Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! A Vegetarian Guide to Black-Eyed Peas, Cornbread, and Greens for January 1, 2017

We're so ready for the arrival of 2017 on Sunday, and we're happy to close out the holiday season well, finish up 2016 in style, and enjoy the brand-new start! One of the best things about this past year was the November release of our second cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian (Susan Schadt Press, 2016). Getting the chance to share how we cook during the week was such an awesome opportunity after sharing all of our homegrown favorites in The Southern Vegetarian (Thomas Nelson, 2013). After being encouraged throughout this year to create more videos for our You Tube channel, if only to provide a steady stream of TCV entertainment to family members who love this sort of thing, we have taken the advice to heart and will be posting more about our recipes in the weeks to come.

So we have some exciting (or are they daunting? maybe the best ones are?) resolutions involving TCV and our health this year. Taking the leap into getting a gym membership and lifting weights the past few days in order to beat the rush back to the gym has been quite a new step. Adding something besides running into the mix has been a goal of ours for a while now, and we have already picked up on the 'push day, pull day, leg day' lingo. We'll see how all of this goes and will report back.

But hey, more importantly, we made sure to pick up some dried black-eyed peas from the bulk section of Whole Foods yesterday and have some fun ideas about how to cook them this weekend. We tend to mix it up and do a different beans, greens, and cornbread dish most years; below are some of our favorites from years past. Maybe these recipes will help you find a fun way to prepare your own good-luck meal come Sunday. We're going to make ours at lunch and then have ramen for dinner, which always sounds like a really good plan.

Hope y'all all have a safe and happy New Year's Eve and a relaxing New Year's Day. We so appreciate you reading here and cooking vegetarian along with us. Looking forward to a wonderful 2017 with all of you!

A Really Good Pot of Black-Eyed Peas

Classic Black-Eyed Peas

Cornbread Crepes and Smoky Black-Eyed Peas

Black-Eyed Pea Burger

Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Quiche

Hoppin' John Black-Eyed Pea Butter

Gluten-Free Cornbread Waffles

Smoked Cheddar and Jalapeño Cornbread

Whitney's Coconut Greens 

TCV Collard Greens

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Vegetarian Christmas Cooking: 20-Minute Tamales, Sea Salt Granola, TCV BBQ Dry Rub, and Hickory Smoked Hot Sauce

Surprise, surprise: we're not that skilled at finding the 'perfect gifts' for everyone. Each year at the height of holiday shopping craziness, it quickly becomes clear that we just need to rely on what we enjoy doing and get to cooking a lot of our gifts. It's rainy and gray here in Memphis this Christmas Eve, and we're going to be in the kitchen for a while today, so here's what we're making!

On Thursday, we were on a late-night hunt for corn husks, and with a little help from the awesome and super-enthusiastic produce guy at the Mendenhall Kroger (our third stop) in East Memphis, we found them on a low shelf and snagged them along with mushrooms, masa, and onions so we could make our 20-minute Tamales

Oh, and Curb Market in Midtown has the best dried peppers, Sparkling River Hickory-Smoked Poblanos, and they unbelievable in tamales, soups, grits, beans -- in anything, really. We bought a bunch for us and some for a few other pepper-obsessed folks we know. 

Versions of our Sea Salt Granola made their way into both of our cookbooks, The Chubby Vegetarian and The Southern Vegetarian. The funny thing is that while we have it as an extra on top of a salad and also a pear dessert in the books, we usually just have it right out of the container as breakfast with yogurt, berries, and honey or a quick snack by itself. (Our cousins gave us a big jar of sorghum this year, and we were thrilled since lately, we often sub it in for brown rice syrup in our granola recipes.)

This week, we also made kind of a Stone Soup-style vegetable-and-pasta soup for friends with kids and included a baguette, parmesan, and our favorite chocolate-covered peanuts so they could have dinner taken care of one night. We need to work on a recipe for vegetable soup for y'all in January when everyone's trying to eat vegetables and be all healthy, but in the meantime, here are a ton of favorite TCV soups we really like. We'll be working on a new white bean soup recipe for Christmas Day along with our usual cornbread. 

For a family party in Mississippi last weekend, we gave everyone TCV BBQ Dry Rub, and we made our Hickory Smoked Hot Sauce for those who've been hinting that they needed another bottle of it. We're excited to work on getting these seasonings available for purchase in 2017, and we'll keep you posted on the process as we figure it all out. 

Y'all, we hope you have a beautiful holiday with the people you love! Please let us know in the comments what you'll be cooking. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Vegan White Chocolate Matcha Hot Chocolate + Dandies Peppermint Mini Marshmallows (in a mini slow cooker!)

We received free marshmallows from Chicago Vegan Foods in exchange for developing this recipe to feature here on TCV. As always, all opinions expressed are our own.

