Kimchi Fried Rice

kimchi fried riceWe’re a home of many stir-fries. There are usually vegetables in the crisper as well as the freezer, and a stir-fry is both easy and nutritious. And it’s a quick dinner.

Sometimes, though, a little variety is desired.

I had a crisper full of vegetables that needed to be used. Their freshness was waning, and I hate to waste anything, so… stir-fry? Nah. Instead, I decided to incorporate kimchi into the dish to create a sour and savory meal

Kimchi seems to be growing in popularity in the States. BuzzFeed even did a list-of-things-you-can-do-with-it article. Like sauerkraut, it’s a fermented food, and it’s versatile in the dishes in which it can be served. Also like sauerkraut, it pairs nicely with Alsace varietals of wine.

I paired dinner with a bottle of Corvidae Ravenna 2012 Riesling. Not only is this an awesome wine, because, raven – Charles and I are big corvid fans – it’s really nice. It was a spot on pairing – the Riesling cut through the richness of the egg while making the kimchi fried rice almost creamy and balancing the spice from the Sriracha. It was lovely.

Kimchi Fried Rice with Egg

Serves 4

Hot Pepper Sesame Oil
1 cup white rice, cooked
1 jar of kimchi, drained well
2 cups mixed vegetables
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons Sriracha
1-2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 eggs, cooked how you like them (Charles is a scrambled egg kind-of guy. I like mine over-easy.)

Warm a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle in sesame oil, just enough to coat the pan. Toss in rice and stir for a minute. Add kimchi and sauté until mixed well and warmed-through.
Remove rice mixture and set aside.
Add a bit more oil to the pan. Toss in vegetables, garlic, Sriracha, and soy sauce and sauté until vegetables are tender.
Turn heat to low and mix the kimchi rice with the vegetables.
While the mixture warms and the flavors incorporate, heat another pan over medium-low and cook eggs.
Divide the rice mixture evenly onto four plates, top with eggs, and serve.

Baked Pasta with Veggie Crumbs

baked pastaThe words, “pasta bake” have been floating around my head for the past month. Pasta! Cheese! Creamy sauce! How could I go wrong?

While I wanted to make this Mediterranean casserole of gooeyness, it wasn’t until I saw a post on “veggie crumbs” on epicurious that my desire became a must-happen. I mean, it’s easy to find gluten-free pasta these days, if that’s what you need, but an extra serving of vegetables in the form of crumbs? You had me at food processor.

A pasta bake is also an amazing vehicle for vegetables of all sorts. I packed a head of broccoli, 4 cups of baby spinach, and 2 cups of mushrooms into mine, as well as an entire head of cauliflower for the crumbs. Sure, there was cheese in there too, but, vegetables! There were lots and lots of vegetables!

The mushies and light, creamy sauce meant a Pinot Noir was the pairing choice. I chose Husch Vineyards‘ 2010 Pinot. It was scrumptious with the food and amazing on its own.

Baked Pasta with Veggie Crumbs

Serves 6-8
1 package of noodles such as fusilli or rigatoni, cooked to package instructions
1 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
2 cups of mushrooms, cooked (I used a variety of mushies.)
4 cups of baby spinach
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella
25-32 ounce jar of creamy marinara sauce (I combined Alfredo I made from scratch with a jar of spicy marinara sauce — yum!)

1 head of cauliflower, romanesco, or broccoli, separated into florets
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a processor, toss in florets and Parmesan. Pulse until the the cauliflower is the same size of bread crumbs. Drizzle in a little bit of evoo, and pulse until everything is nicely coated.
On the stove top, mix all ingredients together (except cauliflower and Parmesan) in a large pot. Once the cheese begins to melt, turn off heat and run a spoon over the top of the pasta until it’s level. Sprinkle “crumbs” evenly over the top and cook for 22-25 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Turn on broiler to high and cook about two minutes, until the crumbs have turned a golden brown.
Remove from heat and serve right away.

Roasted Marrow

beef marrow on toastHave you ever noticed that about a half hour after eating certain foods, you just feel really good? I notice that feeling after consuming sushi, sauerkraut, a ton of veggies for dinner, or roasted beef marrow.

What was that last one again? When roasted, beef marrow is a lot like a soft gelatin, golden, full of flavor, and easy to make. Spread it on toast, sprinkle on a few grains of Celtic sea salt, add a side salad, and you’ve got a pretty hearty meal.

I was first introduced to marrow during my trip to Milwaukee last year. I thought I’d be daring and try it, and I ended up loving it. It was so simple but so decadent. I was really glad I had been open to trying something new.

I paired our roasted marrow toast with Balo Vineyards‘ 2012 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. The choice of Pinot Noir was excellent with the light beef flavors of the toast. Plus, a good Pinot is always lovely. No wonder my belly was so happy after the meal!

Roasted Beef Marrow

  • Difficulty: super easy
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Serves 2

1-2 beef marrow bones
4 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a casserole dish, place bones upright, using the wider end as the base. Roast 15-20 minutes. For really wide bones, more time will be needed. Marrow is cooked when it’s a nice golden color with no pink.
Scoop marrow out of bone with a narrow spoon. Spread on toast and sprinkle with salt.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

avocado pesto pastaToday’s recipe began as a pin on Pinterest. I saw the beginnings of what looked like a pretty tasty – and vegan – meal, only to discover that my pin linked to a different recipe than the image shown. The recipe was not to be found on the blog. Sad face.

Anyone who uses Pinterest on a regular basis knows this is a danger, but dang it, I really wanted that recipe! Since I am who I am, I would not be foiled. I would make my own. And it was successful – and so very, very easy, too!

This concoction was paired with a Sangiovese, just right with the garlic tang and the avocado creaminess of the pasta sauce. The leftovers were a bit homely, as avocado browns quickly, but it was just as delicious as the first night.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

  • Difficulty: super easy
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Serves 4

pinch of salt
1 package whole wheat spaghetti (I used einkorn pasta.)
2 ripe avocados
juice from 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 head of fresh basil, stems removed
½ teaspoon of salt
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of grape or cherry tomatoes

Set a pot of water over high heat. Add a pinch of salt, and cook spaghetti to package directions. Drain.
While pasta cooks, toss the rest of the ingredients (except tomatoes) in a food processor or high performance blender. Pulse until everything is combined, then run until creamy.
Toss avocado pesto with pasta and tomatoes, and call it dinner.

Crab and Shrimp Nachos

crab and shrimp nachosIt’s Dungeness crab season in northern California, and it’s something of a tradition for coastal folks to have crab for their Christmas dinner.

While we moved inland a few years back, that doesn’t mean that Charles and I are willing to give up our coastal traditions. The store has been selling Dungeness precooked, which made our dinner preparations even easier this year, and since we are inland, it makes sense to sell them that way. While cooked and paired with a Beaujolais Nouveau or crafted into an amazing stew called Cioppino and served with hot sourdough bread are the traditional ways to consume this amazing crab, I — not surprisingly — did something slightly different this year. I combined the crab with precooked shrimp and made gooey, amazingly addictive, nachos.

I paired our meal with another West Coast tradition, Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s awesome seasonal beer, Winter Solstice. Its hints of toffee and spices went well with the rich flavors of the seafood and chevre, and its creamy mouthfeel was perfect with the melted cheese. Since tomorrow is Solstice, pick some up to toast in the returning light — and to pair with your own shellfish nachos.

Happy holidays, everyone! Cheers!

Crab and Shrimp Nachos

Serves 6

1 Dungeness crab, cooked and meat removed (Since I know most of my readers aren’t in northern California, canned crab can be substituted and will be just as tasty.)
1 handful of baby shrimp, cooked
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 Tablespoons chopped green onions
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice of one lemon
8 pepperoncinis, stems removed and chopped
2 roasted red bell peppers in olive oil, chopped
2 oz of chevre (I used Cypress Grove’s PsycheDillic®. The flavors were perfect.)
2 handfuls of shredded mozzarella
6 handfuls of tortilla chips

In a small pan, melt butter over low heat and toss in shellfish, nutmeg, green onions, and garlic. Stir until garlic becomes fragrant. Add lemon juice, pepperonchinis, and roasted red bell peppers and stir until well mixed.
Turn on broiler to high. Adjust the oven rack to be about six inches below the broiler.
Heap chips onto a cookie sheet. Scatter the contents of the pan, sprinkle on the mozzarella, and then top with the chevre. Place in the oven and cook until the cheese begins to bubble and turn golden brown.
Separate your cheesy, gooey mess evenly onto six dinner plates and serve right away.

Fancy Salts

fancy saltIt’s time for Secret Santa, fancy cooking, and the last minute struggle for just the right gift.

Currently, I’m hooked on gourmet salts, infused with flavors so that, 1. I don’t have to use as much and 2. I can give fancy looking gifts that don’t cost much at all. Salt in the 21st Century is cheap. If you purchase dried herbs from the bulk department of your local grocery store, it’s not much more.

To create your own salts, the usual equation is one to two tablespoons of herbs or spices to 1/4 cup salt*. You can use a food processor to get everything integrated nicely, or like me, if you want to get some upper arm/shoulder exercise in, just use a mortar and pestle. My method also allows for a slightly coarser salt when finished.

Choose a coarse salt to begin. I used Celtic Sea Salt and Himalayan Salt and then chose which would be used based on the color of the herbs. Celtic is a light green color. Himalayan is pink. In your mortar, sprinkle in your chosen herbs or spices. Add a tablespoon or so of salt and then grind away with your pestle. Once the herbs are well ground, add the rest of your salt and mix/grind a bit more until everything is integrated and the coarseness is to your liking. Put your salt creations in small jars, and look at what a cool present you’ve made!

*If you want to make the slightly sour/salty mix of Hibiscus Salt, do 1/4 cup of dried hibiscus flowers to 1/4 cup salt. Grind the flowers to a fine powder, then add in the salt.

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Mulled-Wine-Poached-PearThanksgiving is coming up, with the other winter holidays not far behind. That means it’s fancy food time!

I made poached pears with mascarpone for New Year’s Eve a few years ago. Charles and I loved them. They were so rich and decadent — a wonderful way to ring in the new year. It was a recipe I wanted to revisit, but when it came to finding the original, I couldn’t locate it. Google gave me many options, but none of them were exactly what I had done before. So, as I do so often anyway, I decided to make it my own.

We just received our final Farm to Table shipment from Pennyroyal for the 2014 season, and I thought using some of my coveted Laychee cheese for poached pears would be amazing. It truly was. I poached the pears in Sobon Estate’s Old Vines Zinfandel. Its fruit-forward richness was a perfect choice to go with the pears and spices. Remember, never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t drink, but make sure its characteristics will compliment the other flavors in the food — much like choosing a wine for pairing.

For more ideas for Thanksgiving, check out Cranberry Chutney, Drunk Ruby Turkey, Kuri Squash and Bacon Soup, and from my other blog, An Oops Makes a Great Turkey, and My Favorite Green Beans. Please don’t judge some of those photos — many of those posts are from a few years ago. 😉

Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Serves 6

6 Bosc pears, peeled (but keep the stems)
1 bottle red wine
1 1/2 cups coconut sugar
1 Tablespoon mulling spice (I actually used Garam Masala because I love it so.)
pinch of powdered ginger
pinch of salt

4 ounces heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Laychee or Mascarpone cheese
vanilla bean, split and insides scraped into a bowl.

Put wine, sugar, spices, salt, and the remains of the vanilla bean in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes, turning the pears every ten minutes so they get a lovely, uniform red.
Remove pears and continue to cook the liquid. Reduce the liquid until it’s syrupy. You can use this for ice cream or any other dessert where a syrup would be a nice addition.
When pears have cooled, take out the stems and set aside. Core the pears with an apple corer, or like I did, with your peeler. (This is the one I have.)

