Chefs at Home Series: Sunday Dinner with the Ruckers

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

It’s safe to say that Gabriel Rucker is one busy guy. With 2 restaurants, 3 children, a creatively explosive wife with the drive of the Energizer Bunny, and a weekly run club,  there isn’t a whole lot of time in the day to relax. Throw in travel events and cooking demonstrations and life gets even more hectic. Anyone who knows Gabriel, or has eaten at his restaurants, knows that he is a tremendously talented chef who puts his whole soul into every dish. But Gabriel is also a consummate family man and in between all the craziness that fills his days, he always makes sure there is quality time for his family. I’ve personally been watching him do it for 10 years and it’s quite an impressive balancing act.

So, I considered myself and my wife very lucky to be able to spend a Sunday evening with him and his family as he created a delicious home-cooked Sunday evening meal. Of Gabriel’s 3 children, the middle one (and only daughter) Babette, age 6, is the one who will most likely be following in her fathers’ culinary footsteps. At age 3 or 4 she was already shadowing her Dad in the kitchen, helping wherever she could. Now that her knife skills have improved, she is even allowed to cut and chop, which I must say she does with more acumen than a few OCI grads I know. In organizing this project with Gabriel, he decided on three dishes that he often makes for his family on the weekend that make a well rounded, delicious and healthy meal that can all be done in just over an hour. Of course, when you have a pro like Babette as your live-in Sous Chef, everything runs that much smoother.

On the menu for the evening was:

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions and ‘Dad Rice’

Cast Iron Roasted Leeks with Garlic

Dinosaur Kale Salad with Apples and Warm Kumquat Vinaigrette 

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

Some kitchen tasks Babs can do on her own, others require a little extra supervision…

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

There were a lot of moving parts all going at the same time while dinner was being prepped so I will do my best to keep everything well organized throughout the post.  Also, Gabriel approaches all of his kitchen projects with a confident but laidback vibe which I will do my best to replicate here. There is little to no pomp and circumstance when Gabriel is in the kitchen, and no ingredient is off-limits as you will soon see.

The first thing you want to do is get the chicken and rice going because that will take about 45 minutes in the oven. Gabriel cooks the rice, mushrooms, onions, and chicken all together in a large ceramic dutch oven. Here, the ‘Dad Rice’ refers literally to the addition of a powdered Ranch Dressing seasoning that Gabriel adds because his kids love it (and it’s pretty freakin’ delicious!)

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions and ‘Dad Rice

1 whole chicken, separated into 1/2 breasts, thighs and legs
2 1/2 C rice (Gabriel uses sushi rice but feel free to substitute brown or white)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 large package of mixed mushrooms (about 1/2 lb)
1 C Underwood Pinot Gris
4 C chicken stock or broth
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 C Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 

Heat oil in a deep dutch oven and carefully sear off all pieces of chicken. Remove chicken from the pan, add the onion, mushrooms, and rice. Sauté for 5 minutes, add the Ranch Seasoning and salt and pepper to taste, then deglaze with the Pinot Gris. Reduce slightly, add the chicken stock and all the chicken pieces, nestling the chicken pieces partway down into the rice and vegetables. Cover and put in the oven for 45 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is fully cooked.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker
Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker
Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

This is what the finished product will look like:

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

Once the chicken is in the oven, it’s time to deal with the leeks. Gabriel prefers to use his locally made Finex Cast Iron Pan, but any thick bottomed pan will do the trick.

Cast Iron Roasted Leeks with Garlic

10-12 full sized leeks
8 cloves of garlic, skins removed
1 T celery seed
1/2 T dried tarragon
1/4 C sherry vinegar
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the dark green tops off of the leeks and remove the butt ends. Cut each leek longways down the center, trying to keep them together. Rinse gently under cool water to remove any dirt and gently dry. Chop your garlic cloves in half. Place the leek halves and garlic in the cast iron pan, sprinkle liberally with remaining ingredients, cover with tin foil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until leeks are tender.  *You do not have to heat the pan or do any searing ahead of time for this one.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

Once the leeks are tender, remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

While everything is cooking, its time to prep your salad and make the vinaigrette. Dad demonstrates the proper Kumquat prepping technique and then feels comfortable leaving Babette to her own devices.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker
Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

Dinosaur Kale Salad with Apples and Warm Kumquat Vinaigrette

For Vinaigrette:
15 kumquats
1/4 C Underwood Pinot Gris
1/4 honey
1/3 C apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Halve the kumquats longways, remove the seeds and pith and slice thinly. Put all ingredients into a small sauté pan, bring to a boil and then immediately shut off the heat. Keep warm until ready to use.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker
For salad:
2 large bunches of dinosaur kale
2 honey crisp apples
1/4 of the hot liquid with kumquat slices
2T balsamic vinegar
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

1/3 C grated parmesan cheese

 

Slice kale and apples. Put in a large bowl. Just before you are ready to serve, dress with the warm vinaigrette, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan cheese. By keeping the vinaigrette warm, it will soften the kale without wilting it too much.

