Thursday, May 31, 2012
1/2 C chunky applesauce
1/2 C olive oil
2 C white whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cardamom
1 t ground nutmeg
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
So, last weekend I attended their third pop-up event: a hike led by Big Sur Guides owner Stephen Copeland followed by a brunch at The Restaurant at Ventana.
My photographs and article hit the blog this morning. Click here to go to their site.
The third installment of Edible Monterey Bay’s pop-up series brought me, with a good friend and fellow foodie in tow, to the Ventana Inn and Spa for a hike and a brunch. What a thrill to head down the coast from Monterey on a soggy morning and find Ventana enveloped in a bubble of sunshine!
Gathering in front of The Restaurant at Ventana, our group of culinary adventurers chatted amicably before heading off on a trail led by Stephen Copeland. A long-time Big Sur resident and owner of Big Sur Guides, Copeland—part naturalist and part local historian—regaled us with stories of Hatfield and McCoy-style feuds between Big Sur landowners and reminisced about Lolly Fassett who started the Nepenthe Restaurant after nurturing the local community nightly with her roasted chicken and stuffing.
Copeland recounted that Orson Welles, from whom the Fassetts acquired the property in 1947, had purchased the original cabin, for his wife, Rita Hayworth, as a haven from Hollywood. Despite the seemingly endless views of the dramatic coastline in both directions, Hayworth purportedly declared: “Orson, this is so cute, but I will never spend the night here.” Whether she did or not, Copeland wasn’t sure, but he did know that a few years later the Fassetts bought the property from Welles and began the transformation into what Nepenthe is now, a Bohemian cliffside restaurant where both locals and tourists flock. Nepenthe, in Greek, means “that which chases away sorrow.” And it is aptly named. Just setting foot in that vibrant place makes you smile.
As we wound along the trails, Copeland conducted what he jokingly called “Redwood 101.” He discussed the trees’ lateral and vertical growth. He talked about the faces in the bark. He told us how redwood trees reproduce, with the younger trees creating tight rings around their parents. Copeland explained how the Esalens and Salinans, the Native American tribes who called the area home, viewed the redwood family rings as sacred places. Circles of life. The tribes performed marriage rituals in the middle of these towering trees; they brought elders to the circles of life to die. At one point during the hike, our group stood in the center of one of these circles. Surrounded by sixteen giants, we inhaled the citrusy scent from the forest duff beneath our shoes and heard the energetic chirps of the wood sparrow. “Listen. If you come into the Ventana wilderness and you don’t hear that,” Copeland gestured towards the source of the noise, “leave. Leave quickly. It means there’s a predator nearby.” And with that caveat, we headed out of the redwood circle and toward the restaurant, comforted by the constant chirp, chirp, chirp of the birds.
With stomachs rumbling and relaxed from the fresh air and sunshine, we were greeted by Kara Stout, Ventana’s Food and Beverage manager, who guided us to the patio. We settled beneath an arbor embraced by gnarled honeysuckle vines whose heady scent is stronger than you would expect from such wiry blossoms.
Our first task: answer the question, “what would you like to drink?” I have to admit that I have never seen such a unique selection of brunch libations; I had a tough time deciding. There was, of course, the de rigueur bellini and ubiquitous mimosa. But it was the more innovative offerings that intrigued me. I vacillated between the St. Germain Royal—Roederer Brut with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and a lime wheel—and the Hair of the Dog Punsch—lemon-infused Zaya rum with spiced black tea.
In the end I opted for the Hair of the Dog Punsch; punsch—with its seemingly errant “s”—is not actually a typo. Punsch, Stout answered when I asked, derives from a northern European spelling of this cocktail that is served hot. Though I was initially reluctant to order it because rum cocktails are notoriously syrupy sweet, I couldn’t resist the name. The concoction turned out to be surprisingly spicy and slightly bitter. It was quite enjoyable but a vivid contrast to the chilled, effervescent St. Germain that I sampled by sneaking a sip from my friend’s champagne flute.
