Santa Cruz Bounty

Recently, my friend, Meera, and I paid a visit to our friends’, Susan and Charles, mountain retreat.  Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Susan and Charles’ rustic lodge is surrounded by California Redwoods with a vista that overlooks the city of Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean beyond. One of the best things about visiting them (aside from their company) is that at the end of the visit you leave with a goody bag full of fruits and vegetables from their orchards and gardens.  Sometimes your bag is full with three types of pears. Sometimes it’s avocados and kiwis. You never know what you will receive but it will always be in season and delicious.  On this occassion, we recieved a large box of padron peppers, green apples, and vine-ripened tomatoes.  On arriving home I was inspired to prepare a meal in honor of these ingredients and Susan and Charles. Food is best enjoyed with loved ones so I invited my friend, Lisa, over for dinner to celebrate this Santa Cruz Bounty. (Yes, I am lucky to have so many lovely friends!)

padron peppers
We started with roasted padron peppers. Toss them in light olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until their skins are charred and cripsy (about 20 minutes in my oven). Top with Queso Fresco and you’ve got an, “OMG! I could eat this every day!” dish.
Tomatoes off the vine. Salt. Pepper. Toss. Is any other way to enjoy one of Mother Nature’s most fabulous treats?
Mushroom Risotto – because I can’t live without carbs. This recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. My friend, Aimee, introduced me to Marcella 15 years ago. Marcella’s Essentials is still my culinary bible. For ease, you can sautee the mushrooms the day before and add them when you are almost done cooking the risotto.
watermelon salad
Charles’ Famous Watermelon Salad. Charles prepares this salad by tossing the watermelon with some lemon and/or lime juice, salt to taste, thinly sliced white onion, mint, and feta cheese. This salad is the perfect compliment to a heavier dish like risotto. A tip Charles shared with me is to soak the sliced onions for about 30 minutes in water. This takes the sharp bite out of the onion so all you taste is the onion’s savory essence and it doesn’t overpower the melon.
Of course, we can’t forget about the cocktails! Lisa brought this really yummy zinfandel. It was medium-bodied with a little bit of spice, almost like it wanted to be pinot (but really, what wine doesn’t  want to be a pinot?). A perfect addition to our meal.
apple tart 2
Apple Gallette for dessert. Meera encouraged me to use my pizza gallette dough for this tart. It was divine! To prepare the apples, I used the apple pie recipe in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Fannie Farmer is another one of my culinary saints.
Lisa enjoying the bounty!
Good food. Good wine. Good Friends. Marcella and Fannie would be proud!

2 thoughts on “Santa Cruz Bounty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s