Holm Family Cookbook

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Cowgirl's Foodie Blog

Cauliflower Chowder

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on February 16, 2014 at 1:45 PM

With the gray cloudy weather recently, a nice hot bowl of soup has definitely been top-of-mind. We have a French bakery close to work, Casse Croute, and they make homemade soup every day, with 3 to 4 choices on the menu any given day. One of our recent favorites is their Cauliflower Chowder. The owner Lenore checks in with us for new ideas, and let’s us know when cauliflower is on the menu, usually Thursdays.

Lenore prepping the homemade soup
at Casse Croute Bakery in downtown Livermore

It's mid-winter, which means califlower is in season, just picked up two heads at the Farmers Market yesterday. This morning I was watching The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network, and she was making her Cauliflower Soup, cauliflower is certainly trending!

A few of us at work are foodies, so we often share our homemade fare, or cook together on Fry-days at the back loading dock. This week Rebecca brought in a batch of her Cauliflower Chowder, and I got to take a jar home with me, along with the recipe. It’s definitely worth the effort to make it from scratch!

Arthur and Rebecca dishing it up on Fry-day at work!


1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Garlic salt and pepper to taste

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

1-quart milk

2 cups of water

2 bay leaves

1 dozen peppercorns

1-tablespoon parsley, chopped finely

2 celery stalks with inside ribs and leaves, diced

1/2-tablespoon chicken stock paste

1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)

Toss cauliflower in olive oil, garlic salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Sauté onion and garlic in butter. Add in flour, and lightly sauté with the vegetables. Add milk slowly, and then the water. Stir in herbs and spices, simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, and serve piping hot.

Cauliflower Chowder just waiting to be warmed up!

Soup's on!  Nancy


San Francisco's Portuguese Cioppino

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM

One of my favorite shows on the Food Network is Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and now it comes on a few early mornings every week, so we watch it over coffee. A couple of weeks ago one of our favorite Northern California dishes was featured, Cioppino, and the competitor, Phil DiGirolamo, came from one of our favorite seafood restaurants, Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. And best of all, Phil won the throwndown! So I’ve had Cioppino on my mind for a couple of weeks, and finally decided it was time.

 Phil's Fish Market & Eatery in Moss Landing

The story behind Cioppino started in the 1800’s with Portuguese and Italian fishermen, they would use the catch of the day from the docks in San Francisco bay to create a tomato and wine based seafood stew. Typically it would include Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish.

So following that tradition (I’m Portuguese after all!), I used whatever I had available to throw down a Cioppino! I looked up a few different Cioppino recipes, Bobby Flay’s, Giada de Laurentis' and bon appetit, and used the ingredients I had on hand, and the herbs that I preferred. It only takes about 40 minutes, and you’ve got a delicious bowl of seafood stew on your hands (and down your gullet!).

San Francisco Portuguese Cioppino

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 shallots, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes (or less, mine turned out almost too hot!)

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice

1 cup white wine

3 8-ounce bottles of clam juice

1 bay leaf

1 pound scallops

1 pound cod, cut to 1” squares, about the size of the scallops

1 pound uncooked large shrimp (I left the shell on for more flavor)

1 pound clams (I cheated and used frozen steamer clams from Trader Joes)



Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and herbs, and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and carmelize for a 3 – 5 minutes. Add the whole tomatoes with their juices and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the wine and clam juice, cover and simmer about 30 minutes to blend flavors.


Simmering Cioppino

Add the seafood by size, whichever will take longer to cook first. I started with the scallops for five minutes, then tossed in the fish and shrimp for about three more minutes, and the clams were already cooked, so threw them in for the last two minutes just to heat. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and pepper. And, in the San Francisco tradition, I served it with some sourdough garlic toast.

Portuguese Cioppino and Sourdough Garlic Toast

Saúde! Nancy

"Are you ready for a throwdown?!"

Ideas for Using Your Leftover Corned Beef

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on March 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Beef barley soup, corned beef hash, and Rueben sandwiches were made with our leftover corned beef

Our mom is currently in the hospital receiving care for the side effects from the chemo-like drug she is taking to hopefully prolong her life in her fight against metastasizing melanoma. So, even when she is not in the hospital, my sisters and I usually try to bring meals to our parent's house or cook something there. On Friday my sister Nancy bought a huge corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to make a traditional corned beef and cabbage meal for our father and anyone else that happened to be at our parent's house at dinnertime.  And, I bought the same things to make my family the traditional dinner on St. Patrick's Day.  It should come as no surprise, between the two houses, we had a lot of left over corned beef.

