Friday, October 20, 2017

Seafood Bisque - #soupswappers

Today's challenge was to prepare a soup from our state....a regional soup.  Thank you, Ashley, of Cheese Curd in Paradise, for hosting Soup Saturday Swappers.  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

As I thought about the state and the region, I immediately thought of seafood.  While traveling in the state I am always trying to find the best Lobster Bisque or Clam Chowder.  As I thought about preparing something it dawned on me that I have a super recipe for Seafood Bisque which meets the challenge.  This is a family favorite.

There is actually a funny story about this bisque.  In 2009 while visiting my daughter in Seattle, I mentioned that I was thinking about starting a food blog.  We talked about what to call was after dinner....I had made Seafood Bisque.  We tossed numerous names back and forth...when I looked down to see a sprig of thyme laying across the soup spoon in my empty bowl.  That was it, A Spoonful of Thyme was born and all because of this Seafood Bisque!

Seafood Bisque
adapted from Biederbeck's

Yield:  8-10 servings

4 Tablespoons butter
Small onion, small dice
1 rib celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tsp dry mustard
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil

3/4 cup flour
2 cups clam nectar
3/4-1 cup white wine

1 cup chili sauce
1 3/4 cup tomato puree
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups half and half
1/2 lemon with rind
Two dashes Tabasco
Two dashes Worcestershire Sauce (more to taste, if desired)
2 cans minced clams (do not drain)
6 oz. baby shrimp (or 2 cans, drained)
5 scallops, quartered
8 ounces white fish (cod, perch, etc.) cut into small chunks
1 can crab, drained (or 3 ounces fresh crab)

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onion, celery, parsley, and the next seven spices.  Set aside.

Make a roux of the flour, clam nectar and wine in a Dutch oven.  Cook down just a little and stir in the sauteed ingredients.  (Watch carefully, it thickens quickly.)

Add the next seven ingredients.  Stir to blend.  Add the remaining seafood and heat to cook.

NOTE:  This seafood in this soup can be varied.  Whatever you have on hand or wherever your taste guides you!


The nicest part about today was that it was perfect weather for soup!  And for those men out there who really want a substantial bowl of soup, this is it!  It is filled with the very best and tasty seafood!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

What a beautiful week it has been!  Somehow Mother Nature managed to send some low temperatures our way!  It has been fall.  This weather, 60s and 70s, has been perfect.  It motivated me to hit the kitchen and actually use the oven.

I was reading the New York Times Recipes and a recipe for Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken caught my eye.  Goodness....chicken, carrots, dates, citrus and honey....yummy!   It sounded like the perfect dish to kick-off the season and we were not disappointed.  It was delicious.

Did you notice that the New York Times is now charging a fee to access recipes?  I was disappointed as it is one of my favorite sites for recipes.  I was able to access some recipes but not, I bit the bullet.  I figured if it was my favorite then I would subscribe...  Do you subscribe?   I may not be totally pleased that it is now subscription based but, it is worth it!

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken
adapted from NYT Cooking

Yield:  4 servings

1 lemon, plus 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more for the pot
3 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp whole grain mustard
3 Tbsp honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Black pepper, to taste

3 chicken breasts
2 cups sliced carrots, (about 1/4-in thick)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup sliced dates
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Quarter the lemon lengthwise.  Cut into small wedges and remove any seeds.  Blanch the wedges for two minutes in a small saucepan of salted boiling water and drain.

Whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste, in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Let cool.

Put the chicken in a bowl and add the cooled honey mixture.  Add the carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon wedges.  Turn the mixture to coat the ingredients.  Marinate overnight in the refrigerator or a minimum of 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place all ingredients in a rimmed sheet pan.   If you did not remove the skin from the chicken, it should be placed on the sheet pan skin side up.   Roast the chicken breasts for 20 to 30 minutes, the chicken should be browned and cooked through.  Remove the chicken as it is done.  Stir the carrot mixture and continue cooking until the carrots are tender, about 7-10 additional minutes.  If the pan appears dry, add 2-3 Tablespoons of water.

Spoon the carrot mixture over the chicken and garnish with cilantro, chopped scallions and the pistachios.


I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup #soupswappers

This summer has been one of heat after another.  In fact we have had over sixty six days that were over 100 degrees, so far this year.  It doesn't match the record of seventy six days set in 1917, so in this case not setting the record is a good thing!  Needless to say, there hasn't been much cooking and definitely no baking going on at my house.

For today, though, I was challenged to make a quick weeknight soup.  The winner to me would be last month's soup, which as a copycat Panera Tomato Basil Soup.  It was really a quick one to put together and super tasty.  But, since I cannot post the same thing twice, I stepped up to the plate!

Trying to slip a soup past Mr. T. when it is 112° might be tricky...but, I figured I would wow him with flavor!  It worked.  The first comment he made was in regard to how flavorful the soup was!  Score!

