Tuesday, July 31, 2012

white bean, black bean

I have been trying to incorporate more beans into our diet as they are a superfood and less expensive than meat. For lunch this week, Vance and I are having vegetable sandwiches on whole grain bread with a black bean hummus. This creamy bean dip is delicious on pita or as part of a meal.

Another great bean recipe was a white bean and summer vegetable curry. This recipe is a bit of East meets West as I combined Indian flavors like garam masala, cumin and cayenne with beans and avocado. Typically, I think of a rich curry in the fall or winter, but white beans and zucchini definitely lighten up this dish. 

White bean curry served over Jasmine rice with plain yogurt and avocado slices.
This recipe is adapted from Eat, Live, Run's Channa Masala. Enjoy!

2 carrots peeled and cubed
1 large zucchini cubed
15 ounce white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Garlic Cloves, smashed and chopped
1/2 Onion, chopped
1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 Inch Knob Fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
1 15 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/4 Lemon
1/2 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1.2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
2 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon EVOO
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the butter and add oil. Once melted, add the onions, carrot and zucchini, and cook for about 15 minutes on medium low heat. Once the vegetables are soft, add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno and stir well. Cook for about two minutes. Add the tomato paste and pince (see below). Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and tumeric and stir well. Then add the diced tomatoes, white beans and garam masala. Cook for about five minutes or until the beans have heated through. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and top with plain yogurt. I sliced some avocado and assemble around the edge of the dish - mainly because we love avocado and I wanted something green.
To pince is essentially to brown the ingredients. For this recipe, after you add the paste, stir it well into the other ingredients. Next you’ll want to flatten the ingredients into one layer on the bottom of the pan. Turn up the heat and allow the sugars to cook down for a few minutes and create a really nice brown crust on the bottom of your pan. It may look like it’s burnt but it’s not. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

tomato pie - a little slice of heaven

I made two pies and took one to my friend Erin's birthday potluck! Below are ingredients for one pie - enjoy.
Whole wheat crust (pre-made from Whole Foods)
1 large sweet onion, like Vidalia
1 tablespoon EVOO
3-4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced medium thick and drained on paper towels to remove excess water
1/2 cup Hellman's Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (or whatever cheese you have on hand - Monteray Jack, Colby, Swiss...all would work well)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or other sharp cheese
1 cup fresh basil
S&P to taste
Bake the whole wheat pie crust (after pricking all over with a fork) for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Slice tomatoes and allow them to sit in paper towels to drain. Sprinkle some course salt on the slices to help draw out the liquid. Slice the onion and sautee in a little EVOO until soft, set aside. Rinse, dry and chop basil. After the pie crusts are done and the tomatoes have drained for a bit, layer tomato slices, onion, basil, S&P in the pie crust. Try to keep the pie level and arrange the ingredients evenly. When the pie crust is nicely filled with the tomato and onion mixture, mix the cheddar cheese and mayo together. Smooth the mayo mixture over the tomatoes, disbursing evenly and covering all exposed tomatoes. Top with grated Parmesan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Note: even if you drain your tomatoes well, this pie may have liquid in the bottom. I made two pies on a Sunday night, allowed them to cool, refrigerated over night and then slowly reheated in the oven for about 45 minutes at 300 degrees before serving. This helped draw out additional moisture. This is a great "make ahead" dish for any meal at any time of day!

Monday, July 23, 2012

a sparkle too aggressive?

One of my oldest and best friends, Jen, came to Nashville for the weekend. We had a great few days, starting the weekend with a sparkling wine and cheese tasting. It was interesting to hear the sommelier describe each wine and how it paired with the cheeses. Bready, fizzy, aromatic...aggressive - all interesting terms to describe our wines. Jen and I both enjoyed Lumasinna, a light Italian sparkler.
Clockwise -Bucheron (semi-soft), Gruyere (firm), Camembert (soft), Point Reyes Blue (medium-soft) & Manchego (hard)
Cheers with Bottex Le Cueille!
On Saturday, we hit some great shops like World Market and had dinner at The Wild Cow in East Nashville. Jen has been a vegetarian since the start of the year, so this was the perfect occasion to try a new vegan restaurant. I had a great black bean burger with a pineapple slaw. 
Sunday morning we went to Fido and had a delicious brunch. Eggs Benedict on toasted whole grain bread, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and wilted spinach - definitely a dish to make before fresh tomatoes are gone. 
Friends (like fine wine) get better with age...here is to another 20 plus years of friendship!
Fun fact - when opening a sparkling wine, do your best to remove the cork slowly (so it makes the sigh of a woman) as opposed to popping the cork. This method helps not to bruise the wine.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

