Nov 29, 2008

Cafe Luna's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This is a wonderful soup, a meal in itself with a light green salad and a hunk of good crusted bread. Don't be intimidated by the procedures, they are just steps easily achieved. This soup will make you and your guests and family happy. A note to consider: try this cold, or lightly chilled. Let me know how you like it. David

Roasted Vegetables:
2 # Butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 cup (About 3 whole heads) fresh garlic cloves
1 med. White or yellow onions, large chunk diced
1 pasilla chile, seeded and chopped
1 cups fresh ginger, chopped into ½" dice (no need to peel, but make sure fresh with no blemishes)
2 large carrots, washed and chopped
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
2 TBL. Olive oil
2 TBL. Honey, warmed slightly

Preheat top broiler to medium or high.
1. Mix all the above ingredients together to cover with oil and honey.
2. Place all the vegetables on a roasting pan, or cookie sheet with sides, and place under broiler for about 25 minutes, middle shelf of the oven, stirring every 10 minutes or until nice and golden and beginning to show dark caramelization on the squash and onions.

While you are roasting the above, you can assemble this, the second part of the recipe:

Soup Ingredients:
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 TBL Orange juice concentrate or juice of one orange and the zest
3 TBL Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Nugmeg
1 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
pinch of chile flakes
1 TBL. Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped
3 qts. Rich chicken or vegetable stock , or water
1-2 cups Heavy Cream

1. In a large soup pot, pour roasted vegetables in pot, and the potatoes.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, EXCEPT CREAM AND CILANTRO.
3. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until potato is very soft.
4. Pour soup into another container to begin the puree process.
5. Add the cilantro, (no need to cook) stir, and then puree the soup until very smooth, placing back into the soup pot.
6. Add the cream and at medium heat, bring back just under a boil.
7. Adjust the seasonings depending on your tastes with salt.

Cool or serve immediately.
Note: this soup is also delicious served chilled.

Served topped with a dollop of Cilantro Sour Cream (recipe below) and fresh minced scallions sliced very thin at a 45 degree angle for presentation, and a dusting of paprika for color.

Cilantro Sour Cream:
1 cup sour cream
2 TBL heavy cream, half and half or milk
2 TBL fresh minced cilantro leaves and stems
2 TBL fresh minced scallions
1 TBL fresh minced parsley
pinch of salt

Place in blender and puree until very smooth and light green in color. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Nov 3, 2008

Hi All You Luna/tics.
______________________________________________ is the first day of November: cold and rainy (well, it is 68 degrees in my house and I am cold because I am sitting here typing in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops realizing it is probably the time to be wearing socks, shoes, long pants and a sweater during these winter-ish days....oh the dilemma of the seasonal flucuations...just a couple of days into it and already bemoaning the fact my choices are being taken away.....)

and it is my mom's 77 birthday today.

My mother Betty is one phemominal lady - great physical and mental shape, very happy and content and who re-connected with her junior-year high-school sweetheart about ten years ago at her 50th class reunion and has been in love ever since. Mom has always been an engaged-in-life woman, who has taught me the good lessons in my life that never go away, which lessons have the tendency to be biting me in the back of the head when a moral decision must be made (daily, hourly, and by the minute it seems....), especially the ones that I know won't be going the way I wish they would....

As a kid, Mom was a LECTURER when it was time to be repremanded for stupid kid stuff. Those words from her seemed to go on for hours and hours and hours while we just sat there and listened, and I know my sister Diane and I often thought it would be so much easier to have just gotten a swat on the butt rather than having to endure the LECTURE as her way to be corrected......

And, yes, as a kid, I did get into trouble....hard to believe as an adult....but the horns on my head were developed way back then. The love of mischieveousness came about when I realized I wanted nothing more in life than to torment my poor sister, one year younger then myself. I would hide in her closet (no comments please....) waiting long minutes and hours for her to just open her door so I could spring out and scare her!... and then run away holding my stomach because I would be laughing so hard....while she was shreiking and probably swearing at me at the top of her lungs....(Diane was a red-headed girl in the full sense of the meaning.....).

Then of course, my Mom, who was a house-wife and always home, would listen to both sides of the story, and the LECTURE would begin (I usually lost the debate as to why I NEEDED to be scaring and tormenting my sister.....big-time did I lose these debates.....) :

"Don't you know you could have given your poor little sister a heart-attack (I thought: Really? what would that be like? How much harder would I have to scare her for that to happen?)

"What if your sister had had a knife in her hand and stabbed you in self defense? ( A knife? I thought we were never allowed to play with knives? How come she can have a knife and I can't? Because she's a girl right?)

What would you have done if that had been me and I had fainted? What would you have done then? (Well, I remember that on the Dr. Kildare show, they would hook electrodes to your brain and wake you up. I would just have to find the electrodes and plug them into a socket and save you Mom. See how easy that would have been....I really did think this out you know....)

