Category Archives: Gluten Free

Overnight Ox-tail Soup

I don’t how many of you are fans of You’re Doing It Wrong, but I am not. I firmly believe that there are at least 9 ways to skin a cat and 4 ways to dice an onion. BUT, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t little tricks out there that can help you improve certain dishes. Rinsing rice (except arborrio), and swapping bananas for eggs in scones come to mind. Here’s another: pretty much any soup will taste better the day after you make it. This is particularly true of a soup wherein you cook the meat first, because it gives you the opportunity to remove the fat which will solidify in the refrigerator.

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Overnight Ox-tail Soup

First Day:

-1 1/2 lbs ox-tail

-1/2 inch dice of aromatic vegetables (3 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic minced)

-2 bay leaves

-1 Tablespoon dried spices (I like to use equal parts thyme, rosemary and crushed red pepper; but feel free to mix it up)

-28 oz. can crushed tomato

-1 Tablespoon tomato paste

-Enough water to cover the meat

This definitely falls onto the complex end of the spectrum, but I promise you, it’s simple enough. Bon courage! And remember, this is a soup, so most of the measurements are ballpark and to taste.

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In a dutch oven, brown the ox-tail sections (I’ve never seen a whole one at the butcher’s, but if that’s all they have ask to have it cut) on all sides over a medium-high heat. This is an occasion to wear an apron, there will be spatter, and it will stain your shirt or burn your arm. Remove to a plate, but leave the fat in the pan. Add in the aromatic vegetables (what the French call mirepoix) and stir these until soft, the plan is for them to turn to mush by the time it’s done. Add the remaining ingredients, turn the heat down and let this whole business simmer at least 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and add water if it gets lower than the meat, but you can leave it alone for the most part. After a good simmer, let the soup come down to room temperature and then refrigerate it overnight.

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Second Day:

-1 1/2 c red wine

-Vegetables (this time we used half of a patty pan squash, a dozen Brussels sprouts, and maybe a pound of potatoes, but you can do whatever you want)

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Remove the solidified fat from the top of the soup (this time I got most of a cup!), add the wine and return to a boil. I suggest using a red that you wouldn’t mind drinking with the soup, this time I used a Spanish tempranillo that Svetlana at the Bottle Shop pointed us to.  Add the vegetables and continue to cook for about an hour or so. By then the vegetables should be ready and  the meat fork-tender. Done. Simple, non?

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Oat Praline Buttermilk Bonbons. That’s Right.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think I just invented a new candy, then I dipped it in chocolate! I’m calling it the oat praline buttermilk bonbon. It’s a two-part recipe and takes a little doing, but it’s totally worth it.

Oat Praline Buttermilk Bonbons

Oat Praline

-1/3 cup steel-cut oats

-1/2 cup sugar

I haven’t tried this recipe with rolled oats yet, so I’m hesitant to say it will work just the same, but it might.

First things first, toast the oats by placing them in a dry frying pan (a six-inch if you have one) on a low heat. In a few minutes they’ll darken up a little and start to smell nice and toasty. Shimmy and stir them often to keep the toasting even. When they start to make a little crackly noise, transfer to a plate to cool.

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Now place the sugar in the same pan and melt on a medium low heat. When the sugar begins to melt, begin stirring with a rubber spatula and don’t stop until it’s smooth and slightly darkened. Turn off the heat, add in the oats and quickly stir until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture onto a parchment paper or, in a pinch, a buttered baking sheet.

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Let cool for about 15 minutes, then break into small pieces and crush either with a blender or chop on a cutting board, then use a cup and bowl as a makeshift mortar and pestle. This makes about 3/4 cup, which should be stored in an airtight container. Sprinkle on cakes, ice cream, oatmeal, or use in:

Old Fashioned Buttermilk Candy

When researching buttermilk candy I found this exact same recipe in no less than 6 different places, which means two things: 1) I have no idea where it originally came from, and 2) It had to be delicious. It is. My wife said it was candy for grown-ups.

-1 cup sugar

-1/2 cup buttermilk

-1 1/2 Tablespoons butter

-1/4 – 3/4  cup oat praline, depending on how oaty you like it.

Measure the sugar, buttermilk, and butter right into the frying pan and turn on a low heat. While waiting for things to get going, fill a clear glass with cold water. Trust me. You’re also going to need a spoon, mixing bowl, whisk, and small, buttered dish. A plate will work in a pinch.

