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.

Click Here For Printer Friendly Recipe
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. 

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

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.