Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Scotch Tasting / Pairing Dinner

We're sponsoring another Scotch Tasting Dinner for the Petaluma Museum with Wilibees Wines & Spirits and JRB Event Services

We did one of these a year ago, and then a bourbon dinner.  Both had great reviews!  Take a look at the tasting menu below and get your tickets soon.

Scotch Tasting Dinner
Fundraiser for the Petaluma Museum
Thursday April 10th at 6:00PM


Pairing Menu
Cardhu 12 Year
Shaved Apple Salad on Chicory with a Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Clynelish 14 Year
Seared Sea Scallop on Braised Leeks with Cheese Tuille

Cragganmore 12 Year
Roasted Quail on an Apricot Almond Cous Cous Pilaf

Caol Ila 12 Year
Osso Bucco on Roasted Baby Carrots

Lagavulin 16 Year
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownie
plus Gorgonzola Mousse with Fresh Pear

$60 per person or $100 per pair
Call 778-4398
Stop by the Petaluma Museum

Seating is limited, so reserve your place soon.

Monday, March 10, 2014

But, But…, No. Butt! Pork Butt That Is

Here's March from the Petaluma Post...

I see lots of chicken, too much tri tip and even more pork loin.  If you can’t guess I am always looking for
Pork Shoulder aka Pork Butt
something new and this time that something new is not new at all.  I have fallen in love with pork butt.  Despite its name this cut does not actually come from anywhere near the butt, it is actually the shoulder. Also known as a Boston Butt, it is a very muscled and marbled cut from the upper shoulder.  Being an area that gets lots of use and movement the meat is a darker red color and has a bit more fat and lots more flavor

Most people use it for pulled pork, a great slow cooked dish that can be done in the oven or the crock pot and serve large groups.  We prepare ours in 70 pound batches cooking at a low temperature overnight.  There are tons of recipes from herbs to coca cola. I like to use a dry rub and cook uncovered long and slow.

PSC’s Dry Rub
8 cups Brown Sugar
4 cups Kosher Salt
1 cup Paprika
1 cup Chili Powder
1 cup Black Pepper
1 cup Granulated Garlic
1 cup Granulated Onion
1 cup Italian Seasoning
¼ cup Cayanne

Place a pork butt in a deep baking dish; there will be lots of run off fat to capture.  You can use a bone in or boneless shoulder.  Bone in will add 1 to 2 hours of additional cooking time. Rub well with the dry rub, and place in a 250 degree oven, and allow to cook overnight; about 8 to 9 hours.  To check for doneness, use tongs to twist the meat; it should pull gently apart.  If using the bone in variety, you can twist the shoulder bone, it should come away easily.  Then allow it to cool before pulling the meat to the desired size pieces.

At this point there are all kinds of uses.  For pulled pork sandwiches, dress with your favorite BBQ sauce and serve on a roll and serve with a classic side of slaw.  Or, simmer in a green chili sauce and serve in corn tortillas for fun tacos. Or, look for a great Asian BBQ sauce and serve with steamed rice.

But if 9 hours of cooking is too long for you, it is also great to slice up and cook on the grill.  Using the boneless shoulder, cut the short way across to create steaks (I like about ¾ of an inch thick).  There will be a few pieces that fall away - those are the chefs nibbles.  Rub with the same dry rub, or an Asian five spice, or event just salt and pepper.  Toss on the BBQ and finish with your favorite sauce. The great flavor of boneless pork ribs but at half the cost.

One of my most recent inspirations is a pork roast.  Cut the roast in half lengthwise and then rub with fennel, thyme and sea salt.  Using butchers twine tie it into long logs, then roast in a 350 degree oven for about 1¼ to -1½  hours, to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.  For many years the cooking temp was supposed to be 160 and just last year the USDA lowered the safe temp to 145 degree.  The meat will still have a blush of pink and the juices will not run clear.  I like to pull it at 140 and allow for carry over cooking to 145.  Allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving.  You will never go back to the classic pork loin.  Great carved for a dinner party and just as good for sandwiches the next day.

