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