Friday, January 21, 2022

Dungeness Crab Bisque with Cognac

We're right in the middle of Dungeness Crab season here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Such a treat!  

Alex (my US Navy son) was here on Veterans Day Weekend and was invited to go crabbing with a bunch of his military fishing buddies. What a great time they all had! Chartering a boat out of Berkley Harbor, they dropped the crab nets out close to the Farallon Islands and managed to easily come home with 10 big Dungeness for each of them. (Lucky us!)

While Alex was here for the holiday weekend, we stuffed ourselves with fresh cracked crab with lemon-butter sauce, and pesto aioli. Of course, we had to have some famous San Francisco sour dough bread too.  

Tom and Alex even made a fabulous seafood Paella on our grill, but that's another story for a different day... 

But, I did manage to save two crabs in the freezer, and was just waiting until I had some extra time to make dinner an occasion.  This past weekend, while Tom watched the San Francisco 49rs play in the Wildcard Playoff Game, I found my Craving for Crab Cookbook, written by my friend Christine Quinn, and thought I would give her Dungeness Crab Bisque Recipe a whirl. It seemed like the ideal recipe to use with crab that had been frozen!

What can I say?  This elegant, classic soup is beyond delicious! 

Adapted from Craving for Crab - Here's what you will need:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter (use unsalted so that you can add salt to taste)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Shallots
  • 2 Minced Garlic Clves
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (I like to keep the "tube" kind handy in my frig)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/8 ground cayenne pepper (or to taste if you like it a little "hotter")
  • 1/4 tsp. smoky Spanish Paprika
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 2 Cups Crabmeat


  • Sour Cream
  • Smoked Spanish Paprika

1.  Melt the butter in a large deep saucepan over medium-high heat until it foams, then add the shallots. Stir the sautéing shallots and then cover the pan. Reducing the heat to low, cook for three minutes. Then add garlic - cook for 2 more minutes. Then add your flour. Whisk it all in, continuing to cook for about 3 minutes with the shallots and garlic.

2. Slowly add the chicken stock and cream. Stir well, then add the tomato paste, bay leaf, tarragon, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika.

3. Return the soup to medium-high heat and stir until it boils. Reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add cognac (do not skip!) and crab meat. Make sure to reserve a little crab meat to use for garnishing too!

4. Cook for 10 more minutes on low-simmer

5. Serve in large bowls. I personally like using pasta bowls - they look a little more appropriate for a dinner meal! Garnish by adding a spoonful of sour cream in the center, pile on a few crab chunks then finish with a final dusting of smoky Spanish Paprika. 

Serve with a green salad, garlic toasts and a buttery Chardonnay and you will instantly impress your guests (or your significant other!) with your gourmet skills. 


BTW - Lots of new fabulous Blue Crab Bay Stoneware pieces are now available on our site! Come take a look! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Creating an Art Gallery Wall - Part 1

Love the look of creating a gallery art wall in your beach home, but not sure of where to start? We've gathered some great ideas and gallery art wall graphics to help you begin your new look.  Stay tuned - there will be FIVE different gallery art wall looks to check out!
Part 1 "The Beachcomber"
The Beachcomber wall decor layout is perfect for creating a relaxed and spontaneous feeling in your beach home. The playful mix-and-match nature of this arrangement makes this art design super adaptable – you can add, take away or swap out wall decor pieces as you please!  Never fussy, the Beachcomber casual wall art style can totally reflect your family's personality.  
Combine a variety of shapes, colors and textures for a casual and eclectic salon look that shows off your gathering of beachy treasures. Anything goes here, so have fun and play with how you group and arrange your pieces. 
Here are a few room examples for inspiration!
So fun!  Beach cottage rustic with family pictures, small beach signs and framed beachcombing treasures. Love the addition of the fishing net too!

Try including a little surprise in your gallery wall, like the above 3-D metal school of fish and the small round aqua framed mirrors. These unexpected additions makes for a one-of-a-kind look. 

Gallery walls aren’t just for framed artwork. Check out the white-washed wall anchor and nautical roped mirrors in the collection above, and how the sailor’s wheel and oar complete the look of the arrangement below.
The Beachcomber is great gallery art look for adapting for holidays too - simply switch out pieces for Thanksgiving or Christmas; add a seasonal wreath, holiday themed art or fun candle sconce.  The possibilities are endless!
We confess... art is simply one of our go-to's for great design and for instantly making your home reflect your coastal style. Stay tuned - Four More Ideas coming Your Way!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Dreamy Blue and White Dinnerware for Holidays and Beyond!

I am always on the lookout for coastal dinnerware that is meant to last, is beautiful and is actually functional. It's been so frustrating! You know what I mean, the kind of dishes that you can really put in the microwave and wash in the dishwasher.  Dinnerware that is super versatile, has lots of mix and match pieces and looks like it belongs at an elegant beach home, but does not scream "nautical".... (are you getting the picture now?)

This summer, I think we found what I have been looking for...

We are in LOVE. Introducing the Brisa Coast Collection!

The warm coastal breeze that blows from the sea and imbues the Algarve coast with delicious aromas and the fresh flavors of Ria Formosa was the inspiration for this fabulous blue and white Brisa stoneware tabletop collection! The amazing organic shapes and hand crafted blended blue and white glazes will absolutely transform your dining experiences to beautiful landscapes of ocean lagoons and sandy, shell strewn beaches.

What do I love the Brisa Coast Collection?  Oh mi... let us count the ways!

1.Totally Unique!
Each plate, bowl and serving piece will be slightly different with hand-crafted time honored stoneware glazing techniques from Portugal. 
Two Organic Shell-Like Shapes to choose from: Oval or Round.  So fun to mix it up!  

2.  Available in Two Mix and Match Coordinating Coastal Color Palettes!
The Brisa Ria Blue pieces feature deep blue glazed edging surrounding a shell-colored center, while the Brisa Salt and Sea pieces feature an edging that is splashed with a hint of sea blue.  Perfectly blended to match and coordinate to create a table setting that is elegant and stylish!

3. Incredibly Durable - Perfect for Everyday Use!
These pieces are meant to be used and enjoyed. Not all stoneware is created equally. These fine dinnerware pieces are created in Portugal by Costa Nova, combining ancient skills with modern technology to produce stoneware that is resistant to both thermal and mechanical shocks. 

4. Oven, Freezer and Microwave Safe
All pieces are manufactured with high thermal shock resistance, withstanding temperature variations between 0 and 500-degrees Fahrenheit. These pieces can be safely used in the oven, freezer and the microwave, although not recommended over a direct flame.  So versatile!

5. Dishwasher Safe
Hallelujah! No more hand-washing after the dinner party - these pieces are easy to wash and clean. Abrasive cleaners can even be used without the risk of damaging the surface due to the high durability and low porosity. Most items can be washed daily in the dishwasher.  

Must see the whole collection!

Relax and Live at the Beach Every Day of the Year!

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