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.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupTomato soup has been requested a lot this week. Charles can’t seem to get enough of it! I guess it’s easy to understand. Tomato soup is tangy and creamy and creates that comforting buzz after being consumed.

Soup is all about the simmering, so it’s a great option when you’re trying to catch up on DVR’d episodes of Agents of Shield and Sleepy Hollow. Minimal prep and occasionally stirring, along with a final go through a food processor is all that is required of this tasty tomato formulation. Serve it with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, and you’ve got a comfort food staple of a meal. To drink, pair this fare with a Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, preferably from one of the Wilson Artisan Wineries.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup


Serves 4

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cipollini onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (16 ounce) jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add salt, pepper, and herbs. Stir. Add tomato paste and cook for one minute more.
Toss in tomatoes, peppers, and broth and simmer on low heat for an hour. The longer the soup simmers, the more the flavors mingle, so it’s fine if it simmers for longer. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Remove from heat and blend in a food processor. I blended the soup twice, in small stages so everything became as smooth as possible. Add yogurt to the final blending so it doesn’t curdle.
Return soup to heat just long enough to get the soup hot again — and to give your grilled cheese sandwiches time to cook — about five minutes.

Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game HenSome weeks are so full of so many tasks, when everything finally winds down, a little comfort food is in order. While baked chicken is always a winner, I wanted to change things up a bit, do something more individualized. I’ve always wanted to cook Cornish game hens. They’re so small yet fancy. When served with roasted carrots and an Anderson Valley wine, our cares just slipped away.

We paired our hens with 2012 Husch Renegade Sauvignon Blanc. The way the wine picked up the rosemary in the bird was dynamite! I savored every mouthful.

Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens


Serves 4

2 Cornish game hens
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut in half
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth (I just used some broth I had frozen in ice cube trays and scattered the cubes around the pan.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Season birds, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Squeeze juice from half a lemon into the cavity of each bird, then place the half inside the cavity. Place the rosemary sprigs inside of each bird. Rub hens with olive oil and place them on a rack inside a roasting pan. Place garlic around birds.
Roast for 25 minutes then lower oven to 350 degrees. Pour the wine and broth into the pan and roast about 30 minutes more or until the birds are golden brown and the legs begin to fall away from the body.
Cut hens in half and serve.

Pork Udon

Pork Udon

Soup’s been on the menu quite a bit this week. Maybe it’s because of the change of the seasons. Maybe because it can be a complete meal contained in a bowl. Maybe just because it’s delicious.

In Japanese culture, udon noodles are served chilled in summer and hot in winter. There’s starting to be a nip in the air come evening, so creating a hot soup was a no-brainer, though during the day, summer’s been reminding us here that it’s not done until Monday. We paired our soup with what could be considered an interesting choice — Curtis Winery 2011 Heritage Cuvée. However, Rhone blends are very versatile when it comes to pairing, and this was excellent with the meal, picking up the earthy flavors of the shitakes and Tamari while highlighting the caramelized sweetness of the carrots. It made for a hearty supper and a lovely glass of wine.

Pork Udon


Serves 4

1 Tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for Panko crumbs
1 pound of pork shoulder, sliced thinly
pinch of salt
1 cup chopped carrots
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
3 teaspoons grated ginger
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped chives or scallions
8 cups of chicken broth
1 ounce package of dried shitake mushrooms or eight fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon light sodium Tamari
1 8 ounce package udon noodles (I used Koyo Round Noodles)
1 cup Napa cabbage, chopped
Sriracha to taste

In a large skillet or stove top wok, heat the sesame oil over high heat. Add the pork and pinch of salt, letting each side cook until browned, usually about three minutes per side. Remove pork and set aside.
Toss in carrots and sugar and stir until carrots have caramelized. Remove carrots and set aside.
Throw in the Panko. You may need a bit more oil. Stir crumbs until they turn golden-brown. Drain on a paper towel.
Turn heat down to medium and place ginger, garlic, and chives in the skillet. Stir until the aromas are released, then pour in stock. Toss in the mushrooms, and pour in the Tamari. Add pork and carrots and let simmer 30-45 minutes.
Add noodles and cook another six minutes.
Add cabbage and cook two minutes more.
Place in bowls. Add sriracha if wanted and sprinkle with crunchy Panko.

