Kendall Jackson lives up to it’s Reputation in both Food & Wine!

IMG_0946

We had to select only one restaurant to dine in for our short stay in Healdsburg recently. The decision to go to Partake by K-J which is a Kendall Jackson restaurant and tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, was a fantastic one. They offer a seasonal menu that is driven by their own garden offerings and directed by their artisan chefs who are masterful at including wine products and flavors in their food.

IMG_0947

Since we didn’t do a tasting prior to our meal, we decided to order wines by the glass so that we could try several and pair them with each course. It turned out to be a perfect idea because we tasted four different incredible wines and each went sublimely with our meal. Rose, who took wonderful care of us throughout our dinner, helped steer our choices and she did it quite well!

IMG_0950

The dinner began with an amuse bouche of a pickled cucumber dish that was served with a taste of “secret” wine served in a black wine glass. I guessed that it was a Sauvignon Blanc and was correct! What a fun way to begin our dining experience.

IMG_0955

IMG_0952

For our first course we ordered the 2013 Grand Reserve Chardonnay and the 2013 Jackson Estate Seco Highlands Pinot Noir. They were to pair with our Estate Greens with chanterelle mushrooms, poached egg & garlic chips and also their Salt Baked Kohlrabi with a rosemary pine nut crumble & sheep’s milk ricotta. (Kohlrabi is a turnip cabbage with the taste and texture similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter.) Both items were beautifully presented and scrumptious! I had never eaten kohlrabi before and loved their rendition. The ricotta was super creamy and delicious! The wines – they were fantastic! And they paired so perfectly with our two dishes, it was amazing.

IMG_0960

IMG_0963

For our next course, we selected a glass of the 2013 Jackson Estate Piner Hills Chardonnay and the 2013 Jackson Estate Alisos Hills Syrah. I honestly had a hard time deciding which wines I liked the best as they were all so incredible! The Piner Hills Chardonnay paired very well with their Lassen Country Trout served with celtuce, trout roe & creme fraiche. (Celtuce is a stem lettuce grown primarily for its thick stem, used as a vegetable.) The Alisos Hills Syrah was fruity, silky and extremely lucious with their Roasted Lamb Loin served with fingerling potatoes, butter braised radish and golden raisin chutney. The quality of the lamb was superb. It was a mouthful of flavor and tenderness in every bite. Definitely my favorite of the entrees.

IMG_0956

IMG_0966

The sides on their menu were so interesting that we had to try some so we settled first on their Red Wine Fries with K-J Cabernet Ketchup. I’m talking about fries that are scarlet red and totally unique with the most gourmet, yummy ketchup ever; how could we resist? I don’t even like ketchup but this was amazing! However, as wonderful as this was, it didn’t hold a candle to our other side – Tempura Maitake Mushrooms! OMG, I don’t even know how to explain this other than to say it was so far, the best thing I’ve eaten all year! I am literally going to make a trip to San Francisco to the mushroom vendor in the Ferry Building just so I can get some of these mushrooms and try to make them myself! They were cooked in a tempura batter made with K-J’s own wine flour and who know’s what else, but I’m telling you they were exceptional!

IMG_0969

IMG_0971

Completely satiated at this point, I was ready to say good night but it was deemed necessary to at least try one of their desserts and a cappuccino. Rose brought us a plate of Assorted Sweets to give us a variety of small bites to satisfy that sweet tooth that doesn’t seem to think you are ever too full! The vanilla macaron was my fav on the plate and the cappuccino was a perfect ending.

To say this was a great meal would be an understatement of the thought and care that went into the menu and each plate we received. The wine pairing and service were the whipped cream and cherry on top! Yes, we’ll be back here again…

 

 

 

 

Forget about making Florets, cook your Cauliflower whole!

IMG_0835

This recipe will knock your socks off! It is quite simple and minimizes prep time by cooking the cauliflower whole. It makes a gorgeous presentation and tastes absolutely scrumptious! It’s even great as leftovers.

IMG_0841

The only prep you need to do to the head of cauliflower is to cut off the base and leaves and hollow out the core slightly with a small paring knife. That’s it – no need to break it into individual florets as you will be cooking it whole.

