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Recipe: Crunchy Cranberry Granola

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Granola is one of the easiest breakfasts to make at home and surprisingly more cost efficient than store-bought varieties. You can make a large batch and keep it in an airtight container for weeks. The best part is that you can adjust the baking time to suit your tastes — for a crunchier granola, bake for longer. If you like more clusters, you can add more honey and brown sugar. Our students love eating this granola over yogurt or a baked pear.

Crunchy Cranberry Granola
Yields about 5 cups

3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. Over medium heat, combine oil, sugar and honey in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla.
3. Combine oats, nuts, seeds, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Add the liquid mixture to the oat mixture and combine.
5. Transfer oat mixture to a large baking sheet and spread evenly.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring the oats occasionally. If you prefer chewier granola, or VERY crunchy granola, you can adjust the baking time.
7. Cool granola on a cooling rack until completely cool. Add dried fruit.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/20/17 at 03:19 PM • Permalink

Poached Chicken In Citrus Ginger Butter Sauce

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Spring is just around the corner despite the late blizzard that just landed on our doorstep. So even if this mercurial change of temperatures has you yearning for comfort food, put this lighter and incredibly delicious dish on your forecast for when the roads are safe again and you can make it to the market for some key ingredients. This is a poached chicken dish plated on a bed of crunchy, colorful wild rice (recipe included here) with an orangey, garlicky, gingery butter sauce akin to a beurre monte. The combination of subtle and dynamic flavors spells SPRING in capital letters. So once winter is truly behind us, celebrate with this beautiful meal. It’s a wonderful welcome to warmer climes ahead. 

Spring Chicken
(Poached Chicken in Citrus Ginger Butter Sauce)

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 7 oz. each)
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup honey
3 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1½ sticks salted butter room temperature

1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook sauce until it bubbles and thickens, 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Nestle chicken breasts in a casserole. Pour 3/4 cup of the liquid over the chicken breasts and allow to marinate for an hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Massage butter into remaining liquid. Stir until well incorporated. The mixture should be fluffy. Dot chicken breasts with half of the butter mixture. Poach in the oven for 20-25 minutes until done.

4. Remove chicken from the casserole and pour all of the liquid into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat. Pass sauce through a fine sieve. Return the sauce to the saucepan and with the heat on a low use a whisk to incorporate the remaining butter mixture one tablespoon at a time. This is the process of “mounting the butter” into the sauce and allowing it to emulsify. Adjust seasoning. To plate, thickly slice the chicken breast on the diagonal, place on a bed of wild rice (recipe below) and pour a generous amount of sauce. Sprinkle with snipped chives.

Herby Wild Rice with Radishes, Almonds & Ricotta Salata
Serves 8

6 cups chicken stock
3 cups wild rice
3/4 cup sliced mixed radishes
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup minced fresh dill
¼ cup minced fresh mint
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground pepper

1. In a large saucepan (I like it wider than deeper when making wild rice as it cooks quickly and evenly), bring stock, salt and pepper to a boil. Add rice all at once, return to a simmer, cover and reduce heat. Check after 20 minutes to make sure all stock has not evaporated. Rice should be ready after 25 minutes of cooking time. Remove from heat, uncover and allow to cool.

2. Once the rice has cooled to a degree, fluff with fork and gently add radishes, almonds and herbs. As a final step, turn in ricotta salata. Rice is colorful, crunchy and ready for plating with poached chicken. Entire meal can be served at room temperature.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/14/17 at 09:48 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Orange Cinnamon Olive Oil Cake

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Cakes usually call for quite a bit of butter in them, but this cake replaces it with olive oil — a much healthier fat — and gives it a nice crumb and a fruity flavor. The addition of orange gives this cake a bright and zesty sparkle, while the cinnamon warms and makes this healthy cake a great one for winter. We love this cake with tea or coffee in the morning.

Orange Cinnamon Olive Oil Cake
Serves 8-10

¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, juiced and zested

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or 11x7 pan.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk together eggs and sugar until blended and light. Slowly add olive oil, vanilla, orange juice and zest. Whisk until smooth.

