Candelas “The House of Baja Wines”

Candelas by Chef Martin San Roman in San Diego
Candelas by Chef Martin San Roman in San Diego

Located in the heart of the Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego, you will find Candelas. Upon entering the restaurant, this incredible feeling of warmth and comfort surrounds you. Dimmed lighting and candlelight, provide a beautiful romantic glow to the space. Chef Martin San Roman has been running the kitchen of Candelas for a little bit less than a year now, but many of you have probably known of him for years. Whether you watched him on “Del Chef a Usted”, or visited his restaurants in Tijuana, his Franco-Mexicano food is truly unforgettable. Otherwise known as the “House of Baja Wines”, it only makes sense that the wine list at Candelas is full of wines from south of the border. In fact, this is the only restaurant in San Diego, that boasts such a list.

Candelas by Chef Martin San Roman in San Diego

There couldn’t have been a better backdrop to set the tone for our evening dining at Candelas. Our table was surrounded by wine bottles, and a candle lit gate. Before I knew it we were being presented with our first course, a machaca taco. Now this isn’t your ordinary taco, instead of a corn or flour tortilla, the tortilla was made of thinly shaved jicama. The last time that I had a jicama “tortilla” was at the LA Street Food Fest last year, and since then I keep telling myself to try and recreate it. It is amazing how much texture just that bite of crunch brings to the taco. The tiny taco was covered in a Champagne and dried tomato sauce, that I couldn’t help but eat up every last bit.

Candelas by Chef Martin San Roman in San Diego

Following that was one of the most beautiful presentations of Ahi Tuna Tartare that I have ever seen. The raw Ahi tuna is marinated in lime, sesame seed, roasted apples, garlic, and soy sauce, then placed on top of a piece of avocado. This placement of the avocado, ensured you that you would get just the right amount of creaminess with the tuna. Drizzled over the dish was a balsamic reduction, that tied in quite well with the side of sweet chopped mango. A crunchy tortilla chip topped with the beautiful colors and flavors of the tartare, was just magnificent. I can guarantee that when I do return to Candelas, this will be on our table.
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La Boulange Cafe and Bakery



I am in love with all things French. My husband and I have always been so intrigued by the French Culture, and most of all the food. La Boulange Cafe Bakery was a very close walk to our hotel that we stayed at. The first couple of times that we walked by, we just stared in longingly at the beautiful display of baked goods and treats. It wasn’t until our last day in San Francisco, that we actually went in and ordered breakfast. I would have felt spoiled if we had eaten there every morning, even though I was secretly wishing that we did. We ordered their Croque Madame to share, and Giovanni had their Organic Oats with Fruit.
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Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon

This classic dish is an ideal stew for a chilly Fall evening. The rich flavors all come together and fill you with warmth and comfort in each bite. Serve with slices of Fresh Baguette, and use them to soak up the delicious broth. This stew also reheats very well, so you can enjoy it the next day for lunch or even dinner again.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  •  3 1/2 Pounds Stewing Beef
  • 6 Oz. Thick Cut Bacon
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 3/4 lb. Small Button Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 1 Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Carrot, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced or Grated
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 3 Cups Red Wine
  • 1 t/2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 1 Bouquet Garni
  • About 3 Cups Beef Stock
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

  •  Cut the beef into about 2 inch pieces, if it is not already done for you, and slice the bacon into small cubes.
  • In a large heavy flameproof casserole over medium heat cook the bacon until golden brown.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but about 2 tbsp. of the fat.
  • Increase the heat to medium high heat. Add the meat in batches in a single layer so it is able to brown.
  • Cook the meat until it is browned on all sides, then transfer to a plate.
  • In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp. of the butter and then add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 2-3 minutes until they are golden in color. Then set them aside.
  • When the beef is all browned pour off any of the fat left over in the pot.
  • Melt the other tbsp. of butter, and once melted add the carrots, onions, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook them over medium heat until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Once softened, sprinkle the flour over the top, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add the wine, tomato paste, and bouquet garni.
  • Bring to a boil, making sure to scrape all of the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.
  • Return the beef and bacon back to the pot.
  • Then add the broth, and put enough so that the meat and vegetables are just covered when you press them down.
  • Cover the pot, and simmer very gently over  low heat for about 3 hours until the meat is tender.
  • Add the mushrooms, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Discard the bouquet and sprinkle in the fresh parsley just before serving.

Enjoy!

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French Onion Tart

French Onion Tart



Just about the time the weather begins to get crisp and cool, I love to make French onion soup. Considering that we are still experiencing the lovely heat of summer, eating hot soup just doesn’t sound that luxurious to me. This is a wonderful way to get the rich flavors of a French Onion soup, as well as being less time consuming. This is an ideal dish to serve at a party as an appetizer or snack. Pair with your favorite glass of wine, and have your own little “Bistro like” experience.

Ingredients:

1 Sheet Puff Pastry, Thawed
3 Vidalia Onions, Thinly Sliced
2 tbsp. Extra- Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
2-4 Fresh Thyme Sprigs, Plus more for garnish
About 2 oz. Goat Cheese, Crumbled
1/3 Cup Beef Stock
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the puff pastry to be about the size of a 10×16 rectangle.
Pierce the edges of the border with a fork, as well as the center of the dough to prevent it from rising.
Bake the puff pastry for 15 minutes, or until golden in color.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large skillet or heavy pot with a lid.
Add the onions, thyme sprigs, and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pot for the first 10 minutes, then let the onions caramelize for the next 20-25 minutes uncovered.
Stir occasionally, and once the onions begin to brown add the stock slowly.
Be sure to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Once the onions are caramelized and a deep golden color, remove them from the heat.
Remove the leafless Thyme sprigs.
Top the baked puff pastry with the caramelized onions, and sprinkle with the crumbled Goat Cheese.
Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the goat cheese has just started to melt.
Transfer the tart to a serving dish, and cut into individual pieces.
Serve.