IMG_0845

You bake it covered with foil and then coat it with a mixture of mayonnaise, dijon mustard and fresh thyme leaves and bake it some more. It is served topped with a quick sauce of browned butter with capers, toasted hazelnuts and lemon juice. Simple, quick and amazing. You will love it!

IMG_0856
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH BROWNED BUTTER, HAZELNUTS AND CAPERS

Serves 6-8 side dish portions

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned* and chopped to the size of capers
  • 2 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Trim the stem end of the cauliflower and remove the leaves. With a paring knife, carefully cut out 1-1/2 inches of the core, keeping the head intact. Season the cauliflower generously all over with salt and pepper, transfer to the baking sheet, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until partially cooked and a small knife inserted in the stem end meets with slight resistance, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the foil and let the cauliflower cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, and thyme. Spread the mixture onto the cauliflower, coating it all over. Roast, rotating the pan occasionally, until the cauliflower is evenly browned and tender throughout when pierced with a fork, 20 to 25 minutes more.
  4. In an 8-inch skillet, cook the butter over medium-low heat until the milk solids begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Watch closely as the butter will turn from golden to brown rather quickly once it starts to turn. If you let it get too dark, it will turn bitter. Immediately add the hazelnuts, capers, and lemon juice, and remove from the heat. Cut the cauliflower into pieces and serve with the sauce spooned over it.

Notes

* To skin the hazelnuts, toast them in a small dry frying pan. Then remove them to a clean dishcloth and rub them until most of their skins rub off. This will take the bitter outer layer off and leave a nicely toasted nut for you to use in the sauce.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Side Dishes)

 

 

Michelin Star Rated – “State Bird Provisions” in SF

IMG_0870

Well I guess when you arrive into the group of “elite restaurants” in San Francisco, you do not need to have a sign on your door stating where you are located. One should just know where you are! That is what we discovered when trying to find State Bird Provisions. I constantly peruse lists of top favorites wherever I am traveling to, so I don’t miss out on any spectacular culinary experiences. This time, it required staying up till midnight, (not always an easy task for me these days) and booking a reservation 60 days in advance. Upon arrival, the hostess noted that they also save seats at their chef’s counter and some of the tables for walk-ins. There were even some folks who arrived that day at 3:30 PM for just that purpose! (they don’t open till 5:30)  I was thankful to have had our reservation.

IMG_0866

One wonders if restaurants can ever live up to hype and expectation that is created from all of the press they are given. I find that it can easily go either way for me and it’s about a 50/50 gamble. This time, it was a winner in almost every category!

Rabbit-provolone Croquettes

Rabbit-provolone Croquettes

Hannah was our server and she was terrific! She helped us navigate through the process there to help steer us in the right direction. They offer a unique dining experience by serving an assortment of dim sum style dishes along with choices from their menu. There were about 20 dim sum items available  and we saw about half of them come by our table. Fortunately, they come quickly before you get a chance to order off the menu, which saved us from ordering a major excess of food. Don’t misunderstand though, we certainly did not leave there hungry!

Red Trout with toasted Hazelnut-mandarin-garum Vinaigrette

Red Trout with toasted Hazelnut-mandarin-garum Vinaigrette

I really enjoyed the small portion eating as it gave us an opportunity to try a zillion different things! Also, by sharing dishes, if you liked some less than others, you were only committed to a bite or two of your “not favorite thing”. If you loved it, you could easily ask for more!

Coconut-shiso Ice Cream Sandwich, Bartlett pear

Coconut-shiso Ice Cream Sandwich, Bartlett pear

I was hard pressed to find anything I didn’t like and surprisingly enough, the items I liked the most were not what I expected. For instance, the Rabbit-Provolone Croquettes with Tomato Agridulce was one of my favorite items. I have always been afraid to order rabbit in the past assuming it would be too gamey and awful. But to my surprise, I loved it! I expected that their signature dish, the CA State Bird with Provisions, would be my favorite as I love quail and who could do it better than a restaurant with it’s very name? However, it was not my favorite item at all. They served it battered and fried and I found it a bit dry and unexceptional although I have to admit the sauce was great. However, the Red Trout with Toasted Hazelnut-Mandarine-Garum Vinaigrette was incredible and probably my favorite dish of the night! 

