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.
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.
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? :)
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.
Chef Kedan likened the dish to a “gnocchi with goat cheese” which is normally made with ricotta instead.
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.
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.
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!
Isn’t it pretty?
The pasta gets boiled quickly and then mixed with the delicious mushroom sauce. Yum!
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.
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!
Chef Kedan spreads the herb mixture onto the lamb.
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.
The chefs and students in the kitchen were busy cutting all the lamb chops…
…and adding the fresh and vibrant Pequillo Vinaigrette onto all the dishes.
Here is Chef Kedan demonstrating the vinaigrette recipe for the class in the front.
And the students plating the lamb in the back.
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!
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!
Look at this giant pastry bag filled with whipped cream!
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 :).
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
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
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.