Our Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Thank you for taking the time to read our posts and click through to see our pictures.

thanksgiving-3

Papa Bird and I were feeling a little unenthusiastic about Thanksgiving this year. Neither of us have family in town, and the traditional “story” about Native Americans welcoming the English immigrants to the first Thanksgiving felt at odds with the current state of our country. But we talked about making new traditions and celebrating what we do value.

rotisserie turkey

We invited our sweet friends with a newborn over for a traditional meal at our house. At twelve pounds, the turkey was small enough to (just barely) fit on the rotisserie attachment of the grill. Thank goodness! However do you cook all the sides if there is a bird in the oven? Our friends made oven-roasted veggies and mashed potatoes with homemade creme fraiche, and even so, our oven was in full use throughout the morning and early afternoon.

thanksgiving-4

Many thanks to Sarah and the girls’ “Tio Lou” for coming over, cooking, and sending us the pictures of us at the table. Papa Bird and I had seen their newbie at the hospital, but the Little Birds were thrilled to meet baby Mateo for the first time.

Sarah and Mateo

And there was pie. And pie crust cookies made by the girls. (Not pictured: chocolate mousse made by the girls, too.) I used my all-butter crust recipe and the “Real Pumpkin Pie” recipe from a few years ago with the following improvements: I used maple syrup instead of honey as the sweetener, which mixes easily without having to be warmed up. I also ended up using mostly cream and only a splash of milk, just because we had more cream than milk on hand.

real pumpkin pie

And the day after Thanksgiving we put up our tree. Christmas and Hannukah, here we come! (Another photo courtesy the Moras, as I was covering a shift at the hospital Friday.)

picking the perfect tree

Our Backyard Party with Apple & Hickory Catering

Our Little Birds are getting so big! They just turned five and three. We recently threw a joint birthday party in our backyard. Since I don’t get to throw many parties these days, I made sure it was a party an adult would want to attend, too. We worked with our friends with a new catering company, Apple & Hickory, and the food was just beautiful.

A fall salad with persimmons, pistachios and pomegranates

Apple & Hickory Catering - Persimmon Pistachio Salad

Our Littlest Bird is enamored of Chef Ryan’s macaroni and cheese. We reached out to him just to see if he would be willing to make a tray of it for us for the girls’ birthday party. He ended up offering to cater the whole party at cost in exchange for photos for their new website.

Mmmmm, cheese…..

Cheese plate by Baby Birds Farm

Even if it was a kids party in theory, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pull out some cheese and wine. This cheese plate included Humbolt Fog, Truffle Tremor, a mild Spanish cheese, an aged gouda, honeycomb, pistachios, grapes and Marcona almonds.

apple-n-hickory-corn

Both Chef Ryan and Chef Leland have been in the catering and restaurant business for years. Both recently left positions as number two in charge of restaurants. We are happy to see them branch out on their own independently.

Chef Ryan was very easy to work with. We told him our theme, “fairies” and party size and he put together a whole menu proposal as a starting point. In addition to mac n’ cheese, we feasted on crispy pork belly, green beans with apples and almonds, aguachile, chips and salsa, corn, fresh fruit, and the beautiful fall salad above.

Fresh Baja Shrimp Aguachile

Fresh Baja Shrimp Aguachile from Apple & Hickory Catering in San Diego

I had fun shopping the day before for ingredients with Chef Ryan. We hit up Catalina Offshore for the fresh Baja shrimp, Restaurant Depot for the meat, cake supplies from Do It With Icing, and Specialty Produce for the rest.

Do you still call it a smash cake when they are 5 and 3?

Edible Flower Decorated Smash Cakes

The two little smash cakes were a total collaboration. I baked the cake layers from an old Southern recipe for Hummingbird Cake. Chef Ryan made extra cream cheese frosting – the same frosting he used as the fillings in his funfetti “cakies.” Since the girls (ok, and me, too) wanted a fairy theme for their party, we decorated the cakes with lots of edible flowers.

"Cakies" - funfetti cookie cakes filled with cream cheese frosting

Similarly, the photos were a group effort. One of Papa Bird’s photographer friends shot most of the images on our camera, though I took a few. We rented a nicer lens for the day. And Papa Bird processed the images. He also ended up starting a website for Apple & Hickory Catering – something he has been doing a lot of lately! As a part of his Burd’s Nerds IT support business, he recently redid my psychotherapy website, too.

Great success

As you can see from the girls’ faces, they were pretty happy fairies!

