4.23.2009

LA CUCINA VIGNETO ....... CIOPPINO

I've been inspired by Monique's posts on Mediterranean food. Her site is so beautiful. Cioppino (Fisherman's Stew) was on the menu at our house last night. This is a very flavorful soup, easy to make and a favorite at our casa.

CIOPPINO

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice
1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes and juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced finely
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1 bay leaf, whole
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 quart fish or chicken stock
1 pound firm, white-fleshed fish, cut in chunks
1/2 pound sea scallops, cut in chunks if large
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot and saute the onion and bell pepper until soft.
2. Meanwhile, in blender, puree the sun-dried tomatoes with the bottle of clam juice until smooth.
3. Add the tomato-clam puree to the pot, along with the diced tomatoes, garlic, herbs and wine. Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.
4. Season the fish chunks with the salt, pepper and fennel seeds and set aside.
5. Add the seasoned fish to the pot and simmer another 5 to 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Discard bay leaf.
6. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of the cheese and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley or cilantro.

From: The Low Carb CookwoRX Cookbook

Notes: I used white wine instead of the red and omitted the sun-dried tomatoes and clam juice this time because I didn't have them in the pantry. I use Baby Sea Scallops and because we love mussels - I steamed some and added those as well.
Great with crusty French Bread.....................................................
and a crisp white wine............... Perhaps ~ Attems Pinot Grigio Collio 2007
Cheers!
Ry

copyright: Sotto Il Monte Vineyards - do not use without permission
Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman ~ Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

4.20.2009

The Difference a day can make..................

Between seven and eight inches of rain fell in the Houston area on Saturday. We stayed in........
had Champagne with fresh grapefruit juice cocktails paired with Eggs Benedict topped with Spinach and crispy pancetta for brunch...........................................................................................

Thibeault's Table inspired me to make ribs for dinner. I didn't grill them because of the rain ~ but braised them for three hours or so. They were the best ribs I've ever made! Grazie to our BC friend! The sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds late in the day. To celebrate, I opened up a bottle of 2002 Consilience Syrah that I've been dragging around for five years.....................................................................................
We bought this bottle at the Consilience Winery in Los Olivos, California. Los Olivos is a fun place to visit because you can walk from tasting room to tasting room, stop for coffee in a charming bakery and dine at the Los Olivos Cafe. Los Olivos is not far from Santa Barbara and makes a wonderful day trip.
This bottle of Syrah had gone through a traumatic moving experience (moving van broke down in the hot desert and had to be towed) on the move from California to Texas. I wasn't sure that it had survived - but it did. It is one of those wines that tasted better to me the second day. Definitely needed to breathe or be decanted. Dark and rich with leather undertones and a long finish with cherry/blackberry in the mid range. The roses checked out their reflection in the wine glass ~ vain beauties that they are............................................................
The Syrah also went well with the chocolate covered espresso beans we nibbled on for dessert.
A new day............................................................................
Sunday was glorious, so we went to the beach............................................................
We found beautiful shells on the beach at Matagorda. Got a tad sunburned and headed off to dine on fresh grilled shrimp at Reef's Bar and Grill.
This morning I was inspired by Pam's recipe for granola. I've never made granola before, but she made it look so easy ~ and I just happened to have most of the ingredients at hand.
It was just the right topping for my Greek Yogurt. A perfect light breakfast ~ Thanks for the inspiration Pam!
Salute!
Ry

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
copyright ~ Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

4.16.2009

TRAVELING SHOES .... OAHU, HAWAII

There were slippers on our front doorstep last week. In Hawaii, the polite thing to do when you enter the home is to leave your shoes at the door. The slippers (reefs) belonged to our daughter Jasmine who has lived in Oahu, Hawaii for almost eight years. She flew to the mainland last week, spent a few days with us, flew to New Mexico, drove to Colorado and is now safely back on the island.
We visit her whenever we can and Oahu has become our favorite of the Hawaiian Islands. Honolulu is a vibrant city with plenty to offer in the way of entertainment, nightlife and great dining experiences. Waikiki Beach is a fun place to soak up some sun, try out your surfing legs and best of all, people watch. If you prefer a more secluded beach setting, there are lovely beaches all along the Windward side of the island.
.

