Veggie Burger and Fries

So here’s the thing about veggie burgers. They’re not great. Just as a general rule: even the highest quality, truffle infused, butter brushed, created by gastronomic geniuses who have taken their studies of cuisine down to the molecular level vegetarian burger will pale in comparison to the most basic frying pan beef patty. That’s the name of the game. Burgers are just meant to be meat. However; if you (like me) want a burger-adjacent vegetarian option-I’m going to show you a fantastic runner up. Forget about bean burgers; people chase after the perfect bean patty because it’s the closest texture wise to ground beef, but at best they end up tasting like, well, beans – and at worst the taste like salty dirt. What we need to do is make something that will taste great and forget about the rest. Flavor is king, everything else comes second. Mushrooms are a great option (just imagine a nice, fat slab of portobello on a bun) but they can be a non-starter for some picky eaters. Instead, for this burger I’ll be using eggplant steaks. Smokey, creamy, with an umami tang that rivals the meatiest of burgers, this vegetarian option will make you forget the taste of a beef burger – almost.

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White Bean Ravioli

There’s something inherently pleasing about eating ravioli. Talk about the texture, that soft pop as you break through the skin of pasta and reach an explosive filling. Or the distinct, two-tone flavor. Just as you’re starting to enjoy the childhood simplicity of buttered noodles – oh, you heard me, I serve these with butter – SNAP! The whole thing tears open and an avalanche of filling bursts forth. To everyone who takes more than one bite to eat ravioli: you’re doing it wrong. And with a filling like this – creamy ricotta fortified by cannelloni, accented with Parmesan and subtle notes of nutmeg, the whole deal complemented on the opposite side of the pasta wall with butter and a warm, garlicky tomato sauce – there’s no better surprise and few things more enjoyably edible.

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This Recipe is Capr-easy

So, I did a dumb thing. Less than intelligent. I decided to try my hand at starting a weekly blog in the same year that my fiance and I were planning our wedding. In the weeks leading up to it, the deluge of “this needs to get done or else” got me a little off track. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of the phrase “like herding cats,” but this was a little closer to planning, outlining, and executing a number of seminars designed to train cats to herd even more rambunctious, anarchic, “why do we need to get our suit jackets now, when we can wait till the week before the wedding when there wont be any time to get them adjusted” kittens. But, after a month off; after Christmas, New Year’s, and a fantastic wedding – I’m back. It’s time to get back into it. New year, same tasty food. I don’t know about you, but after all the Holiday feasting I was dying for something fresh. And nothing quite hits the spot like a Caprese Salad.

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Pasta e Fagioli

Sleet is defined as a semi-crystalline combination of snow and rain that – while distinguishing itself from ice pellets (little droplets of ice that fall to earth like many thousands of aquatic meteorites) or freezing rain (liquid rain so cold that it crystallizes into ice once making contact with the ground) – holds a hallowed place in the Hall of Miserable Precipitation as the worst thing to get trapped in on the commute home. After drying myself of the damp, freezing water that had managed, in my 40 second sprint from the car to the door of my building, to adhere itself to each and every exposed square centimeter of the skin on my hands and face, and then seep its way under my coat and through the cotton protection of my pants; I decided I needed a dish that would wholly counteract the frigid effects of sleet. An “anti-sleet” if you will; a warm, semi-solid stew administered via heaping gulps of rich, tomato broth and fortifying hand cut noodles, spotted here and there with the winking pupils of black-eyed peas. This is my take on Pasta e Fagioli and, whether you find yourself pursued by freezing rain or no, it’s damn delicious.    

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Shortbread Cookies

In truth, I am not particularly skilled when it comes to cookies. To the disappointment and regret of both my and Alexis’ stomachs, I have previously made notoriously bad biscuits (a.k.a cookies if you aren’t British or haven’t, like us, been consuming unhealthy servings of the Great British Baking show). The butter always seeps out and leave a wafer thin biscuit that approaches a caramel crisp. In an attempt to be delectably creative, I have in the past made “salted chocolate” cookies that were, in a word, inedible. However, with Christmas approaching and the urge to churn out adorable, uniform, and decorate-able cookies at an all time high (to tide over Saint Nick on his trip) I went to the kitchen and whipped, shaped, and baked until these came out. They are deliciously buttery, just sweet enough, with an extremely satisfying snap and crumble that the name shortbread demands. 

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Lentils and Spaetzle

Alas, a proper recipe for bagels has eluded me for yet another week. For anyone who has been waiting, I have been making batches with bread flour, but I’m still working out some of the kinks with how I prove my dough and ensure good rise. The attempted bagels are coming out delicious – doughy, chewy, just salty enough – but they are going to have to wait a little while longer.

So, this week I bring you Lentils and Spaetzle. img_0664.jpgGrowing up, this dish would land on the dining room table to great applause and much fanfare. A cheesy, hearty, stomach-filling dish made by European Mountain People (Swiss and Germans) to warm themselves from the inside out. The true beauty of this dish (aside from the cheese) is that it’s essentially buttered noodles and stewed beans – something I think even the most picky of us can get behind. As a former Floridian, the temperature drop here in Memphis made me run to the stove to get everything boiling. This is the kind of dish that fills your kitchen and your house with a warm, foggy perfume. This is the kind of dish that you and your favorite couch blanket can curl up with. Yes, it’s October and the temperature sank only into the fifties, but I’m getting chilly, so this is Lentils and Spaetzle.

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Samosas

The first time I remember eating samosas was in Botswana. IMG_0587There was this Indian restaurant – “Mogul” – down the street from our house and it seemed like we ate there at least once a week. It can’t have been that often, but the more I try to remember, all I can picture is the six of us crowding around a table covered with greens and reds and yellows; Palak Paneer, Tikka Massala, stewed lentils and chickpeas and eggplant; a variegated assembly of curries, rice, and naans. This was prime sharing food – wrestle a naan in half with the sibling next to you and dip it in the same curry pot as everyone else. The only part I could guarantee was mine was a single triangle of fried dough stuffed with potatoes, peas, and onion, and those moments were when and how I fell in love with samosas. All of us around the table sneaking glances at everyone else’s plates through the steam pouring off the top of half eaten samosas, ensuring they had eaten their one and they weren’t coming after mine. Bring a batch of these to the table, and they’ll disappear before you have a chance to sit down.

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