RSS Feed

Thanksgiving 2012

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the USA, so naturally our thoughts go to food (even more than they normally do). This marks the first year that I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with extended family, but poor Josh has to work at midnight on Thanksgiving so we’re staying in town. Ah, the joys of retail and Black Friday.

We’ll be celebrating instead with two other orphaned families, so we have a list of things to contribute. I asked our lovely hostess what I could bring, and this is what we’re making:

  1. Mashed potatoes- just your basic mashed potatoes. To me, Thanksgiving is not the time for fancy flavored mashed potatoes, since they simply serve as a vehicle to get gravy into your mouth. This article from the Kitchn does a great job of breaking the process down for perfect potatoes.
  2. Dressing/Stuffing- This is the one that freaked me out a little. I’ve never made dressing, nor am I a huge fan of it. It’s typically bland and either weirdly dry or overly mushy. Josh and I decided to break free of tradition and make this Poblano Cornbread Stuffing. Now I’m actually looking forward to the dish, which I didn’t think was possible.
  3. Vegetable- Easy. Sassy green beans. Like there was ever any doubt.
  4. Wine- Okay, so I actually offered to bring this. You can never have too much booze at the holidays, right?! Instead of just grabbing a few bottles of wine though, I thought I’d make this spiced apple cider sangria. Doesn’t get more autumnal than that.

Anyone else mixing it up a little this year? Or have any traditional dishes that are a non negotiable?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Foodie Friday: Gluten Free Cornbread

In our group of friends here we have a lot of people with food allergies. Gluten, dairy, nuts… the list goes on and on.

We had a chili cook off recently and one of the gluten free girls mentioned how much she missed cornbread. I knew that there had to be a quick and easy (and cheap) way to make it for her, so I told her I’d take care of it.

I spent a good bit of time online looking at various recipes. Some called for up to 4 or 5 specialty flours that there was no way I was going to buy for one dish. Seriously. Cornbread should be cheap. I was raised on Jiffy cornbread in the blue box, which is a staple for most poor large families.

I finally found a few recipes that were simple enough, and after combining and tweaking them, came up with this one. Luckily, since I was making it for a crowd without tasting it first, it turned out great.

Gluten Free Cornbread

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used rice milk.)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 cups fine or medium cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp molasses (or you can just do 2 tbsp extra honey)
  • 11-oz can corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp coconut or canola/veg oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
Preheat your oven to 420.
Combine the vinegar with the milk, and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, corn (you can smash it a little if you want), and milk-vinegar. Then pour the wet into dry and mix until just mixed. It will look really weird and foamy and you’ll probably think you did something wrong. Pour into a greased 8×8 dish and cook for about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Restaurant Review Nashville: Biscuit Love at Cooking with Yazoo Beer

We’ve talked before about our love for local food truck Biscuit Love, and when Rachel and Bryan came to visit we went and toured Yazoo Brewing Co, so when we got a chance to combine the two for a special night you know we jumped at the offer. I mean, come on, beer and great food cooked with beer? No brainer!

Yazoo has been hosting local chefs for the night about once a month and this was our first time to go. For $20 we got a three course meal and unlimited beer, plus a really fun time. Karl, the genius behind Biscuit Love, and his wife Sarah have become friends of ours, so we also loved the chance to go support them as well.

Karl named his meal “Scenes From a Redneck Childhood,” and with a name like that, you know it’s going to be a great night.

First course: Country Store Pickle Plate

  • pickled sausage poached in Dos Perros and served over fried cornbread (my favorite)
  • pickled Hefeweizen egg salad served on an angel biscuit
  • Tobasco and Hefewizen pickled Gulf Shrimp served over a Weisenberger Mills cheese grit cake

Second course: The Virginia Creeper Picnic

  • drunken Cruze Dairy buttermilk fried chicken brined in Gerst
  • Delta Sun Farms collard greens braised in Broadbent bacon, onions, and Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Lager
  • 4 cheese Kenny’s Farmhouse macaroni (complete with Cheeze-its crumbled on top)

Third Course: The Family Get Together

  • a buttermilk pie named Sue, which was Karl’s Aunt Edna’s recipe with a little bit of a Beer Named Sue (this was the lightest and best buttermilk pie I’ve ever had)

As you can imagine, poor Josh pushed his dairy allergy to the limits, but it was worth every bite and possible nasal issues later. Every course was perfect, but the second course in particular really spoke to me in the way that only true Southern comfort food can do. While the fried chicken and mac and cheese were insanely good, the collard greens, which reminded me so much of my late grandmother that I got a little choked up, were what brought waves of childhood nostalgia crashing over me.  Even if you didn’t grow up on these foods (like Josh), it’s still just the kind of meal that makes you feel happy and cozy.

