Almost every day in the cloistered Northern California town of Elk is kick-back casual, but weekends have their own particular leisure. When chef Gunnar Thompson has time off, he gathers his wife, Chrissy, and son, Haukken, and heads for a bluff overlooking a large expanse of azure blue.
The highlight of their meal is Dungeness Crab Chimichangas and Napa Slaw. "Because it's windy on the Northern California coast, it's difficult to do anything too elaborate," says Gunnar. "We often take simple, locally made items to snack on, such as crusty bread with Point Reyes blue cheese or Elk Creamery goat cheese with fresh fruit from our garden."
Later in the day, the trio heads for nearby Navarro Beach with their dogs. "Haukken gets a kick out of watching the harbor seals that lay out along the sand," Gunnar says. For the basking seals, every day is a weekend.
Dungeness Crab Chimichanga
Serve these roll-ups hot or cooled for a seaside picnic.
1⁄2 cup sliced green onion
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained and picked
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1⁄2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1⁄2 cup diced tomato
1⁄4 cup pickled jalapeño slices, drained
8 (10-inch) flour tortillas
Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1⁄2 cup crab mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas, making sure to fold in the ends.
Pour oil to the depth of 2 inches into a Dutch oven; heat oil to 350°. Fry chimichangas in batches 7 to 8 minutes or until golden. Drain well on paper towels. Makes 8 servings.
1 head napa cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
1⁄3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Toss cabbage and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients, and add to cabbage mixture, stirring to coat. Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours. Stir well before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.