Friday, July 31, 2015

Grano Saraceno Risotto con Funghi e Miele for #ItalianFWT

This month the Italian Food, Wine & Travel - #ItalianFWT - blogging group is traveling to their tenth region of Italy: Sardegna (or Sardinia, in English). I'm joining for the first time and was thrilled to be heading to Sardegna by tabletop and goblet.

When I lived in Italy, after college, I hopped on the overnight ferry out of Civitavecchia to Olbia. My friend and I couldn't afford a seat, so we slept in sleeping bags on the deck all the way across. Good thing I was young and resilient! Sleeping on an unforgiving deck bench in this decade would be torturous.

From the port, which I remember smelled of orange blossoms, Kristin and I caught a bus to Costa Smeralda and camped on the granite cliffs overlooking the white sand beaches of Santa Teresa di Gallura. It's a town on the northern tip of Sardinia and you can see the southern coast of Corsica from the beach. Absolutely stunning. I loved it so much that I went back one more time before I moved back to the States.

To celebrate my 23rd, we had a bottle of wine - maybe two bottles - crusty bread, wild strawberries, and some pungent sheep's milk cheese. It was one of my most memorable birthday dinners ever. I only wish I had the photos digitally to share with you. Maybe I need to invest in a slide scanner.

My fellow bloggers have lots to share with you so check out their blogs below.  If you're reading this in time also you can join us live on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT and tell us all about your experiences with the island of Sardegna or come and learn something new about this region.
I have no recollection of what wine I drank while I was in Sardegna. I just remember it being red and plentiful. For this event, I tracked down a 2009 Shardana. When the Phoenicians first set eyes on Sardinia, they arrived from the south, to the Sulcis peninsula. From there they traveled north until they had colonized the entire island. Shardana was their name for the native Sardinians. The red symbol on the label [above] is the Phoenician letter 's'.

This 2009 Shardana is an epic red blend that has layers of spice, herbs, licorice, and black olives. I could almost taste the vibrant mix of myrtle and juniper whose heady scents enveloped the cliffs that I remember from Sardinia. It was an intense sensation. I could close my eyes and imagine the waves crashing on the beach at Santa Teresa di Gallura. I loved this robust red. Cin cin! 

On My Plate...
I already told you about my Spartan - in the austere sense - birthday dinner. During my second trip a few months later, I was with more friends. We pooled our money and splurged on some seafood and pasta. And, of course, more wine.

When I was trying to decide what to make for this, I came across a Sardinian dish that's a risotto-style dish made with fregula sarda and has mushrooms, abbamele, and goat cheese. Fregula is a small, toasted semolina pasta. Abbamele is made by pressing honeycombs to extract all the honey and pollen then reducing that honey in large copper pots. Not having either of those ingredients, I opted to use buckwheat groats ("grana saraceno" in Italian) and a pine honey. The dish was a hit and paired beautifully with the Shardana.

Grano Saraceno Risotto con Funghi e Miele


  • 3 C organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 1 to 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 C chopped shallots
  • 1/2 C diced red peppers
  • 1 C sliced mushrooms (I used a mixture of shitake and morel mushrooms)
  • 1 1/4 C uncooked buckwheat groats
  • 1/4 C finely chopped fresh herbs (I used a mixture of parsley, oregano, and thyme)
  • 1/2 C goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 T abbamele or honey
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Combine stock and wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and keep at a simmer while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Heat oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add shallots and cook until softened and translucent. Add the peppers and cook till softened. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they soften and the liquid mostly evaporates.

Add in the buckwheat and stir to coat with oil. Add in liquid by the ladle-full, stirring constantly, until each addition of liquid is absorbed. This might take 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Stir herbs, goat cheese, and 2 t honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon risotto into serving bowls and drizzle each serving with remaining honey. Serve immediately.

Off to Abruzzo...
Next month's #ItalianFWT event happens on September 5th. We will be featuring the region of Abruzzo. Can't wait.

Scallop-Shrimp Ceviche

Ceviche is easily one of my top three favorite appetizers of all time. It's a simple dish of seafood "cooked" by the acid in lemons and limes. It's so easy, but it requires incredibly fresh ingredients. I usually ask my fish monger which is the best choice for ceviche that day. Sometimes he'll say shrimp, sometimes it's the scallops. The day I made this, he said both. So, I used both!

