Tag Archives: San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City

A Biscotti Recipe for the Holidays

Maria’s Cranberry Walnut Biscotti (Recipe and photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Maria’s Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • zest from one medium orange (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped anise seeds
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup whole, dried cranberries
  • red and green decorative sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In a separate mixing bowl combine sugar, butter, orange zest and anise seeds using an electric mixer. Mix until creamy (approximately one minute). Add eggs one at a time, mixing well until the batter is smooth.

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Candied Lemon and Ginger Slices

Candied Lemon And Ginger Slices
photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

I have an organic lemon tree in my backyard that yields more lemons than I know what to do with. This recipe adds a hint of ginger for a subtle, yet spicy kick. There is enough sugar in this recipe to keep the lemons tasting tart, but not too sweet. If you like it sweeter, feel free to add more sugar. I also like to dry the lemons out a bit in the oven for a slightly chewy texture.

Candied Lemon and Ginger Slices

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (more if desired)
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger root
  • 3-4 lemons, cut into thin slices
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Place water, sugar and ginger in a medium skillet; bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until all sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to medium-low and add lemon slices in 1 layer.

Steep the lemon slices for about 15 minutes, or until the rind is translucent. Carefully remove lemons with tongs and arrange slices in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake lemon slices until dried, approximately 30 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe by Maria Desiderata Montana

Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe

(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe From The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Yields 12 cupcakes

  • 1-4 ounce stick of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon clove
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Paddle together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Sift together the dry ingredients. Mix together milk and puree. Add dry and milk mixture to butter alternating, ending with the dry ingredients. Bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 ounces white chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, paddle together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon. (Taste and add more if you have more of a sweet tooth.) Melt white chocolate and slowly add to cream cheese. Once it comes together, stop mixing and frost the pumpkin cupcakes.

Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

Yorkshire Pudding
Chef Andrew Spurgin (Courtesy photo)

Established in 2012, Andrew’s latest venture, ANDREW SPURGIN™, brings his diverse skill sets to consulting work with caterers, chefs, restaurants and hotels. He also creates bespoke events—from concept, styling, menu design and vendor brokering—as well as other related focus areas. Andrew believes in sound community care and often accepts requests to act as host or culinary chair for charitable and gala events. After all, if you live in a community, why not give back to it?

Andrew has designed parties and menus, and overseen the production of events honoring dignitaries and glitterati for the past three decades. He has cooked for three US presidents, Martha Stewart, and at the James Beard House in New York City, among others.

He grew up in London, working in his relative’s restaurant and butcher shop. His aunts introduced him early to the bounty of local purveyors at London’s historic Borough Market, where he also “worked” at a young age. His family moved to San Diego in 1974.

He was chef and baker of one of California’s first handcrafted, on-premise bakery/restaurants. He was director of catering at Southern California’s celebrated Pirets, and at several other respected catering firms. Andrew has consulted and cooked with London’s Mustard Catering Ltd. and has been tutored by the cheesemongers at Neal’s Yard Dairy, also in London.

He has produced and designed menus and events throughout the United States, Canada, England and Mexico.

Andrew regularly lectures to the industry, public and youth audiences too on sustainability, cooking, event design, culinary responsibility and entertaining. His events, interviews and photos have been featured in numerous local and national magazines, radio and TV.


Fondly reflecting back on his English grandparents, Chef Andrew Spurgin remembers wonderful traditional feasts and offers his recipe for Yorkshire Pudding.

Yorkshire Pudding

  • 1 cup hen eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk, organic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, sifted twice
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup turkey or beef  drippings, strained (may substitute duck fat, bacon fat, lard, or butter)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs into the milk with the salt. Add flour to custard mixture and combine, stirring gently until smooth (no lumps). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour through strainer and add rosemary.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a 12-count muffin or pop-over pan in the oven until very hot.

Heat fat, if not liquid. Mix cold water into the custard. Add about a teaspoon of fat into each muffin pan, it should be smoking. Give the custard one quick stir and immediately fill each pan about 1/3 full. Place custard in oven and bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes, then turn down oven to 350 degrees F. for another 10 minutes or until custard is golden brown (do not open oven until fully cooked).  Remove from oven and serve immediately with gravy or your favorite jam.