After we asked what was new for the holidays, Dandies sent us a box of vanilla, pumpkin, and peppermint mini marshmallows to try, and it's been a lot of fun to dream up a new way to highlight one of our favorite vegan treats. This festive drink is earthy due to the matcha powder, rich because of the white chocolate, and the peppermint marshmallows add a sweet note to balance everything out. 

We've been big fans of Dandies marshmallows for a while now. They're aren't made with corn syrup or gelatin, and they're non-GMO and kosher, so it's awesome that folks who usually have to avoid marshmallows can enjoy these along with everyone else. They're great to have on hand for topping sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, making Brown Rice & Brown Butter Crispy Treats or a pumpkin version, and for stocking a S'Mores Bar outside around the fire pit (or use for Gingersnap Oven S'Mores if it's too dang cold out). 

Dandies are available online, and the vanilla flavor is often on the shelves at Whole Foods in the baking section. We also found peppermint version on sale here and here

(Oh, we also have to mention that we brought out our mini slow cooker for this recipe; we use ours all the time since receiving it a few years ago. A friend brought it to a party with a dip she made already in it and then said, Keep it; that's your gift! We use it all the time now for cooking beans and soup, and it really was a cool thing we didn't know we needed but actually did.)

White Chocolate Matcha Hot Chocolate + Dandies Peppermint Mini Marshmallows

2 1/2 cups milk of your choice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 ounces (about 6 squares) white chocolate 
2 teaspoons matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Maldon sea salt (to taste)
Handful of Dandies peppermint mini-marshamallows

Place milk, maple syrup, white chocolate, matcha, vanilla, and sea salt into your mini-slow cooker and set it on low for an hour or so; whisk the mixture twice during this time so that the chocolate melts. Set the slow cooker on high to further warm for an hour; whisk before serving in mugs. Top with peppermint marshmallows. (Serves 2; recipe can be doubled or tripled if needed). 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Old School Tempeh "Bacon"

So we were talking about tempeh with a new friend at a preview lunch this past Saturday at City Silo in East Memphis.

(We are so excited to see the restaurant in the expanded, former Cosmic Coconut space open in January 2017. It's going to be absolutely amazing! That's all we can say for now. :)

At lunch, during our discussion of one of the dishes, What actually is tempeh? was posed. After explaining the unappealing-sounding truth, that it's whole, fermented soybeans inoculated with a mushroom-like fungus and shaped into a flat, square cake, we talked about how we use it: in stir-fry, raw with sriracha as a snack, and of course, transformed into crispy, sweet, smoky Tempeh "Bacon."

We have about 1,000 recipes on the blog and 200 recipes in our cookbooks, The Southern Vegetarian and The Chubby Vegetarian, but sometimes, we seriously can't believe that we don't have a recipe available for something we've made for years. Meat analogs just aren't the type of thing we promote often, but we do use some of them in our everyday cooking. This homemade fake bacon is begging to be out there in the world and tried out in your kitchen, especially if there are vegetarians in your life who haven't yet found a decent sub for real bacon.

Our Tempeh "Bacon" goes really well with scrambled eggs and another recipe we haven't published, Cinnamon Rolls for Lazy People (crescent roll dough, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, and chopped pecans). It's also perfect on BLTs or as a topping for loaded baked potatoes.

We seem to be on a real breakfast-foods kick lately (see our recent super-easy Cheese Grits recipe below this) since we have a little extra time during the holidays. So, what holiday brunch tradition are you most looking forward to this week?

Old School Tempeh "Bacon"

1 block tempeh
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
3 drops liquid smoke
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Cracked black pepper (to taste)

Slice the tempeh longways, about 1/3 to 1/4-inch thickness. Next, cut those slices in half. In a large skillet over high heat, add the sesame oil. Once it shimmers, add the tempeh slices in a single layer. Allow tempeh to cook until browned on one side. Flip the tempeh and continue cooking it. Mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, Worcestershire, liquid smoke, vinegar, and pepper together in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the tempeh and remove the pan from the heat. The sugar from the maple syrup will caramelize on the tempeh, and the liquid will be absorbed. Once this occurs, remove tempeh from the pan and serve alongside your favorite breakfast foods or atop your favorite sandwich. (Makes 4 servings.)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Cheddar Cheese Grits

We love grits for breakfast, not just because we're Southern; we grew up eating them all the time, and they just rock. We had grits-and-egg bowls for weekday breakfast before school and slow-cooker cheese grits for Sunday brunch and holidays. Last weekend, we added a fried egg, melted green onions, and tomato gravy to ours, like in the pic here. A bowl of grits can be anything you want it to be -- even dinner.

This recipe works for white corn grits as well as yellow corn grits, but you have to use grits or polenta, not cornmeal. Unless you want a heaping bowl of mush.

(Can you get grits where you are? We're curious…let us know in the comments.)

