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A Vermont 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
W orldwide, vineyards have a long-standing t radition of following the harvest and grape crushing with festivities, a time to enjoy food, wine and the company of co-workers, friends and family, and Lisa Cassell-Arms captures that celebratory spirit of a vineyard with her writing and the photographs of David Seaver in the new cookbook, Seasons in a Vermont Vineyard: The Shelburne Vineyard Cookbook .

Cassell-Arms, a Shelburne native, has been working at the vineyard for the last seven years and has held varied positions, including writing a food blog, catering and working in the tasting room. Prior to returning to Vermont, she spent time in New York City in school and working in marketing and design, developing skills that she used in the production of the book.

“I wanted to tell the story about Shelburne Vineyard and the fantastic wines we’re making from cold-hardy grapes,” she said this week.

It’s a story she felt was best told through food, using locally sourced products that express the flavors of the wines, said Cassell-Arms, who is a passionate home cook who has travele d extensively and has taken cooking classes all over the world.

The book tracks a year of seasons in the life of the vineyard through photographs and recipes that are tied to available foods. By the time the recipes were tested and retested, the book took about 2 1/2 years to produce, Cassell-Arms said.

When Ken and Gail Albert started Shelburne Vineyard in 1998, they were the third growers in Vermont to plant cold-hardy grapes developed by the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. There are now at least 15 wineries regularly open to the public and a number of other vineyards growing grapes and producing wine in the state.

One of the best things that happened to the Vermont wine industry was the development of Marquette, a red grape, and LaCrescent, a white grape, which gave the state a foundation for two very good dry wines. And Vermont wines are winning national and international recognition and awards.

In the book, Cassell-Arms pairs her recipes and those from co-workers and family, with wines produced at Shelburne Vineyard.

Cold-hardy grapes are hybrids of better known varietals — such as a cross with pinot noir and a native grape — and they have names that might not be familiar to some wine drinkers. Rather than giving its wines ambiguous names, Shelburne has remained steadfast to the tradition of using the grape names on labels to distinguish the wines.

To help those unfamiliar with the grapes, the cookbook provides explanations and tasting descriptions for each wine, and the pairing notes with each recipe provide further insight. Rhiannon Johnson, the vineyard’s tasting-room manager, also adds some thoughts about how wines are paired with food.

The book, too, includes short articles by co-workers at the vineyard on aspects of growing grapes and producing wine such as canape management, bottling and grape ripening in Vermont’s short growing season.

One of Cassell-Arms’ favorite dishes in the book, bison bolognese, a recipe that she adapted from Italian cookery writer Marcella Hazan , she said.

“It’s a great winter, Sunday supper dish. You can put it on in the morning, let it bubble all day, and it’s ready at dinner time. You don’t have to use bison. You can use beef or mix it half and half, but bison is very lean and available. T he dish goes well with a hearty red wine, like Marquette, or a white, like Louise Swenson or Cayuga White.”

Another favorite is the hoisin-glazed quail, she said.

“This is my recipe. It’s a little fancier than the bolognese, sort of a bistro dish, and it really goes well with the cornmeal cakes. I use Cav endish (Game Birds of Vermont) boned quail, which makes it pretty easy. You can buy the quail at most grocery stores. LaCrescent is a nice balance with the hoisin sauce.”

H ere are Cassell-Arms’ recipes for the three dishes adapted from Seasons in a Vermont Vineyard :

Bison and Mushroom Bolognese

This is an earthy adaptation of the classic Bolognese sauce made famous by Marcella Hazan in her 1976 book, The Classic Italian Cookbook.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

1/2 cup carrot, finely diced

1/2 cup celery, finely diced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

Salt to taste

1 pound ground bison meat

1 cup Cayuga White, or other dry white wine

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Dash cinnamon

4 cups canned Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juice

Aged Parmesan cheese to taste

Add olive oil and butter to a deep, heavy pot and heat over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until softened and the onion is translucent. Add half of the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms are soft, about 6 or 7 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Crumble the bison meat into the pot and stir gently until the meat has just lost its raw color. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the milk, nutmeg and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally until the milk has evaporated. Add the canned tomatoes and their juice, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After 1 hour, add the remaining sliced mushrooms and stir. Continue simmering for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve over freshly made wide tagliatelle noodles or p enne. Top with shards of aged Parmesan cheese.

Serves 6.

Wine Pairing: Cayuga White or Marquette.

For an unconventional pairing, try this dish with a dry, white wine that has a bit of acidity. You’ll find it to be a wonderful and a surprising counterpoint to the deep, rich flavors in this sauce. Or, for a classic combination, serve with a bold, full-bodied, red wine like a Marquette or Merlot.

Hoisin-Glazed Quail With Zucchini Cornmeal Cakes

Hoisin Sauce:

5 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 small clove garlic, minced

6 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons honey

8 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

(or substitute spice blend below)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

Zucchini Cornmeal Cakes:

1 small zucchini, about 4 cups, grated

3 green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped

6 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

1 cup water

2 cups white or yellow cornmeal

Approximately 1/4 cup peanut or other mild oil for frying

4 semi-boneless quail

To make hoisin sauce:

Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring until sauce thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

To make zucchini cornmeal cakes:

In a large bowl, toss together grated zucchini, green onions, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Whisk in the cornmeal, mixing until well combined. With a fork, stir the cornmeal mixture into the zucchini mixture, mixing until well combined. If batter is too dry, add a bit of water until the consistency is loose but not soupy.

In a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the pan for each cake, being careful not to crowd. The edges of the cakes should sizzle. Cook the cakes until browned on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the cakes and cook until browned on the other side, another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm until ready to serve.

Rinse and dry the quail. Cut them down the center into two pieces consisting of a breast, leg, and wing. Place 4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce in a separate bowl and dip the quail in the hoisin sauce, coating thoroughly. In a large frying pan, fry the quail over medium heat until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn the quail and reduce the heat to medium and brown on the other side until quail are cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Serve the quail with the zucchini cakes and drizzle with hoisin sauce. Reserve some sauce on the side for dipping.

Serves 4.

Wine Pairing: LaCrescent.

The tart sweetness of the hoisin quail pairs harmoniously with a lightly sweet white that has a ridge of acidity.

Warren Johnston can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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