I have been playing in my kitchen with gusto. I was obsessed with making duck confit and cooking for friends. My girlfriend’s brother came from Switzerland and he so appreciated getting a home-cooked meal. I cooked some local dishes for him. One night we had cioppino with local Dungeness crab. Another time, my husband made his famous crab salad. I will have have to post the recipe one of these days. It’s difficult because his dressing is always different depending on what we have in the kitchen. He doesn’t follow recipes.
The recipe I am posting today is one I found in one of my cookbooks titled A Little Taste of France. I was looking for a lighter dish to serve my book club. In the cookbook, the dish is made with a whole trout and I would make it that way if I could find fresh trout. I thought local salmon would be a good substitute. I omitted the cream but added some potatoes to the dish. This is basically a sheet pan dish that is so popular in the blogging world right now. It has a nice flavor because it uses vermouth, a nice French addition to the dish. Homemade fish stock would be great for this dish, but I decided to use Better Than Bouillon Fish Base which was fine.
I love the fennel and the leeks in this dish. Make sure you buy the fennel with the fronds. You can buy four individual salmon filets or one large piece.
The Recipe for Salmon with leeks, Fennel, carrots and potatoes
1 ½ lb. salmon
2 fennel bulbs, with fronds
1 large leek, the white part only
2 yellow Finn potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS capers, rinsed
1 oz (25g) butter
several lemon slices
¾ cup (185ml) fish stock
¼ cup (60ml) dry vermouth
2 TBS chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 º Fahrenheit (200 º Celsius)
Cut off the fennel fronds from the bulb and put them aside. Slice the fennel bulbs into thin slices crosswise. Clean the carrots and slice them into bite-sized pieces. Do the same with the potatoes. Slice the leek into ½ inch slices. Give it a thorough bath in a tub of water and make sure all the dirt is removed. Drain the leeks in a colander. Put the vegetables on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss the veggies with the oil and the seasoning. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop one of the fennel fronds and mix it with about 2 TBS of capers and finely chopped shallots.
When the vegetables are almost done, make a space for the salmon in the pan. Pour the vermouth and stock over the salmon. Add slices of butter on top of the salmon. Sprinkle the capers, fennel and frond mixture over the salmon. Top the fish with thinly cut lemon slices. Bake for about 15 minutes (or an internal temperature of 145° F). You want to undercook (not overcook) the salmon. Sprinkle the dish with parsley before serving.
Recipe adapted from the cookbook:
A Little Taste of France
Posted by Sunnycovechef.com
You might also like my recipe for fish baked in parchment paper which uses anchovies and green beans with tomatoes, a tasty Mediterranean dish. Or if your are looking for an elegant dinner check out my crepes with salmon and fennel filling. In Italy it is called Cannelloni Ripieni. By preparing these tasty seafood dishes we can pretend that we are in Italy or France.
Stay safe my friends and be well.
Most of us are familiar with Botticelli’s painting called the Birth of Venus. In this beautiful painting, the goddess is emerging from the sea standing on a scallop shell. To me, this painting emphasizes beauty, self-reliance and elegance.
In the world of food scallops are a delicacy that deserve special attention when being prepared. They are a tender and delicate, sweet and flavorful seafood. There are many varieties of scallops, bay scallops being the small ones and the large sea scallops, reaching 1½ inches to 2 inches in diameter. In this recipe, I use large sea scallops. Whenever possible, the dry-packed sea scallops are best. The wet scallops are packed in a phosphate solution, and when cooked, extra liquid drains out into the pan. So instead of searing, you will boil your scallops. Although there are the divers scallops which are individually harvested by divers—very expensive but ecological better . Here in the US, the meat we call “scallop” is firm and white. It is what you get when you buy scallops in the grocery store. Another part of the scallop is called the “coral,” soft and brightly colored and available outside the US when you buy the scallop in the shell. It’s delicious, as I’ve had it a few times. The most famous dish with scallops is the acclaimed Coquilles St. Jaques.
