Jerusalem Artichokes Pasta & A Kumquat Bourbon Sour

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jerusalem Artichokes Pasta
It's been a fun filled three weeks over here. We flew to New York to meet my parents coming in from France and toured the city with them before we all went back to Birmingham. My godmother, her brother and husband flew in shortly after for my 40th birthday. We made them discover the best of what Birmingham and Northern Alabama had to offer and we barely made a dent in all the wonderful things we wanted them to see. I think they were quite surprised (as were we when we first got here) at all there is to do and visit down here. I'm telling you, this state is a diamond in the rough, yet to be discovered. They flew back home but my parents are still with us for another two weeks.

After a short visit to our hometown of Charleston for Memorial Day and a quick stay with my in-laws we are all back here enjoying some downtime. I say hometown because even if I am an expat, Charleston had been my home for 16 years prior to moving to Birmingham and it is truly my husband's hometown. There are roots there. Friends, stones, landmarks, a house we build ourselves, cobblestone streets we like to walk, trees we kissed under and waters we navigated.

sunchoke pasta Blog 3
Home is where we make memories. We have the luxury of being able to do so in two cities. At different paces, we different friends. We love the lush surroundings and neighborhood feel of Birmingham just as we long for the marshland and Spanish moss of the Lowcountry. We love the drive to South Carolina as much as we appreciate coming home to Birmingham. Both towns are ever changing and adapting at different paces and different ways. Friendships remain in one while some are cultivated in the other.

After some weeks traveling to and from, here and there and back again, we like nothing than the normalcy of cooking something simple that most at our dinner table will appreciate. It is still pretty easy to find some fall-ish produce around here. The Spring and Summer produce has had a late start due to the weather although I am noticing things are kicking into full gear finally at the farmers' market. Jerusalem artichokes and kumquats are still available and still spot on tasty. That's a treat for those of us who like them a whole lot!

At the end of  a long day spent in a car sightseeing, shopping, meandering about town and state, I like to make a flavorful and easy pasta dish. Something that I can cook while enjoying a cocktail and more conversations with my guests. Enters this rendition of a pasta dish suggested by Nigel Slater in his "Tender" cookbook. Sautee the Jerusalem artichokes in oilve oil and garlic while you boil the pasta, garnish with a squeeze of lemon and parsley and serve. Voila. Easy. Serve with some extra freshly cracked pepper and freshly grated parmesan and your're set.

Kumquat Bourbon Sour Blog
I did mention to prep this dish while sipping on a cocktail, didn't I?! A while back, when friend and food stylist Nathan came over to play at my home studio, we made a lovely Kumquat Bourbon Sour cocktail that I have been able to replicate during some hot semi-feeling summer days. It couldn't be any easier and any tastier. This ones comes the bar at the Hot & Hot Fish Club here in Birmingham Al. Beware. It is easy to prep and easy to drink!

For us, a home is where we able to have friends come and enjoy a good meal, share their worries and stories. A place where the traveler in miles or life can come and feel welcomed and loved. That's what we hope we are providing for those who cross our paths.

Mexican Feast To Be Shared With Friends

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Mexican Fiesta Table
I rarely think about doing holiday posts, well maybe except for Christmas or New Year and it wasn't until last week that I was editing these pictures that I realized I was going to post close or on Cinco de Mayo. However, holiday aside, this is a feast with friends I would do over in a heartbeat!
 
Pork Tacos
Nathan and I got together for another Sunday Play Day in the kitchen and behind the camera. Our idea was to cook and shoot a big feast, a meal that we would both serve to friends or cook with them. I can't recall how we got to the Mexican theme however but sure is pretty fitting now! 

Mojo marinated pork skewers in soft corn taco shells, salsa verde, pico de gallo, grilled baby onions, spicy pickled veggies, elote, rice and beans, grilled nopales were on the menu!
 
Elote
What I love about this meal is that each part comes together rather quickly even with its multicomponent aspect. Some elements can be bough ahead of time instead of trying to make them yourselves. For example, the soft tacos that we ended up grilling, as well as the chicharrones, were purchased at a local Mexican market, along with the tortilla chips and spicy pickled vegetables.
 
Watermelon Margarita
We got caught up in the festive mood of our shoot and added a Watermelon Margarita cocktail at the last minute. It was actually really nice to have an afternoon of nibbling and sipping cocktails while shooting and creating images with the light, colors and composition that we wanted. I think all of our play days so far have included a cocktail and we don't plan on changing that!! 

Cinco de Mayo or not, this Mexican orientated spread will make an an appearance many times over on my table this summer. Round up the meal with the flourless chocolate cake I posted recently and you are sure to make people belly happy!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake With A Twist.

