duck

What–No Turkey? My Top 6 Recipes for Thanksgiving

by Anne Maxfield on November 20, 2017

Accidental Locavore My Slow Roasted Duck for ThanksgivingThe other day, I was talking with a friend about Thanksgiving and comparing notes on what we were planning. Since there’s still time to add or subtract dishes, here are a few that have, or will, grace my table. Which ones look good to you?

  1. Slow Roasted Duck: As some of you know, this is not my favorite holiday, mostly because turkey is my least favorite poultry. Since it’s just the two of us (so far), we decided that duck was a much better choice. This one takes a while, but you only have to check it once an hour and it’s delicious! If you want to get fancy, you can make an orange sauce for it by melting some marmalade on low heat with a splash (or two) of orange vodka or Cointreau and another big splash of maple syrup.Accidental Locavore Orange Sauce for Duck
  2. Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions: my mother has always insisted on having creamed onions at Thanksgiving. This dish combines them in a great way and the added touch of horseradish makes it a big winner in my book! Unlike my friend Zhu Zhu, I have no problem buying frozen pearl onions. Life is too short to spend it peeling.Accidental Locavore Stalk of Brussels Sprouts
  3. Cranberry and Dried Apricot Confit: I’m a sucker for dried apricots—the slab ones from Trader Joe’s being my favorites, so if I can stop snacking on them long enough to cook with them, this is almost as good as eating them out of the package. If this is too tough, the recipe on the back of the cranberry bag works fine (add some orange or tangerine zest to make it special).Accidental Locavore Cranberry Confit
  4. Butternut Squash Soup: Not being a huge fan of winter squashes, I make an exception for this soup. It goes from pretty good to great with the addition of Gruyere-covered toasts. If you’re lazy or pressed for time, a slice of toasted baguette and some grated cheese will be just fine. If you’re super lazy pressed for time, forget the toasts and just sprinkle a little blue cheese on as a garnish. The saltiness of either cheese cuts the sweetness of the squash.
  5. The best mashed potatoes ever! This was billed as a recipe for potato salad, but take my word for it, they’re just amazing mashed potatoes. Cheese, butter and potatoes, what’s not to like? It does require use of the oven, but since it’s probably the same temp as your turkey, just sneak some ramekins in somewhere.Accidental Locavore Raclette Potatoes
  6. What, no desserts? Although my husband has asked for yet another batch of Nancy’s cookies, I think it’s time to turn traditional and was thinking either a pumpkin pie (which the paper of record says is better made with winter squash) for Frank, or an apple galette that caught my eye in Bon Appétit, but then I saw this recipe for a caramel and chocolate tart from Dorrie Greenspan’s new book and it was as good as it looked (maybe better)!Accidental Locavore Caramel Tart

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Charlotte’s Restaurant in Millbrook

by Anne Maxfield on October 16, 2017

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant GardenThere are some restaurants that are classics, frozen in time–places that seem to have been around forever.

Stalwarts.

A gastronomic tweak here or there to make them seem relevant and business pours in year after year.

Charlotte’s in Millbrook is one of those places.

It’s a cozy combination of rooms, the general impression is of floral chintzes and fireplaces. In the summer there’s a quiet patio where you can enjoy a cocktail or dinner.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant InteriorPatrons of a certain age who have been coming every Friday night with family and friends.

The food is good. There’s nothing that will send you running for the doors, and most likely, nothing that will make you swoon with joy.

If you’ve been missing plates garnished with stuffed tomatoes sporting an erect sprig of rosemary and green beans wrapped with a contrasting carrot ribbon, Charlotte’s will not disappoint. No matter whether they’re described on the menu as fresh, seasonal, harvest, or garden fresh, it’s always the same carefully crafted combination.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant ChickenThe night we were there, my friend went for the pan roasted chicken with the Marsala sauce on the side. She got and enjoyed a nicely cooked chicken served over saffron risotto and accompanied by the aforementioned vegetables.

For whatever reason, I wanted duck that night and they were offering it with a blueberry sauce. That threw me for a loop until the waiter reminded me that duck usually comes with fruit sauce and my friend chimed in that, like her, I could always get it on the side.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant DuckI went for it and got a fine serving of duck breast with the blueberry sauce (living dangerously—not on the side). It was also served over saffron risotto and vegetables but had a crunchy pile of fried onions topping it off. The duck was a little more well-done than I normally like, and the blueberry sauce added to the flavor of the duck.

