Sonoma Food Photographer | Chef Daniel Kedan of Backyard Restaurant and Ziggy the Wine Gal

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

This past month, I had the pleasure of photographing the August event hosted by Fresh Starts Chef Events, a project to support Homeward Bound of Marin, a homeless shelter in Marin County, California, providing food, shelter and job training for those in need. This month’s Marin County Cooking Class was an evening of delicious food and wine with Chef Daniel Kedan of Backyard Restaurant in Forestville, CA, and TV & Radio Personality, Ziggy the Wine Gal.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Chef Daniel Kedan opened up his restaurant, Backyard, with his wife, Chef Marianne Gardenhire in 2012 in the small Sonoma town of Forestville, CA. The couple believe in seasonal, sustainable cooking that is inspired by the freshness and bounty of Sonoma County. They call their food, “rustic, California cuisine created with Mediterranean flare, in a West Sonoma County fashion.” Chef Kedan has worked at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville, CA as well as Solage in Calistoga, The General’s Daughter in Sonoma and Peter Lowell’s in Sebastopol.

Neely Wang Napa Food Photographer

Ziggy the Wine Gal is a TV & Radio Personality with an expertise in wine pairing and wine knowledge. Also known as “The Contessa of Cocktails,” she is one of “America’s most enthusiastic, authoritative and entertaining libation experts.” She expertly paired each dish of the evening with a local wine and shared her rich wine knowledge with the crowd.

The dinner began with a Cheese Reception with David Bice of Redwood Hill Farm Goat Cheese. It was so good I forgot to take a picture of it — oops! We tasted a delicious Smoked Goat Cheddar, creamy Raw Goat Milk Feta and an Apple Butter-Crusted Redwood Hill Terra with Arugula & Gravenstein Apple Salad. Doesn’t that sound good? See why I forgot to take a picture? :)

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

The first course of the evening was a Redwood Hill Goat Cheese Cavatelli. It was made with smoked Maitake mushrooms, blistered sun gold tomatoes, grated egg (the secret ingredient) and shaved parmesan. The pasta was paired with a Via Giusti Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast 2012.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Chef Kedan likened the dish to a “gnocchi with goat cheese” which is normally made with ricotta instead. 

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

The pasta was handmade using a cavatelli machine, which you can buy at a cooking store. For some reason, it reminded me of one of those metal pencil sharpeners we had at school.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

I’ve never made homemade pasta on my own before, but I remember my mom having a pasta machine when I was little. I would help her crank out the dough, making it thinner and thinner.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Chef Kedan emphasized that homemade pasta is super easy to make and only takes about 15 minutes. There are some things I rarely make by hand, simply because I’m too lazy: bread, ice cream and pasta. But 15 minutes for pasta? Maybe I’ll have to try it one of these days!

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

Isn’t it pretty?

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

The pasta gets boiled quickly and then mixed with the delicious mushroom sauce. Yum!

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

The main course of the evening was a Roasted Rack of Lamb. This lamb was served with a grilled vegetable ratatouille and finished with a zesty Pequillo Vinaigrette. It was paired with Joseph Swan Vineyard Syrah, Russian Rivery Valley 2008.

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

Ratatouille is commonly made with eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. However, roasting these vegetables in the oven with lamb fat takes them to the next level!

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Chef Kedan spreads the herb mixture onto the lamb.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Chef Kedan shared that lamb is currently at its best now as it’s tender after eating grasses from the winter. He also added that it’s best to sear the lamb first, and then finish it in the oven.

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

The chefs and students in the kitchen were busy cutting all the lamb chops…

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

…and adding the fresh and vibrant Pequillo Vinaigrette onto all the dishes.

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

Here is Chef Kedan demonstrating the vinaigrette recipe for the class in the front.

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

And the students plating the lamb in the back.

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

It’s interesting to see how the lamb looks when the students prepare it (above) and when the guest chef prepares it (below). Both look delicious!

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

The evening ended with the most decadent, creamy and rich Chocolate Budino with Salted Caramel Cream, which was paired with Joseph Swan Vineyards Zinfandel, Russian River Balley 2011. I had no idea what a budino was, so I had to look it up. It’s a sweet Italian dish, usually rich and creamy like a custard or pudding. Chef Kedan said it’s between a mousse and a pudding-poured custard. Well, whatever it is, it was good!

Neely Wang Sonoma Food Photographer

Look at this giant pastry bag filled with whipped cream!

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

I love how the chefs are smiling and having so much fun in this picture! It’s not all stress and nerves back there in the kitchen :).  

Neely Wang Marin Food Photographer

Check back next month to Greet the Fall with Chefs Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze of the Girl and the Fig!

In the meantime, enjoy this fantastic dessert recipe from Chef Kedan. Apparently, this recipe is rarely given out, so we’re incredibly lucky to have it!

Chocolate Budino with Salted Caramel Cream 

Yield 8-10 servings

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
12 oz chocolate (72% cacao), chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
chocolate pearls or morsels

Directions:
1. Place cream in a pot and scrape the vanilla bean into it.
2. Whisk the sugar and eggs together in a bowl. Add to the cream.
3. Stir in corn syrup and water. Cook while stirring on medium-high until it starts to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon.
4. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and butter. Blend with a hand blender or whisk until silky smooth and all chocolate has been incorporated.
5. Pour into serving jars or other vessels and chill for 2 hours.
6. To serve, top with salted caramel and whipped cream. Scatter with a few chocolate pearls or other chocolate morsels.


8 comments

  1. I’ve always been curious about making roasted rack of lamb, but have never been adventurous enough to attempt it. On other hand, I will definitely try that budino! Can’t tell how excited I am that that was the recipe included with this post! :)

    • Hi Jill, I’ve roasted the little lamb loin chops before, but never a whole rack. It would be an adventure for me as well! And the budino was out of this world! What do you mean you’re glad I included the dessert? I guess I’ve been sharing too many salad recipes lately – ha! :)

    • Thank you, Randall — it’s always so kind of you to stop by and comment on these posts :). And I agree, the food looks like art — colors, composition, texture — beautifully delicious!


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