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Monday, April 20, 2015


Flourless Chocolate Cake
There are times you just want chocolate. Easter Sunday for example. I know it's already bee a couple of weeks since then but I still think about chocolate. And cake.

You say Easter and it generates something of a Pavlov response in me. Easter meant roasted leg of lamb, green beans with lots of garlic, new potatoes and chocolate in my family. It also seemed to be my grandmother's favorite holiday, after Christmas. To this day, I still can remember the decorative chick and chickadees she would put in the middle of the table. The menu very rarely changed one year to the next and everyone would flock my grandparents' house for a long, well wined dinner.
    
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Finding myself away from my family, near and far, this time last weekend left me with the urgency to gather some friends around and do something that would nourish my soul. Day to day routine can be heavy at times, often actually. I like certain routines but lately my husband is on a on and off calendar. His family is going through some pretty serious health issues at the moment and he spends one week with us here in Birmingham and one week back in Charleston. I didn't care much for being alone with one pup on Easter weekend...
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Don't get me wrong, I can always find a movie to go see, a new restaurant to try, a recipe I've been meaning to develop or try from a new book or blog. But what could be more fun than doing it with friends? A couple of weekends ago, I gathered a couple of friends and we played in the kitchen pretty much all day. We picked a Mexican themed fiesta with lots and lots of dishes to be shared with friends, alongside a cold beer and a few good stories. Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner after all...

Oh did we cook! Stay tuned for more recipes and photos in the coming weeks!
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
There are so many fun recipes and shots from that day that I really don't know where to start but I think a little chocolate can do everyone some good. In doubt, always start with dessert... This cake is completely flourless and a snap to make. It is from Martha Stewart and was my go-to recipe in my pastry chef days because it didn't require too many ingredients, thus very easy to remember. Served with salted butter caramel sauce.

Because chocolate and caramel go together like blue skies and sunshine. I added a bit of cinnamon and black pepper (yes) to add some kick to it and end our Mexican night on a lovely note.
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake Smash Up
We made two cakes, two different recipes, and one wouldn't unmold well so we decided to just dig in. A dollop of creme fraiche (or many), a few spoons and plenty of laughs and we were in business!

Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Bun Tom Heo Nuong
There are days when all I want to do for dinner is throw together a big bowl of something, plop down in front of a good movie and slowly enjoy the rest of the day. I tend to do that most often when my husband is out of town or playing music late. It can be a big salad of farro and roasted veggie with a little salmon on top, fried rice with an egg on top, or a simple kale caesar salad with a tartine.

I often go for Middle Eastern or Asian seasonings and inspiration. Sometimes not. There are no rule, just a little balance of veggies, starch and protein. And always extra veggies and sauce or spices. On the day that food stylist Nathan Carrabba got together and make that sunchoke soup and tartine I posted recently, we also made and shot this incredibly satisfying Vietnamese BBQ Shrimp Noodle Bowl (Bun Tom Heo Nuong). He is my partner in crime in anything Asian and pickled. We both love all the flavors of Vietnamese and Thai cooking in particular. 

After a long and fun day shooting, nothing made me happier than diving in this lovely bowl bursting with fresh and comforting flavors. 

Kumquat Buttermilk Panna Cotta

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Kumquat Panna Cotta
If we've hung out together before, you then know that there is not a dessert I do not like. Crunchy, melty, elaborate, simple, fruity, chocolate,...I like desserts. However, I have noticed as I grow older that I have more of a savory tooth than a sweet one while I still love to bake and make ice creams or confections for friends and gift giving. A simple fruit satisfies my sweet tooth. Oh wait. I did do a number on that chocolate bar in the test kitchen at work today. Never mind...!

Still, give me a good piece of cheese and that is my dessert. I do however have a particular affinity for panna cotta. It's creamy, soft, can be flavored or plain, topped or layered. There are so many possibilities on a simple panna cotta recipes as there are recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Variations are as endless as your creativity and desire to play.
 
Kumquat Panna Cotta
I found myself with an abundance of kumquats and not enough days to eat them before they'd go bad. I like to snack on them raw as I edit pictures or catch up on emails after work but I had simply too many on my hands at this point! With my husband out of town, I didn't really feel like baking or doing something complicated with them. A panna cotta seemed like a simple and super satisfying dessert. 

Infusing the cream and buttermilk for the panna cotta with pureed kumquats gave a whisper of citrus to the cream while fresh slices of the fruit on top providing that little pucker I was looking for. Perfectly light and creamy. And decadent...
 
Kumquat Panna Cotta


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