Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Recipe for Gratitude

One of the quickest ways I've found to get into the holiday spirit is to seek warmth: a cozy hug; hot apple cider; deep, rich red hues; and earthy, warming spices. With just one bite of a hot and hearty holiday-inspired meal I begin to feel myself transported to Grandma's house - surrounded by laughter, baked goods, and the people I love. In my eyes, food is not just fuel but also a vehicle to feeling comforted, connected, and grounded.

When I taste-tested our newest appetizer (after snapping some photos, of course) I was surprised to feel that same warmth and comfort from avocado toast - a dish that I wouldn't typically associate with holiday nostalgia. Somewhere within the hearty bread, creamy avocado, spicy sauce, and sweet corn kernels I felt cozy and at home. The recipe below has been sourced from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. In the Madonna Inn kitchen, we substitute tomato paste for the fresh Romas, so feel free to get a little creative with your ingredients. 

As we come into this holiday season on the heels of one of the worst natural disasters our state has ever endured, "home" is something I cherish now more than ever. For the thousands of people that have lost the people, possessions, and place that gave them their sense of home, my heart breaks. And for the countless number of volunteers who have left the comforts of their daily routines to offer aid and service, I am deeply moved and inspired. Seeing the strength of so many in the midst of this tragedy reminds me why I am proud to be a Californian.
If you're interested in contributing to the wildfire relief efforts please visit the Red Cross website and select "California Wildfires" from the drop-down menu.

Much like the people that make up our beautiful state, this Romesco sauce is hearty, nurturing, and down-to-earth. And while it would be delectable on just about anything, we think it makes the perfect base for sliced avocados, crumbled Feta cheese, roasted corn, and cilantro. Prepare this sauce in bulk, store, and enjoy on days when you need a little spice, a little warmth, or just a little bit more gratitude.

 Here's to a very gracious holiday - wherever you may be spending it. 

Romesco Sauce

A lightly spicy, tomato-based sauce from the Madonna Inn kitchen, adapted from Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's book, Cooking with Too Hot Tamales: Recipes & Tips from TV Food's Spiciest Cooking Duo 


  • ¾ cup toasted almonds
  • 2 large thick slices of country bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
  •  ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 pound roma tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  •  ½ teaspoon pepper
  •  ¾ cup olive oil

  • Combine the bread and vinegar in a bowl to soak for about 20 minutes.
  • Place almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.
  • Add vinegar-soaked bread, paprika, salt, and pepper. Pulse until pureed in food processor.
  • While pulsing, slowly add in olive oil until a smooth sauce forms.
  • Serve at room temperature, chilled, or warmed up.
  • Enjoy!

Visit to view our full appetizer list. 

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