  • 1/2 pound scallops, sliced (click here to see the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch findings on scallops)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 t freshly ground salt
  • ½ t freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 fresh lemons, juiced (I used Meyer lemons from a tree we have in our yard)
  • 1/2 C chopped organic red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C chopped organic cucumber
  • 2 organic green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T salsa or hot sauce (I used some Carrot Karma Hot Sauce from Intensity Academy)
  • fresh lettuce, for serving
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, for serving
  • freshly ground pepper for serving

Place the raw seafood pieces in a glass dish and cover them with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The seafood should be completely covered by juice.

Cover the dish and place it in the refrigerator. Let the seafood marinate or "cook" in the lemon juice for at least 4 hours. Once the seafood is "cooked" in the juices, add the remaining ingredients just before serving.

To serve, place one washed and dried lettuce leaf on your plate. Top with the ceviche. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gluten-Free Fridays: Lemon Bars #glutenfreecheatsheet #sponsor

Earlier this month - before I left on a 10-day camping trip and before my laptop went kaput - I introduced you to a brand new cookbook from Perigee-Penguin: THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less, written by gluten-free maven April Peveteaux, author of the blog Gluten is My Bitch.

Thank you to Perigee-Penguin for inspiring this series of posts. This is my third Gluten-Free Fridays post. Don't forget about your chance to win a copy of the book. I will continue to post gluten-free recipes, but that is a story for another day. This is the final post before the giveaway ends.

One of my biggest challenges, when cooking for my GF friends, has been making sweets.  Sometimes a crust will be as dry as the Sahara Desert. Sometimes it's rubbery. Like Flubber rubbery. Yuck. I should probably blend my own GF flour more regularly to create some consistency and predictability. When I'm in a pinch, I use Trader Joe's gluten-free blend. I have tried Bob's Red Mill GF flour, but I am sensitive to fava flour. Ugh. So, I definitely need to put more time and energy into experimenting with alternative grain flours.

Excerpted, with permission, from The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, © 2015

   Alternative Grain Flours
Cooking gluten-free is just like cooking everything else . . . sometimes. To be specific, preparing naturally gluten-free foods is not an issue, but once you start experimenting with alternative flours, things can get weird. I have a few tricks to make your transition much smoother, and your cookies much tastier. The best advice I’ve ever heard, and given, is to keep experimenting in the kitchen.
  • sorghum flour
  • almond flour (a fave)
  • hazelnut flour
  • walnut flour
  • coconut flour (another fave)
  • rice flour (white, sweet, and brown)
  • tapioca flour
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • potato flour
  • soy flour
  • buckwheat (yet another favorite)
  • amaranth flour
  • millet flour (great for making a roux)
  • teff flour
  • cornmeal (has to be labeled gluten-free)

And the new kids on the block:
  • mesquite flour (mostly for adding cinnamon flavor)
  • green  banana flour

I definitely have some shopping - and experimenting - to do! Are you with me?

Lemon Bars
adapted from The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, © 2015

This classic treat, and Mann Clan favorite, was adapted even further than just gluten-free because I was simultaneously experimenting with dairy-free! Also, I cut down on the sugar a bit because I wanted it more tart.

  • 1 C butter (I used a dairy-free Earth Balance)
  • 2 C + 1/4 C gluten-free flour (I used the GF King Arthur flour)
  • 1/2 C + 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • juice and zest from 2 organic Meyer lemons
  • organic powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9"x13" baking pan. Place 2 C flour and 1/2 C sugar in a bowl. Rub in butter then press the dough into baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. In the meantime, make the topping. To make the lemon layer, beat together the eggs, remaining sugar, remaining flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a bowl till smooth and combined.

Pour lemon mixture over the cooked base. Bake for another 25 minutes. Leave to cool. Before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

Enter to win a copy of the book!

One of my lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of  THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux, courtesy of Perigee-PenguinGiveaway runs from July 3rd till August 3rd at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Perigee Books. You may find Perigee: on the web, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway *Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of THE GLUTEN-FREE CHEAT SHEET: Go G-Free in 30 Days or Less by April Peveteaux to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my posts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jake's Mint Julep

This is a first and I'm still in shock. My husband was in the kitchen. And he made something I'm going to share! On. My. Blog.

Let me explain: I know that my husband ate before he met me. He must have cooked, too. But in the seventeen years that we have been together, he has only cooked (not counting the grill) a handful of times.

Let's see...seventeen and a half years. That's over 6300 days. Three meals a days. That's almost twenty thousand meals. And he's only cooked five of those. Maybe. But it's not because he's unwilling; it's because I'm territorial. I've eased into letting the Kitchen Elves in. But Jake doesn't come in unless I'm too sick to stand in front of the stove!