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Once the sugar starts to belt and the milk boils, stir with your rubber spatula to dissolve the sugar. After that, stir just often enough to prevent sticking. After the mixture has been simmering for 10 minutes, when the mixture has thickened a bit, take a small spoonful of the liquid and dribble it into the water. It’s not really necessary to go through all the stages of candy temperatures (which wouldn’t be that accurate anyway due to the buttermilk and butter in the sugar) so I’ll just give you the pertinent information. When the liquid hits the water, it will probably dissipate into bits. This means it’s not ready yet. Try again about once a minute until the drop to turns into a little ball that stays more-or-less in ball form all the way down.

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When your candy reaches this stage, pour it into a mixing bowl, add the praline and start whisking. This is going to take about 10 minutes, so if you have an electric mixer you may want to use it.Keep whisking until pretty cool, at which point it should be thick and hold streaks pretty well.  Transfer this to  the buttered dish and allow to cool at room temp at least 3 hours or even overnight. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls, you should end up with about 14, depending on how much praline you used. Refrigerate until set, then store in an airtight container layered with parchment paper. These are super-delicious on their own or just rolled in a little powdered sugar, but if you want to chocolate coat them, who am I to stop you? Also, a little touch of sea salt never hurt.

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Chocolate Coating

-1/2 lb. semi-sweet chocolate

-that is all

Set up a double boiler by placing the chocolate in a bowl that is sitting on top of a pot with about an inch of water in it. Set to a medium heat and stir the chocolate until it melts. Be very careful not to let any water get in the chocolate or it will become all grainy and horrible.

When the chocolate is smooth, remove the bowl from the pot. Dip the candies in the chocolate one at a time, coating and removing as quickly as possible. You can cover them entirely if you like, or dip them partially like buckeyes. Refrigerate again to set the chocolate (half-an-hour) and store with parchment paper in an airtight container, which is always a good rule for storing candies.

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Wifey’s Spicy Cornbread

This week I followed The Missus around and took pictures while she made cornbread. She makes fantastic cornbread and I thought it would be cruel not to share this with the world. There are those of you who will be aghast at the presence of sugar in the recipe; but I should let you know that neither I, nor my wife, comes from a family native to The South. I should also let you know that the original recipe we started with came from The Joy of Cooking. We’ve been tinkering with it over the years, but I should give credit where it’s due.

Adobo Chili Cornbread (for a 6 inch cast-iron skillet. If using an 8 inch skillet, double the recipe)

-7/8 cups cornmeal (1 cup minus 2 Tablespoon)

-2 Tablespoons sugar

-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda

-1/2 teaspoon salt

-1 egg

-1 cup buttermilk (in a pinch you can fake buttermilk by mixing 1 Tablespoon distilled vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup milk)

-2 chipotles in adobo sauce (available at most grocery stores with a decent Latin American selection)

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Butter up your skillet real good, then place in the oven and pre-heat to 350F.

Chop up the peppers in an 1/8 inch dice. I like to use a plastic bag so I don’t mank up my cutting board.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl, and mix the buttermilk and egg together with a fork in a separate bowl.

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Pour wet into dry, and whisk together quickly. Once the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda, the timer on leavening starts. Mix in the chopped chilis, remove the pan from the oven and pour in the batter. The batter will start to cook immediately, this is good just be careful.

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Put the pan back in the oven and set your timer for 20 to 25 minutes. When it’s done, a knife will come out clean. Let it cool about 10 minutes and it should pop right out of the pan. You can eat this immediately if you want, but the chili flavor will come out better the next day.

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Oyster Season! In Soup Form!

To me, the oyster is like an avocado in one important respect: I fail to see how you could possibly improve upon it in it’s natural state. Open, eat. Perfect. But there’s been a lot of oyster related stuff happening in my life lately: I just finished The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky, (a fantastic read if you have an interest in both food history and the history of New York City) I’ve recently picked up some part-time hours at a restaurant which is known for it’s bivalves, and most recently I’ve been plowing through How to Cook a Rogue Elephant, a gastrologue by Peter Van Rensselaer Livingston, which is both entertaining and highly informative about the history and preperation of a great variety of dishes. While most of his recipes are well into the complex end of the spectrum, he lists an oyster soup which, unlike similar recipes does not, as he puts it, “spoil both the oysters and the milk.” The key, apparently is to cook the oysters through as opposed to heating them slightly and adding them at the end. The recipe I’m using is sufficiently different that I’d feel weird calling it his recipe, but he still deserves the shout out.

