Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Using Up All Those Cucumbers

This time of year, piles upon piles of them stare you down and seemingly multiply like Gremlins when you turn your back for a second. Today we're all about cucumbers, and we have a few ideas about how to make an abundance of cukes a more appealing situation this summer.

We have a bunch from our family's Concord Farms sitting on the counter this morning, and we're going to go with quick pickles and maple cucumber lemonade! Check out today's WKNO radio interview with and article for more cucumber dishes you can check off your list this season. Jennifer Chandler, cookbook author and host of The Weekly Dish, was kind enough to ask for our favorite cucumber recipes this week.


(And if you've never made summer salad, you have to try our version!)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thank you, Memphis!

We were overjoyed to see the response to our pop-up restaurant at Iris Etc. today. We had to close up early at 4:00 after running out of most of the dishes by 3:00. Thank you to all who supported us today! We will be working on a recap post with recipes for next week.

Friday, July 10, 2015

TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up: The Prep & Set-Up

Now on to what you can expect on Saturday! Our first pop-up restaurant on 7.11.15 at Iris Etc. (62 S. Cooper in midtown Memphis) is cash only and happens from 11 a.m. until we run out of food. See the menu HERE; everything is $5 so that it's easy to try a bunch of stuff. We hope you can stop by and thought we'd give you some background about the event and let you know what to expect.

Here goes…

When it comes to planning an event, we think about the food first and then start picturing the atmosphere and the way things are going to work. When we throw a party at home, we try to think through what we want the experience to be like for our guests. So for this Saturday's TCV pop-up restaurant, we want the vibe to match the menu: summery, casual, and lighthearted. We lucked out because Iris Etc. is quite a beautiful canvas. We're dreaming of black-and-white gingham, bright flowers, and an inside-outside party set-up. We might even tote our record player to the space and play some old-school country and Memphis classics for you.

Today we wanted to give you a peek at the place so you can look forward to checking it out and enjoying some TCV summer favorites this Saturday. You're going to grab a sushi-style menu, check off what you'd like to order, hand your menu back to the girl (most likely Amy!) behind the desk up front, and hang out with a drink while your food is put together, and then your name is called and your order is handed to you.

We'll have a few seats and tables here and there, but this isn't your usual sit down, order, and converse politely at the table for hours type of thing; it's more like a food truck experience. You get to walk around and mingle and are not stuck in one spot. You decide what works for you -- pick up a few items and go do all your Saturday stuff or stick around for a while catching up with friends and ordering a couple of items here and there at your leisure. We've hosted planned-out dinners with courses and structure and the like, and this is designed to be the total opposite of that. The very reasonable prices -- everything's priced at $5 -- reflect the informality because we want you to be able to try lots of stuff.

So excited to see you on Saturday and share some of our favorite dishes with you. This is another first for us, and it's going to be great to see you right there with us as we give our pop-up all we've got!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Menu for the Chubby Veg + Iris Etc. Pop-Up this Saturday, 7.11.15 at Iris Etc.

Tomato and Pimento Cheese Pie
Summer tomatoes served with lemon-zest-and-thyme pimento cheese and topped with puff pastry

Carrot Corn Dog
Organic carrot encased in our jalapeño and smoked cheddar cornbread, our cookbook’s cover star, and served with Creole mustard sauce

Cabbage Kimchi Dumplings (V)
That kimchi we always make stuffed into wonton wrappers and served with peanuts and white soy sauce

Smoked Shiitake Mushroom Tamale (V)
One of our most-requested dishes made from local corn and mushrooms and topped with charred corn salsa. This one’ll likely surprise the most staunch tamale purist...

Andouille Eggplant Po Boy + Tabasco Pickles
French bread with grilled, spiced Japanese eggplant “sausage” and house-made pickles from cucumbers from our family farm, Concord Farms; dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and mustard (V if you ask for it minus the mayo) 

Smoked Fig Jam with a Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese
Our vegetarian take on smoky bacon and onion jam: whole wheat with cheddar and mozzarella

Baked Cauliflower Wings with Black-and-Blue Dressing
Local cauliflower florets tossed in Crazy Good Hot Sauce and served with carrot sticks, celery, and black pepper and blue cheese dressing (V if you ask for it minus the dressing)

Stuffed Squash Blossom and Creole Squash
Tempura-fried squash blossom stuffed with roasted carrot puree and soft cheese served atop spicy squash and zucchini from our family farm, Concord Farms

