An array of baked goods and sweet treats adorn the counters of Bella Bakery. Located among the plethora of shops, restaurants, and tasting rooms on Calistoga’s high street, Bella Bakery stands out with its brightly colored tables and chairs, huge sandwich board, and unique “open” sign outside of the cafe. Cakes, tarts, and other European desserts draw you into the front of the counter. Turn the corner to place your drink order and be surprised by the vast amount of freshly baked goods the bakery crew has made that morning; sticky buns, danishes, muffins, cookies, rolls, croissants, and so many more sweet breakfast items. While you’re there, pick up a herb focaccia with an aroma that lasts for hours. Whether you sit in and enjoy a hot drink to escape the morning fog, or hop into the afternoon sun with an iced coffee and a flaky pastry in hand, Bella Bakery won’t disappoint. You must visit it during your next stay at one of our Napa Valley bed and breakfasts!
Easter in England is celebrated with chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and other traditional British delicacies. For our chef at our Napa Valley inns, it just wouldn’t be Easter without these delicious biscuits. The subtle taste of cinnamon coming through from the cassia oil mixed with the creamy butter and the sweetness of the currants makes this one our all-time favorite cookies!
Mum’s Easter Biscuits
1½ cups unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar, plus one tablespoon for sprinkling
6 drops of cassia oil
¼ cup currants
2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line four 16″ X 12″ heavy duty baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring the butter to room temperature. In a free standing mixer with a whisk attachment, cream the butter and the 2 cups of sugar together for about two minutes until the mixture is a pale yellow color. In a separate bowl beat the egg lightly together with the cassia oil and then add to the creamed butter and sugar. Pulse the mixer a few times to combine. Replace thewhisk attachment with a paddle. Sieve the flour into a bowl then add to the mixer bowl along with the currants. Mix together on a slow speed until a dough is formed.
Remove the dough from the mixer, cut into four equal parts and shape each part into a rough ball. Roll out each ball to ¼ inch thickness between two pieces of parchment paper and cut out biscuits with a 3 inch diameter cookie cutter. Place onto the prepared baking sheet leaving about an inch of space between them.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack, sprinkle with the extra sugar. Makes 30.
Cassia is the oil of cinnamon bark; it adds a distinct and subtle flavor when used sparingly. You can find it at good health food stores.
Rolling the cookies between parchment paper stops the dough sticking to the rolling pin without adding lots of flour which would make the dough drier.
Baking sheets come in lots of different sizes; you can use whatever you have. Ideally use enough to prepare all the cookies ready for baking. Whatever size you use don’t crowd the cookies or they will not bake evenly.
These are a must-have for any Easter Sunday lunch. For more of Gill’s recipes, check out her cookbook available for purchase here.
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Gillian’s dad was an avid home gardener and always had rows and rows of veggies growing in the backyard. It was an adventure walking to the back of the garden to see what treasures were in season. Gillian loves cooking with fresh homegrown food, but has found through years of meager harvests that her thumb is not so much green as it is brown. Nick has had much better luck with his gardens and has produced impressive bounties for Gillian to create with. One of the California specialties he grows is Padrón peppers. Originally from Spain, Napa Valley’s climate is ideal for growing these little beauties. These peppers are quite small, about 1-2 inches long and range in color from bright green to yellow green. The fun part of these little delights besides their delicious flavor is the “Russian Roulette” aspect of eating them; while most are very mild with little to no heat, the occasional one is super spicy. Below is the perfect way to serve these peppers:
Nick’s Homegrown Padrón Pepper Recipe
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb Padrón Peppers
Flaky Sea Salt (such as Maldon)
Directions for the Padron Pepper Recipe
Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until the oil is just smoking.
Add the peppers and toss as the skins begin to blister.
Cook until pepper is softened and the skin is blistered. This should take 3-5 minutes.
Toss with salt and serve.
We hope you enjoy this recipe, please come stay at our Calistoga bed and breakfasts on your next Napa Valley trip and if they are in season, you may find some Padrón peppers on your morning frittata!
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Calistoga’s lighted tractor parade is celebrating its 19th anniversary this year. Join us for this quaint small town tradition where we pay homage to the city’s agricultural heritage.
Tractors of all shapes and sizes will be dressed up with shining lights as they parade down the main street of Lincoln Avenue. It’s great fun for everyone and Santa even makes a special visit! (Pictures courtesy of the Calistoga Visitor Center.)
Our family loves this Calistoga tradition and we usually start off with a nice Hot Toddy to warm us up before the parade. Here is our favorite recipe.
Hot Toddy Recipe 1 Serving
1 tsp. Honey
1.5 fl. oz. Whiskey or Rum (1 shot)
½ Cinnamon Stick
Wedge of Lemon
Hot Toddy Recipe Directions
Pour Whiskey/Rum into bottom of heatproof glass.
Add Honey and stir.
Add Cloves and Cinnamon Stick.
Pour over boiling water to taste.
Stir in Lemon wedge.
Drink once cooled enough to drink.
We hope you can make it to this year’s celebration. Our inns are perfectly located for you to walk into town and watch the magical Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade!