I am not sure there is a group of people more partial to fall, than the food blogger demographic. I have read countless posts and tweets about the elation brought to most via soups, squashes and pumpkin baked goods. Autumn is like the big hug we all get before the pale skin, freezing toes and overdose of holiday jingles. I do like me some good fall foods, but they seem to require a bit more time, ingredients, number of pots to clean and what forth. The pay off, is the complexity of layered flavors, the tenderness of braising and roasting and aromas that linger for hours. The art of delayed gratification. It's supposed to be 80' here this weekend, so the chilled leftovers of this dish are going to be heaped on a nice plate of spicy greens. I've got my arms out and ready for that hug autumn, where are you?
Note that yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing, but either could work here. Yams are slightly less starchy, but in this recipe, the taste is not compromised. Be creative with the spices, if you like it spicy add a bit of red pepper, a squeeze of lime at the end if you enjoy citrus or more ginger if you like the zing.
SPICED SWEET POTATOES AND CHICKPEAS // Serves 4 as a side
I suggest serving this side, on a wide or long platter, not a bowl. When all the warm potatoes sit on top of each other, they continue to steam and get mushy.
1 Cup Dried Chickpeas/Garbanzos ,soaked in water overnight
3 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled (about 3 lbs)
¾ Cup Finely Chopped Yellow Onion
2 tbsp. Melted Butter
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Cinnamon
2 tbsp. Honey
2 tsp. Fresh Nutmeg
1 tbsp. Fresh Grated Ginger
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 tsp. Salt
1 Lime Zest and Juice
Fresh Ground Pepper
3 tbsp. Fresh Thyme, leaves removed
Oven to 425’
1. In a medium pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil, add the soaked beans. Gently boil for about 50 minutes until the beans are cooked through. Drain.
2. In the meantime, prepare the peeled potatoes. Cut off the ends and chop them into one inch cubes. Try to make them equal in size, shapes can vary. Put them in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice, melted butter, oil, garlic, salt, honey, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Pour the mix over the big bowl of potatoes, stir. Add the drained garbanzos, onions, 2 tbsp. of the fresh thyme and gently fold to cover everything in the spice mixture.
4. Spread the goods evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425’ in the upper third of the oven for 35-40 minutes, gently stirring halfway through for consistent browning.
5. Let cool a bit before serving, sprinkle fresh pepper, squeeze of lime,taste for salt and sprinkle remaining thyme on top.
I needed this recent trip to San Francisco for a number of reasons. A few I didn’t realize until I was home, back into my routine. It is a city of passion; of a good handful of crazies, but people are themselves. A man singing, full volume, while walking down the street. A number of open kitchens, inviting diners to watch chefs of all levels, articulate their craft. People playing musical instruments by the Embarcadero, eyes closed and internalizing the music they're creating. There seemed to be more ‘life’ happening than you see on a given day in a suburbia, and I loved it.
The intention was to make a quick trip, as Hugh had a engagement session to shoot, and the remaining free time was very food focused. Following a number of recommendations from Heidi, we were well fed. Hugh holds Anthony Bourdain in high regard, (it’s tough not to trust someone so frank),so we trekked a number of miles to his recommendation for Red Java Hut. I can get giddy about food destinations, and this was Hugh’s turn to be giddy. Can you tell how interested I was by the pictures below?He is a man of consistency, and regardless of the variety up there, I think he always settled on some form of pizza or cheeseburger the entire three days.
As I mentioned, the passion truly comes through in the food. Perfect cappuccinos, some of the richest ice cream I’ve tasted (thank you for your spot on description, Tea!), and certainly an affinity for seasonal and local ingredients. I looked up about two dozen menus, and I think ‘sand dabs’ were on every single one. There is a food culture in San Francisco that even those not intrigued by gastronomy, can respect. I had no idea there was a sand dab season. Thank you, San Francisco.
I'm a bit under the weather. While most people usually lose their appetite when they're sick, I can always seem to find mine. I fought through the desire for cookies alone, and decided something with a more impressive nutritional profile would make a better lunch for my wellness. I am also impressed that Hugh will eat tofu without hesitation. You can't say that about too many 6'5 men. Reason #987,543,222 why I adore him.
Curdled beans. Coagulated soymilk. Tofu is not exactly the beauty queen of vegetarian protien sources, but her possibilities are endless. It's skin deep, my friends. I've eaten my fair share of tofu, but have never crusted it as follows, so this was a learning experience. If you cover a bland bean cake with all of these flavors and give it a crunchy crust, this fall-ish salad will suprise you. Farmers markets are brimming with greens, so shop well and even the lettuce will contribute to the flavor here.
PISTACHIO CRUSTED TOFU SALAD // Serves 2 (with tofu leftovers)
If you don't use bread crumbs often, you can toss a piece of toast in a blender and wa-la. Single serving of bread crumbs.
4 Cups Baby Greens
1 Large Asian Pear
3/4 Cup Green Onions, sliced thin on a bias
1 14 oz. Package Organic Firm Tofu, drained and pressed*
1 Cup Toasted Pistachio Nuts
2 tbsp. Cornstarch
3 Egg Whites
1/2 Cup Whole Grain Bread Crumbs
2 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Oregano
1 Tsp. Mustard Powder
2 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Pepper
1/2 Cup Cilantro (big handful)
1/2 Cup Parsley (big handful)
2 tbsp. Capers
1 tbsp. Agave/Honey
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or nut oil if you have some)
2 tbsp. Yogurt/Sour Cream
A pinch of Salt and Pepper
*Press out as much water possible. Set it on a plate with a paper towel and under something heavy to press out remaining moisture.