Grilled Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese, Jewel Tomatoes, and Honey-Lime Vinaigrette
Watermelon changes from sweet to savory on the grill; we highlight this amazing transformation with our spicy, salty take on this Southern favorite

Banana Ice Cream Sandwich with Oatmeal Ginger ‘Power’ cookies (V)
A healthified ice cream sandwich with raisins, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut; vegan, free of refined sugar, and 101% amazing

Roasted Peach Shortcake with Lavender Cream
Our beloved gluten-free almond biscuits served with the season’s best fruit and herbaceous whipped cream

Rosemary Lemonade With Ripe Stone Fruit (V)
Lemons and herbs from our garden sweetened with maple syrup and infused with the flavors of summer

(V)=vegan

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Flower Crown Pre-Orders for Saturday's TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant

This morning through Friday at 10 a.m., you may pre-order your very own *BEAUTIFUL CROWN* to be picked up at the TCV / Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant on Saturday! (See more about the event HERE and HERE.) Grown-up and children's crowns will be made ahead by Jill Forrester of Whitton Farms, and pre-ordering (from right now until 10 a.m. on Friday) at our Square link below guarantees your crown will be ready for you on Saturday.


Grown-up flower crown: $15
Child's flower crown: $10
Child's greenery crown: $7

(Know that the pop-up event is cash only, but we're thrilled to be able to offer a few things ahead of time on our Square site! We also have signed, personalized books available for pre-order at the same link above.)




Monday, July 6, 2015

The TCV + Iris Etc. Pop-Up Restaurant this Saturday, July 11!

Come enjoy our favorite summertime TCV recipes at Iris Etc. on Overton Square in Midtown this Saturday for lunch or dinner! It's going to be casual, fun, and a la carte, and you don't need a reservation. Check out more details HERE (including some of the featured vegetarian dishes) and stop by 62 South Cooper from 11-8. Keep up with us this week as we share how it's going along with a surprise or two along the way. Hope to see you there!












Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Backyard Fire Pit Cookout: Carrot Dogs with Slaw + A S'mores Bar for IHA's Inspired Home Blog

We'd NEVER before cooked over a backyard fire pit, so we gave it a shot and ended up making some great food this past Sunday evening! Thanks to the International Housewares Association, we had a few great new tools to make it all go smoothly. The carrot dogs we roasted with our guest turned out awesome; also, it's been on our minds for a while now to put together a make-your-own-s'mores bar, so we finally did it!

Go check out the IHA Inspired Home blog for the full story and see what you can do with some open-flame cooking this Fourth of July weekend! Have a beautiful holiday!


We are excited to have been selected by the International Housewares Association to contribute to their Inspired Home blog. We have been compensated for our time, but our opinions are, of course, our own.

Monday, June 29, 2015

5 Quick Questions for Lindsey Lettvin of Triple L Bakery

(Update, 7.4.2015: So, sallyc, you are the winner of a dozen free cookies to be shipped to you since random.org selected comment #4 on this post! Just comment below using the same account as you did previously and tell us your choice of cookies and the address where you would like them shipped; of course, we will not post the comment. Thanks to all who entered -- and be sure to check out the new cookies being added weekly to Lindsey's Etsy site.)

Lindsey Lettvin, our sister / sister-in-law, recently brought her baking company, Triple L Bakery, to Etsy. Lindsey lives in Boulder, Colorado, and this isn't the first time we've featured her cooking on TCV. Her Paleo Energy Snacks are unbelievable. She makes us all jam thumbprint butter cookies for the holidays and surprised all the dads with sugar cookies this past Father's Day.

She started out as a baker at one of her first jobs during college, and now she's circling back to her love of the craft. Here's more about Linnie and her work below; please contact her via Etsy if you need cookies for an upcoming celebration, an awesome gift, or to chat with her about placing a special order request. We have a lot of respect for her skills in the kitchen and think you're really going to enjoy checking out what she's working on these days. 

Giveaway alert! We've got a way for you to put your name in the hat for your choice of a dozen free cookies! Check the end of this post to see how to enter in the drawing on Friday, 7/3/15.* 


5 Quick Questions for Lindsey Lettvin of Triple L Bakery

1. The Chubby Vegetarian: You're vegetarian now, right? How did that come to be?

Lindsey Lettvin: Yes! We were Paleo for more than 2 years, and my husband, Moishe, has been wanting to make the veggie switch for a while. We decided, as a family, to become vegetarian three months ago and have not looked back. I don't miss meat one bit. I was vegetarian in high school and vegan for a couple of years then, too, so cooking that way comes naturally to me. 