CA State Bird with provisions

CA State Bird with provisions

Here are the rest of the pics of our starters and dim sum items which were all quite tasty: 

IMG_0889 IMG_0887 IMG_0884 IMG_0882 IMG_0879 IMG_0876 IMG_0874 IMG_0872

For our dessert lineup we selected the Ice Cream Sandwiches pictured previously, the Blue Bottle Coffee Ganache with szechuan pepper marshmallow, pecan crumble & raspberries and their Signature Item – the “world peace” Peanut Muscovado Milk. My favorite was the Ice Cream Sandwiches!

IMG_0900 IMG_0895

To top off the evening, Hannah graciously gave me restaurant recommendations for our upcoming trip to Portland, OR. I thoroughly enjoyed this dining adventure and have added it to my fav’s list of SF restaurants!

 

Keeping it Natural – The Way Food was Intended!

IMG_0802

A throwback version of an old favorite – Nicoise Salad. What a wonderful classic meal and a very European way to eat! Here it is with some of my favorite ingredients such as yellow wax beans, gold yukon potatoes and baby red leaf lettuce. All from my Talley Farms CSA box!

IMG_0803

The key to making this salad wonderful is in the quality of the ingredients you use. Since you are showcasing each item in a very natural state, they each need to stand up  on their own. That’s why I use super fresh vegetables, free range organic eggs and high quality tuna packed in olive oil. To top it off, the dressing must also rise to the occasion, and a classic French vinaigrette is the perfect match for this salad.

IMG_0806

It is simple to prepare and easy to assemble. A few extra touches bring out the maximum flavor potential in each category. The beans and potatoes are boiled separately in the same pot of water saving on cleaning, and each are coated with a little butter, salt and pepper while still hot. The eggs are cooked to perfection using the “bring it to a boil, cover and turn off the heat for 10 minutes” process. It works perfect every time!

IMG_0802

NICOISE SALAD

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the French vinaigrette (Makes about 3/4 cups):

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/8 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest or dried lemon rind
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes
  • 8 ounces yellow wax or green beans
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (melted or at room temperature)
  • 3 4.5-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 4 large hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, quartered or several small tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups salad greens

Directions

  1. For the dressing:  Combine the oil, vinegars, Dijon, and garlic in a blender or small food processor and blend until the dressing is thick and creamy (emulsified). Whisk in mustard powder, lemon zest, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  2. For the salad, place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with a few inches of water. Add a generous amount of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are tender and can easily be pierced with knife, about 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Return the water to a boil and add the beans. Cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove beans with a slotted spoon (or drain through a colander) and set aside.
  4. Slice the potatoes crosswise into thin discs, toss with 2 tablespoons of butter, and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, toss the green beans with remaining tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, stir a few tablespoons vinaigrette into the tuna. Taste and add more until desired flavor is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Spread lettuce onto a serving platter. Arrange potatoes, beans, eggs, tomatoes and tuna over lettuce. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Salads)

Shrimp and Corn are the Duo in this Heavenly Summer Soup!

IMG_0756
This Seafood Chowder highlights shrimp and my bi color non-GMO Talley Farms corn as the main attraction. Coconut milk takes the place of cream combined with chicken broth to create a full bodied, rich broth. In an effort to heighten the flavor even more, my secret is to simmer the corn cobs right in the soup and pull them out before adding the cooked bacon and shrimp.

IMG_0775

The flavor profile of this soup is really enhanced with the spice combination of cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. The addition of bacon also lends to the underlying smokiness, however can easily be omitted for those who don’t eat meat. In that case, just use olive oil to sauté the onion and vegetables instead of bacon fat.

