New Summer Dessert at Andrei’s

We often go to Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine on Friday night as a great way to start a weekend.  We can just relax, be treated like royalty, and enjoy great food.   Cocktails were the Algerian Boulevard, and Blackberry Cooler.

Last night we started with the zucchini blossoms, stuffed with ricotta cheese, sun dried tomato & basil lightly-fried & served with cilantro-asparagus emulsion.  We also had the spicy warm olives.  Both of these appetizers are great.  Susan had the Seafood Pappardelle, with Alaskan king crab leg, smoked bay scallop, pappardelle pasta, tomato seafood broth & summer vegetables. served with rouille & grilled garlic bread.  Chef Yves mildly scolded her for not using the bread to sop up the delicious broth, so she complied!  I had the Lamb Osso Bucco, served with baby carrot, organic pea shoots, and my side choice, corn and goat cheese risotto.  These pea shoots tasted like the pure essence of fresh peas, and really enlivened the dish.  Yves says they very lightly saute them in olive oil for just a few seconds to bring out the flavor.  The risotto is fabulous.

We were totally done, when we were surprised with one of the new summer desserts, Caramelized Banana Tart with caramel mascarpone cream & chocolate shavings.  Served with two of the most perfect raspberries (note to self: I must remember to order just some raspberries next time).  I don’t normally love banana desserts, but this was really delicious!

Try the new summer menu at Andrei’s – lots of interesting treats!


Jamie Oliver on Sugar

I love what Jamie Oliver (the Naked Chef) is doing to revolutionize food awareness and have an impact on healthy eating, especially in schools.  You can sign up at Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, to receive notifications, sign petitions, download toolkits, donate to the cause, and generally improve your knowledge and approach to healthy eating.  Check out Jamie – he’s doing good work!

Avocado Cucumber Soup & Roasted Vegetable Salad

Spicy, tangy chilled soup.  Adapted from a similar recipe in Food & Wine magazine.  For 4 servings:

2 hothouse cucumbers – peeled, seeded, chopped

3 medium avocados, chopped

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped

1 13 oz. can of unsweeteened coconut milk

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 cups water

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Puree cucumber in food processor.  Add avocado, curry powder, garlic powder, sugar, lime zest and chile.  Process until smooth.  Add coconut milk plus water and lime juice, process to blend.  Season with salt. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Can be made ahead and served next day. Garnish with cilantro.

ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD:  To contrast the green soup, make orange and brown vegetables.  I used yam, carrot, red pepper and two kinds of mushrooms, with a base of arugula.  Cheese and dressing are optional extras.

6 large shitake mushrooms, cut in halves

6 large or 8 medium oyster mushrooms (or chanterelles)

3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half both width and lengthwise

1 orange bell pepper, sliced into 3/4 inch strips

1 large yam, peeled and sliced into wedges

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese

Fresh cilantro, parsley and chive for garnish, chopped

2-3 cups arugula

Roasted sweet red pepper dressing (I found Cindy’s Kitchen – bottled at Whole Foods)

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss vegetables in olive oil, and place on foil covered cookie sheets. Season vegetables slightly differently to vary flavor.  Suggestions:

Yams:  (Small amounts on the peppers) Cayenne, paprika, chipotle, garlic powder, salt & pepper.

Carrots and orange pepper: Thyme, salt & pepper

Mushrooms:  Garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper.

Note:  Veggies will take different amounts of time.  Yam, carrots, and red peppers, about 20 minutes.  Mushrooms, about 10 minutes.  Turn veggies once in the middle of cooking.

Place 1/2 cup of arugula on plate, add mushrooms, and cascade other veggies.  Sprinkle gorgonzola cheese and herbs.  Serve chilled soup in glass on same plate.  Serve red pepper dressing on the side.

Healthy Cocktails – I LOVE it!

Check out this great article on the 4 Healthiest Cocktails in the World.

I get a daily news feed from “Eat This, Not That”, which is published by Men’s Health, a great magazine I’ve subscribed to for many years.  The parent company is Rodale, which is very committed to healthy, green living.  They also publish Women’s Health, Prevention (I get that one too), Runner’s World, Organic Gardening and books, including the “Eat This, Not That” series.

I really appreciate their attitude, and I LOVE the very notion of healthy cocktails, don’t you?  I’ll drink to that, and get my antioxidants and folate too!

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Delicious appetizer for summer.  To make 2 servings:

One large Heirloom tomato, sliced into wedges

One large ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/2 Avocado, cut into chunks

1/2 cup red seedless grapes

8 fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade

Arrange tomato and cheese in alternating pattern, arrange grapes and avocado.  Sprinkle with basil.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.  Finish with sea salt or a “finishing” salt and freshly ground pepper.

OC Wine Mart – A promising new store

I just visited a tiny wine shop in Irvine that has a lot of potential.  OC Wine Mart took over a former convenience shop near John Wayne airport, and is run by Don Duckworth.  Don’s goal is 90 point wines at or under $20.  Who among you doesn’t share that goal?

Don was able to get me some wonderful French Burgundy (Caves des Grands Crus Blancs Macon Vinzelles 2008) at a great price, and also recommended a 90 point $14 (Château Moncontour Vouvray) which we enjoyed last night with Thai take-out (it went really well!)  He is currently searching to find a wine we had in Europe that I haven’t found anywhere in the US.

Don is going to be doing a wine tasting bar shortly, and he will do executive and private tastings.  He is a genuinely nice guy – not pretentious – down to earth and very accessible.  I will definitely do business here, and encourage others to try Don.  I like to encourage small merchants – how often do you get great recommendations at the big box places?!

Don Duckworth – General Manager

OC Wine Mart – 2272 Michelson Dr. · Irvine CA 92612

Store: 949.250.0033 / Fax:    949.250.0090 /

How to be Insanely Productive and Still Keep Smiling

Thanks to Foodie Friend Vickie for posting this on Facebook.  Love the ideas in this blog: