Monthly Archives: July 2013
A few weeks ago, I won an amazing basket of local produce and goodies from the organization that runs our favorite farmers markets, GrowRVA
. I was expecting a few things, but this basket was overflowing with some of the best foods our area has to offer. I knew immediately what I would do with some of the items, but some of them required more thought. There was a bag of gorgeous wax beans, and I wanted to do something more special than our typical blanched and sautéed beans side dish. My initial thought was to make some type of salad, but nothing jumped out at me after a quick recipe search. Then I remembered the delicious chicken sausages we needed to use and decided to search for wax beans + sausage recipes when I came across this one.
Like most good summer meals, this one is simple. The simplicity allows the flavors and feeling of summer to really shine through. When harvested at their height, fruits and vegetables don’t require much to make them delicious, and this recipe is a perfect example of that. Fresh herbs and caramelized onions are combined with wax beans and tomatoes to create a fresh and supremely summer dinner. This one is definitely going into the summer meal rotation.
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I have some exciting news to share with you (which you may have already seen if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter). I’ve joined the Simple Bites team of contributors, and I’m absolutely thrilled! My first post is up today – this simple lemon and arugula pasta that has become a weeknight favorite in our house this summer. I would love for you to head over and check it out.
I’m also in the process of making some behind the scenes updates to the site. The biggest change you’ll see is that I’m using ZipList for the recipes I post, and I’ve added a link to the recipe box so that you can save recipes from here and so many other blogs that use this feature. After losing all but 200 of my saved items from the move to Feedly from Google Reader, I can appreciate having a new place to save recipes. You can find the link to the recipe box up top in the navigation bar.
I recently had to write a short bio, something to appear on another site I’m contributing to starting next week, and I struggled more than I should have. How do I summarize who I am and what this blog is in a few sentences? I don’t have a specific focus to the recipes I post, and I’m definitely not clever enough to come up with something cute or witty to describe myself. I took everything I am, at least in terms of this blog, and broke it down to the basics. I like to make and eat good food and photograph it too. As I approach the five year anniversary of starting this blog, I am reminded of that simple goal because it still describes the heart of what I do here. I don’t always have some remarkable story to share with you, but I will always share the food that we make and love.
This pasta was inspired by a dish at a restaurant Eric and I ate at shortly after moving to Richmond. I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant because we only went there that one time, but this pasta never left my memory. I have a thing for poblanos, so I knew I had to recreate it. I tried, maybe two years ago, but the results were kind of meh. I forgot about it until recently, when I saw a basket full of gorgeous poblanos at the grocery store. I took a different approach to creating the sauce and came up with a meal that rivals the one I ate more than three years ago. The gist of it is this – black beans, corn, tomatoes and poblano are tossed with pasta in a simple and spicy poblano cream sauce. The flavors remind me of a dish I used to love at Ruby Tuesday when I was in high school and college (Sonora Chicken Pasta, in case anyone remembers it). This entire meal can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta, and it makes fantastic leftovers. And though I haven’t tried it, I have a feeling this pasta would taste just as good at room temperature or even cold.
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I adore coffee. I have for a long time, and yet I seem to appreciate it more and more as I try it different ways. I tend to get on a kick of one type of coffee over another, and then I get tired of that and switch to something else. I’ll use my espresso machine for weeks at a time but then decide I only want French press coffee for the next couple of weeks. One thing I never seem to tire of, though, is cold brew coffee. If there’s an option for me to have it, I’ll choose it over anything else. If Eric and I are at the farmers market on Saturday morning, you can bet we’re drinking cold brew.
Cold brew coffee is on a whole different level than other coffee drinks. Because there’s no heat involved, the beans don’t release any of their bitterness. Because of this, the coffee is more smooth (less acidic) and requires less (or no) sweeteners if you’re into that sort of thing. I will put homemade caramel sauce in a latte like there’s no tomorrow, and even I can drink cold brew with next to nothing in it. So that should give you an idea of just how awesome it is.
This is why I filter twice.
We made our first batch of cold brew at home more than four years ago. I remember thinking that we didn’t need to dilute it as much as the recipe called for, thinking that the coffee would taste watered down, and I ended up trembly because of all the caffeine. I haven’t made that mistake again! I’ve tried pretty much all of the go-to recipes for cold brew (who knew there could be so many?!) and have finally found one that I feel is worthy of sharing with all of you. The thing about coffee, and cold brew in particular, is that it’s really based on your preferences, which makes it hard for me to tell you how to make it. At its core, cold brew coffee is just that – coffee brewed slowly with cold water. The variations arise when you change up the ratio of coffee grounds to water when brewing and then coffee concentrate to additional water when it’s finished. After trying many different ratios, I think I’ve found the one that suits us best. It’s not so strong that I get jittery but also doesn’t taste at all watered down. I like to serve mine with a little bit of vanilla bean simple syrup and a splash of milk, though I have used sweetened condensed milk to make a luscious Vietnamese iced coffee. I double filter my cold brew so that there’s no sludge left in it, and it’s worth the wait. If you plan ahead (which, ahem, I obviously didn’t before taking these photos), you can make coffee ice cubes to use in your iced coffee. And if you can, I definitely recommend using a local roaster for your beans. We love Blanchard’s if you’re in the Richmond area (and if you aren’t – they ship!).
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There aren’t a lot of seafood recipes on this blog. I know that. I am trying so hard to like seafood more. I should, considering I grew up near the coast. But the thing is – most of the seafood I ate in the first 21 years of my life was deep fried. My personal favorite was fried crab claws, which is apparently an Alabama thing because I never see them anywhere else, but I’ve since learned to appreciate crab in other forms (like in these awesome crab cakes). What I’m trying to tell you is that my tastebuds weren’t really exposed to seafood until well after college. Unless you count sushi, which I love. Yes, I realize it’s weird to like raw fish and not cooked fish. What can I say? I’m a complicated person. ;)
Next to mild white fish varieties, salmon has been my go-to seafood to try. There’s exactly one other salmon recipe on this blog, and it’s a good one. I figured it was time to branch out, especially since I want Clara exposed to different foods early on. I’m still trying to be the best version of myself for her, and the best version of me is unafraid to try new things. So when this recipe popped up in my Reader (RIP), I knew I had to try it. I wasn’t sure I would even like it, but I trust my friend Tara and know she wouldn’t post something that wasn’t totally awesome. So I took the plunge and am so happy I did. The salmon in this recipe is cooked skin side up, so the top of the fish ends up wonderfully crispy. I almost hated to top it with sauce because it looked so good on its own, but I have a thing for mustardy cream sauces, and this one was especially delicious. It’s rich and flavorful, with punch from the garlic and Dijon. We served this fish with sautéed asparagus, and I put quite a bit of the sauce on top of it, too. We loved this and were so, so happy that Clara enjoyed it too. Here’s to hoping that she grows up with an appreciation of many different types of food.
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