Got Peaches? Try this “Bellini” Sorbet Recipe from Zazu

Ripe peaches and Moscato sparkling wine make a deliciously fresh and light Bellini summer sorbet.

A couple summers ago dining with friends at Zazu in Santa Rosa, I spotted this recipe on the wall. I snapped a picture of it, so I could try it during peach season.

Duskie Estes and John Stewart, the chefs of Italian inspired Zazu, are known for their way with pork and Black pig bacon. But they also make crazy-good wood-fired pizzas, seasonal pastas and desserts.

Technically, a Bellini is made with white peaches and prosecco, the light and fresh tasting dry sparkling wine from the Veneto. (Click to read more about prosecco on The Bubbly Girl.com.) This recipe features Moscato d’Asti, another popular Italian sparkling wine that’s sweeter and less bubbly.

Since Moscato naturally and has flavors and aromas of peaches and apricots, I’m guessing that’s why the Duskie and John chose it for this sorbet. They suggest their favorite Bonny Doon Moscato del Solo, but it can be made with any good quality Moscato.

I spotted this Bellini Sorbet recipe on the wall at Zazu Restaurant in Santa Rosa.

Zazu Bellini Sorbet

1-1/4 pounds ripe white peaches
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Moscato d’Asti

Peel the peaches with a small knife. Combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor bowl. Process until you have a smooth purée. Stir in the Moscato. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions or freeze in a shallow pan and fluff up every hour or so using the granita method.

Recipe courtesy John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant.

 

 

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Spanish Shrimp with Bacon, Cheddar and Chive Grits for #letslunch

Spanish shrimp and Southern grits with cheddar, bacon and chives for #letslunch.

Shrimp ‘n’ grits is a classic Southern dish, especially around the Low Country of South Carolina. I like the way grits make a blank starchy canvas that can be easily paired with so many other flavors. A pot of grits is the easiest thing in the world to stir up; make it interesting by adding some butter, a little white cheddar, browned bacon and chives.

The shrimp that go with grits are usually seasoned with garlic, Cajun style seasoning, cayenne and herbs, kind of like a kicked up shrimp scampi.

But when Mark Bittman told me about this Spanish inspired recipe that stars  Spanish paprika with ground cumin, I haven’t looked back.

The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish

Makes: 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.

Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook).

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed

3 or 4 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers

About 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, 20 to 30 per pound, peeled, rinsed, and dried

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

1. Warm the olive oil in a large, broad ovenproof skillet or flameproof baking pan over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden, a few minutes.

2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, some salt and pepper, the cumin, and the paprika. Stir to blend and continue to cook, shaking the pan once or twice and turning the shrimp once or twice, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.

From Mark Bittman.com

The Five Best Things I Ate at Pebble Beach Food & Wine

My second visit to Pebble Beach Food & Wine last weekend was amazing; I think it’s now my favorite food and wine festival. I love the fact that it attracts great chefs from all over the country along with some of the best wines in the world. And since it’s in California, it feels a lot more relaxed than Aspen.

During the Grand Tasting, guests have three hours to eat and drink their way through two large tents. The trick is to figure out which chefs are doing the best morsels, and get there early, before the line gets too crazy. Here are the best things we ate:

Michael Cimarusti set striped bass cheeks aside and shared them with guests he liked.

1. Michael Cimarusti’s Striped Bass Cheeks

Cimarusti is a master at seafood of all sorts. A trip to his LA restaurant Providence is well worth it, both for the creative and technically perfect two-star Michelin food and the surprisingly stylish decor. I loved the ethereal ceramic circles that sprouted from the walls like sea anemones. His main dish was a perfectly tender – (perhaps sous vide) striped bass tenderlon paired with pickled enoki mushrooms, carrots and miso mayo. But the fun part was the “Cheek Bar” around the side, where Cimarusti handed out the succulent bass cheeks to guests he liked including Roy Yamaguchi and yours truly.

Douglas Rodriguez' Sweet Corn Arepa was topped with a runny egg and chicken hash.