After clinking our glasses amid celebratory toasts and well-wishes, we considered ten entrée offerings. Chef Truman Jones had fashioned a generous brunch menu with everything from chicken enchiladas to a classic Caesar salad and from homemade granola to a Big Sur burger. I ducked into the kitchen to snap some photos and inquired, casually, about the chef’s favorite. Eggs Benedict. That made my decision simple. It’s my favorite, too.
Toasted English muffins were topped with steamed spinach and pillows of perfectly poached eggs. The applewood smoked pork loin was just crispy enough to lend texture to the mouthfeel yet soft enough to complement the silky eggs. And I was grateful that the hollandaise sauce added just the right amount of lemony flavor without drowning the dish.
The Californian Salad was a green and orange confetti of golden beets, roasted asparagus, and orange segments tossed with crisp romaine leaves in a buttermilk ranch dressing and topped with toasted almonds and buttery avocado slices.
Then there was comfort food at its best. The Shelton Farms Turkey Gravy Smothered Biscuits, first on the menu, looked positively decadent. I wasn’t familiar with Shelton Farms before this meal. A quick search showed me a company, run by three generations of the Flanagan family, whose website reads: “Our turkeys and chickens don’t do drugs.” I can certainly get behind a company whose philosophy is that their poultry – chickens, turkeys, and ducks – grow healthier when they are allowed to walk around in the open air and sunshine, free to scratch at the ground and peck away at whatever catches their fancy.
While I didn’t taste any of the other entrées, our table was lined with empty plates, indicating that all were delectable.
To say the view from The Restaurant at Ventana was breathtaking sounds needlessly hyperbolic. But I did—literally—catch my breath in awe when I looked up and down the coast from my seat on the terrace. Cloudless cerulean skies stretched in either direction as far as I could see. Stunning.
Table chatter ran the gamut from local food events, including the recent Cooking for Solutions, to recipes or culinary processes. And we imagined how we could use the sprigs of California sage that Copeland had plucked from the bushes for us. I’m considering a roasted chicken with stuffing in Lolly Fassett’s honor. Leeks, celery, rye bread, California sage, and lots of butter. I have no idea if her stuffing used California sage, or not, but I know it will be a tasty reminder of this third installment of the pop-up series from Edible Monterey Bay.
I’ll echo the sentiments printed at the bottom of our special menu: Thank you to Edible Monterey Bay. Yes, indeed, thank you! This was a truly enjoyable way to spend the morning…learning, imbibing, and feasting in one of the most scenic spots around.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
While I dislike tossing food in the garbage, we all have kitchen failures. And I'll be the first to admit mine. So, I won't be posting a recipe for these here, but you can click on the link above for the original recipe. Once I actually do create an edible version of these stuffed plantains, I'll post the process. Promise!
There are minor flops that can be fixed with just the right ingredient or reimaginging; then there are the major disasters that really can only be fixed by not tormenting the people you're feeding. That was the case with these plantains.
These were supposed to be the final course of our Columbian feast, but the plantains I picked up were not ripe enough. And no matter how long you roast them, they aren't going to get any better. They did, actually, get soft enough to pierce with a fork, but there was no sweetness to them.
I did eat mine, just to see how bad it really was. The plantain was more like a baked potato, in both taste (read: bland) and texture (read: dry). One of the kids picked the cheese and fruit paste of out of plantain. But, on the whole, this was a major failure and one I will remedy - just because - as soon as I can get some really ripe plantains.
1/2 C organic mayonnaise
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
chopped cilantro for garnish
thinly sliced lemons for garnish
Cut the avocados lengthwise, pop out the pit, and drizzle the lime juice over the avocados to prevent them from darkening.
Mix the cooked salmon, ketchup, mayonnaise, and lime zest together in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Fill the avocados with the salmon mixture. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro, top with a lemon slice, and serve immediately.
