Thursday, February 11, 2016

Seared Venison Medallions with Justin's Cabernet Sauvignon #winePW #sponsor

Here we are with yet another recipe post and wine pairing for the week running up to our Valentines #WinePW. Click to read Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva's invitation to the Saturday #WinePW event. We're getting closer!

I had venison medallions that I'd purchased from D'Artagnan Foods. And I wanted to sear them and serve them with Justin Vineyards & Winery's Cabernet Sauvignon. I've long been a fan of Justin. And whenever we're in Paso Robles, we stop by. I was also excited to hear that Wine Enthusiast named them 2015 Winery of the Year. Nice and well-deserved!

In the Glass...
I rarely say that a wine is pretty. But this one really, really is! It's clear with almost a garnet glow where the wine hits the glass.

On the nose, it's aromatic with both sweet berries and fragrant spices. On the palate, it's sophisticated with savory notes and expertly balanced tannins. What a wine!

On the Plate...
The savory notes in the wine had me thinking: juniper. Nothing goes as well together as wild game and juniper, right?  Well, except for wild game, juniper, and an awesome red wine. I served these seared venison medallions on top of juniper-scented mashed potatoes and seared kale with a blanket to caramelized onions and mushrooms in a juniper-gin sauce. It was earthy deliciousness.

Ingredients serves 4

  • 4 venison medallions, approximately 4 ounces each
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 C sliced mushrooms (I used brown crimini mushrooms)
  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1/4 C beef (or venison) stock
  • 1/4 C red wine
  • 2 crushed juniper berries
  • 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 T crème fraîche
  • For serving: seared kale and juniper-scented mashed potatoes

Salt and pepper the venison medallions. Set aside at room temperature for half an hour.

Heat a splash of olive oil and 3 T butter in a large, flat-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions, then sear the venison on all sides. This should take 2 to 3 minutes on each side of the medallion. Set aside and let rest while you made the sauce.

Add the shallot to the pan and saute for with the onions. Add the mushroom and cook until softened and caramelized. Pour the gin, stock, and red wine into the pan; add in the crushed juniper berries. Raise the heat and let the sauce reduce by one half. Turn off the heat, fold in the rosemary, then whisk in the crème fraîche.

To serve, plate your mashed potatoes. Place seared kale on top of the potatoes and lay the medallion over the kale. Spoon the sauce over the top and finish with some more salt and pepper, if desired.

Find Justin Vineyards & Winery
on the web
on Twitter

*Disclosure: I did receive sample wines from Benson Marketing Group for the purpose of creating pairings and developing recipes. But no additional compensation was received and opinions are completely my own.

Foodie Reads 2016: Chef Edward Lee Melds (NOT Fuses) Asian + Southern Ingredients

The Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge is in full swing and we have entered our second month. I am hopping between three or four different books this month so far, but this is the one that landed on the top of the stack and is the first one I've finished: Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen by Edward Lee.*

My Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf and I love snuggling up on the couch and watching the episodes of Mind of a Chef that feature Chef Edward. It's Season Three in case you were wondering!

Actually I bought the cookbook specifically because we are enjoying the show. We stream the episodes on NetFlix since we don't have any TV stations. And while we enjoy his episodes, I really loved his book. More of his story-telling comes through and more of his passion about food. It's a stunning book with accessible recipes.

In addition to the incredible recipes, the book itself is a great read. Chef Edward has an authoritative voice and his narrative is compelling. A note about this post's title....

Chef Edward really dislikes the word 'fusion.' "Not only because it is dated," he writes, "but also because it implies a kind of culinary racism, suggesting that foods from Eastern cultures are so radically different that they need to be artificially introduced or 'fused' with Western cuisines to give them legitimacy." So, don't call his particular style of cooking 'fusion', despite being chock full of both Asian and Southern flavors. 

