Best Chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipe

August 30, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

This past Wednesday I hosted “Puppy Play”.

My friends Cauleen and Linda along with Sassy and Martini were invited for lunch . You see,  Sassy and Martini are dogs   little people, and they are invited over to play with my dogs little people.  The dogs little people  only play for about 2 minutes and then lay or mill around for the rest of the party and us big people spend a few hours of girl time to catch up.  Plus they’re not puppies any more, the youngest is 3 years old.  We still refer to these gathering as “puppy play” because that’s how we all met.  A local boutique pet shop offered Puppy Play on Saturday mornings to help us socialize our small breed puppies. They also wanted to sell us upscale doggie designer clothing, gourmet treats, jewel studded leashes, beds better than what we sleep in, you get the picture. Then the pet store suddenly announced that there would be no more Saturday Puppy Play.  Horrified, we started our own gatherings…it ended up  just the three of us and our dogs.  We call it Puppy Play.  

And then there’s the food:

I prepared my Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  I’m hoping my friend Teri reads this.  You see, she left this beautiful platter at our house last Saturday evening.  I want her to see that she may never get it back because I’m using it.  tee hee

007Linda brought a rice salad. You’ll find the recipe below.

010Tomato plants from my garden continue to produce delicious fruit, so I prepared Julie and Julia Bruchetta.  Thick slice some rustic bread, fry in a small amount of olive oil until each side is toasted.  Scrape a peeled garlic clove across each side and top with a chopped tomato, basil and olive oil mixture.  Let the tomatoes, basil and oil blend flavors in a bowl for about 30 minutes before toasting bread and serving.  Salt right before serving.  If you salt too soon, too much juice will ooze out of the tomatoes.  Top with grated Parmesan and serve.  Really, there is some bread underneath all those tomatoes.  Fresh and delicious.  It’s called Julie and Julia Bruschetta because Julie made this at the beginning of the movie – it stole the scene.

009Linda also brought this delicious cheese and cracker bowl.  Linda said the cheese is sheep milk’s cheese and crackers are gluten free.  She purchased the cheese at the Cherry Creek Farmer’s Market.

013And Cauleen brought a fruit cup from Tony’s Market.  It’s probably called a fruit tart?  Just look at that beautiful fruit placed on top of a layer of custard and a thin layer of chocolate in that perfect little pastry shell. 

I won’t post the Lettuce Wrap recipe because I’ve already done that earlier this summer but I do want to share Linda’s salad recipe.  I thought it was a perfect summer salad.  Light, flavorful and very healthy.  You see, it’s gluten, dairy and sugar free.

Linda’s Green Rice Salad

  • 1/4 cup dill weed
  • 1 cup (packed) parsley
  • 2 TBLS. chopped green onion
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice — chilled
  • 1 TBLS. olive oil
  • 1 TBLS. fresh lemon juice
  • grape tomatoes, chopped — ( Linda added these for color)

Run greens through food processor or mince finely.  Mix with rice.  

Pour olive oil and lemon juice over mixture and stir.  Add salt and pepper.  Serves 4.   Everything came from Linda’s garden.  Well, except for the rice, oil and lemon juice.  I don’t think she has a rice paddy in her back yard.


Spinach Pasta

August 29, 2009 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Pasta | 5 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Dinner last night was another great pasta dish compliments of Pappardelle’s brand pasta.  We even hit the wine pairing smack dab on the head.     The Babich 2006 Sauvignon Blanc was a delicious crisp compliment.    Even if you can’t find a spinach flavored pasta (in case you’re Karen in Wichita)  I’m sure this sauce would be wonderful on plain pasta.  And yes, I even used the anchovies called for in the recipe.  🙂   If you’re hesitant about the anchovies, relax! While they’re integral to the dish, they don’t make it taste “fishy.”


Wilted Spinach and Garlic with Spinach Pasta

1 lb. Spinach Pasta
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
12 cloves garlic, minced
12 canned anchovy fillets, chopped
¼ cup capers, drained but not rinsed
Splash of dry white wine or water
3 bunches fresh spinach, stems removed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in large kettle or wok over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Immediately add anchovies. Using wooden spoon, simultaneously stir and mash them until they “dissolve” into the garlic and oil.

