Tag Archives: gardening

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!

the bee’s knees cocktail

The Bee’s Knees, served over ice with a splash of soda, garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme… #springinaglass

Well, hello, April!  How did you all of a sudden arrive on the scene?  I completely blame spring for my absence on the blog.  The volume, pace, color, intensity, bandwidth, frequency, and, well, the “crazy” factor have all increased over the past few weeks, and I just couldn’t set the time aside to document along the way.  Has the rush of spring been like that for you?

I have been bustling away in the garden to make sure that the gardening season is set for us.  Steve and I started our seeds indoors for the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.  We built a two-section compost bin.  We sowed the cool season crops in succession.  And then I wrote about it here, here, and here.  As if that weren’t enough, I painstakingly planned out the entire growing season and mapped out a planting calendar.  I feel confident we did as much as we could, and I am definitely feeling a little obsessive right about now!  And maybe a bit thirsty…

I have also been temporarily trading in my cozy and savory bourbon cocktails for some bright, aromatic, refreshing gin-based libations.  Gin is my absolute favorite spirit to mix or just enjoy on its own, and one of the best ones out there is the Botanist.  It hails from the island of Islay, Scotland, and is bursting with floral notes.  I was crestfallen, when it was temporarily unavailable on the shelves at my local spirits shop, so when it returned, it was only logical to swipe up a few – one for cocktails and the other two for a barrel-aging project I’ve been working on.

My favorite springtime gin? The Botanist. Floral, balanced, and complex. It’s stellar for a simple gin and soda.

Have you ever tried a Bee’s Knees cocktail?  Its bright, honeyed notes are perfect for sipping on a spring afternoon in the garden.  This Prohibition-era cocktail has made quite the comeback, since its humble beginnings as a means to cover up undesirable characteristics of the “bathtub gins” of the 1920s.  I always envision Carol Burnett’s classic portrayal of Miss Hannigan in “Annie,” when I hear the words, “bathtub gin”.  Remember the scene, where she belts out the song, “Little Girls,” while lazily stirring gin into her tub?  I am sure I am not alone here, but just to refresh your memory, watch this.

Choose great quality honey to make the most flavorful honey syrup. I had some leftover honey from a recent trip to California. It was a $10 splurge and was the only honey I had on hand, so it was a little over-the-top this time!

Along with their Honey Chamomile, DRAM’s Hair-of-the-Dog and Wild Mountain Sage bitters are staples in my kitchen.


The Bee’s Knees Cocktail


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounces honey syrup
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • dash of DRAM Honey Chamomile bitters {optional}
  • spring of thyme for garnish {optional}

First, prepare the honey syrup.  It is easier to make than you’d think.  Place equal parts honey and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until dissolved.  For two or three drinks, I used 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of water, and the amount was perfect.  Set the honey syrup aside on your countertop to cool.

When you are ready to make the cocktail, build ice in a shaker tin and add the gin, honey syrup, lemon juice, and bitters.  Shake well and pour into a glass.  I still need to get some great coupes, so I used a short martini glass. For a fun variation on the classic preparation, serve this same cocktail over ice and top with soda water.  You still get to enjoy the intensity of the honey and lemon, along with bubbles and less of a bite.

A few tips?  Never settle for anything other than freshly squeezed lemon juice.  It makes all the difference in the world in a great cocktail.  Quality spirits make quality drinks.  You don’t have to go overboard with your spending, but do try to catch quality spirits on sale and stock up.  I have especially enjoyed using DRAM Apothecary’s bitters to bring balance or a burst of flavor in my cocktails.  Their Honey Chamomile bitters are excellent dashed in hot tea, as well.  Then again, you can always craft your own.


The Buzz on the Bee’s Knees Elsewhere


  • Lavender Bee’s Knees from Epicurious – Lavender pairs perfectly with the flavors of honey and lemon.  I’ll be making one of these soon.
  • PUNCH Drink‘s spin on the Bee’s Knees – A different ratio than mine, but still delicious.  They always nail their cocktails.
  • The Bee’s Knees by Post Prohibition – Their well-organized and informative site will stir your creativity even further, but their Bee’s Knees cocktail is a great place to start!

I am closing with some photos from late March and early April.  Steve helped me celebrate a lovely birthday in late March.  I’ll include some Instagrams in the collage and add some captures from the early April backyard garden.  I’d L-O-V-E to hear about any spring-inspired or gin cocktails you are making.  Have a spectacular Thursday!

