Archive for the 'Vegetarian Dinners' Category

Valentine Day at the WineBistro, Monday, February 14

Join us to celebrate Valentine Day and receive a complimentary Jessica Foster Classic Truffle. Jessica makes these incredible truffles which simply melt in your mouth and broadcast those delicious chocolate flavors. Not to be missed!!

Rose Shopping for Seeds

When I began seed shopping, I thought of what sorts of veggies would be fun to cook with. I have had stuffed round summer squash before and thought I’d plant that. Round Zucchini have been popular in Europe for years.

The Italians have their dark green Tondo di Piacenza, the French have the light green speckled Ronde de Nice, the Dutch have the “Roly Poly” (a loose translation from Burpee’s marketers) and the British have their single serve striped marrow, Tender and True. There is even Chinese produced seed of an almost white round zucchini.

The common thread is that these zucchini are actually rather nice; solid, nutty, sweet with a low water content so they keep the round shape when cooked. They are extremely early producers and are prolific if you keep harvesting the fruit. I grow a blend of round and near round types that were marketed to chefs and hand collected by a group of seed savers on the East Coast.

The colors range from yellow and silver to dark green and bicolors, all meant to be used in the baby (2-3″) stage. They are so cute! The main ingredient in stuffed zucchini is the insides scooped out and mixed with ricotta cheese and herbs. Some people use meat. I prefer my veggies to be all veggie.

I found a vegan recipe online: Vegan Rice Stuffed Zucchini.

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 large zucchini OR two to three small round zucchinis
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
8-10 basil leaves, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 shredded vegan mozzarella

Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium sized pot. Add basmatic rice and let cook for about 45 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Do not cut zucchini in half. Core out the center of the zucchini, leaving a nice cylindrical shell. Take zucchini center that you cored out and chop up.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet saute garlic and onion for about 4-5 minutes. Add basil and saute another minute or two. Add tomato, zucchini, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook until zucchini becomes soft. Mix cooked rice and cheese with zucchini mixture and spoon into zucchini cylinder.

Place in a glass baking dish and put into the oven. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Rose Moadian for the Bistro & Wine Bar

Squash Blossoms

Rose Moradian on Squash Blossoms
Squash blossoms are an old fashioned delicacy. Because they are delicate and perish quickly,you won’t find them in many grocery stores. Farmers will bring some to the market for their elderly customers who remember back in the day. In America, such delicate blooms would be ruined in transit. Luckily for us, we grow squash and I will be bring Squash Blossoms to the Bistro.

Any kind of squash, summer or winter, sets blossoms before they fruit. Bees love this! I counted 8 bees in one blossom the other day having some kind of pollen party. Squash blossoms are thick and sweet like no other sweet. Many people stuff them with Ricotta cheese and herbs fresh from the garden, eaten uncooked as an appetizer. This is a beautiful display. Squash Blossom Omelets are pretty common in Spain. They are great in quesadillas. Some people stir fry them.

Some people float them on top of cream of squash soup. Many people get creative. Picking squash blossoms help curb the abundance of summer squash. Pick only the male blossoms, which are on a longer stem and are a smaller bloom. Female squash will actually have a tiny lump of a fruit at the end of the blossom. By picking off some of the males, you ensure less reproduction of the plant by the bees pollinating them. Which is good if you’ve planted too many plants.

Cross pollination happens in the field and often you will find strangely beautiful zucchini like yellow with dark green stripes. If you like what you see, let the squash grow big and save the seeds for next year! Here is a recipe for Squash Blossom Quesadillas I found on the web.
In fact this web blog has some very exciting recipes and beautiful images:
For 1 quesadilla (but I know you’ll want to make more than 1), you’ll need:

1 large flour tortilla
3 or so squash blossoms
1 tblsp cottage cheese, or queso fresco, or any soft white cheese
A few sprinkles of cheddar cheese
1 tblsp salsa

In a saute pan on medium heat, brown tortilla and then flip. On one half of the tortilla, add squash blossoms (I like to leave the petals facing outside.), a spoonful of cottage cheese, or queso fresco, or any white cheese, and a scoop of salsa. Fold the other half of the tortilla over to seal in the heat.

