Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pan Roasted Halibut with Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans

Today, let us take a moment to appreciate beans. You heard me right! Suffice to say, I love legumes of all varieties. They're full of nutrients and protein, they're filling and did I mention delicious? For months, I've been hearing about Rancho Gordo, a farm in California that specializes in growing heirloom beans and sells them online and in gourmet stores. They also even have a cookbook that's available on Amazon! Before I left Los Angeles for the lush green landscape of Floyd, I had a farewell lunch at Cube and noticed they sold the beans in their gourmet store. Excitedly, I snatched up a bag of Christmas Lima Beans - large, beautiful brown and white speckled beans that the package declared had a chestnut flavor - and toted them to Floyd as a gift for my mother, The Original Diva.

We decided to soak them overnight and then slow cook them all day, only flavoring them with a little olive oil and salt. I asked her, "How much should I make?"

"The whole bag!" she replied enthusiastically.

The whole bag it was - and let me say there were a lot of limas! The beans cooked up beautifully. So now what? I searched through the fridge and conspired with The Original Diva to arrive at our night's menu. We had some lovely halibut from local provider Indigo Farms. We also had loaded up at Green's Garage on local, organic yellow tomatoes earlier in the week. So we decided to pan roast the halibut and serve it over corn cakes (made special by The Original Diva) with fresh yellow tomato salsa and, of course, the Christmas Lima Beans!

This dish surpassed our expectations, delicate and delicious, with great flavors that blended together seamlessly. A true winner that I'm sharing today!

Note: The slow-cooked Lima Beans may be made and served as a great side dish to any meal!

Domestic Diva's Pan Roasted Halibut with Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans

2 4 oz. halibut filets
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt & pepper

Lima Beans:
1/2 package Rancho Gordo Christmas Lima Beans
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

Corn Cakes:
2 cups grits, cooked
1/2 cup corn kernals (can be frozen & defrosted)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt & pepper

1 yellow tomato, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp thyme
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp good olive oil
crumbled feta cheese (I used a local goat feta cheese from Sterling Bridge Dairy)
salt & pepper


To make the lima beans, soak them overnight. In the morning, place them in a slow cooker and cover with filtered water. Add the olive oil and slow cook them on low all day until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the corn cakes, add the corn kernals to the grits and season to taste with salt and pepper. In a cast iron or frying pan, heat the oil. Shape the grits into small, flat pancakes and fry them in the pan, flipping once, until golden and crisp on the outside. Set aside.

To make the salsa, combine the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, feta and thyme and toss together. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the halibut, salt and pepper both sides of the filets. In a saute pan, heat the oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the fish, sauteing on each side, until cooked through. Remove from heat.

To plate, place a corn cake in the center of the plate. Top with a piece of fish. Sprinkle lima beans around the plate. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of salsa on top of the fish. Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned in This Post:

Rancho Gordo

Purveyor of heirloom beans, their product can be purchased online or at gourmet stores like Cube (see below). They also sell a cookbook on beans that can be purchased on Amazon.
Click here for their website!


615 N La Brea Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90036-2013

(323) 939-1148

One of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles, it's a combo restaurant and gourmet store. They specialize in Italian food and wines and feature a fabulous cheese bar. One of my favorite seasonal dishes is a peach, heirloom tomato, mozzarella & aged balsamic salad. They sell Rancho Gordo products.

Indigo Farms
(540) 763-2323

Serving the New River Valley since 1993, they're providers of fresh seafood and specialty meats.
Click here to visit their website and see their schedule!

Sterling Bridge Dairy
242 Sterling Bridge Rd.
Willis VA, 24380

Producers of both fresh and aged cow's milk and goat's milk cheeses, they're a family run operation in Willis, VA. They raise their own grassfed livestock and use a variety of sustainable practices to ensure they make the highest quality cheese.
Click here to visit their website & read more about them!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Hey Divas! I'm back from a whirlwind weekend at the Greenbrier, a beautiful hotel right over the border in West Virginia that dates back to 1778. The brief reprieve from was much needed, but I'm happy to report that I'm back at the stove and ready to bring you tons more great recipes this week. First up, I'm blogging one of the best soups I've made in recent memory - Curried Cauliflower Soup. This recipe is vegetarian, so as promised, I'm continuing to bring you great meatless recipes at least once a week!

