Monday, May 31, 2010

Yosemite National Park

Bridal Veil Falls
Within the Park there is such a rumble and crashing sound of thunder as the melting snows send their runoff to the Park floor occuring in three major waterfalls. The echo can be heard throughout the park but a vibration felt near the Falls. Forget dry feet or a coiffed hair-do from the spray of mist as you climb to view the Falls. The bottom photo shows the runoff from the falls.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Google Cook-Off San Francisco

San Francisco offers every visitor sights, sounds, and entertainment just for observing. Arriving at the Ferry Building I observed a crowd of men wearing aprons appearing to be having a good time while at work. I inquired what their program was since I am a foodie. The men were all engineers with Google and it was similar to the program on TV "The Iron Chef" where a limited number of unmeasured ingredients were given to each group. It was their decision as to how they would use the ingredients in the desired portions to complete a designated part of the meal in an allotted time of one hour. Professional chefs were on hand for assistance and the final grading to determine a winning group. I think the kitchen was unfamiliar territory to a few of the men who used their talent keeping everyone happy and laughing. It was a great observation. We did not linger to learn which was the winning group.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mariposa California

Click on photos to enlarge details.
Mariposa 2010 Court House Erected iIn 1854 The Information Post.
On our trip to Yosemite, we stayed in the town of Mariposa. The history of the town goes back to the days of the gold rush. The town has retained the charm of the Wild West and much of the history has been well documented.
Mariposa California is known as the Mother of California. California was once one county from The Bay area to Los Angeles and Riverside County. The mining laws for the State of California were written in Mariposa in 1854 and they are the laws that control the mining in California today. The Counties as they are known today were eventually broken off of Mariposa County. The Court House erected in 1854 is still in use today. It offers an interesting tour. We stopped by to view a hearing that was on trial.
The Wells Fargo Bank posted that in 1854 they averaged a transacted $40,000.00 in gold each day. In 2010 that calculated to approximately $400,000.00 each day.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yosemite National Park Half Dome

click on phoo to enlarge
Half Dome
This blog is dedicated to our youngest daughter, Barbara. Probably ten or more years ago Barbara climbed Half Dome (upper left portion of bottom photo). The photo she shared had a cropped photo of half dome. We had little idea of the height and the effort required. Today we are in awe of her effort.
Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful treasures that belongs to all of us, thanks to the foresight of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. One feels an orchestration of beauty, nature, and the serenity of the daily unfolding of the cosmic show as the sun reflects from different angles and the moon reflects yet another light. The High Sierras are a granite rock 400 miles long and 84 miles wide with some of the most beautiful formations reaching to the heavens..
The photo opportunities are endless. Do you remember CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt and how the program ended focusing on a beautiful nature video? Photography does not include the chirping of birds or the thunderous sounds of the waterfalls, or the buzzing of the bees on the wildflowers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bread Pudding

Signature Bread Pudding
This recipe is not just another bread pudding recipe! It is the signature recipe of the Valley View Casino which is known for their buffet. The bread pudding is served with a vanilla sauce on the side. The San Diego Tribune received an email requesting the recipe. The happy chef obliged.
Six Servings
Bread Pudding
Butter for greasing the pan
5 large eggs
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 loaf thick sliced white bread
Vanilla Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, splint lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Bread Pudding Directions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dish with butter and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, and the white and brown sugars. Beat to remove any lumps in the sugar. Add the milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well.
Leave the crust on and cut the bread into cubes and distribute evenly in the buttered casserole dish. Pour the custard over the cubed bread. The bread will float when the custard has been added. Lightly push the bread down until it absorbs some of the custard.
Bake for 45 minutes. For best results, start the bread pudding in the oven with foil covering the top. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and let the bread pudding continue to bake until done.
For The Vanilla Sauce
Pour the heavy cream, milk, and split vanilla bean into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly whisk an small amount of the hot cream mixture.. If you add the hot cream too quickly to the egg yolks, you will scramble the eggs, and your sauce will appear grainy.
Once the cream and eggs are combined, return the mixture to the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat and continue cooking until sauce slightly thickens. Remove from heat and place in an ice water bath. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. The seeds of the bean should leave a nice speckle in your sauce.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eggless Ceasar Salad Dressing

Eggless Caesar Salad Dressing
The dressing recipe is called eggless because is does not use a raw egg. Use a good quality cheese (never from a box!) and add more to the salad once it is coated with dressing.
2 hearts romaine lettuce
4 heaping tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons anchovy paste or anchovy fillets
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon coarse cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Place mayonnaise, garlic, lemon, anchovy paste, cheese Worchestershire, Dijon, and pepper in a blender and process. Stream the extra-virgin oil into the dressing through the center of the lid. When the oil is combined, remove the dressing with a spatula to a bowl or a portable plastic container. Six Servings.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Turnip Green Tart (Or Spinach)

