Spring Vegetable Ragout with Goat Cheese Polenta

Spring Vegetable Ragout with Goat Cheese Polenta, Rosemary and Smoked Sea Salt

Well hello mushroom. Would you like to come with me? I think you would love to play with my other friends like asparagus and carrots. And silky polenta. You know them, they are my springtime friends. You will get along very well with them.

Morel season is just beginning in the mid south. Somewhere near the majestic oak, strewn in along in the small depressions where moisture collects, maybe on a north-facing slope. I try to explain why I find them where I find them. I don’t think I can. They are a mystery. They are an amazing gift of springtime.

This recipe comes in anticipation of finding the beautiful morels around where I live in mid-appalachia in April. I decided it would be perfect with the meaty portabello, too. With either,  this mushroom dish holds the celebration of spring vegetables together with strength and substance, and they all have a chance to shine.

There’s a video for some visual fun. I hope you enjoy!




Spring Vegetable Ragout over Polenta with Goat Cheese, Smoked Sea Salt and Rosemary
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Polenta with Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Smoked Sea Salt Recipe Type : Entree Author: Maria Baldwin Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 20 mins Total time: 25 mins Serves: 4-6 servings
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup medium to coarse ground cornmeal
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • ½ tsp. smoked salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 portabello mushroom
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large-ish shallot
  • ½ lb. asparagus
  • ½ c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes.
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1½ cups vegetable demi-glace (recipe from ChefSteps - or - Better Than Boullion Sauce
  • ½ cup red wine
  1. Cook the polenta by adding 1 cup polenta to 4 cups of simmering salted vegetable stock, stirring as you add the polenta. Continue to stir until it becomes somewhat thick. Add the goat cheese, sea salt and rosemary for a fabulous thick and silky polenta. Set aside to keep warm an
  2. Prepare recipe "mise en place" by assembling the vegetables, slicing them, and gathering the other ingredients together.
  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the medium saute pan over medium to low heat on the burner.
  4. Saute shallot until tender and beginning to turn translucent.
  5. Add the other vegetables to the pan, beginning with the carrots, then the mushroom and then the sun-dried tomato and asparagus. Saute for about 5 minutes, or just until tender, then remove vegetables from the pan.
  6. Add ½ cup red wine to the pan and stir to deglaze and loosen bits from the surface for flavor.
  7. Add the brown vegetable demi-glace. Stir in a slurry of 2 tsp cornstarch with ¼ cup of water to the sauce. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes to start to thicken. When the sauce has become silky and slightly thickened, and the remaining sundried tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  8. Add vegetables back to the pan and bring to a simmer for just a few minutes. Serve the silky mushroom and spring vegetable ragout over the goat cheese polenta.
  9. Ciao!
This is a quantity for 2 generous portions. Double the recipe if need be.

Sprouted Whole Grain Salad with Millet

Sprouted Grains, Fennel and Beet Salad with Citrus Viniagrette

It’s National Whole Grains Day! I know, I know… there is a day for everything. But the good news is a special day gives us a reason to pause and consider an idea or event in more intimate detail. I’m celebrating National Whole Grains Day because… drumroll… I am writing my first ebook on Clean Eating! In doing my research, I found the Oldways Whole Grains Council! I believe the WGC came up with the idea and the day to celebrate their cause and I support it. Why? Because there is reason to support knowledge and research into the nutritional and health benefits of eating whole foods – and especially whole grains.

Continue Reading…

lemon artichoke dip

Creamy Lemony Artichoke Dip

Happy Spring! We have been in California this week, and while visiting one of my gardening friends, he proudly escorted me out to see his beautiful ARTICHOKES! In the garden – in March! I have to say I was more than impressed. As you know, I made Italian Almond Gremolata this week, and then I had to make this! This warm, creamy artichoke dip has a delicious pop of lemon that makes it lighter than ever. It’s the perfect, appetizer for any gathering, and only takes 10 minutes to have ready to go in the oven.  Serve it with vegetable crudites, baguette or sea salt crackers. It also makes a great stuffing for mushrooms. Simple and delicious!



Creamy Lemony Artichoke Dip
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Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts, chopped in a food processor
  • ¼ c. sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened (There is a vegan cream cheese available)
  • 2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian Gremolata (see recipe or note below)
  • ½ c. grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • *If you do not have the gremolata, then add the following to the recipe - 1 tsp lemon rind and ¼ c. chopped parsley plus ½ small clove garlic
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and combine.
  2. Spread in a small ovenproof casserole dish.
  3. Top with ¼ c. grated parmesan cheese and 1 Tbsp. Gremolata (or fresh parsley as a substitute).
  4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes until heated through and bubbly around the edges.
  5. Serve warm with sea salt crackers or good bread.

