Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery in the Sonoma Valley takes pride in everything it does. It grows its own organic olives and Bordeaux varietal grapes, and makes its own olive oil and wine. It’s even won state awards for its sustainability practices.
Moreover, it has its own culinary team, whose talents are on full display in the new cookbook, “Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy.
The book is by John McReynolds, Mike Emanuel, and Fiorella Butron, who are respectively the culinary director, estate chef, and chef de cuisine for the winery.
The winery boasts a restored 1910 farm house, where tastings can be enjoyed by appointment-only, along with options for food and wine pairings, private cooking demonstrations, and private dining events.
The recipes reflect the bounty of produce the estate raises: “Lacto-Fermented Vegetables,” “Asparagus Tempura with Meyer Lemon Aioli, ”Oak Ember-Grilled Pork Chops with Quince Mostarda” and “Cabarnet Sauvignon Grape and Wine Granita.”
I gravitated to “Charred Padron peppers with Goat Cheese and Sage,” which also can be made with shishito peppers instead.
Whether you use either the Spanish or the Japanese peppers, there’s always the added excitement of encountering a spicy one. You can’t tell by looking, only by biting down, which makes these peppers a real conversation piece when served to friends and family.
I normally just sear Padrons or shishitos in olive oil with a good pinch of sea salt. This recipe still cooks them in no time flat. But after the peppers get charred and tender, they are showered with grated goat cheese and crisp sage leaves for a fun flourish.
I used shishitos from my local Japanese market. The soft goat cheese goes all melty from the heat of the just-cooked peppers. Not only is the creamy cheese delicious on the peppers, it also helps dampen the fire on your palate if you are surprised with a spicy one. The crisp sage leaves add a subtle eucalyptus note.
This dish is little messy to eat with your fingers. You could always use a knife and fork. But really, why? Just gather around, go to town, and have plenty of napkins at the ready.
Charred Padron (Or Shishito) Peppers with Goat Cheese and Sage
(Serves 6 as an appetizer)
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Padron or shishito peppers, stems intact
16 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon artisanal sea salt
Place the goat cheese in the freezer for 30 minutes before you begin to cook the peppers.
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron or carbon-steel frying pan over high heat. When the pan is very hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the peppers and sage leaves and immediately begin constantly moving the peppers around with a wooden spatula or by jerking the pan backward toward you repeatedly to flip them. This method is similar to moving food continuously in a wok over high heat. After a few minutes, sprinkle the salt evenly over the peppers. They are ready when they begin to soften and some of them have a nice char. The total cooking time will be less than 5 minutes.
Transfer the peppers to a wide, shallow bowl or platter. Using a cheese grater, shower the goat cheese evenly over the top. Because the peppers can be picked up by their stems, this is a communal dish, best eaten with the fingers.
From “Stone Edge Farm Kitchen Larder Cookbook” by Jhn McReynolds, Mike Emanuel, and Fiorella Butron
More Peppery Fun: Simple Seared Padron Peppers