from pot to table

When my parents were down a few weeks ago, they lovingly planted herbs, tomatoes and a pepper plant for us. The issue is - we had a snake scenario in June, therefore getting down and dirty in our yard is causing me some stress. Maybe next spring I will get more into planting but for now I am just enjoying my potted plants!
Basil and thyme
With herbs abound, we made a great pizza a few nights ago. Basil, cherry tomatoes, purple onion, portabello mushroom, and mozzarella over a tomato and cream cheese base. 
Baked on a pizza stone at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes
Lonely little pepper plant
What vegetables, herbs or fruits have you planted this summer? I need some serious gardening support!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Vance and I had a great date night on Saturday - a cooking class at Salud Whole Foods Cooking School. The theme was Farm to Table, and we had delicious ripe tomatoes, watermelon, butter beans and Vidalia onions.
Bruschetta with black cherry and yellow grape tomatoes, basil and S&P, on toasted whole wheat baguette.
Our menu included tomato pie, crab fritters with Tabasco cream sauce (yes, as delicious as it sounds), squash succotash, Memphis dry-rubbed ribs, watermelon and Vidalia salad and a peach cobbler with buttermilk ice cream. 
Vance and I were charged with succotash - definitely not part of my Yankee repertoire, but delicious. Butter beans, fresh corn, yellow squash, green onions, applewood smoked bacon and cream. This dish is a delicious summer side or paired with some sliced tomatoes, would make a great weeknight dinner.
My favorite part of meal, watermelon, Vidalia onion, feta and mint with a poppyseed dressing.
In addition to the great food, we had a light, slightly fizzy, white wine and a wonderful time! I will definitely be attending future classes. One minor concern - I had to pay to get Vance to actually cook - is there something wrong with that?
He looks cute in an apron, huh?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

nothing like family

My parents came to visit over 4th of July weekend and we had a ball! Antiquing, eating good food, shopping, enjoying good drinks, movie watching - and napping - the perfect staycation! We hit a few of Vance's and my favorite restaurants including Garden Brunch Cafe, Puckett's Grocery and Eastland Cafe. On Sunday, I made a lemon risotto with shrimp and peas and it was quite good. My mom had bought a delicious loaf of Parmesan focaccia at Fresh Market, and it was the perfect accompaniment. 
 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups carnaroli or Arborio rice 
3/4 cup white wine
zest of one lemon
5 cups chicken broth, heated
1 cup cooked peeled shrimp
1/2 cup fresh shelled peas or frozen baby peas run under hot water and drained
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Heat the broth in a small saucepan, keep at a low simmer. In a large saucepan heat the oil and butter on medium heat. Add onion to the butter and oil and stir until translucent. Add the rice and stir constantly to keep from burning, cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine, stir and reduce the wine by half. With heat at medium-low add 1 cup of warm broth and lemon zest, stir briefly and allow to reduce. Keep adding broth one cup at a time, stirring occasionally allowing each cup of broth to reduce before adding the next cup until the rice is al dente, about 20 – 30 minutes (to prep ahead of time stop adding broth after about 15 minutes, chill broth and rice until ready to resume and finish adding re-warmed broth 1 cup at a time, until al dente). Stir in the peas and shrimp and add another 1/2 cup of broth, cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in parsley, Parmesan and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Family visits together always go too fast, but they are a great reminder of how lucky we are to have such wonderful people in our lives. Looking forward to seeing some Northern friends and family again soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

chicken sausage skewers

Adapted from Cooking Light, chicken sausage & bell pepper skewers over couscous -
get grillin'!
1 cup couscous
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 (12-ounce) package chicken sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
4 green onions, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Soak 12 8-inch skewers in water, at least 15 minutes. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Prepare the couscous as the label directs. Meanwhile, toss the bell peppers, sausage, onion and tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Thread onto the skewers, alternating the sausage and vegetables. Grill, turning, until the vegetables are slightly softened and the sausage begins to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the cilantro and scallions in a blender with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the skewers with some of the pesto and continue to cook, turning, until the tomatoes are tender and the sausage is charred, 6 to 7 more minutes. Toss the couscous with half of the remaining pesto and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the skewers and the remaining pesto, for dipping.