Category Archives: Dining Out

Christmas in September.

No, I’m not talking about the holiday itself. I’m talking about the reference to red and green chiles in New Mexican cuisine.

When dining in New Mexico, one can order a number of dishes prepared with red or green chile sauce, such as enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas, burritos, etc. If you wish to get both green and red chile sauce, you simply order ‘Christmas’. And since I’m still undecided which chile I prefer, I usually order my dishes this way. I get the best of both worlds.

New Mexico Red Chile

This is where the love starts.
Just don't breathe in too deeply.

I was lucky to make a quick visit to Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago, just in time for Hatch green chile season which I blogged about here. But red chile gets its due now.

When I first moved to Santa Fe over 20 years ago, I got a job working the ‘front of the house’ at the Ore House on the Plaza. This is where I met my husband. He was the cute bartender I gazed upon as I came into the bar seeking employment. I told my friend Maggie right then and there, “I’m going to marry him.”

And I did.

key ingredients for perfect pesto

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid. Stupid is me, not you.
Just so we're clear. Duh.

I also met some of the best people around. Many are still dear close friends, even though some of us have moved around, moved back, moved to other countries. We still have solid ties and relationships that allow us all to hook up. Once we get together, it’s like no time has passed. We pick up where we left off. There are never odd moments of uncertainty. There is trust. Love. Respect.

The Ore House will always hold a special place in my heart. Even the friends who have come and gone from our lives are revered and remembered.

ready to blend

Have I mentioned how much I love K&K for the Cuisinart? Again...gracias.

As is the Ore House’s Red Chile Piñon Pesto. This signature recipe was developed by the original chef of the Ore House, and despite my insider contacts, no one has the recipe. For years, this was not an issue, as anyone could wander on up the white staircase to the second floor of the restaurant and simply purchase large mason jars of the adored pesto to take home and enjoy for many, many meals.

But alas, some good things come to an end. After over two decades of success, the Ore House on the Plaza will close its doors. In an attempt to gain a surplus of pesto bliss, my amigo Cristòbal made a run out to the restaurant recently and discovered that our beloved pesto is no longer available. Not on the menu, not in jars.

¡Que lastima! When Chris broke the news to me, I nearly wept. Honestly. People who are ‘in the know’ about this pesto will verify its magic. There is something medicinal about it. You eat it, you sweat. Your tongue begs you to stop, begs you for more. Slather it on a burger, and I swear you’ll never eat a burger any other way (unless it’s already covered in green chile. Then you are forgiven). Combine it with butter and add to seared shrimp or scallops? Died and gone to chile heaven, my friends. You’re just a better person after eating it.

Jar O Love

If you're lucky, you have one (or two) of these in your fridge.

Just knowing I have a jar or two in my fridge just makes me sleep better at night. I know, it’s really absurd, but there you have it. So I knew I had to find a way to keep me and my familia in the red, with the red. I’ve been playing around with the ingredients – chile, cheeses, oil, and nuts for a while now.

And I think I’ve got it.

Now, I am not going to be as selfish and elusive as the original masters. Oh no. I think great food should be enjoyed, not hoarded. I gladly share my recipe with all of you, and encourage the Red Chile Piñon Pesto diehards to give it a try. All of the ingredients can be found easily in your own home towns and cities. Except perhaps, for the red chile pods. But that’s okay, because I can hook you up, my compadres. Just email me and I will be happy to send you some of the good stuff. Soon, you too can be putting up jars of ‘liquid gold’.

And, if for any reason you just don’t have it in you to whip up a batch, you can always wait until Christmas. The actual holiday this time. I think I may be making up a shwack for gifts. Just stay on my good side, and all good tidings will come.

Red Chile Piñon Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dried New Mexican red chile pods
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups grated parmesan and romano cheeses (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  • Spread dried chile pods on a large baking sheet and heat in a 300 degree oven for 3 minutes. Remove stems, but do not seed.
  • Combine all ingredients in food processor, except for oil and salt. Add 1 cup of the oil, and then pulse to combine. Slow stream the additional oil as needed to form a chunky ‘pesto-like’ mixture. Taste for seasoning, and add up to 1 teaspoon of salt as needed. The cheeses are naturally salty, so you want to be careful with this. I did find that despite the cheese, a teaspoon of kosher salt was helpful. Be careful if you are using regular table salt. If you are, perhaps half is fine.
  • Store pesto in a mason jar (preferred), or covered container and refrigerate. Mixture will keep for several months. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

So Many Recipes. So Little Time.