A few years ago I made a Tomatillo-Braised Pork Loin by Rick Bayless.  I loved every bite of it but the potatoes had an amazing flavor.  I decided to capitalize on that and put together a Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup using the same method that was used in the Rick Bayless recipe.

I broiled the tomatillos and peppers and since this was a quick recipe, I put the potatoes on one end of the baking sheet and roasted them at the same time.  The broiling took the most time.  If you aren't up for a really spicy soup, then you might devein and seed the peppers!

We enjoyed this spicy soup even though it was a very warm day.  I had thought about making some cornbread but decided the kitchen was warm enough.  I served some great Honey Salted Cornbread Crisps, that I found at Trader Joe's, with it.  It was just right.

Spicy Chili Verde Chicken Soup

1 pound tomatillos, remove husks and rinse
1 jalapeño
1/2 serrano, deveined, seeded
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup cilantro
2 cups chicken stock
10 baby red potatoes, scrubbed, cut into small pieces
1 15-ounce can small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 cups rotisserie chicken, cut into small pieces
1 ear of corn, roasted, cut kernels from cob

Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil.  Place the tomatillos and peppers on one end.  Place the small pieces of potato on the other end of the sheet.  

Roast the potatoes, tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side — 4 or 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos and chiles that are soft and cooked through. Cool and transfer everything but the potatoes to a food processor or blender, also pour any juices that have run out onto the baking sheet. Process until smoothly pureed.  The potatoes may not be completely tender.  They can finish cooking as the soup simmers after adding the chicken, beans and corn.

While the tomatillos, peppers and potatoes are in the boiler, prepare the remaining ingredients for the soup base.

Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven that has been heated over medium.  When it is warm, add the onions.  Saute until they are soft and transparent.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the tomatillo mixture into the Dutch oven.  With an immersion blender puree the soup.  Put the heat on medium-low to reheat the mixture.  Add the chicken, potatoes, corn kernels and white beans. Simmer until the potatoes are tender.  Add the lime juice.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with a dollop of sour cream, additional lime wedges and cilantro if desired.

The theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers is Quick Weeknight Soups.  It is hosted by Amy at Amy's Cooking Adventures.  Who wouldn't love to have a quick soup after a busy day at work and/or school?!  Sometimes it is hard to have the energy to hit the kitchen after a busy day.  This month's recipes are certain to help you out!

The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. All are welcome!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Basil Soup - #soupswappers

This was a hard month for me when it came to selecting a recipe for Soup Saturday Swappers.  The week I set about doing it, the temperatures ranged from 108° to 111°.  That is not exactly soup weather.  But, I was fondly remembering a recent trip to Seattle when I got adventurous and went shopping in a nearby city.  I had a lovely bowl of creamy Tomato Basil Soup at Panera.  It was delicious.  It was really thick but it had not pureed to a silky smooth soup.  It had some consistency to it which I really I decided to give it a try.

Copycat Panera Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, rough chop
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
1-28 oz. can peeled tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp salt, plus additional to taste
a few twists of fresh ground pepper

Garnish with any of the following:
Basil chiffonade, croutons, dollop of sour cream or dollop of pesto.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.  

Add the can of tomatoes with juice, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and sugar. Bring to a simmer.   Cook uncovered for 10-15.  Stir in the butter and half and half.  Add the chopped basil and stir.

Use an immersion blender or carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and puree the soup until there are no large chunks and at desired consistency.

Adjust the seasoning.  Serve with desired garnishes.

Copycat soup recipe is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers!  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. This Saturday is hosted by Heather at All Roads Lead to the KitchenIf you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Spicy Glazed Shrimp - #soupswappers

What started off looking like this.....

due to a blender that broke at the bottom and wasn't discovered until I poured....  turned out like this and was an absolutely wonderful soup!

Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Spicy Glazed Shrimp...Chilled
adapted from Food and Wine

1 large European cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice, divided
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 shallot thinly sliced
3/4 pound large shrimp, shelled (keep the shells)
1 small carrot, thinly sliced in coins
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp tomato paste
2 cups water
1 Tbsp honey
Fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 mint leaves, chopped

Combine the cucumber, avocados, buttermilk, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon of lime juice and a pinch of salt in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain the soup through a fine sieve and refrigerate until chilled, about 40 minutes.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the shrimp shells, garlic, shallot and carrot and cook over moderate heat and stir until the shells are lightly browned and the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes.

Add the peppercorns, coriander seeds, crushed red pepper and cumin seeds ad cook for a minutes, stirring.  Add the tomato paste and cook stirring for another minute.  Add the water, honey and remaining tablespoon of lime juice and bring to a boil.  Simmer the mixture over moderate heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Strain the shrimp sauce into a heatproof bowl.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet and until shimmering.  Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper.  Cook over high heat 1 minute.  Turn the shrimp add the shrimp sauce and simmer until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the butter.

Place three shrimp in each soup bowl.  Spoon the cucumber soup around the shrimp and drizzle with the shrimp sauce.  Sprinkle mint leaves and serve.


