Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Combining radishes and butter is common in France, where radishes are often enjoyed prior to the meal to stimulate the palate.  The idea of eating a radish with butter may seem odd, but the trick is having freshly harvested radishes and a high quality butter.  The radishes in our garden have just reached the perfect stage where their roots are dense and developed but their leaves remain small and tender.  A few feet away a stand of volunteer wild radish is covered in an array of pastel blossoms and chile-shaped seed pods.  

I decided to pay tribute to this classic European recipe with an amuse bouche that combined young radish leaves, radishes, wild radish blossoms and pickled radish seeds with shaved goats milk butter, meyer lemon and sea salt. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Garden

Summer is finally here.  While the rest of the country settles into the cooler months of Autumn, we are just starting our Indian summer here in Big Sur.  The fog bank has receded back across the ocean and the sun brings the warmth our garden has been waiting for.  Thousands of cherry tomatoes have gone from tiny green orbs to literally bursting at the seams overnight.  Crimson raspberries emerge from below a thick canopy of leaves and tiny wood strawberries hang on dainty stems, triumphantly ripened at last.  If you stand still for a moment, you realize the garden is alive, tiny frogs, fluorescent green and yellow caterpillars, bees and dragon flies all busy at work, each taking advantage of the seasonal bounty in their own particular way.  It is a gentle reminder that harvest season is here and we too must begin preparing for the rainy months, putting away preserves and pickles to keep us stocked until next Spring.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Roe 2.0

The first version of “Roe Roe Roe” was a great success - but I had hoped to get in local halibut roe to pair with the paddlefish caviar.  Unfortunately none of the halibut caught by our local fisherman had developed roe.  This week I was lucky enough to get a pound of perfect roe sacks from a catch of local black cod.  I have never used black cod roe, but I know that it is a common ingredient in the Mediterranean where it is often cured and preserved in olive oil.  In Sweden the roe is smoked and used as a spread.  There is a spicy-cured roe from Korea that is now commonly used in Japan with pasta.   Fish roe in general can be found in kitchens around the world, but in America it is rarely given much attention.  This is unfortunate because not only is roe full of flavor it is also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.

My inspiration for this preparation is Tarama, a smoked cod roe found in Greece.  I simply wash the fresh roe sacks, marinate them with garlic, meyer lemon and espelette overnight and then smoke them for a few hours.  Smoking the roe hardens the outer skin and leaves the tiny eggs inside lightly scented with smoke.  I use a small spoon to remove the roe from the skin and whip it into a smooth paste.  The creaminess of the smoked black cod roe helps to balance the astringency of the paddlefish caviar, and it fits perfectly within my goal of featuring roes that are all indigenous or raised in California.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Crab and Pink Pearl Apple

The first pink pearl apples of the season were just harvested from our tree in the garden.  We prepared a translucent layer of the pink pearl apple juice which holds the Dungeness crab with mint, tarragon and lime.  Wild Arugula, a few crystals of black sea salt and kaffir lime oil finishes the plate. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I love the flavor of octopus roasted over smoldering oak.  For this dish we found a large oak limb that had fallen on the property and had our very helpful engineering department cut small planks out of the wood.  We charred the planks over open flame until they were fully blackened and dried out.  The octopus was sliced thin and marinated with harrisa, garlic and olive oil for six hours. 

We placed the marinated octopus slices on the charred oak plank and quickly roasted it in the broiler until the octopus was cooked, but still tender and the oak was glowing red.  As the plates were brought to tables they trailed a wisp of aromatic smoke behind them. 
To accompany the oak roasted octopus I served a fresh garbanzo bean hummus, crispy garbanzo beans tossed with smoked paprika, heirloom tomato, pickled red onion and chive scapes from the garden.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roe, Roe, Roe

Komochi Konbu is the Japanese name for herring eggs (“kazunoko”) that have been laid on blades of giant kelp.  This exotic ingredient is traditionally enjoyed at New Years and is considered a symbol of good luck.  The reason the roe is such a delicacy in Japan is not the flavor; rather it's the popping sound the roe makes when it is eaten.  While this ingredient is essentially unknown in the U.S., almost the entire harvest comes from the West Coast of North American, from San Francisco to Sitka, Alaska. 

After a prodigious amount of searching, I found an exporter willing to sell a few pounds of the highest grade roe available.  I am pairing it with two other roes, smoked steelhead roe and California Paddlefish in a dish that represents “caviar” either indigenous to California or produced in California.  Each preparation is unique, playing off of the individual characteristics of each roe.  The crisp and mildly astringent herring eggs are mellowed by creamy avocado, dashi and fresh lime, the clean flavor of the paddle fish is accentuated by meyer lemon and cucumber and the decadent steelhead roe is offset by mango and kaffir lime. 

I think “Roe, Roe, Roe” is the perfect first course for my new Taste of Big Sur menu that will be debuting the second week of November!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Duck Egg Raviolo

Duck Egg Raviolo with Baby Root Vegetables, Lobster Mushroom and Chanterelle

Duck eggs are to chicken eggs what heavy cream is to milk; they are higher in fat, have a more velvety texture and fuller flavor.  We put them in a large raviolo with truffle-mushroom duxelle and cook it in vegetable stock for 3 minutes until the yolk is just set.  When you cut into the raviolo the yolk incorporates into the black truffle-vegetable stock and enriches the dish.  A variety of root vegetables and blossoms from the garden:  Tokyo turnips, baby carrots, red carrot blossoms, oregano blossoms are combined with artichoke confit, lobster mushrooms and chanterelle mushrooms to finish the dish.  This is a decadent yet seasonally appropriate dish as the coastal fog rolls onto the ridge. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


A few days ago I was walking past the old quince tree by the lagoon and spotted a tangle of bright blue flowers growing in the center of a marshy ravine.  Upon further investigation I discovered it was a giant patch of borage!  Borage is known for its indigo blue, star-shaped flowers that have a faint scent of cucumber or fresh oysters.  It is a cult culinary ingredient that can be found in prestigious restaurants and in the gardens of savvy cooks.  In addition to its alluring flavor, the plant is acclaimed for its medicinal properties.  In ancient times it was thought to promote bravery and given to gladiators and explorers. 

As summer draws to a close, I look forward to exploring more of the ranch in search of new culinary ingredients and inspiration.