Fruited Bulgur Pilaf

From: Adapted from various internet sources, kind of

Food Groups: Savory

This is a great side dish that comes together easily. Bulgur is a whole grain used in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. You can buy it in most natural food stores, ethnic/Middle Eastern specialty stores, and some supermarkets. I usually make it with dried cranberries or golden raisins, though I think chopped dried apricots, cherries, apples, or even sun-dried tomatoes would be nice.

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Bulgur Wheat

Ingredients:

2-3 T. butter

1/2 – 1 shallot minced (about 1/4 c.)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. dry bulgur wheat

2 c. chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 c. small pieces of dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins

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1. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add shallot and garlic and saute over medium heat a few minutes until tender.

2. Add bulgur to saucepan and stir until well-coated with butter. Add broth and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and add dried fruit. Cover again and let steam for 5 minutes. Serve.

Brad’s Spicy Red Pepper Hummus

From: Adapted by Brad from The Joy of Cooking

Food Groups: Citrusy, Spicy, Savory

A delicious, slightly spicy hummus made with roasted garlic and red pepper.

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Ingredients:

1 c. dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans (you can substitute 1 16 oz. can of cooked chickpeas if you don’t have time to soak and simmer)

1 red pepper

2 cloves garlic

3 T. tahini (prepared sesame seed paste)

1/3 c. lemon juice

1 T. Sriracha sauce (Thai hot red pepper sauce – available at most supermarkets in the “ethnic” aisle)

1/2 tsp. cumin

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for blending

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1. Soak chickpeas overnight in enough water to cover plus one inch.

2. Simmer chickpeas in enough chickpeas to cover for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until chickpeas are very tender. Drain chickpeas, reserving 1/2 c. of cooking liquid.

3. Preheat oven to 350. Roast one halved, seeded red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic on an aluminum foil-lined pan for about 45 minutes. Leave garlic cloves inside their papery skin to roast — simply cut off one end of the clove so that the tender roasted garlic can be squeezed out of the end when they are ready. Remove from oven and puree together the pepper and garlic with a hand immersion blender or food processor.

4. Add all of the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until everything is smooth. Add small amounts of cooking liquid to thin hummus as needed, and add olive oil to make texture smooth. Add extra Sriracha if you like it spicy!

5. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips. (Quick pita chips: cut pitas into eighths, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in 350 oven for 15 minutes. Delicious!)

Mosaic – St. Louis

This post is a bit of a departure for this sorely neglected blog, but Brad and I had an amazing meal while we were in St. Louis and I wanted to share some pictures (taken with my phone) so you can also bask in its loveliness. We were in town to present at the Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Annual Convention. Right down Washington Ave. from the convention center was Mosaic, a tapas restaurant.

Tapas is generally used to describe small appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. Mosaic wasn’t specifically Spanish — they described themselves as modern/fusion and also used the term “small plate” to describe portion sizes. They recommended 2-3 selections from the menu per person, so we had a total of 6 delicious treats:

1. Flight of Soups

Described in the menu as “chef’s selection of fine soups,” they were fine indeed, and tied for my favorite of the dishes we sampled. On the left is Roasted Beet with Bacon (winey and meaty and amazing), in the middle is Butternut Squash with Tahitian Vanilla Bean (sweet and smooth, like a dessert), and on the right is Truffled Broccoli and Cheddar (delightfully creamy and tangy).

2. Fresh Mozzarella Caprese

An interesting twist on the standard tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil caprese salad. The menu describes it, “Seasonal tomatoes, champagne mango, fresh mozzarella, English cucumber, basil vinaigrette and balsamic reduction [in those little pipettes], toasted hazlenuts.” Fresh and zesty.

3. Grilled Fresh Asparagus

Description: “Candied almonds, shaved parmesan, lemon thyme oil.” A lovely mix of crunchy, salty, and light citrusy.

4. Chorizo Stuffed Chicken “Wings”

Brad bit into this and said, “Holy sh*t.” Yeah. Described thus: “Whipped Gorgonzola [in the cup], guajillo chili & agave nectar BBQ [in the pipette].” The chorizo was spicy and salty, and when topped with the sweetness of the sauce and the creamy Gorgonzola spread, it was indescribable.

5. Pulled Korean BBQ Pork – Apple

Wow. First of all, how beautiful is that? Described as, “Baked Fuji apple, goat cheese creme fraiche, five spice pistachios.” I don’t recall there being pistachios, but the rest of it was amazing. Cutting up the apple made of mess of this gorgeous thing, but the tanginess of the barbecue sauce and creme fraiche with the sweetness of the apple made it worthwhile.

