Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chilled Potato Soup with Smoked Trout

Fresh trout is one of my favorite fish to cook! It's a clean, healthy, inexpensive and positively delicious. I've blogged about it before (click here), but there's a new way to incorporate it into a dish.

In honor of my almost-vegan summer, here's a recipe for a Chilled Potato Soup topped with a tiny piece of smoked trout. It's a great way to use leftover trout if you made it for dinner the night before, or you could buy smoked trout and use it on this soup (the smoke flavor would taste great). If you want to make it vegan, simply, leave off the trout and sprinkle with dill and drizzle with olive oil!

Note: This soup is also delicious served hot!

Domestic Diva's Chilled Potato Soup with Rainbow Trout

1 smoked trout fillet
8 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp fresh dill
salt & pepper


In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of olive olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 6-8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic & chili flakes and saute for 1 more minute. Add the potatoes and the bay leaf, cover with the stock, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

Allow to cool, remove the bay leaf, and then puree in a blender until smooth & creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then, place the soup in the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours. Note: Because this soup is served chilled, you may need extra salt to bring out the flavor.

To plate, ladle soup into bowls. Top with a piece of rainbow trout, drizzle with olive oil, squeeze a little lemon and sprinkle with dill. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

rainbow trout, organic yukon gold potatoes and Le Soste di Ulisse extra virgin olive oil from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Pearl Jam - No Code
Andrew Bird - Noble Beast

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Diva Visits The Hollywood Farmer's Market! Domestic Diva's Clams with Purple Spring Onions & Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

For the food lover, the farmer's market is mecca! Filled with booth after booth of farmer's hocking their bounty, it's the best place to score the freshest, best tasting, healthiest foods available. It's also a great way to support your local farmers. Chefs from top restaurants regularly scour these markets, searching for ingredients for their daily specials. And if you think it's only fruits and vegetables, think again! Often, you'll find fish and poultry vendors, cheese makers, honey producers, and much more. Oh, and did I mention the prices? This is also a great way to get a deal on the best product available.

In Los Angeles, we're fortunate to have many farmer's markets, but if you ask me, there is none better than The Hollywood Farmer's market. This blessed event occurs on Sunday mornings between 8am and 1pm.

The Hollywood Farmers' Market is a "certified" open-air street market with approximately 90 farmers, 30 local artisans, and 30 baked goods and prepared food vendors who sell their own products every Sunday. It is a direct-to-consumer marketplace with all produce and products from local, California vendors and growers.

Besides offering a fantastic variety of the freshest California-grown fruits and vegetables, the Hollywood Farmers' Market has increasingly become a destination shopping venue. Other products include honey, fish, free-range poultry and eggs, bison meat, gouda cheese, olives, mushrooms, sprouts, jams, jellies, fruit juices, specialty sauces and dips, dried fruit and nuts, an espresso cart, Mexican, Caribbean, Middle-Eastern and many other ethnic foods prepared at the market, hot crepes, breads, cookies, clothing, jewelry, gifts and so much more.

Are you hungry yet? I certainly was when I ventured to the market on Sunday morning, armed with a canvas tote bag and my wallet, ready to procure the best product for my next meals. I parked at Arclight ($2 parking with validation) and walked up Ivar, joining the throng of shoppers crowded around booths full of fruits & vegetables. Ahh, the bounty of summer! I first made a lap all the way down, surveying the items that looked most appealing to me, before I committed to buy anything. I was searching for unusual items that aren't always available at the grocery store, things that would inspire me to cook great food! No small task. Also, luckily, there are many organic vendors at the Hollywood Farmer's Market, and I'm very committed to eating mostly organic product.

My first acquisition was not a fruit or vegetable. It was cheese. Incredible, fresh, melt in your Bufala mozzarella to be exact from a specialty vendor ($8). I also picked up some free range eggs ($4). Then, I approached what I'll call the oyster booth - a vendor specializing in oysters, clams and mussels - offering to shuck them right there for you to guzzle on the spot! Next time, I'll bring Kuzak with me, an avowed oyster lover, and we'll chow down. But it wasn't the oysters that caught my eye - it was the lovely clams, fresh as could be, sectioned off into 2 pound mesh bags. I requested a bag, which they kindly packed in in ice ($10 for 2 pounds).

Alright, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty of choosing my produce. My house was already stocked with peaches and heirloom tomatoes, by far the most popular items at the market, so I bypassed those vendors, looking for more unusual items. After some thought, I settled on a few great vegetables from a vendor mostly selling organic, heirloom varietals. Into my canvas bag went purple spring onions, a glorious deep purple shade of these baby onions, yellow haricots verts, slim, fashionable French green beans, a bunch of baby carrots with the tops still attached, and purple and white spotted shell beans, the main ingredient in traditional pasta e fagioli, an Italian pasta & bean soup that I adore. These four vegetables cost me a total of $6. Finally, I stopped at the Kenter Canyon Farms booth for some organic rosemary and thyme ($2 per bunch).

Positively giddy from my acquisitions, I hurried home, my menu for the night's dinner already taking shape in my mind. I wanted to cook the clams in a sauce that felt like the essence of summer itself, chocked full of spring onions and baby tomatoes, and finished off with basil. Now, I know many of you might be intimidated by the prospect of cooking bivalves like mussels and clams, but I assure you it is hands down one of the simplest things to add to your culinary arsenal. I served the clams family style as a starter course, but they easily could have been a main dish, especially when tossed with pasta (maybe next time)! The clams were so sweet, delicate, luxurious, so good in fact, that after the last clam had been polished off, Kuzak and I ate the sauce with our spoons as if it was soup.

For our main course, we feasted on pan roasted yellowtail served over the yellow haricots verts which I'd delicately blanched, and topped off with a citrus reduction studded with the last of the purple spring onions. As a side dish, I added my slow-cooked white beans, which had been simmering in my crock pot all day with garlic and the herbs I'd picked up that morning. Wow, what a great meal! I'll be back at the market this Sunday without fail.

In the coming weeks, I promise to share all of these recipes, but in the meantime, here's my recipe for the clams. This dish was a true winner! Looking to make it into a complete meal? Toss it with pasta or serve it with bread (to sop up the sauce) and a salad!

Domestic Diva's Clams with Purple Spring Onions & Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

2 lbs clams
1 bunch purple spring onions, roots removed and bulbs thinly sliced (regular spring onions can be used)
1 cup baby heirloom or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper


In a heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and tomatoes, sauteing for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Add the wine and half the basil and bring to a simmer, reducing the sauce in half. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper and add the clams.

Cover and steam the clams for about 5-10 minutes, until all the clams have opened. Remove from the heat. Squeeze lemon juice on top and sprinkle with the remaining basil. Serve family style in a big bowl. Enjoy!

Businesses Mentioned:

Hollywood Farmer's Market
Sunday 8am - 1pm

Ivar & Selma Ave. between Hollywood & Sunset Blvd.
Parking at Arclight $2 with market validation

Kenter Canyon Farms
11069 Penrose St.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

Local producer that grows & sells great lettuces & herbs, including organic rocket arugula. Their products can be found at Whole Foods and farmer's markets.

Source for Ingredients:

organic purple spring onions & manila clams from Hollywood Farmer's Market

organic baby heirloom tomatoes, organic basil & organic lemons from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Buffalo Springfield Box Set - Disc 3
U2 - Achtung Baby
Ben Harper - Live From Mars Disc 2
Death Cab for Cutie - Plans
The Ethan Iverson Trio - The Minor Passions

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Almost-Vegan Summer! Domestic Diva's Chilled Peach & Cucumber Soup with Redwood Hill Farm's Goat Milk Yogurt

With the advent of summer, I'm reminded of my love of seasonal eating. In the winter, when the temperatures plunge, I have a hunkering for hearty comfort foods and big, heady red wines. My oven becomes my best friend as I roast, braise and bake my way through the winter. I whip up hearty cassoulet, braise meaty stews, roast chickens and stew all manner of soups. Always happy to provide the wine, Kuzak dispenses hearty cabernets, big California syrahs and Rhone blends. Our cups runneth over.

By the time spring dissolves into summer, my appetite also changes into something different altogether. I begin to crave lighter meals, chocked full of the fresh fruits and vegetables that make summer the best time to eat. I toss together salads, blends of barely blanched organic vegetables and fruit, puree up chilled soups, and mix up ceviches spiked, with spicy peppers and chilled fish. For dessert, I eat fruit, fruit and more fruit. To wet our appetites, Kuzak serves up crisp, Burgundian whites and lots and lots of pinot noir (with the occasional syrah still thrown in for good measure).

This summer, I've decided to commit to an almost-vegan approach to dining. While it sounds radical, it's quite simple and fulfilling. The centerpieces to my meals will be the vegetables and fruits, foods usually relegated to side dishes in this country. Any dairy will consist mainly of fresh cheeses thrown in here and there for good measure. Proteins will consist mainly of fish and seafood served in tiny portions and pushed to the side to make room for the bounty of summer. The meals will be light, succulent, delicate, a little bit like summer itself.

Last night, the A-Girl came over for a hike and a light, healthy summer dinner. Having just visited Fish King in Glendale (more to come on this trip in later posts), I was fortunate enough to have a kitchen full of fresh seafood. So for our dinner, I threw together a jumbo scallop ceviche, chocked full of spicy serrano peppers and red onion, served over creamy avocado slices. We also dined on a red rice "risotto" studded with black olives and ribbons of parmesan reggiano and jumbo shrimp loaded up with garlic and lemon. The grand finale? A simple salad of butter lettuce and heirloom tomatoes.

Sounds like a lot of food, right? For protein portions, we dined on one scallop and two shrimp per person. That's it, but I promise no one left hungry, and even my offering of fresh peaches and blackberry cabernet sorbet for dessert was declined. So begins my almost-vegan summer.

I make a few solemn oaths in the pursuit of my almost-vegan summer:

1) Flavor will not be sacrificed! After all, I am the Domestic Diva. My creed is that life is too short to eat bad food or drink bad wine. My dishes will all be chocked full of flavor.

2) You won't even notice what you're missing! For proteins, I'll be mainly relying on small portions of fish & seafood (4 oz per person or less), nuts and beans. Occasionally, chicken or pork may be thrown in for diversity. I promise you won't even notice what's not on the plate!

3) Variety, variety, variety! I will be capitalizing on all the bounty that summer provides. Expect vibrant colors to be lighting up my plates.

4) Chill out! I'll also be whipping up a lot of chilled dishes to stave off the often sweltering summer heat.

To get you started, here's a chilled soup recipe! It takes advantage of the amazing peaches in season right now, combining them with cucumbers, for a nice twist on the traditional cucumber soup. Even Kuzak, who views cucumbers as his arch nemesis, enjoyed eating it!

A few notes on this recipe: I used a goat milk yogurt because I love the flavor, but plain cow milk yogurt will suffice. Also, when it comes to peaches, this is an ingredient I recommend buying organic if possible. Peaches carry one of the highest pesticide loads of any fruit or vegetable. Because they're in season right now, organic peaches can be found for very reasonable prices at farmer's markets and yes, even Whole Foods (they were selling them for $1.99 a pound last week). And finally, while this soup can be served in bowls, it's also great poured it into shot glasses and handed out, kind of like the perfect "amuse-bouche" to kick off a summer BBQ dinner!

Domestic Diva's Chilled Peach & Cucumber Soup with Redwood Hill Farm's Goat Milk Yogurt

2 cucumbers, peeled & seeded
2 large peaches, peeled & pit removed
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper
1/2 cup fresh dill
1 cup plain goat milk yogurt (cow milk yogurt may be substituted)
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 tbsp good olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 cup filtered water or vegetable stock
salt & pepper


In a blender, add all the ingredients except the water/stock. Puree the soup, adding only as much water/stock as necessary to thin the soup to the desired texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours (can be made a day in advance and chilled overnight).

To serve, dish out the soup and then garnish with a little fresh dill. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

organic cucumbers, Redwood Hill Farm goat milk yogurt & organic dill from Whole Foods

organic peaches from LOVE Delivery

Music on Tap:
Peter Gabriel - Miss from Hit/Miss
Eric Clapton - Just One Night (live)
Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Diva & The A-Girl Check Out Osteria Mozza!

Osteria Mozza's Cannolis

As many of you divas may recall, the last time I dined at Osteria Mozza, I was taken by the food, but not so much by the front of the house. I was forced to wait almost an hour for a reservation I'd made a month in advance. So while I thought the food and wine service were impeccable, my experience with the reservation process left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn't help but recall one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes where Jerry goes up to the car rental desk only to be told they don't have the car he reserved.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pan Seared Sea Bass with Tarragon Pesto & Chickpea Puree

The heat wave continues! Another nearly ninety degree day. Why did I choose to live in a house without central A/C again? This morning I spirited The Adorable Monster off to the dog park before it got too hot, where we decamped in the shade. Of all the dogs in the giant dog park, who do you think he decided to hump? A giant, black Newfoundland - pretty much the hugest dog in the whole park. Thankfully, the Newfie was also the sweetest dog, and he playfully pushed the Monster off, at which point, he rolled on his back in total surrender while the Newfie licked his face. Total cuteness!

