August 9, 2012

New in Town | Little Eatery

The Hills Market has a fantastic little pop-up happening on the Veranda, home to so many good events as it is.  Little Eatery is occupying the space on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the summer from 11am to 2 pm and creating fresh, locally-sourced salads.  Its chef, Cara Mangini, honed her craft on both coasts: in New York as Mario Batali’s vegetable butcher and in Napa in the farm-to-table kitchen of a restaurant and winery.

But honestly what I loved as much as anything was sitting and chatting with her while she deftly mixed up bowls of emerald kale with Lake Erie feta or arugula and peaches and doled out samples of her market salads: lovely combos of watermelon and that feta, or cabbage and peanut slaw.

Tastes all depend on the day, folks, as it should with good vegetables.

Not to be missed are her buttermilk cheddar biscuits with honey butter, the perfect foil to all those well dressed greens and veggies.

It’s nice to have a new face in town.  Grab lunch and go say “hi.”

Playlist included, of course, New in Town, by Little Boots.

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July 26, 2012

A Luxurious Dessert | Strawberries, Red Wine, Sriracha

My palate has wanderlust again.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about Vietnamese food and the influences the French left behind.  I have a hankering for Pho.  I’m desperate for a good bánh mì.

So it should come as no surprise that when I was invited to put together a dessert recipe Yagööt and the launch of their new line of Yagööt@Home, I chose to go the Southeast Asian route and use some inspired ingredients: coconut frozen yogurt, Thai basil, a French red wine, ginger.  Sriracha.

Sometimes a recipe comes together so easily.  Ingredients fall into each other like long-lost friends, perfectly happy to hang out again.  And while everything except the sugar and strawberries (and the coconut Yagööt of course) in this dessert are savory, I can guarantee that it makes one of the sexiest desserts you’ve ever tasted.  And did I mention that it takes only ten minutes to make?

For the red wine in this recipe, I used a Beaujolais-Villages, because it’s widely available as well as relatively inexpensive.  An inexpensive pinot noir would work, too.  I use only a cup, so heck, you can kind of throw this together if you’ve got a bit of wine left over from dinner.   This time, I used fresh strawberries, but you can bet that I’ll be pulling out all those strawberries we picked and froze earlier this year when the weather gets colder.  The recipe calls for Thai basil, which is at every Asian grocery store worth its salt.  I think it’s pretty critical to the flavor profile of the dessert, but in a pinch you could substitute some standard basil.  Sriracha is another seemingly exotic ingredient, but widely available in most grocery stores.  Buy a bottle and you’ll find yourself putting this spicy hipster ketchup on everything from your morning eggs to Friday night pizza.  It’s delicious.

Feel like being daring?  Want to try this recipe?  How about some free Yagööt?  Continue reading

July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement.  Continue reading

July 22, 2012

LetMeShowYou | What’s Been in the Kitchen

I’ll admit I haven’t been the best at keeping you up to date with everything that’s been through the kitchen lately.

Here’s a photo journal of some of the things (from Juneberries to cherries to ramp risotto) that I just didn’t manage to get a post up about.

Playlist included Save the World, by Swedish House Mafia.

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July 18, 2012

BFFs | Trout and Bacon

I understand the problem as well as anyone: we’re told to eat fish for its health benefits, but it’s a challenging ingredient that leaves us either nervous or unfulfilled.  We’re afraid to eat it, and when we do we’re hungry later.  Well I have the solution — trout paired with bacon. Continue reading

July 16, 2012

Monday Grill | My Favorite Okra

I came back from Georgia filled with Southern inspiration and several bagfuls of southern produce.  The okra purchased at a farmer’s market just before we left was my favorite.  And when I came home I was determined to try and remake it in a way that I found I loved.  In Athens, we were lucky enough to have a superb dinner at Five and Ten.  It was there I had some of the best okra I’d ever eaten.  It was very simply perfectly seasoned then lightly charred in – most likely – a cast iron skillet.

Fast forward to a night that I have almost no energy to cook and even less to clean the kitchen after dinner.

Enter this super-summery dinner that’s cooked entirely outside and takes no more than about 10 minutes to prep in the kitchen.  Tonight’s easy meal was chicken thighs (bone in, skin on please) rubbed with this quick spice mixture and left to marinate, and a ton of peak-season summer produce and a ton of flavor.  But the star is the okra.

I know, you might have a thing with okra, right?  Or you only eat it fried?  Or in gumbo?  Or perhaps, you just avoid it altogether.  I challenge you to give this quick cooking method a try, it leaves all that incredible fresh okra taste with almost none of the things you might not like about okra (ahem, the slime).  The trick is a high heat and, to begin with, a completely dry pan.

Favorite Athens Okra and Vegetables, serves two

15 small to medium sized okra pods, trimmed of the stem and halved on a deep diagonal Continue reading

July 14, 2012

If You Have A Moment | JCT Kitchen

We had the good fortune to stop into JCT Kitchen when we were in Atlanta for the day during our vacation.  It was, perhaps, the best food decision we’d made, well, maybe ever.  Friends of ours love it already and we had heard from several folks (even strangers!) that it was their favorite spot in the ATL.

The fact that they serve Sunday suppers was what really made it a place that was aiming for my heart.  I mean, because what’s more important than that, really?  Most Sundays, you go over to Momma’s house and eat ’til you’re full.  But what if Momma’s out of town?  If you’re in Atlanta for any reason, eat here.  Anytime.  Truly.  It’s that special.

The food was thoughtful, modern Southern  fare.  We were there for lunch with (now five years old!) Cherub and were perfectly at ease.  Details, down to the inspired “kid’s menu,” were what made us feel so at home.  She ordered the “fish sticks” and we all nearly battled to polish off the light as air battered lengths of fish that were kissed with the freshest lemon.  She wisely ordered the green beans to go with and they were like almost none other: fresh bright green, perfectly seasoned and luxuriating in butter.  Sorry little one, Momma wants just a few more.

Appetizers of devil eggs with ham and the pimento cheese fry bread with picked veg had us hungry for more.  The yolks on the eggs were silky and the pickled vegetables with the fry bread were the perfect foil.  The chef here knows a whole lot about balance.  The fried chicken and the creamy Sea Island red peas were heavenly as was the salmon sandwich and truffle Parmesan fries.  I really don’t think you could have a bad meal there.

With the lovely afternoon light streaming into the dining room and our tummies pleasantly full we couldn’t  help but order a couple of desserts.  Let me rephrase that: Cherub couldn’t help order a couple of desserts.   Chocolate toast and banana pudding were the order and I have to say, I teared up just a little because man, this kid already knows how to order.

The prices for the freshness (we saw the chef outside after lunch with a farmer and his pickup truck buying all the produce he had) and finesse was almost jaw-dropping.  We expected to pay much, much more.

I honestly don’t have further words than this place really is good and when you’re in town you need to go.

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Playlist included Ho Hey by The Lumineers.

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