Shrimp, Tarragon and Arugula Pasta

So I decided to test a recipe that I’ll be bringing to a friends house for a party on Friday. Instead of the bruschetta, I made some pasta as the base for the sauce but for the party I plan to make the bruschetta and serve it as an appetizer.

shrimp, tomatoes, shallots

The arugula wilts down but retains a good crunch. The sauce is creamy and filled with tomato/garlic/shallot/tarragon flavors. I will be chopping the shrimp up into smaller pieces when I make bruschetta. Can’t wait to show off this recipe for the party 🙂

Shrimp, arugula

Shrimp, Tarragon and Arugula Pasta/Bruschetta

From Giada DeLaurentiis

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 packed cup arugula, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature


  • For the topping: In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 2 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, to taste, and add them to the skillet. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp and chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tarragon, arugula, mascarpone cheese, and chopped shrimp. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the toasts on serving plates and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving.

Roast Salmon with Mustard, Tarragon and Chive Sauce

Tonight is one of those times that a recipe turned out great but there are no pictures to prove it! Only a couple pictures of the before.

Here is the sauce for the top of the salmon before I stirred the chives in:


Salmon, ready to go in the oven:


I also made sauteed zucchini and leeks to go with the salmon:

Roast Salmon with Mustard, Tarragon and Chive Sauce

From Bon Appetit

  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • one 1 1/3 pound sockeye salmon filet


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400°F (I lowered the temp since it was a much smaller piece than the salmon in the original recipe). Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Season mustard sauce lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on diagonal on prepared sheet. Spoon mustard sauce atop salmon, then spread over, covering completely. Sprinkle salmon generously with salt and pepper.
  • Roast just until salmon is opaque in center, about 15 minutes. Using parchment as aid, transfer salmon to platter. Cut crosswise into pieces and serve.

Tarragon, an update on my Urban Garden

When I went to check on my herb garden and to pick a “little” bit of tarragon for some chicken salad I was going to make, I was pleasantly surprised. Within the last week or two it has grown like crazy. Compare this bunch to what it looked like when I planted it in April. I cleaned it up and used a rubber band to tie the ends of the tarragon together. After taking this picture I hung it up in the dark closet to dry.

Hopefully this process will work well and I’ll have home-grown, organic, dried tarragon to use over the winter and to give to my sisters and mom 🙂

Pork with Mustard Tarragon Sauce

We’re having a quiet Friday night. Travis napped on the couch while I cooked. Now we have eaten and he’s on our balcony playing his guitar while I lay on the sofa, watch a movie and blog. Dinner was great and I love Bon Appetit for another hit recipe!

The finished mustard tarragon sauce.

Pork Loin with Mustard Tarragon Sauce served with steamed spinach and some crusty sourdough bread.

Pork with Mustard Tarragon Sauce

Slightly Adapted from Bon Appetit


  • 1 – 2 pound package pork loin (with 2 loins it in)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup fat free half and half
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Heat oven to 375 degree. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place pork in an oven proof dish lined with foil, slice 1 tablespoon on the butter in half and place it on top of the pork loin. Cook for 30-40 minutes are until desired doneness.
  • Meanwhile, add remaining butter in non-stick skillet over medium heat and add shallot and salt and pepper. Cook for one minute and add vermouth and dijon and bring to a simmer. Add cream and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the tarragon. Simmer until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 3 minutes.
  • Once sauce is done take pork out of the oven and add 2 tablespoons of it over the top of each loin (or just enough to barely cover the top). Continue to cook pork until done. Serve with remaining sauce poured over the top of the sliced pork loin and sprinkle with remaining tarragon.

Spring Green Pasta with Saffron Cream Sauce

I know it’s mid-May and I should have had it done by now but I’ve been spring cleaning today. Rearranging things, changing a/c filters, dusting, dusting, dusting! I have a labradoodle, a goldendoodle and a maine coon mix cat so there is always something to dust off or a floating tumbleweed of hair to pick up around my house. I also have a bad habit of redecorating or moving pictures around and then leaving the items I don’t know where to put in the corner of the room! I have some new crafty projects that I want to get into while I’m out of school for the summer so I’m making myself clean up some unused items and get rid of what I no longer want! If I haven’t used it since I moved in 3 years ago it’s going to Goodwill!

