We’ve been cooking at home a LOT lately. Mostly because we have upcoming travel that will surely test our waste bands. Here’s a few iPhone shots of our recent dishes that we haven’t had a chance to put recipes up on…
We had a few days of work/play in New Orleans and wanted to share some of our favorite dishes. We were with work folks much of the time and hated to go all-out nerd and take proper photos, so these iPhone photos will have to do. Highlights we visited were Peche, Root, Couchon, and Drago… oh and Cane and Table for beverages. Really, it’s kinda hard to go wrong, but I strongly recommend that you take time to get to know the most highly recommended places before you visit and at least try to have one or two stand-out places. We didn’t make it to Dookie Chase, and the fine Vietmanese places (milkfish, pho orchid), HerbSaint, Troups’ Meatery, Maurepas, Sylvain, GW Fins, or Boucherie… but we wanted to save some for next time.
Everything at Couchon was perfect! Shown here is the Pork Jowl/Arugula Salad, Louisiana Couchon, Pork Rinds, Cabbage, and Turnips, And Meyer Lemon Tart
Root was our kinda place. We waited at the bar for our table and saw some very creative dishes going by and on the wall were their latest pickles and vinegars. Shown is the Backyard Bonfire (click for ingredients), the daily Amuse, a mixed charcuterie, sausage, and pickle platter… all house-cured and amazing, I’d forget everything that was on it but let me just say it was blow-your-head-off good! and we ate on leftovers the rest of the trip, we had no idea it was going to be such a large platter. Then crispy pigs ears, which, if I’m honest, were a little under-seasoned for my taste and Miso Buttermilk Biscuits with unreal Tea Brined Wings. GO HERE IF YOU GO TO NOLA!!
Drago made the list just because it was our first stop and first taste of NOLA with a Pasta-laya and Shrimp Po-Boy.
There was lots more, and here’s some random photos. You will definitely come back full, tired, and hung-over if you go!
Today is a quick one. We kinda whipped this up on a whim and didn’t expect to even share it (one reason why we didn’t take more photos). But it turned out delicious. It was great with a seared steak tenderloin and charred broccoli, but would be equally good on pork, tuna, or lamb (maybe adding a bit of mint).
- 1 small jalapeño
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp fresh oregano leave chopped
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- Salt to taste
- Under a broiler, in a cast-iron skillet, or a gas burner on high, char the exterior of the jalapeño and place in a covered bowl to cool. Once cool, skin should remove easily. Cut in half, de-seed, and finely mince. Combine with other ingredients in a bowl and set aside a few minutes to allow flavors to marry.
- Chimichurri is best used the day it is prepared. You could leave the seeds in the jalapeño if you and your guests like very spicy food.
A few recent appetizers we served at a dinner party.
Lonzino is actually a cured Pork Loin, ours was a tenderloin (which requires more time and a casing which we didn’t want to attempt). Jacques Pepin calls this a Saucisson of Pork Tenderloin. But we’ll stick with Lonzino. This was our first curing project and I hope there will be lots more. We started here because it’s fairly easy, straightforward ingredients and doesn’t take too long. Go ahead and get on Amazon and order a package of Pink Cure #2 (While you’re at it, you could order some Cure #1 for things like bacon or panchetta). It’s fairly cheap and is a must especially for the beginner. I know there’s lot to read about nitrates and people feel differently, but in our opinion, a little nitrate is better than botulism! We started with a basic recipe:
1lb Pork Tenderloin
1/2 C Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Pink Curing Salt #2
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon herbs de Provence (or herbs of your choice; juniper, thyme, cinnamon are often mentioned. We just wanted basic)
We trimmed out the cut so the tenderloin was evenly thick. This brought it to almost exactly 1lb (it started out at 1.09 lb). Once it was trimmed, it, we combined the salts and brown sugar and coated the loin really well. Really well! Then put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge. Our instructions said to leave it 12 hours. We were nervous, ok? So we left it more like 18. That was too long. (more on that later).
Eighteen hours later, a lot of moisture had released from the pork. Now, you need to weigh this guy. Our weighed in at 440g (grams are easier to deal with, but it makes no difference). Write down this weight. This is essentially your starting weight. Your pork need to lose 30-35% of it’s weight while hanging. This will indicate that is is ready.
