The Kitchen in The Cellar

A Recipe for Reinvention

The Kitchen in the Cellar: not only a cookbook it’s an inspiring story.

…from the back cover

The Kitchen in the Cellar: A Recipe for Reinvention is a cookbook-memoir filled with over 100 seasonally inspired, wine-friendly recipes for everyday cooking. 

As co-owner and chef of Narrow Gate Vineyards, located in the El Dorado appellation of the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, Teena Hildebrand shares the creative recipes and wine pairings she’s made and served over a 15-year span for thousands of her winery guests, friends, and family. Woven throughout is the story of the Hildebrands’ adventurous journey of pursuing their implausible dream to plant a vineyard and build a winery, and the miracles that made the dream a reality. Their recipe for reinvention unfolds through the inspiring story of their leap of faith from fashion to wine and from city life to country life, while maneuvering through a constant maze of seemingly impossible-to-overcome obstacles. Hildebrand weaves in her personal culinary journey, which began at age nine and was first inspired by Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet. Forty-five years later she met him in his kitchen, and here she shares how Kerr’s influence in her life today goes far beyond food and wine.

Hers is a story of food, faith, and never giving up on your dreams. 


Recent Reviews:

 “…got away this weekend to find quiet time and inspiration. Your book unknowingly became a big part of it. Thank you for finishing this book when you did. I love it! Maybe God does work in mysterious ways?”
– as reviewed by a long-time Narrow Gate Cellar Club member

“The recipes are so well laid out and approachable.”

“The photography is more than well done; it’s superb.”

“I thought I’d just note the commentary and focus on the recipes.  It is so well written and engaging I’ve stopped reading other books and look forward to the rest of the story.”

“The religious journey is a logical part of the whole and seamlessly included.  I’ve read similar books where it is ‘in your face’ and detracts from the total package.”

– accumulated reviews from a book club, including a former cookbook reviewer, from the SF Bay Area



Narrow Gate Botanical Spritz

Sip a bouquet in a glass!  Mix our botanically infused Dry Vermouth with our sparkling “Pet Nat” and a splash of bubbly orange water for a refreshing spritz.  We love to forage for the garnish and happened to hit it just right last weekend with Cecil Bruner pink rose buds, rose petals, lavender buds, Santa Barbara daisies, and violas.

Makes 1 Spritz

2 ½ ounces Narrow Gate Dry Vermouth
2 ½ ounces Narrow Gate Petillant Natural Sparkling Wine
1-ounce orange flavored sparkling water (optional)
Thinly sliced lemon
Organic (not sprayed) edible flowers such as violas, rose buds and petals, calendula or marigold petals, flowering herbs, or lavender buds.

Fill wine glass with ice and top with Dry Vermouth, Pet Nat, and sparkling water if using.  Stir gently and add lemon.  Arrange flowers on top. Enjoy!

Teena’s book update

I began my cookbook/memoir project almost 8 years ago. As I approach the finish-line I am so happy, and relieved, to announce that The Kitchen in The Cellar, a recipe for reinvention is in the final copy edit and design stages and expected to be released by late spring 2019.

Our miraculous Narrow Gate story, much of it set in beautiful El Dorado wine country, includes the early influences that led my husband, Farmer Frank, into agriculture and winemaking, and me into cooking. Ten adventurous vignettes indwell six chapters filled with over 100 recipes, most of which I’ve made for our winery’s food and wine pairing events. The vignettes narrate the adventurous steps of faith that we took, in the face of adversity, to pursue our dream of being reinvented, while colorful photographs of the recipes and of our life on the farm now, and before Narrow Gate Vineyards, bring the recipes and our journey to life.

Adding to this inspiring story is also a peek into the present life of my childhood cooking inspiration, Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, with whom I have developed a blossoming friendship. 

Thank you all for your encouragement and for cheering me on in this project. We are almost there… but please don’t stop asking Is your book done yet?