This is a book I plan to keep near the kitchen for guidance and inspiration. For this post, I am sharing TWO dishes that have both an Asian and a Southern feel. I had only planned to share the Vietnamese Lamb Chops, but the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf whined, "Mom, when are you going to make collard greens again. I love collard greens." Since that is not a sentence I really anticipated hearing from a child, even mine, I ran right out and bought a bunch. The Precise Kitchen Elf makes his own kimchi, but we were out, so I bought a jar of that as well. R looked at me disapprovingly when he saw me making this dish. "My kimchi is better," he noted. True enough.

Collards and Kimchi
Slightly adapted from Smoke and Pickles

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 C onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ C diced ham
  • 1½ pounds collard greens, washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2½ C chicken stock
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 1½ T apple cider vinegar
  • 1¼ C kimchi, chopped

Heat the butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the butter starts to foam, add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes, or until they begin to darken. Add the ham and cook until it is crispy but not too brown, approximately 3 minutes. Add the collards, chicken stock, and soy sauce. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The collards should be tender but still have a little bite to them. Add the vinegar to the greens and cook for another minute. Fold the kimchi into greens. Mix well and serve immediately.

Vietnamese Lamb Chops
Slightly adapted from Smoke and Pickles

Ingredients serves 6
  • 1/4 C bourbon
  • 1/2 C fish sauce
  • 1/2 C ginger syrup
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 2 T fresh garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 2 t freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 (1-inch-thick) lamb loin chops
  • For serving: fresh cilantro leaves, lime wedges, and steamed rice (I used Jade rice)

Place everything except the lamb in a rimmed dish and whisk to combine. Lay the lamb in a single layer in the marinade. Turn to coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator between 4 and 24 hours, turning the lamb at least once during the marinating time. I marinated mine for 10 hours.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Bake the lamb for 15 minutes. Turn the chops and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the dish to a wire rack and let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

For serving: Garnish with the cilantro and serve with the sauce, lime wedges, and steamed rice.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else is reading this month: February 2016 Foodie Reads Challenge.

Gluten-Free Fennel Spice Cake with Chocolate Glaze and Fennel Crystals

"Are you planning to make dessert tonight?" asked the Sugar Pig earlier this week. Yes, that is what I affectionately call my husband. Truth be told, I think he called himself that once and it stuck. It's fitting. He has a crazy sweet tooth.

No, I wasn't planning on it.

"Well, can you?"

Of course I can.

"Okay, will you?"

Sure. What do you want?

"I'm easy," he said. "But can you make it gluten-free?"

Oh, boy. Gluten-free dinners are not so tough. Gluten-free desserts are a tall order. But I told him that I would. I had been meaning to experiment with fennel cake and I had a pre-blended gluten-free flour, so I headed into the kitchen.

Ingredients makes 1 bundt pan


  • 3 C gluten-free flour (I used a pre-blended flour from Trader Joe's plus some buckwheat flour added in) 
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ t ground nutmeg
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • ½ t ground ginger
  • ¾ C olive oil
  • 1 ½ C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 C finely chopped fennel (keep the fronds for the glaze)
  • 1 C chopped pecans

Fennel-Infused Chocolate Glaze

  • ½ C organic heavy cream
  • 2 T fennel fronds
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 T butter
  • Fennel Crystals, optional for garnish (I bought mine at Gourmet Sweet Botanicals: here)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or grease your bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. Pour in the olive oil. Add the eggs and applesauce. Stir together until just moistened; do not over mix. Fold in the chopped fennel and pecans.  

Spoon batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto wire rack and let cool completely.

Fennel-Infused Chocolate Glaze
While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat until small bubbles form at the edges. Add fennel fronds and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain out and discard the fronds and rewarm the cream. Add in the chocolate and butter. Let stand for three minutes. Whisk until smooth.

