Author Archives: Lesley

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A friend of mine brought over some tarragon from her garden recently. I wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but then I remembered I’d just gotten some red new potatoes at the farmers’ market and figured if it’s good for chicken salad, surely tarragon would be good in potato salad. And it is! Tarragon has a unique flavor; similar to anise but not as reminiscent of the dreaded black jellybean. I definitely went light with it. Using a shallot instead of onion made it a milder salad, too. The fried shallot is from the international market and added a nice bit of crunch and texture.

I served this as part of a 4th of July dinner al fresco. It was also a great occasion to try out some Repurpose dinnerware I was sent recently to try. Repurpose is kinder, gentler disposable serveware; the cups, cutlery, and plates are all made exclusively from plants (corn, sugar, and bamboo with soy inks) and completely compostable. They’re also BPA-free, chlorine-free, and petroleum-free. Though not completely tested, it is believed that the limited amount of soy ink used will not create an issue with anyone with a soy allergy.

Repurpose is not just earth-friendly, they’re also really durable. The plates and cutlery are strong and the cups aren’t flimsy at all. You can definitely tell there’s something different about them, but in a good way. They’re surprisingly sturdy; they held up to a plate of this potato salad and a couple of Smart Dogs really well! Repurpose compostables are available at stores across the country (though none in Nashville) and are available online.

tarragonpotatosalad

Tarragon Potato Salad
a variation of Potato Salad with Tarragon and Shallots from Saveur
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
2 pounds red new potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces
½ cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fried shallot to finish (optional)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender, 10–20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Once cool (room temperature), add mayonnaise, vinegar, shallots, and tarragon and stir gently to combine. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with fried shallot when serving.

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Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming
Creeping cucumber flower with tiny fruit already forming

There's still not a lot new coming out of my kitchen these days. Well, not a lot that's photo-worthy. But there are a few things I'd like to share.

Peach season is in full swing right now. Though the crops from the southernmost states have stopped, Tennessee and South Carolina peaches are still going. I made a peach galette recently (I won't talk about the crust) using this filling recipe from Epicurious. I made a few modifications that really took this filling to the next level. It was crazy delicious. I just added half a teaspoon of ground ginger and a 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar.

Summer also means cucumbers and watermelons, so don't forget that both make excellent chilled soups.

First, there's my watermelon gazpacho  recipe (the rare tomato-less gazpacho). I cannot say enough great things about this soup. It is fantastic.

Next is this chilled cucumber soup recipe from my friend, Hedy. She actually just brought me a cucumber from her garden this weekend, so this is on the menu for the upcoming week!

Last is a soup to use with that bounty of squash that's coming in, squash soup with avocado lime cream. This year has been a good one for squash and I know a lot of people who are overrun with them. Tip for them: this soup freezes well and tastes great warm, too so put some up for winter!

When we bought this house last summer, I knew that I would have to give up on growing tomatoes altogether. I have fought squirrels for many years and not only would I have to fight them here, too, but there's just not enough sun to grow much of anything. However, there are lots of "wild edibles" here, including lamb's quarter, mountain mint, dandelions, greenbrier, sassafras, wood sorrel, and chickweed. I haven't really tried much with them, but I was happy to find a number of creeping cucumber vines all around the property. The squirrels and deer don't seem to be interested, so that's great for me (as long as I get them before they turn dark, which is when they become poisonous). Creeping cucumber is a very delicate light green vine with flowers that are shaped like English ivy or maple leaves. The small yellow flowers (very small) grow into small fruits that look like teeny tiny watermelons but taste like delicate sweet cucumbers. The mature fruits are about the size of a jelly bean.

Lastly, I have really, REALLY been enjoying my Hamilton Beach waffle maker, (which I mentioned on Bites). It comes with a recipe booklet that contains a number of waffle recipes, but I love the Buttermilk Waffles recipe so much that I haven't even bothered to try any of the others. I haven't been able to find it online (the recipe on the Hamilton Beach site is not the same), so I thought I'd share it here. I hope it's okay with them! It's just so good and versatile. The waffles are crisp on the outside and tender inside and the flavor is good for either sweet breakfast waffles or for savory waffle sandwiches. The recipe yields 6 waffles (usually), so I store several in the fridge and warm them in the toaster oven later for sandwiches.

Buttermilk Waffles
from Hamilton Beach
yield: 6 waffles (in the the previously mentioned waffle maker)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
6 tablespoons butter, melted (and cooled, slightly)
2 eggs, lightly beaten

*before assembling everything, prepare your buttermilk first by placing 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a 2-cup measuring cup and filling the rest of the way (to 1 1/2 cups) with regular milk and stir and let sit for about five minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir in buttermilk, butter, and eggs stirring until thoroughly mixed (batter will be thick). Pour one pre-measured scoop (for your waffle maker) into the middle of the waffle maker. Close lid and cook 6 or 7 minutes until brown (time may vary by waffle maker). Batter can be thinned with up to 1/2 cup of water if necessary.

When Chipotle first arrived in Nashville, I didn’t immediately understand all the hype. The company has a huge and loyal fan base and many in Nashville were thrilled about their arrival. When the crowds died down a bit, I finally tried it out. And then I understood. Chipotle puts a tremendous amount of effort into their food sourcing and it really comes through in the quality and taste of their food. Plus, sofritas, y'all! And a good, cheap kid's meal.

Aside from the food tasting great, Chipotle has won support because of their commitment to sustainable sourcing, accommodating various diets, and partnerships with charitable organizations. In Nashville, Chipotle works with The Nashville Food Project, whose mission is “Bringing people together to grow, cook and share nourishing food, with the goals of cultivating community and alleviating hunger in our city.” The organization does so through their organic gardens, through their kitchen (where they also use donated and “recovered” food), and through their food trucks, which they use to distribute meals and produce to those in need.

The Chipotle partnership dovetails nicely with Chipotle’s Food With Integrity program, in which Chipotle seeks  to create better food from using ingredients that are fresh as well as sustainably grown and Responsibly Raised™ (with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food). Throughout the year, Chipotle holds and sponsors fundraisers for The Nashville Food Project. In April, the restaurants raised money for TNFP and just a couple of weeks ago, sponsored Nourish, a benefit dinner held at Green Door Gourmet.

I didn’t get a chance to attend Nourish (tickets for the event sold out well in advance), but my friend, Tabitha of A la Mode Media was able to attend and get some cool “backstage” photos of the event. What’s cool is seeing some of the city’s (and the country’s) most celebrated chefs working together (and having a good time) to prepare this dinner. I think her photos clearly capture the spirit of the event (and The Nashville Food Project, in general). At the end of the night, the event raised $140,000 for TNFP. A huge success!

image courtesy of A la Mode Media
image courtesy of A la Mode Media
image courtesy of A la Mode Media
image courtesy of A la Mode Media

For details on future collaborations between Chipotle and The Nashville Food Project, keep an eye out here or on Bites. And be sure to read the wrap-up of the Nourish event (including pictures of the food that was served) by my Bites colleague, Chris Chamberlain.