Author Archives: Lesley

Yikes! Five months since my last update! I've actually been cooking up a bunch of new recipes, but don't have hundreds of beautiful photos to share, so the print-outs with stains and mark-ups simply languish in my junk drawer.

I had intended to write this product review in time for Christmas wish lists. But you can go ahead and mark them for now because let me tell you: you will love this USA Pan non-stick bakeware.

I learned about USA Pan at the Music City Food + Wine Festival. As I was relaxing and letting copious amounts of food settle, I struck up a conversation with a couple of their representatives. They had several pieces of the bakeware on hand and were nice enough to give me a muffin pan and a loaf pan to try out. I have to admit I was dubious; I'm not a fan of most non-stick bakeware, not least because it never seems to work.

USA Pan non-stick bakeware is different, though. First, it's heavy (and heavy-duty), which I like. But most importantly, the non-stick comes from a proprietary coating of non-toxic silicone that

actually works! Without greasing at all! There are all sorts of other reasons why these products are great, but that's the top two right there: non-toxic and really, truly non-stick. And let me tell you, I tried to make stuff stick. Corn muffins, blueberry muffins, and my banana nut bread. All popped out with no effort and no mess. Take a look:

Look at that smooth bread. I pulled it out just like that. You can still see the steam on the loaf pan. And the imprints on the bread!
Here's a cornbread muffin that also popped right out. Not even a crumb left behind.

And finally, the blueberry muffin--the ultimate test! The residue wiped right off with a damp sponge.

Even messy blueberry muffins were an easy clean-up because the residue outside the muffins just wiped right off with a damp sponge. No scrubbing and no damage to the non-stick coating.

I can't say enough good things about this bakeware. Not only is it absolutely technically fantastic, it's not expensive! Most pans cost between $10 and $30, so I'll be adding several more pieces. I hope they will soon add Bundt and tube pans to their product line. Visit their online store to see the entire product line.

I usually do a wrap-up of the Music City Food + Wine Festival over at the Scene with all my favorite vegetarian bites, but I've moved it over here for this year.

I was really pleased at the vegetarian selection this year and had some really fantastic food, but I have to say my favorite thing this year was the addition of the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent curated by Lisa Donovan (of Buttermilk Road). Many of Nashville's best pastry chefs brought out their best for folks to try and it was immediately my preferred place to hang (it helped that it gave shelter from the rain on Saturday). Even better: many of the desserts were packaged, so I could just drop them in my bag to take home and eat later. Because even with five hours to graze, it is really easy to fill up at this event. But because of that, I don't have a lot of great pictures of the desserts. But among the standouts was a root beer float cookie sandwich from Littlest Love, a chocolate panna cotta from Megan Williams of Etch, an olive and thyme fougasse from Dozen, a soft pretzel with brown butter mustard from Kayla May of Josephine, and the lemon ricotta cake from Rebekah Turshen of City House. I think I got those right, but everything--EVERYTHING--was amazing. There were also sweets from Dulce Desserts, Olive and Sinclair, Sweet 16th, Utterly Nashville (amazing macarons), The Salted Table's Charles Hunter, and Southern Fatty Phillip Fryman. The espresso/coffee/chocolate chip cookies I got from The Salted Table and Sweet 16th kept me going all of the following week.

Along with the food, there was a TON of alcohol. I didn't try a lot of the alcoholic beverages, but I really enjoyed the ginger-infused Virgil Kaine bourbon, a hibiscus mimosa made with Firepot Chai tea, and American Born Moonshine's Dixie sweet tea moonshine. I also got to sample Pepsi's new artisanal colas, the 1893 "Original" and "Ginger" colas, which are made with cane sugar. They were fantastic. But now for the photos:

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Sweet 16th's spread in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent
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Bastion's ice cream sandwich: peanut ice cream, Carolina Reaper chili, basil
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Grilled Cheeserie's grilled mac and cheese at the Martin's BBQ pit
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Rolf and Daughters muscadine jelly donut with lime glaze (favorite bite of the festival)
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Canelas in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent. I believe these were from Utterly.
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Compressed watermelon with mango butter, lime leaf, and mushroom furikake from Little Octopus
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Seaweed pasta from Catbird Seat
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I can't remember the exact description of this one, but isn't it pretty?
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Margot's veggie banh mi
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Chocolate panna cotta
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Proper Bagel's proper bialy (minus salmon)

Not included in my wrap-up are all the great demos and panels and Harvest Night, too. Just too much to cover! But check out the official festival wrap-up on the Music City Food + Wine Festival website and mark your calendars for the third week in September next year!

I know, I know, kale is so 2012. We've had Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, kohlrabi and romanesco since then! But I still eat kale. For me, it's an easy way to pack in a lot of vitamins and minerals with very little effort (that is, if you buy the pre-washed kind). I've written about kale salads before (this chopped kale salad is Very Important Salad in my house; it makes frequent appearances) , but with this salad, kale is just the supporting vegetable. The star here is actually this tomato vinaigrette and this whole recipe is built around it. Which is pretty evident from the all the pre-prepared ingredients I used. Nonetheless, convenience foods can still be healthy and this is a great, hearty dinner. Even heartier if you substitute quinoa or brown rice for the white rice.

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Black Bean and Kale Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8

For the tomato vinaigrette:
1 can Hunt's Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
1 ounce red wine vinegar
1 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon honey (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon of already-minced garlic)
1/4 cup olive oil

Measure out 1 cup of the diced tomatoes and reserve the remainder. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until well-blended. Pour into a lidded pint jar and chill.

For the salad:
2 cups cooked rice (white or brown; or quinoa)
2 ounces lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cans low sodium black beans (I use Bush's)
1 bag microwaveable yellow kernel corn (I used the steam-in-bag corn)
1/2 teaspoon paprika or cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (to taste)
1 bag pre-washed and chopped kale greens
cilantro for garnish (optional)
roasted or fresh tomatoes for garnish (optional)
2 avocados, peeled and chopped
finely shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)

Cook rice or quinoa according to directions to yield 2 cups of cooked rice, replacing 2 ounces of water with 2 ounces of lime juice and adding oil (use slightly less liquid than recommended for rice that is not sticky).

Rinse and drain the black beans and heat in the microwave just long enough to warm and set aside in a medium bowl. Cook corn according to directions and add to the beans. Toss with paprika (or cayenne if you prefer spicier) and cumin. Set aside.

For each salad, use 1-2 cups of kale greens and rub them between your hands, removing thick spines. Place in serving bowls and drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with rice, bean and corn blend, and then garnish with cilantro, the remainder of roasted diced tomatoes (or fresh diced tomatoes), and chunks of avocado. Drizzle on more dressing. Add cheese and sour cream if desired. Note also that you may want to add some salt and black pepper after preparation.

Serve with tortilla chips.