Recipes courtesy of Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe
Photo by Jeff Ross
Hot chocolate, banana liqueur and brandy, with whipped cream
Chocolate liqueur, Irish cream, Grand Marnier,
and coffee, with whipped cream
Hot chocolate with amaretto and coconut rum, with whipped cream
Peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate,
with whipped cream and chocolate
STEVE AND MARCIA LITSINGER
CULTIVATE A WAY OF LIFE.
Written by Mike Colpo
Photo by Mike Okimoto
What Steve and Marcia Litsinger have accomplished in their pursuit of a simple life of thoughtful stewardship defines what many would call the highest level of organic growing. Marcia –– who Steve will tell you is the “brains behind the operation” –– uses bio-intensive (also known as “French-intensive”) growing techniques. Nothing grows around their vegetable patch that doesn’t serve a multi-layered purpose. The produce that supplies their fiercely loyal CSA customers is surrounded by fortifications of beneficials –– lavender, calendula, marigolds, and the like –– all serving to either draw in helpful insects, enrich the soil, complement companion plants, or all of the above. In keeping with their growing style, these beneficials are likely to show up in the regular CSA delivery. They come accompanied by instructions and suggestions for how to use them in everything from salads to homeopathic remedies. It’s been this way since they started doing produce deliveries 10 years ago.
The Litsingers’ approach to farming goes well beyond the food-growing end of the business. Their commitment to self-sufficiency informs everything they do, from the bank of self-installed solar panels behind their home to the natural spring that supplies them with water. Their property is entirely off the grid, and their growing houses are able to supply year-round vegetables in Nevada’s rugged climate without any electricity, making them the only CSA in the region to provide fresh, locally grown produce throughout the year.
“We never set out to become a big farm,” Steve says. “We knew how we wanted to live and we just kept trying things and working on ideas until we got it figured out.”
Indeed, the Litsingers’ friendly, encouraging energy has helped shape their deep connections to Northern Nevada’s community of organic growers. In the 10-plus years since Steve and Marcia officially began their CSA deliveries, they’ve been a part of every major effort to establish a market for locally grown organic produce –– from instructing classes through the River School in Reno to helping establish area farmers’ markets and forming the Great Basin Community Food Co-op (Greatbasinfood.coop). They are among the rare breed of folks who believe that it makes good business sense to show people how to take care of themselves. It’s why one of their regular produce deliveries might include an impromptu inspection of a customer’s fruit tree, or detailed coaching on how to grow the very vegetables that were just delivered.
For details, visit www.greatbasinfood.coop/about-us/farmers/churchill-butte-organics/.
Ice takes shape under Truckee sculptor’s care.
Written by Ann Lindemann
Photo by Court Leve
With age-old roots in the world’s chilliest locations, ice sculpture has experienced an exciting revival in recent years. While graceful swans are a perennial buffet table favorite, it’s the non-traditional pieces that are creating the real buzz among a whole new fan base.
BERKSHIRE PORK CHOP
from Manzanita restaurant at
The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe
4 each pork chops, bone-in
½ pound polenta
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 pint whole milk
2 medium onions
1 medium carrot
1 stalk celery
4 bunches dino kale
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 peaches, halved, skin-on
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
4 cups red table wine
4 quarts veal stock
2 sprigs of thyme
For the Kale
This is the longest of your tasks to completing this dish so this is definitely where to start. Clean the kale by taking the leaves off of the stems or ribs and washing under cold water. You can discard the ribs as they are very fibrous and not choice to eat. Dice one onion fine and sweat them in a pot using pure olive oil. Once the onions are translucent, add the minced garlic and cook over low heat for two minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add half a cup of red wine to the pot and let it reduce until almost dry. Add your kale along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
For the Polenta
Bring 3 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a pot. Using a whisk, stir in the polenta and turn down flame to medium heat. Once the polenta comes back up to a simmer, turn down the heat half way in between low and medium and let the polenta cook for 45 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and milk to polenta and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
For the Peaches
Put the sugar into a pan with the water. Place over medium-high heat until the sugar starts to brown. Place peaches face down into the sugar and let cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove.
For the Pork Chop
Preheat oven to 350F. Season the pork chop with salt and pepper to taste and sear in a sauté pan over high heat to seal in the juices. Place pork chop into a baking pan and place into oven for 15 minutes.
For the Sauce
Bring veal stock to boil in a pot with the remaining onion, carrot, and celery (peeled and diced large) along with the 2 sprigs of thyme. Add the remaining wine and reduce to 2 quarts.