IMG_0774

If you follow my blog, then you know that I love to garnish my soups!  I happened to have some pineapple sage in my herb garden that I thought would marry nicely with the mild flavors of the corn and shrimp. (Plain sage would work well also.) Rather than a chiffonade of fresh herbs, I decided to fry the sage for a nice crispy topping adding a little texture to the creamy soup. It gave me a wonderful result!

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 cups corn (from 3 large ears) – save the corn cobs
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/3 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound medium/large shrimp, peeled, deveined and sliced in half lengthwise
  • Fried Sage Leaves
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 bunch sage leaves, stemmed and separated into individual leaves (I used pineapple sage)
    • flake salt 

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until lightly crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, potatoes, and corn and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the coconut milk, broth, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add 2-3 of the corn cobs to the pot, breaking them in half if necessary to fit them in. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the cobs and discard.
  5. Return the bacon to the pan and add the shrimp and simmer until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with some fried sage leaves.
Fried Sage Leaves
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the sage leaves and fry for 15-30 seconds until crisp, stirring a couple times carefully so they don’t break. With a slotted spoon, remove them to a paper towel lined plate to drain. (Make sure not to let them brown or they will turn bitter)
Notes
  • Sage leaves can be stored up to 2 days in an airtight container on the counter.
  • Slicing the shrimp lengthwise allows the shrimp to be both bite size and plentiful!

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Soups)

 

 

Whole Grains and Fresh Vegetables make a Satisfying Meal

IMG_0736
Sautéing or wok frying fresh vegetables is one of the best ways to bring out their best flavor while keeping their nutrients intact. With a drizzle of lemon-tahini dressing served over a bed of whole grains, this meal is immensely satisfying!

IMG_0745

 I used red quinoa and brown rice for the grain mixture. It was made super easy by using Trader Joe’s frozen organic brown rice combined with their organic red quinoa. An abundance of vegetables is recommended to complete this dish. It is necessary to balance the ratio of grains to vegetables.

IMG_0753

The simple lemon-tahini sauce offers a nutty, citrus essence to the dish. Enough to make a wonderful meal on it’s own, it is however, garnished with raw bean sprouts and chopped avocado for an exciting finishing touch.

IMG_0749

A MEDLY OF FRESH VEGETABLES, RED QUINOA & BROWN RICE

Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice or 1 packet Trader Joe’s frozen Organic Brown Rice
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced
  • 2 medium yellow squash sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup snap peas, stem end and string removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 head of broccoli—stems peeled and sliced into coins, heads cut into small florets
  • One 12-ounce bunch kale, large stems discarded
  • 1/4 cup tahini, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts

Directions

  1.  In a medium saucepan, cover the brown rice with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is just tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and return the rice to the saucepan; keep covered. Conversely, microwave one packet of TJ’s frozen organic brown rice for 3 minutes.
  2.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat until the quinoa is tender and all of the water has been absorbed, 20 minutes.
  3.  In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and snap peas, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  4.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Add the broccoli, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until deep green, 5 minutes. Add the kale, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until the broccoli and kale are just tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt. Stir in the other vegetables.
  5.  In a small bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic, warm water and crushed red pepper. Season with salt.
  6.  Transfer the brown rice and quinoa to a platter or individual plates. Top with the cooked vegetables, diced avocado and bean sprouts. Serve, passing the tahini sauce at the table.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Main Entrees)

Greek Yogurt and Smoked Trout turn this Bean Salad into something Extraordinary!

IMG_0708
You may have made a bean salad in the past and if not, you’ve surely eaten one. They are usually healthy and somewhat tasty, but often unexciting. However, if you combine these fantastic fresh Talley Farms French green and wax beans with the ingredients in this salad, you will have something utterly extraordinary!

IMG_0716

The base salad is made with a mixture of three beans; French green beans, wax beans and cannellini beans. I then added cucumber, fennel, red onion, garlic, lemon zest and yummy Castelvetrano olives. I used several herbs for seasoning; Italian parsley, fennel fronds and fresh marjoram leaves. The salad was dressed with a mix of lemon juice, red wine vinegar and some of the cooking oil used in sautéing the beans. But what makes this salad zing is topping it with creamy Greek yogurt and delicious chunks of smoked trout fillet. Incredibly scrumptious!

