There’s something wonderfully exciting about seeing a recipe that completely changes the way you think about food. This doesn’t mean that the dish has been deconstructed nor has it gone through a molecular-gastronomical transformation. What I’m talking about are modifications to a recipe that give you a new perspective on what that dish can be.
This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I turn into an excited little boy. I read quite a few food blogs and it tends to be where I get my inspiration from. A few weeks ago, stumbling around my favorite sites, I came across a recipe on Sassy Radish (cute name, right) for Asparagus Caesar Salad.
At first glance, I expected this to be a lettuce-based salad with some chopped up asparagus on top. But as I read through the recipe, I realized this was something different. No greens, no croutons. Just the raw asparagus, peeled into ribbons, tossed with a classic Caesar dressing.
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By now I’m sure many of you are aware that Eric and I took a week long trip to Northern California. And, as promised, I’m sharing pictures from our journey… sans photos from our meal at The French Laundry. Instead of talking about each place (we did a lot of boppin’ around), I’m just going to put little labels throughout the post to explain where the photos were taken. We start off in Carmel-by-the-Sea:
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There’s no denying the fact that I’ve missed all of you. This past week was the first time in over a year that I didn’t write a post (thanks again to all of the wonderful bloggers who wrote beautiful guest posts for the site), and it took me a couple of days to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t always have access to Twitter or Facebook or WordPress (where I create all of these entries). I must admit that I didn’t stay away the whole trip (thanks iPhone!), but there were plenty of days where there were long stretches without internet or cell phone service. And, I have to say, I quite enjoyed that time.
But now we’re back, having done our job of eating our way through Northern California. I’ll put up a post later with pictures from our trip, but I do want to prepare those of you who are looking forward to a gallery of shots from our dinner at The French Laundry. Not only did I not take any photos during our meal, but I didn’t even bring my camera with me. And I’m so glad I didn’t. My time with my husband, and the incredibly memorable meal that we shared together, can’t be captured in a picture. No photograph could ever do it justice.
Coming back from vacation can be a bit jarring. I particularly miss the long, leisurely breakfasts Eric and I would have together, gorging on baked goods and sipping coffee. But just because we’re back to reality doesn’t mean we can’t find time for such simple pleasures as a relaxing weekend morning breakfast. And there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a stack of plump blueberry pancakes.
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In a little over a month, I will be attending what will probably be my one and only food blogger conference this year. In actuality, the Big Summer Potluck is less of a conference and more of a gathering of very enthusiastic foodies. I didn’t attend last year, but from what I gather from everyone’s accounts of the event, it was a fantastic experience; filled with lots of food, wonderful seminars and loads of laughter. Does it get much better than that?
Here’s the thing, though: I hadn’t planned on attending this year. But as I watched the tickets for the event sell rather rapidly, I just had to jump on the opportunity. One of my big incentives for going (not that I needed much of a push), was the appearance of Debra from Smith Bites on the list. We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, but have expanded that relationship to e-mail chats about a variety of food blogger-related topics. She was also one of the people who was influential in getting me to redesign my site (and take the plunge and switch to WordPress)… and I have to thank her for that.
Debra is a kind soul, someone who is always willing to lend a friend a helping hand. But not only that, she has a wonderful sense of humor and is never disturbed by my somewhat childish antics. And now I’ll leave you in Debra’s hands… who was generous to write this guest post while I finish my travels.
In my community of blogging friends, I’m always amazed at how much these people are like family. We share each other’s ups and downs, troubles and triumphs, and we always seem to be there for each other with a helpful word of advice or just to listen. Oh…and we can always count on a good laugh! Brian is one of these people that I truly love and laugh with. His blog, photography and tweets are the epitome of love, warmth, humor and doggonit people like him!
So when he asked me to guest post, it was a no-brainer. Of course!! So, for Brian I have pulled out this oh-so-easy but delicious Balsamic, Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The Professor and I love to grill pizzas on our Big Green Egg. With the weather finally warming up, recipes like this become a staple for the season. Like all good things Italian (and inspired by a Mario Batali recipe, no less), the ingredients are simple. And like all good Italian pizza, less topping is more. By sparsely layering the ingredients, each flavor in each bite has a chance to shine; in one moment you taste a single ingredient, and in the next bite it’s a perfect symphony of all the flavors. Be still my heart.
