Celebrate with MONET

Author’s Note: Before we get to the Food, I want to thank Couleur Nature for sharing their incredibly lovely French tablelinens as backdrop for Monet’s Food. I remember seeing their tablecloths for the first time some 15 years ago. Before I could Cook, let alone make Cassoulet! I was “antiquing” with my grandmother, Mima, in Pasadena. (She loved “Good Design.”) There was a vendor selling beautiful old platters but I fell hard for the cheery, obviously well-made tablecloth beneath.  We went back and forth until finally I convinced her to sell me her tablecloth. I use it most weeks still. What I love about Couleur Nature is not just the daily beauty they bring to my kitchen, but the memory of my grandmother. Shopping with me in the sunshine… Mima died two years ago this Spring. And I think of her every time I unfurl that gorgeous cloth onto my kitchen table. It’s been a real honor working with Couleur Nature again on this article.

When I started writing about Artists & Food last year, I had no idea I’d find a real thread of similarity across history. First with Frida and her Recipes, Robert Townsend (L.A. based & awesome) and with Monet. Three Artists who could not be more different if they tried. But each one living a purposeful aesthetic. An intentional way of being. Of creating.

Life Lived Beautifully. And Intentionally… The Parlor at Giverny.

For Monet, the second half of Life was ripe with the celebrations and deliciousness denied him in the first half. Giverny provided important sanctuary. Space to grow as a newly blended family with Alice Hoschede, Monet’s second wife, after Camille sadly died from cancer. Giverny was an oasis of seemingly “wild” waves of color — vibrantly lush! — in every direction.  Lilac shadows and dappled sunlight. Fragrant, blooming flowers, tranquil pond, and VERY organized, kitchen garden. Not an inch wasted. Giverny was a carefully structured orchestra of year-round care, grounds maintenance, and painting schedules.

Alice & Claude Monet’s restored Kitchen. Alice died in 1911 and Blanche, her daughter, took over as mistress of Giverny. When Monet died in 1926, the house continued for family and dwindling chorus of artists and friends until WWI devoured Europe. September 1940, on the brink of WWII, Blanche “wrote to Count Matternich asking him to protect the house. An official notice was pinned to the door, stating “This is Monet’s House. Forbidden to the forces of occupation.” Blanche lasted until June the following year before closing Giverny. It’s said cook Marguerite handed over her apron here in this kichen, leaving sadly in a red truck. For it was over. And Giverny deserted.

Domestic harmony being paramount for Monet, mealtimes ran like clockwork: three multi-course meals cooked by Maguerite (from scratch) per day. Fresh cut flowers in every room. Alice at the helm intentionally crafting an elegant, creatively “Artsy” Lifestyle while simultaneously protecting now-famous Monet’s privacy… and satiating his hunger. Monet built three studios at Giverny and painted every morning and late afternoon, allowing only Alice in and later, Blanche, his stepdaughter. Alice would meal-plan the week ahead or embroider while Monet painted. I love that visual… Two people so in love with each other, food and art! With daily meals,  acts of seasonal celebration.

One of Monet’s many food paintings.  Monet painted abundant scenes in courtyards, parks, picnics, and sweet family moments through his entire career… even if early reality was cold, hungry, and impoverished.

For Monet reveled in the appetizing! Bragging that he “ate the weight of three men” per meal. Insisting on a beautiful table (even when times were lean). After reading countless pages these past eight months, surviving Giverny recipes boast early “Farm to Table” fare that had to be flavorful but never fussy.  Alice and Monet, both born upper middle class, understood that domestic beauty was vital but always appear effortless. Monet insisting on eating well in celebration of season, family, and finally, financial success as Artist.

Shellfish was a true delicacy. Giverny initially boasted no Ice Box, making safe storage of these beauties difficult! Shellfish served was always a cause for Celebration! Miyagi Oysters shown here on La Mer Tablecloth from Couleur Nature.

Out of all the recipes I’ve read, these are some of my favorites — partly because they are unfussy, delicious, and easily switched up. I want to share them with you and hope you make them too for your loved ones!

Celebrating each other as the Monet/Hoschedes so often did.

 

SMOKED SALMON SPREAD ON BAGUETTE WITH CHIVES & THYME

Smoked Salmon on Toasted Baguette. Dean snuck one before I started photographing and kept saying “oh these are good!” while I worked! Shown here on Couleur Nature’s stunning Scalloped Marble Platter, Cherry Blossom tablecloth, and Grasse napkins. (I never match).

