Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry "Full Cold Moon and Cioppino" Christmas

From our home to yours, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Not since 1977 and not again until 2034, the Full Cold Moon this Christmas Day.



Last night, Christmas eve, we had a special meal_ a fish stew, aka Cioppino. I must say, it was delish! We made some earlier in the week with mussels, and yesterday decided instead to use fresh clams.  I would also note that wild Pacific Cod is readily available, about one-third the cost of halibut, and a favorite mild white fish for this. 

Cioppino or Fish Stew from Diana’s kitchen

3 TB olive oil
3 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
Salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 -2 teaspoons fennel seed that has been toasted and finely ground
3-4 bay leaves
4-5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 TB dried basil (or cube of freshly frozen basil, thawed and chopped)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large lemon, juiced
6 cups canned tomatoes with juice (1 quart and 1 pint)
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
2 cups dry white wine
* 12 clams, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that have already opened) 
and/or 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded (discard any that have already opened)
2 – 2 ½ lbs skinless wild U.S. Pacific Cod (or halibut), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb large shrimp, uncooked, peeled, deveined (or 2 lbs Dungeness crab, cracked and cleaned)
1 lb Pacific northwest razor clams, cut in pieces (add any clam juice into the broth) 
2 TB chopped fresh parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, fennel, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and sauté until soft_ 7-10 minutes. Add garlic, fennel seed, bay leaves, thyme, basil, pepper flakes, Old Bay and cook for another minute. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, tomatoes with juice, clam juice and wine and bring to simmer; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the flavors meld.

* Should you decide to use clams, add them now and cook covered for 3-5 minutes until the shells open. Remove the clams and set aside. The same goes for mussels. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open.

Add the fish, shrimp (or crap meat), the razor clams, and cover and simmer for just a few minutes and until the shrimp is pink and the fish is opaque. Add the clams back in and heat through. Taste for any additional salt and pepper.

Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaves and thyme. Stir in parsley. Serve:  dividing fish, shrimp, clams, mussels… into large bowls. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil if you like, and serve with a crusty sourdough and a glass of red wine.

Cook’s notes: you can make the broth ahead of time, refrigerate and then bring back to simmer and add the seafood as above. Remember to not overcook seafood.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Still Hanging On... and Thanksgiving

Winter is here. Yesterday morning the landscape ground covers felt their first light blanket of frost. This morning's low is 31º F,  and below freezing temperature is forecast for the upcoming week. 

Cedrus atlantica "Pendula" (weeping blue Atlas Cedar)
The wind and rain have come, and most of this is now history...


Cedrus atlantica "Pendula"

 ... but some of the foliage is still hanging on.

Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' with birch in the background
A star of the November landscape_ Ginkgo biloba
beautiful copper of the Fagus sylvatica 'Tricolor'

Ginkgo biloba

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving here in America, and for all those family and friends both here and abroad, be safe and be grateful_ thankful in all that is given

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Last of...

The last of the tomatoes_ green and red, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, figs...

Tomatoes and Suyo Long
Fried Green Tomatoes!
Tomato, garlic, basil, S & P, Evoo_ my base, frozen in containers for future use
Spicy Stuffed Jalapeno_ individually frozen_ appetizers 
Turkey and Orzo Stuffed Peppers_ individually frozen for winter dinners

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fresh Fig and Pecan Bundt Cake

Brown Turkey is the single fig tree we have. In years past the fruit ripens toward the end of October and is a relatively short season. However, due to the unseasonably hot summer we have experienced, figs have been in abundance since September. 
We eat fresh figs right off the tree; broil them with a little goat cheese; make fig jam, fig sauce, freeze them for our morning drinks, and of course share with friends and family. 

Generally dessert is not an option for us as we tend to steer away from sugar. Additionally most recipes have too much sugar for our personal taste and when using fresh fruit there is a wonderful natural sweetness that should not be masked. Stevia is an option sometimes used in limited amounts if sugar is required in a recipe and our neighbor Don introduced us to Organic Sucanat some years ago. Raw unfiltered honey is always a go-to.

