Rainbow Chard Soup

I’m bringing the freshness today.

Rainbow Chard Soup Freshness in the form of a vibrant green Rainbow Chard Soup made with ingredients found in my Specialty Produce Farmer’s Market Box (FMB).  Several weeks ago, I started picking up a FMB at SP, and I’ve really been loving the variety of fresh goodies found within.  Specialty Produce, a local wholesale distributor, stocks many of the restaurants around town with beautiful, high-quality produce.  Some of their products are imported, while others come from farms in the area.  They also open up their warehouse from 8am – 5pm to individuals.  This is where I get almost all of my produce.  Here’s a list of the produce found in my most-recent FMB:

White Corn – Black Sheep Produce
Heirloom Mix Eggplant – Weiser Family Farms
Fennel – Rutiz Farms
White Scallions – McGrath Family Farms
Peewee Mix Fingerling Potatoes – Weiser Family Farms
Baby Mix Beets – Black Sheep Produce
Rainbow Chard – Lakeside
Strawberries – Be Wise Ranch
Broccoli – Lakeside
Jalapeno – Coke Farms

When I first saw the contents of the box, I immediately started thinking of soup ideas, and with San Diego LGBT Pride happening in just a few weeks, I decided to focus on the rainbow chard.  This soup recipe starts with chopped fennel sauteed with scallions, garlic and jalapeño.  Water and coconut milk are added along with chopped rainbow chard leaves.  Once the leaves turn tender, everything is blended until silky smooth.  I like to add a handful of spinach to the mix just before blending to amp up the green flavor and color.  The soup is finished with a a dollop of Greek yogurt, toasted almonds, coconut flakes, sliced scallion greens, and freshly pickled rainbow chard stems.  Such a bold variety of toppings may seem over-the-top, but I just love all of the contrasting flavors and textures.  Both flavorful AND healthy, this Rainbow Chard Soup is bright, fresh, and incredibly satisfying.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole

Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole Jorge and I hosted game night recently, and one of the many tasty dishes served that evening was this Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole.  But first let me tell you a little about the game we played: Cards Against Humanity.  This game is awesome.  Basically one person reads a question or a fill in the blank statement (the black card), then everyone else tries to answer that question or complete the statement using the cards they have in their hand (the white cards).  The person holding the black card then decides which pairing is the funniest.  What makes this game awesome, is that the white cards can be pretty darn outrageous.  I mean, we played for almost 4 hours, and I couldn’t stop laughing for most of the evening.  My face hurt afterwards.

I think Cards Against Humanity has been out for a little bit, and I’m probably late to the party here.  But if you’ve never played, and you don’t mind a little over-the-top humor, you need to give this game a try.  So much fun.

And if you want to host a game night of your own, I’d definitely recommend making this guacamole.  Rick Bayless released this recipe last year, and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since.  Sweet, herbaceous fennel is roasted until tender and fragrant, then added to cubes of rich avocado along with crisp, tart apple, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro.  This seasonal variation of a Mexican classic is sharp, creamy and wonderfully complex.  The licoricey fennel compliments the avocado while tiny pops of green apple offer contrast in flavor and texture.  The fennel isn’t really overpowering here.  With each bite, you’ll notice just a hint of fennel at the end.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Puesto’s Red Michelada

Puesto's Micheladas If you are currently on the hunt for that perfect cocktail for Memorial Day weekend, stop here.  I’ve got one for you.  This Red Michelada comes from one of my new favorite Mexican hot spots, Puesto.  The most basic micheladas are made with beer, hot sauce, lime and salt.  Puesto’s Red Michelada is made with a bold blend of beer, fresh tomato, tomato juice, roasted jalapeno, onion, orange juice, lime juice and hot sauce.  Finished with a chile-salt rim, this tall glass of Mexican deliciousness is spicy, savory and surprisingly refreshing.  Enjoy one of these Red Micheladas grillside while you soak up some gorgeous afternoon sun.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing this Memorial Day.