2. Add capers and cook one minute longer, stirring constantly.

3. Immediately add spinach, tossing continuously until it wilts. If necessary, add a little wine or water to prevent sticking

 Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

4. Meanwhile, Cook pasta in 6-8 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente (about 6 minutes for angel hair and 8-10 minutes for fettuccine). Drain and add directly to spinach mixture. Toss gently to thoroughly coat the spinach with the pasta. Serve straight from the pan, sprinkling Parmesan at table.

Serves 4 – 6

NOTE:  This is not very good the next day.  I had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day and the pasta really intensifies over night with a salty strong flavor from the anchovies.

It’s A Party

August 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Appetizers, Beef, Pasta | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , ,

023We had a birthday party for Bob this past Friday night.  Since it was on a weekday I had to plan an easy menu.  One that I could multi-task, prepare during the afternoon and still do some things for work.  Here’s the menu:

  • Dill Scones with Horshradish Cream and Smoked Trout
  • Olive Plate (courtesy Teri and Dan)
  • Cheese, Cracker and Fruit Plate
  • Spinach Salad with Strawberries (courtesy Kathy and Tom)
  • Chipolte Macaroni and Cheese
  • Potato Salad
  • Sliders
  • Cupcakes from Child’s Bakery


Just look at this beautiful array of assorted olives, those little balsamic onions, and roasted garlic.  Beautiful, Dan, thanks.  I loved the roasted garlic and those crackers were wonderful. 


Nothing special here, just some Jarlsberg Cheese slices, Rye Krisp and Water Crackers and some herb and garlic cheese spread. But I do want to point out the plate.  Our son Sean made this platter a few years ago and I love it for serving a cheese and cracker platter.  The black color makes a great display and all the ingredients pop.   

Let’s start with the scones.  On our vacation in Oregon this summer, we stopped into a wine bar and ordered a small plate of Dill Scones topped with Horseradish Cream and Smoked Trout.  It was delicious and I was bound and determined to to recreate this dish.   I googled for a recipe and sure enough found one.  Due to our high altitude, baking can be an ornery task here in Colorado.  I have a fear of dough.  I was really nervous about making these.  They turned out really good and I now anticipate gaining about 20 pounds over the next few years with my new found confidence for baking.  

Here’s the recipe for the scones: 

 Dill Sour Cream Scones

2 cups All-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Butter or margarine
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Sour cream
1 tablespoon Fresh dill — chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill weed

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl. Add the sour cream and dill; beat until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture until the mixture forms a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough 10 times. Roll out the dough into a 9 x 6-inch rectangle with a lightly floured rolling pin.

Cut the dough into 6 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half, making 12 triangles. Place the triangles 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool completely.

Since this was an appetizer, I cut the scones into smaller triangles before baking, reduced the cooking time to around 7 minutes and watched them closely to make sure they were perfectly done.  I topped them with a simple mixture of sour cream, prepared horseradish, salt and pepper. I purchased some smoked trout from Whole Foods.  Simply frost the scones with the the horseradish sour cream mixture, and top with a sliver of smoked trout.  As far as I can remember, they turned out exactly like the ones we had in Oregon.  Thanks R. Stuart  for this idea.  Sprinkle some fresh cut dill on the plate for a nice presentation.

Next let’s talk about the Macaroni and Cheese.  Just look at this beautiful golden topping compliments of the toasted Panko Bread Crumbs and Chipolte Chili Powder


 Have you ever been to Fleming’s Steakhouse and had the Chipolte Macaroni and Cheese?  It’s fabulous.  Again, I turned to Google and sure enough found this recipe from Recipe Zaar.  This is stated to have appeared in a newspaper and to have come directly from the Executive Chef of Fleming’s.  Warning:  continued reading could be hazardous to your health and not for the faint of heart.  It starts out with a stick of butter.  This reminds me of a quote from Julia Child:  “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream”.  Well, the next ingredient calls for 5 cups of a mixture of half and half and cream.  I was afraid, very afraid and couldn’t do it so used mostly half and half.  Here’s the recipe:  

Fleming’s Steakhouse Chipolte Macaroni and Cheese


  • 1 lb pasta (cavatappi or curly)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup onion, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper (ground)
  • 3/4 lb smoked cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 lb cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipolte chili (chipotle chili powder)
  • 3/4 cup panko