This soup is a cinch to throw together after a long day at work and it's filling enough to eat for dinner. Oh, and did I mention that it boasts awesome health benefits? Curry, a mix of different herbs and spices, has been shown to be one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories you can consume. This is primarily due to the presence or tumeric, the spice that lends curry it's bright yellow color, which is both a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Tumeric has also been used in lab studies to treat cancerous tumors. In other words, the more curry you eat, the better, and this soup is a great way to get more tumeric into your diet!

Curried Cauliflower Soup

1 head organic cauliflower, chopped
2 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and freshly ground pepper

optional: garlic chives or parsley for garnishing


Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until cooked, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, toast the curry powder over medium low heat for a few minutes until it becomes fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Add the toasted curry powder to the pan and mix with the onion and celery. Cook for another two minutes.

Add the cauliflower, potatoes and stock and bring to a bowl. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower and potatoes are cooked through.

Puree the soup until smooth and then return to the stove top. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with chopped garlic chives or parsley. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Favetta & Prosciutto Crostinis

I'm in love with fava beans! They're one of my favorite ingredients, usually only available seasonally. Sure popping them out of their shells, blanching them, then peeling them again seems like a lot of work, but it's worth it for the chance to feast on these beauties. A little known fact is that fava beans aren't really even beans at all - they actually belong to the pea family, which makes sense given their pods. Extremely high in fiber (85% of the RDV) and iron (30% of the RDV), they're also very low in sodium and contain no cholesterol or fat. Fava beans are much more commonly found in Mediterranean cuisine than stateside, but if it were up to me, that would change!

After procuring some organic fava beans via my organic vegetable delivery service, I set about making a dish I've wanted to try for some time called favetta, a fava bean paste constructed almost like a pesto. After meditating on my ingredients for awhile, I settled on my own version of the recipe I wanted to try. Key to the dish is fresh lemon juice - the acid really makes this recipe sing. I also threw in some lovely rocket arugula, an extra health kick, walnuts and lots of fresh garlic. The result was a spread so rich and delicious, it was mind-boggling that it didn't contain any cheese. I served my favetta over toasted french bread, piled high with La Quercia prosciutto.

I loved it so much, I even made a prosciutto and faveta sandwich the next day, piling it onto toasted organic spelt bread. This is without question my favorite thing I've made in weeks. The only sad part is that once favas go out of season, I'll have to wait a year to eat it again! Although I'm considering trying the same recipe with edamame if I can't wait.

Domestic Diva's Favetta & Prosciutto Crostinis

1 cup fava beans, blanched & peeled
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup arugula or parsley
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 tbsp walnuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt & pepper
French baguette, sliced and toasted


Toss all of the favetta ingredients (fava beans, lemon juice, olive oil, walnuts, arugula, garlic) into a food processor. Blend until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the crostinis, pile some prosciutto on the bread then top with a generous serving of favetta. Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Indigo Farms' Broiled Rainbow Trout

When my father, The Wine Lover, announced a few years ago that he was building a trout pond, I gave him a puzzled look.

"Why would you want to do that?" I asked curiously. It seemed like a lot of work involving both building and stocking the thing with fish.

"For fishing!" he replied gleefully, laying out his vision for the glorified pond. "Then we'll always be able to eat fresh trout," he added, knowing that I'd be interested in that aspect of the pond.

Sure enough, he followed his vision and built his pond, complete with bridge, perfect for dropping your lures off, gazebo, and stocked full of golden, rainbow and brook trout. Several times a week, he diligently fed his trout, caring for them, watching them, and apparently growing very attached to them. So when the time came to catch and eat them, he balked at the idea. They'd become his pets by this time, and you can't eat your pets, can you?