 

2. Douglas Rodriguez’ Sweet Corn Arepa with Soft Egg and Chicken Hash

To me, Cuban-American Chef Douglas Rodriguez will always be the king of Nuevo Latino style food; that mix of Latin American flavors and tropical ingredients. I love, love, love everything in his book Nuevo Latino, it’s the Bible for cooking creative Latin food people will be craving years later. So we got sucked into standing in a long line for his dish, but fortunately it moved quickly. The arepa was sweetly corny and satisfying; the egg added richness while the chicken hash spiced things up. We chatted with the chef and I asked him if he ever took my advice and opened a restaurant on the West Coast. Dougie, I’m sorry but Scottsdale is NOT the West Coast.

f fried bread

Nancy & Matt of Mozza in LA served an out-of-this world burrata caprese with a side of fried bread.

3. Nancy Silverton’s Deconstructed Caprese

Team Mozza seemed to have had a rough night; the crew including Matt Molina wore baseball caps with the brims pulled down low; Silverton had on these massive round sunglasses à la Iris Apfel. Platters of lightly roasted cherry tomatoes and mounds of golden bread cubes filled the back work table. Matt scooped out the creamy burrata, another cook added bright pesto and a tomato to each plate. Then Nancy crowned it with the bread and a sprig of basil. Actually, I think the chef should have called this a deconstructed panzanella, since the piece of bread fried in olive oil was what made this dish. Whatevs, it was the most stunning bite of the day. I’ve since become obsessed with homemade pesto – I’ll post my version soon.

Richard Reddington's warm and fragrant arancini rested atop a lamb Bolognese sauce.

4. Richard Reddington’s Arancini with Lamb Sugo

Richard Reddington – the other amazing chef in putting Yountville on the culinary  map thanks to his consistently well-executed and striking seasonal cuisine at Redd.  That’s why it’s my favorite place to eat. He’s been been in an Italian state of mind ever since opening Redd-Wood which serves up handmade pastas, upscale wood-fired pizzas, and Italian-esque meaty dishes a couple months ago. If you haven’t been, the cocktails featuring Italian amari and spirits are first-rate and so is the service, led by Nick Dedier, formerly of Ad Hoc. This crunchy outside, creamy saffron rice inside arancini in a nuanced lamb sugo is one of the apps from the Redd-Wood menu. It’s also the kind of thing that makes you want a whole plate of Bolognese.

 

Imagine eating a hot, cinnamony buñuelo stuffed with rice pudding - that's what Dahlia Narvaez did.

5. Dahlia Narvaez’ Rice Pudding Turnovers with Banana Ice Cream

Not only did Team Mozza create the most delicious savory bite of the day, they also served up the most creative and memorable dessert. Mozza’s Executive Pastry Chef is Dahlia Narvaez, and when my friend Jen – the super-talented designer and artist of Gonzalez Grafica – spotted her name, she rushed over. I’m so glad she did, as I loved the way Narvaez did a mash-up of two favorite Latin desserts: rice pudding and buñuelos. The result was a warm crunchy turnover dusted in cinnamon and sugar with creamy rice pudding inside. A scoop of banana ice cream was added for good measure.

 

Pretty Green Brussels Sprout Slaw for #LetsLunch

Brussels sprouts are delicious raw, when thinly shaved and mixed with lemon, toasted walnuts and pecorino romano in this wintry slaw.

Summer won’t be here for months according to the calendar, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait until July to break out our cole slaw recipes. Cabbage is the perfect vegetable to bridge the winter-to-spring divide with its crisp texture and earthy, slightly sweet flavor.

Since heavy, creamy cole slaw doesn’t appeal to me most of the time, I was thrilled to discover some healthier and tangier slaws that hold the mayo. I developed a slew of healthy ethnic slaws for Relish Magazine, but one of my favorites is this one made with pale green baby Brussels sprouts.

Cabbage and the other cruciferous vegetables all share a subtle sweetness and can star in a range of creative salads and slaws. Cabbage is delicious raw and adds a crunchy component to any meal. Treat it like you would any lettuce: chop up the cabbage of your choice, drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cilantro and minced garlic if you dare to make a fresh and light slaw.

This slaw makes a great side dish or even a main meal with the addition of some grilled chicken, fish or shrimp.

Look for: With red or green cabbage, choose one that feels solid with smooth, well-formed leaves. Napa cabbage should look fresh and green. Brussels sprouts should be small with tight heads that are free of yellow leaves.

