Thai Chicken and Wheat Berry Salad
Adapted from www.foodandwine.com.
Served in fresh lettuce cups, this refreshing and hearty salad is so easy to make and makes a great meal on its own.
- 2 Tbs. sunflower oil, or other neutral oil
- 1 lb. ground chicken, preferably dark meat
- 1/2 cup cooked wheat berries, or spelt berries, see note
- 2 Tbs. fish sauce
- 1 Tbs. lime juice
- 1/3 cup chopped basil, plus wholeleaves for serving
- Lettuce cups, for serving
Directions: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Add the wheat berries, fish sauce, and lime juice. Remove skillet from heat and stir in the basil. Serve warm, garnished with more basil leaves, with lettuce cups.
Note: To cook wheat berries or spelt, place in a large pot and cover with several inches of cool water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. When they’re still chewy but tender, drain well and enjoy. 1/4 cup dry will equal roughly 1/2 cup cooked.
Star Recommends: Robert Oatley Chardonnay—Australian Wine Companion: “This is a gift horse of some dimension: intensely flavored white peach, nectarine and grapefruit chardonnay has been selected from various parts of Margaret River, given a perfunctory lick of oak, and then let loose on the chardonnay racecourse, leaving many more expensive wines floundering in its wake.”
Grilled Apricots with Almond Whipped Cream and Honey
Adapted from www.reciperunner.com.
These sweet grilled apricots topped with almond-flavored whipped cream are a perfect way to end a summer meal.
- 4 apricots, ripe but still firm, halved and pitted
- 1 tsp. butter, melted
- 3 tsp. honey, divided
- 2 Tbs. sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 1 1/2 Tbs. powdered sugar
Directions: Heat a grill to medium, or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and 1 teaspoon of the honey. Brush the honey butter on the cut sides of the apricots. Place the apricots, cut-side-down, on the grill or grill pan. Grill for 2 minutes, until dark grill marks appear. Transfer, cut-side-up, to a serving dish.
Use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer to beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in the almond extract and powdered sugar. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream onto each apricot half. Top with sliced almonds and drizzle with remaining honey. Enjoy! Serves 4.
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Grilled Caesar Salad
Adapted from www.theyearinfood.com.
Seriously the most amazing, not to mention unexpected, Caesar salad.
- 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
- 5 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 heads romaine, sliced in half lengthwise, cores intact
- Manchego cheese, shaved
Directions: Use the back of a knife to mash the anchovy fillets. Place in a small bowl, and stir in the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine.
Brush the cut sides of the romaine generously with the dressing, reserving some of it for serving.
Heat a grill to high and grill the romaine, cut sides down, until soft and golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and top with Manchego cheese. Serve immediately.
Star Recommends: Roederer Estate Brut—Wilfred Wong of Wine.com: “The Roederer Estate Brut has always garnered a special place amongst the folks in the wine trade. This is my go-to bubbly from anywhere in the New World and often in place of higher price bubblies from France and Italy. Yes, this one is as solid as they come.”
Apricot Shrimp Skewers
Adapted from www.sunset.com.
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. minced ginger
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 12 slices prosciutto (6 ounces), sliced in half lengthwise
- 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 6 apricots, quartered and pitted
- 1/3 cup minced cilantro
Directions: Heat a grill to high. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sesame oil. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the apricot jam, orange juice, lemon juice, and soy sauce, and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. Pour out 1/2 cup of the glaze and set aside.
Wrap each shrimp in a slice of prosciutto. Thread the prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and apricot wedges onto 12 skewers (metal, or wooden ones first soaked in water), alternating shrimp and apricots, with 2 of each on each skewer.
Cook on the grill, brushing with the reserved 1/2 cup of the glaze, for about 8 minutes, until grill marks appear. Serve sprinkled with cilantro with extra sauce on the side.
Star Recommends: Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Rose—Aromas of small fresh red berries and citrus fruits. The mouth offers a great balance and freshness with aromas of gooseberries, raspberries and citrus, with floral notes.
Cilantro Noodle Bowl
Adapted from www.101cookbooks.com.
