‘THE SANTA BARBARA CHEF’
More than 100 years ago, from 1912 to 1917, the Flying A Movie Studio was one of the largest motion picture studios in the United States.
At the time, that made Santa Barbara a filmmaking center rivaled only by Hollywood, according to wikipedia.org.
The cameras are rolling again at the site on West Mission Street between State and Chapala streets, where a new cooking show, “The Santa Barbara Chef,” is being filmed in the studio kitchen of Michael Hutchings, well-known local chef, who has appeared in more than 125 cooking-related videos, including four with Julia Child’s PBS show, “Dinner at Julia’s.”
For 10 years, he owned Michael’s Waterside restaurant across from the Bird Refuge, and he now runs Michael’s Catering.
“‘The Santa Barbara Chef’ is an exciting new 30-minute television cooking show featuring gourmet recipes from around the world, chef tips and wine pairings,” said Mr. Hutchings, who says he is 70 “and just getting started.”
Viewers can see the show at 11 a.m. Fridays, beginning Aug. 30, in Santa Barbara on Cox Cable; on Channel 4 in San Diego; on Channel 3 in Orange County; and on Channel 27 in Palm Springs, Desert Cities and Yuma, Ariz.
“The Santa Barbara Chef will bring the highest quality cuisine to nearly 1 million viewing households in the Southwest television market, and there are plans for it to go on Amazon Prime,” said Mr. Hutchings.
For three hours on a recent afternoon, the News-Press joined Mr. Hutchings as he was being filmed for one of the shows by the crew from YTS Films, a family-run company consisting of Gary L. Conlin, cameraman; his wife, Harlene Conlin, producer; and their son William G. Conlin, director and editor.
The kitchen’s quarters were compact, which suited Mr. Hutchings just fine because everything was in easy reach as he stood behind his work station, clad in a sparkling white chef’s jacket and a navy-and-white striped apron.
Looking perfectly relaxed, the white-haired chef welcomed viewers to his kitchen when William announced “Action,” and then told what was on the menu for that show — Hand Rolled Pasta Mr. Huganin, Fillet of Sea Bass in a Green Jacket and Berry-Coconut Crumble.
“You’re probably wondering about the unusual name for the pasta,” he told the cameras. “I named it after a customer who ordered the same thing every time he came to my restaurant. After 30 or 40 times, I told him I was going to name the recipe after him. He was John Huganin, who lived at Birnam Wood Golf Club, a lovely man.”
As Mr. Hutchings began making the pasta from scratch, using cooked spinach to color the dough, he showed two different ways to make the noodles.
” After rolling the dough out with a bamboo rolling pin — don’t be shy about using flour on the board — you can run it through a pasta machine or you can use what I call a guitara, a wooden box with strings like a guitar. It’s worth the money to invest in a pasta machine,” he said.
Along with tips — like lightly dusting the pasta strips with flour before cooking so they don’t stick together, and making a large quantity of pesto sauce and freezing it in ice cube tray for future use — Mr. Hutchings told about hunting mushrooms near San Marcos Pass with Julia Child.
“Afterward, she said, ‘Here’s a blow against fungi phobia,’ ” he said with a chuckle.
When it was time to see whether the pasta had finished cooking, Mr. Hutchings tasted several noodles to see if they were al dente.
“There are those who say you should throw it against the wall, but I’m not of that ilk,” he said, stressing the importance of cooking with quality ingredients. “Buy the good stuff.”
Next on the menu was Fillet of Sea Bass in a Green Jacket.
“I call it that because I wrap the pieces of sea bass in Bibb lettuce leaves that are blanched for a few seconds in boiling salted water,” said Mr. Hutchings. “We have no problem finding beautiful fresh fish in Santa Barbara.”
Before slicing the 4-pound fillet — “originally this fish weighed about 30 pounds” — into five pieces, he removed stray bones with a special set of fish tweezers, as he quipped, “I used to work for a dentist.”
When the task proved too tedious, he used a knife to cut away a chunk of the fish along the side, noting that it would be used to make fish stock.
After the pieces of sea bass were wrapped in their jackets, they were placed in a bamboo steamer to cook for about 10 minutes, and Mr. Hutchings used the time to make Leek Coulis and Leek Crisps.