This is another great recipe from a favorite blog I follow of Heidi Swanson @ Check it out!
Turnip Green Tart

It's convenient for me to make enough dough for two tart shells in one shot, so that's what I call for here. You can always freeze the extra dough or shell for use later in the week/month. They seem to keep fine in the freezer, well wrapped, for a few weeks, but not much longer than that. Green garlic is also great in the filling in place of the garlic clove - a couple tablespoons (chopped).
Cornmeal Tart Shell:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
scant 1 cup medium coarse corn meal
3/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup - 3/4 cup cold water
Turnip Green Filling:
1/4 lb. turnip greens, or spinach greens, de-stemmed
1 small clove of garlic
2 large eggs + 1 yolk
3/4 cup veg. broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt (more if broth unsalted)
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons herbs of Provence
(opt.)Gruyere cheese & a bit of crushed red pepper flakes, for topping
Special Equipment: special equipment: tart pans - 9-inch (23 cm) round, 8 x 11 inch (20 x 28) rectangle, or equivalent.
Directions: Start by making the tart dough. Combine flours, cornmeal, and salt in food processor. Pulse in butter, 20+ pulses, or until the mixture resembles sandy pebbles on a beach. Add the egg yolk and 1/4 cup water. Pulse, trickle in more water if needed, just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured counter top and gather into a ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shape each into a ball, press into 1/2-inch thick disks, and wrap in plastic, or place in baggies. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. When you're ready to line the tart pans with dough, place one of the dough disks on a lightly floured surface and roll out until the dough is large enough to line your tart pan. I usually eyeball it - you can see in the photo the dough is about 1/6 - 1/8 inch thick. Dust underneath with flour to discourage sticking throughout the rolling process. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan. Don't worry too much if you get a tear or hole, you can patch those up later with scraps. Work quickly to ease the dough into place, taking care not to stretch the dough. Press it along the bottom of the pan, out to the walls, and against the sides. Trim any excess dough - I use the palm of my hand against the edge of the tart pan to cut off any extra dough, alternately you can roll a rolling pin across the rim of the pan for a clean edge. Chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes or so while you roll out your extra tart shell. Double wrap that one in plastic and freeze it for future use.
You're going to partially bake the tart shell before filling it, so pull the shell out of the refrigerator, dock it with a fork, making small holes along the bottom of the shell. Line the shell with parchment paper and fill to the rim with pie weights or dried beans, bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and finish baking for another 5 minutes, or until the crust is dry and just barely starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
To make the filling: Chop the greens and garlic in a food processor. You can do this by hand as well, but in this case the processor makes quick work of this. Add the eggs and yolk, pulse. Then the broth and cream. Lastly, incorporate the salt, mustard, and herbs. When you're ready to bake, fill the tart shell and bake for 30 minutes or so, or until the center is set, and has firmed up to the touch. About 2/3 of the way through I like to sprinkle with a bit of Gruyere cheese. I can't help but zap the top of most tarts under the broiler for a minute or two just prior to pulling it out of the oven - it browns up the top nicely, and lends a rustic look to it. Finish with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes if you don't mind a bit of heat.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lemon Sauce With Spring Vegetables

Lemon Sauce With Spring Vegetables Backyard Lemons Averaging 2/3 Cup Juice Each
My Source of Lemons And Juice Oranges
Vegetable are picture perfect in the markets at this time of the year. I serve artichokes with melted butter which is not the healthiest idea. This sent me searching for an alternative choice. This is my choice for a sauce to use with asparagus, artichokes, green beans, fava beans, or fresh spring peas.
Lemon Sauce With Spring Vegetables
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 lemons
2 egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Assortment of hot cooked vegetables
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook, whisking, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in 3/4 cup chicken stock. Return to heat and cook, whisking continually until the mixture boils and thickens. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

Zest the lemons, then squeeze 1/4 cup of juice. In a small bowl, whisk half the zest with the juice, the egg yolks and the remaining stock. Slowly whisk this mixture into the sauce. Return to the heat and cook until just heated through. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain, then season with salt and pepper and add remaining zest.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Four Children The Grandchildren Our Entire Family
To our sons-in-law and daughter-in-law who with our four children have blessed our lives with eight wonderful grandchildren, thank you! You have given great depth to the meaning of Mother's Day. How blessed we are to say we are so proud of each and everyone of you. Thank you for this special day! I love you more than you will ever know!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies
The Calla Lilies from my garden are ending what was a beautiful season of continuous blossoms. I purchased a new vase specifically for cala lilies this winter and have enjoyed the fresh cut flowers on my dining room table.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Twenty-two Helicopters In A Formation

Click to enlarge detail
Tuesday I heard a thunderous noise with the putt-putt sound only a helicopter can make. At the decibel of sound I knew it was much more than I had ever heard. I quickly grabbed my camera and went outside to learn the source of the sound. Twenty-two helicopters were flying in formation. The evening news cast shared it was the Mira Mar Naval Air Corp. and the Camp Pendleton Marine units flying their new helicopters in a practice drill flying in formation! What a sight and what a sound!
Notice the color of the unfiltered San Diego sky!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Asparagus Crepes With Lobster Sauce

Asparagus And Lobster Crepes With 
Fines Herbes Hollandaise Sauce
Our son was in town on business and spent a visit with us. I had found this recipe on my favorite recipe site LCBO. I thought if I treated him well, he might return more often when possible. Tom is quite a wine aficionado and brought along a bottle of Villa Antinori Toscana, 2005. I believe he outdone my efforts and we were the ones treated well! Thank you Tom. The crepes were great and enjoyed by all.
I might share that it benefits to have the crepe batter made in advance as it must rest at least 1 hour. It can be made earlier in the day and refrigerated.
Fines Herbes Hollandaise 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar 1/4 cup water 3 large egg yolks 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cubes 2 Tablespoons lemon juice White pepper to taste 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped ! Tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped 1 Tablespoon fresh chervil, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 300F.
In a large pot. steam or boil asparagus just until tender, about 10 minutes. Cool under cold water and set aside. (I roasted my asparagus in a 350 oven on a baking sheet with a small amount of olive oil drizzled and seasoned with salt and pepper for 15 minutes. It was still nice and green but just tender-crisp.)
Coarsely chop cooked lobster and set aside.
Prepare crepes. (Recipe follows)
Divide the asparagus into 8 separate bundles. Place a bundle in each of the 8 crepes and sprinkle with salt and roll to enclose. Place asparagus in a glass baking dish, top with lobster and cover with foil Just before serving, and no sooner, place in heated oven for 15 minutes to warm through.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat reduce (boil) vinegar, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt until approximately 3 Tablespoons remains, remove from heat.
Lower heat to medium-low, add yolks to pan and return to heat, whisking constantly until foamy and lightly thickened. Make sure not to scramble egg yolks: if the eggs begin to cook too quickly pull off the heat and whisk vigorously to cool slightly before continuing.
Begin to whisk butter into pan 1 cube at a time. Once all butter is incorporated, whisk in juice, white pepper and and fresh herbs. Use immediately.
Place 2 asparagus crepes on each plate and top with some of the warmed lobster. Spoon Hollandaise over top, serve immediately.
1 cup all purpose flour
3 large egg
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest, very finely grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup homogenized milk
Vegetable oil or melted butter to coat pan
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, butter, lemon zest and salt. Slowly incorporate the milk while continually whisking so there are no lumps and all ingredients aer well combined. Let rest at least one hour.
Using a clean paper towel moistened with vegetable oil, or melted butter, wipe the base of an 8 inch non-stick crepe pan.
Heat pan over medium-high heat, pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and swirl so that it fully coats the bottom.
Cook on one side until the edges and top begin to dry, approximately 1 minute. Flip over and cook for another 20 seconds to finish cooking the crepe. Set aside. Repeat until all crepes are cooked.
Makes 10 to 12 crepes.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco De Mayo Festival

Click On Photo To Enlarge Detail
Old Town. The original settlement of San Diego.
One of four blocks of Fiesta!
Fiesta Food and Drink
Mexican Hat Dancers
Bolivian Band Members
Fancy work with lariats
12 year old rider.
Espadrilles Performance
Aspiring to be a mariachi.
Cinco de Mayo
Little is known about the why of the celebration of Cinco de Mayo and its origin. Many believe it is celebrating independence. Actually it is the War of May 5 or the Battle of Puebla where the Mexican army over took the French in 1862. It is celebrated more out of the county than in Mexico. I am posting photos of the Cinco de Mayo celebration held May 2 in Old Town State Park which is where San Diego settlement began.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grilled Fish Tacos

