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I’m Andrea. I like to cook and bake and take photographs and write about life. Welcome to Bella Eats, where I share these passions of mine with you. I’m glad you’re here.

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Tuesday
Jan012013

2012 in review...on beyond the flavor

Looking at my list of Bella Eats posts from 2012, it saddens me to see only thirteen. 13! And only nine of those contain recipes. Typically, at this time of year, I do a nice little re-cap post showcasing my favorite recipe from each of the previous twelve months. You can see 2011's summary here. With only nine recipes, and the ability to see them all by going back just three pages, I don't think that's necessary on this January 1st.

2012 was a GREAT year for food. But, because so much of my time was spent helping to launch and provide content over at Beyond the Flavor, my contributions to Bella Eats were severely limited. My top goal for 2013 is to create a better work/life balance, which includes allowing more time to dedicate to this space that I love so very much. Bella Eats is mine; a place to share my own stories surrounding the food on our table, to experiment with styling and to push myself as a photographer. I don't want to lose it. Truly. Please, dear readers (all ten of you that are left), hold me accountable. 

Until then, I want to encourage you to spend some time browsing the recipes we are providing at Beyond the Flavor. We are SO excited by what we've accomplished in our first nine months and the incredible support we've received from our friends, family, contributing chefs, farmers, bakers, and food enthusiasts. We have big plans for 2013. Watch for the launch of our new website in the Spring, complete with an easily searchable recipe database, food + beverage pairings, and more great stories from the people who make good, local food possible.

Here are my twelve favorite recipes shared on Beyond the Flavor this year. It was hard to narrow down, but these are recipes we've adopted into our life and now share at our table. I hope you'll try and enjoy them as much as we do, and continue to follow both Bella Eats and Beyond the Flavor in 2013.

Happy New Year, friends!  xoxo.

*note: recipes are located at the bottom of each post. we know it is tricky to find...which is why we're redesigning our site!

Dutch Baby - from Tara Koenig, owner of Sweethaus Bakery

Orrecchiette con Salsiccia e Rapini - from Megan Headley, Food + Wine Editor of Cville Weekly and Writer at Beyond the Flavor

Macaroni + Cheese - from Gerry Newman, owner of Albemarle Baking Company

Fried Chicken - from Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak, owners/farmers at Free Union Grass Farm

Eggs on Eggs - from Kate Collier and Eric Gertner, owners of Feast!

Seared Groupler and Quinoa Salad - from Ashley East, owner/chef at Dinners at Home

Ancho-Chili Chocolate Milkshake - from Tim Gearhart, owner/chocolatier at Gearharts Chocolate

Steak with Avocado Jalapeno Salad - from Dean Maupin, chef at C+O Restaurant

Cider-Braised Chicken and Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes - from Dan Potter and Tim Edmond, owners of Potters Craft Cider

Eggs Shields - from Sarah Cramer Shields, co-creator of Beyond the Flavor

Breakfast Pizza - from Michael McCarthy, owner/chef at Dr. Ho's Humble Pie

Blackberry Cobbler - from Jenny Peterson, owner of Paradox Pastry

Tuesday
Dec042012

we went to spain!

Hi, friends! Since the last time I checked in here at Bella Eats, Brian and I traveled to Spain. It was the most amazing trip, our honeymoon 6.5 years post-wedding, and we still can't quite believe that it's over. I have so much to share, and was so inspired while there, that I can barely contain myself! Once I parse through the thousands of images we captured I will share more, here, along with the recipes sure to emerge from our kitchen. We're already craving tortilla and albondigas like you wouldn't believe.

Also, if you're on Instagram, you can follow me there @andreahubbell. Brian (@brianmhubbell) and I made a special hashtag while abroad, #hubbellsinspain, which I still visit multiple times a day to relive small pieces of our time in Spain. Oh, how we miss it!

Also, have you met Sarah and Megan, the lovely ladies that I work with every week on Beyond the Flavor?

