Over on the homemade tastes better on handmade blog, I've just started a Guest Series where I've invited some local chefs, food professionals, and avid home cooks to join me at a local Tailgate Market and then cook up a dish inspired by the seasonal offerings. My first guest was Matt Clark, co-owner of Bittersweet Cottage & Suite in Asheville, NC. Bittersweet is one of those hidden gems of our area - beautiful, private, romantic, stunning views, and just minutes from downtown. You can see our Market visit and Matt's recipes for our Spring Brunch at the blog, just click HERE.
In addition to what Matt created from our Market finds, he offered some of his own homemade pickled beets & onions to the menu. I paired them with some fresh sunflower sprouts from the Co-op, and with nothing more than a drizzle of the pickling juice, we had the perfect side salad. So good, that I had to ask him to share that recipe as well, which he graciously does here.
Matt gave a disclaimer that his recipe came from Alton Brown, and the original recipe may be found HERE. However, what you have in the kitchen/pantry, along with personal taste, habit, and time management can often cause minor and even major adjustments to an original recipe. I'm glad I'm not the only one that reads them avidly and uses them as great suggestions when it comes down to the cooking!
Here is Matt's version of Alton Brown's recipe. It was the perfect compliment to our meal, and the combination of the fresh sprouts, the earthy beets, the sweet onions, and the perfect tang of the pickling juice absolutely tasted like Spring.
Matt's Version of Alton's Pickled Beets
(makes 7-8 pints)
Roasted Beets, recipe follows
2 yellow onions, frenched
2 cup cider vinegar
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 big pinch ground cloves
2 cup water
Remove the skin from the Roasted Beets and slice thinly (see Matt's suggestion below). Arrange in sterilized, wide-mouth pint jars alternating layers with the onion. In a small pot boil the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets, making sure to leave 1/2" 'head room' in each jar. Tightly lid the jars and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days before serving.
*If you water process the jars (you'll have to look that up or reference your favorite canning resource for details), the beets will keep for up to a year, although they won't last that long because they're that good.
12 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
2 sprigs thyme
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
I roast beets by making little foil packages for each one – snip the root end, leave a little stem so you can hold it while you are slicing - rub beets with olive oil – add some salt and pepper and a little dried thyme to each package – wrap them up tight - roast on a sheet or glass pan or whatever, doesn’t matter at 400 for about an hour depending on the size of your beets. I like them a little “under”as opposed to mushy. Paring knife should go in smoothly.
Check out the homemade tastes better on handmade blog for a new take on an old, favorite recipe.
Peanut Butter Tofu with Sweet Potato Mash, Steamed Kale, and 'Cheesy' Gravy.
I love to cook, so making the Homemade part that goes on the Handmade is never a chore for me, but when it's made well and with much love, I'm happy to plate someone else's Homemade on my Handmade!
And when it's made locally by one of my favorite restaurants, packaged with love and in compostable packaging right here in my own town, I'll happily pick it up from my local Coop's freezer to take it home. So while not all elements of this dish are 'homemade' by me, they were all made at home!
Rosetta's Kitchen is one of the best places in Asheville to eat. Rosetta herself is one of the best people in Asheville ... actually on the planet, and she's been feeding the family right since 2002. My first preference is always to go enjoy a great meal at the restaurant with friends, but now I can have a taste of Rosetta's in the studio when I'm working too hard! At the restaurant, her "Family Favorite" is on of my faves: baked peanut butter tofu, mashed potatoes, steamed kale, nutritional yeast gravy. Now that I can get the peanut butter tofu in the freezer section, I can fix it a million ways, but basing it on the original is still the best to me.
So today's 'recipe' is an easy one ... well it's easy if you're in Asheville. Perhaps I'll look up a good peanut butter tofu recipe for those of you outside the reach of Rosetta's or my Co-op that sells the frozen peanut butter tofu nuggets. But I suggest you come here and check out the original, bring a cooler with dry ice, and stock up at the Co-op.
Peanut Butter Tofu: follow Rosetta's very nice directions, and bake with love
Sweet Potatoes: boil and mash them the way you like 'em
Kale: lightly steam or braise in a light broth
Gravy: mine was just a quick flour/Earth Balance roux, thinned with almond milk and flavored with nutritional yeast and salt.
And by somewhat annoying, I only mean for some of you. For me, it's fun to create recipes from parts of other things, adapting as I cook. I know many who really, REALLY like to have it all written down. So maybe this recipe is not for you, but if you like playing in the kitchen, you may get something out of it.
