Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Backyard Fire Pit Cookout: Carrot Dogs with Slaw + A S'mores Bar for IHA's Inspired Home Blog

We'd NEVER before cooked over a backyard fire pit, so we gave it a shot and ended up making some great food this past Sunday evening! Thanks to the International Housewares Association, we had a few great new tools to make it all go smoothly. The carrot dogs we roasted with our guest turned out awesome; also, it's been on our minds for a while now to put together a make-your-own-s'mores bar, so we finally did it!

Go check out the IHA Inspired Home blog for the full story and see what you can do with some open-flame cooking this Fourth of July weekend! Have a beautiful holiday!

We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We have been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own.

Monday, June 29, 2015

5 Quick Questions for Lindsey Lettvin of Rocky Mountain Cookies

Lindsey Lettvin, our sister / sister-in-law, recently brought her baking company, Rocky Mountain Cookies, to Etsy. Lindsey lives in Boulder, Colorado, and this isn't the first time we've featured her cooking on TCV. Her Paleo Energy Snacks are unbelievable. She makes us all jam thumbprint butter cookies for the holidays and surprised all the dads with sugar cookies this past Father's Day.

She started out as a baker at one of her first jobs during college, and now she's circling back to her love of the craft. Here's more about Linnie and her work below; please contact her via Etsy if you need cookies for an upcoming celebration, an awesome gift, or to chat with her about placing a special order request. We have a lot of respect for her skills in the kitchen and think you're really going to enjoy checking out what she's working on these days. 

Giveaway alert! We've got a way for you to put your name in the hat for your choice of a dozen free Rocky Mountain Cookies! Check the end of this post to see how to enter in the drawing on Friday, 7/3/15.* 

5 Quick Questions for Lindsey Lettvin of Rocky Mountain Cookies

1. The Chubby Vegetarian: You're vegetarian now, right? How did that come to be?

Lindsey Lettvin: Yes! We were Paleo for more than 2 years, and my husband, Moishe, has been wanting to make the veggie switch for a while. We decided, as a family, to become vegetarian three months ago and have not looked back. I don't miss meat one bit. I was vegetarian in high school and vegan for a couple of years then, too, so cooking that way comes naturally to me. 

2. TCV: Let's reminisce about your start at Blue Heron Bakery in Olympia, Washington. How did you start working there, and what was it like?

LL: Blue Heron holds a special place in my heart. And they just expanded and moved locations to a beautiful space, so yay for them! I landed the job because at the time, my roommate knew a woman named May who worked there, and they needed help. They trusted that I would learn the ropes and hired me. It was my first professional bakery job, and it was just a lovely group of eccentric people who shared the joy of baking together. We were like a little family. I was the cookie baker, along with a few others, and my job was to make hundreds of cookies a day, like 8 different varieties. Some of my favorites are the Turbo cookie, which is loaded with eggs and turbinado sugar and about as big as one's head, no kidding! It is heavenly. And we did these awesome Fudge Bars and Date Bars with an oat crumble on top -- they still make them! -- that I had to sample every day. Oh, and Evan makes the best Orange and Chocolate Biscotti I have ever eaten.

3. TCV: So, why cookies? 

LL: Because who doesn't like to indulge in them every now and again?! Seriously, I baked in college and that was one of the most satisfying jobs I have ever had. I'm trying to recreate that now and bake because I am passionate about it, and it is something I would be doing anyway, whether for fun or for a job. I love how cooking and baking zone me out; I get into the flow and am present and just thinking about what I am doing at that moment. It is my peace.

4. TCV: What are some of the must-have ingredients for your cookies?

LL: Of course, butter and sugar. I only use organic eggs and pure vanilla extract. I am working on more recipes, so if I'm using gluten-free flours, I am picky about which ones work well. I have found that I like the Pamela's brand the best for texture and taste. And I recently rolled out a Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, which features organic raisins and organic oats. So, for me, when it doesn't break the bank, I like to use organic.