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 cups total goat cheese, creme fraiche, plain yogurt
  • Fresh chives
  • Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Lemon
  • About 1/4 lb Smoked Salmon Slices
  • 1 Baguette or French Bread

This dish is a perfect appetizer or light dinner! It takes minutes to prepare and pairs beautifully with chilled Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Champagne. Monet thought Veuve Clicquot the best and ordered it often for Alice.

In one bowl, mix well 1-1.5 cups goat cheese and creme fraiche with a splash of plain yogurt or half-and-half. Wash and chop fresh thyme and chives to taste. Zest or finely chop lemon peel and mix in  (I use a vegetable peeler and peel three strips before chopping.) Salt/fresh ground pepper. (A wooden spoon works best.)

Next, coarse chop about 1/4 lbs smoked salmon slices and mix into the cheese mix. I do add a splash of fresh lemon juice.

Slice & toast French bread or Baguette and spread salmon on each. Arrange on this pretty platter and dust with more chopped chives.

 

MONET SCRAMBLE

Our New Favorite. Perfect for brunch or easy night in! Served fireside on Gingham Two-Toned Napkins and Marble Platter with Bistro Glasses and Grasse Napkins.

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 Eggs
  • 2-3 slices Prosciutto (hand torn bite-sized)
  • 1 Shallot (chopped)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2-1 red Tomato (seeds drained and rough chopped)
  • 3 Asparagus (woody part discarded, cut bite-sized)iitake or Morel Mushrooms (for prep: read below)
  • Fresh Chives
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Butter

Marguerite’s Note: Really, there are too many variations of this beauty to try. For us? I “Sonoma-fied” Marguerite’s hand written recipe but kept her Mushroom Secret: And that is to trim the bottom. Cut the stems off entirely and finely slice or dice them. Then, halve or quarter the caps. She thought this preserved the texture of the mushrooms but boosted flavor. After making this scramble three times in the last week? I’ve converted.

Warm a non-stick frying pan (I worship my Lagostina non-stick (thanks to FeedFeed) and my All Clad omelette pan found at Sur La Table!). Melt two tablespoons of butter and add Asparagus. Once aromatic, add Garlic, Shallots and torn Proscuitto. Let Asparagus soften and Prosciutto crisp up a bit. (Add more butter if necessary). Add the chopped chives, salt and fresh cracked pepper (& mix) just before the cheese! Some 30 seconds later? Turn heat way down and add the eggs. Slowly scramble the eggs so they remain soft. Top with more chives and serve immediately with a crisp green salad.

Monet adored light-red wines such as Grenache with this dish. Idle Cellars (my friend Ben) makes some of the finest Grenache in the new world and pairs beautifully. We opted for a warm fire and our cold 2014 Annadel Sauvignon Blanc. Served here on Grasse & Gingham Napkins with Bistro glasses and marble circle.

CHEESE PLATTER WITH PARMA CANTALOUPE BITES

Living on a Vineyard has some perks. One of them is sundown with friends, great wine, and eating Monet’s favorite cheeses! Served here next to our Merlot Blocks on Cherry Blossom Tablecloth and assorted marble platters with Pink & Green Bistro Glasses thanks to Couleur Nature! Roses fresh cut from the garden behind me.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of 1 Melon (Canteloupe here but any neutral Melon will work)
  • Thinly sliced Prosciutto or Parma Ham
  • 1/2 wheel Camembert
  • Artisan Goat Cheese with Herbs (We like Skyhill Farms from Napa or Laura Chanel)
  • 1 Slice Blue with good marbling
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1-2 Sprigs fresh Mint
  • 1 bottle Veuve Clicquot (Monet favored Veuve above all else and enjoyed it with family at Christmas and every special occasion!)
  • 1 bottle chilled white wine (enjoyed with our Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Toothpicks (the cuter the better)

Easy to assemble! Arrange cheeses on chilled platter.

Next cube canteloupe. Fold bite-sized prosciutto/ham and top with fresh mint leaf. Spear the trio and place on platter. Lightly drizzle with high-quality balsamic vinaigrette. Serve immediately or wait awhile… Chilled marble platters keep everything fresh.

Sunset in the Vineyard, here at the historic Annadel Estate Winery, May 2017

 

MONET & SEAFOOD

Monet had a special place in his heart for fish. In fact, he painted 22 separate paintings along a particular stretch of coastline between Dieppe and Varengeville-sur-Mer. When visiting, Monet stayed at the Hotel La Terrasse where Fruits de la Mer is the house specialty. This “dish” remained a family favorite and was highly prized. Giverny was built before refrigeration so Alice & Monet splurged on this luxury only a few times a year, mostly Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve… In the meantime, Monet enlarged the initially small pond at Giverny and stocked it with fish for eating.

