With Paris memories still vivid, I headed to Woodstock, Vermont this past weekend for a house party that traditionally marks the season. What better way to celebrate my return to the States than with a visit to New England in the fall.
Little Baldy Hill Farm is nestled into a hill at 1,850′ with a sweeping 180° view over the hills of Vermont and New Hampshire. The air was just crisp enough to confirm the change of seasons and the evening breezes through my window made snuggling under a comforter all the more appealing.
The weekend menu was all about the flavors of fall, graciously planned by our gourmand hostess who spent many hours in the kitchen before our arrival. So scrumptious and provocative were the offerings that I’m going to go a bit off my beaten path and add two yummy recipes scattered among images of Vermont. These are from a Woodstock community landmark, the Simon Pearce store and restaurant; their cookbook, A Way of Living, is another reason to make a visit.
Stopping at the Farmer’s Market to view a ransom’s worth of Vermont cheeses and strolling through their colorful selection of pumpkins really put me in the fall mood.
Curried Parsnip Soup
*Serves 6 as a first course.prs
3 medium parsnips (about 2½ cups chopped)
3 tablespoons butter or oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
1. Peel and coarsely chop the parsnips, taking out the woody stems.
2. Melt butter in a 3-quart soup pot and add the onions.
3. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
4. Add parsnips and garlic and stir to combine.
5. Cook covered over low heat for 10 minutes, with a piece of waxed paper under the lid of the pot.
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon curry powder
3½ cups hot chicken broth
6. Add flour and curry powder.
7. Stir to absorb the oil and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
8. Add chicken stock and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until parsnips are soft.
9. Allow soup to cool slightly and then puree in a blender or food processor, being careful not to overfill the container.
salt and pepper
½ cup cream (optional)
chives for garnish (optional)
10. Return soup to pot and season to taste.
11. Add cream and garnish with chopped chives.
The mushroom strudel recipe brings back memories from a long ago luncheon party in Atlanta. When we arrived, the hostess cleverly tempted us with the menu, which included mushroom strudel. Intrigued by the delicious and novel sounding dish, five of us agreed to be part of the actual “construction” of the strudel. Soon we were on our hands and knees on the rug, a white sheet spread out before us, kneading and stretching the dough to a size that was almost as large as a bath towel. We then added the mushroom mixture to the long edge and rolled it which required two of us at each end.
Not only did this turn out to be the ultimate party ice breaker but the strudel was one of the most delicious savories I have ever tasted! Why have I waited so long to repeat it? Simon Pearce’s recipe is simplified but just as tasty.
Mushroom Strudel with Chèvre and White-Truffle Vinaigrette
*Serves 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course.
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound blend of mushrooms: oyster, cremini, baby portobello and shiitake
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces chèvre, gently crumbled
Note: This mushroom mixture is used for the filling and the vinaigrette
1. Wipe clean and coarsely chop the mushrooms.
2. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter.
3. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté the mixture for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the mushrooms to the mixture and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the sherry.
6. Cook the mixture for about 6 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
7. Season the mushrooms with thyme, parsley, salt and black pepper.
8. Place the mixture on a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool, reserving ¾ cup of mushrooms for the vinaigrette.
9. Once the mushrooms have cooled, add the chèvre and stir gently to combine.
4 sheets packaged phyllo dough
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. To prepare the strudel, place parchment paper on a work surface.
2. Place one piece of phyllo dough on the parchment.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the butter.
4. Repeat this procedure until there are four layers of buttered phyllo dough.
5. Place the mushroom and chèvre mixture at the longer end of the dough.
6. Using parchment paper, press the strudel and roll the mixture into a tight, round log.
7. Place the strudel on a parchment-lined sheet tray.
8. Brush the strudel with butter.
9. Refrigerate the strudel for approximately 20 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Once the strudel is chilled, cut it into portions, slicing on the diagonal.
3. Bake the strudel on a parchment-lined tray for 20 minutes, or until the strudel is crispy and golden brown.
¾ cup reserved mushroom mixture
½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon white-truffle oil
½ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1. To make the white-truffle vinaigrette, place the reserved mushroom mixture and water in a blender.
2. Combine the mixture.
3. With the blender at a low speed, slowly stream in the olive and truffle oils to blend.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Extra vinaigrette can be saved for later use.
fresh field greens
1. To assemble, place 2 ounces of vinaigrette on a plate and place the strudel on the plate.
2. Garnish with field greens and roasted tomatoes.
All of this fine dining required some outdoor exercise in the form of a five mile roundtrip hike to the top of Mt. Tom.
What we found at the top, in addition to the breathtaking view, was a thought-provoking statement carved into a log… “These trees shall be my books.”
Food for thought…