RED WINE BRAISED SHORT RIBS
from Manzanita restaurant at
The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe
4 each beef short ribs (3-inch cut, bone-in)
1 (750ml) bottle of red table wine
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
2 medium onions
6 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1 head of garlic
8 each Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons of horseradish
¾ pound of butter, unsalted
1 cup whole milk
4 quarts of veal stock
For the short ribs
The key to great short ribs is to marinate them overnight. Place your short ribs in a deep baking pan and cover with wine. Peel one carrot, onion, and celery and cut into large pieces (you can cut the onion into eighths and the carrot/celery in half) and place into the marinating short ribs. Cut the head of garlic in half at the waist so you expose all of the cloves. Don’t peel the cloves, as keeping skin on during roasting will protect the garlic from burning. Take half a head of garlic with four sprigs of thyme, the sprig of rosemary, and add to your marinating short ribs. Let the short ribs sit in the marinade for 24 hours.
Next day: preheat your oven to 350F. Remove the short ribs from the pan and reserve everything else. Heat up a skillet and sear the short ribs on all sides and place back into the marinade, making sure that the bones are facing up and the meat is facing down into the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and place into the oven. Cook for about 3 hours or until desired tenderness is achieved.
For the potato mash
Peel and dice the Yukon potatoes and place into a pot. Cover with cold water. Cook over medium heat until the potatoes easily give in when pressed with a kitchen utensil. Drain from the water and rice the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the potato mixture using a whisk to incorporate. Add milk and horseradish to the potato mash and whisk well.
For the sauce
Bring veal stock to boil in a pot with the remaining carrot, onion, and celery (peeled and processed the same way as above) along with the remaining 2 sprigs of thyme. Add the braising liquid from the short ribs and reduce together to 2 quarts. Add salt to taste.
Recipes for Adventures in Cheesemaking
Written by Mike Colpo
Few things are more empowering than creating a full meal from the simplest ingredients. Cheese making vastly expands the dining opportunities for anyone who wishes to do this. And pizza is one of easiest –– and tastiest –– ways to get started.
1 batch homemade mozzarella (recipe below)
½ batch homemade pizza dough (recipe below)
1 pound (3½ cups) unbleached bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey
1½ teaspoons table salt (or 2½ teaspoons kosher salt)
1¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Semolina flour or cornmeal (optional, for dusting pizza peel)
Combine the flour, sugar, or honey, salt, yeast, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add 11 fluid ounces (1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons) cool water (60 to 65ºF). With a large spoon, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Knead the dough: Knead dough for 2 to 3 minutes. Add more flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky. When poked with a clean finger, it should peel off like a Post-It® note. Take care with the dough –– the kneading should be gentle to avoid tough crust –– no pounding, punching, or hard squishing.
Chill the dough: Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and roll it around to coat all of it with a thin sheen of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours or up to three days.
When ready to make pizza, remove the dough from the fridge and let warm up for about 1½ to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450ºF
Roll or hand-toss the dough into a pizza shape. Add toppings (recommended: When you’re making your first pizza with homemade cheese, you’ll get the best flavor and sense of what your cheese is like if you make it with the simplest of ingredients. A classic margarita-style pizza will show off your cheese nicely.)
Apply a thin layer of sauce to the dough. Then slice or tear your mozzarella into equally sized pieces and spread evenly. Tear fresh basil leaves and scatter over the cheese. If you have homegrown tomatoes, slice and add these as well. Finish with a generous drizzling of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a light sprinkling of sea salt.
1 gallon whole milk (anything except ultra-pasteurized)
1¼ cup cool, chlorine-free water (divided)
1½ teaspoons citric acid
¼ teaspoon liquid rennet (or ¼ of a rennet tablet)
1 teaspoon cheese or kosher salt
Large pot (min. 6-quart capacity)
Latex or nitrile gloves
Long, narrow spatula (sometimes called an icing spatula) or dull knife
Large bowl (min. 4-quart capacity)
2 small bowls and/or measuring cups
Pour milk into large pot. Allow it to rest and slowly warm while you prepare other ingredients.
Dissolve rennet (either form) in ¼ cup of the unchlorinated water. Set aside.
Dissolve citric acid in remaining 1 cup of unchlorinated water and pour into milk. (*The citric acid solution must be added to the milk BEFORE you start to warm it, otherwise, the curds will not form properly.)
Heat the milk to 90 degrees while stirring gently and constantly.
Once the milk reaches 90 degrees, remove from heat and add rennet solution, stirring with a vertical motion for 30 seconds.
Cover and let set for 5 minutes.
