Category Archives: Entree

Braised Short Ribs in a Red Wine Reduction

I haven’t posted a “fancy schmancy” meal in a while and on a whim I decided to make some braised short ribs.  Not just any short ribs though, but short ribs from Von Geertsem’s Butcher Shoppe. That’s right folks, I get my meats from a personal butcher.  Greg does not charge extra for his artistic meat cutting skills nor do his prices make your wallet hurt.  They’ve actually been the same for the past 3 years.

There’s something special about this place you see, it makes you feel important.  After meeting Greg only one time, the next time I came in he greeted me with a huge smile and a “Hey Joy how are you doing?” How did he remember my name?? But that’s the cool thing about Greg, he remembers everyone’s name — “I have the best customers in the whole world.” he’d tell me and since I am now one of them, I say I’d have to agree! 🙂

Okay with jokes aside, I’ve found that butcher shoppes in America are quickly dwindling down to extinction.  With large chain stores mass producing our meats at a cheaper cost, quality is always the first thing that goes out the window.  Aside from the unsanitary conditions the animals are raised in, many meat producers now pump CO2 gas and Nitrogen to keep their meats nice and pink  for up to 6 weeks.  Ever buy a pack of those steaks that looks nice and rosy on the outside but once you cut into it, it’s a dull and lifeless brown?  That’s why.  You’re buying rotten meat.

That probably makes your stomach churn, because let’s be honest we’ve all seen it and I’m sure most of us probably have eaten it whether you know it or not.  Save yourself.  Find your local butcher.  Strive to find quality products when you cook.  Yes it makes all the difference in the world.  Turning a blind eye to the unsanitary and unethical practicies of mass meat production facilities does not fix the problem — go ahead, explore! If your city does not have a local butcher, buy your meats direct from a livestock farmer.

For this recipe, I originally wanted to make a polenta cake to go along with it — unfortunately I recently transferred a bunch of flours into large UNLABELED containers and instead of using coarse corn meal I believe I used chickpea flour.  Poop. HOWEVER, the ribs were tender and rich and paired perfectly with the lemon thyme corn and vegetable ragout.  A good sign that you’ve made an amazing meal?  All plates are returned polished clean :). I adapted this short rib recipe from Epicurious, it was apparently Daniel Boulud’s recipe which explains the excellent results.  Bon Apetit folks and have a great weekend!

Ingredients for Braised Short Ribs: (serves 4)

  • 3 bottles dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt and crushed black peppercorns
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 8 large shallots, peeled, trimmed, split, rinsed and dried
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 ribs of celery, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 medium-sized leek (white and light-green parts), coarsely chopped, washed and dried
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 bay leaves and 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 quarts unsalted beef broth
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Pour the wine into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When the wine is hot, carefully set it aflame. Let the flames die out, then increase the heat so that the wine boils; allow it to boil until it cooks down by half. Remove from the heat.

    Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F.

    Warm the oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Season the ribs all over with salt and the crushed pepper. Dust half of the ribs with about 1 tablespoon flour. Then, when the oil is hot, slip the ribs into the pot and sear 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot, lower the heat under the pot to medium and toss in the vegetables and herbs. Brown the vegetables lightly, 5 to 7 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.

    Add the wine, ribs and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and place in the oven to braise for 2 1/2 hours or until the ribs are very tender. Every 30 minutes, skim and discard fat from the surface. (It’s best to make the recipe to this point, cool and chill the ribs and broth in the pan overnight; scrape off the fat the next day. Rewarm before continuing.)

    Carefully transfer the meat to a platter; keep warm. Boil the pan liquid until it has reduced to 1 quart. Season with salt and white pepper and pass through a fine strainer; discard the solids. (The ribs and sauce can be combined and kept covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Reheat gently, basting frequently, on top of the stove or in a 350°F oven.)

    ** For the red wine reduction I tasted the meat juices and felt it needed a little bit of sugar.  I added 1/4 cup of brown sugar and allowed the liquids to reduce into a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes on high heat.  To serve, plate the sides of your choice (I’ve chosen corn and vegetable ragout), place the meat on top and drizzle with the reduction.


