I don't know about you, but I just love it when berries start showing up at market. They are an amazing seasonal treat and I take at least
a pint home from my local farmer's market
each week. Sometimes they make it home with me long enough to transform them into a new treat, like this mixed berry crisp, and sometimes they don't. And sometimes, I buy obscene amounts of berries so I can do both. I'm lucky the Mister hasn't received any calls from the bank regarding suspicious withdrawals from the bank account every Saturday. Moving on.
Last week, I was privileged to also pick fresh blueberries with a friend who happens to have a gigantic and prolific blueberry bush. So, long story short, massive amounts of blackberries plus a bucketful of blueberries equals "Let's bake something!!!"
My decision to bake a crisp was based solely on my belief in one thing: That everything goes over a bowl of ice cream in the summertime. Don't ask me why. It's a philosophy of mine rooted firmly in cold, hard research . I have pant sizes to show for it and this blog post
too. Look, I'm calling this a dessert but you can easily make this into breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also, a well researched fact.
Mixed Berry Crisp with Toasted Coconut-Pistachio Crumble
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Blueberry Crisp
I love crumbles, they are so easy to make and don't need a ton of ingredients. I opted for a gluten-free topping, but you could just as easily swap the nuts for some oats or whatever topping strikes your fancy. Let the season dictate your fruit choices too, you won't be disappointed.
For the filling:
3 cups blackberries
3 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the topping:
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons Kerrygold butter
2/3 evaporated cane juice
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine all filling ingredients into a bowl and transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish. For the topping, stir together flours, baking powder, salt and 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice.
Cream butter and the other 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and then use your hands to squeeze the ingredients together to form the crumble.
Sprinkle topping over berry mixture and place into oven for 50 minutes to an hour, until bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve over your favorite ice cream for the best summer treat.
Perk number three thousand and two for growing your own vegetables: Zucchini blossoms
Too delicate and temporary for availability at most markets, zucchini blossoms are gifts for the gardener. They arrive shortly before the fruit and possess edible qualities along with ethereal beauty. I didn't have to do much to make a beautiful dish except not destroy the fragile blossoms during the stuffing process. They are, for lack of a better term, quite easy on the eyes.
Zucchini (and squash) also allow for you to have your cake and eat it too. The females are the only blossoms that produce fruit so you can let them grow to maturity and go all praying mantis on the male blossoms. I love that. We eat the men.
Blossoms are typically stuffed and roasted or battered and fried. I was inspired to stuff and roast them with a mixture of ricotta, pancetta, lemon zest, mint and basil from the garden. You can really get creative with the filling and use whatever you have on hand. I saw a sweet version served as a dessert. We served ours drizzled with Mikes Hot Honey
atop a bed of sauteed kale with pancetta and onions, a surprisingly satisfying lunch. Stuffed and Roasted Zucchini Blossoms
For the pancetta, it would be easier to purchase a thicker cut, about a half-inch thick, to cut into small cubes and render in a pan. I already had slices on hand so that's what I used.
8 zucchini blossoms
6 slices of pancetta, stacked and cut into cubes
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
zest of one lemon
1 clove garlic, pressed
5 leaves of basil chiffonade
5 leaves of mint chiffonade
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pancetta in a pan over medium high heat and cook until pancetta renders and crisps, about 4 minutes. In the meantime, combine all other ingredients in a bowl and beat egg in a separate bowl to use as egg wash. Once pancetta is ready, add to mixture of ingredients and combine well. Gently and generously stuff each blossom with ricotta mixture. Once they are all stuffed, brush each blossom with egg wash and arrange in a single layer on the pan. Roast blossoms for 10 minutes, until the ricotta mixture bubbles out slightly and each blossom has a golden sheen. Serve immediately.
It should come as no surprise that I am a little obsessed with cookbooks and, well, books in general. When I'm feeling pensive, you can find me lamenting the fact that there are too many books and not enough time. True story.
However, I do take comfort knowing that in this short lifetime of mine, I will devour as many books as I can and maybe even get around to writing one of my very own. Did you hear that, Universe?
