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Book Review: New Vermont Cookbooks; Finding Links Between Farms and Restaurants

  • Lettuce, beets, potatoes

    Lettuce, beets, potatoes

  • Tracey Medeiros is the author of "The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook," published by Countryman Press. (Courtesy photograph)

    Tracey Medeiros is the author of "The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook," published by Countryman Press. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Lettuce, beets, potatoes
  • Tracey Medeiros is the author of "The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook," published by Countryman Press. (Courtesy photograph)

The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook

By Tracey Medeiros with photographs

by Oliver Parini

Countryman Press; $19.95; 256 pages

Essex Junction, Vt., food writer Tracey Medeiros’ latest effort, The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook , is remarkable not just for the 150 excellent and very accessible recipes and the beautiful color photographs, but also for the vignettes that give a glimpse into the lives of the farmers, chefs and restaurateurs who are behind the food featured in the book.

The Vermont Farm Table paints a comprehensive picture of Vermont’s rural landscape and the people who live there through Medeiros’ clear and descriptive writing and with photos taken by Oliver Parini. This is not a book to be read when you’re hungry, and it could easily inspire you to spend long hours in the kitchen.

Medeiros will be in Norwich on Tuesday night at 6 for a dinner to promote the book at Carpenter and Main restaurant. The event features a four-course meal prepared from recipes in the book.

The price of the dinner is $65 and includes a copy of the book. Call the Norwich Bookstore for reservations at 802-649-1114. A portion of all the sales from the book are donated to The Vermont Foodbank.

The Vermont Farm Table is a balanced cookbook, covering the bountiful fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry produced in Vermont as well as providing a number of fish and seafood recipes that incorporate herbs and other ingredients from the state’s soils.

Medeiros took a couple of years talking with people all over the state, gathering the information and putting the book together, she said in an email exchange this week.

“I wanted The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook to reflect the face of Vermont. I wanted it to be a community book so I decided to contact local farmers, chefs and food producers (many of whom are from the Upper Valley) to discuss the vision of the cookbook,” she said.

“Good food grown in a responsible way, and my desire to help promote wellness for communities through food have always been important to me — a lifelong purpose. I chose contributors who shared my values on how food should be grown, prepared and eaten.”

For the book, Medeiros talked with and featured 107 contributors, many of whom she met while writing a column for The Essex Reporter and Colchester Sun newspapers.

“I am continually discovering new and exciting farmers, chefs, food producers and amazing Vermont specialty foods. In addition, I also have received wonderful recommendations from friends and partnering contributors,” she said.

Medeiros is a Massachusetts native who has enjoyed cooking since she was young. She went to culinary school and has “a passion for good food grown in a responsible way.”

In addition to writing, Medeiros also is a food stylist, recipe developer and recipe tester. She also writes a quarterly column for Edible Green Mountains Magazine. She’s the author of Dishing Up Vermont, a book about Vermont food that came out in 2008.

Her latest book is a must for anyone concerned about how food is raised and who wants to know about the people who prepare it.

Here are some recipes from the book from contributors in the Upper Valley area:

Turnip Greens
And Red Leaf Lettuce
With Roasted Onions, Toasted Corn Kernels And Basil Vinaigrette

Serves 4 to 6

This salad from Pebble Brook Farm in West Brookfield and Black Krim Tavern in Randolph “is all about textures and depth of flavor,” Medeiros wrote. “Each component contributes a different texture, from the crisp turnip greens and crunchy croutons to the soft, sweet onion and the starchy, caramelized corn. The sweet, earthy aroma of the basil pesto collaborates with the fresh lemon to give an extra punch of brightness.”

Vinaigrette

1 3 cup chopped fresh basil

1 3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)

2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Croutons and Salad

12 ounces baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium red or sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch baby turnip greens, torn into bite-sized pieces

1 head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the basil, lemon juice, Parmesan, mustard, garlic, and pepper flakes. Whisking vigorously, add the olive oil and vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

To make the croutons and salad: In a medium bowl, toss the bread cubes with 1/4 cup oil and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Place the onion slices on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes and set aside.

While the onion is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and cook until light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Let the oil cool, then combine with the corn.

In a large bowl, combine the turnip greens and red leaf lettuce and toss with the vinaigrette to taste. Top with the onion, corn, and croutons and serve.

Moroccan-Style Chicken With Apricots
And Almonds

Serves 4

This is an old favorite of Ariel’s Restaurant in Brookfield. “It is rich, earthy, and inexpensive to make. The dish is best made with chicken thighs, preferably from high-quality local chickens. Pomegranate molasses is syrup made from reduced pomegranate juice; it can be found at Middle Eastern markets or in the international aisle at the supermarket. If you don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can cook the chicken indoors using a grill pan. Serve this chicken on a bed of Mediterranean couscous pilaf.”

Chicken and Marinade

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup Vermont honey

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 3/4 pounds), trimmed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Sauce

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds

To make the chicken and marinade: Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, coriander, and cinnamon, and cook, stirring the mixture often, for about 1 minute. Stir in the honey and molasses and heat until just bubbling. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside to cool. Reserve the remaining marinade mixture in the saucepan.

Sprinkle the thighs with salt to taste, place them in a large zipper-lock plastic bag and add the cooled marinade from the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Heat a gas or electric grill to high heat. Lightly grease the grill grate with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the grill, cover, and cook until the meat registers 175 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest.

To make the sauce: While the chicken is cooking, add the chicken stock to the remaining marinade mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the carrots and apricots and continue to simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch and water together, then whisk the mixture into the sauce and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the almonds, and serve.

Tarentaise Bread Pudding

Serves 12

“Tarentaise cheese is smooth and dense, with a slightly nutty flavor and a natural rind. This savory recipe is from Carpenter and Main Restaurant in Norwich for Thistle Hill Farm in North Pomfret.” The bread pudding will be served during Tuesday’s dinner at the restaurant.

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter

1/2 cup minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

4 cups fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs

4 cups chicken stock

3 ounces Tarentaise cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)

1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat twelve 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often for 1 minute. Stir in the thyme and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the onion mixture, bread crumbs, stock, cheese, egg and yolks, and salt and pepper to taste until fully combined.

Divide the mixture into the prepared ramekins. Place in a roasting pan, add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover the pan with foil. Poke small holes in the foil to allow steam to release.

Bake 15 minutes, then carefully rotate the pan and bake an additional 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake until the puddings are golden brown, 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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