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and pasta and cook for 8 – 9 minute
  2. Drain pasta and cool under cold running water. Pasta should be slightly firm. Toss drained pasta in oil and reserve
  3. Melt butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 4 – 5 minute.
  4. Add flour and cook 1 – 2 minute but do not brown.
  5. Add cream, half and half, kosher salt and white pepper.
  6. Bring pot to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thick, about 5 – 6 minute Blend cheese into sauce and add cooked pasta.
  7. Pour pasta and sauce into a 9 x 12″ baking dish. Reserve.
  8. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil and chipotle chili powder. Heat for 30 seconds, until pan starts to smoke. Remove from stove and stir in bread crumbs.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over macaroni and cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Next up are the sliders.  By this time in the evening, I was trying to be hostess with the mostess and didn’t get any pictures of these.  Where’s my professional Food and Wine Magazine photographer when I need her?   You’ll have to look at the pictures from The Noble Pig website.  This is where I found the recipe.  LOVED these.  Thanks to Cathy in Oregon for this recipe.  It was a hit.  I really think those Classic Sarah Lee rolls are the ticket for the little buns. 

I’m not going to post my potato salad recipe.  I’ve found over the years that potato salad recipes are very personal and people are very picky about their recipes.   Everyone already has their favorite version.


Along with the food, the wine was a very special part of the evening.  Bob has been saving a very special bottle of 2004 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve for his birthday.  What a wonderful wine.  We were threatening to suck the decanter dry, it was so good.

Another treat was a bottle of Crumbled Rock Pinot Noir from Oregon.  I’ve got to start from the beginning for this part.  Last year, all six of us (pictured above) traveled to Oregon for a wine tasting trip.   We all fell in love with Oregon, it’s food and it’s wine.  We stayed at Dundee Manor.  Dundee Manor is a fabulous, and I mean fabulous Inn located in the Dundee Hills and just outside of the town of  Dundee, right in the heart of Oregon Wine Country.  Beautiful grounds and accommodations and oozing with hospitality and charm.  Please take the time to click on this link  to take a look.

This year when Bob and I returned to Oregon solo, we stayed in McMinnville to be closer to the IPNC Food and Wine Festival.  We couldn’t leave Oregon without stopping in and saying hello to Dundee Manor owners, Brad and David.  Being the gracious people that they are, they gave us a bottle of wine from Crumbled Rock Winery.  Crumbled Rock is just up the road from Dundee Manor and the bottle was from their first vintage 2007 and was just released this year.  Juliard Vineyard.  What a marvelous and special souvenir to bring home to Colorado.  Ya gotta love those guys.

Well of course, we saved it and broke it out as a surprise for this party!  We self-timed the camera to take a group picture to send a big Thank You back to Dundee, Oregon.

Of course, we ended the food part of the evening with a flaming birthday candle in each of the brownies from Child’s Bakery while singing a  rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to Bob.

Scallops with Champagne Grapes and Eggplant Caponata

August 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Seafood | 3 Comments

This is quick, easy, delicious, impressive and fancy pant-sie.  Actually, this is holy canoli good, to quote my friend Lee McCue.

034Whole Foods just got Champagne Grapes in, just in time for this scallop recipe that I found on  For the side dish, I served Eggplant Caponata.

Let’s start with the Eggplant.  You can make it in advance because it’s just fine to serve at room temperature.  If you remember, I had Eggplant Capanota  for the first time this summer at the IPNC lunch in Oregon and it was love at first bite. 

Since I didn’t have a recipe from the Oregon version, I did a Google search and the first recipe that came up was Mario Batali.  I know everyone thinks that Mario Batali walks on water, and for all I know he does since he  wears orange Crocs with gray socks and hangs out with Gwyneth .  Far be it from me to argue since I’m not an Eggplant Caponata expert, but this recipe wasn’t as good as what I had in Oregon.  GOOD, but not as good.   There I said it and I’m glad I did.

Eggplant Caponata

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted on grill or in oven

In a large 12 to 14-inch saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

032Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.  Serves 8


 Now for the star of the show: 


Pan-Seared Scallops with Champagne Grapes and Almonds

Makes 4 first-course servings

Despite their name, Champagne grapes aren’t used to make the sparkling wine. Legend has it that the grapes were so named because the tiny grapes resemble bubbles in a glass of champagne. 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
2/3 cup Champagne grapes (about 4 ounces) or black grapes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in very large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook butter until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add scallops; cook 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate; tent with foil. Melt remaining butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and any accumulated scallop juices. Bring mixture to boil; season with salt and pepper. Stir in almonds and parsley.

