Friday, January 6, 2012
On my way home from work on the Friday before New Year’s Day, I was feeling crummy. I wanted to do something to perk up. It was Friday night after all, and the eve of a three day holiday weekend. So I decided to stop into my neighborhood butcher and cheese monger to pick up something fun for dinner: Porter Road Butcher and The Bloomy Rind which are housed in the same building off Galatin Road in East Nashville.
How many neighborhoods the size of this one can boast awesome artisan food purveyors such as these? I feel like one lucky gal. Read my post on that very topic here.
I also thought it’d be fun to indulge in a big ol’ piece of meat since as is our tradition for the second year running, come January 1, we cut out meat for one full month. So, Porter Road Butcher, with its array of locally- and sustainably-raised meat options hooked me up with this beautiful, well-marbled, bone-in, inch-and-a-half thick, 24-ounce ribeye. Oh man. Definitely the most intense meat purchase of my life.
At $19 a pound this cowboy steak was not cheap, but it was a good piece of meat and I felt worth it. I knew where it came from, it was a special occasion, and it was going to taste great lightly sprinkled with salt and pan-seared to medium rare perfection. I purchased it intentionally, thoughtfully and aware that it was an indulgence. I split it with my fiance and we savored every morsel.
In 2012, I want to eat less but better meat. I will try to purchase or enjoy it from PRB, the farmer’s market, a CSA, a locally-focused restaurant or even a hunter (my parent’s got some kick ass deer baloney from a friend who shot the deer himself and processed all the meat for family and friends), as much as I can. That probably won’t be the case 100% of the time, but hey – it’ll be a step in the right direction for me nutritionally, environmentally and ethically.
As far as the Bloomy Rind goes, I purchased some goat cheese that had a layer of ash around it. The center was so soft it was nearly liquid. I shared it with no one. Kathleen Cotter rules.
I like taking a month each year not so much with the focus of avoiding meat, but with the intention of broadening my vegetarian horizons to try new techniques, ingredients, flavor profiles and menu items that I might have otherwise overlooked. So for the next few weeks, I’ll share the exploits of my vegetarian (and pescetarian – we’re still eating fish) adventures in the kitchen here.
I’d also love some recommendations on favorite creative and healthful veg-centric concoctions. Please leave a comment with any and all suggestions!
Welcome to the party 2012 – I’ll bring the good meats and cheese.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I’ve been in a little haze of love for East Nashville since before Christmas. I really tried to go local as much as possible with my gift giving, and while I didn’t wholly succeed (Dad got a really nice shirt from Nordstrom, among other exceptions…), I did hit up some classics:
What a treat to have access to all this within a few miles of where I live. I don’t mean to sound boastful; just want to shine a little light on a neighborhood that I really feel thankful for. Nicole Keiper of the blog East Nashville with Love sums up the neighborhood well in her About Us page here. If you’re not already reading that blog you’re missing out. It’s incredibly prolific in its content and a great source of neighborhood scoop.
I probably should have posted this before Christmas but hey, the holidays are hectic, man. Let this post be an inspiration to think local this year in lots of ways beyond just food. There are tons of local artisans in East Nashville and all around Nashville for that matter, and supporting them in 2012 the best I can is definitely something I’m going to be focusing on. Let’s do it together, shall we?
What are your favorite local spots, products, artisans, etc.?
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I often hear myself saying, “I need more vegetables in my life.” I love veggies and regularly crave them. I can just never get enough. If asked to choose between fruits and vegetables for the rest of my life, I’d definitely ditch the fruit. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good apple or mango, but the savory, earthy, crunchiness of veggies just gets me.
I came up with this salad when I was craving something healthy but hadn’t been to the grocery store in awhile. Luckily I had a few things still tucked away. It turned out great and I will definitely make variations of this again, especially to enjoy in the aftermath of the holidays. Mix and match veggies, nuts, fruit, dried fruit and grains in this salad to your tastes (or whatever you’ve got on hand).
What I like best about this concoction is all the textures. The crunchy carrots and nuts, the crispy bacon, the roasted sweet potatoes and squash and chewy raisins – it all works so well together. Great for a main dish salad or a side! And it’s easy to make a big batch, or just a serving for two. If you find other yummy ingredient combos you especially like, let me know!
Yield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Mix and match any ingredients in this yummy salad. The dressing makes more than you'll need so either half the ingredients or save in the fridge for another day. Kept covered, dressing will last for about a week.
1 sweet potato
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced (I had some frozen that I thawed and used)
1 onion, chopped
3/4 c uncooked Israeli couscous (or regular couscous, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
2 pieces uncooked bacon
3 cups chopped greens (arugula, mixed greens, spinach, etc.)
3 green onions, chopped
5 baby carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, plus celery greens, chopped
1 apple or pear, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (or your favorite cheese)
crusty bread, optional
3/4 c olive oil, extra virgin
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c honey
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut sweet potato into even cubes, with skin left on (more nutrients!). In a small bowl, toss sweet potato, cubed onion and butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of cubes) until browned and cooked through.
Meanwhile, boil Irsaeli couscous in water (just like pasta) until cooked but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Drain well and rinse with cold water to cool.
Cook bacon to desired doneness and drain on paper towel-lined plate. When cool enough to handle, crumble.
When potato/onion/squash mixture is done, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Combine with couscous, bacon and all other ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix up dressing ingredients in a small 1/2 pint jar (or other container) and shake until emulsified. Pour dressing over salad (to taste - there will be leftover dressing), tossing to combine. Serve with crusty bread, if desired.
Monday, December 12, 2011
I’m not much of a baker. It’s not that I don’t like baking, or that I’m particularly bad at it, I just don’t do it very often. I love to cook and try recipes, but one of the things I like best about cooking is the experimentation and improvisation of it all. I like to riff, which doesn’t really fly in baking.
But I do like sweets, and I love cookies – the perfect little hand-held sugar fix. Not as messy as cupcakes and less of a commitment than cake, cookies have always felt more like a treat to me than an actual dessert. So I was particularly excited when I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. This swap, made up of hundreds of food bloggers from around the world, was a great idea by the girls, and the perfect excuse to bake. To participate, I had to bake three dozen cookies and mail a dozen each to the three bloggers I was assigned (Kara, Vicki and Sue – enjoy!). In return, I will get a dozen cookies from three other food bloggers. Cool.
So I made my famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Well, they’re actually Giada’s Lemon Ricotta Cookies but since they’re the cookies I’ve made more than any other, they feel like something special to me.
What makes these cookies even more special is that I made them with the very first lemon my Meyer lemon tree ever produced. How cool is that?!
I like these cookies because they’re not overly sweet. The tangy ricotta and kick of lemon work well together. The use of a Meyer lemon – which is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange – makes them a little less lemony with a sweeter, more floral flavor. But if you don’t have a Meyer lemon tree growing in your kitchen (ha!), regular lemons work fine (and are what the recipe calls for). I’ve also been curious about using an orange or lime in this recipe. I bet it’d be delicious.
Check out my tree. I used the lemon hanging to the right in the recipe (plus one more regular lemon – this recipe requires quite a bit of both juice and zest). One of the things I noticed about working with such a fresh lemon was the texture. Store-bought lemons are usually so hard. The skin and pith was so soft it nearly fell apart when I juiced it. I had a little helper in the kitchen while I was baking, too. His name is Pippin.
When you mix up the dough, don’t completely mix in the ricotta. Having some small lumps of it in the batter will make the cookies extra moist. It should look something like this. (PS this cookie dough tastes AMAZING.)
Once the cookies have baked, you know the edges are done when they start to brown. The tops will remain pretty light so be careful not to overcook them.
When the cookies are completely cool, smear a little of the glaze on them. I make the glaze a little bit thicker than the recipe calls for so it doesn’t run down off the cookie too much.
Enjoy! I’ve enjoyed the swap so far, and will be looking forward to the next Food Blog Cookie Swap in 2012!
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: at least 2 hours, more with cooling
These cookies are extra moist, and sweet yet tangy. Make with lemons, or try other kinds of citrus. Unless your lemons are very fresh, you'll need at least two and maybe three to get enough juice.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in eggs, one at a time and beat with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy. Add in ricotta, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and zest and mix in.
3. Gently add in flour mixture to ricotta mixture and stir until just mixed. In 2 tablespoon scoops, spoon batter onto baking sheet. Bake until edges turn golden brown, 14-15 minutes. When done, cool at least 20 minutes on wire rack.
4. Combine glaze ingredients together. Spread on cookies once completely cool. Let glaze set at least 30 minutes to harden before packaging.