6. Three Cheeses

My other favorite (are you surprised?). “3 fine cheeses served with fresh fruit and nuts, house chutney, walnut raisin bread.” I think the five-spice pistachios showed up in this dish, over on the left in the middle. The three cheeses were Cotswold blue, Drunken Goat, and some lovely soft French cheese that I can’t remember the name of, similar to a Brie. The chutney was highly spiced and piquant. The fresh fruit was a perfect complement to the creamy cheeses.

If we ever return to St. Louis, we’ll be back at Mosaic. So many more things to try, like the Herb Gnocchi, the Pot Stickers with Thai peanut sauce, the North African-style Hummus, the Cherry Port-Braised Short Ribs, the Cardamom Creme Brulee Liqueur Cup . . .

Savory Baked Rice

From: Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Food Groups: Savory

A great side dish. Flavorful and very fluffy.

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Ingredients:

3 T. butter

1 cup brown or white rice

1-2 shallots, minced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

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1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt butter in medium-sized oven-safe saucepan or casserole.

3. Add garlic and shallots, heat on medium heat until translucent and soft (aboutĀ 3-4 minutes).

Baked-Rice-1

4. Stir in rice until thoroughly coated with melted butter.

Baked-Rice-2

5. Stir in broth, salt, pepper, and rosemary; bring to a boil.

Baked-Rice-3

6. Cover and move into hot oven. Bake 1/2 hour for white rice, 45 minutes for brown. Fluff and enjoy!

Savory Baked Rice with steak and green beans with mustard vinaigrette

Savory Baked Rice with steak and green beans with mustard vinaigrette

Summer Corn Salad

From: My brain

Food groups: Spicy, Savory, Creamy

A delicious corn salad I whipped up with some help from the internet and my tastebuds. I used frozen corn (I’ve found that the corn down yonder in Louisiana isn’t quite a big or sweet as the stuff I’m used to “Up Nort” — plus, I’m lazy), but fresh corn can be substituted — maybe 6-8 ears-full. This makes a big batch, perfect for parties or picnics.

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Ingredients:

1 16-oz. bag frozen sweet corn, thawed

1 red pepper, diced

1 cucumber, diced

2 green onions, chopped

1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 c. mayonnaise

3 T. seasoned rice vinegar

2 tsp. Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere’s is our go-to) or otherĀ  spicy seasoning mix

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

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Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Grandma’s Pennie Baked Beans

From: My Grandma Pennie

Food groups: Savory

Shelly’s post about great recipes from our grandmothers over at my friend Sarah’s blog inspired me to post this recipe from my grandma, Myrtle Pennie. This recipe is for baked Pennie beans — a specific species bean that has been grown by my mother’s family for generations. After sending them to a lab to be analyzed, we’ve found that they are closely related to the navy bean — that would be a good substitute if you can’t get your hands on any bona fide Pennie beans!

This recipe was transcribed verbatim by my mother, and is utterly charming.

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-If beans are not clean, blow out the chaff in the wind, using two pans or kettles a foot apart depending on the velocity of the wind.

-Wash beans, taking out beans that are stained too much with moisture. Soak overnight, covering beans generously (2-3″ over beans).

-In a.m., bring beans to a boil and skin off foam. Salt and pepper, but avoid too much salt. Do not use salt at all if you are using bacon or ham.

-They may be simmered or not briefly.

-Add 1/3 c. brown sugar & one fair-sized onion, and ham meat slice or bone or both, weiners; or salt pork which may be difficult to obtain.

-Bake in moderate oven for 3 hours. If done take it out and eat or let stand overnight to turn brown (not in hot weather.) (I would refrigerate).

-Reheat in oven to keep beans looking whole and appetizing.

-The best way is to put in the crock pot & let it cook overnight (the first time it’s cooked). (a big batch is 2 c. of beans before soaking) (use 2/3 c. brown sugar for 2 c. of beans)

Greek Tzatziki

From: Greek Cookbook, which Miko had at our house in Madison. I’ve tweaked things a bit for better taste.

Food Groups: Creamy, Savory

A light, delicious snack — a perfect accompaniment to homemade pita chips (cut each pita into 8 wedges, brush with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, and bake at 400 degrees for about 7-8 minutes).

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Ingredients:

1 cucumber

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 clove garlic

1 T. chopped fresh mint

1 c. plain yogurt

Plenty of black pepper

Mint leaves to garnish

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1. Peel cucumber and cut into small dice. Place cucumber pieces in colander, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and let drain 1 hour.

2. Pat cucumber dry with paper towels. In a separate bowl, crush garlic with remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt until well creamed.

3. Add chopped mint and yogurt to garlic mixture. Season with pepper. Stir in diced cucumber. Garnish with mint and serve immediately, or keep refrigerated. Serve with homemade pita chips.

Fresh, creamy, and delicious!

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