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The Food Matters Project: Sweet Potato and Corn Fritters

This is what it's come to. If you look at the photo on the left, you'll see the light. I think we should take a moment to mourn its loss, don't you? The earlier sunrise does make it easier for me to wake up at 6 am, but the 5 pm sunset makes me utterly helpless when it comes to taking blog pictures. If you look at the photo on the right, you'll see the glare from my kitchen bulb, and my shadow from standing over the plate with iPhone in hand. Sigh.

But onto the recipe! It's quite good, with bright flavors, and easy to prep in advance. When it came to making the fritters, I followed Mark Bittman's recipe, but decided to use a lone avocado and Greek yogurt to slather alongside instead of the Thai dipping sauce.

For the original recipe, visit Aura's blog. 



The Food Matters Project: Improvising at the market

When it comes to shopping at the farmer's market, as much as I try to plan beforehand and limit my impulse buys, I've learned the value of going with the flow and allowing some improvisation to occur.

My market didn't have any apricots yesterday, but since plums were overflowing at the stalls, Mark Bittman's apricot polenta cake quickly turned into Dorie Greenspan's dimply plum cake. Dorie's cake has been lovingly made in all corners of the web. You can view her recipe here.

I baked my cake in an 8-inch round cake pan, and omitted the cardamom and orange zest since I didn't have either on hand; I used 10 small plums. A simple cake like this really lets in-season fruit shine. I imagine it would be equally wonderful with nectarines or peaches.

For the original Mark Bittman recipe for apricot cornmeal cake, visit Jen's blog.



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The Food Matters Project: Quinoa Tabbouleh

A holiday weekend always provides extra opportunities to cook and prepare more lavish meals. On Sunday, I paired this side with grass-fed rosemary skirt steak and grilled zucchini, peaches, and Manchego cheese. It felt like a feast, but other than the steak, everything was prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature, just the way I like to eat during the summer.

I've never quite warmed up to bulgur, so I appreciated using the same flavors in classic tabbouleh but using quinoa as the grain instead. One cup of quinoa (simmered with 2 cups of water for 10-12 minutes) was fluffed, then tossed with 8 small Roma tomatoes, 1 small cucumber, some extra-virgin olive oil, and lots of parsley. It will easily feed a crowd, too (6-8 as a side), or provide generous leftovers for a simple lunch salad the next day. Like most of Mark Bittman's recipes, they're mere suggestions. More tomatoes, less cucumber, or whatever suits you will work here, so don't feel confined to specific measurements.

For the original recipe, visit Sara's blog.

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The Food Matters Project: Lamb and Feta Flatbread

My nearby Whole Foods has really expanded its offerings of grass-fed meat. Once, only two cuts were available, but now a good quarter of the case is lined with options hitting the 4 or 5 mark on its animal welfare ratings scale. I was pleasantly surprised to find ground grass-fed lamb, otherwise I most certainly would have made this meal vegetarian.

Something I'm really enjoying about Mark Bittman's recipes is that they're more like suggestions. And most of them (save anything having to do with baking) don't require a formal recipe at all!

I turned my Greek nachos into flatbreads, covering grilled naan in a layer of herb-infused Greek yogurt to act as a sauce, then topped it with sauteed portobello mushrooms and lamb.

For the sauce, I used about 1 cup of Greek yogurt. I added 1/4 cup of crumbled feta, parsley, lots of lemon juice, and as much mint as I could handle (about 5 leaves). I find mint to be one of those very particular herbs, so use as much as you're comfortable with. I sauteed the mushrooms (2 portobellos, sliced) with garlic, then cooked the lamb with rosemary in the same pan.

For the original recipe, visit Megan's blog.



The Food Matters Project: Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Having never attempted summer rolls in my own kitchen, I held the belief that they seemed to be more trouble than they're worth. And now? My belief stands.

I don't blame the summer roll entirely, it's just tempermental. The paper is finicky and sticky, and there are a lot of small components that need to be set in place before beginning, but you really should try them for yourself before making a final decision. I also recommend beginning well ahead of finding yourself ravenous, which will make the process all the more frustrating. Just plan ahead and don't forget the avocado like I did, only to try and stuff them inside at the last minute.

For mine, I used cucumber, carrot, poached shrimp, avocado and red leaf lettuce. The dipping sauce was made by whisking peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, and enough water to make the consistency smooth.

I decided that I'd be happy to eat spring rolls again, provided they were prepared by someone else. If you'd like to make the effort, visit Alyssa's blog for the original Mark Bittman recipe.