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Entries in basil (4)

Monday
Sep032012

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Food has been a struggle for me the last couple months. After discovering that my body cannot process dairy during the completion of my month long vegan challenge back in June, it has not been easy for me to go dairy-free. Perhaps it seems a little counter-intuitive, but going vegan for a month was much easier than trying to be dairy-free for the last two months. In part, I think this may be because my month long vegan challenge was a personal choice and becoming dairy-free was a decision my body made for me.

Food and I have been at odds since, fighting the dance of siblings as we bicker over what I should put on my plate.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I do fairly well when I eat alone in the confines of my apartment, cooking up meals for one in a place where I can control the amount of dairy in the refrigerator and cupboards. The real struggle begins the moment I step out of my safe haven. Restaurants have become the enemy; an unwanted challenge as I sift my way through what I can eat and what I can't eat on the menu, feeling little more than an irritation as I ask the waitress pointed questions and make half a dozen omissions and substitutions from the list of entrees.

I struggle with food because it puts my family in an awkward position as they try to make meals around my new disorder. My mother creates the most wonderful food—the vast majority of it made with dairy in one form or another—and I'm conflicted over asking her to leave it off the menu or keeping it on, since I don't want to deny anyone else the pleasures of her cooking. I struggle with food when my boyfriend casually suggests making macaroni and cheese for dinner, forgetting for a moment that I can't eat it, and making us both feel bad about the comment for different reasons—him, for making me remember my love for macaroni, and me, for refusing him a beloved food.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I struggle with food because so many of my favorite foods are now forbidden. Just because I cannot eat milk, cream, or cheese, doesn't mean I stopped enjoying them. I have cravings for fettuccine Alfredo and rich chocolate ice cream that refuse to disappear, no matter how much I will them away.

I struggle with food because I still want to share new and exciting desserts that are infused with cream and butter because, let's face it, cream and butter never stopped being delicious. In my own kitchen, I'll sometimes substitute margarine or alternative milks for recipes, but there are still occasions when I'll refuse to make pie without a buttery, flaky crust. I'm continuing to juggle this new world of food, trying my best to create recipes that work for me and you.

This journey has a long, long way to go, but I'm trying. Perhaps a little more time is all I really need.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits are packed with flavor. A basic biscuit dough is infused with freshly chopped basil leaves, caramelized leeks, and coarsely ground black pepper. While baking, the biscuits rise, becoming buttery and flaky. These biscuits make a wonderful side for a bowl of soup or casserole, but can stand alone for moments when a biscuit spread with a little butter is all you really need. For tips on creating mile-high biscuits, check this out!

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Sunday
Mar252012

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

I was on a flight from Minneapolis back to my hometown after a week long escape to the ocean. I've flown dozens of times over the last few years, heading from here to there over land and sea for various reasons. I love the ease of freedom of flight—the rush of the take-off and the release of landing. This particular flight, however, was different.

It started off conventionally; I boarded the small plane and, after we took flight, ordered an orange juice and settled into a good book. The sun had already set and the interior of the plane glowed softly from the irregular pattern of lights blushing overhead. Midway through the short flight, the captain quietly mentioned we may be running into a bit of turbulence, but not to worry as we would still be arriving on time.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The seatbelt sign lit up above me. The stewardess hurried up and down the aisle gathering the last of the empty cups and napkins before the commotion began, assuring everyone that everything was all right, but could we please raise our trays and place our seats upright just in case. I set my book aside and looked out the window, spotting a small light here or there on the prairie below.

The plane shook softly. After a short pause, it shook once more. The turbulence had begun. I had flown in light turbulence before and it was nothing to fear. However, unbeknownst to the passengers, we were flying headlong into a vicious lightning storm.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Staring out the small window, I noticed the lights on the plane's wings were being echoed sharply by the sky. It took a few moments to realize the lights were not reflections from the constant blink of the wing's lights, but were the result of lightning streaking across the sky. The plane's soft, infrequent agitations quickly took a turn for the worse. The plane suddenly shook violently. I was lifted into the air from the force and my seatbelt dug into lap.

The plane jarred sharply to the left and to the right. The lightning created strobe lights in the interior of the plane, alternatively bathing everyone in bright light and darkness. I braced myself against the seat in front of me, sparing a glance out to the other passengers. As the plane plummeted another few feet, the same thought appeared to collectively cross our faces.