So today I'm sharing another recipe - this one is a light, summery fish dish. I pan seared Sea Bass and served it over a delicate chickpea puree, topping it off with a tarragon pesto. I love to pair tarragon with seafood and this is a nice twist on the traditional basil pesto. This dish is a snap to make, impressive enough to serve to company and absolutely delicious!

Domestic Diva's Pan Seared Sea Bass with Tarragon Pesto & Chickpea Puree

2 pieces of sea bass (mine were 4-5 oz each)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper

tarragon pesto:
1/2 cup fresh tarragon
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 olive oil
2 garlic cloves
salt & pepper

chickpea puree:
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1/4 good olive oil
salt & pepper


To make the pesto, combine the ingredients into a small food processor or blender, grinding it up until it forms a nice paste. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

To make the chickpeas, add the olive oil and chickpeas into the food processor or a blender and puree until smooth and creamy. A little water or chicken broth may be added as needed to thin it out. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the sea bass, season the fillets on either side with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium high heat until almost smoking. Add the fish, cooking for a few minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove from the pan.

To plate, spread some of the chickpea puree on the bottom of a plate. Top with the fish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over it. Spoon some of the tarragon pesto on top of the fish. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

sustainably-fished sea bass, organic tarragon & organic chickpeas from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher (still enjoying this one!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grilled Lobster Tails with Tarragon, Lemon & Garlic

Summer is here with a vengeance! In Los Angeles we've been weathering a two week heat wave with temperatures soaring into the 90s almost every day. Even the Adorable Monster has been a little less energetic lately, curling up on the kitchen floor to try to cool off. My cooking habits have also shifted, mostly due to the fact that the idea of standing in front of a hot stove sounds torturous, especially considering my lack of air conditioning. Not to mention that using the oven would be a crime against humanity and monsters alike.

Instead, I've taken to making chilled soups, lots of salads, and of course, firing up the grill, that staple of summer life. One of my favorite things to throw on the grill is lobster tails! I love the way finishing them on the grill gives them more flavor than just boiling. There's something about grilling lobster that just feels decadent and wonderful, too. To add some zip, I baste them with a butter sauce loaded with tarragon, lemon and tons of garlic. I served them with corn and a salad for the perfect summer meal. Even Kuzak, not a huge lobster fan, was licking his fingers at the end of the meal.

Domestic Diva's Grilled Lobster Tails with Tarragon, Lemon & Garlic

4 lobster tails
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp tarrgon, chopped
salt & pepper


First, parboil the lobster tails by placing them in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes, depending on the size of the tails. Remove from the water when still just a little bit undercooked and allow to cool.

Once the shells have cooled, flip the tails on their backs and slice down the middle of the meat, leaving the shell intact.

To make the sauce, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the lemon, garlic and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the grill. Once it's hot, place the lobster tails on the grill with their shells down. Generously baste them with the sauce while they finish cooking. Remove from the grill and enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

lobster tails (on sale for the 4th of July), organic tarragon & organic butter from Whole Foods

organic garlic from LOVE delivery

Music on Tap:

Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher
Tori Amos - Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Pearl Jam - Binaural
Pavement - Terror Twilight

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nectarine, Arugula, Haricot Vert & Hazelnut Salad

Summer is officially here with temperatures soaring up the thermometer. I took the Adorable Monster to the dog park, but he refused to leave the shade, hopping from spot to spot, avoiding the sun at all costs. My kitchen is like the dog park - no, it's not dirty with lots of dry humping - it's hot! I don't have central air conditioning in my house, so using the oven is out of the question, and even the range starts to look less appealing. So, in an effort to seek shelter from the heat, I resolved to start making more salads for dinner!

Inspired by a recent trip to Palate with The Chicago Foodie, one of my favorite LA restaurants, I put together this fantastic summer salad for dinner. Beautiful organic nectarines have been flooding farmer's markets and grocery stores! Paired with crisp haricot verts, spicy arugula and rich hazelnuts, and this salad really starts to take on an aristocratic air. For a protein boost, I added a little seared albacore on the side. The result was a light, delicious dinner that satisfied every taste bud! And, did I mention how easy it was to make? Give it a try, divas!