When I prepared the corned beef at my house I cooked mine in my slow cooker. I removed the visible fat from the outside of the meat. I put the spices in a cheesecloth pouch so the little round balls (I think they are peppercorns) wouldn't surprise us later when eating the cabbage or the soup that I planned to make. Instead of using plain water to cover the corned beef, I used the beef version of Better Than Bullion, which would be like a beef stock or broth. I also added a couple of carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. These were added to add flavor to the meat while the meat cooked--the veggies tend to get too mushy if they are cooked the duration of the time the meat is cooked. Just about an hour before the meat was done I added the carrots, potatoes, and cabbage that we would eat with the meat. If you do this and the meat is done cooking and you need to add the veggies, just remove the meat and put it in an oven safe covered dish with some of the broth in a 200 degree F oven to keep it warm while the veggies cook.

Beef barley soup was made with the leftover broth, beef, and veggies

After we ate dinner I began to make soup to freeze for meals on other days.  I strained the mushy veggies that cooked with the meat from the broth and coarsley chopped the mushy veggies. I added the chopped veggies back to the broth and added about a 3/4 cup of pearl barley. I brought the broth to a boil and simmered about 45 minutes until the barley was soft. I cut up some of the corned beef and added it to the soup. I also cut up some of the cooked carrots, cabbage, and potatoes and added them. Had I remembered, I would have added a bit of red wine.

Corned beef hash was made with the leftover corned beef

Yesterday morning I made corned beef hash and eggs with some of the leftover meat. To do this I cut up four red potatoes with skins on into cubes. I boiled the potatoes until they just started to soften, which was about 7 minutes. I finely chopped 1/2 red onion and sautéed the onion in olive oil in an oven proof skillet until they just started to brown. I chopped up five slices of corned beef. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees F. I drained the potatoes and then added them and the chopped meat to the skillet with the onions and cooked until the potatoes began to brown. During the cooking I seasoned with pepper, garlic salt, and a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper.  I cracked eggs onto the top of hash and seasoned them with salt and pepper, covered with a lid and put the skillet in the preheated oven. I baked the hash and eggs until the eggs were cooked the way I like them (yokes hard). Instead of cooking the eggs in the oven, some people will place poached eggs on top of the hash. The poached eggs placed on the hash are aesthetically more appealing, however, I was pressed for time and found this method much faster.

Rueben sandwiches were made with the leftover corned beef

Yesterday for lunch there was a gang of people to feed at our parent's house, so Nancy and I made Rueben sandwiches with the corned beef Nancy made for our father on Friday. To make the sandwiches we used rye bread, sauerkraut, Havarti cheese (Swiss works well too), Thousand Island dressing, and slices of the corned beef.  To make the sandwiches we buttered the bread and in this order we added the cheese, corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and sauerkraut--and of course the second piece of bread. We then grilled the sandwiches. We usually use a sandwich press to make them, but did not have one handy, so we placed a piece of foil on top of the grilling sandwich and placed a cast iron skillet on top to press it.  We normally use marbled rye to make the sandwiches, but all of the stores Nancy went to in search of bread were out. One store was even completely out of dark rye. It appears a lot of other people were making sandwiches with their corned beef as well.

Thousand Island dressing, sauerkraut, dark rye bread, Havarti cheese, and corned beef were used to make the Reuben sandwiches

All of this and we still have leftovers!

Happy Monday to you all.


Portuguese Family Reunion - Broche!

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on May 8, 2011 at 2:55 PM

The paternal side of our family hales from the Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores, and put down roots in the San Francisco Bay Area and Livermore Valley at least 5 generations ago.

Our dad, Wayne Calhoun, and his brother Ken. They grew up fishing on the Alameda Creek in Niles, and the Arroyo Mocho at the Calhoun Ranch on Mines Road in Livermore

Our grandmother died before any of the grandkids were born, and our dad and uncle didn’t pick up many Portuguese traditions other than linguica, so we have been researching and trying out new Portuguese recipes for the last few years.

