Oct 21, 2008

October 2008 Rants, Raves and Recipes

Hi All You Luna/tics:

It is October, Apple Hill is getting under way with a full speed ahead, our local wineries are harvesting with a vengeance, and the fruit fly's are everywhere it seems.....

We have some new staffers at Cafe Luna: our new server, Teresa, and our new assistant chef, Ryan. Both have been working at restaurants for a while now, and we welcome them into the madness!

Our friend Julie died.

Julie was one of those ladies who lit up the room with her grace. She was not a loud woman, yet her presence was always felt as soon as you saw her smile and the warmth she always radiated.

Julie was married to Phil. Their marriage is one that - when you saw them, strangers assumed they were newlyweds. The held hands in public. They flirted with each other and they had "dates". We loved seeing them talk and laugh and touch each other across the table when they were dining. We loved seeing them just look in each others eyes...

They loved wine and we shared many, many bottles together. Julie and Phil would go on trips to the wineries here and in Napa, and come back with new finds for me to try. Julie would sip a wine and just lean back a little in her chair and give me the "it's incredible" sigh that we wino's give to each other silently.

Julie hated mushrooms and she hated peas. She loved chicken and she loved meats.

Julie was a prankster. She could keep a straight face while all of us were crazy with laughter. She was one of the first to laugh and laugh loudly. She loved to sing, and a couple of years ago on a cruise we all went on together, she gifted us all with a song. Julie was a singer who surprised us with her tiny speaking voice and her big singing voice.

Julie seemed to always have an aura of peace about her.

Julie was a lady.

Julie was a very graceful lady who we will miss.

Julie was our dear friend who died at the age of 41.

Julie was loved. By her husband, her family and by her friends.

Who will miss her.

Julie was a very good woman and friend.

Gary and I are pretty stoked about our back-yard and its outcome. Yes, I am attaching five pictures for those of you interested. You may be surprised to find out we are pretty avid gardeners, and I love to work out my frustrations on pruning. Gary always knows when I am close to nuts. I can go out in the yard and prune a full grown banana tree over 8 foot tall down to a stump. But damn, I felt better. And the best part, the banana tree is back to 8 foot tall in just a couple of months (welll....I may be exagerating just a tad there...but you get my gist....).

We are in zone 9 there. It is amazing what can grow there that I have had to keep in pots and protected during the winters. Did I tell you about my dwarf Meyer Lemon tree that has been in bud and with fruit for over a year now? Did I tell you (yes, I think I did way too many times....) that my lime tree is alive with flower buds? As a gardener and a plant whore, I can not keep this contained inside....

But of course, The Serrano Gawds have decided what we should not have in the yard. Our Pygmy Date palms that are growing in pots flanking the waterfall/pool are apparently illegal as they stand. We are working on rectifying this problem.

Or not.


'Nuff said.

We are just this-much-closer to the new line of condiments we will be offering very soon. My logo and my labels are done, and the fruits and spices are accumulating to the point of busting out of the shelves. This is a happy time for me, since canning and condiment-making is something I love to do. This also relieves stress you know.

Which brings up our collective state of mind lately.

For those of you interested, The Deed will be done this Monday for Gary and myself. It will be official. We have decided to do something very low key to get under the wire of the election. It is a good thing to do. It is even a better thing that we are able to.

The choices we have made about our lives seem to be an example of what we are. When people who are kind and excited about life and the world around them get thrown together and it works----well, we all deserve to be happy.

Living a good life filled with great examples of joy and happiness and excitement and wonder and befuddlement and craziness and laughter and conversations and work and close friends and what the future holds is what keeps all of us with our heads in the clouds. Thirty-seven glorious years.

Thirty-seven wonderful glorious years, damn it!

Gawd, he is lucky.

Me too.

Vote No on 8.

The Menu:
This month, we are offering a couple of new items on the menu. We are doing a Cajun Prawn dish that has a goodly portion of large prawns pan-sauteed with herbs and spices and Marsala wine. This is a very good dish for our shrimp lovers.

With my continuing love of Eastern Curry dishes, this month we are offering a Yellow Thai Vegetable Curry as our Hot Head selection. A mixture of eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, potatoes, squash, carrots and other vegetables, this is a wonderful ginger, coconut milk and chiles mixture and can be very spicy! It can also be prepared with chicken if you are looking for that, but it is wonderful as prepared. Vegetarians unite!

