THE VINEYARD KITCHEN: Menus Inspired by the Seasons

Maria Helm Sinskey, Author, Thomas Keller, Foreword by
Maria Helm Sinskey, Author, Thomas Keller, Foreword by , foreword by Thomas Keller. HarperCollins $32.50 (390p) ISBN 978-0-06-001396-7
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The "vineyard" in this case is not Martha's, but Maria and Robert's aka the Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley. The author, who previously served as executive chef at San Francisco's PlumpJack Café, now holds cooking classes at the vineyard. Expectedly, the freshest seasonal produce is key to most of these 145 recipes arranged in 40 menus grouped around each of the four seasons. The three-course meals include succulently simple starters such as Roasted Tomatoes with Pecorino Toscano and Olives for the fall and Poached Artichokes with Lemon Aioli for spring. Entrees range from easy (Grilled Pork Chops with a Fresh Apricot Glaze for summer) to challenging (Goose with Roasted Turnips and Apples for winter). Sinskey says that goose will cook uniformly if breast and legs are roasted separately. The Duck Confit with French Green Lentils calls for six cups of rendered duck fat, but Sinskey also offers the healthier alternative of braising the bird's legs in duck stock. She suggests that cooks mix and match recipes, but provides full menus like this for spring: Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto and a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette, Herb-Marinated Rack of Lamb with Roasted Garlic Fingerling Potatoes and Strawberry Ice Cream Profiteroles with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce. Sinskey suggests wine, too, usually a different one for each course. True lusty California cuisine, the dishes will suit most kitchens. Two dozen photos, illustrating the vineyard and its produce throughout the year, are by Robert Sinskey. (Sept.)

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