Appetizers, Sauces & Other Extras

Muhammara

So we’re deep into Lent now, and this is the time that I am most likely to break. Not even necessarily that I consciously decide to go against the grain, but that I forget that I’ve made a decision to eat closer to the ground and that bowl of salted caramel truffles is calling my name and it’s like seven on a Thursday and what am I still doing at work… I know that you’re busy reshaping the world powered by other people’s humble prayers and good deeds, but God, please take a minute to forgive this human’s seemingly inability to not stop off at the grocery store for a bag of popcorn. I’m weak. I’m human. This dip is a good thing to eat to remind yourself that real food tastes better than fake food. This takes no time at all, and serves as both a great accompaniment to vegetables as it does a conversation starter. No one will believe that you just put things in the blender. Blend away, sinners.

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Muhammara

16 ounces roasted red peppers, drained

2-ish cups walnuts

6 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon molasses

1 cup virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt.

Blend until you’ve achieved a smooth texture.

***Note to the follower of this recipe. This dip is very forgiving – this is actually what I consider the cheater / I have to make something for book club and I have nothing in the house version of this dip. Today I forgot to buy a lemon – or did I buy a lemon and just can’t find it? – so apple cider vinegar went in instead. Feel free to sub in different nuts, I have found that cashews are a decent and creamier substitute for walnuts.

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Appetizers, Sides, Snacks

Brazilian Cheese Bread

Sometimes you need to sit down with a plate of cheese bread and contemplate the universe. Or, you know, if you were so inclined, sit down with a plate of cheese bread and just contemplate the wonders of cheese bread while watching Outlander. This is easy, you blend these babies and bake. Open the oven just a few minutes later, and you have gooey, chewy, cheese, delicious cheese bread. As a word of warning, you absolutely must eat these hot. Enjoy.

cheese bread

Brazilian Cheese Bread

1 egg

1/4 cup olive oil

2/3 cup milk (whole milk, don’t skimp on me here)

1 1/2 cup tapioca flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat your over to 400 degrees. Grease a mini-muffin tin with oil.

In a blender, blend the egg, olive oil, milk, flour and salt until well combined. Add the cheese and blend for fifteen seconds, only until the cheese is in small bits all through the batter.

Fill the wells in the muffin tin about two-thirds full.

Bake the cheese bread for fifteen to twenty minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from the tins and let cool for a few minutes before devouring.

Eat quickly, then make the next batch that you know that you were going to make anyway.

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Appetizers, Sides

Fried Morel Mushrooms

Fried Morel Mushrooms

Fried Morel Mushrooms

 

I have been married for almost four years, and we dated two years prior to our wedding. Every spring, for the entire course of this relationship I have heard the legend of the morel mushroom. Every spring rain left a glint in his eye, and after the rain stopped we laced up our boots and tromped around acres of the untamed wilds. We walked southern Iowa. We walked mid-Missouri. We walked northeast Oklahoma. We walked damp river beds and the banks of flushed streams, we walked around dead elms and cedars, we walked up hills and in wide circles through prairies. We walked, man. And every year we came home with empty paper bags, wet socks and muddy boots. With doleful eyes this year, my husband proclaimed softly, “I promise that they are real.”

I came home tonight to a husband holding a paper bag. And there, rolling on the bottom, were seven grey-white and craggy morel mushrooms.

Can you show me how to fry these?

Of course.

Fried Morel Mushrooms

As many morel mushrooms as you can gather, sliced in half

one to two cups cornmeal

neutral flavored oil

salt

pepper

milk

1. Clean your mushrooms. Salt water until it tastes like weak ocean water. Dump in your mushrooms and swirl. You want to get rid of all of the dirt and bugs. When you are confident that the mushrooms are clean, dry on paper towels.

2. Start with one cup of cornmeal – dump this onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the milk into a bowl.

4. Pour the oil into a pan. You are going to want a half inch or so in the pan. Heat the oil to medium high heat.

5. Dip the mushrooms into the milk, then the cornmeal, then into the oil.

6. Fry until crispy and lightly brown.

7. Eat. Believe in the legend.

 

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