Mar 12, 2009

March 2009

Hello All You Luna/tics:::

Welcome to March....


I went out in my garden today, and I see some Spring lifting out of the ground!! It was the brightest green and made me realize winter is coming to a close.....

This will be our first year in the new house with a definite garden planting....can't wait to see what six months in the ground does for plants.....

Some interesting stuff going on in our neighborhood of Placerville/El Dorado County:::::::

Two very public restaurants closed down, Lil' Johnny De Carlos (formerly Mama De Carlo's) right on Main Street, Placerville, and The Redbud Cafe in Cameron Park. This is such a shocker because - as you know, we have so very many restaurants to choose from up here. It is always sad to see any business shut down, but, being close to "home", it is even more wondrous as to the reasons why. (Obama: wave your magic wand.....)

Of course, I understand about the financial aspects of not being able to maintain the same staffing, food items, and such, but more so, the absolute frustration knowing that things WILL turn around,

but not soon enough,......

and that is killing many small businesses.....

Our restaurant community is in crisis financially. The restaurants in all the country are trying to decide how to re-invent themselves to appease our current dollar market, and the ideas are flowing nationwide.....I just read in one of my restaurant magazines that a large and very popular L.A. establishment that went from dinners averaging $150.00 per head, now has nothing on the menu more than $20.00 per item. Sounds good in theory, but that also means that now at his restaurant, the main course is now a separate price, from the side vegetables, the potatoes or rice, the topping on the potatoes or rice, and if you want a sauce or butter on your main course, guessed it::::::::extra.

So how does this help? By letting the customer decide what to spend his money on? Good. But the same value sense should also be tallied up. Appetizer, soup, salad, main course + vegetables + starch + toppings/ sauces + desserts.........creeps up there doesn't it???

So what is a little guy like me to do to keep you, my customer base coming in? Well, we will try to entice you with something extra that might be the one thing to #1 save you some money, and #2 to make you feel better about spending it.

So here is our plan for this month (oh you Wino's will be happy!!)

#1. On Wino Wednesday, all wines are 30% off the list price. The change here is it used to be wines under $35.00 and over $ you get to have any one on the menu, bottles only. So now, a $40.00 bottle will run you $28.00 on Wino Wednesdays......Yahoo!!!!!

#2. On Thursday nights, we will be having diners wishing to bring in their own bottles of wine getting two free corkage per table. That alone will be a $30.00 savings. Please don't bring in wines on our list gauche......(refer to last months e-mailing to see what I am talking about......) Call us first if you have a question......or better yet, how about if I download a copy of our current listings with this mailing?
Listed as "Wine List Only March 2009" on the attachements above....

This could be a fun night for you and your friends to have a night out and bring some new bottles of wine to share and enjoy dinner out (again!!!)......hope this is a good thing......

I was invited to an event I have never been to that was so much fun! It was held at Madrona Winery (double click on their name to go to their webside) in Camino, and it was a "Quintet" blending party. "Quintet" is one of the wines that Madrona has been specializing in for many years now, and we love it.

It is a blend that Paul Bush, the owner/wine-maker makes each year and comes up with a brilliant tasting red Bordeaux style wine that cellars beautifully and also drinks well now. It is one of my "fire-place" wines that we love to just drink by itself, with just a bit of an earthy cheese, some fruit and a nice fire in the place.

At the event, we all got our own 'pipettes' and were able to come up with a bottle of wine that we decided on the amounts of variatals involved. Our choices for the blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. These wines were 100% of its varietal (no blends in these at all...), and believe me, each of us (35 plus people) had our own formula for a great blend. (I am positive that in two years, mine will need to be if you know me now, two years, I may be one of those famous wine-makers who wears sunglasses in the dark, drives around in a limo and a driver, and has new sheets on his bed every day, staff for everything ("peel me a grape sweet-heart...."), and will probably develope an know, alot like all the winery owners here in El Dorado County.....) But not to worry: I will still have time for all the "little people" in my life......("peel me a grape sweet-heart....")

