St. Helena, Erin Martin & Mustards Grill's Pudding Cakes

Sometimes, when your inner Jack Kerouac is stirred, the highway beckons and you have to hit the road. In the last two weeks we have logged over 1500 miles, all up and down California. First, we headed north to Napa, then turned around and made it all the way to Palm Springs in the south. This is about our road trip to Napa. First stop, St. Helena:

in the countryside Napa Valley a vineyard
and old house with water tower

downtown St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

vintage truck at winery outside St. Helena

Yousef Karsh portrait of Picasso hangs as part of
the spectacular original photography collection at
Turnbull Winery tasting room


must stop into Erin Martin's
showroom in St. Helena

window display Erin Martin's
St. Helena showroom

Erin's showroom features an armoire by
fellow blogger and friend Daniel Hale
of Serendipity Rising

Erin's signature slightly edgy style

although four years ago now, I've always loved this
French country kitchen for a small hideaway in
Napa Valley designed by Erin Martin... the painted vaulted
ceiling and the soft blues make this small space feel
much larger than it is

the soft blues and whites of the kitchen are
soothing and calming for this wine country

love the tile floor, the soft blues and
the inviting symmetry of the bed


Next stop: lunch at Cindy Pawlcyn's legendary Mustard's Grill, which she opened in 1983 and helped put Napa Valley on the culinary map with her simple yet hip, elegant and unfussy style.

"Long before star chefs such as Thomas Keller discovered the culinary possibilities of wine country, Cindy was making confit of local goose and slicing heirloom tomatoes from the same backyard gardens she still uses to fuel her restaurant menus. Her authentic, seasonal, hyperlocal aesthetic—"We're talking Persian limes grown outside my bedroom window," she says—helped put the region's cuisine on par with whatever the Mondavis and others were uncorking down the road. "It was this idea that the food should be as good and local as the wine," she says of her original concept. "Nobody was really thinking that back then."

a must: lunch at Mustard's Grill in Yountville... here you are
in the expert hands of Cindy Pawlcyn, the brilliant chef

Mustard's Grill in Napa Valley
"American Roadside Diner meets French Country Bistro"

love this little Chinese fisherman hanging
on the wall at Mustards

early spring fava beans in Mustard's garden

greenhouse just outside Mustard's door


Pudding Cake with Chantilly Cream and Berries

a recipe by Cindy Pawlcyn from
her Napa Valley Menu

Servings: Serves 8

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter , melted
Chantilly cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
Berry topping:
  • 2 pints fresh berries (can be a mixture)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. triple sec liqueur
  • Confectioners' sugar , for garnish (optional)
To make cakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Separate egg yolks from whites; set both aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and 2/3 cup sugar. Add lemon juice, zest, and buttermilk; whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter and egg yolks. Stir egg yolk mixture into lemon-buttermilk mixture.

Using whisk attachment of a mixer, whip egg whites until frothy. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar, and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

Fold egg whites into the yolk-and-buttermilk mixture. The batter should be smooth and thick.

Pour batter into 8 individual (4-ounce) ramekins. Arrange them in a small roasting pan; add water to pan so that it goes halfway up sides of the ramekins. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until batter is slightly brown and beginning to crack but still jiggly. Cool to room temperature.

To make chantilly cream: Start while cakes are in the oven. In a bowl, whip together heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar until fluffy. Keep chilled until needed.

To make berry topping: In a medium bowl, mash berries until well broken up but not pureed. Spoon them evenly onto cooled cakes in ramekins. Sprinkle each cake with sugar and drizzle with triple sec. Finish cakes with a dollop of chantilly cream and a dusting of confectioners' sugar; serve.


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