A Potato Lover’s Dream: Colcannon, Three Ways

kimchi mashed potatoes, kimchi colcannon

Kimchi Colcannon
Garlic, Scallion, Butter

cabbage leek colcannon

Green Cabbage & Leek Colcannon
Chick Peas, Olive Oil, Nutmeg, Garlic

southern greens colcannon guinness gravy

Southern Greens Colcannon
Mustard, Turnip, Collards, Spinach
Guinness Gravy

I am of Russian, Romanian, English, and German descent. But on March 17th I will be Irish. In the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, I’ve been playing with potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Been taking the famous Irish potato & cabbage dish, colcannon, and giving it my spin. I was going to share one recipe, but honestly, I can’t pick just one. Spicy fermented garlicky kimchi with butter and scallion? Green cabbage and leek flavored with nutmeg, studded with chick peas? Loads of dark leafy greens with Guinness gravy? Please, you pick. . .

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Cooking for the Stars: Wolfgang Puck’s Kale Salad

wolfgang puck kale salad
85th Academy Awards Governors Ball Menu
Kale, Grilled Artichoke, Radicchio, Pine Nut, Golden Raisin
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

With 19 Oscar menus under his belt, Chef Wolfgang Puck has created another inventive bill of fare for the 85th Academy Awards Governors Ball including old favorites, signature smoked salmon creations, and several fashionable new dishes. This year’s menu includes many vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as items like Kobe Burger with Aged Cheddar & Remoulade and Chicken Pot Pie with Black Truffle. The Chef shares his menu in photos on a page called “A Taste of the Oscars” here. (Check out those Huckleberry Macarons!) But it was the vegan Kale Salad that immediately caught my attention ~ bright winter color and various textures pair with smoky artichoke and a sunny sweet Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I served the salad as a meal, unlike at the Governors Ball, where some 30 to 35 dishes will be served as small bites to over 1600 people.

And The Oscar Goes To:

photo credit: wolfgangpuck.com

Raw kale is a bit chewy and not exactly tender, so it is best sliced thin, taking care not to press down and bruise the beautiful curly edges. Mildly bitter and peppery radicchio is also thinly sliced. I used fast & fabulous packaged grilled artichoke hearts from Monterey Farms which are available at Whole Foods Market. Without a recipe, I prepared this salad from the photo ~ tossing kale with radicchio, artichoke hearts, lightly toasted pine nuts, and golden raisins with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. The plate was garnished with a few Meyer lemon wheels and a sprinkling of nuts and raisins.

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Spinach Mushroom Risotto with Pecans

vegetarian risotto
Spinach Mushroom Risotto with Toasted Pecans
Chiffonade of Fresh Spinach Garnish

Combining two favorite risotto dishes – spinach risotto and mushroom risotto, into one – and adding toasted pecans plus an unexpected garnish of fresh spinach ribbons equals one bright and satisfying vegetarian meal. Crunchy toasted pecans contrast the creamy risotto, earthy caramelized mushrooms complement tender wilted baby spinach. A sprinkle of Parmesan and glass of wine were the only accompaniments.

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The Vegan Gutbuster

creative cooking crew, vegan sausage recipe, hearty vegan sandwich, gutbuster

The Vegan Gutbuster Sandwich
In Honor of My Alma Mater, The University of Illinois

Homemade Vegan Italian Sausage on a Toasted French Baguette
Green Bell Pepper, Onion, Mushroom, Tomato
Spicy Tomato Sauce, Vegan Mozzarella, Basil Chiffonade

Last summer my Alpha Phi sorority sisters met in Champaign, Illinois for a PHI-abulous reunion. Over 80 members who graduated between 1976 and 1982 took a trip down memory lane for the weekend, we visited some of our old haunts, and had a blast reconnecting and rekindling old friendships. We slept and ate in the sorority house, so fun ~ and our contributions for staying there helped to raise funds for the chapter. Thank you for the hospitality, ladies!

alpha phi university of illinois

One of the fond memories from our college years was pizza. Garcia’s Pizza. And the Gutbuster was their famous 3/4-pound slice with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions. Something we all remembered with affection…It had been many years since I even thought about the Gutbuster, but since our reunion weekend, I have been pondering a makeover of our beloved pie.

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New Korean Salad: Chrysanthemum Greens, Chestnut, Persimmon

korean salad, persimmon salad
Fresh Chrysanthemum Greens, Roasted Chestnut
Semi-Dried Hachiya Persimmon, Fresh Fuyu Persimmon Wedges
Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette
Pomegranate Arils, Toasted Pine Nuts, Roasted Laver

Inspiration from two separate dining experiences sparked the idea for creation of this delightful salad. First, an outstanding meal at Jun Won in LA, a gem of a restaurant that features regional Korean cooking from the province of Chungcheongnam-do. I was captivated by their salad of chrysanthemum greens (sukgat) with chestnut jelly. A week later we attended an event highlighting the “Tastes of the Korean Forest” including sanchae (wild vegetables grown in the mountains), oak mushroom, chestnut, and persimmon.

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