Cindy Pawlcyn's Mustard's Grill Cookbook: Truck Stop Deluxe in Napa Valleyby Cindy Pawlcyn
As anyone who has spent time in Napa Valley knows, Mustards Grill is an institution in the wine country—the friendly restaurant where locals first started going for a full plate of fabulous food and a glass of Napa's finest. Chef-owner Cindy Pawlcyn, founding chef of San Francisco's original Fog City Diner, put down her roots in Napa over 15 years ago,
As anyone who has spent time in Napa Valley knows, Mustards Grill is an institution in the wine country—the friendly restaurant where locals first started going for a full plate of fabulous food and a glass of Napa's finest. Chef-owner Cindy Pawlcyn, founding chef of San Francisco's original Fog City Diner, put down her roots in Napa over 15 years ago, bringing her midwestern sensibility and flair for reinventing American food to the valley. Ever since then, Mustards has been affectionately known as the fancy rib joint with way, way too many wines. Gorgeous full-color food photography from Saveur photographer Laurie Smith.
Awards2002 James Beard Award WinnerReviews"Take home some hearty American fare." —The San Jose Mercury News "Accurate views of the restaurant, its food, and its sense of fun . . . it's a feast for the eyes and the imagination." —Omaha World Herald "The recipes in MUSTARDS GRILL represent a wonderful marriage between common American foods, California produce and influences from Latin American and Asian immigrants."—New Orleans Times Picayune "The book is a perfect reflection of its author's eclectic style that melds sophistication and global inspirations with an earthy American quality."—San Francisco Chronicle "Like its namesake, the cookbook is bright and bountiful, with a touch of tongue-in-cheek flippancy." —Charleston Post & Courier"A feast for the eyes with no muss and fuss." —The Los Angeles Daily News "The book is as honest as the chef" and the "dreamy desserts . . . are the epitome of comfort."—Santa Rosa Press Democrat"Pawlcyn's casual writing style gives the reader a feel for her restaurant, and her easy-to-follow recipes are accompanied by chatty—and helpful—notes." —Minneapolis Star Tribune"[MUSTARDS GRILL is] a place that's sophisticated without being pretentious. The recipes in this cookbook are no different." —American Way"Mustards is universally loved by local residents and tourists alike for its smoky, tender, spicy baby back ribs; cornmeal-coated fried green tomatoes; tasty Asian-marinated flank steak; Chinese chicken noodle salad; and, of course, Mustards' always-crisp tangle of deep-fried onion threads. The enduring vitality of this place comes from the fact [that Cindy Pawlcyn] put all the dishes she loved on the menu: country dishes transformed by her sprightly offbeat style and sparkle." —FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO"As the first (some would say the best) in a string of successful, precedent-breaking restaurants originated by chef Cindy Pawlcyn. It changed Napa Valley and took the stuffiness out of dining by showing that Americans could be as serious about food and wine as the French, but have more fun." —Gourmet
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Read an Excerpt
When I eat out, I'll often order two or three appetizers, split the main course with a friend, or maybe even skip it, and go straight on to dessert. That way I get to taste a little bit of a lot more dishes.
We do a lot of fish and shellfish appetizers at Mustards. It's a wonderful way to take advantage of the bounty of our coastal California waters, and it also allows us flexibility, which is important, as availability varies from day to day. We call our fish purveyor the first thing in the morning to see what we're going to get (as opposed to what we thought we were getting), and then we decide what seafood appetizers will go on the specials board for the day.
The most difficult thing about appetizers is keeping them small. Shellfish, in particular, is rich, so don't get carried away when you're serving clams or crab as starters, unless, of course, you want to serve any of these appetizers as main dishes, which is easy enough to do. In most cases, you only need to double the recipes and add a side dish or two.
Depending on the rest of your meal, you might want a simple appetizer, like grilled asparagus or leeks served with a vinaigrette or aioli, or maybe some grilled polenta. Or try something completely different and experiment with strong flavors, exotic combinations, and some complex dishes. Appetizers are one of the best ways to introduce people to something they have never tried before. Often we will do sweetbreads, sardines, or whitebait (aka fries with eyes) as appetizers because people are more apt to try them, knowing they'll be followed by something "safe," like a platter of ribs or a steak. This is my theory, in any case, and I'm sticking to it, even though in fifteen years of marriage I've never gotten my husband to try any of the above.
