Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Oaxaca Inspiration

In January I was able to spend a few days in Oaxaca City studying the local
cuisine and mescal production. The city exceeded my very high expectations,
not only in its incredible cuisine, but also in its cleanliness and overall
level of hospitality. As expected, the various Moles and Tlayudas were
fantastic. I have always been a fan of chapulines (crickets), but was
actually amazed at how much I liked the cooked agave worms. (I don't think
the agave worms will make an appearance at Post Ranch- but I do have some
ideas for crickets- which I suspect will become a popular item in terms of
sustainable food options in the coming years).

I had dozens of amazing dishes while in Oaxaca, but one of the items that
really stands out was chewing on a piece of agave straight out of the
earthen oven. The pulp of the roasted agave had a sweet and smoky
complexity unlike anything I have experienced. I want to see if I can
replicate this flavor using wild Big Sur agave roasted in coals and then
reduced into a smoky syrup. It is always exciting how traveling to a
faraway place can inspire new vantage points on ingredients close to home.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The 2015 Lexus Culinary Class at Cavallo Point Lodge

In two weeks on March 6-8, I'll be participating in a wonderful food and wine event taking place at our sister property, Cavallo Point Lodge, up in Sausalito at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The event is called the Lexus Culinary Classic and it's bringing together some of the finest executive chefs from around the country, including those from Blackberry Farm, Cavallo Point, Pebble Beach Lodge and many more. 

The weekend starts strong with a four-course dinner with dishes from four amazing chefs, including Chefs Joseph Lenn of Blackberry Farm and celebrated Pastry Chef Ethan Howard of Cavallo Point Lodge.  Saturday is jam packed with an interactive Italian cooking class, a wine tasting event with Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy and finally a trip up to the wine country  for an exquisite four-course dinner where I'll be preparing a course alongside Cavallo Point Lodge’s Chef Justin Everett and a few others.  The weekend culminates with the Grand Tasting event where I'll be joining the other 11 chefs along with over 19 local wineries to serve up dishes and wine.  You're more than welcome to attend in any or all of these events.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.  I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chef's Holidays at The Ahwahnee

It was an honor to be asked to cook and do a seafood class for the 30th
annual Chef's Holidays at The Ahwahnee in Yosemite last week.

A big
Thanks to the Ahwahnee team for making the event such a success and to
Michael Turkell for doing a great Job as MC and getting some good pictures
along the way! http://instagram.com/p/yYZHGbk69U/

Monday, February 2, 2015

Our Weekly Culinary Muse

This week our culinary muse is Aloe Vera! Long known for its healing
properties, the Aloe Vera gel and flowers are an underutilized local
ingredient. Stay posted for some fun and creative ways to use this exciting

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Monterey Bay Dungeness Crab Recipe

Monterey Bay Dungeness Crab

Preserved Buddha’s Hand, Wood Sorrel, Meyer Lemon

Dungeness crab season begins in early December; just as the winter rains begin to bring up tender wood sorrel shoots. Wood sorrel, which resembles common clover, has a pleasant flavor and acidity similar to lemon. The brininess of the fresh Dungeness crab with the brightness of the sorrel works perfectly together. I use a variety of local citrus to compliment the dish and would recommend that you adapt the recipe to the citrus you have readily available in your local area.

When picking wood sorrel (also known as Oxalis) I like to find small, bright green, leaves. (The large leaves tend to become fibrous as they get older.) I also look for patches of sorrel growing in loose soil or among fallen leaves. These plants will have longer roots that those growing in hard packed areas. The roots, particularly the young pink and white ones, have the same acidity as the leaves, but are balanced by a slight sweetness and refreshingly crisp texture.

Serves- 4
Preparing the Crabs
2 Large, Live Dungeness Crabs
1 gallon water
½ cup white soy sauce
1 small ginger root
1 fresh shallot
1 kaffir lime leaf
1 halved vanilla bean
1 star anise

- Fill a large pot with water and place on stove over high heat.
- When the water begins to boil, add the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.
- Add the live crabs to the pot and keep pot over high heat until it returns to a simmer.
- Once the water reaches a simmer, turn heat down to low and continue cooking for 8 minutes.
- Carefully remove the crabs from the pot using long tongs and immediately put into a container with water and ice. (continue to simmer liquid once crab is removed).
- Keep the crabs in the ice until they are cool – (3-4 minutes)
- Remove the large top shell of the crab by pulling up on the back of the shell, then use a small cocktail fork to remove the body meat. (reserve the shells)
- Gently crack each leg section (either with your hands, pliers or other cracking device). Try to remove the leg meat in whole sections. (reserve the shells)
- Place the empty shells back in the pot and continue simmering/reducing for 1 hour- then strain and cool.

The Custard
2 cups of the crab stock (above)
3 whole organic-free range eggs
1 tsp fresh shallot (peeled and grated on microplane)
1 tsp meyer yuzu zest (use microplane)
1 tsp espelette chile powder
1 tbs white soy

- Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Do this gently to avoid incorporating air.
- Pour the mixture into small oven safe ramekins that have been well sprayed.
- Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill dish ½ full of warm water.
- Place the uncovered tray of ramekins in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour- or until they are just firm to the touch.
- Once firm to touch- remove the tray from oven and cool at room temperature.

Dressing for the Crab
1 tsp grated shallot
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated yuzu zest
1 tbs fresh yuzu juice
1 tbs white soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs olive oil

- Combine all ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste.

Candied Buddha’s Hand
1 Buddha’s Hand Citron
1 cup water
2 tbs kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tsp espelette chile powder

- Bring water, sugar, rice vinegar, espelette and ginger to a simmer.
- Slice the buddha’s hand lengthwise on a mandoline.
- Place the slices of citrus into the hot syrup and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool at room temperature.
- You should keep the preserved buddha’s hand submerged and in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours- however, it will last for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Crispy Crab-
2 cups of the picked crab body meat
1 cup canola oil
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp espelette

- Squeeze all of the liquid out of the crab meat.
- Place the canola oil in a large saute pan and place on high heat.
- Once the oil starts to smoke, carefully place pieces of the crab into the oil.
- Once the piece begins to brown- remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel lined plate.
- Season the crispy crab pieces with salt and espelette.

Finishing and Assembling the Crab-
1 mandarin orange (peeled and segments separated)
2 finger limes (squeeze our pearls)
1 cup of fresh wood sorrel leaves, roots and flowers
½ Cup tiny red shiso leaves
1 meyer lemon – shaved into thin slices

- Place the room temperature custard in the middle of a plate or bowl.
- Gently toss the crab leg segments with the dressing.
- Arrange the leg segments next to the custard.
- Top with the crispy crab pieces.
- Arrange the candied Buddha’s hand, orange segments, finger lime pearls, sorrel leaves, sorrel roots, sorrel flowers, shiso and shaved meyer lemon around plate.