Saturday, July 14, 2018

French Potato Salad

I've come a long way baby.

Let me explain.  Growing up, I had a very loose, slightly on, mostly off, relationship with potato salad.  And considering that most of the potato salad I came across at family meals, barbecue's, cookouts, and the like, contained their fair share of mayonnaise, I was simply not a fan.

It's never easy to convey why you don't take to a particular food--especially when it seems that most you know and come across are fans.  But there I was--the girl, now woman, with a distinct disdain for this favorite dish and its main dressing.  However, I'm fortunate that as my natural development continued, so did my palate's evolution, and I ultimately came to like--not love--traditional potato salad.  Nothing major, but I could handle a serving or two a few times a year.

And then I was given the gift of discovering what seemed to be a recipe created just for me and my fellow non-mayo cohorts: an herb-y, vinaigrette tossed, and beyond delicious, French Potato Salad.  Made of tender red and white potatoes, with accents of fresh herbs, a luscious champagne vinaigrette, and a few other flavorings of white wine, chicken stock and green onions, it's one of my favorite side dishes for any occasion and my definite go-to when I'm on potato salad duty.  It's a lighter, elegant spin on the classic American-style and suits me (and my taste buds) perfectly.

I brought it back to life in my kitchen recently for a family gathering, and let's just say the bowl was empty at the end of our time together (humble brag -:) ).  It serves up beautifully warm or at room temperature, making it extremely versatile and picnic friendly.  Make it for yourself and I'm certain you'll be coming back for more.

Happy Eating!

French Potato Salad >>> Get the recipe here!
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

{Be Inspired!}: Summer Reading

A favorite pastime in my local bookstore
Summer and reading have always been a favorite pair for me.  And if I'm being completely honest, it goes all the way back to my childhood. I fondly remember the times when choosing and checking out library books through the mail, no less, brought as much joy and preoccupation as riding my bike and watching my favorite t.v. shows.  It was almost as if I couldn't read the books, mail them back, and order new ones, fast enough. (I'm still in awe at how amazing my county library system was to put books and the love of reading at our fingertips.)

Then there were the suggested (ahem, mandatory) Summer reading lists that would follow in later years.  And I was still sold and fascinated all the same.  I even managed an "advanced for my age" title or two.  Like the Summer I read Alice Walker's, The Color Purple, at the ripe age of 11 and returned to my 6th grade English class in the new school year ready to do a book report on the work.  I don't recall if that went over well with my teacher, but I'll never forget how glad I was to have the full, robust backdrop of the book when the acclaimed movie was later released.

I could go on and on about the many expressions that my love for books, the written word--poetry, prose, history, literature, everything--and reading have taken over the course of my life, but I'll save those for future posts. :)  For now, suffice it to say that I'm eager to get some new titles under my belt as the season unfolds.

I haven't firmed up my selection yet, but with Summer officially arriving this week, I'm motivated to do so sooner than later.  I recently came across this list of 8 Non-Cookbook Food Books curated by Bon Appetit.  A couple of these titles are definitely piquing my interest, so we'll see where I ultimately land.

And what about you?  Do you enjoy a Summer read, or two, or four?  What's your favorite genre? Author(s)?  I'd love to know what's on your list!

No matter your preference, we can all celebrate the gift of books and...

Happy Reading!




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Monday, April 30, 2018

{Tasting Summer}: 5 Top Summer Food Festivals


Summer, travel and food go together as few things do.  And when you’re talking taking in the myriad food festivals that abound during the Summer season, there never was a more perfect trifecta.  I can attest that there is rarely a more authentic way to take in a destination—whether you have one day, or one week, to spare—than through its local food culture. 

To get you going and plotting your next delicious foray, these top seasonal food festivals from around the country will leave you satiated in more ways than one. 

The Atlanta Food &Wine Festival – when you’re seeking down-home, yet sophisticated, tastes of the South in food and drink, there’s no better place to be.  This perennial favorite brings together the best chefs and food purveyors from across the South for an unforgettable three-day indulgence that will remind you of all the right reasons that life below the Mason-Dixon line is grand. 
(May 31- June 3, 2018; atlfoodandwinefestival.com.)

Austin Ice Cream Festival – If you scream for ice cream, then imagine a one-day food festival dedicated to ice cream and more ice cream!  Test your ice cream eating skills with fun competitions, while feasting on confections from local creameries for the ultimate sweet indulgence. (June 23, 2018; austinicecreamfestival.com.)

Seattle Street Food Festival – Coffee isn’t the only thing Seattle does well.  Try a food festival boasting food trucks, pop-up picnics and more from local emerging chefs! (July 7-8, 2018; seattlestfoodfest.com.)

Taste of Chicago – Arriving on the heels of the 4th of July, the Taste of Chicago offers one more delectable reason to celebrate.  Food lovers convene on this long-standing Midwest favorite, hosted lakefront in Grant Park, and adorned by a magical skyline, to indulge in the best of classic Chicago eats (deep-dish pizza, anyone?) along with nightly live entertainment to keep the good vibes flowing. (July 11-15, 2018; tasteofchicago.us.)

