Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gluten-Free Caprese Pie

Oh my, this is good! We love making tomato pie in the summer, so this sort of kicks it off. This version is a mashup between Southern tomato pie and the famous Italian caprese salad with a nod to margarita pizza and it's kind of as good as all of those wrapped up. It's a keeper!

This is perfect when tomatoes are in season because there is nothing more perfect than a summer tomato. The cool thing is that if you want to leave out the dairy to make it vegan you may substitute a drained and sliced block of extra firm tofu. Believe it of don't the flavor of fresh Buffalo mozzarella and tofu are very similar. Tofu as you may or may not know is actually made using the same process as cheesemaking. So, it makes sense that that share many of the same textures and flavors.

Whichever way you choose to make it it'll be wonderful! Serve this to dinner guests for an easy make-ahead meal or keep it all to your self. You deserve it! 

Gluten-Free Caprese Pie

1 store-bought gluten-free, frozen pie crust
3 large tomatoes (Beefsteak, Jet Star, or Better Boy) 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (more for garnish)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

2 cups basil leaves
12 ounces fresh Buffalo Mozzarella cheese (sliced into 1/4-inch rounds)

Cracked black pepper (to garnish)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the pie crust until golden brown. This should take about 12 to 15 minutes, but please refer to the package instructions for guidance. While the crust is baking, prepare the tomatoes and dressing. 

Core the tomatoes and slice into generous 1/4 inch slices. (You should get 4 to 6 slices per tomato. Layer tomato slices and salt into a large bowl making sure to get a little salt on each slice. Allow salted tomatoes to rest for 20 minutes. You'll notice quite a bit of liquid collected at the bottom of the bowl. Remove tomato slices and place them between two clean kitchen towels until ready to assemble the dish. This process ensures that the pair won't be watery. Discard the tomato water in the bowl.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat add the balsamic and cook until reduced by half. It will become thick and syrupy when ready. Remove from heat and add the olive oil. 

Assemble the pie in the shell by shingling in a tomato slice, basil leaf, and then mozzarella in a circular pattern. Once you get all the way around the pie start another layer on top of that. Using you hands lightly press the tomatoes, basil, and cheese down into the crust. This will make it more compact and easier to cut. Drizzle the top of the pie with the reduced balsamic and olive oil dressing. Serves 4 to 6. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

3 No-Cook Recipes for The Inspired Home

Thank you to the International Housewares Association for partnering with us on this blog post! We were compensated for our time and were thrilled to be able to keep the products we used in creating new recipes for the accompanying article. As usual, all opinions expressed are our own. 

This past Sunday was pretty fun! We walked over to our goddaughter's house to visit in the morning and then stayed home and avoided the heat (it's almost painful, at this point, right?).

We prepared food all afternoon and made 3 new dishes: Tostaguac, Composed Gazpacho, and Date and Peanut Marzipan Candy Bars all without turning on the oven or heating up the stovetop.

Loved seeing our friends and then getting to be creative and have dinner all set -- and no grilling or sautéing was required. We have the recipes HERE for you to check out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Our Second Cookbook! The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table

We're finishing up the last details this summer -- we have a few more photographs to take and another round of editing to finish up, but we're over the moon about how good the current draft looks thanks to the help of Susan Schadt Press and her amazing crew.

Can't wait for you to see what we came up with for you this time! We named it after the blog because it reflects the way we eat everyday and includes some of our favorite recipes, with a focus on cuisines from all over the world. We love Southern food, but when we're figuring out (probably at the last minute) what to make for dinner or for a party, we usually start thinking about a region we want to highlight and go from there.

We have a bunch of fun opportunities in the works to share good food and celebrate the book release in the fall.

Our first book, The Southern Vegetarian, is available on amazon, and the Kindle version is only $4.99 now; if you've been thinking about getting a copy, now's a pretty good time, right?

Friday, June 24, 2016

French Breakfast Radish with Baguette and Honey

In our first cookbook, Chef John Currence closed his foreword by saying, "Radishes with softened butter are WAY underappreciated." We think about his quote every time we try that beautiful combo!