I am leaving for Germany in a few days. I am still not sure if I will be able to go, so wish me the best. The rules are changing constantly. I am so excited to travel again. It’s been a long time since I saw my German family and ate some good German food. I get to hold a new baby in my arms . That alone is worth the journey
My scallop dish comes from a recipe I found in a magazine years ago. Unfortunately, I can’t give credit to whoever developed this dish because I can’t find any information on the internet. Thank you to the chef who came up with this delicious recipe. The combination of the different ingredients is perfect. The leeks and peas complement the delicate flavor of the scallops, while the mini-potato galettes act as a foil to the tender scallops. The bacon adds some crunch and wakes up the palettes. Altogether, this exquisite meal is light and delicate. A special meal for a special person in your life.
Make sure you buy the best scallops available. I usually buy mine frozen at Whole Foods when they are on sale. Defrost the scallops in the fridge and don’t thaw them at room temperature or in the microwave. The scallops will be ruined if you don’t dry them completely before searing them or if you overcook them. You will end up with a rubbery mess. What a shame! I made the recipe several times during our lockdown for just my husband and myself. We enjoyed every bite with a nice glass of wine. I like to serve three to four large scallops per person. This is a light elegant main course that tastes great with a green salad with a citrus dressing.
The Recipe For Scallops on Potato GALETTES with leeks and peas
This recipe serves four people. A mandolin will cut the potato in very thin slices.
1 ½ cups 7oz. 200g frozen peas thawed
½-1 cup vegetable broth (the amount depends on the desired consistency of your puree)
Salt and pepper to taste
Scallops and Leeks
6 bacon slices of hickory smoked bacon
3 TBS butter, divided
4 leeks (about 4 cups)
16 large sea scallops
1 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper
5 TBS olive oil or more
2 8-ounce potatoes
This dish needs to be timed correctly. The leeks and pea purée can be made ahead of time but the scallops and potato galettes need to be done as close to dinner as possible. Warm the serving plates in the oven, and when it is time to serve, plate the food. Put the leeks on the bottom of the dish, add one or two potato galettes, and top with four scallops. Add the juices from the frying pan over the scallops. Pour the pea purée around the food and sprinkle the whole thing with bacon. It makes a stunning presentation.
Purée the defrosted peas (10 ounces) with ½ to 1 cup of broth until smooth. Adjust the pea purée to your taste. I like mine smooth and a little runny. I used my Vita Mix to get a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made one day ahead, but cover and refrigerate it. Reheat it and before serving, and thin it with broth if the purée is too thick.
Scallops and Leeks
Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the food warm.
Cut the bacon into ½-inch slices and sauté in a heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and keep warm in the oven.
Use only the white part of the leeks. I freeze the green part to use in making broth. If the leek is large, quarter the white part lengthwise and then slice it into small slices. Wash them in a bowl of water and drain. You want about 4 cups of leeks.
Melt 2 TBS of butter in a large frying pan, add the leeks and sauté until they they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup of water, cover, and simmer until the leeks are very tender but not brown. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Put the leeks in an oven-proof dish and keep them warm in the oven.
Dry the scallops on paper towels until there is no moisture left. You might have to repeat this. Put the dry scallops on paper towels and season them on all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt remaining 1 TBS of butter with the oil in a large large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add scallops one at a time and leave them alone for about 2 minutes. This is how they get a nice sear. Turn them over for a minute or so and remove them to a plate. You want the scallops just opaque in the center. Deglaze the frying pan with a little bit of white wine that your husband has opened and served you in a glass. Pour the juices that have accumulated on the plate with the scallops into the frying pan with the sauce. I cook the scallops last, when I am finished with my potato galettes.
I use the same frying pan for the bacon, leeks and scallops. I wipe the pan clean in between with paper towels. For the potato galettes, I use my cast iron frying pan. Peel the potatoes and slice them into 1/16-inch-thick rounds. I used my mandoline for this. The potatoes will discolor quickly, so I prepare them as soon as they are peeled. Heat a little bit of oil in the frying pan and carefully arrange potato slices in a round circle in skillet, overlapping slightly and forming a 3 ½-4 inch circle. I made three galettes at a time. Cook until each galette is golden brown on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the galettes over with a wide spatula (rearrange if they fall apart) and cook until potatoes are tender. Keep the galettes warm in the oven. They are best eaten right away. If you keep them warm for a long time, they will become soft and soggy.
recipe author unknown
Here are some ideas for deserts to go with this special meal. Click on the photo for the link.