From pulled pork to the barbeque, take a new look at a classic and be creative.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Here's my next article from the Petaluma Post, enjoy...

We all rush off to work each day with a granola bar or bagel in hand.  Hardly the best way to start the day, but most of us do it.  Saturday or Sunday morning you might go out for brunch, but usually we just don’t have time for breakfast, but why can we only have it in the morning?  Breakfast food is great, so why not dinner.  In our house we call it “brinner”. 

You get home late from work, nothing is thawed and you’re hungry. Very likely there is a carton of eggs in the fridge; there are so many possibilities!  From a quick scramble to a frittata to French toast.  You can make a real and healthy (or not) meal, often easier than dinner, and it feels like a treat.

Frittatas are a great place to start.  This Italian egg dish can use up many of your leftovers in the fridge.  From chopped meats to veggies and grated cheese.

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 eggs, beaten
 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 oz grated cheese, you can use any you like, parmesan is great
1 cup of chopped filling

Broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, ham, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers all make great frittata filling.  The ingredients are endless.

Heat a 10 inch oven proof skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Meanwhile beat the eggs with salt and pepper, then fold in cheese and filling.  Your pan should now be very hot (not smoking), so pour the egg mixture into pan, and stir with heat proof rubber spatula for 2 to 3 minutes.  Then transfer the pan to a 350 degree oven, and bake until the center is set.  If the frittata sticks, put it back on the stove top for just a minute of two and gently release with a rubber spatula.

Some of my favorite combinations are: Potato and Ham with Cheddar, Mushroom and Asparagus with Chèvre, and Cherry Tomatoes and Basil with Parmesan.

I love a tartine; this is an open faced warm sandwich. And to make it a bit more, I love to add a fried egg on top.

1 slice hearty country bread
“Refrigerator Relish” (again anything in the fridge that you can chop up)
1 oz grated cheese, I recommend Cheddar or Jack
1 egg fried

Brush the bread with olive oil and toast lightly in the oven, then top with chopped veg and/or meats, then finish with grated cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).  During this time cook your egg over easy.  Remove the tartine from oven top with egg.  I like it best served with a lightly tossed salad; to me salad is perfect to cut the richness of the eggs.  It’s best with a light vinaigrette.  By the way, Topsy, a new restaurant on Kentucky Street has this on the menu; it’s very good.

I love salad with my eggs.  I find that it cuts down on the richness.  So whether is this is breakfast for dinner, or dinner for breakfast, I like a very classic French salad called Salad Lyonnaise.  This is great at any time of day.

Salad Lyonnaise
2 strips bacon
1 T olive oil
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard

2 eggs, poached or over easy (my favorite)
1 head frisee lettuce
1 slice toasted country bread

Cut the bacon into ½” pieces, then with olive oil sauté until crisp.  Set the bacon aside, and transfer the bacon drippings and oil to a mixing bowl, and allow to cool.  When cool add vinegar, sugar and dijon, whisk well.  Drizzle ½ of the this as the dressing over the frisee and toss well.  Place the frisee on the plate, and top with 1 fried egg
Top with cooked bacon and drizzle with remaining dressing, serve with toast.

When I was growing up I loved corn bread and one item my mom used to do was cornmeal pancakes.  A basic corn bread recipe (a bit thinner) cooked on the stove top.  Think of this with some bacon or sausages for dinner.

Cornmeal Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk (add 2 Tbsp more if too thick)
1/3 cup veg oil

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients.
Add the wet to the dry and stir well.  Allow to sit 10 minutes, then check the thickness for pancake batter consistency; add extra milk if necessary.  Heat your pan or grill to a medium heat and scoop the batter to preferred size.  Once bubbles have formed turn over and cook 2 to 3 more minutes.  Serve warm.

And if you have a bit more time, a quiche (also a good way to clean out the fridge) with a salad it always nice, served warm or room temperature.  So, next time you get home late, put on your PJs and make some brinner.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brunches, Lunches and Dinners

And now for the Christmas article from the Petaluma Post...