The facts: Just one cup of cabbage has just 17 calories and is loaded with good stuff including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Bonus Points: The entire cabbage family is powerful cancer fighters; it contains 11 of the 15 plant chemicals know to fight cancer, according to the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Who knew these beautiful, pale green and gold rosettes were hiding inside Brussels sprouts?

Brussels Sprouts with Pecorino and Walnuts
This simple Brussels sprout salad is based on a recipe created by Jonathan Waxman; a similar dish is a popular item on the menu at Gottino in New York City. Leaving the Brussels sprouts raw allows their natural sweetness to emerge.

1-1/2 lbs small Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and crushed
3 Tbs. large grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Using a mandoline or adjustable blade slicer, slice the Brussels sprouts into thin disks. Toss lightly to separate the layers. Add the walnuts and Pecorino Romano cheese.

Whisk olive oil and lemon juice together and drizzle over the Brussels sprout mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 cups

Adapted from Jonathan Waxman, author of A Great American Cook, Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

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Happiness is…Breakfast Udon Noodles

It's easy to turn leftover udon or ramen into Breakfast Noodles.

I tend to eat things in phases. One week, I’m totally into salty foods like potato chips or popcorn. The next week it might be dark and sweet French hot chocolate or salted caramel ice cream.

This week, probably because I’ve been super busy, I’ve gotten into building meals around poached eggs. Eggs are such a lovely and complete food, a quick way to get protein and get on with the day.

And I think eggs are just beautiful, especially if you can get ones from a farmer’s market or a friend who has chickens. The yolks on those are such a fantastic shade of marigold orange, like the label on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. But even grocery store eggs are pretty, with their cheerful yellow yolks surrounded by soft, chalk-colored whites.

To make my Breakfast Udon NoodlesI started with a reheated bowl of leftover plain udon and broth from Geta, my super-cute neighborhood Japanese restaurant. I ate half of them last night and of course when all the toppings were gone, I sort of lost interest.

My favorite Japanese noodles are topped with pork belly a la Momofuku or Daikokuya Ramen in LA. Since I didn’t have a slab of that lying around, I cut up a piece of thick-cut bacon and tried to cook it slowly, so it stayed tender.

Poach an egg by adding 1 inch of water to a shallow pot or frying pan with a light bottom. Turn it on high, and once it starts to simmer, but not quite boil, add a splash of vinegar. This keeps the egg yolk from spreading all over. Now carefully drop in the egg. It will start turning white as it cooks from the edges to the middle. Spoon a little water over the top of the egg, and use the spoon to move the egg around a bit, so it releases from the pan. When most of the white is set, it’s done.

I topped my noodles with the bacon and poached egg, along with some chopped green onions and a few shakes of shichimi togarashi, a Japanese seven-spice powder.

It’s brothy, spicy, bacon & eggy and easy: I’m happy.

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Smoked Brown Sugar Crème Brûlée for #LetsLunch


Food is tied up in so many metaphors, but probably the most evocative of all are about sugar. The taste of sweetness is something all babies crave. And no matter how old we get, we never lose our fondness for sugar. Our sweet tooth just starts to crave different forms of satisfaction.

The first song about sweetness and love I remember was “Sugar, Sugar” (1969) by the Archies. It has a delightful bubblegum pop quality; what’s not to like about lines like “You are my candy girl and you got me wanting you.”

I was just 5 when the Rolling Stones first asked “Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?” in their classic song from the Sticky Fingers album. As soon as I was old enough to tune my boom box to rock music on WLS, I knew Brown Sugar was naughty, what with the slave owner taking advantage of the women he owned and the double entendre equating brown sugar with Black women and taste with, uh, tasty things. This was the kind of song my parents would not want me listening to, which of course made it more appealing.

The 1987 rock anthem “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard left me indifferent. The lead singer sounds like he wants to make noise more than love. Echo & the Bunnymen’s “Lips Like Sugar” from the same year is reserved and sad, a song more about longing and a passing encounter with a woman who floats like a swan across the water. If you caught her, she’d have “lips like sugar… sugar kisses.”

R & B artist D’Angelo tells the story of a girl from Philly named Brown Sugar in his 1995 song of the same name. The sexy hook is the best part: “I want some of your Brown Sugar, oh oh oh, oooh.” And there’s something appealing about the way Baby Bash & Frankie J brags about his girl, asking “Suga, suga how’d you get so fly?”