Place 4 scallops on each of 4 plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Well…well…well… Bob and I hardly spoke during this meal.   Definitely one to savor.  Holy Canoli!

Fried Zucchini

August 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Vegetables | 4 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Man slowly backing away from large zucchiniimagesWell it about that time. The time of year when Zucchini start showing up.  They mysteriously appear on your desk at work or on your front step.  They arrive like Secret Santa gifts. And they’re never normal size like the ones commercially grown that you find at the store. These are more the size of small dogs. And being the good stewards of our land, we do our best to use them. We start looking for recipes, zucchini bread, zucchini cake, sauteed zucchini, grilled zucchini, stuffed zucchini. Well here’s a new one for you and it’s quite yummy! Fried Shoestring Zucchini.   I found this on Michele’s blog.

Fried Shoestring Zucchini

Start by shredding zucchini on the fine setting of a mandolin.
Heat a saucepan of canola oil (about 2 inches deep) over medium high heat. You know it’s ready (about 350 degrees) when you dangle in a zucchini strip and it sizzles. Don’t put the zucchini into cold or cool oil or it will just absorb all of the oil. When the oil is hot, carefully add a good handful of the shredded zucchini to the oil – it will bubble fiercely because of the water in the zucchini, so just let it go awhile.
012 (2)

When the water has started cooking out (which takes a surprising amount of time, like 5 minutes or more), the bubbles will die down a bit and you will see the zucchini start to turn brown. Keep cooking it until it’s mostly browned, but not burning. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels while you cook the next batch. Make sure to salt the fried shoestring zucchini while it’s still hot – and since salty foods are a perfect pairing with Champagne, why not enjoy this as an appetizer with a glass of bubbly the next time you have friends over?
Served with lemon shrimp and tomato from the garden

Served with lemon shrimp and tomato from the garden

Sahara Restaurant

August 15, 2009 at 12:16 am | Posted in Denver Area Restaurants | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,

003About 7 of us met for lunch today and when this group gets together, Sahara is “our place”, a  long-standing tradition. The group is tied by one common denominator; place of employment. Current employees, past employees, relatives of employees…the only way we’d ever know each other is because of corporate America.

Sahara Restaurant is a casual spot offering Middle Eastern specialties from Lebanon and Morocco and is located in a strip mall just east of Arapahoe Road and I-25 in Centennial.


Another tradition with this group seems to be some sort of odd rule. You’re supposed to order the Spicy Chicken.

SPICY CHICKEN is grilled sliced chicken marinated with a special Harissa sauce, served with saffron rice and grilled vegetables.

I’m a fairly new invitee to the Sahara Lunch Clique so last visit  followed ritual and ordered Spicy Chicken. It was good, very special flavors, liked it, but didn’t fall in love. So today, I decided to try something different. I ordered the Combination Brochette. When the words came out of my mouth, Bob queried “You’re not getting Spicy Chicken???????”   Rooster calls entertaining the place abruptly fell silent from David’s I-Phone.  Brenda looked down at her menu in order to remove herself from the “situation”.  Confident Robin didn’t blink an eye. Mark, the vacationing relative, was oblivious to the situation. However, I did notice he ordered the Spicy Chicken. Brenda must have warned him in advance.  I think they even make poor Tommy Tucker order Spicy Chicken.  Tommy is a an occasional invitee and owns a graphic imaging shop. He calls on Bob for business.  He probably feels like he has to order spicy chicken so he doesn’t lose the account.  hmm…Tommy wasn’t there today, I wonder if he didn’t order Spicy Chicken last time…….I wonder if Bob has switched graphic imaging vendors???

At any rate, my saving grace was Josh, Robin’s 9 year old, who ordered Onion Rings.  High-five to Josh and kids everywhere who strive to eradicate peer pressure in our lifetime.

Spicy Chicken

Spicy Chicken


The Kabob

The Kabob

BROCHETTE COMBINATION is a combination of beef kabob, chicken kabob and gyros. Served over a bed of saffron rice.

