Jul 1, 2008

July 2008 - Fleeting Lucid Moments from David in the Kitchen

Hi All You Luna/tics.

whoo-hoo. it's July. ( I am saying this very slow and monotone without a lot of the usual "bounce" in my voice.....) .

I don't get it: I am tired. Gary and I finished planting twelve 15-gallon trees in our yard to develop the "sweat equity" in our home. Screw that noise. I am too old for this. And now, we/I have definitely gotten it out of our system.
I consider myself a very strong (physically) man who can lift 50# of flour, rice, sugar, or avocado's in a single leap while talking on the telephone or conducting a wine tasting (visual, huh?) . But digging and jack-hammering this wonderful rock-filled soil we have here is more than I can handle. I keep telling Gary he is much too old for this (64 on July 19Th!) hoping that he will agree and say "Let's stop this madness!! But nooooooo - damn man insists on trucking along (He keeps singing "High-Ho, High Ho" - which damn dwarf lead that song in the the movie?? I think it was the third one, Dunky... {Now I won't be able to get that song out of my mind for the next six months....}).

But -
They are planted. They are mulched. They are top-dressed with a great amendment to make them grow faster than Serrano (hallowed be thy name) ever anticipated (insert that sound a whip makes ! take that Serrano!). Now we only have about 350 plants more to put into the ground. With the help of a great crew who has taken pity on me and my sad-sack face and hands and body. I keep telling Gary that I am a delicate flower.
He doesn't believe me.
Damn man.

Which brings me to another meandering tale of inspiration.
How lucky to be with someone after 36 years and still have fun in everyday mundane situations and be excited about the future. Fun in planting trees, fun in planning a yard, fun in cleaning out the garage (well maybe I over-stepped that one....) - well, you know what I mean. We have been invited to several weddings lately, of people that have been together for many years that finally get to get married. 4Th of July night, we will be attending a wedding for two of our dearest friends, with a huge family affair to be enjoyed by those that love them too. It really is a celebration and a party and a relief. Making honest citizens out of us all.
But now, the message in the bottle needs to come out. What do we do? When do we do it? Will we do it? What do you think? Stay tuned.....
It is amazing how many of you have asked us that question. Ham and eggs. Tea for two. Bread and butter. Funny, how with some people, you never say one name without saying the other. 36 years in this community, being a part of this community. Serving people food and parties, and weddings, and funerals, and fun and sadness. And fun. We are still having that with you. Thank you for that.

Have noticed a lot of shrouded people dressed all in black with long hooded robes carrying a scythe (look it up!) walking up and down our streets lately. Unbridled/controlled panic with a lot of the business people in the area. Funny to hear some of our customers begin talking about certain subjects that never get any further than "wait and see.....". What a predicament our entire society is in. A "WAIT-AND-SEE" what others will be doing to make our lives better. That sucks. The rainbow isn't always visible when the sun comes out, but it is still there. We at Cafe Luna, thank each and every one of you for your continued support during this questionable period in our country's history. Our business is at the same as we were last year - profits are lower due to the enormous rise in fuel charges, food hikes, and the such
but guess what? We will make it though all of this. And hopefully all of you will to. And you will come and celebrate your little and big victories with us at Cafe Luna. Sometimes a glass of good wine is all you need to make life worth living again. (Or in my case when Gary says "lets go plant some more" - a bottle or two; sorry - no sharing this time! Get your own. I mean it. I need this for me!!).

This months Menu:
You know how hot it gets in the kitchen in the summer and we keep thinking "put it on the grill"? Well that's what I am thinking also.

Grill time.

Did you know I love to make condiments, and have been making them for over 35 years now? Jam-making, chutneys, pickled vegetables, mustards. And to have them be able to be applied to simply grilled foods makes it even more worth while to me and my palate. So I want to be the first to tell you that we are doing a wonderful Grilled Pork Tenderloin, brined and rubbed in savory spices, grilled over an open flame, and then finished in this wonderful peach and fresh thyme jam/glaze that is wonderful. Served with roasted fresh peaches, it is hot!!!

Open flamed Rib Eye Steak, finished with our "Cowboy Butter" (I have the rope, the chaps, the plaid shirt with the mother-of-pearl snap buttons and the hat, you know - when I wear this getup I have a tendency to say "Mam'n and "Shucks" and "gol-durned" - please think of the cowboy from Village People....another visual for those who know me....). A mixture of one of my favorite spices from Spain - Spanish Paprika or Pimentón. I buy this spice by the case in metal tins and use it all the time. If you haven't worked with this spice, try it. It is smoky and rich and subtle. If you can't find it, let me know. I can sell you a tin or two. It is best not cooked, believe it or not. Added right at the last moment. It is Spain's gift to the culinary world. And it blends with so many foods. Try this.

Lamb Loin, marinated in Dijon mustard, fresh tarragon and rosemary, garlic and a bit of lemon, open-flamed broiled, finished with a wonderful fresh puree' of mint, basil, toasted walnuts, Parmesan-Reggiano cheese and olive oil. Kind of like a pesto, but a bit more sauce like. French in origin and a wonderful accompaniment to lamb. And simple flavors.

Filet Mignon is back on the menu after a lengthly absence. Apple-wood smoked bacon wrapped, dredged in our steak rub, char-broiled your way, and finished with a quick saute of button mushroom, shallots and wine, and topped with a dollop of roasted garlic butter. Heaven for you meat eaters!!!

