A colorful bite

Every once in a while, I’m faced with a culinary challenge:

  1. It was hot, and we were all going to be in the pool
  2. We were in need of a snack to hold us over to the BBQ
  3. There was a pescatarian in the pool
  4. Our actual meal was to be rather filling
  5. I was trying (unsuccessfully, I might add) not to eat carbs, and the pescatarian was successfully not eating carbs.
  6. I had some beets from the garden swap in need of a recipe.

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Dinner in España

IMG_2991I opened my fridge the other day and saw a wall of bright, sunny, yellow. My CSA had arrived and it was full of yellow veggies of all shapes and sizes. Yellow tomatoes, yellow peppers, yellow squash, yellow onion, even yellow fleshed potatoes. When faced with such a monochromatic set of circumstances, don’t back away! Embrace it! I decided to make the happiest, sunniest ratatouille you’ve ever seen. I decided to serve it tapas style in my little cast iron sizzle plates. Not only was it pretty, it was even tastier than it looked. Continue reading

Ad Hoc

When Alex and I get together with our best friends, we always offer to bring something.  A side dish. An appetizer. A salad.  Host’s choice. Without fail, they ask for 1 of two dishes:

  1. Summer Salad (more on this in another post), or;
  2. Grits

Grits?  Yes, grits.  These aren’t just any grits. They are life changing grits.  Overstated? Maybe… but I can’t live without them and apparently neither can our friends.

It all started at Ad Hoc in Napa Valley. Alex and I took an extended weekend after I completed a class I was teaching up in Northern California.  Ad Hoc is a family style restaurant created by legendary chef Thomas Keller.  It’s a pre-fix menu, and we happened to be there on skirt steak night.  We were served a beautiful fresh salad with endive and radicchio, which I’m sure came from the French Laundry garden just across the street.  Next came the steak and it was served with a side of grits.

Now, about grits.  My Mom used to try to serve me grits for breakfast.  I wanted nothing to do with them.  I thought for sure her single mom frugalness passed some kind of inappropriate line when she served me those. (Sorry, Mom.  Perhaps they may taste better now that my palette is more mature).  SO, legendary chef or not, I was skeptical.  But, I tried them, and this is where my life changed.  So simple.  So creamy.  So salty.  So. Amazingly. Good.

So, here’s my grits that you can share with your friends, family and neighbors as you choose.  Or you can eat them all yourself.

Sautéed Shrimp & Kale with Grits

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion sliced
  • 1/2 lb shrimp
  • 4 sundried tomatoes (Chef Mila’s Oven Roasted Tomatoes, if you have them)
  • 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 c kale, chopped
  • 1/4 c white wine

Put the olive oil and onion in a frying pan, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the shrimp, sundried tomatoes, paprika, salt and pepper, about 3 minutes.  Sauté until shrimp pink.  Add kale and sauté until wilted, but still bright green, about 2 minutes.  Add white wine and remove from heat.  Serve over grits. Serves 2.

Life Changing Grits

  • IMG_17222 c water, cold
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 c quick cooking grits
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c comté cheese (or gruyere, cheddar, or other melting cheese)
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Put the grits, salt and water in a sauce pan, and cook on medium high heat, stirring.  Once the grits start to bubble, add the cream.  Continue stirring until cream is combined and absorbed, about 2 minutes, then add the cheese. Sprinkle in 1/2 scallions.  Melt the cheese, and serve immediately.  Top with scallions.  Serves 2.