The dessert menu offers standards like bread pudding, crème brûlée, lava cake and assorted house-made ice creams.

Charlotte’s is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. Check their website for events, like an upcoming comedy night.

 

 

 

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Chef’s Tasting Table at Mohonk Mountain House

by Anne Maxfield on May 15, 2017

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House Fois GrasMohonk Mountain House is one of the Hudson Valley’s iconic hotels and has been a favorite place to stay for almost 150 years.

There’s plenty to do to build up an appetite and a massive dining room to enjoy a meal.

But everyone knows that.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House OysterWhat you don’t know is that there’s a secret staircase in the back of the dining room leading to the massive kitchen that regularly puts out 500-600 meals every evening.

In the middle of that, is the space that only puts out 10 very special meals.

I was one of those lucky diners recently and was invited to experience the eleven-course Chef’s Tasting Table menu with wines, designed by Executive Chef Jim Palmeri.

It’s offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 6:30 with a six-person minimum. You can take your chances on an available spot (or two), or be a big spender and reserve the whole table for a very special occasion.  If you like wine, you might want to consider spending the night – the wines are lovely and well matched to the food, and the road home from Mohonk is not one you want to mess with.

Accidental Locavore Mohonk Mountain House RisottoThe menu changes depending on the season and what’s good locally. While Chef Palmeri and his team use local ingredients wherever possible, they do stretch the boundaries to include luxuries like black truffles and, for our dinner, mainly French wines.

If you think eleven courses sounds daunting, most of them are just a mouthful or two. The exceptions are the entrée (the only choice you have to make for the evening) and the dessert – so extraordinary it deserves and is getting its own post.

Mohonk Mountain House SashimiOne of the big treats for me as a diner has always been those meals where you just sit back and let the chefs do what they do best – cook. I love the combination of not having to make a choice and the surprise that each course and every mouthful brings!

To have something to refer to, I was given a menu at the beginning, but it got folded it up and hidden in my purse so as not to ruin the surprises to come.

Mohonk Mountain House DuckAnd, to not ruin your surprise, because you truly need to go there (I know you’ve got a birthday coming up), I’m just going to highlight some of my favorite bites and let you drool over the photos.

To book your own dining adventure (and don’t forget about a room) call: 845-883-3798.

My thanks to Chef Jim Palmeri, Executive Sous Chef Steve Anson, Robert Leduc and the amazing staff at the Mohonk Mountain House for a memorable dinner!

For more photos, check out HudsonValleyEats.com. Mohonk Mountain House Cheese Course

 

 

 

 

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Roast Like a Pro: TheTop 10 Tools You Need

by Anne Maxfield on December 19, 2016

Accidental Locavore Tools for a Roast‘Tis the season…

A roast is considered de rigueur for the holidays.

But, if you suffer from fear of roasting, here are the Accidental Locavore’s top 10 tools to make roasting a snap!

Nest week, the steps to a perfect roast.

Roasts are easy but you will need a few critical pieces of equipment.

Top 10 tools, listed in order of importance:

1. An oven: if you’ve been using this as storage, remove all occupants and see if you can turn on the oven. If not, call for take-out.
2. A roasting pan: or the broiler pan that probably came with your oven, a big Dutch oven or cast iron pan. Size will dictate what you can cook.
3. An instant-read thermometer. This is as essential for a roast as an oven. You can use a simple cheap dial model, or a fancy one like the one Zhu Zhu gave us. Accidental Locavore Thermometer for a Roast
4. A good piece of meat. Rack or leg of lamb, leg of lamb, chicken, duck, turkey, roast beef, pork roast, etc. Chicken, duck or lamb are good to start with. They’re easy to roast and generally forgiving. Because the meat is the star of the meal, buy the best you can afford.Accidental Locavore Roast Duck
5. Spices: Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are a good start. Garlic is always good and if you have fresh herbs or a favorite spice mix/rub use it!
6. A rack, preferably a V-shaped rack. This is an option – think of it as roasting 2.0, but it will come in handy.
7. Oven mitts, or pot holders: don’t want to burn your hands pulling the pan out of the oven!
8. A baster and/or a brush: This is also roasting 2.0 but I have faith.
9. Olive oil, butter or melted butter: Gotta have something to do with #8, right?
10. A timer: doesn’t matter if it’s on your stove or smart phone, just make sure it’s loud enough that you can hear it. Obnoxious helps too. Mine keeps making noise until you get up and turn it off.

Ready to roast?

 

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