Category Archives: veggies

the grassed word | diy celery cordial + lemongrass-infused gin

If you follow a few cocktail-centric Instagram accounts, you’ve most likely seen several riffs on the classic cocktail, The Last Word, popping up in your feed this week. That’s because Mike Yoshioka, a cocktail enthusiast based in Los Angeles, CA created a global online event that celebrates the beloved cocktail.

The event, aptly named We Have the Last Word, encourages Instagrammers to replicate the original recipe or create an iteration on the classic. It is an event that inspires you to dig deep into your creativity. It truly and deliciously brings cocktail enthusiasts and creators together. The Last Word is one of my favorite cocktails both to make and enjoy, especially over the summer months, so I knew I had to come up with something fun as a contribution.


“What was truly inspiring was how the cocktail community came together. New relationships were formed. People started to bond. They began to inspire one another, sharing information, collaborating on projects, and supporting and encouraging one another. They showed that the world is indeed much smaller when we can come together and unite. Even if it is just over a cocktail.”

— Mike Yoshioka of mmydrinks, via a recent post in Difford’s Guide


The original specs on the cocktail call for equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice. It’s light, refreshing, and a perfectly balanced amalgam of sweet, herbaceous, and acidic notes. I decided to do something creatively challenging for my contribution to this event that celebrates one of my favorite liqueurs, Chartreuse, and bring in some early summer flavors to the mix — celery, lemongrass, and cucumber.

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how to make bloody mary mix | my farm-to-glass trip to red gold tomatoes

I’m sitting at my desk, looking at my weather app and realizing the sunny, sixty-five degree weather we’ve enjoyed over the past three days is about to disappear come Thursday. Just in time for Thanksgiving. And just in time for our heater to break down. My boyfriend’s been tweaking with our house’s antiquated electrical wiring, and I think something must have gone amok. I’ve got my space heater cranking, and I am wearing fingerless gloves, as I type.

I suppose worse things could happen, right?

Steve and I have been putting the finishing touches on our kitchen this past week, hence the electrical tweaking. We finally chose some lighting above the peninsula, and we just installed some recessed dimmer lights and a couple of spotlights above the sink, counters, and stove. I’m laughing because it’s taken us nearly two years to agree on the style of exposed shelves we wanted to span the white glass back-splash. My parents might say we are procrastinators, but I like to describe ourselves as “discerning and particular”. It just sounds better.

This little snap of warm weather enticingly brought me back summer in my mind, and I craved my summer treat staples, especially a juicy, ripe, red tomato. Not to be found. I even toyed around with the idea of making freezer pops. There’s one thing, however, I love to make in the dead of winter, and that’s a spicy Bloody Mary, made with tomatoes we preserved from our summer garden.

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spicy quick-pickled spring radishes

I think that this very moment is the best setting ever to write a blog post. For that matter, to do anything! It is pouring rain outside. Not the pitter-patter peaceful kind, but the full-on, fiddler on the roof, batten down the hatches, tap-dancing until dawn kind of rain! I say, bring it!

As many of you know, I spend a few of my evenings working as a sommelier at a restaurant. The place happens to have a most splendid patio. If you have ever worked within the service or hospitality industry, you know that “patio season” is more or less a nightmare. You are constantly scrolling through your weather app feeds and performing audacious rain dances to skirt the afternoon showers, in order to keep your guests satisfied. It is quite the ordeal. I am an anomaly within this field, however: I am secretly jumping for joy inside, when it rains. It means my garden is getting drenched, and it means that I don’t have to tote the hose around our yard and water by hand the next day. Hooray for summer storms that deliver!

We just picked {and pickled!} the last of our spring French Breakfast radishes. We planted them by seed and in succession in early April and have harvested four rounds of radishes. This last go-round was a little spicy and a tad pithy, which can happen when harvesting late in the season, but they were perfect for pickling. Pickling covers a multitude of sins, but it can also bring out the best in vegetables.

Have you pickled before? It seems daunting and suggests the need for fancy equipment. Not necessarily so. Enter quick pickling, or as I lovingly name it, quickling. I touched on this subject last year, when I had a surplus amount of cucumbers. Almost anything can be quickled, and radishes do quite well with this method.

