Monday, March 30, 2009

napa mustard madness? roasted rosemary-mustard chicken with potatoes anyone?

i had the best weekend. my two sisters and two lifelong girlfriends came to visit from southern california...this has become an annual event...the girls weekend in napa. when i say "lifelong" i mean it literally. the girlfriends are sisters and grew up 2 houses from my childhood home. their parents and mine were best friends...still are...and when we moved into our house one of the girls was a few months old...the other was born a few years later...they seem more like sisters than friends...and when the five of us get together it is magic....lots of laughing, giggling, story telling, memory sharing...coupled with eating, shopping being napa after all...massive quantities of wine consumed.we had a blast...i love driving around napa...showing off our beautiful terrain...and this past weekend really cooperated...the weather was perfect. it is the mustard is still in bloom...and i made sure there were plenty of opportunities for picture taking...
if you have visited napa at this time of year, you have seen the amazing sight of mustard blanketing the hillsides...and the vineyards. i thought i would share a bit of history regarding the mustard. i pulled this from the internet...the exact words were listed a number of times under many resources, so not sure where to give credit...but the story is worth telling...
"A bit of history behind the mustard flower that blankets the Napa valley in a rich yellow carpet is worth mentioning. Father Junipero Serra had come from Spain to Mexico in the 1800's to spread his faith. He was told of a beautiful land to the north full of wildlife, grand trees and verdant valleys. Serra decided he must see this land and with the aid of some Native American guides, set out to explore the country to the north. Father Serra had brought with him Spanish Mustard seeds and scattered them all along the path of his travels. The following year they returned south and followed a golden ribbon of bright mustard flowers that had sprung from the northern trek."

how cool is that? of course, i am always thinking about blog story topics...and mustard has been playing a big role in my life lately (what an odd thing to say...only in napa, right?). the napa annual mustard festival is just drawing to a close, there is mustard growing wherever i look, i started making an organic mustard bath for my bath and body collection that immediately became a best seller (caught me a bit off guard) and i am experimenting with making prepared mustard...that warrants a story of its own,recipe and all..but it takes 6-8 weeks to cure and i want to ensure it tastes good before i please give me a couple more weeks...then mustard making we come...

in the interim, i thought i would post an easy and delicious recipe for roasted chicken and potatoes...this one features mustard and of my favorite combinations. the ingredients (sans chicken and potatoes) actually started as a salad dressing...and i thought the flavors would be amazing prepared this way. my friends and family love of course i want to share it with all of you. as always, i recommend using the best quality, locally grown organic or sustainably grown if you can, ingredients possible...better for you..and just tastes better....

rosemary mustard chicken with roasted potatoes
2 packs chicken legs (10-12 legs)
2 tbsp honey-dijon mustard
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary, divided in half
1 tsp minced lemon zest
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced and divided in half
4 baking potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 yellow onion, cut into bite sized pieces
grey salt
freshly ground black pepper

preheat oven to 425 degrees. line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. add potatoes, onions, half of the rosemary and half of the garlic to baking sheet. drizzle with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and stir to combine. (note, i just use my hands for this ensure potatoes are completely covered in oil). place in hot oven.

meanwhile, combine mustard, balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, remaining rosemary, lemon zest, chili flakes and second half of the garlic in a small bowl. rinse chicken legs, pat dry and brush one side with half the mustard mixture. season legs with salt and pepper and place coated side down in large skillet over med heat. cook for 2-3 minutes. brush non-coated side of legs with remaining mustard mixture, turn legs and cook another 2-3 minutes until both sides are golden brown.
remove baking sheet from oven..the potatoes should have been cooking about 20 minutes and have turned light brown..if not, let them cook a bit longer, about 20 minutes total...when ready, stir the potatoes and push them back to about 1/4 of the sheet.
this is what the chicken should look like before roasting in the oven
place the chicken legs on the open part of the sheet and put back in oven. roast 15-20 minutes. chicken is ready when clear juices run when pricked with a knife...and potatoes are dark golden brown...
serve immediately

so here's to sisters...and old friends...may you never take either for granted! (and mustard is pretty good too)
have a good week everyone....
diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™

follow me on twitter
please sign up for our mailing list on the sidebar of the blog..thank you!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

limoncello, part 2

buon giorno! i am feeling very italian today as i post the second set of steps for making limoncello. i first wrote about limoncello forty days ago in my post want some ice cold limoncello this summer? i told you the story of the first time i visited italy with my husband...and our discovery of the magic of ice cold limoncello on a very hot italian summer day. we loved this liqueur so much that i decided to make it myself...we get tons of meyer lemons every year from our tree, we grow rosemary year round...and our summers here in napa are very similar to italian weather. i experimented with many recipes, but landed on this one...originally from sunset magazine...a few years ago as our favorite. it is easy and delicious...the only takes 80 days!!!