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis, Everyday Italian
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I remember the first time I had sweet potatoes and black beans together. Like it was yesterday. I fell in love. Well maybe that’s a little dramatic, but the memory is still pretty clear. At the since-closed Earwax Cafe in Chicago a few years ago, I ordered a sweet potato and black bean quesadilla one late afternoon with friends out on the patio. Something about the flavors and textures of those to ingredients just struck a chord.
Sometime last year, I started making this chili. I don’t remember where I got the inspiration for a chili version, but this is more or less the recipe I make most often. It’s easy to riff on the ingredients – go heavy on the black beans, but any other kind of bean will do. I’ve also added in butternut squash with the sweet potatoes, and you can add heat with chipotle peppers like I did below, or with red pepper flakes, hot sauce – anything you want. Get creative with the toppings, too. I love stirring creamy sour cream or plain yogurt into something warm, with cilantro sprinkled on top. Mmmmmm.
I also love this recipe because it includes inexpensive ingredients, many of which I already have on-hand — canned beans and tomatoes in the pantry, a few sweet potatoes hanging out in the fridge, and the toppings can vary. It’s also a healthy meal, loaded with veggies (and no meat, unless you go for the crumbled bacon!), and very little fat. It also gets better the longer it sits, so it’s a great leftover meal.
Hope you enjoy! If Earwax ever reopens I’ll have the share this recipe with them.
Sweet Potato & Black Beach Chili
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 30 min or a few hours
Total Time: 50 min
Feel free to riff on the toppings! Crumbled bacon, green onions or tortilla chips would be nice additions. This dish gets better the longer it simmers - if you're serving to guests, try making the day before and reheating.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 medium peppers, chopped (preferably poblanos but bell will work)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 bottle of beer (preferably an amber Mexican-style beer like dos equis)
3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped (skin left on)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
2 cans black beans
2 cans other beans (Great Northern, red, pinto, even chickpeas will work)
2 chipotle chili peppers, diced (from the can)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)
Vegetable/chicken broth, optional (for thinning, if necessary)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sour cream or plain yogurt, optional
1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add chopped peppers and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute more to toast. Add beer, and let reduce by half.
2. Add canned tomatoes and their juices, canned beans (do not drain), sweet potatoes, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer at least 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin with broth, if desired.
3. Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro and sliced avocado, if desired. Excellent with cornbread!
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 18, is The Phoenix Club of Nashville’s Taste of Nashville, held at Cannery Ballroom. In its 10th year, Taste of Nashville does just that – gives folks a taste of what Nashville has to offer. I can’t wait to experience this event for the first time. For a girl who always has a long list of dining destinations she wants to visit or revisit, and never enough time, this will be a great way to check in with some of my favorites and hopefully experience some new ones. And because catering an event like this is always a challenge (transportation, holding the food, keeping it warm, presentation, etc.), I’m always interested to see what people come up with, especially new and interesting off-menu items. I just can’t wait! And the kicker to it all? All proceeds go to The Boys and Girls Club of Middle TN. Good food for a good cause. Can’t beat that.
Click here for a full list of food/drink vendors. The list is substantial…
So…now to the “Win” part! I’m so excited to say, I’ve generously been given two free tickets to Taste of Nashville and two more to give away on my blog. Tickets are $50 ($60 at the door), so it’s definitely worth your time to enter.
Simply complete at least the first form of entry below. All additional forms are bonus entries (but please make sure to link your bonus entries as separate comments). I’ll randomly select a comment on Thursday 11/10 at noon CST and notify the winner via email.
1) (Must complete this to enter!) Leave a comment on this blog telling me what part of Taste of Nashville you’re most excited about. Is it a restaurant? Distiller? Brewer? Location? Entertainment?All of the above?!
2) (Additional Entry) RSVP on Taste of Nashville’s Facebook page and leave a comment (and link your post back here as a comment)
3) (Additional Entry) Follow @annakatet on twitter and tweet something like the following : I hope I win 2 free tix to @TasteofNash 11/18 from @AnnakateT! http://ow.ly/7kal9 (and link your tweet back here as a comment)
UPDATE: THIS CONTEST IS OVER.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Remember when I posted about the Alimentum Eat & Greet Tour on Nolensville Road a few weeks ago? It was awesome. Paulette created a great video with a recap of the tour. Check it out below. It gives me goosebumps! AND, read on for details of the next tour which is this Sunday! This time, we’re going to highlight farmers, artisans and unique producers around the region. We didn’t reveal this in the press push that went out a few weeks back, but the special lunch during the tour is going to be at Miel Restaurant in West Nashville! They’re opening on a Sunday just for us. I’m so excited.
