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Recipe: Strawberry/Rhubarb Tart

Madeline Delosh, a Columbia County resident, owns Mado Patisserie in Chatham, NY. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, she worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and was the pastry chef at La Grenouille Restaurant. “I like to reach out to those who love baking and pastries,” Madeline says. With her monthly recipe contributions to Rural Intelligence, she is doing just that. (And it you want some of Madeline’s ready-made delicacies, her shop is open for the season, Friday, Saturday & Sunday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)

It’s still strawberry season, for which we have no complaints, and Madeline Delosh is helping us make the most of it with her sumptuous and beautiful Strawberry/Rhubarb Tart. “I like to serve it with buttermilk sorbet, which is refreshing, light and tangy,” she says. “However, if you don’t want to bother making it, vanilla ice cream will be just as delicious.”

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Tart Dough (makes enough for two eight-inch tart shells)
9 oz. all-purpose flour
5½ oz. butter
3½ oz. sugar
1 large egg
Pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the flour. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and holds together. Let the dough rest for at least one hour or overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.

Roll the dough out about 1/8” thick and line your tart pan or ring. Refrigerate. (You can freeze any leftover dough).

Streusel
4 tbsp. butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup almonds, ground to the consistency of coarse corn meal

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and mix until crumbly. The pieces should be about 1/4” in size. Spread out on the parchment and bake, turning occasionally until golden brown and crisp.

Rhubarb Filling
2 cups rhubarb, washed, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
½ cup sugar
1 cup water
½ cup orange juice
1 cup strawberries, cut into 1/4” pieces
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. sugar

Bring the orange juice, water and sugar to a boil. Add the rhubarb and cook on medium heat for about three minutes, just until the rhubarb softens slightly but holds its shape. Do not overcook.

Transfer the rhubarb to a bowl. Stir in the strawberries and refrigerate until cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the flour and 1 tbsp sugar over the bottom of the tart shell. Drain the rhubarb-strawberry mix and spoon it into the tart shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown. Sprinkle the streusel over the tart. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Buttermilk Sorbet
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon

In a saucepan, simmer the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture cool. Add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Chill until thoroughly cold. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/28/15 at 09:06 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Roasted Strawberries

Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.

If I were to measure the success of my June in acquired pounds of strawberries (and often I do), I’d say we’re doing well.

I’ve been to Thompson Finch Farm twice. I’ve picked about 60 pounds of berries. My freezer is stocked, we’ve had both a pie and a tart, and we’ve eaten lots and lots of berries. The picking there has been heavenly this year, and it’s easy to pick 15 pounds in an hour. If you’ve never made the trek out to Ancram, NY, this is the year to make it happen. (And if you’ve never been strawberry picking, read this before you go.)

I’ve been picking at Thompson Finch for a decade now, and half the time I still get lost on the way in or the way back. If I don’t, I tend to get lost on purpose, because it’s a great little corner of the world to explore. On our last picking expedition, we drove the wrong way out of the farm, and ended up driving by The Farmer’s Wife in Ancramdale. It was almost as if the car had a mind of its own when it passed by the perfect porch and sweet little sign — there was no way we couldn’t stop there. They had a lunch menu of six dishes, and I wanted every single one. But the trout pate sandwich with watercress and cucumbers won, and it was so good. Joey got the fried chicken sandwich, and we made plans to go back just for the little mounds of baked ricotta with pesto and roasted tomatoes. So if you need lunch after picking, it’s right there ready to feed you.

We froze most of our strawberries from the last trip, but I roasted up a tray of them, too. I’d forgotten how good a roasted strawberry is. What it really does is cook them so you can enjoy them in the fridge for a week or so, but instead of breaking them down like cooking on the stovetop would do, it keeps the strawberries whole and firm while still releasing their juice. They’re great on yogurt, ice cream, pancakes or just with a spoon.

Roasted Strawberries
Makes about 3 cups

2 pounds strawberries, hulled, halved if they’re small and quartered if they’re large
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Optional: freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or large roasting pan with parchment paper.

2. Combine the strawberries, sugar, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Toss to combine, then scrape onto the prepared baking sheet. Roast until the strawberries are soft and release their juice, 30 to 35 minutes. If you want the berries to caramelize and dry out a bit, leave them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with pepper, if using. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/22/15 at 11:45 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Strawberry Icebox Pie

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

If ramps are the first taste of spring, then strawberries are most certainly the first taste of summer. Each year as we take our first bite of our first strawberry, a sense of joyous relief falls over us and we know that summer is truly here. But like all good things in life, strawberry season goes by in a flash, and it’s up to us to make the most of it.