As Dirk and I embark on our first camping trip of the season, I must leave you, dear readers for 5 days. It’s probably for the best. I doubt we have internet access where we are headed, and the whole point of getting away with car, camp gear and dog is pretty obvious.

But, before I leave tomorrow morning, I want to leave you with a recipe for a dish we are taking with. (The other recipes, which I have prepared and documented, will have to wait until I return next week to hit the internet.)

Although the emphasis is on camping this week, the recipes can all be made and enjoyed in your home kitchen, as they have been prepared in my little, meager 4’x8′ cooking space. Even since I have lived on my own, and cooked in various kitchens for a living, (most of them small), I rather find a tighter, smaller fit, well, a proper fit.

This is not to say that when I am privy to cooking in family and friend’s larger, spacious and very well equipped kitchen’s I don’t find myself yearning for that, because honestly? I do. I dream about those lovely spaces. Constantly. But for now, this is my reality, and I will deal with what is.

Speaking of spaces, ours is about to grow, profoundly. The outdoor living area in our campsite will be grand enough to view the clear, dark skies which only highlight the stars as they shine close to our tent. The flames of our campfire will jump and dance with great strength and colors, warming us through. The tales we tell throughout the night may even grow themselves, as the wine and song fill our ever expanding hearts and souls.

So, it is only proper that our nights of camping call for big, grand food. I have adapted a very favorite dish of ours to embrace the rich, deep colors and feelings of the great outdoors.

Bison? Why, Yes.

Nothing like a good pot of chile while camping.

I love campfire chili, not to be confused with New Mexican, or Mexican chile. This is chili and beans. Tex Mex, I guess is probably a better comparison. This trip I prepared this dish with Bison, a hearty, grand red meat. Despite its lean calories and iron rich nutrition, the well rounded flavor and richness of the meat stands up to the red wine and cocoa (!) I add to the dish. The result? A bowl of beans and meat that while lean, is robust, round, rich and perfect with a good glass of Zinfandel and a roaring fire.

Throw another log on the fire. There is more wine to finish.

Bison Chili

I rarely eat red meat these days, but when I do, I want it to be worth it. This dish fits the bill. I have always been a fan of more meat than beans ratio when I make chili, so I use 2 pounds in this recipe. If you prefer, you could cut back to just 1 pound, and I am sure it would still be rockin’.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground bison (or any meat you like, ground sirloin, turkey, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 14.5 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 – 14.5 canned beans, your choice (black, pinto, red, etc), drained
  • 1 cup red wine

Simmering on the stove

This looks good, right?

Directions:

In large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, garlic and bell peppers; saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and cook out slightly, about 5 minutes. Add ground meat. Turn up heat to medium high and saute all ingredients until meat is cooked through. Drain any fat, if necessary.

Add wine and diced tomatoes. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Yumba

Now, it looks and smells even better, after a couple hours.

Remove lid, add beans and continue to cook over low simmer, without lid for an additional 30 minutes. Taste, and season as necessary.

At this point, the chili can be cooled, then refrigerated for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen, up to 2 months.

This dish will get better with time, so if you must eat this the day you prepare it and you have leftovers, they will taste even more epic a day or two later!

Feeds a campfire crowd of 8 to 10. If you cut this recipe in half, you will feed a normal household of 4 with little or nothing to spare.

Camping? Cooking? Yes!!!

Vacation options are lurking over here at the Casa Reynolds, and one of our favorite things to do is camp. We are definitely NOT talking about hiking in, hiking out camping. Car camping is more our style, although I really think (perhaps, hope is a better word), I can eventually convince my better half to try extreme camping at some point. We shall see.

The Boys in the Forest

Dirk and Shadow were born to be wild. In the forest.

