Category Archives: Vegetarian

Flavors from Afar & FM 1410


If you’ve been keeping up with my artizone  posts, the site will launch next month!  Which means, you have only about two more weeks until you’ll be able to have the best artisan products in the city delivered to your front door.  This week I am featuring Flavors from Afar and FM 1410 — two well known names in Dallas.

At Flavors from Afar, the adventuresome duo Nancy and Gary  carries the best  artisan products imported from Italy.  You are able to taste a little part of Italy through the culinary gems that Flavors from Afar has to offer — like the fragrant olive oils of Tuscany or the bold and fruity balsamic vinegars from Modena. Flavors From Afar offers products that makes entertaining elegant and simple — as the Italians would say: Buon Appetito!!

The top chefs of Dallas know Tom well for his fresh herbs and produce.  With a beautiful garden tucked away in the middle of downtown, the treasures from Tom’s garden will redefine anyone’s definition of “fresh”. At FM 1410 it truly is a farm to table experience — full of flavor, life and most importantly, love. 

With the combination of these artisan powers I created these wonderful mini pizzettes — Bacon & Caramelized Onion with Arugula, Basil and Almond Pesto with Red Pepper and Thyme Lobster Mushroom drizzled with Balsamic.  These pizzettes would make a great appetizer or a wonderful afternoon snack.  Not to mention they are also quite healthy (except for the bacon..O_o) and dairy-free!

Ingredients for Mini Pizzettes: (serves 8-10)

  • 12 ounces pizza dough (You can find my pizza dough recipe here or buy storebought dough)

Preheat the oven to 475 F.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 1/4-inch-thick round.  Using a 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inch diameter cookie cutter, cut out 30 dough circles.  Arrange the circles on 2 large heavy baking sheets (make sure you put semolina on the bottom of the pan to keep the dough from sticking).

Basil Pesto

  • 3 cups Basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup high quality Olive Oil (I used Ariston from Flavors from Afar)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt

Process the garlic, basil and almonds in a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are thoroughly chopped, scrapping down the sides as neccessary.  While running the processor, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil until it reaches the right consistency, you can add more olive oil as needed.  Set aside.

 

Thyme Lobster Mushroom

  • 8 oz Lobster Mushroom, thinly sliced (you can find these at FM 1410)
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz Madeira or a sweet cooking wine
  • 2 oz fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 oz high quality Balsamic vinegar (you can find these at Flavors from Afar)
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large saucepan on medium high heat and melt the butter til it’s bubbling.  Add in the garlic, shallot and sliced mushrooms and sautee until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the wine and thyme and cook until liquid is soaked up, taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Carmelized Onion & Bacon

  • 6 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh arugula
  • salt pepper to taste

Heat a large pan on medium high heat add the bacon and cook for 1 minute.  Add the sliced onions and reduce heat to medium.  Caramelize the onions with the bacon, about 8 minutes.   Add the honey and apple cider vinegar and cook until liquid is reduced, add salt pepper to taste.  Set aside

To assemble pizzas

Using the three toppings you’ve made, place them on the pizza dough rounds (about 1 tsp for each).  Bake until the pizzettes are golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Drizzle the pizzettes with olive oil.  For the Bacon Onion and Arugula, simply add some fresh arugula on top and serve.  For the Thyme Lobster Mushroom, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and serve.  For the Basil Almond Pesto, add the sliced red pepper and fresh basil leaves for garnish and serve. 

Apple Pie Bars


My favorite season in the entire universe has been treating us well here in Texas.  Though the weather is still a tad warmer than I would like it, Fall is here and I’m ready to party.  The leaves are changing (sloooowly), the nights are becoming cooler and I’ve pulled out every pair of boots and sweaters and jackets I own, because here in Texas you only get to wear them 2 months out of the year.  Time is of the essence people!  

