Conversation with a Food Blogger: Beard & Bonnet

In this column, we're interviewing the tastemakers, foodies and chefs that are dominating the web. This week: Meg van der Kruik of Beard + Bonnet.
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In this column, we're interviewing the tastemakers, foodies and chefs that are dominating the web. This week: Meg van der Kruik of Beard + Bonnet.

Beard & Bonnet is a gluten-free blog filled with vegan and vegetarian recipes galore. If you still think vegetables can't be more than a side dish, Meg van der Kruik is sure to change your mind with her amazing veggie mains, appetizers and snacks. Meg has been cooking and eating vegetarian dishes for almost 8 years now, but it wasn’t until her son was born with a severe gluten intolerance that she decided to tackle the world of gluten-free cooking head on. An artist and designer by trade, Meg is based out of Long Beach, California and always has a new adventure on the horizon. Each week on Beard and Bonnet, she shares original recipes, easy-to-follow tutorials and gluten-free life lessons that she has learnt along the way. Named after the infamous pirates Captain Black Beard and Stede Bonnet, the Beard & Bonnet blog is truly a celebration of adventurous eating and gluten-free treasures.

What is your favorite meal of the day?

Dinner! I look forward to sitting down with my family all day long. It is the one meal of the day that we require everyone to gather around the kitchen table.

What’s an ingredient that you just can’t live without?

Lime. I love adding lime zest to baked goods and lime juice to savory meals. You can use the peel to flavor curries and soups and then use the rest of that lime to whip up a pretty stellar cocktail. It is such a versatile ingredient-they’re always in my kitchen.

If you were stranded on a deserted island what two spices would you want to have with you?

Cumin and cinnamon

Where is your favorite place to shop for ingredients?

The farmer’s market. I love chatting with the farmers and hearing about their growing practices.

You’re a popular food blogger with thousands of followers. Is there a food blog that YOU follow?

Fork and Beans! I love Cara’s gluten free and vegan recreations of my favorite childhood treats.

As a health conscious food blogger, do you still treat yourself to guilty pleasures?

Absolutely! My life is all about keeping a healthy balance.

What is your favorite late-night snack?

I usually have to sneak in something a little salty and something sweet. A handful of trail mix or a dark chocolate and sea salt Kind Bar are my go-to late night munchies.

What are the biggest challenges and greatest rewards of being a food blogger?

I think recipe development can be both the biggest challenge and greatest reward of blogging. I get an idea about what I want to make and in my head I can envision it perfectly, but it sometimes takes 3-5 times of making it for it to work out. It is so frustrating when a recipe isn’t working, but when I finally nail it...well, that is one of the best feelings in the whole world.

Do you have any recipes that stand out for being epic fails?

Although I’ve had plenty of disasters in the kitchen the one that stands out the most is the first time I ever made risotto. I was trying to impress my husband back when we first started dating with a big fancy meal. I had never cooked with leeks or butternut squash and I definitely had never even eaten risotto before. Dinner was horrible! It took forever for me to cook it; I almost cut my finger off trying to figure out how to cut the butternut squash, and, to make matters worse, since I had no idea how to clean a leek there was grit and dirt in our risotto. I was mortified; my husband tried to fake it and said it was good while he forced it down. Eventually we both threw in the towel and went out for Mexican food!

What’s next in your career?

I am currently in the beginning stages of writing a cookbook!

Finally, can you share one of your favorite recipes?

I think my all-time favorite recipe has to be my sweet potato and lime taquitos. They are slightly sweet from the sweet potato, have a subtle zing from a red onion, cilantro, and lime relish, and are cooked until perfectly golden brown and crispy. I pair them with a spicy avocado dipping sauce. They are so good!!

Sweet Potato & Lime Taquitos

Sweet Potato & Lime Taquitos (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Makes: 4 as a main, or 8 as an appetizer

Hands-on Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 pounds sweet potato (about 1 large), scrubbed, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoon vegan butter substitute, ghee, or salted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes, 1 juiced and 1 cut in half
  • 12-14 white corn tortillas, warmed (see note)*
  • Olive oil for pan frying
  • Chopped lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped cilantro, hot sauce (I use Cholula), and lime wedges for serving

AVOCADO DIPPING SAUCE

  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and pits removed, scooped from their shells
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (for a less spicy version remove the seeds and ribs)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Kosher salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling drop the potatoes into the water and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain, return the potatoes to the pot and combine with the vegan butter, cinnamon, cumin, and salt.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the red onion, chopped cilantro, and lime juice. Set aside to marinate, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/4-inch of oil over medium heat. Working with one tortilla at a time, rub the fleshy side of half of a lime over the tortilla then spread 1 heaping tablespoon of mashed sweet potatoes and 1/2 of a tablespoon of the onion, cilantro, and lime mixture evenly along one side of the tortilla. Gently roll the tortilla tightly beginning on the side with the filling. Use a toothpick to secure the taquito so it doesn't unroll while cooking. (Corn tortillas have a tendency to dry out quickly and split, so I rolled 4 taquitos then placed them in the hot pan and rolled 4 more while the others were cooking until they were all finished.)
  4. Place the prepared taquitos seam side down in the hot oil and cook, rotating with tongs, until they are golden brown and crispy on all sides, approximately 4-5 minutes per batch. Continue to cook the rest of the taquitos in batches, adding more oil as needed. Remove the toothpicks after you have fried them.
  5. For the dipping sauce combine the avocado, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, and water in a blender or food processor, then puree until smooth and creamy. Season to taste with kosher salt. Chill until ready to use.

Serve with Avocado Dipping Sauce, lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges.

*Corn tortillas will often tear if they're not warmed before you roll them. To heat them up, simply wrap them in a damp paper towel and heat them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds at a time until they're pliable.

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Alexis Nilsen has a blog called Cow Crumbs.This princess is filling her paper bags with wholesome good-for-you ingredients, proving one recipe at a time that gluten-free can be so much more than rice flour and tapioca starch.