So we've been looking back at the first book since we've been busy proofreading this week. We're about to be heading toward the finishing-it-all-up stage of our new cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table (November 2016, Susan Schadt Press). We began working on it earlier this year, and haven't stopped for a second because we're both just that crazy and determined. And we're so excited for you to see it this fall.

Early next week, we'll ask for a little help testing some of the recipes that made the cut, so check back here if you're willing to cook something and report back. We'd love to hear how the dishes go for you. Let's eat!

Here, we've switched out softened butter for a buttery soft brie and paired the whole thing with honey to balance out the bite of the spicy radishes. We really did make this for breakfast one day, no joke. It seemed weird at first but ended up being so good. Want to maybe grab some radishes for this at the farmers market this weekend and try it?

French Breakfast Radish with Baguette and Honey

1/2 large gluten-free baguette (sliced into 12 rounds)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6 medium French Breakfast radishes (sliced)
1 7-ounce wheel or wedge of double-cream brie
2 tablespoons honey

In a cast-iron grill pan over medium heat, grill baguette slices on one side for 3 minutes or until well-marked by the grill grates. Set aside. In a small bowl mix the salt and pepper. Arrange the bowl of salt and pepper, radishes, baguette, brie, and honey on a cutting board or large plate. To eat, place a slice of brie and a few slices of radish on a baguette round. Drizzle the top with honey and sprinkle with salt the salt and pepper mixture. (Serves 2.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

4th of July Backyard Party Ideas from Us & IHA

Thank you to the International Housewares Association for partnering with us on this blog post! We were compensated for our time and were thrilled to be able to keep the products we used in creating new recipes for the accompanying article. As usual, all opinions expressed are our own. 

Here's all you need to cook and set up a sweet lunch on July 4: make-ahead naan sandwiches with grilled vegetables, a hearty salad that's really easy to put together, and a basil-goat cheese spread that doubles as a dip, you know, for those red, white, and blue chips you impulse-bought at the store. Click here to check out the details of the dishes and the stuff we got to try out to make it all happen in our new post for IHA.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Patatas Bravas in the Air Fryer for IHA Inspired Home

Thank you to the International Housewares Association for partnering with us on this blog post! We were compensated for our time and were thrilled to be able to keep the products we used in creating new recipes for the accompanying article. As usual, all opinions expressed are our own. 

So we've discovered our new favorite appliance: the air fryer. We used it to make a  vegan patatas bravas dish, and it's even better than the regular version and waaaaay better for you. Read more HERE on the IHA Inspired Home Blog about our experience with the fryer and a few other things that helped us create a tapas spread just like we were hanging out in Spain, y'all! Air-fried doughnuts really should be what's coming up next if there's anything that's right and fair in this world

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Yeah, we make this all the time. Crazy that we're just now sharing the recipe with you! It's really cool to use spaghetti squash as a stand-in for pasta in this dish. We figured out that you need a chunky sauce since the 'noodles' are thin, white beans are a really good, nutritious addition, and whole heads of roasted garlic make for an excellent pseudo-side dish. Oh, and the method we've figured out in the recipe below ensures that you're not going to end up with a watery squash.

Sometimes we add some greens to go on the side. Sometimes we just decide to have regular old pasta because it's quicker. But this, if you have a little extra time to cook one night this weekend, is really worth making.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash 

1 large spaghetti squash

2 large heads garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 large shallot (diced) 
1 medium red pepper (diced)
2 medium carrots (sliced)
2 medium ribs celery (sliced)

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (like Penzey's)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (drained)
1 28-ounce can diced fire-roasted diced tomato

2 1-ounce slices provolone cheese
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Using a large knife and an abundance of caution, slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon. Discard the seeds. 

Cut the top 1/3 off of each head of garlic. Drizzle the inside of the two halves of the squash and the cut side of the heads of garlic with 1 tablespoon of  the olive oil. Season squash with salt and pepper to taste. Wrap the heads of garlic in aluminum foil and place them on a baking sheet. Place the spaghetti squash cut-side-up next to the foil-wrapped garlic and place it all into the oven. Bake for 3o minutes or until the squash begins to turn golden brown at the edges. While the squash cooks, assemble and cook the sauce. 