Union Wine Co Gabriel Rucker

And just like that… dinner is served!  Bon Appétit.

Gabriel asked that we give a special shout out to his newest endeavor, the Bird Dog Run Club. Completely free and open to all, the club meets every Thursday at 930 AM in front of Canard.

Bird Dog Run Club
You can follow the run club on IG @birddogrunclub.  Also check out Gabriel’s two restaurants: Le Pigeon and Canard.
Photography and Text by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)
Recipes by Gabriel Rucker (@ruckergabriel)
Expert Prepping and Tie-Dyed Good Vibes by Babette Rucker

A night in one of Oregon’s fire lookouts

Union Wine Co Pickett Butte Lookout

On a quiet Thursday afternoon at the beginning of February, we found ourselves slowly winding our way up a dirt logging road in the dark and damp Umpqua National Forest. Following some loose directions printed offline, I pushed in the code that released the lock and we passed through the large metal gate, navigating the last half mile up the muddy drive into a clearing. The fire tower, and our home for the night, came into view as we crested the hill in Krista’s Honda Element.

Underwood Wine fire lookout

We were fortunate enough to arrive just a few short days after the most recent snow cover had melted, making the road passable all the way to the base of the tower. In the winter, they don’t plow the road, occasionally forcing some guests to snowshoe to the hut. Just as we arrived, the sun started to peek through the clouds to welcome us. The temperature was toasty compared to Portland, and after hauling our supplies several times up the steep 40 ft of stairs, we were hot enough to hang around in our t-shirts. We busted open our snacks, cracked our cans of Underwood Pinot Noir and settled in for some relaxation; ie. guest book reading and dog snuggles.

Underwood Wine Pickett Butte

Underwood Pickett Butte

Pickett Butte, rebuilt in 1958, is one of many reservable fire lookouts in the PNW. Along with thousands of other lookouts, it was built in the early 1900’s after a fire swept through Washington, Idaho, and Montana, burning over 3 million acres. The government’s solution was to hire folks to inhabit these lookout towers during the driest seasons of the year, monitoring weather patterns and forest activity. Although many have since then burned down or decommissioned, some are still used for fire surveillance to this day. During the off-season, many structures become rentable to the general public. But reservations are often hard to come by. So, if you’re lucky enough to land one, make sure you take advantage of a unique opportunity to stay above the clouds with 360 views.

When the light started to fade on us, the temperature dropped and the sky turned pretty shades of pink and orange. We pulled on our puffy coats and stepped out onto the deck to silently watch the show, wine in hand. The peaceful sounds of the wind and the forest were all we could hear.

The rest of the night was spent cooking Indian food—the smells of warm spices filling the tiny 14×14’ room—playing games, drinking Underwood Wine and catching up as the propane heater warmed us and the clouds hung low over the horizon.

Underwood Wine Pickett Butte

Underwood Wine Pickett Butte

When we woke up at first light the next morning, we were magically perched inside a cloud. What an unreal feeling to be engulfed in this damp, white fog, the trees of the forest looking ghost-like just feet away. Slow to rise and make coffee, not wanting to eject ourselves from our sleeping bags, we took full advantage of a chance to be extra lazy in our cozy cabin in the sky.

Union Wine Co Pickett Butte

Pickett Butte Oregon

Eventually, thoughts of the long trek home drove us out of our beds and into action. Using the basket and pulley system rigged on the catwalk, we lowered our belongings back to solid ground, packed up the car and waved goodbye to our little home on stilts, grateful for the opportunity to step away from civilization and experience this small sliver of history.

Words and Photography by Brooke Weeber.

