Month: July 2014

Cookbook Sneak Peek: Minty, Lemony Pea Soup

I’ve been slogging along with writing, testing, and sometimes re-writing recipes for my cookbook for some time now. I currently have 16 completed recipes, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that each recipe may need to be tested and re-tested multiple times.
This is a spring/summer pea soup. The lemon and mint bring a light freshness. It finishes with the lovely tang of a swirl of Greek yogurt.

Makes 4-6 servings.

1 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp unsalted butter
4-6 shallots, finely chopped
1 or 2 carrots, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 lb. frozen baby sweet peas
3 C hot water
leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh mint
zest and juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

1) Heat EVOO and butter in large pan over med-high heat.

2) Sweat shallots, celery, and carrots until carrots soften and shallots and celery are translucent; 2-3 mins.


This is my modified mirepoix. I chose shallots over onions for a more delicate flavor.

3) Add the peas and toss until coated with EVOO and butter.


4) Pour in the hot water and simmer until peas are bright in color and softened.


5) Pour mixture into blender and add mint, lemon zest and juice.


My little helper pulverizing the soup “with her mind”.

6) Blend well until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

7) Ladle in bowls and swirl each with 1 tbsp Greek yogurt.



Watch That/ Drink This

What could be more relaxing at the end of a long week than relaxing on the sofa with a good movie and a bottle glass of wine? But what are we watching? And more importantly, what are we drinking? It’s time for…

Wine and a Movie!

When I was envisioning these pairings I attempted to match the wine with the characters, setting, and feel of the film. This proved more difficult than I had originally anticipated.

1. Chick Flicks like Bridget Jones’ Diary: Our slightly-neurotic-but-lovable heroine is handling her dramatic life by filling her diary and puffing on cigarettes. What’s she sipping? An oaked Chardonnay, natch. Hopefully it will also pair well with that horrid blue twine soup!


2. Gritty Dramas like Fight ClubThis is an easy one. There’s nothing I can envision more here than a dirty, old-world, Cabernet Franc. Wine so earthy, so smoky, so dirty you’ll definitely need a bar of soap from The Paper Street Soap Company when you’re done.


3. Family-Friendly Movies like FrozenThankfully, now that my kids are getting older (In a little over a month I will have TWO teenagers! Eek!) I’m no longer obligated to view the latest cartoon sensation, but I understand totally that maybe when you’re hearing “Let it Go” for the umteen-millionth time you’re wishing you had a drink. Of course, what is better with Frozen than Ice Wine? “Do you want to build a wine-man?”


4. Dude Flicks like Scarface: First of all, what do you call a chick-flick for dudes? And what constitutes a dude flick? Car chases? Stuff blowing up? I decided to go classic gangster on this one. What dude doesn’t like Scarface? The pairing on this one is a little labored, but I think good. The pairing here totally had to be a red wine. Tony is Cuban. What wine would pair well with the salty pork and spicy mustard in a Cuban sandwich? I’d go with the bright, berry notes in a Tempranillo. La Granja, from Spain is one of my favorites. I got it at Trader Joe’s.

pig wine

5. Classic Movies like Dirty DancingThis movie, suggested by my Bestie, was a stumper. My first inclination was to pair it with a wine that might be served at Kellerman’s; certainly there are plenty to choose from in the Hudson Valley. Next, I thought perhaps something 1960’s inspired? That brought to mind more cocktails than wine. Finally, I settled upon a wine that pairs with watermelon. Watermelon tastes like summer; and after all, it was Baby carrying the watermelon that started it all. So, sip on a nice cool, summery, Rosé while you watch those unforgettable dance moves. Heck, have some watermelon too!


6. Romances like When Harry Met SallyI guess this is sort of a Rom-Com, but it’s my favorite. Don’t judge. It takes a long, long time for Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal to get together, but when they do you want to celebrate! And it’s New Year’s Eve! Naturally, you’ll want to sip on some Champagne. Want a snack? How about some popcorn with truffle butter? But put the truffle butter on the side.



Games, Snacks, and Wine!