So, while we were unpacking from our 10-day camping trip, I was downloading photos and shuffling laundry. He and the boys had Alton Brown's Good Eats going on Netflix.

"Do you have bourbon?" I heard him ask.


"Do you have sugar?" he continued.


"Do you want a mint julep? Alton Brown just showed me how to make one."

Jake's Mint Julep
Click for Alton Brown's recipe: here. Unlike me, my husband can follow a recipe. Exactly.

And while he can follow the recipe, he did end up deviating for the second cocktail. He didn't think the drink was minty enough as written. Here's his slightly adapted version, AB-inspired.

  • 12 to 15 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (he used Knob Creek) 
  • ice cubes
  • sparkling water
  • mint sprig and flower for garnish

Combine mint leaves and sugar in an old-fashioned glass. Muddle together so that the mint releases its oils but is still green, approximately 1 minute. 

Add in the bourbon - that "a jigger and a pony's worth" if that means anything to you! I guess I need to watch that episode of Alton Brown's show - and set aside for several minutes.

Pound ice with a rolling pin to crush slightly. Fill the glass with ice and top with a splash of sparkling water. 

Stir and garnish. Serve immediately. It was a tasty drink. I think I'll have to have Jake make me another one soon.

D's Camp Kale Salad

When my garden goddess of a sister-in-law invited us to "come take as much kale as [we] wanted" from her beds, as we headed to the coast, I don't know if she really understood what that means to the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf. He loves his kale! He plucked and plucked, then asked if he could have some of her marigolds. She let him.

We had so much kale that we made this salad three times during the rest of our camping trip. It was delicious each time.

  • 1 to 2 bunches kale, larger ribs removed and torn into 1" pieces
  • 2 to 4 T olive oil
  • zest from 2 organic lemons
  • juice from 4 organic lemons
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh herbs, destemmed and roughly torn (we used a mix of dill, parsley, and marigolds)

Place the kale in a large mixing bowl.

Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the leaves. Massage until the leaves are softened and have turned from a greyish-green to a bright, deep emerald. Toss in the herbs.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving so that the herbs have a chance to meld into the salad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ROUND-UP: The Interpreter of Maladies-Inspired Creations for #thebookclubcookbookCC

Remember we kicked off our year-long journey to cook - and read - for #thebookclubcookbookCC. Here's my invitation for the inaugural event: Interpreter of Maladies.*

I invited bloggers to make an egg curry or drink a lassi...or get creative with their favorite Indian recipes. The mango lassi seems to be the most popular choice with variations that included a parfait and a cocktail. Love the creativity!

photos used with permission from participating bloggers

But we did have a few wonderful entrees as well! Only Shannon braved the egg curry which Judy had cautioned was an acquired taste.

photos used with permission from participating bloggers

Here's what the hosting bloggers shared...
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm posted her recipe for Chingri Paturi, Steamed Mustard Shrimp. Wendy was inspired by A Real Durwan. “The woman tells the story of how she was once very wealthy and lived in the lap of luxury.  Nobody knows if these are truths or fallacies but Boori Ma's stories never change.  One of her stories is how they ate Prawns steamed in Banana Leaves.  This sounded delicious to me and my recipe was decided.” I agree and can’t wait to try Wendy’s version.

Andrea of Adventures in All Things Food went the Mango Lassi for her selection. She special ordered the mango pulp and left out the rosewater which is definitely a polarizing ingredient. The verdict: “Mango Lassi is an easy recipe with few ingredients. The results though is perfection! (Okay, minus the rosewater...).”

Ashley of Cheesecurd in Paradise whipped up a Simple Mango Lassi. She reports: “I opted to use a very simple recipe for a mango lassi: milk, yogurt, mango and honey. So simple and so easy. Traditionally, recipes might require a bit of rose water, but I do not use it in my recipe.  I made think drink for my family for an after dinner treat and they slurped it down like there was no tomorrow!” A hit! Love when that happens.

Emily from Life on Food also made a Mango Lassi because she admits: "I am all for a good curry but one of my favorite treats when eating in Indian restaurants is a Mango Lassi." Ours, too. It's like a drink and a dessert all rolled in to one delicious glass.

