Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pasta with green beans and sausage gravy


I got some beautiful green beans at the market last week. They were slender and delicate and I couldn't wait to eat them. The only problem was that I couldn't decide what to beans tend to always be a side dish in my house and I really wanted to make a main dish. Curry or stir fry? Nah, as usual I didn't want to rely on an old standby - I wanted to try something new! I poked around at recipes online for a while and starting thinking about combining the beans with pasta and a creamy sauce. I remembered that I had some sausage in the fridge, and then suddenly I had the perfect idea...sausage gravy! For those of you that are unfamiliar, sausage gravy is basically just a standard white sauce using fat from sausage instead of butter. The great thing about it is that the sausage adds so much flavor that you don't really have to worry about additional spices, cheese, or anything like that. Sausage gravy is usually served with biscuits, but I had a feeling that it would make a great pasta sauce, and it certainly did! I was pretty thrilled with how this came out - the green beans and a sprinkling of parsley added nice freshness and color, and it was a simple, flavorful, and filling dinner. If you're on the east coast and are looking for some comfort food to eat when hurricane Irene hits, you should definitely give this a try!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fresh corn and tomato pizza


I guess I'm a little obsessed with fresh corn right now. I pretty much want to add it to everything. A few days ago, my sister mentioned that she'd had a pizza with fresh corn kernels on it and I immediately decided that pizza with corn was a combination I had to try asap. So I picked up some whole wheat pizza dough at Capone's this week (Now, I like to make my own pizza dough just as much as the next food-obsessed person, but store-bought can be pretty good too, especially for weeknight meals!) and started thinking about pizza toppings. Corn and tomato is an amazing combination for this time of year so I knew that some fresh tomatoes (from our garden!) had to factor in. Instead of tomato sauce, I decided to layer the dough with sliced tomatoes that would hopefully cook into a "sauce" in the oven. I also added some roasted red pepper and goat cheese to the mix, and topped it off with fresh basil. I really enjoyed the pizza - it was light and full of flavor and the sweet corn and tomatoes worked very well with the goat cheese. I really should make pizza for dinner more often!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Corn bread with fresh corn and bacon


I first saw this recipe over at Pinch My Salt earlier this week. It looked amazing, and I couldn't believe that this recipe came from The Bread Baker's Apprentice - I've had this book for over a year, and I never noticed this recipe in there. Once I knew about it though, I couldn't wait to make it. I picked up several ears of super fresh corn at the farmers' market this morning and decided to make the bread right away. I wanted to make it for dinner tonight, so I wasn't able to soak the cornmeal overnight as the recipe instructed. The bread was still wonderful though, packed with fresh corn kernels with lots of bacon on top. I've come to expect great things from recipes in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, and this definitely didn't disappoint. If you've got access to some fresh local sweet corn, this is a perfect way to use it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with almonds, olives, and parsley


*A quick note before I start the actual post: I finally joined the modern age (although I still have a dumbphone) and got a twitter account. Follow me @4SeasonsOfFood for blog updates and other food-related thoughts.*

On Sunday evening, I went to a Boston Food Bloggers meetup event in Inman Square. I was a bit nervous about it (I'm shy), and I was really tired after a weekend in New Hampshire with Andrew's company, but I'm really glad I went! It was a lot of fun, and I met some cool people. The meetup started up at Christina's Spice and Specialty Foods, which I haven't been to in a while. While I was there, I picked up some za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that I have been curious about for a while. I believe the main ingredients are thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. After tasting a bit - it's delicious! - I decided to use it to spice up some cauliflower that we had in the fridge. I tossed the cauliflower in oil and za'atar, roasted it, then sprinkled on some more za'atar to amp up the flavor, as well as lemon juice, chopped olives, toasted almonds, and parsley. The final dish was fantastic - cauliflower can be a bland and boring vegetable, but here it was packed with flavor. I can't wait to experiment more with za'atar, as well as with the harissa that I bought - let me know if you have any ideas!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chipotle tempeh burgers