I was very pleased with my lunch. The beef was very tender with mildly melt in your mouth flavor. Next visit I’ll probably try the Shawarma (that is IF I’m invited back). Upon closer study of the menu, it sounds very interesting.  The Mustard Chicken also sounded intriguing.

Sahara is reasonably priced and the atmosphere is festive.  The menu is packed with a good variety of interesting sounding selections, however, we don’t know much about any of them since everyone always orders Spicy Chicken.   Sahara was busy and hosted a good lunch crowd, and after 15 years in business that speaks highly of their reputation.

Inside at Sahara

Inside at Sahara

Sahara on Urbanspoon

“Tick-Tock Pickles”

August 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: , , ,

002A few years ago I made pickles, didn’t like them, can’t remember where I found the recipe, bad flavor.  Too much of one spice  from the pickling spice arena just totally took over, wrestled all the other spices into submission, dominated the whole deal,  it was all I could taste, threw them out, probably just a bad recipe.

Just when you think you’ve washed your hands of making your own pickles, they seem to show up on your counter.  This past weekend at Palambo’s Roadside Market, I was drawn to  a large basket of desperate pickling cucumbers looking so needy and sporting a sign reading  “due to recent hail storms, pickles by the bushel may not be available this year”.  I now have a counter full of pickling cucumbers that have to be pickled.

I published a family cookbook a few years ago so decided to take a look there for a pickle recipe. Sure enough I found a Refregerator Pickle Recipe submitted by my cousin Pam. Pam lives in Hutchinson, Kansas.  That’s where all of us in our family grew up.  You see, my mom had two sisters, Alice and Lois.  We all lived very close together and all of us cousins were like brothers and sisters.  Always together with lots of family occasions to gather and celebrate with really good food.  Good times.  I called my mom and she thinks this is the recipe she used to make also. 

Back to the pickles.  They are in jars,  in the refrigerator and now we have to wait 5 days for a test taste.  “Tick-Tock Bill”  (my favorite line from “True Blood”) hence my new name for these pickles.

So for now, here’s the recipe and I’ll report back in five days

Pam’s Refrigerator Pickles hereinafter referred to as “Tick-Tock Pickles”

  • 4 C. Sugar
  • 4 C. Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Salt
  • 1 1/2 t. celery seed
  • 1 1/2 t. mustard seed
  • 3 medium onions thinly sliced

Slice scrubbed unpeeled cucumbers to fill a gallon jar

Without heating, mix vinegar, sugar and spices, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Pour over cucumber and onion slices.  Refrigerate for 5 days before eating.  Keeps in refrigerator for months.

I didn’t have a gallon jar, so used smaller  jars and just divided all ingredients evenly.  And you know me, I can’t leave well enough alone.  I love the Zesty Bread and Butter slices from the store, so threw in some red pepper flakes in a couple of the jars.   This was so easy that I had to read the recipe a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something.

Note:  these aren’t officially “canned”.  They haven’t gone through the hot water bath process, they are just in canning jars.  I’ll report back in five days.

Shrimp Tostadas

August 12, 2009 at 3:21 am | Posted in Mexican/Southwest, Seafood | 5 Comments
Tags: , , ,


This creation is one of my favorite things to make during spring,  summer…fall…oh heck, we might as well throw in winter. This is delicious, easy, fresh and makes a year round appearance on our dinner table.


 Just start out with a little slicing and dicing. 


 I don’t know why, but I don’t have good luck frying those commercially packaged corn tortillas from the “regular” store.  Sometimes they are just fine and other times they don’t work.  So until I figure out what’s going on, I buy these frozen at Whole Foods.  They fry up just right every time. 


This award winning photo is one of those corn tortillas simmering in olive oil.  Just a minute or so per side.  Just enough to crisp.


 Add a pretty lime wedge for garnish and serve it up.  I also like to squeeze a little lime juice over the top before eating (optional).  We like to serve this with a nice fresh berry scented Rose wine.  This just adds the frosting on the “fresh and crisp” cake.

Warning, these are so good and  not very graceful to eat.  In other words, they’re kind of a mess, stuff falls off, and as hard as you try not to, you sometimes end up with avocado somewhere on your face……..depending on how fresh the avocado is. 