2. TCV: Let's reminisce about your start at Blue Heron Bakery in Olympia, Washington. How did you start working there, and what was it like?

LL: Blue Heron holds a special place in my heart. And they just expanded and moved locations to a beautiful space, so yay for them! I landed the job because at the time, my roommate knew a woman named May who worked there, and they needed help. They trusted that I would learn the ropes and hired me. It was my first professional bakery job, and it was just a lovely group of eccentric people who shared the joy of baking together. We were like a little family. I was the cookie baker, along with a few others, and my job was to make hundreds of cookies a day, like 8 different varieties. Some of my favorites are the Turbo cookie, which is loaded with eggs and turbinado sugar and about as big as one's head, no kidding! It is heavenly. And we did these awesome Fudge Bars and Date Bars with an oat crumble on top -- they still make them! -- that I had to sample every day. Oh, and Evan makes the best Orange and Chocolate Biscotti I have ever eaten.

3. TCV: So, why cookies? 

LL: Because who doesn't like to indulge in them every now and again?! Seriously, I baked in college and that was one of the most satisfying jobs I have ever had. I'm trying to recreate that now and bake because I am passionate about it, and it is something I would be doing anyway, whether for fun or for a job. I love how cooking and baking zone me out; I get into the flow and am present and just thinking about what I am doing at that moment. It is my peace.

4. TCV: What are some of the must-have ingredients for your cookies?

LL: Of course, butter and sugar. I only use organic eggs and pure vanilla extract. I am working on more recipes, so if I'm using gluten-free flours, I am picky about which ones work well. I have found that I like the Pamela's brand the best for texture and taste. And I recently rolled out a Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, which features organic raisins and organic oats. So, for me, when it doesn't break the bank, I like to use organic.

5. TCV: Will you do custom orders for different occasions or needs, and what about special dietary considerations? 

LL: Yes to custom orders -- since cookies have a shorter shelf life, I am basically doing a custom order every order I get. That is to say, when I get an order, I don't have it sitting and ready to go. So, if you have a certain design idea or color scheme (or want only gluten-free or organic ingredients), I can do it. I am flexible and really just want to give my customers what they want, so tweaking colors, shapes, ingredients is easy for me because I am the only employee, and it is a small business. I also can do nut-free orders, gluten-free, and vegan versions if requested. 

Thanks so much, Amy and Justin, for having me on TCV!



*Leave a comment at the end of the post and tell us your favorite cookie to make or eat. On Friday, 7/3/15, we'll choose one commenter at random to receive your choice of a dozen Triple L Bakery cookies shipped to you next week, and we'll update this post to reveal who won. (We moderate comments, so don't worry if your comment is not posted right away -- it'll be up very soon!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Part Two of Our Recipe Contest Winners: Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines

We were instantly transported halfway around the globe by the aroma of toasted mustard seeds and the smell of fresh curry leaves. Again, we found ourselves using unfamiliar ingredients that took a little searching to find, but without them, the recipe just wouldn't be the same. As a bonus, we got to expand our kitchen vocabulary thanks to Raihana of Raihana's Cuisines; she's the co-winner of our first-ever recipe contest along with Lys Green and her Chana Masala

Raihana's Curried Corn recipe calls for curry leaves, not a common sight in our kitchen, but we'll be picking them up anytime we see them now. They are the leaves of the curry tree which, confusingly enough, has nothing at all to do with the spice powder mixture. They are extremely fragrant, and any fan of authentic Indian cuisine will pick up on the flavor immediately. "I love curry leaves!" Raihana said when explaining this recipe on her site. "They give food a really amazing taste."

We made this dish for one big Indian feast the other night, and it was so good. Raihana suggests taking her curried corn dish to a potluck. We second that -- especially now since the corn here in the South is already pretty good and sweet this season. One commenter suggested trying it as a dip, so we scooped up some leftovers with our favorite white bean tortilla chips for a little snack the next day and loved it. Think about picking up a few ears at the farmers market in your town this week or grab the non-GMO corn available at Whole Foods and give this amazing recipe a place at your table.

Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
8-9 curry leaves
tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon amchur/amchoor powder (mango powder)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
3 cups corn
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the olive oil and add the mustard seeds; once they pop, add the curry leaves and tomato paste. Let the mixture cook until it becomes fragrant and darker in color. Next, go ahead and add the salt, mango powder, lemon pepper, and corn. Mix it well to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the dried parsley flakes for a little color. (Make sure not to cook the corn too much; you want it to be crispy. Lastly, drizzle on the lime juice and add salt and fresh cilantro on top. (Serves 4-6.)


Friday, June 19, 2015

Vegan Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Caprese

Here's a simple side dish for your outdoor grilling plans this weekend. You might've already picked out your main, but you need something else, something special that everyone will like. We have got you covered with this caprese salad with a Mexican twist! The avocados stand in for the typical buffalo mozzarella, and cilantro takes the place of fresh basil.

Now is the time that locally grown tomatoes are starting to appear. We found these beautiful organic heirloom varieties yesterday. All you do is slice them up with some ripe avocadoes, add a few touches, and you are done. Your guests will love it.




Vegan Avocado and Heirloom Tomato Caprese

2 medium tomatoes (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
2 medium avocados (pitted, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
1serrano pepper (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 lime (quartered)


On a serving platter, arrange the salad by alternating the slices of tomato and avocado. Drizzle with the olive oil and then the vinegar. Add sliced serrano, cilantro leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve limes on the side to be squeezed over just before enjoying. (Makes 4 servings.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Part One of Our Recipe Contest Winners: Lys Green's Chana Masala

We had so much fun with our first-ever recipe contest! Many of you entered your creative recipes, and we are so thankful you did. We chose our three finalists because each of the recipes pushed us in a new direction in the kitchen with unfamiliar-to-us techniques and ingredients. It was a close race, but in the end, we had a tie game. Both recipes that won the most votes are authentic Indian recipes, so last Sunday night, we decided to have a feast and make both Lys Green's Channa Masala and Raihana's Cuisine's Curried Corn along with our own homemade Whole Wheat Naan and some cucumber and mint raita. Everything went so well together, and the bright acidity of the corn contrasted nicely with the warm cinnamon and clove in the masala. Seriously, it was one of the best Indian meals we've ever made at home.

Lys Green says she never grew up eating Indian food, but her husband is Indian, so over the years, she learned to cook authentic Indian food. On a trip to India, she fell in love with his aunt's chana masala. After inquiring how the chana masala was made, Lys was able to formulate a recipe that not only meets the authenticity of traditional Chana Masala, but also meets the healthy requirements that she strives for in her own kitchen.
Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list. We went to a well-stocked Indian grocery and had no trouble finding everything we needed. We also learned a lot about what goes into an authentic Indian dish. The amchoor powder is an ingredient that we'd never used before, but will certainly use again. It's dried mango powder that adds sweet and savory notes to the dish as well as a bit of acidity. 


The anrdana powder is another ingredient we'd never worked with, and it offered a nice surprise. It's dried and ground pomegranate seeds that, when tasted on its own, is as sweet as candy. In the dish, however, it acts to balance the warm, earthy flavors with a hint of sweetness. 

You'll want to make the extra effort to gather the ingredients for this recipe. Once you have everything in front of you, it all comes together very quickly. Next up, we'll share Raihana's Curried Corn, so be sure to check back in soon for that.

Lys Green's Chana Masala

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic
1 heaping tablespoon ginger paste
3/4 cup red onion, finely diced (about 1 medium onion)
1 large tomato, pureed [about 1 cup, puree raw tomato in a food processor]
1 1/2 teaspoons kala salt
1 1/2 teaspoons amchoor powder [also known as mango powder]
1 teaspoon anrdana powder*
2 teaspoons channa powder*
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans**
1 1/2 - 2 cups water

In a large pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add in the garlic, ginger, and red onion. 
Cook until the onions begin to sweat and are slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the tomato puree and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring as not to burn. Add in all spices (kale salt, amchoor powder, anrdana powder*, channa powder*, cumin, cinnamon, & clove). Allow these flavors for develop, cooking on medium-low for another 5 minutes, stirring as needed so the mixture doesn't burn.

Add in the garbanzo beans and allow the beans to cook with the onion-tomato-spice mixture on medium-low for another 3-5 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the ingredients from burning. At this time, add in the water -- it'll be 1 1/2 to 2 cups or until the beans are slightly covered.

