Thursday, July 24, 2014

Locally Foraged Mushrooms!!!

Fantastic. It has been a banner year for mushrooms! One of the pluses of cooking in Vermont is the natural variety of the seasons. First the Morels and now the boom of the Chanterelles and the Black Trumpets. The Hen of the Wood and the Chicken of the Wood will makes the scene soon. Menu development is easy when local foragers are crowding into the kitchen. Don't be tempted to bury these in rich sauce, toss them in Olive oil, season them and roast in high heat. Maybe finish with herbs from our backyard garden. Enjoy the the nowness of it simply. Appreciate it for what it is, it wont be around until next year.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dressing Down Salad Dressings

Why is it that we spend so much money on Salad Dressings that have such lackadaisical taste? Have you read the ingredient lists for these mass produced and mass marketed monsters? Mono-di-what? Hydrogenated who? M. S. Gee Whillikers, no thanks! Theres enough poison floating around in the air why would I put it in my food?
Ranch, Blue Cheese, Thousand Island, Russian, Catalina, and Italian are the originals. Then sprang up Caesar, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Honey Dijon, and a host of others. What many people dont realize, and Kraft doesnt want you to know, is that salad dressings are really quite easy to make. Now I admit, Hidden Valley makes an awesome ranch dressing, but make it with the seasoning packet and your own buttermilk and mayo. Maybe tweak it with a little fresh cracked peppercorn or shaved parmesan.
Try a Raspberry Maple Poppy Seed Dressing for a change.
2 Cups Mayonnaise
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Raspberry Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Poppy Seeds
A Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Mix it up!
Lemon Herb Vinaigrette.
¼ Cup Minced Chives
¼ Cup Minced Parsley
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
½ Cup Olive Oil
A Dash of Nutmeg
A Dash of Dried Mustard
2 Dashes of Salt and Pepper
Whisk it all together and love it!
Mark Downey’s Maple Dijon!
1 Tablespoon Dijon
½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Maple Syrup
1 ¼ Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Make it so!
These homemade dressings have four things in common. They are easy to make, low in saturated fat, taste great, and flexible. Take away the poppy seeds and add orange essence to the maple dressing for a citrus twist. Change the vinegar to red wine for a smooth distinction. Slight substitutions change the personality of the dressing. Lemon Herb? How about Orange Rosemary, Cilantro Lime, or Lemon Basil!
Remember when it comes to dressings the sky, with your imagination, is the limit!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

June's the Best!

June is the best month of the year for me.  There’s that special early-evening glow on my back deck about 6 pm when the hummingbirds are dining at my feeder and I’m settling in with my favorite summer cocktail.  I just heard that Killington was open for 199 days this winter!  WOW!  But some of us don’t ski and have to play indoor tennis all winter – so we deserve those 30 days in June when everything in the gardens looks perfect (no weeds yet), the days are getting longer and warmer, and everything is open for the season in Manchester and the Mountains (except Killington, of course!) and tennis is OUTSIDE!!

What’s happening here in Dorset in June? The restaurants are humming, the golfers are golfing, the hikers are hiking and the Dorset Theatre Festival opens for the season.  There’s the Antique Car Show in Manchester June 7th and 8th, our two favorite nurseries (Mettowee Mill and Equinox Valley Nursery) are in full bloom, the Quarry and our state parks are open for swimming and sunning, and the farmers’ markets abound.  It’s the perfect month and I know that the whole summer stretches out before me!

So come and enjoy your favorite summer cocktail on the porch of The Dorset Inn or on the patio at Barrows House – Paddy, Colleen & Yuri will be happy to make you one of their specialties, too. 

Cheers -- And I’ll see you on the tennis courts!
Kathy, Assistant Innkeeper

Thursday, May 15, 2014

While the chefs spend most of their time working their magic in the kitchen, every once in a while they actually have some free time as well!!  There are a number of Vermont State Parks within a 40 mile radius of Dorset, Vermont that provide free access for great fishing & hiking.  Here are some photos of my favorites:
Gail Meadows, Londonderry, Vermont
Offers views of both Bromley & Stratton Mountains

Lowell Lake State Park, Londonderry, Vermont

Gail Meadows, Londonderry, Vermont

Lake Hortonia, Rutland County, Vermont
Chef Neil out for an excursion!

It is definitely worth exploring the local attractions around Dorset.  There are a number of well hidden gems worth getting to know!

Chef Mark

Friday, April 18, 2014

The pressures and pleasures of planning a wedding!

                          The pressures and pleasures of planning a wedding!

Tis the season in Vermont to be looking for a spot to hold your wedding or to be putting on the finishing touches.  There are site visits, budgets, tastings, music, photography, flowers...  A lot goes into make a very special day and it can seem overwhelming.

Make a list of the aspects of a wedding that are most important.  Do you want gardens, mountains, great entertainment, rooms for all your guests, exquisite food...?  Everyone is different.  Fall in love with the place that can give you what you desire.  If you find something outside of your budget, consider a Friday or Sunday.  Midweek dates have recently become a viable option.  Be candid about what you want and what you want to spend.  It is easier for everyone to accommodate you if they know what you want.

      Everyone should look as happy as Maggie and Kevin did on their wedding day!

                                                         Happy Planning!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring in Vermont

Spring in Vermont (or "Mud Season") can actually be a great time of year.  Many are put off by the melting snow and resulting mud puddles, but you'd be surprised at how many engaging things there are to do once those temperatures start rising!

Aside from Spring being the Maple Syrup Season (yes, please!) there's just something about those warm days and cold nights that make Vermont truly special.  For instance, if you'd like to indulge in true Vermont fashion, there is the New England Maple Museum located in Pittsford, VT (just about 1 hour from Dorset.)  At the Maple Museum you'll find a history of the making of maple syrup and the most complete collection of sugaring artifacts in existence!  (Along with samples and a gift shop!)  There are also sugar houses right in Manchester & Dorset that you can visit for a hands on experience!

You don't even need to leave the Dorset area to experience some hidden Spring gems!  Right up the road from Barrows House & The Dorset Inn is Merck Forest & Farmland Center.  At Merck Forest spring means newborn lambs!!  Merck Forest includes 3,100 acres of managed forest, a sugaring operation, and a 62 acre farm.  At the farm, along with visiting the newborn lambs, you can take a Sheep Shearing Class (April 27th), or even participate in Family Fun Farm Chores (Saturdays April 19-June 14.)

If you are an outdoor enthusiast then you should get excited about the fourth weekend of April!  Usually, on the fourth weekend of April, every year the US Army Corps of Engineers releases water from The Ball Mountain Dam (about 40 minutes from Dorset.)  The controlled release produces conditions perfect for rafting, kayaking, and canoeing...not to mention the breathtaking views!

These are just the tip of the ice berg!  Sit back, watch the flowers come to life, and enjoy Spring in Vermont!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Basil & Goat Cheese Panna Cotta 
makes about 24 bite-sized pieces
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup finely-minced chives, plus extra to garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Bunch of Basil Leaves
Chop or crumble the goat cheese finely into a bowl and set aside. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a separate bowl and set aside. Lightly grease the cups of a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with baking spray or vegetable oil.
Warm the cream & basil leaves over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edges.  Let the basil steep for 2 minutes.  Discard the basil leaves.  Stir in the goat cheese and keep stirring until it melts into the cream. Turn off the heat and add the softened gelatin. Whisk vigorously until the gelatin and any remaining bits of goat cheese are thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the yogurt and the chives. Taste season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the warm cream mixture to a glass measuring cup and carefully fill each well of the prepared mini-muffin pan. Refrigerate for four hours, or overnight.

Chef Matt