As a little girl, I was mesmerized with books and the printed word. I remember searching for the biggest book I could find and then copying pages out of it just so I could pen words I couldn't pronounce. I was fascinated by books and loved how the tiny text would fill up a page. Today, I am equally enamored with cookbooks.
As a blogger and food lover, I've become fascinated with food photography and styling too. One of the pathways that fueled my passion for seeking out and preparing beautiful, wholesome food was by reading the inspiring blogs of others.
I have learned much of what I know today because of some wonderful food blogs and the individuals behind them. I continue to be inspired as many of them have realized their own dreams by publishing their very own cookbooks. Some of them have even contributed the photography as well as the stories and inspired recipes.
I've chosen five cookbooks to share with you today, most of them from bloggers turned book authors, some of which have yet to be released. I chose each book because I have been inspired by the author in some way along my journey.
First up is Aran Goyoaga's Small Plates and Sweet Treats
. OMG, do I want this book. Bad!
When I discovered Aran's blog, Canelle et Vanille
, I was instantly fascinated with the beauty of her posts. Simple and colorful, her recipes, pictures and stories transport you to a place where life is simple and the food, pure. In a word, Aran's style is breathtaking. I also love that most of her recipes are naturally gluten-free along with beautifully baked items made in the same consciousness. Her book, which she wrote and photographed, is due out at the end of October.
Beatrice Peltre inspires me in a similar way. Born in the French countryside, Beatrice shares stories of her life in France and world travels through her amazing and beautiful recipes. I am smitten with how effortless she makes beautiful food appear. There is a zen-like calmness and flow to her kitchen style that inspires me to live the good life via the food I eat and cook. La Tartine Gourmande was released in early February of this year and you can always find Bea on her blog
of the same name.
Deb's been blogging since God was a boy. I can remember discovering Smitten Kitchen
and seeing posts from years back thinking, wow, this is one of the original gangsters of food blogging. Also, Deb blogs out of a miniscule kitchen in NYC and still manages to crank out masterpieces and dynamic photographs. Did I mention that she is also quite hilarious?
Deb is one of those bloggers that makes you feel like you know her because her stories share her life in an intimate, authentic and humorous way. Plus, she writes alot. Kinda like someone else I know. I'm looking forward to the release of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
in October. Man, October is going to rule my face off!
I discovered Yotam Ottolenghi via one of my favorite bloggers and fell in love with one of her takes
on a recipe of his. I thought, if Heidi Swanson
is riffing off Ottolenghi, then he must be something special. That's an understatement by the way. This guy is the king of fresh. Seriously, I think if he could lay his own eggs, he would. Ottolenghi has several restaurants in the UK with Sami Tamimi
and is already the author of this cookbook
and this on
e. Yotam has an exoticism to me that is intriguing. Born in Jerusalem, he is influenced heavily by his Jewish culture as fellow chef, Tamimi, is influenced by his Arab culture. Both use ingredients like pomegranate, lemon peel and chile like we do butter, eggs and sugar. By golly, that fascinates the hell out of me!
I am so looking forward to having my mind blown with Jerusalem
which is due out in September and will be an exploration of cultural cuisine of their hometown.
Joy has tattoos and she bakes. Nuff said. No, but seriously, she makes incredibly inventive food (french onion soup sandwiches,
anyone?) and desserts that make you feel naughty on the inside and comforted all at the same time. She unapologetically stands for butter, cream and sugar and who can really argue with that? Plus, she dishes on life, food and photography in her podcast with Tracy Benjamin
. Bonus! Joy's book came out earlier this year to much praise and applause. I plan on gracing my shelves with it sooner than later.
Before I go, I also found few honorable mentions to, um, mention...
This book on pickling
was just released and it's illustrated by one of my favorite inspiring artists
. I'm down to learn ways to pickle and ferment in new and delicious ways while looking at pretty illustrations.
Also, I'll be picking up this book
which is solid on nutrition principles and healthy recipes for the kind of nourishment that heals and makes you live for a really long time. I'm a fan. A real big one.
What books are on your covet list? I can never have too many so, recommendations are most welcome. Happy Friday!
