With the 'Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook,' transform seasonal ingredients of Wine Country into pantry essentials

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Young chefs these days are getting hip to old-school techniques of food preservation, producing a tasty array of pickled veggies, exotic spice blends and dried powders to bump up the flavors of their food.

In his award-winning “Stone Edge Farm Cookbook” published in 2013, Culinary Director John McReynolds of Sonoma’s Stone Edge Farm shared a handful of larder recipes for Mediterranean staples such as preserved lemons and quince paste.

With the help of two other chefs, however, McReynolds recently expanded on his repertoire in a new cookbook, “Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook” (2019, Rizzoli New York.)

The book will hit shelves on March 12, just in time for the much-anticipated bounty of early spring, which includes spring onions, green garlic and other tender veggies from the North Bay’s farms.

“The larder, fermentation and food preservation is pretty timely in food now,” McReynolds said in a phone interview. “Right now we’re going into the spring and harvesting the fennel flowers and doing the fennel pollen.”

The cookbook shows how to transform the seasonal ingredients of Wine Country into larder essentials, then use them as inspiration for all kinds of flavorful food throughout the year, from a vibrant Spring Herb and Lettuce Soup to a dish of Warm Olives with Preserved Lemon.

The Stone Edge Farm and its estate vineyards, located 3 miles west of Sonoma, opened Edge restaurant five years ago in downtown Sonoma, just across the street from Cafe LaHaye, where McReynolds first rose to Wine Country fame for his California-French cuisine.

“That’s where I spend all my time now,” McReynolds said of his perch at Edge. “It’s become the culinary heart and soul of Stone Edge Farm.”

Edge showcases the farm’s produce, olive oil and Bordeaux-style wines. It is open mostly for wine club members but welcomes the public on Thursday nights to dine at the Victorian home framed by Sevillano olive trees.

Over the years, McReynolds’ larder at Edge has grown like a beanstalk, the floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with the lacto-fermented foods of Peruvian-born Fiorella Butron, who serves as the chef at Edge, as well as the preserves of Chez Panisse alumnus Mike Emanuel, who works as estate chef at Stone Edge Farm.

“It just evolved and kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” McReynolds said of the pantry. “And it became more and more important to our daily cooking, whether it’s lacto-fermenting or drying or pickling.”

In addition to providing recipes for conservas and infused oils, the three chefs demonstrate how to use these larder items in a wide spectrum of cocktails, appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts.

“We have a restaurant, and we want to promote it,” McReynolds said of the impetus behind the book. “We’re growing, and we’re in a different place now.”

Stone Edge Farm, its Estate Vineyards and Winery and the restaurant are all owned by Mac McQuown, who grew up on a farm in the Midwest and founded several entrepreneurial businesses in the financial services sector before returning to his agricultural roots.

The book is more compact than McReynold’s first, which was a self-published, coffee-table tome that stretched to 370 pages. In 2014, it was named Book of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).

Boasting the same design team as the first book, “Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook” is a bit more portable but still offers the same luscious look and feel, with striking photographs accompanying 80 recipes for some of the chefs’ favorite dishes, from McReynolds’ Charred Padron Peppers with Goat Cheese to Butron’s Grilled New York Steak with Chimichurri.

If you only make five larder recipes in the book, McReynolds’ must-haves include the Preserved Lemons, Tomato Conserva, Fermented Red Pepper Paste, Fennel Pollen and Black Garlic.

“For the black garlic, you are slow cooking heads of garlic in a rice cooker ... and cooking them for several weeks,” he said. “It’s caramelizing the natural sugars through heat.”

The cookbook gets underway in winter with Northern California’s sweet and sour citrus crop, then continues through the savory herbs and garlic of spring, the juicy tomatoes and peppers of summer and the fruity olives and grapes of fall.

While McReynolds wrote the book’s narrative, the other two chefs wrote their own recipe notes. Stone Edge Farm gardener Colby Eierman contributed garden essays sprinkled throughout the book like seeds in a field.

“It’s three cooks and a gardener,” McReynolds said. “It’s fun to have a collaboration.”

At the restaurant, the 68-year-old McReynolds oversees the culinary team, does the ordering and bakes bread every morning — grinding his own flour, then making flatbread or a whole-grain rye bread. He’s gotten hooked on making his own charcuterie as well.

“You can do everything — that’s our motto” he said. “If we can grow it ourselves, we’ll grow it. And if we can make it ourselves, we’ll do it … we never stop learning here.”

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“The inspiration for this salad comes from Morocco, a land of citrus and spices,” McReynolds writes. “In this simple recipe, we flavor orange slices with orange juice, fragrant orange blossom water, cinnamon and mint.”

Moroccan Orange Salad

Makes 4 servings

6 navel, Cara Cara and blood oranges (a mixture)

2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)

½ teaspoon orange blossom water, or 1 teaspoon if not using liqueur

4 dates, pitted and slivered

3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

— Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

6 fresh mint leaves, preferably spearmint, torn into small pieces

Juice 1 orange. In a small bowl, stir together the orange juice, liqueur (if using), and orange blossom water.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut 1/2-inch off the top and bottom of each of the remaining 5 oranges to expose the flesh. Stand an orange upright and cut downward, following the contour of the fruit and slicing off the peel and all the pith in wide strips. Cut the orange crosswise into slices 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining oranges. Arrange the slices on a serving platter, drizzle them with the flavored juice and set aside to macerate for 10 minutes.