Friends. Family. Fun. Game night should always include some snacks, but how about wine? When Instagrammed that photo of the Chardonnay and said I was pairing it with UNO and some snacks, I was inevitablity asked which wines paired with other games. Wheels began to turn, and this is what I came up with:


1. Family Game Night: I think most parents will agree, mom & dad would love a glass of wine during game night with the kids. At my house, it’s Jenga or Clue, or maybe a cutthroat game of UNO (No man is safe from the infamous DRAW 4). Let’s pair that with a nice fruity Chardonnay and munch something savory with a little kick, like jalapeño poppers!


2. Grown-up Game Night: Get a sitter and play something a little more mature like Cards Against Humanity. Just a tip, if you have never played this game and don’t know what something on the card means, DO NOT GOOGLE IT. Just trust me on this. For all this adult fun we’ll need to drink something with a little more edge. Let’s go with Port. Port is typically a sweet red wine that is fortified. Usually with brandy. While your average wine is 11-15% alcohol, Port packs an 18-20% punch. Some brownies are always a nice compliment to Port; or a nice outside-the-box pairing is fresh mozzarella and figs.

port-brownies-23. Geeky Game Night: I’m pretty sure that no one likes a good nerd-fest more than I do. We recently discovered Munchkin— it’s a super-fun role play type game. Like old school D&D, but lighter and much faster to play. What pairs better with nerdy goodness than a nice flagon of Mead? Mead is actually wine made from fermented honey. You may remember it from Beowulf or Harry Potter (But don’t drink the mead in HP, it’s poisoned.) If you are so inclined, go ahead and pair that with a nice roasted turkey leg; but I like it with cheese, bread, cured meats, and olives.

013112_dragon_head_beer_mug_64. Game Night for Smarties: I love word games! Fun fact: Scrabble is Aunt Martha’s favorite. But I like Boggle more (less looking up words in the dictionary to see if they’re legit). For some reason I feel compelled to give this one a more “sophisticated” pairing. I’m leaning towards a nice full-bodied dry red. A Shiraz or Malbec. I’m picturing the players looking at the board thoughtfully while sipping their wine. And just so we don’t get too full of ourselves on this one, let’s pair that with some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Scrabble at Skylands AKA Casa Martha

Scrabble at Skylands AKA Casa Martha

5. Girls Game Night: Confession: I have never played Bunco. I know tons of people who play it and have a great time, but I have no idea how to play. But for some reason when I hear Girl’s Game Night, that’s the first thing that pops into my head. And when you have a lot of girls together, what is better than pink wine? I know, that’s a big fat stereotype; but Rosé is making a comeback in a big way. And these are not your mother (or grandmother’s) Rosé. These are drier wines with more complicated flavors, subtle notes of berry and a floral nose.  Go ahead and have a potluck; Rosé is a versatile wine– pair it with everything from cheeses and dips to fruit platters and cold cuts!


Slow roasting tomatoes…

photo 2

Just put these home grown tomatoes in the oven to slow roast for 2 hours (at 250F) with some EVOO, kosher salt, pepper, Tuscan seasonings, and whole garlic cloves. They will soon become delicious tomato sauce! 🙂 House smells delicious, update to come!



So here’s the roasted tomato goodness when it came out of the oven. I left the garlic in its’ peel and squeezed it out when it was done cooking.

ready to mix

Then I dropped the whole mess, tomatoes, garlic, spices, and especially the EVOO into my Kitchen Aid bowl and puréed the daylights out of it with my immersion blender (Best. Kitchen. Gadget. Ever.)


Here’s the final tomatoey, garlicky, puréed goodness….

to be canned

In a Mason jar, ready for canning and to be the base of a super-delicious sauce!

PS: An entire head of garlic was used in this extravaganza.

What’s in my glass…

photo 1

I acquired this lovely, golden, unoaked Chardonnay at a wine dinner at one of my favorite spots Cafe Des Amis in Parkville, MO. I was floored when I was informed that this peachy wonder with gentle citrus undertones was a Chardonnay, not a Sauvignon Blanc as I would have guessed. I drank it on game night with the kinders. Definitely an unconventional pairing with the White Castle burgers, wontons, and fried pickles we enjoyed. But a nice compliment to UNO and Blackjack- my kids are cardsharks! :/