Dean could wait no more to dive into this gorgeous feast! Fresh, wild caught crab, oysters, shrimp and lobster paired beautifully with our 2015 Los Chamizal Vineyards Chardonnay atop Couleur Nature’s new La Mer tablecloth! Dipping sauces set in totally darling painted Aero Ceramic BowlsBistro glasses come in many colors… Chuck Williams selected this style of glass when he first brought back French cookware to America and opened the first Williams Sonoma here in Sonoma. Chuck thought they were practical, good for water, juice or wines, and were pretty. I could not agree more! Thrilled they now come in these beautiful colors at Couleur Nature!

Ingredients:

  • Assortment of fresh, preferably wild-caught fish. Monet loved mussels and clams, oysters, lobster and crab. My kids love all things prawn and I didn’t have the mental energy for mussels and clams so we went easy with oysters and a lobster tail (all to grill) as well as two crabs.
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Cocktail Suace

Shallot Vinaigrette if you do oysters: Chop 1 garlic and 1 shallot. Marinate in rice vinegar and squeeze a bit of hot sauce and fresh lemon into the thin mixture. (Keep it more vinegar than sauce.)

Chill platter in refrigerator. Arrange fresh greens artfully and place shellfish in a pretty pattern.  Garnish with fresh cut lemons.  I like putting bay shrimp in a separate small bowl (they look prettier.) And serve to great cheering of your guests!

 

Bibliography:

Monet’s Palate Cookbook, The Artist & His Kitchen Garden At Giverny, Aileen Bordman & Derek Fell

Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet, Claire Jones (1989 ed.)

Art History, Vol. 2, Marilyn Stokstad

The Art Book, Phaidon

Food With The Famous, Jane Grigson (1979 ed.)

Monet Foundation at Giverny

Part 2: How to Eat Now from the Farmers Market

The finished meal: it looks ramshackle but delicious!

The finished meal: Ramshackle but delicious!

Welcome to Part 2 of What to Eat Now from the Farmers Market!  I promised you all food and little rhetoric. So here goes:  Spring has definitely “sprung” and our local Farmers Markets are alive with fresh bouquets of flowers, spring vegetables, and juicy crops of late winter citrus (I couldn’t resist). This dish is an amalgamation from a Morning Glory Farms recipe. It is beyond versatile and lends itself to whatever you find!

You will need:

  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 1 leek or 3 Spring onions — halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch collard greens, kale or baby spinach (if they have it) — cleaned and sliced into edible sizes
  • 10-12 bunches of wild asparagus or baby Brocoli rabe — toughest part of stalks removed
  • Cheese — opt for a mild cheese like salted Feta or clean tasting Cheddar. Nothing too  spicy — crumbled or shredded
  • Garnish herbs like Italian Parsley or Chives (but these aren’t really in season yet.)

Preheat oven to 300’F

Toss asparagus or broccoli with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Slide into warming oven on the 2nd shelf and roast.

Melt 3 tblspns Butter or olive oil in a skillet or large pan. I use a wok.   Sautée leeks or spring onions until they smell sweet. Toss in sliced greens and sauté briefly. Salt & pepper to taste.

Sauteing spring onions in butter.

Sauteing spring onions in butter.

Being low-carn focused these days, I am always looking for ways to use my cute pie pans. I transfer the vegetable mixtures into my heritage Emile Henri pie pan.

Create six “wells” in the veggies and drop 1 egg into each well. Crumble or spread your chosen cheese over the top. How much you use is up to you. I used a cup of crumbled feta from Petaluma.

Ready for Cheese and then the Oven. This all takes about 12 minutes up until this point.

Ready for Cheese and then the Oven. This all takes about 12 minutes up until this point.

Toss asparagus or broccoli with a spatula.

Slide skillet or pie dish into the Oven on the top rack and bake for 15-20 minutes or until egg whites look set. Yolks will be cooking but still moist for that warm farm-fresh yellow goodness.

In a shallow, wide bowl layer roasted asparagus or broccoli topped with a wide scoop of the eggs vegetable cheese mixture. Garnish with chopped parsely or chives. For adult plates, a dash of hot sauce is fabulous.

I serve this meal on the table so family and guests can help themselves.

I serve this meal on the table so family and guests can help themselves.

Happy Eating!

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1: What to Eat NOW from the Farmers Market


imageMary “MFK” Fisher wrote once about the silly way Americans have been taught to ‘need’ three big, complex meals a day. That in Europe, food consumption is generally more simple. I’m paraphrasing here but her words changed how I ate — and cooked — immediately.