But my favorite of all these is Flo Rida’s song “Sugar” (2009) which mixes an infectious, candy-coated beat with funny lyrics and an even more humorous video of his Novocaine-induced daydream.

For my sugar-inspired dessert, I started with Alton Brown’s flawless crème brûlée recipe from the Food Network Site. My ramekins got left behind when I moved to Oakland, so I baked them in heavy-duty ceramic coffee cups I snagged at the thrift store down the street. And instead of topping the finished custards with vanilla sugar, I used a 50-50 mixture of vanilla bean infused sugar and Smoked Brown Sugar from The Smoked Olive.

Smoked Brown Sugar Crème Brûlée
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water
1/2 cup Smoked Brown Sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins (or cups). Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the crème brûlée is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the crème brûlée from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the smoked brown sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the crème brûlée to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Alton Brown of The Food Network.

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Find Wine Country Design Inspiration at Napa’s Brown Estate

Create this rustic chic look for your own dining room. Key elements from the Brown Estate's Napa tasting room can be found at Restoration Hardware.

There’s a certain similarity about most winery tasting rooms. There’s a tasting bar, bottles of wine waiting to be taken home and hopefully a picturesque view.

Few tasting rooms are sources of design inspiration, but Brown Estate in the remote section of Napa called Chiles Valley, is a striking exception. Before my visit, I admired the winery for their elegant cabernet sauvignons and juicy zinfandels that don’t knock you out with the first sip. But now I’m loving the design savvy of Coral Brown, who’s also the family-owned estate’s wine educator.

The subterranean tasting room is done in luxurious and soothing shades of brown. Each detail in the cozy retreat could easily be found in the lobby of a boutique hotel. If you want to incorporate this look into your own dining room or parlor you’re in luck, as many of the key pieces can be found at Restoration Hardware.

The tasting bar here was an elevated concrete topped table with convenient purse hooks. We sat on metal Vintage Toledo Bar Stools, topped with fluffy free-form lamb throws, kind of like those flokati rugs. A massive armoire filled with wine and decorated with objéts like an overside letter B, a Chinese ginger jar and chalkboard with the day’s tasting selections dominated the area. But the most striking feature of this area is the Adirondak Antler 6-Arm Chandelier, which is crafted from resin.

A barrel pendant lamp casts a soft glow over a high table ringed by armless leather counter chairs draped in warm faux fur throws.

Soft lighting from a Barrel Shade Pendant light and the ring of Army Duck No. 10 Grommet Drapery created a cozy place for tasting wines along with perfectly-paired cheeses. Another elevated table is ringed by Hudson Camelback Leather Counter Stools draped in Luxe Faux Fur Throws.

Grandma Dorothy’s Deviled Eggs for #LetsLunch

Grandma Dorothy's deviled eggs were one of my favorite family dinner dishes.

It sound like a Black family movie cliche, but growing up near Chicago, my family got together for big family dinners a la Soul Food. Nearly every weekend, my parents, siblings and I would pile in the car and make the hour drive from the Northwest suburbs to Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.  We couldn’t wait to visit the gorgeous three story brownstone that my Grandma Dorothy shared with her sister Aunt Fannie and Uncle Willy.

Aunt Fannie always had an amazing dessert ready: a caramel cake, chocolate meringue pie, strawberry cheesecake or maybe a three-layer coconut cake with caramelized pineapple in between. I loved sweets like the fat kid in 21 Questions loves cake (still do) so I was always more partial to Aunt Fannie’s cooking.

To be fair, my Grandma made a stellar banana cake with a baked-on crust and did some pretty good punches too; I loved stealing tastes of the sherbet punch with sweet sparkling wine or the orangy Southern Comfort punch. But Grandma Dorothy was more serious and practical, so she specialized in the savory dishes: pepper steak, pots of collard greens, cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and deviled eggs.

It’s been years since I sat down to one of those dinners, and I miss them.

When I heard the theme for #LetsLunch was side dishes, I panicked for a minute. Though I can cook up a pot of mustard greens, melt marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes and mix up some stuffing, I don’t actually have a family recipe for any of these. And this week, I sure haven’t had time to cook anything elaborate.

But a quick call to my mom and Grandma Dorothy – who turned 96 this year – yielded her recipe for Deviled Eggs.