After adding water, bring the curry to a boil, continuing the boil for up to 5 minutes. 
Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn't boil over. Afterwards, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and allow the curry to thicken for at least 20 minutes. Serve over rice.



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Grilled Summer Vegetable Pizza for The Inspired Home

Pizza…you love it, we love it, everyone loves it. We just wish it wasn't so junky most of the time, so in case you feel the same way, here's a great remedy. We packed a grill grate's worth of vegetables into one pizza this past weekend! The crust is made from sprouted whole wheat, and it's really a better choice in terms of both nutrition and taste. We used a cast iron pan and a bit of olive oil to give the crust its unique texture.

We are proud to partner with The International Housewares Association to bring you this great recipe. Check it out all the details on their blog, The Inspired Home, and check back often. We are working on a few tasty recipes for cooking over an open fire in your own backyard.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Logic-Defying Peanut Butter Pie

This dessert defies all expectations! It's made from only whole ingredients, it's vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, low-fat, and yet it's still super delicious. We tested this one out on some guests last Saturday, and it was a hit. The secret is freezing the bananas before blending them, which gives the whole pie a creamy,  airy texture that's really appealing. 

Logic-Defying Peanut Butter Pie

5 ripe bananas (peeled and frozen)
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts (preferably organic)
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 dried dates (pitted)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


Peel the bananas and freeze them for at least 3 hours. Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the peanuts and pulse until finely chopped. Into the bottom of a springform pan, spread finely chopped peanuts in an even layer. 

Slice the frozen bananas into chunks. Into the work bowl of the same food processor, place the bananas, peanut butter, dates, cocoa powder, almond milk, and salt. Blend until smooth. Gently pour mixture into the springform pan so as not to disturb the layer of peanuts on the bottom. Smooth mixture with a rubber spatula by pushing the mixture to the edges. Place springform pan in the freezer (about an hour) until ready to serve. For the best consistency, remove pie from freezer 10 minutes before serving so it softens a bit. Slice and serve with your favorite chocolate sauce or our homemade Magic Shell. (Serves 8.)


Monday, June 1, 2015

RESULTS: The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1

It's a tie! With 19 votes each, Lys Green's Chana Masala and Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines will be featured this month on the blog. Can't wait to share these wonderful new dishes with you -- we think they'll be great together! Thanks to all who voted -- we'll get cooking and post the results here soon.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sweet Potato Noodles with Mushroom Bolognese Sauce for IHA's Inspired Home Blog

Have you been considering getting a spiralizer? Go for it! We worked with a couple of these amazing kitchen tools this week and came up with a dish we both loved. Spiralizers are easy to use and do a great job of making the same old vegetables become interesting again. A few spins and then you've got a lighter sub for the usual pasta dish. We think it's likely we'll be spiraling a ton of other stuff this summer!


Check out our post "Spiral Wise: Recipes to Try with Your Spiralizer" for the details of our experience and get a few tips along with a new TCV recipe, Sweet Potato Noodles with Mushroom Bolognese Sauce, on IHA's Inspired Home blog. (You'll find our favorite chilled raw cucumber noodle salad recipe there, too.) Please comment below and share what you already spiral -- or what you want to try to make!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1: Vote Now!

So, we have selected 3 promising recipes! A very grateful thank-you goes out to all the TCV readers who sent in such great choices to us in response to the previous post about our first recipe contest. We'll definitely do this same deal again later on in the summer -- be thinking about your best recipe for the upcoming abundance of summer produce we're all getting ready to enjoy.


Which of the following are you most excited to see on the blog? Vote by commenting about your favorite idea at the end of the post; we moderate comments, so don't worry if your vote does not show up right away -- it will soon. We'll count votes on Sunday, May 31 and then make the winning recipe and share it here! Here are the ones in the running:

Quick & Easy Curried Corn by Raihana's Cuisines
This recipe caught our eye because it pairs sweet corn with savory curry leaves and mustard seeds.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam by Kimberley
This sugar-free jam looks like a tasty and very seasonal way to start using chia seeds in your own
kitchen.

Chana Masala by Lys Green
A treasured family recipe using chickpeas is where authentic meets healthy.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest #1

Update, 5/15/15: Thank you for all of your entries. This contest is closed. Stay tuned to vote on our top 3 submissions.


Update, 5/11: You have until this Thursday night, 5/14, to enter your recipe in the comments section below. Voting will begin after that -- and we can't wait for y'all to see the top 3 contenders and vote for your favorite recipe overall so that we can make it and feature it on TCV! 

