Jan 8, 2009

Hello All:

It's a new year, a new era, and a future we are all looking forward to. It's 2009! And on top of that, only a short time until Inauguration Day!! Can't believe it. Just the numbers look so very odd. It will take me at least 4 months to begin writing down the correct dates, I have this tendency to write down 1997, 1978 or something like that (I have got to figure out what happened in those dates that I keep going back to in my mind....).

The holidays are over, the tree has come down, and the decorations are waiting to be put away. This is after Gary and I decide which ones we will be discarding or giving away, of course. We seem to have at least ten boxes of old lights we are going to "go through" -- you know, the lights we are going to play with and see if we toggle the bulbs, the strands will start working again. And of course we will do this before we put the other boxes away. Making sure that our "file" system of boxes are up to date and accurate. (this is what we think about, but in actuality: the same strands of lights have been in those boxes for nearly 5 years, still waiting to be "fixed" and eliminated.....at least we are consistent....HA!!)

And so with the new year, a new set of resolutions have arrived out of my one-year-older mind: and this year it is gently seeking calm.

So here is the beginning of my New Years Resolutions:

1. I resolve to take away the power strangers have over my life and my decisions. I want to be in the position of making the right decisions based on what is best for us, and not best for others I do not know.
2. I resolve to love my friends more, and to spend less time with those people who are too much work, with the rewards to few to mention. To concentrate on what is right in front of me rather than the elusive stranger whose needs are to vast.
3. At the same time, I resolve to find something good in those people who are indeed too much work, and to help them sort out their own demons .
4. I resolve to teach. Not in a class-room, but in the lessons I have learned in life, the knowledge I have acquired in various forms, and to Pass Them On.
5. I resolve to accept the foods I hate, and to learn something good about each and every one of them. I resolve to cook them for my friends, thus eliminating my having to eat them.
6. On the other hand, I resolve to continue hating liver.
7. I resolve to spend more time with my Mom, and to learn more about her past and history. I have assumed knowing so much, but the little things that I remember in my life that are meaningful, these are the things I would like to know about her life.
8. I resolve to find out more about my family's history, the dark side....
9. I resolve to take more mid day naps.
10. I resolve to surround our life with joyous people, the ones who bring absolute silliness to everyday adventures and who have infectious laughs.
11. I resolve to find out what a "craw" is, and to find out why so much seems to stick in mine.
12. I resolve to lose my baby fat.

and finally,
I resolve to get over not being taller, and just be happy that I am as handsome and dashing as any human can be.
Amen (and I will now get my tongue out of the side of my cheek...).
Well.....last months surgeries are over. The scars look like a road map in the Midwest states, and the holes from the laparoscopic surgery looks like a newly discovered constellation (I think I will name it "Outofsortis").


Poor Gary. He seems to have lost his lips, because they are always pressed together, without any shape what-so-ever except this thin straight line. It must be from having to say patiently "Yes dear" (insert dull monotone voice) to all my requests over the last month. The bell and "dinger" I received as get-well gifts, were immediately thrown out in the garbage. After the first couple of weeks, the smile on his face was gone, but that far-away look took over his entire face (I just know he was thinking about accidental death insurance money paying for a nice vacation in the Bahama's for an extended period of time....).
He is a man among men when it comes to taking care of someone.
Thank you Gary. It takes an exceptionally good person to put up with my moaning and groaning.....
With New Year's Eve just a week or so behind us, we were talking about special New Year's Eve's that we have experienced.
I heard about some friends who spent them in China, some who spent them in far-away places that were magical and beautiful and overwhelmingly exotic.
I tried thinking about which New Years Eve that meant most to me, and remembered being about 10 years old at home with my Mom. My younger sister, Diane, was already asleep, my step-dad was sleeping off his earlier in the evening toasts, and it was just she and I sitting in our living room. I remember that she was sitting on our couch, her right arm resting on the arm of the couch, her left hand holding one of her favorite books. I was sitting on the floor just to the left of her reading one of my favorite books. I remember how unusually quiet it was in the house. And the fact that it was late, (for a 10 year old in the 1950's at least...) and it felt like I was special to have been up so late on a mid-week night. There was only the one lamp on, the one next to my Mother. My knees that were propped up, with my book resting on them while I was reading. We were not talking at all, just she and I reading. And then I remember I heard what sounded like fireworks going off outside in the distance.
My Mother looked up, glanced at her wristwatch, and she leaned over to me, said "happy new year", and she kissed me on the cheek. I remember looking up at her and just being so happy she was my Mom, and how lucky I was to have this wonderful lady sharing that moment with me.
At that point, we got up, she told me it was time to go to sleep, and she tucked me in, something she normally did not do. After I had gotten into my bed, she whispered "this is going to be an outstanding year for you", she once again kissed me on the cheek and said "goodnight", and then turned out my light and she went to her bedroom.
To this day, I remember how absolutely happy that night made me, a little kid of only ten years old, feel -- and that I was so thankful for that.
I still am. And each and every year that passes me by, I am always hoping that I can convey to people in my life how happy I am for their existence.
'Nuff said.
We have a new business in the area owned by two of our favorite people, Martha and Monte McGuire. The business name is "ItZaCake", and what they do is make fantasy cakes for any occasion. We were honored to have been given one of them, and believe me, the cake just to look at was incredible, but the chocolate and raspberry cake inside was worth tearing up their artistry. Fantastic! Go check out their website, look at what these two lovely people can create, and try to think when you could use this for your next special gathering....

The pictures alone will inspire you to have a party!!
We are so lucky that the county is getting full of special business's like this one; we hear about them on television, or read about them, and now we've got one of our very own. Good for us!!!
Recipe included this month: as promised, Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin. Believe me when I tell you, this is a show-stopper main course. The presentation is beautiful, the taste is incredible, and it is relatively easy to make. The hardest part is just getting the stuffing to lay out evenly. It almost 'self-bastes' itself due to the filling, and it comes out this glorious golden color that is a knock out. I will tell you that the shallot butter sauce served with it is a recipe that you can keep just for your everyday servings of what ever. It is one of those recipes that once you have made it, you can play around with, adding your favorite herbs, spices, or combinations. The end result is a light sauce with so much flavor due to the reduction method, well, your family and/or friends will love you for it. MAKE THIS DISH!....and let me know how it came out.
I am going to pass some information on to you that will make my home cooks very happy: some of our sources....
Did you know that you, the home cook, can purchase your meats from a commercial meat company? You just have to remember that you cannot order one chicken breast, if they come packed in a 10# box. You will have to buy the whole box. But, if you are having an event that requires an exceptional piece of meat or fish, or what ever, they will sell it to you. Most people think commercial companies only sell to big restaurants like Cafe Luna (I'm little...), but they are in the meat business, and I have had friends purchase prime ribs, bone-in and boneless, Crown roasts of pork, whole pork loins, any imaginable cuts you might be looking for.
With this in mind, the Chicken Stuffed under the Skin recipe calls for "Airline Breasts". These are fresh boneless chicken breasts with the skin on, with only one bone in it, one joint of the wing bone connected to the thigh. If you wanted to try asking one of our local grocery stores with a butcher department about these, the commercial name is "Airline Breast" but sometimes they are referred to as "Frenched" breasts.
The reason I am sharing this with you is when you go to a restaurant, hopefully you are tasting and seeing something you would not make at home. But you can. We in the restaurant industry, just happen to have items available that you cannot get in the grocery stores. But with the right terminology, you can get what you want.
We use a company in Sacramento named "Del Monte Meat Company". They are located on Arden Way, and you would have to pick the meat up yourself, but they have an excellent product, and will go out of their way to make sure you are happy. I deal with Eddy, the same guy who has been my rep since the mid 1970's, from our old Vineyard House days. He is a font of knowledge.

