Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'm not here...

...but you can find me at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turkish-Style Beef + Eggplant Sandwiches

For the second week in a row, we got some beautiful lavender-skinned eggplants in our CSA box. Long and slender, they were just begging to be cooked into something delicious. I also had some ground beef in the freezer, and the two knd of came together in my mind as a nice filling for a weeknight sandwich, sort of loose-meat style.

I roasted the eggplant and browned the meat with a whole mess of garlic and some sliced onions. When the eggplant was tender and browned, I tossed it in with the meat and added a handful of fresh herbs.
I then piled it into a flatbread wrap, and dolloped on a sauce of thickened yogurt spiked with hot pepper flakes and a little lemon juice. It was, in a word, mouthwatering. We loved it and ate every. last. bite.

Turkish-Style Beef + Eggplant Sandwiches
serves 2 with leftovers for lunch

3 Japanese eggplants or 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill, or a combination of both
2 teaspoons freh lemon juice
2 flatbread sandwich wraps or pitas, warmed (or any flat, wrappable bread you like)

Yogurt Sauce
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Chopped dill and/or mint

Preheat oven to 450ยบ. Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a big pinch of salt; place on a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 12 minutes, or until eggplant is browned and soft.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the beef, breaking it apart with the spatula. Toss everything to combine, and cook until beef is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Add eggplant to skillet, and toss. Add herbs and lemon juice, and toss to combine. Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes, and herbs. Stir to combine.

Spoon filling into bread, dollop with yogurt sauce and serve.

{serve with oven fries for even greater success}

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Change is Gonna Come

Big announcement coming soon...

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

'Mater Love

I found out this weekend I was chosen to participate in Foodbuzz's 24, 24, 24 dinner for the month of August. Here's an explanation of the event from, which is linked to last month's event:

"Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period."

I submitted a menu last week and got picked. Woo! My idea was to have a farewell to tomatoes menu, since (at least in Alabama) summer 'mater season comes to an end in late August. I get $250 from Visa Signature to help me buy the ingredients, too. Fabulous.

Here's the menu...I plan on getting as much as I can from farms and other local sources. I'll keep you updated as I prepare for the meal, which will be a week from this coming Saturday (August 29).
  • Tomato gin or vodka fizz
  • Tomato, cucumber & goat feta napoleons with basil oil
  • Chilled creamy tomato-dill soup
  • Locally raised trout in tomato aqua pazza, topped with fresh tomato relish
  • Candied cherry tomatoes on squares of dark walnut bread spread with honey-sweetened ricotta
  • Matched wines
More to come...

Our Eats This Week

Keeping it pretty quick and easy this week, but I promise to have recipes for the pitas and the Spicy Tomato Shrimp...

- Chipotle–Black Bean cakes (ccokbook re-test), fresh corn on the cob, squash
Tuesday - Middle Eastern–style roasted eggplant and ground beef pitas, oven fries
Wednesday - Spicy Tomato Shrimp, fresh field peas and rice
Thursday - Flatbread (cookbook) and salad

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Color Purple

{This is an edited re-post of one I wrote when this blog was in its infancy. It's appropriate for this time of year, so I wanted to share it again}

The plums in the market right now are so lush, the skin so purple it's almost black. I love the flavor dichotomy of ripe plums — the first bite of skin and fruit is tart, but as you get closer to the pit, the flesh gets sweeter. There are 2,000 varieties of plums, but only about 20 types are generally sold in the U.S., including classic purple ones, red ones, green ones and even red-flecked pluots, which are a cross-breeds of plums and apricots.

I love to cut them into chunks and mix them with cantaloupe, fresh lime juice, mint and a touch of sugar. The combination of the flavors and textures of the different plums made for a lovely mix. The smaller, green ones are tart and firm, while the darker ones are sweet and softer. The melon added another layer of flavor, while the lime and mint added some depth. You could certainly sub out the cantaloupe for honeydew, and add in some peaches, blueberries or any other summery fruit you think would work well. This keeps well in the fridge — it's just as good (if not better) the second day—if it lasts that long.

