Thursday, May 30, 2013

Buttermilk Oatmeal with Butter-Poached Peaches and Sorghum

We love oatmeal -- really! It's the basis for many of our dishes, both savory, like the Chipotle Sweet Potato Burger, and sweet, like the topping on our Triple-Ginger Apple Crisp. Needless to say, we think it's great, but not everyone feels that way about the humble oat. I can totally understand that, especially if all you've ever experienced of it is a dull bowl of mush for a melancholy/nutritious breakfast.

Oats, just like grits or quinoa, need a little something to wake up their flavor. That's usually something acidic like lemon juice or vinegar. Here we used the gentle acidity of buttermilk to perk up this breakfast dish. We topped the whole thing off with a few butter-poached peaches, which are just now coming into season in the South.

When we serve this, there is very little talking, which is always a good sign. We only hear the occasional this-is-the-best-oatmeal-I've-ever-had comment float quietly across the tabletop.

Buttermilk Oatmeal with Butter-Poached Peaches and Sorgum

2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 cup rolled oats
1 heaping tablespoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 ripe peaches (pitted, peeled)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sorghum syrup (or maple syrup)

In a medium pot over medium heat, warm the buttermilk and stir in the oats. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir. Cover, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for 10 minutes; stir it occasionally to prevent sticking.

Next, cut peaches into bite-sized wedges. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, and just as it starts to brown, add the peaches. Allow them to cook for 3 minutes to lightly color on one side before turning them. Cook another 3 minutes and remove from heat. Divide oatmeal and peaches between 2 bowls and garnish with sorghum. (Serves 2.)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vegetarian Recipes for Memorial Day

Everyone should eat together -- that's what cooking and sharing a meal is all about. So, here are our suggestions for a few fun things to grill or chill for your celebration this Memorial Day. Have a great Monday, y'all!

1. Italian-Style Eggplant Sausages: These are so simple, and they pretty much beat any store-bought brand.

2. Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad: It's pretty, and it's always a hit whenever we serve it.

3. Grilled Artichokes with Tarragon Butter: Say yes to this dish. It's a smoky, herb-infused update to a classic.

4. Smoky Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas: Everyone will love these, even the kids!

5. BBQ Portobello Sandwich: You have to have some BBQ on Memorial Day, so you might as well do it your way.

6. Blueberry Cream Snow Cones: Something cold like this from scratch takes a little planning ahead, but oh, these sure are worth it. 

7. Grilled Peach Ice Cream: My grandfather's summer tradition. 

8. Blackberry-Apple Hand Pies: Small, cute, portable: you really can sub in any fruit you have on hand for these. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Herb-Stuffed Morel Mushrooms over Mashed Sweet Potatoes

If you ever see us doing a crazy little dance in the aisle at the grocery store, it's likely we've just spotted one of our very favorite ingredients: fresh morel mushrooms. These weird-looking specimens are covered in gills on the outside, and inside, they're hollow, which makes them perfect for stuffing. The earthy flavor and meaty texture is unmatched by anything else we've ever tasted. They are stunningly delicious!

Here, we made a simple stuffing from garden herbs and tangy goat cheese and served them over sweet potatoes. We think this combination is surprising and new, something entree-worthy for sure. 

Herb-Stuffed Morel Mushrooms over Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes (recipe follows)

1/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, parsley, thyme, and sage)
1 large egg (beaten)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
6 to 8 medium morel mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
1 cup arugula
1 small shallot (thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

Prepare Mashed Sweet Potatoes according to the recipe. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, bread crumbs, herbs, egg, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Set aside. Wash* and trim woody ends off morels. Using a paring knife, cut a slit up one side of the mushroom. Carefully open the mushroom and spoon in as much of the filling as will fit. Close the mushroom back together, set aside, and repeat until all mushrooms are stuffed. 

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes per side, add the broth, and cover. Remove from heat. 

In a small bowl, toss the arugula, shallot, olive oil, and vinegar together. Place a mound of sweet potatoes on a plate and top with 3 to 4 morels. Add a few spoonfuls of the pan juices to the top, garnish with the arugula salad, and salt and pepper to taste. (Serves 2.)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato (peeled, cubed)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Place potatoes, water, sugar, butter, salt and pepper into a covered, microwave-save dish; microwave on high for 5 minutes. Allow dish to rest, covered, for five more minutes. Mash using a potato masher. Set aside until ready to plate.