When it comes to Valentine’s

Union Wine Co Galantines When it comes to Valentine’s Day, we could probably argue that most men don’t even think about the holiday until the month of February hits, and for a lot of men, not until the week of Feb. 14th! But, for some reason, in our society, it is an important holiday to a lot of us women. We don’t necessarily know why, but we know we don’t want it to slip by without something special happening to or for us. It could be because we have someone special in our lives and we want to celebrate that, or, it could just be that we see pink and red hearts everywhere this month and we just don’t want to miss out!

Union Wine Co Galentines Day

Union Wine Co Galentines Day

So, we decided to pull together some of our besties and celebrate each other for Galentines Day! Our girlfriends are so important to our everyday lives—they support us when we are feeling down or struggling with something, they are happy for us when things are going well, and they are always up for a fun get-together with a little wine, sweets and catching up.

Union Wine Co Galentine's Day

In our opinion, the holidays of any type are meant to be spent with loved ones. Any excuse to get together with the people in our lives who mean the most to us is what we feel is important. Gather around a table, sharing a meal and company.

Union Wine Co Salt and Straw

Cheers to great friendships! Happy Galentines Day!

Celebrating The One Moto Show and Female Riders

This weekend is the 11th annual One Motorcycle Show, put on by See See Motor Coffee Co. We thought, what better way to express our excitement than spending a day with one of Portland’s very own riders, Rebecca Dreyfus. Not only is Rebecca the owner & rider of one of the rarest bikes in town, but she is an incredibly talented jewelry maker as well.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, I’m Rebecca! Most people call me Becca, and sometimes my alter ego is BECKY. I’m 30 and a Cancer (lol), hailing from Lawrence, Kansas, aka a cute little artsy and liberal college town outside of Kansas City, and I have been living in Oregon for almost 3 years. I work full-time at Clive Coffee as an espresso machine technician and bench tester. In my spare time, I’m wrenching and riding all two-wheeled things, making jewelry under the guise BKY STUDIO, record shopping, plant tending, and looking for any excuse to get out in nature.  

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Can you tell us about your motorcycle? 

My main squeeze is a 1989 Honda Transalp. This bike is kinda funny and special in a lot of ways. Honda’s whole marketing scheme with this bike was “take the best parts from all of our bikes and put it into one and then call it a Rally Touring bike.” V-twin engine for a smooth ride on the highway, liquid-cooled for temp control, high clearance for all-terrain, and comfortable stance to name a few. They started importing them to the US in 1989 and 1990 thinking they would be a total hit because they could do any terrain and distance anyone wanted. Turns out no one knew what these weird-looking bikes were and it was a total flop in the states, so they pulled them and they were sold and made for many years all over Europe. Eventually, the Transalp turned into a coveted collector’s item, and still, to this day, is recognized as one of the first touring dual-sport bikes made, as well as one of the best made in its category. After the Transalp, Honda-engineered the Africa Twin as its successor and those are still being manufactured today. I love all things old and 80s-tastic, so I’d been on the hunt for a Transalp for a few years before I snagged mine about two years ago. Since then I’ve done some extensive maintenance to make the bike feel like my own, and taken it on some memorable trips. 

How did you get into riding?  

My first “bike” was a 1977 Columbia Commuter, which is a little two-stroke, 49cc pedal start moped! I remember buying that moped in secrecy back in 2010 because my parents were not into the two-wheeled idea, but I wanted something to ride to a college campus on. Around the same time I bought my moped, I was emailing with another craigslist seller who informed me that there was this whole local—and national—moped scene of people that meet up, wrench, and ride on these silly little things. After my first meet up with the local moped group (they immediately put me to work on fixing my moped), I was HOOKED. Shortly after, I started traveling with my moped friends to different rallies all across the country and just storming the streets on our little bikes. I got obsessed with learning how to work on my bike as well as making epic custom builds to show off at rallies and race sometimes. I barely even knew what a wrench was before I met these people, and I loved that there was always something to learn and everything was like a puzzle to solve when it came to building and tuning little engines. What was initially a grocery-getter purchase has turned into a whole new lifestyle where I’ve become a lover of all things mechanical. And, I’ve traveled to so many places and met some incredible people along the way. I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends if it wasn’t for mopeds, and eventually motorcycles. Through mopeds, I eventually started buying motorcycle projects. I was too broke to buy anything new, and I wanted to ride motorcycles, so I started working on those. I still have a deep love for two stroke mopeds and motorcycles and how they’ve gotten me to where I am today as a rider. I’m mostly riding four-stroke engines now and try and plan out at least one long trip a year to somewhere I haven’t explored yet. 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

What is the women’s motorcycle culture like in Portland? 