Whole Roasted Garlic with Croutons
This dish has been on our menu since the day we opened. You can bake the garlic earlier in the day, set it aside at room temperature, and reheat it on the grill just before serving. That last step adds a great smoky flavor to the garlic. Save the oil from the garlic to use on the croutons.
For a casual get-together with a grilled main course, set the garlic out with roasted peppers, olives, cherry tomatoes, and bread or croutons. People can help themselves while you cook the main course. With a bottle of Napa Valley wine, it makes a light lunch or supper.
6 very large heads garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 bay leaves (fresh, if you can find them)
3 or 4 thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
To make the roasted garlic, preheat the oven to 300°. Cut a thin slice off the very top of each head of garlic to expose the tops of all the cloves. Set the garlic heads in a 9- to 10-inch-wide shallow baking dish. (For best results, use a terra-cotta dish that will hold the heads together snugly.) Pour the oil slowly over and into each head, distributing it as equally as possible. Scatter the bay leaves and thyme over the garlic, and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1 3/4 hours, until the garlic is very soft and tender. Don't rush it; older garlic may take longer. Drain and reserve the oil, and set the garlic aside. Discard the bay leaves and thyme.
To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the baguette at a severe angle. You need 12 slices each about 1/4 inch thick. Brush one side of the slices with the reserved oil from the garlic, and bake oil-side down for 5 to 7 minutes, until crisp and golden. You can also grill the bread slices over coals.
If you've roasted your garlic ahead, reheat it either in a 375° oven or on the grill. Put 2 crisp croutons and a head of garlic on each serving plate. People can use the tip of a knife to fish the roasted garlic out of the individual cloves and smear it on their bread, or they can, as we do it in the restaurant, grab the whole head with a napkin and squeeze all the garlic out into one luscious pile, then smear it liberally onto their croutons.
Curry Chicken Skewers with Eggplant Relish and Tomato Chutney Vinaigrette
My husband really only likes potatoes, well-done steak, cheeseburgers, and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. So when we dine at Mustards, he'll order these chicken skewers of he doesn't have a side of mashed potatoes for an appetizer, that is). You can marinate the meat and arrange it on the skewers the day before, if you like. We have found that 8-inch bamboo skewers, presoaked in water for 30 minutes, work best. Make the relish and the vinaigrette ahead, too, and you'll be all set.
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon curry paste, homemade (page 213) or purchased
1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Tomato Chutney Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon golden raisins
3 tablespoons Tomato Chutney (page 204)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Eggplant Relish (page 207)
6 tablespoons Lime Crème Fraîche (page 196) or plain yogurt
6 cilantro sprigs or fresh mint leaves
To marinate the chicken, cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 36 equal-sized strips about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide. Whisk together the curry paste, vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper in a container large enough to hold all the chicken. Toss in the chicken strips, stir to make sure they're well coated with the marinade, cover, refrigerate, and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, or for as long as overnight. To prepare the skewers, weave 3 strips of chicken lengthwise onto each 8-inch skewer. Refrigerate again until ready to grill.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the raisins, chutney, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl until the salt is dissolved. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and continue to whisk until fully emulsified.
When you're ready to serve, place the skewers on the grill rack and grill for 2 minutes. Turn the skewers and grill for 1 to 2 minutes more, until cooked through.
To serve, place a mound of relish on each plate and crisscross two skewers over the relish. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and a little crème fraîche. Garnish with cilantro.
Grilled Figs with Pancetta, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Walnuts
Serves 6 to 8
In Napa, we are blessed with two fig seasons, one early in June and the other at the end of August. Figs prepared this waywrapped in pancetta, threaded onto skewers, and grilledmake delightful mouthfuls on their own or as an accompaniment to grilled meats and poultry. We have discovered at Mustards that when figs are not available, ripe peaches, pears, or plums make great substitutes. Just remember to pit them first. Have your butcher slice the pancetta as thinly as possible. The strips will be slightly curved, but that's okay because you want to wrap them only once around the fruit. You can also use applewood-smoked bacon in place of pancetta.
24 large Black Mission figs or green Adriatic figs
24 very thinly sliced strips pancetta
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives
Extra virgin olive oil for the figs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups walnut pieces, almonds, or pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white parts plus 2 inches of green (cut on the diagonal)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
Wrap each fig in a strip of pancetta, and thread 3 or 4 figs together onto an 8-inch-long bamboo skewer, securing the pancetta with the skewer. If the figs are large, use 2 skewers, placed parallel to each other. Prepare the skewers several hours ahead of time, and refrigerate them on a baking sheet. They handle better when chilled.
