Inspiration needed…..

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Life forces of late seem to be pushing me into what I’m calling “a Life Rewrite” Needing some tweaks, edits, revisions to get me back on the ultimate life journey.  To help me get some inspiration with this rewrite, I consulted my Instagram account…what do I like to document in my life and share with the world???  The answer turned out not to be to shocking……food and cats.

BUT that did inspire me to look at some foods I don’t spend a lot of time cooking or have wanted to cook more of.  So I raided the cookbook section of my local library.  Libraries have great cookbook collections.  Not sure if you want to try Indian cooking, check out a book, try a few recipes, like it…go buy the book, don’t…. just return it and try another. The only thing from stopping me from checking out almost the entire section….remembering I had to cary these books to my car and then up to my house.

What was I most attracted too?  Grilling and marinades (I’m ready to make my tiny charcoal weber my bitch), Thai cuisine (I have 3 whole ducks in my freezer that seem to be whispering “cook me with peppers and thai spices”) Cuban (stand by for me when I need to get out of a funk), and grilled cheese (I’m ready to have my mind BLOWN AWAY by melted goodness).

Lift your spatula..here’s to my rewrite and maybe just maybe one of these cookbooks changing my life.

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How to Make Crepes

Or as I like to call it, The Crepes of Wrath…but not really.

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This month my sister and I decided to do a crepe challenge. I picked a savory crepe recipe and she picked a sweet dessert crepe. My big plan was to use the crepe recipe from our high school French teacher (I pity students who don’t get to experience French class crepes). Alas, I lost the sticky note that I’d scribbled the recipe down on. Instead of asking my sister for the recipe yet again, I turned to The Kitchn’s How to Make Delicate, Lacy Crepes. My back-up plan turned out to be a great one. Here’s their recipe and it works!

Easy Crepe Recipe

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Makes about 8 8-in crêpes, recipe can be doubled as needed

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Optional for sweet crepes:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Neutral oil for cooking

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender, or a bowl and whisk
Wire cooling rack
Ladle for pouring (optional)
10-inch nonstick pan or an 8-inch crêpe pan
Spatula

Instructions

  1. Make the batter: Place the flour, milk, eggs, salt, and melted butter (and optional sugar and vanilla) in a blender and blend for about 20 seconds until batter is smooth. Alternatively, whisk everything together in a bowl until thoroughly combined and frothy.
  2. Let the batter sit: Cover the bowl and let the batter sit for at least 1/2 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Prepare to cook the crêpes: Before cooking the crêpes, assemble everything you’ll need by your stove top: the batter, the pan, the oil, the spatula. If your bowl doesn’t have a pour spout, have a ladle or 1/4-cup measuring cup handy.
  4. Cook the crêpes: Place the pan over medium heat and add a small amount of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Let it sit on the flame for a minute to get hot. Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter. Immediately, pick up the pan and swirl it to coax the batter into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Flip the crêpe: When the crêpe has browned slightly on the bottom, carefully work a spatula underneath it and flip. Cook the second side briefly, just to set the batter.
  6. Cool the crêpe: Tilt the pan and loosen the crêpe, then slide it onto the cooling rack.
  7. Continue making crêpes: 

Continue making crêpes with the rest of the batter, adding more oil as needed to keep the crêpes from sticking.

  1. Stack and store: If not eating the crêpes immediately, stack them one on top of the other as they cool. If they seem sticky, place a square of plastic wrap or parchment paper between them. Place the stack in a sealable plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for a few months.

Turning a Sweet Crepe into a Savory Blini

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Every once in a while Russian recipes catch my attention. When I stumbled on Chicken and Mushroom Blinis, I thought, now how do I make that vegetarian? Here’s how!

Vegetarian Blini Recipe

Ingredients for Garlic Tofu and Mushroom Blinis

  • One Block of Garlic Tofu
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Sweet Chopped Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon of Dried Parsley
  • 1 Diced Garlic Clove
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/2 cup of White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • Slices of Provolone Cheese

How To:

Drain and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces. Add the olive oil to a skillet and saute the tofu until it’s slightly brown and crispy on the edges. Remove the tofu from the pan. Melt butter in the same skillet. Saute onions until translucent then add the garlic, mushrooms, and parsley until mushrooms are sautéed. Finally add the tofu back into the pan along with the white wine, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for less than 5 minutes.