Today there was a lovely cool in the morning, and while sunny it finally feels like Fall (my favorite season) is arriving, and the stew-cooker in me could not be happier. We've already had several tasty meals out of the crock pot, and I see a Fall and Winter of frequent use ahead!
For our lovely, cool Sunday fare, start with this:
Next, assemble your other ingredients:
It really doesn't take much more than this with some more broth and a dash of salt. Asheville-based Roots hummus, in many delicious flavors, has been one of my favorite food groups since my first tasting. And the above pictured Thai Coconut Hummus, along with the Extra Hot Chipotle Hummus, are two of my favorite ingredients when whipping up a quick curry or spicy stew. It's available in a wider region now, so if you don't see it in your local grocery, ask for it! Anyway, add the kale, more broth, the yogurt and at least half the hummus to the crock pot.
Those of you who are only mildly annoyed with the narrative nature of this recipe should enjoy this next step: open the fridge to put away the unused broth and discover a little container of the last of the previous crock pot stew (assorted veggies, tempeh, beans, not really sure what else...), and decide it would be a perfect addition to the curried greens stewing away. Go ahead and add the whole bit (about a cup, if you're one of those people who need to know). Ok, moving on ... we need a base for this loveliness, and that could be satisfied by a number of things (baked sweet potato, a nice bowl of brown rice or quinoa, for instance), but we're going to use some left-over chickpea frittata:
The frittata itself was an experiment, as it's from a mix I found shopping last week. The ingredients are simply chickpea flour and chili pepper, to which I added water, oil and salt. It's from Lucini Italy, and if you can't find it in your town, you can buy it HERE. I plan to make my own scratch version again, but whenever I see these mixes I'll happily stock the pantry for a quick 'chickpea polenta' option. My experiment resulted in a thicker, fluffier, frittata, so for today's dish I decided to slice it in half, making two thinner slices. They grilled up nicely on the ol' Foreman grill. Finally, to plate!
Having just wiped the last of the 'gravy' with my last bite of frittata, I can report that the results were nom-nom-nommy. The dish came together just as I closed the gallery for the day, so popping open a nice black lager to go with made the perfect compliment. For any studio mates who see this before they come to work tomorrow, yes there are leftovers (which will eventually make the base for another great meal)! buon appetito.
On August 15 we celebrate the 100th birthday of Julia Child, and I'll be raising a glass of something to be sure!
My first exposure to Julia Child was watching her PBS cooking shows on Saturday afternoons, and I was thrilled when that same station began re-playing her first series "The French Chef", which began airing the year I was born. She made cooking accessible and inviting, and more than that she made it entertaining. Watching the variations on her PBS series of shows, you saw what a natural teacher she was as well as an ever-curious student, a trait I try to keep myself.
When I first moved to Asheville, I was all excitement and anxiety over my move and my new life, and it was an episode of her first season of "The French Chef" that helped me focus all those energies. It's the now even more famous 'Potato' episode, as it was partially featured in the recent "Julie & Julia" movie. I was watching the series as I unpacked boxes, and stopped to pay attention to her potato pancake recipes and to get another lesson in flipping the pancakes.
Two great lessons learned that day. The first, which is still a motto I live by: "You must have the courage of your convictions." This is the advice she gives on how to successfully flip a potato pancake in the pan, and they are words that have stood by me in many experiences outside the kitchen. And when the first flip doesn't go too well, she follows it with equally relevant words to live by: "You can always pick it up if you're alone in the kitchen ... who's going to know?" Ok, so I don't live by THOSE words, but it's a nice reminder to not take oneself too seriously.
Wanting to make a recipe to honor Julia's birthday, and wanting to thank her for those wise words, it makes sense that I would make a potato pancake. Here's where Julia would likely roll her eyes and then herself over in the grave as I really don't eat white potato much any more, and I don't cook with cow dairy. As it is right now, I'm keeping all dairy out of my diet, so Julia's recipe calling for butter and cream with white potatoes is not something I'd make. But having the courage of my convictions, I'm making a potato pancake, using her method, but following my own tastes. More lessons to be learned along the way, to be sure...
What I've come up with is a sweet potato pancake, with a Thai flavoring of coconut milk and my favorite locally produced hummus (it's also "Eat Local Month"!): Roots Thai Coconut Curry Hummus. A little thyme and salt and pepper and a hot, oiled pan, and we're off. Many thanks to Mark Robertson of Mark Robertson Photo for taking pictures for me!
I'm not sharing the specific recipe (I know, I know, this is a recipe page!!), as it needs much development in spite of the successful flip, but as much as Julia might hate the outcome, I hope she'd love the fact that she inspired a lot of my own culinary curiousity and willingness to experiment ... along with a very accommodating mother when I was younger!.
