8 Things I’m Challenging Myself to Cook in 2019

by Anne Maxfield on January 28, 2019

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been kicking an idea around about all the dishes I swear I’m going to cook—recipes I’m going to try.

If you’re reading this and thinking I can’t believe she’s intimidated to make (fill in the blank), know we all have culinary roadblocks.

When I was thinking about this, I came across a piece on the Taste website, “Everyone Should Have a Winter Cooking Goal.” The author’s goal is to work on one dish until she masters it and has explored all its variations.

My goals are a little different–some of these I’d like to master, some I’d like to have become a regular part of my cooking repertoire and others are rainy day/all day projects. I’m thinking that maybe there should be one a month, but at the moment, I’m 4 short. Any suggestions?

8 Things I’m Challenging Myself to Cook in 2019:

  1. Crêpes: One of those projects that I thought I could throw equipment at and be okay. This just needs practice and probably patience. For you crêpe makers out there, is it easier to start with regular (flour) ones before moving on to savory (buckwheat) ones?
  2. Soupe de poisson: This is one of my favorite soups and a prelude to bouillabaisse. Making this is just a matter of deciding to do it and getting some good fish.
  3. Whole fish: I don’t know why this has always seemed so challenging to me and since they just published this in the NY Times, I’m not the only one. Could it be one of those things like roasting meats that’s super easy but looks like you can cook? Anyone got a favorite recipe to share?
  4. More fish: Where we are, it’s much easier to get great (farm raised) meat, than good fish, but I’m going to make finding a good source for fish and befriending a fishmonger a priority this year (and it will make #2 & 3 much easier).
  5. Cream of mushroom soup: (as good as the CIA and/or the late Campfire in GB) Like the soupe de poisson, this is more a matter of going shopping and facing the stove.
  6. Cauliflower rice: Yes, I can be trendy, and we need to cut carbs/sugar in my house.
  7. Grains: Freekeh, farro, oats, lentils, etc. Time to switch it up from rice and potatoes. And if I would do #8, probably faster cooking than an hour on the stove.Accidental Locavore Insta-Pot
  8. Use my Insta-Pot: for more than yogurt and use the pressure cooker part of it. Shoot, I guess that means I have to find the instruction book and read it.

And, I’m going to start using the “good” silver!

What would go on your list?




February 2nd: Groundhog vs. Crêpes

by Anne Maxfield on February 2, 2017

Accidental Locavore Groundhog

To the majority of people reading this, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. However, in France the Accidental Locavore discovered a much better way to “celebrate” this day—la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or Candlemas. It’s also known as the Day of Crêpes.

I’ve never been a fan of Groundhog Day. Why do we suddenly revere a rodent we spend the other 364 days trying our best to get rid of? Seriously.

It seems like a much better idea to whip up a few crêpes and let them predict the coming (or not) of spring. Why crêpes? Because they’re golden and after a long winter, look like the sun.And this is how it works: “It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.” The other benefits? Everyone will want to toss crêpes and the only thing that will get bitten is the crêpe (are you reading this Bill DeBlasio?).

Accidental Locavore Chevre Crepe for Groundhog DayCandlemas actually inspired Groundhog Day, marking the mid-point of winter. Germans in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to (ready for this?) Punxsutawney PA, with more of a focus on weather than wealth. After the groundhog did his prognostication he became lunch, supposedly tasting “like a cross between chicken and pork”. One less groundhog messing up the yard.

Given the choice between some rodent or a pan full of hot crêpes predicting the coming of spring, what would be your choice? For the first time ever, I’m looking forward to celebrating February 2nd and will definitely be hitting one of the crêperies near me! It might also be the excuse I’ve been looking for to get a crêpe pan and start making some of my own. If you’re far away from a good source of crêpes, pancakes are a perfectly good substitute. Enjoy!




Pot au Feu: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

by Anne Maxfield on October 14, 2013

Accidental Locavore WaterfireHow many times have you just wandered into a restaurant and felt immediately at home? Rarely, and hardly ever when you’re travelling solo, but that’s what happened when the Accidental Locavore wandered into Pot au Feu in Providence, recently. Gary, the manager at the Biltmore recommended it and I was immediately attracted to it (besides my weakness for anything French) because it was at the end of the route of Waterfire, an almost magical event where they light the river in Providence.

