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Budding Branches

TPS was busy pruning on Monday which resulted in a stunner of a budding branch. It was so tall it barely fit through the door. It became our lunch & dinner visual entertainment at the table that day. The warmth of the fire and the candles had the buds starting to do their magic. Often, the simplest of things can be the most endearing.



 

 

Stuffed Shells For A Wintery Night

This snowy Wine & Dine Wednesday post is brought to you by my husband, Mr. Sive. Quite often when I post photos of the tables I set, people ask, “But what did you eat?” This is a TPS classic, which he has been making for many years.

A few days ago we had the rare treat of a snowy night at WestWard. This meal was inspired by that, a bottle of hearty red TKW had recently at a tasting, our shared love of all things pasta, and the desire for a homey fireside meal.  

Stuffed shells is a Watson/Sive standby, and this night I wanted a “stick to your ribs” version, with a sauce thick enough to stay with the bits of shell and pasta, and not slip off. There’s a lot going on in this version, with a variety of flavors and a good hearty result.  

Cook a 12oz box of ‘Jumbo Shells’ al dente, and drain in cold water to stop the cooking. Toss them in a bit of EVOO.

While that’s going on, prepare the sauce. Cut up enough carrots, sliced in half and then 1/4 inch thick, for a cup or more total. Pour a few good glugs of EVOO in your favorite dutch oven, heat up and then add the carrots. (We just replaced our Le Creuset, as the old one was beyond lovingly used!) After a minute or two, add 1 medium yellow onion, chopped fairly large. (You want the onions and carrots to still be in chunks after all the cooking and baking.) Sauté until soft and just turning brown. Add about 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausage (or sweet and spicy mixed) and sauté until the sausage is just cooked through. Add 4 cloves of finely minced garlic, and cook a couple minutes longer. Add one 28-ounce can of pureed San Marzano tomatoes, one 6-ounce can of tomato paste, and 1 cup of red wine, and bring to a good simmer. Add a good amount of fresh thyme or oregano (I used the leaves from 8 sprigs), salt and pepper to taste, and leave on a low simmer while you’re assembling other ingredients. Add more wine as needed, but you’ll want a thick sauce.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons each of butter and EVOO to hot. Sauté 24 or so small crimini mushrooms, halved. The mushrooms will absorb all the liquid and start to caramelize. Just as they start to shed liquid, take off the heat and place in a small bowl. (Later, add the liquid that drains from the mushrooms to the tomato sauce).

In another bowl (I utilized the just-used and cooled pasta cooker to save cleaning!) add a 32-ounce container of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, and half of a 5-ounce plastic container of baby arugula, very lightly chopped. Mix just until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Stuff the shells with the ricotta mixture, about 2 tablespoons in each shell. Don’t worry about being exact!

Now, to assemble. I typically prepare this in two batches, each in a pie sized pan, and freeze one for later cooking, each pan serving four normal people (or slightly fewer hungry Teds). You can certainly make it one large pot. Lightly coat your dish with more EVOO, and add enough sauce to just cover the bottom. Place the shells in one tightly packed layer. Spread the mushrooms evenly, tucking them between the shells. Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top with a rubber spatula, to tuck it into the nooks and crannies. Lastly, evenly distribute on the top 8-ounces of grated sharp white cheddar. Yes, we’re mixing the English/Irish and the Italian! The zing and creaminess of the cheddar is a great compliment to the hearty tomato and sausage, and contrasts well with the light ricotta.

Bake at 375, covered loosely with foil, for 40ish minutes. You can serve after just a couple minutes of letting it all rest. With those vegetables and protein and cheese and greens, this is a great one-dish meal. Especially for a snowy winter evening…



 

 

An Anniversary and A Painting

The portraits by our friend, photographer Richard Beaven for a show in honor of the bicentennial of Ghent, New York. 275 residents were chosen to be part of the exhibit called All of Us, shot in their home environs. Thought it fitting to post these as Tuesday was our 31st anniversary. Just typing that makes me think, “Who are those people?!” Time really does whiz by. All kidding aside, we feel incredibly fortunate and always celebrate the day looking back on the years. As well as give each other a piece of art. I have written much about this over the years but for those new readers, this has been our tradition since anniversary number one. It is a collection among our many collections that brings us the most happiness. The art surrounds our lives each day and we are able to enjoy the works at random moments. To me, that is the thing about collected treasured objects, they tell your story. They are a reminder of your past. The below my gift to TPS, a painting by Connecticut artist Karen Kellogg. We sell her work at Watson Kennedy. Last year I was able to go to her studio and spotted this piece the moment I walked in. It had Hawthorne written all over it!



 

 

An Autumn Afternoon at Hamilton

We took a field trip the other day and made the drive over to Clinton, New York, about two and a half hours from Hawthorne. Mister Sive went to Hamilton College and had not been back since we met. It has always been on our list as I so wanted to see the campus. Wow, meticulous beauty and history at every turn. Alexander Hamilton was a trustee of the school which was later named after him. It was a stunning upstate Autumn day filled with lots of memories.



