Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Apr 29, 2011

Frolicking in Foxen Canyon

It had been a few years since my parents last visited Santa Barbara wine country, and now that I've been vineyard hopping numerous times, I was excited to take them to my favorite spots.  Time and time again, I've found myself drawn to Foxen Canyon - stunning scenery, delicious wines, and a little less crowded than the other wine trails.  It's one of the furthest from the city (about a 40 minute drive inland), and takes you through beautiful mountains and valleys.  The vineyards on the southern part of the trail favor syrah, grenache and viognier because of the warmer, inland climates.  As you head further north, you'll find more pinot noirs and chardonnays because of those cool maritime breezes and climate.

We started our late morning at Fess Parker, which has a rustic tasting room with a huge stone fireplace and an extensive outdoor patio for al fresco tasting and picnics.  And don't be fooled by those coonskin caps strewn about - the descendants of Davy Crockett make some darn good wine.  It's very rare that I truly enjoy every single pour on a tasting menu, but with Fess Parker's, I was tempted to buy every bottle on the list.  I settled for one of their wine clubs instead, and walked away with a bottle of syrah and chardonnay.

We sat out on the patio for lunch, since we hadn't eaten since the early morning and the wine was already going to our heads.  Fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil on ciabatta bread hit the spot and got us ready for Foxen Winery...

Foxen actually has two tasting rooms - a big, new solar-powered one and "The Shack" aka foxen 7200.  I love the Shack for its ramshackle-ness, kitschy shrine with wine paraphernalia, and half indoors/half outdoors set-up.

Besides being featured in Sideways, it also has an interesting history (you know how I love random historical facts!).  The winery is named after an English sea captain who purchased a Mexican land grant of 9000 acres, now known as Foxen Canyon.  Captain Foxen adopted the anchor as his ranch cattle brand, and the insignia is now the winery's trademark.  One of the original brands is actually in the Shack.  Oh, and did I mention they're liberal with the anchor temporary tattoos?

We doubled back up the road to hit up Curtis, which is part of the Firestone Family Estates.  When I go wine tasting with "Malbec" and her family, we always visit this place.  When the Firestones established Curtis, it was one of California's first wineries dedicated exclusively to Rhone-style wines.  We had the pleasure of meeting Kate Firestone, one of the founders, who is still actively involved in running the winery.  This tiny British former ballet dancer made us feel so welcome and is truly dedicated to the craft.

Our last stop was at the Epiphany tasting room in the heart of Los Olivos.  Grand Avenue, the main street in town, is pretty much all tasting rooms and boutique wine shops in Victorian style houses and fake Western store fronts.  Pretty much all of the tasting rooms here cater to wine collectives - vintners who cull their grapes from multiple vineyards and don't necessarily have the land to plop down a tasting room on-site.  If you're looking to park once and stumble from tasting room to tasting room, this is the "wine trail" for you.  Epiphany was actually started in 1999 by Fess' son, Eli - an award-winning winemaker in his own right.  And purchasing a bottle at Fess, will score you comp tastings here.  Epiphany focuses on small productions and makes mostly syrah and grenache wines, but since the summer will be coming up, I ended up buying a bottle of grenache blanc.  I'm sure it will be cracked open soon at a future Lush Chef dinner!

Apr 27, 2011

Grilled Ham & Chimay Cheese Sandwiches

Libations used: 1/4 cup Belgian white beer
Libations left over: 3/4 of a bottle
Grilled Cheese Month is almost coming to an end, but there's still time to whip up a boozy grilled cheese before this week's end.  Bon Appétit nailed this Grilled Ham and Chimay Cheese Sandwich with Caramelized Belgian Endive with double libations in the cheese and endive.  Chimay "à la bière" cheese is a semisoft Belgian cheese that is washed with Chimay beer, and has a pungent aroma and pretty mild flavor.  I had been eyeing it at Trader Joe's for months, and should have made a grilled cheese with it a long time ago because it melts so perfectly.  The endive is caramelized in sugar, orange juice and Belgian white beer - I must think of other dishes to use endive prepared like this!  Because I was staying in on a Monday night, I cut down this recipe for a single serving.

