I love food. I love to eat. I love to cook. I love to buy vegetables,fresh fish and shellfish,meat and lovely cheeses...I like to find it..grow it and catch it....I can cook anywhere...on a boat...an outdoor kitchen...camping or in a mansion...
"Sam-I-am, Sam-I-am...I like green eggs and ham."
Gerard Depardieu (zee famous French Actor and Gastronomer) once said..."God must love us so much because he gave us butter!"
And nothing...NO THING! Is better than...butter!
Can you imagine what the world would be like without it? I can't. I would be so bored without the utter magnificence of butter.
If you ever want to stop a fight in your house throw a 1/4 cup of butter in a frying pan with one or more of the following ingredients over a medium-low flame...garlic,onions or almonds.
The smell will waft through the room and all feelings of hate will dissolve...as if by magic...into that pan. That is why God gave us butter.
The other day I was at the Coast Village Road Farmers Market. Probably the "daintiest" Farmers Market in SB. I found lovely hare-loom tomatoes,baby artichokes,leeks,fennel and basil.
Is there any fragrance more lovely than basil?
I put it around my house in small bunches...like flowers. It is heaven.
After the Farmers Market I make a quick stop at the "overpriced" Vons in the Village. I buy some great bread,heavy cream,andouille sausage and organic butter.
Later I go the the Santa Barbara Seafood Market at the Harbor and buy small clams and mussels.
When I get home I immediately begin to pull two frying pans to the front burners. One stick of butter split between two pans and a dash of olive oil. If you don't know this trick already,try it. It helps extend the butter and keep it from burning. Butter is a milk solid and will reduce...the Olive Oil will restore the viscosity to the butter.
First the andouille lands in the pan as I quickly chop: shallots,garlic,fresh fennel bulb and leeks. As the vegetables soften I boil water in a large pan on the back burner. I then toss the small garnet and green artichokes into the boiling water and add a dash of course pink salt.
The glory of the tiny artichokes is that you can eat the whole thing. Stem to stern...and it is yummy!
My hare-loom tomatoes are glistening yellow,deep red and burgundy. I chop them and mix them in a larg bowl with fresh basil,garlic and olive oil.I slice some hunks of a very dence pan rustica,dip them in melted butter on both sides and bake them until they are golden with brown edges...
about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
So now to my sausage...ok I want to say something about.."available product" in Santa Barbara. Andouille should be a crumbly sausage. In SB we have so little we are forced to use a very low grade of "packed" sausage. Like a kielbasa. Not my fave.You CAN find the real deal at the Summerland Market and sometimes at the Upper Village Market...and occasionally at Gelsons or Lazy Acres. Good andouille is a real commodity.
So when I can only get the "hard packed" packaged brand of andouille, I try to smash it up in crumbled bits. It will do the job. The spice makes the creamy sauce succulently-breathtaking...literally.
So now we have the "arty's" boiling up. Because these little wonders are so small they take a fraction of the time of the large artichokes. About 15 minutes.Once I can poke a fork in their bottom and it is tender (now that sounds pervy)..I know they are done (that sounds pervy too...is it spring?)
I remove the arty's and rinse them with cold water.
I pour the sautéed sausage from one pan into the pan with the now softened and slightly brown veggies.
I add another half stick of butter...then I drop the bi-valves (the clams and mussels) right over the blanket of veg. Immediately topping the whole shebang with a cup or so of heavy cream and sprinkle fennel seed over the mixture and then seal the lid...a dash of little course salt to taste.
The clams and mussels will "Pop" in about 5 minutes.Draining the arty's I then dump them right on top of the mixture of seafood,sausage,veg and cream...and cover again.
I put another loaf of the pane rustic in the oven at 400...to get it's crust on!
I use a huge china "pasta" bowl that I dump the whole pot-ful of creamy goodness into. The creamy mixture will cascade over everything. Going into the crevices of the shellfish and the artichoke flowers. The smell is a brilliant blend of butter,cream,garlic,the ocean and the earth.
I use a ladle to scoop up many clams,mussels,baby arty's and sausage. Grabbing the creamy sauce with liberty and dousing it over my bowl. I quickly top the crusty slices of baked-buttered-bread with the tomatoe and basil Italian Salsa...and the boys grab them with fiendesh delight..."mine...mine...all mine!"
This kind of greed I can live with!
My fiance and I sit on the floor of the living room, reveling in the smell of the huge steamy bowl of delights.We break the bread and scoop up the "gravy" with audible purrings of "oo and yum"...and the smack of buttery lips. My son LOVES the fresh Bruchetta and he willingly tries a few clams.
We laugh,play and eat.
Life could not be better!
You would never know that my fiance' and I had been fighting over...?
what was it?
..."nothing dear...this is good!"
I have made this simple wonderful concoction for many friends and even a few enemies.
Food is simply the best leveler.
Food will charm and mellow the foulest-fractious- feuders. In the next few weeks I am going to add "foody" stuff every week. Because it really matters to me...and I want to share my love...share the butter....pass the bread...grind the salt and get down to some good home cookin with all of you!