Thursday, February 23, 2017

Santa Barbara – February, 2017
I had planned to drive up to Big Sur for a few days, stopping in Santa Barbara on my way up but the roads were closed.  Sooo, I decided to go ahead and spend the day in Santa Barbara.

On my way up 101N I stopped at the Camarillo outlets (Carmen exit) to stretch my legs and check out the Oakley store where in the past I had found some things I liked.  Not this time…So, I drove on up to San Ysidro Ranch where I had a delicious lunch at the Stonehouse Restaurant, i.e. beet, pear and quinoa salad with macona almonds and a moist chocolate cake.  Weather was lovely.

Once in Santa Barbara, I parked near State street and visited the Museum of Art nearby where I enjoyed several wonderful exhibitions.  Christian Marclay’s “telephones” (1955) is a sequence of film clips featuring people dialing, answering, talking, listening on and finally hanging up an assortment of old fashioned telephones – really amusing!!!  Also a very nice exhibit of the art of David Wiesner, a highly acclaimed picture book artist and early master of wordless picture books.  Even the permanent collection had some wonderful paintings of great masters.

Afterwards, I wandered up State street and enjoyed the evening organic fruit and vegetable market as well as the unique shops still open.  Checked into my airbnb to see where it was located and then drove down to the beach and walked to the Stearns Wharf and pier filled with restaurant and shops.  Wandered over to the “funky section” on Anacapa and had dinner at the ecletic Lark Restaurant which has received so much acclaim.  I sat outside by the firepit and had some cornbread, Brussels sprouts and dates and a deconstructed crème brulee – all excellent!!!

In the morning I took a walk to the Santa Barbara Mission and Botanical Gardens which I will visit another time and then drove back down to the funky area for a pecan sticky bun and rich coffee at Helena Bakery.  As the day was gorgeous I walked along the ocean to the harbor and shipyards to watch the gigantic waves before heading home before the traffic.  It was a lovely day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

White Corn Soup with roasted chilie puree
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1-1/2 cups)
10 ears of corns, kernels removed (about 10 cups)
5C chicken stock
1/3C cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 roasted, peeled and pureed poblano chilies
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Place the corn cobs and chicken stock in a large pot and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain, reserving the stock.  Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add the corn kernels and sauté 2 minutes.  Add the stock (it should barely cover the corn).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 4 to 6 minutes.  Puree the soup in a blender.  Return to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Add the cream and heat.  Season with salt, pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with roasted chile puree and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
MAKES:  6 to 8 servings

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Apple and Walnut Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Cider Sauce
apple-walnut filling
1C roasted walnut halves
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lb. Fuji, pippin or apples of choice, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. apple cider
2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

1 (1 lb.) loaf challah bread or Italian bread (crusts removed), cut into
  ¾-inch cubes
3 large eggs
3/4C firmly packed brown sugar
2C cream
1C milk
1C apple cider
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. nutmeg

Cinnamon-cider sauce
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/3C firmly packed brown sugar
2C apple cider
2 tsp. cinnamon

vanilla or cinnamon ice cream

For the filling:  Heat the butter in a sauté pan and sauté the apples until well coated.  Add the apple cider, brown sugar and cinnamon and
sauté until the apples are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the walnuts and set 
aside.  Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and fill with bread cubes.  Add the apple-walnut mixture and mix well, distributing evenly.

For the custard:  Whisk together the eggs and brown sugar.  Whisk in the cream, milk, cider, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.  Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and apples and toss well.  Let soak for 20 minutes.  Flip the bread cubes over with a spatula so that the drier bread on top ends up on the bottom.  Let soak an additional 20 minutes if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake the pudding for 45 to 55 minutes, or until puffed and golden and the custard is set.  Let pan sit for 15 minutes before serving.

For the sauce:  Bring the butter, brown sugar, apple cider and cinnamon to a boil in a pan, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer uncovered over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture is bubbly, syrupy and reduced to 1-1/2 cups.

To serve, top slices of warm bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a general drizzle of cider sauce.
MAKES:  8 – 10 servings