Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Brunch {Menu}

After much deliberation, I've set our Easter menu. Look for recipes later this weekend, but this is what will be on the table. I'm excited about some old favorites and a couple of new recipes.


I am also buying PEEPS today. No, they aren't for consumption. Stay tuned...titles below will be hyperlinked once the recipes go live.

Sweet Basil Deviled Eggs
Chicken Salad in Carrot Cones

Fresh Asparagus Soup
Butter-Braised Radish Salad

Grilled Lamb Lollipops
Roasted Salmon
Baked Potatoes with Herbs

Dylan’s Zesty Carrot Cake
Rhubarb Popsicles

Riley’s Agave Lemonade
Passionfruit Mimosas

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bison Brewing's Saison de Wench {Beer Tasting Notes}


When I saw this at Whole Foods this evening, I was mesmerized. First, the label was pink - I rarely see that on a beer; second, it's a Saison - more on that later; and third, it's from Bison Brewing

I drink, and enjoy, anything from Bison. Anything. Their honey-basil ale is a perennial favorite. And I always wait anxiously for the holidays when I can track down their gingerbread beer.

The first word that comes to mind when I tried Saison de Wench: haunting. 

Named for The Beer Wench, Ashley Routson, Saison de Wench starts with a perfumey aroma of rose petals. It's not heady, old-lady. It's subtly floral, but unmistakable. It's goes down smooth and then more earthy notes emerge. And it finishes with a bite of lemongrass that lingers on the palate. Haunting.

Jake and I battled over the bottle. I probably should have opened two. Here are the brewing specs...for the geeks.

Farmhouse Ale Brewed with Botanicals
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs: 20
Hops*: Sterling
Malts*: Two Row, Carapils, Wheat, Munich
Botanicals*: Roses, Hibiscus, Lemongrass
 *All Ingredients 100% USDA Certified Organic

Food pairings I found: curries, ceviche, goat cheese, burrata, charcuterie, roasted chicken, truffles, salads, and fruits. We went with the roasted chicken. Recipe to come.

I'm so glad I discovered this. It's a new favorite!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rhubarb Curd


 Before rhubarb season wanes, I decided to make some rhubarb curd. It's been on my to-do list for years, but I always remember after all of the rhubarb is gone from the central coast. Argh! Not this year.

Ingredients

  • 6 C sliced rhubarb
  • 1/2 C water
  • zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1/3 C honey (I used a local avocado honey)
  • 1/2 C organic powdered sugar
  • 8 T butter
  • 8 egg yolks
  • juice from 1 lemon

Procedure
Place the rhubarb, honey, water, and zest in a large, flat-bottom pan.


Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb softens and loses its shape.


In the meantime, place the powdered sugar, butter, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Heat the pan until the butter is completely melted. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Beat the yolks. Add 1/3 of the boiling liquid to the beaten yolks then add the mixture back into the boiling liquid. Continue beating over medium heat until it thickens. Be careful not to let the curd boil or it will scramble. Spoon the curd into sterilized jars and keep in the fridge.


One disappointment: the curd didn't retain the lovely pink of the rhubarb. But it was incredibly delicious! I can't wait to use this tomorrow morning.

Easy Red Lentils

Red lentils are my go-to when I need a quick, but filling side dish. Red lentils, unlike green or black lentils, cook in less than 30 minutes. Love it!


Ingredients

  • 2 C red lentils
  • 2-1/4 C water
  • 2-1/4 C chicken stock
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 2 splashes of olive oil
  • 1/4 C fresh herbs (I used parsley from High Ground Organics tonight)
  • fleur de sel to taste

Procedure
In a medium sauce pan, soften the garlic in a splash of olive oil.

Stir in the lentils and add the liquids. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

Simmer until softened and fluffy. It usually takes about 20-25 minutes.

Add another splash of olive oil, fold in the herbs, and season to taste with salt. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SRC Reveal: Artichokes with Hollandaise


Welcome to my first reveal with Group B's Secret Recipe Club. I've been a part of the club for several years and took on hostess duties last month, but I still cooked with Group A in March. Now, I'm completely moved over to Group B. Hooray! 

