Chefs, Cooking

New to the Menu: Chef’s Notes

SHED’s culinary director Miles Thompson satisfies staff curiosity about new menu items by regularly writing up the ingredients and methods he uses when offering new dishes. This recent post, sent around for a May 16, 2015, kitchen refresh, is so thoughtful and explanatory that we considered it shame to keep it just for ourselves. Here, then, are his notes.
Roasted German Butterball Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary – $8
Baby or Size ‘C’ German Butterball potatoes are cut and boiled in salted water to the point that they just begin to break down and collapse at their corners.  They are then removed from the pot, drained and tossed aggressively with roasted garlic oil and raw rosemary needles to slightly crush and ‘rough up’ the potatoes, causing them to have a matted, starchy appearance.  They are then laid out on a sheet tray and chilled overnight to set/gelatinize the starch that we activated by tossing them around.  The next day they are tossed with roasted garlic oil and roasted in the 700-degree wood oven until crispy before being placed in a Cafe au Lait bowl and served.
Chilled Soup of Young Root Vegetables, Strawberries and Early Season Summer Squash – $8
This soup is a rather involved process.  Large white turnips are roasted in a foil package with butter, Banyuls vinegar, salt, and cloves until just tender, and then cooled in the packages. The cloves are removed and the cooking liquid is strained and saved. The turnips are shredded and cooked in vegetable stock made with Kombu Dahsi (instead of filtered water) long with shredded Kohlrabi until tender. While this is cooking, red Tropea spring onions are blanched and chopped before being added to the pot. Once everything is together in the pot, it is all pureed with salt and filtered through a cheesecloth. Once filtered, this ‘Turnip Broth’ is pureed with roasted carrots and Kombu Dashi before being strained twice. The dish is composed by laying seven pieces of trimmed Albion strawberries into a bowl with five diamonds of Costata di Romanesco summer squash (marinated in and roasted with lemon balm, Aleppo pepper, pink peppercorns, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and flamed sake), the soup is poured over this composition and then garnished with finely cracked, toasted black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, fried wild rice, and bronze fennel fronds.
Tete de Cochon with Green Strawberries, Szechuan Chili Oil and Salted Plum Vinegar – $10
‘Tete de Cochon’ translates to ‘pig’s head.’ We have brined the pig’s head with water, maple syrup, honey, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, black peppercorns, nutmeg, coriander seeds, and chili flakes for two days prior to braising it in water, white wine, thyme, black peppercorns, and mirepoix.  The head is cooled in the liquid prior to being picked into muscle groups, which are then diced into cubes before being set in the reduced cooking liquid fortified with gelatin.  It is then pressed overnight and allowed to set up into a sliceable terrine.  The dish is composed by laying the pressed pig’s head terrine onto Greek yogurt smoked over hickory wood.  The terrine is seasoned with Szechuan chili oil (neutral oil that is heated and poured over Szechuan peppercorns, chili flakes, shallots, and scallions before bring aged for three days then strained), green garlic mustard (raw green garlic and spring onions, golden Balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt), and cracked black pepper. A raw green strawberry is scattered over the seasoned terrine and the dish is finished with red frill mustard that is dressed in a vinaigrette made of salted plum vinegar, hazelnut oil, and pomegranate molasses.
Yellow Curry Braised Chicken Leg with Udon and Soured Mustards – $16
An organic chicken leg (leg and thigh combination) is marinated overnight with a puree of cilantro, Chile de Arbol, lime juice, palm sugar, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, chile flakes, and fish sauce before being rinsed and braised in a Burmese-style curry consisting of a house-made yellow curry paste (cilantro, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, coriander, Chile de Arbol, palm sugar, shrimp paste), fish sauce, chicken stock, and coconut milk.  The leg is reheated in the braise in the oven before being set on top of Udon noodles that have been heated and dressed with a shrimp vinaigrette (palm sugar, shrimp vinegar, ponzu, lime juice, and fish sauce) and garnished with shaved red onions, cilantro leaves, candied grapefruit zest, chile flakes, and fermented Komatsuna (a mustard green).
Spaetzle with Morel Mushrooms, Spring Vegetables and Green Garlic Cream – $18
Our spaetzle refers to a German dumpling that is made by vigorously beating all-purpose flour with whey, eggs, salt, and nutmeg until bubbly before pressing through a perforated pan into boiling water to form small, abstract dumplings. The dumplings are cooked until they just float and then are removed to a large vessel of water to cool before being drained and tossed with a spring garlic cream (heavy cream gently cooked with spring onions, spring garlic, and black pepper before being blended with shredded Gruyere), a morel ragout (morels cooked with spring onions, spring garlic, butter, salt, black pepper, whey, marjoram, thyme, and parlsey), fava beans, peas, and asparagus before being topped with Gruyere cheese and shaved spring onion tops and baked in the wood oven to a delicious bubble.  The spaetzle is served with a small salad of pea tendrils and red frill mustard dressed with Meyer lemon vinaigrette (Meyer lemon juice, salt, sugar, diced shallot, and blended oil).
Our cafe embraces summer with longer hours. We’re now open until 9pm each night through the season. Come in soon and try some of Miles’ new creations!

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Modern Grange

Wrap Up: Fermentation Workshop + Dinner

Our fermentation chef/experts.

