Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mango-Lime Sticky Rice (V)

This is one of The Wife's Favorite desserts. She is the dessert maker in our house, but this one is mine...all mine. Um, well I think that some credit goes to Jasmine Thai restaurant on Cooper in Memphis, TN. We get it there all of the time. This is a good fake though, and it is so simple. 
1 cup of jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 lime
1/2 cup sugar
3 mangos (large dice)
pinch of salt

The rice, water, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar go into a pot along with the zest from the lime. Cooked covered for 20 minutes. Make a syrup from the juice of the lime and the remaining sugar. Serve diced cold mangos along side the warm sweet rice. Drizzle the whole thing with the syrup. You'll thank me. Just don't try to eat it with chopsticks. It is impossible. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Champagne & Mushroom Soup in a Roasted Garlic Broth

We made this soul-warming soup for my mother-in-law's birthday tonight. I had originally suggested french onion, but she said that she is not a fan. I can understand, that is a lot of onions. So I put my thinking cap on and decided that I would use the same technique, but use exotic mushrooms instead of onions. I went to the new Whole Foods Market and picked up cremini, shittake, chanterelle, and hen of the woods mushrooms. They even had a few mushrooms that I have never tasted, but I decided that those were for another day. Gather these ingredients and follow me into the kitchen:

2 small heads of garlic (wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven)
5-6 cups of mixed mushrooms (washed and sliced)
3 tablespoons butter
1 loaf of crusty sourdough bread (cut into rounds)
1/2 onion (roughly chopped)
2 vegetable bullion cubes (no salt added)
2 cups champagne
2 cups water
2 cups of gruyere cheese (shredded)
salt, pepper, and fresh parsley for garnish

The mushrooms, onions, and butter go into a soup pot and cook covered on low for about 45 minutes. The mushrooms will become soft and delicious. Add the champagne and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add water, bullion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for another 20 minutes. Ladle into a bowl, place crouton on top and smother in cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is bubbling and brown. Wait. We would not want you to burn your mouth. ok now eat. For dessert you should make cute little blackberry and raspberry tarts like my wife did. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Suzanne Burks

I received some overwhelmingly sad news on Sunday. My mother, Suzanne Burks, was killed in a car accident south of Jackson in Hazelhurst, MS. My Dad, who was in the car with her, survived.
She was not much for computers, but she loved to look at my blog. To hear her talk about it you'd think I had my own show on the Food Network. She was proud of each and every thing that I did. I hope each and every one of you has someone in your life like Suzanne.

For those who knew her I need not explain how wonderful she was. For the few who did not know her, all I can say is that she was the most beautiful person in the whole world. "The best ever," as she would say. I could not count the number of lives she touched. She will be missed so much.

There will be a funeral service at Hope Pres (8500 Walnut Grove Rd.) Thursday at 1:00pm. Visitation will start at 11:30. She will be buried at Memorial Park Following the service.

Please keep my family in your prayers,


Monday, October 13, 2008

Chorizo Stuffed Mini-Bell Peppers

This is the simplest thing ever -- and it is delicious. Sure, it looks fancy, but it takes very little hands-on time in the kitchen. The key is the Field Roast "Mexican Chipotle" sausages. They are so spicy and delicious that you really don't need to add any other spices to the dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and gather these simple ingredients:

Olive oil
6 small green bell peppers (tops cut off and seeds removed)
2 Field Roast "Mexican Chipotle" sausages (crumbled)
1/2 white onion (diced)
1/2 can of corn (drained)
1/2 can of black beans (drained)
1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes (diced)
Cilantro, cheese, spring onions for garnish
In a large pan saute the sausage and onion until browned. Add the tomatoes, beans, and corn to the pan, and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the mini bell peppers and place into a baking dish. Cover and bake 30-45 minutes depending on how soft you like your bell peppers. Garnish with cheese, onion, and cilantro, and then serve with a simple quesadilla and rice. At The Wife's dreamy, Austin-esque request, I put banana slices on top of the rice. I was skeptical to say the least, but it was really good. They take on a very avocado-like quality when served with savory foods. Who knew? Not TCV, that is for sure.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Wife Eats Austin, TX

I loved visiting Austin, Texas this week. My sister moved there this summer, and I have been meaning to go for a while. Of course I had to try what Austin had to offer vegetarians so that I could give you the full report! After the really brief plane ride (which was less than 2 hours but seemed longer since the loquacious stranger sitting next to me kept asking me how I liked my book and where I went to college and what I was going to do in Texas -- sheesh), we stopped at Curras, the most popular Mexican restaurant in town. We got enchiladas with molé sauce, and get this: bananas were in the rice. At Curras the molé was super dark and smoky with a little bit of sweetness, and it reminded me that I have to get TCV to make this for us soon. Lord knows he has enough dried peppers and know-how to make this happen. And bananas with the rice? Weird, but somehow it's complementary, so we have to try that, too. How fun is it to see my family and share a great meal, just getting to talk and laugh and misbehave with my sassy little niece at the table! That first day alone just made my whole autumn.That night we had to buy a new air mattress after the last one had permanently deflated, it was rumored, due to some mysterious three-year-old using it as a makeshift trampoline. At the only big box store that was open late, we also found mangoes and limes for the sticky rice dish I wanted to make for everyone.

