April 23, 2007


Very exciting news! I heard today that two of my courses from my menu were selected for the student showcase at the Wine Cask. Yay! Even better, my two bestest friends at school were chosen too! P's fantastic lobster panna cotta with caviar will be available for your enjoyment as well as my partner-in-crime/business partner A's duck with rhubarb-tangerine chutney that I still have dreams about after having the merest nibble during a test run. For all you internet stalkers, the dinner will be May 6th at the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara. If you have any q's send me a note. I'll get back to you when I take a break from dancing for joy!

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April 15, 2007

Course the Fifth: Pistachio Cake with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote and Orange-Blossom Scented Whipped Creme Fraiche

Long title, tasty sweet.

We had this with Kalyra's Gewurztraminer "Sticky Wicket". Yummy.

Again, professionally written per one serving. Multiply as needed.

Pistachio Cake with Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote and Orange Blossom-Scented Whipped Crème Frâiche

pistachios 2/3 oz shelled
sugar, granulated 1/3 oz
light corn syrup 1/3 tsp
orange 1/8 tsp zest finely grated
orange blossom water 1 drop

sugar, granulated 1 oz
butter, whole 1/3 oz
egg 1/5
sour cream 1/3 oz
vanilla extract 1/12 tsp
orange blossom water 1/12 tsp

flour, all-purpose 1/8 cup
baking powder 1/8 tsp
baking soda 1/12 tsp
salt pinch

rhubarb 2 oz cut into ½-inch pieces
vanilla bean paste 1/8 tsp
sugar, granulated .5 oz
white wine 1 TB
strawberry 1 oz trimmed, small dice

cream, heavy 1 TB
crème frâiche ¾ tsp
orange blossom water 1 drop
orange 1/16 tsp zest finely grated

pistachios 2, whole shelled
sugar, powdered 1/8 tsp
cardamom tiny pinch

Method: Grind pistachios finely in a processor. Heat sugar, corn syrup and 1/8 tsp water to 225F. Slowly pour hot sugar mixture into processor while running to make a smooth paste. Add orange zest and orange blossom water. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 325F. In processor, combine pistachio paste, sugar, room temperature butter, egg and sour cream until smooth. Pour into a bowl. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently add to the pistachio mixture and stir until just combined. Pour batter into a buttered 6-oz muffin tin cup to fill between 2/3’s and ¾’s full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack and remove cake from cup.

In a saucepan, combine sugar and ¼ tsp water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let turn brown without stirring or burning, about 5 minutes. When brown, add rhubarb, vanilla paste and white wine. Let cook until rhubarb just begins to fall apart and becomes jam-like, about 15 minutes. Let come to room temperature and stir in strawberry.

Whip cream, crème frâiche, orange blossom water and orange zest together until firm peaks form.

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, toss together pistachios, powdered sugar and cardamom. Bake until nuts are toasted and sugar melts, about 10 minutes.

Plating: Place cake on one side of plate. Top with candied pistachios. Spoon compote to make a line through center of plate. On the other side of the compote line, place whipped crème frâiche.

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Course the Fourth: Pecorino Custard with Fava Bean-Meyer Lemon Salad

Of all the courses in the menu, I'm most pleased with this one. In Rome, the first of the season's fava beans are eaten raw with chunks of Pecorino. This is an interpretation of that tradition.

Like the previous two courses, this recipe is written in the professional style: all amounts are for one serving only and the cook needs to multiply accordingly.

Pecorino Custard with Fava Bean-Meyer Lemon Salad

Unfortunately, I don't have access to a mini-blow torch so this custard didn't get the brulee treatment. It was still delicious.

Pecorino . 2/3 oz finely grated
milk, whole 1 oz
egg .5
Pecorino .25 oz finely grated
fava beans 2 oz shucked, boiled, peeled
Meyer lemon 1/8 whole lemon quartered, thinly sliced
shallot 1/8 tsp finely minced
extra-virgin olive oil 1 ½ tsp

Method: Preheat oven to 325F. Combine Pecorino, milk and egg. Pour into a small buttered ramekin and bake in a water bath until custard only slightly jiggles when you move it, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and turn out onto serving dish. Sprinkle with Pecorino and brulée until cheese is lightly browned and crisp.

