Recently while in Saint Louis, I enjoyed dining at some truly wonderful restaurants.  One of the most memorable dishes I enjoyed was a brie stuffed artichoke with mustard sauce as an appetizer.  The combination of flavors was perfect and absolutely mouth watering.  When I returned home I knew I had to try and make it!  Mine turned out pretty good but I do have a few notes that I would like to add.  When it comes to boiling the artichoke I would boil it about 5-10 minutes longer than the directions advise.  Also, when making the mustard sauce I added a bit too much wine trying to increase the flavor but it caused the sauce to be thin which made the artichoke a bit messier to eat.  I think it would have worked better presentation wise if it had been thicker.  Other than that I highly recommend this recipe.  It is really a show stopper and extremely satisfying!  Enjoy!


  1. Cut off the top of the artichoke.
  2. Cook in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until the bottom is easy to pierce with a fork.   When cool enough to handle, cut the inner choke away from the heart.
  3. Cut the brie into 1/2 inch chunks.  Place the brie into the artichoke and throughout the leaves.
  4. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350° until the brie is melted. (10 min or less).
  5. To make the mustard sauce, combine shallots and white wine in a saucepan over high heat. Slowly add the butter and remove from heat. Then add mustard, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and squeeze the lemon in to the mixture. Drizzle mixture over the artichoke and serve.

  • 1 Artichoke
  • 2 oz. Brie
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Shallot
  • 4 oz. White Wine
  • 8 oz. Butter (1/4 inch slices)
  • 2 oz. Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • Squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper


*Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Tomato Tarragon Sauce*
Serves 4


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cups fresh or canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1- 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup dry bread crumbs (I used plain Panko)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggplants, peeled and cut to make sixteen 1/2-inch-thick slices in all
4 eggs, beaten to mix
Cooking oil, for frying
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, cut into 8 rounds

1.    In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tarragon, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper.
 2.    Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
 3.    Dip each slice of eggplant in the eggs and then in the bread-crumb mixture, coating well. In a large frying pan, heat about half an inch of cooking oil over moderate heat until very hot. Fry the eggplant in the hot oil, in batches, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
 4.    Arrange half of the eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put a slice of goat cheese on top of each and then top with the remaining eggplant slices. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Put the sauce on plates and top with the eggplant.
*Braised Coconut, Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon*
serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side


2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
15-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger


  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add teh garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.\
  2. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.
  3. Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful. When all the spinach has been stirred in, pour in the coconut milk and stir in the salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are warm through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary.

Serve hot over roasted sweet potatoes, with cilantro leaves and toasted unsweetened coconut to garnish.

*Sherried Salmon Bisque*

  • 6 ounces  fresh or frozen salmon steaks, cut 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon  margarine or butter
  • 1-1/2 cups  sliced fresh shiitake or other mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup  thinly sliced leeks or 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 cup  chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon  snipped fresh dill or 1/4 teaspoon dried dillweed
  • Dash  pepper
  • 1 cup  half-and-half or light cream
  • 1 tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon  dry sherry
  1. Thaw salmon, if frozen. Discard skin and bones. Melt margarine or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and leeks or green onion; cook 1 or 2 minutes until tender. Stir in chicken broth, fresh dill or dried dillweed, and pepper. Bring mixture to boiling.
  2. Combine half-and-half or light cream and cornstarch; stir into mushroom mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add salmon and simmer, covered, about 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Gently stir in the dry sherry. Makes 2 servings.

Taboule is one of those side dishes that I make all the time to just have around and snack on through out the week.  It is always a hit when I bring it to dinner parties and people are always surprised at how incredibly simple it is to make.

First off, go to your local grocery store and get Near East, Taboule Wheat Salad Mix.  It is usually found in the pasta isle near the rice.  It is 100% natural and very low cost.  The instructions on how to prepare the taboule mix is on the back of the box but I have included it here also.  I also purchased tomato, parsley, onion, black olives, feta cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil to include in the mixture.  You could add any other fresh ingredients you might want, like cucumber, cranberries, etc.
  1. In a large bowl, combine wheat and contents of spice sack.  Stir in 1 cup boiling water.  Cover and let stand 30 min. in refrigerator.

While it is cooling, start chopping fresh tomato, parsley, onion, and black olives.  After the taboule is cooled to at least room temperature and the water has all been absorbed, add your fresh ingredients along with the feta, lemon juice, olive oil, and a little salt for seasoning.  There are no exact measurements for these ingredients, I just chop however much I see fit and then add more if needed.  I only use about 2 Tbsp. olive oil though.  Being a huge fan of lemon flavor I tend to add a lot of the lemon juice, just tasting as I add the ingredients to make sure the flavors are mixing well. 

It is suggested on the box to let dish refrigerate at least an hour before serving but I actually like this dish served best at room temperature so I let it sit out for a little while before serving. 

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do and good luck!

So...on the coldest day of 2012 (so far), what's on Rachel's plate today?

Homemade, better than Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup! 

I found this recipe for broccoli cheddar soup that claimed to be better than the franchise chain Panera's recipe. 
When I was younger, Panera's broccoli cheddar soup was my absolute favorite and so when I stumbled upon this recipe I was curious.  It is really pretty simple and not too expensive to make.  I used fresh broccoli grown from our home garden, and several of the ingredients were household staples we already had.

I  made it last night while my mom was cooking dinner, intending to freeze it and have it throughout the week but that was not the case.  Even though my mom cooked steak and collards, that didn't stop her, my dad, and my brother from devouring it until there was only enough for one small bowl left.  I'd say this recipe was very successful and would make a great winter soup to freeze! (If you can hide it from your ravenous family).

I would just like to add lastly as a little side note that I ended up adding more milk to the soup at the end because it ended up a little thicker than I liked.  I would definitely wait until the end though to make any adjustments you see fit because remember, you can always add more seasonings but its harder to take them  out.  Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1/4 cup butter 
1/2 chopped onion 
1 clove garlic 
1/4 cup flour 
1 cup half-and-half 
1 cup milk 
(I ended up adding about 3/4 cup more) 
2 cups chicken stock  
1/2 lb fresh broccoli, chopped 
1 cup carrot, shredded and chopped 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1/4 tsp cardamom 
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese 
4 ounces grated Colby jack cheese  
Salt and pepper to taste 

Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter over medium heat.  Then add in the flour, stirring constantly. Add in the half and half, milk, and chicken stock. Bring to almost a boil. 

Add the broccoli and carrots. Simmer on low heat for about 12 minutes. 

Season the soup with the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. Stir in the cheeses (use however much or little you like) and stir until melted.  Enjoy in a bowl or delicious homemade bread bowl!