A Cake for the Stay-at-Home Crowd

Lemon verbenaMaybe, like many homebound Vermonters, you’re doing a lot more home cooking these days. Andrew shares this yummy recipe for Lemon Verbena Cake, in case you’re wondering what to do with your organic lemon verbena and lemon geranium leaves. Andrew’s family made this cake often, and here’s how they got the recipe. Andrew had designed a garden for his parents, a garden so gorgeous it was featured in Horticulture, Better Homes and Gardens and the New York Times. The writer included the recipe  for this fantastic cake. We have both lemon verbena and lemon geranium plants – stop by, see them and  smell them. Even better: make the cake and let Andrew know how it turns out!

Read more…

Meat Pies

Meat Pie Photo

Ohhh this will be fun!

I won’t admit the Johnny Depp movie I was inspired by and if you guess I won’t confirm, but I just loved the rustic look of these little architectural, structured pies.

You will need for filling:
Meat broth, you can use whatever you have on hand
Potatoes salt and pepper
Rutabaga herbs/spices
Carrots garlic
Onions your imagination and a readiness to exhibit risky behavior

I am being a little vague on purpose. I made a classic meat pie with ½ lb beef stew meat, ½ lb ground lamb, ¼ C bacon drippings, ½ C chicken broth, ½ C red wine, 1 +/- C each of potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, onions cut into 1/2 “ cubes. I added salt and pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, minced, 2 t rosemary and thyme then I let it sit over night. You should adjust the herbs and spices to your taste.

The next morning I mixed the crust.
You will need for crust:
1 C butter or rendered lard 5 T ice water
2 C flour 1 T vinegar
1 t sugar eggs

To make the pie crust, use chilled butter/lard. For beginners, the trick to flaky pie crust is chilled ingredients. Cut butter/lard, flour and sugar until mixture is crumbly, with pieces smaller than peas. Add water and vinegar and cut together with edge of spatula. You will need to knead it with the heel of your hand against the bowl until it holds together, if it is really dry, add another T water. Let it rest in the fridge before you use.

Create an egg wash by mixing a egg in a bowl with a fork, you will need a pastry brush.

Thinly roll out dough on floured surface. To create a simple pocket, cut a rectangle 3-4” X 8”. Brush egg across 4” center of rectangle, then brush edges so that you have a sq brushed with egg. Fill this sq with your filling, fold unegged dough over and press edges. You should have something like a sq. Use fork to score/seal edges. Cut vents on top and brush pocket top with egg wash. If you have experience with hand building pottery this is where it gets fun. To create these little structures I cut out 2 circles with wide mouth mason jar, then I cut a strip about 3” wide long enough to go round. I scored and egged around edge of 1 circle, then attached edge of strip of dough, pinching them together creating a cylinder. Securing ends of strip with egg. After plumply filling with mixture, I egged edge of last circle and attached top, pinching again. Then I cut vents and washed with egg.

Bake at 350 about 45 mins on cookie sheet

Then I tried this: 1 lb ground lamb, 1 C chicken broth, 1 onion and 2 carrots, chopped, 3 t curry, 1 t salt, pepper, 2 cloves garlic and 2 t fresh grated ginger. Again I let it sit over night. Then I steamed some mixed braising greens and rice and cut a potato into 1/2 “cubes. In some pockets I layered mixed greens, rice mixed with a bit of eggplant chutney and meat mixture. In others, I mixed the greens and potato with the meat and filled the pockets. And this: make a little well in some breakfast sausage, put and egg in the well, salt and pepper and some grated Verhampshire cheese-a yummy breakfast pie! So, go forth and play with your food! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

These are fun to make on a “stuck inside weekend” and freeze well for lunches and hurried dinners.

Wood Stove Beef Stew

Beef Stew Photo

If you have not yet cooked on your woodstove, I suggest not going skiing, leaving it unattended, the first time you give it a try. Once you get a sense of how your wood stove will do, go skiing! You’ll return to a warm, earthy smelling home and a hot pot of stew for your cold tired bones.

You will need; 1 lb stew beef, 6 potatoes, 3 carrots/parsnips, 1 small celeriac, 1 large onion, a rutabaga, 2 cloves of garlic (or more) 1 C flour, a bit of olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and the better part of a bottle of red wine, you will have had a glass while you are prepping. I’ve tried all different wines; Merlot, Burgundy, Chianti….I use what I have on hand. And of course, you need a cast iron dutch oven with a lid.

Cut all veggies into 1” cubes, light your woodstove. Heat a dutch oven on your stove first, with a bit of olive oil. In a bowl, add salt and pepper to the flour and roll the stew meat around until covered. Add to hot pot. I like to cook the beef until it is really brown, turning toward black and quickly. Once it is all cooked, remove from heat, add a bit of the wine to mostly cover the meat. Add all the veggies and herbs, the remainder of the wine and if needed add some water to cover the stew. Place on hot woodstove with lid. Woodstove should be in the 450 range, but every stove is different. I have a small 100 year old Reginald…. You want the stew to lightly boil occasionally but to be just below boiling most of the day. I start this around noon on Sundays and by 6 or so we’re eating stew with a loaf of rosemary bread for dipping the wine broth. A last note, if I end up with some of the broth/gravy leftover, I save it and add it to my next batch.