5. TCV: Will you do custom orders for different occasions or needs, and what about special dietary considerations? 

LL: Yes to custom orders -- since cookies have a shorter shelf life, I am basically doing a custom order every order I get. That is to say, when I get an order, I don't have it sitting and ready to go. So, if you have a certain design idea or color scheme (or want only gluten-free or organic ingredients), I can do it. I am flexible and really just want to give my customers what they want, so tweaking colors, shapes, ingredients is easy for me because I am the only employee, and it is a small business. I also can do nut-free orders, gluten-free, and vegan versions if requested. 

Thanks so much, Amy and Justin, for having me on TCV!

*Leave a comment at the end of the post and tell us your favorite cookie to make or eat. On Friday, 7/3/15, we'll choose one commenter at random to receive your choice of a dozen Rocky Mountain Cookies shipped to you next week, and we'll update this post to reveal who won. (We moderate comments, so don't worry if your comment is not posted right away -- it'll be up very soon!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Part Two of Our Recipe Contest Winners: Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines

We were instantly transported halfway around the globe by the aroma of toasted mustard seeds and the smell of fresh curry leaves. Again, we found ourselves using unfamiliar ingredients that took a little searching to find, but without them, the recipe just wouldn't be the same. As a bonus, we got to expand our kitchen vocabulary thanks to Raihana of Raihana's Cuisines; she's the co-winner of our first-ever recipe contest along with Lys Green and her Chana Masala

Raihana's Curried Corn recipe calls for curry leaves, not a common sight in our kitchen, but we'll be picking them up anytime we see them now. They are the leaves of the curry tree which, confusingly enough, has nothing at all to do with the spice powder mixture. They are extremely fragrant, and any fan of authentic Indian cuisine will pick up on the flavor immediately. "I love curry leaves!" Raihana said when explaining this recipe on her site. "They give food a really amazing taste."

We made this dish for one big Indian feast the other night, and it was so good. Raihana suggests taking her curried corn dish to a potluck. We second that -- especially now since the corn here in the South is already pretty good and sweet this season. One commenter suggested trying it as a dip, so we scooped up some leftovers with our favorite white bean tortilla chips for a little snack the next day and loved it. Think about picking up a few ears at the farmers market in your town this week or grab the non-GMO corn available at Whole Foods and give this amazing recipe a place at your table.

Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
8-9 curry leaves
tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon amchur/amchoor powder (mango powder)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
3 cups corn
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil and add the mustard seeds; once they pop, add the curry leaves and tomato paste. Let the mixture cook until it becomes fragrant and darker in color. Next, go ahead and add the salt, mango powder, lemon pepper, and corn. Mix it well to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the dried parsley flakes for a little color. (Make sure not to cook the corn too much; you want it to be crispy. Lastly, drizzle on the lime juice and add salt and fresh cilantro on top. (Serves 4-6.)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Vegan Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Caprese

Here's a simple side dish for your outdoor grilling plans this weekend. You might've already picked out your main, but you need something else, something special that everyone will like. We have got you covered with this caprese salad with a Mexican twist! The avocados stand in for the typical buffalo mozzarella, and cilantro takes the place of fresh basil.

Now is the time that locally grown tomatoes are starting to appear. We found these beautiful organic heirloom varieties yesterday. All you do is slice them up with some ripe avocadoes, add a few touches, and you are done. Your guests will love it.

Vegan Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Caprese

2 medium tomatoes (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
2 medium avocados (pitted, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
1serrano pepper (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 lime (quartered)

On a serving platter, arrange the salad by alternating the slices of tomato and avocado. Drizzle with the olive oil and then the vinegar. Add sliced serrano, cilantro leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve limes on the side to be squeezed over just before enjoying. (Makes 4 servings.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Part One of Our Recipe Contest Winners: Lys Green's Chana Masala

We had so much fun with our first-ever recipe contest! Many of you entered your creative recipes, and we are so thankful you did. We chose our three finalists because each of the recipes pushed us in a new direction in the kitchen with unfamiliar-to-us techniques and ingredients. It was a close race, but in the end, we had a tie game. Both recipes that won the most votes are authentic Indian recipes, so last Sunday night, we decided to have a feast and make both Lys Green's Channa Masala and Raihana's Cuisine's Curried Corn along with our own homemade Whole Wheat Naan and some cucumber and mint raita. Everything went so well together, and the bright acidity of the corn contrasted nicely with the warm cinnamon and clove in the masala. Seriously, it was one of the best Indian meals we've ever made at home.