Into a large frying pan over hight heat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the shallot, red pepper, carrots, and celery. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and wine. Cook until vegetable have softened and wine has reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate and reduce heat to a simmer. The sauce should chunky. This gives the dish some great texture. 

Remove the squash from the oven and scrape the spaghetti squash up with a fork. This is easily done with a cooked squash. You'll notice that as you scrape, the squash comes up in tiny ribbons like pasta, hence the name! Season the squash with salt and pepper. Divide the sauce between the two halves and cover each with a slice of provolone. The heat from the sauce will melt the cheese, but feel free to place it under a broiler for a minute or two on high to get it melty and bubbly. Garnish squash with chopped parsley and serve alongside the roasted garlic. We love to add a few cloves of roasted garlic for extra flavor as we enjoy the dish. (Serves 2.)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sparkling, Spicy Fruit Snack

What sweet, spicy, and sparkling new thing should you try this week? Our favorite new snack, that's what! There's nothing more refreshing or fun to eat than this layered fruit cup. You can sip it and crunch it. It's a spicy soda and a refreshing fruit cup rolled into one. It's got tropical fruit, honey roasted peanuts, dates, and it's topped off with a homemade syrup of honey, raspberries, and a little cayenne. 

We've modeled it after the Mexican tradition of eating fruit with lime and chili pepper, but the best version in Memphis is at a cool place called Las Jarochos on Summer, and the many times we've ordered it there inspired us to make one at home. You should stop by there soon, too! Just go ask Carlos Pavon for 'The Tornado' and thank us later.  

We were assigned to try out and write about the ice cream shop last June, and it amazed us. We've been back to visit often since then. We make our own version at home using local honey and raspberries in place of the traditional chamoy, a sweet and spicy Mexican condiment used mainly as a dip for fruit. Oh, and Happy Cinco De Mayo on Thursday!

Sparkling, Spicy Fruit Snack

1 personal-sized, seedless watermelon (cubed, rind discarded)
1 small jicama (peeled, cubed)
2 large mangos (peeled, cubed)
1 medium pineapple (peeled, cored, cubed)
1 medium English cucumber (cubed)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4-8 dried medjool dates
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
Spicy Spicy Raspberry Honey (recipe follows)
2 12-ounce cans sparkling water
6 strawberries

Once all the fruit is cut and chilled, sprinkle the fruit cubes with the Kosher salt. This will wake up the flavor. Simply layer in the cubed watermelon, jicama, mango, pineapple, and cucumber into a quart-sized jar. This recipe makes about 2 to 3 quart jars or 3 to 5 pint jars. Thread two or three dates onto each drinking straw and place one in each jar. Top each jar with 1/4 cup of honey-roasted peanuts. Top that with a generous spoonful or two of Spicy Raspberry Honey. Top that off with sparkling water, garnish the rim with strawberries, and grab a fork. (Serves 2.)

Spicy Raspberry Honey Syrup

1/2 cup lime juice (from 4 to 5 medium limes)

1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne 
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup raspberries

Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the lime juice, honey, cayenne, Kosher salt and raspberries. Blend until smooth. Set aside until ready to use. (Makes 1 1/4 cups.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Picking Strawberries

On Sunday, we went to the Jones Orchard pick-your-own-strawberries patch by the Agricenter and Shelby Farms here in Memphis, and we picked a $5 quart and got the inside scoop that there will be more ripe strawberries mid-week. People have been hitting the fields pretty hard on the weekend, so be strategic, pack your pickin' shoes in the car, and head over after work one afternoon. They're open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We wanted to share a few pretty pics with you to kick off the week! We also learned a new trick from the internets that involves hulling a strawberry with, yes, a straw. Now it's time to make some strawberry beverages, hand pies, and jam. Go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's National Grilled Cheese Day!

Thank you to the International Housewares Association for partnering with us on this blog post! We were compensated for our time and were thrilled to be able to keep the products we used in creating new recipes for the accompanying article. As usual, all opinions expressed are our own. 