Beet News from the Bistro Organic Garden

Rose Moradian Rhapsodizes on the Virtues of the Beet

Have you ever wondered about how to prepare beets? Many people have asked me this question when I sold produce at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market.
Generally, the easiest way is to boil them, throw away the tops and smother them in some fatty sauce. Or buy them canned. They make an interesting addition to the plate. But my answer is NOT to boil them, not to buy them canned but get then FRESH from the ground, as I did today!

I love beets wholeheartedly and adore the greens! Fresh beets have a great amount of folate (folic acid) and potassium, and have a distinctive flavor and a crisp texture not found in canned beets. Fresh beets also supply a nutritional bonus; their green tops are an excellent source of beta-carotene, calcium, and iron and fiber.

The Chiogga variety is my favorite beet. There are many heirloom varieties, that is, pre-1840, but Chiogga is the most pronounced as it is white and red striped inside! I love these because they are a multiple use plant as you can harvest greens for many weeks before harvesting the roots. They mature in about 60 days for the roots, but you can harvest greens as soon as 30 days.

I love my beets as baby beets and pull them out just as the top of the flesh starts to show from above the soil line. At this point they are easily cleaned, sliced and sauteed with olive oil and red vinegar, with the tops cleaned and chopped thrown in at the end. The tops taste something like spinach, with a bit of astringency. My recipe is very quick and easily done, saving the nutrients from over cooking and appropriate for the early summer, when beets are small anyhow.

As beets can grow to be huge and used for cattle feed instead of gourmet yumminess, I suggest you use beets no larger than the palm of your hand. Here are few Rose Approved Recipes from the internet for beets from Jamaigo and Fromatoz.
and many more recipes from the Vegetable Heroine; Alice Waters!
Some recipes call for scrubbing clean the beets, removing the top and roasting them in a dutch over or cast iron pan with other in season vegetables, but that depends on the season. This photo montage is from todays harvest, using baby Chiogga beets, the tops, broccoli and peas, all from the Organic Garden at the Lafond Vineyard! Please join us!

Summer and Winter Squash Sibling Rivalry

In terms of vegetable growing, much emphasis is made on the number of days needed to produce. Many of the same vegetables need different times to produce. Thus, “Early” tomatoes, “Baby” beets, etc. In terms of squash, Summer and Winter squash need to be planted around the same time. What are some winter squashes, you may ask. Pumpkins, Kabocha, Hubbard, Spaghetti, Butternut, Acorn and Buttercup squash are some, to name just a few.

Here is a link to good visual website for more. Some winter squash are blue, like the Hubbard. “Kaikai” is another, known for its striped outer hull and delicious black seeds, full of healthy oils and vitamins! I’m growing most all of these at the Lafond Vineyard for the Bistro. Winter squash needs 100+ days to bear a full size fruit. Summer squash, like Zucchini, Crookneck and Patty Pan squash, to name a few, need only 50+ days to produce.

But they have to be planted at nearly the same time. Summer squash we all know to pick before they grow too large. With Winter squash, you just leave the fruit on and when mature, stop watering and let the vine die. Its a very beautiful sight. But you have to slowly roll the Winter squash around weekly as it ripens so it will be round and evenly colored, or you’ll end up with bumpy and flat fruit. The skins of Winter squash are typically thick and the inside somewhat hollow, allowing for good storage.

After the vine dies and the squash is out in the field, the sugars are mellowing out and becoming that wonderful flavor we recognize in Pumpkin Pies or Butternut soup. The squash can be stored either outdoors or indoors, just perfect timing for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. They can be kept for up to a year in dry storage because of their thick skins. In Asian counties, Winter squash is the norm for most villages. Pumpkins are picked young and made into delicious curries.