From what I’ve gotten to experience, I think it’s pretty diverse in terms of the bikes and types of riders, and it’s inclusive. Most of the time when I meet women in the community, they are just stoked to ride with you and get to know you no matter what kind of bike you have. 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

What is your best moto ride story? 

I got a few good ones! But for drama, I got stranded in the desert with a flat this past May. I took two weeks off to make an epic solo trip to Palm Springs to see some close friends of mine get married. After a week on the road, and after witnessing a beautiful wedding full of love and friends, it was time to get back on the road and start the trek back to Portland. I had decided to spend a night camping in Joshua Tree before traveling back north. 18 miles into the park, my front tire blew out and I was stuck with no cell service, no one really knowing where I was, and no one in sight for miles. Starting to feel a slight panic I remembered that I had come prepared in case something like this would happen. I grabbed my can of slime (weird flat tire filler stuff) and started to fill my tire in hopes it would last until I could at least get out of the park and back into cell service. Little did I know that this stuff wouldn’t work on tubed tires and all the gunk didn’t hold and immediately started seeping out of my tire. Starting to panic even more, I remembered I had packed spare tubes and all the tools needed to remove my tire, but then I realized I had no way to prop my bike up and no way to air up a new tube. The sun was beating down and I was really starting to feel fatigued, and my anxiety was shooting through the roof! I ditched my bike and gear and started walking. Eventually, I managed to flag down a tourist that agreed to give me a ride 6 miles up the road to an emergency phone. Several hours of back and forth picking up the emergency phone and talking with local rangers, I finally got a tow out of the park and got dropped off at a Best Western that was next to an Auto Zone. The next morning I called around to different motorcycle shops (all closed because it was Monday) and stopped into various auto shops that were within walking distance hoping that someone would have a car jack or something to just help me replace this damn tube! I had no luck. Feeling super defeated I walked back to the hotel to find these two older gentlemen looking at my bike. The first thing they say to me is, “Hey, you know you have a flat right?!” Unfortunately, I snapped back saying something kinda snarky and started to cry. They immediately asked what the problem was and I explained the whole debacle to them. Come to find out they were touring motorcyclists themselves from Milwaukee, OR riding around and offered to help! In a short period of time, we found some broken concrete chunks and a 2×4 piece of wood from a local construction site to prop my bike up, got the wheel off, the tube replaced, and one of the riders had a travel-sized air compressor to fill it up. After we exchanged stories and some laughs I was back on the road riding through the East Sierras with gorgeous views. I feel so indebted to those guys who helped me. The friendliness and community surrounding the motorcycle community are incredible.   

Any favorite rider/icon? 

I’ve never really thought about that to be honest! If I had to think of someone or some people though, I really admire and respect both Jimmy Hillsack and Anya Violet. I got to meet, and have become friends with Jimmy through working at See See Motor Coffee (I worked there for a few years before Clive!) and I really admire that he’s such a real, down-to-earth person, as well as an incredibly talented rider. Anya is the co-creator of Babes Ride Out, Babes in the Dirt, and ATWYLD. I’ve gotten to get to know Anya through the motorcycle community and also admire how much of a real and genuine person she is. She’s working hard at empowering women in the motorcycle community and her story has always been inspiring for me. Both people are solid friends, humans, and RIPPERS of motorcyclists. It’s all about building a positive community around motorcycles and these two people do that so well.  

How did you get into jewelry making? 

I never really had this definitive moment of wanting to make jewelry, but I’ve always liked making things with my hands and just started making necklaces for myself a few years back. Eventually, I had people asking to buy necklaces off my neck, and the rest kinda snowballed from there! I eventually took a beginner’s metalsmithing class at a local arts center and was just hooked after that. Also, I’ve always been into collecting rocks, so making jewelry that you can set rocks into sounded pretty cool! 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Favorite piece of jewelry you’ve made 

That’s a tough one! I’ve fallen in love with a good amount of pieces I’ve made and sold or given away. One of my more recent favorites was a huge statement cuff for a wedding outfit that had one of the most beautiful cuts of plume agate I’ve come across. I made an open-back setting so you could shine light through the stone and see all the details.  

What’s your favorite band? 

I have way too hard of a time picking favorite bands, but I go through music phases. Right now I’m deep in disco, funk, and old soul. 