Remove your pork from the fridge and wash the salt off under the faucet and finally dowse with bourbon. Now, season the pork with black pepper and herbs of your choosing. Our hanging location was our garage. This isn’t ideal. The humidity is too low. A dark basement is perfect. You are looking for a temp to stay around 50°-60° and a 60-70% humidity. We just didn’t have a perfect location. To slow the drying, we wrapped the tenderloin in a double layer of cheese cloth. This prevents the outside hardening before the center is dry, which will ruin your meat.
Once wrapped, we tied it securely with cheese cloth with cotton butcher’s string. and hung it in the garage. I’m not gonna lie, our temperature fluctuated a LOT in the time it was hanging. We dipped into single digits and got up to almost 60° one day. Per instruction, we weighed the tenderloin after 10 days and we weren’t quite there. It took 14 (actually 13 would have been perfect as it lost a little more weight than it should have).
When we took it down, it weighted 294. We were shooting for 308, so it went just a bit too long, but that’s OK. It felt a little hard on the outside so we placed it in a clean, dry ziplock and put it in the fridge a few days. What this does is allow the moisture remaining to redistribute and soften the over-dry parts a little.
TIME TO SAMPLE! We warned everyone if the didn’t hear from us the next day to call 911 (Only half-joking!). We sliced our lonzino as thinly as we could and tried it. The smell was deliciously porky. No ‘off’ scent at all. Beautiful merlot color. The texture is a bit (and this shouldn’t be a turnoff) like a stale gummy bear. The overall taste was excellent but the extra time in the salt cure made it overly salty. With some bruschetta, it will be fine, but on its own, it’s a bit much.
THINGS WE LEARNED:
On a small tenderloin like this, only cure it for 12 hours. Control your temperature and humidity. This is out of our control for the time-being so we will just have to deal with it. But more constant temp and higher humidity would yield a more evenly dried lonzino. And lastly, we learned to not be scared!
We also found a percentage guide that helps your figure out how much salt is needed:
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So, on a 500g (about 1.10 lbs) loin, you would use 16.5g salt, 5g pepper, 1.25g pink salt, 38.5g herbs.
Next up will be another lonzino and panchetta or bacon. Can’t wait!
Hopefully you notice some improvements in our photography skills. This project was taken 1/2 before and 1/2 after we received some training and some semi-pro lights. We’re still learning!
Although our studio lights aren’t in yet, we were anxious to try some of our new tips we picked up last week. So we setup the best tungsten lights we had in the house and took a few snaps of this dish. Pretty straightforward dish. We sautéed some really nice kale with onions and threw in a little balsamic at the end and let it cool. Then we butterflied the tenderloin and Mrs Knoxfoodie (being in the medical field) tied it up and added some salt and pepper. We cooked the loin on a hickory plank, but you could just as easily do it in the oven but you won’t get the deep smokiness.
- 1 Pork Tenderloin (our was 1.14lb)
- 1 Bunch Kale
- 1 Small Onion, diced large
- 1/2 tsp Balsamic
- Salt + Pepper
- For the Carrots
- 4 Large Carrots, diced
- 1/2 Large Bell Pepper, diced
- 2-4 Sprigs of Thyme Leaves
- Salt + Pepper
- For Pea Puree
- 1 Bag Frozen Peas
- 1.5 Cups Chicken Stock (we used Knorr Stock Pot)
- 1 Small Onion, roughly diced
- 1 Stalk Celery, diced
- 1 Tablespoon Sour Cream
- Soak a hickory board (or ships if that's what you choose) for at least 1/2 and hour. Butterfly tenderloin by slicing while you 'unroll' it. Let come to room temp. While that is happening, de-stem and massage the leaves of 1 bunch of kale. Massaging will bring a much better final texture to the kale. Chop kale into large pieces. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan on medium-high. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and sauté another 30 seconds. Add Kale and cook until wilted and relatively tender. Remove from heat and add balsamic. Allow to cool.
- With your tenderloin laying flat coat the surface with the cooked kale. and roll back up, Tie in your favorite fashion (google is your friend here.).
- Preheat grill to 400° and place your soaked board on the grill. Char one side and flip over. Lay your tenderloin on the charred side and reduce heat to 350°. Cook until internal temp is 160°. This took about 35 minutes on our grill. The board started to burn so we turned the burner off that was directly underneath the hickory.
- While the pork is cooking, prepare carrots. Coat carrots & bell peppers in olive oil and mix in thyme leaves. Season with salty and pepper and place on a small baking sheet. About 10 minutes into cooking the pork, add the carrots to the grill.