1. For the dressing, add the first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend. Add the yogurt/sour cream and give it a pulse. While running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk up the egg whites until they are lightly frothy. Add the cornstarch and continue to whisk another minute to combine.
3. Grind the pistachios and bread crumbs and put that mixture in a medium bowl. Add the salt, cumin, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and mustard powder to the nut mixture.
4. Slice the tofu in half width wise, and then diagonally to form triangles. Working with one piece at a time: Pat the tofu dry, dip in the egg mixture, then the nut mixture, and place on a baking tray. Repeat with each slice of tofu. * At this point, if you prefer the tofu cold, you can chill them in the fridge. Or, continue with directions for warm tofu.
5. Set oven to 350’. Coat the bottom of a saucepan with oil and warm over medium heat. Fit in tofu pieces without touching, you will probably need to do two sets. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy, return to baking tray. Repeat with all tofu chunks and pop the tray in the oven to warm through.
6. In the meantime, Slice the asian pear into matchsticks. Toss the greens, green onion with desired amount of dressing. Plate with asian pear slices and tofu chunk on top.
There are premature wrinkles around my knees. My mom always thought the tan kids were cuter than the pale ones, so sunscreen went to the extent of a quick swipe of Bullfrog across the lips and nose. People would throw stones at her with the research they have now. My sister and I were adorably bronzed through our childhood, at the cost of the aging knee caps I have now.
I studied my face in the mirror the other day, not out of vanity, but out of amazement that it has changed. This face has taken me through falling in love, loss of family, disappointment, living abroad, challenging jobs, late nights with girlfriends over bottles of wine, moving… you have a list of your own I’m sure. Somewhere in all of that, I’ve grown up. By no means do I feel I’ve suffered hardship, but lessons have been learned that changed me.
There is more life to look forward to, and for that I am grateful. Ambitions float around my head, unorganized, and mixed with the fear of failing. My face will continue to evolve; there will be more love and more loss. The wrinkles on my knees will get deeper; a reminder to me of long Sundays at the beach with my family, tuna sandwiches and boogie boards. I appreciate the momentum that life has, that things change beneath your feet and you don’t always realize it until the ground has since shifted.
So, in honor of wrinkles, we made bread. A hearty compact-english-muffin-type bread, full of texture. It takes time and some unique components, but completely worth it. Just like life.
BIG SUR BAKERY HIDE BREAD // Makes 16 //
The recipe is straight from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook (of which I won from Dana! The astriks indicate what I used of the options).
5 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
½ Cup Flax Seeds
½ Cup Sesame Seeds (I used toasted seeds)
2 Cups Oat Bran
¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Millet*, Quinoa, Poppy seeds or Amaranth (or any combination)
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Beer
2 ½ Cups Buttermilk*, Milk or Half and Half
Oven to 375, Middle Oven Rack
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the beer and buttermilk (or alternative). Use a wooden spoon or your hand to mix the wet batter. Sprinkle some flour on top, and put it on a floured work surface. Gently roll is out to form a loose log, about 2-3 inches in diameter.
3. Cut the log into 1 ½ inch slices and give them a little pat into a patty form. Don't make them too small, they get dry. Lay on the baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes until golden. Remove and cool.
4. For serving, slice open and toast. They have a raw bread flavor inside (like a bagel or English muffin) so toasting is crucial. Goes excellent with a schmear of Butter/Jam/ Soft Cheese!
My grandma, more formally known as 'Memaw', has been very supportive of my cooking endeavors. She doesn't like to cook, but she does read homey magazines and frequently rips out recipes with pretty pictures and passes them on to me. I wish I could do justice to how excited she was about her recent gem, as she told me she found a recipe for an 'egg pizza'. It took me awhile to figure out what she was describing, as she is not quite fluent in food vernacular. I came up with my own version for my sweet grandma who is so easily impressed. Whether you are an old friend to the frittata, or believe this is a pizza, it's tasty.
I have shared with you how I love breakfast, love eggs in particular and this recipe is no exception. I'm not one for pie crust, so I find this more intriguing than quiche. It is an economical option because you really can throw any vegetable into the eggs and it works. Kind of... use your better judgement carrot or beet lovers.
LEEK AND SPINACH FRITTATA // Serves 6
I like to use more whites to make it a bit lighter, if you like a richer egg dish, use 10 whole eggs.
2 Whole Eggs
10 Egg Whites
1/3 Cup Milk
2 Leeks, White and Light Green Parts, Thinly Sliced
1 tbsp. Butter
1 Cup Fresh Steamed Spinach
¾ Cup Shredded Cheese (I used Goat’s Milk Gouda)
2 tsp. Hot Sauce (Tapatio, Chalua etc)
1 Cup Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Halved
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 500’
1. Warm the butter in a saucepan (preferably non stick) on medium heat, add the sliced leeks and sauté until they begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, hot sauce and milk. Incorporate some air and break them up, whisk about 4 minutes, yes, your arm will start to hurt. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Squeeze as much water possible out of the steamed spinach, give it a rough chop, and squeeze again.
4. Distribute the leeks in the pan, as this will be your frittata base. Turn the heat back to medium and pour the egg mixture on top. Scatter in the chopped spinach and the shredded cheese and allow the mix to sit for a minute. Use a spatula to lift up the sides.
5. As it starts to firm up, lay your tomatoes on the top, cut side up. Put the entire pan into the oven on the top rack. Let it bake for about 8 minutes and check. It should be set, but still have a little give when you push on the middle. Remove and let it cool a bit before serving. Goes well with some fresh chopped basil and a dollop of greek yogurt.