    Shakespeare in the Park

    Every Summer and Fall, one of my favorite outdoor events to attend in Dallas is Shakespeare in the Park. They feature different plays every year and this Summer they are holding Cymbeline and The Comedy of Errors.  It’s a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family, what can be better on a warm Summer’s night than a picnic with a side of Shakespeare?

    “As the area’s veteran producers of Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare Dallas has invited audiences to enjoy accessible productions in an open-air amphitheatre since 1971, reaching over 50,000 people every summer and fall.” — Shakespeare Dallas

    As celebration for this Summer’s Shakespeare in the Park, I have come up with a simple and healthy Picnic menu!  Though you can bring anything you like on your own picnic, I’ve included some easy recipes and suggestions to help you plan a picnic fit for kings 🙂 Below is some additional information on Shakespeare Dallas and short synopsis of the performances playing this summer.

    By William Shakespeare
    Directed by SD Artistic Associate Rene Moreno

    Previews: June 16-17
    Opening: June 18
    Continuing June 29 through July 24
    on Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays
    With additional performances on June 19 & 20

    Performances begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre

    “Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.”

    Shakespeare weaves a tale of the beautiful princess Imogen and her new husband, Posthumous, parted by circumstances invoked by her wicked stepmother and her distant father, the King Cymbeline of Britain. Posthumous’ impoverished state makes him undesirable to King Cymbeline as a match to his prized daughter. Under the influence of his wife, King Cymbeline banishes Posthumous and confines Imogen to the castle. While exiled in Rome, Posthumous meets the foul Iachimo who finagles him into a wager on Imogen’s chastity. Iachimo goes to Britain and through trickery gains access to Imogen’s bedchamber. He manages to slide off a bracelet Posthumous gave Imogen to use as proof. Posthumous believes Iachimo’s treachery, and enraged, sends his faithful servant Pisanio to murder Imogen in retribution — although when he learns falsely of her death, he is devastated and repents his action. Imogen, meanwhile, has escaped to Wales in man’s clothing, unknowingly meets up with her long-lost brothers and is eventually reunited with her husband and the truth is revealed amidst the victory of Britain against Rome.

    Fri. & Sat.: $10 adults/$7 seniors and students.
    Tues. – Thurs. & Sun.: $10 donation requested.
    Children 12 and under are free.

    Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre
    1500 Tenison Parkway
    Dallas, Texas 75223

    The Comedy of Errors
    By William Shakespeare
    Directed by Matthew Tomlanovich

    Previews: June 24-25
    Opening: June 26
    Continuing June 30-July 23 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
    With an additional performance on June 27.
    *Please note there are no performances on June 22 or June 23.

    Performances begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre

    “Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
    When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?”

    Take one pair of estranged twins (both called Antipholous) and one pair of twin servants (both called Dromio), keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery and you have the chief ingredients for theatrical chaos. Fast-paced, hilarious and seemingly irreverent, the young William Shakespeare explores themes in this comedy that recur again and again in his later work: mistaken identity, coincidence and the importance of family.

    Fri. & Sat.: $10 adults/$7 seniors and students.
    Tues. – Thurs. & Sun.: $10 donation requested.
    Children 12 and under are free.

    Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre
    1500 Tenison Parkway
    Dallas, Texas 75223

    Season Sponsors
    570 KLIF, 1310 The Ticket, Brierley+Partners , City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department, e-Rewards Market Research, Fossil, Star Newspapers, TACA, Target, Texas Commission on the Arts, The Dallas Morning News, The Hall Agency

    Shakespeare Dallas
    3630 Harry Hines Blvd. Dallas, TX 75219
    (214) 559-2778


    The Perfect Summer Picnic Menu

    Assorted Cheeses and Fruit Platter

    Smoked Gouda, Bleu Cheese, Colby Jack, Fresh Strawberries, Green Grapes, Apricots with Rosemary Triscuits

    Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

    with broccoli, tomatoes, corn, avocado, red onion, and black beans

    Finger Sandwich Platter

    cucumber tea sandwiches with cream cheese and sprouts & vegetable sandwiches with hummus and olive oil

    Summer Fruit Salad

    cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries, green grapes soaked in honey and vanilla

    Ingredients for Assorted Cheese and Fruit Plate : (serves 4-6)

    • 8 oz Smoked Gouda
    • 8 oz Bleu Cheese
    • 8 oz Mozzarella
    • 8 oz Colby Jack
    • 1 box Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits
    • 8 oz Fresh Strawberries, cleaned and hulled
    • 8 oz Green Grapes, cleaned
    • 8 oz Apricots

    Bring a cheese knife and board along with you on the picnic, if you do not have these items a simple butter knife and paper plate will suffice.  Arrange the cheese crackers and fruits to your liking and serve with a nice Riesling or light red like a Pinot or Syrah.

    Also feel free to experiment with fruits and cheeses.  You can use other fruits such as apples, figs, raspberries or peaches.  Or perhaps try interesting cheeses like a sharp Gruyere, a creamy Brie or maybe a nice mild Cheddar.  You can find a helpful wine and cheese pairing guide at Gourmet Sleuth here.

    Ingredients for Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad: (serves 4-6)

    • 1 lb of Fusili or Penne Pasta, cooked
    • 1 cup of broccoli florettes, blanched
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cup fresh yellow/white corn kernels
    • 1/2 cup of red onion, small diced
    • 1/2 cup of black beans
    • 1/4 cup of green bell pepper, small diced
    • 1/4 cup of red bell pepper, small diced
    • 1 avocado, pitted and small diced
    • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt.  Pour in the dry pasta and cook for 4-6 minutes or otherwise stated on the package.  Once pasta is “al dente” or semi-firm, strain pasta and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients listed above and toss with cooked pasta.  If more salt/seasoning is needed, simply add additional flavor according to your taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Ingredients for Finger Sandwich Platter: (serves 4-6)

    • 1 french baguette, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
    • 1 medium tomato, sliced
    • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
    • 1 cup spring mix
    • 1 cup hummus
    • 1 english cucumber, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup cream cheese
    • 1 cup of sprouts
    • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    To assemble cucumber sandwiches, take your baguette rounds and slather each side generously with cream cheese.  Add sliced cucumber and sprouts and hold together with toothpicks.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and refrigerate til ready to serve.

    To assemble veggie sandwiches, take your baguette rounds and slather each side generously with hummus.  Place the field greens, tomatoes, avocado and onion in between and hold together with toothpicks.  Refrigerate and drizzle with olive oil when ready to serve.

    You can make all different types of sandwiches — ham and cheese, turkey and swiss, blts — feel free to be creative!  You can also assemble the sandwiches at the picnic, just bring your pre-sliced ingredients and allow your guests to make their own.

    Ingredients for Summer Fruit Salad (serves 4-6):

    • 1/2 cantaloupe
    • 1/2 honey dew
    • 1/4 watermelon
    • 1 pint of blueberries
    • 1 pint of raspberries
    • 2 cups grapes
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 fresh vanilla bean

    Using a melon baller, remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew.  Carve as many melon balls you can get from the cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.  Set aside.  Reserve the remainder of the melon scraps for a refreshing juice.

    Place balls in a large bowl and add the berries and grapes.  Whisk the honey with the vanilla extract/bean and pour over the fruit mixture.  Allow the fruit salad to “marinate” for at least an hour before serving.

    Now remember when I told you to set the melon caracasses behind?  Well you can use the leftover melons to make a refreshing drink for the picnic! Now take the melon scraps you set aside and scrape off as much of the flesh as you can.  Transfer the juices and melon flesh into a large bowl or jar and mix with a cup of simple syrup, blend throughly with a hand held blender.

    Ingredients for Simple Syrup:

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup water

    In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

    If you want to make other drinks you can try this refreshing Mango Lemonade and Watermelon Lemonade or perhaps some of my Limeades !  Simply serve over ice and you are ready to go 🙂

    I hope everyone who lives in Dallas takes the time to take part of Shakespeare in the Park.  It truly is a wonderful experience!  Not only do you get a picnic under the stars (boys, girls like these things) but you get to watch talented actors and actresses from Shakespeare Dallas put on an amazing performance.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and remember — no picnic is complete without a picnic basket :)!  (I got mine from Target for $15)

    Pan Seared Mahi-Mahi with Cucumber Slaw

    Life has been hectic over in the Well’s household, our house is getting close to completion — we are aiming to move in at the end of July.  The boys (Collin, Carter and Poppa Wells) have been doing most of the grunt work, putting up sheet rock, dry wall, replacing broken studs while the girls (Me, Momma Wells and Aunt Lori) have been the painters and patchers.  I’ve earned a nickname of “Little Picasso” however I am convinced after this house, I won’t be painting for a very very LONG time.