Baby Birds Farm

Give the guys a call if you are planning an event or just want someone to cook dinner for you at home. Check out their website at applenhickory.com – a few of the pictures might look familiar!

Pepita (Pumpkin Seed) Streusel

Raw pepitas, or green pumpkin seeds, have a sweet and nutty flavor. They are the perfect base for a streusel topping. Use it to top pumpkin muffins, ice cream, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, or this satisfying pumpkin custard I shared today.

Ginger Maple Pumpkin Custard with Pepita Streusel

At the risk of sounding like a scene from Forest Gump, let’s talk the sweet incantations of pumpkin:

pepita streusel ingredients

Find these recipes and more in my Pinterest Board devoted to all things pumpkin, “Pumpkin Everything.”

Pepita (Pumpkin Seed) Streusel
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A crunchy topping, made with green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Perfect for topping pumpkin pie or ginger pumpkin custard. Keep leftovers to top ice cream, yogurt, and more.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350* F.
  2. Melt the butter in a small glass mixing bowl by microwaving for 10-15 seconds. A few unmelted lumps are fine.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl, stir to mix well.
  4. Scatter the batter over a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper, and bake for 5 minutes or until browned.
Notes
My streusel still looked "wet" when it had started browning. I pulled it out of the oven anyway and it turned out well. Don't let it burn.

 

Pumpkin Custard with Ginger and Maple

It’s officially pumpkin season! San Diego weather may change its mind on a daily basis, but pumpkin everything gets the green light in my book! Today I’m sharing the recipe for a ginger-maple pumpkin custard topped with a pepita streusel. This creamy alternative to pumpkin pie is made extra gingery with both fresh and dried ginger, and sweetened with maple syrup.

Ginger Maple Pumpkin Custard with Pepita Streusel

The pumpkin custard is gluten-free, with no refined sugars, and no cans. Like in my pumpkin smash cake recipe, I won’t tell anyone if you speed the recipe up with canned pumpkin, but try a real pumpkin one time so you can taste the difference. I use whole cow milk, but you can substitute any milk alternative. This custard is adapted from the filling for the real pumpkin pie recipe. We topped it with real whipped cream (get the “real” food trend?) and a pepita (pumpkin seed) streusel. Find the streusel recipe here.

Papa Bird and the little birds grew pumpkins this year from seeds saved from last year’s sugar pie pumpkins. Specialty Produce is also fully stocked with baking and decorative pumpkins.

[Recipe] Ginger Maple Pumpkin Custard with Pepita Streusel (whole, unrefined ingredients, gluten-free)

Try the recipe today and you just might be eating this surprisingly healthy custard for dessert and breakfast. Or else pin the recipe to save and try later!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pumpkin Custard with Ginger and Maple
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6-8 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A creamy alternative to pumpkin pie, made extra gingery with both fresh and dried ginger, and sweetened with maple syrup. Gluten-free, no refined sugars, and no cans. I use whole cow milk, but you can substitute any milk alternative. Adapted from my "Real Pumpkin Pie" filling.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups roasted and pureed pumpkin (1 sugar pie pumpkin or 1 15 oz can of pureed pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup whole milk
Instructions
  1. Prep pumpkin (see notes) or use canned (I won't tell anyone, but try a real pumpkin one time so you can taste the difference.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350* F.
  3. If you are using homemade pureed pumpkin, add the rest of the ingredients into your food processor or blender. Mix until combined.
  4. Place six to eight custard dishes or ramekins inside of a large roasting pan. Fill the small dishes/ramekins with the pumpkin batter. Pour water into the large pan, being careful not to splash water into the custards. Fill the pan until the water level is even with the level of the batter in the small dishes. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center of the custards are "set."
  5. Remove the custards from the water bath and cool on a wire rack.
  6. Serve with streusel and/or whipped cream.
Notes
1. If starting from a fresh pumpkin: Use a "sugar pie pumpkin" or "pie pumpkin" and not a decorative jack-o-lantern type pumpkin. Preheat oven to 350* F. Wash the outside of the pumpkin well. Cut off the stem of the pumpkin, and then cut in half vertically. Remove the seeds and strings. Rinse and save the seeds for drying and replanting and/or roasting. Place the two halves of the pumpkins on a baking pan lined with a piece of foil that is twice as long as the pan. Fold the foil over the top of the pumpkins and bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until soft.
Allow pumpkins to cool (they can be refrigerated over night.) Peel off the skin, and any overly browned parts.
Place the flesh of the pumpkin in a food processor or good blender and puree until smooth.
Leave the pumpkin in the processor or blender, and add the rest of the custard ingredients.
An average sized pumpkin makes about 2 cups of pureed pumpkin. A little more or a little less is fine.
2. Nutrition figures are for 8 servings. I made 6 large custards, and we felt full after half, so it could easily serve 12. I split the difference and calculated for 8. Nutrition is also for the custard as written, and does not include streusel or whip cream topping.
3. Streusel recipe here.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 131 g Calories: 111 Fat: 3g Saturated fat: 1.2g Unsaturated fat: 1.8g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 18g Sugar: 14 g Sodium: 188mg Fiber: .8g Protein: 3.8g Cholesterol: 73mg