I was on my own on Thursday when my sister had to work for a few hours. She felt terrible dropping me off on South Congress for a day by myself, but I was fine with it because I love an adventure along with having a big chunk of time to meander alone in a strange new city. I jumped out of the car and started my day on her recommendation at Jo's, a little coffee shack which already had lots of people milling around out front. I ordered a huge latté and a cherry orange muffin and sat at a communal table to text everyone else in my family and to read offhandedly. The book Kelly gave me before the trip was so good that I plowed through 150 pages before I knew it and then decided it was time to explore. The South Congress area is a place my 16-year-old self would have loved, and you know, I am not that different  of a self 15 years later, so it was a blast. There was a bizzare-o candy store Hunter would have loved (I passed up the dark chocolate bacon, but just barely), wacky antique markets, vintage everything, and a really nice restaurant called Enoteca Vespaio. I didn't mind eating by myself; I think it's kind of funny to gauge other people's reactions to it. They sat me at the bar and I just looked around and thought about what I would say about the place. It is kind of like a place that caters to people my age, but it would seem really hip to people my parents' age. I ordered the spinach salad with fire-roasted red peppers, radicchio, creamy gorgonzola, mushrooms, and one dense, square crouton that was exactly like, of all things, a cheese straw. I also had the sugar pie butternut squash gnocchi with sage butter and parmigiano-reggiano cheese, which was doing the backstroke in butter. I actually had to tap it on the side of the plate to assauge my conscience. Since my sister and I discovered via her scale that I have lost 15 pounds since she last saw me in early July (yay, running and moderation!), well, I think about these things now, and I used her trick of just eating half of my entreé since it was just okay. I had to get some 35 cent almond-cornmeal cookies on my way out, though. I make every exception for dessert. I looked across the street and saw Hey, Cupcake, the adorable Airstream trailer with a rotating pink cupcake atop it and knew we would have to rendezvous another day.

On my last full day, we decided to cook like crazy. We went to the 'world headquarters' of Whole Foods Market in downtown Austin for lunch and to shop for dinner. Nothing could prepare me for this. There. Were. Escalators. There were so many options for lunch that I just chose some African stew and fried plantains and agua fresca before we headed up to the vast rooftop deck to eat. My sister only shops there once a week, and I understand why. There are so many specialized sections, and the store is buzzing with so many people on sensory overload that it can be exhausting. For TCV, I found blue cornmeal, roasted chili-lime cashews, and freshly ground chocolate peanut butter. My sis got the ingredients for pizza. That afternoon, she made the dough with half unbleached flour / half whole wheat. Her neighbor offered us some french tarragon from her garden (that's how sweet the neighbors are in Travis Heights - the same woman brought us homemade chili the day before), and Linnie taught me how to make a tarragon-parsley pesto. She put that along with sliced peaches and roasted almonds on one pizza and then made a traditional mozzarella, mushroom, and pepperoni one as well. Really good with the Mark West pinot we chose for the occasion. It was in the cards to drop by Hey, Cupcake later that night, and we had the Standard, the Vanilla Dream, and the Michael Jackson. I must say that after having Verité cupcakes in Seattle this summer and Hey, Cupcake ones this week, our own Muddy Bake Shop cupcakes still win my national cupcake challenge for 2008. If you have not been to Muddy's (in the Sanderlin Center way behind Clark Tower), you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the City of Memphis. I am dead serious. Hey, Cupcake's Airstream-and-Christmas-lights atmosphere is picturesque, and I do give them a few points for an adorable experience.

The last day, my mangoes were finally ripe, and so we had the mango-lime sticky rice for breakfast. At my repeated and feverish requests, TCV developed the recipe for me after we tried this dessert at Jasmine, that great Thai restaurant in Midtown. My niece loved the dish, so I have a feeling that she will be asking for it again, too. I hated to leave my girls back in Austin, but we are already planning to reunite back here in town very, very soon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Goat Cheese and Carrot Stuffed Morel Mushrooms on Radicchio and Basil Pasta

The Wife and I have a piece in the new Edible Memphis called "Beyond the button." In the Story The wife struggles with her curiosity and repulsion of our favorite edible fungus. TCV contributes photos and recipes. Go get it. IN the meantime, make this delicious mushroom pasta.
For the stuffed morels:
8-10 large fresh morel mushrooms
4 oz. goat cheese
1 large carrot (peeled)
pinch of lemon zest
1 small clove of garlic
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Rinse and dry morels. Boil carrot and garlic clove until soft (about 10 minutes). Combine carrot, goat cheese, and lemon zest in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag. Pipe goat cheese mixture into the morels and then brush the outside of the mushrooms with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper and place in an oven set to low heat until ready to serve.
For the pasta:
6 ounces or capellini pasta (cooked according to package instructions)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot
1 cup white wine
1 head of radicchio (shredded)
1/2 cup of basil (chiffonade)
salt & pepper to taste
Cook shallot in butter until translucent. Add white wine and reduce. Toss cooked pasta in the shallot, butter, and wine mixture. If it looks a bit dry, add some pasta water. Portion pasta on to a plate and then sprinkle it with raddichio and basil. Top the pasta with the stuffed mushrooms and a basil leaf.