Some of our favorite recipes came from our family and friends. Sure, we love to be creative in the kitchen, but we also love to sit back and let someone else take the wheel every once in a while.  Michael Hughes's delicious Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller, Kelly English's rich Midnight Snack, and Simon Majumdar's spicy Life-Saving Dahl have all become staples in our own kitchen.

We want to see what you're cooking, and we'd love for you to share your original Chubby Vegetarian-inspired recipe with us. It can be an appetizer, main dish, or dessert, just as long as it is wholly your own concoction. Remember, we like to keep one eye on delicious and the other on healthy. So, get cracking and let your creativity shine!

We will pick the top three recipes submitted, and our readers will vote on which dish will be the champion. We will cook, photograph, and share the winner's recipe here at The Chubby Vegetarian along with a short interview and links to the winner's social media accounts. All you need to do to enter is type up your recipe and paste it into the comments below this post. (We will not publish the comments on the blog in order to keep your secret recipe a secret.) Let us all know that you've entered a recipe by posting a mystery photo of your creation via Instagram or Twitter and tag us using our handle: @chubbyveg.

The Chubby Vegetarian Recipe Contest is open to everyone from professional chefs to novice home cooks. Entries must be received by midnight on Thursday, May 14th to be eligible. Thanks for cooking with us!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi Sandwich

This is just a whole bunch of awesome! Each component of this classic Vietnamese sandwich adds plenty of depth and character, so the dish as a whole is complex and amazing. 


One of our secrets here is adding a little cocoa powder to the Shiitake Mushroom Paté. My friend Tuyen, a Vietnamese chef, urged me to try it, and I've made my paté with cocoa ever since. It's strange how savory cocoa powder is without a bunch of sugar mixed with it. Somehow it's super meaty-tasting.

We make this same sandwich with fried eggs or pan-seared tofu in place of the eggplant, so don't feel tied to the idea of eggplant if you aren't a fan. The bright pickles, crunchy cucumber, herbaceous cilantro, savory paté, and rich sriracha mayo will play a brilliant supporting role to anything you want to throw in there.



Grilled Eggplant Bahn Mi Sandwich

Do Chua (recipe follows)
Shiitake Mushroom Paté (recipe follows)
Grilled Eggplant (recipe follows)
2 12-inch crispy baguettes
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 cucumber (sliced)
1 serrano or jalapeño (thinly sliced)
2 green onions (sliced)
cilantro leaves (to garnish)
2 medium limes (quartered)
sea salt (to taste)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make the Do Choa, Shiitake Mushroom Paté, and Grilled Eggplant according to the recipes. In a 350-degree oven, warm the baguettes so the outside of them is nice and crispy. Split the baguette down one side and leave the other side intact (like a hinge). In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha to make sriracha mayo. Start assembling the sandwiches by spreading the sriracha mayo on the top and the paté on the bottom. Continue by adding eggplant, cucumber, hot pepper slices, sliced green onion, Do Chua, and garnish with cilantro leaves. Add sea salt to taste. 
Cut each sandwich in half and serve with lime wedges. (Makes 4 servings.)

Do Chua (pickled carrots and radish)

1 medium carrot
4 medium radish
1/4 cup water

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon honey

Thinly slice carrots and radishes using a mandolin or sharp knife. Place vegetables into a 1/2-pint mason jar. In a small pan over high heat, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and honey to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully pour over the vegetable in the jar. Place the lid on the jar and place in the fridge until ready to serve. (Makes 1/2 pint.) 


Shiitake Mushroom Paté

1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 cups sliced shiitake (about 10 ounces, stems and all)
1 large shallot, sliced (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Cracked black pepper (to taste)


In a large frying  pan over high heat, add the olive and sesame oil. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the shiitake mushrooms and shallots. Allow mushrooms and shallots to pick up plenty of color from the pan before stirring; this gives your paté a deep flavor. Cook mushrooms for a total of 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup water and transfer the contents of the pan to your food processor. 


Add the soy sauce, cocoa powder, and cracked black pepper. Blend until very smooth. Place pâté in a bowl and in the fridge until ready to serve. (Makes about 1 cup.)


Grilled Eggplant

1 medium eggplant
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Cracked black pepper (to taste)


Preheat your outdoor grill to high -- or if a grill isn't available, use a cast-iron grill pan. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 1/2 of the eggplant skin in long strips. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds and place onto a rimmed baking sheet. In a small mason jar or bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar and shake it up to emulsify. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with the mixture and add cracked black pepper to taste. 