Mr. Tony talked me into writing out my recipe for the Wild Mushroom Soup that I spoke about in our last letter. It became one of the soups I could not make enough of, and that is a good thing. So, here you are, and Tony, here you are.
Thanks for asking. And glad you liked it.

It is approaching winter, which means meats simmering and groups of hungry cold visitors, kids, and friends. So what better than Beef Stroganoff? I am including our recipe for this popular dish, one which we have always used filet mignon for, since it is so very easy to cook with, but also simmers well in stews. This dish is not a long simmering dish, but rather a quick-saute-then-finish-in- sauce dish. You will like it. This recipe is for a large party portion, or if you have more than 4 kids, you are covered.

I am somewhat of a hero to my staffers. Closing Sundays and opening up on Tuesdays have made all of us happier campers. Tuesday nights, as some of you locals know, is somewhat quiet dining wise downtown. Come in and visit and harrass Maria and have her tell you stories about her life in Argentina as a girl many, many years ago.

Don't forget Wino Wednesdays at Cafe Luna: All bottles under $30 and over $50 are 30% off the menu price. Good chance to try some new wines and maybe a second bottle.
As always, all the written attachements are in PDF format.
Drop a line about your lives and your loves and your favorite things. It keeps a closeted kitchen guy hungry for more.

Take Care.
David at Cafe Luna

Beef Stroganoff for A Crowd - October 2008

1 oz. melted unsalted butter
1 oz. Olive oil
2 cups white onions, sliced thin and then chopped
2 quarts mushrooms, sliced
1 TBL minced garlic
2 cups dry white wine, or dry vermouth
4 cups beef stock
2 cups dry shiitake mushrooms
1 cup dry porcini mushrooms
2 TBL porcini mushroom powder, optional
1 TBL Mushroom concentrate (comes in a tube in grocery store)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 TBL tomato sauce
2 TBL Worcestershire sauce (or more to taste after completed)
Coarse black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp.Paprika
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche

Strips of filet mignon, about 2 pounds to start.

1. In large pot, heat the butter and oil until hot. Add the white onions and saute until limp and translucent. Add the fresh mushroom slices and saute until golden. Add garlic and saute for 3 minutes more.

2. Add wine to pot, bring to a boil, and cook on medium-high until liquid is reduced by ½.

3. Add stock, dry mushrooms, mushroom base, porcini mushroom powder, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Bring back to boil, reduce heat and let simmer about 15 minutes.

4. Add cream to pot, bring to boil, and simmer another 15 minutes. Stir in paprika, kitchen bouquet, then adjust seasonings, adding salt only if necessary. At this point, check thickness of sauce. If not coating the back of spoon, mix a roux and thicken. When thickened, add sour cream/crème fraîche and stir.

5. While sauce is cooking, heat large saute pan with enough oil to coat bottom of pan. When hot, add seasoned meat to the pan, and saute in batches, trying not to “sweat” the meat, but rather cooking it quickly, with the least amount of liquid released from the meat (this would be more likely to be “steaming” the meat). Drain the meat, reserve the juices, and cook next batch.

6. With left-over juices from meat, reduce by 2/3 and add to sauce. Add meat and stir and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

7. Serve over egg noodles topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of thin sliced green onions.

Individual servings:
In 8" saute pan, place a handful of sliced fresh mushrooms.

Add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream, and about 8-10 oz. of stroganoff sauce with meat.

Bring to boil, simmer adding right before serving:
1 heaping tbl. Minced parsley and 1 heaping tbl. Minced scallions.
Dinner Menu October 2008
David & Ryan are in the Kitchen

Appetizers and Light Entrees

Soup - We love soup. Summer and Winter. Made fresh here at Café Luna. Appropriately garnished.
Cup 4. Bowl 6.

Baked Brie - Baked Brie cheese with roasted garlic, our house made chutney, red grapes and toasts for spreading. 8.

Sauteed Mushrooms - Fresh mushrooms pan sauteed in fresh garlic, olive oil, butter and wine. 8.

Shrimp and Crab Dip - Bay shrimp and crab meat, mixed with three kinds of melting cheeses, top broiled and served with toasts for spreading. 9.

