Thursday, March 8, 2018

Antipasto Salad
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. balsamic mustard
1 Tbsp. minced shallot
2 Tbsp. minced oregano
salt and pepper to taste

4 oz. sliced provolone cheese, cut into thin strips
4 oz. thickly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips
½ medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2C pitted olives, sliced
½ medium head radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped
½ medium head frisee, coarsely chopped
1C red cabbage, thinly sliced
2C baby arugula
1/3C toasted pine nuts

Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl.  Add all the salad ingredients and toss well.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Deviled Eggs with Crab on micro greens
6 large eggs
2 - 3 Tbsp. yogurt, sour cream or mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. sherry wine vinegar
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. scallions, minced
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley leaves, minced
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
½ lb. crabmeat, picked over (1 cup)
salt and pepper to taste
smoked paprika (for sprinkling on top)
1C micro greens
2 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
4 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a pan and over with cold water.  Bring to water to a boil, remove pan from the heat, cover and let eggs stand 12 minutes.  Drain eggs and put in a bowl of ice water.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Peel and halve lengthwise.

Carefully scoop the yolks into a bowl.  Using a fork, mash the yolks with the yogurt, mustard, vinegar, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Stir in the scallions, parsley, capers and gently fold in crabmeat.  Generously mound the crab filling to egg-white halves.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika.  Toss the micro greens with vinaigrette to coat.  Divide greens among 12 plates.  Top each with a crab-filled egg half.  Serve.
MAKES:  12 appetizer servings

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Mexico – January 24 – 31, 2018
If you just want to get away for a few days, going to New Mexico from Santa Ana is the answer.  The flight with Alaska airlines was $136.00 round trip (SNA – ALB) and took less than two hours.

I left SNA at 4:30 p.m. but unfortunately my flight was delayed 4 hours so I did not arrive into Albuquerque until about 11:30 p.m.  Luckily I had booked a rental car at the airport which stayed open until 2:00 a.m.   I took the rental car shuttle to the Hertz rental office, picked up my car and drove to my Airbnb, a little casita on 11th Street which was charming.

In the morning I drove to Swiss Alps Bakery for breakfast but was not impressed!  Returned to my casita and walked into old town, wandering through the plaza, into the mission, etc.  About 11:30 a.m. I headed west to the Acoma Pueblo as there was a special guided tour set for today.  Arrived about 12:45 p.m. so had time to visit the Sky City Cultural Center and have a cup of tea and a cookie before the tour bus took us up to the mesa where about 30 people still live.

Acoma Pueblo is a historic landmark and one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the U.S.  It is a Native American pueblo with about 300 two and three story adobe buildings standing on the mesa and has no electricity, no running water and no sewage disposal.  It is famous for its unique pottery.
The guided tour lasted about 1-1/2 hours as we wandered throughout the adobe dwellings, into the church, etc. learning about its history.

Returned to Albuquerque and later drove up to Los Poblanos Inn for dinner, i.e. beet salad with roasted chiles, goat cheese and almonds, potato gnocchi with squash and a pecan tart.  Also had a nice glass of New Mexican wine which was lovely.

Walked into the plaza in the morning and had coffee and a pastry at the quaint little Velvet café.  Continued on to the Museum of Art nearby and spent almost two hours enjoying the art of the Southwest, history of Albuquerque and artifacts of colonial life in New Mexico. 

Headed to Santa Fe on Highway 14, stopping first at Sandia Peak.  There was snow on the sides of the road and some ice as well so I was a bit nervous heading up to the peak.  It was closed and very windy at the top but you could walk carefully up to the viewing point and the view was spectacular as the day was clear.  There is also a nice rim walk when the weather is nice so I would like to return another time and do that. 

On down into Golden, a little town with one store filled with Native American crafts and then to Madrid, a very cute little town with an abundance of unique art galleries, little shops, cafes, etc.  I stopped at Java Café for tea and a cookie and then wandered around the galleries, etc. for a bit.  Arrived in Santa Fe about 4:30 p.m.

Really cold!  Checked into my airbnb on Palace Avenue, a nice little room with private entrance and then walked into town.  I wanted to see the plaza at night and get a feel for the town again as I had been there about 3 years ago.  Later I walked down to Eloisa where I had my birthday dinner, i.e. potato pancakes with smoked trout and crema, honey glazed quail with frisee salad and chocolate cremeux and, of course, a glass of wine as it WAS my birthday.  Food was nice but nothing extraordinary…  The restaurant is beautiful inside and it was a very relaxing and enjoyable evening.

In the morning I dressed very warm and walked to the plaza to the Paris Pastry Shop in La Fonda Hotel which is a really cute bakery with great pastries and friendly atmosphere.  Had an almond pithiviers and delicious coffee and then walked along Alameda to the railroad district and the Farmer’s Market.  It was quite small and held inside but had a nice feel as there was live music as well.  Returned to Palace Avenue to pick up my car and drove up to museum hill.  Spent a couple hours in the Folk Art Museum which is one of my favorites.  Its collection comprises more than 135,000 artifacts including folk art, toys and textiles from more than 100 nations as well as costumes, masks, beadwork, religious folk art, etc.

Drove to Canyon road and parked at the top so I could walk leisurely down through all the interesting art galleries, etc.  Afterwards I had lunch at La Boca near the plaza, i.e. shrimp tacos with mango/cucumber salsa and a chocolate pot of cream.  Drove back up to museum hill and spent an hour in the Indian Cultural Center where you can learn about the origins and long history of the Native people of the Southwest before it closed.

Later that night I drove back over to the railroad district for dinner at Radish & Rye, a great restaurant in an old house where you can dine in the different rooms.  I had a beet salad with lebneh, ribs with spicy glaze and bourbon pecan pie.  One of my favorite restaurants.