    The changes throughout the home have been amazing.  I will share with you a few “before” photos and once the house is completed I will share the “after”.  This entire experience has been extremely tiring, but very rewarding.  Every day I walk into the house I am constantly seeing the improvements being made, and to know that this house was literally built with our very own hands makes it all the more gratfying.

    We’ve torn down walls, scrubbed asbestos off the floors, replaced windows and doors.  We’ve put up dry wall, painted the rooms and closet doors, took down panneling.  We’ve taken nails out of studs, scraped off all the termite damage and patched holes in the wall.  And to be honest, none of this would’ve been possible without the help of  my second family 🙂 they truly are great.

    The end is near.  I can almost taste the sweet sweet victory.  I am looking forward to moving in, cooking in my new kitchen and photographing in my very own photography studio/office.  Til then, excuse the lack of posts and replies to all the wonderful comments you all have left me.  I thoroughly appreciate all of y’alls kind words and support!

    Since hosting a Raw Food Event for FoodBuzz, I have been incorporating more raw ingredients into my daily diet.  I pan seared some mahi-mahi and made a nice crunchy and bright cucumber slaw (which was raw) to go with it.  I served it alongside a bed of fresh herb salad (raw) and finished it off with a nice generous squeeze of fresh lemon. It was easy to make with minimal cooking time — which I also found as a plus side to eating raw, because minimal cooking=minimal cleaning :)!

    Ingredients for Pan Seared Mahi Mahi: (serves 2)

    • 2 6-ounce mahi-mahi fillets (about 1 inch thick)
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon butter

    Preheat oven to 400F.

    Take mahi fillets and pat dry with a paper towel.  Mix all of the seasonings in a bowl and rub on both sides of fish fillets.  Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat, when the butter is bubbling place the fillets in the pan.  Cook three minutes on each side or until the sides of the fillets are browned and seared.  Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 5 minutes or until fish is flaky and tender (you can test this by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the fillet).

    Ingredients for Cucumber Slaw:

    • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
    • 1 cup cucumbers, peeled and small diced
    • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, small diced
    • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
    • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon raw honey
    • 1 teaspoon cold pressed olive oil

    Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Adjust the flavors according to your liking (i.e. add more honey if you’d like it sweeter or vinegar for more tartness)  Allow to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  Serve on top of mahi-mahi fillets.

    Ingredients for Herb Salad:
    • 2 cups herb salad mix
    • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 teaspoon cold pressed olive oil
    • salt pepper to taste

    Plate salad and tomatoes alongside of mahi filets and drizzle with olive oil.  Taste with salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over greens and fish if preferred.

    FoodBuzz 24,24,24,: Awesome Rawsome – A 5 course Raw Food Dinner

    As celebration of FoodBuzz’s new Healthbuzz section, I wanted to discover the mysteries of the Raw Food diet.  This month, FoodBuzz selected my proposal for 24,24,24  I decided to invite a group of my friends and together we explored the beauties of eating raw through a 5 course meal. Does that sound Awesome Rawsome?  I think so.

    This was probably one of the most challenging menus for me to think of — I mean eating RAW? I am use to the heat of the kitchen, the sounds of oil sizzling in a pan but no, not this time.  One of the main rules of eating raw is nothing is cooked above 118F, any temperature above that will begin breaking down the natural enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Now many of you are thinking — So what? but because of the degradation of these enzymes, it forces our bodies to generate the enzymes necessary to digest cooked food. Our bodies are unable to produce enzymes in perfect combinations to metabolize our foods as completely as the food enzymes created by nature do. As a result, starches, proteins and partially digested fats can cause blockage to your body’s intestinal tract and arteries leading to health challenges such as high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

    I used Raw, a cookbook written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein, as guidance through my exploration of raw foods.  They included this example about Eskimos and their raw diet:

    The Eskimos are a remarkable example of the transformative power of enzymes.  The word Eskimo means one who eats raw. While living for centuries on a diet that consisted primarily of raw whale or seal blubber, Eskimos developed no arteriosclerosis and experienced almost no incidence of heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.  Established nutritional doctrine would predict a high rate of these ailments given the diet, but even blubber will digest itself completely if it is not cooked since its enzymes are intact.  Once you heat even the finest olive oil above 118F, you will not be able to digest it completely.  More important, many authorities believe that eating cooked foods depletes our finite enzyme reserve.  Proof of this effect is that an eighty-five-year-old has only one-thirtieth the enzyme activity level of an eighteen-year-old.  In other words, your enzyme reserve is slowly exhausted over a lifetime of eating cooked foods.”

    I found this compelling, I never thought about the importance of eating foods raw.  I mean in my mind, raw food meant leafy salads and those party veggie trays, — food isn’t meant to be eaten raw, right?  I guess that’s why I had so much fun with this proposal I had to think of a 5 course menu consisting of all raw foods, made in different ways and in clever combinations to make my guests say — Wait, this is RAW? I could eat this!

    To do this, the most important thing would be to pick good quality produce and discovering the beauty of fruits and vegetables in their natural state and using them in way that would enhance their flavors. An interesting fact I also learned when reading Raw, was our bodies’ struggle with digesting unsprouted nuts and seeds — nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting into a plant or tree; however, if they have been sprouted (soaked in water), these enzyme inhibitors will degrade and then our bodies are able to digest them naturally.

    Maybe it may not be practical to say– I will eat raw for the rest of my life! In the society we live in today many of us are not able to do that.  However, I’m going to make a personal commitment to improve the quality of foods I place into my body.  Maybe as a start, I’ll start eating raw a couple nights a week, or making my meals half cooked and half raw either way, incorporating raw foods into my daily diet would never be detrimental to my health and would only improve it.  Our health is one of the few things we are able to control in our lives through daily practices of healthy eating habits and exercise; our bodies will take care of us if we take care of it.

    In all of the food we eat, (fruits, vegetables, meats), there are natural food enzymes that are present in their raw state.  These enzymes are a perfect combination and fit to help our bodies digest it completely.  Enzymes act as catalysts for every metabolic reaction in our bodies: cell division, energy production, brain activity, which are essential to our mental and physical well-being.

    “Nature in her never-ending perfection sees that all food, whether flesh, fruit, or vegetable, decomposes and returns to the earth from which it came.“ Roxanne Klein

    Menu for Awesome Rawsome


    Gazpacho Granita

    relish of cucumber, red and yellow bell pepper and red onion


    cream of corn soup with tomato basil lemon oil


    heirloom tomatoes with arugula served with lemon tahini


    jicama ravioli with avocado crema and southwestern corn slaw


    watermelon medallions served with a tropical salsa in a chilled mango soup

    Ingredients for Gazpacho Granita: (serves 4 to 6)


    • 2 pounds ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 1 garlic clove
    • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
    • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
    • ¾ tsp salt


    • ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil
    • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper


    • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
    • ½ red onion, finely diced

    To make granita: Quarter tomatoes and puree in a food processor with sugar and garlic. Strain puree through a sieve to discard seeds. Stir in basil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Let mixture chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

    Pour the granita mixture into a wide and shallow container, such as a stainless steel baking dish (the shallower the container, the quicker the granite will freeze). Cover with a lid, foil, or plastic wrap. Freeze the mixture 1 to 2 hours, until it is solid around the edges.  Take the container out of the freezer and scrape the ice with a fork, mixing it from the edges into the center.

    Repeat this scraping and mixing process every 30 minutes or so (at least three times) until the entire mixture has turned into small, sequined ice flakes.  When ready to serve, scrape with a fork to loosen the granita and spoon into serving dishes.

    To make dressing, whisk together all ingredients until blended.  To assemble salad, in a large bowl combine all ingredients; add dressing and toss to coat.  Spoon granita on center of serving dishes.  Arrange salad evenly around each.

    Ingredients for Cream of Corn Soup: (Makes 4-6 servings)

    • 4 cups sweet corn kernels
    • 2 cup filtered water
    • ½ avocado
    • Celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    Place ingredients in a large bowl and using a blender or hand held blender, puree until it is a smooth consistency.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove skin of kernels and taste with salt and pepper.

