Vergennes Laundry

front door

There’s nothing like a good stomach bug to make you appreciate health, to inspire an outing in sub-zero weather, to revive an appetite nourished by ginger ale and dry toast for too many hours.

Last Friday morning, after a day spent on my deathbed, my aunt, Wren and I drove to Vergennes Laundry, a wood-fired bakery located in a former laundromat in Vergennes, VT. Run by a husband and wife, this gem of a café is the kind of place you could lounge in all day, beginning with a latté and croissant, moving onto fresh-squeezed orange juice and cheddar-and-tarragon gougères, finishing with an espresso and chocolate crème fraîche truffle. Every bite will make you wish you lived two doors down and kindle dreams of opening up your own Vergennes Laundry, which your town (that you love dearly) so desperately needs.

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Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese with Curried Apple Chutney

smoked gouda grilled cheese with curried apple chutney

More often than I would like to admit, I open the fridge and think: How can this be? How can there be nothing to make for dinner? Again.

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Garlic and Thyme Monkey Bread with Spicy Tomato Sauce

just-baked monkey bread

This past fall, a friend who was traveling, cooking and eating her way through Italy, sent me the loveliest book: Pasta, a collection of recipes from the kitchen of The American Academy in Rome. She had learned about the book and the story of the Rome Sustainable Food Project during her travels, and found the recipes in the book, many of which she made during her stay, matched the food she was eating out and about on a daily basis. [Read more…]

Slow Cooker Flageolets, Gratinéed | Also, Bread Bowls

gratinéed beans

In the span of two weeks, I have managed to deplete a many-years-old supply of dried beans, freeing my pantry of half a dozen half-filled boxes and countless rubber band-bound bags (some holding mere tablespoons of beans). Yes, you guessed it, I have my slow cooker to thank for this small but very satisfying feat. The rebuilding has begun — just ordered more gigantes and flageolets — and it feels good.

What can I say, I’ve become a crockpot-for-beans evangelist. Here are a few things I’ve learned these past two weeks: [Read more…]

Homemade Bialys

bialys

This past fall, while teaching cooking classes, I met a man named Len, who loved to bake and who always showed up to class a few minutes early, ready to help with any remaining prep work, always with some sort of baking adventure to recount.

Before the last class, Len asked me if I had ever made bialys, which he had learned to make at a “bagels and bialys” cooking class held at the local community college. I hadn’t but noted I had made bagels once years ago and remembered it being kind of a process. Len assured me bialys were much simpler to make than bagels — no boiling required — and sent me the recipe later that night.

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Using Your Juicer to Make Broths | Plus, Two Weekend Baking Ideas: Liege Waffles & Swedish Snack Bread

bowl of carrot somen haddock soup

Santa (such a gem!) brought me a juicer for Christmas. Shortly after exploring the world of fresh beet, carrot and apple juices, I made a Jean Georges Vongerichten carrot broth seasoned with lemongrass, chilies and lime, a recipe from a cookbook, The Chefs of the Times, I’ve had for years.

The broth, which takes no time to make (if you own a juicer) tastes incredibly complex for containing so few ingredients, and thus far our favorite way to use it is with Japanese somen noodles, which cook in 3 minutes, and broiled haddock (so good! also sustainable and affordable). The recipe/article is over at Food52: What to do with an Overload of Carrots.

If you own a juicer, I’d love to hear your thoughts re juicing. I have been loving mine but every time I use it, I shudder a bit at the waste shooting into the trash receptacle. I know I am getting good vitamins and nutrients from the juices I’ve been making, which isn’t actually why I do it — I just like the taste — but I feel a little bit wasteful at the same time. Thoughts?

Also, this David Sedaris piece, partially related to juicing, is hilarious.

Finally, last weekend I had two baking successes that I think you might enjoy. [Read more…]

Holly’s Challah

round challah

This fall, a quest to make apple cider challah had me reducing cider by the gallon, watching video after video on youtube, making French toast every other morning.

I had a post nearly ready to publish, but in the end, I just wasn’t satisfied. The loaves looked pretty and tasted good, too, but the final product didn’t warrant the work or cost involved in reducing the cider. So I took a break from all of my challah making, stashed the loaves in the freezer, and returned to eating my apple cider donuts without thinking about any other apple cider offspring.

But about a month ago, the subject of challah came up with my friend Holly, who told me she had a great recipe, one she learned from her friend, (a wife of a rabbi), and she offered to show me how if I were interested. Umm, yes, please.

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Butternut Squash and Cider Soup served with Rosemary and Sage Flatbread

soup and bread

The trouble with the butternut squash soup I make again and again every winter is that it takes so much time: 45 minutes to roast the squash, 30 minutes to simmer it with the stock, and 15 minutes here and there for prepping. Although much of the time is hands off, I never feel I can whip it up on a weeknight.

So when I saw this recipe for butternut squash soup with cider and sour cream, which apparently could be “made in a flash,” a few things caught my eye: In step 1, onion and garlic simmer in a small amount of water — not butter or oil — for about five minutes. In step 2, the squash cubes steam in stock for 20 minutes. In step 3, the soup is puréed with apple cider and sour cream, and then it’s done. [Read more…]

Parsnip & Pear Soup | Also, How to be a Better/More Efficient Soup Maker This Winter

pear and parsnip soup

Let’s get right down to business: soup season has officially arrived, bringing with it bowls of warm, comforting goodness, smells that permeate the house, the nourishment we crave on chilly days, and blisters to our little, out-of-practice fingers.

Whenever I make soup, I immediately think back to my time at Fork, when I spent the better part of a year prepping carrots, parsnips, onions and celery, the four vegetables that went into every hot soup chef Thien made. Almost every other morning began with soup making, with the stovetop lined with cauldrons, with a constant sprint up and down the basement stairs, in and out of the walk-in, a large aluminum bowl in hand, hours of peeling and chopping before me. The blisters made haste, but soon calloused, making the work less painful, physically if not mentally.

So many soups require a lot of chopping, but the time dedicated to the process almost always pays off: quantities that feed a crowd often at little cost. Thien liked to remind me that soup was how restaurants made money.

OK, in an effort to make soup season go a little more smoothly, I’ve compiled a few thoughts below: [Read more…]

Buttermilk Biscuits with Maple & Sea Salt | Also, Tips from Joanne Chang on Biscuit Making

just-baked buttermilk biscuits

Last month I traveled to a wedding in Boston via a Greyhound bus, which dropped me off with hours to spare before the big event (so considerately deciding not to break down till the trip home), affording me the chance to have lunch at Flour Bakery.

I arrived just as the last sticky bun got snatched up, which in hindsight was a blessing, because had it still been around, I never would have discovered the best BLT in the world — seriously, the best — and I most likely wouldn’t have grabbed a brown butter rice krispie treat (also incredibly delicious) on the way out the door. I’ve read about Joanne Chang in blogs and magazines for years, watched her beat Bobby Flay in a sticky bun throwdown, drooled over both of her cookbooks at the library, but for reasons I can’t explain had never made any of her recipes until a few days ago.

The recipe, buttermilk biscuits with maple and black pepper, is in Dana Cowin’s new cookbook, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. Many of you likely know Dana as the Editor in Chief of Food and Wine magazine, as someone who knows food better than anyone, as someone who wouldn’t make too many mistakes in the kitchen, or who would be an unlikely person to admit to them.

Well, the secret’s out: [Read more…]