Cajun Kale Salad
Adapted from www.fooddownunder.com

  • 4 ears sweet corn, or 2 c. frozen kernels
  • 1 small bunch of kale
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small Vidalia or red onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Cajun spice mix (2 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/4 tsp. white pepper)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions: Combine all the Cajun spice ingredients in a small bowl and mix fully. Store in an airtight container. Bring 2 c. water to boil—add corn. Cook until bright yellow—this will probably take about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the water. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob. Reserve 1 c. of the cornified liquid in a large mixing bowl. Wash the kale in a large basin of cool water, then strip or cut the leaves from the tough stems. Chop the leaves and discard the stems. Bring the reserved corn water to a boil and add the chopped kale. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale is just tender and still bright green. When the kale is cool, toss with the corn, peppers, onion, garlic and Cajun spices. Just before serving, toss with the lemon juice.

Star Recommends: Orleans Hill Alexandria
Crafted to be a pleasing alternative to the tedious over-oaked whites on the market today, Alexandria is a unique blend of Muscat and French Colombard. Clean and crisp with juicy tropical notes, this wine is gorgeous on its own or paired with foods that appreciate a white with structure.


Easy Fig Scones
from www.thehealthyeverythingtarian.com

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. raw turbinado sugar
  • Vanilla soymilk (or any type of milk), as needed
  • 1 c. diced Black Mission Figs
  • 1 Tbs. honey

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a medium bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and canola oil together. Add the sugar and mix until it is slightly dissolved. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and combine. Add the milk as needed, until the dough comes together. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12x8-inch rectangle. Set aside. Thoroughly mix the figs and honey together until they are well combined (the mixture will be thick and paste-like). Distribute the fig mixture equally down the middle of the dough. Fold the long sides in to the median, so the dough is roughly a 12x4-inch log. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray, and place the log on the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into triangles to serve! Makes 8 scones.

Star Recommends: Lustau Capatz Andres Deluxe Cream Sherry
Every component of this wine (Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez) is aged in its own Solera. After being blended, the sweet wine is bottled. A mahogany color, it has smoked aromas of dried fruits, soft and sweet on the palate and has a delicate acidity on the finish.


Swiss Chard, Sweet Corn and Scallion Soup with Noodle Nest Dumplings
Adapted from a Deborah Madison recipe; from www.myyearoffood.wordpress.com
Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches Swiss Chard
  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 3 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels removed from the cob
  • 7 3/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 giant bunch of scallions... or 2 regular bunches
  • olive oil

For the Noodle Nests:

  • 1/3 c. raw milk Jack Cheese, grated (we used Organic Valley’s)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3-4 oz skinny fresh pasta (we used RP’s Pasta angel hair egg noodles)
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro
  • peanut oil

Directions: First of all, thank your lucky stars for Deborah Madison, whose original recipe I have adapted and expanded on. I am a big fan of preparing my ingredients ahead of time, and I especially recommend doing so with soup. It makes the cooking process so much easier to have everything you are going to need ready and waiting, instead of desperately scrambling to chop one thing while frantically stirring another. Trim the scallions, leaving 2-3 inches above the end of the white portion of the onion. Finely chop the scallions. Remove corn from cob—set to one side in the same bowl as the scallions. Coarsely chop the 2 bunches of cilantro, making sure you have at least 1 cup (packed tightly). More cilantro is just fine—it works out wonderfully in the soup. Tear the swiss chard leaves off of their stems. Tear or chop them into large pieces. The large pieces make for a pleasing texture and appearance in your soup. Assemble the ingredients for your birds’ nests. I recommend making these first, since they are a little bit more involved and they keep really well overnight. First, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Just when you think they’re stiff enough, beat them a little bit more. Stir in the other ingredients, except for the peanut oil. Heat enough peanut oil in a pan to allow your soon to be formed birds’ nests to float a little- about 1/3 an inch. Once the oil is hot, scoop out about 1/4 c. of birds’ nest into the pan. Fry that little bundle of flavors until golden brown on one side, than flip it over and do the same for the other side. Each side will take approximately one minute. Lay them on paper towel until you are ready for them.

Now, the soup. Heat 1-2 Tbs. olive oil in your large soup pot. Once the oil is warm, toss in the scallions and corn. Keeping the heat at medium high, stir the scallions and corn frequently, until the scallions become soft (about 4 minutes). Add in the cilantro, along with about 3/4 c. water. Keep the heat on medium high and let the scallions, corn and cilantro stew together a little bit. Add the teaspoon of salt, and let them stew for another minute (about 3 minutes total). Add in the Swiss chard leaves along with another cup of water and stew until the leaves wilt. Once they have wilted, add the additional 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the birds’ nests and reduce your heat to simmer for another 10-15 minutes. The peanut oil from the birds’ nests will add a wonderful flavor to your soup, and the nests themselves are like the offspring of a one-night stand between egg foo yung and noodle kugel (a.k.a. Awesome).

Star Recommends: Rex Hill Pinot Gris
This Pinot Gris is succulent and juicy with hints of lime, mango and lemon blossom. Surprising notes of ginger tea lead to a nice, crisp finish.