We wanted to celebrate this limited-time-only, ruby-red harvest this week, but when we sat down to work out the recipe, we had no idea where to start. There are just so many delicious, delectable, delightful ways to eat strawberries! Our favorite, of course, is to eat ‘em as you pick ‘em — but that’s not much of a recipe. Other dishes on the list? Strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry jam, strawberries and cream, strawberries and ice cream, strawberry pancakes, strawberry shortcake… you can imagine it’s a very long list.

Anyway, rather than pick just one, we decided to pile as many strawberry preparations as we could into one pie plate, and here’s where we landed — Strawberry Icebox Pie. There’s something for everyone, and a little bit of everything for us — graham cracker crust, jam, mousse, cream and fresh berries. It looks like a lot of work, but it’s not — we promise! And it’s worth it. So, so worth it!

Crust:
15 graham crackers (about 1 ½ cups when crushed)
¾ stick butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Jam Layer:
1 lb. strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Mousse Layer:
1 lb. strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar

To make the crust:

Preheat oven to 350°. Crush the graham crackers. A food processor is the easiest way, but you can also put the crackers in a heavy zip-lock bag, wrap the bag in a dishtowel, and whack away at it with a rolling pin.

Mix all crust ingredients until well-combined. Dump into a buttered 9-inch pie pan or spring-form pan and press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides. (If using a spring-form pan, lay parchment paper in the bottom and then butter.)

Bake for 10 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

To make the jam layer:

Chop about half of the strawberries into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Put remaining strawberries in a medium saucepan and crush them using a fork. Add sugar and cornstarch to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture comes to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining chopped strawberries. Cool completely.

Spread cooled jam in the bottom of the cooled crust. If your jam seems very watery, use a slotted spoon and transfer only the chunky parts. Refrigerate the whole thing –—crust and jam — or put in the freezer until cool.

To make the mousse layer:

Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth and transfer to a large saucepan. Add sugar, lemon juice, salt and egg yolks, then whisk until smooth. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Cook, whisking occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the mixture has thickened a little. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then put in the refrigerator until cold — about 30 minutes.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form and add to cooled strawberry mixture. Fold gently until combined then set aside.

Whisk cream and vanilla in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form, add to strawberry mixture. Fold until combined then gently pour into pan, layering on top of cooled jam.

Refrigerate the pie or put in the freezer until the mousse sets a bit.

To make the whipped cream:

Mix cream and sugar in a bowl. Whip until firm peaks form. Spread over mousse layer.

Put in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. One hour before serving, take the cake out of freezer (if you’re using a spring-form pan, release it now) and put in the fridge to thaw slowly. Before serving, top with strawberries.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/15/15 at 09:16 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Creamed Spinach

Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.

One of my favorite parts about working for Indian Line Farm at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market is talking about recipes. Conversations about vegetables at the market are really what got me started in food writing, and the thrill of it hasn’t calmed down yet. Usually, the advice goes in the direction you might expect. Someone will hold up a kohlrabi, inspect its wiry UFO tendrils, and ask what they should do with it. I give them a recipe (Kohlrabi fries! Cut them thin and bake in a hot oven), and then they’re off. But sometimes I get to be on the receiving end, and this can be even better. All I have to do is perk my ears up and pay attention to customers’ conversations with each other.

This is what happened this past weekend. We had an excess of sweet and tender spinach, and I knew I might be able to grab a bag to take home with me. I was already imagining what I would do with it (Quiche? Red Lentil Dal?) when a couple came by and stood in front of the table taking it all in.

“Spinach!” She grabbed two bags, and looked at her shopping (and eating) partner.

“I want creamed spinach,” she told him, and as soon as she said it, I had the taste of creamed spinach in my mouth too: the shadow of nutmeg, the silkiness of the leaves cooked down in cream — I even had cream in my fridge!

He pulled out his money and paid for the spinach, and they both thanked me before moving on to the next table.

“No,” I said as they turned go. “Thank you!” And with that, my dinner was decided.

Creamed Spinach
(adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food)
Serves 4

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced small
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 lb. spinach (washed, dried and, if the leaves are big, roughly chopped
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon white pepper (or black)
Splash of red wine vinegar

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and clear, about 10 minutes. Add the nutmeg and salt, stirring to combine.