Ruth Calhoun Brown, our 99 year old family matriach, with nieces Sylvia & Noel

After spending 10 years researching, testing, and publishing our Danish family cookbook, we were in need of a change! Our cousins all bring old and new recipes to our Calhoun family reunion, some Portuguese, some not.

This year I wanted to try a few vegetarian recipes out, along with a huge pot of pinto beans and linguica, all four burners were goin’! I had purchased a couple of Portuguese cookbooks a few years back, and this year found all the recipes in Portuguese CookingThe Traditional Cuisine of Portugal by Carol Robertson. I made a Piri-Piri sauce in advance, Fragrant Rice, Peas Algarve Style (without the linguica), and everybody’s favorite, Tomato Acorda.

Portuguese Tomato Acorda (Tomato Soup) with Piri-Piri

Acorda is a rustic Portuguese soup that includes a piece of crusty bread at the bottom of the bowl. It turned out to be an unseasonably cool afternoon, so the soup really hit the spot! It’s a very simple and healthy recipe; you probably have the ingredients in your cupboard. I am definitely not a scientific cook, not always measuring, and I’m always adjusting recipes, especially if I don’t have an ingredient or two. For the acorda, I used less olive oil, and a lot more garlic than the recipe called for, so this is my adjusted version from the cookbook.


Tomato Acorda

Serves 8

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

4-6 cloves minced garlic, to taste

1 28-ounce, and 1 14.5 ounce cans whole tomatoes with their liquid

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 bay leaves

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

2 32 ounce boxes Vegetable Broth

Sliced whole wheat sourdough bread

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and lightly brown the onion and garlic. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, oregano, bay leaves and parsley. Break up the tomatoes (I use a potato masher) and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock and simmer, uncovered, for one hour. Stir occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Before serving, grill (for the best flavor), broil or toast slices of sourdough bread, rub a whole clove of garlic across the rough bread. Place the bread at the bottom of each soup bowl. Spoon soup over the bread. Drizzle with a bit of Piri-Piri sauce if you’re looking for a bit of added heat and flavor!



¼ cup fresh hot chili peppers

2 garlic cloves minced

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup olive oil

Coarsely chop the peppers, discarding the tops. Thoroughly wash hands, knife and cutting board afterwards. Combine peppers, salt, garlic, and oil in a glass bottle. Cover tightly, refrigerate. Use as needed.


Fragrant Rice

The aroma from the rice was incredible during the cooking process! Serves 6

1 ½ onions, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 inch of cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon ginger powder

2 cups basmati rice (I used brown basmati rice) rinsed once and soaked for 5 minutes in water

3 ¾ cups boiling water

½ teaspoon turmeric

In a deep saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter. Add the cinnamon, cloves, salt, garlic and ginger. Gently fry for 1 minute.

Drain the rice and add it to the spices. Toss to coat with butter.

Measure 3 ¾ cups of boiling water into the rice mix. When it returns to boiling, add the turmeric, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Shut off the heat and leave rice covered for 5 more minutes before serving.


Saúde!   Nancy

The Souper Bowl at Fenestra Winery

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 31, 2011 at 10:40 AM

For several years Fenestra Winery in Livermore has kicked off the new year with their soup and wine "Souperbowl" where they pair soups with wine. Last weekend the Calhoun Sisters were at the Souperbowl serving Country Pea Soup from our Holm Family Cookbook. Gloria Retzlaff Taylor of the Retzlaff Winery had given my sister, Nancy Calhoun Mueller, the recipe several years ago and both of my sisters have been making the soup for years without incident. I guess preparing soup for hundreds of people can push you to the limit and I can tell you we had plenty of problems making it this time. The morning of the first day of the event was one of those times that I felt like we'd had a train wreck (click here to read about another train wreck). Fortunately, lots of Chardonnay wine, cayenne pepper, and bacon added to the soup helped get it back on the right track.

The Souperbowl was a really fun event. People came in groups and they spent the afternoon tasting the wine, eating soup, and chatting. It was like a really big party and we had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new people. I am a red wine drinker and Fenestra was pouring some really great red wines that day. Even the moderately priced True Red table wine that they were pouring was great and seemed to be very popular. 

There were some really good soups that day too. Besides our soup, Gimanelli's Deli from Pleasanton and Blue Sage Catering in Livermore provided the other soups. Blue Sage Catering also supplied an outstanding Chili Con Carne.