I would also recommend a restaurant supply company for incredible products in Sacramento named "East Bay Restaurant Supply". Located on 16th Street by Richardson Blvd. this place has every conceivable gadget that are used in restaurants. Commercial dinnerware, commercial grade pots and pans, and things you did not even know you needed. On top of this, they have some of Sacramento's best cooking classes available, with world renowned guest chefs in their fields, available for the public to attend (at a nominal cost of course).
Their web-site is : http://www.eastbayrestaurantsupply.com/sac.html
Go on-line and check them out especially their "Culinary Center" and "Shop Online" sections. Again, being a gadget collector, I am in heaven.....(I love my avocado slicer....)
Our new menu: Highlights:
My very favorite fish has always been Chilean Seabass. It has not been as available in recent years because of being over-fished. Well I am happy to say my fish mongers are letting us have it again, in small doses.
We are simply brushing the filet with a bit of butter, top-broiling it, and finishing it with fresh Roma tomatoes, Kalamata olives, roasted garlic, white wine and bay shrimp. The sauce almost cooks itself and does a self reduction that is so simple, but so flavorful. The fish flavor speaks best....
We have our Lamb Shanks on the menu, Pork Osso Bucco with Gremolata, and our Hot-Head dish is "Peanut Chicken".
This is a dish that is made with our Thai Peanut Sauce (recipe was included in our June 2008 edition), boneless chicken, and chiles served with Basmati Rice. This is so satisfying....my Hot-Heads are in Hot-Head-Heaven!...
We also have Crab & Shrimp Stuffed Prawns which are HUGE prawns, pan-roasted and served with a sinful Saffron and Spanish Paprika sauce. Wonderful!!
Our vegetarian entree, Polenta Gnocchi, is a variation of something I learned from good ol' ex-step-mother Gloria, back when I was a kid.
Polenta rounds made with Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese, brushed with a bit of olive oil, broiled, and then topped with a rustic (i.e. chunky) sauce of wild mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and red-wine. You will not miss meat!!!
Also: as many of you know, we have carried a wonderful non-local Zinfandel by Seghesio Vineyards, their Sonoma County Zinfandel. Congratulations on winning a score of 93, and being listed for the 8Th straight year as one of the top 100 wines in the world by Wine Spectator Magazine. In the wine world, this is a big deal. We have been carrying this wine for about 12 years now, and it only seems to get better and better. Not the peppery Zin we are used to here in ElDo County, but one with its own incredible characteristics. A winner!
Once again, due to the amazing amount of you who used them (thank you!), we want you to know that we are going to continue the STIMULUS PROGRAM for the month of January, 2009, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Coupons for 50% off a second dinner on these nights. We are trying in our own way to get you, the customer, to get more out of life with your hard-earned money while dining out at Cafe Luna. All of the staffers were really surprised how many used them, and many of you personally told us it was what brought you out to dine in this less than ideal financial situation the country seems to be in . Bring your coupons in, heck, make copies if you want for your friends, show your server and sit back enjoy eating out maybe a bit more often.

If we have helped in any way......well, it is just what we like to do....make people happy....if we can't personally give you a back rub, we will feed you instead!

I hope this is the beginning of alot of new and wonderous and spectacular events and days ahead. Thank you for your continued support in even these dark days. We look forward to seein you, and please drop me a line about your own Rants and Raves....

Take Care.

David at Cafe Luna

Café Luna Stimulus Program
½ Price Dinner Discount Card
Buy first meal at regular price, get second dinner at 50% off each Tues., Wed. & Thurs. Nights For the Month thru January, 2009.
Please present this card; limit two cards per table, food only; not good for to-go items.
Let’s get this economy moving!
Thank you for your patronage...Cafe' Luna
Cafe Luna Dinner Menu
January 2009
Ryan and David are in the Kitchen
Appetizers and Light Entrees
Soup - We love soup. 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.

Crab and Shrimp Dip - Crabmeat and shrimp, roasted garlic and other herbs minced and pureed’ and mixed with three cheeses and baked until golden. Served with toasts for spreading. 9.

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


All entrees are served with a fresh salad of mixed baby greens featuring organically grown lettuces and mixed fresh vegetables
(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)

Chipotle Chile Pasta - 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 chiles, 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: Noceto Sangiovese or Opolo Viognier)

Don’s Pan Roasted Chicken Breast - A 10 oz. boneless chicken breast cut in the "French" style - boneless with just one joint of the wing attached, pan-roasted until golden, served on a bed of Fingerling potatoes, button mushrooms and tiny gnocchi’s that have been simmered in a rich chicken broth. A simple, flavorful dish perfect for these winter days. With fresh vegetables. 25.
(Wine Suggestion: Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc or Bangin’ Red Blend)

Lamb Shanks - 16 oz. lamb shank dry-marinated in aromatic spices, slow braised with red wine, tomatoes and herbs until falling off the bone" tender, topped with a dollop of scallion and Meyer lemon cream. Served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. 28.
(Wine Suggestion: Boeger Cabernet Franc )

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 6.) 28.
(Wine Suggestion: Iverson Cabernet)

Filet Mignon - A tender 10 oz. bacon wrapped Filet Mignon, prepared to your liking, topped with a pan-juice reduction sauce of Cabernet Sauvignon wine and roasted garlic. With mashed potatoes and vegetables. (Topped with 4 grilled tiger prawns add 6.) 32.
(Wine Suggestion: Waterstone Cabernet)