2. Add the spinach to the pot and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain any liquid that has gathered in the pot. Add the cream, turn up the heat to medium high, and cook uncovered, stirring often, until the cream thickens slightly and coats the spinach. There will still be quite a bit of liquid in the pot, but this makes a wonderful creamy broth that will make anything else on the plate better. Remove from heat and add the pepper and vinegar. Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 06/08/15 at 10:13 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Zucchini And Tomato Pizza

Madeline Delosh, a Columbia County resident, owns Mado Patisserie in Chatham, NY. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, she worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and was the pastry chef at La Grenouille Restaurant. “I like to reach out to those who love baking and pastries,” Madeline says. With her monthly recipe contributions to Rural Intelligence, she is doing just that. (And it you want some of Madeline’s ready-made delicacies, her shop is open for the season, Friday, Saturday & Sunday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)

It’s always time for pizza, and with the farmer’s markets in full force, you can pick up the ingredients to make your own fresh pie at home. “The dough is really simple,” says Madeline. “You can make it the day before and it requires very little kneading. You don’t need a pizza stone; the pizza is baked on a sheet pan in the oven.”

Zucchini And Tomato Pizza

Pizza Dough
1 lb. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. instant yeast (such as Rapid Rise)
1 tsp. salt
¾-cup cool water
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the water. Mix the dough until it comes together. This is a wet dough.

2. Dust a work surface with flour and, with the aid of a dough scraper, scoop the dough onto the work surface. Knead the dough about 10 times, until it is smooth but still slightly sticky.

3.Transfer the dough back to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or up to 18 hours.

Topping
3-4 medium zucchini
6 ripe plum tomatoes
Basil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. When you’re ready to bake the pizza, pre-heat the oven to 475 F.

2. Lightly brush an 11” x 16” sheet pan with olive oil.

3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and put it on a floured work surface. Start stretching and flattening the dough to form a rough rectangle close to the size of the sheet pan. Carefully lift the dough and place it on the pan. Stretch it so that it fills the pan, while keeping the thickness as even as possible. If there is a thin spot or a hole, you can patch it with a piece of dough.

4. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow the dough to rise slightly.

5. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes 1/8” - 1/4” thick.

6. Slice the zucchinis lengthwise 1/8” thick. If you have a mandoline, use it. Or use a sharp knife to make even slices.

7. Arrange the first row of tomatoes starting at the top edge of the dough. Overlap them slightly until you have one row. Take two long slices of zucchini and lay them end to end to form the next row. Continue alternating rows of tomatoes and zucchini until the top is covered.

8. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

9. Bake until the dough is browned and the vegetables are slightly charred, about 20 minutes.

10. Take the pizza out of the oven. Brush with a little more olive oil, and sprinkle some torn basil over the top.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/01/15 at 09:29 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Yogurt Tart with Rye Crust

Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.

I like to think of my progress in the garden as a series of dips and swirls rather than a straight line. That way, when I have a year like this one when I don’t plant a single thing, I only see it as a tiny moment in the greater story of how I’ll work and relate to this little piece of land (or any other I might have the privilege to know in the life ahead of me). Or maybe I’m just giving those hardworking beds a rest. That’s what I tell myself in my more poetic moments, at least.

So yes. The reality of my garden right now is several rectangular patches of sow thistle and lambs’ quarters (both edible, so I’m growing something, right?), with the beginnings of milkweed poking up, soft ground coverings of creeping Charley and the random twine of a wild grape. It’s quite lovely in its own right, really.

In the midst of all the mess are the perennials that I can always count on. The mint, which seems to know it might get the chance to really take over this year. The Jerusalem artichokes, a foot high already. The rhubarb, ever heroic. And the asparagus in year four now, dry, a little buggy, but still shooting up the miraculous crowns that manage, in all their feathered royalty, to calm me, to remind me of the years before and to promise more in the years ahead. I’ve been especially grateful for those few spears a day, and they’ve been the best thing I’ve eaten all spring. Of course I need to find recipes where just a few spears will do, and the all-purpose custard tart has been especially useful. If you have a long rectangular tart pan, it holds your few, precious asparagus perfectly.

Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Yogurt Tart with Rye Crust

For the crust:
4 ounces (a scant cup) rye flour
5 ounces (a heaping cup) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ cup olive oil
up to ½ cup water

For the filling:
5 to 6 spears asparagus
olive oil
salt
3 eggs
½ cup yogurt
½ cup heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
2 ounces smoked salmon, torn into bite-sized pieces
handful fresh herbs (parsley or dill are great here)

1. First prepare the crust: Combine the flours, salt, and caraway seeds in a medium mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and combine with a fork. Then add the water a few tablespoons at a time, and gently knead with your hand in the bowl, continuing to add water until the dough holds together. Gently roll out the crust on a floured surface and lift it into a greased 13 ¾ x 4 1/4-inch or equivalent tart pan. Transfer to the refrigerator.

