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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Preparing a Holiday Meal in the Great Outdoors

You never know what the weather will be like on Christmas in the South. One year we’ll be huddled up inside around our family dining table and hoping the temps rise above freezing, and then the next year, the nephews and nieces will be running barefoot around the backyard while the grown-ups soak up the sun on the patio. On the years when it’s nice out -- and please let’s all keep our fingers crossed for 2014! -- it’s a crying shame to be stuck inside cooking the same old thing. So we’ve created a lightened-up and super-easy feast that can be prepared outdoors on the grill and in the smoker. 

For the main dish, Roast Beast, we took inspiration from the infamous turducken. What in the world would be a vegetable version of that be? we pondered. What we came up with was a giant and flavorful stack of meaty vegetables with a presentation that steals the show. 

We start the meal with one of the biggest hits from our cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013): smoked dates that are stuffed with goat cheese and pecans. Alongside the main dish, we’re serving roasted Brussels sprouts and apples that are a cinch to prepare, a riff on a family recipe for oyster dressing, and a wonderful sweet potato almondine inspired by Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris and Second Line in Memphis. 

Arguably, the best part about fall is the fruit, and we celebrate it two times over by poaching fresh pears in Beaujolais and topping that with honey-lemon ricotta and crunchy spiced pumpkin seed granola. 

Whether you have a few vegetarians on the guest list or you just want new and interesting ways to prepare fall’s bounty, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here. Here’s hoping you get to wear flip-flops and man the grill like we plan to do this holiday!

Monday, December 1, 2014

MasterChef Junior's Logan Guleff Shares His New Vegetarian Dish: Roasted Beets with Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese, and Spiced Honey Gastrique

Logan is setting 'em up and knocking 'em down on Fox's MasterChef Junior. This Tuesday night, he'll attempt to fight his way into the top 4. We'll certainly be watching, and all of Memphis will be cheering him on as well! 

We asked Logan to share a favorite vegetarian recipe with us, and he came up with this amazing beet dish. The secret is in the Spiced Honey Gastrique. It adds a punch of flavor and a little kick of heat that's really unexpected. Also, Logan used honey in his gastrique in place of sugar. You know we love that!

This dish is so good that we served a version of it on our own Thanksgiving table. Everyone loved it, including my dad, who said it was his favorite thing on the table. So, great job, Logan! Thanks for sharing this recipe, and know that we love how well you're representing M-town on the show.

Roasted Beets with Brussels Sprouts, Goat Cheese, and Spiced Honey Gastrique

2 medium beets
2 large Brussels sprouts
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
3 cardinum pods (broken open)
1 small dried jalapeño pepper (use fresh if dried is unavailable)
1 small piece star anise
2 ounces soft goat cheese (crumbled)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place beets in a small casserole dish, cover with foil, and place into the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Allow beets to cool. Rub the skins off with a paper towel. Slice into 1/4- to 1/8th-inch slices on a mandolin.

Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Pull the Brussels sprouts apart by trimming the stem end with a paring knife and separating the leaves. With a bowl of ice water nearby, blanch the Brussels sprout leaves for 10 seconds, remove them from the boiling water using a spider, and shock them in the ice water so that they stay crisp.

In a small saucepan, heat honey until it just starts to boil, add in the vinegar, and bring it back up to a low boil.  As the mixture reduces, add in spices. Cook until it is a bit of thick sauce. Remove from heat and let stand for spices to meld for 10 minutes. Strain the spices and set the Spiced Honey Gastrique aside until you're ready to plate.

Shingle the beet slices on a plate, top with Brussels sprout leaves, goat cheese, Spiced Honey Gastrique, and add salt and pepper to taste. (Serves 4 as a first course.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rustic Blueberry-Lemon Tart from The Southern Pantry Cookbook

Do you hate to have to  run to the store every time you try to cook? It's easy to get lost or bogged down in substitutions when trying to pull off a complicated recipe when you just want to fix a great dinner without it taking up the while night. 

Now imagine the soul of your favorite family recipes updated and curated by an accomplished chef who understands how to help you put an amazing meal on the table in a flash -- that's the beauty of The Southern Pantry Cookbook (Thomas Nelson, 2014) by our  friend Jennifer Chandler. She makes crafting stylish Southern family meals simple, satisfying, and always delicious. Plus, her book is a beauty to behold -- it sports full-color photographs shot by me, The Chubby Vegetarian's Justin Fox Burks!

When we first got our hands on this book, we opened up the cabinets to see what matched up. There were so many possibilities, but this great dessert stood out to us because we have some beautiful Mississippi blueberries stowed away in the freezer. It's like summer all over again. 