My soon-to-be husband doesn't like arugula. This actually hurts my feelings because my love for this spicy green runs deep like the ocean. But, you know who does like arugula? Yotam Ottolenghi, that's who.
Since welcoming his delightful book, Plenty
, into my home a while back, I've been eyeing this brunch recipe for baked eggs with yogurt and chile for a hot minute. The only problem was that I was alone in my excitement. So I kept putting the recipe off and succumbed to the standard man fare of eggs with bacon or some other testosterone-approved meat product.
Thankfully, the Mister is a master sleeper-inner and I, the early riser. Last Sunday, I had an abundance of vine ripened tomatoes from the market and some arugula that needed attention. That, coupled with a "devil-may-care" attitude made for the perfect opportunity for Ottolenghi's baked eggs.
The recipe calls for sauteed arugula and eggs baked in the oven and topped with garlic-kissed yogurt and a drizzle of sage infused chile butter. The oven lightly crisps the edges of the arugula and the eggs are baked just long enough so that their yolks remain soft and oozy.
You know who liked my brekkie? The Mister, that's who!
He even said he could learn to love arugula when cooked this way. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I could now marry him in good conscience. He even put arugula in our salad the other day. Love that man!
P.S.- Did I mention Ottolenghi is coming out with a new book
soon? Can't wait! Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile
from Ottolenghi's book, PlentyThe recipe calls for kirmizi biber which can be found here. You can also use a mixture of chile flakes and sweet paprika instead. That's what I did. Next time, I would be more heavy-handed with the chile flake. Also, if you don't do dairy, you can simply eliminate the yogurt.
3/4 lb arugula
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tsp kirmizi biber
6 sage leaves, shredded
Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Place the arugula and olive oil in a large pan and sprinkle with salt. Sauté on a medium heat for a few minutes, until the arugula wilts and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Transfer to a small baking dish and make four deep indentations in the cooked arugula. Carefully break an egg into each hollow then place in the preheated oven to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until whites are set.
While the eggs are in the oven, mix the garlic, yogurt and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter then add a pinch of salt and the kirmizi biber (or chile flakes and sweet paprika) and fry for a couple of minutes until the butter starts to foam and take on a golden red hue. Add the sage and cook for a few more seconds. Remove from heat.
When your eggs are set, take them out of the oven. Toss tomatoes into the dish. Spoon the yogurt and butter over the egg and arugula to taste. Serve immediately.
I feel like I need to be true to myself today. As a homework assignment for a blogging course I'm currently taking, I had to update my About Me
page so that people who come to visit may know me and my blog better. In there, I made a reference to bad puns, which I happen to love, and felt a need to carry on my truest nature by introducing this ongoing photo series with a lovely one I cooked up just for you.
Don't roll your eyes at me. I like puns. They're good for a giggle, even if it's just me laughing.
I began this series to chronicle my visits to the local farmer's market and my weekly hauls. It's one of my Saturday morning rituals, to go solo to market and collect the latest picks for the week. I lazily sip coffee while lingering over root vegetables and fresh herbs, striking up conversations with local farmers and dreaming up recipes for the week.
It's my chance to snag some alone time and is one of the simple pleasures I look forward to each week. I hope to continue this photo series and can't wait to watch the seasons change in my weekly shots.
If you'd like to follow along with me on Instagram, you can find me here
What are you haulin' from the local markets?
Ummmm...so nature is amazing. I planted four pieces of rotten potato a few months back and this week I unearthed nearly five pounds of perfect purple potatoes. I'm either getting old or domesticity has come to roost deep in my bones because this, by far, was the
most exciting fact of my week . I mean, look at that! Isn't it the neatest thing you ever did see?
The Mister (those are his shoes in the photo above) kept saying "Now this
is why we garden" and he's right.
There is nothing more satisfying than sticking my hands in the dirt and pulling some muthafuggin hash browns out of the ground. Well, potential hash browns, but food! Real food. Pure, unadulterated food, made of dirt and rain and sunshine and love. Nothing else.
You think I'm proud of these potatoes, just wait until I have kids. There will, however, be no Instagram photos of me unearthing my baby. Sorry to disappoint.