- Next, for the pea puree. Saute onions until translucent on medium-high. Add celery and sauté 3 minutes. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Toss in frozen peas (or fresh if you have them) and return to a boil. Remove from heat...you only need to heat the peas through. If you cook longer, they will turn a very unappetizing color! Transfer along with sour cream to a bowl and blend with immersion blender (you could use a regular blender here just be careful of the expanding steam when you turn it on). Blend until very smooth (you are also wanting to cool this down and stop the cooking so it might be a good idea to place your bowl over some ice). Season with s+p. Pass the puree through a fine sieve if you want to make sure all the lumps are out. And you're done. Your pork should be just about finished.
- Let pork rest 10 minutes after removing from the grill. It's hard to do, especially with the hickory smell! Assemble your plate with pea puree then a slice of pork, then roasted carrots/bellpeppers. We also topped with some homemade mustard.
We are so lucky to know so many talented people. Since all the wedding planning is behind us, we’ve committed to upping our game on the blog a bit. One thing that we really needed a push on is our photography. We generally have to shoot at night, after work because that’s our only free time. So the luxury of wonderful daylight lighting isn’t generally available to us. So we’re going to jumping and buy some lights. Our good friend Don Dudenbostel was kind enough to give us a crash course, and more than anything take the fear out of it. Don is a bit of a legend in the photography business. Make sure to check out his Facebook as well. Together we shared with he and his wife Cynthia a Shooter’s Sandwich. Traditionally, this was an all-in-one meal that hunters (stalkers), or fishermen could take on the day trip with them and it was ready to eat, easily managed, and most of all convenient.
We chose to make our loaf of bread at home, but you could start with any crusty loaf. This particular recipe for the bread was from King Arthur. It turned out just about perfect although we could have formed it a bit taller and less round. The rest is pretty simple, I won’t go into how we braised the collards (Garlic, Beer, and Apple Cider Vinegar, Benton’s Bacon Grease), just use your favorite method. It would be great with added onions or your favorite cheese as well. Hindsight, we would have used a ribeye with a little more fat, and cooked it more medium than well-done. But it turned out to be great with an enjoyable evening with friends accompanied by wine and home fries.
Since you can mix and match ingredients, here’s some basic steps. Add your favorite veggies, sausages, cured meats, cheeses, etc.
We braised our collards ahead of time and drained well.
Next, in a medium saute pan on medium high, sauté mushrooms, onions, garlic (or whatever your choose), in some olive oil until cooked down and soft. Season with salt and pepper. You can do this a day ahead if it helps.
Next step is to select a nice loaf of crusty bread (or make it!). Cut the top off and hollow out the center. Use the center for croutons or soup… don’t throw it out!
Next, you’ll need your steaks…4 of them! (in this case it was strip steak, next time it will be ribeye or something a little fattier). Season your steak with salty and pepper. Bring a cast iron skillet to a very high temperature. Smoking hot folks! No oil needed. Drop in your steaks and sear on each side until internal temp is about 140°. You still want some pink but you also want a nice crust. Now all your ingredients are cooked!
To assemble: Tuck two steaks into the bottom of the loaf. Then a layer of 1/2 the mushrooms. Then squeeze out as much juice as you can from a 1/2 of the braised collards and spread that out. Repeat with the remaining steaks, mushrooms, collards.
Top the lid with your favorite condiment. Here we used a mix of mayo, mustard, and some Woshtershire sauce. And pop the hat on your sandwich.
Place on a flat surface in your fridge and top with a baking sheet. One top of it put something heavy (cast iron skillets, a mortar, cane of veggies, a cannonball, whatever) and leave in fridge 6 hours or overnight.
The next day, you’re all set to go!
Nope – we aren’t making a sick piece of wood well again. We have kinda made 2014 a year when we dive into curing…meats but maybe cheese later on. Our first experiment, Lonzino is hanging and we’ll check the weight tomorrow. If all goes well, we will post a recipe and instructions soon (or die a slow death from botulism!). In the meantime, we needed a log to keep track of when we make stuff, how we make it, dates, and weights, etc. We thought we would make this available to you as well. Just click to download the PDF. Hope it’s helpful for you.
