cheese

Hookline Fish Company

by Anne Maxfield on April 2, 2018

Skip and Smoked Salmon Who doesn’t like smoked salmon?

And who wouldn’t jump at the chance to explore a smokehouse and store to learn about and taste some great smoked salmon?

Go hungry because there’s a stretch of Route 28 in Kingston, New York that is becoming a destination for lots of great food. Hookline Fish Company turned out to be next door to my favorite local cheese shop, Cheese Louise. One-park shopping at its best!

At a recent visit, we tasted some great smoked salmon, learned a lot about what makes their smoked salmon so tasty, and how to make any future salmon I smoke taste even better.

Accidental Locavore Hookline Smoked SalmonSkip, the founder, wanted to replicate the taste and quality of the smoked salmon he’d grown up with in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a completely different process, fish and taste from what we’re used to plopping on a bagel.

What makes his product unique (and delicious) is his attention to detail. All the salmon are ocean raised in the Faroe Islands (north of Scotland, if you’re geographically challenged), flown here where Skip cuts them into portion sizes, brines them and smokes them.

He uses alder wood because he likes the delicate flavor it gives the salmon and because he’s found that apple and other fruitwood often has been sprayed and may contain pesticides—a disturbing idea, I’d never considered.

Accidental Locavore Hookline Smoked SalmonBy cutting the salmon into portion sizes before smoking it, he’s giving it more surface area and therefore more area to absorb the smoke. It also gives us consumers a choice between the different parts of the salmon.

Hookline sells a bunch of different cuts, all well described on their website. My favorite is the salmon belly—essentially salmon bacon—fatty, smoky and totally yummy! If that’s not around, you can’t go wrong with any of the other cuts, depending on your preference for fat, saltiness and smokiness.

At the store/smokehouse, depending on the day, you’ll also find smoked salmon chowder, pâté and other goodies along with a warm welcome from Skip and his crew.

Check their website for hours; they’ve just added in Wednesdays and may add more as we move into summer.

Accidental Locavore Hookline Smoked Salmon

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Advanced Pasta Class at Sprout Creek Farm

by Anne Maxfield on March 26, 2018

Accidental Locavore Tortellini PastaHave you ever wondered how to make stuffed pasta? I’ve made plenty of fresh pasta, but never really ventured past that, into ravioli and tortellini.

I got my chance recently at an “Advanced Pasta” class at Sprout Creek Farm.

Mark, the executive director and chef, lead a trio of us through preparing the dough, cutting it and shaping it into ravioli, tortellini, mezzaluna, etc.

Accidental Locavore Mark Making Pasta DoughWe got a lot of hands-on opportunities to help roll out the dough and then use it to cut and shape all the different stuffed pastas. I never knew that the more you worked the dough through the rollers that it starts to develop a sheen.

Some pasta shapes like ravioli or mezzalunas are pretty easy, but the round tortellini require some practice. We also learned to cut and shape things like rigatoni, which with the help of the handle of a wooden spoon turns out to be super easy.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed PastaWhile you’ve probably always heard about adding the water from the cooked pasta to whatever sauce you’re making to thicken the sauce and help it stick to the pasta, for me it’s always an abstract idea. I’ll occasionally toss in a splash of water from the pasta, with no purpose (which is probably why the results were never spectacular). Mark’s had a lot of experience training in Boston’s North End and has the pasta water/sauce thing down. He took the time and showed us how it worked. The two super-quick sauces he made were great!  They had little in them but pasta, the water, a splash of olive oil or butter some chopped veggies and a sprinkling of cheese. In this case, some of the fine cheeses that Sprout Creek is famous for. The second one was almost the same, but he added a beaten egg and some breadcrumbs in his version of a carbonara. BTW, if you think that adding breadcrumbs to pasta is just loading on the carbs, try it and then thank me in the comments.

Accidental Locavore Pasta Class QuicheBefore class, Mark was kind enough to share his quiche recipe with me. You’re probably wondering what that has to do with anything, or why you’d care. I’d been at an event he catered a few days earlier and was told that I must try the quiche, it was amazing, and it was! By far, the best quiche I’ve ever had. So, it was great that he shared his recipe (technique really) and will have to give it a try. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.

