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Combat Winter Fatigue with Fresh Summer Cocktails from Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Tommy Bahama cucumber mojitoIt might be winter outside but just walk into the new Tommy Bahama Laguna Beach and it's summer -- and not just summer anywhere but the quintessential Laguna Beach summer, right down to the antique bathing suits and surfboards hanging on the wall, the location inside the restored Heisler Building on Pacific Coast Highway and menu items such as Ahi Tuna Tacos (not to be missed).

In honor of providing that summer feeling as we near the shortest day of the year, here are recipes for two of their cocktails, which are light and fresh and made with produce sourced locally. First is a twist on the mojito (left), with cucumber adding a bit of sassiness. The other is their signature drink, the Cant-e-lope Tonight, where a fresh melon taste is created through the combination of watermelon liquor, fresh orange juice and sour mix. Enjoy!

Tommy Bahama Cantelope TonightIngredients
3 oz      Tommy Bahama White Sand rum
6 oz      Cucumber Cubes
1/3        Fresh lime
5          Mint leaves
3 oz      Sprite  
Procedure: Muddle cucumber cubes, mint, and lime. Add rum and shake 20 times. Pour over ice and top with sprite.

Martini Glass
2 oz      Marie Brizard Watermelon
1 oz      Ketel One vodka
1 oz      Fresh orange juice
½ oz     Fresh sour mix
Procedure:  Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake 20 times strain. Garnish with 2 fresh cantaloupe scoops.

Harvest Apple, Chanterelle & Squash Risotto from Morgan's in the desert Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Jimmy SchmidtIt's that time of year: time for the holidays, for fall produce at its peak and for the "season" to get under way out in the Southern California desert. A top hideaway since the 1920s (when Frank Capra wrote screenplays from a bungalow that still bears his name), La Quinta Resort & Club last year added the Morgan's in the desert restaurant. Morgan's Executive Chef Jimmy Schmidt (right) specializes in finding and using the best in seasonal ingredients for his menus -- and was kind enough to share this fabulous risotto recipe with us.

Harvest Apple, Chanterelle & Squash Risotto

Makes 4 servings
Prep Time 30 Minutes - Cook Time 30 Minutes
4 cups diced butternut squash
3 cups chanterelles, brushed cleaned (do not rinse with water) and torn into quarters
6 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of fresh apple cider
1/4 cup sliced fresh ginger root        
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 cups Violone Nano or Arborio rice
1 tablespoon mild smoked paprika
2 cups dry “J” Pinot Gris white wine
4 tablespoons fresh chives
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup aged finely ground Parmesan cheese
2 cups Honey Crisp apples, cut into fine julienne
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaf, cut fine into chiffonade
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (substitute olive oil)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (Click "read more" for rest of recipe.)

Perfect for the Holidays: The Bourberry from Kai Restaurant at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Bourberry from Kai RestaurantHow to ward off that fall chill using seasonal fruit (and, okay, a little bourbon)? We bring you the Bourberry, from the Mixologists at Kai Restaurant at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa.

2 oz of your favorite bourbon
1 oz of fresh and bottled apple juice
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz rich maple syrup
Small apple slice
Splash of bottled apple juice
Dash of traditional bitters
Lemon twist

First we took a fresh granny smith apple slice and mashed it with a splah of bottled apple juice. Then we added the lemon juice, a blood orange slice, about 5 fresh cranberries, and then muddled together with a dash of bitters. Then we added the bourbon, maple syrup, and apple juice mush. A few more fresh cranberries before we shook everything together. A few more intact cranberries after we pour the mixture right into the glass creates 3 textures of cranberry in the drink. Enjoy!

Hawaii Vanilla Company's Frozen Peanut Chocolate Chip Pie Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Hawaii Vanilla Company kitchenAnyone who’s grown orchids knows how, let's say, sensitive they can be. Try growing one that only blooms one day a year and has to be hand pollinated. That, my friends, is the Vanilla Panifolia Orchid, from which we get the spice vanilla. Those interested in learning more about what goes into growing vanilla can do so at the Hawaii Vanilla Company on Hawaii’s Big Island. The farm not only offers tours but also has a shop filled with vanilla-infused goodies and the ability to have lunch or tea in their restored coffee mill (above). (For more on what's offered at the lunch, see the article I wrote for

The Hawaii Vanilla Company is owned and operated by the Reddekopp family: Jim’s the farmer and guide, Tracy’s the chef and the kids serve as kitchen help and servers. Tracy’s working on a cookbook and was kind enough to share this recipe with us for frozen peanut chocolate chip pie – perfect for the upcoming holiday season. (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Poached Prawns Bruschetta with Tomato-Olive Vinaigrette from Spago Colorado Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Spago Colorado tomatoesJoining the ranks of chefs who’ve added a kitchen garden isn’t easy when that garden is at 9,000 feet in mountains of Colorado. But Executive Chef Mark Ferguson of Spago Colorado at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, did just that – growing tomatoes (right), fingerling potatoes, rainbow chard, carrots, English peas and a variety of herbs this past summer and incorporating them into the restaurant’s summer menu. With the season for tomatoes coming to a close, here’s his recipe for a bruschetta featuring poached prawns and a tomato-olive vinaigrette.

Poached Prawns Bruschetta with Tomato-Olive Vinaigrette

8 ea. Fresh Santa Barbara spot prawns
½ lb. unsalted butter
¼ cup Ligurian extra virgin olive oil
1 ea. House-grown heirloom tomatoes, concasse
1 ea. House-grown baby leeks, chopped
4 ea. Olives (kalamata or gaeta) sliced thin
1 ea. Lemon, for juice
4 slices House-made ciabatta bread, grilled
1 ea. Garlic clove
Pinch House-grown red chili
1 sprig House-grown min and basil, leaves torn in small pieces
To taste Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Peel the tail section of the prawns, leaving the tail fin intact and devein, leaving  the head on or off based on preference.
Bring the butter and oil up to a boil in a sauce pan, season the shrimp with salt and chili and place in the butter-oil mixture and allow to sit off the heat for 3-5 minutes.
Mix the tomato, shallot, olive and mint together and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the ciabatta thick and grill, remove and rub with the garlic clove and the poaching oil.
Place a small amount of the vinaigrette n the center of four places. Top with the ciabatta.
Remove the shrimp from the butter mixture and lay on the bread slides.
Top the prawns with the tomato vinaigrette and a generous amount of cracked pepper.
Serve immediately!


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