Grill eggplant slices for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until well-marked by the grill grates. Remove and wrap slices in aluminum foil until ready to serve. (Makes 4 servings.)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Egg Foo Yung with Sriracha Gravy

This is a simple recipe that we make all the time at home. It's really versatile in that you can use any mix of vegetables that you have on hand, and it's one of those dishes that you can make for breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- it really works great for all three. And boy, it's really fast, and I mean fast. Once you've made it a few times, you can go from thinking you're hungry to eating a home-cooked meal in 10 minutes. That's faster than takeout or delivery. 

We love our ceramic non-stick pans for cooking eggs like this. You should chuck your old non-stick cookware and give this a try. It's slick and nothing sticks to it. 

Egg Foo Yung with Sriracha Gravy

1 1/2 cups 1/4-inch sliced mixed vegetables 

(Use this Spring Vegetable Mix or whatever you like)
4 large eggs
3 green onions
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sriracha Gravy (recipe follows)


Using a food processor, pulse the vegetable mixture several times until it is finely chopped. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them. Add the finely chopped vegetable mixture. Thinly slice green onions and add the white part to the egg mixture; reserve the green tops for garnish. Add the garlic, ginger, 5-spice, salt, and pepper to the egg mixture. 

In a small, 8-inch, non-stick frying pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and wait until it shimmers. Add half of the vegetable and egg mixture (about 1 cup) and allow it to cook for 1 to 2 minutes. All the while, shake the pan so that the eggs don't stick. Once the eggs brown and start to set, flip the foo yung and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside and repeat with the remaining oil and egg mixture. Once you've finished both, use the pan to make the gravy.

To serve, slice egg foo yung into quarters and garnish with warm Sriracha Gravy and green onion. (Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as an appetizer.)

Sriracha Gravy


1 tablespoon soy sauce (like Braggs)

1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water


Place the soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, cornstarch, and water in a mason jar with a lid and shake until cornstarch has dissolved. In a 8-inch frying pan over high heat, cook the mixture until it thickens. This will take about 2 minutes. Set aside until ready to serve. (makes about 3/4 of gravy)



Monday, April 6, 2015

TCV Spring Newsletter

A lot has been happening, and we figured it's about time for an update. Even though it's obvious that this risks sounding like (and obnoxiously coming across as) one of those weird family Christmas update letters, we figured, whatever -- we wanted to jump in and share what all's been going on around here since February.

We are so thrilled to be a part of Memphis Health + Fitness this month! Had to keep it quiet for a minute, but now that their Food Issue is out on the stands, we can tell you the news. (We picked up our own copy at Outdoors in Midtown this afternoon, and we got reports it was available all around Germantown over the weekend.) So excited -- it's our first cover story, and it delves into how we got healthy and came to love cooking. It really sums it all up. Thanks to the wonderful folks at the magazine who thought of us for this, and thanks to everyone who pitched in and made it happen! It's definitely a highlight of 2015 so far.

With spring finally here, we've been outside more and cooking some new things we can't wait to put on the blog. We've also been writing away from here and are sharing a byline on blog posts for Memphis Stew, the Memphis magazine food blog (our first few collaborations have been about Valentine's Day stuff, Maui Brick Oven, and Ecco on Overton Park). We worked together on an article about the creative process of chefs for Edible Memphis; it was great to work with these folks and check out their notebooks packed with ideas: Karen Carrier of Beauty Shop, Bar DKDC, and Mollie Fontaine Lounge; Ken Lumpkin of Napa Café; Michael "Dutch" Holland of Porcellino's; and the multi-talented guy whose drawings and dishes graced the cover, Andrew Adams of Acre.

Finally, we'll be appearing at Bookstock, The Memphis Public Library's festival celebrating authors and readers of fine books, and we hope to see you at the Salud Cooking School inside of Whole Foods on Poplar on April 22nd for our vegetarian cooking class. We'll be teaching you how to make the tasty, vegetarian versions of classic Asian dishes that we make in our house all the time. It's a great class to try if you want to get your family happy to eat more vegetables. Call 901-969-4199 or click HERE for more details or to register for the class.

We hope y'all had a beautiful Easter. Bet you're looking forward to the upcoming growing season and much-needed sunshine and warmth as much as we are -- here's to an amazing spring!