As you know, I love pesto. It’s so easy and fresh and works with a lot of different foods. I recently heard about the concept of a pesto based on radicchio, the bitter red lettuce related to endive. While I was skeptical, I do like radicchio and have found it to be surprisingly pleasant in the right circumstances, so I decided to try it out with pasta, adding a quickly sautéed shrimp for some added protein.
As I’ve said before, when I get bored, I bake. Since it’s usually a spur of the moment thing and all I really want is a sweet diversion, I try to take it as an opportunity to test out a new recipe, rather than just make the same old chocolate chip cookies. This time, I decided to try to COMBINE two of my favorite types of cookies, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter, into a beautiful marriage that would taste something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These would be great with raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries, but don’t skip the peanuts – they really give that crunchy peanut butter taste! Also, a note about the instruction to hit the pan on the counter halfway through baking: I didn’t make this up but I hoped it would help with chewiness. To hear about the origins, see this New York Times Cooking article.
My favorite thing about tacos is the toppings. They often have all of the flavor and texture anyway – who needs meat? But sometimes, it would be nice to have a filling that is good for the environment but also protein packed to make the meal feel hearty. I’ve been inspired by my vegan sister to eat more tofu recently. Here I used the tofu crumble method from blogger It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken to make something approximating ground meat, then COMBINED it with one of my favorite taco recipes from EmilyC on Food52. It’s crucial to be patient with this method to make sure the tofu is dried out enough that it gains the texture of cooked meat.
I love stratas for their versatility, which makes them a great base for innovation. Here, I ADAPTED my classic shrimp and grits recipe to the strata format, making sure to get all the key flavors in there – shrimp, sausage, tomato, and even grits. I added in some kale to up the nutrition of the dish, and presto, a dish that feels totally new and yet totally comfortable!
Risotto is so tasty, hearty, and versatile; I can’t believe I haven’t done a risotto recipe on here yet! For this version, I knew I wanted to do risotto, but I didn’t know what I wanted to put in it. So I did what I usually do – I went to Haymarket (my local “farmers”/produce market), looked around, and saw what struck my fancy. This time, what hit me in the face was the number of fresh figs everywhere! It turns out it’s fig season, and even though I’ve never had fig risotto, I knew figs go great with cheese, which is also often in risotto, so I thought I’d give it a try. To go with the roasted figs I chose another roasted vegetable, then added spices, sherry, and almonds on the recommendation of my Flavor Bible.
Before the summer is truly over, I wanted to make a dessert that celebrated some of my favorite fruits of the season. My mom had recently tried the Peach Upside-Down Cake from NYT Cooking, which was good, but I wanted something with more fruit, that paired the peaches with almond to make a more complexly flavored cake. To do this, the RATIOS of the ingredients were crucial and I relied heavily on knowledge from sources across the internet. Almond flour is not the same as wheat flour and combined with almond paste it can really weigh the cake down. I needed enough egg whites (instead of whole eggs) to provide lift. I also wanted to use buttermilk for lift and moisture, but I had to compensate for the added acidity by replacing some of the baking powder with baking soda. Overall, I was very pleased with the result!
I’ve made a number of burgers in my time, but I’ve never made a black bean burger. I always thought of them as very dry and crumbly, and tasting primarily of beans, which didn’t appeal to me. But then recently I’ve had some black bean burgers out at restaurants that were quite good. And since I’ve been trying to eat less meat I decided to give it a go. But since I have no experience making these burgers, I turned to the internet and relied on the RATIOS in a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I usually use her site for sweets, but she promised these would work out so… To make it my own, I went with Moroccan flavors.