Enjoy!

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Tilapia en Papillote

Tilapia en Papillote

This is a such a tasty and healthy option for both lunch or dinner. The ingredients are very simple, but the fish turns out so moist and full of flavor.  You can also substitute the fish with others such as salmon, cod, or even swordfish. Savor each bite of this meal, and pair it with the Cava or white wine that you used to prepare the fish.

Makes 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tilapia Fillets about 4 oz. each
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup Cava Sparkling Wine or White Wine
  • 8 Thin slices of Lemon
  • 8 Thin slices of Fresh fennel
  • 8 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • 8 Sprigs of Fresh Parsley
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper large enough to place the fish in the middle of them, leaving about a 2 inch border around the edges.
  • Brush 4 of the pieces of paper with olive oil.
  • Season each filet with salt and pepper and place one on each of the oiled pieces of parchment paper.
  • Drizzle the fillets with the Sparkling wine, then top each with 2 slices of lemon, 2 slices of fennel, and 2 sprigs each of thyme and parsley.
  • Fold over the edges two times to create a pouch.
  • Place the pouches on a baking sheet, and place in the oven until cooked through, about 15-18 minutes.
  • Serve the fish in the parchment and have each person spoon the sauce over the fish themselves.

Enjoy!

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Bistro Style Dinner

Bistro Style Dinner

There are many different versions of this French bistro classic. The cream sauce on the steak offers a perfect balance to the heat of the pepper. I have found that the zucchini and tomato bake will work as a wonderful side dish for both meat and poultry. Pair this meal with your favorite glass of red wine, and enjoy a nice home cooked meal without the bistro prices. Bon Appetit!

 

Pepper Steaks

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
  • 2 fillets about 8 ounces each
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Place the black peppercorns into a Ziploc bag, and crush them with a rolling pin.
  • Press the pepper into the meat on both sides.
  • Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the meat, and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then transfer the steaks to a cookie sheet, and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. When done transfer to plates and cover to keep warm.
  • Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Allow it to boil until it is reduced by half, scraping the brown bits off of the pan.
  • Add the cream and garlic, and simmer for about 4 minutes.
  • Stir the sauce, and then pour over the steaks.

 

Zucchini and Tomato Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 3 -4 Tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 3 -4 Zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees F. Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the garlic and onion for 15-20 minutes, until they are soft and golden in color.
  • Spread them over the base of a 12 inch shallow baking dish.
  • Meanwhile, slice your tomatoes and zucchini about ½” thick. If your tomatoes are large you can also cut them in half.
  • Arrange the zucchini and tomatoes into rows over the onion in your baking dish.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, thyme, and cheese over the top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, and bake for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Serve warm.
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Profiteroles

Profiteroles



This mouth-watering dessert can be served with either ice cream or whipped cream. Be sure to serve it while the chocolate sauce is warm. The heat from the chocolate sauce, and the coolness of the ice cream are the perfect compliment to each other.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces Semisweet, Dark, or Milk Chocolate (Depending on your preference)
  • About 8 tbsp warm water
  • 3-4 cups of vanilla ice cream

For the Cream Puffs:

  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • ¾ cup water
  • 6 tbsp of unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 3 eggs

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly butter a baking sheet

To make the profiteroles, sift together the flour, salt, and nutmeg.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and butter to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the dry ingredients all at one time.

Beat with a spoon for about a minute, until all is blended, and it starts to pull away from the sides.

Set the pan back over low heat and cook the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Beat one of the eggs in a small bowl, and set aside.

Add the remaining eggs to the mixture one at a time, making sure that each is blended well. Add the beaten egg that was set aside slowly until the dough is smooth, and shiny. The mixture should pull away and fall slowly when dropped from a spoon.

Using a tablespoon, drop the dough into mounds on the baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is well-risen and golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave the puffs to cool with the oven door open.

To make the chocolate sauce:

Put the chocolate and water in a double-boiler, or a bowl placed over a pan of hot water. Let it melt, stirring occasionally. Be careful to not let it burn.

Split the cream puffs in half, place a scoop of ice cream inside, and drizzle your melted chocolate sauce over the top.

Enjoy!

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Pork with Tomato Sauce

Pork with Tomato Sauce

This dish is one of my husband’s favorites. I have found that the sauce is equally delicious on both chicken and steak. The velvety texture of the cream sauce adds a wonderful richness to any dish that you choose to make it with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Pork loin chops ( Bone in or Boneless)
  • 4 tbsp white wine or chicken broth
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tomato chopped

Instructions:

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the pork with the kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add them to the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned, then transfer the pork chops to a plate. Pour off all of the fat.

Add the wine or broth and dried thyme to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid has almost evaporated.

Add the cream and tomato paste and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then put the pork chops back into the sauce, and cook for 4-5 minutes. The pork chops should be just firm to touch.

Add the Dijon mustard and chopped tomatoes, stirring the pan to distribute them, and cook for 1 more minute to heat through. Serve the pork chops with the sauce poured over the top.

Enjoy!

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