Monday, June 26, 2017

Leek Stock: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 59

It feels like it's the pinnacle of harvest time at the Tailgate Markets, with flowers and plant starts everywhere, strawberries and blueberries abounding, piles of greens, radishes, squash, carrots, garlic... it goes on and on (and don't forget the cheeses, eggs, fish, poultry, and meats), and the tomatoes are JUST starting! It's a huge blessing of abundance, and I feel like it anchors my week when I get to stroll an early Saturday morning away through the crowds and chat with the wonderful people who produce all this goodness.

I've also been more mindful of getting as much as I can out of all the wonderful locally produced foods I bring home, and that's included looking at the parts that often get relegated to the stock pot or even the trash bin. I love making good veggie stocks out of skins, tops, and other bits and pieces, and I usually keep a bag or two in the freezer on hand to collect all those scraps. It didn't occur to me to make specific stocks out of just one ingredient (possibly because I have a skinny 'side' freezer, and I have to be creative about the 'stock' items I keep in addition to all my other freezer residents). That was about to change.

My Tailgate finds for the weekend - those lovely, wide, bands
of green are my leek tops!
This weekend, I picked up a generous bunch of beautiful leeks, and unlike those I might get at the grocery store, these have not had their green tops trimmed down, so there was a LOT of extra greens. To be honest, to save time I might just lop off the top third (the really green parts) and toss them, saving the rest of the stalk (minus the bulb) for stock. But they smelled so good, and were just so beautiful, I couldn't believe they wouldn't be good to eat with the proper treatment - I knew they could be a great steaming bed or wrapper for fish, and I had seen them used to tie up a 'bouquet garni', but I hoped for more. A quick scan online showed me multiple recipes using leek greens, so I knew I wanted to keep them for something better than 'just stock'.

Leeks pre-blanche: I wish you could smell this - leek heaven!
They are a lot tougher, and are more fibrous, than the softer parts near the bulb, so I cut them into smaller pieces and then blanched them. Actually, I'd say I did more of a double or triple blanching - not just a quick toss in boiling water, but more of a simmer for about 5 minutes. I was multi-tasking so ended up letting the leeks cool in the liquid on the stove before draining them into a big bowl.

I changed my mind - NOW I wish you could smell this!
So now I have these beautifully softened leek tops, ready for a nice leek tart, or maybe inclusion in a meatloaf, or a curry, or who knows what else? Even better, I have this GORGEOUS leek stock. I really didn't even think about that part when I was simmering away, but just before I was about to drain the liquid into the sink, I got a whiff and realized I needed every drop of this goodness as well. My freezer has an ice maker, so I don't have ice cube trays. I used my popsicle molds so I could get some stock into the freezer for later use. These other two jars will soon become a base for a soup (cauliflower/sweet potato is what I'm thinking right now), and also a braising liquid for other cooking this week.

I had ideas for several uses of the blanched leek tops - they got a LOT smaller,
so maybe one really nice tart for the tops, and several uses ahead for the stock!
This recipe is more for an ingredient to be used in another recipe. In short: I cut up the leek tops, put them in a stock pot, covered them with water, and brought them to a boil. I lowered the heat to a simmer and let them go for about 5-7 minutes. They cooled in the pan, and then I drained the leeks, squeezing out the excess liquid, which I retained in jars and molds for the freezer. The leeks were then double bagged, labeled and also headed to the freezer.

I'm sure you'll see them pop up again in another recipe!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Baked Sweet Potato Fries: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 58

Meanwhile, back to my non-consecutive 100 days of recipes! Pretty simple recipe today, but one that I go to when I don't know what I want. I try to make sure I always have sweet potatoes in the house or in the studio, because they can be a fairly filling snack or light meal all alone, and they're like that favorite sweater or scarf - they go with just about everything!

This recipe started one morning with the idea of an alternate "fish & chips". Before I left for the studio, I checked the freezer and found that the only fish I had was a beautiful sockeye salmon filet. Not my usual 'fish & chips' choice, but once you start making substitutions, why stop? This actually simplified things, as my favorite quick way to enjoy a salmon filet is salt, pepper, bit of oil, hot pan, sear skin side down about 7-8 minutes (or until the skin is crispy), flip, another 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and rest. That was that recipe, in case you weren't paying attention.