This month I was assigned to Smells Like Brownies, a blog written by Melissa. I love that she characterizes blogging as a journey...she's continually working to improve her skills as a food stylist, photographer, writer, and chef. Way to keep it real, gal. We all need to continue striving for improvement. Love it. And I really love that she has an entire series of posts about her CSA goodies.

I considered her Warm Garlic Scape Vinaigrette, Carrot Chickpea SaladSweet and Salty Arugula Salad, and more. In the end, I settled on Artichokes and Hollandaise. Unlike Melissa, artichokes are a household staple. Maybe it has something to do with our proximity to California's artichoke capital. I was even honored as a 'choke artist in a local paper's 'Artichoke Fetishes and the Insane Recipes that Come With Them' article where I shared my Salmon-Artichoke Cakes, White Lasagna with Artichokes, and Artichoke-Chocolate Bundt Cakes. But I have never ever eaten artichokes with hollandaise sauce...much less made them. This month I changed that. Thanks, Melissa, for the inspiration!

And, as a bonus, these 'chokes were from our CSA Farm - High Ground Organics.

Hollandaise Sauce
inspired by Smells Like Brownies's Artichokes and Hollandaise

Ingredients
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 8 T butter, melted
  • pinch of fleur de sel
  • freshly ground pepper
Procedure
In the top of the double boiler, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, and vinegar. Add the melted butter to egg yolk mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time while whisking yolks constantly. If the hollandaise begins to get too thick, add a teaspoon or two of hot water. Continue whisking until all the butter is incorporated. Whisk in salt and pepper, then remove from heat. Place a lid on pan to keep sauce warm until ready to serve.

To prepare the artichokes...
Trim the spines from the leaves. Steam until the outer leaves pull away from the stem easily. Remove from pot. Serve with the hollandaise.


Melissa, what a great combination! My husband said he couldn't believe that I've never put those two together before. This will definitely appear on our table again soon, especially since artichokes are just coming into season.

#SundaySupper: Bademjan Shekam-por {Stuff, Roll, Wrap}

It's #SundaySupper time again. And this round we are stuffing, rolling, and wrapping. What a fun theme! I considered stuffing grape leaves, tomatoes, peppers, and even apples. But in the end, I wanted to make something with eggplants. 


A couple of years ago, I hosted an eggplant dinner for two friends' birthday celebration; I called it 'Ode to an Aubergine.'


Little back story: one of our friends claimed to not like eggplant. I took the challenge to come up with an entire dinner menu made with eggplant...from Eggplant Boats to Creamy Eggplant Soup and Braised Lamb Over Eggplant Puree to dessert. Yes! Even dessert. I made an Italian dessert - Melanzane al Cioccolato - with eggplant and chocolate. And, of course, I ordered eggplant hats for everyone.

The dinner was a wild success and the eggplant-averse friend declared, to my delight, Okay, I like eggplant now!

So, for this edition of #SundaySupper - Stuff, Roll, Wrap - I decided to do my own version of Bademjan shekam-por, Persian stuffed eggplants. Traditionally, it's fried eggplant that's stuffed with ground beef simmered in a tomato sauce and topped with slivered almonds. I opted to bake my eggplant and topped it with feta cheese instead of almonds. I also added lots of fresh herbs. So tasty!

Bademjan Shekam-por
Persian Stuffed Eggplant

Ingredients serves 4

  • 2 Chinese eggplants*
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 green garlic, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 C green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1/2 C tomato sauce
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/4 t ground coriander
  • 1 t ground paprika
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • juice of one Meyer lemon
  • 1 T fresh chopped dill
  • 1 T fresh chopped basil
  • 1 T fresh chopped mint
  • 1/2 C feta, cut into cubes

*the only eggplants I could find were long - over a foot long! If you can find shorter ones, you might need 4.

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rinse and dry your eggplants. Lay them on top of foil and drizzle them with olive oil. Fold them into the foil so that they are completely enclosed. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet. Roast for 50-60 minutes.


