Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters
Candied Pepitas, Creme Fraiche, Pink Peppercorns

Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.

The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.

Kabocha Shooters, Candied Pepitas

Kabocha Shooters Recipe

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Palos Verdes Pastoral Outstanding Oaxacan Theme

Outstanding Oaxacan Cuisine at Palos Verdes Pastoral

Palos Verdes Pastoral at Terranea Resort

Thirty years ago in 1988, our community chose sanctuary over sprawl and open land over bulldozers, and launched the Land Conservancy on a journey to preserve and restore open space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California.

Palos Verdes Pastoral is the Conservancy’s most important annual event, allowing it to raise support, funds, and awareness for the conservation and management of 1600 acres of permanently protected rare coastal habitat.

Pastoral is an enchanted fundraising dinner that brings people together amidst nature for an exclusive experience at Terranea Resort featuring the best of California handcrafted, organic, and sustainable foods.

This year Pastoral was inspired by the colorful state of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s major gastronomic centers. It shares many native plant species with the Peninsula; those include lily, sunflower, coastal sage, and cactus. Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, created a menu with foods sourced from local artisan ingredients and Terranea’s award-winning garden. The menu highlighted staples of Oaxacan cuisine such as squash flowers, sage, prickly pear cactus, dragonfruit, chocolate, and mezcal.

In addition to the camaraderie, gourmet foods, stellar wines, and ambiance that is truly second to none – the evening increases awareness of the important work of the Conservancy in protecting and stewarding our open space and nature. We celebrate the mission of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to preserve land and restore habitat for the education and enjoyment of all.

Outstanding Oaxacan Cuisine at Terranea Resort

Preserving Land and Restoring Habitat

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Octopus Tacos with Bacon

Octopus Tacos with Bacon

Octopus Tacos with Bacon
Tacos de Pulpo con Tocino

Tacos are great. Octopus tacos are amazing. Octopus tacos with bacon are over-the-top!

Braised octopus’ mild flavor is enhanced by bright lime juice and roasted tomato salsa. Its lean, chewy, tender texture is balanced by crispy, salty, smoky bacon. When paired with crunchy purple cabbage, spicy red jalapeño, herbaceous cilantro, and pungent onion all nestled in charred corn tortillas we end up with some extraordinarily tantalizing tacos. Ones that are bursting with a wild range of flavors, colors, and textures.

Octopus Tacos with Bacon Recipe

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It’s Not Over Yet! Another Farmers Market Summer Salad

Summer Salad: Israeli Couscous, Wilted Kale, Grilled Corn, Nectarine, Pickled Red Onion, Mozzarella, Toasted PecansAnother Farmers Market Summer Salad
Israeli Couscous, Wilted Kale, Grilled Corn, Nectarines
Pickled Red Onion, Fresh Mozzarella, Toasted Pecans

Labor Day has come and gone… it was the official end of summer you say? Not so fast! We still have a bounty of lovely summer produce at our Farmers Market; juicy sweet aromatic nectarines and corn that is at its best just-picked, when it is high in sugar and low in starch. These beauties are the inspiration for this colorful fruit & vegetable summer salad.

Israeli couscous is airy, toasty, and kind of fun. Perfect for summer. This roasted pasta is shaped like little balls, it makes a pasta salad that’s light and not too pasta-y. Fruit and vegetables are the stars, but the couscous makes it into a pleasingly varied and balanced meal. A vibrant healthy meal for summer’s waning hot days…

Farmers Market Summer Salad Recipe

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How to Cook Tender Octopus

How to Cook Tender Octopus and Octopus PastaHow to Cook Tender Octopus
and
Octopus Pasta

Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours. Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.

How to Cook Tender Octopus

The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.

The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.

Octopus Pasta

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Mighty Satisfying Meatless Meal

Bulgur and Burrata with Grilled Okra and Roasted Tomatoes

Bulgur and Burrata with Grilled Okra and Roasted Tomatoes
Basil, Oregano, Mint, Lemon
Garlic Ginger Olive Oil, Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Grilled Lodge Bread

The fresh crisp okra was surprisingly popular at the farmers market last weekend, I just had to join in the frenzy. If you like the taste but are not a fan of the mucilaginous properties of okra, this preparation will be for you. Okra brushed with olive oil and cooked over high heat for a short amount of time results in a very tasty charred veggie with only the tiniest hint of its unappealing characteristic.

Bulgur is an ancient whole grain that makes a nice addition to our rotation of favorite grains like farro,  quinoa, buckwheat, and oats. Red bulgur is hard red wheat that has been parboiled and cracked. Its chewy texture and nutty flavor adds to the satisfying qualities of this meatless meal. The “hard red wheat” is also the type used in the Lodge Bread. Hard red wheat has more protein than its white counterpart.

The tomatoes were plentiful and popular as always. I roast the cherry tomatoes in a 375°F oven with olive oil and balsamic for a half hour to really concentrate their sweetness.

And who can resist burrata cheese…a mix of mozzarella and cream, it’s simply heavenly.  It was super-fresh, made the day before, also a product of the Torrance Farmers’ Market where they feature top quality products from over 60 California farms.

More market items – lemon, basil, oregano, and mint add the tangy and herbaceous qualities to the meal. The addition of finely minced garlic and ginger add a pop to the olive oil, while aged balsamic vinegar brings sweet mellow notes.

And it’s very difficult to leave the Farmers Market without a loaf of fabulous Lodge Bread. Here I brush slices of Seeded Country Loaf with olive oil and grill until semi-burnt. That burnt charcoal flavor inspired the wine, a Zinfandel.

Mighty Satisfying Meatless Meal

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