Veggie Wrap with Green Bean Fries

veggie wrapOh, fresh vegetables, you call to us during the winter months, promising crunch and flavor and energy…

Sometimes, I marvel at the world we live in, where we can get tasty, vitamin-packed veggies out of season. I started the week off on a less than healthy note, eating Chinese take-out for two days straight. I had neglected my usual grocery shopping the weekend before, so before take-out, I think we ate something like frozen cheese pizza. These things happen occasionally, but man was my body screaming for fresh food after that stint!

Wraps are always good for containing a great deal of vegetable goodness in an easy-to-eat format. To turn our veggie consumption up to 11, I made a side of green bean fries to go with it. We paired dinner with a Pinot Noir. There was just enough fruit in the wine to be a nice companion to the roasted red bell pepper and tomato, plus the lovely mineral characteristics were great with the mushroom.

Veggie Wraps with Green Bean Fries


Serves 2-4

2 spinach wraps or large tortillas
1 tomato, sliced thinly
4 Tablespoons of grated carrot
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 pieces of roasted red bell pepper, sliced
2 Tablespoons of thinly sliced spring onion
1/2 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
2 handfuls of baby spinach
choice of condiments (I used a drizzle of ranch dressing and a smear of stone ground mustard per wrap.)

2 cups of green beans
sprinkle of grated Parmesan
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Turn oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook green beans until they turn bright green.
Drain in a colander. Toss with olive oil and Parmesan.
Spread onto a cookie sheet and cook until the beans — and Parmesan — just begin to brown, about as long as it will take you to assemble your wraps.
inside wrap
On two plates, place spinach wraps. Add condiments, and then layer up the vegetables, staying to just right of the middle of the wrap. Turn the plate so the right side is now the bottom. Fold in the sides of the wrap. Using your thumbs, fold the bottom of the wrap over the veggies and then slowly roll until the vegetables are fully encased, making sure the sides stay in as you go.
Cut the wrap in half, add the green bean fries, and eat right away.

Int. Alsace Varietals Fest. 2015

Alsace festival 2015One thing that’s a must-do each year for Charles and me is attending Anderson Valley’s International Alsace Varietals Festival. Not only is there a lot of amazing wine to try, there’s also an educational aspect to the event, which just makes it that much greater.

This year’s highlights included a discussion on how pressing/skin contact and early intervention influence wine flavor, differences in vintage and vinification of single vineyard Pinot Blanc, a food and wine pairing showcasing Gewurztraminer, an appellation discussion about a family winery in Alsace — this was so great! — and a food demonstration of seared steelhead on a pool of cauliflower puree with caramelized onion butter by Chef Francois de Melogue.

As always, each tidbit of the event was amazing, from the education to the Grand Tasting to the winery open houses the next day. It’s one of the highlights of our year, and we’ll make sure it stays in our yearly planner. Thank you so much to the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association for putting on such an amazing event!

For a list of the places where we stay, eat, and drink, check out last year’s post. I’ll leave you with a collection of my photos from this year’s awesome festival.

Alsace Festival 2

alsace2

alsace4

Alsace Festival 5

Fish Tacos

Fish TacosSometimes, there are healthier options, but I just don’t choose them. Such it is with fish tacos. I find them the most enjoyable when they’re beer battered and fried. I’ve had them grilled, and they’re tasty like that, but it’s just not what I think of when I’m craving fish tacos.

While frying foods isn’t the healthiest option, it should be pointed out that there are healthy aspects to this dish. 😉 Cabbage, avocados, salsa, white fish — these are good things, and I opted to use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for the creamy cabbage taco topping. All this to say, there’s no harm in the occasional fried treat, as long as it’s just occasional.

Since my tilapia was beer battered, I paired dinner with a beer as well, Six Rivers Paradise Moon Coffee Porter. I used Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout in the batter, so the Porter was a nice accompaniment.

Fish Tacos


Serves 2-4

1 tilapia filet
1 lime, cut in half
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup high heat sunflower oil
2/3 cup flour
8 ounces of beer
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 corn tortillas
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon chopped green onions
4 leaves of cabbage, chopped (savoy or Napa work well)

Put tilapia, juice from half the lime, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Tie closed and shake contents. Place in refrigerator to marinate and “cook” (The acids from the lime will interact with the fish, rather like ceviche.) for about 30 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Prepare beer batter by mixing flour, beer, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl until blended. It should be about the same consistency as cake batter. Tear fish into small pieces and submerge in the batter.
Carefully lay pieces in the skillet. There wasn’t quite enough oil in my skillet to submerge, so I cooked each side for about three minutes. You’ll know the fish is done when the batter has browned and turned crispy on the outside.
Lay fish on paper towels to soak up any extra oil.
One at a time, take the tortillas and submerge in the still hot oil and then flip over, cooking for about 30 seconds total. Remove to another paper towel to drain.
In a large bowl, add avocado, the juice from the other half of the lime, yogurt, cilantro, onions, and cabbage. Mix until cabbage is nicely coated.
Place fish inside each tortilla and cover with the creamy cabbage mixture. Fold tortillas in half, garnish with pickled carrots, jalapenos, and onions and add a dollop of salsa to the side.

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.

Holiday Eggnog

eggnogThe holidays are such a wonderful thing to look forward to when you’re a kid. I have memories of the slightly burned smell of dust from the heater being started for the winter, mingled with the resiny, glorious aroma of the pine tree in the corner sparkling with ornaments. The chill outside made for rosy cheeks and numb fingers that were slowly thawed with a hot bowl of soup or by hanging out in front of that aforementioned heater.

It’s also filled with memories of my mom making eggnog from scratch, slowly stirring the hot milk into the egg yolks so the egg didn’t cook, creating a wonderfully thick, rich drink dancing with spices. While I may spike my eggnog these days, there’s still that sense of warmth and family when I drink my one and only eggnog for the holiday season. It’s a little too rich for more than one evening, but I always use the extra nog (rum free) to make festive pancakes on Christmas morning.

Eggnog


Serves 10

3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 vanilla beans, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup coconut sugar
spiced rum to taste (optional)

In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring milk, cream, vanilla bean, and spices just to boil.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, mixing with a wire whisk until well blended. Slowly whisk egg mixture back into the saucepan.
Cook and stir on medium-low heat 3 to 5 minutes or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
For a frothy treat, pour eggnog and rum in a martini shaker. Add ice and cap it, then shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a glass and garnish with cinnamon.

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