Filet Mignon à la Nancy Silverton

Beef Filet, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade, Cannellini Beans, Spinach, Arugula Flowers

Filet Mignon, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade
Cannellini Beans, Wilted Spinach & Arugula, Arugula Flowers

Welcome back to the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and/or edible flowers from our garden.

Tonight’s dinner special is inspired by Chef Nancy Silverton, adapted from a recipe she shares in A Twist of The Wrist, a terrific book of quick flavorful meals. It’s a version of a meat lover’s entree that had been popular for years at Campanile – a truly seminal restaurant – one that influenced the LA dining scene with its farmers market-driven fare spanning over two decades…

The beauty of this dish is that it marries the flavors in one pan – our filet mignon is seared – then the beans are heated in the beef juices, greens added at the end to wilt. Silverton’s suggestion of jarred black olive tapenade paired perfectly with the filet, but here at Borage & Basil, we swirl in some prepared horseradish, which gives the dish an extra kick. Our arugula is flowering, so to finish the plate, the attractive tasty arugula blossoms are scattered about. Arugula flowers taste much like the leaves, but with a delicate crepe paper-like texture.

casual bouquet of roses, fennel flowers, yarrow, and Mexican heather

Borage & Basil’s centerpieces come from the garden as well. Tonight the tables are adorned with a casual bouquet of roses, fennel flowers, yarrow, and Mexican heather.

Beef Filet, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade Recipe

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Halloumi “Grilled Cheese” Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream

"Grilled Cheese" Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream, Edible Flowers

A “Grilled Cheese” Salad

Halloumi Cheese, Foraged Garden Herb Salad
Violas, Nasturtium Flowers, Nasturtium Whorls, Meyer Lemon Wheels
Tempeh Croutons, Roasted Sunflower Seeds
Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream

This primavera-is-right-around-the-corner-salad was inspired by a stroll through my garden. All of a sudden it seems that the herbs and flowers are perking up. Meyer lemons are in full swing. Additionally, my friends over at Food Network are featuring “Grilled Cheese” this week. I wanted my contribution to be a low-carb version of grilled cheese – queue up Halloumi – a semi-hard, brined goat/sheep milk cheese originally from the island of Cyprus, with a high melting point that makes it perfect for grilling.

The salad is meant to be nibbled, shared, perhaps as an appetizer. Take a bite of cheese with a bit of herb, or flower petal, crouton, or greens with a delicate swipe through the savory Meyer lemon whipped cream. It’s quite delightful. Halloumi is often garnished with mint, so be sure to try that flavor combination.

Years ago, I made a Meyer lemon cream dressing adapted from Chef Suzanne Goin. Here, I turn that dressing into a thicker sauce to serve on the side as a dip rather than as vinaigrette-style.

Grilled Halloumi Cheese Salad, Savory Meyer Lemon Whipped Cream Recipe

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Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Irresistible Mini Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas

Ricotta & Mozzarella
with
Roasted Butternut Squash, Agave Syrup, Fried Sage, Violas
and
Arugula, Toasted Hazelnuts, Hazelnut Oil, Borage

I just couldn’t put them away, not just yet. Those mini cast iron skillets in which I served Shrimp & Grits last week were still hanging out on the counter…ready for the next irresistible presentation.

Inspired by my borage plant which is thriving in January and my violas which are still hanging on (condolences to my Chicago peeps), I set out to make some really pretty little pizzas.

Borage Arugula Pizza

Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizza Recipes

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Thyme & Mint Roasted Eggplant with Arugula, Spinach, Tomato and Yogurt Sauce

Thyme Roasted Eggplant Salad

Thyme & Mint Roasted Eggplant

Japanese Eggplant, Arugula, Spinach, Tomato
Garlicky Yogurt Sauce, Arugula Flowers Garnish

While the presentation may look a bit familiar, the dish itself is unique.  It is inspired by one of my all time favorite chefs ~ Yotam Ottolenghi. His fans will recognize the Japanese eggplant presentation from the cover of his innovative vegetarian cookbook Plenty, where he adorns them with pomegranate arils and za’atar. Try Ottolenghi’s dish in autumn when pomegranates are in season, but try my version this summer with bursting ripe tomatoes and vibrant fresh greens.

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Precious Potato Bites ~ Truffle Oil, Sour Cream, Chive Blossoms

Precious Potato Bites ~ Truffle Oil, Sour Cream, Chive Blossoms

Precious Potato Bites ~ Truffle Oil, Sour Cream, Chive Blossoms

I may have made a nice green salad or a simple pasta for dinner, but I what I like to share on Taste With The Eyes is not “last night’s dinner” but dishes that titillate and inspire. With ingredients that I find interesting.