Danielle from Mostly Food and Crafts made Curried Lentil Stew with Vegetables. She queried: “The flavors in this dish were strong and delicious.  I had it on the stove for a while simmering away and every time someone came to the door, they commented on how delicious it smelled in the house.  If I could turn this into a candle I would...would you buy my garlic, ginger, curry and cumin candles?” Yes, I would!

Sarah, The Pajama Chef, shared her Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous. She wrote: “This is one of my very favorite curry recipes, and actually is the one that made me love Indian food! Ben and I have made this recipe a handful time over the past few years… it is absolutely delightful each time! Every bite is rich and flavorful, and your kitchen will smell absolutely wonderful while you’re cooking. Ginger! Garlic! Garam masala! Mmm, mmm, mmm.” 

Renee from Tortillas and Honey offered up her Mango Lassi Parfait. She decided to make a somewhat deconstructed mango lassi instead by making it into a parfait! She shared: “I guess this dish is somewhat fitting of the book for this month because this is an even further Americanized version of a mango lassi, but I think it captures the flavors.”

Erin of The Spiffy Cookie went a grown-up direction by making a Mango Lassi Cocktail. Erin suggests that we mix with rum or vodka based on preference and top with crushed pistachios for extra flair. Cheers!  But I have to ask – What is Thirsty Thursday? And why haven’t I heard of it before?!?!

Sarah from Things I Make (for Dinner) whipped up some Chicken Tikka Kebabs. Sarah took inspiration from When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine, admitting, “I had already started to toy with what to make, and when I saw the phrase ‘platters of kebabs’, I knew what I was going to do.” I would love some platters of kebabs in my life, too. I am certainly bookmarking this post.

Shannon of ZooeySuff braved the Egg Curry. Gold star, my friend, many gold stars! Shannon researched “egg curry” and learned that there is no one recipe for it. She warns: “In fact, it varies from household to household. It is however considered to be both a resourceful empty-pantry dish and a true comfort food. The recipe I chose to use includes a significant amount of grated ginger and potatoes. As ginger is one of my favorite flavors and the Irish in me can’t imagine a comfort food without potatoes (unless it’s beer. or pad thai. or a burger. or—), I decided to use the website recipe instead of the cook book recipe.”

A visual link-up...
In future months, I hope to have other bloggers join the fun. You'll find their recipes included in this section.

I was foiled...
Earlier in the month I hosted an entire dinner around the Interpreter of Maladies, making everything from baked samosas to beef biriyani and egg curry to mango lassi. It was delicious and beautiful. But just before I left for a 10-day vacation, my laptop went kaput. Dead as a doornail. And with its demise went all of my photos. Boo. And, sadly, the news from my computer guy read like this - "Your hard drive has a fatal error. No data is recoverable on it because it cannot be read." Great. Just great.

So, I thought I would have nothing to share this month without scrambling to recreate all of those dishes. And. I. Just. Couldn't. Do. It. But we had had a great Indian feast at a restaurant in Mountain View, at the end of our camping trip and I was inspired to make a quick Kachumber Salad. This easy, crisp salad paired nicely with Indian-spiced roasted chicken thighs. So, I have an offering to share after all.

Kachumber Salad

  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 Persian cucumbers, chopped
  • 6 mint leaves, chopped
  • ¼ C dill, chopped (traditional is cilantro leaves, but I had dill)
  • juice from 1 organic Meyer lemon
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ¼ t red chili flakes
  • salt to taste

Toss all of the ingredients so that they are evenly mixed. Check seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve the kachumber salad immediately.

Click for my Indian-Spiced Roasted Chicken Thighs recipe. It was tasty, too.

And to kick-off the event, enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish! You still have a couple of days to win. Giveaway ends on July 31st.

One of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-PenguinGiveaway runs from July 1st till July 31st at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my post.

Next Month
Andrea of Adventures in All Things Food will be the host next month. Keep an eye out for her invitation, but rumor has it we'll be cooking from (and - totally optional! - reading) A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson.

*I've included an affiliate link below for this month's selection and next month's...if you would like to read them. If you are uncomfortable using the link, feel free to go to amazon and search on your own!


Elderflower Soda

I've been mildly obsessed with elderflowers recently. So, as we were driving to our first campsite - during our 10-day camping trip around northern California - and I spotted the distinctive puff of creamy-hued flowers, I made a mental note to go pick some and make elderflower soda.

My mother-in-law and I hiked up the hill and liberated some flowers from their roosts. Then it was back to camp we went.

