Nov 1, 2006

November 2006

Hello all.

It has happened. The time change, the rain coming, the fires lighting....That means it is polenta time!

So lucky to have on this menu some of our personal favorites! Braised short ribs of beef on a bed of soft polenta (Our Ribs are on a recipe attachment).
The polenta? Find out your best way to enjoy this potato substitute. We make it the creamy way, adding cream and cheese at the last minute. This is such a hit with our public and all of us here. Polenta can also be cooked, put in a cookie pan to let cool, and then cut up into squares, rounds or diamonds and topped with a bit of cheese and top broiled until golden or even pan sauteed until golden to act as a perfect hors deourves base, or put your favorite marinara over. It is just plain super!!

HEY!! Just wanted to tell you: The Madrona "Black Label" Wine dinner scheduled for tomorrow night sold out so quickly, that we added another night, November 14, a Tuesday. It starts at 6:30 and the seating is limited to 56 people. It is already almost half sold out, so contact Madrona via phone or e-mail me back here for reservations. This is going to be fun and the wines are the Madrona 30th Anniversary wines that they should and are very proud of. We have matched foods with them that will be great. I am attaching a copy of that menu also for your viewing. When e-mailing back to us here at Cafe Luna, please put in the subject line: Madrona Wine Dinner.

Another favorite on the menu: the Orecchiette or "Little Ears" pasta dish. Gary and I were lucky enough to have gotten to Italy several times. And I was raised with my favorite ex-step mother Gloria (week end visits to see my dad...the cooking was wonderful!!)..She used to do a dish where she kind of cleaned out the refrigerator. Chopped up everything the same size, pan sauteed it, added some left-over cooked pasta (she liked penne pasta) tossed that, and then added some good grated cheese to the mixture and tossed it again. She would then pan saute this until it was golden on the edges, then finished it under the broiler until it was golden. She would use leftover ham, prosciutto, cooked chicken, shrimp or fish. Or just all vegetables and diced cooked potatoes. It was just homey cooking that looked so golden and crisp, and we would cut it into wedges and be happy eating. We are cooking ours with fresh sage, new potatoes, a bit of pasilla chile, honey ham and cheese. It is almost as good as I remember hers to be, and almost as good as what we tasted in Italy.

We are also featuring Paella on this menu. Anyone who knows Gary and myself knows how much we love this dish. Gary, being of Spanish and Portuguese descent, got me interested in Spain's national dish through his family. Then we got to go to Spain several years in a row, and ate the Paella every where! Inland Spain, more meat and fresh water fish was used. On the coast, it was almost purely seafood and shell fish. The saffron added to the dish was so intriguing, that I brought some home, and played with that until I came up with a very good replica of this great dish. Not bad for an Anglo!.

We can't believe it: Christmas stuff out already.....that means Christmas parties, bookings and Gift Certificates sales are looming in our future!
Reserve early, purchase early, and have fun!

On November 24, Friday night, Placerville will have its annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. It is alot of fun, and a great spectacle.

Wine Notes:

We are still amazed at how our local wines are just getting better and better.
We have added three more of the wonderful Busby Cellars wines to our permanent list: their Chardonnay, their killer Zinfandel and the Sangiovese. Again, if you haven't visited this winery, they are open Friday through Sundays. If you go out there, tell them we sent you. You will not be disappointed. The zinfandel they have is just the kind we are looking for here in El Dorado County: very fruit forward, very earthy and a bit of the green pepper/spice we are associated with. Good job!

Well, enough of my yakking....I have polenta and short-ribs and lamb shanks to cook! Hope you will stop by and say hello. Or e-mail me with any thoughts, recipes, or ideas for the Cafe. After almost 12 years here and 18 years at Vineyard House , well let's just say I love others input....

Take Care. David and everyone here at Cafe Luna

As always, menus are saved in Word format.

And if you would like to be removed from this mailing, let me know. Just put in the subject line: Cafe Luna Menu. I will read it and take care of what I need to.

P.S. Let me know if you have any questions about the

Cafe Luna Beef Short-Ribs

Serves 6 to 8

10 pounds short ribs
½ cup dried thyme
3 TB granulated garlic
1 TBL coarse salt
1 TBL freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour (just to toss ribs in; toss the rest of the flour out when done)
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 cups onions, minced
½ cup prepared creamed horseradish
3 cups tomato sauce
4 cups full-bodied red wine, preferably Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup minced fresh parsley
½ cup dried marjoram
½ cup fresh minced garlic
6 bay leaves
4 cups rich beef stock (a good trick if you don’t have homemade: take canned or boxed stock, pour in sauce pan and reduce by ½. This will give you a good rich stock.)

1. Heat oven to 350°. Mix flour, salt, granulated garlic, dry thyme and pepper together. Place in a large bowl. Toss the short-ribs in this mix until well coated. Heat oil in a large heavy roasting pan over medium-high heat, and brown short ribs on each side. Remove short ribs to another pan, and cook carrots, celery, and onions until onions turn golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce, stir to blend and cook 2 to 3 minutes until bubbly.

2. Add red wine. Bring to boil, and cook until wine/vegetable mix is reduced by two-thirds, about 20 minutes. Add parsley, marjoram and bay leaves, fresh minced garlic, and beef stock to pan. Return short ribs to the pot. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover. Transfer to oven, and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until ribs are very tender.
(Note: the idea is to keep the ribs at a steady slow simmer in the oven . Check every half hour or so to make sure the temperature is right. If not lightly bubbling, increase heat by 25 degrees. If bubbling to much, reduce heat by 25 degrees. Slow steady simmer is what you are trying to achieve.)

