Culinary Corner

A fine feast features Native American foods

Special to The CambrianMay 6, 2013 

It never ceases to amaze me how well our locals support community organizations, especially nonprofit groups. Equally gratifying is how supportive our participating local restaurateurs and vintners are!

Last Sunday, May 5, the annual Polenta Dinner (prepared by Linn’s Restaurant) raised funds for maintenance of Old Santa Rosa Chapel. The Friday before, May 2, the first Native American-inspired dinner was held to benefit the History Center of San Luis Obispo County as it opened its new display of artifacts.

My friend Joyce Backhaus and I were eager to sample the fare (provided by Debbie Collins of Del Monte Café in San Luis Obispo), especially the baby fiddleneck ferns (which we had admired in full-foliage at Wildflower Show to benefit the Friends of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve the week before).

We were intrigued to know what “ozettes” might be. They turned out to be roasted fingerling potatoes, served with the main course of smoked plank salmon and grilled scallions.

That was a memorable dinner, and I indeed got photos of each course as it was uniquely presented: huckleberry-glazed duck breast on fresh dandelion greens on a round of tree branch; fiddlehead fern salad on abalone shell with grilled acorn cake; steamed clams and mussels, which afforded some lovely juices to dip my acorn cake into; and ultimately, creek blackberry cobbler, with an unsweetened cornbread topping. Lots of fun utilizing scallop shells for the last two dishes, and tiny clam shells for salt and pepper.

Plans are in the initial stage for the Cambria Historical Society’s benefit dinner during the fall Harvest Festival events the second weekend in October (Oct. 11 to 14). It’s dear to my heart, so I’m hoping you save the date and come out in support — please.

Meanwhile, I hope you are saving Saturday, May 25, for Cambria Heritage Day fun in the museum yard (not a fundraiser).

Nancy Green hosted a reception at her home after a matinee of the play she directed, “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” Ticket holders to that special benefit for our Santa Rosa Catholic parish enjoyed a variety of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres lovingly devised and prepared by Doreen Minnick, a long-time benefactor in Cambria.

Creamy Mushroom Dip

8 slices bacon, cut in 1/4-inch pieces

2 cloves garlic

1 large yellow or white onion

1 pound mushrooms, rubbed clean and stems removed

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese (room temperature), in chunks

1 cup sour cream

Quickly fry the bacon until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels, pouring off all the drippings except four tablespoons reserved in the pan. Process or mince the garlic until smooth, with the onion finely diced. Sauté with the chopped mushrooms about 10 minutes, until the liquids evaporate.
Meanwhile, work the salt and pepper into the flour; mix into the softened cream cheese, and add to the pan until heated through. (You may prepare ahead up to this point and reheat before serving.) Add in the sour cream and the crispy bacon until warm, and stir into a chafing dish.

Spread on crunchy rounds of toasted bread, crackers or, as I chose, fresh sourdough baguettes sliced on the bias. (The latter were being used for her melted brie mixed with prosciutto and sun dried tomatoes.) Doreen related her recipe to me over the table from memory.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Send your personal recipes to her c/o The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to cambrian@thetribunenews.com.

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