When the cake is baked and cool, drizzle glaze over the top. If using, sprinkle with fennel crystals.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wild Boar-Mushroom Pot Pies with Landmark Vineyards' Pinot Noir #winePW #sponsor

Here we are with an additional recipe post and wine pairing for the week running up to our Valentines #WinePW. Click to read Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva's invitation to the Saturday #WinePW event.

When I was faced with a bottle of Landmark Vineyard's Pinot Noir*, the words "wild boar," "mushroom," and "pot pie" came to mind. That sounded like a fantastic match to the Pinot Noir: Wild Boar-Mushroom Pot Pies.

I had a wild boar shoulder that I'd purchased from D'Artagnan Foods. I chuckled when I saw that it read - meat from feral swine. Really?? That does not sound appealing at all. But I knew it would be. And it was.

Scribbling down an ingredient list before I headed for the store, I asked my husband if a pot pie always had a top and a bottom, he stared at me. "Sorry," he apologized, "I was stuck on the wild boar and mushroom combination. That sounds delicious."

He was no help. No help at all. So I, rather innocuously, posed this question on social media - "Question: Does a pot pie have a crust on the bottom?!" - and was shocked by the sheer number of answers I received. Absolutely floored. Over 1000 people clicked on my post though only about 100 made comments. Still, apparently there is some passion about this topic out there in the ether. I scrolled through the answers...

  • Mine do not.
  • Hubby makes them both ways. But "chicken pot pie with savory topping" has usurped all use of pie crust.
  • Yes.
  • I feel like the bottom crust is optional.
  • My rule is, if the pot pie is over 1 1/2 - 2 inches deep then it doesn't get a bottom crust, it gets too soggy. Less than that, both crusts are a must. But, most of the time we just make chicken and biscuits (basically the chicken pot pie filling with biscuits baked on top) instead.
  • Yes! Yum!
  • Yes.
  • Most definitely.
  • No, never a crust anywhere near pot pie! (Wait! What?? I asked for clarification) crust at all. It's PA Dutch a stew.
  • It is not a pie without the crust!
  • I think it should, but some people don't make it that way.
  • Bottom crust - top lattice.
  • Being a Swanson pot pie aficionado from early childhood, pot pies must have a bottom crust, as much as oreos require a chocolate cookie on either side of the vanilla center. The lack of a bottom crust would negate the eating technique, as per [our] family cultural norms.
  • Top and bottom - yes.
  • Yes.
  • Yes!!
  • Always.

Despite the glut of responses, there was absolutely no consensus. I mean, most people said yes to the bottom crust. But I actually liked the variations in the answers. What was absolutely confirmed: I can call it - be it crustless, top-crusted only, bottom-crusted with biscuits, bottom-crusted with crumble, bottom-crusted with lattice, or double-crusted - 'pot pie' and be just fine!

In the Glass...
You can click to read more the Landmark Vineyards' history in my post - Barley-Stuffed Acorn Squash & Zesty Crayfish with Landmark Vineyards' Overlook Chardonnay.

This is a soft and intense Pinot Noir that’s approachable. It’s an earthy wine with notes of cherry and anise.

On the Plate...
An almond-flecked Pâte Brisée encases a rich filling of slow-braised wild boar, mushrooms, and fresh herbs. So. Tasty. Pâte Brisée is a pastry dough/crust that has a rich flavor and a crisp, flaky texture. It is ideal for both sweet and savory pies, tarts, and quiches. Learn to make it. Stat. You won't regret adding it to your culinary repertoire. Also, because of the anise notes, I added fennel and fennel pollen to the pies.

Ingredients makes 6 individual pot pies

Pâte Brisée
  • 2-1/2 C flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 C finely ground almonds
  • 1 C butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 T chopped parsley
  • 1/2 t fennel pollen
  • 3 to 4 T whiskey (or you can use all water, I just thought the wild boar would go well with whiskey)
  • 3 to 4 T ice water
  • 3 to 4 pound boneless wild boar shoulder
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 C sliced celery
  • 2 C stock (I used organic beef stock)
  • 2 C red wine (not your that for sipping)
  • fennel fronds
  • 1 to 2 C mushrooms (I used a mixture of enoki, shiitake, and trumpet mushrooms)
  • 1/4 C flour
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 t fennel pollen
  • 1/4 C fresh herbs + more for garnish

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. Cook half of the onion, celery, and fennel until softened and beginning to caramelize. Sear the wild boar on each side, approximately 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add in the remaining onion, celery, and fennel.