It’s the end of January 2020—a new year and a new decade. I never thought I would make it this far. But here I am, thankful for being able to walk again and living in this beautiful area called Monterey Bay. There are so many wonderful things to do and to see, the endless Pacific Ocean, the mountains with their valleys and so much more. I have lived here for over 30 years and I haven’t seen everything—even though I have tried. I always look for new inspiration and new things to do and eat. A free magazine called edible Monterey helps me find new ventures in food. That’s where I found a new soup recipe using celeriac root, one of my favorite winter vegetable.
This soup is very similar to my creamy vegetable soup, called Krabbensuppe from the city of Hamburg, Germany. While my German version has different vegetables in the soup to complement the tiny shrimp from that part of the world. The celeriac soup in edible Monterey has apples, onions and celeriac root, seasoned with a hint of masala.
The soup by itself is delicious. I had some leftover for breakfast. But to bring it to the next level, add fresh Dungeness crab meat sautéed in browned butter. It makes it an elegant and special dish for any occasion. When I made it, I served it with crab cakes on a salad with citrus dressing. It was one of the first meals I cooked for my husband after I recovered. To all my friends who don’t have Dungeness crab available, I think lobster or shrimp would be great, maybe even scallops. It would make a special Valentine’s Day dinner.
Here are some other celeriac root recipes.
I would not omit the marsala , it adds a great flavor. I bought a small box at Whole Foods called Tandoori Marsala. The original recipe used garam masala. I don’t know the difference. I used different variety of apples that I bought at the Farmer’s Market . The original recipe called for granny smith apples. Peeling the celeriac root can be tricky. I use a pairing knife and try not to cut myself. As soon as you peel and cut the celeriac into slices put them in cold water with a splash of lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring
Apricots are in season and it’s time to make my favorite recipes and discover some new ones and that is exactly what I have done for the last couple of weeks. On our way home from the Sierras I bought several pounds of apricots from a fruit stand in the Central Valley of California. They were not quite ripe so I put them on a cookie sheet in my cool downstairs bedroom. They ripened quite nicely and I ended up with some juicy apricots.
I had dreams of making my delicious apricot jam or my apricot dumplings but I didn’t. Instead I was searching for new recipes. I found some but wasn’t real happy with them. In my opinion one cake was too sweet and the other was not as good as my German apricot cake or my apricot blueberry cobbler. Click on the photo below for the recipes.
After looking through some of my cookbooks and folders I came upon a recipe that caught my attention, poached halibut with apricot salsa. Sunset magazine published this recipe in 2007. I was a little hesitant to poach the halibut, but it was perfect and had an amazing texture and the apricot salsa was a perfect condiment for the halibut. This meal makes an elegant lunch or dinner, especially on a hot summer day. I served it on lettuce with some avocados. I can also imagine making this salsa with peaches or plums.
I am disappointed that I didn't get to make my roasted apricot sorbet, my apricot dumplings, or my apricot jam. Hopefully I will catch up next year. Click on the photos for the different posts and recipes. Have a happy and healthy summer, my friends.
Chilled Poached Halibut with Apricot Salsa The secret in the salsa are toasted brown mustard seeds that add a nice crunch. Usually you can find mustard seeds in your grocery store. Be careful when roasting the seeds as they burn easily. I thought that the texture of the halibut improved after it was chilled for a day.
These crab cakes have a little spice with a kick and are a delicacy, especially when they are made with our local Dungeness crab. I usually buy one or two freshly cooked crabs and my husband cleans them meticulously, pulling out every little tidbit of crabmeat he can find. What a nice guy. Normally, we have crab with a salad and some fresh crusty bread. It is the perfect meal with a glass of Chardonnay. Life during crab season is good.
Then I came across an old page from my beloved Gourmet magazine that had a recipe for Louisiana-style crab cakes. Of course, I had to make it. Crab cakes are a real treat for me and I often order them in restaurants. There are many varieties, as each region has its own way of making crab cakes and using their own local crab. I am still dreaming of Maryland crab cakes made with Maryland blue crab. The secret to any good crab cake is using big lumps of crabmeat that retain its form through the cooking process. That way, you will bite into mostly crabmeat with some added flavor.
There are all kind of sauces that are served with crab cakes. I like a good tartar sauce or a remoulade. This time, I choose to make crab cakes for dinner with creamed leeks, so I didn't need any extra sauce. There is nothing wrong with a citrusy green salad and a crab cake. I can envision making mini-crab cakes, served on lettuce with a dollop of tartar sauce. What is your favorite way to eat crab cakes?