Soba noodles are tossed in a fresh, garlicky, cilantro-heavy sauce, and topped with barely blanched Romanesco broccoli and golden tofu matchsticks. The Romanesco is easily substituted with another vegetable.
- 8 oz. dried soba noodles
- 2 1/2 cups Romanesco broccoli florets
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Scant 1/2 c. sunflower oil, or mild olive oil
- 16 oz. firm tofu, drained, patted dry, cut into 1-inch long, 1/2-inch-inch thick pieces
Directions: Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but 30 seconds before the noodles are done, add the Romanesco broccoli to the pot. Drain and rinse under cool running water. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and set aside to continue draining.
Use a food processor or hand blender to combine the cilantro, garlic, cayenne, salt, and sunflower oil. Process until you achieve a pesto-like consistency. Taste, adding more salt or cayenne if you like. Set aside.
Heat a dry nonstick pan or dry well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place the tofu in the pan and cook until golden and browned on one side. Flip and continue to cook until the tofu is bouncy and firm. Remove from the pan and slice into matchsticks.
Place the drained soba noodles and Romanesco broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Top with a few generous dollops of the cilantro sauce and toss to combine. Turn into a serving bowl and top with the tofu, some more sauce, a sprinkle of cayenne, and a squeeze of lemon. Serves 4.
Star Recommends: Ostatu Rioja Blanco—Made from a blend of Viura and Malvasia, the Ostatu Blanco is light and refreshing. Bright lemon and mineral aromas combine with good lush fruit on the palate. White Rioja is an underappreciated style that will pair nicely with the abundant flavors in this dish.
Roasted Corn with Cilantro and Queso Fresco
Adapted from www.dinnerwasdelicious.com.
If you’re going with fresh corn, choose firm, tightly closed, freshly picked ears of corn, you don’t want any dried out kernels. Frozen is just fine if the super fresh stuff isn’t available.
- 10 ears fresh sweet corn, or 7 1/2 cups frozen kernels, thawed
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1/2 jicama, medium, peeled, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded, minced
- 1 large bunch cilantro, stemsremoved (save them for another use!)
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 4 oz. queso fresco or cotija
- Salt & Pepper
Directions: Heat a gas grill to high, or preheat oven to 500ºF. If using fresh corn, peel back the corn husks while leaving them attached, and remove the cornsilk. Fill a large basin with water and soak the ears of corn in it for 5 minutes. Pull the corn husks back onto the ears of corn, and roast the corn for 20 minutes either on the grill or in the oven, turning frequently. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Combine the red pepper, jicama, jalapeño, and cilantro in a large bowl. When cool enough to handle, use a large sharp knife to slice the kernels from the cob. Add the corn to the bowl and toss to combine. Add the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, and queso fresco or cotija. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, then enjoy. Serves 8.
Star Recommends: Bonterra Viognier—Aromas of peaches and cream, citrus blossom and apricot greet you at the glass. Peaches and cream are a sensory signature of this wine. Fruit favors of apricot and peach are accented with spice. The wine is crisp and rich with beautiful elegance and a very long finish.
Green Salad with Toasted Pita Bread
Adapted from www.saveur.com.
Similar to an Italian panzanella salad, this salad is Syrian in origin, and includes fresh herbs and crunchy romaine.
- 2 small rounds of pita, or 1 large, split open, sliced into wedges
- 10 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 3/4 Tbs. lemon juice
- Black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 2 cucumbers, medium, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
- 1 heart from a head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss the pita with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
In medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and remaining 8 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Rub a large salad bowl with the clove of garlic, and discard. Place the cucumber, lettuce, mint, and parsley in the bowl. Top with the pita chips and drizzle with the dressing. Toss gently to combine. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Star Recommends: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio—Straw yellow in color with a clean, crisp fragrance with intense yet elegant hints of quince. Fresh, harmonious fruit set off by slight sweetness with a long finish full of delicate, tangy flavor. Sometimes “wine geeks” like us tend to underrate this wine because it is quite simply everywhere. That is a mistake, this is a quality Pinot Grigio.