“It’s not complicated, just involved,” he said.
Much less involved was the dessert, Berry-Coconut Crumble, where raspberries and strawberries were topped with a mix of coconut, sugar, egg white and pistachios and served with vanilla ice cream.
As Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit.”
Hand Rolled Pasta Mr. Huganin
3/4 pound cooked green noodles, see recipe
13/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons basil pesto, see recipe
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
4 ounces prosciutto, julienne
3 ounces Reggiano parmesan, shaved into ribbons
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. Use one tablespoon salt per quart of water. Drain and cool in cold water, drain again and toss with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
Place the cream in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add the basil pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto to the cream and reduce slightly. Steam, drop in salted, boiling water or microwave the pasta to heat it. Divide among six plates. Portion the sauce among them. Sprinkle the parmesan on top and serve with a sprig of fresh basil.
Green Spinach Pasta
4 cups bread flour
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 each whole eggs
Pluck and clean the spinach. Wash in several changes of water. Bring 4 pints of salted water to the boil. Add spinach and cook until very tender (about 4 to 5 minutes). Drain and cool under a cold tap. Squeeze dry in a tea towel. Place spinach and eggs in a blender and purée. Place all ingredients in a food processor with a dough paddle or use a mixer with a dough hook. Mix to form the dough. If too dry, add some beaten egg; if too wet. add some flour. Cover and let rest for an hour.
Roll into a thin sheet and cut into noodles. The easy method is to use a hand crank pasta roller with a cutter attachment. Cook for 45 to 60 seconds in boiling salted water. Drain and cool. Toss with olive oil and cover.
Note: This pasta can be frozen uncooked on baking sheet pans and stored until needed in an airtight container. This recipe makes 8 to 10 appetizer portions
8 cups basil leaves, stemmed, loose pack
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. This can be frozen
Yield: 6 portions
Source: Chef Michael Hutchings
Fillet of Sea Bass in a Green Jacket
6 each sea bass fillet (5-6 ounce portion)
2 heads Bibb lettuce leaves, larger, green
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1/2 cup carrots, peel and cut into 1/8-inch dice
1/2 cup mushrooms, cut into 1/8-inch dice
Butter as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 leeks, julienne from white part, fried crispy in deep fryer
Oil for frying as needed
1 pound leeks, white part, trim, clean, slice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fish stock or water
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives
Leek Coulis: Wash the sliced leeks to ensure there is no soil left on them. Place butter in a sauce pan and add the leeks, fish stock, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat until very tender. Place in a blender and puree until smooth. Be sure to cover the blender with a towel and start on low to avoid steam burst. Place in a small saucepan and reheat just before use. Add the chives just before serving.
Leek Crisps: Heat a fryer to 350 degrees. Toss the leek julienne in a little flour to lightly coat. Place in a deep fryer and cook until lightly browned and crisp. Drain in a paper towel.
Sea bass: Place the diced celery, carrot and mushrooms in a sauté pan with the butter; season and cook over medium heat until just tender. Set aside. Blanch the lettuce leaves for a few seconds in boiling salted water. Place in cold water to chill, drain and set on paper towels. Lay out enough leaves to cover the fish fillet. Season the sea bass. Place some of the diced vegetables on the lettuce, top with the fish and wrap the fillet with the lettuce. Wrap the fillet in plastic wrap to secure the lettuce. Set in a steamer, seam side down. Repeat with the other fillets.
Cook the fillets in a covered steamer 8 to 10 minutes. Use a thermometer to test for doneness. 145 degrees is perfect for fish. To serve, unwrap the plastic wrap, place a couple of ounces of hot leek coulis on the plate and top with the fish then the crispy leeks.
Yield: 6 portions
Source: Inspired by Michel Roux
2 baskets raspberries
2 baskets strawberries, hulled, sliced
3 tablespoons honey
1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 cups shredded coconut, no sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 each egg whites
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely chopped
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix the berries with the honey, cornstarch, orange liqueur and orange zest. Divide between individual gratin dishes.
Place the coconut, sugar, pistachios and egg whites in a bowl and mix to combine.
Place the coconut mixture over the berries and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the coconut has browned lightly.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Garnish with mint and berries.
Yield: 6 portions