*To wash morels: Fill a large bowl with water and swish the mushrooms around in the bowl to dislodge any dirt. Change water 2 to 3 times. Lay mushrooms out on a clean dish towel to dry.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Win 2 Tickets to All Things Southern at the Memphis Botanic Garden!

Ah, summer in the South. It feels like it's pretty much here already with Memorial Day weekend upon us and a little warmth in the air. This means it's time to look forward to some familiar and beloved rituals: making just-picked tomato sandwiches, sitting outside in the backyard all night, having buckets of fresh produce to use up, watching fireworks with the family, grilling anything and everything, biking just for a breeze, eating that first perfect peach and first slice of good watermelon, sometimes stealing a nap in the late afternoon because it's way too hot to do much else until evening comes...we love it all.

We're SO ready to celebrate summer with y'all, so Memphis-area folks, get ready! We have another event for our Southern Vegetarian cookbook coming up next week in conjunction with the Memphis Botanic Garden. See below for your chance to win 2 free tickets ($70 value; age 21 & up) to All Things Southern at the Memphis Botanic Garden this Tuesday, May 28, at 6 to 8 p.m -- and the winner will also snag a copy of our cookbook! We would love to see everyone there next week; it's sure to be a great summer kickoff.

To enter, comment below and tell us your favorite thing about summertime in the South. (We moderate comments as we receive them, so don't worry if it takes a little while for yours to appear.) We'll choose the winner of the 2 tix and book by random number generator on Memorial Day at 10 a.m. CST and post the results here and on Facebook. Your tickets will be held for you at will call the day of the event. Good luck! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chickpea Energy Salad

This is a re-set salad. No matter how you've been eating the rest of the day, it'll get you right back on track and give you a burst of afternoon energy so that you can get all your stuff done. We sometimes eat plain chickpeas, just rinse 'em and go, but this makes it all a bit more civilized. And we've found from experience that go-to quick recipes like this keep us from seeking out chips, ice cream, chocolate, or cookies when we're ravenous and weak at 4 o'clock. This is a good alternative to those pesky habit-forming treats.

The cool thing about this simple-to-make recipe is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard, and once you whip it up in your favorite mixing bowl, you can have it on some couscous or in a wrap with sliced cucumbers or on top of a bed of lettuce...or you could just eat it straight out of the bowl.

Chickpea Energy Salad

1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 small minced clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon honey
1 can no-salt-added chickpeas (rinsed)
1 shallot (minced, rinsed running in water; about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup grape tomatoes (halved)
2 tablespoon minced curly parsley
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, and honey. Add chickpeas, shallot, tomatoes, and parsley. Season to taste using sea salt and cracked black pepper. (Makes 2 servings.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pupusas with Pickled Loroco Flower

David, the awesome guy who did the brick work on our pizza oven, is from El Salvador. During the hours it took to lay out and build that oven, we got to know each other by talking about all sorts of things, but I had lots of questions about El Salvadorian food. I asked him one of my favorite questions I have likely asked you if I've had the pleasure of knowing you: "So, it's a typical weekday, not a special occasion, and if you're going to eat a home-cooked meal for dinner, what are you making?" "Pupusas with loroco flowers!" he told me. Honestly I didn't know what either of those things were, so he had a lot of explaining to do. 

He explained that pupusas are like rustic, thick tortillas stuffed with all manner of things, and loroco flowers are flower buds served fresh or pickled -- a regional delicacy in El Salvador. So I set out to find loroco flowers, and lo and behold. they had them at the local supermarket for about $3. I bought them, took them home, and cracked open the giant jar. It's always exciting to try a new food for the first time. They are briny from the pickling, lightly bitter, and have the texture of snow peas...I like 'em! You should give them a try, too.

Pupusas with Pickled Loroco Flower

1 cup masa (for tortillas)
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup pickled loroco flowers
1 cup shredded chihuahua cheese (or mozzarella)
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (more to garnish)

canola oil for pan frying
limes, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, salsa (to garnish) 

In a medium bowl, add the masa, shortening, and broth then mix together to form a slightly stiff yet pliable dough. Add a teaspoon or two of water or broth if mixture is too dry. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. In a separate medium bowl, add the loroco flowers, cheese, garlic, cumin, chili, and hot sauce and then toss so that all ingredients are well incorporated. 