All entree's are served with a fresh salad of mixed organic baby greens, featuring locally grown lettuces with our house dressing. (Crumbled Bleu Chesse available for 1.50)

Italian Sausage Ragu’ - Italian sausage meat, simmered with garlic, tomatoes, wild and domestic mushrooms, herbs and red wine to make a wonderful sauce served on a bed of Papperadelle pasta (wide ribbons) sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. A pasta lovers favorite and David’s ex-stepmother Gloria Tobassco’s favorite recipe. 22.
(Wine Suggestion: C.G. Di Arie Zinfandel)

Hot Head Special (For All Of You Craving Hot, SpicyFood)::: Yellow Thai Vegetable Curry - The Thai version of curry does not have any curry powder in it, rather a mixture of dry and wet spices, herbs and aromatics that - when pureed together, give this intense heat and flavor that captures all your taste buds in your mouth. This version is made with pan-sauteed eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and chiles, finished with coconut milk and served with rice, topped with a cooling mango cream. Delicious! Add Chicken 4. (Heat Scale of 1 - 10 = 9) 18.
(Wine Suggestion: Uvaggio Vermentino or Madrona Riesling)

Chipotle Chile Pasta (The Other Gary’s Favorite Dish)- To good to ever let it go, now a permanent fixture on our menu. This incredibly flavorful and spicy dish combines boneless chicken, Spanish Chorizo, shrimp and ham pan-sauteed and then simmered in a smoky sauce made with chipotle, tomatoes, cilantro and onions,. Served with penne pasta, sprinkled with a bit of Mexican Cotilla cheese. Hot, but can be made hotter. (Heat Scale of 1 - 10 = 9) 25.
(Wine Ideas: Noceto Sangiovese or Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer)

Rib Eye Steak Cowboy Style - A tender 15 oz. Rib-eye steak, well-marbled and dry-marinated, char-broiled to your specification, and served with a smoky “Cowboy” butter, made with smoked paprika, chile powder, garlic and thyme. With mashed potatoes and vegetables (Topped with 4 grilled prawns add 5.) 28.
(Wine Suggestion: Madrona “Reserve” Syrah)

Cuban Marinated Steak - Skirt steak in a flavorful Cuban style marinade made with dark beer, herbs, garlic, lemon, chiles and soy, char-broiled and served with a fresh tomato and chile salsa and our guacamole on a bed of basmati rice, drizzled with sour cream, sprinkled with crumbled Mexican cheese. With fresh vegetables. 25.
(Wine Suggestion: Noceto Sangiovese)

Rack of Lamb - Lamb rack coated in minced garlic and mint and Dijon, roasted medium rare, sliced and served with a fresh mint, garlic and lemon pesto. With mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed vegetables. 28.
(Wine Suggestion: Hess Collection Mountain Cuvee)

Chicken Picatta - One of our most popular chicken dishes. Boneless breast of chicken sauteed with garlic, capers, artichoke hearts and lemon juice, finished with a dash of cream and served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. 23.
(Wine Suggestion: “J” Pinot Gris)

Fresh Catch- True Pacific Cod - One of my favorite due to its clean flavors, pure white flesh, and perfect grilling and broiling capabilities, this fish is sweet in flavor and flaky. We are coating it with fresh herbed bread crumbs, pan-sauteeing until golden and served it topped with a mango/lime salsa. With Basmati rice and fresh vegetables. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: Narrow Gate Chardonnay)

Scallop and Mushroom Gratin’ - Large sea scallops gratineéd with mushrooms, onions, cream and topped with cheese,broiled until golden and served with herbed basmati rice and fresh vegetables. 25.
(Wine Suggestion: “J” Pinot Gris)

Pasta Raphael - Chunks of fresh Atlantic salmon filet simmered in a rich sauce made with tomatoes, white wine and artichoke hearts, basil and herbs, finished with a bit of cream and topped with Parmesan cheese. Served on a bed of Angel Hair pasta. 25.
(Wine Suggestion: Boeger Sauvignon Blanc or Bangin’ Red Pinot Noir)

Catch of the Day : Basa - A wonderful white fish similar to Filet of Sole: sweet, flaky and moist. It is lightly dusted in Panko bread crumbs, pan-sauteed and topped with a lemon-butter pan reduction sauce and toasted almonds. Served with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables. ♥ 24.
(Wine Suggestion: “J” Pinot Gris)