Maine Lobster Festival -- Imagine five days devoted to everything lobster! That's what's in store when you head to the annual Maine Lobster Festival. With fun and feasting in high gear, the acclaimed festival centers on celebrating local seafood.   
(August 1-5, 2018; mainelobsterfestival.com.)

Wherever your foodie adventures lead this Summer, you’re sure to find... 

Happy Eating!
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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pretty in Pink: NYC's Pietro Nolita


I discovered Pietro Nolita, the all pink, intimately chic, yet casual, Italian eatery in New York City, on Instagram, amidst all the rave.

So when my travels landed me back in my favorite of cities during the recent Christmas holidays, there was no question that I would be making its acquaintance.  Had I considered its cuisine or food worthiness?  Not really.  Just the fact that it was ALL PINK and a girly girl's dream.

Pietro NoLita's Jewel Box Exterior
And so my plan of action began: decide on the day and time, find something pink to wear...because photos, and paint the town...red pink.  On the last night of my stay, we arrived for an early dinner before heading off to see the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular.  And those who know me best, know that an obligatory photo shoot ensued.  Despite the nightfall and blustery weather, I had to get photos of (and with) the adorable pink exterior before heading inside to settle in.

Once inside, more photos were in order, in between placing our orders and chatting up the staff.  And then there was the food.  Oh yes, food.  The reason you ultimately go out to dinner, no?  Now I was remembering the 'why' behind the 'what' of it all.  And I'm happy to say that my dish (a pan-seared sea bass) was delicious and my return is imminent to take in some of the house pasta.  So see, you really can go for the design thrills and leave satiated and...tickled pink. :)

Make it a place to dine whenever you find yourself in NYC looking for a quaint spot to sip and nosh--and it's okay if you don't want to mimic my all-pink enthusiasm.  I'm certain that you'll be enamored all the same by the cozy space and good eats.

Located in Soho (one of my favorite Manhattan districts), the kitchen opens daily from 11am and goes into the wee hours, serving lunch, brunch, and dinner.  There are no reservations, just loads of atmosphere and...

Happy Eating!

Pietro NoLita
174 Elizabeth Street
New York, New York 10012




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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Butternut Squash Galette

Life has been on the busier side lately, so I've been away longer than usual here on the blog.  And if I had to be away, I'm glad to share that it's been a "good" busy spell.  Some exciting (but admittedly time-infringing) work to produce a second-to-none International Women's Day event on last Friday was fulfilled to my deep satisfaction.  Then there are other areas of my life that have shared my attention and focus like vacation planning (priorities, right?), along with ministry and plain 'ole adulting!


When I finally checked IWD off the list last week, I exhaled and my thoughts soon turned to "what's next" here.   And the what's next is a savory galette that wins all the awards for delicious, elegant, seasonal--and easy--fare!

I was spurred along to finally bake a Butternut Squash Galette (which has been on my baking agenda for the months prior that I've bought and stored butternut squash in my pantry) when Monday's windy spell collided with extra sunshine (translate energy) from the daylight savings turn.  And within the hour, a flaky, rustic vegetable tart--accented with tangy, herbed goat cheese (so good!)--was ready to be consumed.

I normally make a tried and true pastry dough, but because I was eager to crank out this too-long delayed delicacy, I opted for one of my all time favorite shortcuts: puff pastry.  And I have to say, the crispy flakiness has me thinking this was the best move after all.

I sliced my squash in thin rounds for a beautiful layering effect I wanted to achieve, seasoned them with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs de provence and maple syrup, then baked them off to a tender, almost caramelized, doneness.  Then I rolled out my chilled dough, smeared on some goat cheese, layered the squash on top and folded the dough to encircle all the goodness.  A brush of egg wash and sprinkle of flaked sea salt on the dough to finish was all that stood between the tart and the hot oven.

Despite the amazing ease of bringing this dish together, its casual elegance shines through.  It's perfect as a hearty appetizer or served with a side or two for lunch or dinner.

So here's to less busy-ness (for now anyway :) ) and more....

Happy Eating!

Butternut Squash Galette
Ingredients:
1 medium-sized butternut squash
Olive oil
Salt (Kosher and Flaked Sea Salt)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Herbs de Provence
Maple Syrup
Herbed Goat Cheese
1 Puff-Pastry Sheet
1 egg, beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel squash and slice into thin rounds.  Toss squash with oil, kosher salt, pepper, herbs and maple syrup (all ingredients measured to taste.)  Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until cooked and slightly browned.

Remove squash from oven and set aside.  Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F.    

Roll out pastry into a round and smear softened goat cheese in the center, being sure to leave a border.  Layer squash onto pastry and fold edges of pastry up to enclose the ingredients.  Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.  

Place tart on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.  Remove from oven, slice and enjoy! 