Happy Birthday Julia, and thanks for showing me how to live with the courage of my convictions - bon appetit!
Savory & Sweet Grilled "Empanadas"
It's funny when inspiration will hit. I'm planning some mini-workshop events at The Village Potters that highlight my studio tag line of "homemade tastes better on handmade", and thinking about what homemade elements would work in a workshop setting.
My inspiration came in the form of a small bag of pizza dough, but not just any pizza dough. West End Bakery is now using flour from Carolina Ground L3C in some of their goods, and the other day they had bags of pizza dough for sale made with this flour and a local Stout beer (I regret I cannot remember which brewery, but I'll find out, or a trusty reader will fill it in!). I didn't know what would be in them, but I immediately thought about making something empanada-ish on my mini-Foreman grill in the studio.
We don't have a full kitchen at The Village Potters, so some pre-prep is necessary as the Foreman grill, a rice cooker, electric kettle, microwave, and a coffee pot are the extent of our cooking appliances. At home, a quick perusal of the fridge and counter found some left-over roasted chicken, sweet onions and sweet potatoes from Silas' Free Range Produce Truck, and a bit of leftover garbanzo salad. I caramelized the onions, then roasted the diced sweet potatoes with a bit of curry seasoning and packed that up with some of the chicken and garbanzos. I also had a little manchego cheese that originally was planned to be in this empanada, but that would soon change.
At the studio, I dusted my cutting board with a bit of corn meal and pressed out small rounds of the pizza dough with my finger tips. I basted the top of the round with a bit of the olive oil from the onions, then put together a small mound of each of my ingredients. As I was reaching for the cheese, I saw the bowl full of peaches, also from Silas' truck, ripening quickly and oozing all sorts of sweet juices. Another idea was hatched, and a second round of stuffed pockets was made with a bit of the cheese, a dice of the peaches, some lavender from The Village Potters' garden and a drizzle of balsamic.
Admittedly, grilling these little pockets doesn't make the most appealing presentation, but there is still something charming about them, and based on the responses from my studio mates, the content far outweighs the style. And they were very tasty little bites. Not an empanada dough - even thinned out, it's still pizza dough, but a mighty fine pizza dough that worked very well in this use. I brushed a bit of the extra olive oil on the outside of each empanada before grilling, letting the lid flatten each pouch until golden.
The savories had a little of each flavor in each bite, with the sweetness of the onions mingling with the sweet curry of the potatoes, and the dusting of cornmeal on the outside giving another nice element to the texture. The sweets were just sweet enough, with a little sharpness of the cheese giving its own nice, chewy texture to each bite.
All in all, good experiment results, although in order to do this in workshop, I think we're gonna need a bigger grill.
Spring brings all sorts of new flavors, and one of my favorites is ramps, or 'wild leeks'. It could be their relatively short season makes them even more enticing, and I try my hardest to get my fill while they can be easily found. While this is often a brunch dish, frittatas are one of my favorite things to make for a light supper on a cooling Spring night!
2 TBSP extra virgin Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, smashed & chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme leaves (or 1 TBSP fresh leaves)
1 cup chopped ramps (bulbs & greens)
Approx 6 medium size leaves of kale, taken off the stem and chopped
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 small sweet potato, cut into quarters and then thinly sliced
5 eggs, beaten
2-3 TBSP almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Use an oven-safe skillet and heat olive oil over moderate heat. Saute the ramps, garlic and shallots lightly, then cover and let simmer 2-3 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add sweet potatoes. Stir to mix, cover and let simmer another 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and kale, stir to mix and let cook, covered, another 3-4 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk/beat the eggs with salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and almond milk. Uncover the saute pan and pour the eggs over as evenly as possible, shaking the pan lightly to distribute. Immediately place the pan in the pre-heated oven and cook until eggs puff (you can switch it to a broil as it sets if you want to brown the top more) and set, 4-5 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes, then cut into wedges and carefully remove. You can also try loosening the entire frittata by running a spatula around the sides and under the bottom, then inverting the entire pan onto a plate. For serving, if you do it this way, I suggest you then invert it again onto another plate to show off the prettier side. :)
Over on our sister-blog, Sexy Foods, we've been focusing on recipes that feature what's locally seasonal in our area. In January, that involved a good bit of dark, leafy greens and root vegetables. Considering those are some of my favorite foods, it was a good month for playing with different recipes. While time got away and there are only a handful of recipes on the blog site, I wanted to share a couple of tasty side dishes that were the perfect compliment to Mocha Stout Braised Bison Short Ribs - that recipe you'll find at the blog! In the recipes below, I've noted the locally grown ingredients* that were found either at my local Co-op or in my garden. They're both essentially prepared the same way, but separately to retain their own flavors and textures. Once on the plate, however, it was all extreme goodness eaten together!