Check curd formation. The curd should form a relatively solid white mass that is distinctly different from the surrounding whey, which will be a more-or-less clear liquid. Push down lightly with the backs of your fingers or the tip of your spatula to check that the curd and the whey are separated.
Cut the curd in a grid pattern of about ½-inch squares.
Place the curds back on the burner and stir while heating to 110 degrees (HINT: This is one step where you can step away from the stirring for a moment, such as when you need to perform the following step).
Prepare a large bowl of hot water (minimum 170 degrees).
Once the curds reach 110, turn off the heat and continue stirring for 2 to 3 more minutes.
Ladle or pour curds into colander (HINT: Place colander over a second large pot so you can trap and save your whey. It’s a great substitute for water in bread and pizza crust recipes).
Fold the curds gently together and drain off as much whey as possible.
Immerse colander of curds in large bowl of hot water and gently stir/fold until the curds begin to stretch and take on a noticeable sheen.
Periodically remove curds from the water, grab and stretch as far as possible without breaking them. You should be able to stretch your curds slowly to arm’s length. The curds will not stretch well below 135 degrees. If they don’t feel stretchy, immerse them in hot water and let soak a bit longer to warm them up.
While hand-stretching the curds, gradually add the cheese salt to taste (you don’t need to use the full 1 teaspoon). Don’t expect it to “mix in.” You’ll be sprinkling the salt on the surface of the cheese. Stretching and re-folding the cheese slowly works the salt into it.
Once you’ve added all the salt, heat the cheese for its final stretching/shaping. You can braid it, shape it into multiple balls, or simply save it as one large mass. Immediately submerge it in ice water to help it hold its shape. Remove from the water before storing.
The cheese will store in the fridge for up to two weeks. But be advised that it will take on the shape of your storage container. Do not store in liquid unless you are familiar with the process of brining. Too little salt in the storage liquid will turn your cheese into unpleasant goo; too much will create a hard and excessively salty cheese.
1 bunch of leeks
1 white onion
½ bunch of celery
6 short ribs
1 bay leaf
1 bulb of garlic, skin removed, cloves separated
1 bunch of thyme
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
6 cups red wine
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and Pepper
4 cups veal stock
For the Salad
¼ bunch Italian parsley, leaves picked and washed
½ bunch chives, cut into ½-inch lengths
1 head frisee, blanched yellow part picked and washed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Set aside 1 leek, ¼ onion, 1 carrot and 1 stalk of celery. Cut the remaining vegetables into large mirepoix, which are ½ inch pieces. Place the short ribs into a deep baking dish and cover with the mirepoix, bay leaf, garlic, thyme and peppercorns. Cover with the red wine and place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Cut the reserved leek, onion, carrot and celery into 1/8-inch cubes. Place 1 tablespoon of butter into a sauté pan. Over medium heat, sweat the vegetables for 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 250º-300º F. Remove the short ribs from the red wine and pat them dry with a paper towel. Pour the wine through a strainer and reserve the vegetables. Place the wine into a pan and reduce by half.
Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Place a skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the grapeseed oil and sear the short ribs on all sides. Be very careful not to burn the ribs because the color it is difficult to distinguish because of the red wine.
Place the seared ribs into a roasting pan and cover with the vegetables reserved from the marinade. Then pour the reduced red wine on top of the ribs. Cover with the veal stock and place the roasting pan in the oven. Cook for 3 hours at no more than a simmer. If the ribs are allowed to boil, they will be tough, no matter how long they are cooked! At this point the ribs may be cooled and stored in their liquid for up to 3 days, then gently re-heated when ready to serve.
Combine parsley, chives, and frisee. Whisk together red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and season with salt to taste.
To serve the ribs:
When ready to serve, make the accompanying recipe for the mashed potatoes. Re-heat the ribs and remove them from the cooking liquid, discard the vegetables. Place the cooking liquid into a pan and reduce slightly. Add the 1/8-inch cut vegetables. Place a generous spoonful of the mashed potatoes down in a bowl and place a rib on top. Cover with the vegetables and sauce mixture and garnish with the dressed salad.
Buttery Mashed Potatoes
1.5 pounds yellow finn potatoes, washed
½ pound unsalted butter
¼ cup milk
Salt and white pepper
Place the potatoes in a pot of slightly salted water and cook until tender , but not mushy, approximately 15 minutes. Strain the water out and peel the potatoes while still very warm. Pass the potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer or use a potato masher. Place the milled potatoes into a heavy -bottomed pot and begin to stir with a wooden paddle. Add the butter a little at time, stirring vigorously until the butter is completely incorporated. Add the milk and mix until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.