Month: February 2016

Mezze Plate

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a trio of Mediterranean flavors: quinoa tabbouleh, cucumber yogurt & hummus 

For quinoa tabbouleh:

2 C quinoa, rinsed

4 C filtered water

2 t salt

3-4 bay leaves

3 lemons, skin and juice

1 1/2 bunches green onion, finely chopped

3 large bunches of curly parsley, finely chopped

1 pint cherub tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 bag fresh mint, finely chopped

1/3 C EVOO

Additional S & P

Toasted Pine nuts, for garnish

In a large sauce pan, add quinoa, water, salt and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Cook until water is absorbed. Spread cooked quinoa on a cookie sheet for cooling. Once quinoa has cooled, place it in a large bowl. Add zest from lemons and juice, green onion, parsley, cherubs, mint, EVOO and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish tabbouleh with toasted pine nuts. Tabbouleh can be prepped a day ahead. However, leave out lemon juice, cherubs, mint, EVOO, and additional S & P. Add these ingredients about an hour before service.

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For cucumber yogurt:

1 – 32 ounce container of Greek yogurt, strained overnight

5 mini cucumbers, quartered and diced, salted and drained

1 T dried mint

1 T dried dill

1 t salt

4-5 radishes, thinly sliced for garnish

Place yogurt in a strainer and place it over a bowl. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. I had almost 1 C of liquid strain off. The resulting yogurt is super thick and creamy. Place the diced cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Cover with plastic and allow them to give off their excess moisture overnight. The next day, combine yogurt, cucumbers, dill, mint and salt. Slice radishes very thinly – a mandolin does a good job – and garnish. This keeps well for 2-3 days only.

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For hummus:

see highmade hummus recipe

For service:

Grill up some Naan bread on a panini or skillet. A light brushing of EVOO and nice toasty marks create a perfect “chip” for this salad trio. A few marinated olives topping the hummus is a tasty addition as well as some Green Zataar sprinkled on the yogurt. I served the tabbouleh in romaine “boats”. Thumbs up from my neighbors. Bold flavors. Freshness abounds. SO GOOD FOR YOU!

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A weekend in the country…

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For 13 years, owners Robert and Laurie Williamson have quietly created their slice of paradise on 300 acres just outside of Valera, Texas. Rancho Loma has been on my radar for some time now. Dear friends Bruce and Jana Colgate and Tom and I finally made the effort to book a two night stay there. We also booked a seating for a wine dinner which was held at their pizzeria in nearby Coleman. Rancho Pizzeria serves very fine pizzas, salads, appetizers, desserts, wine and beer. An old repurposed warehouse makes a great backdrop for this minimally stylish restaurant. Adjacent to the pizza space is El Centro, a retro-vibed coffee shop serving cookies, muffins, scones and sandwiches. Future plans for the ambitious couple include a wine making facility, wine bar and brew pub. Back at the ranch, a short drive from Coleman, are 300 acres, an old rock house (where Laurie serves a fixed price menu Friday and Saturday evenings), six super cool rooms (think Dwell magazine) for lodging and a vineyard (now under construction). Ancha and Rio, brother and sister canines, supervise the ranch overseeing a bevy of chickens, roosters, pigeons, longhorns and more.

Let’s just say our stay there was lovely and warrants a repeat visit when temperatures will be warmer making their soaking pool more inviting.

The wine dinner featured Texas wines including Comfort’s much admired Bending Branch Winery. Chefs Laurie and Cliff served the sold out crowd a well executed palate of flavors.

This is a place to go for reflection, for culinary adventure, and for slowing down a bit. Enjoy the photos. Highly recommended.

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