The Vermonter

The Vermonter
We made these outside the store at the annual autumn festival. Some years it was all sunny and orange and we had musicians, caramel apples, and horsedrawn carriage rides and sold bunches of these. Other years it rained and practically nobody came and we assuaged our misery by eating lots of these ourselves. Either way, they are delicious
  • Grilled panini with thick-cut ham, whatever apples you picked that week, and good, really sharp local Vermont cheddar.
  1. Soak the apples in a little maple syrup for two hours in the fridge. Layer it all—cheddar, ham apples, ham, cheddar—on good rye, and grill.


Homemade Pizza

Homemade Pizza
Because it is so much better, and simple besides. (I tripled this for the seven pizzas we produced the other night.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • ⅔ cup warm water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  1. Yeast proof . . . mix with a little of the warm water and a teaspoon of sugar and let rise atop stove. If you turn your oven on you can speed this up a little. Takes 15–30 minutes.
  2. Mix all ingredients and knead for 7–10 minutes. Let rise until doubled, approximately 2 hours.
  3. Special toppings
  4. Mascarpone, layer of fig comfit or heavy fig jam, layer of prosciutto . . . sprinkle fresh black pepper, Parmesan Reggiano, and serve. People will beg you for this recipe.
  5. Mascarpone, a little garlic powder, and peas. This one is amazing. Really. I swear. Try it.
  6. Also, fresh tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella atop regular pizza sauce is really good.
  7. For the regular pizza sauce I add approximately two teaspoons sugar and 1½ tablespoons of cinnamon per jar if using store bought . . . maybe a little garlic too.
  8. Prebake dough in a 500ºF oven for about 5 minutes. Buy a pizza stone if you can, which makes it cook more evenly. Sprinkle your stone with cornmeal for easy removal of crusts. Repeat after every two or three pizzas.
  9. When using regular tomato sauce, place it mainly in the middle. It will spread during baking.
  10. Bake for about 3–5 minutes at 500ºF until bubbly.


Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie

Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie
This is just really simple and good. Every kid everywhere will eat this and ask for it again and again. Grownups like it, too.
  • 1 whole chicken (Cheat with a market rotisserie chicken and you can be done in a flash)
  • 2 onions
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon
  • Good sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper . . .
  • Garlic powder . . .
  • Onion powder . . .
  • Cinnamon . . . (a little of each . . . maybe a half teaspoon, but mostly just to taste)
  • A little nutmeg . . . maybe a teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons good thick balsamic
  • 1 cup hearty red wine
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Boil the chicken and shred the meat. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onions in your favorite oil until light and translucent. Add remaining ingredients, except for the cheese. Bring to a boil and add the shredded chicken.
  3. Cover with mashed potatoes (Yukon gold make the best mashed . . . and use real butter, would you? The trick to perfect mashed potatoes every time is to melt the butter in the milk before adding to the potatoes). Cover with a little shredded Parm and bake for about 45 minutes at 350ºF.


Braised Short Ribs

Braised Short Ribs
Serve with a good Beaujolais cru for a soft, warm feeling of contentment that will get you through winter down to about minus-ten degrees. After that, nothing much helps.
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • A little bit of good olive oil
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ⅓ cup good balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup dark cocoa
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • few cayenne pepper flakes
  • lots of tarragon
  • 1 cup (ish) red wine
  1. Mix all ingriedients, except meat, and simmer. Sear the ribs in the olive oil on very high heat for a deep brown color and then put into simmering pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer till tender . . . couple of hours, usually.
  2. Serve on top of cheddar grits for a deeply rich and satisfying winter meal.


Strawberry Soup

Strawberry Soup
This is a great dessert, very elegant in small, squat crystal bowls or glasses, and it is a fabulous brunch or lunch soup. It has amazingly deep flavors for something that you just mix and chill. This will make you happy for the rest of your life. I promise.
  • 4 cups strawberries, cleaned
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1½ cups heavy cream . . . (worry about calories some other day)
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  1. Put the berries in a food processor and give a rough chop. Add all else. Chill in giant bowl in fridge for at least two hours till a little fizzy.


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
This one has a few steps, but it is well worth the effort. And none of it is particularly hard. This is not for when you are in a hurry.
  • 12-pound boneless pork shoulder
  • 12 soft buns
  • For the dry rub
  • 6 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • Kosher salt and rough ground pepper
  • For the barbecue sauce
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh ground pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2–4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. Rub the pork
  2. Combine dry-rub ingredients in bowl, setting aside 2 tablespoons. Apply remaining mix to pork and rub.
  3. Cover pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight if you have time . . .
  4. Cook the pork
  5. Place the pork fat-side down on a rack in the smoker or on the grill. Cover and cook, at 275ºF, turning every hour or so, until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 165ºF, about 6 hours. . . .
  6. Make the sauce
  7. Meanwhile, mix together the sauce ingredients and the reserved dry rub over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, at least 2 hours. Let cool, then reheat on the grill when ready to use.
  8. Pull . . . (SHRED) the pork
  9. Transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet (you’ll want to catch all the flavorful juices) and let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred into bite-size pieces, pile on a platter, and pour any juices from the baking sheet on top.
  10. Make the sandwiches
  11. Mound the pork on bun bottoms, paint with a little BBQ sauce, top with slaw if you like, and cover with the bun tops.
  12. Best sandwich ever!