Grilled Ham & Chimay Cheese Sandwiches - serves 1
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 head of Belgian endive, with root end trimmed & leaves separated
  • Scant 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup Belgian white beer (I used Blue Moon)
  • 1 Tbs orange juice
  • 2 slices country-style bread (I used sourdough)
  • Butter or mayo (read why using mayo rocks for grilled cheese)
  • 2 slices ham or prosciutto (I used black forest smoked ham)
  • Chimay cheese, somewhat thinly sliced
  • Pickles and whole grain Dijon mustard for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350.

For the endive:
- Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until nice and hot.
- Add endive leaves and sauté until almost translucent and beginning to wilt (1-2 min).
- Sprinkle sugar over endive and sauté until edges are a deep golden brown, stirring often (2-3 min).
- Add beer and orange juice until liquid is reduced to a thick glaze and coats that endive (3-4 min).
- Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Let cool to room temperature.

For the sandwiches:
- I used 2 huge slices of sourdough bread and cut each in half.  Spread 1 side of each bread slice half with butter or mayo and set on baking sheet with buttered side down.
- Put a slice of ham on each slice and enough pieces of cheese for 1 layer.
- Top with remaining bread slices and slather some mayo on top.
- Heat a clean, large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the sandwiches to skillet and cook until brown on the bottom - about 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer sandwiches back to baking sheet, browned side up.
- Bake in oven until sandwiches are brown on bottom and cheese melts (about 5 minutes).
- Arrange sandwich on plate and spoon endive, mustard and a pickle alongside it.  Why?  Because it just looks pretty serving it that way.
- Devour with endive and mustard spread inside each sandwich.
- Drink rest of beer.

Apr 25, 2011

Orange Moscato Pudding

Libations used: 1 cup Moscato wine
Libations left over: 2 small glasses for an after-dinner treat
I had the pleasure of making Easter Dinner for my parents while they were here in town to visit, and I wanted to make something light for our dessert.  We had Coq au Vin (the Lush Chef parents aren't fans of lamb), so this Orange Moscato Pudding from Food 52 was a perfect balance to a rich entrée.  The original recipe recommends Cara Cara oranges, but my market had some lovely Navels on hand.  I used Trader Joe's 2009 Late Harvest Moscato - under $10 and ridiculously addictive.  A friend of mine loves this Moscato so much, we had to leave in the middle of a poker night and get her 2 more bottles!

Orange Moscato Pudding - serves 3 (4 according to the Lush Chef's Dad)
  • 2 oranges, zested (reserve 1-2 tsp for whipped cream/mascarpone) and cut into supremes
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs + 2 tsp cornstarch
  • A tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Moscato (reserve 1 Tbs for whipped cream/mascarpone)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream (measured after whipping) or mascarpone
  • 1 Tbs fresh orange juice (can collect this when making supremes)
- Mix lemon and orange zest with sugar.
- Add cornstarch and salt and stir well to combine.
- Add 1/4 cup cold milk and stir well to dissolve the cornstarch (make sure you have no lumps).
- Heat several inches of water in the bottom of a double boiler.  Or, if you don't have one, like me, use a sauce pot for the bottom portion and a pan to fit on top (that's Lush Chef guerrilla style).
- Meanwhile, scald the remaining milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes - a light skin should form on top.
- Off the heat and in top part of your double boiler, beat the egg yolks.
- Add the hot milk a little bit at a time, and whisk constantly, until you've added about 1/2 cup.
- Strain the egg and milk mixture back into the bowl containing the rest of the hot milk.   Pour the combined egg and milk back into the top of the double boiler.
- Set it over the simmering water in the bottom part of the double boiler and heat the egg/milk mixture for about a minute, stirring constantly and gently.
- Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly.  After a few minutes, the mixture should start to thicken.
- Add the wine in a little bit at a time, and stir gently between additions.
- Add the vanilla and stir for a few more minutes, until the mixture thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir for a few more minutes.
- As the pudding cools a bit, layer the supremes in the pottom of a serving dish/glass and top with the cooled pudding.  Add more supremes on top.  Put plastic wrap on top and chill for a bit (I had it in the fridge for over an hour).
- Mix the reserved wine and orange juice into 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, and whip with a hand mixer for a few minutes until it's thick and fluffy.
- When ready to serve, top the pudding with the whipped cream/mascarpone and orange zest.