For the Fries that aren't fried, my ingredients:
Sliced sweet potatoes, coconut oil, salt, turmeric,
paprika, cayenne, and nutritional yeast.
Just drizzle about 1 tsp. of coconut oil on top of the potatoes, then sprinkle the salt and spices on top, followed by the nutritional yeast:

One bowl, less mess! Except maybe your hands,
because that's the next step.
Next, get your hands in there and make sure the sweet potatoes are nicely coated with everything you just put on top of them. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and evenly space out the sweet potatoes, so they have room:

Easy peasy!
Stick it in a 400 degree oven, and let the sweets roast for about 20 minutes - your baking time will vary depending on how thin/thick you slice your fries.

I love these wide, open bowls for piling high with homemade goodness!

Sweet Potato Fries

1 medium (about 6" long) sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 'fries'
1 tsp coconut oil
generous sprinkle of salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 TBSP nutritional yeast

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place sliced 'fries' in bowl a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients on top, and with your hands, lightly toss the fries to coat them evenly with all ingredients. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the fries across evenly. Roast in your 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes - more or less time depends on how thick you like your fries!

Serve as is, with a sriracha ketchup, or as a side to a nicely seared piece of fish for your own version of Fish & Chips!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I'm a Featured Artist!!

So proud and pleased to be the Featured Artist for the Cara Mae Skin Care blog, and grateful to Cara Steinbuchel for her love of community and supporting fellow artists, not only with her incredible Potters' Skin Butter (seriously, you need some!), but with her desire to celebrate those around her, in both word and deed.

You don't need to be a potter to benefit from this lotion (also
an unscented version, not pictured) - gardeners, chefs, new parents,
construction workers, teachers, office wizards, really if you
HAVE HANDS, you will benefit from this lotion!
Cara and I had a wonderful interview, and she even agreed to run around with me on a delivery day. Seeing my world through her eyes only increases the extreme gratitude I have for all that I do, and for all the incredible people I work with - Cara saw a portion of both the work and the people, and I love how she reflects it back in her lovely writing.

Click here to read the full blog!
Thank you so much, Cara!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Veggie Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 57

It seems the later I get home, the more I want to putter in the kitchen for a meal. It's a perfect way for me to relax, but it also means I might be eating later than I want, and it could also mean waking up to a messy kitchen. Usually worth it, and in many cases I'll end up snacking my way through the prep, and my lovely meal will be lunch the next day. The other thing that happens is that if I am 'puttering', I'm likely not following an exact recipe, so sharing the loveliness is more challenging the next day. This is fairly simple and straight-forward, though, so if you read along, you'll get the gist of it!

I picked up a nice variety of vegetables last weekend at the Tailgate, but this week hasn't exactly cooperated with my intended cooking schedule, so when I got home last night, I saw I had a nice variety of vegetables that were looking a little sadder than when I picked them up. Before resorting to an oversize batch of vegetable stock, I pulled out the veg that might not make the prettiest salad, and decided to go the quiche, or something very much like it, route.

Late dinner so not the best planned imagery, but it sure tastes great!
Challenge: no crusts in the freezer, and it was already late enough that I just didn't feel like messing up the kitchen any more to make even a quick crust. Enter the sweet potato - I had seen mention of a sweet potato crust somewhere a while back, so a quick check with Google and I made a simple sweet potato crust by thinly slicing the sweet and layering the slices around the inside of my lightly greased baking dish. Since I was using one of my handmade dishes, I put it in a cold oven before setting the temp to 450. about 30 minutes later, I had a nicely cooked crust, ready for my quiche.

Does this placemat make me look green? It was later, so I was more
interested in eating than setting up a photo! It was delicious, and
my 'salad' of cabbage kimchi was a perfect side.
While the crust was baking, I first fried up some sage leaves that were still pretty in a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped up the less pretty to add to my saute of onion, fennel bulb, broccoli stems, kale, broccoli flowers, oyster mushrooms, and garlic (in that order), with salt, paprika, and cumin. I wanted this to be more veggie than eggy, so I whisked up 6 eggs instead of the 8 that usually goes into this pan, with some salt, paprika, and a splash of cashew milk. When the crust came out, I re-set the oven to 350. The veg went into the sweet potato crust, then I poured the eggs on top. I put the fried sage leaves on top of that, and added a light sprinkle of Pecorino. The pan went back into the now 350 oven for about 20 minutes, or until it was nicely puffed and set.