What if that had been the President opening the door and you did that to him and his Secret Service men had to pull their guns out and shoot you? (Really? do you think we could bring the President and drag him to Show-and-Tell at school with the Secret Service guys waving their guns around telling my classmates that I scared the President?)

My mom would tell me the importance of being the "good" older brother, and how I must set an example to her at all times (she did not know that my "little" sister Diane was as diabolical as I was, but she was less apt to get caught at her diabolicalness BECAUSE... SHE... WAS... A... GIRL....).

It was the 50's and little girls would always be in dresses and boys would always have to watch out for them, and NEVER-EVER-NO-MATTER-WHAT hit a girl much less your sister. Gawd....I do believe that little boys wanted to explain to their Mom's and Dad's that "really, she can be really, really mean" and sometimes she just needs to be taken care of...and how come you never catch her doing the mean stuff to me? ....just once, so she will stop pestering me all the time.....

but - it never happened....

So as the older brother, I endured her antics, her sly smiles while I was getting the LECTURES, and kept on my guard at all times for what a little sister could do to make my life miserable....

And yet through all of that, my mom's one constant belief was we take care of each other.

And that is the lesson I remember the most. Possibly a lesson I might take too far with friends and family sometimes, but the one that nags me the most....

It seems to have manifested itself in my adult years with food.

"Poor thing...your car went over the side of the cliff with your passport, I.D., and bank account information? Here, have some soup, that should help"
"That rat bastard you married got caught cross-dressing at the election polls?....have some Paella".

I know that looking back, I soothed most things (or possibly medicated) with food. But it was the one aspect that I could do and make a difference, even if it was for just the moment.

Because the older and mellower I get, MOMENTS MATTER.

The moments around a table when the world might be going to hell outside, but your little nephew (insert son, daughter, aunt, uncle, mother, dad, etc.) wants to recite the "Alphabet Song" while missing his two front teeth and making all the "s's, c's, and t's" come out like a swishing noise with a sudden Boston accent (again-insert moms, dad, aunts and uncles, grandma's, grandpa's....not quite as cute this time, and your eyes may be really wide while listening and your mouth frozen in a weird zombie-like smile and the whole time you keep thinking about your gene pool and your future as an aged person...but again you keep damn cute they are....and how nice to have them have those lucid moments again...but why do they insist on taking their teeth out when they sit at the table? Note to self: look into Super PolyGrip mixed with Super-Glue if ever needed).

And then we have dinner and the world and its problems float away, because all of a sudden, you want to just hear all the other songs they have memorized.

And that is enough.

And what stays with you is the warmth of the moment frozen in time with the rememberance that you were sharing bread together and it is comforting. Through all of this craziness in our current history, we are comforted and we are nourished with food.

And that is why I love owning a restaurant and cooking food for people that I love.

(Note to self: make a dentist appointment...and look into long term care insurance.)

We voted today, and I can only hope that it goes MY WAY. And the world will return to a state of less chaos. Maybe. And all of our friends who are watching their savings and their portfolios going down the tubes will find a bit of relief from the outcome.

But regardless of its outcome, I am a married man. And will remain one in the eyes of the California court system. And that is a good, really good thing.
This months menu is attached following this current railings....You can go to the bottom of the page to find previously posted recipes and other things.

You will find two recipes for these coming cold days, one very quick and wonderful for an 'on the fly' dinner (Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cranberries), and the other, a long simmering, smells-so-good-you-can't-stand-it stew (Hungarian Pork Goulash with Sweet Peppers)that will warm you for many family hours while listening to your grandmother recite the alphabet song.

Your comments and inclusions are highly looked forward to and sometimes become the highlight of my day.

Take Care.

David at Cafe Luna

Nov 1, 2008

Dinner Menu November 2008
Ryan and David 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.

Café Luna House Pate - A wonderful pate made with Marsala wine, chicken livers, pistachio’s and Zante currants. Served with toasts for spreading, house-pickled onions, dried figs and little French cornichons. 8.


All entrees are served with a fresh salad of mixed baby greens featuring organically grown lettuces with our house dressing (crumbled Bleu cheese 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 Pappardelle 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, Spicy Food)::: 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, potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and chiles, finished with coconut milk and served with rice, topped with a cooling mango cream. Delicious! (Scale of 1 - 10 = 9) (Add Chicken: 4.) 18.
(Wine Suggestion: Opolo Viognier 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. 25.
(Heat Scale of 1 - 10 = 9)
(Wine Ideas: Renwood Zinfandel or Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc)

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: Waterston Cabernet Sauvignon or Hess Collection Mountain Cuvee')

Short Ribs of Beef - Our house specialty. Meaty short ribs, slow cooked and slow-braised on a bed of onions until tender, finished in a rich meat broth made from the onions and juices, served on a bed of either mashed potatoes or Parmesan polenta (recommended!!) With fresh vegetables. 26.
(Wine Suggestion: Young's Zinfandel )