Tofu Millet Patties
Adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. millet, rinsed
  • 3 c. boiling water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 lb. firm tofu
  • 1 c. mustard greens, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. tamari
  • Cayenne pepper, as desired

Directions: Heat oil in a pot. Stir in the garlic and onions and sauté until onions begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add the rinsed millet. Cook the millet with the garlic and onions until it is lightly browned. Once the millet begins to change color, pour boiling water or veggie stock over the grain. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until liquid is completely absorbed. Cool the millet for a moment. Than combine the millet, tofu, greens, tamari and cayenne in a food processor. Process until consistency is to your liking. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and chill. Once chilled, cut into 8 squares. Broil on each side until golden brown. Enjoy! Yields: 4-6 servings.

Star Recommends: Cline Red Truck Organic Zinfandel
This delicious wine composed of Zinfandel, Carignane, Syrah, and Mourvedre explodes with cherry, plum and black pepper notes reflective of its renowned Sonoma County & Dry Creek Valley terroir.


Onion Pandade
from www.thestonesoup.com; inspired by Judy Rodgers in the wonderful Zuni Cafe cookbook.
Judy has three different takes on this pandade: a tomato version, one with chard and another more unusual one with sorrel. While all three sounded lovely, the minimalist in me couldn’t help but strip it back to the bare essentials of onion, bread and cheese.

I also change the cooking time quite a bit. Judy goes for a slow oven for a few hours. I decided to risk speeding things up with a hot oven and was very happy with the results.

It’s one of those things that is equally good hot from the oven, cooled to room temperature, or even reheated the next day. You won’t have any problems getting rid of any leftovers.

This is a brilliant way to use up stale bread, but fresh can be used as well. Just make sure it’s a hearty rustic loaf, preferably sourdough—not something white and insipid.

I used a vintage cheddar as my cheese but anything that makes good cheese on toast would work. Next time I think I’ll use Parmesan because I tend to have it in the house more often than not.

This makes a wonderful vegetarian main course with a green salad on the side. But I think it would also be a warming accompaniment to a roast chicken or even some roast beef. Serves 4.

  • 4 large yellow onions
  • 1/2 bunch thyme, leaves picked
  • 1/2 medium loaf rustic bread, torn in to chunks
  • 5 oz. cheese, grated or crumbled
  • 3 1/2 c. vegetable or chicken stock

Directions: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut onion in half lengthwise. Peel, then slice into half moons about 1/4-inch thick. Heat 4–5 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook onion stirring occasionally until soft and golden brown. No need to caramelize. Stir in the thyme. In a medium heatproof dish layer about a third of the onions. Sprinkle over some of the bread and cheese. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. You want to be able to see a little of each on the top. Bring stock to a simmer. Pour over the onion dish. Season. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 20 - 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy and the stock has been absorbed by the bread.

Star Recommends: Gabbiano Chianti
Clean but showing an earthy edge, developed, dried cherries, tobacco overlay. Restrained, lively acidity, powdery tannins, savory finish.


Collards with Coconut Milk
Adapted from www.fooddownunder.com

  • 1 lb. collard greens
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. light coconut milk (or regular coconut milk)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Directions: Wash greens well and remove and discard stems. Chop leaves. In large pan or a Dutch oven, bring water to a boil and add the collard greens and onion. Bring water to a boil once more, then reduce to simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Drain well and return to pan. Stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low hear for 10 minutes or more, until sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in tomatoes and cook until heated through. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

Star Recommends: Francis Coppola Sauvignon Blanc
Great nose. Citrus and melon. A little grassy. Well balanced with a medium body, that isn’t too full. Good finish on a really good California Sauvignon Blanc.


Walnut Chocolate Chip Bread
from: www.thehealthyeverythingtarian.com

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. crushed walnuts

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add 3 of the bananas and egg; mix well. Turn off the mixer, and add the dry ingredients into the bowl. Mix until it forms a batter. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts, then pour in a greased loaf pan. Slice the remaining banana on top. Bake the bread for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Take out of the pan to cool, and enjoy!

Star Recommends: Yalumba Antique Tawny Dessert Wine
This outstanding old dessert wine is deep tawny in color, with an aroma of wood aged rancio, elegant brandy spirit and hints of dried fruits and spices. The palate has a firm rich texture, with chocolate and caramel flavors and a persistent aftertaste of nuts and rancio characters. Fine spirit characters produce a balanced drying finish.


Garden Salad with Dulse and Tahini Lime Dressing
adapted from Lynn Bassler

  • 1 small head red leaf lettuce (about 4 cups) torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 c. dulse sea vegetables
  • 1 c. water
  • a few edible flowers, such as calendula, borgae, nasturtium, violets

Tahini-Lime dressing

  • 1/4 c. sesame tahini, toasted
  • 2 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. umeboshi plum vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 c. water

Directions: Blend ingredients until smooth. Soak dulse in water until reconstituted, about 2-3 minutes. Drain and squeeze gently, reserving liquid for a later use (in soup or to feed your houseplants!). Top lettuce with dulse and flowers—dress as desired.

Star Recommends: Eberle Viognier
Viognier is one of the great grapes of France’s Rhone Valley. It is an extremely aromatic variety redolent of ripe peaches and wild flowers. It is frequently used to add aromatic complexity to blended wines but on its own, delivers a rich, soft wine with high alcohol and deep flavors of honey, peach, apricot and tangerine.