Apr 22, 2011

Let's Get Drunk and Eat Waffles

Doesn't this picture just make you want to run out to brunch and eat a giant pile of waffles with a mimosa?  When my friend and I first saw this card at Mindfulnest in Santa Monica, I think we laughed for a full 5 minutes. She then had to buy the card so she could frame the thing. Months later, I was still thinking about that silly card and found out the designer was local.  She goes by the moniker "The Frantic Meerkat," and all of her work sells on Etsy.

Most of her magnets, cards, etc are culinary inspired - everything from a rabbit sitting in a giant dirty martini to a 1920's inspired woman diving into a pool of mac 'n cheese to a piece of bacon claiming vegetarians spoil his "meaty fun."  It's like her work was made for a Lush Chef!  I think it took me at least half an hour to decide on which 5 designs I'd pick for my kitchen magnets...

Apr 20, 2011

Limoncello Breakfast Rolls

Libations used: 3 Tbs Limoncello
Libations left over: Take a few sips to jump start your morning
The Lush Chef's brother came into town last week, and he loves nothing more than ooey gooey breakfast rolls.  If we go somewhere for breakfast and there's a cinnamon roll on the menu, he'll order it with his regular meal and undoubtedly finish it all.  This recipe for Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze is a reader favorite on The Kitchn, and reminds me a little of spring.  To give it my Lush Chef twist, I added some Lombardi Cream of Limoncello I got from some random gift bag at an event that I can't remember.  I'm not a Limoncello fan as an apéritif, but baking with it is another story!

Limoncello Breakfast Rolls - serves 12
Dough Ingredients:
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 envelope (.25 oz or 2 1/2 tsp) active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to 100 (it should be warm, but not hot on your wrist)
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
Limoncello Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, very soft
Limoncello & Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

To make the dough:
- Zest and juice the lemons - divide the zest in 3 parts and save the all juice for the sugar mixture and glaze.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit a few minutes.
- With a mixer, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla and 1 cup of flour.
- Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and 1 part of the lemon zest.
- Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft, yet sticky dough - I used about 3 1/4 cups of flour.
- Knead for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy.  Check out that Kitchn link if you're not used to dealing with this kind of dough - they have more lengthy instructions & a video.
- Lightly coat the dough with a little vegetable oil, cover in plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until it nearly doubles (about 1 hour).

To make the filling:
- In a small bowl, mix the sugar, nutmeg and ginger.
- Work in 1 part of the lemon zest with your fingers, until the sugar resembles soft sand.
- Slowly add the Limoncello in until it forms a wet, clumpy mixture - you may need to use a little more or a little less.  If it's too wet, it won't spread easily on the dough.  I also added in just a touch of fresh lemon juice to get that tartness.

To assemble the rolls:
- Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter - I split it up in two baking dishes, because I wanted to use these colorful Le Creuset baking dishes I got for my birthday.
- On a floured surface, pat the dough out into a large and thick 10x15 inch rectangle.
- Spread the 3 Tbs of butter evenly over the dough, then spread the limoncello-sugar mixture over top.
- Roll the dough tightly, starting from the top, long end.  You may need to stretch and pull it a little as you roll it to keep the sugar mixture inside.
- Cut the dough roll into 12 even rolls, and place each with a cut side up in the baking dishes.
- Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour in the fridge, or until puffy and nearly doubled.  Or, you can put them in the fridge overnight (up to 24 hours), covered tightly with plastic wrap.
- When ready to bake the rolls, remove the dishes from the fridge and let them rise for an hour.
- Heat the oven to 350 and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the temperature on a center roll reads 190.

To make the frosting:
- While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze.  With a mixer or food processor, whip the softened cream cheese until light and fluffy.
- Add about 1 Tbs Limoncello and 2 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice.
- Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.  You may need to adjust levels with the limoncello and lemon juice so that you get the right texture - add more liquid if too thick and more powdered sugar if too runny.  I like my frosting thick, but still runny enough to easily spoon over the rolls.

To finish the rolls:
- When the rolls are done, smear on that delicious glaze and sprinkle the remaining lemon zest to garnish.
- Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes before serving them warm.
- Serve with a shot of Limoncello, if you like!

