Monday, November 24, 2008

Persimmons!

Persimmons, oh how I love you.  Why does it seem your season is so short? 

Did you know that the persimmon originated in China?  The two main types that we find in around here this time of the year, are the fuyu and hachiya.  I prefer the fuyu, as it is non-astringent and does not have to be completely ripe to be tasty.

To showcase some of the lovely persimmons we picked up in Solana Beach last weekend, I threw together this fantastic salad as a starter to our dinner Saturday night.  I keep thinking that I want to make something more creative to show them off, but then usually resort back to a salad or a salsa. 

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Shown here is a simple side salad of arugula, squash blossoms stuffed with cranberry goat cheese, a little jicama and fennel, and of course, the lovely persimmon.  Dressed only in high quality balsamic and olive oil.  Holy Yum! 

While persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked, I usually prefer to eat persimmon in the raw form.  But, the next day I decided to try a couple thinly cut slices, roasted over tilapia.  It was a nice complement to the subtle sweetness of the fish.  Topped with few pomegranate seeds to complete the fall-ish flavor. 

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Persimmons are naturally high in beta carotene (hello- they are orange) and vitamin C.  Like the season they are grown, it is the perfect way to boost your immunity for the winter cold and flu season. 

As I said, I need to broaden my persimmon culinary adventures...so please share any of your favorite persimmon recipes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Kreativ Blogger Award

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A special thanks to Lucy in St. Lou, who awarded Paws and Pours the Kreativ Blogger Award.  I am honored! 

The rules are that I am to mention 6 things that I am thankful for, as well as 6 blogs that I stalk.  Gosh, the only hard thing about that is narrowing it down. 

6 Things I am thankful for:

1.  My wonderful husband, and great extended family.  I am blessed to have them all in my life everyday.

2.  My job.  I have the best gig in town (in my humble opinion.)  I work part time - job share position, with a reputable pharmaceutical company.  This allows me to contribute to our wine and vacation funds, and still have plenty of time for cooking, wine shopping,dog walks, and lots of blog stalking.

3.  The best dog, Chase.  There is not one day that we don't laugh at his funny antics.  Whether it is the way he carries the flashlight in his mouth for the entire dark morning walk, or the craziness that ensues when he sees us get our running shoes on, he can bring me out of  any cranky mood. 

4.  A well stocked wine fridge.  What can I say?  I'm a wino, and having a fantastic glass of wine at the end of the day can also bring me out of any cranky mood.  :) 

5.  Good friends.  Since all of our family lives in the mid-west, our wonderful friends here have become our "chosen" family.  I look forward to every gathering, or just catching up on the phone.  They enrich my life in so many ways.

6.  My laptop.  How else would I be able to read all of your wonderful blogs? 

 

6 (of the many) "Kreativ" blogs I stalk:

1.  Noble Pig -  if you don't go for the fantastic recipes and stunning 'food porn' photos, go check it out for her fabulous wit and creative writing about food, wine, and life in general.  Love it!

2.  Culinary Adventures of a New Wife - I started reading this blog because I liked her title.  I could relate, because at the time, I was a newlywed myself.  I've been following it since, because she has drool-worthy recipes and photos, and I've had success with many of the recipes I've gotten here. 

3.  Greek Tragedy - Loved Stephanie Klein's book, Straight Up and Dirty, and have followed her blog for her stylistic writing, and open frankness about everything!  (She is also a foodie)

4.  Wine with Life Please- a new one for me, but she has some fantastic looking recipes and fun wine reviews. 

5.  Pinknest-  Love to read this foodie's adventures of living and eating in New York City.  She has exquisite taste and a knack for writing.

6.  Johnstone's Vin Blanc- Also a new one I've been stalking.  Great recipes and fun seeing a little bit of life in North Carolina.  (somewhere I've never been.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

MIA in San Diego

It seems my weekend trips have left me a little lacking in the blog posting.  I see I have been tagged for a few blog events and hope to get to those this week.  But for now, I want to share the Paws and Pours long weekend in San Diego. 

It all started the weekend before, when I was in Minnesota on a surprise birthday visit for my mom.  While it was a fun visit, freezing temperatures, snow and sleet are not what my Arizona blood had in mind for a weekend get-away.  So, on a whim we decided to take Friday off, pack up the paws and pours, and head to San Diego.   Mmmm....I heart San Diego.  We found a pet friendly Sheraton in La Jolla that was perfect.  (For you pet lovers, all Sheratons are pet friendly.) 

After a few stops and 5 hours of driving, we arrived and were walking the beach by 3 pm.  Somehow, this photo was taken of Chase and myself....didn't know we had the camera with us!

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With temperatures unseasonably warm, we all felt like we had died and gone to heaven.  Nothing on our agenda except to drink a lot of wine,take lots of walks on the beach, and, oh, have some great meals. 