Together, at the beginning of November, we hosted the first annual Beyond the Flavor Friendsgiving. It was the best evening, filled with contributors, supporters, and friends of our project, without whom Beyond the Flavor wouldn't exist. You really should hop over to see our recap of the event, even if only for food inspiration. While the recipes shared were originally intended for the Thanksgiving table, several have made it to our regular menu and would be wonderful for other holiday meals as well. My favorites so far: Autumn Israeli Couscous, Crispy Kale Salad, and Pecan Corn Bread Pudding.

[photo by Sarah]

Coming home from 12 days of travel makes one crave cooking in one's own kitchen, and I am no exception. While I won't make any promises, I do have the best of intentions for Bella Eats. I hope to see more happening here, soon. We made the best, simplest roast chicken on Sunday, and it deserves an audience. Until then...happy December!

Wednesday
Sep192012

fresh fig tart with lemon cream

Figs. Quite possibly the most beautiful edible fruit in existence. They are at their peak in Charlottesville, and I can't get enough of the soft globes that are actually inverted flowers (Did you know? I did not. Thanks, Megan!). We foraged for them over on Beyond the Flavor, joining our friend Daniel as he visited some of his favorite fig-gathering haunts around the city. Eagerly awaiting their arrival each September, I've been known to stake out trees on the University of Virginia grounds; faithfully driving by each day for weeks waiting for the green fruit to turn rosey, only to be foiled by a student who reached the trees an hour before us on the day they were finally ripe. The sight of his retreating form, bag of fresh figs full to bursting at his side, still saddens my heart. 

On Beyond the Flavor, we've asked our readers to submit their favorite fig recipes. (Like us on Facebook and submit your recipe here, if you've got a favorite to share. There's a prize for the winner!) While my preferred way to consume a fig is fresh, straight from the tree, I wanted to try something new for this little contest we're holding. I thought about a savory treat, but settled on sweet because, let's be honest, that's my area. 

A quick internet search resulted in this recipe, whose simplicity and un-touched figs caught my attention.  There were obstacles that stood in my way - a lack of sour cream in the refrigerator and an oven that broke in the middle of baking the crust - but I persevered and was able to share four pieces amongst friends. The firm crust with a cornmeal crunch paired nicely with soft, lemon-scented cream and the pop of tiny fig seeds between teeth. We four enjoyed it immensely, outside under the stars, while our friends' dog enjoyed the leftovers on the countertop in the kitchen upstairs. A disappointment, for sure, as I had at least one more piece earmarked for the next morning's breakfast. 

My craving not fully satisfied, I'll be making this tart again. As soon as we fix the oven.

Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust + Lemon Mascarpone Cream

modified from Gourmet, July 2003

serves 12

crust ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
filling ingredients
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt instead)
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh figs

crust method

  1. Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated.
  2. Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.
  3. Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.

filling + assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don't worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.
  3. filling + assembly
  4. Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl.
  5. Remove side of tart pan and spread mascarpone cream in shell. Cut figs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange decoratively over cream.

For those of you missing more regular Bella Eats posts, you really should hop over to Beyond the Flavor.  I am there more often than I am here, although I haven't given up on this little corner of the internet. I know I've said this before, many times, but I do hope to carve out more time to spend in this space I created nearly four (4!!!) years ago.  After all, it was the inspiration for everything I am doing today with food and photography, and I can't bear to see it fade away. Many thanks to all of you who stick around, comment, and poke me with emails to say hello. I appreciate each and every one of you.  xoxo.

Wednesday
Jul252012

lemon olive oil cake with apricots and rosemary

Brian and I have spent a total of maybe thirty nights apart since we were married six and a half years ago. We’ve racked up seventeen of those nights in the last seven months, since the beginning of 2012, and have another ten on the calendar for August and September. We’re each traveling for work more than ever before, being pulled to New York, Connecticut, Chicago, Florida, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and New Hampshire this year alone. 

An essential part of travel, for each of us, is the exploration of local food. Before we embark on a journey we ask friends, Facebook, and Twitter for restaurant recommendations. I look through the archives of Bon Appetit, Saveur, Gourmet, and The New York Times to see what I can find about the culinary scene. While visiting, Instagram is aflutter with food and drinks consumed. If we’re apart, iPhone photos are swapped between Brian and I; visual descriptions of whatever treats have been found both away and at home. We stay connected through the food we eat, never liking to spend a meal separately.

