Monday, November 26, 2012

Kitchen "N Counters November 24, 2012

Kitchen 'n Counters          November 24, 2012

Where in the hell did this year go??? I must apologize for not creating this newsletter since June, the year just got by me & I have certainly flaked! Onward to the newsletter!  
Here we are in November just after Thanksgiving & a good one it was. I am thankful for our family & many friends that follow us! The summer gardens at Rose Ranch are in transition to the winter gardens with lots of kale, chard, lettuces, garlic, savoy spinach & the last of tomatoes. Can you believe we actually had awesome tomato salads for Thanksgiving! We are still serving our wonderful heirlooms at the restaurant at this end of November! Here are a few events planned for the next couple of months:

TAPAS & TAP night at the Vineyards Inn featuring a flight of five Lagunitas brews paired with five of our exquisite & authentic Tapas. The evening will be complete with Jason Walters performing on his Flamenco guitar. Mark your calendar for November 29th from 6 until 9. $30 per person for the flight of brews, Tapas & music! This date also coincides with Dining out for Life, a benefit for Food for Thought, the Sonoma county aids food bank. We will donate 25% of all proceeds for the entire day & night to the food bank. Come out, enjoy an evening in Spain & help Food for Thought all at the same time! Reservations please.

Got plans for New Year's Eve? Make them here at the Vineyards Inn Spanish Bar & Grill. I am planning on creating some very typical New Years eve dishes served throughout Spain for Noche Vieja. On the menu will be some slow roasted local goat & lamb, Bacalao (salt cod) with Garbanzos & a few other surprises. We will be featuring many of the great wines & bubbles of Gloria Ferrer that pair so well with our food creations. We work well with the folks at Gloria as we both share our roots in España. If you happen to be a Gloria Ferrer Cuvee Club member you will receive a complimentary dessert & a visit to your table by yours truly! Let's toast in the New Year together! Reservations please.

We have completed our organic hot & sweet pepper harvest & with weather so nice we were able to let all the peppers. hang until they have ripened to bright lipstick reds. These make an incredible fresh! hot sauce we make in house! I am going to actual begin bottling a few sauces under our new labels:
Devil Dog & Lazy Dog with pictures of our Bernese Mountain dog Charlie posing! Here are a few glimpses of the images for Devil Dog & Lazy Dog sauces

Can you guess which is which? I would love your comments in the form of an email of what you think of these labels please.
 Work continues on my prospective TV show "The Organic Rose" with a few dates in December to actually complete two full episodes! It really is good fun. If any of you have any strong contacts in the television world I am always ready to pitch my show. I am also working a on another TV show concept with the first episode set to be filmed the first week of January. All I can say is that this is a "Throwdown" format, the rest is a secret for the moment.

Here is a great fall winter recipe for you to try:

Pollo al Ajillo (Chicken in Garlic sauce) serves 4
from the Vineyards Inn Spanish Bar & Grill

12 local organic chicken breast medallions (appx. 2 oz. ea.)
3 tbl organic whole-wheat flour for dusting

12 cloves of organic garlic minced (the smaller the mince the more intense the flavor)
2 organic lemons halved for squeezing
2 tbsp Gloria Ferrer extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Canola oil
2 tbsp organic Spring Hill unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 tsp favorite hot pepper chopped (mine is the Thai Hottie)
Kosher salt to your liking
¼ cup chopped organic Italian Flat leaf parsley
2 glasses of Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee Brut 2004 (my favorite bubbles)
note: I always keep several bottles of this Brut in my fridge for unexpected visits or just to enjoy another day in paradise!

         Add Gloria Ferrer olive oil to a saute pan with the canola. Mixing in the canola raises the pan smoking point. Salt the flour & mix. Dust medallions & shake off excess flour. Set aside. Heat the oil for about 1 minute but do not allow it to smoke. Add the chicken to the pan. Always laying into the pan AWAY from you so as not to splatter. Tan the medallions & turn over (not you the chicken!). Add the minced garlic, butter, hot pepper & 1 glass of the Gloria Royal Cuvee, reduce a bit then squeeze the lemon halves into the pan through your fingers to trap the seeds. Sip on the other glass of Gloria Brut. Once the sauce has thickened (if it gets too thick add a bit more bubbles), add half the chopped parsley. Plate & serve with the remaining parsley over the top.
         I suggest enjoying the Ajillo with a bottle of just released 2007 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir, Jose S. Ferrer Selection!. The long silky finish of this wine mingles well the richness of the butter, garlic & lemon notes of the Ajillo. This dish is our flagship entrée at our restaurant & has been a part of our culinary family for 31 years!
Buen Provecho means Good Eating!

