1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup ground almonds
¾ cup cold butter, cut up
½ cup slivered almonds
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. flour
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 c. Sour Cream
2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat Oven to 325°F.
- Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, and ground almonds in medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Reserve 1/2 cup and add slivered almonds
- Press remaining onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan covered with triple layer of aluminum foil. Bake 25 min. or until lightly browned.
- Beat cream cheese, remaining flour, remaining sugar and vanilla in food processor until well blended.
- Add sour cream. Add eggs, 1 at a time, pulsing until each is incorporated. Pour over crust. Top with berries and reserved crumb mixture.
- Place spring form pan in a large roasting pan and fill halfway up side of cake pan with boiling water. Bake 1 hour 15 – 1 hour 30 minutes or until edges are set and center jiggles slightly. Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove cake pan from water bath and let cool completely on a wire rack. Score knife around rim of pan to loosen cake.
- Cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Tequila Lime Shrimp Salad
1# shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined
¼ c. Tequila
½ c. lime juice, freshly squeezed
¼ c. red onion, sliced
¼ c. cilantro, chopped, reserve some whole leaves for garnish
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
Salt and pepper
1. Boil or steam shrimp for 1-2 minutes.
2. Place in ice bath to stop cooking.
3. Combine lime juice and tequila.
4. Lay shrimp in glass baking sheet and pour liquid over top of shrimp.
5. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
6. Add red onion, cilantro and tomato.
7. Toss and refrigerate for 1-2 hours more.
4 corn tortillas
2 c. salad greens
Plating – two ways martini glass and traditional salad
1. Place some greens on a chilled salad plate.
2. Place a scoop of shrimp salad on season greens.
3. Garnish with avocado and cilantro leaves.
4. Serve with corn tortillas
This salad can also be served atop salmon or other white fish.
Maryland Crab Potato Salad
1# Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 c. sour cream
2 Tbsp. aioli (recipe below)
1 tsp. stone ground mustard
¼ c. green onions diced (reserve 1 Tbsp. for garnish)
¼ c. celery diced
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 Dill pickle, diced
½ tsp. Old Bay
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook potatoes in cold salted water. Bring to boil and simmer until tender.
2. Drain and place on a ½ pan and put in refrigerator to stop cooking.
3. Prepare dressing for potatoes.
4. Toss potatoes with dressing. If dressing is too dry add some pickle juice or buttermilk to thin.
5. Season to taste.
½# Dungeness or Maryland Blue Crab (backfin or lump, cooked and picked)
¼ tsp. Old Bay
2 Tbsp. aioli (recipe below)
1 tsp. celery Seed
1 tsp. fresh tarragon diced, 1 sprig reserved for garnish
1. Combine aioli, celery seed, old bay and tarragon together.
2. Lightly coat crab.
3. Season to taste.
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed or champagne vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil
4. Place yolks in blender and pulse until thick.
5. Add seasonings and lemon juice until combined.
6. Gradually add oil until mixture thickens.
Serves 2 as salad; Makes 8 cucumber boats.
1. Use Tom Thumb lettuce to create a boat for crab salad and potato salad.
2. Scoop each into separate lettuce leaf.
3. Garnish crab with tarragon and potato salad with green onions.
Japanese Crab Meat Salad
1/2 # Dungeness or Maryland Blue Crab (backfin or lump, cooked and picked)
Miso Vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 c. Mizuna
2 Tbsp. daikon root, julienned
Edaname, tossed with sea salt
Wonton wrappers or Lotus root, thinly sliced, fried, seasoned with sea salt, optional garnish
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. soy sauce or for GF tamari sauce
½ c. miso
½ c. seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1. Roast shallots and olive oil in metal baking dish. Cover and cook until shallots are soft and well roasted.
2. Remove shallots and reserve oil
3. Process all ingredients together except oil until smooth.
4. Drizzle in oil and emulsify.
1. Toss crab lightly with miso vinaigrette.
2. Toss mizuna with miso vinaigrette or seasoned rice wine vinegar.
3. Place on a small mound on chilled plate.
4. Garnish with julienned daikon root.
5. Slice and fan avocado and put a scoop of crab meat on top.
6. Garnish with black sesame seeds.
7. Place a pile of edaname on the plate.
8. Garnish with fried wontons or lotus root on a chilled plate.
I have enjoyed cooking as long as I can remember. I love eating; experiencing different tastes and textures is exciting for me. My dad is Italian-American, so I was raised in an environment that revolves around food; family gatherings are like eating marathons.
As a child, I never thought I would be a chef, or had even considered the food service industry as an option. Of course, I changed “What I’m gonna be when I grow up” almost weekly. I always imagined myself in some sort of white collar position, with at least a Bachelor’s Degree. I love learning, and have a knack for science and math. In high school I planned to go to college to study chemical engineering, but once I got into college, I changed my mind, deciding I would study graphic design. That lasted about a year, then I switched to mathematics. After another year I dropped out, telling my parents I would work full time managing a KFC, and eventually go to culinary school. I think I am attracted to cooking because it combines science and art. There is real chemistry involved, but you get to be creative and expressive through it.