4. Add half of the flour mixture to wet ingredients, mix thoroughly, then add the other half.

5. Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 25-30 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/06/17 at 04:24 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Lobster Poached In Beurre Monté

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

Recently, I was asked to prepare an elaborate menu for a very special birthday dinner of which one course was lobster tail. I thought of piggybacking lobster tail and serving with a compound butter. Piggybacking requires a bit of surgery. First you poach the tail and then cut the shell down the center of the back with a kitchen shears, leaving tail fan intact. Next you run your finger between the meat and the shell to loosen them from each other. Then you carefully lift the lobster meat through the slit to rest on top of the shell without severing it entirely.

As fancy as this sounds, the dish still seemed rather “been there, done that.” My sister, also a chef, suggested poaching lobster tail in butter, which didn’t sound entirely innovative, but it did sound rich and decadent. I searched online for recipes and came across lobster tails poached in beurre monté. I liked the sound of beurre monté, and much to my grateful surprise after testing what is more science, less recipe, I was rewarded with one of the most elegant and delicious dishes I’ve ever made; it could only be categorized as heaven sent. To wit, now that I know what I’m doing, I would also classify this meal as easy plus — you will just need some patience and determination to extract the meat from the shells so the pieces are entirely presentable.

First, a few facts.

Beurre monté is an emulsion of water and butter. Yep, that’s it. Plain and simple. In fact, a stick of butter is an emulsion. You can see that when butter melts, separating into clear fat, milk solids floating on top, and water at the bottom. Beurre monté is chilled butter that has been whisked into a couple of tablespoons of simmering water, piece by piece, transforming into a creamy, fluffy and almost bisque-like sauce.

The keys to working with beurre monté are simple:
• Cut the butter into chunks before you begin. You don’t want to have to interrupt the whisking.
• Make sure the water into which you’re emulsifying the butter is at a high simmer but not a boil.
• Once the butter begins to melt and a liquid emulsification is formed, lower the heat so that the beurre monté doesn’t boil; if it boils, the emulsification can break.
• Once the beurre monté has been made, cover it with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid and keep it in a warm place; it can be held for hours. Any that’s left over can be stored in the refrigerator, where it can be clarified to be used for sautéeing.

Butter-Poached Lobster Tail with Sauce Fines Herbes
Served on a Bed of Braised Leeks

Serves 2
Active work and total preparation time: 1 hour

2 (1½-lb.) lobsters
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups (1 lb.) butter, cut into 1” slices
1½ tablespoons minced fines herbes (equal parts Italian parsley, tarragon and chives — reserve four whole chives for plating)
2 cups chicken bouillon
3 organic baby leeks, halved lengthwise and rinsed

1. Fill large pot with enough water to completely cover the lobsters. Add vinegar and bring to boil. Remove from heat and submerge the lobsters. Steep them for 6 minutes, covered.

2. Remove from the water, twist to remove the knuckles and claws and return these to the water. Separate the tails from the bodies (reserve the bodies for stock or discard). Cut through the cartilage on the undersides of the tails, pull apart, and gently pull out the tail meat in one piece. This is difficult, so tease the meat slowly and cut away at the shell if need be. Cut the tails in half lengthwise, remove the veins, and trim any loose strands.

3. Remove the claw meat from each lobster intact by wiggling off the small lower claw, to which a piece of cartilage is attached (be sure to remove this cartilage if it separates), and by cracking the fat claw near its base to open and remove the meat without damaging it. Remove the knuckle meat and reserve for another use (it’s great sautéed quickly in butter for a snack). Place all the meat on a paper-towel-lined plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. (If chilled, allow the lobster meat to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.)

4. To make the beurre monté: Bring 2 tablespoons water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, reducing the heat to low and being careful not to boil the butter. Once the sauce is done, add the fines herbes and allow the flavors to infuse.

5. For the leeks: Bring the bouillon to a simmer in a saucepan large enough to hold all the leeks. Place the leeks in the liquid cut side down. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes, until tender and silky. Remove from the braising liquid.

6. Return the beurre monté to the stovetop and reheat over low heat. Submerge the lobster tails in the sauce and poach over low heat until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the claw meat to warm for an additional 2 minutes. (The optimum temperature of beurre monté is between 180°F and 190°F.)

7. To serve: In each warmed shallow soup bowl place 3 leek halves. Now place the halved lobster tails and the claws. Ladle 1 cup of the warmed sauce over each. Top each serving with 2 crisscrossed chives.