In the meantime, make your meat filling. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Saute the green garlic and leeks in the oil until they are softened and begging to turn translucent. Add in the ground beef and brown until cooked through. Stir in the green beans and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and add in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Cook until the sauce thickens. Squeeze in the lemon juice and fold in the fresh herbs.

Open the eggplant packets, leaving them on the foil, and slice them lengthwise. Mash the eggplant slightly, pressing the meat away from the skin slightly. Spoon the meat filling into the eggplant. Top them with the feta cheese and return them to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.


Serve stuffed eggplants with rice or with warm flatbread and plain yogurt.

Here's what the rest of the #SundaySupper brought to the party...


HTML: Starters and Snacks
Entrees and Mains
All things Sweet
All things Sweet


Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos. 

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

EGGStravaganza {Recipe Round-Up}


At the beginning of April, I put out a call for recipes. "Bring me your favorite egg recipes," I said. For the first time ever, the savories outnumbered the sweets. This is what I got..

Savory

I love all the variations of deviled eggs!
photos courtesy of participating bloggers: Farmersgirl KitchenShockingly Delicious

Sweet Basil Deviled Eggs by Shockingly Delicious

More egg-y deliciousness!
photos courtesy of participating bloggers: Cupcake MuffinOn the Move, In the Galley

Easy Hash Brown Egg Casserole by Close to Home
Eggciting Curried Eggs by Love & Flour
Shirred Eggs with Tomato by Cupcake Muffin
Chinese Tea Eggs by On the Move, In the Galley
Molded Hard-boiled Eggs by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Broccoli, Ham and Cheddar Egg Bake by Join us, Pull Up a Chair
Egg and Hash Brown Breakfast Pie by An Affair from the Heart
Arugula Salad with Bacon and Poached Quail Eggs by Flying on Jess Fuel
Quinoa Frittata by  Flying on Jess Fuel
Eggs Benedict Casserole by Cheese Curd in Paradise

Some with International Flair...
Menemen by Rachel Cotterill
Chinese Stir-Fried Tomato and Eggs by Tara's MultiCultural Table
Moroccan Meatball and Egg Tagine by Tara's MultiCultural Table
Thai Stuffed Omelet by Tara's MultiCultural Table
Tuscan Baked Eggs on Lentils by Shockingly Delicious

These are SO pretty!
photos courtesy of participating bloggers: On the Move, In the GalleySpinach Tiger

Eggs in a Lacy Nest by On the Move, In the Galley
Baked Eggs in Avocado by Curious Cuisiniere
Breakfast Burgers by Amy's Cooking Adventure
Baked Eggs with Sweet Potato-Brussels Sprout Hash by Spinach Tiger
Eggs Benedict Risotto by Cheese Curd in Paradise

Sweet
Peanut Butter Eggs with Dark Chocolate by Spinach Tiger
Strawberry Passionfruit Pavlova by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies (Gluten-Free) by The Heritage Cook
Meyer Lemon Curd and Shortbread Cookies by The Heritage Cook

Drinkable
photo courtesy of participating blogger: The Martini Diva

Easter Egg Martini by The Martini Diva
Easter Chocolate Cream Egg Martini by The Martini Diva

Thanks to the bloggers who shared their recipes!

Lemonade Stand


Last week, during Spring break, the boys wanted to hold a garage sale at my parents' house. Well, Dylan wanted to sell items; Riley wanted to sell lemonade.

Funny: they made more from the lemonade sales than from the junk!



Riley said, "Mom, I told the customers it was made with organic lemons from a garden."

Whose garden...we don't have a lemon tree and neither does Nonna?!! 

"Nonna's friend gave us the lemons," he explained.

Oh good! We don't have to have a conversation about truth in advertising, then.

Riley's Lemonade 
Ingredients makes 20 servings
  • juice from 5 organic lemons
  • 10 C cold water
  • 1-1/2 C blue agave nectar
Procedure
Measure out all of your ingredients. Pour the lemon juice, water, and blue agave nectar into a jar. Gently shake the jar to mix the nectar into the juice and water.