Meet Molly. Or maybe you already have. If you haven’t, you’re missing out because Molly is cooking up some fabulous breakfasts!
Molly Prima joined us at the end of August, jumping right into the heat of a busy commercial kitchen on Labor Day weekend. Undaunted from her “christening by fire,” Molly has been introducing our breakfast guests to her favorites of comfort food classics with an upscale twist. When it comes to breakfast, Molly feels “Sometimes it’s hard for people to branch out. I don’t want to scare people, but I want them to get just outside of their box so they can try something just a little new on vacation.” Her Pacific Northwest biscuits & gravy is a prime example: Fresh baked from scratch herbed biscuits, vegetarian gravy, topped with lox, still has that smoky flavor that pairs astoundingly well with cream gravy, but it just a tad different. There is a world of difference in her Breakfast Sandwich, where everything is made fresh from scratch; hash is made with a variety of root vegetables instead of just potatoes; a simple poached free range egg on top keeps the flavors clean and allows the natural flavors to shine through. “I want to be able to share wonderful tastes with other people, and bring brightness to their morning with wonderful food.”
To determine “wonderful flavors,” after graduating from Kitchen Academy in Lodi, Molly trained passionately to develop her palate in specific foods. She put in a stint at Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates in Sacramento, making cookies, ganaches, truffles, mousses and more. Cheese Central in Lodi, CA is where she honed her skills and knowledge of the fine art of cheese tasting, and pouring wine at the Heritage Oak Winery in Lodi, CA opened the world of wine to her. “I had the awful chore of taking home pieces of cheese or bottles of wine and tasting them,” Molly jokes. “You have to practice, practice, practice. Your food is a whole different experience when you actually stop and think about what’s in your mouth when you’re tasting; it brings eating to a whole different level.”
In addition to all these fun jobs, Molly managed a slew of Cold Stone Creameries and fast food chains, served as kitchen manager at Stonehouse Bistro in Rancho Murieta, CA, and breakfast cook at The Dancing Fox in Lodi, CA. From her varied experience, she’s discovered that her favorite things to make in the kitchen are custards, meringues, and technique-based dishes with a lot of room for creativity and applications as components of other desserts. She will be applying this to desserts for Coho Restaurant as well as at the Inns.
Growing up in the heart of California’s Central Valley cornucopia, remote San Juan Island is a long way from home. Molly came up to visit in the summer, and as do so many visitors, she fell in love with the island. She spent time meeting as many local residents as she could, and got a very good feel from the community; she really liked the community – and the ORCAS!
Now that she’s established a home here (complete with her childhood kitchen table) and we’re moving into our quiet season, Molly’s goal is to learn as much as she can about sustainable agriculture on a small scale, and to develop our Chef’s Garden to produce more usable crops. She wants to make the best food and variety with what we can grow right here on site. That, and continue to work on the craft of cookery, developing technical proficiency and creativity.
Please join us in welcoming Molly to our family at the inns. To read more about Molly and the journey of her kitchen table in Molly’s own words, see our blog post.
This seasonal make-ahead treat is equally at home at the most elegant holiday dessert table or as comfort food after family meals. It’s tall and fluffy; topped with a dollop of fresh cream, it’s luscious, and pairs well with a rich cup of freshly-brewed coffee.
For the Crust:
(This will cover the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. If you wish to cover the sides as well, double the recipe.)
1 package graham crackers (9 crackers, 4.8 ounces)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup European unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
3 8-ounce packages (24 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 egg yolk
1/2 C sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Caramel sauce, chopped roasted nuts, and whipped cream, optional garnish
For the Crust:
1. Pulse the graham crackers, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in a food processor to pulverize.
2. Transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl; pour the melted butter over the top and mix it in by hand. When it is fully mixed, it will hold it’s shape if you squeeze it, and crumble apart if you tap it.