Plum and Melon Salad
makes about 2 1/2 cups
1 or 2 medium purple plums, pitted and cubed
1 small green plum, pitted and cubed
1 medium red plum, pitted and cubed
1 pluot, pitted and cubed
1/4 t0 1/2 cantaloupe, peeled and cubed
Juice of one small lime
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint

Combine everything in a large bowl, toss to coat fruit in juice and sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour. Stir before serving. Keeps up to four days, refrigerated.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Runaround

My week has felt pretty crazy so far, and it's only Tuesday! Of course I determine how well a week is going by the meals I cook and eat...

The past 2 days have been strange. First, Jason hurt his ankle playing basketball early Monday morning, so he's been needing extra help and hasn't been able to do everything he normally is able to. (He is a superman husband, I tell you. He is so helpful when he's not down to 1 good foot.) Anyway, when I came home from work yesterday, I made dinner, and then tested two recipes, did a huge load of all the dirty dishes, then cleaned the kitchen. Even though it was all fun (for the most part), I was on my feet in the kitchen from 5:30 pm until almost 10.

This morning, I woke up 10 minutes after I am supposed to be at work. Lovely. So I scrambled around and rushed out the door. I had deadlines galore at work, scarfed down Subway for lunch, then ran home to take Jason to the doctor for x-rays. (His ankle had gotten more swollen since yesterday, but it's not broken—just sprained, thank goodness.) By the time we got home at almost 6:45, we were famished, so I hastily threw together some veggies and squeezed in one cookbook test. Ran errands after dinner, and am just sitting down with a glass of wine to decompress.

I tell you this to let you know that food hasn't been at the forefront of my mind. But I have been saving pictures of these tacos we had a while ago, because I didn't really have much of a recipe for them. But they're a perfect thing to share during a busy week, because they require little effort for a delicious payoff.

Remove the skin from a rotisserie chicken, then shred the meat. (I shred the white meat and save the dark for other things, but you can mix if you like.) Throw it in a skillet slicked with vegetable oil, and toss around until warm.

In a saucepan, warm up a can of drained black beans. Add some cumin and a grated clove of garlic, if you feel like it. With a potato masher, mash the beans until they're smooth with a few chunks.

Wrap a stack of corn tortillas in a damp paper towel, then pop in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Leave them in the microwave until you're ready for them.

Shred some lettuce. If you're feeling ambitious and tomatoes are in season, dice a tomato and 1/4 of a sweet onion. Add minced cilantro and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt.

Pile everything on the warmed tortillas, and garnish with sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quick and Easy Lemon-Dill Green Beans

This isn't exactly a recipe, but this is how I throw together a quick, and delicious side dish.

Place the freshest green beans you can find in a deep skillet with a lid. Add about 3 to 4 tablespoons water, depending on the thickness of the beans. Use more water for thicker beans, less for skinnier ones. Drizzle with about 2 teaspoons olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Toss.

Cover, and turn heat to high. Let beans steam for about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the beans. When they are just barely tender, uncover skillet. Keep heat on high, and let water evaporate while the beans pick up a little bit of color from the oil, tossing constantly.

When the water is gone, turn off the heat. Add the zest of 1 lemon and a lot of dill (like, a quarter cup. Or more.) Sprinkle with extra salt and fresh pepper, and taste. Add a bit more oil or even a pat of butter for good measure. Serve.

Alabama Locavores

Our CSA box was full to the brim with the most gorgeous produce yet! I am so excited to get these beauties on our cutting board, in our pans, and into our awaiting mouths and bellies. Behold, the loveliness that is the early August harvest...

Here's how we'll enjoy them this week...

