(Not Really) Potato Salad, but Better! Way Better!

by Anne Maxfield on October 23, 2014

Accidental Locavore Raclette and ButterAs prep for a visit to the pop-up shop at the French Cheese Board, the Accidental Locavore was looking at the recipes on their website and came across this one for what they call “Warm Potato Salad With Raclette.” It looked easy and delicious so I gave it a try the other night. It was indeed easy and delicious, but in no way would I call it potato salad—see the notes at the end for why. Serves 2-4 depending on how gluttonous you are.

 

  • 1 pound waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter (in 1 tablespoon pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Raclette, chopped and lightly warmed in the oven

Preheat the oven to 350°F. You can put the Raclette in an ovenproof dish to warm while the oven is heating.

Accidental Locavore Raclette PotatoesIn a large pot of salted water, bring the potatoes to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain them and transfer to a large bowl.

Using a fork crush the warm potatoes. Add the salt, butter, mustard and Raclette and stir well to combine. Scrape the potato mixture into a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Raclette Mashed PotatoesMy verdict: These may be the best mashed potatoes ever! What’s not to like – good potatoes from our CSA, French butter and Raclette? There might have been a smidge too much Dijon, and going forward, I might use both smooth and grainy mustard. The recipe originally had dill sprinkled over it at the end, but since our dinner plans got messed up, we decided to just treat it like we normally do with Raclette and served the potatoes with slices of prosciutto, my smoked pork tenderloin and cornichons – magnifique!

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A Visit to Hudson Valley Distillers

by Anne Maxfield on October 20, 2014

Accidental Locavore HV DistillersIf you’re anything like the Accidental Locavore, you’ve probably chatted with your best friend about any number of potential business ventures and never pulled the trigger, figuring the friendship was more valuable than the business idea. This isn’t the case with Hudson Valley Distillers, a new venture founded by two best friends who literally decided to buy the farm.

On the farm, now named Spirit Grove Farm, Chris and Tom are making small batch, artisanal applejacks and an apple-based vodka. Even more important than the booze, these two, friends since college, are having a great time! People always talk about doing something you love, and if what I saw the other day is any example, this pair is doing exactly that!

Accidental Locavore OnataThey’ve converted a 150 year old barn into the distillery and tasting bar. Something you probably don’t know about the Accidental Locavore is that I’m a sucker for gleaming pieces of machinery, and Hudson Valley Distillers have some beauties! Did you know that all stills need to have names? Onata (meaning “spirit of field and grain”) has a main piece that “cooks” the fermented apple cider, which gets filtered into the side pieces, condensing it, and the result, an extremely potent vodka or applejack, goes into a tank. From there it’s diluted (all alcohol is, otherwise you’d be drinking the liquor equivalent of pure heroin), the vodka gets bottled and the applejacks are put into small oak barrels to age.

Accidental Locavore Oak BarrelsLike a lot of things at HVD, the barrels have their own story. Currently, they’re using two types of oak barrels, both from the Midwest, but Chris and Tom are working with a cooper in upstate New York to produce the first New York oak barrels since the 1900’s. It’s part of their mission (and a NYS directive) to source at least 75% from New York State, making this a very locavore distillery.

In keeping with the local edict, Chris is experimenting with growing his own sugar cane, and citrus trees, hoping to start producing their own rum along with the gin that is already in the works. Also on the drawing board are bourbon and whisky, using corn, rye and barley grown just down the road.

Accidental Locavore SpiritsRight now there’s a tasting bar (open weekends), where you can sample the two applejacks and the vodka. If you like your vodka straight-up, this is the vodka for you. Smooth with a slight apple nose, this is a perfect sipping vodka, with none of the nasty alcohol taste or smell of lesser vodkas. It would probably make a formidable martini, too.

Of the two applejacks, my favorite was the Hardscrabble. It had a lovely butterscotch and apple nose, and while you could smell the oak from the barrels, it wasn’t overwhelming (like some California chardonnays). The taste was lovely, a cross between a good bourbon or scotch, but again, without any overpowering alcohol.

If all this is tempting to you (I bought the last bottle of Hardscrabble), hurry out to a local (currently only New York State) liquor store or restaurant. Chris and Tom are in the enviable spot of being sold-out of most everything right now. But not to worry, there are barrels aging now, getting ready for the holidays. Plans are in the works for a small café/tasting room, serving local cheeses and charcuterie along with all the Hudson Valley Distillers products, straight-up or in cocktails. Enjoy!

