Sunlight streams westward at dawn toward a vast whale-back mountain, lighting fields of granite boulders that take on the color of faded blue jeans. Lazuli buntings flit from rock to rock, watching a line of hikers thread its way along the mountain's hemline until they reach the orderly rows of a large farm.
Dark green kale with vivid red stems, squashes, herbs, quince and persimmon orchards, and the last corn of the season...all combine into a fragrant tapestry worthy of any Oriental carpet as the hikers descend to a large hacienda-like building.
Read More: Download Breakfast Hike Recipes (PDF).
Roasted Beets “La Favorita”
La Cocina Que Canta’s Chef Denise likes to roast the garden’s bounty of fresh beets inside a simple “purse” of aluminum foil and parchment. It’s her favorite method -- it helps preserve the roots’ bursting-with-moisture texture. Remember that term “turgid” from your biology class long ago? It’s a good thing!
4-5 medium beets, about 3 inches in diameter
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
Preheat oven to 350F. Place a large sheet of 18-inch-wide aluminum foil (about 24 inches long) atop a rimmed flat baking sheet. Foil should be longer than pan. (Two sheets of narrower foil can be crimped together lengthwise to make a larger sheet.) Place a shorter sheet of parchment paper, approximately the size of the pan, atop foil. Remove ends and skin from beets. (Although the skin is nutritious and can be left on, Chef Roa removes it because it can sometimes lend a slightly bitter overtone). Cut peeled beets into ½-inch wedges. Place cut beets in a large bowl and drizzle with agave syrup, olive oil, and tamari; mix to coat. Place beets atop parchment paper. Gather two foil ends together and fold to seal. Gather and fold remaining open sides until closed into a loose rectangular “purse.” Do not seal tightly (some steam should escape). Bake approximately 20 minutes or until fork-tender.
Breakfast Red Juice
Ingredients and Preparation
Using a juicer that removes pulp, juice together equal portions of peeled fresh beets, carrots, and fresh orange segments. Serve in heavy Mexican glassware (there’s something about the blue tinge of a thick Mexican glass pitcher and tall glasses that makes any juice look and taste sweeter!).
Garden-Fresh Frittata “Divorciada”
Fresh vegetables and eggs–what could be better? But whence the name? It’s all in the presentation, where we place a wedge on twin sauces, red chile and green tomatillo. In Mexico, classic Huevos Rancheros is often served “divorce style” –so named because small lakes of red and green sauce beneath sunnyside-up eggs are separated by a detente-like line of beans. The plump leaves of our garden’s Malabar spinach are extraordinary-look for this variety in your farmers’ market and count your blessings if you find it!
1 dozen eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small zucchini, cut bite-size
½ cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup roasted* baby carrots and/or parsnips, diced
1 cup Malabar spinach (or any variety spinach)
Tomatillo (green) salsa (use favorite recipe or fresh market-bought)
Mild tomato (red) salsa (use favorite recipe or fresh market-bought)
Preheat oven to 350F. Set 12-inch cast-iron frying pan over medium burner. Set aside two eggs, uncracked. In a large bowl, crack 10 eggs together and whisk thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Coat bottom of hot pan with olive oil and saute zucchini and onion; after a few minutes add roasted vegetable(s) and spinach, sauteing until wilted. Pour eggs over. Stir once or twice only. Crack remaining two eggs carefully into center, taking care not to break yolks. Place pan in hot oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until center is set. To serve, let cool approximately 10 minutes, cut into wedges and place over twin areas of red and green sauce. Garnish with a sprig of spinach or fresh herb.
Roast vegetable note:
Slice fresh carrots and/or parsnips into pencil-thin pieces. Coat with olive oil and roast in a 350F oven until fork tender.
Gluten-Free Walnut and Fig Muffins
These little “corks,” fragrant and warm from the oven, have a wonderfully crunchy exterior and a sweet, nutty taste. Even those who cherish daily baked goods made of wheat don’t realize these are gluten-free. One secret is the way Rancho La Puerta’s La Cocina Que Canta chefs make their own “flour base” from five gluten-free ingredients.
2½ cups flour mix*
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup grape seed oil
½ cup fresh or dried figs, chopped
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and other “wet” ingredients together. Pour wet into dry and mix with a spoon by hand until some dry flour is still evident (do not over-beat). Use ice cream scoop to dollop muffin mixture into olive-oil-misted muffin pan (preferably one that makes small, cork-shaped muffins). Bake approximately 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes clean.
*Gluten-Free Flour Mixture
Rancho La Puerta uses all Bob’s Mill ingredients, which are commonly available in health food grocery stores. For precision, this mixture is by weight: Combine equal parts of corn, quinoa, and sweet brown rice flours until weight is 700 grams. Combine equal parts potato starch and tapioca flour until weight is 300 grams. Mix all together. Store excess in airtight container and use soon for any baked-goods recipe. Experiment with amounts to accentuate certain flavors (ie. corn) you might like best.
Roasted Eggplant With Buttermilk Sauce
A boldly fragrant accompaniment to any egg dish, these small eggplant halves give breakfast a surprising kick thanks to a tangy cold yogurt/buttermilk sauce. Like a tiara of pale rubies, pomegranate arils (seed casings) honor the Fall harvest season. Grown at 1,700’ elevation, the Ranch’s pomegranate’s arils are almost as white as they are red. Our late-season eggplant, harvested young and tender, don’t need any pre-prepping with salt.
3 eggplant, any variety, as small as possible (one half = one serving)
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper, to taste
½ cup pesto (see note below)
¼ cup fresh thyme, hand-torn into small sprigs
Buttermilk sauce (recipe below)
½ cup pomegranate arils
½ cup quartered tiny figs (or cut larger figs into bite-size wedges)
Preheat over to 350F. Halve eggplants and crosshatch the interior flesh with a sharp knife (not piercing eggplant skin). Place halves on rimmed flat baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then brush each half with pesto (plain olive oil can be substituted). Sprinkle with thyme. Dribble olive oil over each half just enough to moisten thyme. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Plate individually, or arrange all on a serving platter, drizzle with sauce, and garnish generously with pomegranate arils and basil sprigs.
In a blender, whirl ¼ cup buttermilk and 1 small clove peeled garlic until smooth. Fold into ½ cup plain Greek yogurt. Mix in salt and pepper to taste. Chill until needed.
Use your favorite recipe that combines nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. At Rancho La Puerta, we often substitute spinach, cilantro, or sorrel for basil, depending on the harvest season. And we often substitute almonds or walnuts for pine nuts.