Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes & Two Rice Salad

photo from the Napa Register
On Sunday, August 24th at 3:20 am, a very large (6.0) earthquake struck the Napa Valley of California with most of the damage occurring in the old, historic part of town. I am heartbroken to see the images of some of my favorite buildings "red tagged" and literally shaken off their foundations with roofs collapsed, walls crumbled and windows blown out. My facebook feed is filled with photos of my friends' homes and businesses and wineries in shambles. Picture the interior of your house. Now imagine someone picking it up, shaking it like mad, and then setting it back down. Everything fallen off the walls, dropped out of cupboards, broken glass and plates and heirlooms everywhere. No power...gas off because of the potential for leaks, no running water. That was downtown Napa this weekend.  But Napans are strong and resilient. My heart was full hearing all the stories of neighbors helping neighbors. I am so happy to report that Napa Farmhouse 1885 is doing just, if you want to help, visit some Enjoy. (and if you can't visit, shop a website from a Napa store or winery.) #Napa Strong!

Now, on to the food! It is Labor Day weekend. (Where did the summer go?) I love the combination of these two salads. Perfect in-season August tomatoes with garlic and a handful of fresh herbs paired with a tangy, lemony wild rice and sprouted brown rice salad full of edamame, cashews and more herbs. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a main course but is delicious with grilled chicken, steak or fish. Added bonus the salad stays fresh for a couple of days so the leftovers make a wonderful lunch.  Have a happy and restful Labor Day everyone..especially Napans!

Heirloom Tomatoes & Two Rice Salad
(serves 10)

Heirloom Tomato Salad
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
coarse sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
2 pints yellow and red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup basil, torn
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

Using the flat side of a chef's knife, smash the garlic. Add a large pinch of sea salt and continue smashing until a paste forms. Scrape the garlic paste into a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add a Tsp pepper. Stir in the tomatoes and allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. Add the herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Two Rice Salad
3 cups vegetable broth or water
(1 Tsp sea salt if using water)
1 cup wild rice

3 cups water
2 cups organic sprouted brown rice*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 Tbsp Meyer lemon zest1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup edamame fresh or frozen. (if frozen, allow to thaw and follow package directions)
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/8 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup toasted whole seasoned cashews (I bought a
sea salt
black pepper

Wash uncooked wild rice. Place broth or water in a heavy saucepan and, if using water, add 1 Tsp kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Add wild rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 50-60 minutes or just until kernels puff open. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Replace the cover and set aside (off heat) until ready to use in the recipe.

Combine brown rice and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook 40 - 45 minutes until rice is tender and water has evaporated.  Fluff with fork and transfer to a large bowl.  Allow to cool. Set aside.

In the bottom of a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and soy sauce. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Stir in the wild and brown rice, green onions, edamame, all the herbs and stir to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. Stir in the cashews right before serving.

Mound both salads side by side on a large platter. Garnish with additional herbs if desired.

* I found sprouted brown rice in the grains bins at my local gourmet/health food store.  If you can't find it locally there are many sources available online

It is "Labor Day Recipes" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite Labor Day recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions
The Heritage Cook: Four Sauces Designed for Grilled Foods (Gluten-Free)
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Dishing with Divya: Baked Vegetable Sacks
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Summer Vegetables with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Weelicious: Heirloom Tomato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Peach and Blueberry Baked Fruit Pizza
Devour: Cooking Channel's Ultimate Labor Day Party Menu
Dishin & Dishes: Grilled Chicken with Board Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Heirloom Tomatoes and Two Rice Salad
Domesticate Me: 10 Fabulous Summer Recipes for Labor Day
Taste With The Eyes: "End of Summer Rolls" Caprese-Style
FN Dish: Day-Off Desserts for Labor Day


I have started sharing my "California Girl in Taos. Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BBQ Pork Ribs

So, it is the middle of August.  The perfect time to invite a bunch of friends for a barbecue. Ribs, coleslaw, potato salad, corn on the cob and plum cobbler create a delicious menu that everyone will love. Best of all everything except the ribs and corn can be made ahead of time so you can enjoy the party while manning the grill. Add some cold beer or margaritas and party on!

I discovered this recipe for BBQ ribs a few years ago at Saveur Magazine and it has been my go-to version ever since. I have made very minor tweaks like subbing coconut sugar for brown and white sugar, adding Dijon mustard to the sauce and using fresh garlic instead of powder. And I wrap the cooked ribs in foil and a kitchen towel and let them rest for 2 hours before serving. I have been cautioned by a BBQ expert to NEVER skip this step to ensure tender, juicy, perfect ribs. Other than those minor edits...this is Saveur's recipe.

Happy Mid-Summer should throw a party!

BBQ Pork Ribs 
(from Saveur)
serves 4-6

Rub Recipe

1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup paprika
3 Tbsp. ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tsp. cayenne pepper
2 racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each; see Barbecue 101. »)
Mix the sugar, paprika, pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic and onion powders, and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub onto all sides of ribs. Place ribs on foil-lined rimmed baking sheets. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. 
BBQ Sauce Recipe
2 cups organic ketchup
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1½ Tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ Tsp. celery seeds
1½ Tsp. minced garlic
1½ Tsp. ground cumin
¼ Tsp. fresh lemon juice

In a bowl, whisk together ketchup, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and lemon juice; set aside. 

Prepare your grill using the kettle grillbullet smoker, or gas grill method, (see links for instructions) using oak wood chunks or chips (see Fuel and Flavor). Place ribs, meat side up, on a grill grate. Maintaining a temperature of 225°-250° (if using a kettle grill or bullet smoker, replenish fire with unlit coals, as needed, to maintain temperature; see instructions), cook, turning once and basting with sauce the last 45 minutes of cooking, until the tip of a small knife slips easily in and out of the meat, 3–4 hours. Remove from grill, wrap in aluminum foil, wrap the foil packets with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 2 hours. Serve ribs with remaining sauce on the side.

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It is "BBQ" week at Food Network #Summer Soiree roundup. Do you have a favorite BBQ recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.  
The Lemon Bowl: Tart Cherry Chinese BBQ Pulled Pork
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Lebanese Tomato Salsa
Weelicious: Southern-Style Pork Tenderloin
The Heritage Cook: Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Gluten-Free)
Napa Farmhouse 1885: BBQ Pork Ribs
Red or Green: BBQ Salmon with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze and Marinated Tomatoes
Domesticate Me: Fiery Barbecue Flank Steak Tacos with "Summer Mess" Salsa
Devour: 5 BBQ Sandwiches
In Jennie's Kitchen: Ginger-Soy Marinated Flank Steak
FN Dish: The Beauties of Barbecue


I have started sharing my "California Girl in . Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mom's Potato Salad (the best ever!)

This potato salad is my all time favorite...and I mean that literally. My mom has been making this my entire life and, to me, no other version ever measures up.  My mom made a few edits to my grandmother's recipe (like adding the pickle juice) and a great recipe became a superstar.

I think part of the reason I love this salad is the freshness of the ingredients. We usually make it in summer using freshly dug up potatoes and onions with celery from the garden. The creamy dressing of mayonnaise married with extra virgin olive oil, mustard and pickle juice is creamy, smooth and tangy at the same time. Delicious and easy.
Sunday dinner in summer...ham, potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans

The other reason I love this salad is every time I taste it I am immediately reminded of family parties...and lazy, warm summer days...and the beach, or park, or my parent's backyard. But most especially being with family and friends. I visited my family last month and we had a big get-together for Sunday dinner. My mom is not able to do a lot of cooking anymore, but that does not stop her from planning the menu and inviting everyone in sight. We decided we had to have potato salad so I made it under her direction. I followed her instructions with measurements, chopping and gathering the ingredients. She stirred the salad and was the official taster.  Great party, even better memories. Cooking with my mom...dinner with my entire family. It just does not get better than that.
Even this butterfly bowl has memories. Has been in my family my entire life.

Mom's Potato Salad (the best ever!)
(serves 6-8) can be doubled, tripled etc

3 pounds small red potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp kosher pickle juice
1/4 cup chopped kosher pickles
1/2 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 tbsp paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add the potatoes and a large pinch of salt to a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, olive oil, mustard, pickle juice, pickles and a large pinch each salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to the bowl with the mayo dressing.. Add the celery, red onion and olives. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Top salad with sliced eggs, paprika and celery leaves. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. 

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It is "Potato Salad" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite potato salad recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Chez Us: Baked Potato Salad
The Heritage Cook: French Potato Salad with Haricot Vert (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Blue and White Potato Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Mom's Potato Salad (the Best Ever!)
Red or Green: Spicy Potato Salad with Jalapeno and Vinegar Vinaigrette
Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Greek Potato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Creamy Potato Salad with Mint
In Jennie's Kitchen: Warm Smashed Roasted Potato Salad
FN Dish: 10 New Ways to Do Up Potato Salad

Domesticate Me: Warm Roasted Potato Salad with Pancetta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula


I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cucumber & Sage Cocktail

Hot summer days scream for a delicious hand crafted cocktail, especially one made with fresh, in season ingredients and best quality spirits.  This recipe is one of my new favorites.
My herb garden is overflowing with sage. I planted a couple of 4-inch pots last year and the herb came back with a vengeance this summer.  I have been experimenting with recipes to use the wonderful bounty. My favorite is gnocchi or pasta in a butter and sage sauce. I often roast chicken stuffed with fresh sage leaves. Sage pairs wonderfully with pork...and apples in fall. Lovely with white beans and loads of olive oil...or fried sage leaves crumbled on roast vegetables. But today's star is a cocktail with the sage muddled with cucumber and then added to a mixture of tequila, Chambord, lemon juice and topped with Prosecco. Light, tangy, refreshing and really, really good!  Man, I love summer.

Cucumber & Sage Cocktail
(This was inspired by the Silver Sage Cocktail at Blue Mesa Grill)
makes 2
4 slices cucumber (about 1 inch thick)
5 sage leaves
2 oz tequila (use a really good one)
1 oz Chambord
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp agave nectar
2 cups ice
sage leaves for garnish
Add cucumber and sage to large cocktail shaker. Muddle to combine ingredients. Add tequila, Chambord, lemon juice, agave and ice. Shake vigorously. 
Strain in 2 champagne flutes or other tall glasses.  Top off with prosecco and a sage leaf garnish. Serve immediately.

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It is "Summer Cocktails" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite summer cocktail recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Strawberry-Mint Bellinis
The Lemon Bowl: Raspberry-Ginger Bellini
Jeanette's Healthy Living: White Peach Sangria
The Heritage Cook: Refreshing Lime Coolers
The Cultural Dish: Pimm's Cup
Virtually Homemade: Frozen Lime Margaritas with a Sangria Swirl 
Weelicious: Strawberry Lemonade 
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Strawberry Gimlets with Homemade Strawberry Vodka
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Sage Cocktail
Red or Green: Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail
Dishing With Divya: Caipirinha
In Jennie's Kitchen: Cantaloupe Lillet Sparkler
Poet in the Pantry: Pirate's Booty Call
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Watermelon Malibu Surf
Sweet Life Bake: Boozy Affogato
Devour: 5 Boozy Summer Coolers
Domesticate Me: Blueberry Mojito Royale
Haute Apple Pie: Classic Mojito
Daily*Dishin: Blackberry Rum Shrub
Taste With The Eyes: Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary
FN Dish: Sip Your Way Through Summer (Recipes)

I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Farmers' Market Salad with Grilled Corn

"Could you please bring a salad?"  
I was invited to a dinner party last Saturday night and this was the answer to my question "What can I make?"  I happily agreed and decided to make my favorite salad of summer, appropriately named, Farmers' Market Salad
This is one of those non-recipe, recipes. The ingredients listed below are just guidelines. My suggestion is to make a shopping list of the necessary items for the vinaigrette and pesto. Ensure you have everything on your list. Then go to your favorite local farmers' market and buy big bunches of whatever is in season...whatever looks good. The only non-negotiables (in my opinion) are perfect, in-season tomatoes and the freshest possible corn on the cob.  Then mix in your favorite greens and vegetables and you are set. Zucchini, summer squash, scallions, roasted beets, onions, herbs, peppers...the list goes on and on and the variations are endless. Add a protein like grilled chicken, fish or steak and you have your main course.

This week's salad included onions, sweet red bell pepper, fresh herbs and a mixture of 4 different greens added to the aforementioned grilled corn and sweet tomatoes. Tossed with an herb vinaigrette (I used basil and mint) and topped with fresh croutons...some drizzled with olive oil and the rest spread with a delicious basil pesto...this was a perfect example of why I so love eating/cooking at the height of summer. Delicious.  Oh...and the dinner party? Great food, lovely wine, good friends and held in a elegant & beautiful earthship (that story for another time) .  Happy mid July everyone!

Farmers Market Salad
(serves 8)
2 ears corn on the cob
5 thick slices good sourdough or whole wheat bread
extra virgin olive oil
16 handfuls mixed greens (your favorite combination of lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, etc)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (cut in half if large)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 sweet red onion, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Pesto (recipe follows)

Grill the corn on the cob. (I use this technique).  Cut corn off cob and set aside.
Grill or broil bread until golden brown with grill marks on both sides. Brush olive oil on 3 slices of bread. Thickly spread pesto on remaining 2 slices of  bread. Cut each slice of bread into 4 pieces. Set croutons aside
Add the greens, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion,  to a large bowl. Add the reserved corn and large pinch each of salt and pepper. Drizzle salad with 1/3 cup vinaigrette and add the olive oil topped croutons. Toss salad . Add additional dressing if desired but take care not to overdress. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Top salad with pesto croutons and serve immediately.
Herb Vinaigrette
1 cup basil leaves
1 cup fresh herbs (1 or a mix, your choice of mint, tarragon, thyme)
1 clove, fresh garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp water
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz parmigiano-reggiano cheese, cut into 2 pieces
2 garlic cloves
1 fresh red cayenne pepper (or other fresh hot red pepper), seeded
5 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toast pine nuts in skillet until just beginning to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add cheese to food processor fitted with the chopping/mixing blade.  Process until cheese is grated.  Add cooled pine nuts, garlic and red pepper and process until all ingredients are finely grated.  Add half of basil leaves and 1/4 cup olive oil and process until smooth but with a bit of texture. Add remaining basil, remaining olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Process until well mixed.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Scrape into small bowl and cover with thin layer of olive oil.

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It is "Corn on the Cob" week at Food Network's #Summer Soiree roundup. Have a favorite corn on the cob recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 
And check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network:

The Lemon Bowl: Corn on the Cob with Lemon Basil
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Honey-Basil Butter
The Heritage Cook: Mexican Elote Corn Casserole (Gluten-Free)
The Cultural Dish: New England Seafood Boil
Dishing With Divya: Corn on the Cob with Roasted Garlic Herb Butter
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Corn with Tomato Basil "Butter" (Vegan)
Devour: 4 Cobs, 4 Ways
Daily*Dishin: Quick Thyme Corn Cobbettes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Farmers Market Salad with Grilled Corn
Red or Green: Grilled Corn on the Cob
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Buttery Corn on the Cob
Weelicious: Cheesy Corn on the Cob
Domesticate Me: Charred Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Cheese (aka Mexican Street Corn Salad)
Swing Eats: Corn Pasta with Fresh Summer Corn, Tomatoes and Chives
Haute Apple Pie: Roasted Corn off the Cob Salad
Taste With The Eyes: Grilled Corn, Soy Mirin Glaze and Wasabi Goat Butter
In Jennie's Kitchen: Corn and Lemon Thyme Ice Cream + Homemade Creamed Corn
FN Dish: Off-the-Chart Corn on the Cob Recipes

I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.