Fresh tomato soup

When August arrives and our garden is full of tomatoes I always try and create something new. This tomato soup has a fresh clean taste whether you serve it with the perfect grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or a starter for summer BBQ, I think you will love it.

This serves 8 for a starter or 6 for lunch

4 cups of tomatoes  peeled and crushed

 if you are using Cherry tomatoes you will need  put them through a food mill to remove the skins after they are warmed in the chicken stock.

3 cups of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of water—-add crushed tomatoes and heat for 15 minutes 

2 carrots peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery chopped 

1 medium onion peeled and chopped

1/2 cup of fennel chopped fine

5 cloves of garlic peel and chop

1/4 cup of olive oil to sauté vegetables until soft but not browned, about 15 minutes 

Add:

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons of fresh oregano chopped fine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped fine

3 tablespoons of chives chopped 

stir herbs into sautéed vegetables, when herbs are wilted add to chicken stock with the tomatoes 
Simmer 20 to 30 minutes allow to cool, add salt and pepper to taste and using a good blender blend soup to a smooth consistency 

Add 3/4 cup of 1/2 & 1/2. When you are ready to serve, warm soup, do not boil.

Top each bowl  of soup with a spoon full of creme fraiche, chopped chives and a pinch of salt.

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A trip to Bali with a stop in Singapore

We rented a house in Bali with friends for a week and agreed to meet at the airport in Bali on May 1. We had stopped in Singapore for a couple of nights to visit friends and Carl had not been to Singpaore for years so we booked at The Fullerton Bay Hotel. This is the only hotel on the water with a lovely view of the huge Ferris wheel and looking out toward the Gardens by the Bay. The next day we got up early and did a grand tour of the gardens. I have been several times before, but I am always amazed by the changes in the indoor displays and the lush growth of the outdoor gardens. It was very humid so go early and dress for the heat and all the walking. 

We went back to the hotel and changed to meet our friends for lunch at Imperial Treasure restaurant where they serve the best Peking duck in the city, located on the top floor of Takashimaya shopping center. After lunch  you should go to the basement, it is always fun to see all the food stalls and walk through the area where they sell the beautiful packaged candy and cookies. The shopping in each of the many shopping centers along Orchard Street is the best in the world, something for everyone.

Back to the hotel for a swim in the roof top pool and a nap to fight the jet lag. One of the things I love in Singapore are the chili crabs and we made reservations at Tung Lok Signatures for dinner with friends and shared the chili crabs and the local long razor clams prepared with garlic and a light soy sauce, delicious.

The next day we walked a couple of blocks to the National Gallery to tour the exibit and just wander through the newly restored building. We were there for a couple of hours and could have spent more time, but we had a plane to catch. 

BALI:

We were met at the airport by our friends and our host for the next week in the small village of Amed, Bunutan. After a 2 hour drive we arrived in the seaside village of Amed. We were staying in the lovely Villa Pantai, owned by Scott Swingle. The house is managed by a wonderful young couple Made and Kari and they got us settled into our rooms and ushered out to the lovely pool under the palm trees. The house has 4 large bedrooms all with bathrooms, large living areas and the big outdoor dining area where breakfast was served each morning.

Amed is like going back in time, most of the people come here for the diving and wonderful snorkeling. A ten minute drive in either direction from the house and you are on a black sand beach with wonderful coral and fish waiting for you to swim among them. You can rent fins if you do not want to bring your own, plus for a couple dollars they have nice chaise lounges with umbrellas to rent. The water is very warm so you tend to not want to do anything but swim and sit under the umbrella and read or sleep. The two beaches we swam off both had nice little places to eat lunch and have drinks. We would go back to the house for the afternoon and most days some of us would have a massage, $15 for an hour massage under the trees.

We would walk to dinner at one of the small local restaurants the best was The Griya, they also have a lovely hotel on the hillside overlooking the sea.  There was a little grill with fresh fish and local noodle dishes. Don’t order beef, it was very tough, better to stick with the pork or chicken. One night we went to the Crispy Duck and had their duck special. They only had two bottles of wine so we drank both of them after trying their margaritas. Glad we were walking home. 

We did make one morning trip to Lempuyqng Temples, we only hiked 2 of the 7 temples and almost died along the hike hundreds of steps in very hot temperatures with 100% humidity. We stopped by The Water Palace on the way home, it had been the home of the royal family. That evening our host prepared a lovely dinner around the pool for us. 


