Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons


In this age of celebrity chefs and rarefied ingredients, it is a great pleasure to publish this creative and wholesome collection of recipes, The Vineyard Kitchen, by Maria Helm Sinskey. In her debut book, Maria shares the homey yet sophisticated recipes that have made her one of America's most celebrated chefs and a culinary star. Though Maria lives in the Napa Valley, she was born and raised in the Northeast, and her recipes capture seasonal availability and flavors, no matter...

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In this age of celebrity chefs and rarefied ingredients, it is a great pleasure to publish this creative and wholesome collection of recipes, The Vineyard Kitchen, by Maria Helm Sinskey. In her debut book, Maria shares the homey yet sophisticated recipes that have made her one of America's most celebrated chefs and a culinary star. Though Maria lives in the Napa Valley, she was born and raised in the Northeast, and her recipes capture seasonal availability and flavors, no matter where you are cooking.

Maria offers 40 menus, 10 per season, with more than 180 recipes to enjoy all year round. From her kitchen in Napa, where she runs a vineyard with her husband and raises her two young daughters, Maria looks out onto a landscape whose seasonal bounty is reflected in each recipe. Emphasizing quality ingredients, her dishes are simple and pure, focusing on the freshness and flavor of each element, rather than on fussy or complicated preparations. These are dishes that celebrate the unique offerings of each season and that perfectly suit our shifting appetites as the days go from short to long and as our dining table moves from fireside to patio.

Delight in summer with the annual ritual of shucking fresh corn, and transform the harvest into a velvety Sweet Corn Soup with Rosemary; savor the summer-only treat of White Peaches Poached in Vin Gris with Raspberries. When the weather turns wintry, you won't feel deprived with Maria's soothing Nutmeg Custard or with a stunning meal of Parsnip Soup followed by Duck Confit with French Green Lentils. Complete with wine pairings and seasonal shopping tips, The Vineyard Kitchen is a friendly, comprehensive guide that will help you create distinctive, tempting dishes throughout the year.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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 Cafe, 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.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Formerly the chef of San Francisco's PlumpJack Caf , Helm is now the culinary director of the winery that she and her husband own in the Napa Valley. She provides recipes for 40 menus featuring sophisticated seasonal fare, such as a midwinter dinner of Celery Root Galettes with Creme Fraeche and Caviar, Bouillabaisse, and Sweet Ricotta Pie with Bittersweet Chocolate. Sinskey teaches cooking classes at the winery, and her recipes are very detailed and accompanied by wine suggestions. The headnotes seem to strive for the poetic (a poem by the author opens each season), but these are often labored rather than lyrical. For area and other larger libraries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060013967
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/14/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 989,818
  • Product dimensions: 7.42 (w) x 10.86 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Named one of the "Best New Chefs in America" by Food & Wine magazine, Maria Helm Sinskey is one of California's most renowned young chefs. Formerly the executive chef of PlumpJack Café in San Francisco, she now provides culinary direction and cooking classes at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, the Napa Valley winery she owns with her husband.

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First Chapter

minestrone with shelling beans

Minestrone can be a meal in itself, so when served as a first course it must be doled out lightly. Since minestrone is a hearty vegetable soup, many different vegetables can be substituted. Swiss chard or escarole can stand in for kale, and chunks of summer squash for Romano beans. Base your choices on what is available in the market. Vegetables that need little cooking time should be added at the end. If shelling beans are not available substitute cooked dried beans. Remember this soup for a warm sustaining lunch on a cold fall day.
serves 8 to 10

2 pounds fresh shelling beans, cranberry or white, about 2 cups shelled, or 3 cups Basic Bean Recipe
3 ripe medium tomatoes or 2 cups canned
1 pound kale (see Headnote above)
1/2 pound Romano beans, green or yellow or both (see Headnote above)
3 medium carrots
2 medium yellow onions
2 celery stalks
4 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
3 small fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves
1 large piece Parmesan cheese rind, optional
2 cups cooked tubettini or other small round pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Peasant bread

  1. Shell the fresh beans.
  2. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop the fresh tomatoes. Reserve in their juices. If you are using canned tomatoes, remove the core and most of the seeds with your hands over a strainer and bowl to catch the juice. Break the tomatoes into pieces and reserve in a bowl. Pour the juice over the tomatoes.
  3. Wash the kale and cut the thick tough ribs from the larger leaves. The ribs can be left on the tender leaves. Slice the leaves into 1/2-inch strips.
  4. Clean the Romano beans and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Chop the carrots and onions into pieces about the same size as the shelling beans. Slice the celery thinly. Peel and slice the garlic thinly. Reserve the vegetables separately.
  5. Heat a large soup or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and sauté the garlic until it is toasted and the oil is perfumed. Add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes, then add the sliced kale; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the kale has wilted, then add the peeled chopped tomatoes.
  6. Cover the vegetables with water by 2 inches and add the herbs and Parmesan rind, if you're using it. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the shelling beans and simmer until they are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. If you are using cooked dried beans simmer for 20 minutes so the beans absorb some of the flavor of the broth. Add the Romano beans and simmer for 10 more minutes. Check the seasoning and add the pasta. Salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with bread to soak up the broth.
Note: This soup can be made a day or two in advance. Do not add any quick-cooking vegetables such as Romano Beans until you reheat the soup to serve.

