Recipes from a Santa Barbara B&B

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

There’s a palpable sense of calm and an air of gracious hospitality at the Bath Street Inn in Santa Barbara, California. So it didn’t surprise me to learn that Marie Christensen had worked as a licensed marriage and family counselor, and that Deborah Gentry had been in human resources before they became inn owners. Both are “people” people and it shows in the warmth of their welcome.

The 1890s house has been an inn for the past 33 years, and the current owners celebrated their 15th anniversary as its innkeepers this September. Steve and I were guests at the inn for a long weekend this summer.

“We wanted our inn to be comfortable – to give our guests a feeling of coming home, without any of the complications. It’s a place of light and calm,” says Deborah. Owning an inn is a great way to be in people’s lives,” she adds. “People are very appreciative of what we do. It’s instant gratification that’s really great.”

What’s the hardest part about inn keeping, I asked? “It never stops,” Deborah explains. “We’re open for all but two weeks of the year. And of the two weeks that we’re closed, we’re only closed Monday through Thursday; we stay open on the weekends. We do get away but we schedule work to be done during this time – drapes and carpets are cleaned, the furniture refinished; all the deep cleaning is accomplished.”

The inn offers beautiful, homemade breakfasts; delectable afternoon treats at tea time and a wine and cheese hour, to be enjoyed in the cozy common rooms or on the cheerful back patio, shaded by a wisteria-covered pergola.

The breakfasts at the Bath Street Inn begin with a first course of fresh fruit, juice and the inn’s signature homemade granola, which is a secret recipe. All this is followed by a hot entrée.

The inn presents breakfast seamlessly – there’s no last-minute hustle, despite having to produce a hot breakfast for a crowd every day. Wouldn’t you like your brunch parties to be as serene?

So I asked Deborah for some tips and recipes to share with you.

The cardinal rule is, “Whatever you can do ahead, do ahead,” says Deborah. “With almost all of our breakfast entrees, at least some preparation is done ahead. “

Some entrees are made the night before, such as the blintz recipe below, and put into the oven to bake the next day. If the whole dish can’t be made ahead, the parts are prepped separately and combined just before cooking.

For example, for pancakes, they measure the dry ingredients and wet ingredients ahead of time, storing the wet ingredients in the fridge. If there’s a sauce for the pancakes, it is made the night before. The next morning, the staff heats the griddle, combines wet and dry ingredients, and starts cooking the pancakes, while reheating the sauce.

“In the morning, we’re heating or cooking, but not prepping because that work has already been done the day before,” Deborah explains. “Prepping ahead of time makes a huge difference. It means anybody can step into the inn keeper’s shoes and serve breakfast.”

In the home kitchen, the experienced cook can do the prep and leave instructions for another family member to heat the oven and bake off the dish, while getting ready for brunch guests.

Here are two recipes for dishes that we were served at the Bath Street Inn that would be perfect for your next brunch. You can follow the inn’s system and pre-measure the ingredients for the muffins, combining wet and dry the next day, just before baking. For the blintz, prep the whole dish the night before, refrigerate, and bake it off before guests arrive.

Blueberry Muffins
As served at the Bath Street Inn

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup milk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard 12-muffin tin. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk together thoroughly. In medium bowl combine eggs, oil, butter and milk and whisk to combine.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon just until moistened; do not overmix. Batter should not be smooth. Fold in blueberries.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tin, dividing equally. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Recipe adapted from the Bath Street Inn, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Makes 12 muffins

Uncle Arnie’s Blintz Bake
As served at the Bath Street Inn

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups small curd, low-fat cottage cheese
8 large eggs
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ cup orange juice
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Blueberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Grease a 9- X 13-inch baking pan.

To make filling, combine cream cheese, cottage cheese, 2 of the eggs, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and vanilla in a food processor or blender and blend smooth; set aside.

To make batter, in bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and the remaining ½ cup sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining 6 eggs, sour cream and orange juice and beat until smooth. In separate bowl combine flour and baking powder and whisk together thoroughly. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until smooth.

To assemble, pour half of the batter into prepared baking pan. Carefully spoon filling over batter, trying not to disturb the batter layer. Pour the remaining batter over the top.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 60 minutes or until firm but still moist.

Cut into 14 rectangles and serve hot with Blueberry Sauce.

To make ahead: Prepare recipe up to baking and refrigerate overnight. To bake, remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before baking.

Makes 14 servings.

Recipe adapted from the Bath Street Inn, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Blueberry Sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

In medium saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water and lemon juice and whisk smooth. Cook over medium heat until liquid is clear. Add blueberries and cook until sauce is thickened. Makes about 2 cups sauce.

Recipe adapted from the Bath Street Inn, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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Posted: Sep 21st by Sandy_Hu