 Shrimp Tostadas in Adobo Sauce

1/8 C. olive oil
4 corn tortillas
20 or so large shelled and deveined shrimp (enough for 4 – 5 shrimp per tostada)
1 T. adobo sauce from canned chilies in adobo sauce
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 medium tomato, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 Avocado, sliced
2 medium radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Lime wedges, for serving

1. In a medium, deep skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil until hot. Fry one tortilla at a time over moderately high heat until lightly golden on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

2. Preheat a grill pan. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the 1 teaspoon or so of oil and the adobo sauce. Season the shrimp with salt. Grill the shrimp over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are browned in spots and cooked through, about 4 minutes total.

3. In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with the tomato, green onions, sour cream and lime juice and season with salt. Set the tortillas on plates and top with the cabbage slaw, shrimp, avocado, radishes and sprinkle with some cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges.

Servings: 2  Note:  One time I didn’t have any canned chilies in adobo sauce, so sprinkled some achiote paste over the shrimp.  Also very good. Enjoy!

IPNC Sparkling Brunch Finale

August 9, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


As I write this, I’m enjoying a piece of toast with some delicious Marionberry Jam that I brought back as a souvenir, and  can’t believe it’s already been two weeks ago today that I was at this beautiful brunch.   This meal was so enjoyable and special  that the flavors and aromas are still fresh in memory.  As always, the IPNC goes all out with elegant presentations.  Take a look at this beautiful table.  In the glasses are Chilled Cascade Wild Huckleberry and Pinot Noir Soup.  That’s right, you heard me, Chilled Huckleberry and Pinot Noir Soup.  Don’t you just hate me???  🙂  Well, my friends, it gets worse. 



Our waiter.  You can’t see it in the picture, but a tradition of the IPNC  is for the waiters to wear tuxedo jackets and shorts and tennis shoes to complete the outfit.  They looked pretty silly, but fun. 



 I nearly had a conniption fit when walked in and saw the Pine State Biscuits boys serving up their famous fare. I had seen them on The Food Network just a few weeks prior and actually visited their website and tried to recreate one of their biscuit creations.  When I tasted their biscuits and gravy at this brunch I totally understood that there was much more involved that just biscuits and gravy. The star is the gravy. I grew up on gravy, know gravy, make good gravy and I couldn’t believe my taste buds with the first bite. I went back to talk with them for some sort of clues and all I could pry out of them were three words “maple, sage and sausage” .  I’m pretty sure it’s not as easy as just throwing in some Jimmy Dean Maple Flavored Sausage, but I most certainly will be trying to come close when I get a chance to cook a hearty breakfast.

Leif Benson serving up that wonderful coulibiac

 The night before at the Salmon Bake we sat with chef Leif Benson from Timberline Lodge so we knew he was a featured chef for this brunch.   His contribution for this brunch was out of this world. Wild Oregon Salmon and Alaskan Halibut Coulibiac with Lobster Fennel Veloute.  This was over the top and I know it sounds pretty darn fancy, but I actually think I can make this at home and come half way close.  It’s a layer of pastry, rice, spinach, salmon and halibut and then rolled and baked.  I found this recipe on Epucurious and it seems doable.   Too bad I won’t be able to get the fresh fish that we enjoyed in this.

The (veh-loo-TAY). Is a fancy French name for a white sauce that is stock based and thickened with a white roux. The stock used is usually chicken, veal, or fish. Veloute is considered one of the five “mother sauces” that almost all of the classic French sauces are derived from.   I’ll just have to figure out how to get the lobster and leek into this and it be as creamy and delicate as it was there.  Again, local guinea pigs brace yourselves.  🙂


 Check out  this hash.  It is NOT your mother’s hash.   Absolutely positively supercalifragilisticexpialidotious.  There, was I dramatic enough?  This is Braised Pork Shank with Sweet Onions, Heirloom Peppers and Cilantro Pesto.  Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes were used, and combined with the shank made this wonderful creamy delicious combination.  I will be preparing this at home and even if I only come close, it will be delicious.   The featured chef for this is Angie Roberts, BOKA Kitchen and Bar in Seattle.  THANK YOU Angie!


Brunch included a wonderful Sushi Bar compliments of Meiko Nordin and Ko Kagawa, Kamein McMinnville.  As always, at the end of this event, the chefs were introduced and asked to speak.  Meiko and Ko were so cute, all they said was “Thanks for liking our food” and then they bowed. 