Fall also brings around some of my favorite fruits — Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits! (Oh my!) But my favorite would have to be the endless varietals of apples — Honey Crisp (my favorite), Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji — I try to make everything apple during the Fall.  So let’s start this season off right with these DELICIOUS Apple Pie Bars, the tartness from the Granny Smith Apples gives this dessert a wonderful flavor.  Not to mention the nutty streusel topping and the buttery shortbread crust that will put a smile on anyone’s face!

(From Food and Wine Magazine)

Ingredients for Apple Pie Bars: (makes 4 dozen bars)

Crust

  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 granny smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup water, as necessary

Topping

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a 15 by 17″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and 1/2 inch up the sides in an even layer.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden and set.  Let cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, make the filing: In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar.  Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.  Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet.  Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaoprated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to 1/2 cup of water to eac pan to prevent scorching.  Let cool.

Make the topping: Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden a fragrant, 8 minutes.  Let cool; coarsely chop.  In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Stir in the walnut sand press the mixture into clumps .

Spread the apple filing over the crust.  Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer.  Bake in the cente rof the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden; rotate the pan halfway through baking.  let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch bars.

** The bars can be store in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month. 

You can also make a smaller batch (2 dozen) by dividing the amount of the ingredients in half. 

———————

Since we’re on the subject of Apples, I wanted to share with you guys a shoot I did for my friends Heather and Trevor.  Photography is always fun when your subjects are as photogenic as Heather and Trevor and their love for each other is inevitable through these photos. 

Heather first fell in love with Trevor when they were tiny tots back in elementary school. Several years later in High School, they were reunited at a party — Heather spotted Trevor across the room and rushed up to him — “HEY! I had a HUGE crush on you in elementary school!”  And the rest is history.  Long story short, he fell in love with her beautiful blue eyes and heart of gold she fell in love with his brawn and robust personality. 

Could these two be any more adorable?  I love the fact that Heather is the beautiful southern belle and Trevor is the rugged Texan cowboy — I love the contrast of not only of their apperances but of their personalities. 

They’ve been happily married and will be celebrating their 3 year anniversary soon — kudos to you Heather and Trevor!  To one of the most beautiful couples I know — thank you for letting me photograph you guys 🙂

Moroccan Carrot Soup


Back in March, Collin and I purchased our very first home together.  It was ragged, beaten down and was practically obliterated by termites.  The woman who owned the house before us lived here for over 40 years and never did a single update.  I want you to imagine that — original wall paper and carpet, stove tops and ovens from back in the 70s, we even found a hoover vacuum cleaner back from the the 60s, and not to mention that the doors and walls had deeply yellowed with age.  It was just plain awful.

But together we saw something in this house: potential.  We knew with a little lot of hard work, we could make this into something liveable, something beautiful, something we’d be proud to call our very first home.  Finally now after 6 months, we’ve finished: new walls, new kitchen, new paint, new floors…the list goes on forever.  And let me tell you, it’s freaking fantastic.  As a way to celebrate our achievements, I’ve decided to throw a housewarming party this Saturday — complete with a roast pig, a keg, and plenty of food but most importantly sharing our new home with our family and friends. 

In many ways this house has become representative of my personal struggles these past couple of years.  Since graduating college two years ago it has been a challenge to figure out what direction I wanted to take in my life, especially career wise.  At my lowest point, I felt like this house the way we first found it: dark, in shambles, and completely unorganized.  However, with time, ample searching, commitment and hard work I’ve found my niche in cooking, photography and piano and slowly but surely I’m begining to feel myself flourish.  I wouldn’t be here if Collin didn’t notice my potential and continued to push me to strive for my dreams, what once seemed like an impossible feat has now become my gorgeous reality. 

We completed the very last project, the deck earlier this week and we couldn’t contain our excitement and wanted to put it to use right away. I made this hearty, comforting to the soul bowl of Moroccan Carrot Soup to perfectly compliment our cool Fall nights we’ve recently been having (finally Texas!!!!).  We spread out a blanket, lit a few candles and basked in the aromas of cumin and fresh wood as we had our soup in silence.  Collin laid back on the blanket, closed his eyes and let out a huge long sigh — “I can’t believe we live here, we have the best house in the world.” 