Elephants rampage patches because they love them so. “Buttercup” Winter Squash is a favorite because of its small size and cup like shape, they are easy to stuff. “Kabocha” is a wonderful squash for making into a soup because of its dry texture. “Butternut” is great baked and then roasted with Sweet Bell Peppers and Hazelnuts. There is nothing like the smell and flavor of Winter Squash to make the winter time blues feel warm and wonderful! So go and get your Winter Squash in while you still have room to grow them, as most are large vining plants. You can always move those vines around before the fruit gets big.

Plant tall vegetables, like Peppers between them, to maximize your space. Another note on Winter Squash; some have “warts”, lots of them. It turns out, in a Winter Squash, this is a good thing and can represent the sugar content. So don’t be afraid of the warty squash, its probably very sweet inside, a good parallel for life. I think. Read whatever information you can on your Winter Squash to help plan your garden space.

Barbara of Wind Rose Farms and Noe of Yes Yes Nursery, across from each other at the Saturday Farmers market in SB can answer many of your questions and have plants for sale. Plant your Pumpkins now for Halloween time! Although they do not show off in the summer, Winter Squash will be the star of the kitchen long after the Zucchinis have gone south for the winter. Here is a link to a recipe for Winter Squash Curry and another for stuffed acorn squash with turkey.

Roasted Portabello Ravioli

Executive Chef Josh Keating’s Portabello Ravioli
Recipe is from our Vegetarian Wine Pairing Dinner April 22, 2008

Roasted Portabello Ravioli with Tahitian Vanilla Creme Sauce
paired with Santa Barbara Winery Reserve Chardonnay

Portabello Ravioli — recommend using fresh ravioli

Tahitian Vanilla Creme Sauce
3 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
1 1/2 tb spoon olive oil
1 cup Pierre Lafond Chardonnay
1 cup of cream
1 stem Tahitian Vanilla
1 stick of butter (chilled and cut into small pieces)
fresh parsley for garnish
salt pepper

1. sautee garlic and shallot in olive oil
2. add lemon juice
3. add 1 cup of wine – reduce down to almost nothing
4. add cream
5. add vanilla stem – cut length wise – scrap seeds into cream – drop in the pod as well.
6. reduce sauce to 1/2
7 slowly fold in the butter piece by piece with a wisk
8 salt and pepper to tast
9. strain and remove pod

Cook Raviolis – pour sauce over raviolis

At our dinner each serving was plated individually -

Tahitian vanilla is available at Pierre Lafond Market in Montecito

Vegetarian Food and Wine Pairing

Vegetarian Food and Wine Pairing April 22, 2008. Executive Chef Josh Keating and Assistant Winemaker at Santa Barbara Winery Ryan Ralston have created some unusual and interesting combinations.

Vegetarian Wine Pairing Dinner

In celebration of Earth Day the Pierre Lafond Bistro held its 1st Annual Vegetarian Wine Pairing Dinner last night. Executive Chef Josh Keating created an elegant six course menu for which Assistant Winemaker Ryan Ralston matched the appropriate Santa Barbara Winery wine. The theme of the evening seemed to be balancing out the elements – wines to counterbalance and complement the food, candles and floral arrangements to balance the open kitchen and big windows’ modern feel, and discussions from both Josh and Ryan about the pairing between each course.

Establishing a solid relationship between the Bistro and Lafond and Santa Barbara Wineries is one of the many goals of continuing to put together these pairing dinners. We have the unique opportunity to craft both the food and the wine menus to really play off of each other. Having the winemakers play such a large role in menu creation is great because they know these wines inside and out. Josh can explain all of the elements of the food and how he created these dishes, while the winemakers discuss all of the elements of the wine from pH to sugar levels to desired flavor profiles.

At the winery we have the ability to give customers personal attention as we explain the wines and history of the grapes. It is rare that this type of environment can be transferred to a restaurant setting. Last night both Josh and Ryan were available to answer questions as they individually talked about each course. Also, Chris and I, who both work in the tasting room, poured the wines at each table. The idea was to create an elegant dining experience amidst approachable staff where everybody would feel comfortable, relaxed, and have any questions taken care of.