 

 

Pasta Mélange

Mister Sive is at the helm this fine morning for our Wine & Dine Wednesday post, whipping up a family favorite.

Readers of my husband’s blog know our love of barbeque. This dish captures that char and smokiness, here from veggies and sausages, and melds it with pasta and cheese. Yum! Like many of Ted’s and my favorite things, you can vary what you put in to capture whatever looks good at the market or strikes your fancy. This version highlights the local sugar snap peas which are so phenomenal this time of year—they take well to the BBQ, holding up to the heat and developing a wonderful caramelization.

Prepare your barbeque. You’ll want a full bed of coals, to fit a mixture of different foods cooking at the same time. Hot, but not super-hot. Don’t worry about a little bit of black char on the veggies; when mixed in it just adds to the BBQ lusciousness. As your foods finish cooking, wrap well in aluminum foil so they stay warm.

1 head of Romanesco, leaves trimmed, the large florets cut off the main stem, well brushed with olive oil.

1 head of Cauliflower, prepped the same.

1 pound of Sugar Snap Peas, with ends trimmed and the center string removed.

2 medium to large Sweet Onions, cut into 6ths, through the hard core (so the slices in each chunk stay together while cooking), rubbed with olive oil.

4 cobs of fresh Corn, shucked, and rubbed with butter.

10 links of good Sausage (these were Ulis from the Pike Place Market); we like a mixture with both some sweet and spicy Italian.

As you’re finishing the last phase of grilling, put your pasta pot on. When the water is boiling and before you add the pasta, dip 1 pound of English Peas, shelled, into the water for just a minute. Drain, put aside, and cover. Cook 1 pound of pasta; we like Farfalle, as it catches the bits and pieces so well. When the pasta is cooked and drained, add a couple good glugs of EVOO, and half of a 1/2 pound of grated hard sharp cheese, such as Asiago or Romano.

Uncover your veggies one at a time, and chop the larger pieces up a bit—you want big chunks, but nothing that needs a knife. Add to the pasta mix, covering the pasta mix between batches of mixing in veggies to keep it all warm. Cut the corn off of the cob and add. Slice the sausage and add. Add the second 1/2 of the grated cheese, along with 1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh herbs (I used used thyme and oregano from the WestWard herb pots). Lastly, top with the quick cooked English Peas.

We served this with a simple arugula salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and a caprese salad. Partnered with a glass of chilled rosé, you’re now ready for Summer!



 

 

Blueberry Coffee Cake

This week Wine & Dine Wednesday Mister Sive is at the helm with his always popular blueberry coffee cake recipe. He made this the past week and I have been savoring every little morsel. We enjoy this for a breakfast treat with coffee, but also in the eve as dessert.

Cake is far too wonderful an invention to limit it to dinner! Breakfast, too, is followed by dessert. The following is a fairly simple recipe, good with a range of berries. This version highlights some fab blueberries that seemed just the bright sweet thing for a winter treat this week. The yoghurt is a great mix with the tang of the berries, the sweet dough, and the crunchy hearty cinnamony crumble. 

For the cake: 1 ½ cup flour, 1 cup white sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 cup of whole milk yoghurt, 2 eggs, 1 cup blueberries

For the crumble topping: ¾ cup flour,  ½ cup butter, ½ cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of chopped walnuts, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Prepare the topping by adding all the ingredients to bowl, and mushing/massaging together with your finger tip until there’s a mix of larger and smaller crumbles. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder with a fork. Beat the yoghurt and eggs and until mixed. Add the flour mix to the wet mix and beat until just smooth. Don’t overbeat. Spoon the dough into a buttered 9×9 pan.

Spread the blueberries evenly on top of the dough, and lightly push in, keeping the blueberries toward the top of the batter. (Don’t mix the blueberries in the batter, as that will break the skins.) Lightly spread the crumble over the top. Bake for 35 or so minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with piping hot coffee and remind yourself that since it’s got oatmeal and walnuts, it’s really healthy.


 

 



 

 

Ted2 Equals 30 

Monday is typically reserved for a Ted’s Tip but I did not think you would mind me putting that off until tomorrow, because today is our 30th anniversary! Just writing that makes me shake my head a bit, as that seems like a long time. Oh my. We were so young! A few years out of college, but when you know it is right, you just know. You feel it in your bones, your brain, your heart. We are going to spend a quiet day just us two (and Bailey too) at Hawthorne, making a special meal together tonight. During one of my ‘wrapping’ sessions with a customer this past Holiday, I mentioned our upcoming anniversary. She was younger and the idea of 30 years together was mind boggling, which she mentioned in a very cute and sweet way. She asked me our secret. I told her it was not really a secret at all. Love each other. Respect each other. Be each other’s biggest champion. Savor the moments. Learn from the bad and move on. Revel in the good. Make each other better. Laugh together. Laugh more. Each year we have given each other a piece of art for an anniversary present. It has been hugely meaningful to watch that collection grow. It represents us. This year we decided to buy a matching pair of vintage stone lions (him giving one to me, me giving one to him) to watch over the house. We fell in love with them at an antique shop on Warren Street in Hudson in September. Writing this I think the symbolism of their strength together watching over one another sums it up. Never in a million years when we first met did we think we would be allowed to be legally married, and of course are elated that we were able to several years ago. But today will always be the day we celebrate the beginning.