 

Farmer’s Bottega Restaurant Feature

Farmer’s Bottega features local artisan ingredients and organic produce in New American and Italian dishes. Italian-born chef and owner Alberto Morale, co-owner of the Fig Tree Cafe, opened the Mission Hills restaurant less than two years ago. We loved working with San Diego Restaurant Week last January. SDRW reached out again to tell me this month’s theme is local produce and we were happy to accept an invitation to preview Farmer’s Bottega.

Oxtail Ravioli at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

The Oxtail Ravioli with cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions and herbed goat cheese immediately called out to me. The sauce was flavorful, rich with umami and balanced with the fresh green taste of the dandelion shoot garnish. The housemade pasta had the perfect aldente bite.

The Baby Birds Farm family

Our whole silly family found the staff friendly and hospitable. The hostess offered each girl full sized coloring books and a small tupperware of crayons, which kept them content during ordering. We also enjoyed exploring the back patio and garden space.

Total comfort food

Housemade Meatballs at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

The Housemade Meatballs were something special. The starter is presented oh so cozy in a small cast iron pan, and topped table-side by copious parmesan. The meatballs are cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce with fresh herbs. We requested an extra round of the Bread and Cie toast to sop up the last bits.

Featuring fresh and unique produce

Yellow Watermelon Salad at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

Our waiter, Matthew, was very personable. He steered us towards the Seasonal Melon Salad. This week’s salad featured super sweet yellow watermelon, feta, wild arugula, and spicy caramelized pecans. The lemon vinaigrette was light and overall the salad was a refreshing balance to our other meat-heavy choices. In addition to buying direct from local farms, Specialty Produce supplies their fresh vegetables and fruits, sourced from San Diego growers.

Farmhouse Decor
Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

Farmer’s Bottega is decorated in a comfortable “farmhouse” style, perfect for either date night or family. Oversized glass containers hold pickles and preserved lemons. How sweet would a date be under this wall of crate boxes?

Top Quality Meats

Buffalo Filet at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

The herb-rubbed Buffalo Filet was also excellent, served with garlic mashed potatoes, swiss chard, asparagus, crispy onions, roasted Maui thyme and a petite Syrah reduction. The filet was cooked a perfect medium rare, and super tender. Unfortunately, I was not fast enough around my family to snag any of the asparagus and barely grabbed a corner of the crispy onions. I wished for more!

You have to eat dessert during restaurant week!

NY Cheesecake with fresh berries at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

We finished our meal with a New York Cheesecake with fresh berries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

After such inventive and satisfying starters and mains, the desserts were unflawed but not as memorable.

Molten Chocolate Cake at Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San DiegoAll in all, considering there wasn’t a drop left on the plates, they couldn’t have been that bad.

At one point I looked over at my three-year-old and she was doing a combination shovel/inhale on the Molten Chocolate Cake.

Tips for Farmer’s Bottega

  • We only ordered items we were told would be on the Restaurant Week menu. However, since Farmer’s Bottega features seasonal produce and locally sourced seafood, artisan meats, cheese and breads, selections may vary.
  • Our waiter let us know that they would offer the $40 SDRW menu not just the one week, Sunday, September 25th through Sunday, October 2nd, but would extend for a second week, too.
  • Reservations recommended: (619) 458-9929.
  • If you miss SDRW altogether, they offer a pre-fixed date night menu on Wednesday nights, and happy hour all night Tuesday at the bar. The TV’s at the bar were playing the Food Network. My kind of place!!
  • If you go, please tell them Baby Birds Farm sent you!
  • As mentioned, our food was offered free of charge. Opinions and photos are mine.

Farmer's Bottega Restaurant in Mission Hills, San Diego

Farmer’s Bottega

860 West Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92103

(619) 458-9929

www.farmersbottega.com

HOURS
Sunday – Thursday
8 AM–3 PM | 4:30 PM–10 PM
Friday – Saturday
8 AM–3 PM | 4 PM–10:30 PM