I definitely want to play with that sweet potato crust again, and next time, I'll write it all down!

So good for dinner, I had a slice for breakfast, with local blueberries
from Mudluscious Gardens and some Thai Chicken Sausage from East Fork Farms.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Veggie Delight: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 56

I'd like to think that people who have my pottery are inspired to create fabulous dishes to go in and on them. Maybe it's because that's what I do, or maybe they create fabulous dishes, and then see which plate or platter or bowl is worthy of holding its fabulousness. I do that, too. Either way, if they then share that result with me, I am in turn inspired - sometimes it's to make more and/or new pieces for future fabulous dishes, and sometimes it's to make a fabulous dish of my own.

So when Chef Kajsa Alger posted this:

homemade tastes better on handmade, 100 day challenge, 100 days of recipes, veggie delight, handmade pottery, inspirations, chef kajsa
My ReGram of Chef Kajsa's yumminess on my platter.
I was inspired, not only because I absolutely love seeing how others use my pottery, but because once again I saw something yummy and realized "hey, I have those ingredients!", or at least some version of those ingredients.

I had just been to my favorite Asian Market to pick up some coconut creme for a special creation (sure to be chronicled here later...), so really, the main thing that popped into my head was that I had a nice package of rice noodles. Having been to the tailgate market on Saturday, I knew I also had veggies, so it was just a matter of putting them together.

Softening the onion, fennel bulb, ginger, and turmeric.

The rest of the players: shaved carrot and sweet potato, thin cuts of kale,
snap peas, broccoli stems, zucchini, and squash. Plus broccoli flowers and
oyster mushrooms. True vegetable delight!
What I love about using these thin, rice noodles is that while they soak in a bowl of warm water, I can quickly cook up the veg, and just when they are about perfect, toss in the noodles, make a hot 'dressing' and it's all done - practically a one-pot meal!

homemade tastes better on handmade, made in asheville, pottery, 100 day challenge, 100 days of recipes
My roped platter holds the Veggie Delight beautifully, and I've got
meals and parts of meals for the rest of the week!
Veggie Delight

This makes a nice pile of noodles! Easily feeds 2-4, depending on how hungry the eaters, and if you decide to add a protein or other sides. Of course, I'm already planning for the leftovers...

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1" piece of ginger, sliced thin and chopped
1" piece of fresh turmeric, sliced thin and chopped
8-10 leaves of lacinto kale leaves (long/flat), thinly sliced
1 small head of broccoli, about 4-5 stalks: cut at the crowns, and thinly slice the stalks
   (peel tough outer skin if necessary)
1 small (about 5") carrot, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup shaved (use the peeler) sweet potato
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash

About 5 oz. thin rice noodles - the kind you soak in warm water, and then add to stir-fry.

1 1/2 TBSP sesame oil
2 tsp pomegrante molasses
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
generous squirt sriracha
generous pinch of salt
pinch of date sugar

Place the rice noodles in a bowl large enough to cover the rice completely with warm water. Do that, and set it aside while you cook the veg.

Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium heat (or just below medium) and saute the onion, fennel bulb, ginger, and turmeric until soft and fragrant (about 5 minutes). Toss in a pinch of salt, then add the kale, carrot, sweet potato, and broccoli stems. Raise heat just a bit (to medium, or just higher than that) and continue to saute/stir for another 3-4 minutes, or until the kale is wilted. Add the broccoli crowns and squash, and continue to stir/saute for another 3-4 minutes. 

Mix the first four ingredients of the dressing together, then taste. Add some salt, taste again, then add some date sugar if it needs balance. Whisk it hard (or put it all in a jar and shake it hard!). Find your happy place by taste.

Drain the noodles, then add them in small tong fulls, folding together with the veg to get them incorporated and 'unclumped' if necessary. Drizzle the dressing on top, and lightly toss the noodles and the veg together to thoroughly incorporate and coat with dressing. Put the lid on and let the noodles steam in the veggie mix for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Great as is for a light lunch, or add the protein of your choice to make it a bit heartier. And I already see an 'over easy scramble' with some of the leftovers in my future.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bagel hack and back to the Nibs! 100 Days of Recipes, Day 55

I was just re-reading my Carrot Top Gremolata posts before I started today's entry, and I've been pondering the past few minutes about "what if I put nibs in the gremolata?"... I think there is a version there, but I'll have to get back to it.