Voilà! You’ve just cooked like professional chef! And since you’ve gone to all the expense and trouble to make this extraordinary dish, buy a great bottle of Meursault to accompany your beautiful dinner.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/01/17 at 12:29 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This vegetarian tortilla soup is simple, delicious and a great recipe to customize. It’s a wonderful starter or a nourishing light main course. Add more adobo or hot sauce if you like it spicy, or add more vegetables and beans for a heartier soup. The kids in our cooking classes love garnishing their own bowls of soup with their favorite toppings, which include avocado, extra adobo and, of course, chips!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Serves 6

1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon chili powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely minced, plus more for heat
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish suggestions:
Lime wedges
Shredded cheese
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Red onion, diced
Tortilla chips
Ripe avocado, cubed
Hot sauce

1. Warm a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, onion, pepper, and a pinch each of salt and pepper, and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and the peppers begin to soften.

2. Add cumin and chili powder and stir to coat. Then add canned tomato, vegetable stock, chipotle pepper and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

3. Once soup boils, add black beans and corn and stir. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally.

4. Serve as-is or with recommended serving options above.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/20/17 at 03:53 PM • Permalink

Recipe: “Blonde” Meatballs & Spaghetti

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I love the concept of spaghetti and meatballs, but in reality I always find the actual dish too heavy, without tasting inspired or fresh. A bowl of pasta lacquered in heavy tomato sauce with even heavier meatballs might be the perfect answer to hunger pains on a wintry day, but what if you’re looking for something less filling, slightly more refined, and more presentable on the plate? Well, I happened upon a delicious path to a more delicate version of spaghetti and meatballs while cooking for a client and seeking a luncheon recipe to appease both children and adults at the table.

I always say that there is alchemy in the kitchen because if there weren’t, my career as a professional chef would have ended early into my tenure. For instance, there was the leg of lamb that despite following the recipe to the letter was completely undercooked and had to be butterflied and broiled until I could carve and serve it without destroying the beautiful piece of meat in the process. My clients later said it was the best leg of lamb that they had ever eaten. These little blessings happen all the time because, let’s face it, cooking is art and performance all rolled into one and just like anything else in life, there is room for error. And somewhere along the way, I have learned to trust in the process that no matter how bleak the scenario, the perfect solution is just a few deep breaths away.

Under similar circumstances, I developed this recipe out of necessity without any precedent for where I was going with the ingredients. My client had suggested a pasta with protein and also mentioned that there was ground turkey and a few eggplants in the refrigerator. Immediately, baked penne melanzane with a turkey ragù came to mind, but the creative side of my brain vetoed the notion and urged me to come up with something different. Note to self: cooking untested recipes for the first time at a client’s could be professional suicide or another good day in the kitchen. The gambler in me bet on myself, and a very clear image of turkey eggplant meatballs with a caramelized garlic olive oil sauce over spaghetti occurred to me.

And guess what? This dish turned out to be one of the most delicious and easiest meals I’ve ever prepared, while also hitting high marks for a gorgeous presentation. I plated it on a huge platter with a generous sprinkling of minced Italian parsley and additional freshly grated Parmesan, a blonde version of an Italian favorite. My clients loved it, too, and now it’s earned a place in the cookbook I will one day write.

So if you, like me, have fallen out of love with spaghetti and meatballs, rekindle your affection with mine.

Turkey Eggplant Meatballs with
Golden Caramelized Aglio e Olio

Serves 8 to 10

For the meatballs
2 pounds ground turkey
1 medium onion, finely diced
8 cloves garlic, finely diced
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
6 slices white bread, torn into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper (do not substitute with foil, or meatballs will stick).
2. In a large bowl mix the turkey, onion, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
3. Put the eggplant dice in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
4. Put the torn bread in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of the reserved eggplant water. Mash and squeeze the bread until it is a doughy, wet mass. If more water is needed, add a few more tablespoons one at a time.
5. Put the eggplant on a cutting board and chop until it is reduced to a pulpy purée.
6. Add the bread and eggplant to the turkey and mix well. Add the eggs and Parmesan and mix well. The mixture will be light and moister than a traditional meatball mixture.
7. Gingerly roll the turkey mixture into 2-inch balls and drop onto a baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms are crunchy. Set aside.