The last day we just ate lunch next door at Tirta Gangga, bought ice cream bars across the street at the little grocer and that evening they prepared a true Balinees dinner and the local kids did several traditional dances in true local costumes.We realized that all you needed to bring was a swimsuit, shorts, t shirts and flip flops. They were happy to do laundry and if you wore more than shorts or a sorong you were to hot.


After a wonderful restful week Made drove us to Ubud, about 3 hour drive since the roads are narrow and the traffic moves slowly. We checked into a beautiful new small hotel called The Goya. This lovely hotel sits above the rice fields and when you are at the pool you look out over the canyon and jungle. The hotel is less than a year old and still has not got the spa up and running, however they will offer services in the villa. We rented one of the Villas with our own pool and outdoor sitting area. 

Their restaurant is open air with beautiful chandlers hanging from the vaulted ceiling, we had dinner here the first night and enjoyed a nice menu with excellent service. They did not have a license to serve wine yet so we had to go to the wine store and bring our own. 

We did a long walk through the busy town and followed the crowd to the cemetery where a once in a life time experience of seeing a cremation taking place. The grandson of the King had died, age 34, and the family was having a public ceremony. They would place his body in the center of a 3 story high bull made out of paper mache after many prayer and offerings were given the large structure was set on fire. Amazing! On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a small bistro on the Main Street called “Coco’s Bistro” we needed something cold drink , they suggested a fresh mint infused with sparkling water and lime juice. Time to reflect on what we had just experienced.


The next morning we walked to the monkey forest, because it is the thing to do when visiting Ubud. Stopped for coffee and went back to the hotel for a short rest. We had read rave reviews about a place called “LUXE Cafe”, since you can only drive half way we had the hotel take us to the drop off point for our walk through the rice fields. After about a 20 minute walk on a path we arrived at the beautiful small hotel called The Luxe. They only have 4 rooms and a large suite for rent, but one of the best restaurants in town. We were greeted by the owner,  Paul as we arrived and he guided us up the stairs to the dining room. The menu for lunch offered several kinds of the best burgers you will ever eat. Their home made buns, hand cut fries and simple salads were all delicious. After we finished with a sip of limoncello we headed home. They offered a couple of the group rides back into town on a moped since it had started to rain and the rest of us ventured out to walk the well know trail through the rice fields. It was a historical trail with several yoga retreats, artists studios along the way and plenty of muddy paths to manouver for about 3 miles, but worth the experience.

Since this was our last night we took a well deserved swim and rest before heading out to dinner at Locavore. LOCAVORE-UBUD.COM. This is a very special evening and the food is so interesting. Your menu offers either a 5 course or 7 course meal and you choose between a vegetable or meat/ fish menu. The chefs work together to prepare small tastes of unique preparation of local ingredients. Plus they send several different small tastes to get you started, here presentation plays a major roll as each dish is served.  When the menu read watermelon tartar it was thinly sliced watermelon radishes each sliced placed to resemble a petal on a flower and dressed with a hint of acid and herbs. Each course was more unique than the last with the main course on the meat menu a thin piece of pork belly crisp and moist all at the same time. 

We left the next day, spent the night in the hotel in terminal 1 at the Singapore airport since we had a 6am flight home. We took a cab into town for one last meal with our friends at LONG BEACH KING SEAFOOD along Manhattan road, we had to have the last black pepper crab and a good bye to Singapore.

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Family week in Casa De Campo

The Dominacan Republic is not the easiest place to get to from Seattle, but once you arrive you know the journey was worth it. We bought the use of a house in The DR at a local auction and decided to take the kids and grandchildren. We flew to Fort Lauderdale and had to spend the night in Miami to transfer to Punta Cana airport then an hour ride to the resort,  Casa De Campo. The size of this compound is amazing, including a large hotel, 3 golf courses, 22 restaurants, and hundreds of private homes. Many of the properties can be rented by contacting jsalas@casadecampore.com —-

The house we had was 4 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, swimming pool and a great staff. You can access the entire resort on your golf cart, unless you want to leave the compound to go grocery shopping in La Romana. There is a large marina area that has wonderful shops several restaurants, a small grocery and plenty of parking for your golf cart. 

The second night we had dinner at Limoncello in the courtyard of the marina. Limoncello offers Italian  food and wood fired pizza. The portions are very large so think of sharing. We sat outside under the stars then walked over to  the amazing ice cream shop next door and indulged in large scoops of Italian ice creams. 