3. Transfer short ribs to another container. Strain sauce through a colander into a medium-size sauce pan. Puree vegetables in blender, return to pan and bring to boil. Reduce sauce over medium heat until it thickens to a gravy like consistency, about 15 minutes or so. Adjust seasoning to taste, spoon sauce over short ribs, and serve on a bed of mashed potatoes. Or better yet, we love to serve these on a bed of soft Parmesan polenta. Good. Just plain good.


Aug 1, 2006


Hi All:

This months menu and other notes.

Yes, we are glad the heat has subsided. Because no matter how much air conditioning we have available, my tiny kitchen is still over 110 degrees!

The Tomato Gods are smiling upon us: this months menu will feature several dishes highlighting the wonderful organic tomatoes grown for us by Z & B Ranch here is Placerville. (They are at the Farmers Market on Main Street in Placerville each Saturday morning). The cherry tomatoes are as sweet as sugar literally. We are adding a plate of the larger heirlooms sliced and served with fresh mozzarella cheese, simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Great!

One of the other new items for me that is, is our Sea Bass Au Pistou. Josh found out about this condiment and adapted it for the menu. Fresh basil and fresh garlic. The secret of good life in the kitchen. This popular white fish is simply lightly seasoned, pan sauteed and topped with the Pistou. Pistou is one of those essentials that can be added spoonfuls at a time to completed soups when serving, dolloped on hot grilled breads, mixed in cooked rice or pasta, or just as a topping for tomatoes or even baked squash. Make some of this up and leave it for that occasion when you need something green and perky for your foods. (Have I told you about the Back-of-the-House tomato sandwiches on grilled Ciabatta bread that we make for all the staff? try the pistou on this.

A recipe for you to try:
Pistou is Provencal dialect for 'pounded' but is understood to mean basil paste. Provencal cooking is unthinkable without pistou and is similar to pesto, however more garlic is used, and there are no pine nuts nor cheese in the original recipes. How much garlic is used varies from family to family and can be from 3 to 6 cloves for the recipe below! Today modern versions using sun-dried tomatoes, or fresh or other ingredients are added by adventurous cooks and are also tasty. In that case, then it is not pistou, but pistou with sun-dried tomatoes etc.

Makes a little less than a cup.

2 lg. bunches fresh basil (+ - 1 cup slightly packed leaves only)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 t. salt
olive oil (enough to make a thick paste + - 4 T.)

Crush or mince the garlic and place in a mortar with the salt. Work with the pestle to create a paste. Add the torn basil leaves and continue to pound and crush to acquire a rough paste. Slowly add a little olive oil at a time, continuing to mash the leaves and garlic into a smooth, thick paste.

If using a blender, you should still mash the crushed or minced garlic with the salt first. Add the torn leaves and while the motor is running, drizzle in a little olive oil. Stop now and again to free the blades and bottom of the blender before continuing. Be careful not to over blend. It must not liquidize, but still be a smooth paste. If you are going to store this for a bit in the refrigerator, pour a bit of olive oil over the top and then cover with plastic wrap.

New Wine Menu News :
New wines added to the menu.

We are proud to be serving Mt. Aukum wine. We are carrying their Viognier (perfect summer wine), their Petite Sirah (one of my very favorite varietals) and their Cabernet. If you have not visited this winery, it has one of the most spectacular views in all of El Dorado County.

Rosenblum Cellars. My little Cafe Luna is the restaurant with the distinct honor of being the largest seller of this wine in California. We have been carrying their wines for over 10 years now, and I must say they do get better and better. Wine Spectator Magazine has come out with their TOP 100 WINES of the year.

Their Rockpile Road Zinfandel is #3 on the list with a score of 94. Their Richard Sauret Zinfandel received a 92 and is #30 on the list.. Both are allocated and we have them both year round! Congratulations! If you have not tried this vintner, I really recommend it.

And then the Simi......Simi Landslide Cabernet also received a 92 rating and is #62 on the list. Highly allocated to the public, but we got it!!

Madrona's Enye Syrah
That Paul at Madrona: I asked him for a great description, and the man never fails me! Here goes:
The 2003 Vintage
"Our first-ever vineyard-designate wine had to be something special, and the 2003 Enyé Syrah is just that. Having chosen a unique clone of Syrah with very small berries, a slight south-facing slope, and area that traps the cool air, we knew we wouldn't’t be making the hugely ripe-style of California Syrah. Instead, we’ve produced exactly what we look for in the variety—balance, intensity, depth and that classic Northern Rhône smoky spiciness.

The aromas are rich, bright and enveloping with the fruit characters marrying the complexity of cool-climate Syrah. Ripe pie cherry and tart cranberry/plum intertwine seamlessly, but it’s the spice that steals the show. Imagine the smell of fresh lamb with all of its smoky gaminess, brushed with a light molasses/oregano sauce grilled over oak with a couple of vanilla beans tossed in for kicks. And you’re getting close.

The palate is even more enticing. Full-bodied yet wonderfully balanced, the texture of this densely colored Syrah is everything we would expect. Rich with a luscious fore-palate of dark cherry fruit and hints of wild huckleberry, the roasted meat characters slowly weave their way into the experience, carrying the senses to the incredible lingering finish of white pepper and plum.

The youthful tannins and the quality of this wine deserve only the best of grilled meats and/or incredible cellaring for five or more years.

Only 158 cases produced!"

And we got it!

Wine makes us so happy. Lots of wine makes us ecstatic.

We hope to see you all soon.
As always, comments or e-mail removals can be e-mailed to me. I have attached this menu in Word format.

Thank you for your patronage.

David at Cafe Luna