vegetables

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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Roasting: 10 Easy Steps to a Perfect Roast

by Anne Maxfield on December 22, 2016

Accidental Locavore Roasting Thai ChickenThe Accidental Locavore thinks that roasting meat (or vegetables) is one of the easiest ways to get an impressive dinner on the table.

Don’t be afraid of roasting. If you have the right tools, it’s a snap.

Roasting in 10 easy steps:

  1. Remove the meat from the fridge about an hour before you want to start.
  2. Make sure oven racks are in the middle of the oven and you have enough room for the roasting pan and its contents. If not, lower the rack until you do.
  3. Preheat the oven: 350° for most meats, 250° if you’re doing a slow roast duck, hotter for chickens and vegetables.
  4. Speaking of vegetables, tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper and throwing them on a sheet pan in a 400° oven always works.
  5. And don’t forget potatoes! Cut in chunks, boiled until just tender and tossed into the bottom of a pan about 15 minutes before the meat is cooked, makes wonderful roast potatoes (especially good under chickens and ducks!).Accidental Locavore Roasting Potatoes
  6. While the oven is heating, pat the meat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper liberally (i.e. use more than you think), inside and out.
  7. If you’re using a rack a quick spray or a light rub of oil makes clean-up easier.
  8. Place your meat on the pan (or rack) and put it in the oven. The length of time your meat will need to cook depends on the size of your roast and how well cooked you like your meat. This is where the instant-read thermometer will save the day. Click here for a handy chart and remember to always stick the thermometer in the thick part of your roast (for chicken it’s the thigh).
  9. When the meat is cooked to your liking, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This is not about torturing you or your guests, it’s about letting the juices re-circulate, making the meat tender and juicy.
  10. Carve, serve and enjoy!
    See, wasn’t that easy? What are your best roasting tips?

 

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What’s Your Most Hated Vegetable?

by Anne Maxfield on June 13, 2016

Accidental Locavore Crushed BeetsThe Accidental Locavore is not a fan of beets. Let me be honest here…I despise beets!

I will not eat them cooked.

I will not eat them raw.

I will not eat them borshted.

I will not eat them pickled.

I will not eat them red.

I will not eat them golden (and I will hate you for trying to make them look like edible vegetables!).

I do not like the color.

I do not like the smell.

Somewhere in my childhood, something traumatic must have happened with beets. If you ask my brother or my dad they’ll give you the same response: “Might as well eat dirt.”

My mother when quizzed, takes no responsibility for this family-wide disgust. Instead when asked, she tried to deflect it to her two sisters. I can count the number of meals I’ve had cooked by either of them on the fingers of one hand (probably with fingers to spare, but I won’t exaggerate), so I really doubt they have anything to do with it. Sorry Mom.

Accidental Locavore Beets for RoastingThe ironic side of this tale is that I am married to a man who loves beets as much as I loathe them.

When they come up in my CSA what do I do?

Trying not to inhale, I cut the tops off leaving about an inch of green (supposedly this keeps them from “bleeding” too much), wash them and wrap each beet in aluminum foil (drizzle a little olive oil on if you’d like, star anise, orange juice and peel for getting fancy).

Toss them on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes (depending on size) until they are tender. When they’ve cooled off enough to touch, the skins should slip right off.

Then it’s up to the person who likes them to chill and slice up in a salad with goat cheese, or while still warm “pickle” them by quartering them and tossing with some red wine vinegar and chopped red onion. Chill or cool to room temperature. Serve and enjoy.

Accidental Locavore Farm Box Week 3

Do you have a vegetable you won’t eat under any circumstances? What is it?

 

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Pangea, Popping Up at the CIA

by Anne Maxfield on March 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pangea FlatbreadA strong case could be made for letting the inmates run the asylum. Especially if said asylum is the new pop-up restaurant, Pangea, at the Culinary Institute. It’s been a long time since the Accidental Locavore has eaten well there, but a recent lunch more than made up for past disappointments.

“Pangea explores the world’s interconnected foodways while uniting and transforming them.” Yeah, whatever. What that translates to is a series of interconnected dishes that highlight the proteins with fruit, vegetables and grains. Each course has one dish served family style and one plated. If you’re there with a big group that difference might be more apparent, but as we were only two and one was a vegetarian, for us everything was essentially plated.

Accidental Locavore Pangea VeggiesIt’s a fixed menu, which the lazy Locavore prefers… so nice to have someone else figuring out “what’s for dinner” (or in this case lunch). It started out with a couple of bowls brought to the table, each topped with a plate adorned with a stripe of sauce and an array of the tiniest vegetables you’ve ever seen! Pity the poor commis who has to prep carrots and beets measured in millimeters! These were quickly swept into the bowl of vegetable broth (trendy broth moment noted). It was delicious and, miraculously, the also-minuscule croutons managed to stay crunchy throughout the bowl. That’s a technique I’d like to learn!

With the soup, flatbread with a trio of colorful dips. Beet hummus, garlic dal and an edamame salsa looked great and tasted as good as they looked! The edamame salsa was particularly good, a wonderful use for what can be a healthy but generally dull snack. This was mixed with garlic, jalapeño and cilantro—must try duplicating it at home!

Accidental Locavore Pangea Seafood BrothNext up, broth number two, this one also hitting another trend – adding pine needles to flavor things. My second broth had a mix of seafood—mussels, lobster and fish along with fregola in a retsina broth. Jack’s vegetarian version swapped the fish for an earthy mix of mushrooms. Accidental Locavore Pangea FriesVery skinny (and excellent) fries in a miniature fry basket showed no real sign of the pine needle flavoring except for the bough garnish.

Accidental Locavore Pangea Tomato SushiAlong with this were three pieces of sushi in a roll. While mine with fluke was first-rate, the vegetarian version was simply amazing! It looked like beautiful tuna-rich and red, but turned out to be tomato. I’m not sure how they did it (especially this time of year) but it tasted as good as it looked!

Accidental Locavore Pangea TagineThe third course was a tagine of house-smoked duck along with a roasted celery root. What made this interesting was that it was the winning dish that the student chefs had proposed. It was tasty and the pickled papaya with it was a nice contrast to the richness of the tagine. I liked the idea of “smoking” it with the charcoal, cinnamon stick and star anise. Accidental Locavore Pangea Roasted Celery RootOur server presented the celery root in its entirety, before it was removed to be carved. Roasted with thyme and honey, it was another dish that will definitely get tried at home.

Accidental Locavore Pangea Cheese PlateThere was a nice cheese plate with a pair of local cheeses, honey and a fruit paste and a mango-carrot sorbet and meringue that might actually have changed my mind about root vegetables not being dessert worthy. It was sitting on a bed of brown sugar crumble which added a nice crunch to everything.

Accidental Locavore Pangea DessertPangea will be open for lunch through May 5th and dinner through June 11th. It’s only open Monday through Friday (don’t get me started on why the CIA thinks it’s too tough for the students to work weekends) and because the student chefs could be overwhelmed at dinner, I think lunch is the better option.

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