Sandwich Nicoise

Nicoise sandwichThe warm, dry winter California experienced is bumping the seasons forward a bit this year. Trees are already changing into their autumn finery, and while the light doesn’t say, “Summer’s over,” just yet, there’s definitely a sense that it’s about to wind to an end.

Because it’s been so warm for so long, much of our summery wines had already been enjoyed, and our very last bottle of rosé sat lonely in the refrigerator. With the sense of change in the air, it felt like it was time to seize the opportunity to enjoy that lovely, pink wine while the evenings were still warm.

But what to pair it with? Salad Niçoise is always a bright and savory choice for a summer’s meal, but wouldn’t it be even better sandwiched between two halves of a sourdough roll? With such a thought in mind, I created one heck of a sandwich.

Sandwich Niçoise


Serves 2-4

2 sourdough French rolls
1 Tablespoon butter
dash of garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs
6 new, tiny fingerling potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive tapenade (Use nicoise olives to make your tapenade if you can find them.)
anchovy paste to taste
1 very small red pepper, sliced thinly
dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon of chopped green onions
1 can of tuna packed in olive oil
1 heirloom tomato, sliced thinly

Wash potatoes. Put a small pot of water on to boil. Sprinkle in some salt and add the potatoes. Once the water begins to do a roiling boil, carefully put the eggs in. Put on a lid and turn off the fire. Let the potatoes and eggs sit for 20 minutes. Pour off the water and rinse with cold water until the eggs are only slightly warm to the touch. Peel the eggs and slice. Cut the potatoes in half and drizzle with olive oil as well as sprinkling them with salt, pepper, and parsley. Set aside.

While the potatoes and eggs sit, warm a stove top griddle over low heat. Slice the rolls in half, butter each half and sprinkle with garlic powder. Place on the griddle until the open faces of the bread is golden brown. Remove from heat.

Spread mustard on each piece of bread. Spread tapenade on one slice of each roll and anchovy paste on the other slices. Sprinkle the onions on the tapenade side and press down lightly. Then assemble the sandwiches with the rest of the ingredients, layering carefully so everything doesn’t slide right out. I put the tuna on top of the anchovy paste, the red pepper next, then the tomato, egg slices, and finally, the potatoes.
This is a huge sandwich, so feel free to share the other half with your other half and save the other sandwich for later.
Serve with a side of green beans (a staple of Salad Niçoise), and enjoy this last breath of summer.

Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy

Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy Stir FryIt all started when I spied the prettiest baby bok choy in the produce department. It was so vibrant and crunchy and just called out for a dish to be prepared in dedication to its delectable-ness. Well okay then, a stir fry seemed in order.

I grabbed some pork, fixin’s for a sauce, and some other pretty produce and set about to make a meal. When I spoke to Charles about his thoughts for a wine to drink, he wanted to try a Barbera. An Italian varietal with an Asian meal might seem to be a rather bold choice, but the best part of wine pairing is the experimentation. The worst that can happen is that the pairing doesn’t work. The world won’t end. You won’t descend down a shame spiral. Have some water with the meal and save the wine to enjoy as a digestif while binge watching whatever current TV obsession you may be in the midst of. We learn from our choices. Sometimes they pay off. Sometimes they’re rather awful, but they’re always an adventure.

How did that bold Barbera option go with dinner? It may not have been a transcendent experience, but it actually paired pretty well. The wine complimented the pork, and nuances of flavor were brought out by the ginger and sweet chili sauce. The Barbera didn’t play along with the green beans in the dish, but all in all, I’d try it again. I might just tweak the recipe a tad — less vinegar, no beans, a little more soy sauce — in order to allow the wine to sing a bit more. My fall back wine that goes with everything, the Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé, would have worked with dinner, too. As would an amber ale. Don’t be afraid to try new things. It makes a meal more exciting.