We will definitely be keeping on eye out for Yazoo’s next chef’s night, and will continue to stalk Biscuit Love. If you’re in the area, you should check both of them out!

Restaurant Review Memphis: Felicia Suzanne Chef’s Table

Last night we had a magical, magical dinner. It was so magical you can only double it . Magical magical. That’s how awesome it was.
A friend of my husbands invited one of us to dinner with his step dad and a few other friends. They had won a dinner for 6 at a great local restaurant at an auction and there was only one seat open. Bryan talked to the host and to the restaurant and they agreed to allow me and we’d pay my own way.  I figured it’d be a multi-course meal, but didn’t really have many preconceived notions. Mainly I was trying not to think of it at all because I was worried that since we would be eating with strangers it might be really awkward and I tend to play these things up in my head which in the end forces it to be awkward because I’m awkward in response to foreseeing it being awkward. Self-fulfilling prophesy if there ever was one.
Anyways, back to the story. Bryan and I arrived a few minutes early and grabbed drinks at the bar. We’ve been to this restaurant several times without reservations and can never get a table so we’re always forced to sit at the bar and look longingly at the people who were smart enough to plan their dinners in advance. We also have a friend that works the bar, so there’s that too. And given our recent visits we’ve made friends with the main bartender as well. I don’t like to brag, but he makes some fantastic drinks. One time he made me this drink with gin and a real fig in it. It was amazing.  I digress again.
Bryan’s running buddy shows up first and we chat with him as the other members of our dining party arrive. Once everyone is there we are taken to our table. We pass all the other tables and they take us through the double doors. The double doors to the kitchen, ya’ll!!!! THE KITCHEN!
Being a foodie I’ve known this is a thing. For chef’s to have special seatings in the kitchen. But never ever did I think I’d be such a lucky girl to be able to do that. I think my jaw dropped and I just froze. Mainly to prevent myself from jumping up and down and squealing like a little girl…. and also I didn’t want to spill my cocktail. That would be wasteful. After a mintue and the shock wore off I sat down where I could see what was happening in the kitchen.
Felicia, the owner and chef, greeted us and asked if we had an allergies or food preferences. There was one vegan at the table, so he got his own special thing. If I had felt more comfortable with the dinner party I would have piped up and asked her to get really creative or something. But I didn’t. I just smiled and knew that I was in for a treat regardless.
After seven courses I can’t tell you specifics of what all we ate. There was a little tart, a squash and apple soup with crab meat, a salad, a duck and mushroom crepe with some tasty tomato jam, a fish course served over hoppin john (she mixed black eyed peas and lady peas and I might have wanted to ask for seconds), a beef course with a really tasty sauce, and then for dessert she brought us three different things to try and share. Sigh… incredible food.
But the thing that struck me as special was the guests. We only knew the one friend going in to the meal. I was super nervous that it was going to be awkward not knowing everyone. It wasn’t. We both really enjoyed talking and getting to know everyone.  I had one of those epiphanies that this was what grown up life was supposed to be like. This is how we were supposed to live. Sharing meals with people and getting to know each other.
One of my goals for next year is to host more gatherings. When we first bought our house four years ago we were great about having people over pretty regularly, but we’ve slacked off in the last year or so. Last night spurred me on to make it more of a priority to bring people together and share food and drink.

Roux

For the last couple of years Bryan and I have been a family of 6. Bryan, me, one dog, two cats, and one turtle. We liked our little family. This summer, however, we had a set back. Our beloved dog, Bosco, died. It was heartbreaking. Literally. I think it broke both mine and Bryan’s hearts. We cried and moped around for weeks. Even the cats were sad and missed their sister. (Yes, I’m one of those weirdos that counts their pets as children. Don’t judge me.)  People asked us when we thought we’d get another dog or if we’d get another dog. I knew that we’d get one at some point, but Bryan wasn’t certain he’d want one for a long long time. It was a sensitive matter and I decided to leave well enough alone.
In the past month or so my heart had healed a bit and I found myself longing for a dog. You know how some women, you may be one, long for a baby. Like their body actually craves a baby? I’m not one of those women, but I felt that way about a dog. We’d be out and I’d see one and I’d ache. Bryan had to stop telling me about encounters with dogs in his daily dealings because I always followed his story saying “I WANT A DOG!”
One day, not so long ago, we were both out in a suburban area of town at a random time of day. He mentioned that maybe while we were in the area go by the Humane Society. This was the first we discussed it and I was over the moon. It turned out we couldn’t go by that particular day, but it got us started on the path.
We visited the local Humane Society on a Saturday. We had spent the days preceeding looking online at pictures of dogs at both the Humane Society and other local foundations. I didn’t give it much weight. I knew that I couldn’t make a decision until I saw a dog personally. My only requirement was that it wanted to snuggle with me. Bryan had a few more specific criteria.
We walked around the building and saw all the dogs and then discussed which ones were our favorites. We asked to meet two of them.  After playing with them both separately, we knew we were hooked on one of them.
Meet Presley Roux Baddorf.
She’s about 3 years old and is a hound/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. A park ranger saw her previous owners ditch her in one of our local parks.
I can not figure out why they would get rid of this sweet baby. All she wants to do is cuddle. You don’t even have to play with her. Let her in the backyard and she will literally play with herself.
The cats haven’t totally accepted her into our fold, but we’re closer than we were a week ago.