If you are looking for another special dish to prepare, try my crepes with salmon and fennel filling. In Italy, this dish is called Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone and the crepes are called crespelle. This could be an elegant dish to celebrate the arrival of spring especially when served with fresh asparagus.
How about something sweet that is easy to make and tastes good? Try this Italian shortbread tart called Fregolotta. Pretend you are eating a slice in a little cafe somewhere in Italy.
This recipe makes 4 crab cakes and it doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to make if you buy the fresh crabmeat. Make sure your crabmeat has large pieces in it. Carefully pick over the crabmeat to remove any small pieces of shells. I finely grind the saltine crackers in my blender
I hope all of you have recovered from the holidays and are ready to tackle a New Year. 2018, can you believe it? I am speechless when I look at the number. I never thought I would reach this number but here I am, doing what I have always done. My body is telling me to slow down as the days go by faster and the years disappear. When I get engulfed by fear of the future I try to find my happy place and one of those happy places is my kitchen where I put on my apron on and start cooking.
I don’t like to spend hours in the kitchen and be a slave but I love to play around and come up with something tasty. My Ahi tacos with tropical fruit and avocado salsa always reminds me of the Hawaiian Islands and I hope they bring you all some sunshine during the dark days of January
The dish comes together quickly but needs to be prepared ahead of time. Everything needs to be cut and ready to go because it would be sacrilegious to overcook the Ahi. I usually get Ahi at Costco and I have never been disappointed. The first thing I prepare is the seasoning, then I make the salsa. I serve these tacos with some cut tomatoes, thinly sliced cabbage and black olives on the side. Nobody would object to some extra sour cream or créme fraîche .
This recipe will make 4 tacos, enough for two people. I often double the recipe. Choose the tortillas you like, I have used both corn and flour for this dish but prefer corn tortillas. The fruit salsa makes about 3 cups. I mostly use mangos but I have used a mixture of papayas and mangos. Since I have my own lemon trees I use lemons instead of limes. You can substitute sour cream for créme fraîche. You will only need a small amount of chipotle chilies. I freeze the rest of the can in small portions to use later.
As you probably all know, California has had a lot of rain over the last two months. But today the sun is shining and our neighbor’s fruitless plum tree is in full bloom. The beach is littered with everything that has washed ashore. It is time to collect some driftwood.
It rained and rained and rained some more. The trees fell to the ground and the wind was furious. I was lucky because I had electricity, so I cooked and cooked and cooked. I cooked a whole duck. I made a winter “farro" salad and tried a new recipe for hummus. I am working on these recipes, and will post them later. Cooking distracted me from the scarier and darker moments of the tempestuous weather. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home and not having to evacuate like so many others.
Life is all about change and loss. What prompted me to write this was a sentence I read this morning from my blogging friend, Jo, at https://coastalcrone.com about being brave enough to change. At this stage in life, I have to contemplate changes I do not look forward to but have to face. And will have to deal with sooner or later. I usually push most of them aside. I prefer the joyful, well-lived life. Don’t we all.
But during those dark hours of rain and storm, I grieved for the loss of my oldest friends from Germany. She died last summer in a horrible car accident. She would be there forever, or so I thought. Gabriele has always been very special to me. She was like a sister. We met in boarding school when she was fourteen and I was fifteen. She fled East Germany with her parents and siblings and later worked her way to becoming a principal and advocate for special needs children.
During one of my visits, we went to a Turkish home and she told the reluctant father that his severely handicapped daughter had to attend school in Germany—by law. I was sure we would get in trouble. Another time, she saved my life when we hitchhiked as young girls in Germany. I remember so many stories full of laughter and tears, as well disagreements and hurt feelings. Why am I posting this? I am not so sure. I have mixed feelings.
What I want to say is: Be kind and gentle with the world and especially your friends. When we said goodbye last May in Germany, she hugged me and cried. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever see her.
“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.
In honor of my friend, Gabriele, I would like give you the link to one of her favorite recipes: seafood pasta.