Lys Green says she never grew up eating Indian food, but her husband is Indian, so over the years, she learned to cook authentic Indian food. On a trip to India, she fell in love with his aunt's chana masala. After inquiring how the chana masala was made, Lys was able to formulate a recipe that not only meets the authenticity of traditional Chana Masala, but also meets the healthy requirements that she strives for in her own kitchen.
Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list. We went to a well-stocked Indian grocery and had no trouble finding everything we needed. We also learned a lot about what goes into an authentic Indian dish. The amchoor powder is an ingredient that we'd never used before, but will certainly use again. It's dried mango powder that adds sweet and savory notes to the dish as well as a bit of acidity. 

The anrdana powder is another ingredient we'd never worked with, and it offered a nice surprise. It's dried and ground pomegranate seeds that, when tasted on its own, is as sweet as candy. In the dish, however, it acts to balance the warm, earthy flavors with a hint of sweetness. 

You'll want to make the extra effort to gather the ingredients for this recipe. Once you have everything in front of you, it all comes together very quickly. Next up, we'll share Raihana's Curried Corn, so be sure to check back in soon for that.

Lys Green's Chana Masala

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic
1 heaping tablespoon ginger paste
3/4 cup red onion, finely diced (about 1 medium onion)
1 large tomato, pureed [about 1 cup, puree raw tomato in a food processor]
1 1/2 teaspoons kala salt
1 1/2 teaspoons amchoor powder [also known as mango powder]
1 teaspoon anrdana powder*
2 teaspoons channa powder*
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans**
1 1/2 - 2 cups water

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add in the garlic, ginger, and red onion. 
Cook until the onions begin to sweat and are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the tomato puree and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring as not to burn. Add in all spices (kale salt, amchoor powder, anrdana powder*, channa powder*, cumin, cinnamon, & clove). Allow these flavors for develop, cooking on medium-low for another 5 minutes, stirring as needed so the mixture doesn't burn.

Add in the garbanzo beans and allow the beans to cook with the onion-tomato-spice mixture on medium-low for another 3-5 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the ingredients from burning. At this time, add in the water -- it'll be 1 1/2 to 2 cups or until the beans are slightly covered.

After adding water, bring the curry to a boil, continuing the boil for up to 5 minutes. 
Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn't boil over. Afterwards, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and allow the curry to thicken for at least 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Grilled Summer Vegetable Pizza for The Inspired Home

Pizza…you love it, we love it, everyone loves it. We just wish it wasn't so junky most of the time, so in case you feel the same way, here's a great remedy. We packed a grill grate's worth of vegetables into one pizza this past weekend! The crust is made from sprouted whole wheat, and it's really a better choice in terms of both nutrition and taste. We used a cast iron pan and a bit of olive oil to give the crust its unique texture.

We are proud to partner with The International Housewares Association to bring you this great recipe. Check it out all the details on their blog, The Inspired Home, and check back often. We are working on a few tasty recipes for cooking over an open fire in your own backyard.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Logic-Defying Peanut Butter Pie

This dessert defies all expectations! It's made from only whole ingredients, it's vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, low-fat, and yet it's still super delicious. We tested this one out on some guests last Saturday, and it was a hit. The secret is freezing the bananas before blending them, which gives the whole pie a creamy,  airy texture that's really appealing. 

