Monday, February 29, 2016

Lucia Tops My List and My Foodie Crush on Chef Cal {Tasting Notes}


Several weeks ago, I spent an incredible Saturday morning with Chef Cal Stamenov at Bernardus. I was interviewing him for a Local Heroes story for Edible Monterey Bay. He received the honor of 'Best Chef' and Lucia 'Best Restaurant.'


The story finally came out in the Spring 2016 issue. Read it: in the digital version. And here are some of the photos I took that didn't make it into the publication.







I eagerly accepted Chef Cal’s generous invitation to return to Lucia for dinner. So, Jake and I dropped the boys off at my parents and we headed out to Carmel Valley for a dinner that - without hyperbole - is one of the best meals I've ever had.

 Lucia tops my list. And, admittedly, I have a little foodie crush on Chef Cal now.


Though the entire menu was appealing, I opted to indulge in the Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairings.


We began with Foie Blonde, where crisp chicory leaves were a fresh foil to the Hudson Valley foie gras atop toasted buttery brioche drizzled with black truffle vinaigrette. Sommelier Jeff Jung poured Teutonic Wine Company’s ‘Rust Bucket’ an Alsatian Blend from Oregon.


Next was a dish Stamenov had shown me earlier that day: Monterey Bay Red Abalone. Housemade spaghetti was swirled with pancetta and a soft egg to form a tight nest on which the abalone rested.


The wine that Jung selected - Château Crémade Rhône Blend, Provence 2008 – was a surprising delight. Vastly preferring red wines to white, I didn’t expect this Chenin Blanc to captivate me. But it was simultaneously creamy and floral, like a fine cheese.


The Colorado Lamb was paired with Madeleine’s Rue de Champs Cabernet Franc made by Damien Georis. Jake had ordered the venison and we passed the plates between ourselves. I think we had stopped talking at that point, lost in our own appreciation for the food in front of us.

The dessert course was a Meyer Lemon Soufflé Tart with Candied Buddha’s Hand Citron and Honey Ginger Ice Cream. I know Stamenov has a Buddha’s Hand Citron tree and surmised that those delicate ribbons were from his orchard. Accompanying the dessert was Bernardus’ Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2009, a veritable dessert on its own.

True to his authentic generosity, and probably remembering that I admitted I much preferred a cheese course to dessert, Stamenov lavished us with additional courses, including a cheese course. We tried the Despearado, a raw cow’s milk cheese, from Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut. It has both a custard-like outside with a slightly chalky center. The rind is washed with fermented pear mash and pear eau de vie from Westford Hill Distillery.

They even sent us home with homemade truffles, artisan caramels, and sugar-crusted shortbread.


Without question, it was the one of the most sumptuous meals I’ve ever had. Is it pretentious to quote your own article?!? Well, I'm going to do it anyway. "Stamenov’s a pure artist. Generous mentor. Hero."

Lucia Restaurant & Bar
Chef Cal Stamenov
415 W. Carmel Valley Road
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
831.658.3595
bernarduslodge.com

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Lunchbox Round-Up for #FoodNFlix


Food‘nFlix
I hosted this month's Food'N'Flix and I chose The Lunchbox*. You can read my invitation: hereUnlike most of the films I've selected for the group, I had never actually watched this movie. But I'm so glad I did! 

The group shared recipes for everything from a mango cocktail to curries and, even, the paratha that serve as the "envelopes" for the correspondence between Ila and Saajan.

On Our Plates...
I am sharing The Lunchbox-inspired dishes in order that I received them from the bloggers. What a delicious looking Smörgåsbord of Indian food! I can't wait to try these dishes.


Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles made Mistaken Identity Wings. I love that, even though she has been a vegetarian since 2001, she whipped up these wings in a honey garlic sauce for her mom.


Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm poured a Mango Cooler made with a mango paste that she says resembles marmalade in texture and would be fantastic smeared on toast. I think I'll go with her tropical drink with a punch.


Heather at All Roads Lead to the Kitchen created Creamy Tomato Shrimp Curry with Turmeric Rice. About her selected dish, Heather shares, "With all of its beautiful spices and simple ingredients, I can see Ila making this...and Sajaan eating it."


Amy from Amy's Cooking Adventures shared her recipe for Paratha. As I mentioned, these are the "envelopes" into which Ila and Saajan tuck their lunchbox notes. Paratha is a flatbread, very similar to the chapatti she's made before.  She writes, comparing the two, "Paratha incorporates a bit more oil and there is a slightly different method for rolling that give paratha its triangular shape (you’ll have to trust me on that – I managed to not get a photo of the unfolded paratha)."


Evelyne from CulturEatz shared her recipe for Kadhi ChawalThis was a totally new Indian dish to her...and it's new to me as well. Kadhi Chawal is a spiced yogurt based curry served with rice and chickpea flour fritters. Evelyne muses, "I wonder how many Kadhi Chawal will be delivered tomorrow?"



Debra of Eliot's Eats cooked up some Paneer Kofta, deciding to tackle it because this was the dish that Ila sent with her first note to her then unknown lunch recipient. Ila added this was her husband’s favorite meal. That sauce looks amazing!


Terri of Our Good Life created her own triple-level tiffin and shared her Indian Butter Shrimp. Terri writes that her first container was the bread. "I heated one naan that I purchased at the Indian grocery store and folded it in fourths, like they do in the movie." The second container was Indian Butter Shrimp. The third container was rice. Sounds like a great lunch.


Deb of Kahakai Kitchen presented us with Hard Boiled Eggs in Rich Moghlai Sauce. Deb admits, "I can eat all varieties of curry at all times of the day. but there is just something about a curry with hard boiled eggs that seems perfect for lunch." She got her recipe from Madhur Jaffrey, who offers multiple recipes for egg curries in her cookbooks. She is certainly a curry-master.


Elizabeth of The Lawyer's Cookbook made Lentil Cauliflower Curry. Because she has given up meat for Lent, this movie came at a good time, inspiring her with the many vegetarian Indian dishes. And she picked a cauliflower dish because that's how Ila learns that her husband has no idea that he isn’t getting the food she was making for him: he comments on her cauliflower and she did not make him cauliflower.


And I made Kheema Aloo which Ila tells Saajan is her favorite. Well, Kheema Pao is her favorite. But I couldn't find a recipe for that and went with the Kheema Aloo.

I hope the Food'N'Flixers have inspired you to enjoy The Lunchbox, make some Indian food, or both!

Next Month...
Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm picked our March selection. We'll be watching, or re-watching, A Walk in the Clouds.* I love that movie. I can't wait to re-watch it with my foodies glasses on and a pencil in hand.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

#bunniesandleprechauns Reveal: Fully Loaded Scalloped Potatoes for #SecretRecipeClub


The Secret Recipe Club has a fun, themed - fifth Monday - event that blurs the lines between the groups. You can be assigned to any other participating blogger in groups A through D. Our theme this month: Leprechaun & Bunnies. We've been tasked to focus on foods for St. Patrick's Day (corned beef hash, anything green, etc.) and Easter (carrot cake, spring dishes, etc.) since March has both holidays this year!


I was assigned to Making Miracles, a blog written by Rebekah. Now, even though we've never met in real life, I feel as if Rebekah and I are good friends. We've been in the same cooking circles for awhile and she has taken part in every multi-blogger event I've coordinated in the past two years. So, I was excited to be assigned to dig deeper into her creations.

Initially I leaned towards the "bunnies" part of this assignment, considering our St. Patrick's Day dinner is remarkably the same every year. Corned Beef. Cabbage. And Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes.

So, I considered her Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb. Who doesn't love lamb on Easter, right? I chuckled aloud when I thought about making her Rabbit with Mustard Sauce. Okay, rabbit on Easter?!? I only made that mistake once! Her Surprise Inside Carrot Bundt Cake is definitely on my short list of sweets to bake.

But when I saw her Fully Loaded Scalloped Potatoes I knew that I was going to go the "leprechaun" route for this post. A quick note on potatoes...

Recently I learned that there are three categories of potatoes: waxy, starchy, and all-purpose. 

Starchy, namely russet potatoes, are perfect for gnocchi. Waxy potatoes, such as fingerlings and baby red potatoes, are the ones to use for potato salad. And all-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon gold, red potatoes, and white potatoes, are the ones to use for scalloped potatoes and any dishes where you want the potatoes to hold their shape.

Did you know that?! Maybe I was the only one in the dark. On to this delicious recipe...


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs potatoes (I used baby red potatoes), sliced with a mandolin
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, prefer applewood smoked with no added nitrites
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/2 C organic whole milk
  • 1/2 C organic heavy cream
  • 3/4 C organic sour cream
  • 3 T chopped fresh herbs, divided (I used a mixture of parsley and chives)
  • 1 C shredded cheese (I used a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack)

Procedure
Boil the potato slices in salted water until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, cook bacon however you prefer; I cook mine in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or grease baking dish.

Rough chop the bacon, and reserve 1/4 C (for topping). Whisk the flour, milk, and cream together in large mixing bowl until blended. Stir in the sour cream. Add potatoes, remaining bacon and 2 T herbs; stir gently to evenly coat potatoes.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top evenly with the shredded cheese.


Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. It should be until heated through and cheese melted. Sprinkle with remaining herbs and reserved bacon.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Grapefruit Pie for #SundaySupper

For this Sunday Supper we are celebrating pies!


Definition of a Pie
Before I decided on what I wanted to share, I looked at my previous pie posts and chuckled at this conversation from a few years ago when we were discussing: What makes a pie a pie?

Sensibly, my Precise Kitchen Elf said, "A pie has no frosting." True.

My Love declared, "It's the crust." Okay.

And my sweet, Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf asserted, "A pie has a crust...and is low to the ground." Huh. "You know, a cake can be tall; a pie is short."

Employing all three of those criteria - no frosting, a crust, and low to the ground - a galette can qualify as a pie. So can a tart, right?

Our host for this event is Erica from The Crumby Cupcake and she seems to embrace a loose definition of a pie, too. She wrote: "Shortcrust, puff pastry, two-crust, one-crust, crumb crusts, with all sorts of fillings from fruit or nuts, to cheese or meat. Or make vegetables the star! Break out your fancy crimping and lattice skills or make a rustic pie. Baked or non-baked, it’s all good in the pie hood!" 

All Good in the Pie Hood...

#SundaySupper Pies: Sweet & Savory Sweet As Pie
Mealtime Pie

Grapefruit Pie with Limoncello Crust

A few weeks ago there was another pie event for which I completely failed in getting a recipe created much less baked and posted. But there was an intriguing discussion of a grapefruit pie. I've been dreaming about it ever since. So, I decided to give that a try. I baked a grapefruit filling into a limoncello-scented crust and topped it with whipped coconut cream and fresh slices of ruby red grapefruit. Oh, and it's gluten-free for my husband. 

Here's my no frosting, crusted, low-to-the-ground Grapefruit Pie... 

Ingredients makes two 9" tarts
(or in my case two 8" tarts and a mini pie)
Crust 
  • 1-1/2 C gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 C coconut flour
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 C butter
  • 2 to 3 T water
  • 2 to 3 T limoncello
Filling 
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/4 C fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
Finishing 
  • can of coconut milk or coconut cream, chilled overnight
  • supremed organic pink grapefruit
  • organic granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional

Procedure
Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, coconut flour, powdered sugar, and salt together; rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Alternatively stir in water and limoncello until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Press gently into a tart pan. Prick crust with a fork to prevent bubbling. Bake until a light golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

Filling
Place the prepared crusts on a baking sheet. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, grapefruit juice, eggs, and egg yolks.



Pour the custard into the pie crusts, leaving at least ¼" rim around the top.


Carefully place the baking sheet with the pie in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.


Let cool on a rack. While the pie cools, prepare your topping. Your coconut milk should have been chilling in the refrigerator overnight. When removing from the fridge, being careful not to shake or tip the can; you want the fat to remain separated from the liquid. 

Remove the coconut milk from the fridge. Without tipping or shaking, remove the lid. Scrape out the top, thickened cream and leave the liquid behind. You can use that for something else, so set it aside.


Place cream in your mixing bowl. Beat for with a mixer until creamy.


Spoon the whipped coconut cream on top of your cooled pie. Arrange grapefruit slices on top. And sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired. Serve immediately.


Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.

Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It's easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Green Tea-Poached Shrimp



Earlier this month, I reviewed Culinary Tea. It's been inspiring me ever since. For a quick dinner this week, I adapted the Tung Ting Shrimp recipe since I didn't have any Tung Ting tea or spinach. My green tea and baby arugula version was tasty and simple. I will definitely be making this again soon.

Ingredients

  • 5 T tea, I used Jeju Island green tea
  • 5 C water, divided into 4 C + 1 C
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 to 2 lbs shrimp, cleaned and peeled (I left the tail on)
  • 1/4 C rice wine
  • 1/4 C gin (I prefer Hendricks)
  • 1/2 C rice vinegar
  • 4 to 5 garlic gloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T fresh lemongrass, minced
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 4 C baby arugula
  • 1 T black sesame seeds

Procedure

Place 1 T tea leaves in a bowl. Heat water to steaming (just before it boils) and pour 1 C water over the tea leaves and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain out the leaves and reserve the tea.

Place remaining 4 T tea leaves in a large bowl with the salt. Add the remaining steamed water and stir until salt is dissolved. Add the shrimp and let stand until just opaque, approximately 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Drain the shrimp and rinse off most of the leaves. I left some in there and it was tasty!

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the reserved tea, rice wine, gin, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sesame oil, and fish sauce to make a dressing. To serve place 1 C baby arugula on a plate or in a bowl. Top with shrimp. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with black sesame seeds for garnish.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Blueberry Chutney-Glazed Chicken

As another entree for the blueberry baby shower last weekend, I made Blueberry Chutney-Glazed Chicken Thighs. So easy.


Ingredients makes a dozen
  • 12 organic, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-1/2 t ground cardamom
  • 1-1/2 t ground paprika
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 1 t freshly ground sea salt
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • red wine
  • blueberry chutney (my recipe here)
Procedure
Place chicken thighs in a lidded container where they can lay flat in a single layer. Add the remaining ingredients and rub the spices into the meat. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine. Cover the container. Refrigerate overnight.

Remove chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you want to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place chicken in a baking dish. Drizzle with more olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes, or until chicken is browned and crisp and cooked through. Spoon blueberry chutney on top of each piece of chicken and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes.


Serve hot with the remaining blueberry chutney on the side.

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