The following is an excerpt from The Southern Pantry

Here’s an easy dessert you can make with this favorite summer berry.  Don’t fuss over the perfect crust. Instead whip up a rustic version that is meant to look a little rough around the edges. My family likes it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Rustic Blueberry-Lemon Tart

1 unbaked pie crust (9-inch), homemade or store-bought
2 1/2 cups blueberries, thawed if using frozen
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Roll the dough into a 10-inch round about 1/8-inch thick.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the blueberries, lemon juice and zest, 1/2 cup of the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Toss to coat. Fill the center of the pie crust with the blueberry mixture, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border up and over the blueberries, overlapping every 2 to 3 inches, to make a rim. Brush the rim with the egg wash and evenly sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over the rim.

Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the blueberries are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
(Serves 8.)

Variation: Depending on what’s in season or what’s in your freezer, you can substitute apples, pears, and even peaches for the blueberries.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Young Coconut Ceviche

After seeing our Young Coconut Crudo recipe, a reader offered a great suggestion: young coconut meat might be good in a ceviche. We couldn't agree more, so we had to give it a shot. I'm so happy we did! As cold weather sets in here in Memphis, this dish brings back memories of warm summer days and transports us back to a time when we were wearing shorts instead of winter coats and hideous but warm hats.

This is a great dish any time of year, and it's so easy you won't believe it. The rich coconut meat, crunchy veggies, and bright acidity from the lime juice makes for one tasty dish.

You don't even have to turn on the oven. Just crack open a coconut, chop few things, and you're done. Dinner in a flash made from real food.

Young Coconut Ceviche

1 fresh young coconut
Juice of 2 medium limes
1/2 cup diced roma tomato
1/2 cup seeded and diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 serrano pepper (seeded and finely diced)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
dash hot sauce (like Valentino)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
chips (or 4 crispy tostadas)
Mayonaise (optional)
Sliced radish and sliced avocado to garnish

Watch this video I made on how to crack into a young coconut. Pour the coconut water off and reserve for another use (i.e. drink it). Using a large spoon, gently scrape the coconut meat out of the coconut. Make sure to scrape off any bits of shell that may be attached to the coconut. Cut coconut meat into small chunks and place in a container with the lime juice. Allow coconut to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes in order for the coconut to marinate.

In a medium bowl, toss together the coconut and lime juice mixture, tomato, cucumber, onion, serrano pepper, cilantro, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve like a dip with chips for an appetizer or on crispy tostadas slathered in mayo, topped with ceviche, and garnished with radish and avocado for a great meal. (Serves 6 as a dip or 2 to 3 as a main dish.)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Curried Acorn Squash Salad with Apples

My passion for helping the kids of St. Jude comes from my family. It's because I never knew my cousin Will; he was born with brain cancer before I was ever on this earth. The only place that gave my aunt and uncle any hope for treatment was St. Jude. Will was a patient there when the childhood cancer survivor rates were lower than they are today. St. Jude  Children's Research Hospital has taken that survival rate from around 4% in 1962 to around 94% in 2014. That is so amazing!

Will's story inspired my mom to get involved with St. Jude, and she inspired me. I've run the St. Jude Marathon five times in her memory, and my team has raised thousands of dollars that goes directly to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital here in Memphis. 

I did plenty of running around last week when I had the pleasure of cooking for 400 guests at the St. Jude Garden Harvest alongside some of my favorite people in the Memphis culinary world: Miles McMath, Rick Farmer, Earnest Dickson, Michael Vetro, Michael Hughes, Craig and Elizabeth Blondis, Felicia Willett, Elizabeth Heiskell, Josh Belechia, and Robert Rushton. It was such an honor to be asked to participate and to work alongside these fine folks. We all had a great time, and we raised a whole lot of money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital so that they can continue doing great work. 

The menu was amazing as you can imagine. I contributed some a BBQ eggplant dish for an appetizer and also did the salad course. I dreamt up this salad from the list of ingredients that we could source locally. Think of it as a deconstructed curry dish that's just right for this time of year. 

Curried Acorn Squash Salad with Apples

2 medium acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon curry powder (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Simple Raita (recipe follows)
Herbed Dressing (recipe follows)
1 apple (like a Honey Crisp or Pink Lady)
2 cups arugula or other salad greens
1 shallot (thinly sliced)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the stem end off of each acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. You won't need these, so discard or compost them. Slice both acorn squash in half and then into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch slices. In a large bowl, toss slices with the olive oil and then the curry powder, salt, and pepper. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, arrange the squash in a single layer and roast for 20 minutes or until the edges start to caramelize. Remove and allow squash to cool.

