Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cooking At Rancho La Puerta

Students cooking La Cocina Que Canta at Rancho La Puerta
"The Kitchen That Sings"

It was a wonderful week of cooking at Rancho La Puerta, in Tecate Mexico.  I created 16 farm to table recipes to share with students that signed up for my cooking classes. Did I have the best time? Yes! Did I make new friends? Of course. Cooking together is magical.  Everyone bonds, strangers end up hugging each other after a 3 hour cooking class.

First, we gathered fresh organic fruits and vegetables from the vast  gardens at the ranch. Each group  tackled one recipe in the beautiful spacious kitchen: La Cocina Que Canta.  Denise Roa, the Director of the cooking school and her  assistants were ever so helpful. Fantastic! Patiently teaching some students knife skills on the side, answering cooking questions and getting whatever the students needed to make there dish perfect. I know they were busy, I clocked 25,000 steps on my odometer  which included a 2 mile sunrise hike and teaching 2 - 3 hour cooking classes that day.

 Some of the recipes included: Spring  Asparagus with a Hazelnut Crunch,  Lemon Rosemary scented  Cauliflower Tians, Roasted Sea-bass stuffed with  Macadamia nuts, Leeks and Mushrooms, Sweet Baby Carrots, Beets and spicy Arugula with Passion Truffle Goat Cheese, Baked Filo Eggrolls made with 10 different vegetables. These are just a few of the dishes we cooked.

 My spa desserts were the biggest hit of all. I demonstrated how to make the easiest Banana Ice Cream made with frozen bananas, without a spoon of dairy added. For the gluten-free students, we baked  a glorious Chocolate Banana Tart with a no- fuss  flour-less crust made with ground almonds and dates.

  I promised everyone that  signed up for the classes that we would 'Wine and Dine" and we did!

Asparagus Bundles with a Hazelnut Crunch
                                                 Makes 6 servings

 1 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
1  cup fresh parsley leaves, wash and dried
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or any oil
3 tablespoons vegetable stock
¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted and blanched
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 bundles fresh asparagus, trimmed and peeled
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in ½. 

 Place the garlic, parsley and hazelnut oil in the bowl of a food processor and process till smooth, adding the vegetable stock if the mixture seems dry. Then add the hazelnuts and lemon juice and process till nuts are well incorporated. Set aside in a small bowl, add lemon zest and season with salt and white pepper.

 Heat water in a sauté pan large enough to cook the asparagus, over a high flame, when boiling add the asparagus and cook asparagus till they turn bright green and are tender.

Drain the water from the pan, lower the flame, add the cherry tomatoes to the cooked asparagus and add the hazelnut mixture carefully stir to coat the asparagus stalks and let mixture cook a few minutes over a medium flame until to  warm.

Season with salt and white pepper and lemon juice if needed.

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