    Garnish for Corn Soup:

    • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
    • ¼ cup julienned jicama
    • ¼ cup microgreens
    • 4 tsp tomato basil lemon oil

    Ingredients for Tomato Basil Lemon Oil:

    • ½ pound ripe tomatoes
    • 1 ½ cups cold pressed olive oil
    • ¾ cup packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes
    • 2 tsp lemon zest

    Slice the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator) and gently squeeze out the seeds; discard them.  Working in a large bowl, rub the cut sides of the tomatoes across the large holes of a metal grater so that the flesh is coarsely grated but the skin remains intact in your hand.  Discard the skin.

    Combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Place at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, before using.  Strain and spoon the oil off any juices into clean, dry jar.  The oil will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month  Bring to room temperature about ½ hour before serving.

    To assemble soup, pour corn soup into bowls and garnish with jicama and corn mixture.  Drizzle with tomato lemon basil oil and top with microgreens.

    Ingredients for Heirloom Tomatoes with Lemon Tahini: (Makes 4-6 servings)

    • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
    • Zest of 2 lemons
    • 5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • Salt
    • 8 medium heirloom tomatoes, washed and cut into ¼ inch thick slices
    • 3 cups Arugula
    • 1lemon,, thinly sliced, for garnish
    • Freshly ground pepper

    In the bowl of a food processor, place tahini, half the lemon zest, and lemon juice; pulse to combine. With the motor running, add 7 to 8 tbsp cold water and continue to process until mixture is thick and smooth. Add salt to taste, and refrigerate until cold.

    Bring tahini to room temperature.Place arugula on a large platter and arrange tomatoes on top in a tight overlapping pattern; drizzle half the tahini over the tomatoes.  Scatter remaining lemon zest on top.  Tuck lemon slices around and between tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Serve remaining tahini on the side.

    Ingredients for Jicama Ravioli: (serves 4-6)

    • 1 ½ medium-sized jicama, washed and peeled
    • 3 cups raw walnuts, sprouted
    • 1 tsp garlic
    • 1 tsp chile powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Finely chop the walnuts and mix with chile, cumin powder and salt pepper to taste. Set aside. Take peeled jicama and cut into paper thin slices using either a sharp knife or mandoline.  Place in a large bowl of water with some fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

    Ingredients for Corn Salsa:

    • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
    • ¼ cup jalapenos, seeded and minced
    • ¼ cup red onion, minced
    • 1 tsp cilantro, minced
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and taste with salt and pepper.

    Ingredients for Avocado Crema:

    • 1 ½ avocado, pitted
    • ½ cup filtered water
    • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
    • ½ tsp garlic, minced
    • Celtic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    Puree and strain ingredients into a large bowl, adjusting the consistency according to your preference–  if it’s too thin add more avocado, if it’s too thick add more water.  Adjust the flavors to your taste.

    Take jicama slices and using a round cookie cutter, cut into desired sizes.  Lay one jicama round and spoon walnut mixture in the middle and top with another jicama slice.  Make 3-4 per plate and top with Corn Salsa and Avocado Crema.  Serve immediately.

    Ingredients for Watermelon Medallions in a Chilled Mango Soup: (serves 4-6)

    • 4-6 Watermelon pieces cut into 4″ rounds 2″thick

    Slice watermelon into 2″-thick slices and using a 4″ round cookie cutter, cut out 4-6 rounds.  It would be preferable to use seedless watermelon so it is easier to eat for your guests.

    Ingredients for Chilled Mango Soup:

    • 3 Champagne Mangoes
    • 1 ½ cups filtered water
    • 1 tsp agave
    • ½ vanilla bean

    Peel and slice the mangoes, discarding the pit, and place in a large bowl with water and agave.  Using a blender or hand held blender, puree ingredients until nice and smooth.  Scrape vanilla beans from the pod and allow soup to chill for at least an hour.  To make mango stars, pour some of the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze for 1-2 hours.

    Ingredients for Tropical Fruit Salsa:

    • ½ pineapple, small-diced (about 2 cups)
    • 1 mango, small-diced (about 1 ½ cups)
    • ½ vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 Tbsp ginger, crushed
    • 2-3 cinnamon sticks

    Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and allow fruit to macerate/marinate overnight. You may add a little agave or honey if the fruit is not sweet enough.