Combine favas, lemon, shallot, oil, salt and a good grinding of pepper in a small bowl.

Plating: Spoon beans around custard and serve.

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April 12, 2007


Sorry for the delay, I was hoping to get the rest of the menu up. I don't feel very bloggy. My grandma died after a long illness. She was sick and she went gently, at least. I'll be back in a few days.

April 10, 2007

Course the Third: Lamb Tagine with Apricots, New Potatoes, Baby Artichokes and Moroccan Butter

More updates below. This is also written in restaurant style. As is, makes for one. Multiply as needed.

Lamb Tagine with Apricots, New Potatoes, Baby Artichokes and Moroccan Butter

We had this with a very tasty Beckman 2004 Grenache.

lamb shoulder 4 oz trimmed, in 1-inch cubes
cinnamon, ground ¼ tsp
coriander, ground ¼ tsp
smoked paprika 1/16 tsp
saffron 1/16 tsp
olive oil 1 tsp
onion 2 oz diced
preserved lemon peel ½ tsp fine mince
dried apricots 2/3 oz rough chop

potatoes, new fingerling 2 oz cut in 1-inch pieces, boiled
artichokes, baby 2 oz trimmed, cut in quarters, boiled

butter 1 TB
cilantro ½ tsp minced
parsley ½ tsp minced
mint ½ tsp minced

smoked paprika 1/16 tsp
cumin, ground 1/8 tsp
chives 2 fine mince

Toss lamb with cinnamon, coriander, smoked paprika, saffron, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat, when hot add lamb in a single layer. Cook until browned on all sides. Drain off all but 1 tsp of fat. Add onion and stir to combine. Cook until onion is translucent. Cover with water and scrape up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and add preserved lemon peel and apricots. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until lamb is fork-tender.

Combine butter, cilantro, parsley, mint, smoked paprika and cumin in a bowl. Toss mixture with warm potatoes and artichokes. Salt and pepper.

Place vegetables and tagine side by side. Sprinkle with chives.

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Course the Second: Halibut on a Bed of Sauteed Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, and Pea Vines with Saffron Aioli

This recipe is written like a real honest-to-goodness restaurant recipe. The ingredient, amount and what to do with it all on the same line and then the instructions below. As is, it only makes one serving. I'm sure that you can multiply, if necessary.

If anyone makes any of these recipes, I would be most grateful if you could let me know what you thought of them. Thanks!

Sauteed Pacific Halibut on a Bed of Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Pea Vines and Saffron Aioli

I call for halibut, but any mild, white fish would be lovely.

white wine 1 tsp
saffron 1/16 tsp
garlic 1/16 tsp finely minced
fresh mayo 1 TB
halibut 3 oz skinned, boned
olive oil 1 tsp

butter 2 tsp
oyster mushrooms 1 oz trimmed, rough chop
asparagus 1 oz trimmed, in 1-inch pieces
pea vines .5 oz trimmed, rough chop

pea vine flower (from vines) 1
ground pepper

Heat wine in a saute pan and add saffron. Set aside for 10 minutes. Stir mixture into mayonnaise with garlic. Pour into squeeze bottle.

Salt and pepper halibut on both sides. Heat olive oil in a saute pan. When hot, add fish. Cook 4-5 minutes, or until fish is slightly browned, then turn. Cook another 1-2 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a saute pan, melt butter. Add mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms until slightly browned. Add asparagus and cook until stalks turn bright green, about 4 minutes. Add shoots and stir until slightly wilted.

Place vegetables in center of plate and put fish on top. Decorate with aioli and pea flower.

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April 05, 2007

Course the First: Chilled Pea Soup with Mint Cream and Radish Crostini

Lots of updates today. See below for more.

Chilled Pea Soup with Mint Cream and Radish Crostini

This soup tastes of springtime: light, barely sweet and ephemeral. The nasturtium and radish crostini help keep the sweetness in check. If nasturtiums are not available, watercress would make a fine substitute. We enjoyed a bottle of Ojai Vineyard Viogner 2004 with the soup and the two complimented each other well.