Grilled-Fish Tacos
Originating in Baja Caifornia. fish tacos are now served along Mexico's coasts and in Southern California and fast food restaurants everywhere. Unlike the deep fried versions which are so common, this recipe entails grilling meaty mahimahi for a smoky char that contrasts deliciously with the fresh, clean garnishes.
1 medium red onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 pound 1" thick skinless mahimahi fillet or tuna steak, cut into 12 pieces.
2/3 cup mayonnaise
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
6 to 8 radishes
1 to 2 (6 to 8 ounce) firm ripe avocados
4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
12 wood skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Very thinly slice onion crosswise into rings with slicer. Set slicer aside. Heat vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small heavy non-reactive saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in onion, then let stand until ready to use. (about 25 minutes).
Meanwhile, stir 1/4 cup lime juice together with cilantro, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add fish and toss to coat the marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Whisk together mayonnaise, crema, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 3 tablespoons lime juice to make sauce.
Preheat a gas grill with burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium high.
Thread each piece of fish onto a skewer (discard marinade). Wrap exposed part of each skewer in heavy-duty foil to protect it from charring.
Wrap tortillas in 2 foil packages and warm on grill, turning once, about 3 minutes total.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice
Spanish rice may not be Spanish at all. It is a tasty way to serve rice and of course rice and beans have all nine of the amino acids and are a complete protein when eaten together. If you prefer the dish a little spicier, add some hot pepper sauce on the table.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and ribs removed, and diced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grain rice
one 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the onions, green peppers, and celery and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute while stirring. Add the rice and stir together to mix. Add the tomato sauce and the water carefully. Season with salt and pepper, and add the cumin. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is done, stirring once or twice.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Refried Beans

Refried Beans
Pinto beans, prepared Mexican style, are such a staple. Although beans have a relatively long shelf life, the older they are the longer you'll have to cook them to soften them. Find a source that supplies fresh beans. If you have some that have been sitting around for more than a year, they'll be tough and not as good, you'll need to cook them longer. "Refried" is actually a misnomer. In this instance, refritos means "well fried", not "refried", though you can certainly reheat the beans as you go through a batch. Before frying them though you'll need to cook them, in water, to soften them. There are basically two ways to initially cook the beans - with a pressure cooker and without. Since we make beans so often, we use a pressure cooker. It greatly cuts down on the cooking time. Here are directions for both methods.
Refried Beans

:2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans (about 1 lb.)
3 quarts of water
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
2 Tbsp pork lard, bacon fat, or olive oil (for vegetarian option)
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
Cheddar cheese (optional)

1 Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans.
2 Cook the beans in water. Pressure Cooker method Put beans into a 4 quart pressure cooker with a 15 lb weight. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes - until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open.Regular method Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water - about 3 quarts for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open.
Strain the beans from the cooking water.
3 Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. (Note the onions are optional, you can skip them if you want.) Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some (1/2 cup) grated cheddar cheese if you want. When beans are heated through (and optional cheese melted) the beans are ready to serve.
Note that many recipes call for soaking the beans overnight and discarding the soaking liquid. We don't. We discard the cooking liquid and just add some water back into the frying pan when we are frying the beans.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chunky Guacamole

Chunky Guacamole
Cinco de Mayo is just days away. Much celebrating is done for this "fiesta". Guacamole and salsa will appear on menus everywhere. I have a little history of the Hass Avocado if you ever face Alex with the $1,000.00 question or the Daily Double on Jeopardy! The Hass Avocado mother tree was planted in La Habra Heights, CA (neighbor to Anaheim) in the 1930's and tended to by postman Rudolph Hass. Hass' pride and joy today accounts for about 95 percent of the commercial crop. San Diego County accounts for 60% of the production of what Americans eat. Florida grows 9% of the national production. A portion of Interstate 15 which passes through the avocado orchards in San Diego County is named, "The Avocado Highway".
How to buy an avocado: Always check the blossom end for a bright color. If the blossom end is dark, so is the interior. Choose another avocado! It is a snap to ripen avocados. Pop them in a brown paper bag, be patient for two to five days. They should yield to a gentle pressure. Adding an apple or banana to the bag will shorten the time required for ripening. Store a ripe avocado in the refrigerator. Always wash the skin before peeling.
Chunky Guacamole
1 medium tomato, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, finely diced (about 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
2 large Hass avocados (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/2 inch dice
In a medium bowl, toss the tomato with the onion, cilantro, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt, and let set for 5 minutes. Add the avocado and gently mash it into the tomato mixture with a fork. Serve immediately with tortilla chips. Makes 2 1/2 cups.