Asparagus, Artichoke and Shiitake Risotto
Adapted from www.TheSmittenKitchen.com.

  • 5 c. broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 lb. fresh shiitake mushroom caps, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 large fresh artichokes, cut into 1/4inch thick slices, prepared*
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Arborio rice (barley also makes a lovely risotto!)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: *To prepare your artichokes: Juice a large lemon and place juices in bowl. Remove all outer leaves, the choke and the stem of the artichoke, leaving just the heart. Cut the heart into 1/4 inch slices. Completely coat the heart slices in the lemon juice- this will keep the artichoke from browning. Bring a small pot of water to boil, adding about 1/8 c. of white wine and a tsp of vinegar. Drop in the artichoke hearts, along with the lemon juice, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside!

Bring broth and water to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the slices of asparagus and cook until they are crispy but tender, about 3-5 minutes. While the asparagus is cooking, prepare a dish of ice water. Once the asparagus has reached the desired consistency, pull out of the broth and place in cooling bowl. Once fully cooked, remove from water and pat dry. Keep the broth at a very low simmer, covered.

Heat the olive oil and 1 Tbs. of butter in a deep saucepan over medium high heat. Once thoroughly melted, sauté the mushrooms until browned. In the immortal words of Julia Child, “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” They will brown best if agitated lightly and given plenty of space in the pan. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.

Place 2 Tbs. of butter in your recently vacated pan. Cook your onion pieces until softened. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the wine and continue to cook until the rice absorbs it.

Pour in 1 c. of the hot broth and simmer. Stir frequently, until broth is fully absorbed (about 2 min.) Continue to simmer and add broth, 1/2 c. at a time, until the rice is tender and looks creamy. This will take somewhere between 15 and 25 minutes. If you have extra broth, save it for later, in case your rice needs thinning!

Remove the rice from heat. Stir in the remaining butter, 1/2 c. of Parmesan cheese, and add salt and pepper. Gently fold in the asparagus, artichokes and shiitake mushrooms while the rice is in the pan. Cover and allow the flavors to infuse the dish—this will take about a minute. If your risotto is thicker than you like, now is a great time to add that extra broth. Serve immediately with the rest of the cheese! Serves 4.

Star Recommends: San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano
If a pure, lean, unfettered dryness is what you like in a wine, the certified organically grown San Quirico Vernaccia di San Gimignano may be everything you want. A reticent but vividly defined lemon and licorice nose, turning into mineral and anise-like sensations on the palate, packaged in viscous, almost oily, densely textured body that is neither light nor heavy, but rather, zesty (like a fresh, mild grapefruit) yet smooth, long, penetrating. This white will be perfect for cooking your risotto as well.


Tom Yum Soup with Pineapple
Adapted from heygoodlookingwhatchagotcooking.blogspot.com.
When making this soup, keep in mind that the spicy flavors will increase as time goes on!

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-3 1/4 inch thick slices of ginger
  • 6-8 c. reduced sodium veggie broth
  • 1 large Serrano pepper, sliced
  • 3 2-inch pieces of lime zest
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 c. sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 8 oz. peeled and de-veined raw shrimp (optional)
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/3 c. fresh cilantro
  • Sriracha (to taste)

Directions: Gently smash lemongrass and ginger together on a cutting board. Over medium-high heat, combine your mashed goodies with the broth, your hot pepper, and your lime zest. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, and then (be careful!) strain the soup into a large bowl. Discard the solids that remain in your colander.
Return the broth to the pan and add the pineapple, mushrooms, tomato, bell peppers, fish sauce, and the sugars. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for around 5 minutes. Add the shrimp at this time. Continue to simmer the soup until the shrimp are pink and thoroughly cooked. This will take 3-5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat source and stir in the rest of your ingredients. Serves 6.

Star Recommends: Brander Cuvee Natalie
Named after Fred’s daughter Natalie, this Sauvignon Blanc blend is sourced from the best estate lots in the Santa Ynez Valley with Sauvignon Blanc from The Brander Vineyard and Riesling and Pinot Gris from Kick On Ranch. It’s made totally in stainless steel to preserve its crisp freshness, but in an off-dry style, giving it a little extra body and more than a passing resemblance to some of our favorite wines from Alsace.


Caramelized Grilled Pineapple
Adapted from brendasbarbecue.wordpress.com/.
Spring is in the air and I for one am ready to head outside and fire up the grill! Hold onto this recipe throughout the summer!

