locavore

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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Clafoutis, An Easy Fruit Dessert

by Anne Maxfield on September 11, 2017

Accidental Locavore ClafoutisThink of clafoutis as being French equivalent to a cobbler, but being French, a little more elegant.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s one of those desserts you have to fuss over. It’s actually easier than a cobbler—all you do is pop a few ingredients in a blender and pour them over some fruit.

Traditionally the fruit is cherries, but any fruit that can be baked can be used.

I had some cherries, peaches and blueberries, on their own, not enough to make a pie or anything and a few too many to eat before they went bad, so clafoutis seemed like the way to go.

Accidental Locavore Cherries for ClafoutisClafoutis

  • 1 ¼ pounds (570 grams) sweet cherries
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (mixed use)
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • Softened butter for greasing the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Liberally grease a shallow 2-quart baking dish with butter.

Stem and pit the cherries. Place them in a single layer in the baking dish.

In a blender, mix the eggs, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, ½ cup sugar and milk together until smooth.

Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake about 45 minutes until it is just set. A knife or toothpick poked in the center should come out relatively clean.

Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Clafoutis BatterMy verdict: It’s super easy and delicious. We served it warm, but you can serve it warm, room temperature or cold—all good.

I used a mix of cherries, blueberries and a peach that I cut into small chunks (but didn’t peel).

Since I’ve had nut allergies in the past, I didn’t use any almond extract, which probably made it really non-traditional, but it didn’t take away from the taste.

Another added bonus is that it’s really good for breakfast the next day, whether you bother to warm it up or not.

It’s a versatile recipe to know about, you can switch up the fruit or take the sugar out, substitute some cheese, add veggies and make it a savory dish.

 

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Butter Chicken

by Anne Maxfield on August 28, 2017

Accidental Locavore Butter Chicken PlatedChicken Tikka Masala is a big favorite in our house and lately I’ve come across a couple of recipes for Butter Chicken, a close relative (or the same dish depending on who to believe).

I think the big difference is that Tikka Massala is marinated in yogurt, while Butter Chicken can be made on the fly.

The two recipes I was looking at were from both ends of the time spectrum—one was ready in about 30 minutes, the other was in a slow cooker and took 5-6 hours. I opted for speed.

Butter Chicken

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lime and cilantro for garnish

Accidental Locavore Butter Chicken CookingIn a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of butter. Working in batches, add the chicken and brown on all sides. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through. Set the browned chicken aside as it’s done.

Reduce the heat to medium and add another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften—about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Stir to combine and cook for about 45 seconds.

Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and add the cream.

Bring back to a simmer and add the chicken. Cook for 10-15 minutes on a low simmer.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Garnish with lime and cilantro, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Easy and delicious! Frank liked this so much, he requested that I make it again the other night.

Both times I’ve used boneless skinless chicken thighs since I’m not a white meat fan and served it over basmati rice. If you soak the rice before you start prepping everything, and start cooking it after the chicken has browned, your timing should be perfect.

We’ll have to start stocking cans of tomato sauce and pints of cream and soon I’ll have to figure out what a good veg would be to serve with it. Any ideas?

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Easy Fermentation With Kraut Source

by Anne Maxfield on August 21, 2017

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Kraut SourceFermentation is a hot topic these days.

Maybe you’ve thought about jumping on the fermentation bandwagon and dismissed it as being too difficult,dangerous, stinky.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried pickles and sauerkraut with various levels of success—sauerkraut usually good, classic fermented pickles more of a crap shoot.

I’d pretty much given up on the pickles until read about Kraut Source, which sounded interesting so in the spirit of experimentation, I ordered one.

It’s a spring-loaded top to fit any sized wide-mouth Ball Jar, with a built in “moat” and a cap. The spring holds the contents of the jar below the liquid level, the cap and moat keeps oxygen out and lets carbon dioxide escape.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation SauerkrautSounds complicated but it’s really, really simple and one of those genius kitchen tools you’ll want to own if you’re fermenting anything.

I’ve made the best pickles and two batches of sauerkraut with it so far and everything has been great!

All you need to do is put some veggies in a Ball jar, add brine, screw on the top, fill the moat about 2/3 of the way up with water and let it ferment until you like the taste of it.

When it’s done, you remove the Kraut Source top, put a regular lid on the jar and pop it in the fridge.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Sauerkraut PreppedDownsides?

You can only do one jar at a time, unless you buy additional kits. For me, this is a good/bad thing.

Good, because doing one at a time means there aren’t lots of jars of fermented goodies vying for space in my overcrowded, cursed-at refrigerator.

Good, because it’s small batch, so you can experiment and come back to the ones that work.

Bad, since I can’t do more than one at a time, so it takes some of the spontaneity out of it; if there’s something great at the farm, I have to pass on it until the current project is finished. Since it’s been taking about 10-14 days to get the flavor I want, that means the gadget is in use for a couple of weeks.

Accidental Locavore Fermentation Sauerkraut FinishedBut batch 2 of sauerkraut is finished (and going to get mixed into batch 1 which had too much caraway seed) so now I’m going to try some kimchi.

And yes, I could just order another kit…

Speaking of which, if you’re reading this on or before August 22nd, they’re having a 20% off sale.

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