Part of the deal with living in Colorado: dealing with the snows one day and 70-degree, sunny weather the next. I salvaged these daffodils by covering them with a bucket. What we do for our treasured flowers! ;-)

Part of the deal with living in Colorado: dealing with the snows one day and 70-degree, sunny weather the next. I salvaged these daffodils by covering them with a bucket. What we do for our treasured flowers! 😉

This portion of the garden will transform over the next few months.  I am so excited to add more wine barrels to use with pepper, tomatoes, and beans.

This portion of the garden will transform over the next few months. I am so excited to add more wine barrels to use with pepper, tomatoes, and beans.

My workstation! Ha! A nice pour of Miner Chardonnay, and I am good to design any garden!

Sunning the seeds. Making the donuts.

Our two-bin compost system. We built it ourselves, using mostly materials we already had in our barn. I seriously get happy just bringing out scraps to toss in!

Finishing the compost bin plans! Some serious air here…

Black Krims, Romas, Brandywines, Sun Golds, Sweet Cherries, and German Johnsons.

Taking a well-deserved break after building the compost bin, Steve enjoys a Bee’s Knees cocktail.

a new home for the houseplants

Well, hello, after a little break!  I hope you are enjoying the new year and are delving into lots of fun projects and holding true to your resolutions, if you made them.  I finally gave up my streak of baking pies, cookies, and cakes every other day, and I temporarily traded in my apron for my running shoes.  I am feeling a lot more invigorated because of the switch!  Until I find some balance, I am locking up the baking chocolate and the sugar.

Over the past few months, our home remodeling process is really showing us what we tend to hoard or obsess over in this house.  As we purge, reorganize, and rediscover “lost” items, while sifting through the boxes and piles, we are finding surplus amounts of the most random things.  Like six bags of brown sugar, each one hardened and collecting dust on a bookshelf in the basement.  How did that happen?!  I also came across five bottles of expired sunscreen, six pie plates, and four bags of cream of tartar.  I am finding that the more unorganized we are, the more the waste and clutter piles up.  It is time to shake things up around here.

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putting the gardens to bed for the season

Prompted again by another “Grow Write Guild” post, I am writing about the transition that occurs in the garden during the fall.  It is such a beautiful time of year that builds in color, fans its vibrant wings, and flies by almost too quickly to experience its magnitude.

Fall.

Even the word itself suggests movement, transition, and change.  When I grew up in Florida, I didn’t experience the full spectrum of seasonal change, as I do now in Colorado.  I kept poinsettias on my front porch throughout the month of December, cranked down the AC in order to build fires in the fireplace, and wore sweaters any day below 70 degrees, sweating, yet smiling, along the way.  I forced an excuse to celebrate a change in season or temperature, despite the fact that my climate didn’t let me fully experience it.

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peach sage galettes | paired with bellinis

…because summer is such a hard habit to break!

Fare thee well, summer, but just before I officially express my sorrow, concerning your all too soon departure, I think I will sit and savor the lingering ripe peaches you’ve recently sent my way.  You’d better cue the music.  I picked up about ten last-of-the-season peaches from the farmer’s market a couple weeks ago.  They were harvested a little early and tasted a bit under-ripe, but with a little bubbles-inspired creativity on a chilly afternoon, some magic happened.  And I know it has been a while since I last posted, but I’ve got some pretty good excuses for my absence…

Proudly grown by Ela Family Farms, these peaches hail from Hotchkiss, Colorado.  The almost ripe peaches actually gave the galette a firmer texture, a blessing in disguise.  Riding Colorado’s proverbial fall mood swing, along with our trending weather patterns, I have found myself vacillating between wearing sandals and thumbing fashion magazines for riding boots.  Making sangria and dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes.  Sunning on the back porch and selecting yarn for my next chunky scarf.   Our garden has also been in what I’ll call an “indecisive panic mode” for about two weeks now.  An early fall frost sent our red, ripe tomatoes directly off the vine and into the Vitamix, but our late plantings of radishes, arugula, and parsley are still thriving.  This particular recipe bridges the gap between that slow, lazy sweetness of summer and invites the cozy, spiced warmth of fall.