And lastly, what’s your favorite Underwood wine? 🙂 

My favorite Underwood wine is the bubbly rose because who doesn’t like a tasty, bubbly drink?! 

Union Wine Co One Moto Show

Cheers and thank you Rebecca!

We hope to see you at The One Motorcycle Show this weekend!  

Take your Super Bowl Snacks to the Next Level

Underwood Wine Super Bowl

This Sunday, whether you will be rooting for that dreamboat Jimmy G. and his 49ers, or the insanely talented Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, I think we can all agree on a few things; One, let’s just hope its a close game. Two, at least we don’t have to watch the Patriots again. And three, whoever is in charge of snacks better not disappoint.

For those Super Bowl party-goers who are more interested in the commercials and the J-Lo halftime performance (you know who you are), the afternoon’s snacks become that much more crucial. So, we figured we’d suggest a few classic treats made in a new way that are bound to impress your guests and make you the hit of the party.

Underwood Wine Jello Shots

First off, we thought we would show you our take on the classic Jello Shot. There are few constants in this crazy and unpredictable world of ours, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone loves Jello Shots. The original ones, made with vodka or grain alcohol, can really sneak up on you and pack quite the punch. So, we decided to mellow it out a bit and make two flavors using our Underwood Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. We had planned on matching team colors, but since it’s going to be red all the way around, we went a little off-script. (Thanks a lot, Aaron Rodgers!)

Blue Raspberry Pinot Noir Jello Shots

You don’t need to be a culinary wizard to pull off Jello, that’s a big part of the allure. Simply combine one package of Blue Raspberry Jello with 1 Cup of boiling water. Whisk to combine. Let cool slightly and add 1 C Pinot Noir. Separate into small cups. Makes about 15.

Strawberry Pinot Gris Jello Shots

Repeat the same steps as above, just use the Strawberry Jello and 1 Cup of boiling water with 1 Cup of Pinot Gris. Both of these turned out delicious and hopefully won’t be quite as strong as the ones you may have had back in your college days. (We all have to get up early on Monday for work.)

Underwood Wine Jello Shots

Underwood Wine Jello Shots

Another game day favorite is Chex Mix. There are lots of different variations on the classic baked mix and we encourage you to add any ingredients that strike your fancy. We recently discovered the Jacobsen Ramen Seasoning and thought we would try something a bit cross-cultural. The wasabi peas really add an amazing and unexpected kick.

Underwood Wine Super Bowl Snacks

Japanese Ramen Chex Mix

2 C Rice Chex
2 C Wheat Chex
1 1/2 C baby pretzels
1 1/12 C bagel chips (broken into smaller pieces)
1 C Wasabi Peas
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 (heaping) T Jacobsen’s Ramen Seasoning
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Spread the first 4 ingredients equally among two half-sheet pans. (Don’t add the wasabi peas until after cooking is complete.)
On the stovetop, melt butter and whisk in remaining ingredients. Evenly coat all dried ingredients and cook for one hour, removing the pans every 15 minutes to stir for even cooking. Once cooled, stir in the peas and store in glass Mason jars.

Underwood Wine Chex Mix

Underwood Wine Chex Mix

For our final recommendation, we wanted to stick with a tried and true classic—Pigs in a Blanket. We recently tried some pre-made, store-bought ones and they were terrible and crazy expensive. There is no substitute for making them from scratch, and it is so easy, there is no excuse not to.

Underwood Wine Super Bowl Snacks

Literally the hardest part of this is how Pillsbury makes you open the rolls with the back of a spoon. It’s so weird, but it works, so I guess you can’t argue with success.

Take the Lit’l Smokies out of their packaging, rinse them well, dry them off and set them aside. Then open the crescent rolls. There will be 4 separate squares and each square is divided into 2 triangles. Cut each triangle into 3 smaller triangles. Place a Lit’l Smokey on each triangle, and roll it up. Place these evenly spaced on an ungreased cookie sheet and keep refrigerated until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and cook for about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway thru to ensure even cooking. Remove any that are getting too brown. Then just squeeze out some ketchup and mustard for dipping and you will be good to go!

Underwood Wine Super Bowl Snacks

Whoever you end up rooting for, everyone here at Union wishes you a safe and exciting Super Bowl Sunday!

Bon Appétit! And make sure you have plenty of Underwood Cans on hand for all your guests.

Underwood Wine Super Bowl Snacks

Photography, Text, and Recipes by David L. Reamer. (@dlreamer)