The ball got rolling with a fresh Spinach and Watercress Salad paired with the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. The zesty simplicity of the greens called for a light white wine with similar characterstics. Josh and Ryan introduced themselves to the attendees. Also on hand to speak and answer questions between each course was production assistant Cameron Bendetsen, who provided entertaining stories about the histories of the grapes. Sauvignon Blanc’s natural acidity is the perfect match for a light starter salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

Moving onto the second course, which Ryan claimed was the most obvious pairing, the Bistro served up a crispy Asian Risotto Wonton alongside the 2007 1.7% Residual Sugar Riesling. The idea of the pairing choice behind this dish was counterbalancing the off dry sweetness of the wine and the spicy kick of the wonton. The Riesling is probably the most acidic wine made at the winery and for this reason it is a fantastic food wine with the ability to cut through certain flavors, cleansing the palate between each bite. Sweetness and acidity go hand in hand as they play off of each other creating a balanced wine.

Complementing elements that go hand in hand is another way to match food and wine, and it was with this idea in mind that the next course was put together. Roasted Portabello Ravioli with a creamy vanilla sauce came out with the 2006 Reserve Chardonnay. This Chardonnay is 100% aged in oak barrels and goes through malolactic fermentation, so it is definitely a California style Chardonnay in terms of oaky butteriness. What makes this wine so great is that while it is oaky, that element is balanced by the intense fruit that is also present.

While this was the toughest pairing to come up with once they figured it out it was a moment of “Aha! Of course!” The vanilla essence in the sauce exquisitely complemented the toasty vanilla spice from the oak in the Chardonnay. Here the effort was not to counterbalance, but rather to emphasize and bring out elements that go hand in hand.

As we move into the red wines, a note on the 2007 harvest in terms of white wines. Ryan modestly credits our vineyard’s location in the Santa Rita Hills with providing such amazing fruit to make these white wines. A “seamless harvest” provided fruit with correct sugars, correct acids, and correct flavors. According to Ryan, who says these are some of the best white wines he has ever made, when the grapes came in he said, “I’m just going to put it in the press and walk away.”

Course number four was all about decadence in both the dish and the wine. The 2005 Primitivo was paired with a Blackberry Pomegranate Goat Cheese and Walnut Terrine served in a puff pastry. Primitivo is a grape with a fascinating story, which Cameron shared with everybody. Primitivo is genetically identical to the Zinfandel grape. With origins in Croatia, clones were brought over to the Puglia region in Italy while Zinfandel was brought over to California.

As Cameron so cleverly notes they are like fraternal twins separated at birth – basically nature versus nurture has, over time, created two distinct varietals. Primitivo’s explosive red fruit, low acidity, and essence of sweetness paired with the fruit forwardness of the dish. Primitivo can be overpowering if the food cannot stand up to the wine, but here the flavors really work together.

The entree course of the meal was Eggplant Canaloni stuffed with organic spinach and caramelized onions topped with a sprinkle of Feta cheese and a Sangiovese reduction sauce. This dish currently appears on the Bistro’s dinner menu. The idea in choosing the 2005 Sangiovese to go with this dish was its high acidity (especially next to the Primitivo) and that it would not overpower the main course. Sangiovese’s high acidity makes its versatility hard to match in terms of our red wines. It is the dominant grape in Tuscan Chianti, which Italians can drink with almost any meal. Beautifully prepared, the vibrancy of the vegetables of the season stand out.

Because nobody can resist the Bistro’s signature Wine Cake, everybody still managed to have room for the dessert course. It is difficult to pair a dessert wine with some as sweet as cake because it can be too over the top. The cake’s dense richness from the sherry and its glaze really have the ability to stand on their own. Ryan came up with a way to pair the 2000 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc with this course by cutting the wine’s sweetness with club soda and making it a refreshing spritzer. A fantastic end to a long meal as Ryan demonstrated how this could be done at home.

Keep your eye out for more of these pairing dinners and the integration of the Bistro and the wineries. Thank you to the Community Environmental Council for joining us.

Joanie Hudson, Assistant Tasting Room Manager