It's National Grilled Cheese Day! Of course we wrote about it and included some new TCV recipes for you to try. Check out our new post on the IHA Inspired Home blog HERE. 

The inspiration for a grilled cheese party came to us after we were invited to dinner at our good friends' house earlier this year. It was so much fun to see all the options for bread and fillings and such on the table and choose how we'd  build our sandwiches. (Yeah, we all secretly thought we each made the BEST one, and we weren't shy about telling that to the group!)

Our IHA post features three new waffle maker grilled cheese recipes that we trotted out last week at our house for a 3-sandwich extravaganza of a weeknight dinner (a dessert sandwich is included, of course!). 

We love it when people cook for us, and we love it when our friends share what they like to make for dinner. If you have any favorite dinners that you'd like us to try here on the blog, let us know in the comments section below!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sweet Potato, Kale, & Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas are easily a once-a-week deal at our house, so it's strange that in the 8 years (wow!) we've been writing The Chubby Vegetarian blog, we've never shared a single recipe for them. It's unexplainable. It may be a good thing, though, because over the years, we've simplified the process and amplified the flavor. This recipe is great just like it is, but feel free to swap out the black beans for refried beans or the sweet potato for mushrooms or the cheddar for goat cheese. There are so many great combinations out there, and we usually just make our enchiladas with what we have on hand.

How very easy these are to make! The cool thing is that the recipe makes a ton, so you're sure to have leftovers (which is kind of our favorite part). These are perfect for breakfast with a fried egg on top, and there's nothing like finding something this delicious in your freezer for a weekday dinner when you're worn out and only have the energy to reheat something, slice an avocado, and pile on the Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Sweet Potato, Kale, & Black Bean Enchiladas

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and diced, about 2 cups)
1/2 medium red onion (diced, about 1 cup)
2 heaping cups de-stemmed, finely chopped kale 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 13.4-ounce box of black beans
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar 
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

8 small corn tortillas (warmed) 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

+ Optional toppings like Greek yogurt, chopped avocado, cilantro, sliced radish, chopped green onion, and Mexican hot sauce.

Make Chipotle Enchilada Sauce according to the recipe and keep warm in a saucepan until ready to assemble the enchiladas. 
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and the diced sweet potato. Cook, stirring often, until sweet potato has softened and is beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. This will be about 5 minutes. Add the kale, cumin, black beans, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover until heated through and the kale has wilted, about 6 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350. 
Into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, add 3/4 cup of Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and spread it around the bottom in a thin layer. Lay the tortillas out on the counter and divide 1 1/2 cups of the cheese among them while reserving the rest to sprinkle on top. Divide the filling among the tortillas; each tortilla will get about 1/4 cup. Roll tortillas and place seam-side down into the casserole dish. Repeat until all tortillas are wrapped. Top with the remaining Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted

Serve topped however you'd like. We love Greek yogurt and chopped avocado, but there's no reason to stop there. Feel free to add cilantro, sliced radish, chopped green onion, or Mexican hot sauceThe leftovers can be placed in a lidded container and frozen for an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. (Makes 4 servings.)

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce

1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes 
1 clove garlic
1 chipotle pepper (from a can)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Into a blender or food processor, place the tomatoes,  garlic, chipotle pepper, and sherry vinegar. Blend until smooth. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the Chipotle Enchilada Sauce through and then turn off the heat. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to 6 months.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Pimento Cheese Style Carrot Spread

The idea of replacing the cheddar cheese in our pimento cheese with shredded carrots has been with us for a while. I mean, shredded carrots look exactly like shredded cheddar, but who would ever think they could play the part? Back in 2014, a version of this dish got our friend Kelly R.'s seal of approval (which isn't the easiest thing to come by). However, we know that if Kelly likes it, then everyone likes it. It wasn't until recently that we decided to try this recipe with not some, but all of the cheddar replaced by carrots. Whoa! It takes the pimento cheese form and makes it into something familiar yet different and, dare we say, better.