Foodie Friday: Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers

Like I mentioned earlier this week, Josh and I have fallen in love with cooking our own chickpeas and using them as a base for our lunches. When I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew it’d be perfect for us to make. I made a few adjustments (mainly leaving out all of the parsley. Bleh) and think the results turned out to be pretty fantastic!

Another great thing about this recipe is how long it lasts. I made ours on Sunday, and my leftovers today will be every bit as good, if not better, than it was when I first made it.

Obviously you can make this with canned chickpeas and buy pre-roasted red peppers, but making it from scratch will result in a tastier and less expensive final product. If you’re going to use canned chickpeas, I’d say use 3-4 cans.

Also, I wound up doing a quick roasting of the garlic cloves in a dry skillet before mixing into the dressing (skin on, over medium heat, until the skin on all sides turns golden brown). Josh doesn’t love to eat a lot of raw garlic at work.

Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers (original)

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 2 large bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and chopped (how to here)
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more to taste after mixing)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine the chickpeas and chopped bell peppers in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients. Pour over chickpea mixture and toss well. Taste and season accordingly. Try not to eat the whole bowl while adjusting.

Restaurant Review Nashville: Otaku South Popup

Josh and I jumped at the chance on Sunday to try a new popup restaurant in town. Otaku South is a project by a local resident, Sarah Gavigan, who has a passion to be bring authentic ramen to Nashville. She is currently only doing one or two events a month, and they have been extremely hard to get into in the past, so we were determined to get our own bowls of noodles this time. Luckily we have some food obsessed friends who were right there with us. The meal was served in a great coffee shop, so the four of us got there early and hung out with warm cups of coffee and tea until the main event.

I’ve proclaimed our love for ramen before (notably here and here), so we understandably went into this event with high hopes. Knowing that Sarah cooks her broth for days, using pork bones from Porter Road Butcher, was encouraging. Making true ramen is not a quick process. The broth is the star, with all of the other additions supporting players. You can’t have a great bowl of ramen with some weak store bought broth. It just doesn’t work.

There were three different flavors offered: pork, spicy chicken, and corn miso. While part of me (the new found part that is addicted to sriracha and spicy food in general) wanted to get the spicy chicken, I knew I’d be full of regrets if I didn’t join the rest of my group and get the pork ramen.

I’ll break it down into two groups: the fun stuff and the broth.

The fun stuff included shredded pork, a soft boiled egg, pickled greens, fried shallots that I could have eaten by the bowlful, and some of the best ramen noodles I’ve ever had. These noodles had the perfect chew and subtle flavor that makes for a well balanced bowl of ramen, and I need to find out where she gets them. I’d like to buy them in bulk and eat them on a weekly basis. There was also a little collection of pickled daikon radish, peppers, and mushrooms on the side to accompany the ramen. Josh, who I’m just now easing into the world of fungi, even said that the mushrooms were great, which is high praise indeed. All in all, these ingredients were delicious and also just a lot of fun to eat. Much slurping ensued, which in ramen culture is not only accepted but encouraged.

The broth is a subject unto itself. On each table was a bottle of a tasty homemade sriracha type sauce called “friendly fire” (which could take your taste buds off if you weren’t careful) and a bottle of burnt garlic oil. While the addition of these two ingredients make the broth tasty, they also contributed to my slight disappointment. To me, the perfect ramen broth shouldn’t need that much tinkering. Maybe a little squirt of something here and there to fine tune it to your preferences, but not a lot. While Otaku’s broth was nice and rich, it also felt slightly heavy and just lacked a certain depth of flavor. Most people might not even notice this, but after having had some truly incredible ramen over the years I know that this just didn’t quite measure up. All three of my co-slurpers felt the same way, so I knew I wasn’t just being too picky. I wound up adding a good bit of both the sauce and oil in order to brighten up the flavors.

While the experience didn’t quite live up to my admittedly high hopes, I would absolutely love to try it out again. Maybe next time I’ll give one of the other flavors a go (hello, spicy chicken). It was still good, and certainly far better than anything similar that I’ve had around here. I’m also just excited to have something like this available in the town that I love, and will support Otaku South for no other reason than appreciation for introducing the people of Nashville to the wonderful world of true ramen.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers