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Vermont Snack Bars: High-End Chefs Shake It Up

Written by Judy Thurlow on . Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

By Melissa Pasanen
Photo by Daria Bishop

As kids growing up in Vermont, Chloe Genovart and Charlie Menard enjoyed their share of summertime snack bar fries and frosty creemees. Each went on to become successful culinary professionals serving the high end of the dining spectrum instead. After years spent in Manhattan, Genovart and her husband opened the elegant SoLo Farm and Table in South Londonderry; Menard built up the event catering operation at the romantic Inn at Round Barn Farm in Waitsfield. At these two destinations, menus feature beautifully composed dishes like hand-cut tagliatelle with house-made lamb sausage, or halibut finished with a tangerine-miso glaze.

Last summer, both added second venues that deliver something different: decidedly casual and exceptionally delicious versions of the classic snack bar. At the Genovarts’ Honeypie in Jamaica and Menard’s Canteen Creemee Company in Waitsfield, their sophisticated gastronomic skills and local-sourcing priorities are applied to perfecting burgers, lobster and clam rolls, and Vermont’s iconic soft-serve ice cream. “I’ve always had a love of this kind of Americana, the roadside snack bar, from clam shacks along the ocean to the creemee stands of Vermont,” says Menard.

“It’s a good way to get good food to a wide range of people,” says Wesley Genovart, Chloe’s husband. “On our days off, this is how we like to eat,” he adds.

Canteen Creemee Company occupies the brightly painted end of a shopping center in Waitsfield and offers a chalkboard menu divided into “Salty” and “Sweet”; a turntable plays the chef’s own vinyl collection, from Rolling Stones to current indie bands. The menu, too, is a blend of old and new. There’s a very good burger, with optional toppings, including everything from caramelized onions to kimchi, and excellent freshly cut fries that can be ordered “dirty,” meaning confettied with nuggets of shredded brisket, bacon or pickles. The fried chicken boasts an incredible crisp crust thanks to a secret “miracle dredge” (also deployed on the crunchy “chicken-fried” onion rings); it’s worth ordering just for the rich corn pudding — really a very moist cornbread — on the side. Other highlights include a stand-out vegetarian falafel burger and fried whole belly clam roll with house-made tartar sauce.

Creemees are a big thing here. Menard starts with the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery base, “then we have our way with it,” adding real ingredients like pure maple, fresh ginger, Belgian chocolate, local blueberries and honey. The rotating flavors rarely include vanilla. It’s a risk, Menard acknowledges, but “this isn’t a vanilla kind of place,” he says, paraphrasing a customer comment. The sometimes wildly creative “next level” sundaes include the relatively tame Bad Larry’s Maple Madness topped with a fluff of maple cotton candy, maple crystals and sugar cookie crumbs all the way to Grandma’s Summer Harvest, featuring a honey creemee, diced zucchini bread, crème fraîche drizzle, tomato jam, freeze-dried corn and fresh basil.

Honeypie in Jamaica is located in an old convenience store/gas station and uses recycled materials as décor: standing-seam roofing serves as wall panels. Unlike Canteen Creemee Company, which is open regularly only May through October, Honeypie is year-round. Customers can eat in or sit outside at tables where the pumps once were.

You could argue that the Genovarts had to open Honeypie just to have somewhere to serve Wesley’s ideal burger, which he’d been working on for years. The final combination of ground short rib and chuck is a thing of beauty and starred on the cover of Food & Wine magazine before Honeypie even opened. The Bring It is the chef’s personal favorite: a double patty with kimchi, bacon, “special sauce” and melted American cheese. Another burger offering, the Slamber, stacks two ground lamb patties with melted cheddar and sautéed peppers and onions.

The Slamber is a delicious example of how the Genovarts use whole, local animals efficiently across both restaurants, leveraging both staff and the expanded production space. Honeypie’s sausages are also made in-house and go global with lamb merguez, Spanish chorizo and a pork sausage version of a Vietnamese banh mi. Other sandwiches include the Late Riser with egg, house-made maple-bacon breakfast sausage and rosemary hash browns and an outstanding weekend special lobster roll, generously piled with sweet meat, shaved celery and drawn butter.

On the sweet side, Honeypie’s milkshake menu stands out. Flavors include strawberry-buttermilk made with local berries and buttermilk left over from freshly churned butter made for their other restaurant, and coffee made from fresh-roasted beans from the coffee shop across the street. The milkshakes start with a rich base from Kingdom Creamery in East Hardwick, which is also used in their traditional chocolate and vanilla creemee menu. With two young children, the Genovarts wanted to make sure that their menu covered the basics — even though their two-year-old daughter’s favorite menu item is the lamb merguez sausage. Overall, says Chloe Genovart, “We just wanted to have a nice place for kids and families and community.”