Today's quick late breakfast and carrier for my nibs came about mainly because I didn't realize the peanut butter I picked up recently was creamy, not crunchy. I like it crunchy, so I was wondering what I might add to get that missing texture ... nibs!

We call this size plate the "bagel plate" because it's the perfect size... for a bagel!

Not really a recipe, just another fabulous way to use nibs. Although I will share a wonderful bagel hack I learned from my friend Nancy, and then wondered why it never occurred to me. I don't eat bagels every day, so when I buy them they generally go into the freezer. My bagel desires rarely, however, announce themselves with an appropriate amount of time to take one out of the freezer to thaw slowly so I can slice it with ease before toasting. Add to that, I don't always want a whole bagel, so if I DO manage to get it cut in half, half of it might have to go back to the freezer for a second indignation. So enter Nancy: I have these dear friends in Georgia and they are avid bagel-eaters, and whenever I visit them over a weekend, I get to go with them on their weekly trip to Golberg's Bagel Company to replenish their bagel supply. The first thing Nancy does is cut the bagels in half before putting them in freezer bags. Want a half a bagel? Grab it and toast it - I think the most brilliant ideas are the most simple. Nancy didn't invent the idea of cutting bagels before freezing, but she invented it in my head, so to her goes all the glory!

A nicely sweet/tart strawberry or three is a nice compliment to each slightly rich, peanuty-nibby bite, and while I use these plates for so many things, it always makes me happy when they get to serve their named purpose of being a 'bagel plate'.

Now, about that nibby gremolata...

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Carrot-Top Gremolata Pt. 2: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 54

A 'leftover' follow up to my carrot top gremolata on fish recipe - I had some leftovers, and my original plan for them before the gremolata was to make tacos for lunch at the studio. That didn't change, but the tasty gremolata inspired a 'gremolata slaw' of sorts for the tacos. By the way, kind of on the run this morning, so the recipe is in the descriptions. :)

Gremolata Slaw: Carrot tops, kale, carrots, red cabbage,
lime peel, roasted garlic, and salt
I had a tiny bit of the gremolata left, and I used it to start my slaw, adding some thinly sliced red cabbage, kale, more carrot shavings, a bit of lime zest, and roasted garlic. A sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lime juice finished it off, and I had a nice, bright slaw that was the perfect accompaniment to my leftover fish in a taco.

I had some new test plates out of a kiln, so lunch was the perfect time to try them out.

I don't use my copper glaze on food surfaces, so the center of this plate is glazed with
my new black satin matte glaze, with just enough 'crazy green' to make a beautiful frame.
It's always nice to have enough to share with a friend, and to test another new form and glaze!

The tacos were filled out with Gremolata Slaw, leftover cod, some avocado, and a 'crema' I made by thinning out some hummus with a little hot sauce and a splash of cashew milk.

And like a good recipe should, there was a bit of the slaw leftover, which extended my Carrot-Top love one more day when I blended it with some almost too-ripe avocado to make another condiment to go with sweet potatoes I had roasted with olive oil, salt, turmeric, and smoked paprika. That made another tasty taco lunch, and a chance to try out another test from the last kiln.

A final hurrah for the carrot-top gremolata, now in an 'avocado slaw' with roasted sweet potatoes.
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast and a dash of hot sauce were the only other condiments
in this quick studio lunch, but every bite very tasty!

All in all, very happy to say that carrot tops will no longer be relegated solely to the stock pot!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Carrot Top Gremolata: 100 Days of Recipes, DaysI l 53 & 54

Two days of recipe inspiration comes from the recent episode of the new series "Scraps" (FYI network I believe - I don't get that one, but you can watch it online after it airs). I love the show and how it features great chefs and recipes in general, but even more for how it focuses on using the bits and pieces that usually end up ... well, as scraps! In this episode,  I loved everything that Chefs Joel Gamoran and Jenn Claiborne made, but the Carrot Top gremolata really caught my attention. I love using the leaves and tops of most all vegetables, but for the most part, when I have carrot tops, they usually go into a stock pot. Not this time! I had a lovely piece of cod I wanted to cook up, and the gremolata sounded great to go with it. It didn't end there, tomorrow I will share how I used my leftovers and that same idea for a whole new meal.