2. Now, roast the asparagus. Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Toss the asparagus with a glug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and lay it on a baking sheet.  Roast until tender and a bit browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.

3. While the asparagus cools, make the custard. Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, and cream, along with a pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper.

4. Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator and poke the bottom several times with a fork. Lay the asparagus in the crust. Tuck the smoked salmon around it. Top with the fresh herbs, and finally pour the custard overtop. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake until firm, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow to cool for at least an hour before serving.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/25/15 at 10:22 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Spring Chickpeas

Twice a month, Berkshire County native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, titled “The Homemade Kitchen,” due out this year.

Okay I give in. Let’s talk about the weather.

This past weekend, I worked at the first Great Barrington farmers’ market of the year. Usually that first market is a cold, jump-up-and-down-to-stay-warm affair, but this market was hot and sunny, and market shoppers strolled through the parking lot (our new location just behind Main Street) in summer dresses and wide, floppy hats. And over and over, people asked for tomato plants.

This is my ninth season working for Indian Line Farm at the market. Over those years, I’ve learned at least a little bit about selling and planting tomato plants. And here in this part of the world, there is one rule we never break: Do not plant tomatoes before Memorial Day.

To eliminate any temptation, we don’t even bring tomato plants to the market until it’s time to plant them. This year, I spent most of the market reminding people of the rule.

Customers balked. They quoted the weather channel. They said the 10-day forecast never brought us below 80. And it was hard to argue. Because not only was it hot, it’s been hot. It’s hot like July, and, like the winter that came before, it already feels like this is the reality and it’s not going to change. What brought on the instant summer? Climate change? Random gulf streams? I think it’s more likely that our collective prayers that the winter would end hit the weather god with excessive force, and the weather god, in turn, answered in usual fashion, with a bit of irony mixed in.

Okay summer, I’m ready. It’s all cold salads and cocktails from here on out. But there’s no way I’m planting tomatoes. I don’t trust it.

On Friday, May 15, at I’ll be at Guido’s Fresh Marketplace from 1-3 p.m. to celebrate their truckload sale. It’s a pretty wonderful opportunity to stock up on all sorts of pantry staples at a huge discount (the sale runs all day Friday and Saturday), but I’ll be there with one of my very favorite cold salads, as well as copies of my book for signing and answers (hopefully!) to any cooking question you can throw at me. Come and say hello, but if you need that salad right now, you can make it at home between now and then.

Spring Chickpeas
Serves 4 to 6

I always try to have some variation on this chickpea salad in my fridge. It keeps for days, works great in lunch boxes, and satisfies any craving I have for something fresh and crunchy. It’s great on its own or as a side dish for a picnic or potluck. I especially love to scoop it into butter lettuce or endive leaves for a quick and beautiful lunch. Feel free to vary the vegetables according to what you have in your fridge or garden.

Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion (about ½ small onion)
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
2 cups (or 1 can) chickpeas
2 small Persian cucumbers, diced
1 small fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise and sliced thin
5 radishes, diced
1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Freshly ground pepper

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add the garlic, red onion, and feta, gently tossing to coat in the dressing. Let it all marinate for 10 minutes.

2. Add the chickpeas, cucumbers, fennel, radishes, parsley, and several grinds of pepper to the bowl. Fold into the dressing, taking care not to crush the cheese and vegetables. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper if needed.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/11/15 at 02:45 PM • Permalink

Recipe: Chive and Cheddar Biscuits

This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.

It seems like, since our first date, we’ve been talking about taking a food-centric roadtrip through the South… and we finally made it! A month or so ago, we ate our way into Savannah, then through Charleston and finally, on to Asheville. Of course, we didn’t see and consume everything we wanted to, but it was a pretty good start.

There are many things that drew us to the south - chief among them, a restaurant in Charleston led by one of our favorite chefs, Sean Brock - but we were surprised by how much we loved the Low Country of South Carolina. We immediately connected with the lush and swampy landscape, the culture, and yes, the food! Biscuits! Smoked pork! Cheese! Grits! Butter, butter and more butter! We wished we could take it all home with us.