Make the Simple Raita and Herbed Dressing according to the recipe before you are ready to serve. Cut the apple into matchsticks and set aside. Place a layer of roasted squash on a large serving platter and top it with the Simple Raita. Add the arugula, shallots, and apples before drizzling the dish with Herbed Dressing. (Serves 6 to 8.)

Curry Powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
The seeds from 4 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon clove
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon hot chili powder (or to taste)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and then run them through the spice grinder for a few seconds to break down the cardamom seeds. This mix will keep for up to a year in a sealed container.

Simple Raita

1/2 cup finely diced English cucumber
Kosher salt (to taste)
Juice of 1/2 lime
3/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt

In a medium bowl, mix the cucumber, salt, lime, and yogurt. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Herbed Dressing

1 cup mixed fresh herbs (like basil, mint, parsley, cilantro)
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Using an immersion blender or your food processor, blend the herbs, oil, lime juice, and garlic until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Five Quick Questions with Logan Guleff of MasterChef Junior

He cooks beets and Brussels sprouts, talks about the unique layering of smoke flavors, and his cooking has taken him all the way to the White House to meet the President, yet he just turned 12 years old! Logan Guleff, who calls Memphis home, is about to take his culinary talents to a new national audience on the Fox reality cooking show MasterChef Junior. It's a show in which young cooks compete to see who can come up with the perfect dish under imperfect circumstances. It's a bunch of fun to watch, and now we Memphians have a hometown guy to cheer on!

The premiere of this season of MasterChef Junior is coming up on November 4. There's going to be a watch party downtown at Bridges on November 4th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Kim, Logan's mom, tells us that it'll be $2 at the door, and the proceeds go to support the great work Bridges does in our city. 

Logan took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions -- and coming up soon on The Chubby Vegetarian, we'll have a great vegetarian recipe Logan created just for us.

TCV: Besides making coffee for your mom, what's the first dish you remember cooking, and how old were you?

Logan: "I’ve always been in the kitchen, but I guess my earliest memory of a true dish is making pasta by hand with my mom for Christmas. Maybe I was 3 or 4, mixing eggs in the dough. I loved it."

TCV: It's a plain old Tuesday night without company or anything, and you're cooking dinner for the family; what are you making?

Logan: “What was on sale or in the house? I would start there and work on something that might end up being dinner or it might be a pizza night! Who knows?  I do have a Mediterranean Pork Roast that is pretty tasty that I could make."

TCV: What technique or ingredient has your undivided attention right now?

Logan: "I am having fun learning about smoke and BBQ. I’ve discovered some unique layering of wood flavors. I am working on a few desserts too, along with creating a few new spice blends - I have been busy."

TCV: I just finished shooting photographs a cookbook for Whitney Miller, MasterChef season 1 winner. Is a cookbook something that you see in your future? What's next for Logan?

Logan: "That is a great project, we might have to talk! I am working on a cookbook and have all kinds of ideas for it. I’ve also created 5 new spice blends I want to sell. I really want my own cooking show, so I am working hard on that and school, too. My people need to talk to your people about this cookbook idea. "

TCV: What effect has being from Memphis and living in the South had on your style of cooking?

Logan: "I don't know, I mean, I am from Memphis, and the city is just exploding with great food and chefs. So many folks in the restaurant business have been super nice to me and have shared some of what they do in the kitchen. And my blog, Order Up with Logan, helps me with being a food explorer. Maybe being from Memphis means I work harder -- grit and grind and all that. "

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Arugula, Walnut, and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Portobellos and Food Day

I am honored to have been invited by Food Day, a food advocacy group that focuses on food justice and food education, to take part in a panel discussion about healthy eating. The panel discussion and breakfast are a part of the Food Fight Write conference in Las Vegas, which is in association with the World Food Championships. I'm so excited about all of this because I'm always thrilled to talk about food and how it doesn't have to be greasy and over the top to be delicious. Food Day shares our belief that real food simply prepared can be amazingly delicious and also fuel your body. (Find out more at

Lately, we've been cooking simply… I mean really simply. The oven is cranked up to 350, we drizzle some corn or asparagus or sweet potatoes with olive oil, hit them with a little salt and pepper, and roast them for our side dish. 

Over and over again, I keep making this kind of old-school, comforting stuffed mushroom as a main. It seems almost too simple to share, but the flavor and texture are just right, even though it's made with just a few ingredients. 