Green living tip:
Did you know that your garage door electric opener is always drawing amp 24 hrs a day just waiting for you to press the clicker? We avoid this by simply unplugging the motors & open the doors manually. You can also buy a wireless switch that gets plugged in line in the socket for the motor that will only activate that socket when needed by pressing it's remote!

The Culinary Adventures for Spain will be beginning now in 2013. We are also creating what is referred to as "Tailor Made" trips. We custom create Culinary Adventures along with your timeline & budget. Feel free to send me an email with any questions! These trips promise to deliver a total insiders look at the awesome culinary scene of Southern & Northern Spain. Can you imagine being taught Spanish regional cooking by yours truly and a few Michelin starred Chefs as well? The Northern trip into the Basque country will be so unique since my family are so well connected there. Join me for these incredible journeys! Go to our web site for a short video of these trips.

That's all for now! I wish you all a very special & healthy holiday season. If you want some of our new hot sauces (actually they are more of a flavor enhancer) let me know. I'll ship them to you as well as our very popular homemade Balsamic Vinegar blend called Two Dog. You can guess what type of dogs are on that label

Hasta la proxima means until the next time!
Chef Esteban

Monday, May 7, 2012

Kitchen 'n Counters for May of 2012

Welcome & Saludos Fans!

 Here we are at the beginning of May already! Spring is in full swing at Rose Ranch with our vegetable gardens planted & enjoying the sunshine. Tomato vines have been pruned of their suckers & are reaching to the sky. Compost together with worm castings are nourishing all the vegetable starts. Organic-Biodynamic Merlot & Primativo grape vines are showing signs of vigorous spring fever leafing like crazy! I have finally figured out how to grow the prized white asparagus so popular in Spain. It really is simple just cover part of your asparagus patch so the shoots never get light therefore they never go through photosynthesis. I just installed some hoops over the patch & attached a black plastic tarp. Every morning I uncover it to harvest the asparagus.
June 12th is our next San Francisco Giants bus adventure. Buy your ticket now! Round trip luxury coach transportation complete with on board attendents, snacks, unlimited Lagunitas beer & wine as well as six flat screens, entertainment system & bathroom. We will open the restaurant at 3:30 with the coach departing at 4:15 for the ball park. Your lower box tickets are in section 128 loaded with “splash” concession credit. The Gigantes face the Houston Astros. Enjoy an evening in baseball’s most incredible venue! Tickets are $110 per person.

Our Vineyards Inn is sporting a new “adjusted for the season menu” that seems to be a work in progress as our Organic-Biodynamic gardens grow & evolve! Stop in & sample our local seasonal treats.

My first Spanish Culinary Adventure is scheduled to begin September 4th starting in Sevilla. Feel free to visit our website or the last blog for details. I am going to try to figure out how to post a short video brochure about the six scheduled trips for 2012. Remember we are limiting the groups to the intimate size of 14 guests. I am working on a concise package to send out with all the details & links for your perusal.

Saturday July 21st & 22nd you will find us at the awesome Catalan Festival at Gloria Ferrer winery. Stop in for some great Spanish food & Catalan style fun! Saturday I will be performing a Chef's demo. Come by & say hi!

Spotlight on Lovage. Organic Lovage seeds are available from Natural Gardening Co. in Petaluma online. Lovage makes for great edible landscaping & it returns every season. It can grow to 6 ft. tall & will fill all your celery flavor needs. Simply pinch off the leaves & use them in soups, salads or wherever you want to have that celery flavor! 

Here are a few Basque recipes to chew on:

Bacalao Crab Cakes feature very traditional Basque salt cod. After soaking the salt cod over night to remove the salt we will flake it together with local Dungeness crab meat. shredded scallions are added along with a few cage free organic eggs, red pepper & roasted garlic. After the cakes are formed they are sauteed with a splash of organic olive oil. once warm through they will be topped with our Ali-Oli sauce (homemade garlic mayo) & chiffonade of Lovage. The technique of Chiffonade: Stack the Lovage leaves on top of each other, roll up then run your knife through for fine threads.