And what is more fun than shopping at your weekly Farmers Market? Buying what is fresh, locally grown, and vastly more delicious than some giant corporate tomato. That, and by supporting our regional farmers, we support vital parts to our communities.

Recently, I polled some of my most fabulous women friends here in Wine Country for “what do you want me to write? What do you want to read?” and friend Ursula Zopp thought quick recipes for “what’s in season NOW” would be good. I agree.  And I LOVE Farmers Markets but don’t always get there…

So dear friends, This is the launch of a new series: What to Eat Now from The Farmers Market.  I pledge to visit my FM every week, buy what’s right there, and cook something up. Then write you a full account and one recipe here.  Your ingredients and volumes may vary based on tastes and what you find at your stalls. Grab a friend, cute date, or a kid and join me! I think this will be a fun Sunmer/Fall of eating together.

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

Roasted Roots

ingredients:

  • 1-3 bunches spring onions
  • 1 bundle spring garlic (usually 3)
  • WILD ASPARAGUS (10-15 stalks)
  • 2 Meyer Lemons
  • Garlic
  • 1 head of something like Cauliflower or Romanesco — I had Cauliflower from the store. (whoops)
  • Optional: 1 yellow onion
  • Optional: great local Cheese. I picked up a small round of Skyhill Farms goat cheese out of Petaluma, California. It is Excellent! Soft notes of nuts mingle perfectly with this light and creamy cheese.

Preheat your Oven to 375’F.

Prep your vegetables:

Remove surplus skin from your garlic clove and cut off tops so garlic can breathe its gorgeousness into your greens.

Clean and remove any sand or dirt from your spring onions. Remove outer layer if needed. Trim off most of the tough green tops. And slice in half longways, keeping their little hairy butts attached.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Hairy Butts keep the onions/garlic together during roasting.

Clean spring garlics like the onions but skip removing any outer layer.

Slice Lemons into halves and remove any obvious seeds.

Remove any tough green leaves from Caulifower or Romanesco. Cut off tough stalk underneath. Slice cauliflower into planes about 1/4-1/2″ thick. They will look like broad, flat little flowers.

Throw everything into one or two rimmed baking sheets. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh cracked pepper. Be sure to coat garlic clove tops so the garlic steams, not burns.

Arrange into a somewhat even layer and slide into Oven. Roast for about 45 minutes tossing them every 15. If you like yours a bit blackened, we crank heat to 475′ for a few minutes at the end.

Serve in wide bowls with that cute cheese on a sweet platter and a glass of bright, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. None of that grassy or cat pee stuff. But a leaner, more elegant coastal Californian SB or one grown here in Sonoma County like ours from Annadel Estate Winery, Beltane Ranch or Benziger! Wine with dinner is a must.

And that gorgeously roasted lemon? Drizzle juice over everything. image

Happy Eating!

Easy. Tasty. Healthy. In 25 Minutes

A lovely start to an easy dish!

A lovely start to an easy dish!

This is the simplest, mostly vegetarian, yummy dish I’ve made in awhile. We enjoyed as an entree but could easily be served as a side to grilled chicken or pork chops! You must make it this weekend.

Brocoli Rabe, Lemons, and Beans

ingredients

  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 lemons
  • 1 bunch Brocoli rabe
  • 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans
  • 1 bunch italian parsely
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded parmesan reggiano
  • extra virgin olive oil

Thinly slice garlic and lemons (seeded) Sautée quickly in 4 tablespoons of EVOO wt 2-3 #anchovies in a Dutch Oven (Le Creuset) for about 5 mins. Lemons will start to brown a bit.

Next, add coarse chopped broccoli rabe. Cook 5 mins more.

Broccoli Rabe brings the color and green bite.

Broccoli Rabe brings the color and green bite.

Stir two cans drained/rinsed cannellini beans. I added a good splash of white wine here. Cook 5-7 more mins. Be sure beans are cooked through.

Mix in 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley and 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese. Turn out into a pretty bowl and garnish with red pepper flakes, parsely, and more parmesan. Delicious! Took 25-30 mins max. Thanks to Bon Appetite Magazine for the initial ecipe. I paired with our 2012 Annadel Estate Chardonnay. Dean had our 2009 Merlot. Perfect.

Bring out those pretty dishes! Use them daily.

Bring out those pretty dishes! Use them daily.

Happy Eating!

Pickled Onion Goodness

Prep work in process

Prep work in process

Keep the onions loosely packed.

Keep the onions loosely packed.

Use as garnish in pretty much anything!

Use as garnish in pretty much anything!