Pretend your are in a fancy, expensive spa and imagine being pampered with a delicious meal. I have been making this recipe for my health conscious friends for years using different types of fish. The butternut coulis and mushrooms are vegan and are very low in calories. For fish I have used whatever is available and fresh. Red snapper or cod are good choices. For this occasion I roasted some asparagus as an additional vegetable. This meal serves four with some leftover coulis.
I live in Santa Cruz where over half the population is vegetarian and some folks are vegan. This is the perfect dish because they don't have to eat the fish and all I have to do is substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. The coulis can be turned into a delicious healthy soup by adding additional broth. Last Saturday I invited some friends who were in a middle of a health crisis and needed a comforting and healthy meal. This one fits the bill. A good meal will let you forget about the problems and fears you are facing and enjoy the moment. For an appetizer, I served my baked goat cheese with fresh herbs and garlic. We sat outside enjoying the warm evening, dipping fresh baguette in our goat cheese and sipping a glass of 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Hewitt Vineyard which my friends had brought.
The meal was a great success. The halibut was a little overdone, so watch the time when you roast it. My friend’s immune system would not allow any uncooked fish. This is one dish I always plate before serving. I am sorry about the quality of the photos, it does not reflect the food. I have tried to photograph this several times before but what can I say?… I am a slow learner and I am not devoting much time to improving my photography skills. It shows! My dream is to take a workshop somewhere in Europe where I might improve my photography skills.
I had some fresh raspberries and blueberries in my refrigerator . For dessert I decided to make my favorite galette. Okay, this is where I chose not be too healthy and got some bitter caramel ice-cream from the Penny Ice-Cream Shop in Santa Cruz. These guys make the absolutely best ice cream ever. I loooooove the bitter caramel and yes, I know that vanilla ice-cream probably would go better with the galette. But I couldn't help myself. If you are ever in Santa Cruz and before you hit the beach, treat yourself to ice cream from this wonderful creamery. It is worth every bite.
I usually make the coulis ahead of time. Substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make a vegan version. I like my coulis spicy; if you don't I would recommend cutting the spices down. Try using 3/4 tsp of ground cumin and curry powder and 1 tablespoon of ginger instead of two. Make the leftover coulis into a soup by adding more liquid.
For mushrooms I like to use shiitakes but you can use button mushrooms or a mixture of both. I buy frozen edamame beans and use them while they are still frozen.
This makes 4 servings with some leftover coulis and mushroom sauce. I make my own bread crumbs by putting day old sourdough bread in my Vitamix . Before I bought it, I used my food processor
This is an over-the-top salmon dish. Crespelle, an Italian pasta-like version of crepes, makes this a showpiece for a home-cooked meal. The Italians call it Cannelloni Ripieni di Salmone. With a name like this, you can’t go wrong. Crepes or cannelloni are filled with salmon, fennel, shallots, parmesan cheese, crème fraîche and basil. A lemony béchamel sauce puts it all together and creates a memorable meal to share with family and friends. Everything can be assembled ahead of time, which in my opinion is perfect for entertaining.
I found the recipe for the crestelIe in an old Gourmet magazine. I miss Gourmet! I think the crepes give the dish an elegant presentation and add flavor, but you can substitute fresh pasta made into cannoli. Although I have to say, I prefer the crepes.
First, I make the crepes and stack them between paper towels and cover everything with plastic wrap. The béchamel sauce can also be prepared ahead of time, but needs to be reheated before using and maybe thinned out a little. It will save you same time if you can have your fish monger skin the salmon and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Spring is asparagus time and that is what I serve as a side dish. I cut off the woody ends and peel part of my asparagus. I massage them on a cookie sheet with some hazelnut oil (although regular olive oil is fine), sprinkle some salt and pepper on then bake it in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes according to size. I like my asparagus crunchy.
Fregolotta, an Italian giant cookie that is easy to make and the perfect ending for this special meal. Click here for the recipe.
I missed my last book club meeting because I was in Germany. As our next book, our group choose Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, an Australian prisoner who escapes and lives in the underworld of Bombay. It’s a 936-page epic novel about living in the slums, romantic love, prison agony, criminal wars, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas. It’s a huge novel that embraces every human experience imaginable, all framed by a love for India. It was an interesting but long read. I liked it.
This recipe makes six large crepes and serves 4-6 people. Make the crepes ahead of time just in case one of them doesn't turn out, in which case you might want to make another batch. Don't let the length of the recipe scare you. Each step is straightforward and doesn't take much time.