Well, here’s a side dish (or appetizer) that is both simple and interesting…

The classic combination of potato with sour cream and chives ~ with a twist. Charming petite smashed potatoes adorned with both high quality white truffle oil and chive blossoms from the garden, instead of the ubiquitous green chives.

Precious Potato Bites ~ The Recipe

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SOUP BLISS ~ Pumpkin Apple Soup with Dried Fruit, Pine Nuts, Chile de Arbol

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Apple Soup with Dried Fruit, Pine Nuts, and Chile de Arbol

SOUP BLISS

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Apple Soup
Dried Apricot, Cherries, and Raisins
Pine Nuts, Chile de Arbol, Creme Fraiche, Chive Blossoms

Come. Come closer. Look. Look deep into my soup… Experience the hypnotic quality of curry. Let dainty chive blossoms enchant you, let the smoky hot chile de arbol ignite your passions. This is no ordinary soup. It has the power to transport …to soup nirvana.

Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Apple Soup Recipe

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rosé salad – a summer dish crafted to complement chilled dry rosé

shrimp, beet, raspberry, radicchio, rose salad

rosé salad
shrimp, beet, raspberry, radicchio, pickled red onion, rose petal salad

Hey summer! Where ya goin’? Not so fast, please! We’re holding on to summer by drinking our favorite pink wines: chilled dry French rosés which are the epitome of summer – light, fresh, and refreshing. This salad is crafted in a way so as to let the integrity of each ingredient shine, taking care not to overdress, but letting the raspberry vinegar and olive oil enhance the flavors. The spectrum of pink colors, fruity and flowery aromas, and range of flavors and textures beautifully complement rosé wines.

rosé salad recipe

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Risotto: Carrot, Cumin, Vodka, Creme Fraiche

carrot risotto, vodka, cumin, creme fraiche
RISOTTO
Carrot, Cumin, Vodka, Creme Fraiche
Parmesan, Nasturtium Blossom

I just happened to be thinking about making risotto while reading the Proud Italian Cook’s fabulous new ebook, Italian Sauces My Way (highly recommended and available here). In her book, my friend Marie has a recipe for Vodka Cream Sauce which she recommends spooned over steamed mussels, ravioli, gnocchi, or the classic penne pasta. It’s not a complicated sauce but the vodka makes it fancy, taking her delicious basic marinara to another level. Anyway, her wonderful sauce got me thinking about pairing vodka and risotto.

Other than tomato, what vegetable would pair well with vodka? Beet, celery, and carrot all sounded right. I decided to make the first trial with carrot. I added a kiss of cumin and a some creme fraiche for the creamy element. The color was so incredibly lovely, I didn’t want to detract from it. So the dish was finished with a nasturtium flower from the garden, keeping that monochromatic look.

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An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta

scallop, melted leek pasta, elegant first course, valentine's day appetizer

Pan-Seared Sea Scallop over Melted Leek Pasta
Lemon Creme Fraiche, Caviar, Celery & Garlic-Chive Flower Garnish

An opalescent sea scallop sits atop a dreamy melted leek angel hair pasta. Glossy black caviar and lemony cream fraiche adorn the scallop. Pretty white garlic chive blossoms and pale green celery leaves finish the dish.

These dry pack, wild caught, Atlantic sea scallops retail for well over $20/lb. U10 sea scallops are the largest available and have a sweet, rich buttery taste. They contain no preservatives or additives and will not ooze liquid during the cooking process, unlike wet scallops that have been soaked in a phosphate solution. Dry scallops caramelize naturally during cooking to a gorgeous golden brown crust. Though definitely not inexpensive, this luxurious dish can be made for just over $3 per plate by using black lumpfish caviar rather than the more extravagant sturgeon varieties. Black lumpfish caviar is clean and crunchy with a pronounced salty sea flavor.

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Meyer Lemon Arancini, Flower Confetti, Parmesan

meyer lemon arancini, lemon rice balls, ciao fiore appetizer
Cocktail Hour @ Ciao Fiore!
Meyer Lemon Arancini, Flower Petal Confetti, Parmesan

It’s cocktail hour at Ciao Fiore!  Meyer Lemon Risotto left over from the previous night’s service is formed into balls, coated with panko bread crumbs, and fried in canola oil. We need to watch our food costs so here we transform the day-old risotto into a delightful bar appetizer. Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of flower petal confetti make the presentation pop!

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