I love my new garlic keeper by Hannah McGehee, and it also keeps
my fresh ginger and turmeric! Her larger version (top right) holds the onions.
Chopping up the carrot tops with some lemon peel and garlic, I had a strong smell memory of pulling carrots out of a garden when I was younger - it had a nice, fresh, earthy aroma and I could almost taste the fresh carrot. I knew then it would be a great combination for my fish.

I made a 'bed' of gremolata in my baking dish, topped it with a lightly salted
piece of cod, then more gremolata. I put it in a cold oven and brought it up to 375 degrees.
The result was delicious! Each of the flavors in the gremolata came through and the combination with a beautifully flaky cod was the perfect compliment to a fresh market salad.

It's Easy Being Green! Crazy Green glaze makes a beautiful frame, and deep, lush 
Tenmoku glaze makes a perfect canvas for Tailgate delights: baby greens, radish sprouts, 
snap peas, and kale plus some shredded carrot for a little color.
Roasted Cod with Carrot Top Gremolata

1 large handful of carrot top greens
2 large cloves of garlic, cut into thin strips
pinch of salt
3 strips of lemon peel (try to avoid too much white pith)

Smash the garlic, then sprinkle salt on top. Add the lemon peels and continue to dice finely. Add the carrot tops (I'd say I had a loose cup or so) and continue to finely chop it all together.

For my fish, I laid a bed of most of the gremolata in a handmade baking dish. After lightly salting the cod filet, I placed that on the bed of gremolata, and then sprinkled the rest on top of the fish.

The baking dish went into a cold oven (heat your handmade with the oven!), then I set the temp at 375. Cook time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your filet, but mine was perfectly flaky after about 22 minutes. If you use a more traditional baking pan that doesn't need to be heated with the oven, check it sooner!

I continued the light, fresh flavors on my very green salad, using a light sprinkle of salt and squeeze of lemon for a dressing. Baby greens, snap peas, and a few shreds of carrot have a lovely sweetness, and the radish sprouts have a light, peppery bite to compliment. All together with the cod and gremolata made for happiness in every bite!

And as often happens, I was enjoying this lovely meal and already thinking about what I wanted to do with the leftovers. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Feeding the Pirates Right for MANNA and Spicy Extras: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 52

I am always so amazed, impressed, and grateful to live in a city filled with so many creative entrepreneurs in every sort of medium imaginable. But those who like to play with their food really get my attention.

This weekend, my friend Matt and I attended MANNA FoodBank's Blue Jean Ball, their biggest fund raiser of the year. I participate in the Asheville Empty Bowls event every year, making bowls and trying to motivate other potters to make bowls. It was through that participation that I was invited to my first Blue Jean Ball several years ago. The event is always themed, and there is a costume contest for most creative interpretation of the theme, with tickets to the next year's Ball given as prizes. Thanks to my very talented friend Matt, also a creative entrepreneur, we have won our way back to the Ball for the past three years!

As for the food, it's always delicious, creative small bites from some of the best restaurants in the area. 

As my hands were most often filled with small plates or a cuppa, I didn't take pictures of all the gorgeous and tasty bites, but we did get a lovely shot of what I think perfectly captures everything I love about Asheville, and this lovely human:

Rosetta, always feeding the family right!
 Rosetta has been feeding the family right at her restaurant, Rosetta's, downtown since 2002, and this year marks 14 years that she's been sharing that love at the Blue Jean Ball. Not only is the Family Favorite my favorite dish at her restaurant, it's the perfect first bite before an evening of food, drink, and dance. We seem to be too darn busy to find each other on a regular basis the rest of the year - and this year she has been busy feeding and loving her family beyond just those she regularly tends here in the Asheville area, so this is one place I knew I would find this lovely lady for a soul-nourishing hug. 

And just to make you wish you were there, here are a few more tasty bites I recall:

Jerked duck with coconut biscuits, black bean gravy, and curry pickled shallots from Biscuit Head (the pickled shallots were my favorite part - delish!)

Flambe strawberries with rum over mango sorbet from Bouchon - a perfect palette cleanser.

Smoked duck breast on crostini with herbed goat cheese, arugula and orange reduction from Chestnut - that was great, but they also had a pile of Joe's Chips, and you most definitely can't eat just one!

Island Creek oysters from Lobster Trap - always a favorite stop!

Luella's BBQ had Cured Pork Belly wth pickled watermelon rind that was a lovely bite.