Pour in the wine and stock. Lay the fennel fronds on top.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until boar is fork-tender, approximately two hours. Uncover boar; simmer until liquid evaporates and board begins to brown, approximately half an hour. Remove the fennel fronds. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook, for another 10 minutes. Shred boar with a fork. Place a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid into a bowl and whisk in flour until a paste forms. Stir the paste back into the pot and cook until the sauce thickens into a gravy. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and fennel pollen. Fold in fresh herbs.

Pâte Brisée
I don't have a food processor, so I use a pastry blender and do it all by hand. Place the flour, ground almonds, fennel pollen, and cold butter in a large bowl. Use the pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Blend in the herbs. Add 1 T water and 1 T whiskey one at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and cut again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 425°F. After the Pâte Brisée has chilled: On a floured work surface, roll out 1 half of the chilled dough. Cut out pieces of dough and lay them into the bottom of your individual pans; I used small round and heart-shaped Springform pans.

Prick the dough with a fork and place them in the oven to parbake for 15 minutes. You can roll out the remaining dough and cut tops or, I opted to do 3 with a double crust and 3 with a savory crumble (it was the Pâte Brisée crumbled with more ground almonds, more herbs, and some grated parmesan cheese).

Spoon the filling into your parbaked crusts and top with either another crust or a crumble. Return the pot pies to the oven and bake for another 40 to 45 minutes - until the crust is crisp and golden.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Find Landmark Vineyards
on the web
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I did receive sample wines from Benson Marketing Group for the purpose of creating pairings and developing recipes. But no additional compensation was received and opinions are completely my own.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Barley-Stuffed Acorn Squash & Zesty Crayfish with Landmark Vineyards' Overlook Chardonnay #sponsor #WinePW

Wine Pairing Weekend - #winePW - happens on the second Saturday of the month. And this month - February - Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva is hosting. Since it's Valentines' Day, we're talking about Valentine pairings. Click to read her invitation: here.

Then I was approached to create some Valentine wine pairings* and I decided to post recipes for the entire week. I opted to elevate my usual stuffed squash by topping it with some "love bugs" - also known as boiled crayfish. All three of my Valentines got a chuckle with how I plated them.

In the Glass...
Landmark Vineyards' history includes a Hatfield-McCoy type feud which is very intriguing to this history buff. On one side, a group of investors that includes Damaries Deere Ford, of the John Deere tractor/plow legacy, is credited with starting the vineyards in 1974. When First Lady Michelle Obama opted to pour Landmark's Chardonnay at the White House holiday party one year, she credits that choice to its historical connection to John Deere.

On the other side sits another presidential perspective on Landmark's history, crediting the Mabry family with the vineyards' creation. Ronald Reagan, apparently, served Landmark Chardonnay at the White House during his tenure and lauded the Mabrys for their "delicious wine."

In all my research and digging, I never did uncover a definitive answer to the question. But whether it was founded by Deere Ford et al or the Mabrys, I am glad it exists!

The 2013 Overlook Chardonnay from Landmark Vineyards has a vibrant golden hue with delicate aromas of Meyer lemon, sage and pear.

I'll just be honest: Chardonnay is not my usual wine of choice. Too much oak masks the fruit and many California Chardonnays are too buttery for my tastes.

This wine has impressive balance and freshness. It's intense but not overpowering. Landmark's Chardonnay is, in a word, exquisite. Seriously. This could make a Chardonnay lover out of me!

On the Plate...