Moroccan Carrot Salad

Written by Judy Thurlow on . Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

By Melissa Pasanen
With recipe-testing assistance by Sarah Strauss
Photographed by Oliver Parini
Adapted from chef-owner Jana Koschak, North Folk Mobile Café and Catering, East Albany

This is a gorgeous salad that can be made with diced orange carrots, as Jana Koschak originally created it, but is particularly eye-catching with a mix of baby rainbow carrots. Although the colors may bleed when you cook them together, the lemon juice brings them back into focus. Serve topped with the yogurt and another handful of fresh summer herbs, or let guests spoon it on themselves.

1½ pounds small carrots, preferably multicolored, scrubbed clean and peeled if needed

2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided,
plus more to taste

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile or small jalapeño, seeded and minced, to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed
lemon juice, divided

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 packed cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (or a mix of fresh mint and cilantro), plus more to garnish

Trim carrot ends and halve or quarter lengthwise into pieces about the size of your little finger. Place in a large skillet with about 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer just until tender, but not too soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. (They will continue to cook a bit, so better to remove slightly undercooked.) Drain, rinse immediately with cold water, shake dry and place in a serving bowl.

Return skillet to stove over medium heat and add oil. Sauté onion until softened and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chile, sugar, paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and ginger and cook, stirring, about 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is softened. Take skillet off heat. Return carrots to pan with remaining teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and toss to coat. Transfer to the serving bowl, making sure to scrape up all the spice and onion mixture. Salad can be made up to this point and left at room temperature for several hours.

Whisk remaining tablespoon lemon juice into yogurt with salt to taste. Chill. When ready to serve, toss carrots with chopped cilantro. Taste and add salt as needed. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with yogurt. Serves 4 to 6.

The Sweetness of Sour Cherries

Written by Judy Thurlow on . Posted in Uncategorized

Written and photographed by Melissa Pasanen

You’ve picked your own berries and apples, but there’s another compelling tree fruit you can harvest yourself this summer at several orchards around the state. Sour cherries glow a translucent true cherry-red among the branches and make for festive picking. Although too tart for most to eat out of hand, they cook up into fantastic pies, cobblers and crisps and go beautifully with rich meats like pork and duck. At Mad Tom Orchard in East Dorset, pick-your-own season comes with bonus views of the Taconic Range from the 75-year-old fruit orchard where Tom and Sylvia Smith tend about 50 sour cherry trees, including the classic Montmorency and, newer to the United States, a sweeter variety called Balaton.

Sour cherries this year in Vermont will start ripening at the end of June and go through mid to late July depending on location. Many orchards offer email newsletter updates or check out their websites listed below:

  • Burtt’s, Cabot, burttsappleorchard.com
  • Champlain Orchards, Shoreham, champlainorchards.com
  • Mad Tom Orchard, East Dorset, madtomorchard.com
  • Shelburne Orchards, shelburneorchards.com

Here are a few sour cherry recipes, savory to sweet, with a bonus recipe that you can make without pitting the cherries. Also, a pitting tip: If you don’t own a cherry pitter (one of those ridiculous one-use items only culinary obsessives like me own), try using a paper clip, unfolded from the center and hooking the pit out with one of the curved pointy ends.

Sour cherry recipes, first the savory, then the sweet:

Middle Eastern Lamb Meatballs With Cinnamon and Cherries

Adapted from “Good Meat” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2010) by Putney food writer, teacher and author Deborah Krasner who, in turn, adapted it from Ghille Basan’s “The Middle Eastern Kitchen.” Sour cherries are best for this recipe, Krasner writes, but if you only have sweet ones, add the juice and zest of one lemon to the sauce to make the flavors more complex. Serves 4 over rice. Wilted spinach with yogurt and a light grating of nutmeg makes a nice side dish.

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground lamb

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ tsp coarse salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup fresh pitted sour cherries, dried sour cherries soaked overnight, or Morello cherries in syrup, drained

If using fresh or dried sour cherries:

¼ cup water

1–2 tablespoons sugar

Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the meat and cinnamon, cumin, cloves and salt to make a paste. Wet hands and roll walnut-sized knobs of meat paste into balls about an inch and a half in diameter. Film the base of a large frying pan with oil until thinned and fragrant. Brown the meatballs on all sides, shaking the pan vigorously every so often to prevent sticking, about 5–7 minutes in all.