Apr 18, 2011

Spring Asparagus Cheddar Soup

Libations used: 3 Tbs sherry, 1 cup white wine
Libations left over: Save that sherry for cooking later, and serve the white wine for dinner.
I am being bombarded with asparagus every time I visit the farmer's market - and I love it.  It's such a pretty and tasty vegetable and represents spring to me.  I keep coming across so many recipes for asparagus that I could be eating it for weeks.  I'm running a blog here and I can't expect my lushes to be eating asparagus for a month straight, so I'll stick with one...for now...

We're still experiencing some weird cold snaps in LA, so I thought a soup would be fitting.  Props to the Lush Chef's dad (and fellow blogger) for pointing out Michigan Wines for tons of tasty recipes with wine.  This soup calls for 2 libations, and comes from Chateau Chantal, a Lush Chef family favorite that's located on the Old Mission Peninsula just outside Traverse City.

Spring Asparagus Cheddar Soup - serves 4-6

  • 3 Tbs butter 
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups diced asparagus - reserve the tips and slice them in half
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup diced fennel bulb (you can also use celery)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbs dry sherry
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
  • 1 cup white wine - I used my standby of La Finca chardonnay
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
- In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the onion, asparagus stalks, carrot and fennel.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until they soften.
- Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, until it begins to stick to the bottom a little.
- Add the sherry, scraping the bottom of the pot, and let it cook almost all away.
- Whisk in the vegetable broth and white wine, making sure to scrape up anything from the bottom of the pot.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then lower it to simmer for about 10 minutes, uncovered.
- Let the soup cook, and pour yourself a glass of wine.
- Once it's cooled a bit, puree the vegetables in a blender.
- Put it back in the soup pot and add the asparagus tips.  Cook until they're tender.
- Take the soup pot off the heat, and stir in the cheese slowly.
- Add the fresh thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Apr 15, 2011

A Nod to the Lush Chef Dad - Sip & Savor

For about a year, my friends kept telling me that I should start a blog, or find some creative outlet for my cooking & baking. One of my big, recent influences for this was my dad. Back in December, he started up a blog called "Sip & Savor" to document his fabulous photos and his culinary/oenophile adventures with my mom. Most of them take place in my home state of Michigan, and I must say, my parents have quickly become experts on wine country there. Yes, you read that right - Michigan has a wine country - and it's actually quite fabulous. They've taken me there a couple of times and it's like what Napa was in the 70's (or at least that's what I'm told) - free and/or cheap tastings.  The vintners have that midwestern charm, and you feel like you're being welcomed into their home.  They specialize in whites because of the climate - cool and sandy by the Great Lakes. Those familiar with New York's Finger Lakes region, will find it quite similar.

In early February, my dad and mom went to Leelanau Peninsula for "Taste of the Passion" - a full weekend of wine & food tasting (so jealous). He also happened to be the official photographer for the event. So sit back with your fave chard or champers and enjoy my dad's musings and photography.  They're coming to visit The Lush Chef next week, and we'll be hitting up Santa Barbara together, so check back on both blogs in late April/early May to read about our experience.  A family that imbibes together, stays together...

Apr 13, 2011

Children of the Sun Cocktail

Normally, the Lush Chef does cocktail postings on a Friday, but for all you Children of the Sun heading out to the desert like I am, I figured it'd be helpful to pick up some ingredients for Coachella cocktailing beforehand.  Just because you're dressed like a desert hippie, doesn't mean you need to forgo having a classy drink.  I was inspired by Las Perlas, my favorite tequila and mezcal bar downtown, when I made this drink last summer.  The Lush Chef and "Malbec" have come to crave spicy cocktails, and neither of us like our margaritas sweet and syrupy, so this one really wanted to make us salsa and have seconds.  The tequila is infused with jalapeño, and you can easily adjust the heat to your palate.  Because I didn't have mezcal (and still don't...I need to remedy that), I used Salish salt from Spice Station to rim the glass.  It gives the drink that smoky flavor that mezcal has, and you can easily substitute regular salt for those who don't like that kind of finish on their drink.  This cocktail is perfect for lounging around a pool in the desert before heading off to the Empire Polo Grounds - because who really wants to wait in that beer garden line?