Ingredients serves 4
  • 2 acorn squash
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • 1 dozen crayfish
  • 1 T Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 to 2 C cooked barley (I boil mine in chicken stock for more flavor)
  • 2 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 organic blood orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 organic blood orange, supremed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and strands. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Invert into your baking dish or a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until tender, approximately for 60 to 75 minutes.

Bring 8 C of water with 1 T Old Bay Seasoning to a boil in a large souppot. Let boil for 5 minutes. Drop the crayfish carefully into the water and boil for another 5 minutes. The shells with turn a bright red. Drain and set aside.

Mix the cooked barley and parsley together in a medium mixing bowl. Add in the juice of 1 organic blood orange and 1 T olive oil. Toss to coat.

To Serve
Place roasted squash on your serving dish. Fill the hollow with barley. Carefully lay your crayfish over the top and on the plate around the squash. Lay two supremed sections of the blood orange in the shape of an 'x' - you know as in the kiss from xoxo - next to your love bug. Sprinkle with orange zest, freshly ground salt, and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Find Landmark Vineyards
on the web

*Disclosure: I did receive sample wines from Benson Marketing Group for the purpose of creating pairings and developing recipes. But no additional compensation was received and opinions are completely my own.

Not Ketchup Recipes for #FreshTastyValentines

photos courtesy of participating bloggers

Last week I hosted a multi-day, multi-blogger event - #FreshTastyValentines - to bring you some
healthier options to feed your sweethearts. Along with 21 other bloggers, we shared nearly 130 recipes.

Here is an easy way to view the recipes that used product from our sponsor Not Ketchup. Thanks again, Not Ketchup, for sending your brand new No Sugar Added Tangerine Hatch Chile Fruit Ketchup to the bloggers and for providing a wonderful prize package for our readers as well!

Check out everything from dips to cakes. Enjoy!

Find Not Ketchup
on the web: here
on Twitter: here
on Facebook: here
on Pinterest: here
on Instagram: here
on Google+: here

photos courtesy of participating bloggers
*Disclosure: bloggers received complimentary product from Not Ketchup for the creation of these posts. 
However, all opinions are our own.*

All of the #FreshTastyValentines Not Ketchup Recipes...

Dining at the Ravens: Ravens Seaweed Strudel Plus a Giveaway #ravensblogtour #sponsor

When Heather at BenBella Vegan asked if I'd like to kick off the book tour for their new title Dining at the Ravens, I agreed immediately. I already had an advance copy of the book and was more than a little bit enamored with the recipes.

Full disclosure: I am not a vegan. But I am in my 40s and - if you're not there yet, lucky you! - I'm finding that I have to be much more aware of what I'm eating in this decade. So, my husband and I are consciously eating more plants, fewer sweets, more lean proteins, and fewer grains. But no food is completely off limits. I don't do well with moratoria, so we're judicious with our portions and purposeful in our menu choices. And our two sons are hearing - probably more than they would like to hear - about why we're choosing the foods that we're choosing.

"I'm not forty," the 12-year-old whines. "Why do I have to eat more plants?"

Because, you live with us and you don't buy your own groceries. 

"That makes perfect sense," assents the 13-year-old.

Dining at the Ravens is a cookbook, written by Jeff and Joan Stanford, that shares over 150 vegan recipes from The Ravens Restaurant at the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California. Packed with colorful photographs, Dining at The Ravens includes not just recipes, but the history of the establishment as well as cooking tips for perfect recipe execution. There's even inspiration for creating your own garden. If only my thumb weren't pitch black! Thankfully my husband and our youngest son can nurture plants and trees. I'll pass the book on to them soon.

I already mentioned that I am not a vegan, but these recipes are delicious for anyone who loves food, herbivore or omnivore. It's been a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection and we are happily adding these recipes to our kitchen repertoire. Thanks, Stanfords!