Posana had what was perhaps my favorite single bite: Seared Scallops, smoked pork belly, and coconut rum butter.

That's just what I remember - there was more goodness there from Ambrozia, Biltmore, Carmel's, Red Stag Grill, Rezaz, Twisted Laurel, Webo's BBQ, Harrah's, PF Chang's, The Cantina ... and we didn't even make it under the dessert tent for Ultimate Ice Cream or French Broad Chocolates (I blame my pirate shoes - not much keeps me from the Chocolate Lounge!).

And while I'm not sharing a particularly new recipe today, I am sharing a new find - when we arrived at the parking lot and were waiting for the shuttle to the event, we met Tad McBride who had a trunk full of hot sauces he was sharing with everyone on the shuttle. I added some generous dashes of the Matador sauce to my eggs (on avocado, on toasted bagel) this morning for a flavorful punch. It's base includes mango nectar, pineapple juice, and habanero chili pepper, which gives it a lovely flavor to go along with the heat. Since we were there for the "Pirate Ball", I made sure to also get a bottle of the Pirate Sauce, which includes orange juice, coconut bits, and spices. I'm looking forward to trying that as a marinade.

And if you were wondering, yes, we won again, and we can't wait to hear the theme for next year's Ball!!

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, a Pirate's life for me!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nibs! 100 Days of Recipes, Day 50

Or rather, Return of the Nibs! And let me take a moment to acknowledge that I finally reached the half way point of what didn't seem to be such a grand undertaking at the beginning. I also remind you, gentle reader, that it's not necessarily a daily undertaking, and that some days will just be on the Instagram feed. But I digress...

I ran out of cacao nibs a little while ago, and didn't think much of it, until I went to make a smoothy. Out of nibs, oh well. Hmm.... not quite as wonderful as it usually is. Went to make a salad. Out of nibs, oh well. hmm... it's just missing ... something. Thought about making cookies for someone. Out of nibs - that's a deal breaker now for my chocolate chip cookies, so it finally dawned on me that I needed more nibs. I was a nibs needer. 

Cacao Nibs, from The French Broad Chocolate Lounge

I know that nibs have become one of the new foodie darling trends, so they are much easier to find than in the days of yore, when after explaining to someone what they were, you had to then explain to them WHY you wanted them. And if you didn't know, cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks, and broken into smaller pieces. There have been all kinds of nutritional benefits that actually date back thousands of years, both for the nibs and the dark chocolate products that are made with the cacao bean. That's all very attractive, but my own experience with nibs started with a visit to The Happiest Place On Earth, which of course is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It was there I first tasted the 'Nibby Brownie' - dark chocolate goodness that would be a fine brownie just by itself, but the added texture and flavor boost from the nibs just puts it over the top. I tried nibs myself for the first time in a chocolate chip and dried cherry cookie, and I was hooked. When I read about the nib's 'super food' qualities, I looked for other ways to add it to things, like my smoothies and salads. When the Chocolate Lounge started selling nibs, it was an even happier day as I knew they would be sourced with as much love and care as all the products (including my mugs!) that they sell.

I toodled on down to the Chocolate Lounge yesterday, determined to end my nib drought, but when I went inside Chocolate + Milk, my heart skipped a beat - No Nibs!!! Lucky for me, the Manager, Melissa, was there and somehow she sensed my distress (not sure how, I'm sure I was so subtle!), and she called over to the Chocolate Factory and learned that they had some precious nibs. Double win - I would get my nibs AND I would get to visit the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure you can add years to your life just by walking in the door of the French Broad Chocolate Factory and inhaling deeply. Two bags of nibs in hand (along with a bar, and a bag or two of the truffle packs by the register - such chocolate pushers they are!) later, I was on my way home to revel in a nib-filled world.

All that (and it did go on!) to say, I have nibs, and the next several entires in my 100 Day Project may indeed feature ... wait for it ... nibs.

Today's entry, and one of my favorite dishes:

Fruity, nibby salad

One grapefruit, sectioned and sitting in its own juices, plus a handful of walnuts, some frozen blueberries, a handful of nibs, a drizzle of pomegranate vinegar, and a light sprinkle of large-flake salt. 

Happy Hump Day to all, and may you always have nibs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Progressive Toast: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 49

You know that thing where you've made a new dish, it's really tasty yet while you're eating it you're thinking about what you want to do to it the next time you make it? Well that happened.