Divide the dough into eight equal segments and roll each into a ball. Place one of the dough balls into the palm of your hand, smash it flat with your other palm, add 1/4 of the cheese mixture to the center, add a second flattened dough ball on top of that, and work it into a patty about the size of a typical hamburger while pinching the sides together to seal. Repeat.

in a large pan over medium heat, add enough canola oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Pan fry each patty for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until nicely colored. Serve hot garnished however you please; options are listed above in ingredients list. (Makes 4 pupusas; serves 2.)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Orzo with Tomato Jam and Arugula

This pasta bowl uses up last season's tomato jam that's been hidden away in the freezer and some of the tall oregano that's currently busy taking over the front flowerbed. If you blanch and freeze a container of fresh arugula ahead of time and store it in the freezer right by the jam, you can put this together pretty quickly whenever you're ready. It's a really comforting lunch or weeknight dinner and could be a nice as a cold pasta salad as well.

Orzo with Tomato Jam and Arugula

1 1/2 cups dried orzo (cooked according to package's directions)
1 package arugula (blanched and chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion (diced; about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons tomato jam
splash of white wine
smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)
fresh oregano (finely chopped)

Set aside prepared orzo and arugula. Heat oil in skillet and then add onion and garlic. Let that mixture brown and stir it occasionally. Add tomato paste caramelize it with the onions. Add jam and mix. Deglaze the pan with wine and push a spatula or wooden spoon around to scrape the skillet clean. Add arugula and orzo and mix. Serve in bowls with salt, pepper. pine nuts, and oregano sprinkled on top.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring Vegetable Frittata

This is a great thing to make when you really have no idea what to make. And leeks, Vidalia onions, garlic, fresh green peas, and eggs are an ideal combination -- especially when they're the only inspiring things you find in your fridge on a weeknight (well, besides lemon wedges, wonton wrappers, one stem of romaine, and a jar of cooked pears you completely forgot you'd made). Love it when desperation leads us to a quick recipe that's going to be a keeper! We had it for dinner, but it also might work well for a spring Sunday brunch.

Spring Vegetable Frittata

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Vidalia onion (minced)
1 cup leeks (chopped)
2/3 cup fresh green peas
2 tablespoons white wine
2 heels wheat bread (cubed and toasted)
6 large eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup soft goat cheese (crumbled)
smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
fresh thyme (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté garlic and onion for about 5 minutes; add leeks and peas and stir often. Deglaze pan with white wine. Set aside. Combine bread, eggs, and goat cheese. Add leek mixture, salt, and pepper and stir until everything is coated. Melt butter in a shallow pan and coat it. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until eggs are cooked and top of frittata is lightly browned. (Serves 4 to 6.)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bagna Cauda Smashed Chickpea Dip and the Vegan Un-Cheese Plate

At the start of any get-together, we typically put out a bunch of cheese and bread and olives so everyone has something to munch on while hanging out in the kitchen as we cook. Last night, the first time we used the wood-fired oven to cook pizzas -- more on that soon! -- the dilemma facing us was what to serve as an appetizer if cheese was going to be melted all over the main dish. Pizza's a tough dinner to round out -- you don't want the appetizer or the dessert to be too similar to it and get everyone all cheesed- and breaded-out.

So we grilled up some thin slices or eggplant and zucchini and roasted a few red peppers like they do at Bari here in Memphis. To stand in for the cheese, we made smashed chickpeas that were flavored with minced garlic, rosemary, and capers, much like the classic Italian bagna cauda, but the capers subbed in for the anchovies. It was really good! We can imagine using these same ingredients to make a killer vegan panini.

Bagna Cauda Smashed Chickpea Dip

3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon capers
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
11/2-inch section of fresh rosemary (stem removed, minced)
1/3 cup white wine (like Pinot Grigio)
1/2 teaspoon of champagne vinegar
1/8 red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to tase
1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

Mince the garlic and the capers together. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add the minced garlic and the capers. Cook until fragrant, but do not let the garlic burn. Add the rosemary and then the wine and vinegar. Add the red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Add the chickpeas and smash using a potato masher. If it's too thick, add water to thin it slightly so that it's spreadable. Place into a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining olive oil. Serve alongside grilled vegetables, sliced chibatta, and olives. (Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.)