I’ve known Betty Evans for more years than either one of us probably cares to remember. I was extremely honored to be asked to write this forward. Betty has always been a big supporter of my partner, Robert Bell and my restaurants, and we have been, in turn, big supporters of her many wonderful cookbooks. I was especially honored to write the forward to this cookbook since it is about a subject very dear to my heart.
Coming to California in 1977 after working for a restaurant group in London, England, I began working in California three days after I arrived, opening a new restaurant. Never having been taught anything about California wines, I decided to do a little self-teaching. Most everything in the wine shops was very average and mostly in jugs.
Having no idea there was even a “wine country” in California, I started putting together a wine list for this new restaurant. My only salvation came in asking several knowledgeable people for help. I was introduced to wines from Robert Mondavi, Rutherford Hill, Parducci, and Sterling. I discovered grapes I had never even heard of, like Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. I grew up with European wines like Pouilly Fuisse, Chianti and Chateau Latour. I had never tasted California sparkling wines; I only knew Champagne.
It quickly became clear that there was real quality in these California wines. I developed a deep need to go and see Napa Valley and Sonoma County and experience what this California Wine Country was all about. I, like many before me, immediately fell in love with the countryside, the grapes, the people and the lifestyle. As the restaurants which I was involved with grew, so did my interest in wine lists and California wines. I became a California wine groupie. Every time I visit the California Wine Country I feel like I am coming home. The sense of countryside and returning to nature is so calming and relaxing, especially to someone living in Los Angeles. Some of the most exciting evenings I’ve experienced have been at the homes of winemakers or at restaurants in the wine country where this camaraderie of drinking wine and eating good food come together.
My love for food and my love for wine have made me a natural to enjoy the marvelous region of the California Wine Country which has so expertly blended the two. California cuisine came out of the northern California area. Certainly Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Jeremiah Towers, then at the Ventana Inn, started the top-quality production of regional cuisine. Can you imagine anything better than Petaluma duck, the cheeses of Sonoma or the cheeses of Laura Chenel, not to mention the wonderful olive oils now produced all over California? Match these with the wondrous selection of California wines. It has all come together here in Betty’s book. You cannot doubt that California Wine Country Cooking will introduce you to some of the finest cuisine in the world.
Michael Franks Owner Chez Melange Restaurant Redondo Beach, California
COOKING WITH WINE CHEERS TO MARY FRANCES KENNEDY FISHER, PICKLED SEEDLESS GRAPES
HARASZTHY HUNGARIAN CHEESE SPREAD, GENERAL VALLEJO GUACAMOLE, VINELAND STUFFED GRAPE LEAVES (Dolmas) , HOLIDAY TACO TART, PICNIC SPINACH PIE
WINE LACED SPLIT PEA SOUP, MISSION ALBONDIGAS SOUP, NAPA VALLEY MINESTRONE, WINE FLAVORED ONION SOUP, VENETIAN CELERY, RICE AND SAUSAGE SOUP, RUNNING STREAM WATERCRESS SOUP
SPRING SALMON WITH CUCUMBER SAUCE, SEA BASS IN AN EASY WINE SAUCE, PARTY FISH KEBABS, SOLE WITH FRESH GRAPES, VALLEY TROUT WITH MUSHROOMS,
NAPA CHICKEN CACCIATORA, CHICKEN IN RED WINE SAUCE (Coq au vin), FIESTA CHICKEN ENCHILADAS, DINNER PARTY ROMAN CHICKEN, NANA’S GUMBO,
WINE BRAISED BEEF ROAST, CLASSIC BEEF BURGUNDY, YOSEMITE CAMPFIRE CHILI, RUSSIAN RIVER CABBAGE ROLLS, ROMAN PICNIC FLAT MEATBALLS, CARNITAS WITH SALSA, CHOUCROUTE GARNI (Sauerkraut garnished with sausages and meats)
PASTA AND RICE
CHICKEN AND PASTA CASSEROLE, SYLVIA SEBASTIANI’S SPAGHETTI SAUCE, RICE WITH SOUR CREAM AND CHILES, WHITE WINE MACARONI AND CHEESE, SICILIAN EGGPLANT SAUCE FOR PASTA
STERLING VINEYARDS BABY ROMAINE SALAD with parmesan curls, SUNSHINE ORANGE SALAD, HOLLYWOOD COBB SALAD, PROVENÇAL ONION SALAD, WINTER PEAR AND ENDIVE SALAD, SYLVIA SEBASTIANI‘S BEAN AND TUNA SALAD
RHINELAND RED CABBAGE, DELICATO VINEYARDS BROCCOLI, BURBANK WINE SCALLOPED POTATOES, CALIFORNIA CARROTS, DELICATO’S MARINATED ONIONS
LAKE COUNTRY POACHED PEARS, GUENOC BROWNIES from Karen Melander–Magoon, GUENOC BROWNIES from Jackie, R.L. STEVENSON OATMEAL COOKIES, JENNY’S WHITE WINE WEDDING CAKE,
VISITING CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY
VISITING WINERIES, CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY SIGHTS, PLACES TO SPEND THE NIGHT, CALIFORNIA WINE COUNTRY RESTAURANTS
CHICKEN IN RED WINE SAUCE
(Coq au vin)
Red wine is what makes this dish so flavorful and lusty, in contrast to delicate white wine poultry recipes. The chicken pieces are slowly baked in the red wine sauce, and the flavor will improve if it’s made a day ahead. This is a perfect dish for a party, served with boiled potatoes to soak up the juices and a fresh green salad. A Merlot or burgundy is a good choice for the cooking and may also be served with the dinner.
2 chickens, about 3 lbs each, cut in serving pieces
flour for coating the chicken
6 T butter plus Ž T cooking oil
1/4 lb. diced ham (or lean uncooked bacon)
1/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
18 small boiling onions, peeled
1 tsp thyme, dried or fresh
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup brandy or cognac
4 cups dry red wine, plus more if needed
Pat the chicken dry and dredge in the flour. Heat the butter and oil in a large oven casserole. Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown a few at a time, adding more butter or oil if necessary. Return all pieces to the pot and add remaining ingredients except the wine and brandy.
Pour the brandy or cognac over the chicken and light with a match. Do not get your face too close to the flame. When the flame dies out, add the wine. Stir and cover casserole. Bake in a 325° oven for an hour and a half, or until chicken is tender. Stir now and then during the baking, adding more wine if necessary.
This will serve 8.