My attention was grabbed about a month ago by Cookie + Kate’s recipe for pickling spring radishes. So simple and fast. I added a few finishing touches of my own, and I have been pickling my radishes ever since. This particular recipe yielded one half-pint of pickled radishes, or about 1 1/2 cups.


spicy quick-pickled spring radishes


  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced {about 12 radishes or 1 cup, sliced}
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Champagne vinegar {or white or apple cider}
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • about 10 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • a few pieces of dill leaves
  • 1 small garlic clove
  1. Scrub your radishes and slice them thinly. If you are brave and skilled, you can use a mandolin. You can also use a very sharp knife to slice paper-thin pieces of this pink root vegetable.
  2. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water, vinegar, agave nectar, and sea salt to a boil, dissolving the sea salt.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the sliced radishes into a clean Mason jar and pour the pickling liquid over top.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill leaves, and garlic clove to the jar.
  6. Cover with lid and let cool.
  7. Once the jar’s contents have cooled, place the jar in the refrigerator. I removed my garlic clove at this point. I learned my lesson another time, when I let the garlic clove hang out in the jar for about a week. The radishes took on too intense of a garlic note. Just a touch is enough!
  8. Enjoy!

I have been sprinkling these pink treats on my summer green salads, tossing them on black bean tacos, and using them in relishes. Quickling is one way to use up your excess produce and prolong its enjoyment throughout the season. Use quick-pickled radishes within a month, noting that they taste best within about two weeks of the pickling date. Did you grow radishes this season? Are you pickling anything weird from your garden? The weirdest things I have pickled to date are yellow summer squash slices. I actually loooooved them atop burritos, alongside tacos, and graced over summer tortilla soup. I am not growing them this summer, but a friend of mine is. That’s where gardening friends come into play – tradesies!

Have a great week ahead and enjoy the goodness at hand. It is beautiful, delicious, and fleeting. Savor it, while it is here, and preserver it for later. Goodbye, radish season; it was fun!

spring pea + arugula + spinach ravioli

This past week has been a crazy one. I think I repeat this line quite often. We have been in the midst of changing over our wines-by-the-glass list at the restaurant, which requires a lot of tasting, note-taking, and discussion amongst the sommeliers. It is an arduous but exciting process. After we make the final decisions, we send the menu proofs to the printer, make revisions, and begin the task of educating the staff on the changes. It really sounds simple on paper, but selecting the wines is also a battle of politics – which distribution company needs support, which winery needs recognition, which varietals are our guests demanding…and, the most important question, which bottle would I most likely reach for at the end of a long shift for a much-needed sip?

Sigh.

On a brighter note, the garden is progressing quite beautifully, and our seedlings are growing up, with only minor casualties along the way. I did lose a few basil sprouts due to the indecisive weather patterns we have been dealing with; however, two of our cold-hardy plants, arugula and parsley, remained alive over the winter and have already given us an early spring harvest. There really is nothing like heading outside to the garden, clipping fresh vegetables and herbs, and, moments later, cooking up something fresh and delicious with them.

I was recently inspired by a post from one of the new contributors at the Kitchn, Sarah Crowder. She is also the author of the blog, Punctuated with Food. Her recipe for Minty Pea & Arugula Wonton Ravioli was visually captivating and sounded delicious. I had never used wonton wrappers to make ravioli, so I was up for the challenge. It was the ease of the process, however, that sealed the deal on my trying a twist on her recipe.

I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and set out to clip some of the aforementioned spring arugula. It was about to flower, so it had to be harvested soon, in order to preserve its optimal flavor. I called up a good friend and asked her to join me for a glass. One glass turned into two, and this quick and simple recipe turned into a lovely afternoon snack.


Spring Pea + Arugula + Spinach Ravioli


  • 1/2 cup spring peas {about 24 pods or 3 1/2 ounces}
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach
  • 1 tablespoon high-heat oil, like safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning {I use my dried herb blend from the garden}
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream {more, if you want a creamier filling}
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten, plus 1 tablespoon of water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, for the sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish
  • micro-greens, chives, or sprouts, for garnish
  • 72 wonton wrappers

Begin by setting aside a large bowl of ice and water. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Carefully toss the shelled peas into the water and cook for only one minute. Add the arugula and spinach and continue boiling for another 15 seconds. Drain the water and transfer the veggies to the ice water bath. Strain the veggies, removing any cubes of ice. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the safflower oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté for four minutes, until the onions are slightly caramelized and toasty. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the peas, arugula, spinach, and onions & garlic mixture. Add the Italian seasoning, cheeses, and heavy cream to the food processor. Pulse to your desired consistency. I like a coarser filling. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you desire a richer consistency, add a little more heavy cream or pulse the mixture a little longer.

This is the fun part – stuffing the wonton wrappers to make the ravioli. Set out 36 wrappers on a baking tin or other surface. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of the filling and place in the center of each square.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together to prepare the egg wash. Brush the egg mixture on the outer edges of the wonton square and carefully place another wrapper on top, pressing lightly to seal. Try pressing out any air pockets by lightly squeezing from the center toward the outer edges. I enjoy a little less “pasta-y” {not exactly a word, but I think you get the idea!} ravioli, so I used a ravioli cutter and trimmed them a little. I think they turned out pretty darned adorable!

