Friday, March 30, 2012

Flowers on Friday

It's that time of year when I just can't help taking pictures of flowers. They make me so happy and I think are a fine way to round out the week. Enjoy! And have a happy weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Farro Buttermilk Salad

My obsession with farro continues … it really has the best nutty flavor and chewy texture with a nice bite. The lovely and talented jewelry designer, Courtney Fischer, came for an afternoon visit last week and I made this hearty salad as a little munchable to enjoy with our sunny afternoon cocktails. Sometimes you have to indulge yourself a bit … and this salad provided a nice healthy balance. I discovered it over at 101 Cookbooks — a great source for all things grainy, delicious and healthful by food blogger Heidi Swanson. Heidi mentions that the dressing will appear quite thin — it does — but not to worry as it absorbs beautifully into the grains and coats everything in yummy buttermilky-ness.

Buttermilk Farro Salad
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Serves 4

1 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons good-quality white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped dill
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 teaspoons chopped thyme

3-4 small radishes, sliced paper thin
2 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1/2 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin

2 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
chopped chives for garnish

Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together or shake to combine and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the herbs.

In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro grains. Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A wardrobe in rainbows

This past weekend I watched a wonderful tearjerker of a movie called A Shine of Rainbows. Apparently it was big on the festival circuit in 2009, but this was the first I'd heard of it. It is a touching story about a shy, lonely orphan finding his way and the spirit of life through the enthusiasm and love of his adoptive mother. But the main reason I am posting about it here today, is the brilliantly colored rainbow of clothing worn by Connie Nielsen's character, the mother. It is just so charming and bright, bold and vivid. In the first scene where her character is introduced she lights the entire screen. It makes me yearn for much more color in my wardrobe and I am making an effort in that direction!

 And, of course, there is the boy in Wellies who befriends a seal -- I should have known I was a goner.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chard, Herb and Feta soup

After all this wacky warm weather we've been having, it's hard to look out today and see it so sunny, but know that is only in the 40s. This soup is the perfect answer: It's warming and hearty but packed with veggies and a shockingly vibrant green color so full of spring, it's practically chirping.

Chard, Herb and Feta Soup
via Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pound Swiss chard leaves (center ribs and stems removed) or spinach, coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces plain Greek-style yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup mixed chopped herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, and mint), divided
4 ounces feta, crumbled, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lemon juice (optional)
Olive oil (optional)

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until translucent and soft (do not brown), 7–8 minutes. Stir in chard, broth, parsley, cilantro, fresh and dried mint, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Working in batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return to pan. DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm soup before continuing.

Place 1/3 of yogurt in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup warm soup; whisk until smooth. Repeat process twice more, adding a total of 1 cup more soup. Whisk yogurt mixture into soup in saucepan. Stir 1/4 cup herbs and half of feta into soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, if desired.

Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with remaining 1/4 cup herbs and 2 oz. feta. Drizzle with oil, if desired.