Fish Sticks "not like your Mother made" spotlight a local line caught fish filet. This is a very popular Basque Tapa with various interpretations.  Chunk the fish then skewer it with a brushing of organic olive oil. The "sticks" are then placed over the broiler to be seared. The next step is to squeeze a few organic lemons over the fish, with chopped garlic & organic local butter. Finish the "sticks" in the oven for a few minutes & garnish with chopped organic parsley & cilantro! 

Tight on garden space check out the latest craze in urban gardening---Vertical Gardening. Vegetables, succulents, flowers pretty much anything will grow this way There are several web sites that have info.

Now that spring is here it's a good time to begin composting if you haven't yet! There are several systems out there for all your composting needs. Just DO IT! Once you're in the composting habit you can do it year around. Once your compost is ready try making a tea out of some of it. Great for your veggie garden & house plants love it too!

Go to our website for the latest menus, events, info on our Bed & Breakfast at Casa Verde in Kenwood & see what we're up

Look out for a schedule of my cooking classes for the summer & fall at Rose Ranch. Details to be in the June newsletter!

Hasta la proxima means until next time.

Chef Esteban



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitchen 'n Counters presents Andalucia Inside

Hi Fans, Saludos!

  How did these months get away from me??? It's been a while since I have written my Chef's newsletter. We're already into 2012 & getting set for an awesome new year. 2012 is bringing another chapter to my life...leading culinary adventures into Spain---can you believe it? My friends David & Talal from Andalucia Inside, a Seville based full service travel agency, in conjunction with your favorite Chef, me, are creating these culinary adventures. I am actually going to Seville in a few weeks to do a run through with David & Talal, off to San Sebastian to make more connections there then into Pamplona to spend some time with my family. This newsletter will give you some of the highlights of our trips. We plan to do additional excursions to the south & north, San Sebastian, in the summer & fall.
 Intimate, ultimate & personal are the operative words!

  This culinary adventure will be an intimate group of no more than 14 participants. We will be staying in gorgeous five-star properties in the south of Spain and dining in some of Spain's best Michelin-starred restaurants. Our destinations are spots that average visitors to Spain will never experience.

Spanish Toro reigning over Andalucia's country side

  We will see local culture through local eyes, taking in the best that the south of Spain offers. "Andalucia Inside" is truly an insider's view of this exotic region. Imagine sitting by a private lake on an organic vegetable farm learning how to prepare authentic Paella from just-harvested ingredients.

Sit down with yours truly and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We will taste olive oil and see how it's produced at Spain's finest olive oil facility, boasting the most awards of any other in the country.

Lago de Bornos - view from Bodegas Regantio

Besides learning from me, you will have the opportunity to interact with other Michelin-starred Chefs as well. Taste some of Spain's finest sherries and wines at selected bodegas.

We will meet with wine and sherry makers and see how they create their liquid treasures. Have you ever had a night time tour of the Alhambra? Now's your chance! 

You'll enjoy the best of traditional Spanish Mediterranean cuisine and the inspired original dishes that are making Spain the "New Paris" of the gastronomic world!

Travel with me, Chef Esteban, to taste and experience the true passion that Andalucia has to give!

Miguel Cruz - your own private wine connoisseur

  I am very excited to be given the opportunity to share the old & the new Spain with you! Since these trips are very small & limited in size to only 14 guests reservations should be made sooner that later. Many have commented that they plan to either front load or back load this culinary adventure with additional time spent in Spain. David & Talal are more than helpful in assisting you with your plans!

  Come with me & TASTE the PASSION!

  Send me an email with any questions or comments you may have!

Please contact "Andalucia Inside!" for reservations soon. Andalucia Inside
and see our brochure at the VI website

Chef Esteban

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kitchen 'N Counters June 2011

Saludos Fans!                                                                                                            June 2011

Welcome to my  June issue of Kitchen ‘n Counters. I must apologize for not creating the newsletter last month, time just got from me! This is the busy time of year for us at Rose Ranch & the Vineyards Inn. Let’s get started! Plants are hoppin & poppin at Rose Ranch. The first & second rounds of vegetable planting have been completed. The third round of starters is in the greenhouse & tempering area getting used to the outdoors. We should be ready to harvest Rose Ranch treasures by mid June. Summer squashes, basils, borage, kale, spinach, strawberries, purslane & a few more early pickings. The tomatoes, sweet & hot peppers- need more sun which they should get as our weather returns to it’s norm, whatever that is these days! The corn plants are racing to get  “Knee High by the Fourth of July”. Our tomatillo bushes are shaping up as well. Our organic/biodynamic certified farm stand should be open by the end of June at the Vineyards Inn. Where else in Sonoma County, or anywhere for that matter, can you drop in & have a drink, a bite of lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch & buy your certified organic/biodynamic veggies???