We generally try to keep things positive here, but this week we said goodbye to one of our dear friends. Laura was tragically taken by some medical events that, almost overnight went from minor to terminal. In fact, M talked to her via text the night before it all happened and Laura said she was feeling better. And our holiday party was her last social outing. So unreal.
Laura was one of the richest people we have ever known. Not necessarily financially, but in spirit. We talk about ‘wealth’ every day. And it’s usually financial. I know plenty of people who brag about their hoity-toity lives that successful business endeavors have given them… but at the end of the journey, none of them will be as rich as this woman. That’s the kind of wealth money can’t buy.
The outpouring of love that has been witnessed on Facebook and sure will be at today’s Celebration of Life is unbelievable. We didn’t know Laura as long as many. Only about 3 years. We worked with her when she ran the local office of a national non-profit foundation. Her enthusiasm for (fill in the blank) was contagious. It didn’t matter what she was doing, non-profit work, planning Mike’s birthday, job-hunting, talking about favorite cocktails, visiting for dinner, theater, whatever, she was always positive and it’s been a huge loss. Someone on Facebook put it perfectly:
It’s like on the coldest, darkest, night in winter, a group of homeless people are huddled around a fire to keep warm, and someone comes and stomps the fire out. The reaction would be “Hey! What are you doing?! We need that!”
We shared many nights out enjoying her and Mike’s friendship and the loss is just immeasurable. Laura could make anyone feel like they were the most important person in the world. Whether it was an elderly lady who raised money for that non-profit who showed up at an event and demanded Laura sign her in (and Laura did, despite being too busy), or whether it was the CEO of a hospital. In her eyes, everyone was important and deserved the attention.
We can’t fill the hole that has been left by this tragedy, all we can do is give our love and support to Mike and Will and try to live our lives as much like Laura as we can. We need that!
Like most people, our space is somewhat limited. We like multifunctional tools in the kitchen and rarely buy items that serve only one function. There are a few exceptions of course. But here are some of our most valued tools in the kitchen.
A Nice Wooden Cutting Board
Sure, we have a couple synthetic boards as well, but there’s just something about cutting on a wood cutting board. The patina that it develops over time from nicks, cuts, and stains only adds to its beauty. We have a couple wooden boards. They are also great to serve charcuterie, cheese, or polenta on. You may want to get a little mineral oil at the same time to rub it from time to time. This will help it keep it’s lustre.
A Quality Mandolin
Spend a few extra dollars and get a good one. It’s not only frustrating to have a cheaper model, but it can also be dangerous. Although some basic safety commonsense is all you need, if you get a cheap model, you may regret it and lose the tip of a knuckle. We use our mandolin on a regular basis. Have a lot of veggie that you need the julienne? Done. Need to slice some radish for pickles or a salad? Check. Try freezing chicken and running it thru to slice for stir fry. Works great!
Mortar and Pestle
OK, this one may not need to go on everyone’s list (but you should probably get a simple coffee grinder for spices if you don’t get a M&P). But we have actually used our a LOT since we got it this year. And the spices we grind ourselves are much more flavorful. Don’t bother with one of the marble versions. You need one with some ‘tooth’. This one has been perfect for us. It’s a heavy beast, but well worth having around. Just this past holiday season, we used it three times.
OK, I cut my biscuits for years with a cocktail glass…but the time has finally come to upgrade. We got this very inexpensive set and absolutely love it. It’s so fun to make tiny biscuits or cookies, but still have the larger ones for biscuits or to perfectly mold rice, tartare, etc in and make a beautiful presentation. Do yourself a favor and get a set like this. It’s just as cheap as a set of 2 or 3 and much more useful. Plus, these are just fun to have!
OK, this is a must-have in the kitchen, you know this of course, and you may be putting off the purchase, but you can use this for everything. Need to make butter? This and some heavy cream are all you need. You know all the uses, go ahead and get one.
We use this almost every time we cook…instead of finely dicing garlic, run it over the plane. Also great for zesting citrus or grinding nutmeg.
Enamel Coated Dutch Oven
OK, until M came along, I never had one of these and boy does it make a great kitchen addition! We consider this essential for Chili, Soups, etc. This is like ours, but there’s certainly more affordable options.
Cast Iron Skillet
This is a must! We would almost trade our fancy nonstick cookware for a full set of cast iron. The skillets we have are from E’s mom, and are naturally seasoned from decades of use. These will last multiple generations and Lodge makes some of the best. This is all I would ever consider using for cornbread!
