enough facts to convince you that meat on Monday is a terrible idea and meat-free on Monday is brilliant-why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before-gotta-tell-my-friends!
Next up, not for recipes but for a weekly reminder about why meatless makes so much sense, Macca’s Meatless Monday on Daily Kos.
I’ve mentioned 101 Cookbooks before – Heidi is a photographer and cook whose blog will absolutely make you drool. You won’t even care that her dishes have no meat because they look and sound so delicious. She’s veggie enough that meatie’s probably won’t have all her usual ingredients on hand, but it’s worth getting a few of those weird grains just to try out her stuff.
Of course, Epicurious is a great go-to for recipes – just enter whatever vegetable you’ve got from the farmer’s market and you’ll find a host of delicious recipes for it. It’s always easy enough to enter your vegetable in a google search and see what comes up – you’ll stumble on some fun blogs this way!
And one more for fun – Market to Mouth has a meatless Monday category with oodles of tempting dishes.
One of my goals for this blog has been to enliven my photo work by combining it with other loves. My kitchen has become my favorite studio. Much like the artistic process of building a bento box has enriched preparation and eating of my lunches, preparing a recipe with the photographic journey in mind enriches my experience of both processes. I hope you check the recipes section of the site. I just added a photo essay recipe for Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup, and here is the first photo, to whet your visual tastebuds.
My abundance of winter vegetables, especially photogenic parsnips.