The art of fermentation evolved from the need to preserve food far beyond what was possible before the advent of refrigerators or ice boxes. Now that we have the luxuries of the kitchen fairly sorted out, we nonetheless continue to ferment and preserve. Why? Because it’s delicious, fascinating, and because our ability to understand the teeming world of tiny organisms that fix our food has never been more accessible. (more…)

Artisan Producers, Chefs, Cooking, Modern Grange

Cooks with Books: Chef-Authors at SHED

Autumn is when the leaves certainly rustle in the book business! This year's crop of cookbooks by esteemed chefs may be the best harvest we've yet seen. We're fortunate to have a wonderful slate of new books by esteemed author-chefs filling our calendar for the coming months.

There are, of course, celebrity chefs. And then there are celebrity chefs — those whose renown has been earned at the stove, not on TV; whose cooking has actually changed American palates and habits; who have made a true and lasting impact on their communities.

So while the chefs we're looking forward to hosting this season may never have had to make a meal on a sound stage wearing a cojoined apron that helplessly ties them to another cook (as Top Chef memorably did to its contestants in 2010) or wrangle a Spam challenge (2013) — they have earned a celebrated spot in our food culture.

On Thursday, Oct. 16, join us for an aperitif and nibbles with Jean-Pierre and Denise Moullé, whose new title is French Roots: Two Cooks, Two Countries, and the Beautiful Food along the Way (Ten Speed Press; $35). Jean-Pierre cooked at Chez Panisse from 1975 until his retirement in 2012. Along the way, he and Denise — both French, they met on a Berkeley street corner and were soon married — divided their lives between Northern California (they still keep a house here in Healdsburg) and their native Bourdeaux. 

French Roots tells their story interwoven with recipes both simple and complex. Jean-Pierre can happily spend hours in the kitchen; Denise's style is more straightforward. Both rely on the simplicity of excellent ingredients.

They join us for a very traditional French moment, the aperitif, which Denise describes as that moment when we allow "the day to fall away" and prepare for the evening to come. We'll serve Sonoma Aperitif, locally made from area fruit, as well as traditional foods (gougeres, rilletes, salmon tartare, and more) made from the recipes collected in the French Roots cookbook, and raise a toast with Jean-Pierre's own Vin d'Orange Champagne. It promises to be a relaxed, sophisticated evening with plenty of good stories and fun!

Tickets are just $20 and will go fast. 5:30pm.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, we'll share news of what Petalumans have known about for years: Kathleen Weber's insanely delicious and thoroughly addictive breads and other baked goods. Her Della Fattoria bakery on the Boulevard simply boasts the best grilled cheese sandwich in the North Bay and her secrets are no longer closely kept. With her new title, Della Fattoria Bread: 63 Foolproof Recipes for Yeasted, Enriched & Naturally Leavened Breads (Artisan; $29.95), Kathleen takes bakers step-by-step from the most basic to more advanced breads, offering insight into her own experiences as well as hard-won advice gleaned from decades of coaxing yeast and flour and water to make miracles. Kathleen appears from Oct. 25 from 11:30am to 1:30pm to sign copies of her book and answer your questions. Free!

On Saturday, Nov. 1, we ramp it up considerably with an unusual night honoring James Beard Who's-Who inductee Charles Phan. His Slanted Door restuarant was also just awarded a James Beard Outstanding Restaurant laurel as well. This man is the real deal.

Charles travels north to SHED in support of his first cookbook, The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food (Ten Speed Press; $40) and comes to us for something of a gala night.

We begin outside with specialty cocktails and appetizers known to Slanted Door fans, move upstairs to the Grange for a communal meal with more Slanted Door food — this time paired with wines — and then return downstairs to the coffee bar for a dessert buffet, after-dinner drinks, and hot beverages for those who'd like them. While we dine, Charles will be in conversation with our own Lora Zarubin about his career and cooking. This promises to be an intimate, fun, delicious evening with one of the country's most talented chefs. We're pretty wowed about it ourselves!

Tickets are $175, all-inclusive. We know it's pricey; we know it's worth it. We hope you'll join us. 6pm.

On Monday, Nov. 10, help us to welcome Gabrielle Hamilton, owner of New York City's acclaimed Prune restaurant and author of its new eponymous cookbook, for a sit-down luncheon and far-ranging conversation. 

One of only two chefs to have won James Beard Awards for both cooking and writing, Gabrielle's previous book was the much beloved Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. The recipient of an MFA in creative writing from University of Michigan, Gabrielle is a home cook turned profession whose newest cookbook, Prune (Random House; $45) is a clever take on the back-of-the-house binders actually used in restaurant kitchens. 

As she does for her own chefs, Gabrielle lays out exact specifications for the dishes in Prune, including notice of when you've taken a prep too far, things to watch for, and other homilies that help to make the food you like in restaurants a reality at home.

We're hosting Gabrielle to a luncheon featuring her recipes and including a wine pairing. Ticket-holders also get a copy of the book for with admission. $95 per person; $145 for a couple, all-inclusive. Join us on Nov. 10 at 12:30pm!


Artisan Producers, Chefs, Modern Grange

Seduced by Soba

Editors Note: This guest post by Sonoko Sakai is reprinted by author permission. It originally ran on

Coming through LAX recently, I got stuck in customs because of the food I was bringing home. I declared it, but the authorities wanted to take a look. “What’s in that box?” the agriculture inspector asked me. “It’s flour,” I answered.