This finger food has it all—it is healthy and low in calories (160 calories for three). Sesame wonton cups filled with smoked salmon, ginger, green onions and avocados. A showpiece at any cocktail party or whenever you want to serve a delicious appetizers.
In my last post, I wrote about my roasted eggplant spread that I served for appetizers at our first book club meeting. I also wanted to add some yummy-tasting appetizers with a wow factor to our meeting. It was like magic. I transformed good old won ton wrappers into the cutest little cups by simply brushing some melted butter over them and arranging them in a mini muffin pan to bake in the oven. How easy is that—and makes a great presentation. The only trick is that you have to own a mini muffin pan. If you don’t, maybe your neighbor or friend has one you can borrow. I deserve no credit for this idea, but my passion for collecting recipes does. This little jewel was hiding in my appetizer folder. It came from an old Sunset magazine.
My friend Diane shared her paella recipe with me. It is delicious and a lot of fun to make.
Unfortunately I didn't have any good photos of the finished paella.
My Andalusian Paella Recipe
by Diane Marvin Koenig
My paella recipe comes from my love affair with flamenco, the music and dance of Andalusia, southern Spain. Paella originally comes from the region of Valencia, Spain but every good flamenco party centers around the making of a paella, then of course the music and dancing follows until morning hours. Cooking outside with an open fire and making the dish in front of your guests is fun and brings people together for a wonderful evening of sitting by the fire and sharing a meal from the same pot.
Paella is about the rice and the saffron that flavors it. I like to use ‘Matiz’ a rice grown in the Albufera National Park in Valencia, Spain. It can be found in specialty shops and our nearby ‘Shopper’s Corner’ carries it. Paella rice is a short grained, absorbant rice that along with saffron is the basis of a good paella. I have used basmati as a substitute and it comes out well. You will also need a good paella pan. Mine is about 14” in diameter, has a lid and is not an authentic paella pan but is low with slanted sides and will feed 10-12 people.
The fire! You will need a good fire maker to tend the fire and make sure it is not too hot or too cool. I have cooked paella indoors in a pinch on a gas flame but the fire gives the paella it’s flavor and it’s good to enlist some help.
Diane and George have a beautiful oasis on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains between Aptos and Watsonville . Driving up to Diane and George's place is an adventure in itself. It is a mile long narrow road to the top of the mountain. Once you are there it is a green redwood oasis with a scenic view of the Monterey Bay. This place has hosted many weddings , parties , and celebrations. The property has a vegetable garden and some fruit trees
Ingredients for a paella can be varied. It is basically a fisherman’s stew with rice. Throw in a few peas or beans and you have a meal. You first make the ‘sofrito’ with the onions, garlic, peppers, then add the rice and broth and lastly the fish.
Shrimp baked with tomatoes and feta cheese and served with quinoa and peas. A great meal to entertain friends and family.
I'm in my little cabin in the Sierras enjoying summer's last hurrah. Fall is definitely in the air. There is some smoke from distant fires that are burning in the foothills, but our little area has been spared so far. A couple of years ago, we had a huge fire in the Emigrant Wilderness that made it difficult to be here. People living in the area had to stay inside during the day because of the smoke. But this year, people are able to come up from the Central Valley of California to enjoy the High Sierras and our lake. There are lots of hikers and campers at the forest service office who get permits to enjoy the high mountains. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses at the top of Sonora Pass at an elevation of 9500 feet. The John Muir trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail to the south. When I do my day hikes in these beautiful mountains, I always imagine the first settlers crossing these treacherous mountains. Some areas have appropriate names like Deadman's Creek.Here in Pinecrest, we are 60 miles (as the bird flies) from Yosemite National Park. Since I can't fly, I have to go the long way around the Emigrant Wilderness to visit Yosemite. South of the lake is a charming little town called Sonora, a historic commercial center where gold miners brought their gold. Next to Sonora is Columbia, a smaller historic gold mining town. My husband's grandfather and his brother used to hitch up a wagon to deliver produce to the miners from their ranch in Knight's Ferry which is in the Sierra foothills.
Well, you ask yourself, what does this have to do with a cooking blog? Nothing really, but I enjoy sharing part of my world with my blogging buddies—just as I enjoy reading about Australia, England, Italy, and other countries where some of my blogger friends live.