Set browned meatballs aside. Pour off most of the fat and add butter to the frying pan. Set the pan over low heat. Add the cherries and toss them with the melted butter. Add the water to cook them further without burning. Crush the cherries with the back of a spoon or potato masher, and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer. Return the meatballs to the pan and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is slightly caramelized.

~~~

Roast Duck Legs With Sour Cherry Sauce

Adapted from “Cooking With Shelburne Farms” (Viking, 2007) by Melissa Pasanen with Rick Gencarelli.

The duck legs need a minimum cure of two hours and will be most delicious and crisp if you have time to cure them overnight. Leaving them uncovered in the fridge dries out the skin for a much crisper result — and who doesn’t appreciate that? People are most familiar with duck legs prepared confit-style, submerged in fat and cooked very slowly. This recipe, while also rich, will yield a different and slightly drier texture. If you miss the short window for fresh sour cherries, look for frozen or canned Montmorency cherries in the supermarket. Dried cherries also work, but be sure to buy the unsweetened kind, found most easily at natural foods markets. Serves 4.

Note: the sauce would also make a delicious complement to grilled pork or chicken.

2 medium oranges, washed well

2 teaspoons whole fennel seed

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus more to taste

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 large duck legs, about 3½–4 pounds total

1 cup pitted fresh, thawed frozen, or canned sour cherries or ¾ cup dried unsweetened sour cherries

½ cup orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup chicken stock, preferably low sodium

Freshly ground black pepper

Preferably the night before and at least 2 hours before cooking, prepare the rub. Zest both oranges to yield 4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith. Wrap the zested oranges tightly in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out and put them and 2 teaspoons of the zest in the refrigerator. Finely grind the fennel seed with the salt and sugar in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and then grind in the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the orange zest. Rub the mixture all over the duck legs and cure them overnight in the refrigerator uncovered.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Squeeze ½ cup juice from the previously zested oranges into a small bowl and set aside or, if using dried cherries, stir in the orange liqueur, add the dried cherries and set aside. Set the cured duck legs on a rack in a shallow roasting pan skin side up and roast until the skin is crisp, dark golden-brown and the meat is very tender, 2¼–2½ hours, depending on the size of the legs. (Turn the leg over and stick a sharp knife in the flesh. If the flesh still grabs the knife, the meat has not reached optimal tenderness.) About halfway through cooking, carefully pour off the fat from the roasting pan and discard or keep for another use.

When the duck has about 15 minutes to go, make the sauce. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, about 4–5 minutes, until they start to turn golden. Add the cherries with the orange juice and orange liqueur. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons orange zest and the stock. Increase the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 8–10 minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve a duck leg per person with sauce.

~~~

Allenholm Orchard’s Sour Cherry Pie

Adapted from Pam and Ray Allen

For the crust:

2¾ cup flour

⅛ teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, such as Crisco

¼ cup cold milk, plus one tablespoon to brush top of pie

For the filling:

4 cups pitted sour cherries (about 1 quart)

1 cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

⅓ cup flour

¼ teaspoon almond extract

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. With fingers, blend half of the vegetable shortening into the flour mixture until it is thoroughly distributed and the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add the rest of the shortening and mix with fingers again, but only until the mixture can be pulled into a cohesive ball. Important: you should still be able to see some streaks of shortening. Pat into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap or place in a covered container, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, mix all filling ingredients together. Divide dough in half and roll out bottom pie crust. Place in pie pan. Pour in filling. Roll out top pie crust. If using decorative cutout, punch out now. Brush edge of bottom pie crust with water and lay top pie crust over filling. Seal edges and crimp. Cut air vents if no decorative cutout. Brush top of crust with milk. Bake for 45-60 minutes, checking crust, and covering if necessary, until crust is golden-brown and filling bubbly. Makes one 9- or 10-inch pie.

~~

Brandied Cherries

Adapted by Alison Lane of Mirabelles Café and Bakery from “Chez Panisse Fruit” (HarperCollins, 2002) by Alice Waters.

Pack a quart jar full of cherries, pitted or not. Leave the stems on if you like. Then pour in 1 cup of sugar and fill with brandy. Close tightly. For the first week, turn the jar upside down every other day. The cherries will be good in about a week but will improve over the next few weeks. They should be refrigerated after a month. These are lovely served over ice cream or a simple panna cotta. The brandy also makes a nice base for a fun cocktail (maybe with Sumptuous Syrups sour cherry syrup) and prosecco topped with a couple of the cherries. Cheers to sour cherries!

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