Since having our baby girl, we realized that having friends and family over for dinner is a little more difficult than it once was. We love cooking and hosting, but given that she goes to bed in the 6 o’clock hour and lets be honest, most people are coming over to see her and not us anyway, dinners just weren’t that convenient. Instead of giving up, we decided to start having people over for brunch! Everyone loves brunch ,and the baby is super friendly and cute in the mornings! We call our brunches “Hedgehog Brunch,” because the baby’s nickname is Hedgehog. (Side note, I think that’s how we’ll start referring to her on here, since “the baby” is a little generic. We’re not comfortable sharing her name and face with the wild, wild west of the whole internet.)
And no, these Sour Beets are not on our brunch menu. That usually consists of Selim’s biscuits (recipe forthcoming…), fruit, sausage and/or bacon, and eggs. But because we eat such a big brunch in the late morning, we’re frequently not that hungry at dinnertime on those nights. We usually just want something lighter and frequently just eat some vegetables for dinner. Hence our dinner tonight of this beet dish! This recipe comes from February’s Cookbook Club selection – Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, by Toni Tipton-Martin. This book is beautiful and educates the reader about African American culinary influence, a legacy that is often overlooked. I thought this particular recipe would be a great place to start because Selim loves beets, but only tolerates vinegar, while I love vinegar and only tolerate beets! Perfect right? As we were eating, Selim deemed this “hot beet slaw,” which is exactly what it is! He didn’t love it (too vinegary), but I really enjoyed it! We also thought next time we might add some carrots too.
(Adapted from Jubilee, by Toni Tipton-Martin)
2 tsp neutral oil
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large beet or 2 medium beets, cut into matchsticks (~3 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced to similar thickness as the beets
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Season with a few turns of black pepper.
Add the beets to the pan, stirring to combine with other ingredients. Cook for just another 1 minute.
Then add the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to so the liquid is simmering. Cook like this for 15 minutes. (If you like your beets a little softer, go for 20 minutes.)
Remove the lid, add the apples, and cook at a vigorous simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until a lot of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are your desired texture!
Stir in the lemon zest and juice prior to serving. Adjust salt and pepper if need be.
Tonight’s recipe is our second effort from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. Our first attempt was the super unique Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles, which we loved! I love all things carbs, so a dish of not one, but two types of potatoes is right up my ally. We enjoyed cooking with curry leaves for the first time – so fresh and almost citrus-y! We got to explore a nearby Indian grocery a little more for some of these ingredients too, so that was fun! I expected this dish to be a little spicier (that’s what I think when I hear “vinadloo”), but it only has a mild spice to it. It is very spicED, but not spicY. So this lead me to research vindaloo a little bit. Turns out that ‘vindaloo’ comes from the Portuguese ‘carne de vinha d’alhos,’ which translates to ‘meat in garlic wine.’ This was a dish eaten by Portuguese sailors on the voyage to India because the meat was preserved. In India, the wine was replaced with vinegar, spices were added, and the name evolved to ‘vindaloo.’ So cool! I love the history of food!
We enjoyed this as a side dish (with scallops, so probably not a super common pairing 😂), but certainly it is meant to be a vegetarian main dish.
(Adapted from Plenty by Ottolenghi)
2 tbsp neutral oil
2 shallots, diced
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp paprika
2 cinnamon sticks
1 dried red chilli
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or chopped
25 fresh curry leaves
3 medium tomatoes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large red bell pepper
1 large Russet potato, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
Heat the oil in a large heavy pan or a dutch oven. Cook the shallots, mustard seeds, and fenugreek over medium-high heat, for 4-5 minutes, until shallots are browned and seeds are popping.
Add the next nine ingredients (spices through curry leaves) and cook for another 3 minutes.
While those are cooking, blitz the tomatoes in a food processor. Next, add the tomatoes, along with the vinegar, stock, sugar, and salt to the dish. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and peppers and continue cooking at a simmer, covered, for 45 minutes (or more, until potatoes are tender).
Once the potatoes are tender, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes so the sauce thickens.
Remove the chili pepper and cinnamon sticks. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.