My husband loves this cake_ not too sweet and nice and fruity.  And the pecans were a gift from my friend Susan who brought them to us fresh from North Carolina. 

Fresh Fig and Pecan Bundt Cake from Diana's kitchen 

2 cups organic spelt flour
1 TB baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
13 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1/2 cup organic Sucanat 
1/4 cup Stevia 
3 fresh eggs, room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup yogurt 
3 cups roughly chopped fresh figs, divided 
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a Bundt pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, Sucanat and Stevia. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add and combine the vanilla and yogurt. With the mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3-4 increments and mix until well blended. Stir in nuts. Gently fold 2 cups of figs into batter.

Spoon the batter into the bundt pan, line the top of the batter with the other cup of figs, and gently smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until golden and a cake tester (flat toothpick) comes out clean_ about 50 minutes. Allow it to cool about 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to complete cooling.

Cook’s note: the additional one cup of figs may or may not be added. I chose to do so because of the quantity of figs being produced by the tree. Moist, fruity and such a treat.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Senegalese Chicken and Peanut Stew

Senegalese_ from Senegal on the northwestern coast of Africa. Senegalese cuisine is a blend of local Wolof traditions and Portuguese and French colonists' influence. Chicken, lamb, beef, fish, eggs are used in cooking while pork is generally not served due to the large Muslim population. One of Senegal's primary crops is peanuts. Also grown are tomatoes, beans, black-eyed peas, rice, sweet potatoes, onions... and various other fruits and vegetables.

Last evening we had a roasted chicken for dinner, the majority of which remained and is perfect for this dish. We like the spice, the slight tartness of the lemon and the overall creamy quality. Rich and full bodied, there is nothing else required when you make this delicious stew unless you would like to add a crostini and a nice glass of white wine. We always look forward to the summer garden so additional vegetables can be added. Asparagus, spinach or kale, fresh cabbage... all come to mind, and last night my husband suggested digging and adding a few fresh parsnips. He is so clever.  

Senegalese Chicken and Peanut Stew from Diana's kitchen

1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 1/2 - 2 lbs cooked chicken, cut or torn into bite size chunks
2 TB butter
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TB Curry powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 TB coconut oil
1 quart organic free range Chicken broth
1 quart diced (crushed) tomatoes with juice
3 carrots, sliced
2 small sweet potatoes, sliced thinly or red-skinned potatoes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh spinach or kale, chopped (any tough stems discarded)
1/2 cup Peanut butter
zest of a lemon
1 can coconut milk
1 lemon, juiced
large handful cilantro, chopped
Salt and black pepper, if needed
roasted peanuts, garnish

Place the flour in a deep bowl or plastic bag; cut or tear the cooked chicken into chunks and toss with the flour until the chicken is coated.

Heat butter in a large Dutch oven, add onions, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and cook several minutes longer. Add curry and cayenne, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Push everything to the side of the pot, add the coconut oil and heat to medium. Add the chicken and stir until it is coated with the oil. Bring the onions and garlic into the mixture and combine.

Add the chicken stock, and with the wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot until all combined. Add the tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and chickpeas. Simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are done, and stir often to avoid any sticking. Add the spinach, stir in the peanut butter, lemon zest and coconut milk. Heat to combine. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Finally add the lemon juice and cilantro, combine, and serve. Add roasted peanuts to the top of each bowl to garnish if preferred.

Crostini: Coarse bread and thinly sliced, brush extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Arrange slices on a cookie sheet. Bake until slightly brown, a few minutes on each side at 375 degrees F.

Cook's note: if you have added additional vegetables as we sometimes do, a bit more chicken stock may be necessary

Monday, September 28, 2015

Full 'Blood Moon' and Lunar Eclipse

Saturday night, the moon appeared in a dress rehearsal
 preparing for a spectacular event_
Lunar Eclipse of the Full Blood Moon.  

Last night she put on quite the performance

And this morning 
riding high in the sky
the goddess took her bow