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Peonies & Lavender

I thought on this Solstice day a past table with peonies (a nod to Spring) along with a bucket of lavender (a nod to Summer) seemed in order on this Flower Friday. May the new season be awesome for you and that it includes a few or many meals enjoyed outside! X, Ted



 

 

A Movable Feast

The tide was coming in and the zinc topped dining table was moving out. Is one of my favorite days of the sunny season as we begin our alfresco Sunday suppers with guests. Blue has been the theme the past weeks so I decided to stay with it. The white peonies still tugging at my heart each Saturday morning as I stroll the Market flower stalls. Mister Sive was grilling. The weather was pretty darn perfect. Cheers to sharing a meal with friends!



 

 

The Blue Continues

The blue from the shop windows has me all energized and wanting to use the hue all sorts of ways. For a Sunday supper for two out on the island a smattering of blue came together quickly while the meal cooked away in the oven. The white peonies making the whole thing sing. The season for them might be short, but we are grabbing every chance we can to enjoy the heck out of the fluttery beauties.



 

 

Pots of Geraniums

The marine layer yesterday early morning over Colvos Passage was pretty magical. The red geraniums seeming even more ‘red’ if that is even possible. They just had to be our Flower Friday blooms this week. Have a lovely, lovely first June week-end everyone! X, T



 

 

Red Striped Umbrellas and a Table for Two

We flew back to Seattle arriving late Friday evening. We hit the ground running and worked the shops over the 3 day Memorial Day weekend. Nothing like getting fully immersed the moment back, but it is a lovely few days to be at the stores as it is busy with folks shopping from near & far. Mister Sive had potted up oodles of things (like geraniums and lavender in above photo) out on the island in pots right before we headed to New York, so we were excited to see how things were shaping up. It had been rainy a bit while we were away, but sunny a good stretch too, so we knew everything would we thirsty. So we hopped on the ferry Tuesday morning to squeeze in a few island days. (For those local readers, we are looking for a handyman/caretaker for WestWard. Our longtime person has moved away. If you can think of anyone you really like, let me know.) The plants thrived while we were away and were indeed thirsty when we got there! It was also our first time using our new red striped umbrellas. Country Living had gifted us one after the photo shoot last year and I was able to source a duplicate. They tilt, which our last umbrellas did not. Great for moving around when the sun gets intense. Plus we like the jaunty stripes. While we were away new red French bistro glasses arrived at WK. I had to set a table with them in their honor. They are the perfect size for a glass of juice or wine. So it was a very red few days. The color has always played a big part of the design out here. I fall back in love with it over and over again as we find new things to incorporate into our beachside living.



 

 

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.



 

 

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!



 

 

White Lilac Love

I spotted the lone bucket of white lilacs on my Saturday morning stroll of the Market and my eyes lit up. I asked the lovely woman how much they were per stem. She actually was not selling them individually but rather using them with lots of other types of flowers as filler. But she was happy to put together a solo grouping for me. My theory of, if you don’t ask for things in this life, most often you won’t get them, came into play. I will save that whole concept for another post! Anywho, she was kind to oblige my request and off I went with a skip in my step. My love affair is new with lilacs. The big bush at Hawthorne my first time to have a profusion of them to play with and experience their beauty. The white version seem rarer, and you know I love a white bloom. They work so well in many settings. For Sunday supper as well as last night, they took center stage among all the blue. The green leaves also playing nicely off of the blue. My eye catching the lilacs often during the course of the meals, my heart a flutter.



 

 

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.