Children of the Sun Cocktail - serves 4
  • 8 oz tequila
  • 4 oz Cointreau
  • 4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño 
- Slice half of the jalapeño longways and remove the seeds.  I remove the seeds because I don't like digging them out of my tequila, and the long slices can then be repurposed as a garnish.  Add the slices to the tequila and let sit for a minimum of 2 hours.  If you desire more heat, let it sit longer.  I like to do mine at 4 hours.
- Run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and finish in the smoked salt.
- When tequila's done infusing, add Cointreau, lime juice and shake with ice.
- Strain over a glass with ice, and top with a jalapeño slice.

If you're looking to do this for a big group, here are the adjustments.  I recommend just making this in a pitcher and letting it chill for a while, so you're not having to deal with playing bartender.

Serves 15
  • 3 3/4 cups jalapeño-infused tequila
  • Scant 2 cups triple-sec - sorry kids, but I'm not busting out the expensive stuff in the desert
  • Scant 2 cups lime juice
  • 2 jalapenos
  • Smoked salt to rim the glasses 

Apr 11, 2011

Coachella Corn Salad with Tequila Lime Dressing

Libations used: 1 Tbs tequila
Libations left over: Margaritas, anyone?
Two words - 96 degrees.  For all the lushes heading out to the desert this coming weekend for Coachella, it won't be the 100's, but it's still going to be HOT.  In that kind of weather, there's nothing I want more than cool salads and libations - so of course, I'm mixing the two!  I've found in the past, that eating options on the polo grounds and at all those crazy pool parties are not the most healthful of offerings.  If you're staying in a house, you also want something quick, cheap and easy to prepare for large groups of hungry revelers.  The flavors of this salad fit the mood of the desert, but the colors really pop.

Coachella Corn Salad with Tequila Lime Dressing - serves 4
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 cup edamame
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 avocados, cubed 
  • 1 Tbs minced cilantro
  • Juice of lime 
  • 1 Tbs tequila
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 pinches cumin
  • 2 pinches cayenne
- Whisk together all those dressing ingredients, and toss it in a bowl with the veggies.
- Done.
- Now go party like an indie rockstar.

Apr 8, 2011

Meet The Lush Chef Taste Testers

As much as I trust my palate, I want to make sure that the recipes on this blog are at least tested and approved by someone other than myself.  Enter the Lush Chef Taste Testers, an elite group of hungry people, that also happen to be my best friends.  Because I don't use real names on this blog, the Taste Testers will be heretofore known by their call signs - Malbec, Vanilla Smirnoff, Blue Moon, Bourbon, and sometimes...Tequila stops by...they know who they are...

Malbec, Blue Moon and Bourbon used to be roommates and created a lovely tradition for us LA orphans -  Sunday night "family dinners."  The three now all live separately, but they have maintained the tradition, and I've been so lucky to be included (it helps that I cook for them).  It always includes tons of red wine, and someone always manages to bring a bottle with a red coq on it - I didn't have one in the cabinet, so this canard will do.

So, if you enjoy the recipes on this blog, you can also thank the official Lush Chef Taste Testers.  Without them, I'd just be cooking for myself...and I definitely wouldn't fit in my favorite dress.

Apr 6, 2011

Pear Riesling Sorbet

Libations used: 3/4 cup white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so serve the wine to your guests with the sorbet!
Now that it's spring, I want to eat sorbet all day, but that's not the adult thing to do.  Le sigh...
Ever since I had the Pear Riesling sorbet from Sweet Rose Creamery (my favorite ice cream store in the city), I've been wanting to try making it myself.  While doing some research, I found a lot of recipes that called for heavy cream, which I wasn't too keen on.  Lush Chef props to Taste of Home for this version that calls for so few ingredients and no cream!  Trust me, you don't need it - the texture of the pears lend themselves to a creamy texture when blended.  I highly recommend using ripe or over-ripe pears, as opposed to the canned stuff.  If you're desperate though, I won't slap you on the wrist.  I also used fresh lemon juice - let's all take advantage of this lovely region we live in.  To dress this up for a dinner party, I served the sorbet with a little mint leaf and butter cookies from Bottega Louie.