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Oyster Soup

-3 cups half-and-half at room temperature

-1 medium onion, 1/2 inch dice

-2-3 Tablespoons butter

-1 pint oysters, strained with liquor reserved

-1/4 lb smoked sausage, 1/2 inch dice

-2 teaspoon sea salt

First, melt your butter over a low heat and add the onions. Cook them slowly until they are just getting translucent, but not brown at all. If needed, rinse off the oysters, then add them to the pot and bring the heat up to medium-high. A substantial amount of water will be released, this is fine. About 5 minutes on, the oysters should look a bit cooked. More of a matte finish, less of a high-gloss.

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Now this next part is important: Turn the heat down as low as it will go, add the oyster liquor and half-and-half (which should be at room temperature otherwise the shock can cause breakage.) Leave for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If it gets too hot, it will break. If it breaks, it will still be delicious just not as pretty. Boo. Season with 2 teaspoons salt at this time.

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While you wait, brown the diced sausage over a medium heat until nice and crispy. I’ll level with you, I meant to take a picture of the sausage and forgot. You know what crispy looks like, right? Do that. Either swirl these in right before serving or sprinkle on top in each bowl. This soup will serve 4 as a starter or 2 as a hearty main course with salad and focaccia.

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Homemade Sea Salt, Boiled Peanuts and More!

Last week I promised you all updates on my experiments making sea salt at home and boiled peanuts. After hours of fun watching pots of water boil, I’m ready with the results.

Homemade Sea Salt

-1 gallon sea or ocean water

-that’s it

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First of all, the most common question I’ve gotten about harvesting your own sea salt is, “Is it safe?” According to my research, the rule of thumb is: if it’s safe to swim in, it’s safe to make salt from. I don’t normally post recipes which require a disclaimer, but this was too cool a project to pass up.

No matter where your water came from, or how clear it looks, you’re going to want to filter it. A coffee filter will be good enough, I used a double layer of butter muslin. If using cheese cloth, make sure to do four or five layers. Now fill a pot with the filtered water, and boil it for, like, three hours. Check it periodically, but don’t expect much change for the first two and a half hours. Eventually you’ll get down to a sludgey consistency like in the picture.

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At this point I switched it over to a frying pan and turned the heat down to medium-low, just a good simmer to evaporate the last of the water. Remember, while you don’t have to worry about burning salt you don’t want to burn your pan. As far a yield goes, I got 4.5 ounces from one gallon, which is about half a cup. Way more than I expected. Your’s may be different based on the salinity of the local water. Be sure to store the salt in an air-tight container since salt absorbs water from the air. You can also use a salt pig, which I just learned about and totally need to make one of.

Boiled Peanuts

-1 pound raw peanuts, in shell (they can be tricky to find but it’s very important they are raw, in shell)

-1 gallon water to start, you’ll probably need more later on

-2 Tablespoons salt

-2 Tablespoons paprika (or Old Bay)

-2 Tablespoons honey (optional and not traditional, but I like it)

You ready? Pay attention: Put everything in a pot. Stir a little. Boil four to six hours, depending on how soft you like your peanuts. You’ll probably need to add some water periodically as it boils away. Done. Be sure to keep them in the water so they’ll keep soaking up flavor.

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In regards to the, “and More!” promised by my title, I’m officially announcing the start of a youtube show in which I demonstrate scratch-made recipes with only two ingredients. It’s kind of ridiculous how many I have. I’ll let everybody know as soon as the first one is up, which should be by Wednesday.

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Blueberries Two Ways and More!

Shout out the the University of Georgia Society of Aspiring Plant Pathologists for a) the good work they do regarding blueberries, and b) selling blueberries on the cheap. The missus and I were the proud owners of ten pints of fresh blueberries, which we’ve whittled down to about four pints of frozen. Some of my tastier and/or more fun experiments have included these two gems.

But first I wanted to let you all know that I made an entry to the Bob’s Red Mill Spar for the Spurtle contest where I could win a trip to Scotland and compete in the World Porridge Making Championship. Check out my entry video here, it’s a recipe for a simple candy made with heavy cream, sugar and toasted oats. Now without further ado:

Blueberries Preserved in Molasses

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I’ll level with you, unless you love molasses this recipe is not delicious. It is however, fun and interesting. So go for it, and feel free to switch up which sugar you use.