Indeed we do my love, indeed we do.

From Epicurious

Ingredients for Moroccan Carrot Soup:(serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 2/3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred to loosen
  • Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes; cool. Finely grind in spice mill.

    Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle yogurt over; sprinkle generously with cumin.

    I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Event: Coppell Farmer’s Market


    This past weekend my friend Eric and I decided to go on an adventure — to Coppell Farmer’s Market! I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter helped me host a farm to table lunch.  The mission was to choose a local farmer’s market, find some wonderful fresh produce then go home and make a meal using ICBINB products and farm fresh produce.  Originally I had a pretty strong group going but then the morning of (we had to leave at 9am) the group quickly dwindled down to one.  YES, one. In amidst of questioning my popularity, Eric arrived at my place and I had to think fast.  So I knocked him out with a frying pan, tied him up and threw him in my car — GOTCHYA, there’s no escaping now!

     Okay so maybe that’s not how it happened exactly but don’t worry, no one got hurt. 

     

    The two of us ventured out to Coppell,TX and found the wonderful farmer’s market.  Though the market was relatively small compared to the Dallas Farmer’s Market, I really enjoyed a lot of the vendors here.  The entire shopping experience was less daunting, with about 25-30 tents compared to the 100s at the DFM.  They had all your neccesities — fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, honey and jams, fresh herbs, fresh breads and my favorite…a sorbet stand.  But I’ll get to that later.

    There was a wonderful bread stand from Village Baking Co. — by the time I got there it was slim pickins so I figured the bread must be good.  We chose the last Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf, because the cute guy selling the bread said it was his favorite — what can I say, I’m a sucker for blonde hair and blue eyes AND JALAPENOS AND CHEDDAR! I warmed it up in the oven when I got home — it was quite delicious with melted pockets of cheddar cheese and jalapeno slices scattered in every bite.  It was money for sure.

     OKAY now this was my favorite stand by far.  The folks at Savoy Sorbet are magical — they make these sorbets that are not only all natural but they are freaking DELICIOUS.  They call it “like catnip for humans!” because it’d probably be inapproriate to write “like crack for humans!” because that’s how addicting it was.  I wanted to buy the entire truck of sorbets and bury my face in it — but apparently that’s un-lady like.  I tried the lavender which was bright yet floral but it didn’t taste like soap (which I thought it would) it was truly the most elegant sorbet I’ve ever tasted.  But my favorite by far had to be the Chamomile Orange, which tasted like sunshine rainbows and hugs.  Don’t believe me?  Try it out yourself.  With the sweltering heat that day, there couldn’t have been a better tasting remedy. 

    We picked up the last of the summer squash — zucchini and yellow squash, sweet yellow corn and a couple pounds of tasty grass fed ground beef and lamb sausage for our lunch menu.  We also swiped up some fresh SPICY salsa and corn tortillas and a watermelon (that turned out to be a dud). 

    I kept the corn simple — after Eric cleaned and husked the corn, I just threw them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes and served them as-is.  That’s the beauty of fresh produce, you don’t have to do much to it to get great flavors.  We used some ICBINB spray and sprinkled some seasoning salt ontop — you can opt for lemon-pepper, cajun seasoning, or just plain salt and pepper.  I gave mine a dash of cayenne, cuz everyone can use a kick every once in awhile 🙂  

    For the veggies I diced the zucchini and yellow squash in to 1″ pieces and blanched them with some french green beans.  In a medium sauce pan I sauteed some minced garlic and shallot along with some salt and pepper with some ICBINB spray and tossed the veggies in the mixture.  Again, very simple to do and the veggies tasted fresh and crunchy — I love blanching my vegetables for that very reason — my heart always hurts a little when I taste overcooked mushy vegetables.  You are not only losing a lot of nutritional value that way but the beautiful natural flavors go away too! 