How do you celebrate Christmas?  I like to make my meals a bit more extravagant.  Thanksgiving is very traditional, but Christmas is time to play.  With family, in-laws and friends you are likely to be moving from house to house.  Maybe you are you are making dinner, maybe breakfast, or maybe just something to bring along.  But just because you are not making dinner does not mean it cannot be special.

I love brunch, anytime of the year, but with catering there are not a lot of Sundays off to enjoy it.  A relaxed Christmas morning is a perfect time for some great food.  Yes the kids are running around with toys and the house is full of guests, but with a little planning you can enjoy the morning too.  Your oven is your best friend. Ham is great hot or cold, travels well, and can be nibbled on all day long.

Cranberry Glazed Ham
9 lbs Ham, bone in, not spiral cup
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
1 Tbl dry mustard powder
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 Tbl ground clove

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the ham in a baking dish, fat side up, and score the ham to create a diamond pattern, cutting to about  ¼” depth.  Place the ham in the oven, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients to create the glaze, and spoon liberally over the ham.  Continue baking for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour.  If the glaze starts to get too dark, cover with foil.  Carve and enjoy.

How about bread pudding for breakfast?  We think of it as a dessert, but it really is just bread, milk and eggs, just like French toast.  But it keeps and travels much better than French toast.

Breakfast Bread Pudding
5 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar (or to your taste)
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups cubed bread
¼ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup pecans

Combine milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar, and whisk together.  Pour over bread chunks, and allow to sit for approximately 30 minutes to absorb.  Pour into a buttered 9x13 baking dish.  Crumble the butter and pecans together and sprinkle over the top.  Finally bake 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until set.  Serve warm.

A midday meal can be a great place to change up a few of the holiday favorites.  What about pie for lunch?

My mother-in-law makes a great French-Canadian meat pie, a Tourtière, which is a very simple sausage and mashed potato pie.  Which I would serve with something like a Butternut Gruyer Tart and Tender Greens with Craisins and Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

2 pies crusts (top and bottom)
1 lbs russet potatoes
2 Tbl milk
1 Tbl butter
4 oz ground sweet sausage
4 oz ground beef
1 small onion
1tsp ground sage
½ tsp thyme

Peel and boil the potatoes, then mash with butter and milk; set aside.  Brown the beef, pork and onion with the herbs, the crumble and add to mashed the potatoes.  Place the pie crust in deep 9” pie plate and fill with the potato/meat filling.  Top with second crust, and egg wash to seal.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Over the years my family has enjoyed doing a wide variety of things for Christmas dinner.  At last we have landed a favorite, fondue and hors d’oeuvres.  We don’t sit down for a meal, this way we can nibble and talk throughout the evening.  It also gives me a chance to play with some fun ideas.

Truffle Devil Eggs

12 eggs
3 Tbl mayonnaise
1 tsp djion mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1tsp truffle paste or oil

Boil and peel eggs.  I like to cut the eggs in half the short way, trimming the ends to make them stand (they look like a shot glass), just to update the presentation.  Combine the yolks, truffle and mustard in bowl or food processor, and mix until crumbly, then add  the mayonnaise 1tablespoon at a time until thick but pliable.  Finish with salt and pepper.  For an extra bit of extravagance top with Caviar.

If your family is traditional or contemporary add just a bit of extravagance to your holiday, and have a very merry holiday and a happy new year!

And, of course, if you would like some help with your holiday feast we have our special holiday menu as well as all our regulars available at

A Modern Thanksgiving!

Okay, I've been bad, I forgot to re-post my Petaluma Post articles for the past few months, so let's start with Thanksgiving!