For the pasta
12 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pounds dried spaghetti
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup minced Italian parsley

1. Place the minced garlic in a small pot, not a saucepan, and cover with the olive oil. (This is not a sauté but a slower-cooked caramelization process that cannot be achieved in a shallow pool of olive oil. The garlic would cook too quickly and taste bitter rather than sweet and garlicky with a chewy texture.) Add the salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook over low heat until the garlic has caramelized and is golden and slightly browned on the edges, about 15 minutes.
2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse; immediately place in a large bowl and toss with ¾ cup of the garlic olive oil. Toss with the Parmesan and parsley. Spread on a large serving platter.
3. In a large sauté pan over high heat, reheat the meatballs with the rest of the garlic olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Tumble the meatballs onto the platter and serve immediately.
4. Follow with a simple green salad. Mangiamo!

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/13/17 at 05:11 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Mini Apple Turnovers

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

This is one of our favorite recipes at The Sylvia Center. It’s perfect for all ages and is a great handheld dessert for kids, not to mention a wonderful snack to make for a party. The phyllo dough is crispy and just slightly buttery and the tart apples match beautifully with honey. Replace the apple with pears or any other fruit, just be sure to cook down most of the liquid. You can also use this technique with savory fillings like spinach and feta or curried chickpeas.

Mini Apple Turnovers
Serves 6

3-4 large apples, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter
Cinnamon, to taste
1 package phyllo dough, defrosted

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Heat butter in a pan and melt slowly to avoid browning. Pour melted butter into a small bowl and add apples to pan. Sauté apples in the residual butter until soft. Add a pinch of cinnamon and the honey to the apple mixture to desired taste. 

3. Following instructions on box for handling phyllo dough, fold dough in half lengthwise and brush surface with butter. Place ¼ cup apple mixture at bottom corner of the dough and fold into a triangle, and then continue to fold in triangles, like folding up a flag.

4. Brush each triangle with butter and place on a baking sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/06/17 at 03:50 PM • Permalink

The Duchess Of Litchfield’s Best Flourless Chocolate Cake Ever

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.color:green;

My clients eat a lot of chocolate desserts and over the years I have searched high and low for the best chocolate fill-in-the-blank to keep it interesting for them and me. So I have curated an enviable index of chocolate desserts. And then one day, as I was testing several recipes for chocolate flourless cakes, I came up with the motherlode of recipes. I essentially added more butter, eggs and chocolate to several standard recipes and came up with my own cake that is hands-down the most moist, rich and decadent cake I’ve ever eaten. I then considered how to gild the lily so-to-speak, and plated it on my improvised crème anglaise, then tossed a few berries on top for color. This became my go-to chocolate dessert and it’s a perennial favorite. Best of all, it’s fail safe, requiring very little prep or special equipment. In other words, you can make it in a snap and wow your guests with your culinary prowess when you serve it beautifully plated. Additionally, it keeps for up to a week, so if you make it for yourself, you can finish each day with a little chocolate love for all the good you do. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Brandied Crème Anglaise
Yield: 12 servings

For the cake
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter plus more for the pan
10 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the pan and the paper.
2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring, until smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler or the bowl from heat and whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and whisk well. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before sliding a knife along the edge and releasing the spring.
3. Dust the cake with cocoa powder, cut it into 1-inch slices, and serve on a puddle of brandied crème anglaise. (Cake keeps, after being cooled completely, refrigerated in an airtight container for 1 week.

For the creme anglaise
2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla
2 tablespoons brandy

1. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, slowly bring the cream and vanilla to a soft boil and immediately remove from the heat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the hot cream to the yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking the entire time (you might need a spare set of hands to hold the bowl). Transfer the mixture to the same saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened and a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let the custard boil.)
3. Cool the crème anglaise completely and stir in the brandy. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pull the plastic wrap off before serving, which will remove the filmy top.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/01/17 at 03:11 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Singapore-style Rice Noodles

One of our favorite events every summer is The Sylvia Center’s Farm-to-Table dinner, hosted by Great Performances in the fields of Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to eat well through hands-on learning experiences on the farm and in the kitchen. Jenn So, director of programs at The Sylvia Center, offers us recipes the teenagers are learning to make.