Next weekend we are heading north for our first camping trip of the season, to our beloved area of Big Sur. We are going to take Shadow, the trusty wing puppy for his first camping adventure. I have no doubt he will love it. He loves road trips. As soon as we start packing anything, he knows we are going somewhere, longer than a few hours and insists on getting in the back of the car. Unless we relent, he is a pill.  This is regardless whether he comes with, or he goes to his own camp. As long as he is in the car, he knows an adventure awaits.

At this point, we can pack, clean and cook. Hell, we could probably go back to bed for a couple hours, and he would be just fine and dandy in the back of the Volvo. We even leave the back hatch open. He won’t budge. Good boy.

On to our camping needs. Pretty easy too.

Wine and herbs are lovely

You can't pack enough of this.

We are happy to load our gear, and head out. Sounds simple. Pretty much is, but of course it requires food for thought. Or rather, thought for food.

Camping sustanence needs to be easy. You are limited with space, time and cooking equipment. And as much as I love to cook, when enjoying the great outdoors, there are more important things to focus on; like staring at the beautiful ocean, mountainside, camp fire and bottle(s) of wine. Seriously. Priorities, people.

However, since so much energy and thought goes into a trip, you should have some rocking food to go along. You are worth it.

I’ve camped enough to find through trial and error what works wonderfully and what truly is a pain in the butt. Packing enough food items that are ready to serve or need minimal prep, will help you tremendously. A few kitchen tricks can prove to be the difference between a fantastic vacation, or a lesson learned that a camp full of hungry, cold campers is not a happy campground. Indeed. And, it will allow you and your cooking buddies to concentrate on one, incredible dish that will be remembered and discussed around future campfires for a long time.

That said, with proper planning and smart cooking, one can enjoy dishes such as Whole Grilled Fish, Twice Baked Cheese Potatoes, Crispy Baked Chicken, Chile Dry Rubbed Tri Tip and more.

How about Drunkin’ Cheese Dip? Grilled Breakfast Quesadillas? Yogurt with Spring Berries and Homemade Granola?

Oh, and don’t forget the dessert! Brownies, S’More bars and Fruit Cobbler anyone?

Dinner al fresco

Eating by candlelight? I could get used to this.

This week, I will be posting some of my favorite camping food recipes. Hopefully, they will ensure you work less in your outdoor kitchen and eat better than your neighbors, (who are struggling to light their campfire in the dark right now. Maybe you should bring them a few S’more Bars for strength. Oh, and some fire sticks).

You may find yourselves eating so well in fact, that frequent camping and culinary adventures could become a regular part of your schedules, allowing you and your family to come together under the big, open skies and land we are so blessed to have privy to. And that is truly the definition of a real vacation.

A Weekend of Food.

Most of my days are filled with work, obligations, errands, chores and some fun thrown in between. Meals are planned, shopped for, and consumed.

Some are better than others. The weekends are always met with fond anticipation. Plans (or better yet), NO plans are made, and the basis of the next 48 hours revolve around sleep and food.

Yes, I’m pretty easy. Feed me. Give me some lovin’ and put me to bed. I am a happy, happy girl.

Who doesn't love food?

This stuff is awful. Honestly. Just. Walk. Away.

This weekend was no different. Woke up late on Saturday and ventured out for breakfast at one of my favorite bakeries. Croissant, eggs, cheese and strong coffee were consumed. Oh, and an almond bear claw too. Not a bear. Not a claw. Just pure love.

Lunch a few, meager hours later was at Rose’s Cafe, a local mexican joint on the strip of SB Haley St. Our Abuela usually prepares our food, but I think she must have been away, as the lunch while good, lacked the love. Still, the salsa rocked, the chips were warm, the beer was icy cold.

Home for a long, long nap. Dinner out? But of course.

Meal 3 at a new place, Square One. A new chef, some great wine and food later, we were happy folks indeed. Started with a bit of champagne. Foie and a lovely spring beet dish made us hungry all over again. How is that possible?

Our entrees were delightful. Beef cheeks (yes, who knew beef and cheeks could taste so luscious together?) over house made german noodles… Ding! Ding! Ding! A Winnaaa!