It’s important to make sure meats are cooked to the proper temps and a quality meat thermometer is sometimes necessary. Sure, you have some wiggle room with a hamburger, but if you are making a roast, cooking a chicken, roasting a loin, or sometimes even a big steak, you want to nail it. This is an inexpensive gadget that you’ll love. If you want to get a little fancier, you can get one like this that also has a timer.
It should go without saying that you need a good SHARP kitchen knife! But so many people don’t have. You don’t need to break the bank on this. You can get a fine quality knife for under $50. Of course, you can spend as much as you like. Along with the knife, get a moderately-priced sharpener. Then about every year, find a dependable knife-sharpening store and have your knife touched up. Around here, most places charge about $1 an inch to sharpen you knives. Keep’em sharp!
Now that the wedding is over, we’re transitioning our blog to something a little different. Please update your bookmarks to Gather With Me, our NEW home where we will continue our culinary explorations! Where did that name come from? Get it? Gather with ME… Mandee and Eric.
You can still find us on Twitter at Facebook @KnoxFoodie
Well, this year has been packed so picking one best bite will be hard. More on that in a second, m’kay? Here’s a slideshow of a few of the highlights…Click through to see my best bite of 2013!
This whole recipe originated with seeing Nashville Mason’s Chef Brandon Frohne post a pict originally on Twitter. We were in the midst of planning a holiday menu and this sounded great… Southern and Asian and a slight bit adventurous. Chef Frohne was ever so kind as to offer some tips when I emailed I’m about it, so credit goes 100% to him. It does take a little time to prepare so here’s how I did it:
Day 1: Preparation: Braise Collard ‘Kimchi’, Make Risotto, Pickle Shrimp.
Day2: Fry, Blend and Assemble
- 1 1/2 C Arborio Rice (Or Anson Mills!)
- 1 qt Chicken Stock ( we use Knorr Stock pots...I know, we should be ashamed)
- 1/2 C White Wine
- 1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsp Butter (or more if you're feelin nasty!)
- 1/4 C Smoked Gouda, shredded
- Kosher Salt
- Heat Stock in medium sauce pan.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add onion. Saute until slightly translucent, 2-3 min.
- Add rice and store briskly to coat with butter. Continue to sauté until edges of rice are translucent and some of the piece begin to slightly brown.
- Add wine to deglaze. Cook until fully absorbed.
- Add a ladle of stock. and stir until fully absorbed. Continue this process until all stock is used. STIRRING CONSTANTLY. It should become very creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in gouda. Season with salt.
- Cool and refrigerate overnight. Add parsley if desired or other favorite herbs.
- Our spin on one of Brandon Frohne's recipes. Risotto isn't hard, you just need to pay attention to it. Make sure your stock is very warm or it slows down the cooling time considerably.
- 1 Bunch Collard Greens (You don't actually need this much, but you can't really buy a 1/4 of a bunch!)
- 1 White Onion Coarsely Chopped.
- 1-2 bottles of a good beer
- 2qt Chicken Stock
- 1/2 C Korean Chili Powder (It's vital for the making of Kimchi so any Asian market should have it. Again, you may have to adjust to taste)
- 4 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 Tbsp White Miso
- 1/4 C Brown Sugar
- 3/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar (we used Bragg)
- Salt, Pepper
- Heat Beer and Stock in a large kettle.
- Meanwhile, destem collards (reserve stems and braise, roast, pickle, or add to next batch of stock).
- Add to boiling stock mixture along with other ingredients and season with salt. You may need more stock (or water) to make sure collards are covered once wilted.
- Reduce heat to heavy simmer. Simmer 1 hour or up to 2 hours. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
- OK, this ISN'T kimchi...so don't yell at me. This is how Chef Frohne does this and still gets the 'vibe' of kimchi. You will need to adjust seasoning to taste here; bunches of collards are different sizes and the pepper powder, fish sauce, beer, can vary greatly in impact.
- You will have a lot left over from a bunch of collards. Eat them over cornbread, or as a side to any dish. OH, and don't throw out the PotLikker (the remaining stock mixture), this makes an excellent soup. Throw in a few veggies and some smoky pork. YUM!
- 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ tsp. celery seeds
- ¼ tsp. allspice berries
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 dried bay leaves
- ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1. Bring Old Bay and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add shrimp, reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water to chill; drain again.