But what about his empty promises of fresh trout? In steps one of the best business to hit the Blue Ridge area: Indigo Farms. The brainchild of Susan and Teresa, Indigo Farms provides the region with the freshest fish and specialty meats available. They drive a refrigerated truck down to the docks in North Carolina, load up the best product, and then deliver it to local mountain towns that might otherwise be deprived of fresh fish. When I say the quality of the fish they procure is better than I find at Whole Foods in Los Angeles, I mean it! It's truly an unbelievable service.

Susan & Teresa of Indigo Farms

Last Saturday, The Original Diva and I loaded up in her car and headed over to Harvest Moon where Indigo Farms was dispensing their fish that day. Their setup is run out of the back of their truck and features a white board listing all the fish, meats and specialty products that they're offering that day, including great items like fresh horseradish and Kobe Burgers. We selected halibut (recipe forthcoming later this week), wild caught salmon & of course, fresh trout. They packed everything in ice for us and we returned home, excited to plan meals around our purchases.

The Original Diva and I conferred about the trout, and we decided that our favorite cooking method for this particular fish was broiling. It's super healthy and really showcases the fresh, delicate taste of the trout. This is the simplest recipe in the world - not to mention it's super healthy. When we finally settled down to dinner, I was blown away by how fresh the fish tasted - like it had just been plucked out of my father's trout pond after all!

Domestic Diva's Indigo Farms Broiled Trout
Serves 3

3 trout filets
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
1 tsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper


Set the oven to broil. Meanwhile layout the trout filets in a pan. Drizzle them with the olive oil and lemon juice. Then sprinkle with the chili flakes, parsley, salt & pepper.

Place the pan in the oven under the broiler and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. Note: trout cooks very quickly. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Business mentioned in this post:

Indigo Farms
(540) 763-2323

Serving the New River Valley since 1993, they're providers of fresh seafood and specialty meats. Click here to visit their website and see their schedule!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

To all you fathers out there, Happy Father's Day! I'm in Virginia celebrating with my father, The Wine Lover. It's a beautiful day in Floyd - breezy, not too hot. We'll be cooking up a feast tonight - surf and turf style - with grilled filet mignon & lobster tails. But the best treat of the evening will come from the cellar. We're digging deep and opening up a 1983 Chateau Margaux, a wine that Robert Parker called, "breathtaking" and scored with 96 points. One of the big boys of Bordeaux, I'm excited to try this wine for the first time. The Wine Lover has been aging it for years, so it's extra special. It should be aged enough to be drinking beautifully now. Afterwards, we'll be sipping one of my favorite wines, Chateau d'Yquem, the best sauternes in the world if you ask me!

So enjoy your Sundays! And check in this week. I have lots of great recipes cooked up!

The Diva

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Gazpacho with Local Goat Feta Cheese

The Diva coming to you live from Floyd, Virginia, a beautiful mountain community nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the next three weeks, I'll be shopping, cooking and eating in residence and my goal is to discover the best, freshest, local & hopefully organic ingredients. With each post, I'll be highlighting great, local producers of everything from produce to poultry and a whole lot in between. Luckily, I have my mother, the Original Diva, backing me up and my father, the Wine Lover, providing plenty of great wines. With all this love and great food & wine, I'm in for a fabulous trip.

First up, we made a simple, summer recipe that I've been dying to cook up all year: gazpacho. Eating this soup, served cold, is one of the great pleasures in life if you ask me. A chilled mixture of tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumber, it cools you off right away on a hot day. It's also exceptionally healthy, featuring an array of raw, fresh vegetables each with their own health benefits. When combined with a little fresh olive oil which contains good fats that help your body absorb the nutrients in the vegetables, this dish packs a major health punch.

The Diva & Dante at Green's Garage in Floyd, VA

Scouring the local offerings, I journeyed with the Original Diva to one of the best & most improbable places to find produce: a "garage" stocked with food and completely unsupervised. Green's Garage is the brainchild of Tenley Weaver & Dennis Dove, Floyd locals who run a co-op of about 30 local farms called Good Food-Good People. The main focus of their business is supplying restaurants like the one at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, but Green's Garage offers local residents a chance to procure restaurant quality, locally cultivated, organic foods for themselves. Operating on the honor system, you select your purchases, write up your own ticket, and leave money in an envelop. What an amazing way to shop!