Cajun Style Prawns - Large prawns pan sauteed with slivers of scallions, Roma tomatoes and Italian parsley, finished in a Cajun cream made with dry herbs and spices and Marsala wine and a bit of cream to even it out. Served with Basmati rice pilaf and fresh vegetables. 26.
(Wine Suggestion: T-Vine Cellars Rośe or Iverson Merlot )

Fresh Tomato Saute - Mixed locally-grown organic cherry and grape tomatoes, pan sauteed with garlic, basil, and a hint of chile flakes, finished in white wine and served tossed with Orrecchetti pasta, topped with Parmesan cheese and top baked until golden. Ø (Add Shrimp - 5. Add Chicken - 4.) 17.
(Wine Suggestion: Paul Dolan Zinfandel)

Split Plate Charge: 5.00

Café Luna / 451 Main Street, #8, Placerville, Ca / Phone 530/642-8669 / e-mail: garydave@pacbell.net

Wild Mushroom Soup with Roasted Poblano Cream October 2008

Like a lot of soups with cream and potatoes in them, this soup is great right off the stove, but better the next day after it has chilled over night. The Poblano Cream is really a wonderful addition to the top of the soup when serving, placing a hearty dollop on top so you can swirl it through as you eat. I like to sprinkle a bit of fresh chopped cilantro on top to finish. Serve with a lightly dressed salad and some good warm bread for a full meal.

2# Rough diced mushrooms, a mixture of domestic and wild
2 TBL Porcini mushroom powder (available at gourmet stores, or just whiz some up in you blender)
1 cup mixed dry wild mushrooms (available at grocery stores)
2 cups Marsala wine
8 cups Chicken, Beef or rich vegetable stock or a mixture
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 TBL Mexican seasoning (recipe follows)
1 Lemon, washed, zested and juiced
1 cup Heavy cream or Half & Half
Salt and Pepper to taste

Roasted Vegetables: the following seven vegetables can be roasted together:
2 Roma style tomatoes
2 Poblano (or Pasilla ) chiles, cut into quarters, and seeded
1 Red or green bell pepper, seeded
1 Carrot, large, washed and chopped into chunks
10 garlic cloves
1 large white or yellow onion, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 Jalapeno, seeded

1. Roasting Vegetables: In a large bowl, toss the roasting vegetables together with a bit of olive oil, just enough to coat. Spread the vegetables on a pan or roasting dish and place under the broiler on medium, tossing often until evenly roasted and sweating, about 15 - 20 minutes. Reserve all juices.
2. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot, coat pan with olive oil and heat until just beginning to smoke. Throw in the fresh mushrooms and saute until golden and evenly cooked. Add the Marsala wine, bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes on medium
3. Add the roasted vegetables and their juices, the stock, the dry mushrooms and mushroom powder, the potato and the Mexican spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25-35 minutes.
4. Off the heat, add the lemon juice and zest, and begin to puree in the blender the soup in half full batches, making sure you cover the top with a kitchen towel so it does not splatter on you. Pour back into your soup pot, adding the cream. Stir well, let simmer about 5-10 minutes more, taste for salt and serve topped with a dollop of the Poblano Cream (recipe below).

Poblano Cream: Place all the below ingredients together in a blender until very smooth, then chill.
1 Fresh Pasilla/Poblano chile, sliced and seeded, lightly oiled and roasted (as above) in an 8" saute pan.
1 Fresh Jalapeno chile, sliced and seeded, light oiled and roasted (as above), together with the Poblano.
½ c Heavy cream
½ c Sour Cream
2 TBL Mascarpone or Cream Cheese (for binding)
2 TBL Fresh green onions, minced
3 TBL Fresh minced cilantro
Salt to taste when fully blended.

Mexican Spices - Blend in a food processor or blender. Cover tightly and will last 4-6 months.
1 tbl. Ground cumin 1 tbl. paprika (I like Spanish or Smoked)
1 tbl. onion powder 1 tbl. chile powder
1 tbl. garlic powder or granulated garlic 1 tsp. Kosher salt (use less if using table salt)
1 tbl. Dry oregano 1/4 tbl. cayenne pepper & 1/4 tbl. Black pepper

Dining Room Photo