Thanks to foodie friends on Instagram, I have a new favorite homemade garnish: Pickled Red Onions!  Easy to make. Quick to “pickle.” Great on pretty much everything, this garnish is a sure hit.

Slice 2-3 red onions the thickness you desire (thin or thick, it doesn’t matter). Take one mason jar (whatever size) and fill lightly packed with sliced red onions. Cover onions with apple cider vinegar. Add in a pinch of salt, a pinch of white sugar, and a few peppercorns. From there, you can add whatever herbs you like. Or not! Continue reading

Spinach Hummus

Finished product -- easy peasy!

Finished product — easy peasy!

For years, I’ve heard “just make your own hummus!” But it seemed so much easier just to buy local hummus — being Sonoma County, having at least three local hummus options to choose from is as normal as owning Birkenstocks. So why make fresh? Here’s why — holy amazingness!!! And I’m guessing you have the ingredients in your kitchen. Right Now.

Take your Cuisinart. Plug it in. Take a handful or two of Spinach (about 1.5-2 cups). Take 1 can of chickpeas — open, rinse and drain well. Add to Cuisinart. I pulsed here for space. Then add 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds (I self toasted. It takes about a minute). Drizzle 4-6 tablespoons of good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top, three cloves of garlic, half of one lemon worth of juice, pinch of salt and Chop Chop Chop.

Voilá. Magnificent!!!! We dipped roasted asparagus, carrots and sweet potato “fries” in it ourselves. Last night, foodie friend Kelly Dolata made up a quick batch from my Facebook post and served it with steak. @Oldchefguy on Instagram is making his his arugula tomorrow. I bet those are both delicious too! The possibilities are endless.

Happy Eating! And this? I happily ate with a spoon!

Thai Turkey Lettuce Cups

The Finished Product!

YUM. Easy on the waist line too.

"Serve Yourself" from Cute Serving Ware! Break out those dishes!

“Serve Yourself” from Cute Serving Ware! Break out those dishes!

Time Saver: Quick Chop the Aromatics (carrots, garlic and fresh ginger.)

Time Saver: Quick Chop the Aromatics (carrots, garlic and fresh ginger.)

Cooking turkey meat and carrots mixture in about a tablespoon of remaining bacon fat.

Cooking turkey meat and carrots mixture in about a tablespoon of remaining bacon fat.

Ingredients for the Green Garnish Mix

Ingredients for the Green Garnish Mix

We made Spicy Thai Lettuce Wraps last night. This dish is quick and easy. Thanks to Taylor Eason (.com) for the initial recipe. Here, I’ve bumped up the spices and added garlic and hot sauce to kick things up a notch. I’ve spent too much time in Asia not to need that good “burn” at the end of a plate!  This serves three to four adults.  I will be doubling this recipe next time!

In a small processor, finely chop 3-4 medium carrots, 3-4″ of peeled/coarse chopped ginger, and 2 cloves garlic.

In a large sauce pan, cook 3 pieces of platter bacon. Cover to prevent splatters. Remove bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to let bacon cool and drain. Next, Cook 1 pound ground turkey with the carrots, ginger and garlic in the bacon fat.  I opted for 0.5 lb breast and 0.5 lb turkey thigh meat for flavor. Cook until cooked through.  Stirring often.

While turkey mixture is cooking, in a large bowl mix 4 tablespoons chopped Cilantro (leaves from one bunch), one bunch of sliced green onions (about 1/2-3/4 cup), 3-4 tablespoons chopped mint, juice from one lemon and one lime, three shakes fish sauce, 3 shakes EVOO, 3 shakes sesame oil, and half-3/4 of a Jalapeño pepper (seeded and chopped).  It’s a heady mix of savory green goodness and it’s ok if quantities fluctuate.

Tear and clean 12-18 leaves of Butter Lettuce. Dry and arrange on a pretty plate. Transfer Green Mixture to a serving bowl. Crumble bacon into a small bowl with spoon. Slice 1-2 limes and place in another cute bowl.  Place the still-warm Turkey mixture into a warmed bowl (that’s a nice touch) and feast! We love extra heat and drizzle Sriracha hot sauce over the top of each Wrap.

We paired with our Annadel Estate Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

HEAVEN! Happy Eating!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 slices platter Bacon
  • 1 lb ground Turkey
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 4″ fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 4 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Fish sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt
  • Butter Lettuce — if you don’t have the Lettuce, eat this savory mixture in a bowl.
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce

SALADS: A Return to Slim

Baby Kale, Radicchio, Endive and Kalamata Olives Salad

Baby Kale, Radicchio, Endive and Kalamata Olives Salad

Arugula, Radicchio, Celery, Steamed Artichoke Hearts, and Blanched Asparagus Salad with a slice or Cowgirl Creamery "Red Hawk" Cheese

Arugula, Radicchio, Celery, Steamed Artichoke Hearts, and Blanched Asparagus Salad with a slice or Cowgirl Creamery “Red Hawk” Cheese

The Bible to be slim and still eat super well!

