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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Pawling Bread Company

by Anne Maxfield on November 13, 2017

Pawling Bread Co LoavesBecoming a bread baker takes a particular kind of craziness.

Especially when you’ve never baked a loaf of bread before.

For Cynthia Kinahan of Pawling Bread Company, it seemed like a natural transition from a pottery course she was taking because “a lot of the moves and principles are quite similar”.

If this was a movie, the first loaf would have been perfect, but this is real life and the first loaf was a disaster.

As were many more.

She decided that she wasn’t going to stop until she had a decent loaf of bread and that became her goal.

Every day she would rush home from work, pull out her recipe and start making bread. Still no great loaves.

The real breakthrough came when she decided to toss the recipe and go by feel. “I think that was the first time I really connected with the craft of making bread”.

Although the first loaves were yeast based, as Cynthia gained confidence, she wanted to start making breads with a sourdough starter.

Accidental Locavore Pawling Bakery Company Spelt BreadHer passion for baking shows in the breads. To start with, they’re beautiful (it’s where her background as a graphic designer comes through). A cruise through her Facebook page on an empty stomach is pure torture (and if you have any idea how good the breads are, that just makes it worse).

Cynthia has given me the spelt bread and the country loaf to taste and both were terrific! As I’m lucky enough to be able to access more artisanal breads, my preference seems to be for the more complex breads, in this case the spelt.

Pawling Bread Co Cherry Cranberry BreadShe’s got an extensive variety of breads ranging from classics like her popular country bread, to ones like Earl Grey Apricot (one I’m really looking forward to trying the next time it comes on the menu—hint, hint), Olive Lemon Rosemary and for the holidays a cherry, cranberry walnut loaf.

If you’re lazy, or just hate to get out of bed on a Saturday morning, McKinney & Doyle’s bakery in Pawling carries her Sundried Tomato bread every Friday and Saturday. I’m not sure if they’ll save you a loaf, but it’s probably worth a call.

Accidental Locavore Spelt Bread ToastAnd, yes, the bread is so good that I do think of dragging myself out of bed and driving 35 minutes to Pawling on a Saturday morning. They’re in a pop-up shop at 10 East Main Street (that will someday be their new home) from 9:30-12. This Saturday is the last pop-up before Thanksgiving so be forewarned!

Thanks to Cynthia for the two loaves, I’m looking forward to many more! The top photo and the cranberry bread photos are theirs.

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Making the Most of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

by Anne Maxfield on November 6, 2017

Accidental Locavore Burrata for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekHudson Valley Restaurant Week, like other restaurant weeks has been around for a while.

And like other restaurant weeks, there are always places that try to get away with as little as possible (in hopes that you’ll order off the regular menu) and places that strive to please.

We were lucky enough to hit two that went above and beyond.

The first, Caterina DeMedici at the Culinary Institute of America (aka the CIA), was a big surprise! We were invited by a friend of Frank’s to join him and his wife. The first surprise was that we were going to be seven for dinner. He had invited neighbors and other friends, so we had a nice big table with lots of talk back and forth.

The second surprise was that the food was interesting and delicious. You might be thinking, well, it’s the CIA, why wouldn’t it be good, but the last time we ate there, it was a slightly better prepared version of Olive Garden’s “all the pasta you can eat promotion”—lots of pasta, none of it memorable.

Other than the poorly named “Airline Chicken Breast” (which, no surprise, no one at our table ordered), there were a lot of interesting choices on the menu. I started off with the burrata, which came perched on top of arugula and prosciutto, with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Hard to go wrong with burrata, and the creaminess of it worked perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto.

Accidental Locavore Pork Chop Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekTo follow, I went with the pork over polenta, with Brussels sprouts and a mustard jus. It was interesting because all three pork chops that were brought to the table were different shapes and sizes– a reminder that school was only in week two. They were good, and the mustard jus was a great accompaniment.

A few nights later, we went down to meet a couple of friends at Crabtree’s Kittle House. Chef Jay Lippin had been on my radio show and to paraphrase, “had me at lamb shanks”. There’s a full review of the restaurant coming up in the December issue of Organic Hudson Valley Magazine.

How many places do you know that have lobster bisque on their restaurant week menus? Crabtree’s does, and Frank ordered it. A big bowl with pieces of lobster and vegetables came to the table and the waiter poured the bisque over it. Delicious!

Accidental Locavore Lobster Bisque for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekI went for the gnocchi, which was browned (something I’ve never tried, but will!) and served with tiny oven-dried tomatoes and other local vegetables. It was gone in a flash!

Chef Lippin sent over a couple of his tuna sushi pizzettas–his take on tuna sushi for us to try between courses. All Frank could do was smile and groan happily. ‘Nuf said?

Accidental Locavore Tuna for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekThe lamb shank had been on my mind for a week or more, and it was great! Falling off the (very large) bone, and once again on a bed of polenta (this time, really tasting of corn) with broccolini and a red wine sauce. It was a huge portion and the leftovers will make a great lunch!

Frank was once again reduced to smiling with pleasure over the pasta with a Bolognaise sauce made with local venison, pork and beef. I was granted a small bite and could see why he wasn’t sharing!

Accidental Locavore Cavatelli for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekDesserts were terrific, and we drove home muttering about eating too much, but loving every mouthful!

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week runs through Friday, November 12th so you still have time to make a reservation.

I’ve got one more dinner planned, Thursday night at The Amsterdam, then I’d better be fasting until Thanksgiving!

 

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Sheet Pan Chicken, Chickpeas and Fennel

by Anne Maxfield on October 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas RoastedChicken sheet pan dinners always look like a great idea.

Can we all agree on a few things?

  1. Sheet pan dinners are trendy.
  2. They look good in photos.
  3. It’s a good way to get food on the table simply and easily.
  4. And you’ll spend the rest of the night trying to scrub all that baked-on stuff off the sheet pan!

I’m as easily conned as the next person and have been crazy busy lately, so this chicken recipe on the NY Times Cooking site, looked like a winner. Give yourself some time to let it marinate. Serves 4.

Chicken, chickpeas and fennel recipe

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs and legs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½cups full-fat Greek yogurt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½cup mint or cilantro leaves, torn

Season chicken parts with salt and pepper.

Combine 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon turmeric and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. (It should be on the salty side, as this is a marinade.) Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature, and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Place oven rack on the top third of the oven and heat to 425°.

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas TossedCombine chickpeas, fennel seed, cumin, remaining teaspoon of turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Move chickpeas to the outer edges of the baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken, and place the chicken parts in the center. Place baking sheet in oven and bake, tossing chickpeas occasionally, until the skin of the chicken is evenly browned and the chickpeas are golden and starting to crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Combine remaining yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Once chicken is ready, scatter with lemony onions and mint or cilantro. Serve with seasoned yogurt alongside as a sauce and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas PlatedMy verdict: Winner, winner, sheet pan dinner!

Since I didn’t feel like cleaning for days, as you can see by the photos, a simple piece of parchment paper, lining the pan, made the clean-up a snap.

I tossed some fennel with the chickpeas and roasted it—it was wonderful, tender and silky.

The chickpeas were a bit of a disappointment. They were chickpeas I had soaked, cooked and frozen. Rather than get crispy like the original recipe said, they were a little tough. I don’t know if canned chickpeas would work better in this case, but it would be worth a try. What might be even better would be to cube up some potatoes and roast them instead of the chickpeas.

We also really liked the contrast the “lemony onions” gave to the dish. I used up all the Greek yogurt I had on the marinade and forgot to buy more, but a few tablespoons of labne, worked just as well and made a good sauce.

 

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