Farmer Eric’s Garden of Fruit!

Under the Grapefruit Tree
Under the Grapefruit Tree

One Sunday, my family went to my dad’s friend Eric’s house in Mar Vista.  We were there to harvest some fruit, because he has lots of fruit trees, like a farmer. 

Climbing the Apricot Trees

Climbing the Apricot Trees

We picked and tasted grapefruit, apricots, loquats, and figs.  The grapefruit were all so juicy and sour, but there was more rind than fruit on most of the wedges.  The apricots were soft and were bubbling with juice.  I couldn’t stop eating them.  So addicting!

Beautiful Figs!

Beautiful Figs!

The figs weren’t my favorite.  I didn’t really taste much in them, but they had a smooth texture that I liked.  Last, but not least, were the loquats.   Its texture was like a peach, and it tasted kind of like a peach.  I didn’t like them as much as I thought I might, because I love kumquats.

As we walked out the door, we picked some rosemary from the bush in Eric’s front yard.  The rosemary’s fragrance filled

Gorgeous Apricots
Gorgeous Apricots

the air, and I could have stood there forever smelling the luscious plant!

Eric has a very successful rosemary bush, and right next to it was a peach tree.  Soon, the peaches will be ripe and ready to eat.

Eric also has a colossal tree in his front yard with beautiful looking and smelling flowers. Tabitha and I each got to take one home because we liked the smell so much.  Tabitha couldn’t stop smelling the huge aromatic flowers!

What kind of tree is this?

What kind of tree is this?

 

We came home with loads of harvested fruit, and we can’t thank Eric enough.  Thank you!

At home, we made an apricot tart from the apricots we picked.  Here is our recipe:



Megan’s Apricot Raspberry Tarts

Eat and Enjoy!
Eat and Enjoy!

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

Sugar

5-6 apricots

4 raspberries

4 mint sprigs 

Seedless apricot preserves

  • That's how I roll!
    That’s how I roll!

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  • Sprinkle sugar over both sides of one pastry sheet.  Roll out the sheet to approximately 12 by 12 inches square. 
  • Put a soup bowl upside down in the corner of the sheet, but leave space for another bowl in the opposite corner.  Cut along the side of the bowl with a knife to create a cutout circle. 
  • Repeat to cut out another circle from the sheet.  Repeat twice for the other sheet of pastry.  You should have four good circles.
  • Place the four circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle each circle lightly with more sugar.
  • Painting the Pastries Pink!
    Painting the Pastries Pink!

    Microwave raspberry preserves for 30 seconds.  Using a pastry brush, lightly dab on some of the preserves.  Cover each circle with a light layer of preserves.  Place 8 thin wedges of apricot on each puff pastry circle.  Face the corners in, like the spokes on a wheel.

  • Add a raspberry in the middle of the 8 wedges, like a centerpiece.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry turns a brownish-gold.
Fresh From the Oven
Fresh From the Oven
  • Slip the corner of a mint sprig under each raspberry to make it look like a rose with its leaf!
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve.  I suggest serving them warm with ice cream.

The tart was very sweet, not to mention how pretty it was.  I was very proud of my creation.   What dishes that you have baked are you most proud of?  Please leave me a comment below!

My Dream Come True!

My Heroes and Me!

My Heroes and Me!

Mom, Dad, and I signed up for a cooking demonstration by famous chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and I was very happy to be there.  As we walked into Border Grill downtown on a rainy Saturday morning, a server handed us quinoa fritters.  Simply delectable!  What a great start to the day!  They were crunchy and spicy, and they were topped with a creamy sauce made from aji amarillo paste.  The fritters were filled with the best quinoa I’ve ever had!

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

Appetizing Quinoa Fritters

I walked into Border Grill in awe.  The walls were so kid-friendly, and were covered with cool, artistic drawings.  We received our table number, and we walked into the demo room.   Wow!  Table 31, our table, was right smack in the middle of the front row!  We were so surprised that my dad went back to the counter to make sure the table was ours!  Once we were reassured it was our table, I paid attention to our surroundings.  As I looked around, my eyes landed on the demo stage.   OMG!  There was Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.  They are both cooking legends, and I am a huge fan of Mary Sue from “Top Chef Masters”.  I mean HUGE!  I stood there for a few seconds, just staring.  It was really her!  Susan Feniger noticed me and walked toward our table.  First, she asked me if I would help in the kitchen if they needed me during the class.  I was too shocked to say yes, so she moved on to another question.  She asked me if I would help her pass around food, if she needed me.  Very timidly, I said OK and sat back down.

Susan Feniger was so nice!

Susan Feniger was so nice!

I walked over to the bar for some pomegranate lemonade.  The nice server from before offered to bring it to our table, so I thanked him and sat back down.  Mom and Dad were talking and sipping their margaritas when I came back.  As I started to take pictures of the two chefs, Susan Feniger called me over to take a picture.  I was soooo happy!  She gave me a hug!