Fran Replogle, co-owner of Fenestra Winery, and Nancy Calhoun Mueller

Susie Calhoun and Merry Calhoun Carter at Fenestra Winery's Souperbowl

Gimanelli Deli's Italian Sausage Minestrone

The recipes for all of the soups were there for the taking and Fenestra has the recipes from several of their Souperbowl and other events posted on their website (click here). The recipes also include some of the recipes from their wine and chocolate event. In October my sister Nancy posted Gimanelli's vegetable minestrone recipe from a previous Souperbowl that calls for a cup of Fenestra's True Red wine. One of my favorite soups at this year's Souperbowl was Gimanelli's italian Sausage Minestrone. Below is the recipe for the soup, which should be paired with Fenestra's Syrah. I highly recommend drinking some of the Syrah while you are making the soup.

Gimanelli's Italian Sausage Minestrone


1/4 cup olive oil

2 pounds Italian Sausage

1 16-ounce can of garbanzo beans

1 16-ounce can of cannolini beans (white kidney beans)

1/2 cup peeled fresh garlic, chopped

1 large onion

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

5 celergy stalks, diced

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 bunch green Swiss chard, washed and chopped

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

3 pints chicken stock

1 cup Fenestra Syrah

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Remove sausage from casings, and add sausage to pot, cooking 12-15 minutes. Add garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Cook 8-10 minutes. Add Swiss chard and cook 4-5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes and juice, chicken stock, beans and all of the herbs and spices. Lower heat, partially cover with lid and simmer 25-30 minutes.

Serve with Fenestra's Syrah.

Oh yeah, we heard our share of soup Nazi jokes at the Souperbowl.

"You're through, Soup Nazi. Pack it up. No more soup for you. Next!"

~Elaine Benes, Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode

Caldo Verde on a Rainy Day

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 1, 2010 at 9:54 AM

It must be the Portuguese blood in me that loves this soup. The traditional Portuguese soup, Caldo Verde, is a bit different than the recipe shared by Ann Perry Mueller. She had made the soup for my parents and they raved about it! When I asked her how she prepared it--the recipe was in her head, not on a recipe card. I wrote it down as she recalled the ingredients with her personal notes, came home and made it.

Caldo Verde or Kale Soup


This super vegetable thrives in the garden with the cold temps. As I read up on kale, I found out that even the ornamental kale you buy to brighten up your pathways can be eaten. Just don’t treat them with chemicals!

Two Bunches of Kale


On a rainy Sunday, open a bottle of port to put in the soup–save some for yourself to drink while eating the soup! Or should I say, save some for the soup?! It goes great with football too.


Kale Soup

Makes about 4 quarts


2 bunches of kale

1.5 pounds of red creamer potatoes

1 red onion, diced

1 pound linguisa (Portuguese sausage)

2 - 14 ounce cans chicken broth

Equal part (to broth) of Tawny port (consider using the broth can to measure port)

¼ teaspoon cumin (or more to taste)

Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil


Boil the linguisa and then peel off the skin. Cut the linguisa into ¼ inch coin size pieces and set aside. In a 6 or 8 quart pot, sautee the onion in the olive oil.  Add the linguisa to the sauteed onion. Add the broth and port.


Roll the kale like a cigar from the top of the leaf to the base of the stem. This allows you to keep the tough stem from the soup. You could also chop it finely and add to soup. Cut the kale into thin strips. Add to soup.

Rolling the Kale


Bring to a boil, simmer for 1 hour.  Cut the potatoes into quarters, add to the soup, cook until potatoes are tender, approximately a half hour.


Vegetarians can use vegetable stock and eliminate the linguisa.




“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” ~Benjamin Franklin


Fun and Funky Fenestra Winery

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on October 26, 2010 at 8:44 AM

Growing up in the Livermore Valley, we were surrounded by vineyards and wineries. Many a Livermore native worked at one winery or another in the bottling room, cellar, or tasting room, including myself and many of my family members. On the drive to our grandparents house every weekend, we would pass by the old Concannon winery, Wente’s vineyards and Raboli’s gnarled old head pruned vines with no irrigation. As the years passed, more and more wineries popped up along the drive, Retzlaff, Stony Ridge, and then Murrieta’s Well. Throughout the valley, it seemed that every other month another vineyard was planted, or tasting room opened. Recently, the urban wine scene has come to town with Occasio and Longevity wineries, and we even have a hip new wine bar on the Concannon property, the Underdog Wine Bar. The Livermore Valley appellation is now home to 40+ wineries, plenty to choose from on a weekend wine tour.