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Friday, February 16, 2018

{Be Inspired!}: Kitchen Envy

I am among those who consider the kitchen to be the "heart" of the home.  In my case it relates largely to the fact that much of the gathering, sharing, sustenance and memories stem from moments spent in the kitchen.  And then there's that thing that I have for cooking, baking--and eating. :)

All of that can definitely make it exciting (most days, anyway) to create a space that's true to your personal aesthetic and utility purposes.  Whether you're working with a large area, a galley space, or somewhere in between, kitchen's are magic!  From lighting, to fixtures, appliances, furniture, counter tops, flooring, cookware, art and beyond, there's seemingly no limit to what your space can reflect and inspire.


And speaking of inspiration, I'm constantly feeding my kitchen fantasies with loads of it, like the scenes included here.  If you're looking for even more (and who isn't?!), head over to my Homes/Interiors board on Pinterest for more of everything you love to love.

Happy Inspired Living!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze

History has it that bread pudding's origins date as far back as the 11th century.  And the refusal to waste leftover bread made it into a popular, frugal dish.  Fast forward to more modern times, the late 20th century to be exact, and that's where my personal history with bread pudding began.

I vividly remember the first time I tasted bread pudding.  I was a college freshman being treated to dinner by a Sorority big sister at a lovely local restaurant in our college town.  I'm sure I probably followed her lead in ordering it since I had never had it (and looked up to her immensely).  But that's where the following stopped.  Once I tasted the warm, perfectly spiced and comforting pudding, I knew we'd have a life long love affair.  And if my blog is any indication, you can probably guess how much of a fan I am.

Thinking back to that first taste, Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, I'm thrilled to be recreating a dish that expanded my food horizons all those years ago and remains as a vivid reminder of the friendship and sisterhood that framed my first encounter.

And if that wasn't enough, bread pudding is the quintessential "bang for the buck", wow appeal, minus the requisite heavy lifting, dish that cooks and bakers everywhere love to bring to life.  Not to mention that its roots in frugality still makes it perfect for sharing without breaking the bank.


My version is served warm with a generous drizzle of maple glaze (sorry Bourbon), and perfectly proportioned in individual ramekins hearkening back to that personalized dessert course where we were first introduced. :)

If you're already a fan of this delicacy, then here's more to love.  If you're making it for the first time, I'm confident that, like me, you'll never look back.

Finally, what could make this even more special than including this recipe in the 2018 edition of the Black History Month Virtual Potluck?!  What began as an expose of 28 of the web's top black food bloggers in celebration of Black History Month continues again this year in similar, delicious fashion.  Each day of February will present a new recipe for you to explore and add to your personal repertoire.  See the full lineup following the recipe and be sure to join in on the fun.

Happy Eating!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze
Ingredients:
1 lb. cinnamon raisin bread, cubed into 1 in. pieces
1 quart half-n-half
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing ramekins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting 


Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease individual ramekins and set aside.
Place cubed bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. 
While bread is toasting, whisk together half-n-half, eggs, sugar, melted butter, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add in toasted bread and push with hands to submerge in custard.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
Ladle bread custard into ramekins.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked through (a tester inserted into the center should come out clean.)
Meanwhile, for the maple glaze, whisk together maple syrup and powdered sugar to desired consistency.  Add a few drops of water to loosen, if needed. 
Remove ramekins from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and dust puddings with powdered sugar.  Drizzle with maple glaze, serve and enjoy!

Black History Month Potluck 2018
Beautiful Eats & Things | Turkey Sausage Stuffed Collard Green Wraps
Better With Biscuits | Fresh Corn Pudding
Beyond The Bayou Food Blog | Creole Red Snapper Courtbouillon
Brandi’s Diary | Better than Jiffy Cornbread from Scratch
Butter Be Ready | Southern Style Mac and Cheese
Chef Kenneth | Fried Sweet Potato Hand Pie
Chocolate For Basil | Pilau and Kachumbari (Spiced Rice with Pico)
Cooks with Soul | Braised Short Rib Meatloaf
D.M.R. Fine Foods | Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding with Maple Glaze
Dash of Jazz | Nigerian Jollof Rice
Domestic Dee | Fried Peach Pies
Eat.Drink.Frolic. | Olive Oil Braised Collard Greens
Food Fidelity | Mofongo Relleno (Mashed Plantains with Garlic Shrimp)
Food is Love Made Edible | Buttermilk Biscuits with Fried Chicken and Tabasco Honey
High Heels and Good Meals | Crawfish Etouffee
HomeMadeZagat | Shrimp with Spicy Curry Cream Sauce
Houston Food Fetish | Sweet Almond Tea Cakes
In the Kitchen w/Kmarie | Pineapple Lemonade
Marisa Moore Nutrition | Bourbon Peach Glazed Salmon
Meiko and The Dish | Candied Bourbon Peach Cobbler
My Life Runs On Food | Lentil Soup and Roast Okra
Orchids + Sweet Tea | Carrot and Zucchini Noodles Stir Fry with Shrimp
Raised on Ramen | Orange Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Savory Spicerack | Creamy Seafood Stew
Simply LaKita | Blackberry Cobbler
The Hungry Hutch | Orange Bundt Cake with Vanilla Glaze
The Kitchenista Diaries | Smothered Turkey Wings
The Seasoning Bottle | Honey Turmeric Skillet Chicken
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