When a chef shares a recipe near and dear to the heart, you know there’s a back story that most likely involves a grandmother or a family holiday. Three Calistoga restaurant chefs are eager to share their own favorite recipes, which you can cook up to present some fresh, new dishes to serve your family and friends. These recipes represent the diversity of culture and flavor found in the culinary scene here, a diversity you can experience during Calistoga Restaurant Week in January, Calistoga Harvest Table in September and all year long in the restaurants along Lincoln Avenue.
For Massimo Falsini (Etruscan) of Solbar, “Carciofi alla Romana” is his gifted recipe to share a favorite vegetable. Massimo’s family originates from the south of Tuscany. His great grandfather was a charcutier who moved his family to Rome in the early 1800’s. Massimo fondly recalls the artichokes his family cooked for many meals, and now that he lives in Northern California he is able to continue to enjoy this vegetable. Massimo tells the tale of the artichoke’s history that began when French immigrants from the Louisiana territory introduced it to Northern California. But, he shares, the artichoke was brought to the table courtesy of a beautiful Italian lady in the form of a mythological tale. To sum it up, Cynara, a beautiful nymph with ash-blonde hair, resisted the father of the Gods and was transformed into an artichoke.
According to Massimo, the first culinary application of the artichoke was found in ancient Egypt, and then exported to Sicily. From the 16th century, the artichoke was prominent in many Tuscan dishes; in fact, Catherine de Medici, the wife of Henry II of France, exported the artichoke to France in 1547 as she was in love with the round, green vegetable with the fleshy leaves. For this reason, many recipes of that period were based upon the spiny vegetable. In Rome, the artichoke arrived in the middle of the 17th century, along with other “garden” ingredients.
“Every holiday this dish was in my grandparents and Mamma’s table served directly from the pot in order to avoid the loss of any flavorful extra virgin olive oil, used for the ‘almighty’ scarpetta or ‘fettunta’ Toscana,” says Massimo.
Roman Artichokes Confit – CARCIOFI ALLA ROMANA
YIELD: 3.3 lbs.
- 24 big artichokes
- 2 heads of garlic
- 4 lemons
- 2 bunches of fresh mint
- 30 grams fleur de sel
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 liters extra virgin olive oil
- 0.5 liter dry white wine
Clean the artichokes, remove the hair inside and brush them with lemon. Leave them in ice water with lemon juice. Cut the garlic heads in half and place them in the oil with the lemon as well. Place the artichokes in the oil. Add the mint, salt. Allow the artichokes cook in the oil for 10 minutes and then add the wine. Cover with aluminum foil, leaving a small open spot. Cook for 30 min +/- until artichokes are soft at the core. Serve them warm, directly from the pot.
Tip: Toast some great sourdough and scratch some fresh garlic cloves then place the artichoke with the “precious” jus over it.
Chef Nicolas Montanez of Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery shares his “Fuyu Persimmon Indie Salad” that reminds him of the arrival of fall and all the holidays that follow the season! Nicolas began work at the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery 28 years ago as a dishwasher, working his way to a chef position. He left the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery for an education at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Three years ago, he returned to what he refers to as “his family”.
FUYU PERSIMMON & ENDIVE SALAD
YIELD: 8 SALADS
- 8 Fuyu (firm) persimmons, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 head of treviso (red, spear-shaped variety of radicchio)
- 8 Belgium white endive
- 2 Bunches of arugula
- 2 Bartlett pears
- ½ cup citrus vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, fried or toasted
- 2 oz. Toma cheese, thinly sliced
Arrange the sliced persimmons on the plate (as shown in the picture). Cut the treviso into bite size pieces (soak it in cold water for an hour to get rid of the bitterness ). Cut the endive into bite size pieces, and the pears into thin slices. Place remaining ingredients on plates and add garnish, drizzle with vinaigrette.
- 2 cups orange juice, fresh
- ½ cup lemon juice, fresh
- ½ cup lime juice, fresh
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- ½ cup honey
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 cup canola oil
Combine all the juices and caraway seeds. Bring it to a slow simmer until 1/3 of the juices remain. Allow the reduced juices to chill until needed, then place into a blender and add honey, salt and white pepper, to taste. While the blender is running, add the oil little by little until well incorporated. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Executive Chef Sergio Morales at Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs Resort says his favorite recipe is roasted prime rib, scalloped potatoes and spice glazed baby carrots. Sergio began working in the food industry 18 years ago, and recalls the first time he tasted this dish:
“The juicy meat with the creamy starch and the spiced, crunchy vegetables… I fell in love with that dish, and since then I try to make it every single year at home as a holiday tradition my family loves.”
This dish is also available at the restaurant on weekends, in a variation that includes a salty rub on Allen Brothers prime rib, covered in a Cabernet reduction, served with potatoes and vegetables, and a horseradish creme fraiche.
SERGIO’S PRIME RIB
YIELD: 6-8 SERVINGS
- 6-8 lbs. prime rib
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1/2 bunch thyme
- 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put herb puree ingredients in blender and puree to smooth to a paste.
Marinate the prime rib with the herbs puree for an hour or two, and then rub it with a combination of 1/3 cup salt and 1/3 cup black pepper before resting the meat for 45 minutes. Cook on high temperature (475°F) for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven temperature to 225°F for 1.5 hours (or 120°F meat thermometer reading) for a nice, rare prime rib.
- 3 lbs. Russet potatoes, thinly sliced
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1-1/2 cups cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1.5 tablespoons chopped thyme
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper, to taste
In a saucepan, cook the onion in butter for 10 minutes, and then add the cream. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and chopped thyme, and then layer potatoes in a baking dish. Add the cream sauce and finish it with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- 1.5 lbs. baby carrots (peeled & blanched al dente)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1.5 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Sautée baby carrots in butter, add spices, salt and pepper until they caramelize.