Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello Spring - Vidalia Onion Dip!

I attended thirteen different schools during my “wonder bread” years. We moved constantly until I was in high school. By then, thankfully my family was in one place. One thing was constant, though….my mother’s love for food from her southern childhood. Sweet onions were one of her favorites, Vidalia to be exact. Of course!

Spring was around the corner when this dip appeared at our table. Mother’s friends would send her the first onions of the season, or if she still had a couple of carefully-saved-last-season onions in the basement we would be treated to this favorite.

Easy to prepare, keeps wonderful in the fridge, this is a dip that pairs perfectly with veggies and crackers. Sometimes Mike and I will just load up a tray with fresh raw veggies, like radishes, grape tomatoes, carrot, celery, and fennel sticks, and enjoy Vidalia Onion Dip as a light dinner. Don’t miss out on trying this recipe – everyone I have shared this fun way to enjoy southern sweet onions has loved it!
Vidalia Dip

2 Cups Water
½  Cup White Vinegar
1/4 Cup Agave Syrup
4 Cups Thinly Sliced Vidalia Onions
½ Cup Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil Mayonnaise
½ Cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 Tsp Celery Seed
1 Dash Hot Sauce
1 Dash *Worcestershire Sauce
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

Step One In a saucepan on high heat, bring the water, sugar and vinegar to a rolling boil. Put the onions in a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over them. Place in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. The next day, drain the liquid from the onions and add the mayonnaise, celery seed, hot sauce, Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Flavorful Roasted Ratatouille Pasta

Ahhh, we are finally getting a touch of spring here in Atlanta. This gorgeous, (and much anticipated), weather has made me think about last spring... in France! I just wrote a blog for Breast Investigators, and shared a few memories - and a easy recipe for a Provencal favorite.

Flavorful Roasted Ratatouille

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St Pats! Tapping into a Different Cuisine for Potatoes - Smoky Potato and Artichoke Salad

When I was growing up, my Grandmother called small, new, red potatoes, “Irish Potatoes”. I learned about the great potato famine in Ireland in elementary school. I loved Irish stew, a meaty bowl filled with carrots and potatoes. Like me, I bet you think of Ireland when I say “potato”. I didn’t learn that the Inca Indians in Peru discovered the world’s fourth largest food crop until recently when I was researching foods to pair with the appealing wines of South America. Now, I know that the Spanish conquistadors brought them back to Europe in the mid 1500s and they arrived in North America by the early 1600s. As over 1000 different varieties are grown today, we can celebrate the spirit of St Patrick's Day with recipes from all over the world. This colorful, bright salad is a tantalizing mix of some of my favorite flavors and foods; red peppers, smoked paprika and artichokes.

Did you know that artichokes are actually the “heart” of a thistle? These delicious veggies are cultivated in the countries around the Mediterranean, but most of our U.S. artichokes come from California. Castroville California calls itself the “Artichoke Center of the World” If you have ever visited this fun city, you would agree! I love whole artichokes, but now that we can easily found frozen artichoke hearts is awesome. Try tossing them into salads or casseroles for flavor, and a serving of potent antioxidants.

This salad is fast, easy and tasty. The Smoked Paprika Dressing is not only the perfect way to celebrate the wonderful flavors of the veggies, but on its own is a wonderful way to marinate a portabella mushroom to grill.

Smoky Potato and Artichoke Salad
1 ½  LBS Cooked Red Potatoes in 1” Pieces
1 ½ LBs Cooked Sweet Potatoes in 1” Pieces (Yes, I know that sweet potatoes are not in the exact family as potatoes – but that’s another blog in itself.)
3 Cups Cooked, Frozen Artichoke Hearts
1 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, Cut in Strips
1 Recipe Smoked Paprika Dressing*
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro for Garnish

Toss the potatoes, artichokes and red peppers together in a large bowl. Drizzle with the smoked paprika dressing and garnish with chopped cilantro.

*Smoked Paprika Dressing
2 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Cup Light Olive Oil Mayonnaise
2 TB Dijon Mustard
2 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
2 TB Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TB Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Turmeric
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to Taste

Place all ingredients in the food processor and puree.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sensational Safari Salad!