Am I going to die?

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The plane grew quiet, as if we had all held in our breaths and had nothing left to spare. A few rows in front of me, a mother was the only one to break the silence as she tried to comfort her young son (Do you remember that time when...). I listened to her weave a story, straining to hear her over the unsettling noise of the luggage moving around overhead. I noticed the older couple across from me also listening to her speak; I doubt she realized she was reassuring more than just her son with her words.

The plane became a wooden roller coaster, jerking the passengers back and forth and up and down. Though many chose to shut the screens to their windows to block out the lighting, I left mine open along with a few others for the same reason—to make sure the ground stayed where it should. Minutes stretched to hours and I grew nauseous, as my stomach flip flopped from the motion of the plane and the dark thoughts running through my head. The older woman across from me began to pray, folding her hands over the handle on the seat in front of her as she bowed her head.

Was I ready to die?

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

The ground swelled up quickly to the meet the plane and it took me a moment to realize we were landing instead of crashing. As we hit the runway at a frightening speed, my head flew forward, smashing into the seat in front of me. It was clear we were going too fast. The captain slammed on the brakes, but we skidded along the wet pavement like a car who had lost control on a sheet of ice. After a few long and terrifying moments, the plane jerked to a full stop.

We were safe.

Only after the seatbelt light flickered off, did the passengers let out the collective breath we had been holding. The woman beside me shakily told her husband she would be dead before she set foot on another plane again. My legs shook violently beneath me as I dared to stand. I met my mother in baggage and hugged her tightly, unable to express exactly what I had been through and neither wanting to. To this day, I have never been happier to set foot on solid ground.

The flight often crosses my mind. I later learned I had spent an hour and fifteen minutes being jostled back and forth, both from the plane and from my thoughts. It was the first time I had truly feared for my life—the first time I had anticipated the possibility of my death. While I am not afraid to fly the skies again, the unexpected flight will certainly stay with me, if only to remind me of the rush of gratitude and relief that comes with knowing I am safe.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

This Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart borders the line between savory and sweet. The goat cheese and sour cream filling, sweetened with honey, bakes up and settles like a cheesecake in the basil infused tart crust. Once cooled, the tart is topped with fresh, ripe blackberries and drizzled with warm honey. Perhaps unexpected, the complex flavors of blackberry and basil contrast elegantly against the strong flavor of the goat cheese. This tart has served me both as a dessert and weeknight dinner. This tart is certainly one to impress.

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Sunday
Mar182012

Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread

This week has been unseasonably warm. So warm, in fact, the Upper Midwest has tossed aside the winter jackets and scarves, burying them deep into the coat closets, opting for shorts and flip-flops instead. Summer in March, if only for a few days. While I've been soaking up the hot weather and warm breezes, running around in flowing skirts, I can't shake the feeling that Mother Nature is going to make me pay for this untimely gift, in some form or another.

Blizzards and ice storms in May? It wouldn't be the first time.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread

This newly encountered Summer in March is like a Spot the Difference! game in a child's doodle book. The grass is brown and dead. The branches on the trees are stripped bare, without the bright green buds of spring. The neighbor's home still has Christmas lights winding around the railing of the front step. The earliest signs of spring haven't arrived, leaving the appearance of the world still in the midst of winter.

If not for the cars driving past, with the windows rolled down and the music drifting into the street, or the girls suntanning in swimsuits in front yards of neighboring houses, you'd never know it was 80 degrees F outside my window. Summer in March, you are giving me mixed signals.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread

Even so, I've embraced this heatwave by eating the quintessential summer foods. I've taken the cover off the grill. I finally purchased fresh fruits that weren't apples and oranges (Hello strawberries and watermelon! It's been too long). I made frozen yogurt for the very first time. The last few days have been mood healing.

One of my favorite end-of-summer meals is a garden fresh tomato basil pasta with a warm baguette spread with brie cheese. Since summer foods aren't nearly in season, I incorporated this memorable meal in a different way. This Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread is an homage to those long summer nights, but can (and should) be eaten any day of the year.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread Sun Dried Tomato Basil Brie Spread

This Sun Dried Tomato, Basil, & Brie Spread couldn't be easier to make (and packs a punch of flavor). With a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper, each ingredient is bright and present. Spread thickly onto a cracker, it makes for a simple-to-make appetizer for dinner parties or it can act as a makeshift meal when you simply don't feel like cooking.

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