Our wine mixes were bottled, corked and labled by the fabulous Maggie Bush (grand wife and partner of Paul), and we all took them home to age perfectly.......We also got to name our wines, and that is where we all took different turns (thank you Bob D. for your help...) Mine? The Fifth Chandelier. (why yes, there is a story to that, one that was so very funny and insightful at the time, especially after you have drank the equivilant of two bottles of wine by yourself! I am a riot when I drink, and an especially good dancer....) Other names? "Cutesie Pie", "Mama's Drinking", "Daddies Feet", "Obama's Secret Weapon" ..... the names were endless, and made about as much sense as mine did). But, you know? It was fun to be around people you like, want to like, and especially those you have fun with.

It was hosted by Sheri and Mike Arnold, two incredibly great friends, who take good care of us. Gary and I. Thank you to all for a great evening!!!_________________________________________________________________________

I have tasted another bit of heaven here in El Dorado County: Boeger (double click again for their site) has released a new bottle of "Reserve" Barbara. This wine is so flavorful and rich and everything I love about wines. If you get a chance, get a bottle of this wine. We will be selling it here at Cafe Luna, but I do encourage you to go out to the winery itself for a great tasting. That Justin sure knows what he is doing!!! To think I knew him when he was a baby........Tell our little Sara in the tasting room Cafe Luna sent you. She will take care of you and tell you stories. (Some of them even true.....)

Good for us that we can grow such good wine grapes in this county!!

And another wonderful experience??? Iverson Winery (double click again...) in Fairplay. Mike and "D" Iverson have made a wonderful event-place out there in Fairplay. Mike has been developing incredible wines and blends, and a Sparkling Chardonnay that is so refreshing and fun. Going to their place is always fun because of their absolute hospitality and warmth.

Something I really do believe we have so much of here in this county at our wineries. Fun and a great afternoon tasting delicious wines.

Go have some fun you guys.....
This months menu::::

We are featuring our Beef Stroganoff on the menu (recipe is on the blogsite). We make this with filet mignon strips, wild mushrooms and sour cream.....Quite wonderful for this time of the year......and Ryan, my sous-chef, loves it because Ryan loves anything with meat in it.....He is a happy man......

We also are featuring Pork Tenderloin served with a fresh roasted pineapple and lime salsa that is just incredible. We are brining it for a couple of days, then rubbing with our spice blend, and grilling it over an open flame all the while brushing it with a tequila and lime glaze. Fantastic!!! The brining has a tendency to leave the meat pink; it is still completely cooked but by brining, maintains the juiceness, the tenderness and the flavor of the glaze and it is wonderful. You will love it!!!

Skirt Steak is back on the menu, marinated in a dark beer, garlic, lime and soy concoction, then gilled, and sliced served with a fresh made "Lulu" salsa, guacamole, and Cotilla cheese. Order this meat medium-rare, just to maintain its juiciness.

Let me say, I love this dish! Wild mushrooms, roasted butternut squash, shallots, thyme, mixed with Sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses, topped with a wonderful bread-crumb and Parmesan cheese topping, and baked until golden and bubbly. And all this heaven goes so good with a good glass of red or white wine.....(Shelly at The WineSmith and I had a date eating this.......).....this is going to warm the cockles of your heart....(what tha? what is a cockle of my heart anyway???).
This months recipes:::
Gary and I owned a restaurant in Coloma for many, many years (when I was a boy I am sure...). One of the desserts that became so famous during the 70's was a dish a man named Narsai David did called "Chocolate Decadence" . This is a cake that is almost all chocolate, and butter and eggs, with just a tablespoon or two of flour.

At the Vineyard House, I would make this as our "special" dessert, serving it with pureed raspberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I worked on this for many years, adding, subtracting, and going nuts on variations. Try the regular recipe. Enjoy it, and then realize how many other ways to enjoy this.

The beauty of it? It freezes beautifully! And at the bottom of the recipe, you will see some variations that are great. We just had a surprise birthday for Ms. Sheri, and served this dish as 1-1/2" cut up squares, but have rolled them up, dusted them in cocoa powder and done all sorts of things with this dessert. And did I tell you it freezes beautifullly??? The good thing about this is you can double up on this cake, make two of them, use cake pans or use 8" square brownie pans. Wrap them first in plastic wrap, and then in foil to keep them air-tight and ready to go when you take them out of the freezer. They only need an hour or two at room temperature to get perfect once again.....Chocolate lovers will be in heaven!!!!