nutmeg custard

I always knew when my mother was baking these custards. The scent of nutmeg would rush to greet me as soon as I opened the mudroom door. It would wrap around me as I entered the kitchen where my mother would be busily preparing dinner. I would beg her to tell me when the custards would be done, hoping for an early taste. She would pull them slowly and ceremoniously out of the oven to avoid splashing them with water from their bath. I would stare longingly at the cooling custards dusted with fresh nutmeg, safely tucked inside their earthenware pots. The custards would be served with a bit of warmth still clinging to them. I would carefully break the delicate skin and gather a bit of the nutmeg dust along with the warm custard. The flecks of dry sandy nutmeg were stark in contrast to the smooth silky custard. The exotic flavor of the grains would explode as they softened in my mouth. It was pure delight then and remains the same every time I plow my spoon through the shimmering brown-speckled top of a warm nutmeg custard. The custards are also wonderful served chilled.
Serves 8

1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, plus some to sprinkle

  1. Place eight 1-cup ramekins or custard cups in a deep roasting pan; reserve until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place an oven rack on the lowest rungs.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and egg yolks.
  4. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the 1-1/2 teaspoons nutmeg. Turn off the heat and let the milk and nutmeg steep for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the hot milk slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Strain the custard into a pitcher.
  6. Pour or ladle the custard into the prepared ramekins or custard cups. Fill them to 1/4 inch below the top edge. Sprinkle or grate nutmeg lightly over the tops.
  7. Pour enough hot, not boiling, water, into the roasting pan to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in the preheated oven on the low oven rack, covered, but not sealed, with a flat piece of parchment paper or foil until set, 30 to 40 minutes. To test to see if the custards are done, jiggle one gently with your hand. They are done if the custard is set. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath. Cool the custards to warm to serve or serve chilled. To chill, cool the custards to room temperature and place them in the refrigerator, uncovered. When they are cold, cover them tightly with plastic wrap. The custards can be prepared up to 2 days in advance if you are serving them chilled.
The Vineyard Kitchen. Copyright © by Maria Helm Sinskey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. 0060083905.html |

Apple Pie

1 1/2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon for the filling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup lard
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons milk 1 egg
2 cups peeled, cored, and sliced tart pie apples such as Greenings or Cortlands
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Cut in the lard a bit at a time with a pastry blender or two forks, until the dough has the crumbly texture of uncooked oatmeal.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat together the vinegar, milk, and egg. Then fold into the dough gradually.
  3. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate in Ziploc bags for an hour (or freeze until you are ready to use).
  4. Stir together all the remaining ingredients (including the tablespoon of flour).
  5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  6. On a floured board or countertop, roll out one half of the dough into a circle large enough to come up and slightly over the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie tin. Trim away the excess and crimp the edge of the crust with the tines of a fork. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with the points of the fork.
  7. Put the apple filling on the crust, spreading it evenly.
  8. Roll out the second piece of dough. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust lightly with water. Roll the top crust around the rolling pin and then unroll it on top of the filling. Trim and then press it around the edges so that it sticks to the bottom crust. Slash through the crust in several places or make a hole in the center to let the steam escape during baking. If you have a pie bird, stand it in the hole.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for another half hour. The pie is done when the crust has turned a golden brown and the apples offer no resistance to a trussing needle pushed through the top crust. Cook another 10 minutes if necessary. Cool on a rack.
Serves 6 to 8


(Egg-Yolk Foam)
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
13 tablespoons dark rum (if using white wine)
1 cup fortified wine such as Marsala, sherry, madeira, tawny port, or dry white wine

  1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together with a whisk or an electric mixer until the mixture turns smooth and lemon yellow. This can be done before the meat begins if you cover the mixture.
  2. Stir in the wine and then transfer the mixture to a heavy, non aluminum pan. Specialty shops sell purpose-built zabaglione pans, attractive round-bottomed copper affairs that give better results than flat-bottomed pans your whisk can't cover completely. You could also use a round-bottomed copper egg white-beating pan, if you already have one.
  3. With a large balloon whisk, whisk vigorously and without pause over low-medium heat until the mixture turns thick and foamy. Obviously, you want to be careful not to overcook and scramble the yolks.
  4. If you are using white wine, whisk in the rum off heat. Serve immediately in wineglasses. Or let cool, chill, and serve at room temperature with sliced strawberries or other fruit mixed in.
Serves 4 The Cook's Canon. Copyright © by Raymond Sokolov. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2003

    Ignore the 'Poetry,' Relish the Recipes

    Although the author's taste in poetry runs to archaic affectation, thankfully her taste in food does not. Ignore the versifying and head straight to the seasonal recipes, which are delightful and do-able. Someone should tell her, however, that porcini thrive in the U.S.A.--you just need to know where to look!

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