It took two years for me to get my act together and get into culinary school, but I eventually did enroll at Kitchen Academy in Sacramento. After school, I continued to work in the Quick Service Restaurant industry, managing three Cold Stone Creameries for two years. I also work part time in a chocolate shop for several months while managing the Cold Stones.
Once I left the QSR world, I was hired as a pantry cook at Stone House Bistro in Rancho Murieta, CA, a small (Friday Harbor small) gated community outside of Sacramento. I worked my way up, essentially managing the restaurant over the course of two years. Eventually I felt the need to move back to Lodi, where I grew up. There is a wonderful bakery there, The Dancing Fox, and I’ve always enjoyed baking and pastry more than savory cooking, so I decided that I was going to get a job there. In the meantime, I would sell cheese and wine. After a few months, a breakfast cook position opened up at The Dancing Fox, so I applied; even though I really wanted to bake, I figured a foot in the door couldn’t hurt.
At Kitchen Academy the chef instructors told us that breakfast cook was the most difficult position to have in a kitchen. They had me terrified of it! It didn’t help that when we had “Egg Day” at school, I had the worst time ever trying to fry an egg properly. I couldn’t do it. In my defense, I had never tried to fry an egg before because I didn’t like eggs very much. In fact, I still don’t like the taste of a fully cooked egg yolk. I was so hard on myself for not being able to do it well, I actually started to cry. Since then I’ve eased up a little bit. I have to keep reminding myself, it’s just eggs, not life or death. But I digress.
At Dancing Fox I took to breakfast cooking like a duck to water. I love it. Maybe it’s because I feel like I overcame a challenge, or because I feel confident at something I know others feel uneasy about. As I cooked breakfasts food more and more, I learned to like eating them more and more. (I had never been a breakfast eater before.)
Once my aunt Stephanie (who has been with The Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites for several years) heard I was doing breakfasts, she started asking me to come here and check out the Inn. After almost a year of her saying “We need someone, come see.” and me saying “Oh, I don’t know, it’s a big move,” I finally came up and checked out the island. And, like everyone else who comes here in July, I fell in love with San Juan Island. I knew I had found my home. I flew back to California, packed up and came back here within a month to start working.
So now I’m here, watching the rain fall, thinking about myself and what to tell you all to make me sound interesting. My thoughts keep coming back to my table. All of my best memories from childhood were either outdoors or at the big butcher block table my dad built that was in our kitchen. (I love being outdoors, that’s part of why I love SJI, great outdoor activities.)
About the table — I love it. As a child, I thought it was gigantic. I know now it’s not, but I still remember climbing the barstool so I could climb on top of it and sit with my mom while she cooked. I spent as much time at that table as I could, cooking, eating, doing crafts, doing homework, or any other excuse. One of my fondest memories from childhood is spending all day in the kitchen with my mom while she made her post -Thanksgiving turkey soup, tasting it along the way as she added ingredients.
I began “helping” my mom cook at an early age – cracking eggs, grating cheese, licking the beaters. I never saw her use recipes, though she had many books and several tins full of recipe cards. I suppose that’s where I picked up the habit of cooking with intuition. My tutelage did not last long; I am a self-guided learner. That’s my fancy way of saying I’m too stubborn and independent, and need to learn from my own mistakes instead of taking others’ word for it. After age 12 or so, cooking dinner one night a week was one of my chores. I would trade all the other duties I was assigned in order to cook more, but my mom didn’t want to scrub the bathrooms either.
I made some great meals at that table, a lot of mediocre ones, and a few real stinkers. The most epic failure I can remember was a batch of chocolate chip cookies. My friend was there with me, and she didn’t want to make them without adult supervision, but I would hear none of that. I was old enough (I think I may have been 8-10), I’d made them with help before, we would be fine. So we mixed the dough and got them baked without incident. But we thought they were a little off. Then I took one to my mom and she could barely choke it down. She asked what I’d put in them so I showed her the eggs, flour, sugar, and can of Crisco in the fridge I had used. When I pulled out the shortening can, she began laughing hysterically. It wasn’t Crisco, it was bacon fat! So now I know the importance of labeling, and being able to identify ingredients.
On my first day at The Dancing Fox, I discovered that we donated day old pastries to the same women’s shelter where the table had ended up. After a few weeks, I inquired about the table with the woman who picked up the pastries every day. She told me they had it in storage, because they had since gotten a new table. She told me I could have it back! I was so excited I made plans to get it immediately, even though I didn’t have a place for it in my apartment. Thus, it found a home in the kitchen at The Dancing Fox. It served us well there, but I was certainly not going to leave it there once I decided to come up to Friday Harbor. I brought it with me, and now I have truly been reunited with my favorite piece of furniture. A piece of my childhood, here in my new home, it helps me feel grounded, when I am so far from my family for the first time in my life. I can’t wait to see what I make on it up here. I don’t plan on reliving the awful cookies, but time will tell. We all have good days and bad days.