Interior of Green's Garage

The Original Diva and I walked in with one of my parent's humongous Golden Retrievers, Dante, hot on our heels. It's hard to go anywhere without Dante due to his love of all transportation. He'll literally stake out the cars for hours and then leap in as soon as he figures out you're leaving. After Dante proceeded to knock his tail into anything in its radius, we shooed him out the door and hoped he wouldn't venture too far on his own. We immediately began selecting our items, including a handful of locally grown, organic, hydroponic tomatoes. I also grabbed two tubs of the BEST hummus in the world, made fresh by a local resident and CIA graduate.

The Diva at Harvest Moon in Floyd, VA

Once we'd filled our bags and chatted up fellow Green's Garage lover, Susan I., one of our oldest friends, we journeyed over to Harvest Moon, the local health food grocery store and cafe. After bumping into Margie, the owner, and the region's congressman, I found the exact item I'd been searching for to top off the Gazpacho we planned to make for dinner: a fresh goat feta cheese from a local dairy called Sterling Bridge Dairy in Willis, VA. I loved the concept of combining a local farmer's cheese with the fresh, crisp flavors of the gazpacho.

Sterling Bridge Dairy's Goat Feta Cheese

Additionally, we loaded up on fresh fish from local business Indigo Farms, including a huge slab of wild-caught salmon (more on Indigo Farms coming in later posts) and bought two pounds of cherries a Floyd resident had picked from a local farm with hundred year old cherry trees. With that, our dinner menu was set. We'd first feast on the gazpacho with the local feta cheese, then we'd have grilled salmon with roasted asparagus & potatoes, and we'd finish with the cherries for dessert. All of the meal's ingredients were procured from local businesses and almost everything except for the fish was grown or made locally.

With that, The Original Diva and I set about cooking our dinner while we sipped red Burgundy, courtesy of the The Wine Lover, and listened to bluegrass music. While everything we ate was wonderful, the gazpacho was the star dish of the night. The goat feta went exceptionally well with the fresh flavors of the soup, leaving everyone wanting more!

Indigo Farm's Wild Salmon with Marinade

So without further ado, I'm sharing the Original Diva's gazpacho recipe with you lucky divas! Also, keep checking back in for the next few weeks. I'll be bringing you plenty more Floyd-inspired summer recipes featuring local ingredients.

Roasted Asparagus & Potatoes

Domestic Diva's Summer Gazpacho with Local Goat Feta Cheese

1/2 cucumber, seeded & chopped
4 tomatoes, quartered
1 red pepper, seeded & chopped
1/2 red onion, peeled & chopped
1 cup tomato or vegetable juice
2 tbsp good olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp chili flakes or 1 jalapeno, seeded & chopped
salt & pepper
goat feta cheese


Place all the ingredients except the cheese and the salt & pepper in a blender & puree them together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the soup for about an hour in the refrigerator.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Crumble some feta cheese on top. Drizzle with the olive oil. Enjoy!

Local businesses mentioned in this post:

Sterling Bridge Dairy
242 Sterling Bridge Rd.
Willis VA, 24380

Producers of both fresh and aged cow's milk and goat's milk cheeses, they're a family run operation in Willis, VA. They raise their own grassfed livestock and use a variety of sustainable practices to ensure they make the highest quality cheese. Click here to visit their website & read more about them!