Lamb Ragu with sweet potato gnocchi? Bring it. Good thing we had a full bodied Syrah to wash it all down – otherwise we could have made ourselves sick.

Dessert was the only fail of the night. Rhubarb crisp. Not nearly enough sugar, and not crisp. But, the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a 10 year old port made up for it.

This is my savior.

If I want to eat like this, I have to run with these... 25 miles a week.

Sunday morning – How can it be I am hungry? Well, I am. So feed me. NOW.

English muffins with fried eggs, ham and cheddar. Salmon Benedict. Hash Browns. Oh, and throw some fruit in there for good measure, toot sweet.

Lunch? Uh, no. Nap? Certainly!

Aged cheeses, Mahon and Wesleydale woke me right up. Oh, and a Mortadella sammie helped the fog clear right out of my head.

Dinner of local Sole, potatoes and greens was a redeeming factor for my dietary journal. Food Journal? Really? Bwahahahaha!! Like I need a written trail of this debauchery to prove I am a food whore. C’mon people.

Fish is lovely.

Sole. With Soul.

Honestly, who do you think you are dealing with?

Okay, off to bed to enjoy a couple of chocolate chunk cookies. I kid. NOT.

The weekends rock.

Best of 2009

2009 was a great year for many things. Food was no exception. Dirk and I are blessed to share a love and affinity for all that is um, food.

Since our lives revolve around breakfast, lunch, dinner and all in between, it seems fitting to come up the Best of List. This was a joint effort for sure. There are a good dozen plus catagories included. One of each won our hearts; the other a close contender. Here is the list:

1) Best Sandwich – First Place:

Katz’s Deli – NYC, Pastrami on Rye.
This was a beauty to behold. Hand carved, spare no fat, an equal amount of well seasoned and finely shaved meat melted in the mouth. The hearty rye, with its firm crust and fine crumb, needed nothing else. A small smear of mustard and crisp pickle on the side left us speechless.

Heaven on a plate

If any of you are vegan... Well, my condolences.

Runner Up:

Renaud’s Patisserie – Santa Barbara, Croque Monsieur.
In case anyone doesn’t know what this sandwich is made of, it’s a glorified ham and cheese. Layered between two slices of handmade bread, slathered with bechamel and gruyere cheese, it’s then  tucked under a broiler till crispy and brown. The raw talent of this local french bakery is really astounding. Good thing we aren’t within walking distance of this place, because it would be downright dangerous.

2) Best Street Food – First Place:

The Recession Special

I love dogs. All kinds.

Gray’s Papaya – NYC, The Recession Special.
Two hot dogs and a papaya juice for $4.99. Nothing else be said. Dirk likes his with mustard and sauerkraut, I prefer mine with red chili onions. Sublime either way.

Runner Up:

Loteria – Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, Chorizo Fundido.
Imagine a booth in the infamous market that’s been around for 70 plus years. You sit down, order a Hibiscus iced tea and wait for a blistering hot plate served from the broiler with nothing more than a pool of mexican cheese and chorizo sausage. Sop it up with handmade tortillas and weep a little when it’s all gone.

3) Best Cocktail – First Place:

Morton’s Steak House, Charlotte, NC, Sazerac.
I can’t even begin to tell you how lovely this was. I could have had many more of these, but I’m sure it would have been dangerous. Like, on a now you’re conscious and now you’re not level dangerous. Here is the recipe because you may very well need to make one (or two) yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz rye whiskey
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • Peychaud bitters to taste
  • absinthe
  • lemon twist for garnish

Directions:

  1. Chill an old -fashioned glass by filling it with ice and letting it sit while preparing the rest of the drink.
  2. In a separate mixing glass, muddle the simple syrup and Peychaud bitters together.
  3. Add the rye whiskey and ice to the bitters mixture and stir.
  4. Discard the ice in the chilled glass and rinse it with absinthe by pouring a small amount into the glass, swirling it around and discarding the liquid.
  5. Fill the rinsed glass with crushed ice.
  6. Strain the whiskey mixture from the mixing glass.

Sterrelaan Gals

These Gals LOVE a good Dark and Stormy. True Story.