2 lbs English peas in shell
1 large bunch spring onions, sliced thinly and divided
5 branches parsley
2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp fresh mint, finely minced
8 nasturtium blossoms, stamens removed

Shell peas and reserve pods.

In a soup pot, combine the reserved pods, the equivalent of three spring onions, parsley and 4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and let cook twenty minutes. Strain broth and set aside.

Heat butter in soup pot over medium-low heat. When melted, add 1/2 cup of onion. Let cook until barely translucent, 2-3 minutes, being careful not to brown onions. Add 1/2 cup of broth the stew onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and peas to pot. Cook until peas are still al dente, about 4-5 minutes, then remove from heat. Add sugar and salt to taste.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes per batch. Add more broth if the consistency is thicker than cream. Chill until cold.

One hour before serving prepare the cream. Combine cream and mint in a bowl. Cover and chill.

Plating: Pour mint cream into a squirt bottle. Give the soup a good stir to recombine. Ladle soup into bowls and decorate however you see fit with cream and nasturtium. If you choose to serve them, don't forget the crostini like I almost did.

Serves 8

Radish Crostini

I found watermelon radishes at the market on Tuesday, which explains the deep pink color. Any kind of radish, as long as it is freshly picked and not too woody, would work well here.

8 very thin slices of baguette
4 TB room temperature butter
2 tsp mint, julienned very finely
5 young, fresh radish leaves, julienned very finely
zest of half of a lemon
2 large radishes, or equivalent, sliced very thinly
sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine butter, mint, radish leaves and zest. Mix well.

Right before serving, construct toasts. Spread crostini thickly with butter and cover with radish slices. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Serves 8

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Amuse Bouche: Deviled Egg with Smoked Salmon, Wasabi and Caviar

My practice run went swimmingly last night. Much thanks to A and M. Pants for their heroic clean-up efforts after I was too tired to move.

Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Wasabi and Caviar

We served this with Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, my favorite sparkling wine. I'm trying to keep my menu mostly local and I've heard talk of Laetitia having some good bubbly. Obviously more research is needed.

4 large cage-free eggs
1/4 -1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 oz smoked salmon, finely diced
1 1/2 TB dill, finely snipped
1 1/2 TB chives, finely snipped
1 small shallot, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp dry wasabi
1/4 oz sturgeon roe

Place eggs in a medium sauce pot. Add enough cold water to cover and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as water begins to simmer, cover pot and take off heat. Let eggs sit in pot for ten minutes. After the time has elapsed, drain eggs. Crack the wider end of the eggs but do not remove the shells. Return the cracked eggs to the pot and cover with cold water and a few ice cubes. Let stand until cool, then peel.

Gently cut eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the yolks and place in a bowl. Set aside the whites. With a fork, mash the yolks until smooth. Add the smaller amount of mayo and all remaining ingredients, except for the roe. Combine well. If mixture is too thick, add more mayo until easily spoonable. Fill egg white crater with enough of the filling so it has a slightly rounded dome. If not serving immediately, gently cover and chill until needed.

Right before serving, add a dollop of caviar to each egg half and garnish with a tiny dill sprig or more finely minced chives.

Serves 8

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April 02, 2007

The Big Reveal

Remember when I mentioned my top secret project? Well, the time is almost nigh for me to turn it in and I'm so gosh durned proud of it; I would like to share it with you, my adoring public.

One of my classes is taught by Jeremy Tummel, the executive chef of The Wine Cask, a fancy schmancy restaurant in town. Our first day of class, he assigned us to make a tasting menu with some sort of theme. The menu that he likes the most will be featured for one night at his restaurant and the creator will get to stage in the kitchen. I started schemeing about this from the moment he told the class. I'm normally not a competitive person, but I want this.

The project is due next Monday and I'm in the last stages of testing. Here it is:

Over the next few days, I will be posting the recipes and pictures, so stay tuned, and cross your fingers for me, pretty please.

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