Arugula, Walnut, and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Portobellos

4 large portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 shallot (diced, about 1/4 cup)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 5-ounce container fresh arugula
2 large eggs (beaten)

Chopped tomato and fresh parsley (to garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350. (I always use the convection mode because I think it cooks everything more evenly. Use it if you have it.) Remove the stems from the mushroom and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle each with the olive oil and vinegar lightly coating both sides. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Place the mushrooms gill-side-down on the parchment and place into the oven for 15 minutes. While they cook, go ahead and prepare the filling.

In a large bowl, toss together the bleu cheese, walnuts, shallot, lemon zest, arugula, and eggs. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and pour any juice that has rendered from the mushrooms into the filling mixture; it's good flavor that you don't want to waste! Toss the mixture together one more time. Place the mushrooms gill-side-up on the parchment and divide the filling between them. Return the baking sheet to the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped tomato and parsley. (Serves 4.) 

Check out these links to Food Day posts: 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

TCV Cancer Shake: A Spice Blend with LOTS of Antioxidants

The idea for a mix of spices that each contain antioxidant properties came after my dad's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer this past March. I was busy hammering him about juicing and eating all the right things -- but what he really needed at the time was to eat for comfort because his digestive tract was so messed up both before and after his Whipple surgery.

So eventually I figured out that I needed to come up with something that tasted good and could be added to any dish…something that would up the cancer-fighting ability of the food he was eating. A quick Google search of the top antioxidant spices in the world and a visit to my well-stocked spice cabinet led to the first container of TCV Cancer Shake.

I sprinkled a good bit on a sweet potato I was having for lunch one day and thought, this isn't bad at all! I actually kind of like it. It's reminiscent of a mild curry powder -- because that's basically what it is. The ginger and cinnamon add warmth while the sumac, a middle-Eastern spice made from ground sumac berries, adds a nice lemony touch. Each ingredient adds either earthiness or sweetness.

It's great on everything from salads to grilled vegetables to fish (so I'm told!) to stir-fry; my dad has used it on all of those things and asked me to make him some more of it.

At this point, I am so thrilled to share with you the news that he's alive and well with no evidence of disease, as reported as his most recent scan at the end of August. It takes faith, the support of family and friends, some very talented doctors, and likely some luck to get to this point, and we are grateful for all of it.

TCV Cancer Shake

1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sumac*
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder*
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, simply mix all the spices until well incorporated. I like to run the whole mix through my spice grinder to break down the larger oregano and sea salt flakes. Keep mixture in an airtight container in the cupboard for up to 6 months. Sprinkle on everything!

*These spices are available at specialty food stores like Whole Foods.

Fresh Cucumber Noodles with Cashews and Mint

Here in the South, we are about to be completely overrun with cucumbers. Summertime yields so many pounds of them from the few plants that we have at the farm; we really have to try hard to use them all, even after sharing. Pickles, cucumber lemonade, summer salad, raita…and don't forget Kool-ickles

So this is a new idea that'll have you scooping up all the cucumbers you can get your hands on this season. It uses a great new gadget we got from good old Walgreens. It's called a Vegetti, and it easily cuts cucumber and other vegetables into spaghetti-like noodles. This cold, spicy dish goes great alongside sushi or curry. Best of all, it comes together with no cooking at all and only takes a few minutes to make.

Fresh Cucumber Noodles with Cashews and Mint

1 large English cucumber (about 14 inches)
1 small Serrano pepper (very thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon plum vinegar
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup crushed cashews
1 tablespoon sliced chives

Run the cucumber through the Vegetti or break it down using a serrated peeler. (Alternately, it would be just fine to thinly slice the cucumber or to cut it into matchsticks. It's your call.) In a large bowl, toss the cucumber, Serrano pepper, ginger, soy, vinegar, mirin, and sesame oil together until everything is well-coated. Place onto a plate to serve family-style or divide between two bowls for individual servings. Garnish with mint, cashews, and chives. (Serves 2.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thai-Inspired Green Curry With Eggplant and Peppers

Our favorite gardener, TV host, and author  P. Allen Smith (see us cook with him last summer here and here!) issued us a challenge at the beginning of this summer: grow a collection of vegetables and herbs in one pot and at harvest time, use it all to make one cohesive dish. We came to refer to it as the Patio to Plate Challenge. It was so fun to start from the most elemental point and see it all the way through for, you know, that certain type of heady and pride-filled locavore experience.

