Food Flirt

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Location: Petaluma, California, United States

Jacqueline is an international award winning journalist whose stories about food never fail to tantalize her reader's taste buds.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Foil Wrapped Pork Chops with Garlic & Figs

When I was a child we had an enormous fig tree in the back yard. Every year the tree would produce an abundance of fruit, much to the delight of my mother and grandmother. Personally I didn’t like them at all, although I loved Fig Newton’s. It wasn’t until I was all grown up and went to Italy that I found figs to be delicious, especially when served with a cool Vin Santo along with cheese and nuts.

I came across this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle one day and decided to try it out. Oh my! It was delicious.

Foil Wrapped Pork Chops with Whole Garlic & Figs

2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
16 figs, stems trimmed
Four 1-inch thick center-cut pork rib chops with bones (about 2 lbs. total)
20 cloves fresh, firm garlic (peeled)
4 sprigs sage

Preheat oven to 350

In a bowl combine salt, pepper, sage and thyme then mix well. Lay out 4 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 12 inches by 16 inches. Put the olive oil in a bowl then add the figs and turn well to coat. Lay a chop in the center of each piece of foil and season them equally with half the herb mix. Put 4 figs on top of each chop and season them with the remaining half of the herb mix. Tuck five cloves of garlic beneath or around the figs to make a snug bundle, garnish with a sage sprig, then fold the foil corner to corner to make a tight seal. Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake until the port is opaque the just faintly pink in the center, about 55 minutes to 1 hours. Serve the packets on dinner plates letting each diner open their packet.

Serves 4
400 Calories per serving

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

It's Sunday morning in San Francisco. The fog rolled in last night, thick and heavy, but is burning off now and the day promises to be sunny and warm. Ah, Indian Summer. My favorite time of year.

I was up in the Napa Valley yesterday. The Bay Area Travel Writers held our monthly meeting at the Harvest Inn in St. Helena. The Inn is nestled in a lovely landscaped garden including many mature trees and a collection of California Redwood trees. Behind the Inn wine vines stretch out across the fields and up the hill beyond. The valley is spectacular this time of year. The vines are all turning gold and rust and here and there bright red, orange and yellow trees dot the landscape.

It's the time of year for soups and casseroles and roasted things. I wanted to share another soup recipe with you. This one is sure to become a favorite.

Happy cooking!


Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, sliced white and green parts
3 cloves minced garlic
8 cups chicken stock (I used my home made low fat chicken stock)
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered (I used leftover chopped up potatoes)
Salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
4 to 6 tablespoons soft herbed cheese (I used low fat Boursin)

In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons the butter over low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Add the chicken stock and potatoes. Cover and simmer gently about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat. With a hand-held immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and ground white pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with parsley and 1 tablespoon of soft herbed cheese. Serve immediately.

Talk about good! Yummmmmm!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Portuguese Kale Soup

OK, I know you are thinking "kale soup?" But let me encourage you to give this one a try. I made it a couple of weeks ago as a part of the Portuguese Dinner I prepared for a few friends and I have to say they loved it. I used linguica instead of the chorizo. I found the smoked and fully cooked linquica at my local farmer's market.

I have a happy memory of linguica from my childhood. My mother had a friend by the name of Mr. DiSalvo who made his own linquica and he would often stop by and present us with a few of his delicious sausages. Oh my!

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
10 ounces chourico or linquica sausage, diced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups cold water
1 pound kale or collard greens, cut into very fine julienne
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the garlic and half the chourico and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cover everything with the water, bring to a boil and lower the heat, simmering until the potatoes are almost done, about 15 minutes.

2. When the soup is cool enough to handle, puree it in the food processor and return to the pot. Add the greens, bring everything back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining cubes of chourico or linguica.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I had lively dinner at Basil Thai, in the So Ma section of San Francisco, Friday night with Jessica H. Faust, literary agent, and several members of the San Francisco Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

This is a place we all enjoy and often choose as our destination when we have out of town guests. Jessica lives on the east coast and was the SF RWA guest speaker at our Saturday meeting.

Don't ask me what all I ate -- it seemed like a parade of incredibly tasty dishes kept arriving. All of us chose our favorite dish. Mine was:

hoi ka-ta -- scallops with tempura long beans wok-fried in Thai black bean, chili and wine.