I wandered in and found a seat at the bar. It’s lovely, with beautiful blonde wood and art nouveau liquor cabinets (look on their website as my photos were terrible). Gary asked me to give his regards to Bob (the owner)and as it turned out, that’s who was tending bar that night. We immediately got to chatting and in the small-world, category, it turns out that we both knew the other Pot au Feu–Le Roi de Pot au Feu–in Paris. Bob said he had given them his aprons the last time he was there. Before long, as the bar started to fill up, he was giving me the low-down and introducing me to anyone and everyone who stopped by.

Accidental Locavore Broiled OystersWhile I was enjoying some amazing oysters broiled with a horseradish cream sauce, Bob was telling very funny and terribly politically-incorrect jokes that even more incredibly, were paired with the food I was eating.

Accidental Locavore CrepesAs I moved onto that evening’s special, savory crepes with blue cheese, chicken tomatoes and olives, Bob was telling me that the restaurant is actually the oldest bistro in the US and showing me photos and documents from the early days. In between that he was mixing drinks for all the regulars, which was everyone (including me) and showing off his bartending finesse. You know there’s that horrible trend now to consider anyone who can mix two alcoholic ingredients together and add ice, a mixologist. Well, Bob is most definitely not a mixologist, he’s a classic (and classy) bartender. Ask him for his signature Sazerac and hear the history of America’s first cocktail and how the New York Times messed up the recipe.

Unfortunately for me, I had been eating all day (ok, all weekend, ok, all week) and didn’t have the appetite to conquer a major meal like pot au feu. I’m sure in a place like that, it would be just perfect. I’ll just have to go back with a big appetite, perch at the bar, say hi to my new buddies and indulge while Bob mixes up more Sazerac’s.



Cafè les Baux: French Bistro Dining in Dutchess County

by Anne Maxfield on March 18, 2013

Accidental Locavore Les BauxIt’s occurred to the Accidental Locavore that there’s an awfully good restaurant that I’ve never written about. We’ve been going to Cafè les Baux  for years, and while the reception there is always warm and friendly, it’s interesting that we don’t share the same easy familiarity with them that we do with other places.

So, does that mean we only go there for the food??? Well, yes. It’s awfully good, casual but essentially classical French. Hervé, the chef, makes one of the best onion soups you can find, but my husband wouldn’t know. His go-to appetizer is the frisse lardon salad with a poached egg. It’s delicious and I always think part of the attraction is that it reminds us of a place in Greenwich Village that did a great version of the same salad. It was one of several places that Frank and I frequented before we met each other and I’ve always wondered if we were ever there on the same nights…

Accidental Locavore Salad Frisse LardonsAnyway, I digress. There are always great specials, and Frank, on occasion, will call to see if he can convince Hervé to add his wonderful boeuf Bourgnon or foie de veau to the list. If there’s nothing tempting on the special board (and that’s hard to imagine), the rack of lamb is always a great choice. It’s a huge portion – 8 ribs with a lovely mustard sauce and the star of the side dishes, the gratin dauphinois.

The fillet of sole, done with your choice of sauces is perfectly cooked, and any fish specials are usually well worth checking out. But, if you’re in a red meat mood, the steak frites is wonderful, especially with the addition of the beurre maitre d’hotel. If cholesterol is no object, they will happily swap the perfectly done fries for the gratin.Accidental Locavore Pommes Dauphinois

Accidental Locavore Madelines With ChocolateIf you’ve left room for dessert, there are lots of good choices. My favorite are the madelines – they’re shareable, good and there’s chocolate involved (to dip them in). Frank inevitably has the blueberry crêpes, a testament to the fact that everything’s better with butter.

One of the things I like best about Les Baux is that you can mix and match appetizers, smaller main courses, some of the classics and a special or two and have as much or as little to eat as fits your appetite. The staff is attentive and there’s a good wine list. So whenever we have a hankering for some good French food in the Hudson Valley, that’s where we’re headed.