Sunday, January 31, 2016

Green Beans with Feta and Crispy Shallots

This is one of of those simple side dishes that kind of sneaks up on the main event and steals the show! It's inspired by a traditional dish that was always at my family's Thanksgiving feast - steamed and chilled green beans with chevre and sliced almonds - but since there were an abundance of shallots in the veggie bin, I decided to fry them up in super hot oil and make some crispy toppings for these steamed beans.

For years I resisted the idea of being "fancy" with my meals, but slowly I have given in to the wonders of garnishes and sauces - they really do make the meal feel special and don't require that much extra effort. Here making the crispy shallots was simple and quick, my kind of garnish!

In our house feta and chevre are always on hand, so why not gild the lily! Crunchy, creamy, green bean deliciousness awaits you!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Spelt Biscuits

Good biscuits are one of life's true pleasures. They can be tricky if you're not used to working with butter/margarine in flour but once you get the hand of it, just try to not make these all the time; they are such a reward for the effort!

Ever since I discovered the vegan version of "buttermilk" biscuits, buttermilk has no place in my refrigerator, which is great, because you use so little for the biscuits and then you're stuck with lots of leftover buttermilk. (Ok, you can make this pie, but some of us are still trying to fit in the clothes we own, so it's pie or biscuits...Biscuits for the win!) So don't fret, use baking soda and cider vinegar and you are all set. Cider vinegar will curdle dairy milk just as well as it does non-dairy milk.

What was even more exciting in this version of my beloved biscuits was realizing that the soft wheat flour that all truly traditional southern biscuits are made with is very similar to spelt! Less gluten and it absorbs more liquid (i.e. butter/margarine) so more to love! These were fantastic, light, fluffy and rich!

In case you're curious, the round sausages are my own DIY vegetarian breakfast sausage, gluten free to boot! Yup, just a party in your mouth around here!

And if you are looking closely at the picture you will notice that there are rocks on the stovetop. Yes, yes, they are rocks. We dry our dishes on the stovetop and the rocks keep them from sliding around.... It's also pretty to look at!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thai Seafood Curry with Noodles

For the seven years of my self-imposed banishment to small college towns, otherwise known as my graduate school years, Thai food was the holy grail of cuisine unavailable to my friends and me. Big cities had Thai food; we had pizza and tacos if we were lucky. So when I realized how easy it was to make a Thai curry with the help of store bought curry sauce it was a liberation moment for the ages.

Ahh, coconut curry with veggies and an assortment of seafood is still decadent, but now it's easy to make at home even though I once again live in a small college town - voluntarily! in bliss!

You can make this curry at home with just coconut milk and curry paste, but if you can find fresh lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, snatch them up. The lime leaves freeze well and they add a more authentic taste.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

Eggs Benedict with Hollandiase....just that phrase used to paralyze me. It sounded soooo French, so impossible to make, so far from my culinary skills. Until I realized it was kind of like hot aioli.

Eureka! Not as hard as I thought!

My beau loves the bennies with hollandaise and although I cannot stomach (literally) poached eggs that didn't mean I couldn't attempt his favorite brunch meal at home. Yes, it takes time and patience, but he was so excited and impressed with the result that it was totally worth it.

You can serve bennies on toast, a warm croissant or go one step further like I did here and make biscuits (which I ate as well, so yummy!!).

If you don't have a poaching pan (the little metal insert with the reverse scooped out molds for the poached eggs), fear not. You can make it in simmering water and they come out just as tasty, if a little more rustic in nature. But smothered under all that Hollandaise, who's noticing!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Homemade Spelt Naan

Ahhh naan, it's the reason you go to an Indian restaurant, especially if they have a tandoor oven in which they make this fresh, delicious flat bread. You would think that it could only be made well in such a specialized oven, but fear not dear reader, you too can make delicious naan at home!

It does really help if you have a cast iron flat pan or griddle, but supposedly you can make it on a pizza stone as well (this sounds totally reasonable to me, although I have never tried it.)

When wheat and I parted ways, spelt came to my rescue and this is my version of naan with white spelt flour. As usual, it requires a little less liquid in the dough, but still makes a wonderfully chewy naan that everyone really appreciated!