Pork Osso Bucco - Tender pork shanks cut and braised in a rich broth of rich red wine, tomato, shallots, garlic and a bouquet garni of fresh herbs until "fall off the bone tender", topped with a fresh ‘gremolata’ - fresh minced Italian parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Served on a bed of mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed vegetables. 26.
(Wine Suggestion: Hess Mountain Cuvee’ )

Crab & Shrimp Stuffed Prawns - Jumbo prawns stuffed with crab and bay shrimp, roasted garlic and herbs, pan-roasted and served on a bed of rice topped with a light saffron and smoked Spanish paprika cream and butter sauce. With mixed vegetables. 27.
(Wine Suggestion: Boeger Sauvignon Blanc)

Chilean Sea Bass - Beautiful white, firm, flaky and almost sweet fish finally off the endangered list!! We are simply brushing with butter, char-broiling, and serving it in a quick pan roast of fresh tomatoes, Kalamata olives, garlic and bay shrimp with white wine. Served with Basmati rice and fresh sauteed vegetables. 30.
(Wine Suggestion: Salneval "Albarino" - a wonderful dry white from Spain)

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: Chat. St. Jean Chardonnay or Bangin’ Red Pinot Noir )

Polenta Gnocchi - A favorite in Italian kitchens, this dish is a baked polenta made with Parmesan cheese, garlic and cream, cut into thick rounds, baked, and then topped with a rustic wild mushroom, sun-dried tomato and red-wine sauce, sprinkled with Gorgonzola cheese and then top baked. Served with fresh sauteed vegetables. 16.
(Wine Suggestion: MacRostie Chardonnay or Noceto Sangiovese)

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. (Add Shrimp -6. Add Chicken - 4.) 17.
(Wine Suggestion: Renwood "Fiddletown" Zinfandel)

Café Luna / 451 Main Street, #8, Placerville, Ca / Phone 530/642-8669 / www.cafelunatics.blogspot.com
Café Luna
Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin

Cooked Stuffing:
1 cup Shredded fresh Zucchini
1 cup Shredded fresh eggplant
1 cup minced fresh chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup minced fresh red bell peppers
1/2 cup Fine Shredded fresh carrot
1/4 cup minced fresh green onions
1 cup minced white or yellow onions

In a large saute pan, add 3 TBL. olive oil, and 1 TBL. melted butter and heat until almost smoking. Add all the fresh minced vegetables listed above, and stir fry until wilted, about 5 - 10 minutes, making sure you keep tossing the vegetables so they do not over cook. Set vegetables in a strainer, and let strain and cool for about 1 hour until vegetables are cool. Reserve strained juices.

2 cups cream cheese, softened in micro-wave
1 cup Feta, Cojilla or Dry Mozzarella cheese, crumbled
1 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese
2 TBL fresh parsley, minced
2 TBL fresh minced basil
1 TBL fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp. dry
1 TBL fresh minced thyme, or 1 tsp. dry
2 tsp. fresh minced oregano, or 1/4 tsp. Dry
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine ingredients with cooled vegetables and taste for salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings. Cool.

Per order:
Pre-heat oven to 375°.

10 oz. Airline Breasts (see your butcher)
or a 8-10 oz. Chicken breast with skin on

2-3 TBL Cheese/vegetable stuffing (above)

1. Lift skin next to wing joint and insert fingers to lift skin from meat without disconnecting to form a pocket. Rotate finger around inside opening.

2. Insert about 2-3 TBL stuffing into skin pocket, flattening out the stuffing evenly, making sure not to let it seep out the sides of the chicken. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

3. In a pre-heated (convection is great but not necessary) oven, place chicken stuffing side up in a non-stick pan, or a lightly oiled sheet tray. Brush chicken breast with melted butter and roast for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

To Serve:
1. Place baked chicken breast on bed of rice, at a 45° angle, wing area facing upwards.

2. Drizzle with about 2 oz. of Shallot Butter Wine Sauce, and dust with minced parsley.

Serve immediately with sharp knife.

Shallot Butter Wine Sauce:
2 cups minced fresh shallots
½ cup minced fresh garlic
1-750 ml. Bottle dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 # unsalted butter
4 cups rich chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream

To a heavy bottomed sauce pan, add shallots, garlic, wine and butter to pan, bring to boil and reduce heat to medium. Reduce by ½, about 20 minutes. Add chicken stock and again reduce by ½. Add cream, bring back to boil, and cook about 5 minutes, stirring and tasting. Add salt if necessary. Keep warm for service, and reheat when needed.