• On The Menu: Brunch with Ella Calderon

    We partnered with Ella Calderon – Long Beach chef + food enthusiast to create a fresh and easy tabletop spread.

    Hi Ella! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.  
    Well, I’m a 28-year-old private chef living in Long Beach, California. I collect cookbooks. I really appreciate nature and being outdoors, camping, going on a nice hike or having a lovely picnic. The kitchen is my life. At work or at home it will be the place to find me. I enjoy learning and experimenting with new and old recipes. I love gatherings and the happiness it brings people. I love the idea of bringing people together to enjoy a simple meal. 

    How did you get into cooking? Has this been something you have always been into?
    I can't say that I’ve been cooking for my whole life. But I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. Everything I know I’ve learned from watching others, my collection of cookbooks or just by trying things out and not being afraid. I have always been very curious and meticulous in the kitchen. Making something taste as good as it looks is very important to me. I appreciate the detail and time it takes to get a perfectly minced shallot, a carefully diced tomato or even making stock. I like that food takes time and it's a form of nurture. Feeding people is what is most rewarding to me. It wouldn’t be as fun if I couldn’t share someone's joy while trying something I’ve worked hard to make. I am grateful to be able to express myself through cooking. 
    Can you walk us through your brunch set up?  
    For this brunch setup I decided to make a Freshly Picked Citrus Salad, Toast (three combinations), Tahini & Almond cookies, and a Sparkling Pink Grapefruit and Rose Water Drink.

    I decorated the table with fresh Chamomile flowers and Kumquats to add some fun and color. I like to have all my ingredients out and ready to go. Everything measured, veggies washed, peeled and cut. It saves time and helps everything flow nicely. 

    Freshly Picked Citrus Salad 

    1 Blood Orange 
    1 Grapefruit 
    1 Navel Orange 
    1/2 cup Kumquats 
    2 Tablespoons Honey Zest
    1 Lime + Mint Leaves 

    1. Cut off all the skin from the blood orange, grapefruit and navel orange. 
    2. Slice the peeled citrus and cut into beautiful 1/4 inch rounds. Thinly slice kumquats with skin on. 
    3. Arrange all citrus fruit nicely on a serving platter. Set aside. 
    4. In a small bowl mix together the honey and zest. Pour over citrus salad. 
    5. Garnish with mint leaves. 


    Bread- I used a fresh Artisan Loaf made by my boyfriend (thank you, Andres). Use your favorite kind. They will all work great. 

    Combination 1:
    Miso butter 
    Hard-boiled egg sliced or halved 
    Thinly sliced Easter egg radishes 

    Combination 2:
    Ricotta Rose Jam 
    Dried Rose petals for garnish 

    Combination 3: 
    Beet Hummus 
    Thinly sliced Carrots 
    Mini Heirloom Tomatoes 
    Micro greens 

    1. Toast sliced bread  
    2. Arrange ingredients on toast as listed based on combination, in that order. 

    For a little sweet treat: Tahini and Almond Cookies 

    2 cups almond flour 
    1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 
    1 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/2 cup honey 
    3/4 cup tahini 
    2 tablespoons vanilla extract 
    Raw Pistachios, chopped to decorate Dried or fresh flowers for garnish when plating

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
    2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking powder. 
    3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the honey, tahini, and vanilla until everything is completely combined and the mixture has begun to thin a little. 
    4. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the dry ingredients in the bowl and stir with a spoon or mix with your hands until everything is combined and a dough forms. The dough should come together easily and feel quite warm and soft. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes so that it firms slightly. 
    5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a prepared baking sheet two inches apart from each other. 
    6. Press down on each one with a fork. 
    7. Sprinkle each one with chopped pistachios, gently press the nuts into the dough so they don’t fall off during baking. 
    8. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. 
    9. The cookies will puff a little during baking but will flatten somewhat during cooling. Watch carefully so that the bottoms don’t over brown. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks. 
    10. Once cooled arrange on a serving plate and garnish with more chopped pistachios and flowers. 

    Sparkling Pink Grapefruit and Rose Water Drink 

    2 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice 
    4 cups of grapefruit flavored La Croix 
    2 tablespoons agave nectar 
    4 tablespoons rose water Sliced Kumquats or sliced grapefruit for garnish 

    Mix first 4 ingredients in a pitcher, divide into 4 cups. Garnish each cup with kumquats or a slice of grapefruit.  
    Variation: to spike it replace the 4 cups of grapefruit La Croix by adding two cups of champagne and two cups of grapefruit La Croix. 

    Lastly, set the table + Enjoy!