The sweetness of the carrots plays nicely with the acidity of the pickled peppers while the creamy goat cheese and mayo add that old familiar richness. The idea here, as with a lot of our cooking, is to use vegetables in unexpected and exciting ways in order to motivate all of us to eat them more often. The result is a lightened-up pimento cheese that has a ton of flavor and a great texture.  

Pimento Cheese Style Carrot Spread

2 cups shredded carrots
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup mayo 
1/2 cup finely diced pickled peppers (We like the marinated sweet peppers you can find on almost any olive bar, but actual pimentos are great, too.)
1/4 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/8 cup minced shallot*
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Place the carrots into a microwave-safe bowl and cover the bowl with a dinner plate. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Uncover -- be careful not to let the steam burn you! -- and allow the carrots to cool. Mix the carrots, goat cheese, mayo, peppers, vinegar, shallot, black pepper, and salt until incorporated. It's as simple as that. Refrigerate and allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour for best results. 

*Mince the shallot then place it into a mesh strainer. You'll only need about a tablespoon. Run the minced shallot under cold water for a few seconds. This will take away any raw onion flavor and keep the shallot from overpowering the dish.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The First Saturday of the Memphis Farmers Market 2016

It definitely feels more like spring now that market season is here! We set out early-ish this past Saturday to check out the opening day of the Memphis Farmers Market downtown, and though it was pretty cold out, the deals on vegetables were, you know, rather hot. A bunch of stuff besides winter greens is suddenly available now, stuff we thought we could work with this weekend to create an entire dish. We'd settled on making a frittata on Sunday with a little side salad, so we bought kale, eggs, spring onions, beets, carrots, French breakfast radishes, basil, a mix of micro greens, and Camembert. First, we made a pretty radish appetizer we'll share here this week.

It was great to see friends and catch up, to feel everyone's excitement about winter ending and new opportunities to shop for ingredients popping up. It's about time for something new to look forward to, and now we're dreaming of tomatoes and peaches for sure.

We know we'll try to hit the Memphis Botanic Gardens Farmers Market on Wednesday, April 27, its opening day, and stop by the Agricenter market in May. We also love that the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market is year-round on Saturdays, and we'll be sure to report back on it soon this month!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TCV Visits Little Rock, Arkansas

We've been wanting to visit this wonderful place right outside of Little Rock for such a long time, and we finally made our way there on Easter Sunday. Today, we're still thinking about all of the beautiful gardens, the amazing meal, and the wonderful hospitality we enjoyed at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm! If you're thinking about your next trip to the South, or wondering where to go for your next quick getaway if it happens that you already live around here, we think fitting in a jaunt to a workshop or tour there would amaze you, too.

We stopped in Little Rock and stayed at the Capital Hotel on Saturday. We arrived in running clothes, which may have raised an eyebrow or two—there was a fancy wedding taking place later that evening and we sort of really didn't match that particular aestheticbut we laughed about it and immediately set out exploring downtown and getting in some miles.

Our first choice for dinner was Three Fold; we had a slightly hazy recognition of it due to a recent article in this magazine, but the guy at the counter reminded us where we'd seen it when we asked him about it. We ordered everything on the menu and went with the vegetarian option for each dish. It was just 3 things, really: the Noodle Bowl, Dumpling Bowl, and Steamed Bun, all with seasoned tofu and seasonal veg, and we loved all of them. We walked back through downtown a couple of times, walked the Junction Bridge, and hung out at the park for a while to take in the sunset.

The next day, we woke up early to drive to one of the places our friends Kyle and Petya recommended from their last Arkansas trip, Mylo Coffee Co. They had mochi doughnuts, gluten-free and made with rice flourhow amazing, chewy, and different! We also tried a cheese croissant, which was like cheese straws times a million. What they're baking at Mylo blew us away with its creativity and playfulness. Their pour-over coffee and cortado were exactly what we needed. After quick stops at a little promenade overlooking a nature trail and then the Capitol, we were ready to get to the countryside and see what was in store for us at Moss Mountain Farm.