Logic-Defying Peanut Butter Pie

5 ripe bananas (peeled and frozen)
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts (preferably organic)
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 dried dates (pitted)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Peel the bananas and freeze them for at least 3 hours. Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the peanuts and pulse until finely chopped. Into the bottom of a springform pan, spread finely chopped peanuts in an even layer. 

Slice the frozen bananas into chunks. Into the work bowl of the same food processor, place the bananas, peanut butter, dates, cocoa powder, almond milk, and salt. Blend until smooth. Gently pour mixture into the springform pan so as not to disturb the layer of peanuts on the bottom. Smooth mixture with a rubber spatula by pushing the mixture to the edges. Place springform pan in the freezer (about an hour) until ready to serve. For the best consistency, remove pie from freezer 10 minutes before serving so it softens a bit. Slice and serve with your favorite chocolate sauce or our homemade Magic Shell. (Serves 8.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

RESULTS: The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1

It's a tie! With 19 votes each, Lys Green's Chana Masala and Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines will be featured this month on the blog. Can't wait to share these wonderful new dishes with you -- we think they'll be great together! Thanks to all who voted -- we'll get cooking and post the results here soon.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sweet Potato Noodles with Mushroom Bolognese Sauce for IHA's Inspired Home Blog

Have you been considering getting a spiralizer? Go for it! We worked with a couple of these amazing kitchen tools this week and came up with a dish we both loved. Spiralizers are easy to use and do a great job of making the same old vegetables become interesting again. A few spins and then you've got a lighter sub for the usual pasta dish. We think it's likely we'll be spiraling a ton of other stuff this summer!

Check out our post "Spiral Wise: Recipes to Try with Your Spiralizer" for the details of our experience and get a few tips along with a new TCV recipe, Sweet Potato Noodles with Mushroom Bolognese Sauce, on IHA's Inspired Home blog. (You'll find our favorite chilled raw cucumber noodle salad recipe there, too.) Please comment below and share what you already spiral -- or what you want to try to make!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1: Vote Now!

So, we have selected 3 promising recipes! A very grateful thank-you goes out to all the TCV readers who sent in such great choices to us in response to the previous post about our first recipe contest. We'll definitely do this same deal again later on in the summer -- be thinking about your best recipe for the upcoming abundance of summer produce we're all getting ready to enjoy.

Which of the following are you most excited to see on the blog? Vote by commenting about your favorite idea at the end of the post; we moderate comments, so don't worry if your vote does not show up right away -- it will soon. We'll count votes on Sunday, May 31 and then make the winning recipe and share it here! Here are the ones in the running:

Quick & Easy Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines
This recipe caught our eye because it pairs sweet corn with savory curry leaves and mustard seeds.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam by Kimberley
This sugar-free jam looks like a tasty and very seasonal way to start using chia seeds in your own

Chana Masala by Lys Green
A treasured family recipe using chickpeas is where authentic meets healthy.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1

Update, 5/15/15: Thank you for all of your entries. This contest is closed. Stay tuned to vote on our top 3 submissions.

Update, 5/11: You have until this Thursday night, 5/14, to enter your recipe in the comments section below. Voting will begin after that -- and we can't wait for y'all to see the top 3 contenders and vote for your favorite recipe overall so that we can make it and feature it on TCV! 

Some of our favorite recipes came from our family and friends. Sure, we love to be creative in the kitchen, but we also love to sit back and let someone else take the wheel every once in a while.  Michael Hughes's delicious Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller, Kelly English's rich Midnight Snack, and Simon Majumdar's spicy Life-Saving Dahl have all become staples in our own kitchen.

We want to see what you're cooking, and we'd love for you to share your original Chubby Vegetarian-inspired recipe with us. It can be an appetizer, main dish, or dessert, just as long as it is wholly your own concoction. Remember, we like to keep one eye on delicious and the other on healthy. So, get cracking and let your creativity shine!