Runner Up:

Dark and Stormy, Goleta Beach House, CA.
This drink proved to be a hit day in and day out when our dear family and friends of Sterrelaan came to visit last summer. Again, here is the recipe because it has great merit in lifting the body and mind.

Ingredients:

  • In a collins glass filled with ice, add:
  • 2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum
  • 5 oz ginger beer
  • Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

Since I know that you now have a cocktail or two to mix, I will conclude this first installment of the Best of 2009. Each and everyone of you should now get yourselves into the kitchen or bar to prepare some love for you and yours.

All this talk of great food and drink suddenly has me hankering for something to nibble and imbibe on and well. I may not have a Gray’s Papaya in the neighborhood, but I do believe I have some great cheese handy.

And a bottle of Gosling’s Rum.

Cheers!

Life Gets in the Way.

Hello friends…

My best intentions of posting the ‘best’ of 2009 have alluded me for many reasons:

  1. My shower head was in need of repair. Fixed. Done.
  2. My Mom’s toilet was in need of repair. Bought the part. Installed the part. Part didn’t work. Must return to hardware store for correct part.
  3. Mixed up schedules and appointments made for a bit of chaos.
  4. My beloved car is in the shop. Again. Was supposed to be fixed on Monday. Still haven’t heard from my mechanic.
  5. Spent a good hour plotting the demise and torture of said mechanic.
  6. I am lazy.
  7. All of the above.

Okay, that said, the Best of 2009 I swear, is coming. If I’m not arrested and on trial for number 5, I will get to it over the next couple of days.

But I had to leave you all with something (this is me, actually pretending people are reading this silly blog, and returning to see if I am capable of writing some more endless dribble).

So let’s get right to it. The food.

Farmer's Market at it's finest

None of this food group made it into my belly today. Boo.

I was bad today. Because of the crazy schedule mentioned above, I was not able to prepare a simple, real breakfast, which usually includes oatmeal:

  • Scottish Oats
  • Banana
  • Flax Seeds
  • Brown sugar
  • Almond Butter

Instead, after a 3 + mile run, I showered and dressed, then proceeded to slam down a Mojo Bar and head out the door for more errands. By the time I picked up Dirk at noon, we decided to grab a bite out for lunch (another really bad idea when you are so hungry you could bite a baby’s butt through a park bench).

Insert The Habit here. Not bad. But when you go back for seconds (as in a second burger and onion rings) It. Is. Bad.

Finally home after another unsuccessful venture (see list number 2), I took a quick nap. Back up and on the road to pick up Dirk. Home again, and dinner was probably best passed on, but I do live with a strong, young Dutch boy, so I prepared (reheated) some leftover quiche and salad.

A couple glasses of wine later, and this is what you get people.

I’m not proud. But some days you just do what you can. And I’m pretty sure I have fulfilled my need of burger and bun for a while.

Tomorrow is another day. A good run will be in order. Then some oatmeal.

And then I deal with my mechanic. I vow to be gentle.

Farewell 2009.

Happy New Year Blog Friends and Family!

During this long holiday weekend, I will be recapping my favorite bits of 2009. They are many and I fear I will fail to mention some, so my apologies in advance. Most will be related to food of course, but travel plays a role as well, which just happens to be my second favorite thing in the world to do. Eating and traveling are great companions!

New York and the big guy

Smiling is fun. Let's all try it!

Although I didn’t take any transatlantic vacations this year, I was lucky enough to have four groups of friends and family visit from across the pond, and a couple trips we met somewhere in between. You know those experiences are at the top of my list!

Just the memories of 2009 give me a reason to smile, and to be grateful for all the love and joy I experienced.

Not all was fine in 2009 (sorry, I couldn’t help that), but life rolls like that. Living well is a goal I wish to achieve, and I’m not referring to drinking find wine and eating organic foods (although that does sound pretty good to me).

As I grow older I wish to grow wiser, with modesty and respect for life. This truly is a gift here folks, we don’t have infinite time here. We can spend it lamenting about what is and isn’t. We can habitually moan and groan about the injustice of life and how rotten things are going…

Or, we can sing when the sun shines, and dance when it rains.

May 2010 be a year of growth, knowledge and celebration for us all. Happy New Year!