Mocha Stout Braised Root Mash
1 celeriac* (softball size)
1 large sweet potato*
2 cloves garlic
handful of fresh thyme leaves*
Theros unrefined olive oil**
1 cup Highland Mocha Stout**
veggie stock or broth
Peel the celeriac and cut into approximate 1/2 inch cubes. Peel the sweet potato and cut into approximate 3/4 inch cubes. The sweet potato will cook faster than the celeriac, so this will help them cook evenly.
In a wide, deep saute pan, heat 3 TBSP olive oil. Add the root vegs, garlic, shallot, and thyme and mix to coat in the oil. Shake the pan to spread them out in an even layer, and let them be for a minute or two until the pan side down vegs start to brown. Stir a bit and add the mocha stout and season to taste with salt & pepper. Adjust the heat down to a simmer, and when the liquid has almost evaporated, add 1 cup of the stock and cover the pan. Let braise about 10 minutes and check the liquid. If it's drying out again and veg are not fork-smashing tender, add a bit more stock and cover for another few minutes. Simmer with the cover off to cook off any excess liquid, and use a fork to mash the veg into the remaining broth. Check for seasoning and remove from heat.
**not necessarily 'seasonal', but locally sourced - although the Mocha Stout is seasonal as well! The link for Theros does not show the unrefined - for that I think you have to visit the Tree & Vine in person.
2 cups brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut in half
1 small shallot
1 clove garlic
Theros unrefined olive oil
1 cup Mocha Stout
1 TBSP tamari sauce
In a pan wide enough to hold the sprouts in one layer, heat olive oil over medium/high heat and saute shallots & garlic until soft. Add sprouts, toss to coat and distribute shallots and garlic, then spread sprouts to fill the pan, cut side down. Lower the heat to medium and let cook 3-4 minutes or until cut side of sprouts begin to color. Season with salt & pepper and add Mocha Stout. Stir to mix and stir occasionally while liquid cooks off. When it does, add 1/2 cup of stock/broth and continue to cook until liquid reduces to a thicker, almost syrupy consistency (another 5 minutes or so). Add tamari and let simmer another minute or two, tasting for seasoning and checking tenderness of sprouts. I like mine with a bit of bite in them, but if you like them softer just continue the simmer a few more minutes.
This recipe is basically one of assemblage. I've listed below the components to the pictured serving, and individual recipes as appropriate. At the bottom of the recipe, I've also included some options and alternatives - the whole idea behind the bowl is to combine flavors you like into one hearty, soul-satisfying and day-starting meal!
Two eggs, over easy
Seasoned black beans
Chopped fresh tomato
Grits have become an acquired taste for me, but one thing I have learned is that those who do like them, like them the way they cook them. So if you're one of those, prepare the grits the way you like them. If you haven't tried them or just don't cook them much, follow the directions on the package. I sometimes prepare mine with water and season just with salt and maybe a bit of soy margarine at the end. Sometimes I cook them in a broth, sometimes I stir in some goat cheese at the end and season with fresh or dried herbs from the garden. It's the base of the bowl, so make them the way you like or prepare them to compliment what ever you'll put on top.
Seasoned black beans:
I soak dried beans that were a gift from a friend's garden, and if you do that, just grab Laurel's Kitchen or another good source for dealing with soaking beans and follow those instructions. You can also use canned beans, just drain and rinse them so you don't muddy up your other seasonings. Once the beans are tenderized, saute the following in olive oil:
chopped shallots or thinly sliced leek
smashed and chopped garlic
thinly sliced fennel bulb
Soften and add beans. If beans are still on the tough side (from soaking/cooking), add some broth and simmer until tender. If using canned beans, add a splash of broth or liquid if needed to keep from drying out, and simmer briefly, seasoning with salt, pepper, and sage.
Prepare hearty greens, like kale or collards, in the same manner as the black beans - braising them in a bit of liquid after saute-ing the aromatics.
Sausage (pork or veggie!)
Crumbled goat cheese
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Here's where you'll find all the recipes featured on the website. Some are presented in traditional format, others are more 'assemblage' recipes, combining ingredients that can be prepared a number of ways, and sometimes I'll present some ways. You're welcome to comment and offer your own versions!