    Ah, last but not least!  Our 1/2 lb grass fed beef burgers.  I bought Hawaiian hamburger buns (YES THEY MAKE THOSE!!) and the sweetness of the bread really complimented the earthiness and savory flavors of the beef.  I seasoned the patties with some cayenne and some coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  When making the patties, if you poke a hole through the center (like a meat donut) it helps it cook faster.  I cooked the patties similar to the way I’d cook a steak –preheat your oven to 400F, heat up your skillet at medium-high heat and add your butter (I used ICBINB spray in this case).  Once the butter is bubbling sear your meat patties, about 3 minutes on each side at medium-high heat and finish the rest of the way in the oven (about 4-5 minutes) you can use a meat thermometer to get the perfect doneness level as follows.

    Rare
    Medium-rare
    Medium
    Medium-well
    Well done
    120° – 125°
    130° – 135°
    140° – 145°
    150° – 155°
    160° and above

      Everyone loved the farm to table lunch — everyone being me, Eric, Collin and the guy who helped us dig a ditch that day (We’re installing a french drain so I can have my deck for my housewarming party, my fiance will claim I am a slave driver but I urge everyone not to listen to his lies.)  I’d like to thank I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for hosting the event, it was a blast!

    Here is some additional info on I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter —

    • 0 Calories per serving
    • 0g Fat per serving
    • No gydrogenated oils
    • Is made from a blend of vegetable oils like vanola and soy
    • has no cholesterol

    You can find additional recipes at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter where they also have giveaways and promotions, so check it out!

    Creme Brulee with Citrus, Cardamom and Star Anise


    I apologize for the lack of entries lately — I’ve been completely invested in spending most of my time with my mom, because she’s my favorite.  It’s hard to believe that her visit is soon coming to an end, a week to be exact.  The entire situation still seems surreal to me.  I’m hoping that the day of, I don’t have a complete mental meltdown and cling to my mother’s leg screaming “NO DON’T LEAVE DONT DO IT!” as she’s trying to get out of the car to catch her plane, but I’m not making any promises.  ^_^

    It’s been a blast though — we’ve been sharing recipes, she’ll cook her Chinese dishes and I’ll cook her some French American dishes — one of her favorites discoveries has been the creme brulee.  She kept Ooooing and AAAaaahing over this recipe so I figure I’d share it with yall, it’s pretty epic not gonna lie.  Aside from that she’s been feeding me traditional Chinese medicines that make my stomach churn but I take it anyways because apparently it’s good for me (or so she claims). It’s just unfortunate that most of the concoctions she makes taste like feet…   just kidding mom, you’re the best! But seriously, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out her secret of staying forever young.  I’ll share pictures soon, you’ll see what I mean…

    One of the first desserts I learned working in at a French restaurant was the Creme Brulee and Souffle.  Souffle is definitely the more temperamental dessert and the failure rate is much higher than creme brulee — so we’ll warm up to that recipe later.  I love this creme brulee recipe because of its soft delicate texture and of course everyone’s favorite part: the crunchy burnt sugar on top, hence it’s latter name — burnt cream.   Plus it always adds a dash of sophistication and excitement to any dinner party when you bust out the torch!  I mean seriously guys, who doesn’t like a little fire show?

    Ingredients for Citrus Cardamom Creme Brulee:

    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 egg yolks
    • 2 cardamom pods
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 4 star anise
    • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
    • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
    • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
    • 4 tablespoons raw sugar

    Preheat oven to 260 degrees F (150 degrees C) and line the bottom of a large baking pan with water.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, cardamom, citrus zest and 1/4 cup sugar and salt stirring occasionally 4 to 5 minutes, until steam rises. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all cream is incorporated. Pour mixture into four 6 oz. ramekins.

    Place ramekins in the baking dish with water and cover the whole pan loosely with foil.  , and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into dish to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover whole pan loosely with foil. Bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set. Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.  Before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of raw sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to brown top, 2 to 3 minutes.