I didn't grow up thinking that Africa was a place I wanted to visit. There were so many other romantic spots, Paris, Rome, Venice, Provence, Madrid... 

After visiting Africa from North to South, East to West, I have to say its my favorite place to travel. From the soaring vistas and wildlife to the genuine warmth of Africa's people its a magical continent of wonderful extremes.

I love to share the food and wine of Africa - and that's just what I did on Saturday night at Cooks Warehouse We served a  line up of eight unique and delicious wines to a fun and interesting group. The food was fantastic, (she said modestly:). What fun to pair wine and pass on recipes I learned in Africa. 
Our WINE Lineup!
We started with this Safari Salad. Why a citrus salad? South Africa is one of the world's largest importers of grapefruit and other citrus. Along with grapes, this makes a perfect sweet and sour base for a salad with red onions, Moroccan oil cured olives, goat cheese and a simple spiced dressing. South Africa, like most other countries in Africa, has a long and delicious tradition of making luscious, creamy goat cheese like that used in the salad.

Its a great time of year for this salad in the states. We are still getting super citrus from Africa, and for those of us in southern states, Florida is providing us with closer-to-local citrus as well.

Safari Salad pairs well with a crisp and citrus-ey Chenin Blanc from South Africa's vineyards like the Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc.

Safari Salad

1/3  Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
3 TB Lemon Juice
1/2 Tsp Turmeric
½ Tsp Hot Sauce
1/2 Tsp Cumin
½ Tsp Paprika

1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper  to taste
6 – 8 Cups Soft Baby Greens
4 Cups Mixed Fruit – Grapefruit, Oranges and Grapes
1/2 Small Red Onion, sliced very thinly and submerged for 1 hour in ice water and drained
2 TB Each Chopped Parsley and Mint
1/4 Cup, Oil Cured Black Olives, coarsely chopped 
1 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese 
½ Cup Toasted Slivered Almonds

Step One
In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the first seven ingredients to create the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside while you make the salad.

Step Two
Place the fruit on top of the greens on 6 plates and top with the onion, parsley and mint, olives and goat cheese. Drizzle the dressing on top and garnish with the toasted almonds.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Looking for Spring Soup

Wow! Its been a long cold hard winter here in Atlanta. And yes. I know that many of you have had a much rougher time of it - the polar vortex and all it has brought to the north and midwest. But here in the south, we are usually already looking for signs of spring. Some have been forthcoming, like the daffodils below. But I'm so afraid they won't look as perky when our weather turns winter-cold this week again.

Today we held a class with friend and facilitator Angela Buttimer at Cancer Wellness. Entitled "Springtime Rituals" it was full of cleaning and good intentions - and this soup. Full of the promise of spring, it is also a super clean-out-the-fridge-and-freezer soup that tastes yummy. Its one of those recipes that lends itself easily to food swaps: No frozen peas? Use green beans. No fresh asparagus? Use frozen broccoli. You get the idea. Use what you've got stashed away and is ready to go. You'll find this soup delicious, and all the greens will make you feel great!

Looking for Spring Soup.
2 TB Olive Oil
3 Bunches Green Onion, roughly chopped
1 Bunch Asparagus, roughly chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
1 Large Bag Green Peas, Defrosted
2 Cups Frozen or Canned Artichoke Hearts, chopped
3 Cups Veggie Stock
1 TB Fresh Lemon Juice
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
Non Fat Greek Yogurt, Chopped Green Onions and Tomatoes
1 Tsp Cumin Seed, toasted
Step One
Add the olive oil to a stock pot. Saut̩ the green onions over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add asparagus and cook an additional 5 minutes. And the garlic and cook and stir until fragrant Рabout 1 minute.
Step Two

Add the broth and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and partially cover, cooking until veggies are very tender, about 20 minutes. Puree veggies with an immersion blender. Return to original pot and bring back up to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and season again to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the Greek Yogurt, green onions and tomatoes. Sprinkle cumin over the top.