Don't forget Casa Verde, selected as one of the Greenest built homes in both Sonoma & Marin counties by the Build It Green council, is accepting reservations for overnight & multi night stays. Simply go to our web site for further info by clicking on the lodging button. The organic grapevines are growing like crazy & the creek is still flowing--what a time to come visit the Real Wine Country! Plus your hostess, Beverly, prepares the finest & most creative breakfasts in the world!

Want to learn about the Spanish kitchen? Check out Ramekins Culinary Center in Sonoma. Yours truly is conducting “hands on” classes there! Go to their website & see the calendar. They even have luxury guest suites so you can spend a night or two. Find out how to create authentic Paellas, Tapas, Spanish soups & stocks & much more! You know all the classes will have that true Green focus that I’m so passionate about! Saturday July 16th from 10am until 1pm is the next class. Titled Tapas Feast, you will learn about many Tapas styles & flavors. Join me for this awesome class!
Recipe of the month:
Crudo of Halibut
Stuff you need:
1# Fresh local line caught Halibut filet
4 tablespoons Organic California extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of non pariel capers
4 organic green onions
4 tablespoons of your favorite organic grating cheese (I love Old World Portugese by Spring Hill)
2 organic lemon wedges
A couple of turns of your pepper grinder
1 small bowl of ice water

Slice the Halibut into 1” by 3” slices, ¼” thick & arrange on a platter. Slice the green onions thin lengthwise & add to the ice water. Soon they will curl. Once curled, pat dry & sprinkle over fish. Drop the capers onto the fish & scatter the grated cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the plate, crack the pepper & serve. Garnish with the lemon wedges & Enjoy! Stop in to the restaurant & get a refillable bottle of  Margarita Rose' that goes well with this treasure of the sea! It's a Rose' of Primativo that i make from our certified organic/biodynamic Primativo grapes grown at Rose Ranch. You might want to pour yourself a glass while creating this dish!

Speaking of about a month we will be featuring 14 (now we have six) wines available by the glass or decanter. Many of these wines will be organic with some being biodynamic --- like ours! All will have been kegged & not bottled. The kegs are reusable & get refilled at their respective wineries. Just think, no bottles, corks, labels, foils or boxes plus transporting the full wine kegs uses 50% less fuel than it case counterparts! Since we have an off sale wine license you will be able to purchase any of these wines to take home in re-sealable bottles. Just bring that same bottle back in clean & we'll refill it! The Chef's wine club has been born!


Chef's Basque Dinner Series
Don’t forget about our Chef’s Basque dinner series on the second Thursday of each month! Seven courses served family style to all at one long table. I prepare & present each course. You get to learn about how I have prepared each dish & where I’ve sourced the local organic ingredients. Authentic Spanish Basque family recipes of mine. Reservations only@ 707-833-4500. The evening books up three months in advance so get your calendars out! We sit down promptly at 6:30 & it lasts about 3 hours.

Tapas, Tapas, Tapas is on the fourth Thursday of each month. We serve our Tapas in the service style of the finer Dim Dum restaurants of San Francisco. Three price flights of $4/$6/$8.
It’s Tapas on parade beginning at 6:30! Feel free to call for reservations:

Once again the latest Giants bus trip was a huge “hit”! Fun had by all! I’ll post a few pics once we collect them.

  TAPAS ON THE TERRACE Friday June 17th, 2011 5:30pm - 7:30pm
 at my favorite sparkling wine caves---Gloria Ferrar in Sonoma.
Enjoy an evening in Spain, without leaving Sonoma. You’ll hear the seductive sounds of Spanish Flamenco guitar by Eric Symons while sampling tapas (Spanish Appetizers) prepared by yours truly paired with Gloria Ferrer's sparkling and estate varietal wines Admission is $35 per person and $29.75 for Cuvee Club Members (up to 4 tickets for club member price). Ticket price includes 2 glasses of sparkling or still wine and a plate of assorted tapas.

