Monday, March 23, 2015

What's Been Cooking in the E.A.T. Kitchen

Well, it looks as if spring is finally upon us. I can always tell when the true transition starts to take place as the the birds outside my bedroom window begin to make an excited fuss beginning at 4:30 am — and this time of year, I welcome those sounds with open arms! That same spring transition has been taking shape in the E.A.T. kitchen as early spring ingredients begin to make an appearance. 

For the Cajun Shrimp and Grits pictured above, I was looking forward to using Hayden Flour Mills polenta, which I was excited to find on a recent stop-in at Harvest Grocery and Supply. The polenta was creamy and the sauce had just the right kick — find the full recipe recently published over on Lot18.

Next up, one of my favorite signs of spring — fresh early peas. In the recipe below, I kinda sorta deconstructed a pasta carbonara by crisping up ribbons of prosciutto and topping the dish with a perfectly poached egg, from which the yolk can be broken and incorporated into the sauce. Find the full recipe newly published over on Lot18.

Finally, a comforting pot roast is good just about any Sunday in my book, especially when utilizing local ingredients like grass-fed beef from Wolf Creek Farm and mushrooms from Sharondale Farm, both of which helped me create this home-cooked pot roast with a vermouth mushroom gravy. Find the full recipe newly published over on Relay Foods.

Having just gotten back from 2 weeks of travel I am excited to settle back in the kitchen, start planting some spring herbs in our small city garden and enjoying everything this season has to offer. What about you — are there certain indicators or ingredients that beckon spring in your book?

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

Sunday, February 8, 2015

10 Meals to Impress: Valentine's Day 2015

Valentine's Day — that mad rush for roses and reservations at dining establishments that have been booked for weeks. To top it all off, this year it falls on Saturday night. I don't know about you, but I believe cooking a nice meal at home sounds like a winning option. With that in mind, I've put together the following roundup of 10 dinners to impress — fit for any budget, taste and cooking expertise to help you "win" this Valentine's Day.
  1. This veal piccata is an Italian classic. Served with a side of angel hair pasta ,it is sure to be a hit every time. If veal doesn't fit the budget you can easily substitute chicken and turn this into chicken piccata.
  2. Even though this recipe says grilled lamb chops these can easily be achieved indoors on a cast iron skillet or griddle. Complete the meal by serving with baby roast vegetables and couscous.
  3. Fresh garlic, ripe tomatoes and white wine — oh yeah, there is lobster and spaghetti!
  4. If you are fixing dinner, a beer is in order! How about an AleWerks Bitter Valentine?
  5. Looking closely at this zucchini and shrimp you might think it's a typical scampi. A closer look reveals there are no noodles, that is the zucchini!
  6. Red velvet is one of the quintessential desserts you will see on Valentine's Day. Since this year's holiday falls on Saturday, you'll have plenty of time to make these red velvet Oreo brownies
  7. One of my favorite dishes to make — risotto primavera with shrimp. You will not believe how easy and elegant this dish can be.
  8. I recently made this for a Burns Supper I attended — smoked salmon paté. Because you are going to work up an appetite, cooking these will definitely hold you over!
  9. I made this easy Valentine's Day pasta for two 2 years ago. It was so good the fine folks over at Ledbury featured it on their blog last year!
  10. To go with all of the meals above, or to make it a meal all in it's own, nothing quite beats a classic Caesar salad.

Ok, I have teed up the dinners, now it's your responsibility to remember the flowers and personalize the Valentine — go get 'em!

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Heritage by Sean Brock: A Cookbook To Own, Treasure And Pass Down.....

Sean Brock's Heritage cookbook is one of my new favorites. It was a holiday gift and one I've been eager to own since hearing rumors of a new book in the works. If you have not purchased a cookbook in a while this is one to get. A cookbook to own,While paging through the book in hopes of discovering new Southern recipes to try, I found myself completely wrapped up in Brock's storytelling.

He brings the recipes on the pages to life, giving them feeling — salt herrings and cantaloupe have that power over me, no question. Summer vegetables literally take me back to standing barefoot in my grandparents' giant (what seemed giant at the time) home garden.

Sean's food manifesto struck a chord with me — enough so I felt compelled to share it here on the blog in the event it sparks a similar feeling with you. It's a long list, but I think it's worth the read:

Cook with soul—but first, get to know your soul.

Be proud of your roots, be proud of your home, be proud of your family and its culture. That's your inspiration.

Cook as if every day you were cooking for your grandmother. If your grandmother is still alive, cook with her as much as possible, and write everything down.

Respect ingredients and the people who produce them.

Visit the farmers' market at least once a week, and use most of your food budget at the market.

Buy the best that you can afford.

Grow your own—even if it's just a rosemary bush. You'll taste the difference and start planting more right away.

Do as little as possible to an ingredient when it's perfect and at its peak. 

You can never be too organized; a clean work space allows for a clean mind that can produce a clean plate of flavors.

Cook in the moment. Cook the way you are feeling, cook to suit the weather, cook with your mood, or change your mood.

Let vegetables tell you what to do. Taste them raw before you start thinking about how to cook them. Are they sweet? tender? crunchy? starchy?

Cook a vegetarian feast occasionally. Vegetables cooked with  care can be just as rewarding as a piece of meat.

If you are dead set on making a specific recipe but when you go to the market the ingredients don't speak to you or feel and smell perfect, don't make the recipe. Cook from the hip—you may surprise yourself. Perfect ingredients don't require much; shop for flavor, not concept.

Overseason something with salt and acid just so you know what is too much. Then ride the line, and you'll find your balance.

Listen to your tongue; it's smart.

Cook using your instincts. Cooking times are just guidelines.

Try to make every dish better every time you make it. Keep a notebook to document successes and failures. And record your creative inspiration in it as well.

Eat with your hands as much as possible.

Be curious! Ask yourself questions: Why did the fish stick to the pan? Why did my sauce break?

Never stop researching and seeking knowledge in the kitchen.

Cooking should make you happy. If it starts making you angry, stop cooking and go eat at a nice restaurant. Come back the next night and think about what went wrong and give it another shot.

He who dies with the biggest pantry wins.

Credit  Above manifesto republished from Sean Brock's Heritage cookbook.

Simple, right? And yet so powerful. I appreciate Sean's sensibility, putting many of my own thoughts and food values into words I can't seem to articulate. Do you ever have moments like that?

P.S. Brock's recipe for pimento cheese nails it. It's similar to the version I make, which I have to admit pumped me up a bit and leaving me eager to try adding hot sauce and a little Hungarian paprika to the next batch I whip up.

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