Sunday, September 29, 2013

Curried Green Tomatoes

Curried Green Tomatoes in red ramekin, overhead view

A spicy way to use end-of-season tomatoes

Throughout much of the US, we backyard veggie gardeners are mourning the end of growing season—and remembering the fresh, ripe tomatoes of summer.

We’re also faced with a culinary dilemma: What to do with all those green tomatoes that are still on the vines? They won’t have time to ripen, but we need to pick them before the first frost.

Green tomatoes may not be as alluring as their ripe alter egos, but they have tart, bright flavor. Which makes them exquisite when combined with spicy curry.

And cooking them takes just a few minutes. So you can have curry in a hurry.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies on black acrylic

Intense and irresistible

Hey, chocolate obsessives (you know who you are). Looking for your next cacao-laden fix?

Well, welcome to the deep, dark flavor of these cookies. Their richness will remind you of everything you l-o-v-e about chocolate.

Say hello to your new besties.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lentil and Tomato Soup

Lentil and Tomato Soup with rosemary garnish in red ramekin, overhead view

Hearty, rich—and perfect for cooler weather

Today is autumnal equinox, the first day of fall in the US. For many of us, that means cooler weather is on its way (if it hasn’t arrived already).

So goodbye summer—it’s time for heartier fare. And if you need to warm up on a chilly day, there’s nothing better than soup. I particularly like ones that feature dried legumes or pulses.

Like this great Lentil and Tomato Soup. You could serve this in small portions as a starter, but it cries out to be a meal in a bowl. Maybe pair it with some of that wonderful Beer Bread we posted about last week. Add small salad if you’re particularly hungry. And of course include a nice glass of wine (or a bottle of beer).

Bliss.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beer Bread

Beer Bread loaf and slices with jam

Perfect when you need a tasty loaf in a hurry

Baking bread doesn’t get much easier (or more fun) than this. No messing with yeast, no kneading, no rising time. 

And you get to use beer in it! So this bread smells delightful when baking—and tastes deeply delicious when you bite into it.

Even people who don’t like beer love Beer Bread. Best of all, this bread is equally tasty for breakfast toast or a mid-day sandwich.

Really, can life get any better?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes with sour cream garnish

Top with a poached egg or dollop of sour cream for a light dinner entrée

Are you part of the “breakfast for dinner” movement? Me too. So how about some pancakes? But maybe not the kind smothered in maple syrup.

Instead, I propose a savory variation. These Zucchini Pancakes give you all the breakfasty fun—without the sugar.

Add a poached or fried egg, or a dollop of sour cream, and you’ve got a complete meal. Or slather some butter on the cakes and serve them as a side dish, sharing the plate with a piece of meat or fish.

Dinner is served.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lentil, Quinoa, and Zucchini Salad

Lentil, Quinoa, and Zucchini Salad in ramekin with mint garnish

This healthy, protein-rich vegan dish can be a main or a side

In much of the world, September brings in-between weather. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re anticipating cooler temps, but we’re still seeing many warm (as in hot!) days. In the Southern Hemisphere, people are looking forward to warm weather, though the cold may still linger a while.

So planning meals can be a bit of a challenge, wherever you are. Warm temperatures call for something light. But that hint of chill makes you crave something with a bit of substance.

For weather like this, my go-to is a main course salad—particularly one with dried pulses or legumes. Vegetables keep it light, but pulses/legumes add a bit of oomph (not to mention protein). Mix in some quinoa, and you have a nutritional powerhouse.

Best of all, main-course salads can make a perfect “Meatless Monday” option for those who want to eat vegan or vegetarian at least one night a week. Add some bread and maybe a nice glass of wine, and you’re set—no matter what the weather gods throw at you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies on plate with vanilla ice cream

So addictive they need a warning label 

Some food speaks to me. Like these little charmers, for instance. When I took my first bite, I heard, “Hello. My name is Chocolate Mascarpone Brownie. Prepare to die.”

OK, maybe not literally. But you’ll wonder if you’re hearing things when you sample these. “Just one more,” they will whisper. “What harm could there be in eating one more little bite?” 

And before you know it, you’re under the table, covered in crumbs.

So be warned: Make these only when you have companions to help consume them. Or be prepared for the consequences.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Alaska Cocktail

Alaska Cocktail with ice cube 'glacier'

Icy flavor that’s bracing as a glacier 

When you think of Alaska, you might picture whales or ice floes. But cocktails? Not so much.

Let’s change that. Because the Alaska Cocktail is perfect for transitioning into the cooler weather we’ll be seeing soon in the Northern Hemisphere.

Drink it before dinner, and it lightens up heavier autumn fare. Sip it at the last summer cookout, and it will console as you put the Weber away for winter.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grilled Bratwurst

Grilled Bratwurst in bun with mustard

Labor Day and football mean peak brat-fry season

Bratwurst tastes great anytime. But in the US, peak brat-fry season starts on Labor Day.

That’s partly because brats make such a great entrée for holiday cookouts. But Labor Day also marks the beginning of football season in the US. Which means tailgating season, where bratwurst is often the star attraction.

What about that “fry” thing in the subtitle, though? Well, no worries. There’s actually no frying involved here, just grilling. (And maybe some pre-simmering).

The term “brat fry” originated in Wisconsin, BTW—where bratwurst is one of the major food groups.