Every summer my family and I do a 1000+ mile loop, camping all over Northern California; Mendocino County is always one of our stops. From sea caves to redwoods and wildflowers to sea glass, Mendocino is a constant source of photographic inspiration.

For years, I have looked at the sign for the Stanford Inn by the Sea and not known what was down that road. Just this past summer, we had a great adventure at Van Damme State Park -  a little way down the coast from The Ravens - but I'll have to check out the inn as a possible splurge night during our 2016 camping trip next July!

Q & A with the Authors
I was excited to have the chance to do an online interview with Jeff and Joan and was tickled to discover that they got their West Coast start in my backyard. Before they headed up to Mendocino, they called Carmel home and managed the Carmel Garden Court Inn, which had previously been called Rosita Lodge. At the intersection of 4th and Torres, it was built primarily to house couples during WWII by a naval architect and his wife. The name was a combination of their first names—Roscoe and Anita (Johnson). The Stanford family changed the name to Carmel Garden Court Inn.

Jeff and Joan Stanford, photo courtesy BenBella Vegan

I asked them just a couple of questions...

Q: I am not a vegan, but my husband and I are consciously moving towards a more plant-based, whole food way of eating. When I talk to friends about veganism, the biggest objection I get, or most common excuse for why someone doesn't want to try it: "I would miss the meat." Clearly, your restaurant's success shows that if you're eating good vegan dishes, you won't miss the meat. What would be your best advice to someone about not missing the meat? How do you balance dishes so that they feel like they have a variety of tastes and textures and they're not eating 'rabbit food'?

A: We create some dishes folks can identify with, e.g., ravioli, or ethnic dishes, and just make them as tasty as possible with fresh ingredients. If folks like what they taste they won’t "miss the meat.” Vegan food being rabbit food is an outdated stereotype of sprouts, chopped veggies, and brown rice. Most vegan restaurants have creative, colorful, and flavorful dishes that dispel that image. Our favorite ethnic inspirations are Mexican, Thai, East Indian, Mediterranean, and East African. The flavors from these cuisines are complex and the variety of ingredients provides complexity and satiation. For those looking for a meaty taste, we use mushrooms and seaweed in dishes like our Portobello Sliders, or the strudel we make with sea palm, carrots, and onions. We make a New England oyster mushroom chowder that has won clam chowder contests. Our barbequed portobello is awesome and is a whole food alternative to brisket and other barbequed meats.

Q: I'm always curious to know what cooks and chefs eat when they are away from their work. And I'm usually surprised by the answer. What's your favorite at-home dinner?

A: At home we eat salads, braised or roasted vegetables, chili, and quite often, russet potatoes cooked in a T-Fal ActiFry (a low-fat multi-cooker). When cooked with white vinegar, the potatoes remind us of Winnipeg’s “chips and vinegar.” We don't cook at home often because we live on the Inn property and are continually tasting and tweaking dishes for the restaurant. We try parts of different dishes to assure consistency. A vegan restaurant has a high bar to meet and we have to stay on top of the kitchen. When we go to Lake Winnipeg for our annual family reunion, we experiment, creating dishes we bring back to the Inn and hand over to our fantastic cooking staff to test.

Raven Seaweed Strudel
reproduced with permission from the publisher, slightly adapted

A good friend of mine became a vegan around Fathers' Day last year. His son explained it this way: "My dad is a vegan. My mom and my sister are vegetarian. And I am tortured!" I might have to have him over for a few of these recipes. I am pretty sure he'd happily devour these dishes. Just looking at these titles makes my mouth water - Grilled Barbecue Portabella, Grilled Cauliflower Napoleon, Mushroom Pesto Burger, Spicy Peanut Curry Sea Palm, and Eggplant Cannelloni.

When I was perusing the cookbook, I decided to share a more challenging recipe. I did have some trouble sourcing sea palm. I ended up finding mixed sea veggies, so I changed the title to "seaweed strudel." Also, I added in some collard greens because I had them in my CSA box and I thought they would be a great addition.

