Wednesday, June 20, 2012

asparagus, goat cheese & caramelized lemon tartines

It is the time of year when we crave light, super-fresh, colorful foods. Inspired by 101 Cookbook's Avocado Asparagus Tartine recipe, I came up with these simple open-faced sandwiches to get my fix of tangy green summer flavors.

"I want lemons to be involved, but how can I make them more interesting? Has anyone ever caramelized lemons?" I love caramelized onions so much, hence my thoughts of applying it to everything else. I'm sure it's been done before, but I was pretty excited by this new (to me) idea. So simple! They did not get as sweet as I thought they would... still plenty tart, which was fine by me. If you are not a fan of sour, perhaps you could add some honey when you cook them. 

The best part about cooking the lemon slices this way is that it leaves a wonderfully flavorful oil for which to quickly cook you asparagus in. Lemon and asparagus are best buddies, don't ya know.

The combo of the fresh, green asparagus, tangy,creamy cheese, toasty nuts & bread, and tart lemons made for a lovely and bright dinner.  

Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Caramelized Lemon Tartines

-2 lemons, thinly sliced
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 bunch thin asparagus spears, rinsed and trimmed to roughly the length of you bread slices
-6 slices of good whole-grain bread
-4 oz. log goat cheese
-handful of toasted pistachio meats, roughly chopped, for topping

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a skillet. Cook the lemon slices in a single layer, about 3 minutes each side. remove from pan. Toast the bread slices. Add the other Tablespoon of oil to the lemon oil and cook the asparagus in the skillet until just barely heated and bright green (it should still be crunchy). Spread some goat cheese on the toasted bread slices, lay 4-5 asparagus spears on top. Top with lemon slices and toasted pistachios.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

St. Louis' Best Balls! Installment 1: Pita + & Gokul

I apologize if you are not into gushing over one's city, as this is the second post in a row in which I will do so. What can I say? St. Louis is an awesome place! We have lots of talented people and tons of great food. As part of the Year of the Balls, I thought I'd highlight some of the best balls this fine city has to offer. And, boy, we sure have some balls. Here is the first 2 in this new recurring series (balls should be in pairs, no?):

Falafel, Pita +

Pita + has been one of my favorite places to get lunch for many years. They have the softest pitas I have ever encountered. They bake them daily, and use the leftover pitas to make addicting pita chips which come with every sandwich. 

My favorite sandwich from Pita + is the falafel pita. Their falafel is a perfectly packed ball of ground chickpeas and bright parsley that is fried to a golden brown. They are moist and almost creamy without being heavy at all, somehow. I crave these all the time. The falafel pita comes with a creamy, nutty tahini sauce (made with sesame seeds), but you can also get the tzaziki, a yogurt & cucumber sauce. Both are fantastic. Pita + is in West county, so it's close to a lot of offices. If you don't live or work nearby... it's totally worth the trip. They also have my favorite Gyro.

Malai Kofta, Gokul

Indian buffets are comfort food for me. I do not know how this happened, seeing as I'm a Midwestern white girl. But if I'm having a rough day, an Indian buffet will always make it better. One of my favorites is Gokul, a vegetarian Indian restaurant with 2 locations in the area. One location just happens to be right down the street from where I work. Ahhh. They are one of the few Indian joints that has a dinner buffet every night. And this buffet is special. Not only is the food fantastically delicious, you get a show as well. They project Baliwood movies on the wall every evening, so you can have your spirits lifted by complex flavors AND complex dance sequences. 

I don't always get the buffet... the takeout is great! The Malai Kofta are vegetable balls in a ├╝ber-creamy tomato sauce. The balls are made mainly with potatoes, with other assorted veggies. They are flavorful and perfectly textured...not at all dense. There is plenty of sauce, which is great sopped up with buttery naan and/or fluffy rice. This is a very comforting, happy-making meal.

What are your favorite balls in St. Louis (or your city... I will travel for balls).

Year of the Balls posts:

Friday, June 08, 2012

st. louis food media forum & why i blog

In case you haven't heard, there is an AWESOME event coming up this summer in St. Louis. If you want to learn more about food writing, food photography, blog marketing, food journalism ethics and more... come to the St. Louis Food Media Forum on July 28th and 29th. I have had the pleasure of putting this weekend with my fellow food-blogging friends Kimberly of Rhubarb and Honey, Stef from The Cupcake Project, Stacey from Every Little Thing Blog and Laura from Food Snob STL. This is a unique opportunity for anyone who has an interest in food media; bloggers, writers, journalists, critics, yelpers, foodspotters, chefs, restaurant owners, tweeters, photographers.... even if you are into writing about food as a hobby and/or dream of putting together a cookbook. I hope you'll come, and if you do, please introduce yourself to me. I love meeting new people!

Find out more:

Seriously, I hope you go. It's a really good deal for the amount of knowledge and talent we've lined up. We all want to be better at our craft, don't we? Plus, it should be really really fun.... have you met food people? We are a lively lot!

This week, my fellow food media forum organizers Stef, Stacey and I had the pleasure of being guests on Stewed STL, a food-centric podcast put on by our talented and opinionated friends Andrew Veety, Bill Burge, Mike Sweeney and Kelli Best-Oliver. The subject of this episode (not yet available... stay tuned to @stewedstl on twitter ) was Food Blogging. It got me thinking (ouch!) about the medium in general and why I do it.

I started this blog in 2004 (Holy Old Skool, Batman!). At the time I had a LiveJournal, and loved reading other's daily rantings. I enjoyed writing about my own mundane day-to-day happenings, and getting responses to it, starting conversations. At the time I was also obsessed with reading blogs. I could not get enough of LJC, Not Martha, 101 Cookbooks, Superhero Journal... to name a few. They inspired me to want to do more with my free time. Cook, craft, make photos, CREATE. So I decided to start a blog about something I was becoming increasingly compelled by: FOOD. 

Back in the day, I didn't even take photos. When I did start taking photos, they were awful and yellow. But no one was reading anyway, and the purpose was purely selfish: to motivate myself to try new things and to learn about food. I loved school (nerd alert), so having a blog was kind of like giving myself an assignment every week. As with everything, the more I studied and practiced, the better the blog got. Now I post with regularity every week, usually a new recipe, and have a nice scoop of loyal readers. It just keeps getting more fun!

What I've gained most from this blog is friends. I have an amazing bunch of talented, hilarious, food-loving buddies that I have met directly through the blogging & social media scene. I am constantly being impressed with the things they all do and feel proud to know them. 

I could go into the criticism that blogs have been getting lately... get all defensive and philosophical and shizz... but it's Friday, and that could get long-winded. I'll just say I do this because I love it. I have made some small gains from it, directly and indirectly, but nothing near what I could live on. I respect actual food journalists and recipe writers to the max. They are the ones who wrote the articles and cookbooks and cooking shows that made me fall in love with food. I am sorry that some of them think that food bloggers are killing them off... I don't think its true. The good ones will adapt and persevere, because they have proven skills and talent. 

This post is a reminder to myself of what I am doing with this space... what it means to me. A reminder to myself to keep learning, keep improving... to be interesting and interested, always. 

Much love, dear readers! *smooshy hug*