Here are the details of the next tour:
Who: Alimentum Eat & Greet Tour: Farm/Artisan Tour
Paulette Licitra, Publisher & Tour Host
Annakate Tefft, Public Relations & Tour Host
When: Sunday, October 23, 2011 9:30am to 4pm
What: Guided tour costs $95 per person, limit 10 people. Tour includes transportation (from group meeting point), lunch, the latest copy of Alimentum Journal, and fun times with fellow local foodies.
Where: Tour departs at 9:30 am sharp (we’ve got a lot to cover!); meeting location TBD
To buy tickets and learn more, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Figs are a true delight. Raw, they’re so sweet and complex you can enjoy them as they are with cheese or cured meats. Roasted in a baked good or alone, the gooey insides further liquefy into a sweet melted mess. A favorite preparation is to half them, plop a little pat of goat cheese on top, then wrap them in bacon and roast for 20 minutes or so.
This time, I decided to make jam with my figs. (Well technically these are preserve since the shape of the figs is preserved in the finished product. ) I’m trying to get a jump on holiday gifts, and I’ve found homemade jam always goes over well. I got this interesting recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, here. The thyme gives it an herbal note, which matches the figs well. It also lends a savory element which complements a savory cracker, cheese or meat well.
Figs are in season late summer and early fall. If you’re in Nashville, I found these tasty figs at Whole Foods. The varieties of these figs weren’t labeled when I bought them, but I believe the brown ones are Mission figs and the green ones are Calimyrna figs. I only used the Mission figs in this recipe.
I love this recipe because it includes sorghum, which is a syrup made from a cereal grain. It’s smoky and complex and goes well with the figs. I was afraid it’d overpower it in the recipe, but not so. Here are the ingredients you’ll need, minus the sorghum. I quartered the figs before I started cooking them.
You don’t need to add artificial pectin to the recipe as many fruits already contain pectin, and citrus has an especially high concentration. So the orange zest you add will make the jam set. It won’t be as firm as a jam recipe that calls for artificial pectic, but that never bothers me.
The end result was only a few small mini jelly jars (each holds 4 oz.), but the smaller batch makes the jam extra special. Enjoy!
Fig Thyme Jam
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 30
The canning directions are derived from "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves" by Linda Ziedrich. The recipe, as noted above, is from the September issue of "Bon Appetit" magazine.
1/2 cup sorghum syrup or honey
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 sprigs thyme
Pinch of sea salt
1 pound fresh figs, stemmed, quartered
Place sorghum syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add orange zest, thyme sprigs, and pinch of salt. Simmer sorghum mixture for 1 minute. Add figs. Continue to simmer, gently stirring occasionally, until figs are soft but still hold their shape, 5–10 minutes, depending on firmness of figs.
Ladle the preserves into jars. Add lids and rings, and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remove and let cool. Make sure you hear the "pop" or the jars will need to be refrigerated
Bon Appetit Magazine, September 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Well, speed dating (sort of) with local businesses, that is. At the opening party for Food Blog Forum Nashville, which was held at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, and themed “Taste of Tennessee,” I walked around to each booth to experience all sorts of goodness from restaurateurs, purveyors, artisans and more from the Middle Tennessee region. And it made me fall in love all over again with Nashville. The Nashville food scene really seems to be blowing up, and I’m so proud to be here to taste, sip, snack and support it, the best I can. I’m was so inspired by the event (and huge shout out to Beth, Lindsay and Leah for all the work they put into planning this for our fair city) that I’m blogging about it the very same day!
The event was a great chance to get up close and personal with a strong representation of Nashville’s finest in food and drink. I wanted to take this opportunity to show off a few of my favorite vendors of the evening.
Corsair Distillery’s Triple Smoke American Single Malt Whiskey was amazing. Sooo smokey, but not in the artificial burnt toast kind of way – in a really smooth, deep way. The gal conducting the tasting also shared that their tasting room in Marathon Village is about to open, which means not only are they distilling spirits on location, they’re finally going to be able to sample them. They had to build out a separate space with its own door, apart from the distillery (damn you Tennessee liquor laws).
Next up is Bathtub Gin. With their spiked fruit spreads in flavors like Limoncello Strawberry, Rum Raisin Mission Fig (yes, that’s all one kind), and Basil Vodka Golden Tomato, I knew I had to sample these spreadable delights myself. Amy (one of the two sister creators) was a doll, and so excited to share her creations.
Then I ate half a hot dog. A hot dog smothered in Mista Dale’s Gourmet Mustard Slaw, that is! Mista Dale himself was so charming, and passionate about his slaw. After turning 50 last year, he says he knew he wanted to do something he was truly passionate about, and he knew he made a mean slaw. So one day he packaged up one of his prized concoctions and mailed it to Kroger in a used mayonnaise jar. Six weeks later he was invited to present his product in the Kroger national headquarters in Cincinnati, and now you can be find Mista Dale’s around Nashville and soon around the Middle Tennessee region. Gotta love stories like that. I tried the more mild of the two spicy slaws and it sure was tasty. Reminded me of a chow chow or relish over a slaw because of its heat and bright yellow color (from the mustard). Growing up in the Midwest, our slaws were pretty bland…Marzetti Dressing anyone? The ingredient list contains whole, real foods, too, and no preservatives. Nice, Mista Dale!
The Bloomy Rind, created by cheese enthusiast Kathleen Cotter, bills itself as “an artisan cheese shop in the making.” How lovely! While she doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location yet, Kathleen keeps busy doing wonderful things like creating the first-of-its-kind Southern Cheese Festival, partnering with all kinds of restaurants, breweries and other vendors (like Bathtub Gin) to provide cheese all over town, and selling her cheese — both local and national varieties — at local shops like Turnip Truck and farmers’ markets. Way to go, Kathleen — it’s so great to have access to so many wonderful cheeses, and have someone so knowledgeable to share them.
Last on my short list of faves was Perl Catering. They’re a husband-and-wife team who offers local, organic, restaurant-quality food to their catering clients. I snacked on a pumpkin seed romesco crostini with truffled spaghetti squash on top. Holy crap was it good!
And that was just the start. Goo Goo Clusters, Olive & Sinclair Chocolates, Yazoo who custom made pint glasses featuring the FBF logo, Loveless Cafe, Grinder’s Switch Winery and O.Liv Body Bar were present as well. Arnold Myint also did a cooking demonstration and his newest restaurant concept, AM & FM, offered up delicious crostinis of roasted beets, egg salad with pickled mustard seeds, and shrimp with pickled caper berries.
So many good folks, food and festivities tonight, and it’s all just the start. Excited to attend FBF tomorrow, to learn some blogging tips and tricks so that I can blog more and better about the excellent purveyors of Middle Tennessee, with whom I am most definitely in love.
Friday, September 16, 2011
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at a full, round table, and all of a sudden, you can’t find your bread plate. Some people have used the one on the left and others the one on the right. Which is yours? Come to think of it, which is your water glass? The table is loaded with multiple plates for each person (entree, salad, bread, etc.), a starter plate or two is crowding the center, causing everyone to shuffle things around to make room. Plus you’ve got wine, water and maybe even coffee mugs on the table. Things are hectic
Fear not, fellow diner! I’m about to blow your mind with a simple solution. I can’t remember who taught me this trick, but it is one of the most useful little tidbits I’ve added to my collection of somewhat random facts. Without fail, I use this trick at nearly every group restaurant outing I attend.
Enter the b-d trick. First, make your left hand into a lowercase “b,” like so:
b = bread
Next, make your right hand into a “d,” like so:
Am I cut out to be a hand model or what? Now, it’s possible you see where I’m going with this, but in case not, I’m going to drag it out a bit more. You may ask, how will I know to make by left hand the “b” and my right hand the “d”? What if I switch them? Unless you have an extra thumb on the back of your hand, you can’t. With that, voila:
The b-d trick, revealed!
As you can see, the “b” on the left indicates you should use the bread/appetizer plate on that side. The “d” to the right indicates that’s the water/wine glass you should go for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled out this trick, covertly under the table. I’ve also met very few people who have heard this before. You’ll have to show off your new skills to your friends.
Were you in-the-know about this little trick before? Think it’s smart? Dumb? So awesome you’re at a loss about where to begin? Leave a comment and let me know! You can thank me later.