  • 8 slices fresh pineapple
  • 4 Tbs. honey
  • 6 Tbs. cherry brandy
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

Directions: Combine the liquid ingredients in a nonporous bowl/dish. Submerge your slices of pineapple in the marinade, ensuring that each piece is thoroughly coated. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight (if you’re in a pinch, 3-4 hours is the minimum amount of time you need to make this recipe sparkle).
On the day of grilling, preheat your cooking surface to medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Remove pineapple from the bowl and place the fruit directly on the rack, or in a basket. Grill for 10-12 minutes, turning often. The pineapple will caramelize into a delectable treat over the heat of the grill. Remove and eat hot. Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Trapiche Oak Cask Pinot Noir
This wine has complex red fruit aromas of cherries and sour cherries with a subtle memory of toasted bread, vanilla, and butterscotch. It has an excellent balance of fruit, acidity, and sweetness. The flavors will pair seamlessly with the smoky, sweet goodness of this pineapple.


Leek and Sorrel Pancakes with Smoked Salmon
Adapted from www.mariquita.com.

  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter
  • 4 c. leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 c. sorrel or spinach, washed well
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • chopped chives, for garnish
  • salt to taste

Directions: Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the leeks and sauté until tender, but not brown. Add the sorrel and cook briefly until just wilted. Immediately remove the cooked leeks and sorrel from the heat and allow to cool. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until they are frothy. Add the flour and continue to whisk until smooth. Add the cooled leek/sorrel mixture to this bowl.
Heat your best pancake cooking pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Coat lightly with oil. Once hot, drop about 2 T. of batter for each pancake. Cook until brown on one side, than flip and cook until brown on the other. Remove from griddle and top with smoked salmon, sour cream and the chives. Serve hot and enjoy! 8-10 appetizer sized servings

Star Recommends: Riondo Pink Sparkling
Transparent and very pretty pale rosy pink, frizzante but not fully sparkling; frothy bubbles quickly fall back in the glass. Delicate red berries and fresh herbs on the nose; crisp, prickly and fresh on the palate, subtle fruit shaped by good acidity. There may be a distant hint of fresh-fruit sweetness, but with the tart acidity and a pleasant, very slight bitter note in the finish, it comes across as dry.


Salad Of Sorrel, Endive And Mushrooms With Walnut Dressing
Adapted from www.npr.org.
“This earthy salad recipe is adapted from Elizabeth Schneider’s Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables (Perennial Library 1986). The sourness of the sorrel and bitterness of the endive are countered by the sweetness of balsamic vinegar and walnuts.” - NPR.com

  • 1/3 c. walnuts
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. walnut oil (or sunflower oil)
  • 2 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1/2 lb. sorrel
  • 1/2 lb. Belgian endive
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms
  • pepper to taste

Directions: Toast your walnuts in a 375-degree oven or on the stove until they are fragrant. Cool, and chop into coarse pieces. Combine vinegars and salt in a glass jar. Give it a good whisk with a spoon to fully integrate the ingredients. Add the oils and shake thoroughly, until emulsified. Set aside. Strip off any tough sorrel stems and ribs. Cut the leaves on a diagonal into narrow strips- about 1/4 inch wide. Trip the bases and core the endives. Thinly slice, again in about 1/4 inch slices. Clean your mushrooms with a damp cloth. Avoid submerging them in water to clean, as they are highly absorbent and will carry extra liquid into your salad. Slice thinly with stem on, about 1/4 inch thick.
Toss the sorrel, endive and mushrooms in a large serving bowl. Add the walnuts and the pepper, then pour the dressing over the salad. Toss gently and serve with a side of crusty French bread! Serves 6.

Star Recommends: Cloudline Pinot Gris
A rush of citrus fruits and white flowers, both in the nose and on the palate, combine to make this a wine of pure pleasure. With excellent texture and a strong lift from the acidity, it suggests food pairings with every sip.


Sorrel Soup
Adapted from cincinnatilocavore.blogspot.com.
Don’t cook sorrel for extended periods of time in cast iron pots/pans... the acidity of the sorrel reacts with the iron and creates a metallic-tasting dish!

  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 3 leeks, cleaned and chopped fine
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 c. veggie or chicken stock
  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced fine
  • 1 lb. sorrel, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream to taste

Directions: In a heavy pot, sauté the bacon in a dash of oil until crispy. Add the chopped leeks, the onions and continue to cook them over medium heat for about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. At this point, add the stock. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chopped sorrel. Continue to simmer the soup for an additional 15-30 minutes, stirring from time to time. The soup will be ready once the potatoes are tender and the sorrel has dissolved into the broth. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a dollop of sour cream! Serves 4.

Star Recommends: Luna Pinot Grigio
Slightly yeasty aromas of yellow plum, pear and tropical fruits. Fresh and fruit-driven, with lively acidity giving the middle palate a firmness. The saline minerality and subtle florality here is quite intriguing. Finishes firm-edged, almost tannic, but without bitterness.