DSC_0144

What exactly is a galette?  It is basically a free-form tart or pie.  Widely used in French cooking, galettes provide a rustic, crisp crust and are much less pretentious than a formal tart.  Don’t fret that you won’t be able to bake this simple, rustic galette because peach season has ended.  Substitute fresh peaches with other stone-fruits, pears, apples, or berries that are in season right now.  Galettes can also be prepared sweet or savory; I am going to tinker around with a chanterelle and caramelized onion version this week, since I happen to have some leftover mushrooms from my recent trip to Oregon.

Peach Sage Galette

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 4 to 5 yellow peaches, pitted, and sliced [slightly under-ripe, if possible]
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped, fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • lemon zest for garnish [optional}

Ingredients for the crust {yields two crusts}:

  • 2 cups  flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing the crust
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar, for garnish

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the pitted, sliced peaches, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sage, and raw sugar.  Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  4. Pour into a food processor.
  5. Add the cubed butter and “pulse” the processor, until 1/4″ sized lumps of butter are visible.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk.  Add to the flour mixture and pulse just until incorporated.
  7. Remove dough from the processor and form into a ball.  Divide into two balls; this recipe yields two crusts.  Bonus!
  8. Store in refrigerator until needed, or you may safely freeze the other ball of pie crust until your next project.
  9. When ready to roll out the dough, set out a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper and lightly flour the surface.  I like to roll my dough on floured paper because I have more control, when lifting it onto the baking sheet.
  10. Set the ball of dough on the floured paper.  Roll and press the dough to form about a 12-inch circle.  You can always alter the size or quantity of these galettes.  Do not over-knead.
  11. Using your hand or a flat spatula, slide under the waxed paper and lift.
  12. Flip the dough-side down onto a floured, rimmed baking sheet.  Carefully lift the wax paper off the rolled-out dough.
  13. Spoon the peach filling onto the center of the dough and carefully fold the outer edges of the dough, overlapping along the way.  Garnish with lemon zest.
  14. Brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle raw sugar over the crust.
  15. Place  in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is browned.  I actually took a propane torch and caramelized the exposed fruit and browned the crust a little further.
  16. Let cool for at least ten minutes and garnish with some vanilla bean ice cream.

Notes:  You may make the crust ahead of time and keep refrigerated.  This particular dough recipe yields two crusts – one for now and one to freeze for later.  I use this versatile dough recipe for my pies and for quiches.  The frozen crust will keep in the freezer up to two months, if stored properly.  If you feel a little lazy or are short on time, a store-bought 9-inch pie crust will substitute nicely.

Yes, as a household, we are still awaiting the delivery of our counter tops.  Until our kitchen renovation is completed, we continue to employ our outdoor grill, the bathtub, and the camping stove as functional appliance substitutes.  In fact, I made this peach galette entirely on the back porch, baking it in our outdoor Weber grill; however, I have adapted this recipe for those of you, who have an actual ovens in your kitchens!  Goes to show that with some Pollyanna-inspired ingenuity, good things can happen.

Always seeking out a cocktail or wine pairing opportunity, I actually found the inspiration for a simple cocktail, while rummaging in my refrigerator door.  Prosecco and peaches are a classic combination:  bellinis are comprised simply of peach purée and a healthy dose of the aforementioned sparkling wine from Italy.  How to make this refreshing, bubbly treat?  Take one pitted peach and blend it until smooth.  Don’t even bother peeling it.  Depending upon the peach’s ripeness, add a little agave nectar or a squeeze of lemon to balance the acidity.  Spoon a dollop of the purée into a martini glass or Champagne flute and slowly top with dry bubbly, like Mionetto Prosecco.  I garnished my bellini with a freshly picked pineapple sage leaf.  Gently squeeze the sage leaf in your hands to further release the aroma.

I am closing with some snapshots of the garden before last weekend’s freeze.  In one afternoon, the previous months of bounty aside, we harvested almost 200 tomatoes, 6 acorn squashes, over 100 peppers, 50 tomatillos, along with one amazing cantaloupe, a head of red cabbage, one giant Blue Hubbard squash, and too many herbs to dry at once.  I am gearing up to make some green tomato chutney this afternoon, before heading in for work.  And after enjoying two consecutive days off, I can say that I feel fully rested and ready to tackle almost anything.  Over the past three weeks, I have either been studying for my level two sommelier certification exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, creating and crafting juice “mocktails” for a farm dinner, or stomping grapes and making wine for a week in Oregon.  More on those adventures soon.  So ready for a slower paced fall.  Way too ready for another peach bellini!