Jasmine always has to stop and feed the needy.........................................................
The Hawaii Pacific University campus where she went to college. She has since graduated with a major in Psychology and is a therapist for children with autism.
Jasmine (left) and a couple of her roommates at their first house after a year in the dorms. This was a great house shared by five girls. Too bad they were kicked out after 6 months! The house had a pool and tended to a bit of a party scene. One day the neighbors noticed that there were guys jumping off the roof into the pool and notified the owners. So much for the great house with the pool!
Jasmine and roommate/best friend Lindsay .................................................................................
My favorite hotel on Oahu is the Moana Surf Rider. The Surf Rider is a charming historic hotel on Waikiki Beach...............................................................
A huge banyan tree shades the outdoor cafe which overlooks the beach...............

Wide verandas for brunch and afternoon tea. Rocking chairs on the front porch.


Jim enjoying the last rays of the day on North Shore........................................
Racing out to sea on the Na Koku II catamaran. On one trip, a friend, her son and I went out on this catamaran on our last day. You can book a ride on the Na Koku in front of the Moana Surf Rider on Waikiki Beach. We might have gone out on that cat every day had we known it was going to be so much fun. They serve up a pretty wicked Mai Tai!

The view from the Moana Surf Rider.....................................................................

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Copyright: Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

4.11.2009

VIGNETO CUCINA ....... Domenica di Pasqua

Domenica di Pasqua ~ Easter Sunday.......................................................
I always make a brunch on Easter Sunday ~ more specifically ~ a Champagne Brunch.....
I'll start with the beautiful blue and brown local eggs from the market down the road...........
Maybe make some Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes............................................
Or Omelette Caprese with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella..............................
Perhaps some waffles with whipped cream and strawberries.........................
Jim has requested his favorite souffle..........................................................
He had gorgeous pink roses waiting for me when I arrived back at the pied-a-terre in Houston last night............
So the souffle it is ............................. Champagne and a little chocolate.............
Happy Easter!

Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Copyright: Sotto Il Monte Vineyards

4.07.2009

BEHIND ADOBE WALLS

I photographed hundreds of houses in the 18 years that I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Most for a series of articles that we did called "Behind Adobe Walls". These articles ran in a monthly magazine published by The Santa Fe New Mexican. My husband also designed and built many houses in Santa Fe ~ so I have plenty of photos of those as well. This post is for Linda and Jain who have expressed interest in this type of architecture. These are just a few that I happen to have at hand. I'll post more from time to time.ASID show house - Room designed by Jane Smith. I've always loved Jane's work. In this room she mixed Fortuny fabrics with traditional New Mexico elements and turned the fireplace into a bit of an alter with folk art and candles. The painting around the door frame is by artist John Alan.

Living in a true adobe house is a wonderful experience. The above photo is a house that my husband renovated. Note the thick walls. This house is a double adobe house ~ the walls are around two feet thick. Brick floors are quite common in the older houses. Hand troweled plaster walls and kiva fireplaces are the norm as are vigas and latilla ceilings. A simple beautiful small house built in the Territorial style, set back on a quite shady lane in the historical district of Santa Fe.
Kitchen in a newly built SF home.
This bedroom was in a Territorial Style house.
A new house with a few props from Wiseman ~ Gale & Duncan Interiors.
This last photo was taken at Los Luceros. A historical house north of Santa Fe. Notice how thick these walls are ~ around three feet I would guess. Adobe walls keep the house cool in the summer and help retain and radiate the heat in the winter. The houses that Jim and I built always had radiant heat in the floors. I loved this type of heating system. My feet were always warm. The shower floors, toilets and even the furniture stayed warm. Most importantly - no ugly vents anywhere.
I'm off to spend a few days at the casa and vineyard. Feels like I'm always packing or unpacking these days. Not too much to pack this morning - the nice thing about going to our other residence is that everything I need is already there.
Salute!
Ry

Photography by: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Copyright: Sotto Il Monte Vineyards