Apple-Garlic Glazed Pork Chop - A 14 oz. double-cut pork chop, brined for juiciness, brushed with an apple and garlic glaze, char-broiled to medium, served topped with a fresh apple, sage, roasted garlic and caramelized onion "jam". Served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed vegetables. 25.
(Wine Suggestion: Acacia Pinot Noir)

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: Boeger Cab Franc or Iverson Cabernet)

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: MacRostie Chardonnay)

Fresh Catch- Fresh Halibut - One of our favorite fish 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-roasting until golden and serving it topped with a fresh citrus gremolata butter made with fresh Italian parsley, garlic, orange, lemon and lime zest finished with toasted pecans. With Basmati rice and fresh vegetables. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: St. Jean Chardonnay or Acacia Pinot Noir)

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 MacRostie Merlot)

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)

Prawns ala’ Casa de Luna - A dish we love: large prawns split in half with-in their shells, skewered and marinated in citrus juices, mango’s, and garlic, quickly char-broiled and served with a wonderful lime dipping butter. On a bed of herbed Basmati rice with fresh sauteed vegetables. Leaving them in their shells enhances the flavor so much more! Messy but delicious finger food! Extra napkins available. 26.
(Suggestion: Boeger Sauvignon Blanc)

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 Orecchiette pasta (pronounced ohr-ay-KYEHT-ee meaning "Little Ears") , topped with Parmesan cheese and top baked until golden. (Add Shrimp - 5. Add Chicken - 4.) 17.
(Wine Suggestion: Noceto Sangiovese)

Split Plate Charge: 5.00 /
8.00 per person minimum table service charge /
We use Kosher Salt for cooking and on our tables /
Please, no seperate checks if at all possible /
18% Gratuity on parties of 6 or more

Café Luna 451 Main Street, #8, Placerville, Ca
Phone 530/642-8669
Spicy Hungarian Pork Goulash with Peppers, ala Cafe Luna
Serves 6

3 TB Vegetable Oil
1 Large Onion, chopped, yellow or white
3 cloves Garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 kosher salt
1-1/2 TBL Hungarian hot Paprika
½ tsp caraway seeds, lightly crushed
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
2 # Boneless pork butt, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 qt. low sodium beef stock or water (or more to cover pork)
2 Large Ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Large Red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1" pieces
2 Large Potatoes, (about 2-1/2 # total), peeled and diced int 3/4" pieces


1. Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven over moderately low heat until hot, but not smoking.

2. Cook the onion, garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, and cayenne until the onion is softened, but not browned, about 8 minutes.

3. Increase the heat to high, add the pork, and brown, stirring occasionally, for about 8 more minutes (Don't crowd the pork otherwise it will steam. If your pan is too small, cook in smaller batches until all the meat is "toasty" and browned). Add more oil if necessary, 1 TBL at a time.

4. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and then continue at a bare simmer, covered for 1 hour, or until the pork is tender. Stir in the tomatoes and red peppers, and simmer gently, uncovered for 30 more minutes.

5. Stir in the potatoes, and simmer until they are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Season to taste, and serve in deep soup bowls.

Variations: Serve with Basmati, or a loose grain rice; or wide noodles. I like to top the goulash off with a bit of sour cream or Cr me Fraiche. Sprinkle top with fresh minced flat-leafed parsley for garnish.

Pork Tenderloin with Triple Sec and Dried Cranberries
serves 2

2 TBL. Olive oil, or a blend of Olive oil and canola oil
8 oz. Pork Tenderloin, sliced into 6 slices, about 1/4" thick, pounded lightly to even out
Seasoned Flour (Kosher or Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper, granulated garlic)
3 TBL. Dried Cranberries
1 tsp Fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 tsp. Freshly grated orange zest
dash Salt
dash Black Pepper
1. In large saute pan, heat oil until almost smoking.

2. Lightly flour pork slices, and carefully slip into pan. Saute on high for about 1-2 minutes until nicely golden, and turn over and do the same.

3. Remove pork from pan to a plate; add to pan the dried cranberries and the Triple Sec. Stand back and let flame (if cooking on an electric stove, light with a long handled lighter.

4. Add all other (except the cooked pork) ingredients and simmer for about one minute.

5. If eating right away, add the pork back to the pan, gently reheat the meat and serve pouring the thickened sauce over the meat.

(Making ahead: When the sauce is done, turn off the heat and let cool. When ready to serve, reheat the sauce, return the pork to the pan, heating only enough to warm the meat, and serve.)

To Serve:
I like to serve this dish with either fluffy mashed potatoes or a rice pilaf, or just as good: cous-cous. Mound your starch in the middle of the plate (about 1 cup worth) and then fan the meat leaning on your starch, and drizzle sauce over the top and on the plate.