    To assemble the dessert: place watermelon rounds in bowls and spoon chilled mango, filling bowls ¾ of the way.  Top with tropical fruit salsa and garnish with mint and frozen mango ice cube.

    Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken with Tomato Yogurt Sauce

    One of the most common questions I get is “What’s the easiest and most impressive dinner I can make for friends?” My response is always Roasted Chicken. It’s relatable, always delicious and easy to make.  There are so many different varieties — herb roasted, lemon pepper, cajun, the possibilities are left to your imagination.  You can pair it with a salad, or rice, any type of veggie, I guarantee your guests will leave with happy stomachs and a full heart!

    There’s something magical about roasted chickens — perhaps it’s the down-to- earth simplicity, the intoxicating flavors and smells, the comfort that seems to spread to the deepest corners of your soul — okay got a little overly dramatic there, but you get the idea.

    Today I am taking a page from the big boss, Oprah Winfrey, is there anything that woman can’t do?  In the Oprah Magazine Cookbook I found this beautiful recipe for a Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken.  I made a few changes which I will note in parentheses and then came up with two sides that I felt would pair well — Coconut Basmati Rice and some Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes.  The flavors of the spices were out of this world, I loved the boldness of the cardamom and the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon.  O-M-G talk about flavor heaven!  The recipe was by Chef Rori Trovato — “It’s a little bit sweet, a litte bit daring.  It’s cinnamon, and it’s probably sitting right there in your pantry.”

    Ingredients for Cinnamon Roasted Chicken: (Makes 2-3 servings)

    • 1 (3-4 lb) roasting chicken
    • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
    • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
    • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
    • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
    • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
    • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 shallots, unpeeled and quartered
    • 3 cinnamon sticks
    • 1 cup chicken broth

    Ingredients for Tomato Yogurt Sauce:

    • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, room temperature (I used fat-free)
    • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

    ***I also brined the chicken, it retains more moisture in the meat.  I have included the ingredients and direction below.

    Ingredients for Brine:

    • 4 cups water
    • 1/3 cup kosher salt
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
    • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
    • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
    • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
    • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
    • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
    • 6 cups ice water

    Take your spices and ground them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.  For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Reduce to heat to low and simmer for 10 min so the flavors of the herbs can be drawn out. Pour the brine into a deep set large bowl and cool it down with your ice water.  Set aside.

    Clean the chicken by rinsing out the cavity and outer skin and place on a clean surface.  Be sure not to contaminate any vegetables or other ingredients, because no one is a fan of salmonella!  Place the chicken in the brine,  make sure it is completely immersed in the brine.  Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

    To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400F.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish.  Set aside.  In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods.  Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder).  Mix with curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.

    Finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl.  Rub mixture over entire chicken.  Sprinkle with salt, then with spice mixture.  Place unpeeled garlic, shallots, and cinnamon sticks inside chicken cavity.  Tie legs with kitchen string.  Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup chicken broth.  Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with remaining 1/2 cup broth.  Continue cooking until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes total.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

    To make the sauce: Transfer juices from pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Slowly add in the yogurt, stirring constantly with a whisk so yogurt doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.  Add most of the tomatoes and cilantro, setting some aside to garnish top of the chicken.  Serve with sauce on side.

    Ingredients for Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes:

    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 3/4 pound boiling or baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • pinch of saffron

    n a small bowl stir together the butter and the oil along with the saffron and garlic. In a food processor fitted with a 1-millimeter slicing blade or with a mandoline or similar hand-held slicing device, slice the potatoes thin. Working quickly to prevent the potatoes from discoloring, brush the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with some of the butter mixture and cover it with a layer of the potato slices, overlapping them. Brush the potatoes with some of the remaining saffron buttermixture and season them with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining potatoes with the remaining saffron butter mixture in the same manner.

    eat the mixture over moderately high heat until it begins to sizzle, transfer the skillet to the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, and bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and the potatoes are tender. Cut the galette into wedges or you can cut them with a circle cutter.

    Ingredients for Coconut Basmati Rice:

    • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
    • 1 1/4 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice

    In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.