In addition to this spicy libation, the man and I enjoyed a number of other tasty treats at Puesto including a flight of tacos, shrimp ceviche and two frosty paletas.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a recap of the entire lunch.

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Gingham’s Fried Brussels Sprouts

Fried Brussels Sprouts

The man and I recently had a fab lunch at Brian Malarkey’s Gingham, and I just had to share the details.  Located in La Mesa (east of San Diego), Gingham is nestled amongst a series of quaint little shops and galleries.  As I strolled down La Mesa Boulevard passing windows filled with antiques and nicknacks, I just couldn’t believe that a street like this even existed in La Mesa, an area I thought was fairly devoid of art and culture.  Pleasantly surprised, I continued on towards the restaurant enjoying the beaming rays of mid-afternoon sunshine.

Brian Malarkey, a finalist on Top Chef Season 3, is the Chef/Owner of a number of well-known restaurants around town including Searsucker, Burlap, Gabardine, and Herringbone.  He’s also a host on The Taste (with Nigella, so jelz), and recently released a cookbook entitled Come Early, Stay Late.  Basically, dude is blowin’ up.  I’ve met Brian on a number of occasions over the last several years, and I’ll have to say that he really is a nice guy with a big personality.  His personality really shines through at each of his restaurants.  Gingham not excluded.  Continue reading for the rest of my experience (with plenty of food porn) plus a recipe for Gingham’s Fried Brussels Sprouts.

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Citrus Pickled Onions

Citrus Pickled Onions

Each winter, when all manner of citrus is in season, I make these Citrus Pickled Onions.  Crisp slices of red onion are marinated in a mixture of citrus juice, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and allspice until tart and tender.  Charred jalapeño and bay leaves are added to the mix to bump up the savory spice factor.  Two of the things that I love the most about this recipe are its ease and versatility.  This quick pickle requires just 10 minutes (if that) of prep time, and 3 to 6 hours of unattended marinating time.  Also, you can vary the types of citrus used in the pickling liquid.  For this batch, I used grapefruit, lime (from my backyard) and orange.  In previous batches, I’ve substituted in lemons, blood oranges and pomelos.  You can use these pickled onions as a accompaniment to burgers, braised or grilled meats, and tacos.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa

Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa

I recently saw a recipe in The New York Times for Chicken Liver Tacos with Rhubarb Salsa.  The chicken liver component made me cringe a bit, but my interest was certainly piqued by the rhubarb salsa!  Tart, fresh rhubarb is mixed with spring onion, spicy jalapeño, cider vinegar and smoky chipotle powder.  I paired this adventurous salsa with strips of cornmeal crusted white fish and creamy, caramelized onions.  The finished taco was definitely like nothing I have ever tasted before.  An enjoyable array of bold, bright flavors and varying textures that is sure to arouse your taste buds.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Jalapeno Blackberry Margarita

Roasted Jalapeno Blackberry Margarita Last week, I showed you how to make Roasted Jalapeno Infused Tequila.  Inspired by a drink had at Barrio Star, this Roasted Jalapeno Blackberry Margarita pairs infused tequila with muddled blackberries, orange liqueur and freshly squeezed lime juice.  The finished drink is a refreshing balance of sweet, tart, spicy and salty.  If you want to make this drink, but don’t have the time to infuse your own tequila, you could try muddling fresh jalapeno chunks in with the blackberries.  Then, simply substitute in regular silver tequila for the infused tequila.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Jalapeno Infused Tequila

Roasted Jalapeno Infused Tequila I recently had dinner at this wonderful new restaurant here in San Diego called Barrio Star.  Serving up Mexican soul food, Barrio Star offers a limited, yet tasty lineup of fresh and healthy Mexican classics.  My entree was spectacular, but I was really blown away by my pre-dinner margarita.  I am planning on posting my interpretation of the margarita next week, but first, the base:  Roasted Jalapeno Infused Tequila.  Fresh strips of roasted jalapeno pepper are steeped in silver tequila to produce an infusion that is both fiery and vibrant.  A drink this good needs to be handcrafted from the bottom up!  Continue reading for the recipe.

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