With gratitude,

Teena Hildebrand

Herb and Goat cheese Panelle & Mediterranean salsa

Herb and Goat cheese Panelle, Mediterranean salsa
 (adapted from Food & Wine magazine, Melissa Kelly, 2006)

We’re always looking for gluten-free appetizer options that everyone will enjoy and that pair easily with both white and red wines. Panelle are a Sicilian street food made from a base of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, water and salt. The sky’s the limit on what you can put in them or on them. Here, thyme, parsley, scallions and goat cheese are baked into the batter and then the panelle are lightly fried until slightly crispy and topped with a colorful and flavorful salsa. They paired fabulously with the new 2013 Dunamis, Estate Rhone blend.

1 1/3 cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
2 cups tepid water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper

prepared panelle batter
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for frying as needed
¼ cup finely chopped scallions, green part only
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Mediterranean Salsa
1 1/3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ medium red onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, pressed
½ jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Make the batter
    In a medium bowl with a lid add the chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 4 – 24 hours.
  2. Make the salsa
    In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and combine well, set aside or refrigerate for later use.
  3. Cook the panelle
    Preheat oven to 475°. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a 9-inch by 13-inch glass or metal baking dish and place in hot oven for 2-minutes then remove. Tilt dish so olive oil gets evenly distributed on bottom and ¼-inch up the sides. Add scallions and herbs to batter and whisk to combine. Pour batter into warm dish, sprinkle goat cheese on top and bake on middle rack of oven for 20-minutes until golden and cooked through, let cool 10-minutes. Slice into 8 squares and use a spatula to gently remove to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice each square on the diagonal to create 16 triangles. Heat a large cast-iron pan or skillet on medium high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil and, when hot, add panelle in batches, not crowding the pan, and fry to golden brown and slightly crispy on both sides then gently remove to paper towel-lined plate. May need to add additional oil for additional batches.
  4. Serve
    Arrange panelle on a platter and top with salsa. Garnish platter with remaining chopped parsley.

Printable Version


Lemon Panna Cotta

Lemon Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian silky custard dessert made with cream and gelatin. This easy to make-ahead lemon version is delicious and refreshing after a winter meal and would be a perfect ending to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.  Make it in ramekins or in little glass jars and serve it, alongside a glass of port, with a pinch of bright yellow lemon zest and a mint sprig on the side.

Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings or 8 (1/3 cup) servings

2 Silver (160 bloom) gelatin leaves or 2 teaspoons gelatin powder
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 whole vanilla bean
Peel from 1 lemon

Soak the gelatin leaves in a large bowl of ice water until soft, about 4 – 5 minutes. (If using gelatin powder, mix it with ¼ cup cold water and set it aside.

While the gelatin soaks, heat the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a large saucepan over med-high heat. Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise with a small knife. Scrape out the seeds and add it and bean to the pot along with the lemon peel. Decrease the heat to med-low and simmer. When you see small bubbles all the way around the rim, take the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Squeeze the gelatin leaves gently to remove excess water. Add the gelatin leaves (or the gelatin powder & water mixture) to the milk mixture. Stir until the gelatin melts, about 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

Ladle into six 6 ounce ramekins, glasses or jars. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with fresh fruit, mint or a citrus twist. Serve chilled.

Shrimp linguini with garlic, tomatoes, and basil

This is a family favorite.  We’ve been making this simply delicious shrimp pasta for years and it’s even better made with the bounty of end of summer tomatoes and basil from the garden.  By request I usually double the garlic and pepper flakes and throw in more fresh herbs since my garden is in full production by then.  Garnish with sliced lemon to add a fresh burst of citrus before digging in.