We will pick the top three recipes submitted, and our readers will vote on which dish will be the champion. We will cook, photograph, and share the winner's recipe here at The Chubby Vegetarian along with a short interview and links to the winner's social media accounts. All you need to do to enter is type up your recipe and paste it into the comments below this post. (We will not publish the comments on the blog in order to keep your secret recipe a secret.) Let us all know that you've entered a recipe by posting a mystery photo of your creation via Instagram or Twitter and tag us using our handle: @chubbyveg.

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest is open to everyone from professional chefs to novice home cooks. Entries must be received by midnight on Thursday, May 14th to be eligible. Thanks for cooking with us!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi Sandwich

This is just a whole bunch of awesome! Each component of this classic Vietnamese sandwich adds plenty of depth and character, so the dish as a whole is complex and amazing. 

One of our secrets here is adding a little cocoa powder to the Shiitake Mushroom Paté. My friend Tuyen, a Vietnamese chef, urged me to try it, and I've made my paté with cocoa ever since. It's strange how savory cocoa powder is without a bunch of sugar mixed with it. Somehow it's super meaty-tasting.

We make this same sandwich with fried eggs or pan-seared tofu in place of the eggplant, so don't feel tied to the idea of eggplant if you aren't a fan. The bright pickles, crunchy cucumber, herbaceous cilantro, savory paté, and rich sriracha mayo will play a brilliant supporting role to anything you want to throw in there.

Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi Sandwich

Do Chua (recipe follows)
Shiitake Mushroom Paté (recipe follows)
Grilled Eggplant (recipe follows)
2 12-inch crispy baguettes
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 cucumber (sliced)
1 serrano or jalapeño (thinly sliced)
2 green onions (sliced)
cilantro leaves (to garnish)
2 medium limes (quartered)
sea salt (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make the Do Choa, Shiitake Mushroom Paté, and Grilled Eggplant according to the recipes. In a 350-degree oven, warm the baguettes so the outside of them is nice and crispy. Split the baguette down one side and leave the other side intact (like a hinge). In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha to make sriracha mayo. Start assembling the sandwiches by spreading the sriracha mayo on the top and the paté on the bottom. Continue by adding eggplant, cucumber, hot pepper slices, sliced green onion, Do Chua, and garnish with cilantro leaves. Add sea salt to taste. 
Cut each sandwich in half and serve with lime wedges. (Makes 4 servings.)

Do Chua (pickled carrots and radish)

1 medium carrot
4 medium radish
1/4 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon honey

Thinly slice carrots and radishes using a mandolin or sharp knife. Place vegetables into a 1/2-pint mason jar. In a small pan over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and honey to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the vegetable in the jar. Place the lid on the jar and place in the fridge until ready to serve. (Makes 1/2 pint.) 

Shiitake Mushroom Paté

1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups sliced shiitake (about 10 ounces, stems and all)
1 large shallot, sliced (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a large frying  pan over high heat, add the olive and sesame oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the shiitake mushrooms and shallots. Allow mushrooms and shallots to pick up plenty of color from the pan before stirring; this gives your paté a deep flavor. Cook mushrooms for a total of 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water and transfer the contents of the pan to your food processor. 

Add the soy sauce, cocoa powder, and cracked black pepper. Blend until very smooth. Place pâté in a bowl and in the fridge until ready to serve. (Makes about 1 cup.)

Grilled Eggplant

1 medium eggplant
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Cracked black pepper (to taste)

Preheat your outdoor grill to high -- or if a grill isn't available, use a cast-iron grill pan. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 1/2 of the eggplant skin in long strips. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds and place onto a rimmed baking sheet. In a small mason jar or bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar and shake it up to emulsify. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with the mixture and add cracked black pepper to taste. 

Grill eggplant slices for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until well-marked by the grill grates. Remove and wrap slices in aluminum foil until ready to serve. (Makes 4 servings.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Egg Foo Yung with Sriracha Gravy

This is a simple recipe that we make all the time at home. It's really versatile in that you can use any mix of vegetables that you have on hand, and it's one of those dishes that you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- it really works great for all three. And boy, it's really fast, and I mean fast. Once you've made it a few times, you can go from thinking you're hungry to eating a home-cooked meal in 10 minutes. That's faster than takeout or delivery. 