We started our mornings around the pool and then we would all head to the lovely white sand  beach. The water has a very gentle wave, fine for young kids to swim in the 90 degree water. Lunch at the beach restaurant, La Cirque, was excellent for adults as well as the kids. The beach staff was always ready to serve you drinks under the palm trees or umbrellas and there were  plenty of towels at the hut when you arrived. I even had a great massage on the far end of the beach while the waves broke on the sand a few feet away. The men played golf and even had a couple of lessons from the pro to hone their skills. One day we all jumped into the golf carts and handed up to Altos de Chavon, an old fort looking town several hundred of years old that has been all restored to it original charm. Now housing several restaurants, lovely shops with local fare and a small church waiting for the next wedding to fill the pews. That night we returned without kids, great babysitter arrived arrange by the house staff. The restaurant, La Piazzetta was very busy with a small local group playing for the diners. The portions once again are quite large so the chef was happy to split the courses. The fresh local tomatoes for a salad course was delicious, especially since we had not had fresh ripe tomatoes in Seattle for months. 


One day for a change of pace we went to the hotel to swim in the pool and have lunch. It is lovely, but we all agreed the beach was way better and the food was not great. We did love the swim up bar in the large pool and the work out space was excellent with many top machines. 

The last night we went back to the marina and ate outside under the stars at Peperoni. The service was fast and the pizza was perfect for the kids. Once again the protions were large and we would have been better off sharing the pasta and the salads. 

It was a great week, perfect for families and I think it is a place to return to.

When we left and flew back to Miami we had to transfer to Fort Lauderdale and it is impossible to make the only nonstop flight back to Seattle the same day. Plan on staying either in Miami or Fort Lauderdale and catching the flight the next afternoon.

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Quick trip to Kona, Hawaii 

We joined a group of friends at a private home on the grounds of The Mauna Kae resort. We only had 5 days to play and explore so we filled each day and evening with the next adventure. The first day we headed to the farmers market up by the old Parker Ranch. The local veggies, breads, bacon ,cookies, pies and jams filled our baskets and our minds with what we would prepare for lunch later that afternoon.  After a great day in the sun, reading and relaxing we cleaned up for our big night out. 

The Blue Dragon is an open air bar, restaurant and dance floor with local music in an area called Kawaihae, about 15 minutes from The Mauna Kae. The food was pretty basic, fish tacos, salads, grilled fish platters and an array of appetizers. They did have a couple of nice specials including a lovely Udon with fresh spot prawns. The crowd was a mix of local folks that come often to dance and tourists that come to watch. 

Th next day we did a walk to the area along the beach where the nature conservancies are working to save the many turtles. You will pass the house built by the late Paul Mitchelle with a true Balinese roof. Continue walking to the fresh water pools where the turtles are swimming when the tide is in and then head back out to the local beach as the tide begins to change.

That evening a local cater, Michael Bickers, m.bickers@icloud.com, 1808-990-2644, came to house and prepared a lovely Hawaiian dinner using local fish and vegetables.  A perfect way to end the day. Day three was spent on the white sand beach of Mauna Kae. They have some pretty good wave action on this beach, but that did not keep the people from swimming out to the the raft anchored in the bay. We made dinner at home with all the stuff gathered from the farmers market and the boys played dominos while we cleaned up. 
Some of the group played golf the next day at the Nanea Golf Club while the rest of us went swimming and took time to read our books, that is why we were there to begin with. Dinner was at a friends home that evening so we had no pressure to be creative. 

The home we were staying in was built by a doctor named Ray Lagger, but his real love was for the gardens he created using local plants. The house is 5 bedrooms, 5 1/2 bathrooms with a lovely open floor plan. The  pool has a water fall that cascades down hiding the hot tub set back in the stone walls. The other end of the curving pool hosts a wonderful swim up bar covered with a large palpa. The gardens give the property a wonderful cool refreshing feeling and rest from the dark lava that surrounds the area, plus a lovely view of the ocean beyond. 

The house is owned Sarah and Dave Woodward’s family and can be rented when they are not there. —–Contact Sarah direct at drawdoow5@aol.com for rental information, a great place for friends and family to share and you get the use of the Mauna Kea facilities. 