3. Press the crust into a 9″ springform pan evenly. Use a glass with smooth sides and bottom to press it down firmly.
For the Filling:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix the cream cheese, brown sugar, and salt in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed about 3 minutes, until smooth. The longer you mix them, the fluffier your cheesecake will be. Half way through, stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl down.
2. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing lightly and scraping the bowl between each addition.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed.
4. Pour filling into crust and place in a water bath (place the cheesecake inside a larger pan filled with water at least half to three quarters of the way up the sides of the cheesecake pan.) Bake uncovered about one hour, or until the center is just set. It should still have a little bit of jiggle to it but not be liquid. Let cool in the pan and refrigerate overnight before serving.
5. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with chopped nuts and whipped cream if desired.
Throughout the summer and fall we get get luscious apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums from our Eastern Washington farmers. This tart can be made with any stone fruit you’d like; just make sure it’s ripe. Taking the time to arrange the fruit in a decorative pattern adds to the visually beautiful dessert. It’s also lovely with coffee in the morning, or afternoon pick-me-up.
1 egg yolk
1 TBLS whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
8 TBLS unsalted European style butter
- Combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor. Process until course. Add egg yolk, vanilla, whipping cream and process until dough comes together.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour
- Press into 12-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
- Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
- Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes until lightly golden brown.
- Cool and set aside. Can be made the day before.
13 ounces ripe apricots or other stone fruit
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
2 TBLS All-purpose flour
Pinch sea salt
¼ cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Slice fruit ¼ inch thick and lay them in a decorative pattern in the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell.
- Whisk together remaining filling ingredients and pour over apricots.
- Sprinkle with almonds.
- Bake for 35 minutes until custard is set.
Washington State is filled with incredible beauty and diversity, the best of which is featured in premier driving tours designated as Scenic Byways. The spectacular San Juan Islands Scenic Byway is Washington’s newest byway, and is unique as the only state byway that includes a marine highway. The Islands overflow with natural beauty, history and a wide array of attractions to soothe and excite. And with 247 days of sunshine and just half the rain of Seattle, this trip is a year-round getaway.
Give yourself time to experience the wildlife, hiking, gourmet restaurants, historic town, museums, whale-watching opportunities…and that’s just for starters. A little time spent on this byway and you’ll discover for yourself the beauty at every turn in the road, and what makes this island so very special.
For more information on the WA State Scenic Byways, see http://www.experiencewa.com/experience-washington/scenic-byways/san-juan-ferry.aspx. Contact our local Scenic Byways representative at https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Juan-Islands-Scenic-Byway-Explorer/273885016025751.
Poor Mona, we’re loving her too much! She is suffering from some SERIOUS camel conditions, and we don’t have an exotic animal veterinarian on the island who can really dial in the prescriptive remedy. For now, her doctor is recommending that she stay on a strict diet that hopefully will help with her mange and Cushings disease.
In earlier reports, her caretakers recommended only carrots, but now, even healthy foods are off limits. So please folks, go ahead and visit her – she loves company – but PLEASE don’t feed her.
You can follow Mona’s progress on her Facebook page, Mona the Camel.
Here is local photographer Cyndi Brast’s ode to Mona’s woes:
Mona, I’ve heard isn’t doing so great
With all the snacks tourists feed her, she’s gained too much weight.
Now it’s affected her system “E” “N” “Do” “crine”
That’s not fun at all, no not a bit…WHEN…
One at a time, then two or three clumps
Mona’s lost her hair, even over her hump.
The vet came to see Poor Mona one day
And this is what she had to say:
“Mona needs to lose weight
No more snacks can she eat.
It’s putting much too much stress
On all her four feet!”
“She needs healthy food,
And a little medicine
To help her hair
Start growing back in!”
Come say hello, but please do refrain!
Mona needs to follow the vet’s regimen.
Watch out for traffic when you stop over too
And please not too late, Mona has a curfew!
And after your visit, if you feel so inclined
Stop by San Juan Vineyards for a nice glass of wine!