 

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Slow-Cooked Pork in Cream and Parmesan

by Anne Maxfield on October 16, 2014

Accidental Locavore Pork With CreamThe Accidental Locavore has always been curious about a traditional Italian dish: pork cooked in milk, so when Food & Wine had a pork dish cooked in cream and Parmesan, it needed to be tried out. This needs time and some attention at the end, but most of it is pretty easy. Serves 6-8.

  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 heads of garlic, tops cut off (about ½”)
  • A piece of Parmesan cheese rind (about 3 ounces)
  • 2 small sage sprigs
  • One 5-pound, pork shoulder roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into wedges
  • 4 small potatoes, quartered (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Accidental Locavore Pork With Fennel and PotatoesIn a pot, or Dutch oven, just big enough to hold the pork, combine the cream with the buttermilk, butter, garlic, cheese rind and 1 sprig of sage. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the pot. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, leaving the lid open just a crack, and cook over low heat for about 3 1/2 hours, until very tender. Transfer the pork and garlic to a large plate; discard the cheese rind.

Cook the potatoes (if using) in a pot of water, until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Boil the poaching liquid over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a large baking sheet, toss the fennel, potatoes and the remaining sage sprig with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer. Place the pork on top of it and roast until the pork is deeply golden and the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Accidental Locavore Roast Pork With FennelPut the fennel, potatoes and garlic on a platter and top with the pork. Serve with the sauce on the side and enjoy!

My verdict: My husband walked by this dish while it was cooking at least three times and asked in not the happiest of voices, what it was and what was for dinner. Nothing like cooking for the non-enthusiastic. However, we both really liked the final results. The pork was tender, with nice crispy bits of fat and the sauce was delicious! I always forget how much flavor a piece of Parmesan rind can add to sauces and soups—definitely worth keeping around. This is more of a fancy, impress-your-friends dinner than a weeknight meal for two. I added the potatoes, but my instinct was to make some homemade pasta to serve with it—maybe next time. The thinner you slice the fennel, the better it will roast. Broccoli rabe would also go with this well. Make sure to squeeze out the garlic and mush it around with the pork and sauce, it adds another great layer of flavor.

 

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GIR: Cool Kitchen Gadgets & Pink For a Cause

by Anne Maxfield on October 13, 2014

Accidental Locavore Gir FlipAre you of the belief that there can’t be too many kitchen gadgets? The Accidental Locavore is always open to playing with cool new gadgets (especially when they look good and work well!). So I was excited when a big package from GIR (Get it Right) with all their new products arrived. I’ve had a couple of their spatulas for two years now and I use them all the time (and, as advertised, they look like the day I got them).

Now they’re adding “flippers,” a spoon, a scraper and five silicone lids to the collection of spatulas. What’s great about all the products (besides the fact that they come in a rainbow of colors – and a bacon pattern) is that they’re one piece of molded silicone, heat-proof to 464°,  and BPA and BPF free. You might not think much about the one-piece design until you start using them and realize how much easier/faster it is to wash them when you can just slide the sponge along it. All the new products will be available in time for the holidays.

Accidental Locavore LidsThe lids are a great addition to one of the weirdest and most useful kitchen items I own. It’s a silicone pig’s head that works as a lid for microwaving dishes. The snout has two holes in it which vents and allows you to remove it with a pair of chopsticks (it’s Japanese) or for the less adept, the tines of a fork. It replaces covering dishes with plastic wrap (not good for you) or paper towels (dries food out). The only drawback of the pig? One size fits most. The GIR lids come in five sizes ranging from 4” to 12” and work beautifully in the microwave, but also function as lids on the stove top or in the fridge. And not that you’d want to try this with your best china, but they stuck like crazy to the bowl I had berries in, to the point that I could lift the whole thing by the handle on the lid. Right now I’ve got one of them covering some cabbage on its journey to become sauerkraut.

Accidental Locavore GIR LidThe spoon scooped out a recent batch of boeuf bourguignon easily, scraping up all the sauce with the beef. What’s good about it is that it’s got enough of a bowl to scoop out liquids, but it’s not as deep or as hard to maneuver as a traditional ladle. Now I think it’s time to go buy a big steak and try the bigger flipper on the grill, where its size and heat resistance should really come in handy! The smaller one did well with some recent burgers, delicate filet of sole, and my husband’s famous omelets.

GIR would also like me to tell you that for the month of October, if you buy an ultimate spatula in pink, they will donate $1 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Even if pink isn’t your color, treat yourself with a good spatula and support an important cause! You can order them from their website or pick one up at Sur la Table.

 

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