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Seafood dish has good Karma
Holly Woods of Karma Café shares recipe
WHERE: 628 Plumas St., Yuba City
HOURS: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
It's always exciting when a new restaurant moves into the area, especially when its menu has an interesting variety of tasty dishes. And if all Karma Café's dishes are as tasty as one owner Holly Woods shared on the day I visited, hers will be one restaurant to visit often.
Holly's favorite recipe is Seafood Fra Diavolo, a filling, healthy meal similar to cioppino but definitely spicier than any cioppino I've ever had.
"This is something we like to serve because there's lots of people in town who like seafood, but we kick this one up with a little red pepper," Holly said.
She said this time of year is great for this kind of meal: When it's cold and damp outside, a hot and spicy dish is just the thing to lift the spirits. But what sold her on Seafood Fra Diavolo was just that it's easy to make. It's also versatile — you can use a wide variety of seafood, and it can be served like a soup or over linguini. She said it "plates well," and it can be made ahead of time.
Holly should know about food because this is her second eatery.
"This is a continuation of my first restaurant," she said. "I started the first Karma in Gridley about 2-1⁄2 years ago. It was a very small shop where we served sandwiches, soups, salads plus tri-tip and ribs for dinner. We could only seat about 30 people. Now we have this beautiful kitchen and restaurant that can seat 120 people.
"This place was pointed out to me by a friend. And the second I walked through the door, I fell in love with it. I didn't realize how large it was at first because each door along the side has a different address. So I presumed I was taking my old 30-foot long Karma and graduating into this beautiful kitchen and bar. I didn't realize that it continued halfway down the street," she said.
Holly said the restaurant's theme is "gourmet American," meaning: "You're not going to find a ham and cheese sandwich here, but you're going to find some succulent turkey and provolone cheese."
On the day I was there, the special was a honey-horseradish-glazed salmon with mixed berry chutney on jasmine rice. "I could never offer this before," Holly said.
Karma isn't just a name to Holly. For her, it means giving back, whether it's through music, free Thanksgiving dinners or sending pallets of materials to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., last year.
A recurring program at Karma Café is its Friday night live music performances, which help raise money for local music programs. Holly said the effort paid off for one young performer who was presented with a guitar from money raised at the restaurant.
To keep things interesting, Karma Café also holds beer and wine events. Holly recently orchestrated a beer-pairing meal, where selected beers were paired with each of the meal's four courses. She's also planning a beer versus wine event, where her chef will create a menu, and then a brewery and winery will pair their wares to match the food.
Talking about the Seafood Fra Diavolo recipe, Holly said it is easy and fairly quick to make. It took Holly only about 20 minutes to make the entire meal.
The steps are simple. Mix shrimp and scallops with salt and red pepper flakes, add them to the hot oil, sauté for a couple of minutes and then set them aside.
Holly warns that when adding oil or alcohol to the pan, be sure you're away from the flame to avoid any flame-ups.
Next, sauté onion for about a minute, add tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes. Then return the shrimp and scallops to the mixture and simmer to let the flavors combine and the clams open, which should take only another minute.
Stir in parsley and basil to help mellow the dish and serve with a crusty, flavorful bread.
SEAFOOD FRA DIAVOLO
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 sea scallops
1 teaspoon salt (add more if desired)
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil (add more if necessary)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 pound clams in the shell
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Toss the shrimp and scallops in a medium bowl with the salt and red pepper.
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and scallops and sauté for about a minute; toss, then continue cooking until just cooked through; about one to two minutes. Transfer the shrimp and scallops to a large plate; set aside.
Add the onion to the same skillet (add another 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, if necessary) and sauté until translucent, about five minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the wine, garlic and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add the clams and return the shrimp and scallops and any accumulated juices to the tomato mixture; toss to coat and cook for about another minute to meld the flavors together and allow the clams to open.
Stir in the parsley and basil.
Season with additional salt, to taste, and serve with a crusty, flavorful bread.
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Holly was born and raised in the area and now lives in Gridley with her husband and 10 children.