Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Peas. Mint. Yogurt.

I couldn’t get those three ingredients out of my head all weekend. I didn’t know how they got in there to begin with, all I knew was that I wanted – no NEEDED – to make something with them

Sure, I could have prepared some interesting pesto-type sauce or a dip, but I wanted something a bit simpler that wouldn’t require extra ingredients to enjoy my concoction. The result: Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt.

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: caramelized onions Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: simmer peas Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: puree soup

Essentially a simple puree of peas (either fresh or frozen work; I used a combination of both because that’s what I had) with mint and aromatics (yellow onion, garlic and ginger), this was a clean and refreshing soup finished nicely with a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s bright green? No? Sorry about that, it should have been the first thing I said because I think the color makes the soup kind of fun.

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: reheat puree and season

Here’s the recipe:

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Cloudy with a Chance of Strawberries: Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries & Balsamic

Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries & Balsamic Drizzle

Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries & Balsamic Drizzle

I sort of lost my cooking mojo this week. Similar to writer’s block it wasn’t that I couldn’t cook, just that I was having a difficult time finding inspiration and the dishes I did prepare were just okay, certainly not worth blogging about. And I’d hate to waste your time on just a so-so recipe.

So I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when the idea for meringue hit me out-of-the-blue last night. I hadn’t made meringue in a long time but I’ve always loved the simplicity of whipping some egg whites with sugar and getting a dessert. I also decided to make a strawberry topping to celebrate the end of strawberry season in my area, and also because I had a lot of them sitting around.

Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: whipping egg whites to soft peaks Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: soft peaks Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: slowly add sugar

Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: stiff peaks Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: fold in flavorings Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: baking Pavlovas

(Short story: I was very late arriving at the market last week, in fact I didn’t get there until a half hour before closing. I usually try to go early because the produce can get picked over, but that just wasn’t going to happen. Anyways, as I was leaving I passed a farmer trying to unload the last of his strawberries. Being the sucker that I am (for strawberries and in general), I agreed to buy three quarts for the price of two. I valiantly made it through two of the quarts all by myself, but I still had one left and the berries were beginning to go bad. Needless to say, I was desperate to find a proper use for them.)

Pavlova is essentially meringue (egg whites and sugar) with a small amount of corn starch and vinegar baked at a low temperature. The result is a crispy shell surrounding a marshmallow-like center. The Pavlova originated in Australia or New Zealand (apparently both countries take credit for it) and is traditionally made in one large circle and is topped with whipped cream and fruit.

Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: whole strawberries Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: sliced strawberries & sugar Pavlova Clouds with Strawberries: strawberry juice

Today I made it a bit differently, first by making 10 small abstract “clouds” instead of one large round disk. And second by topping the clouds with macerated strawberries and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, which allowed me to omit the whipped cream making the dessert a bit lighter and healthier.

The Pavlova clouds are a lot of fun to make and very simple. The batter comes together in less than 10 minutes and bakes without a lot of fuss. All-in-all, a fun and whimsical summer treat.

Here’s the recipe:

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Fresh Spring Peas = Risi e Bisi

Risi e Bisi

Risi e Bisi

It seems as though I’ve been in a bit of an Italian-food mood recently with the garlic scape pesto, fresh tagliatelle, bison ragù and finally the risi e bisi I made Saturday.

Fresh Spring Peas

Fresh Spring Peas

The idea for risi e bisi, an Italian dish from Venice, came after I bought a container of fresh shelled peas from the farmer’s market. I love fresh peas and the ones I bought today were wonderfully sweet and a little peppery, and nothing like frozen peas. But I remembered from last year how quickly the peas went bad so I wanted to be sure to use at least some of them right away. Originally I had planned on making risotto with peas and mushrooms but somehow forgot to buy the mushrooms.

Risi e Bisi: stir rice into sauteed onions and garlic Risi e Bisi: simmer rice and broth Risi e Bisi: Add peas to simmering rice

It was then that I remembered risi e bisi meaning “rice and peas.” The rice is arborio, the same short grain, starchy rice used in risotto. But the differences between risotto and risi are that the later has a thinner consistency (think really thick stew) that is just thick enough to be eaten with a fork, and also that the rice is cooked by simmering in water rather than the slow-stirring risotto method (see: Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Risotto).

Making Risi e Bisi

Making Risi e Bisi

This truly was a simple, filling, tasty dish that seemed just right for the tail-end of spring.

And it turns out it goes really well with BBQ, go figure. I served the leftover risi e bisi at my family’s request with our BBQ dinner (thanks, Twin Anchors) on father’s day and it was a huge hit!

Here’s the recipe:

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Vote for Jackie!

Hello friends,

I’ve never done this before but I need to ask for your help. I recently submitted a minute-long video for Murphy-Goode winery’s “A Really Goode Job” challenge, basically a video application for an incredible job: six months as their Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent! The winner gets to live in Sonoma County and report about the area, the wine and so much more using social media.

MG Screenshot

While I have to admit my video isn’t the best of the 700+ submitted, I know I’d be “really Goode” in this position (okay, I’d be freakin’ incredible!). Please take a minute to view the video and vote for me!

Thanks so much!

Jackie

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Bison Ragù

Bison Ragù & Homemade Tagliatelle

Bison Ragù & Homemade Tagliatelle

Spaghetti with meat sauce is something I never order in restaurants. The few times I’ve tried it I’ve always found the flavor shallow and bland. But that’s not to say I don’t like meat sauce. I do, I just prefer when it’s homemade.

I’ve made meat sauce, or ragù as it’s known in Italy, many times before but usually with ground beef or a combination of beef and veal. But this time I wanted to try it with bison, which is one of my favorite proteins both for it’s beef-like taste and healthy properties (see Bison-Barley Stuffed Peppers). In a nutshell, bison is nutrient-dense, especially in iron and essential fatty acids, and is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than chicken.

Bison Ragù: sweat carrots and onion Bison Ragù: brown ground bison Bison Ragù: pour in red wine

With all the positive traits and delicious taste of bison it shocks me that people still see it as an “ew, gross,” food, which is the exact response elicited from my sister when I invited her to dinner. I keep forgetting she’s a recovered vegetarian so I’ll go easy on her, I just hope her views don’t reflect the majority because that would be very sad.

Back to the sauce. I was a little unsure of how it would work to use bison because it’s such a lean meat, meaning very low in fat. I didn’t want the sauce to be dry and was concerned I’d have to add more oil to make up for the lack of natural fat, which would defeat the purpose of using bison in the first place. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue at all. I used a generous two tablespoons olive oil to sweat the vegetables and brown the bison, and then added a good amount of liquid from the wine, tomatoes and juice. The end result was a rich, tasty, long-simmered bison tomato sauce that was fantastic served over homemade tagliatelle.

Bison Ragù: stir in tomatoes Bison Ragù: add herbs Bison Ragù

The tagliatelle was made from frozen pasta dough (see fresh pasta video) by rolling it thin using a pasta roller, gently folding into thirds, then hand-cutting the dough with a knife in 1/3-inch wide strips. Separate the noodles immediately and sprinkle with flour to prevent them from sticking together.

Tagliatelle: fold rolled pasta dough into thirds Tagliatelle: cut pasta 1/3-inch thick

The tomatoes used in the sauce were fresh but of course it’s fine to use canned tomatoes with their juices (omit the tomato juice from the original recipe). But if you do decide to use fresh tomatoes, you will want to remove the core and the seeds.

Core the tomatoes Remove the seeds Dice the tomatoes

Here’s the recipe for Bison Ragù:

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