Have you ever tried tempeh? Do you like it? (In case you don't know, tempeh is a fermented soy product that is a good protein source for vegetarians). I'll admit that I have a difficult time with tempeh. It can be bitter and I think the texture is a bit weird in dishes like stir fries. I definitely find it to be a challenging protein to cook well. In fact, this veggie burger recipe is the only one I have ever cooked that made me truly enjoy tempeh. This recipe takes advantage of the texture of tempeh, using it to help add some chewiness to the burgers. The burgers are flavored with chipotle peppers, cumin, garlic, chile powder, and cilantro. Salsa and avocado complement these flavors well and make great toppers for the patties. Unsurprisingly, these burgers don't have the flavor or texture of meat, but they really are delicious! If you are new to tempeh or experimenting with homemade veggie burgers, this is a great place to start.

If you're interested in more veggie burger recipes, check out this post.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baked mussels with parsley garlic butter


I love mussels. The best part of eating mussels for me is sopping up all the flavorful broth with pieces of toasted bread. For a long time I thought of mussels as restaurant food, but then I realized how easy they are to cook at home (and they are pretty cheap too!). Now I make them fairly regularly, either as an appetizer if we are having guests, or as a main course with a side salad. This recipe is my current favorite way to prepare mussels. All you have to do is make a compound butter with parsley and garlic, spread it over mussels in a baking pan, cover, and bake. It is very simple and you don't have to stand over the stovetop waiting for them to open up. The butter melts and combines with the mussel juices to make the most delicious dipping sauce for bread.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dal with Swiss chard


My mom is an amazing cook. Over the years, she has perfected her versions of classic Indian dishes and has also developed her own twists on traditional recipes. Recently she has started writing up some of her recipes so that my sister and I can learn them. I'm very excited to share one of these recipes today!

Dal refers to any number of Indian dishes featuring lentils. I think of dal as comfort food, sort of like the Indian version of chicken soup. This version uses moong dal (split green lentils aka mung beans) and Swiss chard, spiced with ginger, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. You can definitely play with different lentils or greens - my mom recommends using masoor dal (red lentils) or black-eyed peas, and spinach. This dal makes a great healthy vegetarian meal, paired with whole wheat flatbreads (chapatis) or rice.

p.s. You may have noticed that I'm revamping the site a bit. I've moved the favorite cookbooks list to a tab at the top of the page, and I'm working on adding descriptions of the cookbooks. I've also added a tab with links to the absolute best recipes that I've posted. Finally, I've added a "Fitness" tab, which is still a work in progress. I'm trying to make exercise a bigger part of my life, so I'll talk a bit about how I'm doing that. Feedback on any of this will be appreciated!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bloody Mary tomato salad


*I noticed that this recipe got linked on a Gluten Free Recipes For Celiacs facebook page - if you are visiting from there, welcome! Thank you for stopping by. I have many gluten free recipes on this site, and I'm planning on tagging them so that they are easier to find. I hope to get that done soon.* 

I was really excited to finally make this recipe, which I tagged a couple months ago in Bon Appetit - first, because it sounded delicious, and second, because I got to use our very own home grown cherry tomatoes! I am absurdly proud of these tomatoes, because this is the first year we have had any success with gardening. In the last couple years we have managed to kill basil, thyme, sage, and chile pepper plants. And we've grown tomato plants that didn't produce any fruit. But we've learned from our mistakes, and this year we've got a pretty decent yield of cherry tomatoes, as well as chile peppers on the way and some thriving basil and oregano. Our thumbs are no longer black! Maybe not fully green yet, but we're getting there.

Anyway, this is a fun tomato salad that uses Bloody Mary ingredients and flavors. The original recipe pairs this with steak, which is a good choice. The bright, acidic salad is perfect with a rich main course. Home grown tomatoes aren't a strict requirement, but make sure you use fresh ones!