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Field Trip To Paso

May 30, 2015

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Do I let the best kept secret out of the bag?  Well here it is….a stunning B&B sitting on top of the Denner vineyard in Paso Robles. The region was once known for Cabs and Zins, but in the past decade Rhone varietals have been taking over the area. Located right in the middle of Cali between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this wine country has become our favorite destination for a three day escape. With over 250 vineyards, we have 16 down and so many to go!! Our new home away home is the Comus House in the middle of the Denner Vineyard. Listing this home as a bed and breakfast takes the category to a new level. Ron Denner designed and built this house 15 years ago for himself and 3 years ago decided to open his home to guests. His long time employee Felisa and her husband Ron have the ideal job as the innkeepers. This dream team is the perfect couple to welcome guests and serve (cook) amazing multi-course breakfasts and evening appetizers. And of course they serve Denner wines. I wanted to highlight a few of Ron and Felisa’s dishes…. as this is NOT your mothers B&B!

Blueberry Galette with Lemon Curd

Pastry Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

24 Tbs. (3 sticks) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3/4 cup ice water 

Combine flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a large bowl, whisk to combine.  Add the cold butter cubes, and using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture making pea sized chunks.  Add the cold water, and very gently mix until a mixture is formed.

Place the mixture on a lightly floured counter.  Bring together gently, fold over a few times to incorporate all of the butter and flour.  Shape into a ball, place in a large bowl, cover, and place in fridge for 15 minutes.  While the dough is resting, work on the filling.

Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
coarse sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps. In a large bowl, toss the berries, sugar and cornstarch mixture, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Roll out the dough.
Mound the blueberries into the middle of the dough, leaving an inch or two around the edges. Fold the edges over the filling, just enough to keep the berries from sliding out, overlapping and pinching where needed.
Brush the pastry with egg and sprinkle with the course sugar. Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. If the dough is browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil. Cool for a few minutes and serve with lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 large eggs
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 tablespoons butter

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture is light in color (about 3 minutes). Stir in lemon juice and butter; cook for 5 minutes or until mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cool. Cover and chill (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Note: Lemon Curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can easily double the recipe and freeze half of it in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Thaw in the refrigerator, and use within 1 week of thawing.

IMG_1743Felisa’s additional breakfast dishes included A Dutch baby served with cinnamon syrup (to be made and blogged in a future post). And a lovely first course of watermelon, tomato, buffalo mozzarella stacks topped with balsamic glaze and mint.

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Felisa’s Asparagus Blue Cheese Souffle’s

Serves 8

5 tablespoons flour

1 cup whole milk

4 ounces creamy blue cheese, cut in small pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cubed, plus extra for buttering the souffle dishes

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for egg whites

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 egg yolks

4 egg whites

1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus spears, with tough ends cut off and discarded

kosher salt

Arrange a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter generously the insides of eight 1/2 -cup oven-proof souffle dishes, ramekins or custard cups. Cut circles of parchment paper to fit the bottoms, and place circles in the bottoms of the dishes. Butter the parchment papers.

Put flour in medium saucepan and very gradually whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth paste. When all the milk has been added, set the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously for a minute or longer until the mixture is smooth and quite thick.

Remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Mix well. Whisk in egg yolks.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Raise speed to high and beat until whites hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Fold egg whites into cheese mixture in three equal additions.

Divide mixture evenly among prepared souffle dishes and place them in a large baking pan. Carefully pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the souffle dishes.

Bake souffles at 375 degrees oven in water bath until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in the pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around inside edges of each souffle dish and then, carefully unmold (if desired) a souffle and place it, right side up, in a buttered baking dish. Repeat with remaining souffles. (Souffles can be prepared a day ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before reheating.)

To reheat: Arrange rack at center position of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake souffles, uncovered, until heated through, 8 to 10 minutes or longer. They will rise again slightly. While souffles are heating, cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water to cover, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes for very thin asparagus spears; a minute or two longer for larger ones. Drain well, salt to taste, then cover with foil to keep warm until souffles are done.

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Not only were the dishes delish, Ron had an impromptu arts and crafts session!!

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