Nourish Network Serves Up a Taste of Sonoma

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Serving food to 2,500 hungry people is lots of fun–especially if you do it on a perfect September Saturday in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country. That’s what we did at last weekend’s Taste of Sonoma at the historic MacMurray Ranch in Healdsburg. The sell-out crowd came to spend the day sipping Sonoma County’s best wines, watching chef demonstrations and sampling tasty treats.

Healdsburg is Lia’s home turf, so of course Nourish Network Partnership Director Mary Beth Burner and I gussied up to join the fun (that’s us with Lia in the lower right-hand photo).

We spent two days cooking up Corn & Quinoa Pasta Salad, Asian Pesto and Hot-Smoked Sablefish (the recipe is below). People relished tasting new-to-them foods, such as quinoa and Jovial einkorn whole grain pasta (it’s rolling out at Whole Foods nationwide in coming months) or the zippy pesto with Asian flare.

“I love this sablefish!” said one new fan. “I’m sick of salmon, it’s nice to have something new.”

“This is food I live for,” raved another.

Hungry festival-goers gobbled it up, and lots of peeps came back for seconds–with friends in tow. Many lined up to watch Lia demo the pasta salad, pesto and our Sauteed Sablefish Ginger-Soy Glaze. She also demonstrated a cumin-crusted grilled scallop recipe at the Alaska Seafood station.

The most fun for us was meeting Nourish Network fans in person and making lots of new friends. If we didn’t see you there, you can enjoy your own Taste of Sonoma with the recipes on our site (they’re exactly what we served on Saturday). And we hope to see you at next year’s event. It’s a delightful way to spend your Labor Day weekend!

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Hot-Smoked Sablefish (Black Cod)

Wild-caught sablefish (a k a black cod, Alaska cod, butterfish) from Alaska is a fatty, mild-flavored fish with luscious, buttery texture. It’s an ideal candidate for smoking. If your fillet is long, cut it in half so you can pull the thinner tail end, which will cook more quickly, off the grill when it’s done. If you can’t find sablefish, use wild Alaskan salmon instead. Your choice of wood will influence the taste. For more pronounced smoky flavor, use hickory. For subtle smokiness, use applewood. Serve atop crackers, flaked over a tossed green salad or with bagels and cream cheese (with capers, of course).


Hot-Smoked Sablefish (Black Cod)

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Yields about 1 pound smoked sablefish


  1. 1 quart boiling water
  2. 3/4 cup kosher salt
  3. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  4. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  6. 18 whole juniper berries, crushed
  7. Zest of 1 lemon
  8. 1 bay leaf
  9. 1 (1-pound) sablefish (black cod) fillet
  10. 2 cups wood chips (hickory or applewood)
  11. Canola oil


Combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Cool to room temperature. Add sablefish to pan (if the fish bobs to the surface, weight it down with a small bowl). Cover, and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Soak wood chips for 20 minutes to an hour. Drain.

Preheat grill and set it up for indirect heat. For a charcoal grill, move ash-covered coals to one side of the grill, and add soaked, drained wood chips directly to the coals. For a gas grill, place the chips in a smoker box, or arrange chips on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap, and poke holes in top of foil. Place the smoker box or foil packet directly on the heated burner. Heat chips 5-10 minutes or until they start to smoke.

Remove fish from brine; discard the brine. Rinse fish thoroughly and pat dry. Brush skin side of fish with canola oil. Add fish, skin side down, to unheated side of grill. Cover, and smoke 10-15 minutes or until just firm and opaque. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fillet. Flake fish into bite-size pieces. Serve warm or cold. The smoked fish will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.