*Information courtesy of Chef Andrew Spurgin

Coconut Raspberry Muffin Recipe

Coconut Raspberry Muffins by Maria Desiderata Montana

INGREDIENTS

  •  2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

 PROCESS

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Kale and Strawberry Salad Recipe

Recipe and Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

This light and healthy Kale and Strawberry salad is the perfect side dish for those sultry summer days!

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Caroline’s Seaside Cafe

Caroline's Seaside Cafe
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Given the wide array of stunning locations to dine in San Diego, it’s nearly impossible to find a new venue tucked away from the typical tourist hotspots. There are many choices in this beautiful city, with whitewater vistas and orange sunsets every day of the week. With a kaleidoscope of cuisines representing most corners of the world, it can be somewhat of a challenge at times to find a simple menu that still provides healthy and fresh choices.
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Landini’s Sicilian Style Pizza

sicilian style pizza
courtesy photo

Although authentic pizza is available throughout the Little Italy neighborhood, it is rare to find a location that sells by the slice. Opened in 2009, Landini’s has built a strong following for its genuine Sicilian-style pies and other traditional baked meals. Its success can be measured by the lines of patrons patiently waiting along India Street to grab a taste of the hand-tossed thin crust. At least a dozen styles are available in the window for a quick bite, and a little patience will award you with any special-order pie. Choose from the more traditional pepperoni, sausage and meatball or the more adventurous combinations like BBQ chicken, spinach, artichokes and jalapenos. Daily specials include various topping combinations that appeal to any palate. Calzones, stromboli and paninis are prepared with freshly prepared dough or bread. Or opt for a dish of pasta and salad. Local craft beers and wine are also offered.

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Buona Forchetta

Located on a sleepy corner of the South Park neighborhood, Buona Forchetta serves one of the finest Napoleon-style pizzas in town. Day or night, the small patio is packed with hungry patrons, drawn by the many accolades streaming online and through word-of-mouth. This authentic pizzeria is co-owned by Matteo Cattaneo, born and raised in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, and New York native Alexa Kollmeier. A centerpiece of their kitchen is the large, handmade pizza oven, built on-site by Stefano Ferrara, one of the most famous pizza-oven manufacturers worldwide. Shiny gold tiles surround the wood-fired workhorse, with the name of their firstborn daughter, Sofia, highlighted in the center of the dome. Sofia also takes top billing on the menu, as the name of their more popular pizza option, with mozzarella, artichokes, mushroom and prosciutto cotto. All of the pizzas are spectacular, but don’t lose sight of the other menu items, including antipasti, insalati, main dishes and house-made dolci. The beer and wine menu highlights many craft and small-production labels from California and Italy, as well as classic white or red sangria. ©San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond by Maria Desiderata Montana

Buona Forchetta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar
Courtesy Image

The Lumberyard in Encinitas is home to many trendy restaurants, and this is one of them. With indoor and outdoor seating for about 100 people, this healthy cafe is dedicated to serving fresh, locally sourced natural food at affordable prices. A comprehensive menu comprises many vegans, vegetarian, strict vegetarian and gluten-free options. Choose from savory and homemade organic soups, salads sandwiches, pasta, vegetarian entrees, fish and chicken entrees, kiddies’ meals, fresh juices, smoothies, shakes, and desserts, even homemade vegan cupcakes. Such items as the Pipe’s Whole Wheat Pita with falafel balls, hummus, and tahini-ginger sauce, and the Swami’s Carrot shake with organic carrot juice, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg make this place unusual. Lotus Cafe & Juice Bar, 765 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, CA 92024; (760) 479-1977; lotuscafeandjuicebar.com; Organic/Health Food; $$.

©San Diego Food Finds, By Maria Desiderata Montana

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monello Captures Italian Spirit

San Diego Food Finds
Pasta Carbonara (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Monello’s design and decor mirrors a typical Milanese eatery complete with the downtown vibe of the San Diego bay and the familiar Italian neighborhood.