“Seafood Sustainability 101”/ Wine Tasting/ Chef Demo with Seafood tasting

Monday June 27th  from 6 until 7:30 join us at the Vineyards Inn for our first of many seminars on sustainable topics. Shannon McDiarmid formally of Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Watch is now with Royal Hawaiian Fish Co., one of our outstanding seafood purveyors. Shannon, will focus on the basic sustainability issues surrounding both wild capture and farmed species. Chris Benziger of Benziger Winery will be on hand to taste you on their awesome biodynamic wines plus I will be giving a Chef’s Demo on preparing a seafood dish that you get to enjoy! All this is free as in no charge! Open to the trade & public as well. Please RSVP
The second seminar is Monday July 11th, 6 until 7:30 for a panel on forage fisheries. The panel is to include a speaker from Oceana who is sponsoring a bill requiring the inclusion of forage species into fishery management plans, forage fishermen Kirk Lombard, and one other speaker TBD.
Saturday July 23rd and Sunday July 24th 11:00am to 4:00pm
Don't miss Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards 18th annual Catalan Festival A celebration of the winery's Spanish roots and the opening of the winery in July 1986- This year they celebrate their 25th Anniversary! The Catalan Festival pairs the unique spirit of Catalonia with the world-class quality of California sparkling and estate varietal wines. Let your senses be enticed by music, dance, aromas and sumptuous flavors of food and wine. Tickets are $50 per person if purchased by July 21st OR $55 at door. Click here to purchase tickets

Speaking of anniversaries Colleen, Jake & Chef Esteban are celebrating our 30th year in business at the Vineyards Inn!  

Join us for a series of events in July commemorating this milestone! Beginning Thursday  July 14th we will start with a very special Chef’s Basque Dinner. There are only a few reservations left at this point so call soon & get yours. 707-833-4500.

Be part of an incredible Happy Hour on Friday July 15th with complimentary Tapas along with a local wine & beer tasting from 5 to 6 pm. Bring your vintage Vineyards Inn stories & pictures to share with all of us!

Saturday July 16th  is the big day! From noon until 3 the Sonoma County Animal Shelter Pet Adoption Van will be parked in front of the restaurant with adoptable animals! From 3 until 7 rock out with The Local Boys reunion show. Many of you remember countless fundraisers that The Local Boys performed at, so join them in celebration with some fun Rock & Blues. Bring your dancing shoes! Lot’s of great Spanish food & drink to be enjoyed by all!

True Green Living Ideas:

When you have to print a sheet of paper on your printer, you can save the paper for future use & print the other side. When you’re done with the second side toss it into your compost stream.

Speaking of saving stuff instead of composting your organic veggie ends & peels bag them up in reusable zip lox & store in the freezer. Once you have enough, empty them into a stockpot & make organic vegetable stock. Add chicken, beef or fish bones if you like. After the stock is done, strain it into a food container & freeze the stock for future use. Make sure you label & date it. Now the cooked bones & veggie pieces can go into your compost! I like doing this on a rainy day with a favorite bottle of organic red wine.

Did you know that taking a cruise on any cruise line without ever leaving the ship each passenger creates 2,5 times the carbon footprint than staying home. Even staying at a hotel or land resort creates less of a carbon print than a cruise ship. More and more ports are installing “cold ironing” systems that allow ships to tie into the grid & shut down their diesel engines. This helps so the diesel engines aren’t running 24/7 to power the electric generators.

Fill a made in the USA water bottle & carry it with you instead of buying bottled water. The cost of buying a decent water bottle will pay you back in no time & you’re helping eliminate plastic waste. You could save $200 per year & 14 pounds of plastic. If one of twenty gym members who usually buy a bottle of water before each workout brought a reusable bottle of water from home the plastic saved annually would total nearly 29 million pounds! Do yourself, us & the planet a favor & carry your own water!

That’s it for now,
Happy Anniversary to all!

As always in good food & Green living,
Chef Esteban

I love the sunsets at Dillon Beach, my home away from home!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kitchen 'n Counters for March 2011

Hi Fans,

Things are bustling at Rose Ranch with the advent of planting time. All our organic/biodynamic Merlot & Primativo are finally pruned & tied. I am looking forward to another good grape harvest & some more excellent wine to make with my winemaker friends-Alec, Jimmy, Jesse, Benja & Charlie! The greenhouse is filled to the brim with veggie starts that we began propagating from saved seed in late December. This time of year is always hectic for us with so much going on in our gardens. Look for us at the Farmers Market each Sunday in San Francisco's Ft. Mason. Soon you will be able to stop in to the Vineyards Inn for your starter plant needs as well as fresh organic vegetables each day from 11:30 a.m. except for siesta Tuesdays.