Friday night we headed to one of our favorite spots, George's in La Jolla.  We sat on the deck overlooking the ocean and it was as amazing as always.  I wishI had brought the camera, because the sunset was spectacular!  I had a wonderful persimmon and endive salad with a gorgonzola vinaigrette to start, followed by the salmon with roasted beet aioli.  YUM!  Since it was a warm evening, I had the Vin Gris Cigare dry Rose with my salad.  I used to love this rose, and while it was still good, it was a bit sweeter than I remembered it being. 

Saturday was filled with fun festivities like the Dog Beach in Del Mar, followed by the Dog Wash in Solana Beach, a long walk along the cove in La Jolla to see the sea lions, and a relaxing picnic in Del Mar, overlooking the ocean.  We sat in the grass and ate, and drank (cheap mini bottles of Chardonnay from the deli,) and almost fell asleep to the sound of the tide rolling in.  Saturday evening was another night in downtown La Jolla.  This time we hit Jack's for the wine bar/grill to hear some live music.  Great wine and great music, this place had a fun vibe and a very chic atmosphere.  I started with the scallop appetizer, then continued my seafood theme by getting the pan seared opakapaka in a broccoli puree broth.  Sounds gross, but was muy delicioso!

Of course, the foodies that we are, we could not be in San Diego and not go to a Farmer's Market.  Sunday we went to the market in Solana Beach, and it was just as wonderful as it was when we were there in August.  I wanted to get more, (the strawberries smelled amazing,) but this is the loot that we could fit in our cooler to bring back.

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Pictured here are 2 kinds of kale,2 kinds of baby squash,(with squash blossoms!!) rainbow chard, lettuce, baby arugula, persimmons, gorgeous vine ripened tomatoes, and grapes.  Stay tuned to see what we make with our stash later this week. 

I am looking forward to being back in the kitchen. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Somewhat Southern Shrimp

IMG_1955 Ok, so it may not be all that southern, but I grew up in Minnesota.  Polenta, greens, Old Bay seasoning...they are the furthest things from any pantry in our small midwestern town.  

I came across some absolutely beautiful fresh prawns at the store the other day, and although I knew I had some shrimp in the freezer from Costco, these just were calling my name.  Having absolutely no idea how I was going to prepare them, I put them in the refrigerator and headed out to walk the dog. By the time I returned, we were all hungry, so I knew I had to come up with something fast.  I remembered I had some chard that needed to be used, and set to work on making something scrumptious with the fresh shrimp.  This is what I did...

1 lb jumbo prawns, peeled and deveined

small bunch of Swiss chard (or spinach or collards, or other green)

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

5-6 mushrooms, sliced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

Sprinkle of chili powder

1/2 cup quick cooking polenta

1 Tbsp light butter

2 tsp honey

2 Tbsp cojita cheese

Add olive oil to pan and heat.  Saute onion and celery a few minutes until tender.  Add shrimp and mushrooms and saute a few minutes, then add chard and seasonings.  Meanwhile, cook polenta as package says.  When polenta is thick, stir in butter and honey.  Plate polenta and top with shrimp and veggie mixture.  I sprinkled a little cojita cheese on because, well, everything tastes better with a little sprinkle of cheese. 

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We paired this with the 2004 Rutherford Hill Merlot.  It wasn't my first choice of what to pair with the shrimp, but it went rather well.  The sweetness of the honeyed polenta mirrored the jammy  berries and vanilla undertones.  It had just a hint of spice, which was complemented by the dash of chili powder that went into our meal.  While it was good,I'm not sure if we'd get this merlot again, as at the price point of $25, we were expecting a bit more. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A little Sushi-Inspired Salmon

If you are a wasabi lover like me, this recipe is for you.  I've been making this simple wasabi salmon dish for years, it's simple and delicious.  Last week, I decided to add the nori, and pretend I was out at my favorite sushi restaurant eating fresh sushi rolls and sashimi.  The result was fabulous!  Not quite like being at Zen 32, but at least I have a pretty good imagination. 

SALMON WITH WASABI VINAIGRETTE

2 Tbsp Wasabi Powder

2 Tbsp. water

3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp packed brown sugar.

1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1-2 sheets nori (seaweed paper)

Combine the above ingredients and pour over 1 lb of fresh salmon.  Cut a piece of nori horizontally, into approx. 6 strips.  Wrap each salmon piece with a strip of nori. 

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Grill or roast salmon 8-10 min. (or until fish flakes easily with fork.)  Be sure to keep in a baking dish or aluminum pan if grilling, so you keep some of the yummy vinaigrette. 

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We enjoyed the 2007 Clay Station Viognier with this meal which was lovely.  Very floral with a definate aroma of honeysuckle.  I loved that there was just enough acid to not fade against the wasabi vinaigrette.  This was a steal for $3.99 at Trader Joes!!