As the Stanfords commented about their next-gen vegan fare, this was an incredibly creative, colorful, and flavorful dish. Incredible. They serve the strudel with two unique sauces and a fresh stir-fry. Did I already say 'incredible'?

For the Seaweed Strudel
  • 4 ounces seaweed, soaked for 5 minutes in enough warm water to cover
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C brown rice syrup
  • 6 T gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 2 C collard greens, destemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T organic vegetable broth
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) package whole wheat fillo dough (I used Fillo Factory Organic Whole Wheat Fillo Dough, as they do)
  • Spray oil
  • 2 T black sesame seeds

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
  • 1/2 (10-ounce) bag frozen raspberries
  • 3 1/2 T umeboshi plum paste
  • juice of 1 organic lime
  • 1 C apple juice
  • 2 T arrowroot powder

For the Asian Stir-Fry
  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 C chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C sliced green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  organic vegetable broth
  • 1/4 C raw cashews

For the Wasabi Sauce
  • 2 1/4 T wasabi powder
  • 2 1/4 T water
  • 2 1/4 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 t brown rice syrup


For the Wasabi Sauce
In a small bowl, make a paste of the wasabi and water. Place paste, oil, and brown rice syrup into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary.

For the Seaweed Strudel
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large saucepan, combine drained sea palm, water, brown rice syrup, and tamari. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a slow boil. Lower heat and simmer until the liquid turns to syrup, about 15 minutes.

Add ginger, remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan, braise onion, carrots, and collard greens in the stock and sesame oil. Lower heat to low and allow the vegetables to soften, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To assemble, lay down 1 sheet of fillo dough and brush or spray lightly with olive oil. Place a second sheet on top of the first and brush with oil again. Repeat with a third layer.

Sprinkle black sesame seeds over the whole third sheet. Layer 2 more sheets of fillo, brushing each with oil (for total of 5 layers). Sprinkle black sesame seeds on the top layer.

Spread a 3-inch wide strip of the cooled sea palm mixture evenly across the fillo sheets, 2 inches from the bottom. Lift the bottom edge up and over the sea palm mixture, rolling and securing the mixture. Then place a 3-inch-wide strip of the cooled carrot-onion-collard green mixture evenly across the top of the secured sea palm mixture. Roll the sea palm up and over the carrot mixture, securing the mixture. Continue to gently roll up.

Place, seam-side down, onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Allow to rest for 5–10 minutes.

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, plum paste, and lime juice. Add apple juice, using only enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot with a 1/2 teaspoon water to make a milky paste. Add additional water if necessary.
Carefully add the arrowroot mixture to the boiling raspberry mixture. Mix well and remove from heat. Strain the seeds out, if you wish; I did. Set sauce aside until ready for assembly or store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Asian Stir-Fry
In a large sauté pan, heat sunflower oil and add onion. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, then add remaining vegetables and red pepper flakes, tossing occasionally. Pour in the vegetable stock, toss vegetables to coat, reduce heat to low, and cover pan to steam the vegetables. Toss vegetables again after 5 minutes, and replenish vegetable stock if needed to coat vegetables. Continue to cook until just tender, another 5 minutes. Just before serving, toss cashews into the vegetables.

For Serving
Smear a ribbon of wasabi sauce on your serving plate. Using a serrated knife, slice the strudel into 2-inch pieces and place on top of the wasabi sauce. Place about 1/2 cup of stir-fry in front of strudel pieces. Drizzle the umeboshi sauce over the strudel and serve immediately.

The Giveaway
One of my lucky readers - US only! - can enter to win a copy of  Dining at the Ravens by Jeff and Joan Stanford, courtesy of BenBella VeganGiveaway runs from February 9th till March 3rd at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to BenBella Vegan. You may find them: on the web, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

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*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Dining at the Ravens by Jeff & Joan Stanford to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my posts.

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