- 2. Finely grind celery seeds and allspice in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle; transfer to a bowl and stir in oil, juice, parsley, salt, ginger, chile flakes, garlic, and bay leaves. In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer shrimp and onions; pour over oil mixture. Cover with lid; chill overnight.
- We made a few minor adjustments to Chef Acheson's original. Adding Ginger, reducing oil, increasing acid, but stayed pretty true.
- Risotto, Collards, and Shrimp made the day before.
- 2 large eggs
- 3 C Panko (or crushed Ritz Crackers)
- Deep fryer
- Heat deep fryer (you can also shallow fry) to 360°
- The Risotto will have firmed up considerably with the overnight stay in the fridge. Mix in the two eggs.
- Taking about 2 tablespoons at a time, form into balls, squeezing some excess egg from mixture. Coat risotto ball well with panko then shape into a cake approx 1/2-3/4" thick and 1-1/2" round.
- Working in batches of 4-6 cakes, fry until very brown. Drain on paper towels and add sprinkle of salt.
- In blender, combine about 2 cups of collard 'kimchi' with about 2 tablspoons of the potlikker. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid as needed... but you don't want this runny.
- Once all the cakes are completed, top each with 1 tsp of collard puree, a pickled shrimp, and sprig of parsley. We had some ginger pickled carrots that we also used.
- Serve at room temp.
- Next time we make this, we may finely dice the collard kimchi rather than blending for no other reason than presentation. The sight of pureed collards can be a bit off-putting.
- These were exceptionally delicious and we can't wait to share them at an upcoming party! Many thanks to Brandon Frohne for all the tips as well as Hugh Acheson's Pickled Shrimp recipe.
These … are … divine! Savannah native, Chef Steven Satterfield serves these up in his Atlanta restaurant Miller Union and so should you! There’s no need to repeat the original recipe here. Just one word of caution, make sure to coat the fritters COMPLETELY with flour lest they disintegrate in the hot grease. I tried to make a few ahead and the flour coating cracked and all the grits oozed out. Ended up coating them with flour to get a little ahead, then re-coating in order to make sure of adequate coverage. Use a good smoky gouda or a very smoky ham (preferably Benton’s Country Ham).
Go here for the full recipe: Country Living
OK – I KNOW we’re down to the wire on posting Thanksgiving recipes, but this one turned out SO well in a test, I had to post. It’s a 2-step process. I suppose you could bake the Brussels sprouts with the potatoes, but part of what makes it so nice is the crunch of the Brussels sprouts. You could easily substitute Pumpkin for the Sweet potatoes and roast a little longer.
NOTE: I seriously promise to start taking better photos! This was cooked at 5AM for a work lunch and I REALLY didn’t want to drag out the Canon for it, but it just turned out SO good!
- 2 Cups Brussels Sprouts
- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Soy
- 3 Med Sweet Potatoes Diced to 1/2" (Pumpkin would work too)
- 1 package of dry vegetable seasoning (find it with stock section)
- 1/2 Onion coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp citrus zest
- 1/2 tsp thyme (or rosemary in a pinch)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Salt+Pepper to taste
- 1-2 Tablespoons crumbled feta
- 2 Tablespoons Toasted Pumpkin seed.
- Heat deep fryer of oil to 370°. Toss halved Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, soy, and black pepper. Working in small batches, deep fry sprouts until almost charred. Set on paper towel to drain. Salt if needed.
- SWEET POTATOES
- Preheat oven to 375°. Bring medium pot of water to a boil and boil potatoes for about 10 min. Drain and dry. Toss with honey and additional ingredients. Spread into 9x9 baking dish (you can easily scale recipe up, this was for a work luncheon to it's smaller than normal.). Bake 20-30 minutes until edges of potatoes begin to brown.
- Remove from oven and top with Brussels sprouts, Feta, and toasted pumpkin seed.
I’ve raved about The Local Butcher Shop before. These guys deliver the finest meat you can get in or around Knoxville. There is NO comparison with the meat you get in the SUPERmarkets. So as I was out shopping for the weekend, I stopped in and ordered some bone marrow for an upcoming party and picked up 3lb of stew. Cubed while I waited. The stuff was beautiful. I promptly returned home and began a new stew recipe. This meat had to be handled with care…it was too special to just throw in a pot and forget it.
