Fewer places in the United States inspire me as wildly as California. I have returned to the Golden Coast and reconnected with the amazing community of farmers, artisans and visionaries that is Santa Cruz.
I am lucky enough to have met some kindred spirits in this place last Spring when I was apprenticing at Camp Joy Gardens in Boulder Creek, just north of Santa Cruz. This sleepy bay town nestled between San Francisco and Monterey is almost a secret garden of eden that lends itself to an escape from the agriculture powerhouse it sits within.
I have found myself fiercly cooking day in and day out with the exuberance of leaving the icey clutches of the East Coast and being thrown into the peak of spring produce. Radishes, Spring Onions, Broccolini, Asparagus, Strawberries all drip off the stands of the farmers markets, some of the grandest I've seen outside of France. I am almost brought to tears at the magnificent colors. Many of my friends here also luckily work at the farmers markets and are pretty much throwing free organic produce my way.
I've found myself nesting off the cusp of my favorite Santa Cruz Park, Wilder Ranch. This historical preserved farm land is a massive 7,000 acres of pristine coastal line and is in my friend's backyard. I have found myself in a house called the Out Post, filled with East Coast expats. Their dreamy yellow kitchen oozing with natural light, has been a breeding ground for my culinary visions. It is also the home of my favorite lady plant scientist and farmer Deanna Duffy. We were thick as thieves last year at Camp Joy and she has opened up her home to me and with her technically savvy mind, cooking skills and kindness has helped organized my cooking and enabled me to cook to my hearts content. I'm a lucky gal.
Aside from all of the heady produce I have been drowning in, there has been much cause for much celebration. Another beauty from Camp Joy, Emily Eder, the Pickle Queen of the newly founded Cremer House of Felton, had a birthday on Thursday. Deanna and I decided it was only just that we go all out to celebrate this dreamy lady and threw a garden party on the Out Post's serene coastal backyard. Here are some of the recipes we've been hashing out in the kitchen.
1 Dozen Eggs
1/4 cup Mayonaise
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Mustard
Cayenne, to garnish
Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a large pot, cover a dozen eggs with cold water. Heat on high until water boils. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Discard hot water and cover with cold water or allow to cool at room temperature. Once cooled, slice eggs in half. Remove hardened yolk and place in a small mixing bowl and delicately set whites aside. Add remaining ingredients to mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Carefully place egg yolk mixture in a pastry bag or plastic bag with tip cut off and funnel into reserved egg whites. Garnish with chives, salt and pepper, and cayenne.
STRAWBERRY CREAM 1234 CAKE
3 cups cake flour*
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 pints strawberries, sliced into discs
Make sure your eggs, flour and butter are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350. On a large cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper and grease with butter. Measure out all ingredients. Separate eggs. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Fold in egg yolks and in thirds add flour mixture while slowly adding milk. Add vanilla. Beat egg whites until they form glossy peaks and fold in. Pour batter onto pan. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating racks in oven around the 10 minute mark. Remove from oven and let cool. Run knife around sides of sheet pan and gently flip onto a plate. When completely cool, gently cut each cake in half with a serrated knife and transfer to cake plate lined with parchment paper.
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup fresh strawberries
1 tbsp vanilla extract
In a large mason jar, muddle strawberries until smooth with vanilla. Add one cup of cream of time and shake until whipped. You can also use a electric mixer!
Set 1st cake layer on pan and smooth out a dollop of whipped cream. Lay out a ring of strawberry discs and repeat 3 times. ice cake with whipped cream and enjoy!
*Lets be real, who has cake flour lying around? I sure didn't. To substitute simply take all purpose flour and for every cup replace 2 tbsp with corn starch. Be sure to sift the mixture thoroughly (1 cup all purpose flour - 2 tbsp replaced + 2 tbsp corn starch, sifted 3 times over)
Herb Crusted Pork Chops with Mustard Jus
5# bone-in Pork Chops
1 heaping tablespoon lard
4 tbsp dijion mustard
1/4 cup Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Red Wine
1 tbsp dijion
2 tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper
In a small mixing bowl, mince garlic and herbes and mustard. Rub on pork chops. Set aside.
Heat a cast iron skillet with lard until hot, and sear pork chops, about 5 minutes each side, until firm to the touch. Remove from pan. Return skillet to heat and add red wine. Reduce until slightly thick. Add butter. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Nettle Cauliflower Soup
1 lb stinging baby nettles
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 leeks, cut into discs
1 carrot, chopped
1 blub fennel, chopped
1 cup cauliflower florets, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
In a medium stock pot over medium heat add leeks, carrots, and fennel and cook for 5-10 minutes or until brown. Add garlic, cauliflower, mint and nettles. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and blend with immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
FRENCH BREAKFAST RADISH WITH FRESH BUTTER
a dozen french breakfast radishes
1 pint good heavy cream (I used seven star farm)
salt to taste
In a mixer, mix cream on high, past the point of whipped cream, about 5 minutes. Roll radishes in salt and then spread a teaspoon of butter atop. Enjoy immediately!