Cheddar Cheese Grits

1 cup yellow grits
2 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup cheddar cheese (shredded or cubed)
5 cloves garlic (smashed, roughly chopped)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Fried egg (optional)

Place the milk and broth into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the grits and add butter, cheddar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. Serve with a fried egg. (Serves 4.)

Monday, December 5, 2016

TCV Cookbook Signing on Saturday, Dec. 10 at The Memphis Farmers Market in Downtown Memphis + an upcoming TCV Cooking Class at Whole Foods this Month

The Memphis Farmers Market's 'Home for the Holidays' event is happening this coming weekend! On Saturday, December 10 from 9:00 to 1:00 p.m., make your way downtown, catch up with all of your market friends, and check out what a bunch of great vendors will have on offer. 

We'll have copies of both of our cookbooks, The Southern Vegetarian and The Chubby Vegetarian, on hand so that folks may purchase a signed and personalized copy for yourself or for a gift for a home cook (vegetarian or…not so much :) that's on your list. So far, it looks like this may very well be our last open-to-the-public Memphis-area signing on the calendar, so please put it on your calendar and stop by and say hey. 

We had a blast meeting people and visiting with friends and family at Whole Foods in East Memphis yesterday afternoon at the Maker Market hosted by the store. Later on in the month on Thursday, December 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., we'll be teaching a class at Salud Cooking School in Whole Foods Poplar in East Memphis. Spots are filling up quickly, and we wanted our readers to have first pick! Here's where you register (or call 901.969.4199), and here's the scoop: 


Salud favorite Justin Fox Burks is back and preparing fantastic dishes that are meat-free and full of flavor!  Justin's philosophy is not about replicating meat; it's about moving vegetables from side dish to the center of the plate. Most of all, it's about making delicious food that just happens to be vegetarian. Tonight he will be highlighting recipes from he and his wife Amy Lawrence's latest cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian, and you'll get a chance to take a copy of the book home. Join us as we show you step-by-step how to make creative vegetarian dishes that everyone can enjoy!

Demonstration - $55.00
MENU: Carrot “Lox” and Pepper Jelly Rangoons; Olive Bar Puttanesca with Cauliflower Chops; Sweet Potato Almandine or Truffled Corn Pudding; White Wine Poached Pears with Pumpkin Seed Granola

Thursday, December 1, 2016

TCV Gift Guide: For Those Who Really Love Coffee

The two of us dream about the next morning's coffee and often discuss it at night: What kind will we make? Do we have the right beans for the French press or espresso? Is there whole milk or cream in the fridge? It's kind of cliché and a little obsessive. Drinking great coffee at home seriously is one of the best parts of the day, though!

Here are the things we can't live without, and maybe you or the people on your gift list will love some of them, too.

Our ceramic Le Creuset French Press is something that's so well-made we haven't been able to break it for two years. (That's a big deal at our house. We tend to use our kitchen items a lot.) It's big and heavy and reliable, and it makes great overnight iced coffee as well as hot.

This All-Clad kettle looks nice on the stove and is sturdy. Its broad base allows for quick heating of water for the French press. It also possesses an extremely loud and clear whistle.

French Truck Coffee is our new favorite. Jimmy knows his coffee, and last week, he told us frankly that as much as we like good food, we really should be using better beans than the ones we were used to. He was right; you should try it, too. (He also told us he prefers this coffee bean grinder. It's on order!) If you're in the Memphis area, you'll find French Truck here.

The Gaggia 'Classic' espresso machine is made by an Italian company, which is a plus since Italians invented the espresso method. It really boils down to one thing when it comes to espresso machines: metal. You can tell that a machine is well-made if its parts are metal. The Gaggia 'Classic' has a metal housing, frothing wand, and basket. This means that the manufacturer didn't cheap out when designing and constructing the machine. The portafilter and group head are made with heavy duty marine-grade brass. This ensures a consistent temperature during the duration of the pull. We did extensive research before buying this machine a few years ago, and while it's more expensive than some machines you'll find, it's a bargain compared to what you could spend for what would actually turn out to be a lesser machine. This is our coffee soulmate!
Once you have an espresso machine, you need the right tools. A stainless steel coffee scoop and coffee tamper are useful accessories that people may not automatically buy for themselves, but they'll happily put them to good use every day.

One of the best gifts we've ever received is the amazing maple syrup that you can order from our friend's dad's place in Vermont, Jacob Brook Farm. One of us here at TCV uses maple syrup as a sweetener in her coffee every day, and this particular kind is the best we've tried. (Oh, and on waffles and pancakes, oh my…)

Let us know your favorite coffee-making items from your house in the comments! Also, we have a few more gift guides in the works for December, so feel free to give us some suggestions for topics. We'd love to help you figure out what might be both thoughtful and worth the money this holiday season.