Arrange the dates and almonds over the orange slices, then top with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, garnish with the mint, and serve.

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“Although Sonoma’s gentle climate encourages tender greens and herbs in the garden year-round, it’s the fleeting months of spring, when the wet earth starts to warm, that give us the ideal ingredients (for this soup),” writes Emanuel. “The recipe adapts really well to a variety of garnishes, such as crisp, buttery croutons, freshly picked Dungeness crab, or a generous dollop of caviar floating atop a small pool of crème fraiche.”

Spring Herb and Lettuce Soup

Makes 6 servings

3 large spring onions, or 1 yellow onion

2 large green garlic stalks, or 2 cloves garlic

1 medium leek

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

— Artisanal sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small russet potato, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise

4 cups vegetable stock or water

½ pound mixed tender greens and lettuces, such as spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, young mustard greens, romaine and other mild lettuces

2 handfuls mixed fresh tender herb leaves, such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, tarragon, basil, chervil and celery, large stems removed

— A few gratings of nutmeg

— Fresh lemon juice for seasoning

— Herb oil (see recipe below) or your best extra-virgin olive oil for garnish

— Edible flowers and tender herb leaves for garnish

Trim the tops from the spring alliums (spring onions, green garlic and leek) at the point where light green gives way to dark. Split all the stalks in half lengthwise, removing the tough outer layers from each as you go. Rinse the stalks thoroughly in cold water, splaying the layers open as you rinse to dislodge any hidden dirt. Thinly slice the cleaned alliums. If using the yellow onion and garlic cloves, peel and slice them and combine with the leeks.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the alliums, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring often to prevent browning, until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the potato and stock, bring to a simmer, add another pinch of salt, and cook, uncovered, until the potato slices are very tender, about 10 minutes.

While the soup base is cooking, fill a large bowl half full with ice and nest a medium bowl in the ice. Have ready an immersion blender. Having the ice bath and blender ready to go will ensure that you can chill down the soup rapidly, the key to locking its bright color and flavor.

When the potato slices are tender, raise the heat to medium-high and load all the greens and herbs into the pan, stirring as they wilt into the liquid and the liquid returns to a simmer.

Remove the pan from the heat, carefully pour the contents into the bowl nested in ice, and process with immersion blender until smooth, then stir until chilled. Grate a very small amount of nutmeg into the chilled soup and season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

The soup is delicious served chilled, but if you prefer to serve it hot, wait until the last minute, then reheat gently to preserve its brightness. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with the oil and garnish with the flowers and herb leaves.

_______

Herb Oil

Makes 1 cup

1 bunch fresh herb of choice, large stems removed

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil or expeller-pressed avocado, almond or sunflower oil

Fill a bowl with water and ice. Bring a saucepan filled with water to a rapid boil, add the herb and blanch for 10 seconds. Scoop out the herb with a sieve and immediately plunge it into the ice water bath until chilled. Scoop out the herb and squeeze dry.

In a blender, combine the herb and oil and puree for 15 seconds. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a glass jar. Cap tightly and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

_______

“Chimichurri is an uncooked sauce popular in Latin American — and now worldwide — for grilled meats and vegetables,” writes Butron. “The keys to a chimichurri are to use an abundance of fresh herbs and to serve it within a few hours of preparation … although not strictly necessary, the charred chive powder adds a sweet note to the sauce.”

Grilled New York Steak with Chimichurri

Makes 6 servings

6 New York steaks, 6 ounces each

— Artisanal sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For chimichurri:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, finely chopped

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, finely chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoons finely diced shallot

1 teaspoon seeded, membranes removed, finely diced serrano chile (1 small chile)

1 clove garlic, finely grated

1 tablespoon sumac powder

— Artisanal sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Charred Chive Powder (see recipe below)

Generously season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Build a hot charcoal or hardwood fire for direct-heat grilling, allowing at least 1 hour for the fire to burn down to the correct temperature. It is ready when a coating of white ash has formed over glowing red embers.

Be sure to use plenty of fuel to ensure an adequate bed or embers. In a pinch, a gas grill preheated on high for 10 minutes will suffice.

For chimichurri: While the fire is reaching temperature, make the sauce. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, parsley, cilantro, oregano, shallot, chile, garlic and sumac and stir well. Season with salt and pepper and let stand for at least 15 minutes before using.

Clean the grill rack well with a wire brush. Arrange the steaks on the hottest area of the rack and grill, turning once, for about 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board or platter and let rest for 10 minutes.

To serve, cut the steaks against the grain into medium-thick slices and arrange on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the slices and sprinkle with the chive powder. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

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Charred Chive Powder

Makes about 2 tablespoons

1 bunch fresh chives, about 1 ounce

Preheat oven to 400 de-grees. Slice 1 inch off the pointed ends of the chives and reserve for another use. Spread the chives in a single layer on a sheet pan and dry in the oven until partially scorched, 7 to 8 minutes.

Let cool completely on the pan, then, using your fingertips, crumble the chives onto the pan. Transfer the chives to a spice mill and grind to a powder.

Transfer to a glass jar, cap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 months.

Chef’s note: Instead of using the oven, you can scorch the chives in a cast-iron pan over medium heat and then transfer them to the tray of a dehydrator. Dry at 125 degrees until brittle, 2 to 3 hours.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 707-521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @dianepete56.

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