Little Rock was so much fun, and there are plenty of vegetarian options in town. It came across as a vibrant and forward-thinking place, and spring was exploding there when we visited. Pretty nice that's it's only a couple of hours from our house in Memphis, Tennessee.

So, let us know in the comments if you're interested in us sharing more about upcoming short trips with you soon! We've been thinking of including more travel stuff on TCV since we've discovered a new love of making plans to get away now. We like the kind of one-night, two-day vacations where you don't have time to put off anything, and we find that it's always good to get recommendations in order to figure out the vegetarian angle ahead of time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Visit to P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm (And All About Our Upcoming New Cookbook!)

Earlier this year, we decided to plan to visit Moss Mountain Farm for a tour and their first-ever Easter brunch; we'd been talking about going for a while, and finally, we made it happen. Looking forward to the trip to Little Rock on Saturday and then driving 40 minutes or so outside of the city on Sunday to where the farm is located got us to thinking. We have a great deal of respect for what Moss Mountain Farm founder P. Allen Smith is doing to shine a light on Southern agriculture and the importance of conservation, and we learned so much during our visit this past weekend.

Our journey started two years ago when Allen and his awesome crew came to our house in East Memphis and filmed two cooking segments with us (our Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette was featured and also our Mushroom Tamales). Allen conducted a radio interview with us in our living room, and pretty much made sure that crazy-fun summer day in 2014 was one for the memory books. Later, we grew ingredients in a container garden for Allen's Patio to Plate Challenge and ended up creating a new dish, Thai-Inspired Green Curry with Eggplant and Peppers with our surprisingly impressive little crops.

Almost two years later, here we are gearing up for our new project, and we're so thrilled to be able to tell you more about it now. The same day this year that we took the leap and signed up to make the trip to Allen's farm, something inspired us. We started dreaming about maybe, possibly asking him to write the foreword for our second cookbook. The new book is set to be released in November 2016 by Susan Schadt Press, and we'll be in some pretty remarkable company there, not to mention having the invaluable gift of Susan's admirable expertise and style as our new editor.

So we crossed our fingers and asked Allen to write the foreword for our new cookbook via email the very day that we made our plans to go to Arkansas. Guess what? He said yes, and now we can't wait to see how it all turns out!

And oh, Moss Mountain -- what an experience we had there this past weekend. Never in early 2016 did we as a couple imagine we'd soon be sitting together silent in the light wind one morning while hearing intermittent rooster crowing and lambs baaaaa-ing as we sat together inside a house made of daffodils. Where we end up sometimes through this serendipitous adventure that's built on our cooking and our writing is quite surprising at times.

The classical planning of Allen's garden with its symmetry, origins in history, and surprising details is one of the most pleasing things we've seen in a very long while. We felt so at peace there and grateful for all the work and vision that goes into such a monumental endeavor. Once we thought we'd been curious and intrepid enough and discovered every corner of the gardens -- upon arrival we'd all been set loose to explore before Easter lunch in the barn, and wow, did everyone love the sense of freedom and trust inherent in that -- someone would ask, Did you see the vegetable garden? Did you see the chickens? And we'd set off to discover more.

That Easter meal, by the way, was spring perfection with dishes made from Allen's cookbook. We made friends with the sweet south Louisiana folks sitting across from us and admired the tiny white dog they brought with them. We enjoyed a magnificent spread of chilled asparagus-potato soup, deviled eggs, sweet and citrusy kale salad, roasted brussels sprouts, mashed sweet potatoes, pecan chess pie, orange-vanilla frosted cake, and slices of spiced carrot bundt. The barn where we had lunch was replete with beautifully set tables, fairy lights, barn doors that were also Dutch doors…yeah, it seemed like something out of a daydream. Being included in the celebration of a place we'd heard so much about for so long from our neighbors and friends made us happy beyond measure.

This is a day that came with an abundance of realization and resolve for us. And also a question: How does one transform a beloved passion into something everyone else can join in to celebrate?

