And we’re back! On the East Coast that is. Between work, the flight to Atlanta, pool lounging, seeing Tiffany and Clarence get hitched, attending a fish fry (I resisted a taste test,) and eating a vegetarian soul food brunch at Soul Vegetarian, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and rehash a meal I made way back in Washington.
I hadn’t cooked for my mom before, so I was definitely a bit intimidated. My dear mother used to spend days digging through old Bon Apetit magazines for the right cookie recipe and routinely throws epic parties at her house for friends and family. She has always had a flair for food and entertaining, and is one of the reasons I love it too. Luckily, I had a few ideas of how to win her over.
1. Blueberries - I often tell friends about how mom would drag along my brother and I to the blueberry field in town to help her pick pounds of berries to freeze for future use. At the time I felt enslaved (don’t get me started on having to pick blackberries from the sticker bushes on our street,) but perhaps those hours in the hot sun had a positive effect on me! I nearly fainted when I saw a recipe for Blueberry Avocado Salsa and I knew she’d feel the same.
Blueberry Avocado Salsa (via Manifest Vegan)
1 1/2 cups fresh tomatoes, quartered
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tbsp lime juice + extra for drizzling onto avocados
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chopped jalepeno pepper
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks (I recommend two)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (I wished the salsa had a bit more bite to it, so I would add this in for next time)
Pulse all ingredients (except for avocado) a few times in a food processor. Cut up your avocado and drizzle with lime juice. Stir in chopped avocado with the rest of your salsa ingredients. Add a touch more salt if desired. Serve immediately. (no joke with the serve immediately part. It was beautiful the day I made it, but lost some of its glorious color by the next day.)
2. Brie - My family loves cheese. My brother and I would
often always snack on slices of Tillamoock when we got home from school. We were not a fruit snacks family, we were a cheese family. Our tastes have since evolved (though I still find Tillamoock at both my brother and mom’s houses whenever I am in town) and now I always find a round of brie when I visit. This time I used it in a grilled flatbread sandwich.
Brie & Apple Flatbread Sandwich
for one sandwich
1 piece of flatbread (you could make this with a variety of breads, but this is what was in the cupbaord at the time)
4 slices of good brie
1/4 of an apple, sliced thin (green apple is best for its tartness)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbls olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Other things that might be good that I didn’t have:
Handful of arugula (for its pepper flavor)
Whole grain mustard
Honey (for a bit of sweetness)
Candy the walnuts with a bit of brown sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees and toast walnuts in a pan until brown.
In a small sauce pan saute red onion, olive oil and salt over medium heat until onions caramelize, stirring frequently.
Layer brie and apple one half of the bread and pile with onion and walnuts (you can add in optional ingredients at this time.) Fold in half.
Heat up pan on medium heat (or panini maker if you’re fancy) and toast each side of the sandwich until cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.
While I love the taste of apple and brie together, next time I make this sandwich, I will likely tweak a few things (namely the items listed under “other.) I love creating combinations as I go, but sometimes they require some adjustments. If you make this and have new ideas, please share!
I’m looking forward to this week of downtime before things take off again. Montreal is in the air until my passport arrives, but Philly is on for next weekend and I’ll be going up to Boston for work at the end of the month. Perhaps it’s time to start looking at some fall recipes.
It’s still rainy and gray here in Brooklyn, which makes me feel like I’m back in good ol’ Washington. Because of that, and because it was Mother’s Day on Sunday, I decided to make one of my mom’s “signature dishes”… in particular, a breakfast dish my mom made all the time for us growing up: Dutch Babies. You may know this as a “german pancake,” but in our household, it was Dutch Babies all the way. In fact, if you ever slept over at the Pickard household, you’ve probably had this before.
Dutch Babies (via All Recipes)
2 eggs 1/2 cup milk 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I did not sift.)
1 pinch ground nutmeg (I used vanilla extract cause I’m not a nutmeg fan)
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet (I used a square baking pan) inside oven and preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until light. Add milk and stir. Gradually whisk in flour, nutmeg and salt.
Remove skillet from oven and reduce oven heat to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt butter in hot skillet so that inside of skillet is completely coated with butter. Pour all the batter in the skillet and return skillet to oven.
Bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove promptly and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Mine turned out sort of sad since I halved the recipe (for my baby oven), but were still delicious! Instead of my childhood favorite of more butter and piles of powdered sugar, I decided to make a more sophisticated topping for the pancake.. Let’s call this:
Blueberry and Basil “Compote”
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup chopped basil
Juice from 1 lemon
2-3 tbls powdered sugar
Put ingredients in a bowl and mash with whatever you have to mash with.
You can pile as much or as little of this on top of your Dutch Baby.
Next came my first adventure in tempeh. Tempeh is a strange combo of grains and tofu and who knows what else that looks pretty gross uncooked.
but as a veggie bacon, it’s much more visually appealing.
Tempeh Bacon (vegan) (via Lunch Box Bunch)
(some people hate tempeh. It is a bit nutty, but I enjoy it.. especially on a sandwich.)
5 ounces tempeh (2/3 a standard 8 ounce pack)
1-2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 tsp liquid smoke (or BBQ spices)
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp thick black pepper
for pan: 1 tsp olive oil
*if you don’t have liquid smoke use any of these BBQ spice combos:
(garlic, pepper, paprika and onion)
Very thinly slice the tempeh. (if anyone knows how to do this, please let me know. Mine was not thin enough.
Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish.
Soak tempeh in marinade for 1-2 minutes.
Turn saute pan on high, add 1 tsp olive oil.
Lay the tempeh flat on skillet. One layer only. Drizzle a bit of excess marinade onto skillet-it should be sizzling a lot now.
Allow to cook for 1 minute, then flip.
Allow to cook for another minute on other side-or until both sides are crisp and browned.
Lay cooked tempeh on parchment paper to cool.
For a crisper tempeh bacon, do not pour excess marinade in skillet, and allow all liquid to steam off of pan while cooking.
(This tasted fine, but cutting it thin was impossible, which meant the marinade didn’t.. marinate enough. Live and learn.)
(I got this idea from a similar thing on the menu at Egg. They used mint, which I didn’t have… but it was fine without.)
1/2 grapfruit (per serving)
1 tbls of brown sugar
Heat up a pan to medium heat. Place grapefruit flatside down for about a minute. Turn over and sprinkle the top with brown sugar. Place back down in the pan. Sugar will begin to bubble and caramelize. Remove from heat.
I really can’t get over how good that combo of basil, blueberry and lemon is. I may eat it every day forever.