Here is my review on my new knives from New West Knife Works---

I love them!!! I bought a Chef's Fusionwood knife, a serrated bread knife & a small pairing knife. They are the best & guess what??? They are made in the U.S.A. with American labor & American materials sourced within 100 miles of the factory. You can select your knives as well as your handles made from Vermont hardwoods with cool colors! They are truly individual works of art. Thanks to Corey Milligan the owner. The craftsmanship is incredible & they are guaranteed for life! They even come in their own leather sheath! Check them out at
Speaking of great knives I will begin instructing at Ramekins Culinary Center's new state of the art kitchens in Sonoma May of this year. Sign up for my classes & you will see these knives in action--even try one out! The first class in May will be on Spanish Tapas of the Sea. These classes are all hands on classes so you & I will work together in the teaching kitchen then get to enjoy the fruits of our labors including some wines paired to the different courses. Learn about using locally sourced  organic ingredients. I will teach you how to save energy in the kitchen. Find out about kitchen conservation! Go to their link below to view & reserve classes---sign up soon as there is limited space.

 In addition to the classes I have been asked to create a few Chef's/Winemaker dinners. I will be working with Eva from Gloria Ferrar winery on these events so besides the wonderful authentic cuisine of Spain you get to enjoy some of the great wines from Gloria Ferrar. I will keep you posted on future dates for these dinners. Imagine mingling with the Chef & Winemaker, learning some of my recipes, enjoying this banquet in the ballroom or Spanish style patio complete with wood burning oven...

Jake & I had another fun time with the San Francisco Giants at spring training in Scottsdale Arizona. Be prepared for another solid run at the World Series they are just getting better! Another Giants bus trip scheduled for Tuesday night June 7th. Round trip bus service from the Vineyards Inn, beer & wine served both directions with snacks, lower box seat & a voucher card for food & beverage at the park are included. Sign ups begin April 10th, 2011.

Beginning tomorrow March 30th we will preparing & serving grass fed beef raised in Sonoma County---we're keeping it local! I am now purchasing a quarter carcass at a time. Stop in & enjoy local beef in addition to local lamb, duck, chicken & veggies! Shop Local, Eat Local, Drink Local, Bank Local & enjoy life local!

 Charlie's dog cookie recipe

   2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
        1 Tablespoon olive oil
        1 Cup chicken stock
        1/2 Cup peanut butter or apple butter
        1 Cup oatmeal
        2 Cups flour

Mix all the ingredients & allow to rest for about half an hour. Now I roll it into a log shape & pinch off to whatever size I need. Place on a cookie sheet rubbed with a few drops of olive oil & bake at 350 degrees for half an hour. Check that they are hard to the touch, if so take them out & allow to cool. Try one! Your dog will love these treats, they're organic & you've just saved yourself money! I pinch them on the smaller size, they work great as training treats.
Charlie in his field of mustard

Please make sure all ingredients are certified organic
This will be the next 
Mrs. Field’s phenom!

Don't forget about attending our Tapas Tapas Tapas night on the fourth Thursday of each month. We serve our menu Tapas plus some special ones in the service style of Dim Sum restaurants of San Francisco. Literally Tapas on parade! Three prices flights of 4, 6 & 8 dollars.

Our Chef's Basque dinner has been a huge success booking up a few months in advance. The second Thursday of the month. We sit down at one long table promptly at 6:30. The dinner features Spanish Basque recipes of my family. Seven courses of gastronomic bliss! I prepare & present each course explaining recipes & where I have sourced the organic local ingredients.
Reservations only please  707-833-4500/

Beet & Broccolini Salad for Six
4 organic medium sized red beets
1 lb. of organic broccolini washed & cut into flowerettes
3 tbls. of good organic olive oil
juice of 1 organic lemon
2 tbls. of rice vinegar
1/2 cup of organic Feta cheese
s & p to taste

Cook the washed beets in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Yes they cook tender in 15 minutes--if you don't have a pressure cooker get one! Think of all the energy you'll save! Cool the pressure cooker according to instructions then open. Remove the beets & add the broccolini to the hot beet water & blanch.
Once cooled, peel & cut the beets into julienne (matchstick shape)
Prepare a vinaigrette with the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. Remove the broccolini & rinse. Drain well. Toss beets, Feta & broccolini flowers with the vinaigrette & serve. 

