NICOLE STRASBURG: An Artist’s Kitchen

Spring Shoreline (24×24”) Oil on Birch Panel

With so much of California’s natural beauty laid waste and charred this Winter, I took comfort in the beautiful Art works from friend Nicole Strasburg. In her celebrations of Nature’s most exquisite beauty! Nicole’s unique eye keenly appreciates atmospheric color, movement, and my personal fave, something I’ve come to think of as “coastality.” As in that special magic where water and land meet.

Island High (22×60”) Oil on Birch Panel

Nicole Strasburg is an Artist collectors (& we painters) avidly admire. As dear Rob Townsend quipped, “Well, yeah. She can do no wrong, right?” And it’s pretty much true.  How she deconstructs even the most complex natural landscapes into something raw and pure… You can feel breeze blowing and waters lapping from her Canvas and Paint. Painting large birch wood panels. Sanding it down. Repainting her scene. Sanding it down. Repainting. Sanding it down… Until her paintings BREATHE.

Maybe it was learning how to paint theatre sets in Santa Barbara with her Dad as a kid? Or her inner talents Nicole tuned up after leaving art school? Regardless, Nicole’s sheer appreciation for California’s magnificent land and central coast sets her apart.

Outgoing Tide (40×60”) Oil on Birch Panel

So of course, I was curious about her favorite foods. Because after writing these many stories, I’ve delighted to discover there really can be a deliciously specific relationship between an Artist and her Kitchen.

And how the recipes Nicole shares with us today does the exact same thing as her Art: Bringing the simply fresh outdoors inside to savor.

Murder at Twilight (40×40”) Oil on Birch Panel

 

SUNSET GREEN ENCHILADAS  (Strasburg Style)

Nicole adapted her green chile enchiladas from a recipe torn out of Sunset Magazine and tweaked it to suit.

  • 2 lbs Anaheim or Poblano Chiles
  • 1 large Mexican Sweet Onion or Sweet Red Onion chopped
  • 3 – 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 12-16 corn tortillas
  • 3-4 cups of chicken broth
  • Roast Chicken — white & dark meat shredded
  • 2-3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese (Be generous with the cheese!)
  • salt and pepper

To Prepare Chiles: Place all Chiles on a lined baking sheet and Broil until skins blacken and bubble, turning once. Let Chiles cool. Then peel off blackened skins. Nicole says, “this “roasting” enriches the flavor of the chile.”  Next, seed, destem, and dice Chiles. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400’F

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet. Sauté your garlic and cook until fragrant (be careful not to burn.) Add the onions and cook until soft. Stir in diced Chiles, salt + pepper and cook 3-5 minutes. Stir in Chicken Stock. Nicole’s tip: “I am generous with the liquid 2 full cups at least. You can let it cook down but extra liquid means that the enchiladas stay really moist, even with the leftovers.”

Here is the Recipe “tear out” Nicole swears by from Sunset magazine.

Nicole writes, “You can follow instructions 3, 4 and 5 for filling the tortillas. I use a big 9×12 casserole dish and can squeeze in about 16 enchiladas. Use one baking sheet and lay out 6 tortillas at a time, Fill, roll and put into casserole dish. I also don’t think you need 2 full cups of liquid to do the tortillas maybe 1. Whatever you have left over after filling the tortillas can go in the sauce… I like to make a whole pan and freeze half for later. It’s great for the cabin as is the Tortilla Soup! Oh! And make the sauce you can make a day or two ahead if you don’t want to be in the kitchen all afternoon.”

Served topped with sliced avocado, cilantro and shredded lettuce.

Coastal Grasses (18×36”) Oil on Birch Panel

 

TURKEY BURGERS TWO WAYS

1.) FESTIVE SUMMER GRILLING 

For Nicole’s Burgers:

  • 2 lbs Ground Turkey
  • 2 Carrots Grated
  • Handful diced button mushrooms
  • 2 scallions diced with greens
  • 1/3 Cup Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs (optional for GF folks)
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic minced
  • Few shakes garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-2 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (skip if GF)
  • Ketchup
  • Hot Sauce (like Sriracha)

Additional:

  • Corn on the Cobb (to grill)
  • Relish, Cheese, & Condiments
  • Strawberries (sliced and macerated in brown sugar or bourbon. Set aside)
  • Vanilla Ice Cream

Place all ingredients in one large bowl. Mix well by hands. Then form patties to size.  Refrigerate 30 minutes and grill to taste.

KICKING KETCHUP: Whisk your preferred hot sauce into ketchup to taste.

Serve burgers with your favorite relish, Kicking Ketchup, and Corn on the Cobb.

Nicole thinks “Strawberry Shortcake” served over Vanilla Ice Cream (not cake) is the perfect ending for this delicious meal!

2.) WINTER MEATLOAF + MASHED POTATOES & MUSHROOM GRAVY

Form a turkey meatloaf using the same burger ingredients listed above. Preheat oven to 350’F and bake until cooked through (45 minutes +/-). Let rest covered until serving.

MUSHROOM GRAVY:

  • 1 Sweet Onion diced
  • 2 packages sliced mushrooms {1 button & 1 cremini}
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 good glugs of dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons white or GF flour
  • Whole Milk

Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add onions and cook until soft. Add mushrooms and extra butter if needed. Shake pan to coat mixture in the butter. Cover to let mushrooms release juices. Stir occasionally. When mushrooms have cooked down a few minutes, stir in wine and chicken broth. Lower heat to reduce while you prep the flour mixture.

Optional: For Nicole’s Flour & Milk thickener: Whisk 2 TBSP flour add milk while whisking making sure there are no lumps. She elaborates, “Flour goes into separate bowl and I whisk in the milk until it’s creamy like buttermilk. My “container” is a good jar or Tupperware that has a lid so that after whisk it I can seal it and shake it to make sure there are no lumps… I’m probably doing it backwards, I’m sure you could just put the two TBSPS of flour I the pan and make a roux then just add broth afterwards but this is how I remember my mom and grandmother making gravy.”

Slowly add flour/milk mixture to mushroom and onions — adding only 1/4 of the mixture at a time until gravy begins to thicken to the consistency you want (then Stop). Give Mushroom Gravy a few good couple of stirs.

MASHED POTATOES

  • 4 starchy potatoes like Yukon Gold — Nicole thinks “these have a high buttery content and flavor best for mashed!”
  • Butter
  • Milk to taste
  • salt and pepper

Thickly slice Potatoes. Cook in hot water until pierced easily with a fork. Drain and mash.

Heat small amount of milk and slowly add to mashed potatoes. Mix in melted butter and salt to taste.

Serve all three dishes together family style and enjoy!

HAPPY EATING!

2 thoughts on “NICOLE STRASBURG: An Artist’s Kitchen

    • HI! Thank you so much for commenting! I adore your daughter, Mr. Strasburg. First, I loved her paintings. Then, getting to know her over the years? She’s as beautiful inside as out. Well done! I’m glad she is feeling better too.
      A.

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