The guys went fishing one morning while we did a hike to the local hidden beaches along the ocean front. They did not bring back our dinner so we went out to the Nanea  Golf Club for a wonderful dinner and view across the golf course to the ocean beyond and sunset. 

Thank you for a wonderful time in a beautiful part of the world shard with friends.

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Exploring Buenos Aires

Every year Carl heads to Argentina for a week of guy bonding and fishing. This year on a quick change of plans from visiting Brazil,  my friend, Yu Sian and I had to switch to a visit to Buenos Aires which crossed over two days with Carl.

We all arrive in BA in the early morning and proceeded to The Alvear Palace Hotel  on Alvear Street. The hotel is the old grand Dame of famous hotels. They had rooms ready for us so we got unpacked and ready to head out. When the other fishing guys arrived we walked 2 blocks to Fervor Restaurant. Fervor is a white table cloth restaurant like when working people use to lunch. They serve a couple of fish choices and meat of a every kind, shishka bobs with 3 different types of meat. We had a fried cheese to start with a side of roasted red peppers drizzled with just the right amount of olive oil.and of course a nice bottle of wine.

The men went back to the hotel and we headed out to tour the famous cemetery where Evita is buried. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for amazing ice cream at Volta across the park from the cemetery.  We needed a rest to get ready for the big steak dinner. The men wanted to have the big steaks that Argentina is famous for, so off we went to Don Julio, donjulio.com.ar, the steaks are big enough to share along with a wonderful plate of heirloom tomatoes. When you do not have a reservation for dinner until after 8:30pm it is hard to go to bed at 1 am.

We went to the Soho area the next morning to walk, explore, and shop, this area is a young energized group of streets still in transition. There were fun restaurants and stores of every kind. One thing you realize is the trend that fringe and platform shoes are in, covered with a poncho of some kind. After wandering the streets and a stop for coffee it was already time for lunch. We grabbed a cab and headed across town to The San Telmo area and “La Brigada” the meat centric restaurant famous for all the soccer memoribilia. The walls and even the ceiling are covered with photos and signed jerseys. The servers all love to cut your meat with a spoon to show how tender their meat is. We shared a beet salad, octopus starter, filet with a blood sausage side. We had no room for dessert but watch others around us share wonderful looking dishes.

We had to do a little shopping before going back to the hotel for a well deserved rest. First stop was for a pair of lizard shoes from Rossi and Caruso, they have several stores in the city and this one is behind our hotel so an easy stop. The next stop was “Arandu”, Ayacucho 1920 street. This store is 3 floors of beautiful leather goods, polo clothes and paraphernalia for the sport, old rugs and saddles.  Worth the visit.

If you want a light lunch there is a very good local empanadas restaurant behind the hotel called, El Sanjuanino. This is a funky place with $2.00 empanadas while you sit in old booths and drink a beer.

Dinner was a change of pace with reservations at a small French restaurant called “Roux”, Pena 2300,  Mrebaudino@rouxrest.com. The place seats about 36 guests upstairs with a small private room downstairs. The menu is simple, but every dish is cooked to perfection.  I had the roast goat, one of the other guests had the pork belly and someone had the duck breast. We had a excellent waitress,she spoke perfect English that helped us order the sides and of course a couple of desserts to share. Love the dulce de leche! This restaurant has 2 seating so you can come at  8:30 or 10:30pm but be sure to make reservations this is a great choice for lunch or dinner.

Each day we would just start walking and explore each unique area of Buenos Aires. You can take the yellow tour bus that allows you to get off anytime wander the area and then catch the next bus 15 minutes later, you can use the pass for 24 hours.  We toured the Latin American art, MALBA, then walked on to the Japanese Gardens, not worth the visit.

Dinner this evening is at “Tegui”, Costa Rica 5852, behind the plain graffiti painted door. I love the feeling of this space from the moment you enter the  door you are handed a glass of champagne and taken to your table. The kitchen is in the back of the space and the open concept allows you to watch the magic take place. The 10 courses offer all the food groups, starting with tomatoe, scallop, sweetbreads, veal cheeks, and several other courses before the fresh cherries and ending with chocolate 4 ways. We did not do the pairing of wine with each course, but ordered a couple of glasses of wine for the diverse meal.

We really became tourists when we took the yellow bus and got off at the El Boco area with the bright painted houses and buildings. There are several antique stores, dancers doing the Tango  with music blasting in the street.

