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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!



 

 

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!



 

 

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!



 

 

Reuben Dutch Baby

On this Wine & Dine Wednesday first day of Spring a hearty Reuben Dutch Baby I made at Hawthorne week before last for my hubby. He had just driven back from the city seeing his mom and I wanted to make him a special treat. He loves a Reuben! This recipe is from Bon Appétit magazine, which I read on the airplane going to New York and it stuck with me, so I thought I would give it a go. It did not disappoint and was crazy filling.

4 large eggs, ½ cup milk, room temperature, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 4 ounces coarsely grated Swiss cheese (preferably Jarlsberg), 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 ounces thinly sliced pastrami, sauerkraut, salt & pepper

Place a 10″ cast-iron skillet in oven, preheat to 425°. Whisk eggs, milk, and 1 tsp. mustard in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually add flour, whisking until smooth. Season with salt. Stir in half of cheese and ½ tsp. pepper.

Carefully remove preheated skillet from oven and add butter, swirl skillet to coat. Drape half of pastrami into skillet (it’s okay if it bends and folds over itself); season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over. Return skillet to oven and bake until Dutch baby is puffed and golden brown, 12–15 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and heat broiler. Drape remaining pastrami over Dutch baby; top with remaining 2 oz. cheese. Broil until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Top with sauerkraut and mustard before serving.



 

 

Domaine Magellan Le Fruit Défendu

I spent most of yesterday at the showrooms ordering goods for the shops. That always makes me work up an appetite! I knew I wanted to make Parmesan/Panko chicken breasts with a big heaping Meyer lemon vinaigrette arugula salad atop it for supper. A quick stop into our fab neighbor next to the First & Spring shop, Cone & Steiner, produced this easy French table wine that would be perfect with the meal. And indeed it was.

From the maker: 6 hectares of old Cinsault vines on our beautiful sandstone sites. The vines come from field selections conducted in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region at the start of the 1960s. 90% Cinsault, 10% Syrah Red Fruit Défendu comes from a part of the vineyard where the grapes are smaller and more concentrated. The fruit is entirely destemmed and fermented in concrete tanks with pumping over and punching of the cap. Vatting duration is short, at 10-12 days, and all the grapes are picked by hand. The perfect complement to all grilled foods as well as white meats such as roast guinea fowl, rabbit with mustard and Normandy-style poultry or veal.



 

 

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…



 

 

Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône

Wine & Dine Wednesday is a lovely Côtes du Rhône I picked up the other day on a 10 minute grocery shop. Let me set the scene. For anyone who catches ferry boats will completely understand. We were leaving WestWard heading back into town the other morning. TPS dropped me off at the Vashon Thriftway and then went to get us a coffee and a sweet for the boat. I had that amount of time to shop before he swings by to pick me up for us to then race to the ferry. Game on! I have written this before and will a million times more, I ADORE our island grocery store. Everything about it, from the helpful & kind folks who work there to the incredible variety of goods they offer–all top notch. So a quick shop for the week to augment what we already had back at the apartment was my task. I know every aisle quite well, as it has been 20 years of shopping them, and typically not on such a tight deadline. I knew I wanted to find a wine to serve with a few meals this week. Côtes du Rhône is my red ‘go-to’ as it pairs well with food and is not generally crazy expensive. Well, well, well, as I rounded the corner to the wine section this stylishly graphic bottle caught my eye. With a few minutes left on the clock, I quickly scanned the bottle. Then the price jumped out at me. 10 bucks. Done! I think of this as ‘table wine’ which is easy, breezy to drink with a simple weekday supper. It makes me think back to our many trips to France over the years and the tasty wines served in ceramic pitchers in cafes. This is that type of wine.



 

 

Sheet Pan Orange & Honey Glazed Chicken with Potatoes, Cauliflower and Thyme

This Thursday brings us a Wine & Dine Wednesday. Made this last night and just had to share. In my mind a big sheet pan is a cooks best friend. I use one or more almost every time I cook. They have incredible versatility. For this, I cooked the entire meal on one pan, so it made cleanup super easy. Plus it made cooking it all super easy.

Oven to my loved 400 to preheat while you get things ready. Dry skin on, bone in chicken thighs and drumsticks with a paper towel. Place on pan, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then salt & pepper bowl sides. Citrus is looking amazing at the moment so I cut in half satsumas and whatever other oranges looked good in our bin. Place those on the sheet pan. Then cut medium sized potatoes in half. Along with good sized cauliflower florets. The idea with both is that they are not small as they will cook for an hour at high heat. Add both to the pan nesting all together with the chicken and oranges. Give a generous amount of EVOO to the potatoes, cauliflower and oranges. Along with a bunch of pinches of salt. Lastly, take off a bunch of thyme leaves and let it rain over the whole lot. Then add fresh stems here and there. Thyme is such a hearty herb with a delicate flavor.

Almost there! In a bowl juice 2 oranges. Add a teaspoon of honey for each piece of chicken. Put in microwave for 20 seconds to get the honey nice and loose. Stir. Spoon over the chicken pieces. It is now ready for the oven. Every 15 minutes turn, flip or move around everything on the pan. At the half hour point turn the pan completely around so things get equal time at the back of the oven. At the 45 minute mark check the chicken temp. You want internal to be 160. If things look nice and caramelized, pull out. If not, go to the hour mark. Enjoy!



 

 

Honoring The Meal

Setting the table and taking time to savor the meal, honors the ritual. If even take-out is on the menu–in this case it was pizza being delivered. The white tulips a gift from John at WK in honor of my mom, which was so kind, they became the start of the theme. A vintage Wedgwood vessel would hold them setting the creamy white tone for the rest of the table. Votive candles were lit and we were off and running.



 

 

Table For Two

On a rainy, blustery evening the table was set for two. Take-out was on the menu. But why not set the table and elevate the experience, right? Honor the meal, as I like to say. The lilies were a screaming deal at the grocery store, filling up a glass compote dating back to my showroom days. Then a bunch of candles got lit and we were off and running. Or dining in this case. We have a new place right around the corner called Neon Taco that makes these killer ribs. Their rice & beans along with a cabbage slaw we whipped up and dinner was served.