Stew doesn’t take a LOT of fussiness. But you have toe et aside some time to get it going. Don’t get in a hurry. When you’re growing the meat, do it a few pieces at a time. Otherwise, you boil the meat. And that’s not what you want. You want to brown it to the point of almost burning it. But quickly. Same with the veggies. Brown them in batches so you don’t boil them. The liquid escaping from them will quickly ruin a good stew.
- 3lb very good quality stew meat
- 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
- 2-4 tsp Salt (taste as you go)
- 2 tsp Black Pepper (or to taste)
- Olive Oil
- 4 Carrots (in 1/2" pieces)
- 1 Large Onion (coarsely chopped)
- 1 Large Turnip
- 12 oz of your favorite mushrooms quartered
- 4 C Beef Stock (we used Knorr Beef Stock Pots)
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced
- 2 bottles of a good dark beer
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 5)
- 3/4 C Panko
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- 2 tsp Whole Milk
- 1.5 tsp dill
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 C AP Flour
- Start by mixing flour, 2 tsp salt and pepper and dust each piece of meat well. Shake off excess. Heat 2 TSP Olive Oil on medium high (you can do this in your dutch oven or separate skillet). Working in small batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, fry until almost charred and set on paper towel to drain until all meat is finished.
- Again, working in small batches brown onions, then carrots and turnip, then mushrooms. Remember, almost charred. As the mushroom begin to get brown, deglaze the dutch oven with the beer. Add all the ingredients back into the dutch oven along with the garlic, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours at least. This is even better the second day.
- While the stew simmers, in a separate pot cover potatoes with salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 35 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool until they are easily handled. Peel potatoes, then force through a ricer into a large bowl. Add bread crumbs, egg yolks, milk, dill, salt, and pepper to the riced potatoes; knead together using your hands until mixture is just combined (do not over-work the dumpling mixture). Form dough into golfball-sized dumplings. Pour flour out onto a flat surface, then evenly coat dumplings with a thin layer flour using a rolling motion. Boil dumplings in salted water until cooked through, about 15 minutes. To serve, place 3-4 dumplings in each bowl, and top with a generous portion of stew.
On September 28th, over a week after our wedding, we celebrated with the Party With The Newlyweds at the Knoxville Zoo. What a night! In reflection, it was so nice to have a week between the wedding and the big party. Much more relaxed than I would have been if we’d done it all together.
The way we ended up at the Zoo was a little strange. We were narrowing down the location between two other places and just happened to get an invitation to the Zoo. Thinking it’s be a nice way to get a free day to see the animals, we went. We regularly attend their Feast with the Beasts fundraiser and love the place. After we left, we both kinda looked at one another and said, the other two places are out… this is the spot! Our coordinator there, Ashley, couldn’t have been more helpful. We received regular To-Do emails from her to keep us on track. And was very patient when the groom had a little meltdown the day-of. Just another of our fantastic vendors…see Part 1 for more about choosing professional vendors – don’t trust amateurs.
The day-of, I spent some of the time delivering some last-minute goods to the zoo, driving in the perfect fall weather, and mentally preparing. M was getting her hair and makeup done - fantastic by the way! My (now our) niece Taylor did the honors on the makeup and it was outstanding! My cousin/best friend distracted me some and then I came home to some much-needed champagne while I got ready for the Party.
We arrived early for photos and our incredible photography team, Adrienne Lampe Photography, along with Ashley from the Zoo drove all over the Zoo…just us (the Zoo was closing). It was so nice to have the place to ourselves and we were able to have some very nice interactions with some of the animals. Including the chimps that were interacting with me through the glass of their homes. After the photos were completed, we were able to visit the cocktail location, the new Tiger exhibit. And Talk for a bit with our dear friends Nikki and Jason who had agreed to provide entertainment for the cocktail hour. We were sad that we wouldn’t get to hear them perform though since our ‘reveal’ was at the main party location.
We then made our way to the site of the main party. And wow… wow! when we walked in, we were both just blown away. We had been much more involved in the details of this event than the actual wedding. After all, it was close enough that we could more easily meet with people and there was a lot more ‘designy’ things to do. Our event designers were Whimsical Gatherings and boy, did they blow us away! When we first met with Carrie from Whimsical, it was almost 2 years before the wedding and we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted… we wanted a Loft-feel inside the zoo! She was immediately onboard with the ideas being a native Chicago resident. Over drinks, and a few tipsy text conversations, the idea evolved into a truly PERFECT interpretation. We were really glad we got there quite early so we could let it all soak in a little (did I mention we were emotional… oh boy). We also visited with Diane and Chef Jerry from Abner’s Attic. They were so great to work with.