Well, quite an excellent example has been set for us…

"I believe in the transformative power of beauty," Allen remarked in his talk to guests after lunch under a huge oak tree with reaching branches, the tree that's right in front of his house. The two of us recognized ourselves in those words; we glanced at each other. It's something we've appreciated lately more than ever. We both love the beauty of a shared meal, the simpler the better; certain relationships with friends and family that weather all of the unexpected surprises, happy or not so much, that are bound to happen in life; a garden at any stage; the beauty of tapping into our creativity every day; the beauty of love.

So we are writing a new cookbook this year. It's going to have recipes in it from all over the world and reflect more of our usual home cooking, not just our Southern, Memphis roots like we highlighted in our first book, the one that taught us everything we know about writing a cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian. Like last time, we are thrilled to have so much genuine support from people around us and so many folks wishing for us to just absolutely kill it this time around.

We appreciate you reading here, and we hope to make all y'all and everyone who's involved in our new endeavor so very proud later this fall!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lunch at Park + Cherry in the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Acre is one of our favorite places in our neighborhood here in Memphis. It is where we hammered out the details of our first cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian, with our very first editor, where we've celebrated big birthdays and hung out on Saturday date nights, where a family-style meal orchestrated by a bunch of good friends cheered us up during a pretty trying holiday season last year (oh, the fluffy herb biscuits, smoked sunchokes and carrots, Vietnamese pancakes, lotus root chips, and that jar of red, spicy housemade sriracha that we took home, with chef's permission, of course!), and where we've prepped for joint events with Andrew and his awesome, welcoming staff.

All of this is to say how we'd been so looking forward to going to lunch on Friday at the new café created by Wally Joe and Andrew Adams of Acre. It's always fascinating to see the creativity and vision chefs tap into when they try something different. Park + Cherry is a casual, beautifully designed spot inside the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, and it just opened this past Tuesday. We ordered at the counter and then browsed in the new shop that 20twelve has created right next door and got to catch up with our aunt who works there. You can choose to sit at one of the tables that circle the counter or settle in at a quieter spot in the hallway / alcove.

Yesterday, we tried the Truffled Pimento Cheese sandwich and the Goat Cheese, Roasted Beets, and Arugula one, Yukon Gold potato salad, Quinoa with Pickle Pear, Cranberries, and Arugula, and oh my, the amazing Triple Chocolate Brownie. Such a gorgeous and fun lunch! All of this and two drinks came to around $40, and though you may just stop by for a quick meal without paying for admission into the museum, we opted to spring for it in order to walk the gardens after lunch. Every year, the two of us try to make it to the Dixon to take in the change of season, and all of this newness made for one of the best adventures we've had so far in 2016.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kale-Artichoke Dip

After having some baby kale dropped off at our door this week by Amy's dad, who's always got some awesome food growing at his place, Concord Farms out in Slayden, Mississippi, we started thinking about what our new version of spinach-artichoke dip would be. The Lawrence side of our family orders spin-art dip whenever it's on a restaurant's menu, and it's just something that everybody at the table agrees is great.

Feeling inspired by Whitney's Coconut Creamed Greens recipe that we make all the time, we decided it was time to finally make a greens-and-artichoke dip, you know, officially. In the past, we have posted an artichoke dip that we've been making since we were teenagers in Germantown, Tennessee, and we've done Spinach and Artichoke Ravioli.

(This dip with kale is part of our lunch today along with these beauties as we're hanging out in the kitchen and putting together a dessert for a going-away dinner tonight. We'll share what we decided to create for this soon!)

Kale-Artichoke Dip

4 cups loosely packed baby kale
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 large egg (beaten)
1 can artichoke hearts (drained, roughly chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped or microplaned)
1/4 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
cracked black pepper (to taste)
Baked Tortilla Chips (recipe follows)

Boil 2 quarts water in a saucepan; add 2 tablespoons of salt. Place the kale in the saucepan to blanch, which takes a minute or two and turns the kale bright green. Remove kale from the pot using a mesh strainer or spider and set it aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, Greek yogurt, vinegar, and egg. Add the artichokes, garlic, parmesan, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Drain and roughly chop the kale and add it to the bowl. Stir ingredients until well incorporated and pour into a small casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until dip is lightly browned around the edges. Grate some parmesan on top if you like. Serve with Baked Tortilla Chips.

