Have you experienced Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee?
This culinary adventure is held each year in January and February and features renowned Chefs from around the United States. Each Session includes: A 'Meet-The-Chefs' Reception with wine and hors d' oeuvres, Cooking classes and demonstrations followed by tastings, Behind the scenes kitchen tours, and a Five-course Chefs Holidays Gala Dinner that includes four paired wines.
I attended the January 12th and 13th 2011 Chefs Holidays Event featuring Headliner: Michael Tusk---Quince, San Francisco. CA
Demonstrators: Colin Ambrose---Estia’s Little Kitchen, Sag Harbor, NY and Jesse Cool---Flea Street Café, Menlo Park, CA
If you're vegetarian or vegan, just let them know in advance and they will prepare a special five course menu for you!! I requested the Vegan five-course chefs gala dinner, and more information and pictures follow.
Before detailing the delicious gourmet foods, I thought I would give you some background on the park operator, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. (DNC), which has innovative GreenPath® and GuestPath® programs that promote stewardship in special places, including “eco-friendly cuisine”. More than half of the menu offerings in the dining room feature organically grown, sustainably-harvested or locally grown products.
There are numerous purveyors from whom DNC regularly purchases organic and sustainable products in multiple food categories for use in Yosemite kitchens park-wide. T & D Willey Farms in Madera, California is the most prominent. As certified organic farmers for over 20 years, T & D Willey Farms mastered crop rotation to enrich the soil in a natural fashion, resulting in farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, many of which are received the day of harvest. Other notable suppliers of sustainable and organic foods to Yosemite kitchens are as follows:
Mountain Meadow Farms ~ Flagstaff, Arizona: Seasonal heirloom tomatoes.
California Olive Ranch ~ Oroville, California: extra virgin olive oils.
CEREALS, GRAINS & SPICES
Back To Nature ~ organic crackers and cookies.
Nature’s Path ~ organic breakfast cereals.
Full Circle ~ organic breakfast cereals, rice & salad dressings.
Simply Organic ~ spices.
Deboles ~ gluten free pasta.
Woodstock Farms ~ organic sugar.
COFFEE & TEA
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ~ organic coffee beans.
Mother Lode Coffee Roasting Company ~ Sonora, California: ground coffee.
Traditional Medicinals ~ Sebastopol, California: herbal teas.
JUICES, SAUCES & SOUPS
Santa Cruz ~ organic fruit juices.
Walnut Acres ~ organic pasta sauces.
Honest Tea ~ organic teas and ades.
Amy’s ~ organic canned soups & chili, noodles.
Boca Burger ~ organic soy burgers.
Amy’s ~ organic frozen pizza, burritos, pot pies.
Variety of vegan, vegetarian / organic tofu
Silver Fox Vineyards ~ Mariposa, California: producers of the “Yosemite Cuvee”
wines sold at the retail level and all of The Ahwahnee’s private label wines.
Chef Michael Tusk, Quince San Francisco featured his famous:
Raviolo di Ricotta with Tomatero Farm Egg, Nasturtiums and Opal Basil
Chef Michael Tusk's Ravioli di Ricotta
The Recipe is below.
Note: I have many vegan readers, and many people are concerned about the treatment of chickens, particularly in the factory farming industry. However, I've met people who have their own backyard chickens and treat them very well in addition to letting them live a long life and are not killed. This is why I've chosen to feature this recipe.
Note2: I spoke with Michael Tusk after the Gala Dinner, and he offered to prepare a Vegan Course Meal at his restaurant - just contact Quince.
Note3: For Gratitude Gourmet readers who want to to veganize most of the recipe, use vegan ricotta, plant-based milks like Almond, Soy, and Hemp, and EarthBalance non-dairy butter.
Recipe Credit Chef Michael Tusk Serves 6
1/2 Gallon Strauss Farm whole milk, 1 quart Strauss Farm heavy cream
25g lemon juice
7g citric acid
1 cup 00 flour
1 cup all purpose flour
8 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
6 Tomatero Farm egg yolks
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup nasturtiums
1/4 cup opal basil
1/4 cup squash blossoms
Make the ricotta the night before by lining a perforated hotel pan with cheesecloth, with a drainer pan below. In a saucepan, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, salt and sugar and bring slowly to a boil. Combine the lemon juice and citric acid to the milk mixture. Remove from heat and let rest for 1 hour. Strain the ricotta by pouring the mixture into the perforated hotel pan. Let drain overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the ricotta the next day using a spatula and place in a mixing bowl. Season it if necessary with salt and parmigiano to taste. If the ricotta is too moist cut in some ricotta that has less moisture such as Bellwether Farm or Marcelli Brothers smoked ricotta.
To make the pasta dough, combine the two flours and make a well. Add the egg yolks and whole eggs, olive oil and a pinch of salt. With a fork, mix up the yolk and then start cutting some flour into the well until the majority of the flour has been absorbed. The amount of flour will vary according to the size of the eggs being used. knead the dough for five minutes and then wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for 1 hour. Roll the dough out, at the thinnest setting possible, into rectangular sheets 3 inches wide by 24 inches in length. You will need two sheets this size. When completed cover the dough with cling-film so it does not dry out.
Spoon the ricotta out into approximately 2.5 oz balls leaving 1.5 inches between each ricotta addition. With a spoon or a shell-on egg make a nest into the ricotta in which you will place the farm egg yolk. Take the shell-on egg and gently push it into the ricotta. You will form a nest into which the egg yolk will lay. Make sure not to push down too hard, The egg mush rest gently with ricotta on all sides and below it. Crack the eggs and save the whites for a different use. Keep the yolks in their shells, resting in their cartons. Gently tilt the yolk out of the shell into the ricotta nest. Do all 6 ricotta nests. If a yolk breaks, discard it and crack a new yolk open.
Spray the dough with an atomizer filled with water, and drape the second piece of pasta over the first. Press around the outer ridge of the cheese with your index fingers until all air has been removed. It is essential that you do not push down too hard at this point and disturb the yolk.
Cut out the raviolo di ricotta into circular raviolo using a circular pastry cutter. If you do not have a circular pastry cutter, just cut into squares. Sprinkle semolina on a half sheet pan generously and use a pastry bench scraper to transfer the raviolo to the sheet pan.
Heat six 12 inch dinner plates.
In a large sautee pan melt the butter and add a bit of pasta water.
Add the nasturtiums, basil and squash blossoms and season with a bit of salt.
Remove from heat while you cook the pasta.
Bring a rondoe large enough to hold all six raviolo up to a boil with water.
Season with salt and turn down the water to about 190 degrees.
Add the raviolo to the water and poach for about 3 minutes.
The outer edge of the pasta should be tender but the yolk should remain molten.
Spoon out the raviolo onto the dinner plates using a spider or large perforated spoon.
Drain excess water off the raviolo and place all on the warm dinner plates.
Rewarm your butter and spoon the warm butter over the raviolo.
In the fall shave white or black truffles over the raviolo. No additional cheese is necessary.
If you make it yourself, please let me know how it turns out for you by Commenting on this Blog Post or on Gratitude Gourmet's Facebook Page.
Parts Two and Three
Stay Tuned for Yosemite’s Chefs' Holidays at The Ahwahnee Parts Two and Three where I'll feature:
Colin Ambrose---Estia’s Little Kitchen Sag Harbor, NY and his Granola Bar Recipe, and
Jesse Cool---Flea Street Café, Menlo Park, CA and her Beet Gnocchi Recipe
- Behind the Scenes Kitchen Tour
- Five-Course Chefs Holidays Gala Dinner with Wine Pairings