Today, I'm going to share a recipe with you that I have made numerous times. It is a scrumptious meal to share with friends and is easy to make. The recipe comes from Elfie Krieger at the “Food Network.” I tweaked it quite a bit. It is not inexpensive because it requires almost two pounds of shrimp. I usually serve this dish with quinoa and peas. Sometimes I serve it with polenta, but always with crusty bread and a salad.
If I'm pressed for time, I buy shrimp that is already deveined and peeled, but still have their tails. I made this dish several times since I posted this recipe. I used large shrimp or prawns and liked it. It is such an easy meal to prepare and so delicious .
Pappardelle with Fava Bean Leaf Pesto , Fava Beans, Salmon and Shiitake Mushrooms
When I did my weekly shopping at the farmer's market, I came upon a treasure I had never used before—fava leaves. I adore and love fava beans, but I don't like hulling and peeling them. A real pain in the tush. Preparing fava beans is a lot of work, but you do end up with a wonderful spring treat. Fava beans (also known as broad beans) are the king of all beans. Their flavor is smoother, sweeter and richer than most other beans.
When I spotted some fava bean leaves in a bag, my cooking antenna went up. "What do you do with them?" I asked. " Pesto" was the answer. That bag of leaves went in my basket faster than a dog chasing a cat.
A chance to produce the taste of fava beans without all the work . Here I had lived all my life without knowing that you could make pasta out of fava bean leaves! I made the pesto and it was delicious.
The dark green, shiny pesto had a tinge of bitterness with a nutty flavor similar to arugula. I played with it all week. I had it on all my sandwiches and on my leftover veggies, and potatoes.
I used some of the pesto to make my pasta dish using Mike's pasta. An ode to Mike and his delicious fresh-made pasta that is light, smooth and to me, the perfect pasta. It is made in Santa Cruz and delivered fresh to several local grocery stores. I fell in love with Mike's pasta many years ago when there was little fresh pasta available. Many a night when I came home from work thinking of making dinner, I would stop and get some of his tasty raviolis. I would cook them and add some tomato sauce or some garlic and butter. Within 20 minutes a mushroom, sweet potato, cheese, or tofu ravioli would smoothly slide down my throat delighting my senses. My family and I would enjoy a great meal. What more can you ask for? I use his fettuccine pasta for my seafood pasta. Mike's pasta has kept the same quality over the years. Nobody talked him into adding stuff, so his pasta would have a longer shelf life. He didn't go public or franchise his business, no sireee, he just kept making perfect fresh pasta. Thank you, Mike, from the bottom of my heart for the many good meals. Disclaimer: I don't know Mike and I'm not getting paid or anything . But I might go visit him one of these days.
I took my last ½ cup of fava bean pesto to the cabin. We needed to remove potential fire material around the cabin. But it snowed and there was no work to be done outside. Instead we lit a cozy fire and enjoyed the winter scenery. I had brought up some pappardelle from Mike, some fava beans and shiitake mushrooms from the Farmer's Market. I had splurged and bought some local wild king salmon that was caught in our bay. This is such a treat but it is becoming very expensive. I prepared a wonderful spring meal in a winter wonderland. We opened a bottle of crisp white burgundy, which was a perfect complement to the meal.
This is a dish where you can substitute basil pesto for the fava leaf pesto. Some roasted pine nuts would be a great addition. Instead of fava beans you can use a cup of edamame beans or peas.
A healthy and tasty way to prepare fish and vegetables in their own juices --
flavored with spices.
This is one of my favorite ways of cooking fish, especially when I'm looking for a healthy alternative. Don't get me wrong, I love deep-fried fish. You know, those greasy fish sticks with French fries and tartar sauce. But I know I'll have some serious indigestion after that meal and swear never to eat it again—until the next time I can't resist.
The fish cooked in parchment is equally good tasting, just without all the fat and frying. Not to mention the smell and messy pans. When you bake fish and vegetables in parchment, you are steaming them in their own juices, preserving all the nutrients and requiring little added fat. This kind of cooking creates maximum flavor as all the aromas are sealed in with the moisture. The natural juices of the fish and vegetables do the actual cooking by creating steam. Within minutes you have a scrumptious, fantastic tasting meal. You can use any white fish and vegetables of your choice. Thin filets like sole cook in 15 minutes. For thicker cuts, add 5 minutes for every ½ inch of thickness. I'm going to try jumbo shrimp the next time. Aluminum foil may be used in place of parchment, but parchment creates an elegant presentation and puffs up while cooking. I promise, once you get comfortable cooking this way, you will do it over and over again.