Gary's Chicken: the industry term for this cut of chicken is "airline breast"; the common term is "Frenched" breast. This is one chicken breast, skin on, with the first joint of the wing bone left attached. It makes for a wonderful presentation, and a gift for those of you who really need to chew on the bones. We coat it, we pan-fry it crisp, and finish it in a milk gravy with mashed potatoes. Picnic (if you had a chef cooking for you over an open flame in the wilderness. Another visual....).

Have I ever shared with you my love of curry? The Eastern Indian kind of course, but the Thai kind is what I always crave. So we are having a Thai Yellow Curry with Shrimp and Scallops on this menu. Yellow curry is made with lemon-grass, ginger, turmeric, garlic, Galangal (think preserved limes), coriander, cumin, nutmeg, lime juice and mild chiles. Ground and pounded to a paste, sauteed to bring out its best flavors and then simmered with coconut milk. We are adding large prawns and scallops and fresh chunked vegetables and simmering them together, and serving it with rice. This is such an aromatic dish. (We are also able to make this a totally vegetarian dish, since there is no milk or meat stocks make with it. Alex loves telling people we have this option for our veggie friends.) A totally wonderful meal with the fish or with just vegetables. I really, really love curry.

Which brings me to my vegetarian dish this month: Mushroom Lasagna. Have taken three kinds of fresh mushrooms, pan-sauteed and then minced them up with artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, spinach, three kinds of cheese (Mozzarella, Parmesan-Reggiano, and Mascarpone cheese). Laying this on pasta sheets, rolling them up, and baking them with our marinara sauce. This is such a satisfying dish. If you love pasta, your mouth and your brain will bless you.

Meatloaf: My mom, bless her heart, did not like to cook. And yet, you have heard me tell you over the years, that she still made things for us as a kid that I cannot ever remember having better. One of hers was meatloaf. Hers was of the ground beef with minced vegetables kind. I wanted to see what we could do with it so here goes: an equal mixture of ground lean beef, pork and veal, carrots, onions, celery, red bell peppers, garlic all minced and then pan-sauteed, cooled and then mixed in with the meats, a bit of Dijon mustard, herbs and spices, and of course, some tomato sauce and eggs to bind it together. To this, I have wrapped it in bacon, baked it, and then glazed it with a tomato paste, olive oil and vegetable stock puree. Last night, we served an entire meatloaf. We are serving a little dish of the sauce on the side for those of you who must have the sauce on the side.

Chinese Chicken Salad: Several months ago, I shared my recipe for poached chicken. It is being utilized on this dish. I am slow poaching chicken breast meat, shredding it, and combining it with julienne vegetables, noodles, lettuce, peanuts and cabbages, tossing them in our Peanut Dressing (see recipe from June menu), and topping them with some fantasy puffed rice noodles. Main menu salad for those looking for your greens...This is one of the most popular salads from our lunch days (its been over five years now...) and I am glad to have it back.

It is still soup time. I am including a wonderful Carrot Puree Soup recipe that is both easy and elegant. Can be served hot, warm or chilled. Try it topped with a bit of fresh mango salsa. It is great.

Welcome a new wine to our list: Cedarville Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I am letting you know how happy we are to include these wonderful winemakers to our family of local wines. Located in the Fairplay area of the county, Johnathan and Susan exude a happiness about the industry that I don't see enough of. Their wines are all stellar, and I only wish I had the room to include all of their wonderful bottles....but you can be assured: there will be more of their wines soon. This winery is open by appointment only, but we have been told how easy they are to have you visit with just a phone call. We have their brochures and directions at the restaurant, and in our lobby. Here is their website. Visit, taste, and enjoy. We love it.


Visit our local wineries. We have so many to choose from. A wonderful day can be planned around these tours. Ask Gary sometime while in the restaurant, we have the brochures from the Association, and individual winery brochures also.

If you need some wonderful local sites to look at try these:



To this, we have to include some not listed on the above sites;

One of our favorite wineries and favorite peoples: C.G. Di Arie. They now have a permanent showroom, open most of the time. Here is their link:


and of course, Cedarville, which is already listed.

As always, things are listed in PDF format.

Thank you for your continued support, and for listening to my rantings.

Take care all of you and hope to see you all sooner rather than later.

David at Cafe Luna

Creamy Carrot Soup July 2008

This is one of those soups that can be served hot or cold, or room temp. It is a very nice beginner course. Or a main meal soup with a light and simply dressed salad.

3# carrots, sliced (about 8 cups)
2 ribs of celery, chopped (2 cups)
3 cups chopped onions
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
12 cups chicken stock, in the box or home-made
6 sprigs parsley
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel (grate orange part only)
6 tbl. butter
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (more if desired after tasting)
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. marjoram
1 cup fresh grated carrot
3 cups heavy cream
salt to taste (after finished cooking)

minced fresh parsley
sour cream mixed with a bit of nutmeg or paprika
mango salsa

1. Cook onions and celery in butter until softened in pot for 10-15 minutes on medium-high, covered.

2. Add all other ingredients except the cream, and the grated carrots, cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until carrots and potatoes are very soft, about 40 minutes.

3. Puree all of these ingredients.

4. Add cream and grated carrots, bring back just under boil. It should coat the back of your spoon. This soup should be very smooth and creamy.

5. Sprinkle with parsley and a dollop of sour cream or try it with the sour cream topped with a spoonful of mango salsa. Wonderful!

David Van-Buskirk AT Cafe Luna