When we arrived back in The Berkshires, our belts a little tighter, spring was barely emerging. Not much was happening in the garden beds except our trusty chives, which had sprung up high as if to welcome us home. Yearning for a taste of our travels, we set to work putting together a reminiscent dish, but with locally-sourced ingredients: Chive and Cheddar Biscuits, with North Plain Farm bacon and eggs. It might be a while until we make it back to the low country, but until then, this hearty breakfast will keep up sated.

Chive and Cheddar Biscuits

2 ¼ cups cake flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾  teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small chunks and frozen for a few minutes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
⅓ cup chopped chives
¾ cup buttermilk
egg wash (1 egg, whisked together with 1 tsp water)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and cover a baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Working quickly and gently, use your fingertips or a pastry blender to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is broken into pea-sized pieces. When it’s done, it will resemble a very coarse meal. Add the shredded cheese and chives and stir until combined.

3. Add the buttermilk and stir until clumps form. Knead the mixture gently until it just holds together. 

4. Dump the dough on to a floured surface and pat into a rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. At this point, you can either cut the rectangle into smaller 3 inch-ish segments or cut 2-3 inch rounds with a biscuit cutter. Either way, transfer to the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches in between biscuits.

5. Lightly brush egg wash on top of biscuits and put into oven. Bake for 15 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown on top. Serve immediately.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/11/15 at 09:50 AM • Permalink

Bulletproof Decadence; And I Guess It’s Good For You

By Nichole Dupont

A few months ago, RI editor Lisa Green sent me a link to a New York Times article about the bulletproof coffee craze that seems to be blowing up in major cities and fitness communities across the county.

“Is this a thing?” she wrote.

In my house, it had become a “thing,” partly out of curiosity and partly out of perceived necessity. Bulletproof coffee is black coffee with butter and any form of MCT (that’s medium chain triglycerides) oil in it.

The origins of this greasy little cocktail are somewhat fuzzy, but the general consensus is that David Asprey, a high octane entrepreneur/investor from Silicon Valley (and bestselling author of The Bulletproof Diet) was at 18,000 feet on Mt. Kailash in Tibet when he was given a cup of yak butter tea and was “literally rejuvenated” by the concoction of fat and caffeine. And, of course, everything improves with coffee, so…the rest is history. Or current events.

I started drinking bulletproof coffee about two months into a rigorous new hobby. I began my MMA (that’s mixed martial arts) training twice a week and in addition to barely making it up the three steps to my front door after class, my mornings were brutal affairs in which a simple cup of joe could not come close to feeding the raging beasts of hunger and fatigue that lurked inside of me. (If you think this is a dramatization of what happens in an MMA program, take a class for yourself. But be advised, I’ve watched Cross Fit instructors and seasoned trainers look to the sky for mercy during just the warm up.)

Regina Burgio, Paul Green and Nichole Dupont.

The “science” behind bulletproof coffee is that the butter gives you sustained energy throughout the day and the MCT oil (I use coconut oil) is brain food. We’re talking about ‘healthy fats,’ as they’re often referred to. Great. But there’s something very important to consider about all of this, and that is taste. Just because Asprey lost 100 pounds thanks to a revelation and some yak butter doesn’t mean that taste is not important. Especially in the circles I run in, because coffee people are even more hardcore than MMA people.

Since the bulletproof trend has not even touched the edges of this region (I have yet to see an offering in any one of our region’s countless cafes), some of us at RI gathered for our own bulletproof alchemy. Five coffee snobs from five very different walks of life: RI editor Lisa Green who is an adventurous coffee drinker, her husband, clarinetist Paul Green, who is a bit pickier than his lovely wife, RI assistant editor Amy Krzanik who is in it for the caffeine, graphic designer and yogi Regina Burgio who is at the point in her life where she would rather go without than drink a crappy cup of coffee and me, freelancer MMA mom whose second career will involve a chunk of land somewhere in Ethiopia.

We did two tastings. The key differences between the two were brewing method, coffee brand and type of butter. The two constants in the tastings were the coconut oil and the use of a small Black and Decker blender to froth the whole business up.

The Chemex.

The basic recipe (makes one hearty cup of bulletproof coffee):
1 cup of brewed black coffee, hot
1-2 tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed pasture butter (it’s pretty essential that it’s unsalted and pasture — Kerrygold is a good one and easiest to find)
1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil — comes in a peanut-butter looking jar; the “oil” is solid. Don’t worry, the hot coffee and the blender melt everything.