IMG_0713

So easy to make for a crowd. The recipe makes enough to serve 12 large side portions and is simple to assemble. You can easily halve the recipe and can also serve it as a main dish with a nice muffin or bread on the side. I served mine with some honey topped corn fritters and it made a fabulous meal!

IMG_0718
THREE BEAN SALAD WITH SMOKED TROUT

Yield:  12 side servings

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. (2-3/4 cups) green beans (or an assortment of string beans), string removed if tough, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed or grapeseed oil
  • 2 cans cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 English cucumber, partially peeled in strips, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 fennel bulb, super thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1 tsp. reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds, several whole pieces reserved for garnish
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh marjoram leaves, coarsely chopped, 1 tsp. reserved for garnish
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 8 to 10 oz. skinless smoked trout fillet

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet, cook the green beans in the oil over medium heat until they begin to sizzle, 1 minute. Add 1 Tbs. water, cover, and steam until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the cannellini beans, cucumber, fennel, olives, onion, parsley, fennel fronds, lemon juice, vinegar, marjoram, lemon zest, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix gently.
  3. Arrange the salad on a large serving platter and top with dollops of yogurt. Crumble the trout into chunks and scatter over the top. Garnish with the reserved herbs and more black pepper and serve.

Notes

  • You can easily cut this recipe in half.
  • I purchased canned smoked trout at Trader Joe’s and it worked fantastically. A full recipe takes 2 of their cans.
  • This recipe can be varied tremendously with other beans, herbs, vegetables, or other add in’s or substitutions based on your preference.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Salads)

 

 

In the Mood for a little Nosh? Try the new Restaurant in Downtown Paso Robles!

IMG_0702
Nosh is a new breakfast and lunch restaurant in Paso Robles. Moving from Las Vegas, owners Fanny Alcantar and Executive Chef Esther Abobo, opened Nosh offering traditional American cuisine with a focus on local, fresh and wholesome ingredients. They are currently open from daily 7 AM to 3 PM. Once they obtain a liquor license, they will also be open from 5:00 – 8:00 PM for tapas and drinks.

IMG_0707

Upon my first experience there, I noted that these are definitely pros in the business. Clearly they know how to operate a restaurant from both the back and the front of the house. The staff was well trained and extremely hospitable. We were approached several times inquiring if we needed anything, offering more coffee and ensuring that we were completely satisfied. As an added courtesy, our waitress even offered us coffee to go!

IMG_0706

The food was presented well and was delicious! The Veggie Skillet was a medley of spinach, mushrooms, grilled onions, roasted peppers, tomatoes, and crispy home fries with 2 eggs. The ingredients were fresh and perfectly prepared. The potatoes nicely crisp, vegetables well seasoned and flavorful and the eggs cooked perfectly! 

IMG_0704

The Healthy Way was made with 3 egg whites packed with grilled onions, spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers and topped with ripe avocado. It was served with a choice of brown rice, mixed greens or trail mix with toast. We selected the rye toast which to my delight was nicely crisp served with butter and jams on the side. Crisp rye toast is my favorite kind and is seldom served properly, as this was.

Nosh

Their menu is extensive and offers a nice variety of choices. I can’t wait to try them for lunch and will definitely be a tapas customer when it’s offered! For being their first week open, I give them an A+ to come out of the gate without a hiccup on our meal. The place was packed so I’m sure they were challenged for their first weekend. My guess is that they will weather through the start up quite well and be a favorite place to go in Paso.

White Miso and Soba Noodles are the base for this Yummy Chicken Vegetable Soup!!

IMG_0608

I am a verified soup lover! I don’t care if it is a warm or cold weather day – soup is soothing, comforting and delicious. It can be served as a soup shot, an appetizer, a partner to a sandwich or as a main entree. So many versions, and I love them all!

IMG_0601

Miso and Buckwheat are very complimentary to each other so they were a perfect combination to pair with my fresh kale, sugar snap peas and leeks from Talley Farms. One of the keys to this recipe is to cool the noodles and veggies after cooking to ensure that they don’t get mushy. It’s a very simple recipe and can be adapted quite easily to other vegetables you might have on hand such as broccoli, mushrooms or peas.

