Every so often I write a recipe that completely changes the game for me. A recipe that makes me proclaim to the void and all the gods, old and new that this will be my legacy. And let me tell you, managing to make crispy but oh so tender brussels sprouts that taste like the classic ground beef tacos you had as a kid is that moment.
And the process is simple: just drop the bad boys in the fryer for a few minutes and absolutely coat them with a super easy and basic homemade taco seasoning blend and that’s that on the sprouts. Then to top it all off I find the lemon-lime dip so fun. When you hear lemon-lime it takes you back to thinking about Gatorade, candy, fruit snacks, etc. But in all actuality it packs plenty of zing and coolness from the yogurt to cut through the spicy and semi-charred flavor of the sprouts. Every time I make this I’ll take a sample sprout to see how I did, and then I just keep going and going.
In all fairness I owe a lot of what’s written to my brother, Sean. He’s basically my 24/7 hotline for bouncing recipe ideas off of someone, and getting editing suggestions. Sometimes he’ll even blurt out, “you know what would be cool…,” and then hit me with some nifty idea that I try and work up. This was one of those times.
He threw the idea of putting sambal in arrabiata sauce. For those of you who don’t know arrabiata is a pasta sauce that consists of tomato, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. That’s it. I tried making this with just subbing out the chili for sambal and it was fine, there just wasn’t any magic.
Then I decided to add a couple of flavor friends, fish sauce for salty funk and ginger for extra pep in my step, and the flavor profile felt full and packed with umami.
Honestly there’s not much of a cool story to this. I just randomly got an urge to make a recipe with grapes because I think they’re sorely underused, and somehow thought peanut butter jelly and salad should have a baby.
Honestly how I got there’s a mystery but I’m glad I did. What I did was whip up a peanut dressing with a good hit of acid and a little spice and paired it with grilled chicken and the sweetest grapes I could find.
I ended up with a really cool childhood meets adulthood plate of food that I’m really into. And this is coming from a salad hater. So let’s get into it, yeah?
Ok so in the past I’ve gotten bad about feeling the need to do some intense diet and exercising for the new year. I usually lose weight for a while, but end up feeling restricted, overworked, and not very happy by Summer. Instead for 2020 I’m going with a goal of “happy food.” I aim to cook what’s making me happy in that moment no matter how weird or out of my normal culinary zone it may be. I’m on a new path of chasing after happy dances.
That being said, like many of you this holiday season got me jacked up. Spiked hot cocoa, tons of red meat, and all the latkes I can eat are really cool, but I needed a major reset button to start 2020 feeling fresh and clean.
One of my favorite things to have in the morning is a huge mug of matcha to get me perked up and ready to go, which was the jump off point of this dish. The surrealistic pondscape consists of some of my favorite clean flavors: salmon, cucumber, nori, roe, and dashi. The effect is a really cool combination of oceany flavors from the fish and dashi with the earthiness of matcha to create something that feels very nature inspired.
Even though we’re in the middle of winter the lightness and freshness of this dish can’t help but make me feel like spring is around the corner. Another cool perk is it can be served at any temperature and still work.
Picture it: Belton 2001. One day when the Marshall Primary School menu for the next week was released everyone’s attention was immediately captured by something we never heard of, bird dogs. None of the other kids knew what it was, and to add insult to injury none of the adults did either. Not even the lunch ladies!
What we got was a total game changer. Bird dogs consist of chicken fingers, bacon, honey mustard, and cheddar tucked into a hot dog bun. When I explain it to people who never lived in Anderson county, South Carolina they never seemed to get it, but honestly it’s so perfect. Somehow the hotdog bun proportions are so much more satisfying than the normal chicken sandwich and I will die on that hill.
Clearly I’m not the only one to think so because these little buns of glory became a cultural icon in my hometown. They worked their way into mom and pop restaurants, sleepovers, and I even went to a banquet where they were served!
If you ever wanted a super obscure southern dish that you can’t even find on Google that doubles as stoner food then look no further! I mean come on, look at that!
Somehow, despite it being mid October we don’t have fall yet. To say I’m salty is a massive understatement. To bridge the gap between this weird fall one day summer the next weather I wanted to combine flavors that to me are quintessential to each season.
In the summer seafood is my favorite thing to make, and I’ve been on a huge salmon kick due to the health benefits. And then in the fall I’m all about decadent soups and curry. Then of course you have corn which is an ingredient that belongs to both seasons.
It may seem like a weird combo but it actually really works. I love the flavor of curry and salmon together, and then the corn adds nice little pops of sweet freshness.
Sometimes life provides you with serendipity. On my blog’s Instagram page I posted a poll asking if my next post should be something healthy or naughty. Turns out about 70% of people wanted to see something decadent. Right after I posted this it was time to start planning what to make for the Fourth of July. And maybe it’s obvious, but a kickass burger felt like the only way to go.
To me Juicy Lucy’s are a special burger because it’s like the savory version of a Hostess cupcake and its hunt for the cream filling. But instead of chocolate and cream we have meat and cheese, and I’m not the slightest bit mad at that. Topped off with homemade pickles and a honey dijonnaise we have the perfect bite of meaty, cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and tangy. For a burger that creates a full on sensory experience look no further. Continue reading “Juicy Lucy”→
You ever look at something and think, “why can’t you be pizza?” That’s essentially what happened with this dish. I wanted to take a classic French-inspired cheese course and make it a little more fun and approachable.
I topped the pizza crust off with caramelized shallots and thyme, mozzarella, boursin, brie, chèvre, and a rosemary red wine reduction. The end result was creamy, tangy, fun enough to go back for more, and fancy enough to make you feel like wearing a monocle. This would make a killer appetizer for a dinner or cocktail party. Continue reading “Cheese Course Pizza”→
On my list of ultimate comfort foods French onion soup is preeeeetty high up. Every time I see it on a menu I have to get it. If it were possible to be a French onion soup sommelier you could expect to see a blue checkmark next to my name.
While time consuming, making a good broth is simple enough, so to step my game up I went to the most often overlooked part of the preparation, the bread. While a baguette does a marvelous job of soaking up the soup I thought homemade garlic bread croutons would be the perfect opportunity to inject a little more flavor into the soup. And between the gruyere on top, the sweet and savory onion soup, and buttery garlic bread the soup almost has a, and bear with me here, juicy mouthfeel. Yes I’m aware soup is liquid and so is juice, and yes I used the term mouthfeel. It’s just so many things bursting at once you can’t help but want more.
There’s something so magical about Halloween. From watching Hocus Pocus, to gorging on sweets it really is one of my favorite times of year. For this Halloween I wanted to come up with a dark and spooky dish to fit the season.
One ingredient came to mind, squid ink. Squid ink has become a really exciting ingredient for me. I’ve had it in nicer restaurants and enjoyed it. And of course we can’t forget my pasta for goths recipe that stars squid ink pasta. Squid ink gives a beautiful briny, ocean-like flavor to whatever you add it to. Squid ink used to be a hard to find luxury ingredient, but we live in the age of the internet and you can easily find it online.