Round one:
We used Six Depot Ethiopia Amaro Gayo, coarsely (and freshly) ground to accommodate the Chemex brew method. While you don’t need a Chemex to make bulletproof coffee, you should probably have one for your general happiness. For the fats we used Organic Valley unsalted pasture butter and LouAna coconut oil. Since there were five of us, we brewed about two and a half cups of coffee and added almost three tablespoons each of butter and oil. We used a little personal blender to mix it all together. Even this seasoned gal was delighted by the frothy outcome of the blender (I’ve been using a little whisk this whole time at home).

The results of this run-through were pretty delightful, even to the skeptics in the bunch (Amy was getting itchy, even hostile for caffeine; Paul cleared his throat impatiently). We ended up with a buttery latte that needed no sweetener (although you can add sugar, coconut milk, cinnamon, honey) or any modification at all really.

“This is really like velvet,” Paul said. “I can’t get over how creamy it is.”

“It’s like dessert,” Regina piped in.

Noting the tiny oil bubbles at the top of the coffee once the foam had settled, we all agreed that it wouldn’t stop us from finishing the cup. Not in the least.

Round Two:
We used Assembly Coffee Roasters Bellwether Blend brewed in a basic automatic drip coffeemaker. Taking the same amount of coffee (about two and a half cups), we added the coconut oil and butter. Just plain ol’ unsalted supermarket butter to see if the hype about the butter was actually true. Immediately noticeable was that the froth on this round was not as thick and the color of the coffee was just a tad darker. Which leads us to the taste.

“Definitely more hard-edged,” said Paul. “But it’s still very flavorful.”

“It tastes like diner coffee in Ireland,” I said. “Or, or…”

“Like Dutch coffee,” said Regina. “You know, coffee milk. I think they actually call it coffee milk. I’d drink this as an afternoon treat.”

The second round, while delicious, was more bitter and not as creamy and pillowy. My educated guess: auto drip coffee and that stick butter. However, it was unanimous that this bulletproof business tasted more like a treat than a hardcore executive brainchild. And while I can’t imagine that you’d need butter and MCT oil every morning unless you ARE training MMA or some other extreme sport, definitely try it out for yourself.

And try it cold. Lisa saved a little cup for herself and put it in the fridge to cool, then took it out that afternoon and ran it through the blender. The subject line of her email to me: “Cold bulletproof coffee tastes like coffee ice cream…”

We’re sold.

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Posted by Nichole on 05/04/15 at 11:57 AM • Permalink

Recipe: Meringue With Berries And Whipped Cream

Madeline Delosh, a Columbia County resident, owns Mado Patisserie in Chatham, NY. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, she worked with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and was the pastry chef at La Grenouille Restaurant. “I like to reach out to those who love baking and pastries,” Madeline says. With her monthly recipe contributions to Rural Intelligence, she is doing just that.

Berries and whipped cream on a nest of meringue — tastes like spring, and what a lovely dessert to make on Mother’s Day. It’s simple and light, and the individually sized meringue shells are, you have to admit, pretty irresistible.

“This recipe makes more meringue than you will need,” Madeline says. “You can use the rest to make petit four shells. They will last for one month stored at room temperature in an airtight container.” Her suggestion: Fill the petit fours with lemon curd or preserves and whipped cream.

French Meringue
2 oz. confectioners sugar (sifted)
5 oz. granulated sugar
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. With a pencil, trace eight three-inch circles on the parchment. Flip the parchment paper over. (If you don’t do this, the pencil line will transfer to the meringue. You should be able to see the lines through the paper.)
3. Place the egg whites and salt in a very clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer. Start whipping on medium speed.
4. Add about 1/3 of the granulated sugar. Whip for about two minutes on high speed.
5. Add the next 1/3 sugar. Whip for about two minutes.
5. Add the last 1/3 sugar. Whip for two minutes.
6. Fold in the confectioners sugar.
7. Fill a pastry bag with a 1/4-inch round tip and pipe meringue into drawn circles. Starting from the center of the circle with the tip pointed straight down, pipe a spiral out to the edge of the circle.
8. When all the circles are filled, pipe a decorative border. Pipe teardrop shapes all around the border. For teardrops, pipe a round shape with the tip pointed down. (Stop pressing on the pastry bag as you pull up, creating a point.)
9. Bake one hour, until crisp.
Allow to cool completely. You can store them at room temperature in an airtight container.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Whip the cream and vanilla on medium speed. Add the sugar slowly. Whip the cream until firm and peaks hold their shape.
2. Prepare a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch star tip. Pipe the cream in the center of each meringue. Garnish with mixed berries.

You can make a sauce by pureeing any leftover berries with a little sugar in a blender.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/27/15 at 08:59 AM • Permalink