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Château du Cèdre Marcel Malbec

This Wine & Dine Wednesday is a yummy red we had the other evening with a tasty filet mignon & scallops I made for Sunday supper out on the island. Full disclosure, I was absolutely smitten with the label! I was rushing around the grocery store and it was my last purchase before heading to the checkout line. Was completely taken by the images and fonts. Good news, what was in the bottle was every bit as good as what was on the outside. At under 15 bucks a bottle, we would try it again and again.

A little history and wine speak: Pascal Verhaeghe and his brother, Jean-Marc, bring a welcome refinement to the wines of picturesque Cahors, located about an hour and a half east of Bordeaux. Their father began making wines at Château du Cèdre in the 1970s, and the fun-loving sons took over in the 1990s, banning all herbicides and chemicals, and adopting a domaine motto: “Move forward, experience new ways.”

Fragrant & tasty on the palate with damson plum and blackberry fruit. Full, fresh, and engaging, this Malbec is a hidden gem and the fruit is super clean!



 

 

Red Geraniums Set The Tone

The Sunday supper table was all awash in red. Our geranium collection grows, as TPS keeps planting away. Our friend Peg gave us this cool vintage white kitchen pot for Christmas. Beyond usage for cooking, I know she knew we would give it new life. I punctured holes in the bottom for water drainage and off we went. It became the the main feature of the table, really setting the tone. Then it was pulling all sorts of red things to pull it all together. The super long cutting board adding a bit of earthy light brown, playing nicely with the bamboo handles of the silverware. Steak and scallops were on the menu. I found a new red we quite liked that I will write about tomorrow. Then it was lighting a few candles and were set.



 

 

My Favorite Things Today

All sorts of yumminess arriving each day. From a new piece of art to a favorite jam, we have you covered in gift department. Be it for you or to give…



 

 

Shrimp, English Peas & Mint Risotto

The rock shrimp are what caught my eye, getting my mind spinning on what risotto to make out on the island the other eve. I knew I wanted to make risotto but waited to get to the grocery store for inspiration. They also had some biggy big shrimp that looked swell so I got a few of those to roast up to add to the top of the dish. English peas in the organic section in the shell made me happy as all get out and our pot of mint from last year was already overflowing. Done! I was off and running.

I wrote about risotto in my book. My idea for all of us non-professional home cooks is to master a few handful of things, then we can mix up ingredients to make tons & tons of tasty things. Risotto falls into that category. Get the basics down and you can make a zillion versions of it. Roast the big shrimp in the oven to add to the top at the end. I also roasted the rock shrimp for just a few minutes in the oven on a sheet pan. They will continue to cook when you add them to the hot risotto towards the end. The same is true for the bag of frozen peas. They will cook from the heat of the rice. The English peas I added raw to the top of the dish at the very end for a little crunch. They are little nature’s candy. Lastly I tore bits of mint and scattered it about the whole thing at the end. Here is my go-to recipe below.

Heat up the 8 cups of stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process. Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of Arborio rice. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook through, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly.

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable.

Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. Add the almost cooked through rock shrimp to the mixture. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there.

Now add the bag of peas. It does not need to be completely unfrozen as the peas will defrost the moment they hit the hot rice. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add another cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done. Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir, adding a bit more stock so it is nice and creamy. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add the large shrimp to each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan along with the English peas and a scattering of the fresh mint. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite. Happy Spring!



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 199

Be it a big garden full, pots of, or a windowsill brimming, living with herbs can be a very special thing. Not only are they lovely to gaze upon, but also ever so fab to snip and use in your cooking to add a healthy hit of flavor.



 

 

Quail Eggs & Dancing Tulips

Easter Sunday was a gloriously sunny day in Seattle. Lucky us! It was a 4 o’clock start time for guests to arrive for Champagne and then supper at 5. Mister Sive loves cooking lamb, so a leg of lamb was on the menu along with scalloped potatoes and his famous beet purée. I got us started with a Bibb lettuce salad with a citrus hazelnut vinaigrette alongside roasted asparagus.

With the sun shining through creating all sorts of cool patterns on the floor I set about setting the table. But not before TPS took an iron to the wrinkly Le Jacquard Francais tablecloth. We rarely use a tablecloth as we both quite like the exposed wood of the old French table, but every once in awhile we like mixing it up a bit and we both love the subtle overall pattern on this beauty.

Then it was a simple smattering of tulips from the Market in vintage single stem bottles that you know I love to do. It allows the flowers to take center stage. These pink and green variety just spoke to me of Easter. Then quail eggs set about the long table. Each one little works of art. An old silver rimmed china set we found when we first met was pulled out as it works nicely with the tablecloth. Our friend Kate made the most divine flower laden coconut cream cake. It tasted as fab as it looked. As daylight drifted away the votive candles created a warm flicker. Laughter and stories and love and friendship filled the air. Nothing better really.



 

 

Bartlett House Jams at Watson Kennedy

Super excited to have these awesome jams from our beloved Bartlett House in Ghent on the way, arriving next week. The flavor combinations out of this world. The packaging making it an amazing host/hostess gift or a lovely treat for Mother’s Day.



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 197

Entertaining need not be a ton of work. It can be as easy as roasting a chicken. Along with a green salad and baguette, a simple meal to enjoy while catching up with friends.



 

 

Marinade/Vinaigrette

We eat lots of chicken in the Watson Sive household, so I am always looking for new ways to prepare/serve it. This day late Wine & Dine Wednesday post slipped my mind yesterday, but thought you might enjoy it today. It is a big batch of marinade/vinaigrette that you split in half, using part to marinate and then bake the chicken in. While the other half becomes the vinaigrette for the cabbage salad. Note, you never use a marinade that has touched raw meat for a vinaigrette, so make a double batch and split in half, setting the vinaigrette aside for dressing the greens later.

Here we go! In a big bowl add 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 4 teaspoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger, 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper. Whisk all together. Pour half this mixture into another bowl and set that aside as your vinaigrette. As a dressing, this can sit in the fridge for many days.

With the remaining amount in the big bowl that will be the marinade, add 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds. As well as 2 garlic cloves you have peeled and smashed. Whisk. Add 4 to 6 skinless chicken thighs to this bowl moving them around so they are coated with all that goodness. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

When ready to put dinner together, take out of fridge and let sit on the counter for half an hour to take the chill off. Oven to 400. Pour marinade and chicken into a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, checking at the 45 minute mark with a meat thermometer, as you are looking for the chicken to read 165. When done, take out of oven and cover the dish with aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.

While the chicken is resting, cut up half a head of a cabbage for your salad. Dress with the vinaigrette you had made earlier that has been sitting in the fridge. For a super simple meal, add a piece of chicken to the top of the cabbage salad.

OK, here is where you can get creative with leftovers in the fridge or pantry. To our cabbage salad I added some brown rice, lentils, roasted cauliflower and a big handful of sunflower seeds. Truly, add whatever looks interesting to you. We love hearty one bowl meals, so adding other things really beefs up the dish. But you also don’t have to add anything, it will be lovely just as it is without any additions. Enjoy!



 

 

Ted’s Tip No. 196

Here is a fun idea. When you are the guest at a friend’s home, pick up supper for them right before you depart. It will be a lovely ‘Thank You’ and will the perfect parting gift.