Like Sarah mentioned, you can freeze the uncooked ravioli, if you are not ready to enjoy them right away. This is a perfect solution for make-ahead meals. I will definitely experiment with other fillings over the summer and pack them away for future enjoyment!

To cook the ravioli, toss 6 pieces into boiling water for a strict 2 minutes. I found that if I cooked them longer, they would burst. For the sauce, I tried two variations – a simple browned butter sauce {shown in these photos} and a simple toss of extra virgin olive oil, with a squeeze of lemon juice. I liked both options equally. The browned butter sauce was rich and savory, whereas the olive oil and lemon juice combination was vibrant and fresh. I garnished the ravioli with fresh chives from the garden, toasted pine nuts, and micro-greens.

If you haven’t ever made browned butter and feel a little intimidated, this visual tutorial helped me conceptualize the process. You’ll feel even more accomplished and versatile as a home cook, when you can make a good browned butter sauce!

I paired this recipe with one of my favorite Chardonnays. The wine really shines with the browned butter preparation. I also added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the finished dish to add a needed dash of acidity. The flavors and textures really came together. A wine with great acidity, like a squeeze of lemon, also fills in the gap, when acidity is missing from a dish. A mouth-watering sip of crisp wine encourages the next bite and brings balance to the pairing.


Paul Lato “le Souvenir” Chardonnay, Sierra Madre Vineyard, 2011


  • On the eyes – brilliant, pale straw.
  • On the nose – toasted hazelnut, baked apple tart, squeezed lemon, orange blossom, with hints of vanilla.
  • On the palate – rich-textured, exhibiting notes of baked apples, Meyer lemon, honeyed hazelnuts, with a lingering finish and medium acidity.
  • On the table – perfect alone or with poached halibut, roasted chicken, and pasta dishes with either lean or rich sauces.
  • On the shelf – about $75 {yep, I splurged}.
  • On the ears – paired with Phantogram’s “Black Out Days” from their recent album, Voices. Steve and I saw them perform at the Ogden here in Denver last month, and I have listened to their current album at least 50 times. Truth. I think I chose this track not only because of the harmonic layers and trance-like beats, but also because I can really identify with the “crazy voices in my head” theme, as of late. Good wine always helps quiet those crazy thoughts, though. 😉

Have a great weekend, sip something delicious, and, even better, share it with a friend!

Oh, I almost forgot. I am also posting more about wine on my new Tumblr blog, Sommthing to Talk About. Steve thinks the title is a tad silly, but I dig catchy, witty plays on words! I will be directly linking to all of the wine posts that I write for the Kitchn, so it will be easier to follow those. It is wine-focused and is still taking shape, but you can find me there now, as well! Cheers!

DIY pumpkin spice sugar scrub + detoxing from seasonal “pumpkin spice fatigue”

… with a homemade pumpkin spice latte sugar scrub, of course!

It is officially time for a pumpkin spice intervention.  Don’t get me wrong – I love pumpkin and all things spice.  I even love the occasional latte {two pumps with soy milk, in case you’d ever like to send one my way}.  But the pumpkin spice empire has spiraled out of control.  Starbucks set the tone ten years ago, when they introduced their cult classic, the pumpkin spice latte, now conveniently abbreviated this year to simply “PSL”.  Now one can visit the local grocer and find products like candy, air fresheners, pasta sauce, potato chips, and perhaps even this unmentionable {ell-oh-ell!}, all proudly dressed in shades of orange, advertising the comforting aromas and flavors of fall, and prompting a satisfying, cozy sigh.  But where is the actual pumpkin?

While driving to work the other day, I was listening to NPR’s “Here and Now” segment, where Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson hosted food scientist, Kantha Shelke, on the program.  According to Shelke, most of the popular pumpkin spice-laden products, unsurprisingly, contain little or no trace of the autumnal squash.  In fact, they most likely contain artificial colors, manufactured flavors and aromas, and don’t really taste like the vegetable itself.  I am partial to all things natural, but like a lot of individuals, I do love that pumpkin-y, spicy aroma that surfaces this time of year.  So, I have decided to both have my pie and eat it, too, by using real pumpkin purée to create a deliciously aromatic and exfoliating coffee and sugar scrub.  I have made a similar scrub before, but this upgraded edition really makes me crave the aforementioned hot beverage, except the price tag on the scrub is lower, the ingredients are completely natural, and the benefits are longer lasting!

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