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Moroccan Carrot Salad

Written by Judy Thurlow on . Posted in Uncategorized

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,
  • Champlain Orchards, Shoreham,
  • Mad Tom Orchard, East Dorset,
  • Shelburne Orchards,

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!

Food Grows Food: Composting for All

Written by Judy Thurlow on . Posted in Uncategorized

Jaclyn Hochreiter, public outreach coordinator for Addison County Solid Waste Management District, shows a worm-composting bin to workshop participants. Photo by Melissa Pasanen

By Melissa Pasanen

So, you’ve made quiche with sautéed kale stems and leftover grilled salmon; you’ve taken the last portion of tomato soup to your elderly neighbor; and you’ve trained the kids to grab the fruit out of the “Eat Me First!” box in the fridge.

But what to do with the rinds, skins, bones and other food waste beyond what is suitable to feed your neighbor’s backyard chickens? Sure, until the full rollout of the Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), which prohibits all food waste from landfills by 2020, you can toss them in the trash, but there is a much better option: compost and use food scraps to grow more food!

To recap: As much as 40 percent of the food produced in the world goes to waste. This is a waste not only of food and money but also of all the natural and human resources it takes to produce that food, as well as valuable and scarce landfill space. And, contrary to what many people think, food waste will not decompose in the landfill; instead, it rots very slowly and emits a significant amount of methane, a potent, destructive greenhouse gas.

Here is a summary of Vermont’s hierarchy of how to cut food waste and put it to constructive use: 1) cut waste at the source, 2) redirect food to people, 3) feed animals, and 4) use food waste in compost and anaerobic digestion. Last week, we shared ten tips to get you started on reducing food waste [], this week, we’ll share some composting resources.

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