Last night's Market Veggie sandwich gave me some ideas, and that turned into today's lunch:

I love how food pops on this tenmoku-glazed small plate. And I love how the
plate pops on this tea-cup towel!

Toasted levain, with Roots' Mango Sriracha Hummus, some cucumbers, radish sprouts, and a drizzle of pomegranate vinegar. Crusty, spicy, cool, fresh, sweet, crunchy, and just a bit of a twang. Every bite a delight.

Monday, May 29, 2017

More Market Delights: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 48

It seems like it was JUST Day 47, and suddenly it's a week later, pots have been made, bisque fired, glazed, and as of earlier this evening, fired. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

My beautiful Birthday Cake, made by my friend Lindsey - it's
got a bottom layer of dates and nuts, a layer of cashew creme,
and a top layer of strawberry cashew creme, with fruit and other edibles.
Birthday celebrations last week provided fun and delicious meals through the week, and hitting the Tailgate Market on my way to the studio for glazing on Saturday kept me stocked with goodies, even if I was too tired to do much with them.

Birthday dinner with friends at the newly opened Jargon,
someplace I will return to often!
Tonight after the firing, I had plans to cook up a nice piece of fish, but three 12-hour days in a row cast a strong vote for no cooking. Luckily, my bounty from the Market gave me a perfect and satisfying meal of lightly toasted levain, a schmear of mayo, beautiful cucumbers, radishes, and radish sprouts. 

Perfect light meal that tastes of late Spring.

A lovely taste of the season.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Luscious Stack o' Leftovers: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 47

Or, fun with a canape cutter.

From the Sweet Potato Polenta, and a flattened version of Mom's Meatballs comes this lovely way of playing with my food:

So much fun playing with leftovers - I also had fun playing with my plates.
I took my trusty little canape cutter, and cut rounds of the leftover polenta. For each serving, a round of polenta and a round of meatball were heated on my Foreman Grill. Meanwhile, I cooked down some onions in herbed butter, then some spinach, also with light seasoning. While a sunny-side up egg slowly cooked, I started playing with the elements. A bed of spinach, then the polenta, some of the onions... When the egg was just right, I hit it with the cutter, and placed the cut parts of the whites on top of the polenta and onions. Next was the flat meatball, more onions, the egg, and a garnish of garlic chives (that had been in the onion saute). 

It's still rainy, but I'm ready to move back into the fresh foods of the season. This has been some comfort food fun, though!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sweet Potato Polenta: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 46

Thanks to a rainy, cooler turn in the unusually warm weather we've been having, and to a prompt from Instagrammer @glennbenglish and inspiration from my current book companion (and kitchen bff), I veered off the salad road and onto Comfort Food Lane last night. In Glenn's post, he described making Sweet Potato Grits, which I've done a version of in the past (not as refined as his description, which I will most definitely try!). Sunday was the second day of Studio Stroll, and it was rainy and cool all day, and after slogging around the studio grounds taking down pennants in the rain, I was ready for something warming and comforting, so I headed home with visions of Sweet Potato Grits in my head.

My ingredients: delicious cornmeal from East Fork Farm,
a sweet potato, veggie broth (I love making my own stock,
but always keep some on hand for those long days), and
inspiration from my bff cookbook.
As with so many of my brilliant recipe ideas, I got home and discovered I didn't have all the proper ingredients. I was out of grits, but had some cornmeal. What's the diff, you say? For me, it's in the texture, and a more finely ground cornmeal is for Polenta, not Grits. Not sad, because I had just read a chapter in "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by my kitchen bff Judith Jones, and she included a recipe for a baked Polenta that is how I love making it most, so Sweet Potato Polenta (because I'm almost never without sweet potatoes)!

Baking in handmade is easy, just heat it with the oven!
Place the sweet potatoes, cornmeal, and seasonings in the pot.

Pour heated broth on top of sweet potatoes and corn meal.

Stir it all together, making sure the cornmeal is well mixed with
the sweet potatoes and the broth.
I had also been wanting to make up a batch of my Mom's Meatballs, but to avoid the stove top spatter of cooking meatballs, and because I was tired and didn't want to stand in the kitchen while things cooked when I could be on the floor with my legs against the wall, I spread the paté out thinly on a baking sheet and baked it 'a la' my meatloaf, with a schmear of sriracha tomato paste on top. I used a canape cutter when it came out of the oven, and had cute, little flat meatballs to go with my polenta!