One of our favorite local wineries is fun and funky Fenestra Winery. Fran and Lanny Replogle started Fenestra 34 years ago, the first boutique winery in town. We have worked with Lanny at the wine competitions at the Alameda County Fair for many years (handing him A LOT of awards!), and I worked closely with Fran as we helped to publish the Livermore Winegrowers cookbook, “Cooking a Honker.” Fenestra hosts a number of “Fanatic” events for their wine club members, where food is always included. Every winter they hold their own “Souper Bowl” serving a variety of soups paired with their wines. The pairing below is one of my absolute favorites - a vegetable minestrone from Gimanelli’s Deli (with directions that are only one sentence long!) paired with True Red, a Fenestra specialty blend. A perfect combo to warm your belly in this blustery weather.


Gimanelli's Vegetable Minestrone


3 large onions diced

3 celery stalks diced

4 large carrots diced

16 oz cans of each: Cannellini, Garbanzo & Pinto beans

2 lbs fresh tomato diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 cup Fenestra True Red wine

6 cups vegetable broth

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon of dry oregano

salt and black pepper to taste



Put all ingredients in large pot; bring to boil until carrots are tender.

Serve with Fenestra's True Red!

Cheers! Nancy

Five Onions for Fall

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on September 23, 2010 at 9:46 AM

First full day of Fall and I’m lookin’ for soup recipes, especially because it has, once again, been unseasonably cold ‘round these parts (40-something outside this morning). I remember going back to school in September and it being 105 degrees, this year is freezing, soup is a must.


I found a Morton’s (The Steakhouse) onion soup recipe on the Chicago Food Blog that boasts 5 different onions in the recipe, wow! Spanish and red onions, leeks, shallots and garlic, as an onion lover, how could I pass that one up, and knowing Morton’s reputation, I knew it must be good. It hales from the restaurant’s second cookbook, “Morton’s The Cookbook.” It takes a little work, but well worth it!



Morton’s Five-Onion Soup Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 pounds Spanish onions (about 2 large), thinly sliced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 small leek, halved, thinly sliced, and well rinsed

3 to 4 shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup minced garlic (about 20 cloves)

5 tablespoons dry sherry

1/4 cup Madeira wine

1 1/2 teaspoons beef base

1 1/2 teaspoons chicken base

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

3/4 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1 small bay leaf

1 3/4 quarts (7 cups) reconstituted store-bought demi-glace, or beef broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Croutons (See recipe below)

1 1/4 pounds Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese, grates or shredded

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving


In a deep stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add both types of onions, the leeks, shallots, and garlic and cook very slowly, loosely covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until the onions release their juices, are very soft and syrupy, and are lightly browned.


Add the sherry, Madeira, beef and chicken base, thyme, herbes de Provence, and bay leaf. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol.


Stir in the demi-glace and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes.


Preheat the broiler.


Remove the bay leaf, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and ladle the soup into 10 broiler-safe soup crocks. Lay 2 croutons on top of each bowl of soup and sprinkle the cheese over the croutons. The cheese should cover both the crouton and the soup.


Working in batches, broil the soup crocks 2 to 3 inches from the heat source for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese browns and the soup bubblesx around the sides. Use heavy oven mitts to handle the crocks and take great care removing the crocks from the broiler. Garnish each bowl with parsley and serve soup immediately.


Croutons for Five-Onion Soup

Makes 20 to 25 Croutons


One 18- to 20-inch-long baguette or 4 Portugese or Milano rolls


Preheat the oven to 450°F.


Cut the bread on the diagonal into croutons that measure about 2 1/2 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and 1/2 inch thick. Spread the croutons on a baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and bake for 4 to 6 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown.


Remove from the oven, slide the croutons onto a cool pan or rack and let cool. Use right away or store in a lidded container for up to 3 days.


Every season hath its pleasures;

Spring may boast her flowery prime,

Yet the vineyard's ruby treasures

Brighten Autumn's sob'rer time.