We love our ceramic non-stick pans for cooking eggs like this. You should chuck your old non-stick cookware and give this a try. It's slick and nothing sticks to it. 

Egg Foo Yung with Sriracha Gravy

1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch sliced mixed vegetables 

(Use this Spring Vegetable Mix or whatever you like)
4 large eggs
3 green onions
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sriracha Gravy (recipe follows)

Using a food processor, pulse the vegetable mixture several times until it is finely chopped. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them. Add the finely chopped vegetable mixture. Thinly slice green onions and add the white part to the egg mixture; reserve the green tops for garnish. Add the garlic, ginger, 5-spice, salt, and pepper to the egg mixture. 

In a small, 8-inch, non-stick frying pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and wait until it shimmers. Add half of the vegetable and egg mixture (about 1 cup) and allow it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. All the while, shake the pan so that the eggs don't stick. Once the eggs brown and start to set, flip the foo yung and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside and repeat with the remaining oil and egg mixture. Once you've finished both, use the pan to make the gravy.

To serve, slice egg foo yung into quarters and garnish with warm Sriracha Gravy and green onion. (Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as an appetizer.)

Sriracha Gravy

1 tablespoon soy sauce (like Braggs)

1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Place the soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, cornstarch, and water in a mason jar with a lid and shake until cornstarch has dissolved. In a 8-inch frying pan over high heat, cook the mixture until it thickens. This will take about 2 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. (makes about 3/4 of gravy)

Monday, April 6, 2015

TCV Spring Newsletter

A lot has been happening, and we figured it's about time for an update. Even though it's obvious that this risks sounding like (and obnoxiously coming across as) one of those weird family Christmas update letters, we figured, whatever -- we wanted to jump in and share what all's been going on around here since February.

We are so thrilled to be a part of Memphis Health + Fitness this month! Had to keep it quiet for a minute, but now that their Food Issue is out on the stands, we can tell you the news. (We picked up our own copy at Outdoors in Midtown this afternoon, and we got reports it was available all around Germantown over the weekend.) So excited -- it's our first cover story, and it delves into how we got healthy and came to love cooking. It really sums it all up. Thanks to the wonderful folks at the magazine who thought of us for this, and thanks to everyone who pitched in and made it happen! It's definitely a highlight of 2015 so far.

With spring finally here, we've been outside more and cooking some new things we can't wait to put on the blog. We've also been writing away from here and are sharing a byline on blog posts for Memphis Stew, the Memphis magazine food blog (our first few collaborations have been about Valentine's Day stuff, Maui Brick Oven, and Ecco on Overton Park). We worked together on an article about the creative process of chefs for Edible Memphis; it was great to work with these folks and check out their notebooks packed with ideas: Karen Carrier of Beauty Shop, Bar DKDC, and Mollie Fontaine Lounge; Ken Lumpkin of Napa Café; Michael "Dutch" Holland of Porcellino's; and the multi-talented guy whose drawings and dishes graced the cover, Andrew Adams of Acre.

Finally, we'll be appearing at Bookstock, The Memphis Public Library's festival celebrating authors and readers of fine books, and we hope to see you at the Salud Cooking School inside of Whole Foods on Poplar on April 22nd for our vegetarian cooking class. We'll be teaching you how to make the tasty, vegetarian versions of classic Asian dishes that we make in our house all the time. It's a great class to try if you want to get your family happy to eat more vegetables. Call 901-969-4199 or click HERE for more details or to register for the class.

We hope y'all had a beautiful Easter. Bet you're looking forward to the upcoming growing season and much-needed sunshine and warmth as much as we are -- here's to an amazing spring!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What to Cook During a Southern Ice Storm

Like true Memphians, we went to the grocery store for a big shop on Sunday ahead of the ice storm. People who didn't grow up here can laugh all they want at how much we all prepare. Following this tradition has paid off since we're still stuck inside the house for the time being, and for once, we have actually had electricity the whole time. This never happens! (Making do has inspired many desperate recipes in the past.)