Domestic Diva's Nectarine, Arugula, Haricot Vert & Hazelnut Salad
(inspired by Palate)

2 nectarines, sliced
4 cups rocket arugula
1 1/2 cups haricot verts (green beans), blanched
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper


fresh albacore
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt and pepper


To make the salad, place the nectarines, arugula, haricot verts & hazelnuts in a big bowl. Top with the lemon juice and olive oil. Toss everything together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the albacore, heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Meanwhile, season the fish on each side with salt and pepper and top with fresh thyme. Add the albacore to the pan and sear on each side for a minute or two, leaving it raw in the middle. Remove from heat, allow to rest for a few minutes before cutting it into slices. Serve along side the salad.

Wine Tasting Notes: 2005 Tablas Creek Panopolie

The top bottling from Tablas Creek, one of our favorite Paso Robles wineries! The Panopolie is a limited production of only 300 cases. This year, the blend was 70% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, and 5% Syrah. This wine is a unique wine because of its Mourvedre dominated composition, and it's easily the best of its kind in the New World. This was a stunning wine! A beautiful, dark, inky color, it took a minute to warm up, but once it got going, it never stopped, boasting an incredible, almost minute long finish. Great, subtle flavors of blackberry and remarkably balanced. A deftly made wine that drank well the whole night, down to the last drop. The 2005 has the ability to go the distance, easily lasting another 15 years, but it's also drinking great right now. Robert Parker rated the 2005 Panopolie 95 points.

Businesses Mentioned in this Post:

933 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204

(818) 662-9463

Located right smack in the middle of Glendale's automall, Palate is one of my favorite wine bars and restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Tablas Creek
9339 Adelaida Rd.

Paso Robles, CA 93446

(805) 237-1231

Tablas Creek, the American partnership between the Perrin (of Chateau Beaucastel) & Haas families, specializes in Rhone varietals and is both biodynamic and solar powered. I highly recommend their wine club. Click here for their website!

Source for Ingredients:

tuna, organic haricot verts, organic arugula, organic nectarines & hazelnuts from Whole Foods

Tablas Creek 2005 Panopolie from Kuzak's Cellar by way of the Tablas Creek Wine Club

Music on Tap:

Ryan Adams - Jacksonville City Nights
Pearl Jam - No Code
Iron and Wine - Around The Well
Dave Grisman & Jerry Garcia - Unknown Bootleg

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Adorable Monster Photo Gallery!

Check out the Adorable Monster's photo gallery! Descended from the noble Goldendoodles, The Adorable Monster is a graduate of the puppy school of life. The Monster enjoys eating unicorn stuffed animals, long walks at the dog park, whenever anyone comes to the front door, or better yet, through the front door and helping Kuzak with the dishes.

To view the album & read the photo captions, click on the slideshow above!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

If You Do One Thing This Year, SEE THIS MOVIE!!

I just back back from seeing FOOD, INC., the new documentary that will make you never look at food the same way again. Along the lines of books like FAST FOOD NATION and OMNIVORE'S DILEMA, this movie tries to answer the basic question, "Where does my food come from?" What they find is much more than a simple answer. It's a complex web of industrialization and commercialization that has led to the almost complete corruption of our food supply. Please, divas, if you do one thing this year, please support this film!!

To learn more about the film and watch the trailer, CLICK HERE!

Here's an archive of articles I've written that pertain to issues addressed in FOOD, INC.:

Cow Burps Bad For The Environment!

Are You Naturally Sweetened?!

Swine Flu Outbreak: The White Pig in the Room

Organic Confusion!

Don't Fall For This Switcheroo!

The Peanut Butter Solution!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup with Thick Cut Bacon

One of my favorite times of the year is rolling around - Tomato Season! We all know that tomatoes taste a million times better when they're in season, and some people like my Top Chef Brother even consider it a crime to eat them out of season. Here's a lovely tomato soup I made while in Floyd with locally grown, organic tomatoes procured from Green's Garage. I roasted the tomatoes in the oven with thyme and then pureed them into a delicious soup. I served my soup with slices of thick cut bacon that I'd cooked up in a cast iron pan. The result was decadent and delicious!