Depending on how your crepes turned out use add a 1/4 a cup or 1/2 a cup of filling to each crepe. Roll them up and place the blinis on the plate seam down so they don’t unroll. Lay a slice of provolone over the top of two rolled blinis. Pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese.

The filling makes about six blinis and they are great as leftovers!

 

 

 

Tahini Roasted Chicken

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Just Say No To PB&J that was the title for this Instagram pic.  Why?  Because it was my lunch for the day.  Now don’t get me wrong PB&J has its place.  But I had to start making my own lunch when I was 9.  Which means over the years I’ve started getting really creative with always bringing my lunch. This lunch were some yummy leftovers from my Sunday Night Dinner:  Tahini Roasted Chicken topped with Hummus and Olives and Cucumber-Tomato-Feta Salad on the side. Yay I got excited about that meal.

Part of adult-ing is not only planning meals, but sticking to the plan and learning how to maximize leftovers.  Hello budget savviness becoming apart of my everyday.  Here’s the breakdown — a not so intricate system of rotating when and what leftovers you eat.  (I know I’m preaching to the choir but 3-4 times in a row of the same meal just becomes depressing.  Thus has entered my system. ) Sunday Night dinner becomes Monday lunch,  Monday Night dinner Tuesday lunch and Tuesday Night dinner are Sunday Leftovers.  See that pattern developing.   I’ve become almost so OCD with my system I rarely eat out any more.  I catch myself sometimes seeing a favorite restaurant and think “that sounds good I should do that for dinner!”  But then I remember my meal plan and I head home for what’s in the fridge.  Here’s to all us trying to save a dime and brown bagging that gourmet meal for lunch!

Hey it was really good so you should make it too!  Try my Tahini Roasted Chicken (also great on the grill but it was super hot outside so I wasn’t about to do that)

 

Tahini Roasted Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/4 cup white wine

1 TBSP greek seasoning

1 clove garlic minced

1 TBSP minced fresh basil

slat and pepper to taste

Hummus — your favorite. I used white bean basil for this

Green and Black Olives chopped

 

*mix tahini, white wine, greek seasoning, garlic, and basil together in a bowl to form a marinade.

*Wash chicken breasts and pat dry.  Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken breasts to marinade and allow to marinate for 4-8 hours.

*For roasting cook chicken breasts at 375 for 1 hour.

*For grilling cook chicken breasts till meat reaches 165 degrees.

*Serve chicken with a spoonful or 2 of your favorite hummus and a sprinkling of chopped olives

 

 

just a cookie or two

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What to do on a rainy afternoon?  Bake cookies and have a friend over for tea!  That’s how I spent my Saturday afternoon a couple a weekends ago.  After having spent the morning slowly drinking coffee while reading the paper at the local coffee shop (yes I have accepted the fact I have hit that age. In fact the other couple setting reading papers and drinking coffee was easily 70…mmmhmmm I’m old and I like it.) I decided the best way to spend the rest of the day was baking goodies for a tea date with a friend.

Back in the day (yeah told you I’m ok with being old now) I was the queen of cookie baking.  Any band that stayed at my house left with some fresh baked treats for the road.  My recipe collection started to become a bit extensive. I mean I couldn’t give the same cookie to everyone or let alone give the same cookie twice to the same group of musicians.  Yet as the bands faded away and my life got busier with work, learning bread making, pasta making, whiskey infusing, the cookie baking fell to the wayside.  Now when I randomly bake up some treats I get excited. I forgot how easy most cookies are.  And how nobody can eat just one.  So what’s now on the cookbook shelf?  But yes of course a cookie cookbook.  Once that final pasta has been made I’m ready to go with the next cookbook challenge…Cookie of the Week here I come.