Crispy Pork with Baby Bok Choy


Serves 4

1 lb pork loin, sliced thinly and at an angle
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
4 baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
1 cup green beans
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce
chopped green onions for garnish

Heat a stove-top wok or deep sauté pan over high heat.Toss pork with sesame oil, salt, and pepper and put in pan. Let sit for two minutes. Flip pieces and let sit another two minutes. Stir to make sure everything is cooked and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.
Place pan back over high heat. Add oil. Toss in bok choy and stir fry for two minutes then add green beans, garlic, and bell pepper and stir for an additional three minutes. Turn heat down to the lowest setting.
Add vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and chili sauce to a mason jar. Screw on the lid and shake until everything is completely mixed. Stir in the sauce and toss until the sauce is warmed.
Sprinkle the green onions on top and serve with rice.

Slow Cooker Stout Chili

chiliI don’t know what it is about chili and summertime, but the two go together like best buds. While it’s a hot and spicy meal, it’s also really satisfying – even when the mercury is hovering around 100 degrees F.

Of course, since it is incredibly hot outside, I kept the temperature nice inside by using the slow cooker. It’s a perfect way to make chili, as the flavors have hours to slowly meld, incorporating the savory, sweet, and spicy into a taste bud pleasing whole.

Using stout in the chili is the perfect way to round out the flavors. It supports the malty, molasses flavors while complimenting the chipotle spice. Pair the dish with a summer beer, like Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice (it was amazing with the chili) and a cornbread muffin, and this humble dish magically transforms to almost Manna-like proportions. Well, maybe not to that extent, but it is a pretty pleasurable dinner.

A quick note on the spice blend I used – it was Frontier’s Blackened Seafood Seasoning. Here’s the thing about “specific” seasonings – they’re still just a blend of herbs and spices. Don’t feel like it’s just for use on one type of meat. It’s a blend. Use it wherever you see fit. This specific seasoning would also be fantastic on chicken — or even tofu — and I used it on ground pork, which was perfect.

Slow Cooker Stout Chili


Serves 8

50 oz. canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed (If using dried beans, soak overnight.)
56 oz. canned fire roasted tomatoes, crushed (I used Muir Glen)
1 pound ground pork
22 oz. stout (I used Lagunitas Imperial Stout)
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Hot sauce, to taste (I used O’Brother, That’s Hot Chipotle Habanero Pepper Sauce)
2 teaspoons salt
Spice blend, to taste

Brown pork in a skillet over medium-high heat. Shake in spice blend while pork is cooking. Add onion and garlic and stir. (I used a pork that wasn’t greasy, but if yours is, make sure to dab up the excess grease with a paper towel.)
Pour into a slow cooker, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Add beans, tomatoes, stout, hot sauce, and salt. Cover and cook on low for nine hours.
Taste and add more salt, spice blend, and hot sauce as needed.

Roasted Sriracha Cashews

Roasted Sriracha CashewsWho says fireworks are only for the sky? While the US’ Independence Day may have been yesterday, that doesn’t mean you can’t set off some food fireworks on your tongue — in the form of roasted sriracha cashews.

For an added layer of umami, I tossed the cashews in a teriyaki sauce before coating them in sriracha. The result was a bite of “Hello, spicy!” followed by savory and ending with the creamy characters of the cashew. What an addictive snack! Serve these with a beer, microbrew of course. A Pale Ale or Pilsner would be quite nice, tempering the spice and cutting through a bit of the fattiness of the nuts.

Roasted Sriracha Cashews


1 pound plain cashews
2 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 Tablespoons sriracha sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss cashews with teriyaki sauce. Let sit for a couple of minutes.
Toss with sriracha sauce until fully coated and let sit another couple of minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the cashews in a single layer over the paper.
Roast for 20 minutes, stirring the cashews at the 5, 10, and 15 minute marks.
Remove from oven and allow the cashews to cool completely.

Kale and Chickpea Soup

Kale and chickpea soupI have one of those recipes that I go back to again and again. It’s one of those dishes that makes you feel better after eating it, and it’s chock full of good-for-you ingredients. You know, all that stuff you’re supposed to eat on a regular basis like kale and tomatoes and legumes.