- Brunch: Eggs with Cajun salsa, fried okra, and corn cakes
Dinner: Cavatelli con Vongole et Spinaci (cookbook test)
Monday - Asian-Style Veggie Night: grilled baby eggplant with miso dressing, Broccoli with Puri Puri Sauce (cookbook test), Black Eyed Peas with Ginger Soy Sauce (cookbook test)
Tuesday - Beef Brewat Rolls (cookbook test), cucumber salad
Wednesday - Chicken curry with CSA veg, rice
Thursday - Black-Bean Chipotle Cakes (cookbook re-test), millet, CSA veg

{beautiful fresh soybeans, perfect for an afternoon snack!}

Monday, August 3, 2009


Sopa Azteca is essentially a tomato-chicken broth you ladle over fried tortillas and avocado chunks. I tested a version of this Mexican classic the other night for the cookbook I'm helping with. Though I can't share the exact recipe here, there are a multitude of recipes to be found online, and I'm sure they're all pretty delicious.

Because the tomatoes here are SO good right now, and because we had tons from our CSA box, I used them in the version I made, but I assume it would be {almost} as good with canned tomatoes. I fried the corn tortillas and diced a beautiful avocado...those two garnishes make the soup what it is.

And although it wasn't in the recipe, I added one whole breast of chicken to the soup, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Once cooked, I shredded the meat and added it back into the soup, making it a filling dinner.

I highly recommed making this soon. This recipe looks good, or just Google around until you find one that sounds good to you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sweet Home Alabama

One of my favorite parts of living in the deep south is the selection of what we call Meat-and-Threes—essentially cafeterias serving up homestyle Southern food. A typical plate consists of a meat, such as pot roast, fried catfish, or fried chicken, and three veggies, such as slow-cooked green beans, collards, macaroni and cheese (while not actually a vegetable, it's considered one here), and my favorite, fried okra.

When I was little, we often ate at Picadilly Cafeteria, and I always—and I mean always—ordered fried okra as a side dish. Even the mediocre frozen kind (which is what you most often find) is good to me.

So when our CSA box had a bag of fresh okra, I knew what I had to do. I looked and looked for a recipe and found lots of fancy varieties, but in the end, I decided to go simple. Buttermilk and hot sauce, a dredge of cornmeal, and that's it. Even Jason, who's never liked fried okra, had a handful and enjoyed it. It was okra at its finest. Hot, crisp, and delightful.

{soaking in buttermilk & hot sauce}

Failproof Fried Okra
serves 2, but can easily be doubled

1/2 pound fresh okra, stems removed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
Tobasco or Frank's Red Hot (or similar)
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup cornmeal
Fine-grain salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place okra in a bowl, and cover with buttermilk and hot sauce. Stir to combine and coat fully. Let sit for 20 minutes while the oil heats. Pour oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy, high-sided pot to a depth of 1 inch, and heat over medium-high.

Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl, and add a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Set aside. Remove okra from buttermilk mixture, shaking off excess. Dredge half of okra in cornmeal mixture.

Sprinkle a pinch of cornmeal mixture into the oil. If it bubbles quickly, it's ready. Carefully place the breaded okra in the hot oil, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. If the breading browns very quickly, turn the heat down.

Drain on a plate lined with paper towels; repeat with second half of okra. Serve hot.

Like a Bunny

I'm posting a quick menu today because I'm busy running around getting everything ready to be the food stylist for a magazine shoot tomorrow! I'm very excited, if not just a little bit will be my first time styling something that will actually be published.

Anyway, there's lots of prep work to be done. I promise to share as much as I can when it's over (it's going in the Nov/Dec issue of TeaTime, where I am Associate Editor) and when the issue is out, I'll be sure to share more!

In the meantime, here's our weekly menu...still testing recipes for the Disney cookbook, so that's a majority of our meals.

Sunday - Burgers, fried okra, summer squash, and sliced cucumber
Monday - Chicken paillards, couscous, Lemon-Dill Broad Beans
Tuesday - Northern Bean Soup (cookbook), green salad
Wednesday - Pasta with CSA Summer Squash and Tomatoes
Thursday - Escolar with Vegetables (cookbook)
Friday - Robusto Flat Bread with Romesco Sauce (cookbook)
Saturday - Cavatelli con Vongole et Spinaci (cookbook)