This may look like a tax guide but for foodies? It’s the only way to happily lose weight and still eat well.  (I’m down 4 pounds in 5 days.)

There comes a point in every Cook’s life where our pants get just a touch too snug. Where the jovial meals with loved ones catch up to us. And muffin-top and tight zippers crash our happy post-holiday selves. This is when Dean and I know it’s time to “TurboCharge.”  To recover our healthy bodies and clean systems.

I’ve been posting lots of yummy pictures of quick Salads and Proteins on Instagram and Facebook recently. Many of you asked for my salad recipes yesterday but one reader wrote “why all the salads lately?” Before I give you the recipes, I wanted to be honest, it’s because I’ve grown too “curvy”. My influx of “curves” adds strain to my already-torn L5 disc and I’ve been flat at least once a month since October. Then Anni asked me on Monday, “Mommy when we come back to Hawaii, can you not have a herniated disc? I miss piggy back rides.” That sucked. No four year old should know medical lingo. And so dear foodies, I am scheduling my 2nd epidural and committing to losing 15 lbs. maybe 20.  Now, I don’t feel fat. At all. I actually feel more bombshell “va-va-Voom”. But a slimmer frame will help me be a better, more active Mom. I can’t keep icing my back 2x a day… That, and I miss my heels… Candidly.

You will thus be seeing lighter fare here on the Blog in coming months as we stick to “TurboCharging”. We normally eat “clean” most of the time but it’s the mixing in of grains and pastas in our Italian-WASPy household that creeps on the pounds. And my love of fine Cheese…  I’m kind of intense about eating and drinking “Clean” — no processed foods and no processed wines. I’ll skip my rant in favor of Clean Wines but suffice to say anything less than $25 per bottle will generally be a simulated beverage full of sugars, food dyes, wood particles and chemicals. Like eating McDonalds? It’s not Real. Which is why drinking Annadel Estate Wines is so great — our wines are made with just fruit. They are “Clean” not dirty with additives. Healthy! <end rant>

But the recipes will remain delicious and fresh. “TurboCharge” is just a simplified way of eating and grouping foods pioneered by nutritionist friend Tom Greisel and his PhD sister, Dian Greisel.  Hence all the salads and minimalist meals you’ve been seeing from me will continue along with soups and entree proteins (minus the carbs and grains.) I aim to easily lose 2-4 lbs a week with short 2 minutes strength workouts, drinking 10 glasses of water a day and eating either all vegetables, all proteins, or all fruits, zero grains or processed anything, the 90:10 rule (90 veggies/10 meat and vice versa). No sweets, no grains, no flours. For now.

Salad 1: BABY KALE, RADICCHIO, ENDIVE, and KALAMATA OLIVES

Chop 3-4 cloves of garlic. Place in a small bowl and add 3-4 tablespoons EVOO and S/P. Let stand.

In a large, pretty bowl hand shred baby kale into more elegant sized bites. Then thinly shred 1/2 head of radicchio and cut shreds into thirds. Add to bowl. Thinly slice one whole endive and hand separate slices into bowl. Then course chop 15 Kalamata Olives. Toss the salad

Back to the dressing, using a fork whisk in 1 tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar. Then add to salad and toss. Serve with a medium bodied red wine. Something dry and bright. The acids in the salad greens like a drier, more French style of Cabernet or Merlot. Nothing too fruity!

 

Salad 2: ARUGULA, RADICCHIO, CELERY, ARTICHOKE HEARTS, BLANCHED ASPARAGUS, and CHEESE GARNISH

Chop 3 cloves of garlic. Place in a small bowl and cover with 4 tablespoons of EVOO. Add S/P. Let stand

Clean exterior of two artichokes (remove the outer 1-2 layers of bottom leaves). Slice in half. De-stem. Using a sharp pairing knife, clean out the inner “fur” of the artichokes. Place quickly into a steamer basket (fitted in a medium pot over tepid water). Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-high and steam 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and fork out the artichokes to cool.

Take 4-8 stalks Asparagus. Snap off the coarse ends. Place into empty saucepan and cover with cool water. Place on the stove and bring the water to a boil. The very second the water boils? Remove and DRAIN hot water. Place asparagus on a cool plate immediately. Drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkling of coarse salt. Let stand. Asparagus should retain a crunch.