Because it’s a soup, the flavors meld into a savory, sweet, and slightly earthy experience that’s even better the second day. The recipe was given to me by one of our local farmers, and then I changed it up a bit, i.e., I dumped a bunch of wine into the dish. The extra wine gives the soup an amazing tang, and you can use what’s leftover to drink with your meal. I mean — what a win-win! For the leftovers, I’d recommend pairing with a Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity and citrus flavors go really well with my favorite soup.

This recipe is going to be two-fold. The first recipe is the way I’ve been making it for years, and the second is what I did this past week — utilizing a crock pot so a delicious, wholesome soup was ready and waiting when I got back from my afternoon run.

Kale and Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Soup


serves 8

2 onions or shallots, diced small
1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ t. pepper flakes
4 large tomatoes, fresh
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn small
1 ½ cups dry garbanzo beans, cooked, or two 15 oz. cans of chickpeas
Salt and pepper

If using dry chickpeas, soak overnight. Cook them in at least four cups of water for three hours until soft. Be sure not to put salt in until peas are fully cooked. Cook the onions and thyme in the olive oil over medium until soft. Increase the heat and add the garlic, pepper flakes, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt and 1/3 cup wine. Stew for 15 minutes. Add the cooked chickpeas and the 8 cups of liquid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the peas absorb the flavors. Add the kale leaves and cook ten more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker Kale and Chickpea Soup

Slow Cooker Kale and Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Soup


serves 8

2 onions or shallots, diced small
1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ t. pepper flakes
4 large tomatoes, fresh
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves torn small
Two 15 oz. cans of chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer all ingredients into a slow cooker except the kale, salt, and pepper. Place onions and garlic on the bottom, followed by the tomatoes, and then the chickpeas. Sprinkle herbs over everything and pour liquids in. Turn the slow cooker on to low, and let it cook eight to nine hours. Put in the kale and continue to cook on the low setting for another 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

A Chilled Soup for a Hot Day

Chilled Potato and Asparagus SoupThe West is really warming up. There are places already experiencing 100 degree F days, and it’s not even June!

It may be heating up, but that doesn’t mean the time for soup is over. There are tomato gazpachos, fruit soups, and more. Since it’s not so hot — yet — that no one even feels like eating, a heartier chilled soup seemed in order. Inspired by Cowgirl Creamery‘s amazing Spring Garlic and Asparagus Soup, I made a version that incorporated my seasonal farm share from Pennyroyal Farmstead. This thick, creamy, and decadent meal paired perfectly with a slightly creamy Sauvignon Blanc, Husch’s “The Press,” a secondary label they created for the 2012 vintage. 2012 was a wonderful year with an amazing yield. Its grassy, citrus nose and lemon custard in the glass paired — as I said before — perfectly with the asparagus and goat cheese in the soup.

Creamy Potato and Asparagus Chilled Soup


serves 4

1 small bulb of green garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 large and 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
approximately 1/2 cup crème fraîche
12 asparagus spears, chopped
1 cup Chive Flower Laychee (or you could use ricotta)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

Over medium heat, melt butter in a soup pot. Toss in garlic, potatoes, and onion and stir. Cover with a lid and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for ten minutes. Turn off heat and stir in crème fraîche.
In a large bowl, create an ice bath with ice and water, setting a slightly smaller bowl inside.
In one cup increments, purée the soup in a food processor or blender. Pour into the bowl inside the ice bath. Place into the refrigerator and wait for soup to chill.
In the same soup pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Throw in asparagus and cook until it becomes bright green but is still just a bit crunchy. Drain and dry in paper towels.
This is my favorite tip from Cowgirl Creamery — instead of blanching the asparagus, toss it with olive oil and the salt and pepper. The asparagus absorbs more flavor while it’s still warm. I found this to be quite true! Put asparagus in a container and place in the fridge until ready to add to the soup.
When soup is chilled, pour into four bowls. Stir in asparagus, reserving tips for garnish. Dollop in small spoonfuls of Laychee. Garnish with asparagus tips and serve.

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