Harvest Moon
227 N. Locust St.
Floyd, VA 24091
(540) 745-4366

A local grocery store and cafe, it follows the vision of the Slowfood Movement now sweeping the nation (at least I hope so!). They also feature a lovely cafe with delicious, healthy foods! This gem is truly one of the best things Floyd has to offer! Click here to visit their website and read about them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Piccante Dolce's Vanilla Ricotta with Berries and Balsamic Syrup

Ms. Piccante Dolce is back with her new guest blog! This is the perfect summer recipe - I love her combination of balsamic vinegar with berries and ricotta! Check it out and makes sure to stop by her fabulous blog too! (Click here for Piccante Dolce!) -The Diva

Ms. Piccante Dolce has stopped back in and I thought I'd share with all of you divalicious readers a super easy and elegant dessert. One of the cornerstones of this is the vanilla sugar, a simple thing to make and a great thing to have in your pantry. I made it a week ago and have thrown it into many of my desserts since then, even into my tea. To read how to make it check out my recent post for my Vanilla Bean Cardamom Peach Pie.

With the summer berries just starting to come into season, I wanted to make something that highlighted them, but with a modern twist and that is of course delicious and impressive too! I think I found the perfect combination of all of those things with this dish.

Vanilla Ricotta with Berries and Balsamic Syrup
serve 2

1 cup of part skim ricotta
2 Tbsp vanilla sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp demera sugar
1 cup berries

1. Mix ricotta and vanilla sugar and place in the refrigerator to cool.
2. In a small saucepan bring balsamic vinegar to boil over medium high heat. Lower heat and simmer vinegar until reduce by at least 1/2. Mix in sugar and let cook to a syrupy consistency.
3. Spoon 1/2 cup of ricotta onto a plate, top with 1/2 the berries and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

There you have it, a delicious and easy summer dessert! Perfect for those disgustingly hot days when you don't want to bake something extravagant but still want to impress. You can even make the balsamic syrup on the grill, if you'd rather cook outside. It's also on the healthy end of dessert with the part skim ricotta and fresh berries and not too much sugar per serving, for those that are keeping track. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Guest Blog From Piccante Dolce Coming Tomorrow!

I'm so excited, I had to post that tomorrow we'll be featuring a new guest blog from Piccante Dolce! This time around, she's bringing us a to die for dessert recipe. I'll give you a hint. It features fresh summer berries & ricotta cheese! Wow, I can't wait to make this one for myself! So tune in tomorrow. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Slow-Cooker Vegetable, Bean & Quinoa Soup

As promised, I'm bringing you another meatless recipe for Meatless Mondays! This time around, I'm sharing one of my favorite soups to throw together quickly in my crock pot - it's a total cinch to make. I combine vegetables, beans and quinoa and let it simmer slowly all day long. The beans and quinoa add extra protein to this very healthy dish.

Slow-Cooker Vegetable, Bean & Quinoa Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups mixed vegetables, chopped (fresh or frozen works)
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup quinoa
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 can diced tomatoes
salt & pepper


Add all of the ingredients into the crock pot. Simmer for 4-6 hours, or until cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Diva and The Adorable Monster Take Off!

Today I'm packing up The Adorable Monster and heading for Floyd, Virginia to visit my parents, The Original Diva & The Wine Lover! Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Floyd is an eclectic place to say the least, home to artists, musicians, farmers and many more. My parents live on a beautiful river front property with sprawling mountain views and home to a veritable slew of animals, including two gold retrievers, two cats, three horses and a lovable, 42 year old donkey named Becky.

We're going to be out there for three weeks, plenty of time for the Adorable Monster to get country boot camp including swim lessons, and for me to explore the offerings of this incredible region. I promise to blog on the kitchen creations I make with the Original Diva using locally sourced ingredients! I'll also report on the wines we sample from The Wine Lover's cellar. Additionally, I'll write about the local offerings, hopefully including Oddfellas, a local eatery, The Country Store, home to Friday Night Jamboree Bluegrass nights and local wineries like Villa Appalachia and Chateau Morrisette. We also have a trip planned to the Greenbrier, the five diamond luxery hotel and resort in West Virginia. And finally, for The Wine Lover's 6oth birthday, The Original Diva and I will be cooking up a feast.

So divas, hold onto your horses and stay tuned! This promises to be a whirlwind trip full of food, wine & fun. I can't wait, now hopefully the Monster will survive the plane trip and not annoy the other passengers too much! Off we go!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Diva Visits Susan Feniger's Street!