In a large pretty bowl, hand shred the baby Arugula. Slice and then course chop the remaining half head of Radicchio. Add to the Bowl.

Clean 2-3 stalks of celery. Cut off the coarse tops and bottoms. Slice each stalk into three long strips and finely chop. Add to bowl. Then slice the endive horizontally and hand spread the slices into the bowl. Hand toss all.

Return to the salad dressing: Whisk Garlic/EVOO mixture with a fork. Then add 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard. Whisk. Add 1-2 tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Whisk whisk whisk. And toss into the salad.

Serve Salad in wide, shallow bowls. Place 3-4 stalks of the asparagus over the top of the Salad. Add two wedges of fine Cheese to eat with bites of salad along the way. Tonight, it was Cowgirl Creamery’s “Red Hawk.”

I learned to eat salad from a very fine French Chef. When he came to eat lunch with us and our toddlers! Here is a short story about that dinner and the Cheeses I now still Love to eat with salad! http://abisfarmhousekitchen.com/?p=400

Happy Eating!  And should you want to learn more about TurboCharging, here is the website with more recipes. It may look like a tax guide but for foodies? It’s the only way to happily shred weight and not be hungry:  http://turbocharged.us.com/

 

Easy-Peasy Split Pea Soup..with wilting salad

Do you have wilting lettuce and greens in your fridge?  Sure you do.  We ALL do.  I don’t a single hard working home-cook who always gets to the entire content of our vegetable drawers.  And THIS is a great way to use them all up.

DELICIOUSLY EASY PEA SOUP

DELICIOUSLY EASY PEA SOUP

So this is my go-to kitchen sink recipe that I am writing down for my girlfriend Fabiola.  She is gung-ho eating vegetarian Monday thru Friday.  We’ve joined the troops in mommy-solidarity but also because I have a REALLY FABULOUS dress for my brother’s wedding in mere weeks and have a good 6-8 lbs more to lose before it looks totally amazing.  To that end, I am starving poor Dean and cooking every lean, green dish I can think of for dinner.  And since I’m not adventurously cooking weeknights, alot of what I am “soup-ing” is greenery on its last legs in our fridge. Usually left over from the weekend.  The great thing about THIS little dish is not just the big dose of vitamins, iron and vegetable goodness but that it is foolishly EASY to make and flexible with most veggies wilting away right now in your very fridge!

Wilted vegetables at the ready.

Wilted vegetables at the ready.

You DO need some basic staples that you should ALWAYS have on hand like garlic cloves, yellow onions, frozen organic peas, good quality organic chicken stock (low sodium), and left over parmesan reggiano cheese rinds.  From these humble ingredients, great things can be born…especially if you have a ham hock from your butcher lying around.  And an immersion blender.  A MUST.

I give you: LEFTOVER PEA SOUP…with WILTING SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2+ yellow onion chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Bit of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper (2 turns), pinch dried oregano
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 6-8 cups of Chicken stock, dry white wine, vegetable stock or water.  Sometimes its a combination of all 4 depending on what I need to use up.
  • ANY Salad Greens
  • Most leftover vegetables like leeks or shallots, celery and carrots, etc.
  • Optional: a small smoked ham hock or smoked ham chunks for flavor
  • Optional: Roast some garlic and red peppers or red pepper aioli

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté chopped garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes until garlic is fragrant.  Last night, I halved and sliced 2 wilting leeks.  Add your next vegetables here like older celery or carrots and sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Splash with white wine, water or stock if it looks like veggies are starting to stick to bottom of pot.

Literally. Add a whole bag of frozen peas

Literally. Add a whole bag of frozen peas

Pour in one bag of frozen peas.  Stir peas and garlic/onion/leeks or shallots or whatever mixture up.  Add tiny salt, pepper and pinch of oregano (if you have it.)  Add your liquids whatever they are.  Last night, I tossed in 1 cup of white wine, 4 cups chicken broth, 2 cups of water and a smidge of leftover vegetable stock from Sunday.  I also acquired a small smoked ham hock at the market because for extra flavor and added a small chunk of parmesan cheese rind. Stir well again.

Liquids and ham-hock added

Liquids and ham-hock added

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer soup, stirring occassionally, for 30 minutes.  I’ll do laundry or read a few books to the kids.  Last night, I pruned 2 rows of Merlot.  Yay!

Vineyard Selfie with Anni

Vineyard Selfie with Anni

Remove the ham hock or rind (if using) and then literally dump all of your greens, herbs, salad into the pot and stir.  I had left over herbs and baby kale last night.  Remove from heat.