Maybe we're still very scarred from the 1994 ice storm in Memphis, when everyone was on standstill without power for up to two weeks. Trees and power lines, making the most unnatural sounds as they fell, toppled due to the weight of ice. It was a pretty trying time; it's a blessing it didn't happen again this round.

So earlier this week at the store, we went through the aisles thinking of possibilities along with stocking up on necessities since cooking sure does pass the time nicely after you've gotten work done, organized all drawers, read everything, and cleaned the house. So y'all in the same situation, stay safe and warm and let us know what you're going to make with your own provisions! Here's what has been going on so far in our kitchen, along with what might happen next:

Amazing Almond Fluor Biscuits (Gluten Free)

Cajun Boiled Peanuts in the Slow Cooker

Squash and Sage Lasagna / Summer Herb Lasagna

Peanut Butter + Banana Smoothie

Vegetarian Pot Pie

Meaty Portobello Chili

Triple Tomato Soup

Banana Pudding

Apple-Ginger Crisp

& of course, since we pretty much make them every week or so, Katie's Black Bean Brownies

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015

Happy (belated) Valentine's! We worked on this article together last week and were really looking forward to one of our favorite days of the year. Making sushi as tradition calls for, going all around Mississippi (two highlights: here and, of course/always, here), and finding lots of records made for a great weekend. Hope you had a beautiful time with the one you love!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grilled Cauliflower with Fresno Chili & Chimmichurri

I was lucky enough to be in the kitchen on assignment for The Local Palate when this recipe was being conceptualized and created by Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and The Second Line. You see, as a food photographer who also happens to be a vegetarian, I don't get to eat much of what I shoot. I pick and taste when I can, but for Chef English's article about eating only vegetables for a month, I got to pig out!

Not only did he make this smoky, grilled cauliflower, but also charred okra with yogurt, and quinoa tartare with chanterelles. I was in vegetarian-food-photographer heaven. These dishes have made it into the rotation at our house, but the bright chimmichurri  in the following recipe gets spooned onto everything: salads, grilled avocados, and roasted winter squash. 

You can find the balance of these recipes in The Local Palate's recipe archive, which even sports a vegetarian and vegan button in order to sort out recipes you might want to try for Meatless Monday or whenever you're feeling like you need something green on your plate. 

Grilled Cauliflower with Fresno Chili & Chimmichurri

¼ cup thinly sliced cilantro leaves
¼ cup thinly sliced parsley leaves
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
Juice of one lime
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
½ cup + 4 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 head cauliflower, cut into four slices
2 Fresno chilies, roasted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chili paste
Salt and black pepper 

To make chimmichurri, in a mixing bowl, mix together cilantro, parsley, green onion, lime juice, vinegar, ½ cup olive oil, and cumin. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Heat your outdoor grill or cast-iron grill pan to high. Coat cauliflower with remaining 4 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until tender (about 4 minutes per side).

To serve, arrange cauliflower on a serving platter. Sprinkle with Fresno slices and top with the chimmichurri. Serve with chili paste on the side. (Serves 2.)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Mushroom-Stuffed Mushrooms + Other Vegetarian Superbowl Recipes

Oh, Well, at least we find the food part fun. This Sunday's "big game" is a great opportunity to try out some new things. Try swapping some meat-heavy dishes for vegetable-focused ones to lighten up your spread and give your guests some different options. 

We love to serve Better Jalapeño Poppers, Smoked Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Pecans, Hoppin' John Bean Butter, Super-Easy Vegetarian Mexican PizzaBBQ Eggplant Sliders with Caesar Cole Slaw, or our new Mushroom-Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe follows) and Charred Carrot Hot Dogs from our recent Memphis Flyer article, "Dog Bowl: Vegging out at the Super Bowl."

