Friday, November 28, 2014

I Love Buttermilk

So A few things up front:

1. I love buttermilk.
It’s tangy deliciousness and it’s ability to do an uncountable amount of good things for food and beyond, the fact that it is low fat and quite good for you despite it’s -not so good for you- sounding name.  Oh!!! I could wax and wane over the beauty of buttermilk all day and I thought I knew just about all of its tricks until last week.

I said a few things…

2. I love cottage cheese.
I have been on a constant quest to find the best cottage cheese. I have tried every brand from the average store brands to the organic and all natural to the artisan brands only found in specialty stores and really only one did I feel was the right texture, creaminess, and sodium content.  It came from a store that I don’t frequent; in fact, I would just go there to get the cottage cheese. So I decided to start some research on making my own at the beginning of this year. I pulled a bunch of recipes off line and started studying.  Needless to say I never followed through with it and can’t even find the folder of all the things I printed off to learn about it. Part of it I believe was a little intimidation and even though I love a challenge, I really hate failure.

Fast forward several months later and to a book signing for The Short Stack Editions* that I attended with some crazy talented authors and friends of mine (Angie Mosier and Virginia Willis) at The Preserving Place** in Atlanta.
Although another good friend of mine, Tamie Cook, had given me their books as a gift and I had looked through them previously I decided before the event to revisit them. What did I discover in Angie’s book about Buttermilk you ask????
WHAT, who knew?

It couldn’t be easier. Heat buttermilk until the whey separates from the curd, drain it, add some cream and salt if desired and chill. But don’t throw out the whey…there are many things you can do with it…put it in your smoothie…no more protein powder, use it in replacement of liquids in baking, throw it in your stock or soup, I think you can even use it in your garden to improve the soil. Oh, and it freezes well too.

Ok, I know I am a nerd. It’s the little things that get me excited but now my cottage cheese quest is over. I have found the one I love and I now take great pleasure in knowing that it is one that I can make myself!!!

Thank you Angie!

Now go buy the book, or better yet all of them…I can’t wait to try the Tomato Pie!

*a collection of small format cookbooks on a single subject written by top culinarians from around the U.S.

Happy Curds and Whey!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Modern Post: Strawberry Fruit Leather

The Modern Post: Strawberry Fruit Leather

The beautiful and talented Heidi Rew, a fellow blogger, and TV/radio personality, recently approached me to take part in a pilot she was shooting called The Modern Post. I was beyond flattered and agreed to help her out with the food segment portion of her pilot! The Modern Post is a concept designed around a way for people to view quality lifestyle blog posts. Each episode has a different theme and will feature expert bloggers on the subjects of Home Décor, Fitness, Fashion, and Food.  The theme for the pilot was DIH--- “Do it Herself”.  So for my segment I demonstrated how to make Strawberry Fruit Leather. Strawberries may be out of season now but you can do this with just about any fruit! It is crazy easy, healthy, and delicious you’ll wish you knew how to make this simple and cool recipe earlier.

The Modern Post Pilot is going to go live THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2014.
Check it out at:

Also check out all the other Blogger’s sites:
Fitness: Donna Burke:
Home Décor: Kristin Jackson:
Fashion: Jessica Camerata:

Strawberry Fruit Leather

4 cups hulled strawberries
Local honey-2 tablespoons-1/4 cup, depending on sweetness of the strawberries, less is better
Heat an oven to the lowest setting possible, mine is 170°F. Puree all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture onto the pan. Spread the puree into a thin layer, tilting the pan to get as even as possible. Bake in the oven for several hours until it is no longer wet to the touch but not yet crispy, ours took about 4 hours. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut into 1-inch wide strips, leaving the paper on. Roll up and store in an airtight container for a few weeks or in the fridge for several months.
Notes: The cook times will vary from fruit to fruit, depending on how juicy the fruit is. Sometimes with certain fruits like apples, you may need to add a little water to get them pureed to the right consistency. This can be done with just about any fruit, even frozen fruits.  Apples with cinnamon, blueberries and lime zest, even pumpkin… you can get creative too with different combinations and flavor combos!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summertime Tomatoes