Tonight we made our second recipe from October’s cookbook club selection – Indian-ish! Participating in the cookbook club has already expanded our cooking horizons and we’ve only been doing it for about 6 weeks. The first one this month was Indian-ish Chicken Breasts. We tweaked this recipe a little, but the Indian(ish) flavors are definitely still there. This side dish is definitely spicy and full of flavor. It was close to being too spicy for me, so if spice is intimidating, maybe cut down to one serrano pepper or eliminate altogether. We also cooked with chaat masala for the first time here, which is always fun! We love trying new (to us) ingredients! Selim grew up eating a lot of Indian food, but I didn’t so these were different flavors for me especially. Side note, the original recipe called for topping the potatoes with fresh chopped cilantro. We (cough, Selim) may or may not have accidentally bought parsley instead of cilantro, but we think it’s probably great here, so we left it in the recipe even though we didn’t taste it that way.*
Chaat Masala Smashed Potatoes
(Adapted from Indian-ish)
1 lb baby red potatoes
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp minced/grated fresh ginger
1/2 small onion, diced
2 Serrano peppers, diced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp chaat masala
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped*
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake potatoes on a cookie sheet for ~45 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. After dicing the pepper and onion, place them in a bowl and cover with the vinegar to macerate for at least 15 minutes.
Once cooked, pierce each potato with a knife and then smash each with the back of a large utensil.
Top the potatoes with a sprinkle of salt, then a dollop of yogurt on each potato, and evenly divided portions of the ginger, peppers, and onions. Then sprinkle with the chaat masala and generously top with cilantro.
I’ve had this idea for a risotto with dill and goat cheese to yield a dish with a rich and creamy texture like a normal risotto, but with a tangy, less heavy flavor. This is one of the best things about risotto in my opinion – it’s one of those kitchen sink dishes that can be modified in pretty much any way. A blank canvas! We’ve gone several different ways with risotto on the blog before – Risotto Recipes! This is the most in depth dish I’ve made since the baby was born. Baby-wearing is life-saving, let me tell you! Makes chopping a little awkward, but we’re getting it done! I personally think this recipe is better as a side dish than an entree. The flavors are pretty bold to eat a heaping serving and there’s also the lack of vegetables or protein in the dish. Side note, the color of my risotto is due to the richly colored vegetable stock that we use, not an additional secret ingredient it looks like we might have left off the ingredient list.
Dill & Goat Cheese Risotto
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4+ cups chicken or vegetable stock
6oz goat cheese
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
Salt & pepper
Place 2 tbsp butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions to the pan. Season with 1/2 tsp of salt and a few turns of black pepper. Stir to coat in the butter and then cover and sweat for 3 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the garlic. Cook another 6-8 minutes. Garlic and onions should be soft and fragrant.
Pour the arborio rice in with the onions and garlic. Toast for just 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t burn.
Meanwhile, heat the stock. You can either keep the stock in a small pot on low on an adjacent burner or microwave it.
Now add the wine. Lower heat of the burner to medium-low
. Cook stirring almost continuously, until all of the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
Now add the warm stock, one ladle-full at a time. Continue stirring until all the stock is absorbed. Repeat this pattern until the rice is softened, but still slightly al dente. [This will take at least 30-45 minutes.]
Add the goat cheese and stir in thoroughly.
Continue adding ladles of stock until rice is fully cooked. With the last ladle-full, add the dill and remaining tablespoon of butter. Remove from heat and stir until well-combined.
Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
There are some dishes that just scream a certain season to me. A big pot of chili or anything involving a gourd in the fall. Hearty, meat-heavy dishes that are roasted or stewed or crockpot-ed in the winter. But summer… Probably the most seasonally iconic dishes are summer ones! There are just so many – burgers on the grill, corn on the cob, popsicles, salads topped with fruit, triangles of juicy watermelon, and a newspaper-covered picnic table with Old Bay seasoned whole crabs piled on top! Right up there at the top of the summer food list is caprese salad. Fresh, cool, and best with ripe summer tomatoes, caprese salad is definitely quintessential summer fare. So today when coming up with this dish, I thought that the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil of a caprese salad would make for an interesting summery twist on Mac n cheese!
We have a caveat to our post today though. Neither of us actually ate this dish. I made it for our friends who just had a new baby! They swear it was good, so we’ll just have to take their word for it. Relatedly, the base Mac & cheese recipe here (also the base for Goat Mac), is a great option if you want to make something ahead to bring to someone! You can make it up until the last baking part and then whomever you bring it to can bake it for the appropriate length of time later (which you may need to increase by 10 minutes or so from the immediate baking time as below).
Summer Mac n Cheese
3 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup AP flour
5 cups dry small pasta (penne, farfalle, elbows, etc)
16oz mozzarella cheese
Salt & pepper
~10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pre-heat the oven 400 degrees.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat until very lightly simmering. Meanwhile, bring a large pot over water to a boil.