We started in the garden center, where we found a just-big-enough container that measured about 2 feet across and also procured some organic gardening soil. We then picked out our Bonnie Plants vegetables and herbs: 2 sweet basil plants, 1 bunch of white onions, 1 Italian oregano, 2 white Gretel eggplants, and 2 Big Bertha bell pepper plants.

Back at the house, we planted the taller eggplants in the center and the shorter peppers and herbs on the outside; this allowed the oregano to spill over the side and followed Allen's classic rules for an attractive container garden.

We did run into a few bumps in the road. We might've needed to pick a deeper container than this one, which was so shallow it required watering every day that it didn't rain. Also, if you'd like to try the challenge out yourself, make certain you have a sunny enough spot! Once we recognized that we didn't, we moved our Patio to Plate container garden from mostly sunny to full sun -- and then it really flourished!

The recipe was a no-brainer for us. We both love green curry from places like Bhan Thai and Jasmine here in Memphis, so we wanted to create our own version that was flavorful and delicious. As a bonus, this dish is fast, gluten-free, and vegan. Feel free to add a fried egg or crispy tofu if you'd like, but it's still great as is. 

So, readers, what would you grow in your own Patio to Plate garden?

Thai-Inspired Green Curry With Eggplant and Peppers

2 cups fresh basil leaves (more for garnish)

2 portions of rice noodles (for serving)
1 sprig oregano (stem discarded)
1-inch knob ginger
1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon sambal 
1 lime 
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon champagne or rice vinegar
2 cups sliced Japanese eggplant (1/4 inch slices)
2 cups sliced green bell peppers 
(1/4 inch slices)
1/2 cup sliced green onion (white and green parts)
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric

Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or coconut oil)

The secret to the bright green curry sauce is blanching the basil. Don't skip this step or you'll have a black sauce. Get a large pot of salted water up to a boil. You'll use this both to blanch the basil and to cook the rice noodles. With a bowl of ice water at the ready, drop the basil into the boiling, salted water and wait for it to turn a bright green -- this only takes a few seconds. Using a spider tool, fish the basil out and drop it into the ice water. Once it's cooled, collect the basil and squeeze it dry.

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drizzle drained noodles with olive or coconut oil to prevent sticking, cover, and set aside until ready to serve.

Make the green curry sauce by blending the blanched basil, oregano, ginger, garlic, sambal, the zest of the lime, can of coconut milk, and vinegar together until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sliced eggplant, peppers, and onion with the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, get a wok or large sauté pan smoking hot. Add the oil and allow it to smoke. Once it starts smoking, carefully add the vegetable mixture and be sure to toss it every minute to allow it to brown evenly. Add the green curry sauce and allow it to heat through. Once it's hot, place the curry in a serving bowl and garnish with a few basil leaves and lime wedges before serving. (Serves 2 to 4.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beaujolais-Poached Pears with Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola and Honey-Lemon Ricotta

Arguably, the best part about fall is the fruit, and we celebrate it two times over by poaching fresh pears in Beaujolais and topping that with honey-lemon ricotta and crunchy spiced pumpkin seed granola. 

Beaujolais-Poached Pears with Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola and Honey-Lemon Ricotta

4 pears (peeled, halved, and cored)
1 bottle Beaujolais wine 
1/3 cup honey
8 dried juniper berries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
knob of ginger (about one inch, sliced)
pinch of kosher salt
Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola (recipe follows)
Honey-Lemon Ricotta (recipe follows)

Place pear halves cut-side-down into a 12-inch stainless steel frying pan. Pour in the bottle of wine and the honey. Add juniper, cinnamon, bay, ginger, and salt. Place frying pan on the stovetop over medium heat and allow liquid to begin to reduce. Cook for 45 minutes;  be sure to flip the pears halfway through this cooking time. When the liquid is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, remove the pan from the heat. Place pear halves on a serving dish and strain the wine syrup. Reserve the syrup for serving. 
To serve, place a heaping tablespoon of Honey-Lemon Ricotta into the cored section of each pear. Add Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola on top. Drizzle with the wine syrup. (Serves 4-6.)

Spiced Pumpkin Seed Granola

2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown rice syrup, oil, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well-incorporated. Pour in the oats and pumpkin seeds and mix until well-coated. Spread granola mixture into a thin layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes; be sure to take out the granola and turn and stir it up halfway through the baking time. Place granola on a plate to cool. 

Honey-Lemon Ricotta

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of kosher salt

In a medium bowl, whisk ricotta, honey, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt until well-incorporated. Set aside until ready to serve.