HQCS Crab Cakes

HQCS Crab Cakes
So John was sick of making these, but they really are delicious and eventually we got back to making them for ourselves. You should, too. They are really great in the summer with a skewer of grilled watermelon and pineapple on the side and a pile of fresh sliced salted heirloom tomatoes. They are also tasty with a little bit of strawberry salsa (see chapter 4, note 1) on top.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1½ cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • ½ cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • ½ cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells
  • ½ cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • ½ cup good mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • For frying
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Place butter, olive oil, onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, tarragon, capers, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, break the crabmeat into small pieces and toss with the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs.
  3. Add the cooked mixture and mix well.
  4. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Shape into bite-sized crab cakes.
  6. Heat the butter and olive oil for frying over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add the crab cakes and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep crab cakes warm in a 250ºF oven and serve hot.


Ellen’s Best Prosciutto Brioche (very eggy dough)

Ellen’s Best Prosciutto Brioche (very eggy dough)
I always double this. They are good for a crowd and they taste good hot out of the oven. They are just as good cold for days after making. This looks and tastes like it is much harder to make than it actually is. Makes about four dozen rolls.
  • Pastry
  • 3½ cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 packages (¼ ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 5 eggs
  • Filling
  • Mascarpone
  • Fennel seeds
  • 1 pound of good prosciutto, diced into small pieces
  • Finely grated Gruyère
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1½ cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, lemon peel, and salt.
  2. In a saucepan or microwave, melt butter in milk no more than 120–130º F. (So don’t do this on high in the microwave or it will get too hot and separate.) Add to dry ingredients and beat until moistened.
  3. Add eggs and beat, then add 1 cup of the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour but do not knead. Spoon dough into a greased bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place for about an hour.
  4. This will make a yellow gooey mess. Yes, it is supposed to look like this.
  5. Gently punch dough down, cover, and refrigerate overnight. If you need this today, just put it in the freezer uncovered for an hour (or, if you are really late, for just as long as you can) and then make a few (a dozen, or however many your cookie sheet can comfortably accommodate) from the harder dough on top—putting the rest back in the freezer while that batch bakes.
  6. Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface, unless you are using the freezer method—cut some from the dough and set the rest aside. If you are using the freezer method, just take your pieces from the hardest part of the top. Divide the dough into 16 equally sized small balls, maybe a teaspoon, and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet that has been covered in fennel seeds.
  7. Using your fingers, press a good-sized dab of mascarpone into the dough. Sprinkle your dough top with the Gruyere cheese. Then add 5 or 6 pieces of diced prosciutto all over the top of the cheese.
  8. Next, gently pull a little of the stretchy dough from one side of the roll to the other. You can do this in a couple of places. It will look messy. Don’t worry; it will bake beautifully. You just want a little of the stretchy dough from one side touching the stretchy dough on the other.
  9. Sprinkle grated Gruyère all over the top. If it looks messy and there is some Gruyère on the sides and on the parchment paper, you will get those baked cheesy pieces hanging off the edges of your pastry. Don’t worry. Everybody loves these.
  10. Bake at 375ºF for a few minutes, until golden brown.


Yankee Deviled Eggs

Yankee Deviled Eggs
Real southerners (who abound in my friend circle, for some reason) don’t use sugar, and call my eggs Yankee with some real derision. But then, they eat every single one so I don’t worry much about what they say. And I am leaving out the boiling, peeling, slicing bits, as I know you know all of that already.
  • 1 dozen old eggs . . . at least a week old (Fresh eggs don’t peel worth a darn)
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons-ish mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Thoroughly mix egg yolks, scallions, sugar, mayo, mustard, and salt and pepper.
  2. Refill eggs and watch the crowd gobble ­’em up.
  3. (Add a little crisped pancetta for fancy bacon and eggs.)


Lovely Fluffy Quiche

Lovely Fluffy Quiche
  • For the crust
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • A
pinch of salt
  • ½ cup cold sweet butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
  • For the custard
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups cream
  • A pinch of salt
  • A bit of pepper
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère
  • For the filling
  • Asparagus, broccoli, or whatever your heart desires
  1. Make the crust
  2. Combine flour and salt.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, working quickly to keep the butter cold, until it is the size of small peas. (You can also use your KichenAid mixer for this.)
  4. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until you can gather it together in a ball. You might need more than 4 tablespoons of water, but use only just as much as you need to make the dough come together.
  5. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and allow to rest for an hour (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
  6. Bake the crust
  7. When you are ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  8. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and fit it into a pie pan. (You can use those tart pans with the removable bottoms but you don’t have to.) Line the dough with foil and fill with dried beans for weight.
  9. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. It should be ready now, but if you try to remove the foil and it sticks, leave it in the oven for a couple minutes more. Then, carefully remove the weights, prick the crust gently with a fork (to avoid air bubbles), and bake for 5 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Set it on a rack to rest for at least half an hour.
  10. Turn the heat down to 375°F. If you’re using a filling that doesn’t go in the custard, like asparagus, for just one luscious example, add that to the crust now.
  11. Make the custard
  12. Whisk the eggs, cream, and seasonings to combine, but don’t froth.
  13. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell. Top with grated cheese and bake for about half an hour (longer if there are other fillings), until the top is golden and puffy. It should quiver gently, barely set.
  14. Serve immediately, before the glorious puff of the custard gives a little sigh and begins to collapse.