Being the Knoxfoodies, we wanted to make this meal as special as possible on the scale/budget we were working with. Within the last year, we had discovered goat meat and how wonderful it is… so we also wanted to incorporate that somewhere. So we came up with a Goat Taco (but Abner’s Attic agreed to call it a ‘Cuban Quesadilla’) so as not to turn away people who wouldn’t try it because it was goat.). It was fun the following week letting people know they had eaten and LOVED Chef Jerry’s goat quesadilla’s. Abner’s were so very open from the very beginning to taking our recipes and scaling them up and adding their own flair. Here was the menu for the night:
Cocktail Hour: Cheese board with Welch Cheddar and Red Dragon Cheese
- Andouille Sausage Station
- Soup Shooters: Split Pea and Roasted Pumpkin
- Chicken and waffles with jalapeño dipping sauce
- Spinach & artichoke dip with toast rounds
- Deviled eggs with pickled onions and candied bacon
- Cucumber cups with garlic herbed cheese
- Goat Quesadillas: Chipotle marinated goat
- Dessert: Banana Pudding shooters, Georgia Special Cake Shooter, Peanutbutter Cream Cheese Tart, Mini Lemon Tarts
- Late-Nite Snack: Pork belly sandwiches on corn cakes with arugual, tomato, and pickled radish
We hid behind the curtain until our pre-recorded entrance interview was played and then… the party was ON! Our friends from Taboo provided the music for the night. These guys learned a ton of songs just for us which made it even more special to have them. At this point, it was a whirlwind. I barely remember who I was able to speak to and who I wasn’t able to get to! We had toasts from some of our closest people… some much more emotional than we had expected. We danced the night away beginning with our First Dance: Your Song.
At the end of the night, we were sent away in a hail of paper airplanes. This night couldn’t have been more perfect! The weather was a perfect September temp. And all our friends and family were surrounding us. And with the help of all our amazing wedding professionals, we were able to share an unforgettable evening together.
Our Wedding Professionals.
The Knoxville Zoo
Ashley was our contact here and was excellent throughout the process keeping us on track.
We met with Diane early on in our planning process because we knew food would be a central theme. As mentioned above, they were so great to work with and to challenge. And Chef Jerry did a great job. Also, Chef Jerry who cooked our food is about to open a food trailer. Be sure to check him out: The Iron Skillet He also does person chef gigs if you are in need!
OK, if you look them up, it may say ‘florist’, but they are so much more! These guys are total environment designers. And SO creative. I feel like they enjoyed our desire to contrast the rustic setting with a ‘Sex in the City’ feel. Carrie worked very closely with us…but also totally surprised us. It was more than we ever expected!
Random Acts of Flowers
One of our favorite non-profits is Random Acts of Flowers. And we are happy that after we were able to enjoy our arrangements from Whimsical Gatherings, our flowers continued to spread joy to others. Our flowers were recycled and distributed to hospital patients a few days after our party. Please remember Random Acts of Flowers the next time you have left-over flowers.
We attended a dinner party a few nights ago and were treated to a lentil dish that, up until then, we were unfamiliar with. Dal is a traditional Indian dish. Sometimes made with fermented lentils, but if you don’t have time, feel free to use dried lentils. It’s truly delicious and takes less than an hour to prepare including prep time. We served it with basmati rice but traditionally, it might be served with Pita.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 cups diced onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 cups lentils
- 1 tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 to 2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Soak lentils in water for about an hour. We used a mix of green lentils and split pink lentils.
- In a large pot, heat the oil and butter and stir-fry the onions just until transparent. Push to edges of sauce pan. In center of sauce pan, add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin, garam masala, lentils, ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until the herbs and spices become very aromatic. Incorporate with onions. Add the tomatoes and vinegar. Add the chicken stock (we only used about 6 cups as our tomatoes very very juicy), bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with cumin, salt, pepper and sugar.
- Do not add salt until lentils are fully tender. In fact, we used Knor stock pots and added only water in place of the stock. Near the end of cooking time, we incorporated the stock pots. Adding salt early will toughen the lentils.
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 cucumber diced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Preferably and hour or so early.