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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Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Tamal de Cazuela

Don’t make it because it’s easier, make it because it’s great! Tamal de cazuela is a “tamale casserole” with all the fabulous flavors of our favorite Mexican tamales baked in a cast iron dish.

Labor-intensive traditional tamales are steamed individually in corn husks or banana leaves, resulting in a fluffy masa. Here, the masa is simply spread in a pan, filled with a meaty mixture, capped with more masa, then baked. It has a denser texture more like a sope, the process makes a terrific pie crust.

I often use leftover meat for my tamales. Have you tried my Hanukkah Tamales made from frozen brisket? This pie is made with my leftover braised short ribs (recipe here). For the filling, you can use any shredded meat (beef, pork, chicken) or even vegetables and beans to make a delicioso tamal de cazuela!

Tamal de CazuelaOnce the tamal de cazuela is baked, let it cool slightly then slice into wedges. Serve the pie slices on plates and let guests garnish with lots of toppings of their choice:

  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • shredded cabbage
  • cotija cheese
  • sliced jalapeños
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro
  • crema Mexicana
  • guacamole
Tamal de Cazuela Recipe

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Scallop Amuse-Bouche, Miso Aioli, Shiso

Scallop Amuse-Bouche
Scallop Amuse-Bouche
Miso Aioli, Shiso, Carrot Cucumber Slaw

The complex herbal flavors of shiso (reminiscent of mint, lemon, anise, basil and curiously cinnamon) complement the sweet buttery taste of wild-caught Atlantic sea scallops. Miso aioli adds creamy, garlicky, umami characteristics. A refreshing crisp carrot cucumber slaw balances all those rich notes.

At the last minute, place a spoonful of slaw on top of each scallop,  then serve one scallop per person for a palate-pleasing amuse-bouche. Big flavors, bold colors, eclectic textures create a stunning small bite to launch your next elegant dinner party.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Miso Aioli Recipe

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Jazz Up Store-Bought Hummus, Three Ways

Jazz Up Store-Bought Hummus, Three Ways

Hummus and Pita

Take ordinary (high quality) store-bought hummus and pita to another level. Easily jazz it up for guests with a few items from the garden and the pantry. Edible flowers, lemon, herbs & spices, olive oil, nuts – with very little effort, anything colorful and tasty can take the ubiquitous dip over-the-top for entertaining.

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Beet Salad and Fresh Horseradish

Beet Salad with Orange, Fennel, and Walnuts

Passover and Vicki’s Beet Salad & Fresh Horseradish

Passover 2018 ends at sundown tonight. As I have for the past 17 years, I traveled to Chicago to celebrate the holiday and cook Passover dinner for my family and friends.

The Seder tells the story of how we were slaves in Egypt before God led us to freedom. Each year at Passover we go on a journey in our hearts from slavery to freedom, from sadness to joy. The 3000 year-old story never changes, and our menu doesn’t change very much either.

Over the years I have been sharing our Passover recipes, this year I am so excited to share my cousin Vicki’s fabulous Beet Salad with Orange, Fennel and Walnuts and her super-popular fiery Fresh Horseradish!

Passover Table

2018 Tables – White Linen with Rainbow Flowers

What does change? The decor. Every year we have a wildly different color scheme. Some of the color combinations from our past Seders include:

And the tables are covered with frogs! Read all about our whimsical Passover Frog Collection here.

The Passover Seder Table is not simply a place to tell the story of the Exodus and to eat dinner. The Table is symbolic in and of itself. It is a place where memories are made and traditions are taught.

It is where we gather with family and friends, and perhaps strangers too, to celebrate our freedoms.

The care with which my sister-in-law Kristy sets her Table reflects the solemnness and seriousness of this holiday. The vibrancy and beauty of the Table reflect our gratitude to God.

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Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Ringing in a Dazzling and Delicious New Year!
Beggar’s Purses
and
British Cheese Toasts

Happy New Year Friends! May it be filled with dazzling and delicious dishes. And no shortage of exceptional adult beverages either. We are ringing in 2018 with a couple fabulous appetizers…pairing them with outstanding Champagne and Single Malt Scotch.

Champagne, smoked salmon, and caviar are an undisputed flavor trifecta. Here, premium smoked salmon is stuffed with a dollop of creme fraiche, then tied into an adorable bundle and topped with caviar.  Toasted brioche is the perfect vehicle for serving these little beggar’s purses, although a knife and fork are required. Forever elegant NV Billecart-Salmon Rosé is totally enchanting, with flavors of sweet spice and wild strawberries, it continues to be the Champagne that should be married to smoked salmon. And not just because of the name.

Our second appetizer is designed to pair with Scotch Whisky. Rich salty cave-aged English cheddar heightens the sweet notes in the Scotch. Peppery arugula and pickled watermelon radish offer the perfect counterpoints. Talisker Single Malt is from Carbost, Scotland on the Isle of Skye, it’s full-flavored and wonderfully peaty, with compelling flavors and brisk scents of the seashore in every luscious sip.

New Year's Eve Appetizer

Beggar’s Purse and British Cheese Toast Recipes

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