Makes 4 entrée servings or 6 appetizer serving

½ pound pasta, (linguini, fettuccini or cappellini) cooked according to package directions

½ lb peeled, deveined shrimp with tails on

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic, pressed

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or oregano

4 ounces grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

½ teaspoon hot sauce or hot pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 whole lemon, sliced into 6 wedges

Over medium high heat add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot sauté pan.  Lightly salt shrimp and add to pan.  Cook 1 to 1 ½ minutes on each side until shrimp turns pink and no longer translucent and remove to a bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of oil and hot sauce to the hot pan then add garlic, tomatoes, and herbs.   Saute until heated through. Toss back shrimp to tomato mixture and rewarm. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over pasta and drizzle with remaining olive oil, sprinkle with cheese and top with more fresh herbs if available. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Wine recommendations:

Serve with 2014 Chardonnay, El Dorado, 2015 Melange Blanc, Estate or 2013 Grenache, Estate

Exotic Spice and Orange Zest Marinated Goat Cheese

We served this impressive, yet simple, wine-friendly appetizer paired with Narrow Gate Vineyards 2012 Dunamis, Estate (GSM) as part of a tasting plate at this past weekend’s Sunday in the Country event. It was such a hit I wanted to share with you here the original recipe for Marinated Goat Cheese with Herbs and Spices, bon appetit May 2017. Below is my individual serving adaptation with increased olive oil and more ground spices (so no one misses out on all the exotic flavors).  We served these along with Alice Medrich’s rustic, wheat-free, Seeded Crackers that I baked from her fantastic book, Flavor Flours.

Makes 20 rounds

11 ounce log goat cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
3 garlic cloves, smashed and sliced lengthwise into slivers
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 bay leaves, each torn into 8 pieces
1 star anise* pod, coarsely ground
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Using a thread slice goat cheese lengthwise.  Lay each piece flat-side down and slice each into 10 half-moons.  Using your hands roll each into a ball and set them in a single layer in a shallow resealable dish or lidded container. In a saucepan set on medium high heat combine the remaining ingredients and heat for 10 to 15 minutes until garlic begins to turn golden. When marinade is cooled pour it over the goat cheese, seal with a lid and gently shake and turn over several times and refrigerate for three hours before serving.

Serve in individual 2-ounce ramekins with crackers or toasted sliced baguettes

*Note: On her last trip to Thailand my good friend Mitzi Jacob surprised me with a bag of star anise that she brought back from there. It’s worth the effort to special order a high quality star anise as it has way more intense anise/black licorice flavor than other readily available star anise. I also found that the whole star anise pod called for in the original recipe did not release much flavor so I coursely ground it in a coffee bean grinder and that did the trick.



Baked Eggs on Hearty Greens with yogurt and chile

The cure for what ails you: Baked Eggs on Hearty Greens with yogurt and chile

Enjoy this adaptation of a Turkish baked egg and Chili recipe my friend Connie shared with me recently.  Here’s my version that I made in individual crocks and works for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. This healthy, high protein, “lower fat” version (I cut the butter in half) pairs well with our Melange Rouge (mourvedre, syrah, grenache) and is also perfect after a good workout or yoga.

Continue reading

Herb & Dijon grilled Lamb chops

Serves 4

8  – 1 ¼ inch thick Lamb loin chops
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
1 large clove of Garlic, pressed or finely chopped
½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Continue reading

Do You Not See It?

Do you not see it? It’s hard to see the forest for the trees. This is where we found ourselves back in 2000 with minuscule faith and only the tiny whispers of God to guide us. Up to that point we’d spent most of our lives tuned out. But you’d never know it; we were successful, working and traveling in the fashion industry, quickly climbing the corporate ladder and acquiring the top five on the “Am I successful?” list: a house, new cars, a golden retriever, 1.7 kids (fortunately we managed to have 2.0 – a girl and boy), and a retirement plan. Layer on our mutual passion for all things fashion and wine and we had the perfect recipe for glamorous happiness.

Like Pavlov’s classical conditioning these surrogate markers of success kept us salivating for completeness, that feeling or state of lacking nothing. That feeling, also known as peace or contentment was, and sometimes still is, a real addiction. And when it fades a massive pursuit for those markers resumes. For us, we only need look back at our roots, to our upbringing, and realize the trailhead formed there. That place where our well-intentioned parents set up camp and determined we have endless opportunity to be educated and more successful than they were simply because that’s the course they rode out from their own Ziploc-saving, Great Generation parents.

Continue reading

Scroll to top