Monday, July 29, 2013

Potato Leek Soup--Vichyssoise

It has been so warm throughout the country, that a cold soup sounds like the perfect way to start a meal. This soup can be served either cold or warm. It is a such a delicate soup that I think it benefits from the addition of just a little garlic.
The cream is optional, creme fraiche or sour cream can also be used as a garnish on top.

1 Tablespoon butter
Cold Potato Leek Soup--Vichyssoise
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned, and sliced into 1 inch slices, white and light green parts only
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and preferably white pepper, to taste
1/2-1 cup cream (optional)
fresh sliced chives for garnish

Melt butter in a large saucepan with olive oil over medium low heat.
Add leeks, salt and cook until softened (not browned).
Add thyme, potatoes, stock and garlic to saucepan and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add cream if desired, and simmer 10 minutes,
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve or chill and garnish with fresh chives.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

La La Land Part 3

Our last stop on this trip was in La Quinta, nestled in the Old Town area is a restaurant called
Lavender Bistro. We have been here on about 3 occasions and love the ambiance.
Lavender Bistro Patio

The food can be hit or miss but the outdoor, evening setting in the desert is great.
You walk into this patio dotted with trees and lavender potted plants, with twinkling lights and the music is always good. The tables have white tablecloths with lavender napkins and at the edge of the patio, where it is raised up a step, are some private little white cabanas that house larger tables.
On previous occasions we have been here with friends and have enjoyed their company for hours in this delightful setting, but tonight it is just the two of us.
Seafood Curry at Lavender Bistro
We have never had dinner inside the restaurant, for us, the dining experience is all about the outside patio at Lavender Bistro.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

La La Land Part 2

Splashes Bar
 Back on the Pacific Coast Highway and down to Laguna Beach, we arrived at the Surf and Sand Resort. This property is right on the beach and the surf is so loud, the waves crash in with a bang, that drowns out the sound of anything else.
It was unusually warm when we were there and this Southern California hotel has no air conditioning but we were able to sleep with the door open and the fresh air was delightful.
After a long walk on the beach, we headed to Splashes Bar for cocktails and a light dinner. The bar sits just above the ocean surf, it is a spectacular setting and a perfect place for watching the sunset.
gluten free Mesquite Pancakes
Unfortunately, the food and drinks were just mediocre.

The morning breakfast at Splashes restaurant, by the fireplace, proved to have much better food than the bar.
Again, fresh fruit drinks to start the morning, Acai Amazon Berry Blend and Pomegranate Blueberry. It was a nice change to have a gluten free Mesquite flour pancakes with Apricot Coulis. The next morning Bake had a spicy egg burrito with Chorizo and chilies. Also a little plate of seasonal fresh fruit.
A walk into town, checking out the various beaches and peruse the
shops throughout the area, many hours later we stopped for
fresh, seasonal fruit plate
another "green drink".
Back to the Surf and Sand for champagne on our deck and another glorious sunset.

After hearing mixed reviews, we went to 370 Common
for dinner. The restaurant has a Bavarian feel to it, and
the menu changes weekly, based on what is fresh and
available locally.
The meat and cheese board is presented well and changes often.
Bake had a beer to go with the soft pretzels, served with a hot mustard, that was the highlight to him!
champagne on the balcony
He also enjoyed the Kale salad and Pork loin main course.
The drinks were good and I had a sashimi style fish with a soy,
citrus Yuzu vinaigrette .
We were so engaged in conversation that I forgot to take more

The next morning, more walks on the beach, breakfast, and on the road
to LaQuinta.

Verdict: Laguna Beach is nice, but we prefer Cannon Beach, as it is more beautiful, not as crowded and it has better value.

pretzel at 370 Common

370 Common

salad at 370 Common
Breakfast burrito at Surf and Sand

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

La La Land Part 1

On a recent road trip to spend a couple of days in Laguna Beach, Bake and I stopped in Newport Beach for a late lunch at True Food Kitchen in Fashion Island.
In the past, we have enjoyed the area, staying at the Balboa Bay Beach Club with its beautiful views of the marina and comfortable surroundings.

Vegetable Crudite with Dips
Because of the many recommendations from family and friends, on this day it was about True Food Kitchen, a restaurant based on the concept of Dr. Andrew Weil. Its goal is to use local and organic products whenever possible and maintain a green environment.
Turkey Burger with Cheese
As you walk into this bright, airy restaurant you are greeted with the fragrance of fresh fruits and vegetables and the staff juicing fresh drinks with a variety of combinations. It was difficult to decide between the various juice drinks, but we chose the Pomegranate Limeade (lime juice, Pomegranate juice and Chia seed) and Kale-aid (kale, apple, cucumber, celery, lemon and ginger). Fresh vegetable and fruit drinks were to be the theme of this road trip, at least for breakfast and lunch.

We chose to dine outside on the patio and all the diners near us seemed to have a vegetable crudite bowl, it looked so appetizing. A bowl with a variety of fresh, raw vegetables chilled on ice and a couple of dips served along side. The dips were a black olive, like a tapenade and a Tzatziki sauce, that were both good. To round out lunch we had the Panang Curry, which was a bowl of brown rice, broccoli, ginger, carrot and mushroom in a coconut broth and added chicken. A turkey burger with Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado on a flax seed bun, served with sweet potato home fries and kale. 
Panang Curry with Chicken
Everything on the menu is marked as Gluten Free, Vegan, or Vegetarian which is very helpful with different dietary needs.
The verdict on True Food Kitchen: We loved it and will return in the future. It was our favorite restaurant on this road trip. We both hope to see more restaurants like this in the future.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Grilled Copper River Salmon with Chive and Basil Butter

Fresh salmon from Alaska's Copper River arrived at the fish market. This tasty, rich salmon full of Omega 3 oils needs little addition other than a quick grill and some fresh lemon.
I took it one step further with a little herb butter.
Grilled Copper River with Chive and Basil Butter

1 fillet of Copper River Salmon
2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon of basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon of chives, finely minced

Combine butter, basil and chives in a small bowl and set aside.
Feel along the salmon fillet for any bones and remove with pinch nose pliers or tweezers.
Preheat grill to 320F.
Place salmon fillet, skin side down and grill for about 10 minutes an inch.
Remove and top with herb butter.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Curried Coconut and Lemongrass Pork Skewers

For an appetizer, a skewer with a couple of cubes of pork or for a main course, 4 to 6 cubes on a skewer and served over rice.

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
4 lemongrass stalks, bruised and then roughly chopped
Curried Coconut and Lemongrass Pork Skewers
1 Tablespoon curry powder
4 garlic cloves
1 piece of ginger (2 inches), minced
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk or coco lopez
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
10 skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

Place pork cubes in a large bowl.
Place lemongrass, curry powder, garlic, ginger, shallots, cilantro, fish sauce, coconut milk, salt and pepper in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Pour marinade over pork pieces and coat well. Marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight for best results.
Thread pork pieces onto each skewer.
Grill or broil pork for 5 minutes on each side, brushing with additional marinade at halfway point.
Sprinkle with coconut before serving, can be served warm or at room temperature.

Note: Make sure skewer ends are covered with foil before broiling or grilling.