-1 cup blueberries

-about 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (it couldn’t hurt to experiment with other sugars)

Fill up a 1 cup jar to within an inch of the top with blueberries.

Add the molasses (or honey, golden syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, what-have-you); let it sit a few minutes while the syrup fills up all the nooks and crannies, then add some more. Enough so it’s within an inch from the top.

Cover with cheese cloth or muslin (so it can breath, but nothing can fall or fly in) and a rubber band or something. Let it sit at room temperature for about two weeks. After which time it will look like the picture and taste…interesting.

Quick Blueberry Sauce

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I just made this in a pinch to serve over waffles this morning. It turned out great!

-2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

-1 cup sugar

-1/2 cup water

Place all the ingredients in a pot and boil for ten minutes. Serve immediately.

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Update on Corned Beef and Liqueur Recipes

My computer’s been on the blink (fixed now, though) which is why this week’s post is a little late.

Today I just wanted to re-visit two of my previous posts and give some updates.

Corned Beef Revisited (original post)

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It’s been two weeks since I started corning this nice brisket, and right now I have a few options:

1) I can let it keep going for a little while longer before boiling it

2) I can go ahead and boil it now

Since my sister-in-law is coming to visit with her family this weekend, I’m going to hold off. I’ll boil it for a few hours on Friday, slice it while it’s hot, and serve it Saturday for sandwiches.

Ice Cream Liqueur (original post)

Back when I did my Leftover cake liqueur post I mentioned that I should try it with ice cream. Well I finally got around to buying some Ben & Jerry’s “everything but the…” and whipping up a batch. Wow. You have got to try this. And I encourage you to experiment. This one was good, but let me know how other flavors turn out.

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-1/2 cup ice cream (any flavor)

-1/2 cup vodka (I stick with my Tito’s)

Mix together the vodka and ice cream in a blender or a bowl and hit with an immersion blender just long enough to melt the ice cream and get the chunck broken up.

Let sit at least four, preferably six hours so all the flavors can mingle and mellow.

Strain trough a fine strainer, double cheese cloth or butter muslin to get out any grit from ground up chunks. Serve chilled, room temp or in coffee. So easy, so good.

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Corned Beef: Homemade Charcuterie Vol. 1

I’m not usually one to go on about where my ingredients come from, I prefer to just assume you’re getting the best you can afford and go from there. This, however, requires some backstory: Annually, my father will raise a cow (maybe a pig or two) to have slaughtered and stock up the big freezer with meat. Generally my sister and I get a cut of the haul, but since my wife and I just spent 3 years in Iowa City, IA this time the cut came with conditions, “Well, whenever you move back to The South, there’s a quarter of a cow with your name it.” As if we didn’t want to get home enough already. Luckily, The Missus landed a gig at University of Georgia in Athens.

We don’t have enough freezer space to accommodate that much meat, so we’re getting it in batches. The folks will be coming down this weekend for the holiday and all we have left of the last batch is a wee brisket and the ox tail (which we’re saving for the fall and ox tail stew season.) Time to use up that brisket and make room for some flank steak. And time to do something I’ve always wanted to do:

Corned Beef:

-1 brisket (mine is 2 lbs.)

-2 Tablespoons sugar

-2 Tablespoons pickling salt (any fine grain salt will do, as long as it’s not iodized)

-2 teaspoons black peppercorn

-2 teaspoons allspice berries

-2 teaspoon juniper berries

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Combine all your dry ingredients and blend them up good.

Place your brisket in a non-reactive dish, and coat with the dry mixture. Make sure to cover the whole thing.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, flip the brisket once or twice a day for 1 week.

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Next week we’ll take a look at it and I’ll have a Potato Bread recipe that I’ve been having luck with lately.

 

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Chicken and Corn Risotto

Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought on homemdade stock. First, we have the ‘make a giant batch and freeze it’ camp; then we have the ‘make a little bit when you want to’ camp. I’m in the second camp. That said, I’m not a big stock maker. I like my Better Than Bouillon. The major exception here is when there has recently been roast chicken. Chuck them bones in a pot with a quarter of an onion, some garlic cloves, spices (rosemary, thyme, sage, black pepper) and any good veg scraps you happen to have on hand (in this case corn cobs.) Cover with water and let simmer for a few hours and there you go. Delicious stock and a delicious smelling house. If it’s is a bit weak, you can always reduce the stock a little to concentrate the flavor. Remember not to add any salt until after you’ve reduced it. Otherwise just enough salt can turn into way too much. Now that that’s out of the way let’s make some risotto!