As always, the menus and recipes on the blogsite will follow this letter, and let me know if you have people that would like to get signed up for this montly e-letter. We have all this on our blogsite, along with old puplications, recipes etc at if you want to see more.....and PICTURES TOO!!!

Our second recipe: That same birthday party we had for Ms. Sheri also had a theme: Mexico. Since she and her beaux Mike, had just gotten back from the place where we got to go before with them......So, I did an enchilada dish that got raves: Enchilada's with Mushrooms, Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Potatoes. We had a similar dish like this in Trancones, Mexico, by one of the local dirt-floor restaurants that was sooooo good... This one? Came out really, really, really well......(And it freezes beautifully!!)

Don't forget:::: we are open on Tuesday nights thru Saturday nights at 5PM, we are always happy to see you and want to see you. Let me know if you have any good ideas for us to implement to get more of you out for dinner. It is tough out there I know, but we want to be your safe haven for eating out.....

Take Care.

David at Cafe Luna

Dinner Menu March 2009

Ryan and David are in the Kitchen


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, fresh 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.


Italian Sausage Ragu’ - Italian sausage meat, simmered with garlic, tomatoes, wild and domestic mushrooms, herbs and red wine to make a wonderful sauce ta (wide ribbons) sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. A pasta lovers favorite and David’s ex-stepmother Gloria Tobassco’s favorite recipe. 22.
(Wine Suggestion: Iverson Winery Cabernet Sauvignon)

Hot Head Special (For All Of You Craving Hot, Spicy Food):::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. (Heat Scale of 1 - 10 = 9) 25.
(Wine Ideas: Noceto Sangiovese or Vionta “Albarino”)

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: Boeger Sauvignon Blanc)

Beef Stroganoff - Strips of filet mignon pan-sauteed with wild and domestic mushrooms, shallots, and white wine, finished in a rich sour cream sauce topped with scallions and served on a bed of egg pasta. Served with fresh sauteed vegetables. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: “14 Hands” Merlot)

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: Martin Ranch “JD Hurley” Cabernet Sauvignon)

Rack of Lamb - Lamb 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. 29.
(Wine Suggestion: Iverson Petite Sirah)

Pineapple Glazed Pork Tenderloin - Pork tenderloin, brined for juiciness, brushed with a pineapple and tequila glaze, char-broiled to medium, served topped with a mild fresh grilled pineapple-lime salsa. Served with mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed vegetables. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: Madrona El Dorado Riesling )

Fresh Atlantic Salmon - Filets dusted with herbed Panko bread-crumbs, spices, pan-sauteed medium then drizzled with a toasted coriander and lemon vinaigrette. Served with basmati rice pilaf and fresh sauteed vegetables. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: T-Vine Cellars “Psychedelic Rooster” Rose)

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. 24.
(Wine Suggestion: Chat. Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 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)

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese - A new spin on an old favorite: Gorgonzola, Monterey Jack, and Mozzarella cheeses melted together with bits of wild mushrooms, shallots, fresh thyme and roasted butternut squash, tossed with pasta, and baked in a casserole topped with toasted breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and toasted pistachios. Served with fresh vegetables of the day. (Vegetarian) 18.
(Wine Suggestion: MacRostie Chardonnay or Bangin’ Red Blend)

Arugula and Fresh Tomato Saute ala Pasta - Mixed organic cherry and grape tomatoes, pan sauteed with fresh arugula, 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. (Vegetarian) (Add Shrimp -6. Add Chicken - 4.) 17.
(Wine Suggestion: Renwood “Fiddletown” Zinfandel)



Café Luna Chocolate Decadence Cake / Truffles

1 pound dark, milk, semi-sweet chocolate, broken into chunks
1/4 # + 2 tbl. Butter
5 eggs, room temperature
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL flour

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 TBL Grand Mariner (optional)
4 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate, slightly warmed to make chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler
12 oz. Frozen raspberries, thawed, pureed and stained, adding 2 TBL sugar and 1 tsp. Lemon or orange
Powdered sugar to dust serving piece
Mint leaves for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 425°
1. In an 8-9" round cake pan, or a 9" square brownie pan, wipe well with softened butter, and if you have it, lay a layer of parchment paper over the bottom of the pan, and butter that top as well.