 We jumped back on the next bus and rode to the  area where the Sunday Antique fair was in full swing, in San Pedro Telmo area, a must do on any Sunday.  We headed back to the hotel for a well deserved rest, since we had reservations at Faena hotel for the fun Tango show and dinner, expensive, but well  done.

After a busy week-end we took it easy the next day with a simple tour of the Opera house, wish we could he seen music on the stage or a ballet. If you are there during the season be sure to get tickets anything you see will be memorible.

Dinner was at a Peruvian  fusion restaurant back in the Palermo area. Osaka, Soler 5608, was a nice space with a good bar and open sushi counter. The menu was huge and trying to make a choice was difficult so our waiter helped us order. It was not one of our better meals, but the ceviche tasting was interesting.

It was our last day so we wanted to visit a couple of places on our list. The first was a kitchen store called Enseres, El Salvador 5986, a small space with  interesting tools and aprons. You have to ring the bell by the front door to enter. Then we walked 2 blocks to  a great new spot called La Mar, El Salvador  5986. This restaurant is part of a chain with several franchise owners around the world. The menu is also a Peruvian fusion concept, but much less expensive than the other concept. We met the owner Milias Rosenberg, he is young and has great energy for this beautiful restaurant. Eating lunch outside could not have been better. We shared several dishes, but the best was dessert, a suggestion of Milias, CACHANGA!!  Fresh fruit on top of a crisp is so good but, be sure to plan on sharing.

There is a new hotel in the neighborhood worth checking out. Casasur, Costa Rica 6032, this boutique hotel has a nice restaurant in the lobby and looked to have fun restaurant in the adjoining lobby, called “6”. This area is up and coming and will be a fun place to stay.

Go to Buenos Aires, it is a city with great energy!

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Chili Con Queso

When I was getting ready for the Super Bowl I started to dig though all my old recipes for this Chili Con Queso.  I called a chef friend,Corinne, to ask if she remembered the ingredients, since her version was always the best. Her answer was no she just said it changes every time. So with my scratched notes I set out to recreate my old go to version of Chili Con Queso.

Ingredients list

3/4 cup diced onions

1 package of Jimmy Dean Sausage

2 jalapeños roasted and peeled then diced

2 jalapeño fresh seeded and diced

3 cloves of garlic pressed

2 tlb. Butter

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

2 cups grated Colby or Monterey Jack cheese or combination of both

( 1/2 log of Velveeta dice,  if you do not want to use Velveeta you can add 1/2 cup of cream cheese and additional jack cheese)

2 tsp cumin

2 cups whole milk

1 4oz can of diced green chilies, drained

2 tlb Tabasco  or to taste 

1 10oz can of diced tomatoes with Mexican spices is good

Sauté the onions in the butter until soft then add garlic, jalapeños and sausage. Sauté until sausage I cooked and if there is extra fat drain off before adding cheese, milk, cumin. Stir over very low heat careful  not to let cheese burn. When cheese is melted add canned chilies, Tabasco and tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors. 

I made the dip early in the day and it reheated well. It also works in a fondue pot or electric pan that you can control the heat to very low tempeture. Serve with chips, salas and veggies for dipping.

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Swordfish with puttanesca sauce

I forget about swordfish and last night when I went to buy fish for dinner my fish guy said it was a perfect choice.  This recipe can also be used with Halibut, but the firmness of the swordfish is perfect.

Serves 6

6 tbsp of olive oil

6 swordfish steaks (about 5 to 6 oz. each and 1/2 inch thick) skin removed and salt and black pepper to taste

3 large cloves of garlic, fine mince

1/2 cup of thin sliced onion

4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, chop 

1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped 

1/4 cup capers drained

3/4 cup oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped. You can use green olives if you would rather

3 cups of tomatoes, if you use fresh be sure to seed and chop. Using canned tomatoes, use whole tomatoes and crush them in your hand or chop. Drain and reserve liquid.

1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes or more to taste. 

1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish 

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Season fish with salt and pepper and add to skillet, flit once until brown and medium rare, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. 

Return skillet to medium low heat. Add garlic, anchovies and onion cook until soft, about  3 minutes. Raise heat to medium add tomatoes, olives, Rosemary, capers, and reserved liquid. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated, 8 minutes or so. 

Return swordfish to the pan and heat through add lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley. Divide fish between plates and cover with sauce. 

Love this with a small twist of pasta that you have dressed with olive oil. 

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