Healthy Girlfriends’ Cooking Class

By Samantha Binkley

It was turbulent and stormy outside during this first of two Healthy Girlfriends’ Getaway cooking classes, but inside…we were very warm with excitement around preparing all the yummy items on our menu and the wine pairings for each recipe by Halter Ranch Vineyards a SIP Certified winery out of Paso Robles.

We started the evening with a healthy girlfriends’ mojito made with fresh mint from the garden and sweetened with coconut palm sugar syrup. It was a very refreshing start to the evening- recipe to come in a subsequent post.

As usual, we began with the dessert first! Because the coconut pannacotta with blood orange compote takes a little time to set in the refrigerator, we wanted to get it prepared first so it would be ready by the time we sat down for dinner. My favorite part was teaching these lovely ladies how to supreme a blood orange. Everyone was using their knife skills to segment the membranes and white pith away from the flesh of the orange-all very key in making the compote. By the way, all these beautiful blood oranges were harvested from my trees early that morning. Talk about fresh!

We continued to work on our knife skills with a technique for cubing carrots, pumpkin, and potatoes for our winter vegetable side dish. Then steamed each vegetable to perfection in separate batches- it was an incredibly colorful and beautiful dish once the baby Brussels sprouts were added.

The parsley and watercress soup was simple and elegant made with potato scraps from the steamed vegetable dish (emphasizing, no waste). The fresh parsley from the garden mixed with the vibrantly green watercress was simply amazing in this coconut-based soup. And learning to make your own fresh coconut milk was a key skill in making this light, healthy and delicious soup. Everyone had the option of topping her soup with a freshly poached bantam hen egg. Yes, please!

The last dish of the evening was the star of the show-lemon sole pinwheels stuffed with crab, artichoke and spinach. I added a nice touch of fresh homemade mayonnaise with fresh eggs in the stuffing mixture. We made the stuffing, rolled them in our sole fillets and baked for 25 minutes-

Time for the wine pairings!  We all tried each wine and were amazed at how well the wines fit with the menu-thank you Halter Ranch! The Grenache Blanc was beautiful & light and paired perfectly with the parsley & watercress soup. The Rosé was lovely with the lemon sole and brought out the light flavor of the crab. The winter vegetables were fantastic with the more full-bodied CDP and the Vin de Paille- a perfect balance for the pannacotta. All and all, a great evening filled with food, fun, and vino!