(this is what the limoncello looks like after infusing for the first 40 days)
i invited readers to make this year's batch with me....kind of an interactive approach by only posting the steps as i go...and have received a lot of emails/comments from people letting me know they are following along and have limoncello infusing in their own cool is that? i have this image of people all over the world sipping this lovely drink at the same time one day in may with a virtual toast to summer, italy...and limoncello...
so, for all of you ready for step you go...don't be afraid of the large quantity of sugar required (9 cups!!)...remember, if you are making the full recipe you will get 20 8.5 oz bottles. again, this recipe is easily reduced by half....but i wouldn' goes really fast once friends and family get their first sip...
and, if you have not started is never too late...just go to the first post for the directions to get are always only 80 days away...good news for us...the meyer lemon tree we planted 4 years ago appears to be fruiting year is march and the tree is still full of fruit, with lots of i will be making limoncello all really, really goes fast in my home...
(a jar after second step and a jar before second step)

limoncello, part 2
10 cups water
9 cups sugar
2 bottles (750 ml. each) 100 proof vodka, such as stolichnaya or smirnoff

bring the water to a boil in a large pot. add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. let the sugar syrup cool to room temperature.

divide the syrup in half and pour first half into one of your lemon-vodka mixture 1 gallon glass jars and the second half into the other gallon jar. pour 1 full bottle vodka into each jar. stir well. seal container and let sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for another 40 days...
(note, i zest half my lemons with a sharp knife and half with a microplane combination of large peel and finely shredded peel... the peel will separate as the limoncello worries, the entire batch will be beautifully infused)
see you in 40 days for the third...and final!...step....

happy spring everyone...


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™

follow me on twitter

Thursday, March 12, 2009

how about a recipe for pasta & peas??

my twitter friend dianne (dianne with two "n"s....i am a one "n" girl) asked me to guest blog this week...she was off for a well deserved holiday. dianne's blog...dianne's dishes...focuses on "fresh, food, fun"...and she lists a different recipe each day. i decided to post my recipe for pasta & peas...pasta, peas, onions, really good extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a bit of red pepper flakes... one of my go-to, easy, ingredients always on hand..and delicious... i thought it was perfect for dianne's blog...please let me know what you think of the recipe...either here or in the comments section of my guest post...

check out dianne's is really cool...and let me know what you think of my version of pasta & peas, my way ...
so...that is it for today...a short and sweet post...but for regular usual long, rambling style post is available over at dianne's didn't think i would actually be pithy for once, did you???
have a good week everyone!
diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™

follow me on twitter

Sunday, March 8, 2009

pancakes, my way??

i am incapable of following a recipe...i read tons of food and wine magazines, love cooking shows, devour cookbooks like some people read fiction best sellers...yet the simple act of faithfully executing the directions is impossible. i am always thinking about tweaking, adding, switching, changing...just a pinch of this...or a lot of that...and before you know it... a brand new dish.

the beauty of cooking is that experimenting is have "permission" to make it your use the ingredients you love...and to create your own favorites...
take pancakes. there are probably a zillion good options...but i felt the need to make up my own twist...and i have a number of options depending on what i feel like that day. last year i posted my cornmeal pancake recipe, "how about cornmeal pancakes with fresh blueberries?" and i still get emails from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the story.
today, it is sunday...the first day of daylight savings (yeah!!), the sun is shining, i spent all day yesterday gardening...pruning, edging, trimming...getting ready for spring (my camellias are in bloom!)....and pancakes are the perfect way to start a lazy, late sunday. i thought i would post my "just pancakes" pancakes recipe...a bit traditional, a bit different...always a hit with family and friends....and ask all of you to share your favorite breakfast (although we frequently eat them for dinner) pancake ideas...
i love the idea of combining white flour with whole a nice texture...and i thought using maple syrup instead of sugar would add some depth...white flour/white sugar sometimes can just seem bland....and, of course... regular readers know i almost always use extra virgin olive oil in my you go...pancakes, my way....
**note on ingredients..since i started my organic dog treat business, i always have organic unbleached flour and organic whole wheat flour, finely ground on hand. i find there really is a difference in the taste when using organic you can...go organic!

napa farmhouse 1885 pancakes
2 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 c. organic unbleached white flour
1 c. organic whole wheat flour-fine
2 scant tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt

beat eggs with a whisk in a medium bowl. add milk, olive oil and maple syrup and whisk until well mixed. sift together flours, baking powder and salt and add to egg mixture. stir until just mixed...a few tiny lumps will not over mix. pour batter into a large liquid measuring pitcher (or other pitcher). pour about 3 tbsp pancake batter per pancake onto hot griddle or large skillet. cook until bubbles form and tops of pancakes look a bit dry. flip and cook until second side is golden brown. serve immediately.
this recipe makes a ton of pancakes...enough to serve can easily cut this recipe in half...
hope you enjoy the pancakes...and are as happy as i am with daylight savings time....i am so, so ready for spring and warm about you?


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style"

please sign up for our mailing list on the sidebar of this blog

follow me on twitter