Grandma Dorothy’s Deviled Eggs
eight hard-boiled eggs, thoroughly cooled
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped pickle relish (without the liquid)
1 or 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Dash salt   (optional)
Dash white pepper
Dash sweet paprika
Carefully slice the cooled eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and mash them, mixing in the relish, mayonnaise, mustard salt (if using) and white pepper.
The ideal stuffing  consistency is about that of mashed potatoes. Add more pickle relish or  mayonnaise as desired or needed.
Carefully spoon the seasoned egg yolk into the openings of the egg whites. Sprinkle with sweet paprika. If you like, Garnish with lettuce and parsley sprigs or chives.
Note: If I wanted to do a twist on these, I’d mix in a tablespoon of: bacon bits, crumbled blue cheese, caviar, cheddar cheese and sprinkle of cayenne.
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Savory Blackberry Cheese Tarts: Holiday Cooking with Driscoll’s Berries

I love blackberries, and I usually think about them as a summer flavor. But since they're available year-round,  low-calorie, high nutrition snack I make an exception to the eating with the seasons rule. Earlier this week, Rick Rodgers, (with a D) - the entertaining guru, chef and author of a bazillion books - showed us how blackberries can sweeten up winter cooking in an event hosted by Driscoll's Berries.

We visited the Hands On Gourmet kitchen, a unique space for parties and culinary corporate team-building in Dogpatch. (It's around the corner from a cleverly named bar called Retox.) The kitchen had a large demo kitchen set up, beautiful displays of food and drinks and space for everyone to sit at belly tables with tall Chivari chairs. And the staff were very polished and friendly, especially my pal Fausto.

The guests included a bunch of heavyweights in the blogging world like Cooking With Amy, Eat the Love, Punk Domestics and a fun new pastry chef turned San Francisco baking examiner Angela Rosoff.

In between Rodgers, noted food photographer Caren Alpert talked about ways to take better food shots. I liked her tips about having different background to use in soft focus, using a white sheet or even paper to bounce more light onto the plate and styling your hero plate last.

Driscoll's also used the event to announce their "Celebrate the Sweeter Moments Contest." Tell them how berries made an occasion sweeter and you could win a Viking Cookware set valued at $1,350. The contest ends December 15; for more information or to enter, visit Driscoll's.

Everything was delicious, from the Blackberry Cobbler cocktail with gin, lemon and a splash of bubbly to the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin in blackberry sauce with sweet potato purée.

But since I love party food and things that come in small packages, my favorite was Rick's Savory Cheese Tartlets topped with blackberries and thyme. I adored the cream-cheese crust which was utterly rich but had an airy quality, too. And something about adding the dab of honey on top made it remind me of Greek pastries I enjoyed growing up in Chicago.

Savory Cheese Tartlets with Honey-Thyme Berries

Servings: Makes 24 tartlets, 8 to 12 servings

Number of Ingredients: 10

Cream Cheese Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature,
plus more for the pans, if needed

3 ounces cream cheese, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Filling

5 ounces rindless goat cheese, at room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. minced fresh thyme

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. honey, preferably full-flavored, such as chestnut or thyme, warmed

About 1 cup mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries)

Fresh thyme leaves, removed from their stems, for garnish

1. To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade and pulse to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse about 10 times, until the mixture begins to clump together. Gather up the dough and shape into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and easy to handle, about 2 hours.

2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Have ready two 12-cup miniature muffin pans (each cup measuring 1 7/8 inches across the top and 7/8 inches deep), preferably nonstick. If the pans are not nonstick, lightly butter them.

3. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces. One at a time, place a piece of dough in a muffin cup, and use your fingers to press it firmly and evenly up the sides to make a pastry shell. (A wooden tart tamper can help the job go quickly.) Freeze for 5 minutes.

4. To make the filling, mash the goat cheese and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the egg, yolk, minced thyme, salt, and pepper and whisk until combined. Spoon equal amounts of the filling into the chilled pastry shells.

5. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is puffed, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans. Remove the tartlets from the pans and transfer to a wire cake rack to cool completely. (If you wish, warm the tartlets in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minutes before serving.)

6. Just before serving, lightly brush the tops of the tartlets with about half of the honey. Arrange the berries on top as desired. Drizzle with the remaining honey. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve.

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