Add whipping cream and cheese to the bowl with the vanilla bean innards. Stir with a rubber spatula until well blended, then scrape into a reclosable bag. Cut a corner off the bag and pipe the cheese mixture into the pear. Place the stem back on the top for a pretty presentation.

A Dessert Recommendation

Chimney-RockThis is just a super-quick post to let you all in on my latest dessert obsession. It’s Cowgirl Creamery’s fall seasonal cheese, Chimney Rock, and a bit of NV Rosemount Estate Old Benson Tawny Port. I’ve written about the glories of savory and sweet pairings as dessert before, but this newest combination has taken my taste buds to new heights. The earthy and creamy flavors of the cheese with its touch of herbs added to the hazelnut toffee of the tawny — truly, this is what gastronomic bliss is.

The Savory Spaghetti Squash

spaghetti squashOne of my favorite things to do is to meander through the produce department to see what’s freshest that day. I go in without a plan and peruse. Based on what strikes my fancy, I proceed to wander the rest of the store, concocting a dish as I go along.

The abundance of summer is over for the year, but there is still so much to be had! I have quite a fondness for winter squash, so I’m never disappointed when autumn begins to show its bright colors and causes us to layer outerwear. Spaghetti squash is a fun one, as it can be used as a substitute for pasta or just tossed with some olive oil and Parmesan for a side dish. I opted for the former this go around the store, and was quite pleased with the result. I added a vegetable marinara sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, chard, and some Italian sausage. It made for a hearty supper.

To pair, I chose a Teroldego. Its light tannins went nicely with the sausage, and the licorice on the mid-palate was delightful with the fennel that had been ground into the sausage. Side note — get to know your butcher. Our local ones at the co-op create the best sausage. A butcher can introduce you to new cuts of meat, and you’ll always find the freshest options. The Teroldego was also rich enough to hold up to the marinara sauce and really brought dinner to the next level.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash*
26-32 oz. jar of high quality marinara sauce (or homemade, of course)
1/2-1 pound of Italian sausage, depending on how meaty you want it
1 bunch of red chard, stems removed and chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut your squash in half. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put it cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the squash with either more parchment paper or tin foil and cook for around two hours or until the inside of the squash in tender.

When squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the “noodles” out of the squash.

Drizzle olive oil in a saute pan and cook sausage over medium heat until browned. Add chard and cook until the leaves turn dark green and become tender.

Warm marinara sauce and then either toss everything together or layer squash, sauce, sausage, and chard on a plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

*If you plan a little, you can always cook your squash in the slow cooker while you’re at work. Instead of cutting it in half, just pierce it with a fork a few times and cook it on low for about eight hours. In my case, with my commute, it would probably be closer to ten hours. Thankfully, the slow cooker is forgiving.

Coconut Jasmine Rice

coconut riceYou know how sometimes you pick up a sauce and think, “I should just save myself the frustration and get take-out?”

Such was my experience last night. Charles had a sample of a Thai sauce and wanted to try it. I had an inkling it was going to be blah. I was right. To make sure our entire meal wasn’t ho-hum, I made coconut rice to pair with the yawn-worthy sauced-up chicken. It’s such a super-simple thing to make, tastes decadent, and compliments Thai food so nicely. We paired our dinner with the Belgian Pale Ale we brewed a few weeks ago. It was a good choice. If the sauce had been spicy, an off-dry Riesling would have been lovely, but since it wasn’t, the beer paired quite well.

Coconut Jasmine Rice

Serves 6

2 cups jasmine white rice
2 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
1 cup water
3 Tablespoons of shredded coconut
pinch of salt
coconut oil

Coat the inside of a deep soup pot with coconut oil. Make sure the pot has a lid that fits well.
Put all ingredients into the pot and set over medium-high heat. Stir.
When the liquid starts to boil, put on the lid and turn down the heat to low. Let rice simmer for 15 minutes. Take off lid and simmer for 5 minutes more, or until most of the liquid is gone.
Fluff the rice and cover again with the lid. Let sit while you make your main entree then fluff again right before serving.

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