Clams with Black Pepper Sauce

The Diva is back with another divalicious restaurant review!

This time, I dropped in on Susan Feniger's new LA hot spot, Street, with Kuzak and The Chicago Foodie for dinner. The restaurant showcases a unique concept. Based on Chef Feniger's travels, the menu is based on street food from around the world. I was curious to check it out because usually I'm not a fan of combining so many styles together. I find that it can overextend a menu and a kitchen. My mantra is that it's better to one thing great than a lot of things good, but I'd heard so many good things from so many people.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My New Guest Blog Is Up On Piccante Dolce!

Divas, you MUST head over to Piccante Dolce to check out my new guest blog! This time around, I made Tilapia with Springs Onions & Heirloom Tomato Salad. Click on the link below to read it.

Click here to read my new guest blog on Piccante Dolce!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Guest Blog On Piccante Dolce!

Divas, I have exciting news to report! My latest and greatest guest blog will be debuting on Piccante Dolce tomorrow! This month, I made a great spring recipe: Tilapia with Spring Onions & Heirloom Tomato Salad. I promise you're going to love this dish. So check in tomorrow - and in the meantime, check out Jen H.'s fabulous blog!

Click here to view Piccante Dolce!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Meatless Monday: Apple-Walnut Corn Muffins!

Hope you're all having divalicious weekends! Earlier this week, I blogged about the health benefits of walnuts, so today I'm bringing a delicious, healthy recipe. I love the combination of the apples and walnuts baked into the cornbread - it's positively mouth-watering! As promised, this is another meat-free recipe. Make a batch of muffins on Sunday and enjoy them through the week for breakfast, or serve them with dinner.

Domestic Diva's Vegan Apple & Walnut Corn Muffins

Makes 8-10 small muffins

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour (I used a spelt flour)
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rice or soy milk
1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, diced
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients (vanilla, rice milk, oil) and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring to combine, but be careful not to over beat the mixture. Add the apples and walnuts and mix them into the batter.

Oil a muffin tin and then spoon the mixture into it, filling each spot. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Virginia Is For Ham Lovers!

So as many of you may know, I herald from the great state of Virginia. While we're famous for many things from giant neon stars to rodeo stunts gone awry (ever see the Borat movie?), when it comes to cuisine, it's all about the Virginia ham. Over the years, it's been diluted and manufactured for grocery stores, but a new generation of enthusiasts are trying to go back to the old school recipes and bring it back to its full culinary glory. My Top Chef brother has been curing his own meats at Picco's and has recently decided to take on the Virginia ham. Now it will be some time before the results are appropriately aged, so my fingers are crossed. I can't wait to try his ham! It just might be in a few years...

Click here for a great NY Times article on Virginia ham!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Diva Cooks The NY Times' Fish Stew Recipe!

As promised, I cooked the NY Times' "Easy Fish Stew with Mediterranean Flavors" recipe last week. I'm always looking for new ways to prepare fish and love making stews, so I thought this might be a nice addition to my repertoire. For my fish, I chose cod, a lovely white fish that flakes nicely when cooked. It's both flavorful and healthy, full of great fish oils and protein. I made sure to add some chili flakes to my recipe because I love to have some kick with my food. Otherwise, I followed the recipe closely and the results were great! A healthy, filling dish that makes a complete meal, especially when paired with a salad. I'd recommend this recipe if you're looking for a something easy and delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Click here for the NY Times recipe!

Wine Pairing Notes: Tablas Creek 2006 Syrah

Diva Rating: 3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

I've been really enjoying all of Tablas Creek's recent offerings, and this Syrah was no exception. Located in Paso Robles, they specialize in Rhone varietals, producing both great red and white wines. Fruity and structured with a nice finish. This wine held up well to food and fought off the spiciness of the stew, holding its own the whole night. I usually drink their Syrah in their Rhone blend wines, but alone it showed how great their individual components are. I highly recommend checking out Tablas Creek for affordable, fantastic wines! They remain one of my favorite producers year in and year out.