Comfort dinner on a rainy night accomplished.

Easy prep and great comfort food meal in a warm, stoneware bowl on a rainy night. 
Sweet Potato Polenta
(inspired by the aforementioned InstaPost, and Judith Jones' recipe for "Baked Polenta with Vegetables", 
in The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, steamed or boiled, and mashed with a bit of butter
2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds of pepper

I cooked this in one of my ceramic bakers, so I did not pre-heat the oven. If you're using pyrex or other baking dishes, you can pre-heat to 350 degrees.

Bring the vegetable broth to a light simmer, then turn off the heat.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes in the baker. Sprinkle the polenta on top, and add the salt and pepper. Pour the heated veggie broth on top, and stir carefully to fully blend.

Place the baker in a cold oven, then set the temp to 350. Bake for about 30 minutes, and check to see that the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool just slightly before spooning into a bowl. Grate a little pecorino on top if you like.

Also like many of my favorite recipes, I'm already thinking of what I can do with the leftovers...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

French Toast: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 43

Actually, this might better be named the syrup that you might put on French Toast, but I'll include both recipes.

How this came about: I was gifted the most beautiful levain loaf by my friend and wicked-talented baker Beth, of Sweet Daisy Bakeshop fame, and when I got home with it, I realized that I hadn't had any beautifully made local bread in far too long, so French Toast for dinner was the only logical solution!

I always have eggs on hand from Mudluscious Gardens, so I knew the toast part would be great, but horror of horror, I'm out of Vermont Maple Syrup (yes, it has to be). Not to worry, there are plenty of odd jars of this and that around, and I'm pretty pleased with what resulted.

This is a scavenge-type recipe, so amounts are .... 'to taste'. As for the French Toast, that also changes from time to time - this time, it was as follows. 

A side note to say that this bread is a round loaf, so to get a good slice for the French Toast, I had to lop off a piece, cutting about 3" into the loaf. That means the slices that followed would be nice sized ovals that would make for great servings. It also means I had a lovely 3" piece of bread "end" that was just sitting there, daring me to wait until the French Toast was done to taste its goodness. I lost that dare. Worth it.

French Toast on one of my favorite plate designs. The copper
blue/green glaze creates a beautiful frame.
French Toast with Strawberry-Jalapeno-Fig Syrup and Caramelized Bananas

For two generous slices of levain (will feed two normal servings or one "I don't care how this looks I'm eating it all" serving).

1 egg
1/3 cup cashew milk (or milk of your choice)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 large slices from the loaf of levain, or 4 slices of your favorite bread for the occasion

Beat the egg, and mix in the next four ingredients. Dredge the bread in the egg mix. Heat a skillet or griddle to med/high heat, and place the dipped bread in the skillet. Turn after it's golden brown (time will vary depending on how thick you slice it!), and serve with fresh or prepared fruit and syrup of your choice.

The Bananas: 

1 banana, sliced into 1/2" discs
Pomegranate Molasses
1 small nob of butter

When you finish the last of the toast slices, drop the nob of butter in the skillet, then toss in the banana slices. Stir to coat, then drizzle some molasses on top - maybe about a TBSP total, but more or less depending on the size of your banana. Stir lightly to coat, being careful not to mush up the bananas as they get warm and soft. Carefully flip them over after about a minute, then let them cook on that side only about another 30 seconds. Put them on top of the cooked French Toast Slices.

Strawberry-Jalapeno-Fig Syrup

If you happen to have the same jars of jam in your fridge as I do, then you can make this. Or, you can use other jars of jam, and instead of the popsicle you can use a bit of juice or even water.

Strawberry-Jalapeno Jam*
Fig Preserves*
All-fruit popsicle (this was a mixed-berry pop)

Put a generous dollop (amount dependent on how much French Toast you want to cover!) of the jam and preserve in a small sauce pan over med-low heat. Take the popsicle off the stick, and add that to the pan. Let it all melt, stirring to mix thoroughly. Pour this over the bananas and the French Toast.

Optional: Zest a lemon and cut it up into thin strips and sprinkle on top.

*the jam was gifted to me by the maker, so if you don't make your own jam, get someone to make it, it's great! Same suggestion for the figs, but if you're in the Asheville area you can find great Fig Preserves at the Gypsy Queen Market & Deli.