While I highly recommend the little cipollini onions for this recipe, you could definitely substitute a sweet onion you have on hand with similar results. For a crispy yet tender crust, it is a good suggestion to par bake the crust before adding the ingredients. Also, if the bottom of the crust gets done first, just put the pizza under the broiler to achieve the golden brown goodness pictured here.
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Before sharing this wonderful (and WAY too flattering) guest post from Merry-Jennifer at The Merry Gourmet, I just wanted to let you all know that MJ is a terribly gifted woman… and, apparently, incredibly modest. As you can see below (and from her blog posts), she’s a talented writer and photographer. And she knows a good recipe when she sees one.…
When Brian asked me if I would consider writing a guest post for this beautiful blog of his, I hesitated for a split second. Would I be able to come up with a recipe worthy of posting on his blog? Will my photography be an embarrassment to him? Will Brian’s readers abandon him like fleas jumping off a dying dog when they realize there is an impostor in his place?
Self-doubt is my sidekick in life, you see. She’s been with me for as long as I can remember. She grabs my attention, forces me to listen to her nagging rants, and gets me all freaked out, Finally, after she’s had her say, I can then move on with the task at hand. So, let’s move on, shall we?
Brian’s recipes always catch my attention. The recipes he shares are always approachable, yet there is an elegance to them, and his food photography is part of what creates that feeling. And, while I can’t quite do what he does with photography, our style of cooking and baking is very similar. I’m positive we’d get along famously at a dinner party.
The recipe I’m sharing with you is one that I love, and one that I’m almost certain Brian will love as well – Pistachio Cherry Icebox Cookies. I’ve been a longtime fan of icebox cookies for their endless possibilities of flavors, the use of straightforward ingredients, and for their ease of preparation. Every year I bake several batches of these fruitcake icebox cookies, and I’m always asked to bake more when they’re gone. These Pistachio Cherry Icebox Cookies are a little more refined, more grown up. Their flavor is more sophisticated and complex, with a fine balance of sweet and salty.
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Can I ask you a question? I’m not sure if you have an answer or not but I’m really trying to wrap my head around this. All I need to know is: where did our spring go? At one moment it was frigid and snowy, then frigid and rainy… and then sunny and 80 degrees. I don’t do well with extreme temperatures and, despite being fed up with the chilly, wet weather, I was not prepared to be slammed by such a shift.
It didn’t really hit me until we were on the Cape this weekend and I looked around the yard. Now, normally, the weather is a bit unpredictable this time of year. You never know if it’ll be one of those nasty, gloomy, sit in your house and watch movies all afternoon kind of days. Or it could be pleasant out… at least enough to not have to wear a long sleeved shirt. But this weekend was like no other. The birds were chirping, the rhododendron were in full bloom; people were boating and swimming and tanning on their decks. Again, I have to ask? How did I miss the shift between winter and summer?
And with this drastic climate change, I’ve somehow managed to completely neglect some of spring’s prime veggies. I never found time to cook with morels before the season came to an end and that has made me very sad. So I’ve been sure not to miss out on one of my very favorite spring treats: fiddleheads.
I can’t really tell you why I adore fiddlehead greens so much. There’s nothing about the flavor that really sticks out. But look at them, in all their curlicue glory! Their shape constantly reminds me of the books I used to read as a child; something out of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A few weeks ago, Eric and I were lucky enough to get a bag of fiddleheads in our CSA box. It was quite the pleasant surprise and as soon as I realized what they were, I immediately got to work thinking about what to do with them. I did my best to resist the urge to make a pasta dish, but, really, I couldn’t. It just seemed like the ideal pairing. Then the question became, what else to add.
When coming up with a recipe, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the possibilities. Sometimes all you need is some guidance. And, so, as I walked home from work one afternoon, I decided to stop off at our favorite local gourmet food store, American Provisions, for some inspiration. Their shelves were stocked with grilled baby artichokes and roasted red peppers and marinated olives. And then I found the ingredient I was looking for: anchovies. Yes, anchovies. Not “eww,” not “gross.” Oily, briny, with that wonderful fishy undertone.
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