Baked Tortilla Chips

2 sprouted wheat tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tortillas into 1/8ths making them into triangles. Lay them out in one layer on a parchment-lined pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Ingredient: Mung Bean and Edamame Fettucini

Oh, wow, these are pretty great! This type of bean pasta is starting to pop up at stores around town, and Hannah and Amy of Raw Girls in Memphis have a great dish made with these, so you can order it in town or by mail this week. That's how we first learned about mung bean noodles, from trying their excellent food truck dish made with them. Here's how they describe it: Mung Bean Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil Pesto (raw) with hemp seeds and pine nuts. 

Mung bean and edamame fettucini is ruffly, chewy, and most importantly, it has a good tooth to it, unlike some gluten-free noodles. We put together a broccoli-cashew-Beyond-Chicken stir fry today for lunch and served it over these. (See our favorite stir-fry method here.) We'll definitely be using this ingredient again soon and think it's worth a try if you want a different spin on pasta.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili

Thank you to Sprouts Farmers Market for partnering with us for this post! We have been compensated for our time, but as usual, all opinions are our own. 

The most common question that's asked when the subject of vegetarianism comes up is definitely this one: "So, where do you get your protein?" The question is asked with a tilt of the head and an abundance of concern as if the person is trying to figure out how you're standing upright in front of them with, they figure, no protein at all in your diet. After all, according to Janet Little, Sprouts Farmers Market's Director of Nutrition, "Proteins are the main functional and structural building blocks of every cell in your body and help rebuild and repair muscles and tissues."

Well, believe it or not, many plant-based foods, particularly seeds, nuts, and grains, are great sources of protein, and there are benefits to getting at least some of your protein from vegetable sources. "Clean, plant-based protein provides easily digestible, nutrient-dense fuel for optimal performance and health," Janet told us. Quinoa is at the top of her list of plant-based protein sources because this gluten-free grain contains healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is a complete protein.

This week, we decided to make a simple vegetarian dish that uses quinoa as the base and is topped with a protein-packed chili that's made using lentils and walnuts. The dish gets its depth of flavor from two sources: smoky chipotle chilies and dark chocolate. This chili is so easy to make -- you seriously won't believe it. There's no sautéing and almost no chopping. All the ingredients were found at our local Sprouts Farmers Market, and most of them are organic to boot. 

7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili

1 16-ounce jar fire-roasted salsa
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 chipotle chili from a can (minced)
1 ounce 72% dark chocolate (1/3 of a bar)
1 teaspoon cumin
Coriander Quinoa (recipe follows)

Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo (recipe follows)
No-Fuss Guacamole (recipe follows)
4 ounces cheese shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup Greek yogurt

Into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the salsa, lentils, vegetable stock, water, walnuts, chipotle, chocolate, and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce mixture to a simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. (Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the lentils.) 

While the chili cooks, make the Coriander Quinoa, Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo, and No-Fuss Guacamole. Assemble each serving by adding 1/2 cup of Coriander Quinoa to a medium bowl and top it with 3/4 cup of the 7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili. Layer one quarter each of the cheese, lettuce, yogurt, and No-Fuss Guacamole. Finally, top it all off with 1/4 cup Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo. Repeat the same pattern in 3 bowls. (Makes 4 servings.)

Coriander Quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white quinoa (rinsed under cold water)
1 teaspoon coriander

Into a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil and add the quinoa. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover a fluff with a fork. (Makes 4 servings.)

Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo

1 small shallot (finely diced)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 cup cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 small Serrano pepper (finely diced)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Rinse the diced shallot under cold water. (This will keep it the onion from overpowering the mixture.) In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and Serrano pepper. Add Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste. (Makes 4 servings.)

No-Fuss Guacamole

2 ripe medium-sized Haas avocados
juice from 1/2 orange
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste 

Peel and dice the avocados and place them in a medium bowl. Add the orange juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and then stir. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups.)