This recipe didn’t come together easily. I had been meditating on a sort of savory vegetarian empanada recipe for some time now, inspired perhaps by the abundance of sweet potatoes from our CSA this fall that we are (still) trying to use.
The lentil/sweet potato/goat cheese combination was there from the beginning, but it wasn’t going to be easy on me. And it took us more than a few tries before we finally found the right balance of flavors and textures that worked and didn’t leave you wishing for a greasy meat filling instead.
But we did it, and the result is as delicious as it is unique.
While we typically turn to the more common brown lentil or even the beautiful French green lentil, this time we tried something new: the black beluga lentil. Named for it’s resemblance to caviar (I assume), it keeps its shape and texture better than the other varieties. If you have to substitute another variety, just make sure you don’t overcook them, otherwise they will turn into a starchy mush.
The filling pairs these unique legumes with chunks of sweet potato and spicy chipotle, wrapped in a puff pastry pocket. To cool it all down, and because everything is always better with goat cheese, we serve it with a tangy lime, cilantro, and goat cheese dipping sauce which, on its own, is a bit too tart, but when paired with the buttery pastry and spicy filling, becomes the perfect counterpart.
Our determination finally paid off.
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On February 16, 2007, I posted my very first recipe on this here blog. A seared tuna salad, in fact. The post contained a single image (shown above, top), and a measly 3 sentences of text (apparently I was much more concise back then). Despite the fact that it was a recipe for seared tuna salad, I did not include the seared tuna in the actual photo. As you can see by the unpublished image underneath, it wasn’t exactly appetizing.
Apparently that image was so horrifying that it took me 6 years before I finally attempted to photograph tuna again.
My my how far we’ve come.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again, as much as those old photos make me cringe, I will never delete them. I will never rephotograph those posts. They are my history, proof of just how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown as a cook and an artist in the past 6 years.
What do they say, you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been?
Well, I know.
And where I’ve been is publicly on display for anyone brave enough to venture into the depths of my archives.
I’ve come from a horizontal land of lime-green dishes and florescent overhead lighting. From a place where juices ran wild and the goal was to get as close as humanly possible to my food.
I’ve since learned that you have to take a step back to truly see the bigger picture.
Such is food photography. Such is life.
With that I say, I wouldn’t trade these past 6 years for anything. Here’s to personal growth, to accepting who we were and anticipating who we are to become, to taking the good with the bad and learning from our mistakes. Here’s to eating those mistakes (because we are, after all, food bloggers). Here’s to building ourselves by building the community around us, not by taking others down. Here’s to cooking for the sake of cooking. Baking for the sake of indulging. And indulging for the sake of pure enjoyment, not profit.
And here’s to many more years to come.
Perhaps “stuffed” is quickly becoming a thing around here. Stuffed desserts, and now stuffed pasta shells.
These stuffed shells are simple and straightforward, and while they don’t taste quite as strongly of pumpkin as a dish titled “pumpkin stuffed shells” should (in my opinion), it’s nice to know that there’s more than just cheese inside. Still, I might up the pumpkin if I made it again. As is, we tasted ricotta and marinara and not much else. We even upped the garlic, sage, and pecorino when we stuffed the second half of the shells the next day, just so there’d be more flavor.
I’ll be frank when I say this recipe makes a lot, although maybe not 10 servings as the original recipe states. Still, more food than we usually cook for the two of us. We got about two and a half of these 7×11 pans, and between the two of us lasted for about 2 dinners and a lunch. Maybe we overstuffed the shells, as we did have leftover shells, and maybe we overstuffed our bellies, as 5-6 shells made for a good single serving.
Either way we were full and happy, happy and full.
Now, what else can I find around here to stuff?
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Well, folks… today is the day. What started almost exactly one year ago is now officially published. Yes, that means as of today, you can buy Breakfast for Dinner in stores everywhere. Excuse us while we do a little happy dance because I will never tire of this feeling.
What a whirlwind year this has been, all our work finally resulting in something tangible. And the lucky recipients of advanced copies (so far) have had nothing but good things to say about it. The book itself is also quite photogenic, apparently.
Taylor and I are absolutely thrilled to see such positive reviews coming from places like The Washington Post, The Star Ledger, Detroit News, and The Kitchn. To see others enjoying the recipes that we put so much of our heart and soul into is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
Be sure to stay tuned to the Cookbooks page for upcoming media appearances and events, and our Press page for a full list of features. There’s also a number of giveaways happening throughout the blogosphere now and in the coming weeks. I’ll try to do my best to tweet and retweet as many of them as I can, so be sure you’re following me on twitter. Wheee! Isn’t this fun?
For locals… our first book signing (and release party!) is happening TONIGHT at Parnassus Books in Green Hills. If you’re in the area you should totally come and say hi. There may or may not be copious amounts of bacon. And sangria. I’ll be on Talk of the Town (channel 5) this morning at 11am, demoing the Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes recipe from the book (hello, breakfast for dessert!)
We’ve got two other events planned in San Francisco and Napa later this week, and a final signing in Memphis at the end of the month (click graphics above for more information and locations).
Please know that while we’d love to do a coast-to-coast book tour, that’s just not in the cards (or the budget), so this is it for signing dates at this time. If you can’t live without a signed book, we’ve got them available for sale in our shop (and we’ll even personalize it for you if you’d like!) or if you want to mail your book to us and cover return shipping, we’re more than happy to sign it for you. Just shoot us an email! ;)
Finally, thank YOU all for your endless support, heartwarming comments, and all around awesomeness. This book and these recipes are our way of sharing a virtual meal, since (unfortunately) inviting you all over for supper might get a wee bit crowded. I don’t think our 4-person dining table could take it. But you know what? I think this is better anyway.