During the month of November we all seem to eat a lot of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, yams…etc.  We get together with friends, with our clubs, and with family, with all the menus being a very slight variation on the turkey day theme.  But, do you really have to do the same menu over and over?  Have some fun with it!  Use the “same” ingredients but in different ways; make it a play on words; use something in a different way

Here are a few of my ideas:

Of course you must have Turkey…..wild turkey… Wild Turkey BOURBON!  And of course cranberries.  Make a cocktail.  A couple of year ago I created a “Happy Pilgrim”, which made our thanksgiving very happy!  It was inspired when I couldn’t find a cocktail that really paired well with Thanksgiving, and this one fits the bill very well.

Happy Pilgrim
 1 shot wild turkey bourbon
 1 shot ginger beer
 2 shots cranberry juice
 1/3 shot blood orange bitters
 Shake and serve over crushed ice
 Garnish with a fresh cranberry

An extra note on this one: When I selected Wild Turkey it was just for the turkey theme; I didn’t have the best impression of Wild Turkey, it just seemed like a lower shelf product, but it is actually quite good, and I’ve found it getting increased respect from craft bartenders.

Let’s go to yams, I’m not talking marshmallow or even maple syrup.  Let’s talk salad.  Thanksgiving is a very rich meal, so cut it with some healthy greens. Tell your family you’re bringing roasted yams and pecan pie!  Well maybe don’t tell them that, I know hubby would be disappointed with salad instead of pie!  But it’s still a great addition to the holiday feast.

Baby Arugula and Chèvre Salad with Yams Croutons and Candied Pecans
6 oz wild baby arugula
2 oz Chèvre
Candied Pecan (see recipe below)
Yam Croutons (see recipe below)
Sherry Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Just toss the arugula, chèvre and vinaigrette, and finish with the pecans and croutons.

Yam Croutons
1 large yam cut into ½” cubes
1 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper

Roast your yam croutons, turning often to allow to brown and crisp evenly (they’ll get brown and slightly crispy on the outside, but stay soft in the center).  While their baking make your vinaigrette by combining the sherry vinegar, olive oil, honey and S&P.  Allow crouton to cook 10 to15 minutes.  You can allow the croutons to cool or toss and serve immediately for a warm salad. 

Candied Pecans (aka Pralines)
¾ cup pecans
½ cup sugar
Water to cover

Place all in heavy bottomed pot and cover with water, and boil till small thick bubbles (10-12 minutes).  Drain and place on greased sheet pan, then bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until dark in color, stirring every 5 minutes.  NOTE: you only need about a third this volume for the salad recipe above, but hey, who doesn’t want extra pralines?

Sherry Vinaigrette
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup olive oil
 2 Tbl honey
 Salt and Pepper to taste
Blend well

As for stuffing, if you have read my articles in the past you know I love stuffing.  But change it up by bringing stuffed apples for dessert.

Baked Stuffed Apples
8 large, Granny Smith Apples
4 Tbs butter
8 Tbs brown Sugar
¼ cup chopped nuts (recommend pecans or walnuts)
½ tsp Cinnamon

Place the apples in baking dish, if they do not stand up easily trim bottoms to balance.
Cut off the top quarter of the apple, then using a melon baller, scoop out the core with the apples.  Combine all other ingredients, and mix till crumbly.  Pack into apple centers.
Bake at 350 degree for 15-20 minutes until the apples are knife tip tender. Serve with vanilla ice cream

What about your pumpkin pie, does pie have to be dessert? What about hand pies, like empanadas.  Do an hors d’oeuvre and start the meal with the usual ending.

Pumpkin Empanadas with Truffle and Parmesan
1 batch of your favorite pie dough - or purchased pie dough sheets
Pumpkin Empanadas

1 cup canned pumpkin
4 oz grated parmesan
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp white truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix pumpkin, parmesan and spices to for a thick paste; taste test, some pumpkin need more salt.  Using a round cutter, cut out 2½” circles from the pie dough, an place 1 tablespoon of filling in each circle.  Egg wash the edges, and seal with your fingers or a fork.  Chill for about 30 minutes (they freeze great if you would like to make them for the future).  When ready to bake, lay out on a cookie sheet, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with parmesan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.

Now let me think about mashed potatoes.  NO.  STOP.  My family will never forgive me if I mess with the mashed potatoes!