The best part, though, is the gifts given upon return. That little piece of an experience apart that lets the other know they weren’t really that far away at all. From New Orleans there was duck jerky from Butcher and, that one time, two pounds of sliced ham from Mother’s. From Florida, a special spice rub from 4Rivers BBQ. The exchange goes the other way, too, with the homemade pot roast awaiting my return from New York in February, or the whisper of a ‘fruit surprise’ in the kitchen just two weeks ago.

I’d returned early-ish on Sunday morning. Having photographed a wedding in northern Virginia with Sarah the night before, we’d each been anxious to get home to our husbands. An early departure with a quick stop at Starbucks had us back in Charlottesville by 10am, just in time for me to crawl in bed for the last 30 minutes of weekend snuggling with Brian and the pups. As we recapped our two nights apart, Brian rattled off the list of goodies he’d picked up at the farmers’ market the morning before. Excited to see my surprise, I padded out to the kitchen to investigate. And there sat the prettiest, rosiest apricots in my very favorite bowl.

Just the thought of Brian coming across those apricots at the market makes me smile, because I know that he would never have picked them up just for himself. No, he saw the pretty fruits and thought ‘Andrea would like to bake something with these.’ and whisked them away to our house where, two days later, they were the stars of this cake.

We adored this cake. Not too sweet (Brian's favorite kind) but bursting with the flavor of fresh apricots. The base has an almost poundcake-like consistency...dense and a bit spongey. The earthiness of the rosemary was the perfect compliment to the brightness of the fruit. Be sure to pick good apricots; they'll make all the difference.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Apricots and Rosemary

serves 8

adapted from Gourmet, April 2006

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 fresh apricots, halved and pitted

Method

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with some oil, then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Oil the parchment.
  2. Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1-1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Add the chopped rosemary and whisk. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.
  3. Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.
  4. Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
  5. Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
  6. Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Place apricot halves in a decorative pattern across the top of the cake, cut-side up. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature, about 1-1/4 hours. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

Friday
Jul132012

fresh tomato pasta

In terms of food, I do believe this is my favorite time of year. Summer. Aside from the two outdoor weddings photographed on 100+ degree days, she's been treating me well. Our local market is exploding with color and flavor; eggplant, tomatoes, peaches, melon and squash make it into our basket every Saturday. Our dinners are simple, inspired by the abundant fresh produce and the desire to keep it all as whole as possible. While I do love to cook, the idea of spending an hour preparing dinner over a hot stove is less than desireable in the middle of July. Which is why this recipe is my new favorite.

Sarah is my office mate, Beyond the Flavor partner, fellow food lover, and very dear friend. Nearly every afternoon we turn away from our computers and ask what the other is having for dinner. On Monday, when I was clueless about our evening menu but mentioned that I had a bowl full of beautiful, ripe tomatoes, she told me about this dish. It is about as simple as it gets, relying fully on the flavor of summer's best bounty. Tomatoes are chopped to bite-size pieces and tossed with sliced basil, minced garlic, and a generous amount of olive oil. The mixture is then refrigerated for at least an hour before being folded into hot, cooked pasta. Add some sausage (which we'd grilled the previous evening), salt, pepper and Parmigiano, and dinner is served.

Happy weekend, friends!

Summer Tomato Pasta

serves 4

To make this dish vegetarian, remove the sausage and add red pepper flakes to your marinade.

Ingredients

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 12 leaves fresh basil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1 cup crumbled hot italian sausage, cooked
  • 1 pound brown rice pasta
  • salt + pepper
  • fresh Parmigiano Reggiano

 Method

 

  1. Chop tomatoes. Slice basil. Mince garlic. Toss all together in a shallow dish with olive oil and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Cook pasta. I like to bring my salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and then turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. The pasta should be done in 8-10 minutes.
  3. Drain pasta and add back to pot. Toss with tomato mixture and add crumbled sausage. Salt + pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with shavings of Parmigiano and an arugula salad.