Pressure Cooker Fluffy Rice
1 cup organic long grain white rice
1 1/2 cups of organic chicken stock
2 cups of water

Combine rice & 1 1/2 cups of stock in a stainless steel bowl which will fit loosely in the cooker. Cover bowl firmly with foil. Place 2 cups of water into the cooker. Place bowl on rack in cooker. Close cover securely according to manufacturer's instructions. Cook for 5 minutes with the pressure regulator rocking slowly. Let pressure drop of it's own accord. Open cooker & allow rice to steam uncovered for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a kitchen fork. Season & serve. Remember that this method will prevent the rice from frothing, foaming & sputtering that could cause the cooker's vent pipe to clog!

Green Living Tips:

Now with gas over $4 a gallon organize your errands & try to combine them all into 1 or 2 days instead of several--less driving equals less gas. Drive conservatively instead of lead footing it!
Try video conferencing!

Do you really know what your putting on & into your body regarding personal hygiene products? Cruise the Net to 
See how your products are rated for toxicity. Find much safer ones as replacements. Since the cosmetic industry is unregulated in this country anything goes! It doesn't have to be what the label reads!

Don't forget to compost it will amaze you how you can cut way back on your contribution to landfill.

Our spring rate for Casa Verde now includes a $50 gift certificate!
Call for reservations to stay in Sonoma's wine country. Just think you can enjoy spring in our wine lover's paradise. Each night's stay also includes a gourmet breakfast prepared & served in the main house at Casa Verde.
Call me at 707-833-2143 for reservations

Enjoy the first episode of the web based show about Sonoma County. Have a look into the Chef's Corner...
That's me in living color! More episodes to come!

This month's winner of a $25 gift certificate for the Vineyards Inn Spanish Bar & Grill is...

Carole Barbieri!

Congrats Carole!

Hasta la proxima means until next time,


Friday, January 28, 2011

Kitchen 'n Counters January 2011

Happy New Year to all! I sincerely hope the year 2011 will bring us good health & much better economic times, not to mention culinary enjoyment and appreciation of family & friends.

Let's begin with events in 2011 to be on the watch for: 

We're planning a few more Giants bus trips as the last one was a huge success. I just received a tentative 2011 schedule for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Since we will be a returning group we receive priority seating & pricing as well. Dates will be announced in up coming Chef's newsletters. Speaking of Giants Jake & I have made our arrangements to return to Giants spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you've never been it's a great experience to see the Giants up close & personal! This year I'm sure tickets will go fast

Cooking classes at Ramekins Culinary Center with the Chef! I have been invited to be a Chef instructor at Ramekins in Sonoma. These classes are hands on instruction. The focus will be on the colorful passionate foods of Spain. Mostly concentrating on the northern Spanish Basque country. Classes will last about three hours learning recipes, technique & history as well as enjoying the fruits of your labor!

Tapas of the Sea is on Friday, June 3, 2011 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM  

More Tapas on Saturday, July 16, 2011 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Rose Ranch tour on Friday, August 19, 2011 at 10:00 AM then on to Ramekins Culinary Center for a class focusing on Organic veggies from Rose Ranch paired with fresh fish preparations, fishing industry practices, how to buy fresh fish & the benefits of the sea!  

Paellas & Sangrias will be taught on Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Sopas are Soups is on Friday, October 7, 2011 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Please consult the Ramekins web site for their current catalog. My classes will be posted at the end of next week!

The Chef's Basque dinner is celebrating it's third year of enjoyment! I am in the kitchen those nights preparing recipes of my Spanish Basque heritage. Enjoy seven courses served family style on platters & in tureens. Sit at one long table as I present each course explaining where these organic local ingredients have been sourced & how I have prepared each dish. Spend about three hours with old & new friends over typical Spanish Basque creations. Please call for reservations as we book up early! 707-833-4500 It's on the second Thursday of each month!

Tapas Tapas Tapas is served on the fourth Thursday of each month. Our creative Tapas are presented in the style of finer Dim Sum houses of San Francisco. Tapas are on parade from 6:30 until 8:00 p.m. complete with our live Flamenco guitarist. In addition to this our full menu is also available! Please call for reservations 707-833-4500.

Valentines Day is on February 14th, a Monday evening.  Come in & celebrate with the Chef.  Colleen will be behind the bar concocting some of her adult libations! I will prepare some Spanish Basque dishes concentrating on the Basque coastal city of San Sebastian, famous for it's Tapas & gastronomic treasures of the sea! We will have live music for your additional enjoyment!