To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the balsamic and sherry vinegars, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, until the salt dissolves. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, continue to whisk until fully emulsified, then whisk in the basil, mint, and chives.
When you're ready to serve, brush the figs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until the fat on the pancetta is rendered and the figs are heated through.
Drizzle the figs with the vinaigrette, sprinkle the walnuts and scallions around, garnish with the mint leaves, and enjoy.
Crab Cakes with Red Beet and Horseradish Rémoulade
Believe it or not, the secret ingredient in these crab cakes is grated baked potatoes. Most recipes call for a lot of bread crumbs, which makes for very dry crab cakes, but we've found that substituting potatoes for part of the bread crumbs keeps the cakes nice and moist. We use yellow Finns, but if you can't find them, use any small, creamy potato or even a russet type. We have made these crab cakes with our local Dungeness crab, which works well, but we like the East Coast blue crab better. It has a sweeter flavor and a better texture for this dish. Other decisions to make: The crab cakes can be deep-fried or sautéed in a nonstick skillet, and you can make them any size. I like appetizer-sized crab cakes, but Brigid loves them so big you could make sandwiches with them.
Red Beet and Horseradish Rémoulade
1 bunch small beets
Extra virgin olive oil for coating if baking plus 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon rice or champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 pound yellow Finn potatoes
1 pound fresh blue-crab meat, picked clean
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and minced
3 scallions, white part only, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
6 to 7 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh toasted bread crumbs
Peanut oil for frying
Red Beet and Horseradish Rémoulade (recipe follows)
Lemon wedges for garnish
Chervil or tarragon sprigs for garnish
To make the rémoulade, bake or steam the beets. To bake the beets, trim them, leaving 1 inch of the stem intact, but do not peel. Lightly coat with olive oil and put them in a roasting pan or baking sheet. Bake at 375° until fork tender. This should take 30 to 50 minutes, depending on their size and age. To steam the beets, trim as directed but do not rub with oil. Place on a steamer rack over boiling water, cover, and steam for 15 to 25 minutes, until tender. Allow the beets to cool, then peel and grate enough to measure 1 cup. Save any leftover beets for salads.
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and 1/4 cup oil in a bowl, until emulsified. Stir in the 1 cup beets, the horseradish to taste, and the pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes for small ones and up to 1 hour if they're very large, until tender. Allow them to cool, then peel and finely grate.
To make the crab mixture, combine the crabmeat, potatoes, bell pepper, scallions, parsley, jalapeño, egg, 6 tablespoons mayonnaise, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon mayonnaise if the mixture seems too dry. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs over the mixture and combine gently, adding more bread crumbs, as necessary, until the mixture just holds together. (If you are going to panfry the crab cakes, the mixture can be looser.) Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (or for as long as several hours).
When the crab mixture is well chilled, form the cakes. Make 12 small ones or 6 large ones, depending on your preference, making each one an equal thickness at least 3/8-inch thick. To deep-fry the crab cakes, pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep, heavy saucepan and heat to 375° on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches, add the crab cakes and fry until golden brown and warm through. This should take 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how cold they are when they go in. Do not crowd the pan, and turn the cakes over if they float. Using tongs or a wire skimmer, transfer the cakes to paper towels to drain briefly and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the remaining crab cakes.
To panfry the crab cakes, use just enough oil to coat the surface on a nonstick skillet. Place over medium-high heat, and when hot, add the crab cakes, again being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook for about 7 minutes, until golden brown and crisp on one side. Turn the crab cakes over and cook on the second side for about 5 minutes until browned. Place on a platter in a low oven while you cook the remaining crab cakes.
To serve, divide the crab cakes among serving plates and top each with a small dollop of the rémoulade. Garnish with lemon wedges and chervil sprigs and serve at once.
Meet the Author
LENNY RICE and BRIGID CALLINAN left the East Coast for Napa in 1996, Lenny to teach at Robert Mondavi Winery and Brigid to be pastry chef at Mustards Grill. In 2000, they formed the original culinary team at Copia. Lenny has since become head cheesemonger at Cowgirl Creamery/Tomales Bay Foods, and Brigid teaches cooking and baking at the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center. Both live in Petaluma, California.
CINDY PAWLCYN is the chef-owner of three Napa Valley restaurants: Mustards Grill, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, and Go Fish. Cindy is considered one of the most influential and accomplished women chefs in America. She lives in St. Helena, California.
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