Thomas Moore


.... Nancy (not a poet at all)

The Blue Mermaid

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on July 7, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Either Jack London or Mark Twain once said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Regardless of who said it, I have found it to be true. During the summer months the temperature can be in the hundred degrees in the Livermore Valley and fog off the coast of the Pacific makes it damp, cold, and windy 45 miles away in San Francisco.

If you find yourself in San Francisco on one of those cold summer days, you might stop into the Blue Mermaid Chowder House and Bar on Fisherman's Wharf for some chowder.  The Blue Mermaid is the home of the award winning dungeness crab and corn chowder. 

The Blue Mermaid's neon sign beckons the chilled tourist

The evening we stopped at the Blue Mermaid we were chilled to the bone and the piping hot dungeness crab and corn chowder sure hit the spot. Besides providing warmth, the chowder was really flavorful and full of pieces of crab. The chowder is cooked with a jalapeño pepper, which is removed before serving and gives the chowder a bit of zip. When served, the chowder is garnished with cilantro pesto.

The Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder at the Blue Mermaid

If you want to try to make your own dungeness crab and corn chowder at home, I found the recipe for the Blue Mermaid's chowder on the View from the Bay Website. Here is it:

Award Winning California Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder

Awarded Three Times By The Schweppes Great Chowder Cook Off in the Creative Category

(Makes about 12 cups for a first course or 6-8 for a main course)


4 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 cup corn

2 yellow onions, diced

1 Pasilla Chili, diced

1 Jalapeño Pepper, split in half, seeds removed

2 celery stalks

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

½ tsp. Chipotle powder

4 sprigs thyme, stem removed, leaves chopped

1 fresh bay leaf

1 Quart Crab Stock

2 lbs. Kennebec potatoes, ½" diced

1 ½ cups heavy cream

2 oz. cream cheese

½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper

Kosher salt to taste

1 lb. fresh Dungeness crab meat

1 bunch cilantro, diced and chopped

½ cup olive oil


Over low heat, add smoked bacon to a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Slowly render the fat and then increase the heat to medium to make the bacon crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave about half the bacon fat in the pan.

Add the butter, and sauté the corn. After 4-6 minutes, remove the corn from the pan. Add the onions, sauté until translucent. Be careful not to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Add pasilla and sauté an additional 4-minutes, remove from the pan. Add celery, sauté 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the onion, corn, pasilla and bacon to the celery. Add Old Bay, Chipotle powder, split Jalapeño pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Just barely cover the vegetables with crab stock and then add the diced Kennebec potatoes. Increase the heat to high and boil the potatoes vigorously for about 4 minutes. The goal is to soften the outside of the potato to help thicken the chowder, while keeping the potato al dente.

Add the heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat. If you need to thicken the chowder a little more smash a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh white pepper. Remove the Jalapeño pepper before serving.

Cilantro Pesto


1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped

Approximately ½ cup of olive oil-purée in a blender

To Serve

Place Chowder in a bowl, add 1 -2 oz. of crab meat and garnish with cilantro pesto.

A Free Daily Recipe "Feed"

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on January 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Being the forward minded techie thinker that I am (yeah, right, I’m just now upgrading my 10+ year old Power Mac to a 3 year old Apple Laptop!), I recently encouraged those on our “Holm Family Cookbook” email list to subscribe to the RSS Feed (most commonly expanded as "Really Simple Syndication") for this Cowgirl’s Foodie Blog. This morning I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t be able to answer anyone’s questions on the RSS Feed if I don't have at least one myself.” So, it’s time to move into the 21st century now that it’s 2010, and I'm off to subscribe to my first RSS Feed.

 Oops, found out that I needed a RSS Reader to subscribe to a feed. Now off to Google to find a RSS Reader. Fortunately, Google has their own reader, and I knew it would be simple and free, so I set up a Google account, went to their RSS Reader page, and they had a video tutorial on the subject. Well, low and behold, the tutorial sample was for recipes! Uh oh, my weakness, recipes. But they are free for crying out loud, and they come automatically, and don’t take up any space physically, so I think I’m safe. So now I’m on the prowl for the perfect recipe RSS feed, or two, or maybe even three!


