Shaved Fennel, Apple, Quince & Ruby Red Grapefruit Salad w/ Manchego & Walnuts

This is a really refreshing and crisp salad. The creamy sharpness of the Manchego cheese helps to balance and round out the tart flavors of the apple and grapefruit. Manchego cheese is made from sheep’s milk and comes from the La Mancha region of Spain. It is generally aged between 60 days and 2 years and is firm with a buttery texture…YUM! Quince paste is the perfect match for this cheese.

 fennel apple salad

I paired the salad with a 2012 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough Region of New Zealand. Much like the salad, this wine is crisp with strong citrus tones which brought out the grapefruit in the salad nicely.

kim crawford

Here is the recipe, hope you enjoy!

4 Servings

1ea Fennel, shaved, reserve stems

2ea Green apple, such as Granny Smith, thin sliced

1ea Ruby red grapefruit, supremed, reserve juice

1/4C Quince paste, 1/4″ diced

.25Lb Manchego cheese, shaved

.5C Walnuts, rough chopped

.5C Champagne Vinegar

3T Quality olive oil

1t Honey

Salt & pepper to taste

Shave fennel and let marinate in vinegar with a dash of salt and honey while you are prepping the rest of the salad. Combine all ingredients, squeeze some grapefruit juice into the salad to taste. Toss lightly. Plate the salad, shave Manchego over the top, garnish with fennel fronds.

Quail Hunting In The Sisquoc

I have to begin this post with saying as a person who eats 90% of their meals vegetarian, and 85% of those meals vegan, I am sensitive to those who do not agree with hunting. In fact, for many years I would have included myself as one of those people. I mainly choose to eat this way for two reasons. First, I listen to my body. And I simply feel better not eating much meat or dairy. Second, it is my way of boycotting the way the majority of meat and dairy is produced in this country. I know I am just one person, but hopefully I can make some small difference by voting with my dollar.

So how did I come to the point where I wanted to explore what hunting was all about? Well, recently I read the Faviken cookbook, and it helped me to understand that we can have a symbiotic and beautiful relationship with the natural world around us. It was inspiring to learn that age old traditions are still upheld in today’s culinary world, in every detail imaginable. This includes hunting, foraging, and farming for many things on your menu.

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I was lucky enough to live on a ranch in Santa Barbara. And it was here that I met Tony, the owner of the ranch. I knew he hunted on a regular basis, and asked if I could join him on his next outing. He told me that he and Graham (owner of Los Padres Outfitters who runs horseback tours and excursions) were going to the Sisquoc to go quail hunting for three days and I was welcome to join; I quickly accepted his invitation!

There was a group of six of us that headed on horseback into the San Rafael wilderness. We unloaded the horses and gear at the Nira trailhead, and started off the Manzana trail. Our final destination was about 8 miles into the wilderness, to a small cabin owned by a friend of Tony’s. The region is so remote that only a few inhabitants live on the trail.

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The cabin we were staying at was located in between Dabney Cabin and the Manzana school house (as shown below)

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The trail was long and winding. Full of beautiful scenery, and rugged terrain.

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After about 2 hours of riding, we finally came upon the cabin. The billowing of smoke from the chimney was a welcome sight as it was quite chilly out.

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Luckily the owner of the cabin was a skilled craftsman and had welded an old buoy into a fireplace. This thing was AMAZING, and heated the entire cabin. The outside temp the evening we got in read 18 degrees!

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   We unpacked the horses and our gear, and settled in for the night. There were no phones, no computers, no hot water, a few hours of light from a gas powered generator, and some good whisky to keep us warm.  Spirits were high as we tucked in for an early morning wake up call for the hunt.

As dawn broke, the horses began to stir and the dogs at our feet started to whine with excitement for the new day. I was in charge of breakfast for the morning , and made some Johnny Cakes with a spiced apple topping. Johnny Cakes are like pancakes but made with cornmeal. The apples were picked fresh from Tony’s ranch the day before we left and the cakes were cooked to crisp perfection in the cast iron skillet.

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Here’s the simple recipe that was a perfect fit for the rustic setting:

1/2 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup hot milk

1 tablespoon shortening

Combine the ingredients, heat oil in the skillet. Drop batter in hot skillet, and flip after golden brown

For the apple topping:

2 lbs apples, diced

1T cinnamon

3T brown sugar

1t nutmeg

.5t salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat in large sauce pot until apples soften. Serve warm.

After breakfast we packed up the horses and headed to the Sisquoc riverbed, just a short ride from our cabin. Along the way we picked up three friends; donkeys that were living in the area. As natural pack animals, they were happy to join our posse for the day.

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I felt very luck to be joining such skilled huntsmen. Dave, Graham, and Tony had been hunting most of their lives, and were excellent trackers. They were able to teach me a lot about how to read animal tracks, what to look for on the hunt, and gun safety.

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One of the most surprising things I learned from the hunt, was how many parallels it shared with being an athlete. To be a successful hunter you have to operate in the moment and rely on all of your senses. It can be physically demanding, and when hunting in a group it is imperative to communicate, and work together towards a common goal…these are also parallels I draw to working in a kitchen.

In the end, the hunt was a success!

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I’m looking forward to the next time I can go out with Graham and Tony. They shared many stories of living off of the land, and being closely connected with the natural world around them. It was refreshing and energizing being able to get off the grid for a few days, and I feel I have a closer understanding of what it is to have an active role in my food system. I have the utmost respect for the quail that we caught, and no part of the beautiful bird went to waste.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart … and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
~John Muir

Butternut Squash Agnalotti with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Sabayon

agnalotti
Agnolotti Dough:
8oz AP Flour (1 3/4c)
6ea Large egg yolks
1ea Large egg
1.5T Olive oil
1T Milk

Nobody can explain it like Thomas Keller:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pasta-Dough-for-Agnolotti-105858

Butternut Squash Filling:
1ea Med butternut squash (aprox 2lbs)
1ea Large shallot, sliced
2-3C Chicken stock (not broth!)
1-2T Olive oil.5t Cinnamon
.25t Cayenne
1t Honey
Salt to taste

*Peel skin off squash, cut into 1” cubes, as similar size as possible
*Heat oil in a large saucepot, sweat shallots SLOWLY, add a dash of salt to draw out moisture
*Once shallots are translucent, add squash, sweat SLOWLY. Season with salt
*Gradually add chicken stock, .5c at a time, slowly softening squash
*Once squash is completely cooked through, blend with a stick blender. For a very smooth filling pass through sieve
*Add cinnamon, cayenne, and honey. Check seasoning. Chill and add to a pastry bag

Sabayon:
4ea Large egg yolks, room temp
.25c Champagne or white wine, slightly warmed
Dash of lemon
Salt to taste

*Just before service place wine and yolks in a metal bowl
*Hold over heat (The steam from the pot of water for the agnolotti is perfect for this)
*Whisk thoroughly until the mixture becomes frothy, do not let the eggs curdle
*Season

Chanterelle Mushrooms:
1Lb Chanterelles
4ea Thyme sprigs
1ea Garlic clove, slightly crushed
2T Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

*In a LARGE sauté pan, heat oil until oil shimmers
*Add mushrooms, then thyme and garlic
*Toss in pan, remove once slightly browned

Add chives and pomegranate seeds to finish…the pom seeds make all the difference!! And plate it purdy 😉