In other news, it's Friday! Here are a few links to peruse in a leisurely fashion over the weekend. Enjoy them with your favorite adult beverage. Pants are optional. Happy Weekend! Heart smile
times a thousand!
Loving this series
by Herriot and Grace. Who doesn't love pie?
A great article
about the largest food desert out there.
Oh, to have a seat at this dinner
. Le sigh.
A new (to me) source for all things food
, culture and culinary inspiration.
Gorgeous new pop-up
which unfortunately sold out (mostly) in minutes. Thought-provoking read
by Mark Bittman.
Julia Child wrote over 3,700 recipes. Here are her top 100
. Or what the editors of Food republic call her top 100.
So, I have an admission to make...
After attending an all-day nutrition workshop
last week and getting all jazzed up on new knowledge, I had a moment of paralysis in the kitchen. Like standing with the refrigerator door open, mouth agape for, oh, I don't know, a long time.
I had a brain full of new information and a cupboard full of old ingredients. I was in conflict with myself in a way that left me feeling contemplative and slightly inept. I just couldn't seem to get the inspiration train to pull into the station.
So, I spent some time browsing the glorious internet, learning a little about how to substitute old ingredients like whole wheat pastry flour with new ingredients like coconut flour and almond flour. I clicked over to one of my favorite blogs
and saw how she made a similar transition a while back and I got some hope and a little confidence.
Then I got inspired, thank goodness! I spent the last half of the week stocking up at the grocery store and trying a few things out. My first experiment was this smoky, sweet potato-jalapeno hummus which turned out so good, the first batch never made it to the photo shoot. Whoopsies.
You should know that I have a love-hate relationship with beet chips. I love the sweet crunchiness of a beet chip. It's totally worth staining your pretty nails for an entire day. I hate the vigilance it takes to keep them from burning.
Supervise your chips carefully. Once they approach roasting time, they can burn rather quickly if you don't keep an eye out. It's all those darn natural sugars. Mmm, natural sugar.
Oven-Roasted Beet Chips
2 medium beets, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (I use a mandolin, but you can certainly use a knife)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
Toss sliced beets in a colander with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. This will extract some of the moisture from the beets and help get a better crisp. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pat beets dry with a paper towel and transfer to a bowl. Toss with coconut oil and arrange beets in a single layer on both baking sheets. Allow beets to bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, rotate the beets and check for dry edges and smaller ones that may be done. Take those out. Continue to roast for another 10 minutes and check trays periodically. Beets should crisp up between 30-40 minutes of roasting. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving.
Sweet Potato-Jalapeno Hummus
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium dice
2 small onions, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons sesame tahini
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss potatoes and onions with coconut oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes brown on the bottom.
Remove from oven and add to your food processor along with the other ingredients except for the olive oil and jalapenos. Blend until smooth. While the food processor is still running, add the olive oil to the mixture and blend until well incorporated. Remove hummus from container and fold in the jalapeno. Season to taste. Serve with beet chips.
Acquired Taste Magazine 2012
Acquired Taste Magazine 2012
Illustration for Bits of Yum
The thing I love most about illustration is that I have no affinity for it whatsoever. Zilch. I can't draw or paint further than stick figures and splotches of color that I'll reluctantly call abstract. I think that's why I admire illustrators so much. I could never do what they do and so, appreciate what they bring to the creative table.
The work above is that of Lucy Engelman
, and Illinois based illustrator, whom I discovered somewhere in one of my many rabbit hole adventures clicking around the internet. Maybe it was here
, not sure. Lucy appears to be inspired by nature and food and whimsy, three things I can really get behind. Her watercolor illustrations grace the pages of Acquired Taste Magazine
, Eat Boutique
and a host of other culinary outlets.
Even better is that Lucy is not the only Engelman doing cool things with food and nature. Her sister Casey has a lovely food blog called Bits of Yum
and younger sister Kirby is a beekeeper
. How 'bout that! I'd like to think my offspring will be so culinarily inclined.
You can find more of Lucy on her Tumblr
page and if you want some illustrations for your collection, check out her Etsy shop, Pocket Tiger
Who are your favorite illustrators?
