Monday, March 18, 2013

Cashew Butter & Bacon Soup {Inspired by Goober Peas & African Groundnut Stews}

This month's Creative Cooking Crew Challenge - hosted as ever by the lovely and talented Joan of Foodalogue and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks - centers around four key ingredients: green apples, bacon, nut butter, and vinegar.  Participants have been tasked with creating any dish they like, using as many or as few ingredients as they please, as long as it  incorporates some version of these four components.

For good or ill, I will cheerfully turn just about anything into soup, and this challenge has done nothing to discourage this propensity of mine. Here I took inspiration from a Southern American dish, goober pea soup, a peanut-based soup eaten by the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  The ancestor of this dish is of course West African groundnut, or peanut stew. Goober is an African word for peanut, an example of the indelible imprint that African ingredients and foods, via the slave trade, made on the cuisine of the American South.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Steak, Pepper & Goat Cheese Crustless Quiche {Brunch, a Plea}

I made a surprising discovery recently while doing some research for my monthly Style recipe column. The concept of brunch, which I had long supposed to be a uniquely American invention, was in fact first mentioned in print 1895 by British author Guy Beringer in the rather melodramatically-titled article "Brunch, A Plea."

He opined, "Instead of England's early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers."

A man after my own heart, this Guy. Naturally, I heartily approve of supplanting the dreary moralizing activity of churchgoing with the life-affirming pursuit of eating, especially when it's undertaken at a civilized hour, like noon. And then there's his wholehearted approval of Saturday night carousing: no puritanical guilt or whiff of self-flagellation for an evening of indulgence here. A laudably healthy attitude.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Cauliflower Risotto Post {It's Just Cooking, After All}

As a professional food writer, food blogger,  and sometime paid cook, I believe people generally expect me to be obsessed with cooking shows in general, and cooking competition shows specifically. And I used to be. Sort of.

My original interest in the genre began before I could fry an egg,  back when I was living in NYC and Bobby Flay had not yet sunk his ginger claws into the Iron Chef franchise. (He was instead busy grilling things and using ancho chiles in everything with Jackie Maloof on Food Network.)