 

 

Roasting Radishes

Wine & Dine Wednesday is about roasting up something considered quite ‘normal’ turning it into something quite extraordinary. Radishes often get a ho-hum rap. But we are big radish fans in the Watson Sive household, so we serve them whenever they catch our eye, both cold and hot. TPS roasted up a bunch of beauties awhile back that we found at a farmers market, along with some amazing turnips. Hot oven, extra virgin olive oil bathed along with a few pinches of salt and the baking process turns the radish from slightly bitter to oh so sweet. Lovely nestled up to a roast chicken, piece of fish or even a steak. 



 

 

WestWard Tuna Salad Salad

This Wine & Dine Wednesday Mister Sive is sharing one of my all-time favorite lunches he makes for us often because I like it so darn much. It is healthy & hearty, which is always a winner in my book.

As I’ve noted before, I love the creative challenge of preparing a meal from whatever is at hand. The following dish was a WestWard #MondayIsOurSunday creation a few years back, that has since become an oft requested lunch from my hubby. It’s a fun mixture of tastes and textures. The following is a good amount for two hungry Teds; adjust as your stomachs desire!

Cut a head of Napa cabbage longitudinally from top to bottom, then slice into 1/4 inch or thinner strips. Place in a salad bowl.

Peel a small cucumber. Slice in half down the length, scoop out the seeds, and slice into 1/4 inch pieces, and add to the cabbage.

Open a can of high quality tuna packed in olive oil, and pour ¼ cup or more of the oil into the salad.

Add ¼ cup of mayo and a few good dashes of balsamic.

Add ½ of the tuna, and toss gently until well distributed.

Split the salad into individual bowls.

Add to each bowl: the remaining tuna, lightly broken into chunks; 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, halved; and a handful of pitted olives. 

Serve with some parmesan toast for a yummy lunch!



 

 

Cherry & Slivered Almond Upside Down Cake

Mister Sive is sharing this awesome recipe this morning–take it away Ted!

One of the pure food joys of living in Washington State is the abundance of cherries this time of year. We Teds consume an inordinate amount of them come early Summer, with breakfast yogurt and granola, by the handful for a snack, or, as below, for dessert. Last weekend our beloved Vashon Thriftway had these perfect Rainier cherries, and I was determined to build dessert around them. It was also an opportunity to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, a cherry pitter that’s a lot of fun (and a bit of a workout) to use. The following recipe is inspired by one in the NY Times Cooking app, and blends the moist, rich and deep scent of pound cake with a touch of cornmeal, that cherry zing, some almond crunch, that classic upside-down cake topping of butter and sugar, and the (optional) hint of sweet and fruity tequila.

Preheat oven to 350. Melt on the stovetop: 4 tablespoons butter

Stir in: ¾ cup light brown sugar

Stir in, let bubble and then calm down: 3 tablespoons tequila

Pour this mixture into the bottom of a large springform cake pan, and spread evenly. 

Place so that they fill the bottom: 2-3 cups cherries (preferably Rainier)

Spread between and amongst the cherries: ½ cup slivered almonds

Mix in a bowl and set aside: 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, ¼ teaspoon salt

Cream: 8 tablespoons butter, add gradually and beat until fluffy: 1 cup of sugar

Add, one at a time: 4 egg yolks

Add, in thirds, beating lightly until blended, the dry mixture above alternately with: 2/3 cup yoghurt and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Add, until just mixed: ½ cup slivered almonds

Beat until just stiff peaks: 4 egg whites

Mix in 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter. Fold in the remaining 1/3 of the egg whites.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted into the dough (only) comes out clean. Let the cake sit for a few minutes, then snap off the side of the pan, place your serving plat upside down on top of the cake, and turn over, revealing those wonderful cherries! Serve.

Relish Summer. And, then….

Save the leftover cake in the fridge. The moist dough will get a bit dense, but fear not! This turns into a terrific “twice-baked” treat. 

Slice the cake into 1 ½ inch slices. Lay each slice with a big side face down on a baking sheet, and heat in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Flip onto the other side for another 5 minutes. This warms the cake and gives a nice super thin crustiness to each piece. Serve with piping hot coffee for a mid-morning treat!