In the morning I walked back over to the railroad district as it is a nice, long walk.  Had delicious chocolate croissant at the newly opened Sky Café nearby and then headed up the high road to Taos.  As it was the off season, very few shops were open.

I stopped at El Santuario de Chimayo built of adobe in 1816 where some say miracles have occurred…The shrine receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and is considered an important Catholic pilgrimage center.  Stopped at a family owned weaving center where very beautiful rugs and ponchos were being made and sent all over the world and finally ended up in Penasco for lunch at Sugar Nymphs, an adorable café/theatre with really good food.  I had the chile/corn quiche with baby greens and part of my piece of outrageously decadent 3 layer chocolate cake before heading into Taos.

Had some time before I could check into my studio so I wandered into the galleries in and around the square.  My studio was nicely decorated with all sorts of interesting art, close to town and quiet.  Later I drove up Paseo del Pueblo Norte for dinner at Love Apple, a cute little restaurant also in a house where you dine in the different rooms.  I had chicken confit tacos with corn and chilies and warm apple crisp with homemade ice cream.  Delightful!!

Had an almond croissant for breakfast at Bear Claw Bakery in the morning and then drove to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu.  It is now a 21,000 acre retreat and education center with cabins to stay in. It was the studio of Georgia O’Keeffee as well as the subject of many of her paintings.  There is a tour you can take which informs you about her life which I took last time I was there.  This time I walked the chimney rock trail and the mesa trail as the day was sunny and clear.  Afterwards I stopped at the Abiquiu Inn for lunch, i.e. blue corn tortillas with trout and a pine nut chocolate tart.  You can visit her house nearby but it was not open when I was there.

Stopped at the Mabel Dodge House when I returned to Taos and was only able to visit the sitting rooms.  Would love to take a tour of the rest of the house another time.  She was a wealthy American patron of the arts and some very famous people stayed at her home, i.e. Georgia O’Keeffee, Ansel Adams, Martha Graham and D. H. Lawrence among others.

Drove about 10 minutes out of town on sky valley road to Common Fire for dinner.  The restaurant is casual and elegant with fabulous food.  So glad I found it!!!  I had the wood smoked salmon salad with walnuts and dried cherries and a lemon curd tart, both perfectly prepared!!!

Took a walk for about 30 minutes in the morning but it was so cold I gave up.  Drove up to Farmhouse and had the most delicious cinnamon roll and coffee and stayed until I warmed up.  Headed back to Albuquerque and spent about two hours in the Indian Pueblo Center where you can learn about the culture, history and art of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico.  On display are thousands of artifacts, i.e. pottery, weavings, jewelry, etc.  There was also a special exhibit of Helen Hardin’s etchings which were exquisite…

Had lunch at Vinaigrette, a little café specializing in salads about 10 minutes away.  I had a wonderful beet salad with goat cheese, pistachios, baby greens and arugula and a flourless chocolate cake which were both perfection.

Stopped by the Rio Grande State Park to find out about the trails I could walk in the morning.  Took a little walk but they close at 5 p.m. and if your car is not out by then you are locked in for the night!

Checked into my fantastic airbnb.  I splurged and booked the whole house complete with hot tub out back.  Walked to the plaza to see how far away I was and then spent about 20 minutes relaxing in the hot tub.  It was heavenly!!!  Later I drove to Indigo Crow in Corrales about 30 minutes away and had a delightful dinner.  Casual and friendly, Indigo Crow has some great food.  I had a couple small plates, i.e. lemon shrimp and sesame crusted tuna with ponzu and finished with vanilla crème brulee.

Walked into the plaza in the morning and had a chocolate croissant at Velvet Café and then drove up to the Rio Grande State Park and walked a couple trails along the river and through the woods.  It was so quiet you could hear the birds and enjoy the peace. 

Returned the car to the rental car area near the airport.  Shuttle to the airport and a quick flight home.  An amazing trip!!!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Grilled Prosciutto-wrapped chicken stuffed with mozzarella
6 medium chicken breast halves, boneless and skinless
salt and pepper to taste
spice rub of choice
16 basil leaves
1/3 lb. mozzarella, thinly sliced
6 thin slices prosciutto
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Cut each chicken breast half horizontally almost al the way through and open it like a book.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and spice rub.  Layer the basil and mozzarella evenly on half of each breast and then fold it closed.  Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each breast to hold it closed.  Brush slightly on both sides with olive oil.

Preheat a gas grill and grill chicken breasts, covered, until well marked, about 4 minutes.  Flip and cook, turning every few minutes, until the chicken is just firm.  Or, preheat a cookie sheet in a 400F oven and preheat a sauté pan and sear the breasts on both sides.  Transfer chicken breasts to the cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 3 – 4 minutes per side.  Let cool for a couple minutes.  Slice and serve.
MAKES:  6 servings

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Butter-Basted Salmon with hazelnut relish
1/2C roasted hazelnuts, skinned removed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1C (packed) fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1/2C (packed) Italian parsley leaves with tender stems
1 Tbsp. capers
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/2C olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
Six 5 oz. pieces salmon, skin on
1 tsp. spice rub of choice
Kosher or sea salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
watercress or arugula leaves (garnish)

Pulse garlic, cilantro, parsley, capers, lemon zest and ¼ cup of the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped.  With machine running, gradually add olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  Coarsely chop remaining hazelnuts.

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan.  Season salmon with spice rub and salt and cook, skin side down until skin is crisp, about 4 minutes.  Add butter and cook, basting constantly, one minute.  Transfer to oven and roast salmon, basting once, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Serve salmon, skin side up, with watercress, topped with relish and chopped hazelnuts.
MAKES:  6 servings