Monday, May 28, 2012
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
1 T olive oil
Start by putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of very warm water and a splash of oil to the masa flour (according to the directions on the package, some brands may call for different amounts of water). Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Begin working the masa with your hands to make the dough. Knead the dough for several minutes. If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough.
Take a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
2 C cherries, pitted
2 t anise seeds
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter your baking dish(es). The amounts above gave me one 9" clafoutis and one 8" clafoutis. Spoon the cherries into the bottom of the dish(es).
Whisk the eggs, sugar, and flour together until smooth.
Add the milk, rum, and anise seeds. Whisk until smooth. Pour over the cherries.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you pull it put of the oven it will jiggle a bit. That's normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve at room temperature.
Friday, May 25, 2012
|The Manns hiking at Andrew Molera State Park on Mothers' Day 2011|
There are still tickets for the event if you want to kick off your Memorial Day weekend with a hike and a brunch. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.
Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and spend time with family with friends!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
The recipe was selected by Sarah of Food and Fredrick. Click here for what our week's hostess created in her kitchen. And to see what the other bloggers cooked and blogged, click here and look in the comments section.
Chicken, rubbed with minced garlic and sprinkled with fresh dill, freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper, broiled in the oven.
While the chicken cooks, make a fruit salsa: diced fresh mangoes; cubed, peeled kiwi; sliced strawberries; whole blackberries; lemon juice; chopped cilantro and parsley; paprika; and a splash of olive oil. Once the chicken is browned and cooked through, top it with lemon zest and the salsa.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Tonight I had some pork cutlets. Here's what I did. Every single person in the family devoured it and asked for seconds. That is an accomplishment.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
These are so easy and pillowy soft. Traditionally they are made with spinach, but I had some chard from my High Ground Organics CSA, so I used that.
1/2 C feta cheese
3 T Italian parsley, chopped
2 C chard, thinly sliced
2 stems of green garlic, thinly sliced
zest from 1 lemon
freshly ground pink Himalaya salt and flower pepper
corn flour for dusting
1/2 C tomato puree
juice from 1 lemon
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Tina, the blogger behind Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor, is the hostess of this month's Food'N'Flix. Food'N'Flix was started by one of my favorite foodie bloggers Heather of girlichef.com: "We are just a bunch of FOODIES who like to watch movies that make our belly rumble and our mouth water and then head into the kitchen to cook or bake something inspired by what we watched."
Click here for her invitation to participate. Cheers!
After seeing the movie, the first time around in 2004, when my husband and I found ourselves in Los Olivos during a birthday celebration weekend, we popped into the Los Olivos Café, one of the places where Jack, Miles, Stephanie and Maya ate. I decided to recreate one of the things we tried while we were there. The Café calls theirs a 'Chocolate Scream' and serves it with homemade ice cream and caramel sauce. I skipped the ice cream, but did whip up a decadent flourless chocolate cake with a rich and creamy caramel sauce. To die for...
· ¼ cup espresso and amaretto
· 10 tablespoons butter
· ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
· 6 large eggs, separated
· ¼ teaspoon salt
· 2 cups almonds, toasted and finely ground
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease and dust a 9-inch springform pan with unsweetened cocoa powder. Line the bottom with parchment.
In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and coffee.
With an electric mixer and a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until ivory colored. Add the egg yolks, two at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and airy. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. With the beater running, add two tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the ground almonds into the whites. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture.
Pour into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350°F. Bake 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325°F. Bake an additional 45 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300°F and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven, with the door ajar, for another 30 minutes.
Cool on a rack. Remove the sides of the pan.
1/2 C butter
1/2 C sour cream
Place the sugar and butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil on medium heat, whisking continuously. The mixture will go from pale to foamy. Once it gets smooth and creamy, the sugar will begin to burn, keep whisking till the burnt sugar is a uniform color: a deep rich caramel. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. The mixture will be streaky but become uniform after cooling slightly and stirring.