San-Diego-Food-Finds-Lupini-Beans
Lupini Beans (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Sophisticated, modern and rustic-chic, Chef Fabrizio Cavallini says it is one of the few Italian restaurants that dares to serve traditional home-cooking in a modern urban setting, similar to a restaurant you would find in Milano, Italy. “We undressed Italian dining of its obsolete and stereotypical look and taste,” he says. “We had a new menu in mind, our tradition is so rich. But we had no room for it at our Bencotto restaurant. So when the space next door became available, our heads were exploding with ideas after Valentina and Guido’s trip to Italy. When they go there, they eat twenty-four-seven and come back with a ton of new ideas.”

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Bleu Bohème Neighborhood Eatery

sandiegofoodfinds.com
Tartare de Saumon Fumé (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Open for five years now in the Kensington area of San Diego, Owner and Chef Ken Irvine says he opened Bleu Bohème because he loves neighborhood restaurants. “When my guests walk through our doors, we want to take them away to a “different place”, he says. “What sets us apart is our stellar service, quality cuisine and a unique ambiance.”

sandiegofoodfinds.com
Entrecôte de Porc (Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

With a passion for French food and cooking with local ingredients, Irvine describes his restaurant as ‘AWESOME’, sourcing products from Catalina Offshore and Specialty Produce. “These places are both the best at what they do in San Diego,” he says.” Partnering with them helps us to be the best that we can be.”

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We Love Zumbar Coffee

Zumbar Coffee
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Located in the busy tech center of Sorrento Valley, Zumbar Coffee is a diminutive shop with a huge reputation for serving some of the best coffee in the area. Taking a craftsman’s approach to roasting, they have perfected the process using a vintage, cast-iron coffee roaster situated right behind the ordering counter, giving every patron a chance to see/hear the action. A small selection of pastries and breads are also available, delivered from VG’s Donuts and Opera Patisserie every morning. Some regulars believe that the coffee actually advances science, and I have to agree, given the buzzing conversation during my last visit. They also sell fresh-roasted beans at the shop or online, so you’re never too far away from a great cup of joe. Zumbar Coffee and Tea, 10920 Roselle St., San Diego, CA 92121; (858) 622-0000; zumbarcoffee.com; Coffee/Tea. ©San Diego Food Finds by Maria Desiderata Montana.

Zumbar Coffee & Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Market Driven Fare at A.R. Valentien

A.R. Valentien: Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and Chef de Cuisine Kelli Crosson offer a temple of flavor in their market-driven cuisine

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is home to A.R. Valentien, one of San Diego’s most notable and refined restaurants. You will certainly feel transported whiling away the hours in a charming dining room with a beautiful view of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean just off the bluffs in the distance.

A.R. Valentien
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Classically French-trained, with more than 30 years of experience, Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and Chef de Cuisine Kelli Crosson offer a temple of flavor in their market-driven fare from some of California’s finest organic farms, orchards, and fishermen. The menu revolves around the seasons, assuring superb freshness and taste with every bite.

Chef Jackson feels comfortable and at home at A.R. Valentien, located inside the Lodge at Torrey Pines and wants all his dining guests to feel the same way. “This is not like a hotel to me, it’s more like a large residence. If it’s small, it’s manageable. A monster hotel wouldn’t allow me the freedom I need.”

©Maria Desiderata Montana

A.R. Valentien
(Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana)

Dedicated to working directly with local farmers, Chef Jackson changes the menu daily, based on what is fresh and seasonal. “The farmer grows it and the chefs cook it. Whatever produce comes in, we will use. My staff and I play with the food. We taste it and talk about it. We are always thinking about what would be best to eat.”

Read more about A.R. Valentien in the Food Lovers’ Guide to San Diego and get Chef Jackson’s recipes for  Grilled Romaine with Prosciutto & Burrata and Alaskan Halibut with Barigoule Vegetables in my award-winning book San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’.

A.R. Valentien Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seasonal Japanese Cuisine

Japanese Cuisine
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Seasonal Japanese Cuisine in Del Mar

“Shim” means “New”, and “bashi” means “Bridge” in Japanese. With the desire to provide San Diego with the best Japanese dining experience outside of Japan, Shimbashi Izakaya is based on the Izakaya, or Japanese “pub” – a unique and vital cornerstone of Japanese food culture. It’s often found in cosmopolitan areas for after work relaxation and an opportunity to unwind after a busy day.

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