Italian Almond Gremolata

Springtime Almond Gremolata

Ciao bella gusto! Hello beautiful taste! Wake up your spring dishes with this classic Italian garnish or topping, From spring lamb to roasted potatoes, grilled or sauteed asparagus, pan roasted fish, scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach… and on and on. There are so many ways to enjoy this simple, yet sophisticated, addition to the palate and the plate.

Springtime Almond Gremolata from Maria Baldwin on Vimeo.

Springtime Almond Gremolata
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Create a pop to any dish by adding this classic Italian garnish to meats, vegetables and fish. It's a perfect addition to your menu in the springtime,
Recipe type: Garnish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1 cup
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • ½ bunch Italian Parsley, de-stemmed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ c. raw almonds
  • 1 Tbsp, lemon juice
  • salt and cracked pepper
  1. Add all the ingredients to the bowl of your food processor and pulse and process to a medium coarse chop.
  2. Will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
  3. Serve atop grilled meats and fish, as well as roasted vegetables, potatoes, and even simple scrambled eggs.

Vietnamese Pho Ga

Vietnamese Pho Ga or Oriental Hot Pot Soup

I call it Oriental Hot Pot Soup, but this is my version of Pho Ga (pronounced “fuh-gah”) – Vietnamese chicken noodle soup – except sometimes I make it with tofu. It comes into my kitchen when I need to truly nourish myself. The idea of a gingery chicken broth that caresses bite size morsels of fresh aromatic vegetables and herbs, interlaced with silky rice noodles, and then embraces my palate with it’s rich collection of comforting textures and flavors – it makes me feel good just thinking about it. I love that this noodle bowl can become its lovely self within 30 minutes, and it comes from my normal refrigerated pantry. Fresh ginger, carrots, onion, chicken broth, bites of leftover chicken (or tofu as shown in the video), rice noodles. If you enjoy healthy Asian dishes, these are items to have on hand.

Here is my version. Not fussy or complicated. Flexible depending on what is in my fridge.


Enjoy the recipe and the video and nourish yourself as often as possible!



Vietnamese Pho Ga - or Chinese Hot Pot Soup
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This Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup will caress your palate at the table. The trick is to have everything "mise en place" or - ready and on hand - when you begin cooking. It cooks quickly and should be served as soon as it is done. The ingredients are flexible - you can substitute tofu for the chicken, cabbage for the spinach, and zucchini or other green vegetable for the asparagus. I recommend using whatever is in season or that you happen to have on hand.
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ¼ medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2" piece of Fresh Ginger, thinly sliced into "matchsticks"
  • 1 c. Carrot slices, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tsp. Asian Soy Sauce
  • 1 qt. Chicken Stock (homemade or packaged organic broth)
  • 2 c. poached of cooked Chicken, thinly sliced or cubed. - or - cubes of tofu.
  • 1 c. Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced (not too thin)
  • 1 c. Asparagus Spears, sliced into ½" slices on the diagonal
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 pkg. Fresh or dried Rice Noodles
  • Garnish
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Sriracha
  • Lime Wedge
  1. In a heavy stock pot, warm the peanut oil and add the sliced onion and ginger to begin to sweat. After two minutes, add the carrot and celery and continue to saute for two more minutes.Add the dark soy sauce and stir to coat the vegetables.
  2. Add the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked chicken and simmer for two minutes.
  3. Add the shiitake mushrooms and asparagus to the pot. Simmer for two more minutes.
  4. Add the rice noodles and simmer for two more minutes.
  5. Add the spinach just before serving, stirring into the soup just long enough to wilt the spinach and maintain it's vibrant green color.
  6. Season the soup pot with sea salt and red pepper flakes.
  7. Serve the hot soup into shallow bowls garnished with fresh cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime and a dash of sriracha, if desired,
The protein choice here is yours to make. Sometimes I use tofu with great results - especially if you follow the marinade/cornstarch method (see my video of this recipe using tofu).

Smoked Salmon, Potato and Leek Frittata

Smoked Salmon, Leek and Potato Frittata

The spring garden is poised to offer up some lovely vegetables flavor combos, and just as we begin to imagine that it is happening, farmer’s markets are coming alive with the bounty! The potato – leek duo, celebrated here in this lovely Spring frittata recipe, is annually elevated by the traditions of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday celebrations. Potato Leek Soup readily comes to mind when planning an Irish fete and part of the reason for this association is that in Ireland, potatoes and leeks are vegetables that can be pulled from the cellars of the fall harvests. Depending on where you live, however, you will soon find theses beauties of the spring harvest at your markets.


Freshly dug spring leeks Continue Reading…

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