Elderflower Soda


  • 2 C elderflowers, large stems removed
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 C cold water
  • sparkling water for serving
  • ice for serving

Place elderflowers, sugar, and water in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake, shake, and shake some more until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand for at least an hour to let the flavor of the flowers permeate the cold syrup.

To Serve
Place 3 to 4 Tablespoons of syrup in the bottom of a cup. Fill with sparkling water. Add ice, if desired.

Blue Lake Trout

I love fish. I love cooking fish. I love eating fish. I do not love catching fish. And neither does Jake. Sitting on a boat, quietly, waiting for fish to bite. Ugh. Did I mention the silent part. Ugh. I'm just not that patient...or quiet.

Jake has fishermen on his Swedish and his Portuguese sides. My ancestors are from the Philippines; they ferment fish and sprinkle it on everything. So, even though the fishing gene obviously skipped us both, the boys have fishing in their blood...and they love it.

So, the first morning we were at Blue Lake with my in-laws, the boys were up, dressed, and on a boat before 6 in the morning.

Jake and I dragged ourselves out of our cozy tent, spent the morning on a canoe, and paddled over to see what they got. Back at camp, with the help of their cousin, the boys gutted and cleaned the catch.

Then I sprinkled them with herbs, drizzled them with olive oil, wrapped them in parchment and foil, and put them in the fire.

Pasta Stir-Sticks

The people in the shop probably thought: What is that looney woman doing...taking photos of the pasta sticks?!?

But I have just never seen this and loved the idea!

We were at a coffee shop in Point Reyes Station at the tail-end of our 10-day camping trip and R pointed these out to me. "Look, Mommy!" he exclaimed. "They use pasta to stir instead of cutting down trees."

I think this is pretty cool. What a great idea. I'll implement this soon.

Indian-Spiced Roasted Chicken Thighs

After 10 days in the wilderness, using my oven was a treat. I love that this recipe is so hands-off, but the resulting dish is tasty and tender!

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • 1 t ground paprika
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t ground coriander
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 3/4 t freshly ground sea salt
  • 3/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil

Place chicken thighs in a lidded container where they can lay flat in a single layer. Add the remaining ingredients and rub the spices into the meat. Drizzle with oil oil and cover the container. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you want to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken in a baking dish. Drizzle with more olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, or until chicken is browned and crisp and cooked through. Serve hot.

Grilled Peach Cocktail of Heavenly Wisdom

When Deanna of Seduction in the Kitchen posed a challenge - create a recipe based on a cartoon. I asked, "By 'cartoon', do you mean anything animated?" Yep. " Done."

I went through all of our animated DVDs and thought about the scenes that might work. I found inspiration in this scene from Kung Fu Panda, under the sacred peach tree of heavenly wisdom.

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That is why it is called the present."


Here's the conversation, in case you can't see the clip above...
Oogway: [walking towards Po] Ah! I see that you have found the Sacred Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom!
Po: [Po turns around with a lot of peaches stuffed in his mouth] Is that what this is? I'm so sorry! I just thought it was a regular peach tree!
Oogway: I understand. You eat when you are upset.
Po: Upset? I'm not upset. Why, what makes you think I'm upset?
Oogway: So why are you upset?
Po: [sighs] I probably sucked more today than anybody in the history of kung fu. In the history of China. In the history of sucking!

Ingredients makes 2 cocktails

  • 1 organic peach, halved and pitted
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 oz bourbon (I used Knob Creek) - 1-1/2 oz per cocktail
  • 2 oz ginger syrup - 1 oz per cocktail
  • sparkling water for serving
  • ice


Grill peach halves until they have nice char lines on them. It doesn't take too much time. I used an indoor grill pan, but you can use a real grill as well.

Dice the grilled peaches and place one half of the peach in the bottom of a cocktail shaker along with some fresh thyme leaves. Muddle until a thick puree forms. Add bourbon and ginger syrup. Stir to combine well. Strain cocktail through a small mesh sieve into serving glasses. Top off  with sparkling water. Add ice, if desired and garnish cocktails with fresh peach slices and more thyme sprigs. Imbibe and enjoy. Cheers!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Weekends in a French Kitchen: Clafoutis

Weekends in a French Kitchen (click to read about the project: here) launched this month.  And if you're game, I'm including affiliate links to the cookbooks at the bottom of the post. Yesterday I posted from Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan's cookbook. Today I'm sharing a dish from Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse.

Special thanks to the project organizers: Alice of A Mama, Baby and Sharpei in the Kitchen, Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva, Tammy of Telling Stories from Chez Nous, and Emily of Blue Bungalow. What a fun, fun project they have designed. Join us.

This week's selection from Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse is Clafoutis. You'll find this recipe on page 135 of the A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse...we will not be posting the actual recipes on our blogs.

Clafoutis and My Thoughts...
Before a couple of years ago, I've never made, or even heard of, a clafoutis. This dessert comes from the Limousin region of France and is traditionally made with black cherries. Mimi titles her recipe 'Cherry Clafoutis' but that's a bit redundant. Other variations that are made with plums, prunes, apples, cranberries or blackberries are not clafoutis; those are called flaugnarde.

And here's another interesting tidbit, for clafoutis purists, the cherries are baked with their pits intact. Mimi does that, too! The pits, when heated, supposedly impart a unique flavor to the custard-like batter.

This is a delicious, easy summer recipe that is part of our summer sweets repertoire. Enjoy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Weekends in a French Kitchen: Pasta with Tomato, Arugula, and Mozzarella

Weekends in a French Kitchen (click to read about the project: here) continues with this quick-to-the-table recipe.  And if you're interested in joining the fun, I'm including affiliate links to the cookbooks at the bottom of the post.

Special thanks to the project organizers: Alice of A Mama, Baby and Sharpei in the Kitchen, Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva, Tammy of Telling Stories from Chez Nous, and Emily of Blue Bungalow. I am having so much fun with these recipes.

This week's selection from Daniel Boulud and Dorie Greenspan's cookbook - Café Boulud Cookbook - is Pasta with Tomato, Arugula, and Mozzarella. You'll find this recipe on pages 306-307 of the Café Boulud Cookbook...we will not be posting the actual recipes on our blogs.

My Thoughts...
I didn't have any bow-tie pasta to match the original recipe. I used small elbows, but think that I'd use orecchiette next time. This came together so quickly. It was perfect for a mid-week dinner. And it was tasty cold the next day for lunch as well.

The French Winophiles: Spiced Orange Salad + Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Côtes de Provence Rosé #winophiles

Welcome to second event for a fledgling group - The French Winophiles - coordinated by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva. Here's her initial plan...

We start with the Regions first and then move to the Appellations. The proposed schedule, based somewhat on the seasons is as follows:

  • June 20 - Loire Valley (click for my post: here)
  • July 18 - Provence or Corsica
  • August 15 - Southwest
  • September 19 - Languedoc-Roussillon
  • October 17 - Cote due Rhone
  • November 21 - Bordeaux
  • December 19 - Champagne
  • January 16 - Burgundy
  • February 20 - Alsace

I love this group already! And I'm having so much fun exploring wines and recipes that are unfamiliar to me.

To Provence
So, today, the crew is heading to Provence.

Provence is a region in southeast France. Its name derives from what the Romans used to call it: la provincia nostra, meaning our province; it was the first Roman province outside of Italy.

Wine has been produced in this region for nearly 3000 years - since the ancient Greeks founded the city of Marseille in 600 BC. Today the region is known predominantly for its rosé wine which currently accounts for over fifty percent of the production of Provençal wine.

The  Round-Up

The Conversation
Join us for a live Twitter Chat Saturday, July 18th at 11 am EST/8 am PCT. You may join in the revelry by following hashtag #winophiles. A Vôtre Santé!

In My Glass...
Whenever I have a choice, my usual inclination is to go with the unusual or the obscure. But, in this case, I went with the most common varietal there: Rosé. Besides, I couldn't track down a white wine. I'll keep my eyes open. 

I had had this wine for a different wine event this month (my #winePW's French-French pairing) and knew that I wanted to bring out the citrusy side of the wine this time.

Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Côtes de Provence Rosé is so lovely. It's a pink, almost salmon, color with a lightly floral nose. My husband actually called it a girlie wine. Fine. I poured him a drier Sauvignon Blanc and drank his glass! More for me...

On My Plate...
To bring out the citrusy side of the Rosé, I made a fresh orange salad. So fast, so tasty. The hardest part is supreming the oranges.

Ingredients makes 4 servings

  • salad greens
  • 4 oranges
  • 1/2 C olives (I pitted a combination of Niçoise and Picholine)
  • 3 to 4 T white balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • dash of smoked paprika
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 1/2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
  • fleur de sel to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Supreme your oranges and set aside. To plate, lay down washed and dried green. Top with the orange segments, olives, and fresh herbs. In a small jar, mix the remaining ingredients and shake to emulsify. Pour over the salad. Serve immediately.