Singapore-style Rice Noodles can be typically found on menus at Chinese-American restaurants. Our version is healthy and packed full of seasonal vegetables and warming curried noodles. Like any stir-fry, this dish is a perfect way to use up those vegetables and proteins you’ve got in your fridge. It’s great with leftover chicken or beef, or you can keep it vegetarian by using tofu or more egg. If you like your noodles on the spicier side, add hot chili oil or red pepper flakes to the sauce.

Singapore-style Rice Noodles
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
¾ cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or spinach, roughly chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 8-oz package of thin rice noodles
Scallions, sliced thinly on bias for garnish (optional)

1. Soak rice noodles in a large bowl with hot water for 5-7 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine curry powder, broth and soy sauce. Set aside.

3. Warm oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or sauté pan. Add onion, red bell pepper, carrot and cabbage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add tofu.

4. Push vegetables aside to create a small area in the middle of the wok or pan. Add eggs and scramble. Add rice noodles and sauté to combine with vegetables. Add curry powder mixture and cook until liquid has absorbed into noodles. Add more soy sauce, broth or curry powder to taste.

5. Serve immediately with a garnish of scallions.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/23/17 at 02:54 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Cauliflower Soup With Buckwheat Drizzle

Contributor Lisa Fielding is a private chef and boutique caterer based in Manhattan who weekends in Litchfield County whenever possible. Many of her Manhattan clients are also Litchfield County weekenders, so work brings her to Northwest Connecticut as well. A Los Angeles transplant, Fielding was a former Hollywood film executive who segued into screenwriting several years ago, which enabled her to pursue her passion for food and entertaining. Lisa’s culinary skill set draws from a broad spectrum of dishes and ingredients.

I am addicted to vichyssoise and all its incarnations. I make the classic French version with potatoes and leeks but have expanded the recipe to include celery root, parsnips and onions. No matter what combination of ingredients I choose, the end result is a multi-dimensional soup whose flavor is certainly greater than the sum of its parts and the ease of its preparation. I make it all year long and serve it either warm or room temperature — a versatility that few soups can match. All these factors made vichyssoise my favorite go-to soup, until I made this recipe recently for a client and fell in love with its depth of flavor, texture and healthier ingredients. This cauliflower cashew soup with buckwheat drizzle is a surprisingly divine soup, as sophisticated, hearty and elegant as its French counterpart, while offering a more contemporary spin – this recipe has no cream and no butter. But, if you like, you can add a quarter cup of cream at the very end to heighten the already velvety texture and appearance.

I served it as a starter for a fancy multi-course dinner and then at home to help us defrost from these recent frigid temps. Since it’s all we were having for dinner, I added chive and parmesan biscuits and the pairing was a match made in heaven. In fact, as a little snack, split a biscuit and smother it with the soup a la biscuits and gravy and you’re in business. Plus, it’s super easy to make and even the most amateur cook can make this lickety split.

Cauliflower-Cashew Soup With Crispy Buckwheat Drizzle
Serves 8

Note: Simmering vegetables in a covered pot over low heat so that they steam in their own liquid — a French technique called à l’étouffée — is the ticket to achieving a soup with pronounced depth.

½ cup olive oil, divided
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
½ cup Sherry
1 large head of cauliflower, cored, cut into small florets, stem chopped, divided
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. raw cashews
6 cups (or more) chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons buckwheat groats
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon paprika

1. Warm ¼ cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and Herbes de Provence; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent, 6–8 minutes.

2. Add Sherry, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Set ¾ cup cauliflower aside; add the rest to pot along with cayenne and ¾ cup cashews; season with salt.

3. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and cook, shaking pot occasionally, until cauliflower is fork-tender and vegetables have released all their water, 15 minutes (check occasionally to make sure vegetables are not browning; reduce heat if they are).

4. Add stock and season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until cauliflower is falling apart, 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5. Meanwhile, finely chop reserved ¾ cup cauliflower and remaining 2 tbsp. cashews. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower, cashews and buckwheat; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until cauliflower and cashews are golden brown and buckwheat is browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and paprika. Let cool slightly.

6. Working in batches if needed, purée soup in a blender until very smooth. Return to pot and rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring and adding more stock to thin if needed (soup should be the consistency of heavy cream). Taste and season soup again if needed.

7. Serve topped with toasted cauliflower-buckwheat mixture.

Do ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead (or 1 month if frozen). Let cool; transfer to airtight containers and chill.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/16/17 at 01:35 PM • Permalink