Look for us at the Vino Olivo festival in Sonoma this year. February 18th is on a Friday night. Join us & several other local restaurants & wineries for this fun filled evening A Sonoma Valley olive season institution, the VinOlivo fundraiser is a gala celebration and feast for the senses. Enjoy all that Sonoma Valley Wine Country has to offer. Enjoy Sonoma wines as you get to know the vintners; ignite your taste buds with culinary delights from Sonoma County's finest restaurants, caterers, and artisans; sample local savory olives and olive oils at the olive bar; and indulge in sweet temptations with port and chocolate tastings.! Vote for your The Vineyards Inn as your favorite VinOlivo restaurant either at the event or on Facebook. 

Recipe of the month:

Basque Lamb Shoulder Chops:
Remember that the less expensive cuts of lamb and beef render the most flavors! You just have to be a bit knowledgeable on how to prepare them. You'll need a pressure cooker for this one. If you don't have one go out & get one. They cook food in such a short amount of time think of all the energy you'll save!

four local organic lamb shoulder chops cut about one inch thick
three medium sized organic carrots peeled & sliced 1/2 inch thick
ten cloves of organic garlic sliced thinly
one medium organic onion small dice
one bunch organic Dino Kale sliced one inch wide
salt & cracked pepper to taste
one bottle of your favorite everyday organic red wine
one can organic chopped tomatoes

Brown off the lamb shoulder chops in the pressure cooker without the lid on. Once nicely browned add the remainder of ingredients except the tomatoes. De glaze the pot with 3/4 of the wine. The rest should go into a glass for you to sip while the chops are cooking! Now add the chopped tomatoes & lock the lid down according to manufacturers instructions. Consult the pressure cooker timeline booklet for cooking times. Guess what? The chops will be fall off the bone in fifteen minutes! Release pressure according to maker's instructions. Once the pressure has subsided open lid according to instructions. Simmer on low to reduce the liquid into a nice sauce. Serve over chicken broth cooked white rice kissed with Spanish Saffron. Make sure to serve some organic sourdough French bread--my favorite is Full Circle Bakery in Penngrove. You can find them at Farmer's Markets & gourmet food stores.


Green Living Tips:

Do yourself a favor & buy a water bottle made in the USA. Carry around tap water to drink instead of buying bottled water & you'll also save over $800 per year. This is based on the average bottled water price of $1.50 ea. with a 1 1/2 bottle consumption per day. You're saving money, conserving energy, eliminating more land fill & helping our environment!

Print double sided pages & use an inkjet printer if you can. Laser printers use three hundred watts of electricity while inkjets use only ten. Don't forget to recycle your ink cartridge!

Bring a traveling coffee cup into you favorite coffee shop. They'll gladly fill 'er up. Think of the the paper & waste you'd save--multiplied times this country's population!!! Add your cream & sugar to your traveler first then have them add the hot coffee, this way you can ask them to hold the stirrer! Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers enough to make a giant straw twenty times taller than the Statue of Liberty!

Try to use fewer paper napkins. Each American uses an average of 2,200 paper napkins per year, or just over 6 napkins per day. If each American used just 1 fewer napkin per day it would save about 150 million of them from land fill,enough to provide a napkin to every person who eats a hot dog on July 4th.

Speaking of napkins while dining at home hang your cloth napkin on your chair & reuse it several times before washing. It really doesn't get that soiled!

Chef's corner

I'm anxiously awaiting my new knives! I have ordered some new blades. Finally quality cutlery made in the U.S.A with American materials. Enter New West KnifeWorks. I found them on the internet & can't wait to get my hands on them. Corey Miligan is the owner & designer of New West. His knives are made in the Massachusets/Vermont area. He sources all of his materials including the steel within a 150 mile radius of the hydro electric powered factory. The knives are works of art allowing you to select each handle color.  You'll get my critique in next month's letter!

Beginning soon on the internet will be a "Bay Area Backroads" type of magazine show showcasing Sonoma County. Watch for yours truly every episode in his Chef's corner! More info in next month's letter. We begin filming the first part of February!

Congratulations to Helen & Dave you've won a $25 gift certificate for the Vineyards Inn!

Salud, pesetas y amor con tiempo para gastar los! 

This means Health, money & love with time to enjoy them!


Until next month,

As always in good food & 

Green living,