The scallops almost floated off the platter and the fried beans were crunchy and delicious.

If you want to go there, here's the data:

Basil Thai
1175 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA
Tel: 415-552-8999
Fax: 415-552-8889

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pasta Pomodoro

I went to dinner last night with the San Francisco Women in Travel at

Pasta Pomodoro
1875 Union St.
San Francisco

The chef prepared a lovely meal for us. We began with a deliciously crunchy Caesar salad, followed by cheese ravioli in a traditional red sauce or rigatoni with smoked chicken in a light cream sauce. Both were delicious! For dessert we had a scrumptious Tiramisu.

When asked what my passion was during the introductions, I told them it was getting people up and moving. To inspire others to travel. To just GO! My comments were well received by all.

Parking in that neighborhood is really difficult and I wound up parking in a nearby parking garage. I almost fainted when my bill was $20.00 for three hours! Yikes!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Low Fat Slow Cooker Chichen Provençal alla Jacqueline

This is a recipe that I made up one day when I wanted something comforting but low in calories. Most of the comfort foods I like are full of fat and/or carbs. By removing the skin and fat of the chicken thighs I was able to create an absolutely delicious meal that not only tasted divine but also filled my home with wonderful comforting smells.


6 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large can chopped tomatoes
3 chopped zucchini
3 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 cup sliced green olives
Bunch of chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Herbs d’Provençe (or other herbs of choice)
Salt and pepper

Remove all skin and as much fat as you can from the chicken thighs, (partially frozen makes this task easier). In a large skillet, heat olive oil and then brown the chicken on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken and place in slow cooker. Pour chopped tomatoes and bay leaves over chicken. In same skillet, fry onions until golden, add chopped garlic then other vegetables and herbs. Add salt and pepper. Toss until veggies are coated then pour entire mixture over chicken in slow cooker. Place cover on cooker and relax.

Cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6.

You can bake this dish in the oven if you don’t have a slow cooker. Just follow the same directions, using a large ovenproof casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Portuguese Chicken

My great grand parents on my father's side immigrated to the USA from the Azores Islands (just off the coast of Portugal). Many of the recipes handed down through the family had their origins in Portugal. One of my favorites is Portuguese chicken. It was and still is a favorite of my children, Laura and Timothy. Laura now prepares it for her little girls, Isabelle and Sophia, and husband Alfred, so the legacy continues.

I recently had some friends over for a Portuguese theme dinner and, yes, I made the chicken dish and everyone loved it.



Cut into pieces:
4 lb frying chicken

Dredge them with a mixture of
Seasoned flour:
mix 1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Heat in a skillet:
1/4 cup olive oil
Brown the chicken in it. Place in a casserole. Sauté in the oil in the skillet:
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper
1 minced garlic clove

1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cut chopped, peeled, celery
1 cup chopped, peeled, seeded, tomatoes (canned is ok)
3/4 cup tomato juice
Pour these ingredients over the chicken in the casserole.

Bake covered for about 1 hour or until tender. If needed, add hot chicken or beef stock

Five minutes before the chicken is done, add
3/4 cup sautéed mushrooms
1/3 cup sliced stuffed green olives

Uncover casserole and continue cooking for five minutes.

Serve with buttered noodles.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Penne alla Vodka con Salmone

I made this dish for the Monday Night Tarot group last night -- and wow! They loved it. An old friend used to make this for me at his Italian restaurant. I don't think mine is as good as his's still really delicious.


12 oz. penne pasta
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
6 small Roma tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)
1/2 cup vodka
6 oz. smoked salmon cut into small pieces
ground nutmeg to taste
ground white pepper

Cook pasta in rapidly boiling water al dente (approximately 10 to 12 minutes). Don’t overcook! Drain well.

While pasta is cooking, heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add chopped shallot, cook, and stirring often, until soft but not brown (about 3 minutes). Stir in chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add cream, nutmeg, chopped dill and vodka. Increase heat and bring to a full boil. Boil for 1 minute then reduce heat to low.

Add pasta to sauce directly into frying pan and toss lightly. Add salmon and mix again. Add pepper, taste, and then pour into serving bowl, garnish with fresh dill sprigs and serve.

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