Apricot Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from www.marthstewart.com.
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
- 3/4 cup maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon for the pan
- 18-20 apricots, small, halved and pitted
- 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 1/4 cup whole spelt flour, divided
- 1 1/4 tsp.ground cardamom
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 2 Tbs. flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment. Drizzle the parchment with 1 tablespoon of the melted coconut oil and use your fingers to spread over the bottom and sides of the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup, and spread it over just the bottom of the pan. Arrange the apricots cut-side-down in circles on the bottom of the pan.
Place the coconut flakes in the bowlof a food processor, and add a few tablespoons of the spelt flour. Pulse until coarsely ground, and set aside.
Sift the remaining spelt flour, cardamom, baking powder, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the almond meal and ground coconut mixture. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal and water. Whisk in the maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Pour this mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour the batter over the prepared pan of apricots and spread in an even layer. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside for 1 hour to cool. Run a thin, sharp knife around the sides of the pan and remove the sides. Set a plate on top of the cake and quickly flip it over. Remove the pan base and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Slice into wedges and serve.
Star Recommends: Joto Yuzu Sake—A specialty sake crafted in the town of Izumo in the Shimane region of Japan, the Joto Yuzu is a blend of sake and juice from locally grown Yuzu fruit. Yuzu is a prized Japanese citrus fruit that has the sweet and tart flavors of tangerine, Mandarin orange, Meyer lemon and Key lime. Blended with sake, this makes for a delicious balance of sweetness and acidity.
Roast Pork with Summer Vegetables and Cilantro Mojo
Adapted from www.saveur.com.
Perfect summertime cookout fare. The roast pork is succulent and the cilantro mojo is bright and spicy.
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, divided
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1/2 c. minced cilantro
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided, plus 5 whole cloves
- 1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, minced
- 3/4 c. olive oil, plus 6 tablespoons, divided
- Salt to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 2 Tbs. smoked paprika
- 2 Tbs. turbinado sugar
- 1 boneless pork shoulder, about 3-4 pounds, trimmed
- 4 shallots, unpeeled, halved lengthwise
- 2 Tbs. canola oil
- 2 sweet potatoes, large
- 4 tomatillos, peeled
- 2 poblano peppers
- 1/2 bunch broccoli rabe or mustard greens, trimmed, blanched until crisp-tender
Directions: Place 1 teaspoon of the coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin, and the cardamom in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then combine with the cilantro, half of the garlic, and the jalapeno. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the olive oil and season with salt. Set aside.
Toast the remaining tablespoon of coriander seeds, fennel, and teaspoon of cumin in the skillet you just used. Coarsely grind, then place in a small bowl. Stir in the smoked paprika, sugar, and remaining minced garlic. Place the pork on a dish and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Rub in the spice mixture, then cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 475ºF. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender, about 45 minutes. Place on a dish and set aside. Turn the oven on to broil, and place the rack 4 inches from the heating element. Place the tomatillos and poblanos on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Broil 5 minutes, then turn, and broil an additional 5 minutes, until charred and tender. Set the tomatillos on the dish with the sweet potatoes, and set the poblanos in a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for 15 minutes to steam. Peel the poblanos and discard the seeds and stems. Cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves, and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in the broccoli rabe. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and remove pan from heat.
Reduce the oven to 350ºF. Heat the canola oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 4 minutes. Nestle the shallots, sliced side down, under the pork. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook 30-35 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the pork reads 125ºFF. Transfer the pork and shallots to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Thinly slice the pork and transfer to a serving dish with the shallots. Dice the cooked sweet potatoes, halve the tomatillos, and place them, along with the poblanos and broccoli rabe on the serving dish. Serve with cilantro mojo. Enjoy! Serves 6-8.
Star Recommends: Elqui Wines Carmenere-Syrah-Malbec blend—Fresh with a substantial nose offering plenty of dark fruits, some currant and a minty almost hint of menthol. Young, juicy and vibrant with loads of suave tannin, earthy elements and elegant minerals, building into a smooth lingering finish.