Desert Food from Lowe’s Ventana Canyon Resort's Flying V Bar & Grill

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort's Executive Chef, Marc Ehrler and the Flying V Bar & Grill's Chef de Cuisine, Alexis Martinez have created a menu, which they call, "a dedication to the desert." It is Southwestern fare with a Latin flair. Many of the ingredients incorporated into the dishes come from the desert and many of the recipes are inspired by Chef Martinez's upbringing in Douglas, Arizona on the United States-Mexico border.

Among the ingredients used are "nopales," or cactus pads, a staple in Latin American cooking. They are incorporated into the Broiled Desert Crab Cake and Buffalo Chicken Pizza Nopales.

Another piquant item in Chef Marc’s culinary collection is saguaro demi sauce, served on Buffalo. The sauce's main ingredient is saguaro cactus syrup, which is the juice of the fruit reduced into a sweet, tangy syrup. It is harvested by the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Other desert ingredients on the resort’s menu include: Mesquite flour, milled from Mesquite bean pods; organic Willcox tomatoes; Arizona honey; pecans from Green Valley; white tepary beans from the Tohono O'odham Nation; and homemade sweet corn tortillas made fresh in the resort’s Flying V kitchen.

Chef Marc incorporates these desert ingredients to create unique local twists on his favorite personal recipes.

The Chicken Ceppino is actually his mother's recipe. It is a brothy chicken dish with rice, corn, poblano chilies and potatoes. He grew up eating that, as well as the Caldo de Queso. His mother still makes these two dishes for him when he returns home for visits. "I take her recipes and dress them up a bit on the menu. It's comfort food with a gourmet twist," he notes.

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Sautéed Buffalo Tournedos, Tohono O’odham White Tepary Beans Cassoulet, Saguaro-Port Reduction

Recipe serves 4 people

4 each 6 oz Filet of Buffalo can substitute Beef or any other meat.
1 Tbs Olive oil

For the Tepary Beans
1 # white Tepary beans
1 tsp poblano peppers, diced
1 tsp green chiles, diced
½ tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp Black Pepper from the mill
1 tsp salt add only once the Beans are cooked

1. Cover beans with cold water and soak over night.
2. Drain the water and place all ingredients in a pot add water to cover the Tepary beans about 3 inches and simmer for 2 ½ hours
3. Let cool in their liquid or use immediately, (should be stored in liquid for later use).
Season with Salt and fresh black pepper.

Seasoned Bread Crumb:
½ cup dried bread crumb
1 Tbs chopped parsley,
¼ tsp crushed garlic clove

For herb Salad:
Young Parsley Leaves, Tarragon, Chervil, Italian Parsley, Thai Basil, or any soft green herb available.
1 tsp Olive oil
½ tsp Lemon Juice

For the Saguaro Cactus Reduction:
2 c Saguaro Cactus Syrup, can be substituted for pomegranate juice
2 c port wine
1 c pomagranate juice

In a small sauce pan, simmer the Saguaro Syrup, Port Wine and pomegranate juice down to 1 quarter of its original volume; reduce very slowly to insure the reduction does not burn.

Cooking of the meat:
In a sauté pan add the olive oil; season the Buffalo filets with salt & pepper, sear on one side until golden and flip to the other side, cook on the stove until desired temperature, (similar cooking then beef.)

Fill a small Le Creuset pot with the Tepary Beans, top with the seasoned bread crumb and bake for 10 minutes till hot, add with a few drops of a very fruity Olive oil.
In a Rectangle plate place the cooked Ostrich, glaze the meat with the Saguaro reduction, toss the herb salad with the olive oil and lemon Juice arrange as if it was falling off the top of the Ostrich, serve the beans in the small pot next to the meat.

A quick alternative with the leftover cooked beans:
Roast 1 bright red tomato in the oven with olive oil, add it to the cooked beans and place in a blinder, add 1 tsp of olive oil season with salt 7 pepper as needed, and serve as a soup.




The Ahi Tuna Tartare with Mesquite Flour Crisps

Mesquite flour is milled from the pods on Mesquite trees native to the Sonoran Desert. There are several kinds of Mesquite. The Honey Mesquite, Velvet Mesquite and Screwbean Mesquite trees are native to Arizona.

4 oz fresh sushi-grade ahi tuna diced into ¼ inch pieces, refrigerated
1 1/2 cups diced shallots
2 cups organic olive oil (found locally in Cave Creek, AZ)
1 TBS grated lemon grass (herb garden)
1 TBS minced cilantro (herb garden)
1 TBS minced parsley (herb garden)
1 TBS dark sesame oil

Put diced shallots and lemon grass into a small pot and cover with two cups olive oil. Place over low heat for 30 minutes, or until translucent. When translucent, strain through a meshed strainer. Let cool. Add cilantro and parsely. Mix in sesame oil, salt and pepper.

Mesquite Crisps
1 cup all purpose flour
1TBS mesquite flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 1/4 stick of butter
4 egg whites
¼ cup of parmesan, grated
1 tsp fleur de sel
½ tsp espellete pepper

Separate eggs from yolks and place whites into a mixing bowl. Mix whites until medium peaks form. Sift in flour and mesquite flour combination. Add white pepper to softened butter. Fold in the egg white to the butter very carefully. Use stencil to form shapes onto a baking pan lined with a silicone baking mat. Sprinkle parmesan cheese, espellette pepper, fleur de sel onto batter. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Red Curry Mango Sauce
2 ripe mangos
1 TBS lime juice
½ tsp. red curry paste

Peel mangoes and remove seeds. Dice into chunks. Blend mangos, lime juice and curry paste.

Port Sirrachi Sauce
2 cups port
1 tsp Sirrachi sauce

Reduce port by ¾ until it forms a thick, syrup texture. Add sirrachi sauce and blend well.


Master Chef Mark Ehrler, a native of Antibes, on the French Riviera between Cannes and Nice, was trained with world-renowned chefs, including Alain Ducasse, Jacques Maximin and Andre Daguin. His cooking has been influenced by his extensive travels to the Caribbean, Latin America, California, Asia and more recently, the Southwest. He emphasizes simplicity and tradition in his culinary creations.

Chef Ehrler has been praised by critics, celebrities and the media and he has been featured in Wine Spectator, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Gourmet magazine, Tattler and the New York Times, as well as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the Discovery Channel's "Great Chefs of the World," Best 10 Restaurants in the World, CNN International and the Food TV Network. He has participated in the James Beard House "Best Hotel Chefs Series" and has been recognized by the Culinary Academy of France.

During his notable career, Chef Marc has been Executive Chef with Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Executive Chef for the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company (Marina del Rey, Kansas City and Cancun); La Samanna, a Rosewood Hotel on the Island of St. Martin; the K-Club on Barbuda, a Bel Air hotel; the Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro Ranch, a Relais et Chateaux in Santa Barbara, California; Antoine at Le Meridien in Newport Beach; La Terrasse at Le Juana in Juan les Pins, France; and the Westbury Hotel in New York.


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