My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.

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So Summer, Quiche and Clafouti 2

Posted on July 20, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread bcoho july dinner 008Oh, it’s summer, green and wet and if not exactly sunny, then still with beautiful days for the beach and camping and adventure seeking.  The boys are covered with dirt and mosquito bites and scraped knees, whirling around in a perpetual cloud of brotherly violence/love, worlds of pirates and griffin-hunting and trucks and dinosaurs, pleas for more ice cream, for just five more minutes at the beach, in the water, under a tree.

“Be here,” I keep telling myself.  Just be here with them, in the streams of light through pine trees while we’re camping.  With the smells of leaves and the sounds of their laughs as they run to the far side of the pond to capture a frog or tackle a friend.

And I’m trying, I’m trying.  To be here, to breathe deep of this beautiful life, my wild and wonderful boys.  To keep the joy in balance with all the worry, my fears about taking a brave plunge, about money, work, how I’m going to deal with fixing my bathroom floor, all of it.

In the midst of it, it was still my turn to make a cohousing community dinner last week.  And what else is there to do but use the what we have at hand to celebrate, even sanctify these full moments?   So though I was packing to go camping, and in a full-scale anxiety attack over the rest of it, we grabbed vegetables from the garden, and Vermont cheeses and cream and eggs from our co-op and off we went to cook and feast together on this beautiful, thrifty, simple and custard-y Vermont Bastille Day meal.

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Summer Quiche
4 – 6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.

Gather and prepare ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. sauteed or steamed vegetables, well-drained.  (This amount is the yield you want after it’s cooked, so make sure to start with more!)  We made two combinations:  1.  Broccoli, mushroom, basil and sage.  2.  Swiss chard, lacinata kale, zucchini, garlic scapes.  We sauteed each combo in a large pan with butter and olive oil.

Beat together:

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cream, whole milk, or creme fraiche
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Arrange vegetables on bottom of crust, then sprinkle over them:

Pour the egg mixture over the top.  Bake until the filling is browned and well set, 25 – 35 minutes.

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Nectarine & Strawberry Clafouti
6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Beat until very frothy:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Add and beat until smooth:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T. cognac or rum (optional), or
  • 2 t. vanilla

Stir in:

  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Arrange evenly over bottom of pie pan:

  • 1 lb. mixed nectarines, cut into 1″ cubes, and halved strawberries, rinsed and dried

Pour batter over the fruit and place the pie pan on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake until puffy and well-set, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then dust with:

  • Powdered sugar.

Serve in wedges, or sloppy scoops, whatever seems to come out of the pan.

bread bcoho july dinner 022

Zucchini-Greens Quiche

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning.  Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate.  What of it?

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning. Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate. What of it?

Salad! Flowers! Mwa Ha Ha Ha! 5

Posted on June 11, 2009 by crankycheryl

[6/13/09 Update:  Check out this picture and much more frightfully gorgeous food at Photograzing!]

crazy-hair-and-evil-salad-021So one spring day you’re in your kid’s class during their free choice time, and his friend sits down and starts drawing.  He wants to draw you, he says, and before you know it there you are in a field of grass with the black t-shirt and shorts he had you add in.

Then he puts stripes on your shorts and you ask, “”Dude!  What am I, like a bee?”  And then he’s giggling madly and drawing wings and a stinger on your behind and antennae on your head.  And then he draws flowers and you ask what kind they are and his eyes get big and sincere and he spurts out, “EVIL SORCERER FLOWERS!”  You gasp and he’s giggling again, and you ask if you can bring the picture with you.

And then later you update your Facebook status so it says, “Cheryl says things can’t be all bad if your son’s 6-year-old friend draws you as a bee-girl in a field of Evil Sorcerer flowers.”  Then a food-writer friend you really respect tells you that you owe it to the bees to post a honey recipe.  And then you realize that your CSA share is about to start, and after you pick up your greens and cheese and bread, you go home and make something like this.

Evil Sorcerer Salad with Bee-Girl Dressing

Per diner:

  • 3 cups of spicy greens (arugula, mustards and the like), cleaned
  • 2 strawberries, cut into the shape of broken hearts
  • 1 slice of a nice seedy bread, lightly toasted
  • 2 smallish slices of a brie-type cheese (if you’re local or have access to Vermont cheeses, try Does’ Leap Caprella and gleefully eat whatever isn’t destined to go on someone’s salad)
  • A sprinkle of chipotle powder
  • A handful of edible flowers like pansies and nasturtiums.  Make sure they’re organic, and really try to include the nasturtiums, which are spicy, and therefore more nefarious.

Bee-Girl Dressing (enough for 4 diners):

  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 t. hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1/8 t. (a.k.a. “just a little bit”) kosher salt

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.  Put cheese on bread, sprinkle with chipotle, and then toast just until warm and melty.  Toss greens with dressing and then put onto plate.  Cut bread/cheese into triangles and place on top of salad, with broken-hearted strawberries in the middle.  Arrange evil sorcerer flowers according to your dastardly plan and serve.  Your own villainous chuckle wouldn’t hurt.

beegirl

Milk + Mold + Mites + Cave = Oh My! 0

Posted on May 21, 2009 by crankycheryl

may-09-023

I doubt I’ll ever get married again, but if I do it’s going to be to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar.

I picked some up on my last pass through the Northeast Kingdom, and have been sitting here eating it right down to its stinky rind, and then I ate the rind itself.  I didn’t want to keep going, but was compelled because I’ve been looking for the words to describe it.  Such is my commitment to food writing.

I agree with Formaggio Kitchen, which describes it as a “cow milk cheese that puts us at the table with the best cheddars of the world. It has a smooth firm texture and a sharp and fruity flavor with hints of caramel sweetness on the finish.”

And with Cowgirl Creamery, who says “sharp and creamy, this cheddar doesn’t so much melt in your mouth as it does coat every surface with caramelized luxury.”

Yup.  All those.  Luxurious, caramel, buttery, sharp, crumbly but sumptuous, perhaps a tiny bit nutty.  It’s just wonderful.

My friend Suzanne from Craftsbury, who seems to know where all the excellent food in the Northeast Kingdom is, told me about it.  How it’s made by Cabot and aged in the trés chic caves at Jasper Hill. She scrunched up her hands, showing me how they turn it and massage the cheese.  (When I asked a cheesemaker at the Burlington Farmers’ Market about turning and massaging cheese, he nodded and told me it was how they keep the cheese properly shaped, and the cheese mites – here’s a link to an image of one if you like to be grossed out – under control.)

Here’s what Cabot says about its creation:

“Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is a marvel of milk, master cheesemaking and artful aging,” said Cabot cheese maestro Marcel Gravel. Made one vat at a time, from the milk of purely Holstein cows, the result is a singular, Old World style cheddar. A special, proprietary blend of cheese cultures gives an unpasteurized note to this pasteurized milk cheddar.

“Traditional hooping and clothbound curds are just the beginning of this vanguard, Vermont collaboration. After creation, the wheels journey north along the Revolutionary War-era Bayley-Hazen Road into the care of Andy and Mateo Kehler, fellow Vermont cheesemakers and affineurs, and owners of The Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm. “Here, the cave-aged wheels benefit from spa-like pampering and controlled, mold-ripened maturing to develop their beautiful, natural rind,” said Mateo Kehler, co-owner of Jasper Hill Farm. “It’s all about spruce boards, hand turning and tender brushing. [They brush to get rid of the mites on clothbound cheeses.]

“The cheddar’s texture and flavor owe their balance and subtle tones equally to both parts of this dual team effort: traditional clothbound cheddar made at the historic creamery in Cabot and lovingly matured in Greensboro among the hills above Caspian Lake.”

Find some (I got mine at Greensboro’s Willey’s Store) and try it.  And then please bring me some more.  I promise not to complain if it doesn’t take out the trash or pick up its socks.

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