I used swordfish for this recipe because it had been caught that day and looked fantastic. Most of the time, I use snapper. You can vary the vegetables and spices to your liking. Remember to spray the inside of the parchment (where the food goes) with oil spray. I always put some of the veggies on the bottom for the fish to rest on. In this recipe, I used green beans. I used tomatoes from Robert's garden, but cherry tomatoes would be better.
A special treat for friends and family
Cioppino is a quintessential San Francisco dish. Legend has it that the term evolved from the expression "chip in." It was created by Italian and Portuguese fishermen, who "chipped in" seafood from their daily catch and cooked it in a savory tomato-based broth. Today you can find it on many menus in restaurants. It is one of my favorite dishes and I serve it to my friends and family when our Dungeness crab is in season. I have cooked this for years and each time it is a little different. The essential question for me is whether to use red or white wine. Traditionally, it was cooked in red wine which gives the stew a deeper, richer flavor. Lately I've been leaning towards the lighter version using white wine. Whatever you choose, it it will be a delicious meal. In our house, we serve it with garlic bread that my husband prepares, add a salad and you have a special meal for a cold winter evening that you can share with your friends and family.
Use whatever seafood looks best at the store, as the success of your cioppino will depend on the freshness of your selection. If local crab is not available, use King crab legs from Alaska. If you want a stronger tomato taste in your soup, add another tablespoon of tomato paste. Add less red pepper if you want it to be less spicy. I have also served this with fennel and celery added. In my opinion, the mussels and clams are a must. I figure about 2-3 prawns per person, depending on their size. If you don't have a Trader Joe's store nearby, use ½ pound of calamari instead of the seafood mix. You can prepare the stew (without the seafood) ahead of time. Make sure to have extra napkins, little tools to get the crab out of the shell (I use little forks) and bowls to discard the shells. Do not use your best tablecloth, as you will have stains.
This is my signature dish. The presentation is lovely. I frequently prepare it for my friends and family, who always seem to enjoy it. I cook it differently according to the season. In the spring, I use asparagus. In the winter, I use sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe's. But right now, I have some wonderful tasting tomatoes from Robert's garden. You can make this with shrimp only and it will be just as good. Omit the seafood and you have a vegetarian entree. I use my homemade pesto when preparing this dish.c. At this point , my cooking is much better than my photography. You get the picture. I assemble everything on one plate. My husband broke my antique round serving plate one evening when washing the dishes, so all I have now are oval dishes. I have to tell you, he always cleans up my mess and washes the dishes after a meal. Bless his heart! I wouldn't do half the cooking if I had to clean up by myself.
It is important that everything is prepped ahead of time. The scallops and shrimp need to be dry. Heat the oil and butter in the frying pan until sizzling hot before you put the scallops in. Do not touch the scallops before you flip them over.
One of my favorite foods on our coast is the California King Salmon. We did not have much of a season in the past few years but this year they are back again. I'm able to buy local salmon fresh off the boat. It is expensive, but I like the flavor better than other wild salmon. I usually try to get steaks as they are a little cheaper and I don't mind picking out the bones. I often put a rub on the salmon an hour before my husband barbecues them. For the rub mix together 3TBS of brown sugar, 1TBS of ground cumin, 1tsp chili powder, and about 1tsp of salt and pepper. This rub is enough for several filets and will keep. Use it depending on your taste.
When I have guests I serve a filet instead. I season the filet with butter, garlic salt, and lemon juice and bake it at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. I always make sure that I have leftover salmon to eat the next day with a salad, or to make salmon cakes.
I enjoy eating me salmon cakes with my green sauce.
The recipe for my salmon cakes vary a great deal, depending how much leftover salmon I have and what is available in my kitchen and garden. I often soak some old sourdough or similar bread in milk, squeeze out all the liquid and add to the salmon. I add dill, tarragon and other herbs. I love eating my salmon cakes with my green sauce.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.