When I served my parents, The Wine Lover took a sip and inquired what went into the soup. "Mostly just tomatoes," I said with a smile, "and love!" The soup was so rich and creamy that he expressed surprise that a tomato could yield such impressive results!

Domestic Diva's Roasted Tomato Soup with Thick Cut Bacon

10 tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper

optional: 4 slices thick cut bacon, pan fried and drained


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until well cooked.

Remove from the oven and puree the mixture with 2 cups of stock until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and lay a piece of bacon across the top of the bowl. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Fave Bites: Park's BBQ

For a few weeks, The Chicago Foodie has been regularly traveling to the southland, a real boon for The Diva! I love eating out with her - she's adventurous, shares my passion for great food, and she's willing to be critical, too! The perfect dining companion. Just this week, we had a lovely dinner at Palate, one of my favorite LA restaurants and wine bars (click here for an earlier review).

A few weeks ago, she texted me with a special request: Korean BBQ! I adore Korean BBQ and after some consideration, I decided that we should try. Park's BBQ. Known for serving higher quality cuts of meat, it seemed like a smart bet.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Original Diva's Slow-Baked Chicken (featuring Bright Farm's Free Range Chicken)

Growing up, we all have childhood memories of our favorite dishes, lovingly procured and prepared by our mothers. I have many such memories and am blessed that my mother, The Original Diva, is such a fabulous cook. One of my favorite family recipes is her Slow Baked Chicken - it's so moist and tender that the meat literally falls off the bones. I've been meaning to write it up for the blog, and while in Floyd, the perfect opportunity arose.

I happened to be in town for the pick up day for chickens from Bright Farm, a local family operation where they raise free range beef, poultry and chicken. My mother had ordered upwards of 12 chickens and of course had forgotten to pick them up. So we were late, careening over country roads, all in pursuit of poultry.

Bright Farm's Pastures in Floyd

"Twelve chickens? Isn't that a lot?" I asked her skeptically.

"But they're so good!" she replied excitedly. "And I can freeze them!"

"We're going to be eating a lot of chicken."

When we arrived, Debbie Bright was kind enough to relinquish our chickens to us despite our tardy arrival. They were beautifully cleaned and arranged and looked superbly fresh. We also loaded up on some free range ground pork before we headed home with the sound of hound dogs baying in the distance.

Chicken Pick Up at Bright Farm

For dinner, the Original Diva suggested we make her classic Slow Baked chicken and I happily agreed. There's nothing like the joy of cooking family recipes with your mother. When the chicken had finished its slow bake, it came out a beautiful golden brown color, the supple meat literally falling off the bones. Now I understand why she needed twelve chickens - when it tastes this good, you'd want more, too!

Original Diva's Slow Baked Chicken (featuring Bright Farm's Free Range Chicken)

1 whole free range chicken, innards removed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic powder or garlic salt
1 tsp paprika
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup filtered water
3 tbsp tarragon
salt & pepper

optional: 1/2 cup shitake mushrooms, seared in butter


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Wash the free range chicken, pat dry, and place in a roasting pan on the bed of chopped onions.

Brush the chicken with olive oil and put pats of butter all over it. Dust with garlic salt or powder, paprika, more salt and pepper.

Place the chicken in the hot oven and sear it at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until it browns and juices are flowing. Pour in 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup of dry white wine and 2 tbsp of tarragon.

Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and cover the chicken for a slow bake. Cook for 2-3 hours, occasionally basting the chicken. Remove the chicken from the oven once it's done cooking. It should be tender with the meat falling off the bones.

Optional: an hour before the chicken is done, chopped red potatoes and carrots can be added around the chicken for a complete meal.


Strain chicken liquid and remove fat. Return to the pan and add 1/2 cup white wine and 1 tbsp tarragon. Bring to a simmer and reduce in half. Optional: add the shitake mushrooms that have been seared in butter.


Businesses Mentioned in this Post:

Bright Farm
794 Spangler Mill Rd.
Floyd, VA 24091

Local raisers of free range beef, poultry & pork, their products can be found at local businesses like Harvest Moon and being served in local restaurants.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July: Slow-Cooker Organic Pork Chili!

Happy 4th of July to all my divas! I know it's customary to fire up the grill on the 4th, cooking up all manner of meat. I'll actually be grilling up some sea bass for dinner myself, but I thought as my holiday gift, I'd do something a little different and share a great chili recipe with you! As many of you already know, I'm a big fan of my crock pot. I love throwing a bunch of ingredients into it first thing in the morning and letting it cook all day. After smelling it burbling away for hours, it's such a pleasure when the time finally comes to enjoy the food. This time around, I'm sharing a new chili recipe, this time made with beautiful organic ground pork! This dish is protein-packed and healthy, full of fiber and nutrients.