This was the most amazing soup!  I love the way the buttermilk gave a light tang to the mixture and then the accompanying shrimp made it a "make again" recipe!

It was an adventure getting this post ready for Saturday Soup Swappers.  Chilled soup is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers!  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. This Saturday is hosted by Paula at The Saucy Southerner.  If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Beef Stew #soupswappers

Let's enjoy beef stew one last time before the heat sets in!  Putting together a post that featured English Stew was a challenge.  Not because it was English Stew but because I am traveling back and forth between my home in California and my daughter in Washington.

Yes, English Stew is the theme for this month's Saturday Soup Swappers!  The Saturday Soup Swappers is a group of bloggers brought together by Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm. The group gets together on the third Saturday of the month to share soups or stews based on a theme selected by one of the members. This Saturday is hosted by Sneha at Sneha's Recipe.  If you are interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link above for more information. All are welcome!

I guess I had a hard time dealing with stew, weather and traveling.  My first idea was a Pumpkin and Lentil Stew that really intrigued me but I kept thinking fall so I switched to Beef Stew and Dumplings and still had issues thinking about the weather...but hey, I'm in Seattle, nothing stays the same for long....a nice storm moved in...rain, fog, fog horns, winds just the kind of weather that goes with stew!  But, don't expect dumplings.  Somehow the four year old was focused on the mashed potatoes so dumplings never happened.

Of course there is more to the story than a four year old, there is always the story of ovens. I believe that I just had my last dance with this oven.  The kitchen remodel at my daughter's is set to begin.

I hope you enjoy the richness of this wonderful beef stew and if you can't make the dumplings, don't forget fluffy mashed potatoes!  I can hardly wait for leftovers!

Beef Stew
adapted from Nigel Slater

Yield:  4 servings

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds lean stew meat, cut into bite size pieces
2-3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, peeled, rough chop
2 leeks, white and light green only, cleaned and sliced into half moons.
3 celery ribs, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks
3/4 cup peas
3/4 cup red wine
2 1/4 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce or to taste, if desired
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven:  350° F.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter.  Add the stew meat and brown on all sides.

Sprinkle the flour over the beef and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and the vegetables. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.  Note:  I added the peas after the stew was removed from the oven.

Stir in the wine, stock, and herbs.  Add the worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, adjust to taste. Add the salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil.  Cover with a lid and place in the oven for two hours.  (Check the liquid level occasionally.  Add additional stock if needed.)

To serve place a scoop of mashed potatoes in each bowl.  Add a ladle of stew and sprinkle with parsley.


We really enjoyed this stew and the four year old did too!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Doll up that Lettuce Wedge!

The wedge salad of the 50's and 60's moves in and out of favor.  The salad, though, did not originate then.  The earliest mention of the lettuce wedge salad was found in a cookbook published in 1916. Marion Neil's cookbook, Salads, Sandwiches and Chafing Recipes mentions the wedge salad with Roquefort cheese and hard boiled eggs.  It's popularity fluctuates with the times but it hasn't disappeared.

The wedge salad today has many guises.  There will always be the original but it can be dolled up to reflect most cuisines.  It can have a Mediterranean look with a vinaigrette and cucumbers, kalamata olives, tomatoes and feta sprinkled over the top.  Or it may have a more España appearance as this salad does.  Add a little corn and red pepper salsa made fresh from the garden, a few tomatoes, some manzanilla olives and a few crushed tortilla chips for a little crunch and you have a lovely wedge dolled up for the evening!

Salad Wedge with Corn and Red Pepper Salsa
adapted from The Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn

Serves 4

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 red onion, rough chop
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup vegetable oil

In a blender, combine all ingredients except the oil.  When combined, leave the motor running and slowly drizzle the oil in a slow, thin stream.  When the oil has been added and the mixture is smooth, turn off the blender and set aside.

Corn and Red Pepper Salsa
2 ears of fresh white corn, grilled, kernels removed or 1 can of corn (16 oz.)
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2  cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

If using canned corn, drain.  Cook kernels in a hot skillet with a tablespoon of oil.   Cook about 10 minutes until kernels are crisp.  Season with salt.  Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, combine the all ingredients.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

1 head iceberg lettuce
5 oz bag of baby mixed greens
8 manzanilla olives
1 pint mini heirloom tomatoes or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 green onion, sliced diagonally
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Corn and Red Pepper Salsa
1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

Remove the root end from the lettuce.  Cut the head in half.  From the half head, cut wedges to serving size.  (I cut the half head into four wedges.)  Spread out some of the mixed greens on the salad plates and place the wedge on top.  Dress the wedge with about 2 Tablespoons of dressing.  Top each wedge with two olives, tomatoes, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Add about 1/3 cup corn and red pepper salsa to the top and then garnish with slices of green onion and a Tablespoon of crushed tortilla chips.


This was a delicious salad and I am happy that I have enough ingredients left over to repeat the creation tonight!