Tag Archives: San Diego Food Finds

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

Organic Fresh Pasta In Little Italy

Organic Fresh Pasta In Little Italy
Photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Known for their fresh homemade pasta, Bencotto Italian Kitchen and its “little brother” restaurant next door, Monello, have made a big change this year. Both restaurants are saying arrivederci to normal pasta as they announce they will only be serving organic pasta. After extensive research and taste testing, owners Valentina and Guido selected a supplier in Parma, Italy which offers a large selection of organic flours, certified among the best in the world.

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Clever Chef At Catania Hits All The Right Notes

Catania
Whole Roasted Branzino with Manila Clams, Spring Onion Pesto, Grilled Asparagus and Chili Bread Crumbs

The smell of wood-fired pizzas hits you as you walk in the door at Whisknladle Hospitality’s Catania, nestled on the top floor of the La Plaza center in La Jolla, California.

San Diego Food Finds Catania Restaurant
Ahi Tartare with Melon, Calabrian Chili, Yogurt, Shallot, Lemon, Sesame, Pistachio and Tarragon

Inspired by Whisknladle Hospitality Owner Arturo Kassel and Culinary Director/Partner Ryan Johnston after their two-week, 1,400-mile road trip through Italy, this innovative 3,750-square-foot restaurant, with an expansive patio and outdoor bar space, puts diners right near the ocean and within walking distance of shopping.

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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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Big League Chef Prepares Dishes With Precision

Charred Spanish Octopus (GF) with White Beans, Spanish Chorizo, Saffron, and Smoked Lobster Butter and Salsa Verde.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, La Valencia Hotel, also known as “The Pink Lady,” is a Mediterranean style oceanfront resort in beautiful La Jolla, California.

Kampachi with Yuzu Sorbet

Located inside this luxury hotel, The MED ocean view restaurant is home to big-league Executive Chef Alex Emery, who offers a dramatic dining experience and mans a kitchen that’s humming with precision in presentation and taste. 

Foie Gras Torchon with Toasted Brioche, Seasonal Jam, Duck Prosciutto and Tender Greens.

In many ways, Emery’s journey is a classic tale of climbing the culinary ladder, learning something special at every stop and adding more and more creativity to his skill level. “When I was 16 years old I started as a dishwasher at the Coronado Cays Yacht club, then moved up as a prep cook,” he told me. “Later, I fell in love with the industry and decided to go to culinary school at the San Diego Culinary Institute.”

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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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Maria’s Almond Tiramisu Recipe

almond tiramisu recipe
Recipe and photo by Maria Desiderata Montana

Also known as a “Tuscan Trifle,” tiramisu, which translates to “pick me up,” is a luscious melt-in-your-mouth Italian layered cake.

The origins of tiramisu are a bit murky. Legend has it that a tiramisu-like dessert was created in Siena during the 17th century. But the known facts point to the dessert’s history as being fairly recent. The first documented tiramisu recipe appeared in 1983, in a book by Giovanni Capnist called “I Dolci del Veneto” (The Desserts of Veneto).

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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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Create Your Own Dishes

San Diego Food Finds
The Haven Popeye

Do you like out of the ordinary dishes? Do you like making your own meals and adding exotic twists? We’ve found the best restaurants in the county that let you create your very own edible dishes!

Get a little slice of heaven or a whole pie at The Haven in Kensington. Family friendly and fun, The Haven has dishes for everyone, but the best option on the menu is building your own pizza pie! Make your own 9’” or 14” pizza on white, wheat or gluten-free pizza and sauce it up with your choice of bbq, garlic, olive oil, pesto, pizza and spicy pizza. Choose from over ten different types of cheeses and top it off with fresh veggies and hearty proteins like meatballs, sausage and prosciutto.

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Rooster Ramen Coming Soon

Ramen lovers can look forward to Rooster coming late spring to early summer 2017. Diners can expect a Japanese Farmhouse ambiance with plenty of outdoor seating as well as a lengthy ramen bar with a semi-open kitchen. Nine types of traditional Ramen dishes will be offered reflecting unique Japanese regions. In addition, there will be special takes on ramen, small plates and yakitori grilled over real binchotan charcoal. A daily revolving specials board will offer seasonally fresh items including Osetra Caviar, Monk Fish Liver, and Pork Cheeks. All plates, bowls, and cups will be hand-made ceramic from Pawena Studio, based out of Los Angeles. Ramen, vegan, and vegetarian options will range from $9 to $14, with an option to create your own bowl. Expect a full 30 plus sake list, drinks made from shochu, and a nice variety of beer. A digital ordering system will be in place to emulate the ramen vending ticket machines in Japan, which will speed up the ordering process and provide further customer convenience.

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Ambrogio15 Milan-Style Eatery

Ambrogio15, a Milan-style eatery in North Pacific Beach, prides itself on introducing refined pizza and style to San Diego’s dining scene through small batch wines, cheeses and charcuterie imported from Italy. Diners can also appreciate a modern design created by one of Italy’s leading architects.

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Crudo Pride In Carmel Valley

san-diego-food-finds-crudo
Sashimi Presentations Rock Our World

The new Crudo restaurant in Carmel Valley boasts Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with an Asian touch that features locally-sourced, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian menu items. Renowned chef and owner Pascal Lorange takes pride in offering diners unique, yet simple presentations that you won’t find anywhere else in San Diego.

San Diego Food Finds
Foie Gras Crudotini with Smoked Duck Breast, Fig Chutney, Scallions and Soy Balsamic

Belgian-born Lorange is a world renowned chef who has cooked in Michelin-star kitchens and been in the restaurant industry for more than 25 years.  As a child, he would accompany his family on weekly trips to the market to help his parents prepare his favorite dish, “pave de cabillaud” (cod steak). From the age of six, Lorange wanted to continue in the family tradition of four generations of chefs, including his grandfather, uncle, brother and nephew.

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