I started a search for a recipe subscription, and boy oh boy, there are tons, some familiar, some unfamiliar: Recipezaar, Epicurious (an old familiar favorite), Tech-Recipes (afraid to even look?!), Banana Bread Recipe (really, how many do you need? 10,861 subscribers, I guess there’s a need!), Good Morning America recipe feed, Perfect Popcorn (hmmm), Cupcake Recipes (mmm mmm), Potato Patch Recipes (only 15 subscribers?), Cooking for Engineers (oh my), and the list went on, and on, and on, and on.


So I went the safe and familiar route, Epicurious (267,590 subscribers, must be good). Immediately upon subscribing, up popped three recipes:


1) Escarole and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Hazelnuts Recipe from Bon Appétit;


2) Rustic Tomato Soup with Toasted Cumin and Mini Rajas Recipe from Bon Appétit;


3) Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Orange Frosting Recipe from Bon Appétit.


Hey, those all sound pretty good, but realistically, the only one I would probably attempt this week would be the Tomato Soup, it includes cumin seeds, one of my favorite ingredients, and especially soup because there are 5 days of rain on the way to Northern California. Here’s the recipe below:


Rustic Tomato Soup with Toasted Cumin and Mini Rajas Soup

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

6 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups chopped onions (about 2 large)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 teaspoons achiote paste*

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 28-ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes with basil in juice, tomatoes diced, all juice reserved

4 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 3-to 4-inch dried guajillo chile,** stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn

Cayenne pepper (optional)

Coarse kosher salt



Vegetable oil (for frying)

4 4-inch corn tortilla squares (cut from round tortillas), halved, cut into 2 x 1/4-inch strips

1 5-ounce package mini bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut into thin strip


For Soup:

Stir cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until starting to smoke and pop, about 4 minutes. Pour seeds onto plate; cool. Grind finely in spice mill. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Chill in airtight container.


Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions. Cover and cook until tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Add achiote and allspice. Stir over low heat 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, broth, and guajillo chile. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.


Working in 2-cup batches, blend soup in processor to coarse puree (some texture should remain). Return to same pot. Mix in 11/2 teaspoons toasted cumin; season with cayenne, if desired, and coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled.


For rajas:

Pour enough oil into heavy medium saucepan to reach depth of 3/4 inch. Heat oil over medium heat 4 minutes. Fry half of tortilla strips until just golden. Using slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels to drain (color will darken slightly). Repeat with remaining strips.


Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons tortilla-frying oil from saucepan in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mini peppers. Toss until tender, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: All rajas can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.


Reheat soup over medium heat. Ladle into bowls. Top with tortilla and pepper rajas and sprinkle with toasted cumin. Serve, passing additional cumin separately.


* A paste made from achiote seeds; sold at Latin markets.

** A maroon-colored, fairly hot dried chile up to 6 inches long and about 11/2 inches wide; available at some supermarkets and at Latin markets.


So, if you’re feeling adventurous, or hungry, get on out there and sign up for a RSS Feed for recipes. Or, of course, The Cowgirl’s Foodie Blog RSS Feed, the link is right at the bottom of this page!


As Julia Child would say, Bon Appétit!



Leftover Ham Bone, Hmmmm......

Posted by holmfamilycookbook on December 29, 2009 at 8:42 AM

We just cooked a huge ham, and what to do with the bone??? These bones are sacred in our family; if I don't have time to cook something with it right away, I throw it in a freezer bag along with the scrap meat and save it for a cold day. I love to make pinto beans with it (but nobody else seems to like the residual effects?!), or potato soup (but I made that last week), or split pea soup. That’s the ticket this week, here’s the recipe from our cookbook that I originally received from Gloria Taylor at Retzlaff Vineyards.  ~nancy mueller~



1 pound dried green split peas

6 to 7 cups water

1/4 cup Chardonnay (optional)

1 leftover ham bone or 1/2 pound bacon

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 onion, coarsely chopped

3 to 4 potatoes, coarsely chopped

4 to 5 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

2 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Rinse the split peas in a strainer. In a large soup pot over high heat, combine the peas, water, and Chardonnay and bring to a boil. Add the ham bone, garlic, onion, potatoes, carrots, parsley, cayenne, bay leaf, and cloves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 11/2 to 2 hours. Stir occasionally. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Remove the ham bone and shred the meat from the bone, discarding any excess fat. Return the meat to the soup. Taste, correct the seasonings, and serve.

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