Once the large pot of water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In another saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. When the butter has melted, begin to slowly whisk in the flour. When the flour is absorbed, remove the pan from the heat.
Meanwhile, place the grape tomatoes in a bowl and toss them with the olive oil, 3 chopped basil leaves, and salt & pepper.
Roast them on a small sheet pan for ~15 minutes, until they are just starting to wrinkle and split. Remove from the oven.
Moving back to the stove, slowly whisk all of the milk into the mixture. (It will initially get incredibly thick, then begin to thin out.)
When all of the milk has been added, return the pot to medium heat and whisk continuously for ~3 minutes.
Now add in the cheese and continue whisking.
When sauce has come together, combine the sauce with the pasta and place in baking dish. Top with the tomatoes and remaining basil.
Bake for just an additional 10 minutes, so it all firms up.
Happy March! We hope this will be a great month for everyone. We’re really excited about March, because we closed on our house on the first! We’ve spent much of this weekend over at the new house, planning our renovations, picking colors, and generally being proud homeowners! We made these potatoes when we got home to accompany some meatloaf. They’re so easy – perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. The cooking time is about an hour, but your hands-on time is less than 10 minutes! Easy to put together, with just a few ingredients, and delicious! What else can you ask for??
2 Russet potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp truffle oil
1 tsp truffle salt
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
10+ turns fresh black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice potatoes fairly thinly.
Stir together the oils, salt, garlic, onion, and black pepper. Toss the potato slices with the oil mixture.
Stack the potato slices horizontally in a glass baking dish and roast for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Return for just another 2 minutes to melt the cheese.
Growing up, when we were having a special treat or the whole extended family was together, my grandmother would make us her ‘sticky buns.’ Now that she has passed away, my mom thankfully has taken on the responsibility of the sticky bun making! It was only after I was probably in my mid-20s that I realized what we called Grandmom’s sticky buns was what most people call monkey bread. You know what I’m talking about… those sweet, sugary, pull-apart balls of doughy deliciousness that taste of cinnamon and frequently have chopped nuts attached! (This is a point of contention in my family – nuts or no nuts?! The two parties are bitterly divided and therefore Grandmom and Mom make one dish with and one dish without the nuts. I’m on Team Nuts, for the record.) As I was writing this post, I decided to look up the history of monkey bread. Fun facts for your bank of useless knowledge:
Monkey bread was termed such because we eat it using our fingers, pulling apart each chunk, which was thought to mimic the way monkeys eat.
Alternative names include: monkey puzzle bread, sticky bread (I guess this is where we got our sticky buns moniker!), pinch-me cake, bubble bread, and Hungarian coffee cake.
The origin of this treat is probably the Hungarian-Jewish arany galuska, brought to this country by Eastern European immigrants in the late 1800s.
American monkey bread differs from arany galuska as each dough ball is dipped in butter, which was not part of the original recipe.
So there you have it – more knowledge than you ever knew you needed about monkey bread! Now this version is a savory adaptation of the sweet breakfast tradition. The base concept is the same; dough balls, dipped in the butter, stacked haphazardly prior to baking, and eaten pulled apart with fingers. While I love the original, this cheesy, herby version is amazing! It’s an amazing alternative to regular bread to accompany dinner, but it definitely would still work as a breakfast dish.
Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread
(Adapted from Home Skillet, by Robin Donovan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted & divided
1 cup warm milk
1/3 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
3 1/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups Asiago cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
3 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp of melted butter, milk, and water. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Let the mixture sit for ~10 minutes, until frothy.
Stir in the flour and salt. As it comes together, switch to kneading the dough with your hands. Once you have a dough ball, place it in a clean bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the two cheese in another bowl. Remove 1/2 cup to another small bowl.
Add the garlic and herbs to the main bowl and toss together.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until roughly 1/8th inch thick. Spread the cheese mixture onto half of the dough and then fold the other half over top.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into small squares. Roll each square into a ball.
Using the remaining melted butter, brush butter on all surfaces of your cast iron skillet. Then dunk each ball into the butter prior to placing in the skillet. Layer the balls across the bottom of the skillet and then stack into further layers as needed.
Sprinkle the dough balls with the reserved cheese.
Bake for 40 minutes in the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes prior to eating. Run a knife around the edges and then flip the skillet over onto your serving platter.