Diva Cooking Tip of the Day: Bypass the cheese please! Instead, top your chili with sliced avocado for richness and chopped cilantro. I also add brown rice to my chili, which when combined with beans, forms a complete protein. Also try topping it with spicy salsa for some extra kick!

Note: If you'd prefer, ground turkey may be substituted for the pork in this dish.

Domestic Diva's Slow Cooker Organic Pork Chili

3/4 cup white beans, soaked overnight (may substitute canned)
3/4 cup cranberry or pinto beans, soaked overnight (may substitute canned)
4 cups chicken stock
1 lb ground pork, browned and drained of fat
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chili flakes
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 cups brown rice, cooked
1 avocado, sliced
cilantro, chopped


After browning the ground pork in a skillet and draining the fat, add it to the slow cooker. Add all of the other ingredients and allow to simmer for 6-8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

To serve, fill a bowl with chili. Top with the brown rice, avocado & cilantro. Enjoy!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Diva Flies Back to LA!

It's been a whirlwind three weeks in Floyd! Who knew it would be busier than the city of angels? I enjoyed my time spent with family, old friends and in the kitchen! I whipped up some amazing dishes using primarily local, organic ingredients procured from local businesses. It's been a wonderful trip and I can't wait for my next visit. I promise to continue to share my Floyd-inspired recipes with you in the coming weeks, including:

-The Original Diva's Slow Roasted Chicken (made using Bright's Farm free range chickens)
-Organic Roasted Tomato Soup with Thick Cut Bacon
-Blueberry & Walnut Corn Muffins
-Organic Tomato & Potato Vegetable "Tart"
-Thai-Style Curried Chicken
-Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce

So stay tuned for these recipes and many more!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Wine Lover's Photo Gallery!

As I prepare to leave Floyd, I thought I'd share with you The Wine Lover's photo gallery. This is a sampling of some of the bottles we were fortunate enough to enjoy over the last few weeks. Most were procured by The Wine Lover upon release and lovingly cellared for a decade or more. I don't think I'd have had the privilege to try many of these without his generosity, so let's all raise a collective toast to The Wine Lover!

2004 Opus One

The first California-France joint venture, Opus One was created by Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillipe Rothschild. Made from grapes grown in the Napa Valley, this wine showcases a Bordeaux style. This was a lovely wine, dark ruby in color, sturdy, one of my favorite Napa Valley wines.

1983 Chateau Haut Brion

One of the first growth Bordeaux houses (there are only 5), this wine had been in The Wine Lover's cellar for over two decades. A little past it's prime, but still lovely to drink, especially for Bordeaux fans!

1989 Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame

Veuve Cliquot is one of my favorite champagne houses and La Grande Dame is their top bottling. This was a double magnum that we unearthed for The Wine Lover's surprise 60th birthday party! A huge, beautiful bottle full of delicious bubbly!

1990 Chateau Leoville Barton

I snuck this wine into the gallery even though it did not come from The Wine Lover's cellar! Rather, it was a gracious addition to a dinner party we threw with some old friends. Thank you Susan I. for sharing this with us! I love Leoville Barton and the 1990 is one of their best vintages. Perfectly ready to drink right now, it was still powerful and delicious despite its age.

2005 Dominus

As I've often blogged, Dominus is one of my favorite wines in the world! Showcasing a very Bordeaux style, this wine was young but spectacular, with tremendous fruit and body. Rated 95 plus points by Robert Parker, I only hope this wasn't the last bottle!

1983 Chateau Margaux

Another one of the first growth houses, this is one of Chateau Margaux's greatest vintages. Parker describes it as, "Breathtaking," and rated it 96 points. This wine had been cellared by The Wine Lover for more than two decades, and we drank this spectacular wine to celebrate Father's Day!

2004 Silver Oak

Located in the Alexander Valley, Silver Oak is one of the great California cabernet producers. This bottle was a magnum opened for a dinner party - and it was truly delicious!

1994 & 1999 Chateau Mouton Rothchild

My favorite of the first growths & showcasing the most beautiful labels, we drank both of these wines together at my farewell dinner!