Mushroom-Stuffed Mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
8 ounces portobello or other mushrooms (finely chopped)
1 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (1 medium)
1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon soy sauce (like Bragg’s)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon spicy mustard (like Zatarain’s)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats 
12 to 15 large crimini or button mushroom caps
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or vegan shreds)
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Use your food processor to make short work of all of the chopping.  Just roughly chop shallot, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and carrots, and process them in batches by pulsing the blade until finely chopped. 

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large 12-inch frying pan over high heat. Add the chopped shallot, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and carrot to the pan. Stir consistently and sauté until all of the liquid has released and then evaporated; this should take about 5 minutes. Add the sage, red pepper flakes, clove, nutmeg, soy sauce, and maple syrup to the pan. Stir to incorporate and remove from heat. Add the uncooked quick-cooking oats and stir the mixture until everything is well incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the moisture to distribute.

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Pull the stem out of each mushroom cap and save for another use. Place mushrooms gill-side-up in a large casserole dish. Drizzle the caps with the remaining olive oil, and season caps with a little salt and pepper. Using your hands mound as much filling into each cap as you can. Gently press it in so that it fills all of the air pockets. Repeat until all filling is used. 

Cover casserole dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top each with cheddar and bake another 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with sliced green onions and serve. These can be served warm or at room temperature.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Cornbread Waffles

Gluten-free is trending now just about everywhere you look, and now Memphis even has two new gluten-free restaurants, Bounty on Broad and Maui Brick Oven. We've been experimenting with gluten-free cooking for a while since one of us was advised to steer clear of gluten to fight a stubborn inflammation. It wasn't a big jump for us, but some of our old standbys had small amounts of flour for different reasons. We've taken a look at a few and have come up with gluten-free versions that are, in many ways, better than the originals. (I'm thinking of you, Amazing Almond-Flour Biscuits!)

Here, we've remade our classic cornbread by switching the flour component for more organic, non-GMO cornmeal (available at Whole Foods). Give these a try, and check out how giving up gluten doesn't mean giving up flavor.

Gluten-Free Cornbread Waffles

Special Equipment: Waffle Maker

2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup smoked cheddar
1/8 cup minced jalapeño (1 large, optional)
1/4 cup unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat your waffle maker. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, cheddar, and jalapeño. In a medium bowl, melt 1/4 cup of the butter. Add the honey, eggs, and buttermilk to the melted butter and whisk. 

Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just incorporated.  Using a silicone brush, grease the waffle iron with the remaining butter. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into each of the waffle molds. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden.  Serve hot with greens and black-eyed peas. Makes 4-5 waffles. (Serves 4-6.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hickory Smoked Onions

There are things we think y'all are likely do, so we share them, and then there are the things that maybe no one but us would be crazy enough to try. So, do you have access to a smoker? If you do, you can coax all the flavor you crave out of it. I mean, so many soups, beans, and the like get most of their flavor from smoked ham or bacon. Most of that flavor comes from the smoke. Our solution is to hickory-smoke onions and add them to greens, black-eyed peas, chili, soups, broths, sandwiches -- anything, really. The result is a robust, deep, flavor that you don't usually find in plant-based dishes. It's a simple solution with a ton of mileage. Try the method details in the recipe below or use our Quick Smoking Method that we detail in our book, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013).

Once you have your onions smoked, just use them in place of your regular old onions in any recipe and wait for the compliments to roll in. (You deserve all the credit!)

Hickory Smoked Onions

Special equipment: electric smoker (like a Smokin' It #2)

4 medium sweet onions (like Spanish or viadallia)
2 cups hickory chunks

Load the smoke box with hickory chunks and set the smoker to 200 degrees. Peel the onions and cut off the root and top. Place on a foil-lined rack and into the smoker. Allow the onions to smoke for 20 minutes. Remove the onions from the smoker and place them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. They will keep for 1 week. Dice and freeze unused portion for a longer shelf-life.