2. In a double boiler over, not in hot water, melt the chocolate and the butter together until soft, and stir, stir in the flour, and then set aside.

3. In an electric mixer, break eggs and add 1 tbl. sugar to mixing bowl, turn on to medium, and beat until starting to thicken, then turn to high and beat until tripled in volume and very light.

4. Using a wire whisk or a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the chocolate trying not to deflate the egg mix.

5. Pour into the prepared pan, and “thump” it once on a hard surface to remove any bubbles.

6. Bake in your pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes (cake will still be soft in the center) and then let cool at room temperature.

7. Wrap this up, freeze it overnight (or up to one month).

8. To unmold this cake from the pan, place it over a lit stove flame for about 15 seconds, spinning it the whole time. Place your hand or another plate over the top, and invert the cake onto this plate.

9. Puree your berries and strain out the seeds, adding the sugar and the lemon or orange juice. Refrigerate.

10. Whip the whipped cream, adding the powdered sugar and Grand Marnier if using.

Serve wedges of the cake, drizzling with the berry puree, and adding a dollop of whipped cream to the side, and placing a mint leave for garnish. Dust with powdered sugar.

1. To chocolate mixture, add 1/4 cup ground up toasted hazelnuts, or pecans to mixture. Proceed as usual.

2. Add 1 TBL. instant coffee crystals or instant Espresso powder to heavy cream and chocolate cake mixture.

3. Add 1 TBL. fresh orange zest to melting chocolate cake mixture.

4. Try using white chocolate instead of regular chocolate cake mixture.

5. Or combine all of these together.

1. Cut cooled cake into 1-1/2" squares. Serve as is stacked in a pedestal cake dish, or roll into balls. You can also take them one step further and roll the balls in cocoa powder or powdered sugar. (Try mixing the tiniest bit of cayenne pepper into the cocoa....good flavor boost and surprise!)
Roasted Butternut Squash, Potato, Cream Cheese and Mushroom Enchiladas

1/2 cup Onion, minced
1 # Mushrooms, sliced , mix of portabello caps, white and /or crimini
1 Garlic clove, minced
1 pk Cream cheese (8 oz), cubed
2 tbl Vegetable oil
1/4 cup Green onions, sliced
1 can Tomatoes (28 oz.), chopped
1# Butternut squash, peeled, diced into ½" chunks, roasted at 375° for 30 minutes, cooled
1 medium russet potato, peeled, diced into ½" chunks, and roasted or pan-sauteed until crispy
1 pack frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c fresh minced cilantro
1 can red enchilada sauce
12 Whole wheat tortillas or corn tortillas
4 cup fresh salsa, purchased in the refrigerator section of the market, (or a Picante sauce), reserving 1 cup
(You need three cups blended, reserving 1 blended cup, plus 1 cup un-blended, get it??)
3 cups + Monterey jack, shredded
2 tsp Chili powder
Sour cream
2 tsp Coriander, ground
1/2 tsp Cumin, ground
Instructions for Cream Cheese and Mushroom Enchiladas
1. Take three cups of your salsa and puree into a smooth blend with your blender.

2. Roast butternut squash for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 375° oven, tossing with a bit of olive oil and a bit of salt. Let cool.

3. Dice potatoes and cook in a non-stick skillet with 2 TBL. oil until crispy, seasoning at the last with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

4. Cook onion and garlic in the oil.

5. Stir in the tomatoes, 2 cups blended salsa (or Picante sauce), 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. coriander and the cumin. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

6. In a 10" skillet, cook the mushrooms with remaining chili powder and coriander until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese. Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved un-blended salsa and the green onions.

7. Mix all of the above into a bowl, and lightly stir to mix. Add the squeezed and thawed spinach, the cilantro and the black beans. Taste this mixture and adjust. Mix with a rubber spatula once again.

8. Spoon 1/3 cup of mushroom mixture down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle about 2 TBL. shredded Jack Cheese over filling. Roll up and place seam side down in a greased 12 x 7-inch pan.

9. Mix 1 can enchilada sauce with the reserved 1 cup blended salsa. Spoon this mixture over the enchiladas.

10. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and top with cheese. Bake uncovered another 8-10 minutes until cheese melts and begins to get golden. (Use your broiler if necessary)

11. Serve with sour cream and extra salsa.