IMG_0604

VEGETABLE CHICKEN SOUP WITH MISO AND SOBA NOODLES

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  •  Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 8 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 7 1/2 cups water
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green part, diced, about 2 cups
  • ¼ cup white miso, or more to taste
  • 5 ounces kale, center ribs removed and cut into 2 inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  •  A few basil leaves, julienned

Directions

  1. Season chicken thighs on all sides with salt and pepper. Put oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium high heat. Add thighs and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, reducing heat to keep meat from browning. Turn and cook other side for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger and let sizzle without browning. Add mirin, sugar, soy sauce, broth and water, then bring mixture to boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove thighs and chop into 1/2-inch chunks, then return meat to pot. Taste broth and adjust salt if necessary.
  3. In a separate pot, cook buckwheat noodles according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Drain noodles and refresh with cool water, then leave at room temperature.
  4. Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Add snap peas and leeks and simmer 1 minute, then drain and refresh with cool water. Leave at room temperature.
  5. To serve, reheat broth to just under a boil. Dilute miso with a little hot broth and whisk into soup. Add kale and let wilt slightly, then add leeks and snap peas and let them warm for 1 minute. Divide the noodles among 6 warmed bowls and ladle soup over. Top each bowl with a little basil.

Notes

  • Store soup and noodle leftovers separately.
  • For spice lovers, serve with sriracha sauce on the side!

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Soups)

Everything Tastes Better when you Grill It!

IMG_0565

Fresh grilled brussels sprouts, summer squash, carrots and French beans served with a balsamic herb flavored vinaigrette.

Grilling should not be relegated to only meat, poultry and fish! It is so quick and easy to prepare your fresh produce on the grill and the results are amazing. You get a wonderful smokey aroma and a delicious char flavor when you grill your fruits and vegetables. Plus it is super quick and easy to do!

IMG_0561

Especially if you have a gas grill, where there is no extra time needed to ready charcoals – just turn it on and heat it up! The weather is nice so get yourself outside and start grilling!

IMG_0627

The key to grilling vegetables is to oil them lightly and season with salt and pepper. Fruits just need a little oil. Cook them on a hot grill not letting them ignite with flames and refrain from moving them too quickly. To get great grill marks you need to let them sit until they are nicely charred and easy to turn. The best way to do this is to ensure your grill is hot enough and that both your vegetables and grill rack has been oiled. 

IMG_0629

I like to separate my vegetables/fruits and rather than cooking them all together so that I can monitor the cooking time for each as they may vary. For instance summer squash will cook much faster than carrots so if you separate them on the grill, you can remove each item as it is done. That way you won’t suffer from some items being overcooked or others not being done.

IMG_0632

For softer vegetables such as summer squash, cook with the top open so they don’t get too soft, but for heartier vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, cook with the top closed so they will bake while grilling. Depending on the type of vegetable, you can also par cook them ahead to ensure they are cooked through and nicely charred without burning on your grill. Make sure your vegetable pieces are similar in size so they will all cook at the same time.

IMG_0618

I use a variety of different grill racks and baskets for smaller items that might fall through the grates. I have several that are flat and used together will cover the surface of my grill so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally losing some when I am turning or flipping the vegetables over.  I spray them with oil so that the vegetables won’t stick to them as I would the grill rack if I were cooking directly on it.

IMG_0635

So much flavor is gained from grilling that you can minimize your meal preparation. Grilled fruits and vegetables are delicious eaten as is, when taken off the barbecue. Added to recipes, they will add a heavenly boost to whatever you are creating. It’s magical!

IMG_0637

Grilled baby romaine, avocado, chicken & corn along with grilled peach halves topped with balsamic glaze & blue cheese crumbles. Served with sungold cherry tomatoes, chopped bacon and buttermilk blue cheese dressing.

Just add some grilled protein, a little garnish like balsamic glaze, a sprinkle of cheese & salad dressing and you have a wonderful deconstructed salad!