Author Archives: Lesley

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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.

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Every year for Mr. Eats’s birthday, we go out and have a very fine, civilized meal. Last year was 404 Kitchen; the year before that was Kayne Prime. This year, I decided on Prima. Like Kayne Prime, Prima is a steak house, which seems like it would be an odd choice for a vegetarian, but like Kayne Prime, there is much more to Prima than just steak. In fact, if I hadn’t been told it was a steak house, I wouldn’t have known.

And that was the issue that Steve Cavendish had with the restaurant when he reviewed Prima for the Nashville Scene. His review was titled, “Prima is a really good Mediterranean restaurant, and a so-so steakhouse,” which gave the impression that it was not a good review. It was, in part, a great review of everything on the menu except the steaks. But let’s be honest: it’s not difficult to cook a steak. It is difficult to cook a steak that will wow you. Because it’s just steak. I asked my husband what was the best steak he’s ever had and he said it was the sous vide/pan seared steak that was served at a friend’s house recently. Not a steak in any restaurant. But they have to have steak on the menu, because the Bill Braskys of the world want a $50 steak when they’re dining on the company dime.

So there’s the background on Prima. And why I thought it would be a good choice for dinner. The menu changes frequently based on what’s seasonal and available, but I knew that they would accommodate me if there was nothing on the menu that suited me. Indeed, most of the sides had some sort of non-vegetarian component (such as pancetta or beef fat), but that was just fine because there was a good selection of salads and soups that would make a good meal. No need to ask for a vegetarian entrée at all.

I started out with the sweet potatoes appetizer. The potatoes are cooked in the skin to the point where it’s crispy and the flesh is creamy (not stringy at all; how do they do that?) and served with grilled onions and fig jam and topped with shreds of ricotta salata. It’s a huge portion, definitely meant for sharing and very delicious. The onions have just a bit of heat that is cooled by the delicate pieces of ricotta. Mr. Eats had the octopus starter, which I recommended based on friends tasting it an event a couple of months ago. The citrus zest really sets it off and Mr. Eats commented that the texture was perfect; not rubbery at all.

sweet potatoes with charred onions, fig jam, ricotta salata
sweet potatoes with charred onions, fig jam, ricotta salata
octopus with corona beans, olives, orange zest
octopus with corona beans, olives, orange zest

For dinner, I had the corona bean soup, which was a vegetable stock based hearty soup that also included bits of carrot, wilted arugula, and I think parsnips or potatoes as well. It was a heavy soup that I couldn’t even finish; it could be a meal on its own (and it will be because you know I brought it home with me). I also had a swiss chard and farro salad with dried cherries and pistachios. The chard was cut into ribbons, tossed in a vinaigrette and mixed with the farro, cherries, and pistachios and then topped with two scoops of deep fried goat cheese. The goat cheese was a substitution that I requested since I’m not a fan of blue cheese. This was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I’m not sure what else to say about it other than you should try to go there soon before it disappears (though it is a recent addition to the menu, having replaced a kale salad). My husband got a grilled trout (not pictured, for obvious reasons) that was fileted and plated tableside and was huge. As a side, he ordered the grilled broccoli salad, which apparently is lightly seasoned with Beach Road 12 sauce from Martin’s BBQ Joint. He said both were fantastic.

corona bean soup with wilted arugula, seasonal vegetables
corona bean soup with wilted arugula, seasonal vegetables

 

chard salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese
chard salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese
grilled broccoli salad
grilled broccoli salad

By the end of the meal, I was too stuffed for dessert, which is too bad because there was this chocolate orange and olive oil concoction that sounded as if it were made just for me. Not a fan of the chocolate and citrus combination, Mr. Eats opted for the dulcey chocolate bar, which was actually milk chocolate and mousse-like. He loved it because he prefers milk chocolate to dark. Even better—the staff made sure it was specially-prepared for the occasion.

dulcey chocolate bar
dulcey chocolate bar

This seems like the time to mention how fantastic the service was. It’s team service with different staff members for refilling your water (still or sparkling, both complimentary), bringing you a linen napkin (your choice of black or white), and bread service (do not skip the bread; it is delicious). The service was knowledgeable, helpful, and attentive without being intrusive. Other little things that made it nice included that though the restaurant was about 75% full and the kitchen is open to the restaurant, it was not loud. I also didn’t feel crowded up against the tables nearest us. And of course, the gorgeous light fixtures gave us something to gawk at between courses. There is also a valet and complimentary self-parking in the Terrazzo garage. Dress is business casual and up (it's Nashville; men are almost always in jeans, though).

dazzling light fixture in Prima
dazzling light fixture in Prima

Prima
700 12th Avenue South
Open for dinner nightly