Summer Time Tomatoes

It’s been a while since I posted, over a year in fact. I’ve been busy with a career, a family, and just plain life. On top of not having the time I have been lacking inspiration. Food is my life. I work with it everyday, sometimes to the point of not being interested. When I am not working, however, I love to cook and more importantly: EAT.
I found inspiration last week in the bounty of tomatoes my husband pulled from the garden. He had been bringing in a handful or two of cherry tomatoes every few days or so then one day he brought in the mother load. I had no idea what was going on in the back yard!!! He then left town for a week for work telling me that he wanted me to save him some for when he came back. A few have endured but most were getting past their prime. I shared a few with my family, I was throwing them in salads, making omelets stuffed with them and just cutting them up to eat with some salt and pepper at every meal. I still had too much for me to eat!
I was trying to think of something fun to do with them. I could make sauce to freeze, I could make ketchup but then I remembered a truly memorable meal I had about a year ago at the Southern Food Ways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi.
Not only is it one of the most fun, food filled weekends of the year it brings to the forefront some fantastic chefs. Each year there is a focus on what the Symposium is about and last year was Women at Work. One of the meals was prepared by Chef Vivian Howard and was the one that sticks in my mind.  She is the part owner of the restaurant The Chef and the Farmer with her husband in Eastern North Carolina. In that meal that she prepared there were two unbelievably delicious dishes. Simple, not fancy at all, just made with high quality ingredients and with so much care you could taste it.
The two dishes she made that I can’t ever stop thinking about were her mother’s (Scarlett) Chicken and Rice and her Tomato Pie. I got online and began searching, not very hopeful that I would find the recipes but maybe a way to contact her directly to get them. Luckily in my search I discovered that she has a show on PBS called A Chef’s Life where she explores Southern food with a focus on farm to table. I began looking at the episodes and there they were out of the 13 episodes I found the Tomato Pie and the Chicken and Rice recipes. I quickly set to making both and although it never tastes the same as when someone else makes it for you they both were pretty darn close!
Here are some pictures of the Tomato Pie and some links to the two recipes.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagna

It’s March in Atlanta and the weather is crazy. From 60 degrees and sunny one day to 35 with rain and crazy wind the next. I try and cook at least 2-3 times a week, schedule depending, and I always get cravings for certain things. Butternut squash along with sweet potatoes are a staple in my house because the possibilities are endless and Swiss chard comes in my CSA box every 2 weeks for weeks on end this time of year. Sometimes I make soup, some times I roast, sometimes I just steam.
The weather was particularly gross this past Monday and I was craving butternut squash lasagna that I sometimes buy at DeKalb Farmer’s Market, delicious. However, I take great delight, especially when I don’t want to get out in the elements or am feeling lazy, in creating a meal with what I have on hand at home. It’s a skill that some possess others not, like my husband. We can have a fridge/pantry full of things and he looks and says, “there is nothing to eat here”. Wrong! You just have to see beyond, imagine, and be creative. That’s where I come in.  So, with it also being Monday, i.e. Meatless Monday, I was excited to realize that I had everything in house to make a fantastic veggie lasagna. In the summer I do a tomato based with summer zucchini and squash but today called for something creamy, sweet, and bitter. And so here you are, enjoy:

Butternut Squash and Chard Lasagna
Serves 8

12 lasagna noodles*
2 1/2-3# butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large leeks, cleaned and sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss Chard, cleaned leaves cut into 1 inch pieces and stems in 1/2 inch slice
2 tablespoons butter    
1/3 cup AP flour
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups milk
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
*Cook and drain your lasagna noodles and toss with a little olive oil. You could use fresh or no boil. If you use no boil the oven time may need to be increased until they are tender.
In a large bowl toss the butternut squash with some olive oil until coated and season with some salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25-35 minutes, tossing a few times during the cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat.  Add your leeks and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until tender. Add the sliced chard stalks and cook a few minutes more. Then add your garlic and let it go another few minutes until everything is tender. Add the chard leaves and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
When your squash is finished remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until relatively smooth. Alternatively you could dump into a food processor and pulse a few times. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Turn your oven down to 375 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. In a small bowl combine the flour, nutmeg, sage, and thyme. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the melted butter and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, this will be a thick paste. Slowly, while whisking constantly add your milk. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes, still whisking until the mixture is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and stir until melted and season with salt and pepper.
Spray a 13x9-baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon a little of the white sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer 4 lasagna noodles, then top with all of the Swiss chard mixture. Top this with about a cup of the white sauce and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Then add 4 more noodles, a layer of sauce, the entirety of the squash puree and a layer of cheese. Add the last 4 noodles, rest of the sauce and top with rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes then uncover and bake 10 minutes more.  If you want you could broil briefly to get some browning on the top.
*A good way to test to see if the center is hot is to stick a butter knife in the center and touch it to your lip. It will tell you the temp right away. Not warm enough? Let her go for a few more minutes covered back up with a foil blanket.
Allow to cool a bit before serving.

Until next time…