 Across the table and enjoying this wonderful food with us, was Matt and Tabatha Compton, owners of Spindrift Cellars in Philomath, Oregon.  We were fortunate to taste their wine later in the afternoon at the Passport to Pinot event in the campus oakgrove.  That’s just exactly what makes this event so special.

So we’re in real time now.  As I said, we’ve been back for two weeks, I’ve been cooking and have a couple things in the “wings” that I can’t wait to share.  The INPC was a great choice for our vacation.  If I were in school and had to do a report on “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”, it would be titled “We indulgently ate, drank and were merry”.

Day 2 IPNC, Lunch at Erath Winery

August 5, 2009 at 11:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

I have to admit, this was my favorite thing we did at the International Pinot Noir Celebration.

After breakfast, we loaded up on a bus for a “mystery” trip to a winery.  Destination top secret – no one knew where we were headed.  Folks that had gone on winery tours the day before came back with fun stories of guessing games on the bus with clever clues, suspense and anticipation building with the winery finally revealed somewhere in route.  

We arrived at the bus early and promptly sat in the front.  Cleverly crafted questions to our bus driver yielded no clues for our trip, even he claimed ignorance to our destination.

With our bus finally fully loaded, our tour guide climbed on board picked up the microphone and before she even said “hello” or “welcome”, blurted out “We’re going to Erath”.   Well, there ya have it, there it was.  Just like that.  I kinda felt like the day in 1st grade when my best friend told me “there is no Santa”.


We arrived at the winery about 10:00am with the bus pulling up alongside the Prince Hill Vineyard.  As you can see we were welcomed by winemaker Gary Horner and his wife and a table full of glasses with barrel samples of the 2008 Prince Hill Pinot. 


Gary spent about 40 minutes talking about the Erath history, theories, soil preparation and growing strategies, etc. 



Back on the bus we arrived at Erath Winery facilities and were welcomed into the barrel storage room with tasting samples from Oregon, California and French winemakers, each present to talk about the wines. 



 Next was lunch on the patio at Erath and this is where it gets really good.  Our chef was Adam Bernstein, Adam’s Sustainable Table, Eugene Oregon.  We thoroughly enjoyed sitting with new friends from Illinois.  Had the best time talking about food and wine.  That’s me on the right.


  • House smoked Columbia River sturgeon
  • Oysters on the half shell with rose sorbet
  • Served with Erath Melrose Rose Pinot Gris 2008, Umpqua Valley


  • Shaved vegetable salad with Erath Pinot Blanc dressing and olive oil foam
  • Served with Erath Pinot Blanc 2007, Willamette Valley


  • Oregon albacore tuna carpaccio, tomato, arugula and cumin salt


  • Oregon duck lovin’ smoked duck breast bacon, duck confit hash, poached duck egg, trufffled toast with onion-berry jam and foie gras torchon
  • Served with Erath Pinot Noir Juliard 2006, Dundee Hills and
  • Erath Pinot Noir Niederberger 2006, Dundee Hills
  • 051
  • Oregon artisan mascarpone with lavender, Oregon wild blackberry honey, and fresh blackberries
  • Served with Erath Sweet Harvest Pinot Blanc 2008, Dundee Hills

We languished on the deck for almost 2 1/2 hours enjoying this beautiful meal.   The personal highlight for me was that smoked duck breast and, of course, the Heirloom Tomatoes.   

Again, the chef and staff were invited out after the lunch.  They spent a good amount of time talking about the meal and methods for preparation.  First question asked was how he made the olive oil foam.  Simple, frothing olive oil with a little bit of egg white.  What I loved about his description of the tomatoes was the idea of selecting different colors, different shapes and slicing them in all directions, as not to “tile”.  All for presentation. I did ask about the cumin salt on the tomatoes.  3 parts cumin, 1 part salt.  It was delicious and I’ve already mixed some up here at home.  A great new idea. 

That evening was the famous Northwest Salmon Bake in the Oak Grove at Linfield College.   A long standing tradition of the IPNC, the Salmon Bake dramatically showcased wild salmon roasted on alder stakes over a custom built fire pit.    Cellared Pinot Noir and wines from around the world were served along with an extravagant outdoor buffet including hand crafted desserts.  An impressive event!  Must see pictures below.  I really think the corks with glass on top to dispay the panna cotta is a clever idea.









Next Page »

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.