Literally just dump in salad greens! Arugula, kale, endive, herbs, etc. It ALL tastes great in this Pea Soup

Literally just dump in salad greens! Arugula, kale, endive, herbs, etc. It ALL tastes great in this Pea Soup

Then blend the soup — be careful! — with an immersion blender until soup runs smooth.  Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.  I had some left over red peppers and garlic sauce that I had roasted and blended the night before for sandwiches.  I spooned that in too.  Serve immediately.

For roasting peppers and garlic? Slice red, yellow and orange peppers.  Take whole garlic STILL in their skins and toss all with light coat of olive oil.  Spread on a pan and roast at 400′ for 30 minutes.  I then blended them in my little $26 cuisinart.  Great for sandwiches and soup garnish.  Eggs too.

Roasted peppers and garlic (sans skins) ready to coarse blend in my trust $26 Cuisinart

Roasted peppers and garlic (sans skins) ready to coarse blend in my trust $26 Cuisinart

Salads & Cheese

My New Pairing Favorite

My New Pairing Favorite

I sat next to this awesome French guy last week.  As we ate my Roasted Chicken with Lemons and Winter Root Vegetables, I took note of a spot of cheese standing solo on the edge of his plate.

Now I bought that fancy cheese because he and his prominent food family and friends were coming for a special meal here at Annadel.  Since I’m still learning about food and cheese and wines, I let in a pause of insecurity.  I wondered if this cheese I bought and served was too “something” for a fancy French foodie? But our guests were just so lovely that my lame little thought vanished.

THEN We moved on to baby Kale and Arugula Salad with mustard vinaigrette… My lunch date served himself a healthy heap of greens.  And only then did he move the cheese.  Into position.  Jerome F. next did something so completely fresh, to me at least, that I stopped mid-bite to watch him.  He used his knife and fork to slice thin slabs of this delicious cheese onto speared dark leafy greens and ate it. From his fork.  All together.  I tried not to stare.

Great flavors!

Great flavors! From Oliver’s Market in Santa Rosa

How have I never done this??

We love our cheese around here (sans the crackers) and fancy butters too (revelation ca. 2011).  Sure I’ve crumbled the blue  and goat cheese over salads for years.  But this? An Epoisses de Bourgonge — one of the more wonderfully feral French cheeses I’ve had to date — paired with… baby KALE?

Couldn't resist this web image...!

Couldn’t resist this web image…!

Was he crazy or just so super cool, awesome food guy? Since he is one of the more respected Chefs anywhere, let alone France, I chose the latter. So I copied him.

And converted.

Born anew!  I went to my trusty cheesemongers at Oliver’s and spent 1/8 of our weekly grocery funds on cheese and kale.  With some asparagus and artichokes for extra flavor too.  Dean thinks I’m nuts.  I’m hooked.

Cheesemongers at Oliver's are my go-tos! Note Derek's mohawk.

Cheesemongers Sharon and Derek at Oliver’s are my go-tos. Note Derek’s mohawk. 🙂

We chose a yummy blue cheese washed in red wine, an incredible Chambertin, and a Soumaintrain from a huge array of options… At least that’s what the labels tell me.  I’m sure there is some proper types of cheese to pair with greens but here’s the thing, so far they all taste great to me. Cow, goat, blue, pasturized or not, Itlian, French, Danish or Californian… they seem to really go well with baby greens, drizzle of mild dressing, and a fork.

CHEESE at a gourmet or regional fine market like Oliver's will be vastly better than a super market. I promise. The artistry is here. I promise.

CHEESE at a gourmet or regional fine market like Oliver’s will be vastly better than a super market. I promise. The artistry is here. I promise.

My Food Lesson of the Week is this: Fancy cheese is ridiculously delicious  with dark, baby greens.  Darker the better.  Kale, spinach, arugula, herbs mix, even radicchio, endive and frissee.  I’ve used our regular salad dressings (chopped garlic, EVOO, Balsamic and salt), the mustardy one, my white Balsamic dressing too.  And they ALL go.  The only time great cheeses didn’t pair well was with the whiter parts of a romaine.  Blah.

This may be totally normal to you and you now think I am an idiot.  But I am so happy with these consistently delicious pairings, without the added carbs of crackers, that I had to share… Happy eating!

Starting out? Ask for advice or opt for an Espoisses. But let your gourmet cheesemonger ask you what you like and go from there.

Starting out? Ask for advice or opt for an Espoisses. But let your gourmet cheesemonger ask you what you like and go from there.