After a while longer, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger took the stage.  The server brought me my lemonade, and I whispered:  “Thank you.”  Everyone quieted as they started the demonstration.  Susan Feniger started:  “Today, Mary Sue and I will be cooking for you a lunch about five courses long.  We are very excited, and we hope you are too!”  She said something like that… I can’t remember her exact words.  All I remember is the absolute pleasure of being there.

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Teaching Us Tips and Recipes

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho

As they started cooking and explaining the quinoa fritters, we sampled the Avocado Tostadita Salad and Spanish Gazpacho.  The avocado salad was lettuce, avocado, jicama, and some other fun ingredients, over a crispy tostadita shell.  Right on top of everything was a fried avocado, smothered in quinoa, amaranth (which I think is a seed), sesame and black sesame seeds, and some poppy seeds.  It was tangy and delightful.  Under the tostadita shell were some refried black beans.  They had the perfect melty texture that makes your mouth start to water.  The smooth gazpacho was filled with fragrant herbs, fresh vegetables, and homemade mayonnaise.  I don’t usually like mayonnaise, but it was amazing, and it slid down my throat easily like a fresh raw oyster!

Teaching Us Tips

Teaching Us Tips

Meanwhile, we were intrigued by the cooking tips they gave us.  “It drives me crazy to see people buying egg separators,” Mary Sue Milliken informed us.  “Everyone has one — their hands!” added Susan Feniger as she showed us the separated yolk on her palm.  Mary Sue started talking about sharp and dull knives:  “Always use a sharp knife when you are cutting, because if you cut yourself, a sharp knife will make a nice clean cut, but a dull knife will make an ugly cut which is hard to stitch.  To make sure you don’t even cut yourself, always keep your thumb behind your other fingers.”  Mary Sue told us that her thumb crept up under the knife when she was nervous, so she was always growing back thumb tips. 

After a few more tips on peppers and grilling corn, we got to try yet another satisfying dish.  This one was our main meal.  When I was told what it was, I was very excited!  Rib Time!  Tomatillo-glazed baby back ribs were placed in front of me.  It was one of the best things I had that day!  The pork was so tender and juicy, and the gravy-like tomatillo glaze was full of flavor.  It was a bit spicy too … and it contained pork fat, which I liked.  The portion size was big, but I polished it off with a smile on my face.

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

Meat and Potatoes (Don't Forget the Corn!)

On the side of the baby backs was Esquite, a corn dish, and “Smashed Potatoes”.   The Esquite was too sweet for me, but it had the perfect corn texture:  crunchy and a bit juicy, but not too much that it was soggy.  The Smashed Potatoes were easily related to twice-baked potatoes in the sense that it melted in my mouth and gave me that comforting flavor.  It was a great companion with the ribs.  You know what they say, meat and potatoes makes a perfect meal!  (My mom doesn’t say that!)

Churro Tots and Coffee!

Churro Tots and Coffee!

The last course, dessert, was Mary Sue’s Dulce de Leche Churro Tots and a luscious chocolate mousse.  It was the winning dish on an episode of “Top Chef Masters,” which is probably why she chose to make it for us.  I devoured the crunchy, sweet churro bites in seconds, and then I licked the dulce de leche caramel and chocolate mousse off of Mom’s, Dad’s, and my plates.  Yum!

After the fabulous meal, we waited in line to get the two chefs’ autographs and a picture.  When it was our turn, I told them and their publicist, Leah, about my blog.  They were very interested and really, really friendly.  They asked me to email it to them when I was done, and I agreed. (I am very excited to have famous chefs reading my blog!) 

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

Notes and Recipes from the Cooking Stars!

They signed our cookbook and our recipe books from the class, and on my recipe book, they wrote some nice comments.  “Megan, you’re gonna be a kitchen star!” wrote Mary Sue Milliken.  “Wow, so excited to see your blog!” wrote Susan Feniger.  I was elated!  We took a picture together, and then I left, reflecting on all the things I had done that day.

I left the restaurant screaming:  “I’m overjoyed! I’m overjoyed!”  Literally.  What kind of drama queen does that!?  Oh, I forgot, I’m the drama queen.

When we got home, my dad and I made the dulce de leche syrup they taught us how to make.  We drizzled it over our homemade ebelskivers, and it was fantastic!

Trying the Recipes at Home

Trying the Recipes at Home

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the finale of “Top Chef Masters,” and Mary Sue is a finalist.  Be sure to watch her compete against Floyd and Traci.  It will be exciting!

I just want to thank Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for giving me an amazing day!  Thank you!

 

 

Border Grill – Downtown LA

445 S. Figueroa Street

Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 486-5171

Twitter:  @BorderGrill

www.bordergrill.com

Susan Feniger’s Street

742 North Highland

Los Angeles, CA 90038

(323) 203-0500

Twitter:  @eatatstreet

www.eatatstreet.com