With a newly spring cleaned house I wanted a spring pasta! Last weekend when I shopped at Nadolski’s I found a beautiful little glass jar of saffron…and grabbed it up! While browsing for recipe ideas I ran across a new post from Aida Mollenkamp. I have adored her and her recipes for a few years. One of my favorite recipes of hers, that I have seriously made over and over again, is her Sweet Sausage and Three Cheese Lasagna. I’m pretty sure that recipe is the reason I first started a recipe box on Really!! The last few times I made lasagna I have made an eggplant roasted vegetable version but her version is the BEST as far as meat lasagnas go.

Here are some of the ingredients ready to be turned into yummy pasta! Look at that beautiful looking, locally grown asparagus!

Spring Green Pasta with Saffron Cream Sauce

(adapted from Aida Mollenkamp)


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large pinch saffron threads
  • 8 ounces fettuccine (I used linguine)
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 6 ounces mushrooms (I used shiitake)
  • 4 ounces sugar snap peas
  • 1 large shallot, minced (the recipe called for leeks and I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves


  • Heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to simmer add saffron and set aside until ready to use, at least 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and prep vegetables. Cut the asparagus and peas on the bias into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the stems off of the shiitake mushrooms and slice them into strips. Mince the shallot.
  • Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add shallot, salt pepper, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add mushrooms (and a small 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter…I think mushrooms should always be cooked with a little butter!!). Once the mushrooms are tender add the asparagus and peas, stirring occasionally until bright green. Add cream, turn heat to medium-low.
  • When the pasta water boils, salt well and cook according to package directions. Before draining pasta reserve 1 cup of pasta water (I only used about 1/2 cup of the water). Add noodles to cream and vegetable mixture. Using tongs stir it together adding enough pasta water to make it the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
  • When pasta is well coated stir in most of the tarragon. Garnish with additional tarragon when serving.

Here is the cream and veggies cooking together:

And the pasta and veggies plated:

This is so delicious! My son refused to eat it because he saw too many green vegetables…and he hates mushrooms… but my boyfriend Travis loved it. We served it along with a small grilled flank steak. I only had like 3 bites of steak because I wanted to save room for more pasta! Make it and let me know when you do 🙂

Urban Herb Garden

I have been obsessed with growing herbs for about 5 years now. Last year I had what I consider to be my most successful year of growing. Today I want to share with you where they grow and some pictures of what I’m growing. My rosemary is whispering in my ear telling me that it wants to be written about first. It is included in the name of my blog, after all.

My rosemary grows, along with the rest of my garden, in a spot that has one of the most beautiful views in Richmond. My roof. We live in an urban neighborhood right on the James River in the downtown area of Richmond. The neighborhood is a mix of privately owned condos, townhouses and businesses. We have a pool, 3 restaurants and a boat marina. This is a photo of the seating area and part of the “growing” roof top.

Back to the rosemary…it grows inside of an old broken fire pit that was too cool and rustic to throw out. Here is a view from the top as it grows up toward the sun:

And another view of the rosemary:

Here are some shots of other herbs growing on the roof:

Lemon thyme, planted in 2011

Tarragon, planted April 2012

Sage, planted April 2012

Oregano, planted April 2012

Tomatoes (because they didn’t want to be left out), planted April 2012

The largest and most abundant herb that I grew last year was sweet basil. I had 3 very large bushes. One large plant would fill up a large colander once was it was cleaned and stemmed. This season I have planted sweet basil and thai basil, it’s currently about an inch tall and I’m hoping it’s going to get just as big as it did last year!

Basil, stemmed and washed. 2011

I also have a few things growing in pots on my front porch. The dill has been planted from seed I saved from last year.

Dill, planted March 2012

Chives, planted April 2012

Jalapeno pepper, planted April 2012

Thai Basil seedlings, started March 2012. A stray dill seed got in there somehow!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my recent plantings. I will keep you updated as they grow and as I use them in recipes! – Elissa