You like? It's my newest multi-purpose purchase from Fab.com
and Roll and Tumble Press
. It pretty much sums up the meaning of life for me. I'll be strategically placing this lovely hand-cranked print somewhere near the NC-inspired spread when the Mister and I marry in October and then will retire ye old sign to the kitchen where it will serve as my daily reminder of what I like to do best.
Yup. I like to eat.
Since moving to North Carolina almost two and a half years ago, I have been privileged to live near an abundance of local food, farms and markets. I feel extremely lucky to be able to locally source much of what I eat on a weekly basis and it doesn't suck that this helps support our local food economy.
As I continue my own personal journey with food, feeling connected to it has become increasingly important to me and it's not just the food that enriches me, it's the people I meet too.
Chef Susanne Dillingham, also known as the Tiny Chef, happens to be one of those people and my reason for knowing about the Second Annual Soil to Soul Dinner
, the farm-to-fork dinner event I attended this past Saturday. Susanne pals around with local farmers and can often be found cooking up their harvest somewhere out on a farm. My kind of gal, for sure.
We met last year in a similar fashion during the Know Your Farms Tour
. Small in stature and sweet as all get out , Susanne was cooking up some local goodness when I stopped at one of my favorite farms
for a visit. I made a mental note then to keep in touch and promised myself I wouldn't miss this year's event on Windy Hill Farm
. For those of you who didn't attend this year, make your own mental note and GO! It was amazing.
The weather gods smiled on us Saturday afternoon as we drove the winding country roads to New London, North Carolina. Only one hour from our doorstep, the short distance to the farm felt a lifetime away from my suburban life and the normalcy of the garage sale I hosted that morning.
Windy Hill is a small farm located in Stanly County, owned and operated by Charles and Dana Burrage, a surprisingly young husband and wife farmer duo. That day, Charles and Dana strolled the grounds of Windy Hill, donning matching plaid shirts, still hard at work on the farm as they tended to all aspects of our experience.
Prior to dinner, they loaded and unloaded guests onto their tractor for a tour, served as part of the wait staff while we dined and hosted an audience three times the size of last year's inaugural event. Besides gracious hosting capabilities, Charles and Dana provided the star ingredients for our four-course meal to come, a menu tag-teamed by Chef Susanne and Chef Craig Barbour, local food trucker and owner of Roots Farm Food
Farmer Charles Burrage gives a tour of his farm
Guests settled into cocktail hour, munching on expertly prepared appetizers of fresh summer vegetable stacks, fried chicken livers with crispy sage and delicate squash blossoms topped with bechamel and fresh garlic. Everyone had a different reason for coming yet, there was a communal camaraderie that threaded the eclectic bunch of nearly 90 people. Community spirit was alive and well as local farmers Eric and Brad of Coldwater Creek Farms arranged freshly picked flowers for the tables and tended bar respectively. Loyal Windy Hill clients mingled with foodies, young people chatted with old and no one could get enough of the adorable kittens and social goats roaming the property.
Chef Susanne standing in front of her makeshift kitchen for the evening.
In between bites of food, I remained preoccupied with the gorgeous outdoor dining area and beautiful settings laid out on the chocolate brown picnic tables. A perfect framework for a special dinner.
The Mister and I chatted with lifetime Stanly County residents, Kathy Almond and John Whitley before taking our seats at dinner and a colorful sunset signaled the beginning of an unforgettable experience.
We sat with a a group of four others and dined intimately on family style entrees all sourced within 50 miles of where we sat. At my table was a reporter, a PR professional and an old foodie and her husband with a million stories to tell. We listened to unbelievable tales of the early slow food movement and experiences that traversed the globe. We laughed, we ate and we broke bread with complete strangers.
This is the power of food. To bring people together for different reasons, yet the same. To vividly capture a moment with all your senses. To travel to faraway places without ever leaving the dinner table. To build a community around an economy and connect on a level that feeds not just your belly, but your soul too.
To stay connected to upcoming Farm-to Fork events, check out the Tiny Chef's page
on Facebook for the latest updates and events. Hope to see you at the next event!