Since the class, whether it’s just laziness, lack of motivation or dealing with too much snow and downed trees, I haven’t made pasta or quiche, but not to worry, it will be on the menu soon!

 

 

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Cheese Louise: Equal Opportunity Cheese Lovers

by Anne Maxfield on August 7, 2017

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Hard CheesesI love exploring markets and shops wherever I am and, especially, shops with a distinct point of view.

When I first went into Cheese Louise, I wasn’t expecting to find great cheeses in what I thought  was in the middle of nowhere.

Wrong on all counts.

The middle of nowhere turns out to be route 28 which gets about 23,000 cars a day.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Soft CheesesAnd the cheese is wonderful! When asked if she has any preferences to a cheese or region Sam says “As far as being partial to a region or a cheese, I have to say we are equal opportunity cheese lovers. There are so many fabulous cheeses from all over the world, including the United States, that it is impossible to choose. I also find that at times one cheese is ringing my bell for a few months and then it’s another cheese that captures my heart and palate.”

It’s a small store, with goodies tucked in every nook and corner. If want to cook, there are ingredients to make all sorts of dishes and as exotic as you’d like.

If you’d rather go the prepared route, there’s lots to choose from, including my new fave, their smoked trout salad (plated on your own china, no one will be the wiser).

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Prepared FoodsRick and Sam take good care of everyone, and if you’re one of their regulars, will greet you by name and reach for your favorites.

Along with the cheese, which takes up most of the room in three refrigerator cases, there is a nice selection of pâtes and charcuterie. A small selection of local meats (steaks and chops) are also available.

There are plenty of crackers to go with all the cheeses, and baguettes from a local bakery. I discovered Potter’s crackers on a previous visit and now they’ve become a favorite at my house.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise Potter's CrackersThe cheese is all in lovely condition and if you tell Rick and Sam when or what you want it for, they’ll steer you in the right direction.

Something I almost always do in any good cheese store is to ask what I shouldn’t leave without. I figure the cheesemongers know what’s particularly good that day and I get a chance to try something new or remember one that might have fallen off my radar. Either way it’s win-win.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Louise My CheesesThat day Rick gave me Urgelia, a washed rind, cow’s milk cheese from Spain. I grabbed that and a new-to-me wheel of a triple crémé, Petit Exquis D’Argental, my crackers and a few other goodies, went home and had a feast!

Now that I know it’s only a short hop across the Kingston bridge, I’ll be a much more frequent customer!

 

 

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin

by Anne Maxfield on February 6, 2017

As much as the Accidental Locavore likes  Brussels sprouts any way, every now and then, you need to mix it up, dress them up.

Cheese is always good.

And knowing how to do a béchamel sauce (which technically becomes a mornay sauce with the addition of cheese) is handy for a lot of things—mac & cheese, croque monsieur, etc.

Serves 6

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

For the Mornay sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (warmed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese (2 ounces)

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

For assembling the gratin:

  • 2/3 cup finely grated aged Gouda (2 ounces)
  • Smoked flaked sea salt, such as Maldon or regular sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Make the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture bubbles slightly but has not started to brown, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking often.

Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Blanch the brussels sprouts: Place in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of water and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes until just tender.

Assemble the gratin: In a lightly greased gratin pan, add the Brussels sprouts.

Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and sprinkle with cheese and a pinch of smoked sea salt.

Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

 

My verdict: This is a great dish for those who may be on the fence about Brussels sprouts. Like bacon, cheese makes everything good.

Hmmm…speaking of bacon, a little cooked and crumbled would probably go really well in this.

We really liked this. It’s a great side dish to something simple like a steak. You can easily substitute almost any cheese for the smoked Gouda, or even a combination, if you’ve got stray scraps in the fridge.

Topping it with Parmesan and/or breadcrumbs would also be delicious. Just think of it as a Brussels sprouts version of mac & cheese (and it will seem almost healthy).

 

 

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