Pear Riesling Sorbet - serves 4-6

  • 5 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup Riesling - you can also use another sweet white wine like a Gewurztraminer or  pop open some Champagne
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice - about 1 small lemon
- Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and let it all sit for 8-10 minutes, uncovered, until pears are tender.  Take in that heavenly smell and pour yourself a glass of wine.
- Let the mixture cool slightly before putting in a blender or food processer and puree 1-2 minutes, until smooth.
- Transfer to a 9x13 loaf pan.  Cover and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours or until firm.  I did this the day before the Lush Chef dinner party.
- Just before serving, process again in blender/food processer for another 1-2 minutes to get that lovely smooth texture.
- Spoon into some cute, little dessert bowls and garnish with mint leaf and a butter cookie.

Apr 4, 2011

Pork Loin with White Wine, Fennel Seed and Mustard Sauce

Libations used: 1 cup white wine
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so serve that Chardonnay to your guests
I never liked pork growing up - I hated the texture, taste, everything about it.  In fact, an allergy test proved that I was slightly allergic to it.  Well, thank goodness I outgrew that, and my palate changed.  When I went home for the Christmas holidays, the Lush Chef's dad made this delicious and simple pork loin with a heavenly mustard sauce (I definitely licked my plate).  Two days later, we had a fancy prix-fixe dinner out, where they served a crown roast.  We all took a bite, looked at my dad, and agreed his version put theirs to shame.

The original recipe comes compliments of the Barefoot Contessa, but we took some liberties with the recipe to make it simpler - we cut out the chicken stock and the green peppercorns.  Even though we had this in the winter, this dish is perfect to make any time of year.  There's also something about a pork loin all Frenched and tied up that makes you look like a better cook than you really are - it's a surefire way to impress your dinner guests.  I served this with some spring roasted vegetables from the Farmer's Market, and included fresh fennel (both bulbs and fronds) to tie it in with the fennel seeds for the pork loin.

Pork Loin with White Wine, Fennel and Mustard Sauce - serves 6-8

  • 1 pork loin, bone in, Frenched and tied (I had 6 bones for 6 people)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard, divided - the one I bought from Trader Joe's had white wine in it.  Lush Chef score!
  • 4 tsp whole-grain mustard, divided 
  • 1 tsp ground fennel seed - time to break out the mortar & pestle!
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup white wine - I used La Finca Chardonnay - it's inexpensive and tasty, so it's perfect for cooking
- Allow the pork to stand at room temp for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400.
- Place the pork, fat side up in a dutch oven or roasting pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 2 Tbs of each mustard, the ground fennel seed, 2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
- Rub the mixture on top of the pork and roast for 1 - 1 1/4 hours, or until the temp reads 140.
- Have yourself a glass of wine.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board and cover tightly with foil, allowing it to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Remove all but 1/4 cup fat from the dutch oven.  If there isn't that much fat, then add enough butter to make 1/4 cup.
- Over medium heat, whisk 2 Tbs flour into the fat and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the wine and be sure scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the dutch oven.
- Add the remaining mustard, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced and slightly thickened.
- Remove the strings from the pork, slice between the bones, and serve warm with the hot sauce.
Apr 1, 2011

Kew Garden Cocktail

Now doesn't that just sound like spring?  I wish I had a garden to frolic in and drink this cocktail.  Or drink this cocktail while gardening.  For now, I'll just drink it.  It tastes like a genteel mojito, and it just might be the perfect cocktail to serve for an Easter brunch.  I found this recipe on The Kitchn and used just regular white rum because I didn't feel like buying a bottle of Banks 5 Island Rum.  This Lush Chef can only stock so many different liquors & liqueurs - let's be realistic.  It sounds intriguing though and I'd love to try it sometime.  To read up on who created the drink, why that rum was used and some British history (you should learn something new every day), check out the original posting.

You will need St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) for this recipe, and I highly recommend buying a huge bottle of this stuff.  My girlfriends and I go through it like water, and it's actual quite versatile (more on that later).    

Kew Garden Cocktail - serves 1
  • 2 oz white rum
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain 
  • 8 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
  • 3 cucumber slices, plus 1 for garnish
  • club soda
- Muddle the mint leaves, cucumbers and simple syrup in a martini shaker or mixing glass.
- Add the rum, lime juice and St. Germain, shake and strain over a glass filled with ice.
- Top with club soda and garnish with the mint leaf and cucumber.