In this second installment of my Recipes from the Road, we head west to the Golden State. Some of the freshest food and the most incredible produce comes from California. In my travels, I've had the pleasure many times over the years of enjoying the great food and wine from the state. Come along as we explore the cuisine of the Western U.S. Click here to view more Recipes from the Road.
One of my favorite California recipes comes from Barbara Passino's Oak Knoll Inn in Napa Valley. I've not had the privilege of staying at the inn, but I did have Ms. Passino cook this recipe for me at an event I attended. When eggs taste this good, it's easy to want breakfast for dinner. Note that this recipe is included in Ms. Passino's cookbook, Chocolate for Breakfast, which you can purchase online.
This is one of Susan's Favorite Recipes
You'll need the following for each serving:
- 1 TBLS Cream
- 2 Eggs
- Pinch each of Thyme, Oregano, and Paprika
- Dash of Salt and a few grindings of Pepper
- 3-4 TBLS grated Cheese, a combination of Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan
- Butter as many 8-ounce ramekins as you need.
- Add a splash of cream and break two eggs into each ramekin.
- Sprinkle with the herbs and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Sprinkle cheese over the top.
- Bake in a bain-marie. (Put the ramekins in a pan and fill that pan with warm water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Four ramekins fit perfectly in a 9-inch brownie pan.) Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 F until the cheese starts to puff up in the middle and brown lightly.
- Peek under the cheese by pulling it up with the tip of a knife. The whites should be completely set and the yolks beginning to thicken.
- Place the ramekins under a broiler for 60 seconds until the cheese sizzles and puffs up slightly. Serve immediately.
Note: If you have extra egg whites available, add one to each ramekin to make the eggs rise dramatically in the oven.
While we're thinking about breakfast for dinner, I'll share another that could fit into that category. These delicious crepes are light and airy and have just enough sweet to make a perfect dessert. This is a relatively simple recipe that I was able to make and taste at the gorgeous La Dolce Vita 1901 in Oxnard, California. La Dolce Vita offers cooking classes in addition to its regular restaurant. The Heritage Square Victorian is ideal for classes with the owner and Executive Chef Michelle Kenney. Here's the crepe recipe to give you a taste of what you can expect in Oxnard.
Sicilian Crepes with Orange Sauce
- 2 TBLS Powdered Sugar or Superfine Sugar
- 2 Eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup Milk
- 2/3 cup Flour
- ¼ cup Water
- 2 TBLS Orange Liqueur
- 2 TBLS Butter, melted (plus additional butter for frying the crepes)
Orange Sauce (or Limoncello or Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce)
- 6 TBLS Butter
- ¼ cup Sugar
- Juice and grated Rind of a large Lemon and Orange
- 2/3 cup Orange Juice
- ¼ cup Orange Liqueur
- Orange segments to decorate
Directions for crepes:
- Sift the flour and sugar together. Make a hole in the center and pour in the eggs.
- Beat eggs, whisking in the flour until completely incorporated.
- Whisk in the milk and water until smooth.
- Whisk in the orange liqueur. For a very smooth batter it can be strained in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat an 8″ nonstick pan over medium heat.
- Add the melted butter into the crepe batter.
- Brush the hot pan with a little extra butter and add about 2 TBLS batter.
- Quickly tilt the pan and rotate to cover the bottom with a thick layer of batter. Cook for about 1 minute until the top is set and the base is golden.
- With a rubber spatula lift the edges to check the color and carefully turn over crepe and cook for about 30 seconds, just to set.
- Transfer to a plate. Continue cooking the crepes, placing a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper between each crepe. If preparing ahead, wrap and chill until ready to use.
For the sauce:
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium low heat.
- Stir in the sugar, orange and lemon rind, orange and lemon juices and liqueur.
- Place a crepe in the pan browned side down, swirling gently to coat the crepe with the sauce.
- Fold in half, then again to form a triangle. Push to the side of pan, continue warming and coating the crepes until all are warm and covered with sauce.
- Scatter the orange segments on top and serve immediately.
Pumpkin Chile Soup
Another of my favorite spots in California is Ojai. There's just something so right about a town with so many spas, artists, wineries and great food all in one place. This recipe is for a delicious Pumpkin Chile Soup from The Oaks at Ojai. The best part is that it's a healthy soup with just 53 calories!
This is one of Susan's Favorite Recipes
- 2 cloves Garlic (2 teaspoons), minced
- ½ cup Chopped Pasilla Chile
- 1 cup chopped Onion
- ½ cup chopped Anaheim Chile
- 2 cups Pumpkin Puree
- 4 cups low-sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 TBLS Olive or Canola Oil
- ¼ cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
- 2 tsp Maple Syrup
- 1 TBLS Lime Juice
- In a medium soup pot, add the olive oil and heat briefly before adding the onions and all of the chiles. When they begin to soften, add the garlic and sauté until the onions are clear (do not brown).
- Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, and simmer the mixture until the chiles are soft.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, warm and then blend with an immersion blender or transfer the mixture in batches to a blender; blend until creamy.
- Return to the pot, warm and serve into warmed bowls or soup cups.
- The yogurt, maple syrup and lime juice can be stirred together as a topping for the soup—approximately 1 teaspoon each.
- Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds if you have them!
Grand Marnier French Toast
It seems I have a lot of favorite breakfast dishes in California. One memorable dish was a signature recipe from Honor Mansion in Healdsburg. The elegant Victorian is a “resort inn” set in one of the most charming towns in California's Sonoma wine country. One of their signature dishes, Grand Marnier French Toast, remains one of my favorite breakfast dishes of all time. Read more about my stay a few years ago at Honor Mansion.
- 16 slices Sour Dough French Bread
- 10 Eggs
- 2 cups Orange Juice
- 1 cup Grand Marnier
- 1 cup Milk
- 8 TBSP Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tsp Salt
- Zest of 2 Oranges
- Place bread in pans sprayed with Pam®.
- In a blender, mix all remaining ingredients.
- Pour over bread, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, uncover, fry off and then bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.
- Cut on a diagonal and dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve garnished with orange zest and maple syrup on the side.
Do you have some favorite California recipes you'd like to share? We'll head down south next time for more Recipes from the Road.