Coffee on the Porch

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In my free time I cofounded a non-profit. Yes us Hearty Eaters we like to have a to-do list a mile long most days. For the last 2 years my non-profit has been running a monthly event called Coffee on the Porch.  Its a simple concept.  Have your morning coffee with your neighbors.  The idea is to get people talking to one another in one of the most economically diverse and racially diverse areas in Baton Rouge, Mid City. Because if you read this blog you know that Hearty Eaters see food as the connector.  We all love to eat and drink and once that starts happening stories, laughter all flows.

My organization, Mid City Studio,  floats around this 40,000 peopled area, picking a new porch or stoop or yard to setup in each month and serve free coffee to anyone who shows up.  This year we added a little extra component, a map.  We like maps.  Maps help tell the story of a place.  And frankly you can live your whole life somewhere and not know a lot about it.  We’ve made maps so far that feature bike-able public art tours, homeless services, and local civil rights history.  In June we made one of my favorites so far.  The Soul Food Map of Baton Rouge. The qualifier for being on this map?  Can I get something smothered with mac & cheese as my vegetable.  And for desert check out our August Map tracking the best and tastiest Snoball stands.   mmmmhmmmm tis good.

I’m Getting the Hang of This

 

I’ve got about 40 pasta recipes under my belt as I work my way through the Pasta Bible.   Making one recipe out of each chapter before starting back at the beginning again.  When I hit the stuffed pasta section I have the same thought every time…….”wait what was it that worked really well last time”  Ravioli, man, if you don’t do it all the time you forget the little tricks that really helped stuff, hold together, cook them, etc from the last time.  But I must be remembering a thing or 2 that’s working.

This last go around were spinach-ricotta ravioli in a butter cream sauce.  To me the ravs were too big, sloppy looking and I was praying they would hold together as they boiled.  However I got a huge complement which made me realize I have been over obsessing with making super perfect ravioli every other month. Friends were over to dine on these guys, when one friend looked in her bowl and exclaimed “wow look at how consistent these are in shape!”  Bo-ya consistent shaped ravioli…its the little things y’all.

One day my kitchen will be like……

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Catch yourself thinking of what would be in your dream kitchen every time you are in your kitchen?  Or maybe you have a tiny apartment size stove so why bother cooking anything real?  Or there is no counter space so you only do simple 3 ingredient recipes.

Feels like there are so many excuses about why people choose not to cook to the level they want to because the kitchen just isn’t up to par, no gas 6 burner stove, no granite counter tops.  19 is when I got my very own kitchen in my first apartment that was the tiniest apartment and kitchen, in the top of an old victorian house with no ac.  Since then I have had around 10 more kitchens, all with their perks and faults. There is one thing I have realized in all these kitchens…..you can make 5 star food no matter the kitchen.

This made me decide I wanted to de-mystify the idea that to make great food you need a big fancy kitchen.  I have, for 14 years, made 100s of raviolis, roasted turkeys, ducks and chickens, baked french pastries, and infused enough booze to run my own distillery all in kitchens that have been used and abused by tons of renters.  If you want to cook great food you can do it anywhere.

In the next few months I’m going to feature tiny, small kitchens that produce meals worthy of bon appetite on a weekly basis.  These home chefs have come to realize the same thing that I have….if you want to cook you can work with whatever you have. With each kitchen feature there will also be a recipe to their favorite item to cook.  Because if they cook it in there kitchen you can too no matter your kitchen.

Kicking it off is my own kitchen.  Its lacking in counter space, was not thrilled by the glass top electric stove, and digging for the right pots and pans is a rubic’s cube puzzle every time.  But I’ve baked breads, made homemade pasta, pan-fried dove breasts and did a small stint with cooking authentic indian cuisine.

My favorite dish so far in this kitchen has been Penne Pasta with Cream and Smoked Salmon….trust me make it your kitchen can handle it!

RECIPE: PENNE PASTA WITH CREAM & SMOKED SALMON

serves 4

Ingredients

3 c dried penne pasta

4 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon

1 tsp fresh thyme

2/3 c extra thick creme

salt and pepper to taste

  • cook penne pasta till tender
  • while pasta is cooking slice salmon into thin strips
  • melt butter in a pan, stir in cream with a quarter of the salmon and thyme, heat gently for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly
  • drain pasta, toss in cream & salmon. top with remaining salmon and thyme serve immediately

 

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