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-1 1/2 cup short grain rice (Arborio is usually what Americans use although some prefer Carnaroli, which makes a nicer sauce but is more expensive and the rice stays firmer)

-4 1/2 to 5 cups broth (homemade or not)

-1/2 large onion, diced

-3 ears of fresh corn kernels (cobs in the stock)

-bits of chicken picked off the carcass

-2-3 Tablespoons oil

First things first, don’t rinse the rice. The reason I mention this is that many rice dishes want you pre-rinse. This will remove the starch which coats your rice, which is all well and good when you want your rice fluffy but is the exact opposite of what you want for risotto. The starch is what makes the sauce.  No rinsing.

Keep the stock in a small pot over a low flame to keep warm. If it gets too hot it will evaporate, so keep an eye on it.

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Step one is to sweat down your onions. To do this, combine the oil and onions in a large pot (I prefer my 6 quart dutch oven) set on a medium-low heat and stir. The goal is to get the onions translucent without any browning, so keep the heat low and stir often.

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Once you’ve accomplished this task (good job), add the rice and corn. What we’re concerned with here is the rice, so don’t worry about the corn. Stir the rice so it’s mixed in evenly and keep stirring so it toasts at the same rate. First it will go kind of clear, that’s good. When it starts to brown and smell a little nutty, it’s ready. Add the first cup of water. This will absorb pretty quickly but don’t add more that one cup at a time. Stir often and add each cup as soon as the liquid from the last one is soaked in. Allegedly, you need 3 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of rice. This is a lie. Err on the side of having too much liquid. Be patient, stir often, add the stock slowly. After adding the last of the stock, give it a taste, it will probably need salt and maybe some more spice. A little rosemary wouldn’t hurt in this recipe, and I find corn and black pepper go together very well. Since the chicken is already fully cooked, just stir that in at the end.

You’ll know it’s ready when the sauce is creamy and the rice is al dente, soft but not too soft. I like the word “toothsome”.

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Soft Tofu: A Soybean Beginners Manual Vol. 3

This week’s post is going to be a shorter one since I’m polishing up and sending out my book proposal to a few places. And for those of you worried that I won’t be posting any meat recipes, I’ve got a pork rillettes recipe I’ll be posting in the next couple of weeks.

Soft Tofu

-1 cup dried soybeans (if you don’t have an Asian grocery store, you can usually find them at Earth Fare)

-4 cups water, plus more for rinsing and soaking

-2 teaspoons epsom salts, dissolved in 1/2 cup water (for those of you uneasy about the idea of putting epsom salts in food, remember it is the traditional coagulant, epsom salts is just the new name for it)

So you don’t have to backtrack through two older posts, I’ll start at the beginning.

Rinse 1 cup of dried soybeans well, making sure to remove any discolored, shriveled up or otherwise funky beans. Soak beans in a few cups of water overnight.

The next day, with the beans still in water, rub them around in your hands. This will loosen some of the skins and make the water cloudy. Drain off the water and any skins that are floating. Repeat this process until the water remains clear. Drain one last time and replace with 4 cups of  fresh water.

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Blend the beans in water really well, until the texture of sand. Remove any foam that forms at the surface, it will make your tofu bitter. I like my immersion blender for this step since I can use it right in the pot, but a counter top blender will work just as well.

Place the bean puree in a pot on medium heat, stir often. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and put a lid on it. Set your timer for 15 minutes, but come back every few minutes and stir the beans to prevent sticking.

After 15 minutes the beans should smell sweet and less beany. If not, give them another 5 minutes. Drain the beans in a cheese cloth or butter muslin placed in a colander over a smaller pot. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then squeeze the last of the soymilk out. The pulp left over is called okara and has many uses.

Place your smaller pot of soymilk on a medium heat until almost boiling. Turn off heat and gently swirl in the epsom salts dissolved in water. Put a lid on the pot and let sit for 15 minutes.

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By then you should see seperation of solids from liquid, although it won’t be as distinct as when you’re making firm tofu. Pour the contents into a cloth in a strainer like last time, except this time place the cloth full of tofu into a tofu press. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a tofu press you can make your own. I used two plastic containers that raisins came in. Poke some holes in the bottom one, place the tofu in it, place the second one on top and add a jar with some water for weight. Brilliant, I know.

Wait about 15 minutes and you should have a just solid block of soft tofu. If you want to firm it up a little more, leave it in the press longer.

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